Author Archives: admin

New Nettop Platform – Nvidia ION

A net top is a net book (the one word net-book is trademarkd) but for the desktop.  They are small form factor desktop computers that are very capable.  Some people integrate these small form factor computers into their cars for audio/video duties.  But rarely do I get excited about a new platform.  The last one was the Intel Core i7.  I’ve been disappointed due to it’s high price and only Dell offers it.  Long story…

Anyways, the other day, I was researching Dual Core Atom based desktops.  The dual core CPU might give that extra oomph that I’ve been looking for.  Nvidia is planning on releasing their new ION platform.  Basically it’s a 4 inch by 3 inch motherboard that has an Intel Atom CPU and an Nvidia 9400 M GPU.  I’ll post more details when I find out, but here are some specs and pics.

CPU: Atom 330
FSB: 533 Mhz
Memory Type: Single Channel DDR3 1066 SDRAM
Max Memory: 2GB
GPU: GeForce 9400M
HD Video: Yes, full HD Decoder (1080i/p)
Sata: 1 port 3Gbps
Networing: Gigabit
Max Resolution: 2560×1600 dual link DVI
DirectX 10: Yes
Nvidia ION
Nvidia ION
Nvidia ION
Nvidia ION

A note about Notebook Drives

I’m looking into which notebook drive is the best bang for my buck.  Then I arrived at a thought.  Since notebook drives, non-SSDs, are about the price of a Western Digital Passport External Drive, I can load the new OS (probably an n-Lite version of XP) by USB, then crack it open and swap out the drive in my Asus Eee PC 1000H.  Yea…there’s just one problem.  To get a performance boost, I’m going with a WD 7200 RPM drive.  The Passport drives are 5400 RPM.  Just thought I would mention it before any of you starting thinking about it.

On a side note, I’m thinking about creating a dual-boot hard drive, XP and Ubuntu.  What is Ubuntu?  It’s a user friendly version of Linux with all the features.  http://www.ubuntu.com

Asus Eee PC 1000H – Increasing Speed

The goal for any computer geek to squeeze as much speed out of their machines as possible.  What I’m focusing on is the hard drive.  The hard drive is always the slowest part of a computer.

For the Eee PC 1000H, you have two options.  You can go all out and splurge on a Solid State Drive or save a few bucks and go with a 7200 RPM drive.

Benefits of an SSD:

SSDs have come down in price.  64GB for $140 is really compared to a year ago ($500).  SSDs are crazy fast and you’ll pick up an extra hour of battery life.  For the Eee PC 1000H, I suggest the G.Skill 64 GB SSD available at Newegg.com for $140.

The downside of this drive is that it’s expensive relative to traditional hard drives.  It’s also expensive.  And last but not least, it’s only 64GB.  You can definitely buy a bigger 128GB but you’re looking to spend upwards of $250.

G.Skill 64GB SSD

Click Here to go the Newegg product page.

As for the traditial notebook drives, I’m looking at the Western Digital Scorpio Black 320GB 7200RPM 2.5 inch SATA drive.  It’s only $90 and you’re getting 320GB.  You’re not going to improve the battery life much.  This drive is a low power comsumption drive, but it can’t compare to an SSD.

Western Digital Scorpio 320 GB

Western Digital Scorpio 320 GB

It’s only $90 with Free Shipping at Newegg.com.  CLick Here

I’ll let you know what I decide to do.

New Asus Eee PC 1000HE

It seems that every month, Asus releases a new netbook model.  Let’s just take a look at the all the Asus 10 inch netbooks.  There’s the Asus Eee PC 1000, 1000H, 1000HA, 1002HA, N10, S101, and 1000HE.

Asus Eee PC 1000HE

I own the 1000H.  So what is different in the 1000HE than my 1000H?

The 1000HE has a marginally faster Intel Atom N280 (1.66MHz) vs. the 1000H’s N270 (1.6 MHz).  The new N280 also has a faster front side bus 667 MHz vs. 533 MHz.  All this means it’s a teeny bit faster than my 1000H.

You also get the 160 GB hard drive and 10 GB of encrypted online storage provided by ASUS.

You get an LED backlit 10 inch LCD.  The new Asus Eee PC 1000HE also has a new keyboard.  It’s supposed to improve the comfort and the overall typing experience.  The new keyboard is similar to those found on the new Apple laptops.

