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All posts tagged "software"

Friday, August 5, 2011

At Last, Lenovo Joins the Tablet Race with the IdeaPad K1

Posted by Michael Knutson in "Other Slates & Tablets" @ 10:30 PM

"Let's do a roll call, shall we? Who doesn't have a Honeycomb tablet to shill in the states? Acer, ASUS, Motorola, Samsung, Sony, and Toshiba all have something to their names, with Dell possibly bringing its China-only Dell Streak 10 Pro here too. Until now, Lenovo was one glaring exception. The company already had a head start selling the LePad tablet in China, but it was only last month that it announced not one, but two Honeycomb slates for the US market: the IdeaPad K1 for mainstream consumers, and the ThinkPad Tablet for business users (and a fair share of geeks, too)."

Is this a case of "me too," or "too little too late," or "better late than never," or perhaps even "We waited until we could do this right?" Lenovo's IdeaPad K1 is a decent, visually attractive tablet for the money, but is it enough to overhaul the competition? My guess is no. Arriving as Wifi-only for now, but with Android 3.1, lots of bundled apps, and some customization to make it more "user friendly," the K1 doesn't offer really anything to make it stand above the competition. So my answer for now is that this is a "me too" tablet.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Mom Wants and Gets an iPad 2

Posted by Michael Knutson in "Laptop Thoughts Talk" @ 02:00 PM

"Why should I buy an Android tablet for my mom? Android tablet manufacturers still can’t answer that simple question with conviction. So guess which tablet we bought mom for her birthday?"

It seems that everyday consumers, when given a choice, continue to opt for an iPad/iPad 2 in large numbers. These consumers buy functionality, reliability, and ease of use, and don't make their buying choices based on specs alone. Much of it is great consumer marketing, with Apple's advertising showing many of the things that consumers want.

And the competitors. Some of early Motorola Xoom advertisements were really sci-fi geek-oriented (will Motorola ever learn?). Samsung's GalaxyTab 10.1 ads revolve around 4G/LTE speed, while the everyday consumer says, huh? And RIM's advertising is (IMHO) horrendous: what, I also need a BlackBerry to see email? HP, on the other hand, seem to understand the consumer market better, displaying ease-of-use and functionality, so I'd suspect that their sales will ultimately reflect this knowledge. And the recent $50 price cut doesn't hurt.

Android tablet vendors and RIM: Mom is still waiting for you to explain to her why she should buy your product.

Monday, August 1, 2011

iTwin: Your Missing Link Has Been Found

Posted by Chris Sacksteder in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 08:00 AM

iTwin first picture

Product Category: File Sharing Utility
Manufacturer: iTwin, Inc.
Where to Buy: Amazon [Affiliate]
Price: $99.99 USD
System Requirements: Windows 7, XP or Vista (32-bit or 64-bit)
Specifications: Size: 90mm x 21mm x 8mm; 50g. Symmetrical USB (2.0) connectors, LED activity lights.


  • Easy to use.
  • Can connect two computers to copy files when other means don't work.
  • Easier than connecting to a remote file share.


  • May not be as good as connecting to a file share.
  • Needs access to company's server to operate.
  • No local help or trouble-shooting options.

Summary: This is a unique little device that enables secure file sharing between two (and only two) computers, and may be just the thing you need when other methods are blocked by company firewalls or home routers, or are simply too difficult to set up by a novice user. The company's slick marketing-oriented web site may over state its features, but it works well. Read more...

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Hands-on with the Speedy Galaxy Tab 10.1 4G from Verizon

Posted by Michael Knutson in "Laptop Thoughts Talk" @ 10:00 AM

"By now, you should be familiar with the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1. We've done countless hands-ons with the super-svelte Honeycomb slate, and even reviewed it... twice! Now it's back, again, and this time its packing an LTE radio tuned to the frequencies of a little company known as Verizon. Outside of a few tiny cosmetic changes -- the brushed, gray plastic back and the rumored Micro SIM slot up top, nothing else has changed."

