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All posts tagged "hardware"

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

New Gaming Powerhouse from MSI

Posted by Michael Knutson in "Other Laptops & Netbooks" @ 04:30 PM

"MSI is out to prove that powerful gaming chops doesn't necessarily mean a large and barely portable notebook. The flashy GT660 is heavy, yes, but not so big that users won't be able to carry it in a normal laptop bag."

A bit heavy at 7.4 pounds, this powerful gaming laptop is still able to fit in a standard laptop/messenger bag, unlike some of the competition. A bit schizophrenic in the styling department, with lots of angles, various glossy and matte finishes, and an assortment of colored lights, MSI has packed-in quite a bit of power for under $2,000 with lots of upgrade possibilities. However, some of the finer nuances are lacking, for example, the screen resolution of 1366x768 could be higher in a 16-inch monitor, and the screen is highly reflective. A backlit keyboard would be a plus. Still, this is a powerful beastie for gamers, with great graphics and sound, and at a very competitive price.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Am I Dreaming, A $150 Android Tablet Available This Week?

Posted by Chris Gohlke in "Other Slates & Tablets" @ 04:00 PM

"We can't say we've heard of Augen before, but the company certainly sparked our interest (and that of Kmart circular readers) this weekend with its $149.99 7-inch Android tablet. Oh yes, you heard right shoppers -- the small Florida-based shop is bringing an Android 2.1 tablet with WiFi, 2GB of storage and 256MB of RAM to a store near you for just 150 buckaroos. And according to an Augen spokesperson, it will have access to the Android "Market App Store.""

I already hit up my local Kmart on my way home, no luck. But they get their trucks in on Wednesday, so I'll try again then. At $150 they will have had to fail in a ton of way to not make this an interesting device, so I'll be picking one up as soon as I can get my hands on one and before the reviews start pouring in. If it pans out, I'd say major coup for the little guy getting this thing out while the big players keep stumbling all over themselves. Here is the official product page if you'd like to read up.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

ASUS UL30Vt-A1 Thin, Light, and Long Lasting

Posted by Chris Gohlke in "Asus Laptops & Netbooks" @ 05:00 AM

"Typically, if you’re getting massive battery life it’s at the sake of power (think netbooks – they get great battery life, but they’re not nearly as powerful as a “traditional” laptop.) That’s not the case for the Ul30vt. Under the hood is a Core2Duo ULV processor (an SU7300), 4GB of DDR3 RAM, and a huge 500GB HDD. The UL30vt also features switchable graphics which goes a long way towards optimizing for peak performance or stretching battery life."

This looks like a nice balance that could be a nice fit for a lot of people. Power and a bigger screen like a laptop. Lacks an optical drive, great battery life, and thin and light like a netbook. Available in screen sizes from 12 to 15 inches to fit your particular preference.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

A Winning Streak for Dell?

Posted by Michael Knutson in "Dell Laptops & Netbooks" @ 07:00 PM

"How does a PC maker entering the smart phone space for the first time make a splash? Make a device so large other people can't help but ask "What the heck is that?" To be fair, Dell positions its new 5-inch Streak as a tablet that happens to make calls. But that hasn't stopped people from comparing it to a waffle or a Pop Tart (it's bigger than the latter) while holding it up to their head. The good news is that the Streak is a well-designed slate, complete with a front-facing camera for video calls, and it's the first Android tablet that can access the Android Market."

This tablet is definitely an enigma. It's getting lots of press, despite the fact that it's coming to market being powered by an old version of Android, and has hardware that is not yet being fully utilized or exploited. As an integral part of Dell's future mobile strategy, one can only hope that updates will be fast and furious, and that content will be available for the 5-inch screen. If not, it may unfortunately end up as more of a blur than a streak.

Laptops That Sip the Juice

Posted by Chris Gohlke in "HP Laptops & Netbooks" @ 03:00 AM

"When it comes to battery life, you can’t just trust manufacturers’ lofty claims. That’s why we test the endurance of every notebook we review with a script that surfs the web continuously over Wi-Fi until the battery is completely drained. These five notebooks, ranging in size from 10 inches to 15 inches, each earned close to or greater than 8 hours of juice on a single charge. One lasted more than 10. With that much gas in the tank, you won’t have to refuel for a full work day, maybe even longer. Have fun leaving that power cord at home."

My wife's Asus will eek out 6 or 7 hours, so she'll often forgo the power adapter for a trip of just a few days. If you are tired of always being tied down to a wall outlet, you may want to check out the full review and especially the HP Mini 5102 which gets and impressive 10.1 hours of web surfing on a single charge. Lenovo, Acer, and 2 Mac's round out their top 5.

Tags: hardware, hp, acer, lenovo

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Minnesota Wizards Predict Computing's Future

Posted by Michael Knutson in "Laptop Thoughts News" @ 10:30 PM

"The "value equation." It's a term we've heard laptop makers throw around for years. That's what Best Buy uses to decide which notebooks gain access to its precious shelf space, and therefore exposure to millions of shoppers. This equation has so much influence, in a way this single retailer has the power to determine which technologies are ready for the masses, and which ones still need time in the oven. But what goes into this mysterious formula? And who's behind it?"

With the dozens (hundreds?) of brands and models of computers available for resale, I've often wondered how a large retailer like Best Buy decides what actually makes it into their stores and onto their web site. There's only so much brick and mortar shelf space, so, who decides, and how? This article provides some interesting insight into how Best Buy has made the selection process into a predictive art, based on a number of factors, including sales numbers by brand, assigning a value for each component, the service experience, the length of the warranty, and the design. One very highly valued trait is backlit keyboards, something that Best Buy says (because),"customers told us that they couldn't see their computers in the dark." The story also talks about some trends, and some predictions for the near future, including a rosy future for Wi-Max/LTE/3G enabled products. Interesting reading!

New Toshiba Satellite M645: Out of This World?

Posted by Michael Knutson in "Toshiba Laptops & Netbooks" @ 01:30 PM

"It looks good, and it sounds even better. The 14-inch, 5-pound Toshiba Satellite M645 ($1,049) sports a a snazzy textured finish, plus Harmon / Kardon speakers powered by Dolby Advanced Audio Technology, producing the best sound we've heard from a laptop of this size."

Toshiba continues to improve their Satellite line of laptops, and the M645 continues the trend. Many pluses noted, and the few small minuses worth noting: VGA Webcam produced dark images; glossy display image washed-out during angled viewing and reflected when using less than full brightness; slowish standard 5400rpm drive; standard 6-cell 4400mAH tested battery life of only 3.5 hours; slowish WiFi transfer rates.

With seven preconfigured models and numerous configuration choices, starting at $719, the minor annoyances can, for the most part, be overcome for a reasonable price. $809 gets you an Intel Core i3 processor, 3GB of RAM, a 7200rpm drive, and a larger (5600mAH) battery, taking you to a reasonable five (5) hours of battery life. So, if you need a laptop that is a gamer, and strong on the multimedia side, consider taking a look at the new Satellite M645.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Dell's Giant Streak TabletPhone ...

Posted by Michael Knutson in "Dell Laptops & Netbooks" @ 03:30 PM

"If you've been following the ongoing saga of Dell's Streak, you've probably already read our review of O2 UK's version -- thing is, the British perspective can be very different from the Yankee one (we didn't see eye-to-eye during the War of 1812, for instance). To that end, we wanted to circle back now that the gargantuan Android beast is finally coming close to a US release and get another quick take."

Thinking back to the days when I had a Nokia N810 Tablet, I really wished that it had phone capabilities. Dell's Streak is an Android 1.6 TabletPhone with an 800x480 5-inch screen, and is only 10mm thick. It supports quad-band EDGE, and 3G for AT&T, Rogers, Bell and Telus. T-Mobile 3G? Sorry. EDGE only. This giant has 2GB internal storage, comes bundled with a 16GB MicroSDHC card, and is powered by a Snapdragon 1GHz processor.

Is this perhaps "The One" that we've been awaiting? Unfortunately, early reviews point to No. Android is three versions behind, and Dell's customizations and tweaks don't make up the difference. Some annoyances? The home screen is landscape only. No dedicated hardware search button. Notifications no longer via down-swipe. No Android multitouch, although Dell has added some customizations to the UI. Unimpressive virtual keyboard. No trashcan on the home screen. The screen ripples when pressed moderately hard, indicating some stress on the glass. Camera and video mediocre, sound quality also mediocre. And, a proprietary connector/charger rather than microUSB.

Great potential, but the target market (power users and road warriors) probably won't like Dell's design decisions. Here's hoping that the hacker community makes a nice, clean Android 2.2 build available for this monster - the sooner the better.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Entry Level Gateway Still Has Some Bling

Posted by Chris Gohlke in "Other Laptops & Netbooks" @ 09:00 AM

"Consumers looking for an inexpensive notebook that still has a sense of style should check out the Gateway ID49C07u. Not only is its metallic lid classy, but the notebook has decent performance figures to back it up. While we wish battery life was a bit longer--and the boot time shorter--these faults are forgiveable in a system that costs less than $700. Ultimately, the ID's glowing touchpad seems a little gimmicky, but we like that Gateway tried something new on a system that isn't for the uber-rich."