So what’s so new about the new 1000HE.  The answer is the battery.  The battery on the 1000H is supposed to last 7 hours.  I only manage to get 6.5 hours.  The battery on the 1000HE is stated to last up to a whooping 9.5 hours.  This was achieved by increasing the battery amps from 2.6 to 2.9.

The price for the Asus Eee PC 1000HE starts at $399 and should be available soon.

Asus plans to release 2 more models in the future, the 1004DN and the 1000HAE.

Questions about netbooks and the answers

I’ve been writing about and using Asus Eee PC 1000H for a while now.  I think the netbook category can definitely serve the needs of many people looking to buy a regular laptop.  So here are a few common questions and answers about netbooks.

Q:  Can it replace my laptop or desktop?
A:  Well that depends on how you use your computer.  Basic functions will no sweat for netbooks.  Video editing is not.

Q:  How big is the keyboard?
A:  The keyboard size varies with different models.  The keyboard on the Asus 1000H is 95% of the size of a regular keyboard.  I have big hands and it’s easy for me to type.

Q:  How big is the screen?
A:  It depends on which model you get.  My Eee PC 1000H has a 10 inch screen (1024×600).

Q:  What’s the maximum amount of memory you can install in a netbook.
A:  Most models will only take 2 GB on a single SODIMM memory module.  4 GB is out of the question.

Q:  What kind of memory does a netbook use?
A:  Most models use a 200 pin SODIMM DDR2 533 MHZ memory module.  Check your manual to be sure.  My Asus Eee PC 1000H has a 2GB DDR2 667 MHz module.  Newegg has many to choose from, but I would purchase Kingston, COrsair, Crucial, or mushkin.  Click here to go to Newegg’s netbook memory page.

Q:  Can you play games on a netbook?
A:  I’m not sure about other models, but my Asus Eee PC 1000H has Diablo 2 and World of Warcraft installed.  Gaming experience is decent.

Q:  What’s the battery life on a netbook?
A:  Most netbook will come with a  3 cell battery, which lasts between 2 –  3 hours depending on use.  My Eee PC 1000H has a 6 cell battery, which will last 6 – 7 hours.

Q:  What operating system can you use on a netbook?
A:  Anything you want.  Most have Windows XP or Linux installed.  Leo Laporte installed Windows 7 on his MSI Wind.  I’ve even seen Mac OSX on a netbook, make sure you read the EULA before doing so.

If you have any more questions, please leave me a comment and I’ll try to answer them.

Deal: Canon SD1100 IS for $140.95

Looking for a quality point and shoot for cheap?  The Canon SD1100 IS is a great little 8 megapixel digital camera.  It little size and lightweight which is perfect for traveler.  Or if you are looking for an inexpensive digital camera that takes quality photos, you won’t be disappointed with the Canon SD1100 IS.  I highly recommend this unit.

Canon Powershot SD1100IS

Specs:

8.0 Megapixel
3x optical zoom
Canon’s Face Detection Technology
2.5 inch LCD
Digic 3 image processor
ISO 1600

Abe’s of Maine has this digital camera for a good price.

$150.95 – $10 Coupon Code LOYALTY10 = $140.95

Click here to go to the product page

What’s a good family computer?

Finding a computer that fits everyone’s need is a challenge.  There are so many brands and variations.  Asking a salesman will further confuse you.  When people ask me this, I was always have a few questions for them to gauge what is right for them.

1.  How computer savvy are you?  Answer:  “I’m a pro.  Love Linux.” or “I just need it to work.”

2.  How much do you have to spend?  Answer:  “Just give me the parts” or “I’ll pay more for simplicity.”

If your answers are mostly the latter, I would highly recommend…

Apple iMac

So what makes this a good all in one computer for the family?

  • Form factor and design.  It looks good in the common areas of the house.
  • It’s simple to setup, no messy cables everywhere.
  • It’s fast and good for kids and adults.
  • It has everything you need in a computer.  Wifi, DVD, webcam, simple to use.

Most computing duties in a household include Internet, email, social websites, youtube, pictures, video, and etc.  The Apple iMac does all that and more.

Amazon has the Apple iMac 2.4 GHz with the 20 inch display for $1,159.99 with free shipping. Apple.com has the same computer for $1200.

Next Post:  Apple iMac DIY Ram upgrade.  Save yourself a few bucks.

What to do with old gadgets?

If you’re an early adopter, you probably have a few old gadgets around that are gathering dust.  For one thing, most old gadgets are fairly obsolete now.  Case in point, