Windows 7, Palm Pre, Apple iPhone, and the Nokia E71

3 02 2009

Just some commentary on these 4 tech hot topics.

Windows 7: It’s alright and if you had problems getting your video cards recognized with Microsoft Windows Vista, you’re back on square one with the number. Now if you got an older monitor, it is most likely a 4:3 screen (resolutions – 640×480, 800×600, 1024×768), you’re not going to see stretching or black vertical borders on the sides. However, since your graphics card can’t really be used, you’ll see slower performance compared to XP. You might run into compatibility issues with antivirus software. Another downer.. the Windows 7 Beta (build 7000) you downloaded expires in August 2009.

My recommendation is as many have said – use it only for testing. Actually if you have a newer system, create a partition on your drive or get a 2nd HDD and install W7. The Aero visuals are stunning and runs smooth compared to the much despised Vista but for older machines, you should either go with Ubuntu or Windows XP.

Palm Pre: Put in the limelight at the 2009 CES (Consumer Electronics Show) last month, this is Palm’s last ditched attempt to save itself from oblivion. The UI (user interface) is pretty and appears to have been influenced by Apple’s iPhone OS which would make this an obvious hit other than the ugly keyboard slide-out. The old Garnet 5.4 OS has been kicked to the curb in favor of a new inhouse developed linux-based flashy webOS. Palm’s promising GPS, a 320×480 pixel screen, 3MP camera, 600MHz processor, 8GB internal memory, and a host of other standard features. An innovative feature of using cloud computing technology lets you sync your stuff with an online server instead of your computer. Well, you don’t really have a choice in this case.

What really kills this for me are … the ugly keyboard, the battery life for a cellular device at that size and that powerful of a processor with the features given is going to suck, no expandable memory which means no microSD card slots, doubts about security, and the tanking economy (duh!) I do understand that the Palm Pre isn’t out for sale yet but if they don’t produce a GSM version (AT&T and T-Mobile), regardless of their partnership with Sprint (CDMA), it’s a definite no go for me.

I guess we’ll have to sit back and see what’s remaining after Apple strips Palm out of a lot of their UI features on the Palm Pre.

Apple iPhone: What else to say other than this is the industry gold standard that every UI designer is aiming to emulate. Other than it being cool and possessing easy to use menus, there are a lot of limitations. Some being the lack of multi-tasking capabilities, “real” internet on the webkit-based Safari browser (YES, they lied in those ads), replaceable battery, external storage, and other smaller concerns. But the whole package despite those shortcomings is tightly integrated and holds mass appeal.

My take on this is, … pretty … cool … not the phone for me. Oh and the battery life sucks on this thing. I have the new 2nd Generation 16GB iPod Touch which sports a faster processor than the iPhone 3G but has better battery life. Unfortunately for the iPhone, it’s battery life is significantly worse than the Touch.

*drum roll*

Nokia E71: Just got this last week and boy is it a beauty. The design is compact yet has a bright generous screen. The audio is loud and crisp. GPS. Multitasking. Stainless-steel back. Giant 1500mA battery. This is a significant improvement from the older Nokia E61, which more than held it’s own back when it originally debuted in 2006. I’ll be posting more about this next week. 😉

(L to R above) Apple iPod Touch 2nd Gen . Nokia E71 . Nokia E61

Also, NewEgg‘s having a super sale for the E71 at a super low price of $299 with a free Motorola Bluetooth headset and topped with FREE SHIPPING!
Here’s the coupon: EMCABCHBJ

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The Best OS for your old laptop? Pt 1 of 2

29 05 2008

Do you have a spare old computer lying around collecting dust?