It appears, based on preliminary testing with this tablet, that Verizon's 4G is indeed super fast, with an average (repeatable) testing speed of 28+ Mbps downstream, and nearly 8Mbps upstream. Thunderbolt testing produced repeatable results of 44+ Mbps downstream, and 9+ Mbps upstream. Did I mention that this is fast?

If a compelling reason is needed to jettison existing hardware, software and carrier-relationship, this may be one! Now if only those pesky usage caps would disappear, or become more realistic.

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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Google and Microsoft to Offer MS Office on Android?

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

"Google and Microsoft have a problem -- and to sum it up, that problem is Apple. Google has tablets but they aren’t selling well against the far more complete iPad offering. Microsoft won’t have an iPad competitor until well into 2012. Google is having an issue with relevancy on tablets and Microsoft loses not only a Windows footprint but an Office footprint with every iPad sold. What if the two partnered? Ironically it isn’t as hard as it sounds. You could actually see how this could work today. So let’s explore Microsoft Office on Android this week."

Interesting idea, as the iPad sometimes can be a viable lightweight replacement for (the Big Three of) Windows, Office and IE. Microsoft doesn't seem to be able to come up with a competitor for the iPad, so maybe teaming-up with Google is a step in the right direction, getting their flagship application running on Android devices. Needing Excel and Word on a regular basis for work, this concept is intriguing, without waiting for Windows 8, and would make Android tablets more desirable, in my opinion of course. The author's recommendation is to try Windows Live on a Honeycomb tablet using Opera for Android. But, since Microsoft is one of Apple's largest developers, any guesses as to when MS Office will appear for iOS?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet: Business Competitor for the ASUS Transformer

Posted by Michael Knutson in "Other Slates & Tablets" @ 11:30 PM

"Lenovo is getting into the tablet game in a big way, announcing three slates: the Android-based IdeaPad K1 and ThinkPad Tablet as well as the Windows 7-powered IdeaPad Tablet P1. The two Android tablets feature Android Honeycomb 3.1, 1-GHz Nvidia Tegra 2 processors, and 10.1-inch 1280 x 800 screens. Both should be available for pre-order today, with the IdeaPad Tablet P1 not shipping until Q4 of this year."

A competitor for the ASUS Transformer tablet has arrived from Lenovo: the Android-powered (Honeycomb) ThinkPad Tablet. Courting the business user, the ThinkPad Tablet has a tough Gorilla Glass display, and enterprise features like encryption, IT manageability, a full-sized USB port, Computrace security software, Citrix remote access support, and full stylus support for pen ($30) or finger input. An option will be a ThinkPad-style keyboard dock ($99).

"The IdeaPad K1, priced at $499 for the 32GB model, weighs a reasonable 1.65 pounds and supports 10-point multitouch gestures. Ports include a micro SD card reader, micro HDMI out, and mic/headphone jacks. Other benefits include support for DRM content so you can download protected movies to the device, free 2GB of Cloud storage, Lenovo’s SocialTouch software, and access to both the Google Market and Lenovo’s own Android app store."

A pretty generic Honeycomb tablet, but with a bright IPS display, Lenovo's Launcher, and Lenovo's App Shop. For users that are scared of native Android, this tablet adds a UI-layer that hides the underlying OS. Otherwise, it's pretty generic but with a better screen, another source for apps, and some additional apps pre-loaded. For $499, this seems to be a decent competitor to the iPad 2.

Lenovo IdeaPad Tablet P1 with Windows 7 Introduced

Posted by Michael Knutson in "Other Slates & Tablets" @ 11:00 PM

"We know, we know -- Windows 8 isn't splashing down on consumer devices for a good long while, but seriously, how's a boy to get excited about something that's already old hat? And moreover, something that has never, ever worked out. Every single Windows 7 tablet that we've tested has suffered a similar fate: too bulky, too sluggish, not longevous enough and too difficult to to operate sans a keyboard and mouse. That said, Lenovo's providing a darkhorse option for those uninterested in its duo of new Honeycomb tablets, with the IdeaPad Tablet P1 bringing Windows 7 into a familiar 10.1-inch shell."

