Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Sony VAIO SZ2 Review

Submitted by swisstoni

Background

The VAIO SZ is Sony's latest thin and light range of notebooks, available in a range of specifications all with dual Intel / nVidia graphics and Intel dual core processors.



Sony VAIO SZ2 (view large image)

I opted for the flagship SZ2VP model with the following specifications:
Intel Core Duo T2600 -- @ 2.16Ghz per core
1GB DDR2 RAM
120Gb 54000RPM hard drive
13.3" LCD with LED backlight, running at 1280 x 800 resolution
Dual Layer DVD +/- RW optical drive
Switchable Intel GMA 950/nVidia GeForce 7400 graphics
Being the limited edition prestige' model, this was only available to purchase through Sony Centres or Sony Style online. After a visit to my local Sony Centre and being told a very vague "we might be able to get one for mid September" I decided to pursue the online method!

Build and Design

Sony VAIO SZ2 setup (view large image)


My first thoughts on unpacking the SZ were "wow...it's small!" This is my first laptop, yet with the top level VP' only weighing in at 1.69 kilos (3.7 lbs) I was very pleased with the size and weight of the unit.

(view large image)

The VP features a carbon fibre top casing, yet there is much discussion as to how much carbon fibre is actually present in the laptop! The casing does not feature the weave' you would expect from this material, yet it still provides an interesting effect and also contains blue metallic particles visible in certain light conditions.

The palm rest and keypad area have a brushed aluminium finish which makes a great change from the plastic of many other machines and gives great aesthetic appeal.

There are a total of 5 switches located above the keyboard; two shortcut switches, a wireless on/off switch, power button and the graphics switch. It's a shame you can't turn off wifi/Bluetooth independently with hardware switches but it is easily done from the software utility.



VAIO SZ2 right side view (view large image)
VAIO SZ2 left side view (view large image)
VAIO SZ2 front side view (view large image)
VAIO SZ2 back side view (view large image)
Screen
The LCD features LED backlight technology, which gives a very thin screen and lid -- only around 5/6mm thick. Whilst helping to reduce weight and giving a great look to the product, it does make the LCD seem slightly fragile with a little amount of twist (though probably not as much as you'd expect from something this thin).
The 1280 x 800 resolution works excellently on the 13.3" screen. Not having perfect eyesight, I was concerned about a high resolution on a smaller screen but I find it a pleasure to use with absolutely no problems.
It features Sony's X-Black technology, which gives the typical glossy effect to the screen. Not having a massive range of experience with various manufacturers, I can't really compare it to others, yet suffice to say it also seems to feature some kind of anti glare coating which is hard to describe but it seems to reduce the visible reflections from objects behind you. I am also impressed with the very large viewing angle on the screen, far more so than any other LCD's I've used.
The brightness on the screen is excellent and I find myself turning it down from the highest setting when indoors and only using the brightest setting when outside, which still gives a decent picture.
Features and Performance
I'm not a gamer yet I tend to run multiple applications at the same time, particularly resource hogs like Photoshop. The Core Duo seems to live up to the task very well though I can't say it's any faster compared to my desktop running an Athlon XP at 2.17Ghz with the same 1GB of RAM and a lowly graphics card.
The dual graphics are a fantastic feature and allow you to switch between the integrated Intel GMA 950 chipset, or the dedicated nVidia GeForce 7400 with 128mb dedicated memory. Use the Intel while running office applications to conserve battery life, or the nVidia for more extreme use. A restart is required to flick between the two chips, which is a bit of an annoyance yet it is still an excellent innovation and something I haven't come across in any other laptops.
The fingerprint reader is located between the two touchpad buttons and although I considered it a toy in the pre-purchase stage, I now consider it a godsend! It can be used for logging onto Windows, launching applications (assign an app. to each finger) or entering passwords into web windows. It does the job very well and recognises my fingers first go around 95% of the time. To check security I asked a co-worker to try and logon to my system but they were denied access even after 5 minutes of trying! While I'm sure it's not that secure, it is certainly a viable alternative to entering hundreds of passwords.
The optical drive provides pretty much every kind of functionality I could ever dream of with dual layer DVD +/- rewrite ability. My only gripe would be that the disc tray seems a little fragile, yet for the amount I use the drive this is only a minor concern. I suspect this is due to the thin form factor of the laptop.
Expresscard 34 and a PCMCIA slots both feature on the laptop, yet the Expresscard is filled with Sony's included card reader which seems to cope with all the main formats such as SD and MMC. A built-in Sony memory stick duo reader takes care of their own format, but it's a shame they shun the popular SD format to a separate reader in favour of their own cards.
Included media card reader in the ExpressCard slot (view large image)
It also seems Sony were a bit tight on room by only including two USB 2 ports, which although is adequate for myself, I'd have preferred to have seen more.
There's VGA out but no composite video for outputting to a TV, which I consider a major downside on a laptop costing £1800 ($3,000)! Also, my VGA to TV converter doesn't work on this laptop like it did on my Mac Mini meaning it will be difficult to output the image to a standard TV screen.
Heat and Noise
The laptop seems exceptionally quiet, and the fan noise is almost inaudible in anything other than total silence. I've yet to hear the fans totally shut down, but this may be because I primarily use the nVidia graphics. Shortcut button 2 is pre-set to drop fan noise and CPU clock, yet whenever I've used it the difference has been minimal.
The optical drive is far from quiet when in use and during start-up, yet again as I use it so little this is not a problem for myself.
It seems to produce a fair amount of heat when using the nVidia graphics, though no more than I'd expect from a performance orientated machine with dedicated graphics and it never gets annoyingly hot, just quite warm. Again this is something I can live with. Using the Intel graphics allows the laptop to run very cool and quiet.
Keyboard and Touchpad
(view large image)
After reading various forum reports of problems with the spacebar and keyboard in general on the SZ I was very sceptical. However after using it for a few weeks it seems to have none of these problems. I neither greatly like or dislike the keypad and assume it's something I'll grow to like over time but at the moment I'm still adjusting from my full sized Microsoft Ergonomic Keyboard.
The key travel seems about right and it seems relatively quiet in operation. Being a touch typist, I still occasionally hit the wrong key but again, I'm sure this is something I will adjust to over time.
The touchpad has a slightly rough texture to it which works well, and it is easily configurable from within windows for scrolling and tapping speed, etc. Another neat feature is the ability to use the top left corner to maximise, minimise or close windows. Perhaps this is common to other laptops too, but I was still impressed by this simple feature. I later discovered, however, that I kept inadvertently tapping the top left corner while typing and this led to me closing the window I was working in! So this corner functionality has now been disabled; a shame really.
Speakers
I was all set to purchase a cheap pair of speakers to supplement my laptop, yet I think I'll leave this for a while now given the quality of the built in speakers. Peering through the grille results in what looks like a pair of tiny (half-inch) diameter drivers which result in an exceptionally clear and loud sound. Of course, there's no bass but I really wouldn't have been disappointed had the speakers had JBL or similar logos on!
External audio is provided through a 3.5mm line out socket, though the output seems very quiet when using this into my amplified external speakers. There is also a massive amount of hiss/feedback that appears only when the AC power cord is plugged in. If someone uses the external audio a lot then this will prove annoying and the Sony representative I spoke to did not have any idea what it could be. SPDIF optical output would have been nice, especially as this one of the most expensive laptops on the market today!
Battery
Doing everyday tasks as I have been for the past weeks, using the nVidia graphics and wireless and Bluetooth on I reliably get just under three hours battery life. This is using a high/mid LCD brightness setting. I expect 4+ hours easily using the Intel graphics with wireless switched off. Sony offer an extended life battery, but it is far too expensive at around £240 and increases the size and weight of the laptop considerably (see the notebook review forums).
Bundled Software
This is by far and away the laptops worst feature. The amount of bundled useless software was unbelievable and performance out of the box was far below my expectations. Sony make it reasonably difficult to do a clean install, by not providing a separate windows CD (or any CD's... for that matter) in the box. They include a hidden recovery partition on the hard drive and there is an option to create your own recovery discs. The problem with recovery is that it would reinstall all the bundled nonsense!
I have a separate standalone copy of XP pro so I installed this on the laptop with no problems, using the drivers available to download from Sony's website. Though there are many forum posts relating to this issue, I had a problem free clean install and everything works perfectly.
Benchmarks:
Super Pi calculated to 2 million:
Notebook
Time
Sony VAIO SZ2 (2.16GHz Core Duo)
1m 14s
Asus W3H760DD (2.0 GHz Pentium M)
1m 33s
Dell Inspiron e1505 (2.0GHz Core Duo)
1m 16s
Lenovo ThinkPad T60 (2.0GHz Core Duo)
1m 18s
Toshiba Satellite M100 (2.00GHz Core Duo)
1m 18s
Samsung X60 (1.66GHz Core Duo)
1m 29s
Dell XPS M140 (1.86 GHz Pentium M)
1m 41s
Sony VAIO FS680 (1.86 GHz Pentium M)
1m 53s
IBM ThinkPad T43 (1.86 GHz Pentium M)
1m 45s

3DMark05:
Notebook Comparison
3DMark05 Score
Sony VAIO SZ2 (2.16GHz Core Duo, nVidia GeForce 7400)
1,851
ASUS W3V (2.0 GHz Pentium M, ATI X600
1,263
Lenovo ThinkPad Z60m (2.0GHz Pentium M, ATI X600 128MB)
1,659
ThinkPad T43 (1.86GHz, ATI X300 64MB graphics)
727
Asus V6Va (2.13 GHz Pentium M, ATI Radeon Mobility x700 128 MB)
2,530
HP dv4000 (1.86GHz Pentium M, ATI X700 128MB)
2,536
Toshiba Satellite M100 (2.0GHz Core Duo, ATI X1400 128MB)
1,660

HD Tune:
(view large image)
Conclusion
I am very pleased with the SZ2VP. Is it a performance machine...is it a thin and light...is it a desktop replacement? It combines extreme performance in an exceptionally lightweight package. I was after a super-fast notebook to take to university and the weight saving is a fantastic plus.
Spending an afternoon reformatting isn't much work for the machine you have at the end, but it shouldn't be a required step.
Pros:
High speed -- T2600 dual core runs at 2.16 GHz
Battery life -- Expected around 4 hours with no wireless and Intel graphics
Lightweight -- only 1.69kg (3.7lbs)
Overall design -- the use of aluminium and carbon fibre make it stand out as something a bit special.
Cons
Terrible pre-installed software -- It shouldn't be there!
Lack of independent wireless switches
No TV out -- For £1800 ($3,000), it really needs this basic feature!
Lack of SPDIF -- Again, for £1800 it would be nice.
Shortage of USB ports

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Canon Powershot A650 IS Review


Submitted by J. Keenan on DigitalCameraReview.com

Canon’s newly-introduced Powershot A650 IS becomes their self-described "new top-of-the line" A-series camera offering, and anyone who follows Canon knows they view the A-series as providing a lot of performance at a value price. For someone who wants/needs to shoot at 12+ MP with a camera by Canon, there are only five choices in the current lineup: 1Ds-Mk. III, 5D, G9, SD950 IS or the A650 IS. Opt for any of the Canons other than the A650 IS and you can expect to pay anywhere from $90 to $7,635 more for the privilege. The value part of the equation is looking pretty good so far.

The A650 IS features Digic III processing, Face Detection focus/exposure technology, a 6X optical zoom with optical image stabilization that provides a 35 to 210mm focal length range (35mm film equivalent), a 2.5 inch variable angle LCD monitor to go along with that 12MP sensor, ISO to 1600 with a 3200 setting on tap as a "special scene" mode (albeit at reduced resolution), and a full set of manual controls to complement the typical point-and-shoot automatic modes. Canon packages this all into a nicely-appointed titanium-colored metal and composite body with bright chrome accents.

CAMERA FEATURES AND LAYOUT

Canon provides 4 AA alkaline batteries, a 32MB memory card, wrist strap, CD-ROM software, AV and USB cables and an owner’s manual with each camera.

Camera dimensions are about 4.41 x 2.67 x 2.21 inches with the lens retracted, and a shooting weight (4 AA batteries and memory card installed) of 13.25 ounces. The camera accepts SD, SDHC, and MMC memory cards.

The A650 IS will capture JPEG still images in seven pixel sizes: 4000 x 3000 (L), 3264 x 2448 (M1), 2592 x 1944 (M2), 1600 x 1200 (M3), 640 x 480 (S), 1600 x 1200 (postcard) and 4000 x 2248 (widescreen).

Movies may be captured in AVI format at 640 x 480 pixels and 30 frames per second (fps) or 30 fps LP (selecting LP results in file sizes of 960KB/second versus 1920KB/second) ; 320 x 240 (30 fps) for up to 4GB or 60 minutes and 160 x 120 for 3 minutes at 15 fps.



Canon A720 IS on left, Canon Powershot A650 IS on right

SHOOTING WITH THE POWERSHOT A 650 IS

With an integral handgrip-style body (like most of the A-series cameras), the 650 IS proved a pleasure to hold and shoot one-handed. With the power on/off, shutter button, zoom control and mode dial all arranged in close proximity on the camera top, it’s an easy task to start up, select a mode, zoom and shoot one-handed if need be.


Auto Mode

The default settings for the A650 IS include the "L" (4000 x 3000) pixel setting at "Fine" quality compression. Except where noted, images produced by the A650 IS to illustrate this review were shot at Large/Superfine quality settings and in "auto" or "P" (programmed auto) mode. As a practical matter, I noticed little apparent difference in image quality between the "superfine" and "fine" settings, particularly with snapshot-sized enlargements.

Specific Scene Modes / Special Scene Modes

Portrait, landscape, night snapshot, kids & pets, stitch assist and "SCN" modes may be selected directly from the camera’s mode dial. A "SCN" selection leads to additional choices of night scene, indoor, foliage, snow, beach, fireworks, aquarium, underwater, and ISO 3200. The camera automatically adjusts settings for what it considers optimal shooting in any of these conditions, allowing for little more than image size, quality and exposure compensation inputs from the user.

Manual Controls

In addition to the suite of automatic settings, the A650 IS also provides for traditional programmed auto (P), aperture priority (Av), shutter priority (Tv) and manual (M) exposure modes. A "custom" (C) setting is also available that allows the user to save frequently used shooting modes or settings to the "C" setting and return to them by simply selecting "C".

In-Camera Editing Tools

The A650 IS permits manual red eye correction, image resizing and attaching sound memos to images.

Exposure Compensation

Exposure compensation of +/- 2 stops in 1/3 EV increments is available except in auto, movie and manual (M) exposure modes.

Light Metering

Evaluative metering is the default method, with center-weighted and spot metering options available. Spot metering can be further refined to meter the center of the monitor or to correspond to the AF frame. Evaluative metering was used for the images captured by the A650 IS. In general, it did a good job across a broad range of lighting conditions/subjects, but as with most cameras, it would on occasion lose highlights in high contrast shots.