I think it is a smart move when a company invest a little money in styling on even their budget line products. Besides having a product that actually works well, a consumer that has purchased your product looks at it daily, and cheap design will have them associate your company with cheap products, which is not the association you want them to have when it comes time for them to upgrade.

Tablet Forecast - Sunny with Lots of Choices!

Posted by Chris Gohlke in "Other Slates & Tablets" @ 07:00 AM

"As a long-time tablet enthusiast, it is with amusement that I watch the “new” tablet space taking shape. The Microsoft Tablet PC may have been around for a decade, but the newly released iPad has defined a new market for slates. Sales numbers for the iPad have been good, and tablet makers are racing to get their models to market late this year and early next year. Here’s what I expect to see coming down the pipe."

Smaller iPads, bigger Android devices, and hopefully something to show from the Windows camp. Supposedly the next version of Android (Gingerbread) will support screen resolutions of up to 1366×768 which will really open up the market for larger screen Android devices. The huge success of Android based phones over the last year has made people a lot more comfortable with the idea of this as an alternative OS, so I'm betting that while Linux for the most part failed at being a viable alternative for most users when netbooks came out, Android may just succeed.

Tags: hardware, slate

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Cruz Reader is Really an Android Tablet

Posted by Chris Gohlke in "Other Slates & Tablets" @ 03:00 AM

Now this looks pretty interesting. They mention a partnership with Borders and Kobo for ebooks, but if it is running Android with access to the Marketplace, it should be able to also access the Kindle store. So for $199, this looks like quite the bargain. I'll be curious what version of Android this runs. Also curious about the Cruz Tablet, which adds flash support among other things, but ups the price to $299.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Microsoft Still Pursuing Windows 7 Based Slates

Posted by Chris Gohlke in "Other Slates & Tablets" @ 02:00 PM

"No worries, guys, because Microsoft is “hardcore” about tablets. Well, “hardcore” about Windows 7-based slate computers. So said Steve Ballmer at its Worldwide Partners Conference in Seattle. Microsoft says that its big strength here is that it consumers will have a wide variety of choice when it comes to buying a Windows-based tablet. That’s opposed, of course, to a certain other company’s tablet offering that is available in any color, so long as it’s black. You know what I mean."

Quit talking and get something done. I want a slate that is not an iPad and I want it now. Earlier this year I fully expected to have an HP product running Windows 7 in my hands by now, but we all know how that went. At this point, I'm kind of expecting that I'll be owning an Android based slate by the end of the year unless Microsoft and their partner get their butts in gear.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Notebook Bundle Giveaway at

Posted by Chris Gohlke in "HP Laptops & Netbooks" @ 01:00 PM

"How would you like to win a mobility bundle that includes an HP Pavilion dm4 notebook, Beats by Dre headphones and a Canon PowerShot SD1300 camera? All you have to do to enter this giveaway is answer a few questions in our July 2010 survey about your recent or planned computer purchase."

Nice prize bundle, since I plan on winning, you should not even bother entering.  But if you insist, you should head over to, take their survey, and enter the contest.  Open to US residents only.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Quanta Ships 4.8 Million Laptops in June 2010

Posted by Michael Knutson in "Other Laptops & Netbooks" @ 07:00 PM

"Quanta Computer, the world's largest contract laptop computer maker, set record highs for shipments and revenue in the month of June, a sign demand for technology products hasn't stumbled despite fears of debt problems in some parts of Europe."

In a still-slumping economy, this is an amazing number of laptops built and shipped. Quanta manufactures laptops for Dell, HP and Sony, amongst others. Quanta expects the number to drop somewhat for July, but pick up again in August. This astounding record number was due in part to an easing of a shortage of Intel's Annandale Core i3 and Core i5 laptop microprocessors. 2010 has also seen shortages of other laptop components such as LCD screens and DRAM memory. Manufacturers had been waiting for these processors to create thinner ("slimmer") laptops, with Intel's supply expected to catch-up to demand by the end of June 2010. Faster, Lighter, Cheaper! 

First Acer Aspire One to Sport Intel Atom N550

Posted by Chris Gohlke in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 01:00 PM

"This is an update to the AOD260 (yes) which adds a new processor configuration and new colors, but drops the chrome elements and the glass splitter like "flake" design. Otherwise it's exactly the same."

Too bad they couldn't reduce the size of that massive logo on the lid while they were at it. If you use multi-threaded applications that can take advantage of a dual core processor, then you'll certainly see an advantage with a dual core netbook; otherwise, since the individual cores are slower, you may actually see a performance drop with this upgrade.

Sony VAIO EC Series Desktop Replacement Monster

Posted by Michael Knutson in "Sony Laptops & Netbooks" @ 12:00 PM

"Sony's always had a knack for making some of the best multimedia laptops around, and the VAIO EC Series is all about continuing the trend. The desk-dominating 17.3-inch laptop is a monster of a machine, and has the internal guns to match – it's got a Core i3 processor, ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5470 graphics card, 4GB of RAM, 500GB of storage and a Blu-ray drive."

Sony's VAIO EC Series desktop replacement multimedia laptops are the next in a long series of "almost good enough to really be a desktop replacement" laptops. A robust processor and graphics, a very good display, coupled wth a 4x Blu-ray drive start things off well. But then comes the disappointment of mediocre speakers, no standalone multimedia buttons, lots of shiny surface, and an off-center trackpad with some reported quirks.

As with nearly all systems with this much power, battery life suffers, with 2.5 - 3.0 hours of use being all that one can expect. This is not a light machine at 7.3 pounds, so one could reasonably expect that it'd remain in one place (as a desktop replacement) and not rely on the battery. Bottom line is that this is a good, but unexceptional multimedia laptop for the price, and that Sony still commands and gets a premium for its products.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Is That A Desktop In Your Pocket?

Posted by Michael Knutson in "Other Slates & Tablets" @ 01:00 PM

"If you don't understand the significance of what you're looking at then you're probably not paying attention. First off, that Aava slab of WoW slaying smartphone is underpinned by Intel's Moorestown processor. Yes, Intel, not ARM, as Chipzilla gets serious about taking its silicon mobile."

Interesting to see an early version of Intel-powered hardware and Nokia software (MeeGo OS) that looks like an amalgamation of WebOS and Android, with UI elements reminiscent of Nokia's N900. Using the Moorestown platform rather than the typical ARM chipset may provide the necessary horsepower to run some serious (PC-based) games, but battery life of an hour limits the fun. Not being a huge gamer, this seems to me to be a solution in search of a problem, what with all the other good-to-great handheld gaming platforms already available.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Cool Your Vaio! BIOS Fix for Overheating Problem

Posted by Michael Knutson in "Sony Laptops & Netbooks" @ 09:30 AM

"Sony has issued a software fix to prevent a recent batch of Vaio laptops from overheating. Over 500,000 new laptops could be affected by the problem, in what could well turn out to be a PR disaster for the consumer electronics giant."

Sony Vaio owners continue to be plagued by overheating problems. After the massive battery recall of 2006, estimated to have cost Sony $250 million, the latest problem impacts about a half million laptops. Sony has issued a software fix that updates the system BIOS. ( Link )

Monday, July 5, 2010

Pioneer Competitors for iPad

Posted by Michael Knutson in "Other Slates & Tablets" @ 09:42 PM

"Now that the buzz surrounding the Apple iPad release and the whispers of the Asus Eee Pad have died down, we thought it was about time that another contender to the market appeared from the woodwork. And we were right! Pioneer have just released details of not only one, but three new competitors - the Pioneer DreamBook ePad 7/10 (7inch), DreamBook ePad A10 (10inch) and DreamBook ePad L11 HD (11.6inch)."

With two new Android ePads and one new Windows 7 ePad from Pioneer, consumers will soon have some new tablet choices. What I see as the biggest iPad direct competitor, the A10, will run Windows7 on an Intel Atom N455 at 1.66GHz (or optionally) on an N475 at 1.83GHz with a maximum of 2GB DDR3 RAM; a 10.1-inch screen with 1024x600 resolution; a solid state (SSD) drive with 8/16/32GB; 802.11a/b/g wireless (no "n"); wired 100Mbps Ethernet; microSD card reader; and 1.3MP front-facing camera. One negative is that the 3-cell battery last only five hours. Expected pricing (converted from AUD) starts at $506. Upgraded component pricing is not yet available.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

ASUS Eee PC 1215N Netbook for Power Users

Posted by Michael Knutson in "Asus Laptops & Netbooks" @ 02:00 PM

"The phrase "netbook powerhouse" would typically be considered an oxymoron. That was before ASUS announced its Eee PC 1215N bumpin' a 1.8GHz dual-core Intel Atom D525 processor with NVIDIA Optimus to intelligently switch between its NVIDIA Ion discrete and integrated graphics."

ASUS has always been good at anticipating the changing needs of netbook users, and the new Eee PC 1215N continues the trend, further blurring the thin line between netbook and laptop. Details are a bit sparse today, but this "network powerhouse" sports a dual-core 1.8GHz Intel Atom D525 processor, a 12-inch 1366x768 display, NVIDIA Optimus to allow switching between integrated and NVIDIA ION graphics, and hardware decoding for H.264, MPEG2 and VC1 HD Videos to allow 1080p video playback in 16:9 format. Read more...

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