Going where others have basically failed, Lenovo has introduced a Windows 7 tablet. The IdeaPad Tablet P1 sports an Intel 1.5GHz processor, a 1280x800 10.1-inch capacitive screen, up to 2GB RAM, up to 64GB of SSD storage, WiFi and 3G (WCDMA/EVDO) , a USB "connector," microSD slot, bluetooth, stylus input support, a docking port, a 2-megapixel webcam,a 2-cell battery lasting about 6-hours, and in gray or orange (the back). Availability is scheduled for Q4 2011, and no details are available yet on price. Personally I think that there is pent-up demand for a good Windows "business" tablet (me included), so I'll be interested, if it becomes a reality.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Sony Style Comes to the S1 and S2 Tablets

Posted by Michael Knutson in "Other Slates & Tablets" @ 10:00 AM

"Now that Sony has spilled the carrier-exclusive beans on at least one of its tablets, the S2 clamshell, the company kindly gave us a chance to get some long-awaited hands-on time with both it and its sibling, the S1 slate. And at time when it feels like we handle a new Honeycomb Android tablet every other day, these at least usher in some pretty unusual form factors. On the one hand, you've got the S1, a 9.4-inch number whose rounded wedge profile was designed to mimic a folded magazine. On the opposite end of the spectrum, there's the S2, which opens to reveal twin 5.5-inch displays -- all the more of a novelty since we've barely seen Android 3.0 running on devices that don't have 10-inch displays."

Sony Style is alive and well in the tablet space! The S1 is a 'standard' tablet, with rounded edges and a wedge shape, making it ergonomically efficient, as well as easy to hold. Results indoors were very good, and the 1280x768 display was great for viewing a movie, even from the side and at an angle. Results outdoors are unknown, as this was a very short hands-on.

The S2 is a clamshell form-factor, with two 5.5-inch screens. According to the review, when closed, it looks like a large case for eyeglasses. When open, there is a bezel separating the bright screens, making for a less than optimal viewing experience. No other details are available at this time.

Nothing reported on software other than to mention that Honeycomb (Android 3+) is there, and Sony has done some work at the UI layer to make the user experience "better." Speed of the S1 and S2 seemed similar to other Android tablets, described as "pretty zippy," and both devices are both PlayStation Certified (hello games!). I like this clamshell idea, so it'll be interesting to see how apps perform with two small screens available - or is it logically one screen with a chunk of plastic bezel in the middle?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Data Migration The Easy Way

Posted by Jeff Campbell in "Apple Laptops" @ 05:46 PM

"When you buy a new computer, you start with a clean slate, which is great, but you don't have any of your documents or settings from your old computer. Luckily, it's very easy to transfer all your files and settings from your old computer to the new one-whether you're on Windows or a Mac."

Lots of talk about new Macbook Airs in the near future, not to mention September is fast approaching for the start of a new school year and potentially new laptops for the kiddos, so it's probably appropriate to give a little info on how to do some data migration from your "old" laptop into that shiny new machine. And this one from Lifehacker is a pretty good one as it covers Windows to Windows, Windows to Mac and vice versa as well as Mac to Mac.

Monday, July 11, 2011

An Assortment of Back-to-School Notebooks

Posted by Michael Knutson in "Other Laptops & Netbooks" @ 10:00 PM

"While tablets are all the rage, students looking for a physical keyboard, gobs of storage, and enough processing muscle for serious multitasking should still make a laptop their primary computing device. But which is the right notebook for your budget?"