Focus/Macro Focus

Normal focus range extends from 1.6 feet to infinity; macro is .4 inches to 1.6 feet; manual is .4 inches to infinity and kids & pets mode is 3.3 feet to infinity.

Monitor/Viewfinder

The 2.5 inch LCD monitor on the A650 IS boasts a 173,000 dot composition, in the middle of a pack where typical compositions range from 115,000 to 230,000 dots. The monitor is difficult to use for image composition in bright sunlight, particularly with subjects of uniform contrast, but is fine for composition or editing in good light. There is no brightness adjustment possible.

The camera also comes with a viewfinder, but it is quite inaccurate. Canon doesn’t quote a figure, but it seems to offer something in the 70 to 80% range of accuracy – there will be a lot of extra material in any frame composed via viewfinder compared to what is seen through the viewfinder. Still, the viewfinder is much preferable to trying to work with the monitor on bright days.

Flash

Canon quotes a flash range of 1.6 feet to 11 feet at wide angle, and 1.6 feet to 6.6 feet at telephoto, both with auto ISO. These ranges seemed accurate in my use. The flash did a good job with color rendition and exposure.

Color

Default color with the A650 IS seemed typical based on recent Canon P&Ss I’ve reviewed, which is to say pleasing and accurate. Color may be adjusted to "Vivid" via the "my colors" mode in the P, Tv, Av, M, movie and stitch-assist modes.

ISO

Auto ISO is the default setting for the A650 IS, but high ISO auto may also be selected; auto ISO ranges up to 200, high auto ISO to 800. Manual settings of 80, 100, 200, 400, 800 and 1600 may be selected, and ISO 3200 may be accessed via the "SCN" mode. ISO 3200 shots are limited in size to M3 (1600 x 1200 pixels).

ISO performance was typical for recent Canon P&Ss I’ve reviewed – 80, 100 and 200 were quite good and relatively hard to differentiate in the blue sky shots. 400 and up got progressively noisier, with the biggest jump appearing to be between 800 and 1600.

White Balance

Auto white balance is the default setting, and works well for most situations. Daylight, cloudy, tungsten, fluorescent, fluorescent H, underwater and custom settings are also available in the C, Av, Tv, P and M modes.

Battery Performance

Canon reports a 300 shot capability with AA alkaline batteries, and my experience mirrored this result.

Shutter Performance

The A650 IS powers up in about a second, acquires focus quickly in good light and fires the shutter with minimal lag. Shutter performance with flash is also good – the camera uses the red eye reduction lamp rather than pre-flashes in red eye reduction mode. Shutter speeds may vary from 15 seconds to 1/2000th second. With the AF assist beam on, focus acquisition times were quite good in low light conditions.

There is a continuous shooting mode available in most auto and manual modes that can "shoot continuously……until the memory card is full". I got 5 shots in 4 seconds and 10 shots in 8.5 seconds – there was a slow down after five shots, but the A650 IS will shoot a bunch if you need it to. The monitor is not the way to go about shooting sequences, since it blanks out for a short period after the first shot, then lags about a shot behind if you’re panning. The viewfinder maintains a constant picture and makes it much easier to track moving subjects.

Lens Performance

The 6X Canon zoom lens was quite uniformly sharp across the frame at both wide and telephoto ends, with some slight softness in the corners. There was some barrel distortion (straight lines bow out from center of image) at the wide end which could impact images with prominent straight lines for sharp-eyed viewers. Some purple fringing was present in high contrast boundary areas, but only when greatly enlarged. Overall, very good lens performance.

A 4X digital zoom capability also exists, as well as a "safety zoom" feature that provides some additional zoom factor above the 6X optical capability when shooting at reduced resolutions without the image deterioration generally associated with digital zooms.

MISCELLANEOUS

The A650 IS PictBridge compliant, and there are wide and tele converters available that allow the camera to shoot as wide as 26mm or as long as 420mm.

CONCLUSION

The Canon A650 IS packs a lot of features into a reasonably priced, relatively compact digital point and shoot that Canon hails as the leader of its value-intensive A-series line. But that reasonable price has to be matched by performance, and the A650 IS delivers the goods. Good image quality and color; good shutter and flash performance; optical image stabilization; a lens focal range that goes from modestly wide to modest telephoto and the ability to add options to the camera that broaden the focal range are only a few of the nice details in Canon’s latest offering. The camera features auto functions that can have a novice taking great shots right out of the box, but also provides a full complement of manual controls for folks who wish to get more involved. It’s the lowest-priced 12MP camera in Canon’s current fleet.

When I reviewed my last A-series camera, the A570 IS, my gripes with it were that Canon had basic and advanced camera guides instead of a single guide, and the battery cover was difficult to close and felt a little flimsy. The A650 IS has a single guide, and while the battery cover is still a little difficult to close, it feels more substantial. There’s not much to dislike with the A650 IS.

PROS

Good image quality and color
Optical image stabilization
Good shutter response
CONS

Battery cover awkward to close

Friday, October 12, 2007

Review: ViewSonic VP930b LCD Monitor

Size (inches): 19 • Resolution (pixels): 1280 by 1024 • Adjustments: Multiple adjustments • Contrast Ratio: 1000:1 • Interfaces: Analog and digital • Weight (pounds): 15 • Price When Reviewed: $329









The VP930b looks like much like a standard two-footed ViewSonic model--but wearing different shoes. Two new, small projections extend backwards from the original feet, giving the entire stand an uneven X shape. You feel the added stability when you give the physical adjustments--tilt, height, swivel, and pivot--a whirl. This thin-bezeled model adjusts easily, and changes stay put nicely.



At default screen settings, the VP930b threw a pinkish or orangey cast onto most screens. This, and the slightly spidery text, led to respectable but average image quality ratings from our jury. In a subsequent hands-on evaluation, I discovered several color presets in the on-screen display; simply choosing a cooler screen mode solved the problems.



Better yet, the VP930b includes a CD with PerfectSuite, ViewSonic's branded version of Portrait Displays's Display Tune screen adjustment software. With PerfectSuite's tests and wizard, you painlessly calibrate the monitor to your tastes and environment. PerfectSuite includes some of the more unusual Display Tune settings, such as automatic screen pivot, which saves time and fuss for anyone who frequently pivots a monitor from landscape to portrait.



The theft deterrence plug-in, which arrives on CD, renders the monitor nonfunctional if someone disconnects it from the original PC and fails to enter the user-selected password. This may be better for preventing migration of LCDs between offices than for deterring burglars. (And it's odd that the software starts this process when you check a box labeled "enable theft.") If this function interests you, but the VP930b's $500 price tag seems high for your office, look for it on recent Hyundai ImageQuest models as well, such as the $390 Q90U.



Upshot: With a full range of physical adjustments and excellent screen adjustment software, it's a simple matter to get the ViewSonic VP 930b exactly the way you need it.-- Laura Blackwell

Review: Kodak EasyShare 5300 All-in-one Price: $299



Kodak's Brownie camera, introduced early last century, helped to put photography into the hands of the masses. A hundred years later, the imaging company is hoping to transform the market once again.

Considering its unique standing in the history of photography, Kodak has been slow to enter the inkjet printer market. The Kodak EasyShare 5300 all-in-one printer is its first inkjet and a belated acknowledgement from the company that photographic development is indeed moving out of the lab.

The EasyShare 5300 is not the cheapest printer in a market littered with sub $100 machines. But because low cost printers are often subsidised by exorbitantly priced replacement ink, buyers are now being urged by the likes of Choice magazine to seriously consider the full life-time costs of a printer.

