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All posts tagged "computers"

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Hands-On With The Lenovo IdeaPad S12 with NVIDIA ION

Posted by Chris Gohlke in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 03:00 AM

"Lenovo’s officially introduced the first notebook to feature NVIDIA ION graphics. This new graphics platform offers outstanding graphics performance without sacrificing too much battery life. The IdeaPad S12 will be available in the U.S. soon for $449. I got a chance to play with a pre-production IdeaPad S12 and shot a quick video."

To answer your major question, yes it appears to be able to handle high-def content without an issue. There is also a demo of them playing Call of Duty 4. Total price is expected to be around $450 US. In the video they also state that the Ion chip adds about $50 to the total price of a netbook.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Lenovo Unveils The Ideapad S12

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 07:00 AM

"We've seen NVIDIA's Ion placed within a nettop, a motherboard, and now (at long last), a laptop. Yep, the machine you're inevitably peering at above (Lenovo's S12) is both the company's first 12.1-inch netbook and the planet's first netbook with Ion baked in, and it's likely just a snippet of the kind of material we can expect to see at Computex."

I have recently been of two minds about netbooks, nettops and their kin. One the one hand, I'm thrilled to see ultra-portables sell for a friendly price point despite what it did to the resale value of my Fujitsu P1610. Then on the other hand, with the sheer popularity of netbooks, it has set the expected computing and graphics horsepower for a typical computer pretty low to the point of stagnation. While it does not boost the CPU itself, NVIDIA ION at least puts a respectable amount of graphics capabilities in a netbook. The Lenovo Ideapad S12 looks pretty nice and includes a lot of the regular netbook connectors. Notable is the 12 inch screen, which seems to push it out of netbook country as 10 inch screens seems to be the sweet spot. The attraction for me is that this is the first netbook to have the ION setup, which makes this a far more well rounded portable, and my netbook of choice. Anyone else disappointed with the graphics performance of netbooks?

Friday, May 22, 2009

Goodbye, OQO. You will be missed.

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 01:00 PM

"What a shame. One of the companies at the core of the UMPC movement and with a history that goes back beyond my first blogs about the topic has gone under. The confirmation came through GottaBeMobile and all we’re left with is the thought about what could have been with the OQO 2+ Atom-based UMPC that we first spotted on stage at Intel’s IDF Sept 2009."

I remember when the OQO was first introduced, suddenly several companies jumped on the super-ultra-mega-pocketable-portable-and-light PC bandwagon. Vulcan had the Flipstart and Sony had the Vaio UX but OQO's design was really catching and smaller than its competitors. Unfortunately, there did not seem to be much of a market for UMPCs at the time, and the OQO's price kept it out of the reach of most people. Then the iPhone, smartphones and netbooks come along along and pretty much dash any hope of the OQO finding a sizable enough niche to survive. I never had a chance to own an OQO, though I do have a UX280p, and the portability combined with the power of these munchkins is great. Sure, UMPCs are definitely not for everyone, but they definitely helped push the boundaries of technology and having a full fledged PC in your pocket helped give some people geek cred. Did any you covet the lilliputian device or actually have one?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Windows 7 To Feature Virtual WiFi

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 08:30 AM

"In essence, how Virtual WiFi works is very similar to how virtualization works for operating systems which most people are familiar with - the transparent sharing of limited hardware resources to many operating systems. Virtual WiFi, abbreviated to VWiFi, is a software layer that abstracts the wireless LAN card hardware into multiple virtual adapters."

I am sure that some of you are wondering what possible use could using one wireless network adapter connect to two wireless networks be? Well, maybe not in those exact words, but something along those lines. While I can't say this is one of the most important features to be included in Windows 7, I can definately see this being handy. First, it can allow any laptop with supporting hardware to share a WiFi signal like a hotel WiFi connection. Second, it allows you to connect to two WiFi networks such as one public and one private at the same time. Unfortunately, once you activate the virtual adapter, it does cut your speed in half or more. All in all, it is just another reason why Windows 7 does appear to be the OS that will put Microsoft back on the map.

Intel Previews Upcoming Atom Developments

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 06:00 AM

"Intel renewed its netbook push Tuesday with the formal announcement of its next-generation Atom platform, codenamed Pine Trail. The details of Pine Trail, including the late 2009 launch date, had already been widely leaked, and today's disclosure provided little new information. But for those who haven't followed the Pineview leaks, I'll break down the details of what was announced."

Ars Technica provides a good glimpse on what we can expect from Intel in the netbook market over the coming months and to be honest, I have to say that I am disappointed. The changes Intel is making smells more of protecting their netbook marketshare instead of pushing for innovation. What really surprised me is how Intel is pricing their solution, making more powerful solutions such as the NVidia ION far more expensive. I was hoping that Intel would come up with something dazzling which would help shake up the netbook market, but now I think that the only netbooks I'll be considering or recommending for the next year will be those based on ION. While 3D performance is not required for most of what netbooks do now, I'm finding it becoming increasingly important. From casual games to Google Earth, the 3D boost is definately worth the extra power consumption.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Lifehacker Shows You XP In Windows 7

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 07:00 AM

"We've shown you how to upgrade to the Windows 7 release candidate and walked you through what's new when you get there; now let's take a look at how to enable Windows 7 XP Mode. Windows 7's new XP Mode lets you seamlessly run virtualized applications alongside your regular Windows 7 applications—so your outdated software will continue to work."

One of the recently touted features of Windows 7 is that'll it will include a Virtual Windows XP so you can run your old programs. While it is fairly straightforward to set up, Lifehacker provides a handy wizard in case you have any problems. Unfortunately, not all PCs will be able to take advantage of Virtual Windows XP. I'm fortunate enough that my computers support it and I am quite certain I'll be using this for quite some time to come. While I have never had any significant problems with Vista, some programs have behaved oddly and could use the XP treatment. For an OS that has was released in 2001, the legacy of XP remains strong.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Phoenix Freeze Bluetooth Authentication

Posted by Chris Gohlke in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 03:00 AM

"Often the best ideas are the simplest. A laptop which locks itself as you walk away with your Blackberry® or iPhone™ and unlocks as you return. Cool, easy, secure! Just think of the benefits: One: More security - Freeze is designed to lock an XP or Vista based laptop when you walk away from it and unlock it when you return. All you need to activate the service is a Bluetooth® enabled mobile phone. Once you step out of the "zone of safety" your laptop is locked and your data is safe."

On the surface this looks pretty cool, I've seen versions of this idea using proprietary hardware, but letting it use a Bluetooth device you already have is a unique way to deal with it. Probably more than adequate for the home user, but without some further research, I'm not sure Bluetooth security is robust enough to make this the only form of authentication used on a corporate network. However, as part of a well-designed multi-factor authentication system, it certainly has potential. has a video showing how this works.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

HP MediaSmart Server LX195 Goes Live

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 01:30 PM

"We gave you the early scoop on the single drive, Intel Atom powered LX195 and now the folks at HP have refreshed their MediaSmart Server page with an overview, gallery, and detailed specs on the product."

I'm guessing that either HP thinks their MediaSmart EX series servers are not selling enough, or they're trying to increase sales, because they've now released the LX195. Sporting an Atom processor, 1GB of memory and a 640GB hard drive, it definitely is a cut back version of a Windows Home Server. Still, I would much rather go for one of the EX models as they offer more expandability and capabilities. The only way I could add more storage to the LX195 would be with external drives, and that does not seem to be the most ideal solution for me. Also, the Atom, as admirable as it is, would severely limit what add-ons I could put on the server, which pretty much make me think of the LX195 as an expensive NAS.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

MaximumPC Gets All Nostalgic About PC Components

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 01:00 PM

"We take an in-depth look back at the 50 most important pieces of PC hardware in the modern computing area. From CPUs to videocards and even monitors, these components were the envy of every PC enthusiast, whether you could afford them or not. They might not have been the fastest parts at the time, but they sure were the most notable."

Every few months, someone puts together a list of important moments, events or computers in history. MaximumPC has been bitten by the nostalgia bug and decided to list their list of 50 components that merit attention. Going through the list, I remember owning quite a few of the parts, most notably the 3Com 3c905 network card, of which I still have one in use today! Of course, there are some components that I would see as missing from the list such as the Hayes modem and command set, or even the US Robotics Courier line. In the days before broadband, the cheerful beeps and warbles from my modem speaker would tell me that I had just connected to a BBS, or later, my ISP. 3.5" floppy disks and the USB port are just a couple of the other omissions I think should be there. Can any of you think of other components that should have made the list?

Friday, May 1, 2009

Engadget Taste Tests Windows 7 RC1

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 07:00 AM

"As you may or may not know, Windows 7 Release Candidate 1 has been officially handed out to MSDN and TechNet subscribers today, and there are plans to unleash the heavily-hyped OS to the waiting public at large come May 5th. We had a chance to sit down with reps from Microsoft to discuss the new iteration of Windows (and the company's current frame of mind) more in-depth, and we've taken the new build for a bit of a spin around the block. Read on for an exploration into a few of the more delicious Windows 7 tidbits, as well as a full complement of our (potentially) enlightening observations."

Yes, that is one of the built-in wallpapers that Windows 7 RC1 comes with. Engadget touches on a few parts of the Release Candidate like Remote Media Streaming and the Windows XP Emulation that's been getting headlines lately, but not a huge amount has changed since the beta. The hype around Windows 7 has been pretty favourable and while I personally haven't had any issues with Vista, Windows 7 looks to be a welcome step up that might be more worthwhile than an XP to Vista upgrade. For those of you who still haven't tested Windows 7, word is that the Relase Candidate will be made available to the public within a few days and will not expire until June 1st, 2010! That's pretty much a free copy of Windows 7 for one whole year. It looks like Microsoft is really working and pushing hard to make Windows 7 their recovery after the Vista disappointment.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Is the End of the Traditional Desktop Near?

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 12:30 PM

"Netbooks are forecast to comprise one-fifth of the 133 million notebooks to be shipped in 2009, and the more than 3.5 million all-in-one desktops shipped in 2008 is expected to double by 2010, according to market research firm DisplaySearch. While all-in-ones are still a small part of the desktop market, it's one of the only desktop form factors that's actually growing."

Say it ain't so! While I am certain that the desktop PC will eventually meet its demise, I think we're still quite a few years away from not being able to find it in stores. Notebooks, netbooks, all-in-ones all exist based on the premise of a computer being something like an appliance, at least when it comes to hardware. It's only been in the past few years that this has really made sense with processor speeds leveling off, and as of this year, low cost, decently performing graphics are available. But desktop PCs still have the edge in expandability, and more importantly, value. For the same cost of a 10" netbook, a 15.4" laptop or a 19" all-in-one, you can get a much more powerful desktop PC and it is much easier to add another hard drive, multiple tv tuner cards or even if you want to leverage what stuff you already have like an LCD monitor or that keyboard you really like, the price goes down even more. Eventually, things will probably become much more of a server/client setup, even for home or the cloud, but until then, those careful to watch their pennies may be ignoring a really viable option if you don't consder a desktop PC.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

doubleTwist Releases 2.0 Software

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 03:30 PM

"Our vision is simple: to create a unifying media platform that connects consumers with all their media and all their devices, regardless of whether they are online or offline. We feel that just like you don't use a different browser for every web site you visit (Firefox to read the NY Times, IE to stream Hulu, Chrome to browse YouTube, etc) you shouldn't have to use iTunes for Apple products, Nokia software for Nokia phones, Sony software for Sony products, etc. The typical household today has many such devices and there is a need for a simple and powerful software that connects them."

doubleTwist has updated their software to 2.0 which sports performance improvements, a better interface, and of course, more device support. For those of you not familiar with doubleTwist, it is a media manager and syncing program. It behaves much like iTunes, Windows Media Player and the like, but with support for a wide variety of devices including phones, the PSP and even the Kindle. I honestly cannot say that it is the greatest thing since sliced silicon wafers, but it does provide you with another option when syncing your media to go, even with multiple devices and they do provide an easy way to share media with your peers. I think it comes down to personal preference; there are already lots of programs, or combination of programs that do what doubleTwist does, but some are clunkier than others, so if you're not happy with how you load up your playlists, this might be worth a shot.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

MaximumPC Helps You Game on the Cheap

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 01:30 PM

"Back in December, we gave you the low-down on how to build a kick-ass $800 gaming PC. Well, lately the economy has been in a bit of a shamble, so we’ve lowered our price ceiling to spec out a tightly budgeted $500 rig that will deliver admirable gaming framerates and still leave you some cash to actually buy some games and pay off that credit-card debt."

Off-the-shelf PCs bought for under $500 these days are powerful, but generally lack any graphical juice to make current games shine. The solution is to build it yourself and MaximumPC shows how you can do this without asking for a bailout. All of their choices look pretty sound but I have to say that they did kind of cop-out by excluding the price of an OS. What I think is most telling about the breakdown of their PC is how much of it is spent on the GPU. While this has been true for many years, I find it very telling where most of the resources for both developing and playing games is spent. In reading review after review of games and how the storyline is weak, the characters are dull and the AI is about as intelligent as a stump, I think it may be time to get game developers to focus more on just pretty lights.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Maximum PC Examines the Legacy of x86

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 09:00 AM

"Invented by Intel in 1978, the x86 architecture has evolved through the ages, not only getting faster, but increasingly flexible as more and more extensions and instruction sets accompany each new release. It's been a wild ride the past 30 years, and whether you lived through it all or have only recently picked up your first processor, we invite you to join as we look back at not only the most popular x86 CPUs in its history, but ones you may never even have heard of."

Maximum PC takes a trip down memory lane to celebrate the 31st year of the x86 legacy. Despite competition from various other types of processors and its current battle against the ARM chip, x86 from the 8086 to the Core i7 has dominted the PC market. The look back on the history of this line covers the arms race between Intel, AMD and Via as well as some other notable events. I have to admit that I'm surprised that the Pentium-M was not touched on, which I consider to probably be one of the biggest turning points in recent history, especially for Intel. It's still good to get a get a sense of how we got where we are with PCs and for those of us who have lived through most or all of this legacy, it brings up some points of nostalgia. I for one miss the "Turbo" button.

Presto Gives Windows PCs Fast Linux Interface

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home Software" @ 07:00 AM

Presto is an Instant On OS solution created by Xandros. Like SplashTop for ASUS motherboards, Latitude ON for Dell and others, Presto is a custom made Linux distribution tuned for fast booting and quick access to a set of standard applications. The main difference with Presto is that it can be used on any Windows PC. It actually installs on a Windows computer just like an installation through a 400+MB installer and uninstalls just as easily. Once installed, the next time you boot your computer, instead of automatically going into Windows, you're presented with a screen to choose between Windows and Presto, with Windows selected if you don't choose in 30 seconds. I opted to install Presto's beta onto my aging Toshiba M200 Tablet PC. When I loaded Presto, it was ready to use within 15 seconds. Not technically instant on like a phone or PDA, but considering the age of the laptop, and that it normally takes about 2 minutes for me to reach a usable Windows desktop, I was impressed. Read more...

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Tom's Hardware Asks How Much RAM You Really Need

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 06:00 AM,2264.html

"Once the pride of the so-called upper middle class in the United States, McMansions and SUVs have now become symbols of excess and waste--at least the reminders of an era past. Green movement proponents should certainly be happy that so many “earth abusers” are beginning to see the light, but what about performance-computing fanatics? With memory prices near record lows, is there any good reason not to fill every slot with low-cost 2 GB DIMMs?"

While netbooks and nettops are smoking sales charts, they usually come with pretty weak configurations, limiting their use. When you need to do more demanding work like editing large photos, video editing or gaming, a traditional PC, usually a desktop, is in order and with that the question is how much RAM should you get. Fortunately, gone are the days where manufacturers try to pass off systems that barely have enough RAM to load the OS without swapping, but extra RAM can certainly help. For the past while, 4-6GB has been the sweet spot in terms of price and performance. Tom's Hardware does a check to see if this still holds true or whether things have changed, and buckets of RAM can improve performance. I'll leave their results to the article, but I'll say that in general, someone should get as much as they can reasonably afford, even to the point of reaching at least 4-6GB of RAM over a faster CPU, because once the OS starts swapping, that smoking CPU will spend most of its time waiting for work. Another caveat is that if you plan on having more than 3GB of RAM and using Windows, make sure you use the 64 bit version (XP, Vista, etc) or the extra RAM you've got will just go to waste.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Battle of the A's, The Same But Different

Posted by Chris Gohlke in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 03:00 AM

"Now the Dell Adamo joins the stable of conspicuously consumed luxury laptops. The Adamo soars along with Apple's Air in the rarefied pricing altitudes of $1,799 to $2,699. At the other extreme are Asus and Acer, down-to-earth working-class designs which offer portability for a lot less. Though both companies offer expensive laptops too, they have gained prominence with their inexpensive Netbooks: the Eee PC and Aspire One, respectively. These typically fall into the sub-$500 range."

From a straight specs comparison, all four offerings have a lot in common. It is the less tangible that makes the difference in price. I don't see much difference here than in other product lines. Kind of like the difference between a Honda and a BMW. At some level, they are very similar well-made products, but there is an obvious difference in style that is worth a premium to a segment of the population.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Shuttle Unveils its Own All-In-One, The X50

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 09:30 AM

"A reasonable 15.6 touchscreen, with a 1,366 x 768 pixel resolution, is the X50's dominant feature, although the sizeable handle up top comes a close second. Powering the X50 is a dual-core, 1.6GHz, Intel Atom 330 accompanied by 1GB of RAM - with 2GB supported - a 160GB hard drive and Intel's older 945G chipset."

The whole netbook craze has definately spilled over into the desktop market full force. Shuttle is getting into the game with the X50, though there doesn't appear to be anything unique about it aside from the carrying handle. I'm all for low power desktops since most of us probably don't need powerful CPUs for regular web surfing, email and IM, but I fail to see the need for a carrying handle. If you're going to cart a PC around the house, netbooks are quickly growing in size with some touting 12" displays and a battery means you're not limited to the nearest power outlet. I just don't see being able to swing a nettop around the house as compelling enough to choose Shuttle over any other nettop out there.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Unboxing the Dell Inspiron Mini 10

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 05:46 PM

Today the courier delivered a box I was looking forward to opening: this is an unboxing and first impressions video of the Dell Inspiron Mini 10, a new netbook model that Dell has just released. As configured from Dell Canada, it cost me $559 CAD. The same configuration on as of March 19th costs $504 USD. This Mini 10 is cherry red in colour, uses the Intel Atom Z530 (1.6 Ghz) CPU, has 1 GB of DDR2 RAM, uses Windows XP SP3, has a 10.1 inch 16:9 aspect ratio screen (1024 x 576 resolution), a 160 GB 5400 RPM 2.5 inch hard drive, a 1.3 megapixel Webcam, a 802.11g WiFi card, and is powered by a 3-cell 24 WHr battery.

I mention in the review that one of the issues right off the bat with the Dell Mini 10 is the cost: I can order an Acer Aspire One in ruby red, today, for $459.99 CAD, a full $100 less expensive than the Dell Mini 10. The Acer Aspire one comes with 160 GB of storage, 1 GB of RAM, and uses a slightly older CPU - the Intel Atom N270 - but it's the same clock speed as the newer Z530 that the Dell uses. Surprisingly, the Acer also comes with a 6-cell battery. The build quality on the Dell Mini 10 is excellent, but $100 better? That's the question. I'll let you know once I get a chance to use it more - watch for my full video review a couple of weeks from now!

Jason Dunn owns and operates Thoughts Media Inc., a company dedicated to creating the best in online communities. He enjoys photography, mobile devices, blogging, digital media content creation/editing, and pretty much all technology. He lives in Calgary, Alberta, Canada with his lovely wife, and his sometimes obedient dog.

Do you enjoy using new hardware, software and accessories, then sharing your experience with others? Then join us on the Thoughts Media Review Team! We're looking for individuals who find it fun to test new gear and give their honest opinions about the experience. It's a volunteer role with some great perks. Interested? Then click here for more information.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

HP Pavilion dv3z is Happily Middle of the Road

Posted by Chris Gohlke in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 09:00 PM,281...2129TX1K0000530

"Affordable and lightweight laptops are few and far between: You'd have to settle for either a netbook or a desktop replacement laptop in order to spend less than $1,000. I'd like to see more systems that don't skimp on screen real estate yet are still relatively light, in the range of 4 to 5 pounds. The HP Pavilion dv3z ($980 direct), a 13-inch lightweight beauty, easily meets these criteria while keeping prices in the three-digit range. The only catch is that you'll have to settle for AMD parts, which, unfortunately, aren't as fast as their Intel counterparts. If your workloads are as light as this system, however, performance shouldn't matter."

This is the sweet spot for a lot of users. If you are looking for small, but not too small and need some power, but not too much power, and need something inexpensive, but not super inexpensive, then you are the target market.

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