A short but useful review of some back-to-school recommendations for "student" notebooks, grouped by price. The review starts out with several notebooks that I'd consider to be "super netbooks" in the 3.2 to 3.5-pound class, and $379 and $479 respectively. Systems get progressively larger (except for the MacBook Air) and more expensive, culminating in two large desktop-replacement class notebooks, a Toshiba Qosmio with a 17.3-inch screen at $1499 and an even larger Acer Aspire with an 18.4-inch screen at $1599. Lots of options, and a good overview if you're looking for a new notebook. Several in the review have backlit keyboards, one of my requirements, and you'll find USB 3.0 and WiDi too!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Lenovo ThinkPad T420s Review: Lightweight and Powerful

Posted by John London in "Laptop Thoughts Articles & Resources" @ 12:00 PM

Lenovo's ThinkPad T420s is the business user's ultimate Goldilocks notebook. At 14.1-inches and 4 pounds, the laptop is extremely light and portable, but large enough to provide a generous high-res screen, a powerful processor, and full-sized keyboard and touchpad. However, with a price of $1,349 (as configured), the ThinkPad T420s costs more than heavier 14-inch systems such as the ThinkPad T420 or the HP EliteBook 8460p. Spoiler alert: this lightweight notebook is worth the investment.

I have not used a ThinkPad since around Y2K. At that time I swore that I would never buy one. Of course work bought them and even today the ThinkPad is still a business worrier’s tool. Boy has time change my thoughts. First, it weights a mere 4lbs and less than a 1 inch thick. The build quality is excellent with the use of carbon fiber and plastics for durability, in case of a fall. Even the screen is excellent for watching HD movies. The keyboard was even mentioned as having the ability to channel a spill (coffee or your favorite beverage) away from the computer. Of course the downside is the cost. Time has changed the ThinkPad and is looking like a contender. For you ThinkPad fans does this fit the bill?

We Have Smart Phones, And Do We Want to Simplify Our Lives

Posted by John London in "Laptop Thoughts Articles & Resources" @ 10:34 AM

"Almost two-thirds of Americans are using more than one computing device - defined as a Smartphone, tablet, computer or netbook - according to a poll released this week. Unsurprisingly, the poll, which surveyed 2,000 Americans, found that 83 percent of people want access to their documents in the cloud. Of course they do. When 63 percent of the population has multiple computers and one-third has more than three, keeping them synced is a pain best left back in the early '00s and late '90s where it belongs."

The author of article has statistics on his side that some 15% of the computer users use 4 or more computer devices a week. That is probably true if you use one at work, have a laptop at home, netbook, Smartphone, Server, tablet, work multiple jobs or your family has multiple computers. However, is it really necessary to put all your data, music, photos etc. in the cloud? To me the answer is no. It does make sense with certain files. So, with all these devices do we really want dumb down these devices to simplify our lives? Some probably do, others no. To me, it is all about customizing the device. It will be interesting to see what the manufacturers will do with the devices and the cloud in the next few years.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

A Short Feature-by-feature Comparison of Six Tablets

Posted by Michael Knutson in "Other Slates & Tablets" @ 09:00 AM

"In today’s crowded market, looking for a tablet is like buying a new car. Everything looks great when it’s slick, polished and sitting on the lot. The hard part is keeping track of what’s under the hood."

Here we have a short feature-by-feature comparison of six current tablets: The HP TouchPad, Motorola Xoom, Apple iPad, Apple iPad 2, RIM Blackberry PlayBook, and the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1. The seven categories and the winner (frontrunner) of each:

  • Body (no winner, a matter of taste, based on size and weight)
  • Power (HP TouchPad with great multitasking)
  • Cameras (Motorola Xoom. PlayBook better than expected.)
  • Connectivity (Motorola Xoom for port connectivity/iPad and iPad 2 for 3G connectivity)
  • Browser Performance (iPad 2. The TouchPad had the slowest browser.)
  • Battery Life (iPad 2. TouchPad surprisingly good)
  • Price (No winner, but a loser was crowned, the Xoom.)