The first thing you notice with the EasyShare 5300 is the ink pricing information stuck on the lid of the machine where it can't possibly be overlooked. Black ink costs $14.99 and colour costs $24.99, bringing a refreshing level of transparency to a market littered with costly replacements that you only encounter once you run out of ink.

Kodak's 5300 uses a two cartridge ink system - one colour and one black and white, a bonus for those tired of having to dash out for individual cartridges of magenta and cyan, but a loss for those who prefer to replace colours as they run out.

The jury is still out on which ink cartridge model works out as most cost effective and comparative price-per-page data for the full range of printers on the market is hard to come by. However Kodak says tests conducted by an independent company reveal it has managed to lop about 50 per cent off the cost of printing documents and photos from its closest competitors (based on its ink and paper costs), without compromising crucial print quality.

The EasyShare 5300 itself has a large, rectangular footprint and a quick once over with the tape measure reveals it to have dimensions of roughly 48cm wide x 30cm deep x 22 cm tall.

Perhaps accounting for its size is the fact that it is a printer, scanner and copier all in one box - but it is the manufacturer's promise of cost-effective and lab quality photo printing that is likely to turn the most heads.

The printer is designed to be very easy to use, and it comes with a single set-up sheet which you can ignore at your own peril. Following the reasonably simple instructions, we had the hardware and software all up and running in just over an hour.

The features that most impressed us were the ability to print pictures straight from the camera's memory card - which proved a fairly straightforward process using the large, clear LCD screen attached to the unit which let us scroll through the images we wanted to print. However we were unable to crop our images or remove red-eye in this mode.

Printing pictures from the computer proved more rewarding, with a range of editing and cropping functions and some special effects such as sepia tones and spotlights thrown in.

A USB drive and a separate PictBridge port for connecting a compatible digital camera extend the range of connectivity options for getting the printer hooked up to different devices, and the dedicated photo tray for 4x6 paper also saved a lot of messing about and failed attempts at matching up paper sizes.

The printer can also cleverly detect the type of paper being used (from a choice of regular and premium gloss and matte finishes) and will adapt photo print modes accordingly, again good for those of us who like to point, click and print with a minimum of fuss.

In terms of print speed, Kodak says 4x6 prints can take as little as 28 seconds to print, but our experience was more like a minute for a portrait type photo.

But features aside, in light of Kodak's claim that the printer can produce long-lasting lab quality prints, what we really wanted to see were some beautiful photographs.

Most of our snaps currently languish away on our computer hard drive with only a special chosen few ever being printed off for our albums. After a disappointing encounter with a dedicated photo printer bought at great expense some six years ago, we usually print out our snaps at a local Kmart photo kiosk for 29 cents apiece.

To put the EasyShare 5300 through its paces, we printed off fifteen of our very best digital photographs in 4x6 size on premium gloss paper using a variety of subject matter (babies, cats, boats, sunsets etc) in both indoor and outdoor settings.

Although some of our indoor shots displayed a slight graininess on the skin tones, our outdoor photos were full of rich colour and sharp detail - and all that we printed was certainly comparable to the print quality of the picture kiosk we frequent.

So is the Kodak EasyShare 5300 likely to transform the printer market in the manner of the Brownie camera in the 1900s?

Given that many of the product features do not stand out substantially from those of competitors, success will rest on ink price, picture quality, and historical goodwill attached to the Kodak brand. But while its ink does seem cheaper than that of its peers, and it does produce lovely, vibrant pictures, this model does not seem likely to become the disruptive force that Kodak was hoping for.

Monday, October 8, 2007

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Thursday, October 4, 2007

From PC Connection

PC Connection/MacConnection would like you to take advantage of their new weekly offer plus Free Shipping. Below are brief descriptions of the current exciting offers. Please note I will be posting new promotions on a weekly basis.

Canon ZR800 Digital Camcorder - Only $279 - Around the world, the name Canon means optical excellence, advanced image processing and superb performance. And Canon digital video camcorders are no exception.

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Monday, September 10, 2007

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Apple: 1 million iPhones sold

It seems like only yesterday that Apple had sold its first 270,000 iPhones--not a bad tally for just a little bit more than the first day on the market.

Monday morning, a little more than two months after the the much-lusted-after gadget went on sale, Apple said in a brief press release that it had sold its 1 millionth iPhone.

"One million iPhones in 74 days," Apple CEO Steve Jobs exulted in a press release. "It took almost two years to achieve this milestone with iPod."

Last week, Jobs unveiled the new iPod Touch, which mimics the look and behavior of the iPhone. He also ran into a buzzsaw of criticism by cutting the price of the iPhone by $200 so soon after long lines of early adopters plopped down a big chunk of change to be the first on the block with the gadget.

The price cut--the 8GB model now costs $399--is intended to boost sales of the iPhone during the upcoming holiday sales season. Two days after announcing the new pricing, Jobs offered an apology to the first wave of buyers, along with a $100 store credit.

"We can't wait to get this revolutionary product into the hands of even more customers this holiday season," Jobs said in Monday's press release.

Just how many hands the iPhone actually is in at this point is a little unclear, Apple's ballyhooing of 1 million sold notwithstanding. If Apple sold 270,000 or so in the waning hours of June, as it claimed, and then 220,000 in July, as market research iSuppli reported last week, that's 490,000 units. Which means the company would have needed a sales surge of more than a half-million iPhones in the six weeks or so since August 1.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Apple Price Cut On New iPhone Shakes Investors



SAN FRANCISCO -- Apple Inc.'s move to lop $200 off the price of the iPhone, unveiled as part of a revamp of the features, design and pricing of its family of portable gadgets, spooked investors and sent shares tumbling.


The top price of the iPhone, a device introduced with much fanfare in June, will fall to $399 from $599, Apple said. Chief Executive Steve Jobs, at a company event here yesterday, said Apple remained "on track" to meet its previous goal of shipping one million iPhones by the end of this month.


Apple updated its line of iPods with new models, including the iPod Touch (left), which borrows many of the features of the iPhone.


Still, Apple's shares shed $7.40 on the news, falling to $136.76 in 4 p.m. trading Wednesday on the Nasdaq Stock Market, and shares continued lower Thursday.


The price cut was unexpected. Toni Sacconaghi, an analyst at Sanford Bernstein, said he wasn't aware of Apple previously cutting prices so quickly after the introduction of one of its new products, and questioned whether Apple could meet its goal in the absence of a price cut. "It can't be a bullish signal about iPhone volumes," he said.


In an interview, Mr. Jobs said Apple "absolutely" could meet its iPhone shipment goal this month without cutting prices. He said the cut in part reflects Apple's ability to reduce production costs, as well as a desire to price the product attractively during the holiday season. "It's time to be as aggressive as we can be," Mr. Jobs said. "If we're not, then we have to wait another year for the next holiday season."


Apple previously said it sold 270,000 iPhones during the product's first 30 hours on sale, but it hasn't provided more specific sales figures since then.


As part of its changes, Apple said it will stop selling a $499 low-end model of the iPhone that came with 4 gigabytes of storage because most of its customers were buying the higher-end model with twice the capacity.


A spokesman for AT&T, Apple's exclusive wireless partner for the iPhone in the U.S., said the company has been happy with the product's sales thus far and welcomed Apple's decision to lower the price. "With the new pricing, we think even more people will adopt it," said AT&T's Michael Coe.


For Apple, the iPhone stakes are potentially huge. Partly on investor enthusiasm about the prospects for the product, Apple's shares are up 61% on the year. The phone gives Apple a shot at tapping into an enormous, multibillion-dollar market that dwarfs the market for just digital music players.


At the same time, however, Apple faces an onslaught of cellphones from other handset makers featuring steadily improving iPod-like entertainment functions -- often at a cheaper price per unit. Apple has said it hopes to sell 10 million iPhones by the end of next year, giving it a 1% share of the global cellular handset market.


Gene Munster, an analyst with Piper Jaffray, believes Apple cut the iPhone's price because it wants to step up its ambitions in the cellular market. "The bottom line: Apple is investing iPhone profit dollars over the next few quarters in order to be a legitimate player in the phone market," Mr. Munster wrote in a report. "We think this is the right strategy."


Also yesterday, Apple introduced a new iPod that will let users for the first time directly purchase songs wirelessly over the Internet, making a computer unnecessary. The product builds on iPhone technology to make the music player more closely resemble a computer.
New products are part of an Apple ritual in recent years to introduce a wave of new gadgets in time for the holiday shopping season. The company dominates the market for portable digital music and movie players, and analysts say the new products should set Apple up to outsell its competition again at the holidays.


The most eagerly anticipated of Apple's new products is the iPod touch. In appearance, it resembles the sleek, wide-screen design and features of the iPhone, minus the calling and email functions of the Apple cellphone. The product has the same touch-sensing screen technology, which allows users to scroll through song, photo and movie libraries.


The product also can connect to the Internet over Wi-Fi wireless technology. The iPod touch isn't the first to include Wi-Fi capabilities in a portable music player, but Apple has a long history of taking technologies that others invented and bringing them to a mass market.
Mr. Jobs said a key reason other wireless music players haven't done well is that they often are unable to connect to Wi-Fi networks outside the home. Many public "hotspots," as public areas such as hotels and airports with Wi-Fi are called, require users to log in through a Web browser, which most portable music players lack. The iPod touch, on the other hand, has a full-blown Web browser, just like the iPhone.


"Some others have done this, and it has failed," Mr. Jobs said. "We took a long look at this, and we think we understand why it's failed and what we can do to make it successful."
The iPod touch will start at $299 for a model with 8 gigabytes of storage capacity and rise to $399 for one with 16 gigabytes when it goes on sale later this month.


Some analysts said the iPod touch could damp iPhone sales by providing an alternative for consumers who want the iPhone's multimedia features without a two-year commitment to cellphone service through AT&T. AT&T's Mr. Coe said the new device's release won't affect what the company expects to be strong demand for the price-reduced iPhone.


In tandem with the new product, Apple said it agreed with Starbucks Corp. to let users buy music from the iTunes Store on free wireless connections in Starbucks cafes. Users won't have to pay a wireless connection fee to shop in the iTunes store, which they currently must do when accessing iTunes from a Starbucks. The deal also applies to Mac, iPhone and personal-computer users.


When customers log on to the Apple music site inside a Starbucks, iTunes automatically will tell them the name of the music currently playing at the cafe they are in. The companies declined to discuss the financial terms of their deal. "I've said for years that an unexploited asset was this wireless network," Starbucks Chairman Howard Schultz said in an interview. "The big payoff is the sense of discovery that will exist."


Starbucks plans to begin the service in October at 600 cafes in New York and Seattle, adding service gradually in other locations throughout next year.
The relationship with Starbucks exploits what Apple is calling the iTunes Wi-Fi Music Store, a variant of its popular service that also lets iPhone and iPod touch users browse and buy music from their home wireless networks without a computer. Once they connect those devices to a Mac or PC, the downloaded music is added to their iTunes library.
Apple also shook up its existing iPod family, adding video playback capabilities to its most popular music product, the iPod nano. The redesigned iPod nano has a larger screen and costs $149 for a four-gigabyte model or $199 for an eight-gigabyte model -- $50 less each than prior models with the same amount of storage.


Apple expanded the storage capacity of the high-end iPod classic -- a model previously known simply as the iPod -- to a whopping 160 gigabytes, enough room for 40,000 songs or as much as 200 hours of video. Sales of the iPod brought in about a third of Apple's $5.41 billion in revenue during its most recent quarter.


Apple has a history of pricing new, redesigned versions of its iPods at about the same price as their predecessors, or a bit less. In early 2005, for example, Apple introduced a lighter-size $99 version of the iPod shuffle with 512 megabytes of storage. Last fall, it introduced a much smaller, redesigned shuffle with 1 gigabyte of storage for $79. That strategy exploits the tendency of component costs for storage to decline steadily over time.


MORE ON APPLE








Apple Unveils Wi-Fi iPod, Wi-Fi iTunes, Wi-Fi Starbucks Collaboration










...but does it make phone calls?
Owners of the new wi-fi-enabled iPod touch will be able to buy songs on the spin at Starbucks - while the songs are playing.

Both products — the wi-fi iPod touch, and the Starbucks liaison — were unveiled yesterday in an anticipated news event.
The new iPod boasts touch-screen capabilities, wireless functionalities and a Safari browser. Many Apple fans were able to predict its iPhone-esque appearance and functionalities in advance of the announcement.
The Starbucks relationship enables users to access — and instantly purchase — music played in Starbucks stores, as well as the last 10 tracks, and special Starbucks music collections. This capability will be available in participating stores as soon as October, and across the States by the end of 2008.
Users with a wi-fi-ready iPod, an iPhone, or a computer with the most current version of iTunes will also receive free wi-fi access to iTunes, including Starbucks' Now Playing content, within Starbucks stores.
The cost of the iPhone was also dropped. An eight-gigabyte is now US$ 399, while the four-gigabyte will be phased out. This should encourage still stronger adoption of the unit, which notably competes with both smart phones and feature phones.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

The iPod is growing up

If the rumors are true, and Apple releases an iPod with Mac OS, it will have developed an interesting little computer--not just a video player.
By Tom Krazit Staff Writer, CNET News.com

If Apple really is putting a version of Mac OS X in a new iPod, presumably it has more in mind than showing high-quality reruns of The Hills.

Any talk these days of Apple and the future of mobile computing quickly turns to the iPhone. The company is on its way to selling a million iPhones in the first three months of what Apple says is a multiyear strategy to enter the mobile phone market.

But Apple makes another mobile device. It's called the iPod. And if the persistent rumors are fulfilled Wednesday during the latest episode of The Steve Jobs Show (a product presentation at San Francisco's Moscone Center), the iPod is about to get a whole lot more powerful.
A wide-screen iPod that looks an awful lot like an iPhone seems like the most likely bet for the sixth generation of Apple's ubiquitous music and video player line. It also seems very likely that those new iPods will run the same stripped-down version of Mac OS X found on the iPhone, something even Jobs himself hinted at during a meeting with Apple employees on the eve of the iPhone launch.

You don't need a sophisticated operating system to play songs and TV shows, so at that point, the iPod stops being just a gadget. So, then, what exactly is it? Like the iPhone, it becomes something in between a gadget and a PC, which has been treacherous ground for the PC industry.

The tech industry appears to be at another one of those pesky crossroads. The PC is, well, dated. We all need one, and we all use one, but we just don't get excited about buying a new one anymore.

As a result, the PC industry has been scrambling to find the next big thing. Tablet PCs? Nope. Home media centers? Maybe, but not yet. Digital televisions? Still the domain of the consumer electronics industry.

An iPod with a more powerful operating system and a touch screen could suddenly become an intriguing little device for those who like the iPhone, but don't want to spend 600 bucks or hook up with AT&T.

Apple found its next big thing six years ago when it released the iPod. It wasn't the first company to figure out that people wanted to carry all those Napsterized songs in their pocket, but it has certainly made the most of it. More than 70 percent of people in the U.S. who want a portable digital music player buy an iPod.

But the iPod really does just one thing. It does it well--and yes, you can also store contacts, appointments and play games that would have looked lame 10 years ago--but nobody buys an iPod to make sure they remember that doctor's appointment.

After Wednesday, that might be different. An iPod with a more powerful operating system and a touch screen could suddenly become an intriguing little device for those who like the iPhone, but don't want to spend 600 bucks or hook up with AT&T.

It wouldn't be hard to imagine some of those people put off by the iPhone's price and wireless carrier would shell out $349--the current price for the 80GB iPod--for an iPod that can do far more than just play videos or music.

That is, assuming Apple doesn't overlook what's really needed in a mobile computer. There's no point in putting a sophisticated operating system in an iPod if you wall that device off from the Internet. Apple has resisted adding Wi-Fi to the iPod thus far, but it broke that barrier with the iPhone and perhaps it has figured out a way to add Wi-Fi without killing battery life.

And it would really need to be a phone-less iPhone, with applications like Safari, YouTube and Google Maps. Ideally, it needs third-party applications, such as games or GPS navigation. But it might take Apple awhile to admit that, given that its approach to application development on the iPhone was to limit developers to Web-based applications.

The entire combination could make the $349 iPod more attractive. Apple's revenue growth from iPods has stalled, even though the unit growth is still above 20 percent year over year. That implies that iPod buyers are opting for the less expensive $199 4GB Nano or the $249 30GB iPod.

It would also finally give Apple the real wide-screen video player that iPod fans have been clamoring for since just before last year's "showtime" event. And, after all, that's still the iPod's sweet spot: mobile entertainment.

It's quite possible that Apple doesn't want to make that dramatic a leap just yet. Jobs prizes simplicity and aesthetics, and a large part of the iPod's appeal has been that it does one thing (or a couple), and does it (or them) well.

But a Mac OS X-based iPod could be a compelling device as the industry and its customers try to figure out how mobile computers should evolve. It would avoid the early mistakes of the UMPC, which runs a battery-sapping PC operating system, doesn't fit in a pocket, and at around $1,000, has been met with lukewarm--at best--interest from consumers.

There are other devices out there, like Sony's PSP and video players from Archos, that are trying to do the same thing. But with sales of more than 10 million iPods a quarter--and a whopping 21 million last holiday season--Apple has established the iPod as one of the most widely used handheld gadgets on the planet.

What if it was a computer, too?

Thursday, August 30, 2007

OQO model 02 Review

OQO model 02
With integrated mobile broadband, better performance, and longer battery life, OQO's model 02 is a UMPC worth owning.
Price: $2,298
By Jamie Bsales and Mark Spoonauer Date Posted: 01/07/2007


When the original OQO appeared a couple of years ago, some saw it as the solution to a problem no one had. But now, the model 01 looks like it was ahead of its time. Like its predecessor, the model 02 Ultra-Mobile PC is a handheld device that runs Windows, but the 02's addition of fast EV-DO connectivity for hundreds of metro areas around the country means the difference between a handy tool and an expensive novelty.

Other refinements, such as an improved keyboard, faster processor, and more elegant docking solution, sweeten the deal. Users who need more than a smart phone but who wouldn't otherwise tote a laptop with them everywhere will find a lot to like in this sequel.

Weighing just over a pound and measuring 5.6 x 3.3 x 1 inches, the model 02 is a UMPC that is compact enough to carry with you in a jacket pocket, briefcase, or purse. The five-inch widescreen LCD slides up to reveal a new, ergonomic, backlit QWERTY keyboard. You won't be able to type as fast as you would on a BlackBerry, but the layout provided better tactile feedback than the model 01.

The cursor is controlled via a small pointing stick for your right thumb and mouse buttons for your left. Or if you prefer, you can use the included stylus and tap the screen. It's too bad OQO didn't include a stylus holster on the device, though. The model 02 does get warm after some use, but not uncomfortably so, and it was quiet.
The 800 x 480-pixel screen is six times brighter than the model 01's display. Text and icons look fairly tiny, but OQO includes a handy zoom button, although you'll need to scroll around to see various parts of the screen. This configuration includes a 60GB hard drive that's shock-mounted and equipped with drop detect technology in case of falls. The main unit has a USB and auto-sensing audio-out/line-in/line-out headphone jack on the bottom. The only notable omission is a memory card slot.

What makes the OQO model 02 more compelling than the hot-selling Sony VAIO UX Mini PC is its embedded EV-DO Rev. O modem (with service on Sprint's network). It blows away the poky Cingular EDGE connection inside Sony's device. In locations with four or five bars of signal strength, download speeds were as high as 997.3 Kbps, and upload speeds averaged 120 Kbps. Surfing the Web was quick (25 seconds to load CNN.com, 11 seconds to load our Gmail Inbox). Even video clips over the WWAN connection loaded quickly and played smoothly. Just plan on using headphones; the built-in speaker's sound was thin and tinny.

This UMPC didn't deliver the best mobile broadband performance in areas with weaker coverage. In a location where signal strength dropped to two or three bars, the model 02's throughput dropped to as low as 23.3 Kbps; other notebooks we've been testing with Sprint Rev. O capability have maintained over 100 Kbps in the same conditions.

Although the 1.5-GHz Via C7M processor is certainly faster than the Transmeta CPU that crippled the OQO model 01, you shouldn't expect to do more than run productivity apps on this device. The model 02's performance numbers were low; its 69 score on MobileMark 2005 is less than half than what Sony UX delivered. On the other hand, the model 02 booted up faster than its predecessor, and it opened and closed apps faster.

We were quite pleased with the model 02's four hours of battery life. To get that endurance, however, you'll need the double-capacity battery ($199 and included in this configuration). Those who work in short spurts can get by with the standard battery, which lasted for 1 hour and 54 minutes in our tests.

If you want to use the model 02 as your primary PC, OQO sells a sleek black docking station that includes a slot-loading optical drive and a metal arm attached to hold the main unit, which is a lot more elegant than the snaking cable littered with ports on the model 01. The $299 version of the dock includes a DVD/CD-RW drive, and the $399 version comes with a DVD burner (or $349 as an add-on at the time of purchase). The docking base has three USB ports, an auto-sensing headphone jack (since the main unit's jack is blocked when docked), a LAN port, and an HDMI and VGA port to attach a full-sized monitor. OQO charges $19 for an HDMI-DVI adapter (and one is included with the docking station) and $29 each for HDMI-to-HDMI, HDMI-to-DVI cables.

Bundled software is limited to the Microsoft Origami Experience, a collection of utilities designed to show off what a UMPC can do, and OQO's own Manager and Wireless Dashboard programs. The OQO we tested included Microsoft Office Small Business Edition ($300) and ran Windows XP, but a Vista version will be available soon.

Clearly, the OQO model 02 isn't right for everyone. Those who need more power and creature comforts and don't mind carrying a larger machine should spend the two grand for an ultraportable. But if you want a constant PC companion without the anchor of a laptop bag, the model 02 might be just what you're looking for. It doesn't have the Sony UX' bells and whistles-such as two cameras and a fingerprint reader-but having the ability to connect at high speeds virtually anywhere makes this the best UMPC yet.

OQO model 02: world's smallest Windows Vista® PC

Compact Digital Camera or Digital SLR - Which Is Best For You?

With so many people buying digital cameras these days, it's obvious that the switch from film photography to digital photography is well underway. But which kind of digital camera will work best for you?For most people interested in just getting great looking snapshots and family photos, a compact digital camera will probably do the job nicely, but if you like to have more creative control over your photos, perhaps even enlarging them beyond 8 X 10 or so, then maybe you should consider the flexibility that a high quality digital SLR(single lens reflex) camera can provide instead.One advantage of most digital SLRs is their speed. All digital cameras have some lag between the time when you press the shutter button and the time that the photo is actually taken, and in some compact digital cameras this lag can take almost a full second or so. But most digital SLRs reduce that lag time considerably to the point that it almost rivals the instant response of a film SLR. If you like to shoot fast action shots, this can important to getting the action quickly and easily without missing anything.Flexibility is another great feature of digital SLRs. If you want to set the camera on full automatic mode and let it make all the exposure settings for you, it can certainly do that just like most compact digital cameras, but if you want to set it to manual mode and decide for yourself what exposure settings will be used depending on the photo effect that you wish to achieve, that can be done too. This wide latitude in camera control can be very useful if you have more than one person who will be using the camera with differing skill levels.Another major difference between compact digital cameras and digital SLR cameras is that compact cameras usually let you view and set up the shot through a LCD screen on the back of the camera, whereas the SLR will require you to look through the viewfinder instead to compose your shots. Digital SLRs do come with LCD screens, but they are mainly just used for viewing images after they are taken rather than setting them up beforehand. Which works best for you is mainly just a matter of personal preference though.Before you make your decision between buying a compact digital camera and a digital SLR, think about how you plan on using the camera beforehand and then review the tips and suggestions mentioned above to help you choose the camera type that will fit you best.

Article Source: http://www.articlesnatch.com
About the Author:You can find digital slr camera reviews and digital cameras comparison by visiting our Digital Photography website.

Cameras That Satisfy Consumers

Premium Point and Shoot

Canon PowerShot SD Series 829*
Panasonic DMC-FZ Series 785
Kodak Z Series 783
Fujifilm Finepix S Series 782
Sony DSC-H Series 780
Segment Average 779
Canon PowerShot A Series 776
Canon PowerShot G Series 773
Canon PowerShot S Series 770
Panasonic DMC-TZ Series 764
Olympus SP Series 754
Nikon Coolpix L Series 749
Nikon Coolpix P Series 721

Ultra Slim

Casio Exilim Zoom Series 802
Canon PowerShot SD Series 796
Kodak V Series 787
Sony DSC-T Series 782
Olympus Stylus Series 781
Panasonic DMC-FX Series 780
HP Photosmart R Series 774
Segment Average 772
Nikon Coolpix S Series 770
Olympus FE Series 769
Sony DSC-W Series 767
Casio Exilim Card Series 761
Samsung S Series 728
Nikon Coolpix L Series 725

Point and Shoot

Fujifilm Finepix F Series 749
Kodak Z Series 744
Canon PowerShot A Series 739
Kodak C Series 738
Samsung A Series 734
Segment Average 727
HP Photosmart M Series 726
Sony DSC-P Series 725
Sony DSC-S Series 718
Pentax OPTIO Series 716
Nikon Coolpix Series 714
Panasonic DMC-LZ Series 713
Olympus FE Series 703
Fujifilm Finepix A Series 698
HP Photosmart E Series 654

Digital Single Lens Reflex

Nikon D Series 822
Segment Average 801
Sony A (Alpha) Digital SLR Series 793
Canon Digital EOS 788
Pentax K Digital Series 787
Olympus EVOLT E Series 783

* Based on a 1,000-point scale

Source: J.D. Power and Associates' "2007 Digital Camera Usage and Satisfaction Study"

How to compare and buy the right notebook?

It’s not tricky to be intimidated by all the notebook computers models on the market these days. You can most often get a dozens of price range and models.In order to find the right notebook for you, a little consideration will be needed. Before go on shopping you should make a decision what actually you need. When you distinct your need, no doubt buying the right notebook is very effortless.Here we point out 5 basic factors to consider:

1. Dimension - Size is definitely a matter in the mobile computing world. A notebook computer can be affected by two element sizes: portability and display size.If you are intending that you will be used your computer for just a short time, an ultra light will save you some shoulder strain.In the other hand, a large display will definitely play a big role while using the computer for a long period in a unique day. Comparing the displays size of other desktop computers, some notebook computers displays exceed 17 inches these days. The down face is that these monsters can simply weigh three times as much as an ultra light.

2. Hard Drive - The element here sounds the size of the hard drive. What size of hard drive you have to buy? Simply query the following question from yourself. Will the notebook be my alternative system or a primary? If a primary then you should buy a bigger hard drive – 60 GB or more. If an alternative, you may probably buy a 20 GB.Also you should know how much data you will be kept in or how much data you have in the present. So simply you should buy a hard drive according to your need.

3. Memory - Determining the right memory or RAM for your notebook need to know the way of for what you will be used the notebook? If you feel that you will be face up to somewhat mundane - email, spreadsheets, word processing, etc- 256 MB will be suitable. Most often many of notebooks have such configuration, so don’t spend a lot for more RAM. But if you are aspiring mobile digital photographer always stuff your notebook with as much RAM as it can hold.

4. Network Connections - Internet is the most important part of the modern computing, computing in the 21st century rely heavily on being connected: It should be connected to a corporate network, connected to an online service, connected to the Internet, connected to a home network, connected to a wireless network.You should buy a notebook computer that will be able to access them all.

5. The Price - Price of notebook depends mostly on your budget, how much you can pay for a notebook. A few years ago, $2.000 were not sufficient for buying a notebook, but today, there are a huge rang of notebooks allow you to pay $1,000 or less for a notebook. However purchasing a notebook computer is still considered a major purchase for most of buyers. You should compare different prices before confirming a deal. We would recommend you http://computersnext.com for comparing and buying a notebook computer.

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About the Author:Harris Adam is an expert writer of quality content, he wrote these articles, “How to compare and buy the right notebook" for such notebooks: computersnext.com/notebook_computers-sc2.aspx that allow comparing etc. He can be reached at computersnext.com

Do You Need Bluetooth?