OR

What do you do when you have an aged laptop or desktop and running Windows XP is a pain in the ass? A friend of mine wanted me to fix his sister’s old computer, a Dell Inspiron 2100 laptop running ……

Microsoft Windows XP SP2
Intel Pentium III 700Mhz
128MB RAM (1 slot, upgradeable to 256)
10GB HDD

A sticker on his diminutive laptop (now called a sub-notebook) carried the l’terrible Windows ME sticker in a corner galvanizing me to set forth on an adventure to seek out the best usable Operating System for that old POS. Since the end-user would require a familiar user-interface, my first bet was Windows XP. It was bad. Really bad and took a longer time to load and operate than expected.

Being the honorable ninja, I was began looking for “free” Operating Systems devoid of commercial value. So the next thing to XP, since Vista is definitely out of the equation, was TinyXP. You can google it up and download the ISO file via torrents for free. Install the ISO as I have detailed in this post and try setting it up on your computer. Remember that when you install it on a drive, you will have to format the drive so backup everything you have on DVDs or CDs or another hard drive.

So how’s TinyXP? It’s great for that laptop when I installed Rev08 and it’s the same as Windows XP for the regular user other than certain disabled features. Only took like 500MB so was pretty neat. The only problem was after installing all the different add-ons like Flash Player for YouTube and Office 2003 etc etc, the laptop became slow. There are options to remove printers and other features and even after combing out everything from the start-up and uninstalling McAfee Anti-Virus, it wasn’t as fun. The wallpaper and theme figures into the slowness of the operations of the computer as well. Oh and you can’t run updates to secure your machine on the internet.

After these problems with TinyXP, I said fuggit and formatted the drive with the much heralded Fluxbox variant of the already open-source and “free” Ubuntu known as Fluxbuntu. After formatting the drive to EXT3 and getting Flux on it, to my shock, it was a plain Linux screen where everything had to be done manually. Click on the terminal window to install applications (example: sudo apt-get install firefox) but to it’s credit, Fluxbuntu did have some nice looking preloaded themes to it.

To get an updated repository list of applications, you would have to open up the terminal window and type in sudo update-menus before you can do the sudo apt-get install [name of application]. It did not recognize my Western Digital external hard drive and had trouble loading my flash drives. Apparently you have to manually mount them to the computer through commands on the terminal. Pfffft. Gave it another 24 hours and blah. Gave up on it. It’s light-weight and great for an old workstation but simply not user-friendly enough for the average person like my friend’s sister.

And so our ninja trod on towards his next project, KDE. I remembered having problems installing Ubuntu 7.10 (Gutsy Gibbon – Gnome) and knew that similar issues could arise during installation of Kubuntu (KDE Ubuntu) so ran the lazy man’s way of installing Kubuntu over Flux.

[To Be Continued…]





N800 … hand’s on that shiny thang

4 01 2008

Quick review on the Nokia N800 Internet Tablet. So after the big sale mentioned in a previous post on the N800, managed to convince my boss to purchase one as a VoIP device. It got there a day or so after the new year and the excellent build-quality got me impressed. The boys over at Ritz Camera even had the OS updated to the stuff running on the new N810 – the linux-based OS2008. The GUI on this small yet fashionable device was very slick and intuitive unlike the Symbian S60-based Nokia’s mobile phone OS.

The 3-4″ desktop screen was a gorgeous bright/clear box in 800×400 resolution and packed in 3 layers just like any regular Windows/Mac desktop. You have the wallpaper, the applets (no icons), and the task bar (on the left column). The thing was pretty slim, it came with a stylus nicely integrated along with a stow-away rotating camera that could be used for video conferencing or picture taking.

After pairing up with my Nokia E61, with 2 strokes with the stylus, holy shit you can explore my phone. All the files (including the system folders) are visible and I was able to extract files ala Windows Explorer style. All very easy to use. The applets are so easy to push out to the desktop. Streaming internet radio worked like a charm.

Another great thing about the N800 is that the OS automatically changes the touchscreen inputs when using fingers or a stylus. Unfortunately, the main reason we got it was for VoIP and the Skpe connection wasn’t very stable. You had to leave the software running in the background in order to receive calls (duh) but if you’re on the move, you could lose your Wireless reception nullifying the use of Skype.