The bottom line here (No winner overall) is that the author recommends that you try before you buy, as each tablet has its pluses and minuses. Find a tablet that you enjoy using, and is right for your needs, and ignore the hype.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Acer Iconia A500 Review: Better Alternatives Available

Posted by Michael Knutson in "Acer Iconia" @ 10:30 AM

"Next in our series of Honeycomb tablet reviews is the Acer Iconia Tab A500. The A500 was the second Honeycomb tablet to go on sale, and is one of four on the market at present, all of which are very similar. They share basic specs—10.1” 1280x800 displays, NVIDIA’s Tegra 2 underhood, 1GB LPDDR2 RAM, 16-64GB onboard NAND, front and rear facing cameras with HD video capture, basic wireless connectivity options, and stock versions of Android 3.0/3.1 Honeycomb (albeit with different preloaded software packages)."

A telling comment is that the reviewer liked the A500 better when he read about it than when he actually had one in his hands to review. Cheaply designed and cheaply manufactured, the A500 is good for a bargain price of $379 (where it has sometimes sold at MacMall's eBay store), but the alternatives are better. His recommendation is to wait for the next generation of hardware to appear, or, if you can't wait, to look for an ASUS Eee Pad Transformer, if you can find one.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

5 Reasons Why Amazon Can Compete in The Tablet Market

Posted by John London in "Laptop Thoughts Articles & Resources" @ 12:30 PM

"It seems fairly reasonable to bet that Amazon will introduce an Android tablet in the foreseeable time. It makes perfect sense and it is not difficult to predict that Amazon where succeed where Samsung and Motorola have failed. Hope and disappointment in Android tablets is a repetitive cycle these days. There is this huge anticipation building up that there will finally be an iPad rival."

Even though Amazon has yet to release an Android based tablet, this makes perfectly good sense. Why? Developers can now develop and port apps. Amazon has sold millions of Kindles so in order to compete against an Apple iPad the specifications and price will probably have to competitive. Amazon seems to have built their loyal fan base so the Android operating system (O/S) will take them to the next level, something akin to the Barnes and Noble Nook.

If Amazon releases the Kindle on the Android O/S, you can count on the display being an excellent one. The other area is the User Interface (UI) that will most likely stay simple, again akin to the Nook. What will be interesting if Amazon will add ports and storage e.g. USB, VGA, Disk Drive/SSD, etc.? This will make for an interesting tablet, great display, easy UI, ports and competitive pricing. If Amazon moves to the Android O/S, the tablet market will continue to heat up.

Is Android Failing as a Tablet Platform?

Posted by Michael Knutson in "Laptop Thoughts Talk" @ 10:30 AM

"I like Android. I own both a tablet and a smartphone running Android, and I find them both to be great mobile devices. I have tested and reviewed dozens of phones and tablets running some form of Android, and for the most part I have liked them all. My personal preference for Android aside, I have to be honest and state that Android is failing as a tablet platform compared to the competition."

Failing? Not really, but, I look at Android for tablets somewhat like I look at Linux for desktops and laptops, it works, but there is currently no compelling reason for me to switch. Like Linux, Android for tablets come in a variety of flavors, layered atop Honeycomb, just as the various Linux distros are layered upon a Linux kernel. Slight differences. The author makes a good point, that no one company is stepping up and driving the platform forward, not even Google. An example would be the Xoom's lack of support for the SD hardware onboard, even though this was touted as an advantage over the competition. A fix is rumored to be soon available outside North America, according to Motorola Europe. What about us? Until someone (Amazon, for example?) steps up and drives (unifies, extends) Android for tablets forward, it'll continue to be second in the race, and we all know that almost nobody remembers a second place finisher in a competition.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Head To Head Comparo Of The Big Five Of Cloud Storage/Music Service

Posted by Richard Chao in "Digital Home Software" @ 11:46 PM

"It’s been a busy time for cloud storage and music services and Apple’s launch onto the scene with Apple iCloud has officially declared it global war. The lines have begun to blur as to what you own, where you own it and just how much you have to pay for the privilege to do so and one could be forgiven for doing a little head scratching on the matter."

In these last few months we've seen a few big players jump into the cloud storage/music service arena. The latest being Apple with iCloud. Apple joins Google Music Beta, Amazon Cloud Drive, Dropbox and Microsoft SkyDrive. Each of these services have pro and cons over their competitors. To help sort it out, Pocket-lint has written up a comparison of all of these services.

Personally, I use a combination of these clients. Amazon Cloud Drive for my music. Dropbox for my files. Microsoft SkyDrive for my Windows Phone 7 camera roll backup. Apple iCloud for my iPhone 4 backup. I'd probably use Google Music Beta too if I had an invite. And this is pretty similar to Pocket-lint's conclusion. How about you? Do you use one of these services exclusively or are you like me? Is there another service you'd recommend over these?

Monday, June 13, 2011

New MacBook Air To Be at the Center of the iCloud Universe

Posted by Michael Knutson in "Apple Talk" @ 03:00 PM

"Apple’s refresh of the MacBook Air last fall did much to improve the fortunes of the company’s ultra-slim notebook. With its next iteration, it could be getting ready to step into the spotlight as the quintessential Mac computer. That update is on the way soon, according to a new report, and I’d be surprised if we didn’t see it arrive right alongside the operating system that seems tailor-made for it: OS X Lion."

According to unconfirmed reports, Apple has ordered at least 400,000 new MacBook Air models, with Intel's new Sandy Bridge processors inside. Sounds like Apple is not content to let a handful of Windows manufacturers offers a MBA-like footprint, far superior capacity and performance, and comparable prices. The new platform will offer Sandy Bridge processors, potentially thunderbolt port(s), upgraded storage capacity, and faster (and larger?) SSDs. Expectations are that the Air will be the platform to highlight the capabilities of the Lion OS. I've also heard other unconfirmed rumors that the new generation will be announced sometime this week. Now we wait and see ...

Sunday, June 12, 2011

HP TouchPad Video Walkthrough

Posted by Michael Knutson in "Other Slates & Tablets" @ 10:30 PM

Pretty impressive! Multitasking works like one would expect as a computer user: swiping up and down to minimize and maximize open applications. Swiping left and right through "cards" or open tasks moves you between open apps. Seems much better than task switching in iOS or Android. The onscreen keyboard is resizeable (S M L), and has numeric keys as well as easy access to special characters. HP's Synergy technology integrates application-level data at OS level, for example, Facebook photos and comments can be accessed through the WebOS Photos App. Native printing for HP printers is baked-in. Apps will be available, Kindle reader was mentioned, so there is a development community. I do like the proximity charging for the device via a "touch stone" device, but this may be an extra cost option. Looks like a good start - this may be a device that resonates well with business users, as Citrix and other enterprise-level tools are available.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Samsung Chromebook Series 5: Not Quite Ready

Posted by Michael Knutson in "Samsung Laptops & Netbooks" @ 08:30 AM

"The Samsung Chromebook Series 5 isn’t just any laptop — it’s one we’ve been waiting on since the fall of 2009. It was then, back in an economy where netbooks were still selling like hotcakes, that Google’s Sundar Pichai took to the stage in Mountain View to talk about a future operating system that would be completely based around the browser — Chrome OS. He promised a new type of netbook that would connect you to the internet in less than 20 seconds and would be entirely based in the cloud. No hardware was revealed that day, but Google promised Chrome OS laptops made by other manufacturers before the end of 2010 and a real change in computing."

Finally, a review of a real Chromebook, and not a re-hashed CR-48 review. Samsung made their 12.1-inch Chromebook thin and light, but they've made some manufacturing compromises to keep the cost (somewhat) down, for example, flimsy plastic moving parts, no ethernet, no HDMI-out, no USB 3.0, and no backlit keyboard.

The keyboard is a chiclet, and has done away with some traditional keys (they can be re-mapped) like the CAPS LOCK. The touchpad is better than expected. The matte screen at 1280x800 is a 300 nit screen, so it's "bright and crisp," and also works well outdoors. The shiny bezel can be distracting. The videocam is HD and works well - reports of audio being slightly out-of-sync were reported, although this could've been an issue with network congestion. Unfortunately there is no production Skype client yet. Speakers are small and tinny, no big surprise.


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