Do You Need Bluetooth? When buying any digital electronic device, whether a cellphone, PDA, or notebook computer, it is important to check the specifications to ensure that it will serve your purposes. Bluetooth is becoming an increasingly popular offering in personal electronics, but do you need it?What Is Bluetooth?Bluetooth is a wireless PAN (Personal Area Network) transmission protocol standard. In layman’s terms, Bluetooth is a technology that enables a device to communicate and share data with other Bluetooth capable devices – cellphones, headsets, PDAs, notebook computers, desktop PCs, computer peripherals, printers, cameras, and others – through radio wave transmission (so there is no need for wires) at a range of around 1, 10, or 100 meters, depending on the class of your Bluetooth device (Class 1 has the longest range and Class 3 the shortest).If a device has a Bluetooth chip, it can communicate with other devices that have a Bluetooth chip. Users can share pictures, movies, datasheets, documents, and all sorts of information among them as long as their devices are in range (they do not need to be in direct line of sight). For instance, a Bluetooth-capable digital camera can communicate with a Bluetooth-capable printer for direct printing. Likewise, a Bluetooth-capable cellphone can be connected to a Bluetooth-equipped headset so that a person can take and make hands-free telephone calls.Bluetooth can be used for internet connectivity as long as a Bluetooth-enabled computer is in range of a Bluetooth modem. Bluetooth devices can also form a small wireless network (called a piconet) of up to 8 devices. For security, devices can be paired and transmissions encrypted. So that it causes only minimal interference, Bluetooth periodically changes frequency channels.Bluetooth uses the same radio frequency that 802.11 Wireless Networking does, but it is much simpler than 802.11 technology, negating the need for complex network configurations. Bluetooth also has lower power consumption, making it more economical, though its range is shorter. You Need BluetoothIf you wish to have an extremely basic home network, Bluetooth is for you. There are no wires to trip you and there are no complex configurations like network permissions or addresses to deal with. Piconets are temporary, so a new device can immediately join or leave a Bluetooth network with nothing more than a simple device discovery. It is important to note, however, that piconets are no substitution for a traditional home network (whether through Ethernet or 802.11 Wireless), which are much more reliable and offer much more full-bodied security options.If you have a notebook computer, there is a good chance you will want to have Bluetooth connectivity so that you can take advantage of the many Bluetooth-equipped peripherals, thereby eliminating the need for bulky wires. You can also easily synchronize data between your handheld devices and your notebook computer. Moreover, if you are fond of sharing data with other handheld device users, you definitely need to have Bluetooth for easy and convenient data sharing.You Don’t Need BluetoothIt is important to note that Bluetooth can present a security risk if you store sensitive information on your Bluetooth-enabled device. If you are traveling with sensitive information on your computer, cell-phone, or PDA, it is wise to disable Bluetooth temporarily to prevent data theft or exploitation. Please also note that some corporations and government entities disapprove of Bluetooth and similar convenience-based additions, so please check with your employer if you intend to use your Bluetooth-enabled notebook for business.Please, check out these recommendations for the best notebook computers.

This article may be republished freely as long as this copyright notice and box of resource links are included at the bottom.Copyright © 2007 MALIBAL, lLc
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About the Author:MALIBAL is the Home of the World's Fastest Laptop! Headquartered in Las Vegas, this groundbreaking company has transmuted the world of mobile computing with its nonpareil laptops and unrivaled 24-hour USA-based support.

Buying Guide to Graphics Cards

The graphics card is a vital performance component of your computer, particularly if you play 3D games, or work with graphics and video content. The graphics card sits in an expansion card slot in your PC and it is specifically designed to process image data and output it to your monitor, enabling you to see it.

A graphics card works by calculating how images appear, particularly 3D images, and renders them to the screen. 3D images and video images take a lot of processing capacity, and many graphics processors are complex, require fans to cool them and need direct power supply. The graphics card consists of a graphics processor, a memory chip for graphics operations, and a RAMDAC for display output. It may also include video capture, TV output and SLI and other functions.

You can find the graphics card that suits you by comparing specification between brands and vendors on Myshopping.com.au At Myshopping.com.au you can compare a great range of appliances, and assess them according to their specifications, brands, prices and vendors.Graphics CardsWhat are your needs?

The first decision you need to make is whether you need a graphics card for handling 3D images or whether you are simply requiring 2D image rendering. For 2D requirements, you need only a low-cost solution. In many cases, an integrated graphics solution will suffice for 2D applications.However with 3D graphics, the performance of the graphics card will impact directly on the frame rate and image quality of 3D programs and games. The differences between the low and high-end cards can be substantial, both in cost and performance.Rendering 3D graphics is like lighting a stage, both the geometry of the shapes in question and the lighting of it need to be taken into account. The geometry of an image calculates the parts of an object that can and can't be seen, the position of the eye and its perspective.

The lighting is a calculation of the direction of the light sources, their intensities and the respective shadows that occur. The second part to presenting a 3D image is the rendering of colours and textures to the surfaces of the objects, and modifying them according to light and other factors.Most modern graphics cards include a small microchip called the Graphics Processing Unit (GPU), which are provide the algorithms and memory to process complex images. They reduce the workload of the main CPU, and provide faster processing. Different graphics cards have different capabilities in terms of processing power. They can render and refresh images up to 60 or more times per second, calculate shadows quickly, create image depth by rendering distant objects at low resolution, modify surface textures fluidly and eliminate pixelation.

What Specifications to ConsiderProcessor clock speedThis impacts on the rendering capability of the GRU. The clock speed itself is not the critical factor. Rather it is the per-clock performance of the graphics processor, which is indicated by the number of pixels it can process per clock cycle.Memory sizeThis is the memory capacity that is used exclusively for graphics operations, and can be as much as 512MB. The more demanding your graphics applications are, the better you will be served with more memory on your graphics card. 16-M64M128M256M512M640M and moreMemory bandwidth

One thing that can slow down 3D graphics performance is the speed at which the computer delivers information to the graphics processor. A higher bandwidth means a faster data transfer, resulting in faster rendering speeds.Shader modelDirectX Shader Models allows developers control over the appearance of an image as it is rendered on screen, introducing visual effects like multi-layered shadows, reflection and fog.Fill rateThis is the speed at an image can be rendered or "painted". This rate is specified in texels per second, the number of 3D pixels that can be painted per second. A texel is a pixel with depth (3D). The fill rate comes from the combined performance of the clock speed of the processor and the number of pixels it can process per clock cycle, and will tell you how quickly an image can be fully rendered on screen.Vertices/trianglesGraphics chips don't work on curves, rather they process flat surfaces. A curve is created by multiple flat planes arranged to look like a curve. 3D objects are created with multiple triangular surfaces, sometimes hundreds or even thousands, tessellated to represent the curves and angles of the real world.

3D artists are concerned with the number of polygons required to form a shape. There are two different types of specification: vertices per second (I.e., angles the triangles), and triangles per second. To compare one measure with the other, you have to take into account the fact that adjacent triangles share vertices.Anti-aliasingA technique used to smooth images by reducing the jagged stepping effect caused by diagonal lines and square pixels. Different levels of anti-aliasing have different effects on performance.RAMDACThe Random Access Memory Digital to Analogue Converter takes the image data and converts it to a format that your screen can use. A faster RAMDAC means that the graphics card can support higher output resolutions. Some cards have multiple RAMDACs allowing that card to support multiple displays.TV-outSome graphics cards provide the option to connect a television via either a composite (RCA) or S-Video connector. TV OutS-video OutS-video In and S-video Out (VIVO)YPbPr Connection for HDTVDVISome graphics cards include a connector for DVI monitors, handy because a lot of LCD screens support DVI. DVI offers better image quality than the standard VGA connector.Dual-headDual-head is a term used when two monitors are used side by side, stretching your desktop across both.SLI (Scalable Link Interface.)With SLI you can couple two graphics cards in your computer, enabling each card to take half the rendering thereby doubling the performance.When considering your graphics card, it pays to think about how much you need your computer to process your graphics output. Using a high end graphics card with a high pixels per clock rating, large memory, fast processor and other features means that you can run the latest games efficiently, or work in intensive graphics development.Different ModelsWhile there are many vendors of graphics cards, there are actually only two major manufacturers of chips for graphics cards. Nearly every graphics card on the market features a chip manufactured by either ATI or Nvidia. Cards using the same graphics chip will perform roughly the same as each other. However, even though they use the same chip, some feature slightly higher clock speeds, as well as manufacturer guaranteed overclocking-an even higher clock speed than that specified. Other factors that will influence your decision should include the amount of memory a card has (128MB, 256MB, 512MB) and its additional features, such as TV-Out and dual-screen support.Use the search facilities at Myshopping.com.au to compare the features, prices and vendors of graphics cards.

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About the Author:Andrew Gates is a writer for comparison online shopping service MyShopping.com.au . MyShopping.com.au helps you compare video cards and buy online from top-rated online stores. You can also read graphics cards reviews and specifications.