However, by deleting other previously accessed SSID’s in the neighborhood, you can let it auto-connect to the one you like. I couldn’t find a “preferred” list but by deleting the other SSID’s that are within range, you are able to connect automatically. It supports WPA/WPA2 so that was another plus. My boss didn’t sound too happy the last time I talked about it to him but there’s so much more this thing can do, and even he knows it.

There are 5 things which makes N800 better than the N810 (although I’ve never used the latter) in my opinion:

  1. Rotating camera (the N810 has a fixed single front facing camera)
  2. The directional pad is easily accessible on the N800. The N810 requires you to slide out the keyboard to get to the d-pad.
  3. The N810 allows 2 SD card slots while the N810 only has room for 1 mini/microSD. SD cards are inherently cheaper for the capacity than their smaller cousins.
  4. FM Radio Tuner
  5. Price. The N800 is 1/2 the price of the N810.

For the money, there’s nothing else that can beat it for the moment. This is one serious tiny computer that you can carry around and be proud of.





DEAL OF THE DAY! N800 for $180 (Expires Today)

19 12 2007

That’s right. This deal is even sweeter than the “Black Friday” ($199 and free s&h) and “Cyber Monday” ($199.99 and free s&h) deal. The retail price for this baby swings from $230-$255 and that’s not including tax and/or shipping fees. Right now over at BUY.com, there are NO shipping fees and NO taxes. WYSIWYG! (or what you see is what you get for those who don’t know) $179.99 is the new price for the Nokia N800 and the price could not be right(er).

Oh and one more thing. The deal ends today! (Sorry. OUT OF STOCK) So what’re you waiting for? Get your Santa hats on and buy one of those awesome “internet tablets” from those Finnish masters. And I just read an article about Nokia allowing you to upgrade the OS on the N800 to the new Maemo OS2008 found on the newer N810.

EDIT: 12:15PM OUT OF STOCK!

😥





pop + manga + music = Asobi Seksu

27 11 2007

So I’ve been rather busy in the past many days since Black Friday twiddling around with an old 1GHz Intel Pentium III 256MB RAM laptop. Formatted the hard drive on it to the EXT3 format and loaded the most popular Debian Linux-based operating system – Ubuntu 7.10 aka Gutsy Gibbon. The process was long and lengthy and may not be for the faint hearted but it was definitely worth the trouble. FYI, Ubuntu is completely FREE which brings me now to a something else.

Randomly bumped into ASOBE SEKU ASOBI SEKSU on YouTube while following the exploits of Zadi Diaz on JetSetShow’s EPIC-FU. Asobi Seksu (according to Wikipedia) is a New York City band featuring Yuki Chikudate (vocals, keyboards), James Hanna (guitar, vocals), and Ben Shapiro (drums). I thought I was listening to some Rilo Kiley or some kinda Euro indie pop group but whadya kno. If you’re into that, you might like Asobi Seksu (Nihongo for “playful sex”). Part pop, part manga, all music, the song featured below is titled “Goodbye” and is from their latest album Citrus.

PS: WTF is “eponymous” and WTF is that word doing out on Asobe Seksu’s wiki page???





Google’s new mobile platform – Android

5 11 2007

Google unveiled their new “Android” mobile platform with 33 business partners already hooked on including HTC and Motorola as some of the big guns from the manufacturing industry of handsets carrying the Android OS.

So what is the GPhone and when is it going to be released? Contrary to popular rumors, the GPhone might never exist simply because Google, being the smart guys, knows that quick money can be made on software where the ROI is greater and risks are lower. Which is why, they focused on creating the interactive backbone structure based on Linux and called it Android.

Phone manufacturers and telcoms (cellphone carriers) can dictate what they’d like to see on the phones and how it will appear visually etc but the basic overall platform design is Android. THE GPhone might never be made but you never know. Instead Google prefers to liken all phones running Android as GPhones or equivalents whichever way you see fit.

So the GPhone is the equivalent of a Windows Mobile or a Symbian S60 phone (Sorry Palm. No matter how much I liked you, you’re almost dead because you’ve failed to move on from the year 2002).

The basic requirements of Android are: 200MHz ARM9. Since this is open source screen (sizes) resolutions and QWERTY/number-pad inputs can be tweaked to the OS by the manufacturer.

All this spells bad news for Microsoft’s Windows CE-based “Winows Mobile” OS and a similar blow to Nokia’s Symbian S60 OS. SonyEriccson’s Symbian UI and Palm’s Garnet OS are already on their way six-feet under so this news only adds a turbo-charger to the hearse carrying both mobile operating systems.

In the end, it will be tricky. Here’s my take on how this works out in the market.

Windows Mobile 6: Fan boys will continue to use this operating system but Android will steal many who use WinMo only because Windows like to label their phones with a “smart phone” tag next to the product. Phones running WinMo and S60 are both “smartphones” but a lot of people get easily fooled by mere marketing words.

Symbian S60: Similar to WinMo in terms of fan boy appreciation tactics although Android will manage to steal the few S60 users who only use it for it’s multi-tasking capabilities. Symbian S60 is known for it’s durability unlike the constant resetting required on WinMo devices. The new Nokia N-Gage online mobile gaming system will put up a good fight to Google so this is a 50-50 decision. People who like to play games on the go with 3D hardware acceleration will stick with their Nokia S60 phones (esp the N-series).

Apple iPhone: Apple fan boys will always hold a small niche userbase for Apple products despite the availability of equally cooler or better substitutes out there simply because this is an Apple product. Unfortunately for the iPhone, a lot of users who got it are traditionally non-Apple users and in 1-2 year’s time, the batteries of their iPhones will be dead and that is when a chunk of those first timers will switch over to Android.

Symbian S40: The non-smartphone version of the Symbian-based OS will see a huge migration in users unless the “GPhones” come with a hefty price tag. S40 3rd Edition has made this UI very appeasing to the masses especially in the form of the Nokia 5300 slider music phones but like I said, this category is for price and fashion conscious users. The inclusion of Motorola will mean more fashion-heavy devices will HTC will plunder on the feature-heavy section. Expect this segment to go dead in upcoming years like Palm.

RIM (Research in Motion): Black Berry lovers will originally be split between using a Blackberry which is something they’re used to or the new “GPhones” which does all what RIM puts out and maybe more. Sadly for the Canadian company, there appears to be a high possibility of new and potential RIM users to defect over to Android.

Proprietary UI (User Interface): Users of crappy UI’s on most cheap phones will be undeterred from getting a phone that can do all simply because they’re happy to live with a phone that can store address books and make/receive calls. Large swaths of Motorola Razr, Samsung slider phone lovers, and other fashionistas will make the switch. The grannies however will be happy with their phones that acts and looks like one.

Note: Thanks to Engadget and Gizmodo for the coverage on the Q&A section.





Quick updates on the Eee PC

1 11 2007

Upon closer inspection as revealed on this one Chinese website:

– The length and width of the Asus Eee PC are 6.5 x 9 inches.

– The overall plastic case of the device has a rather cheap finish on it.

– The touch-pad left/right buttons are on a rocker arm. This puts undue stress on that seesaw point possibly making it susceptible to breakage. The cheapy chintzy plastic material on the rocker arm further strengthens my point about this being a weak spot.

– The packaging box looks like crap. Maybe in Asia, that’s good stuff but we’re used to seeing plain brown but sturdy looking packaging.

An Engadget’s Chinese website shows that upon installing Windows XP (which is a watered down version instead of the regular XP we have), only 500 MB remains free from the 4GB. So Linux is the way to go.

Wikipedia confirmed that the processor used in the Eee PC is indeed the same used in the R2H-BH059T-3 as mentioned in my previous post which would be the Intel 900MHz Celeron M 353 processor.

Finally, an old review of a prototype from Slash Gear.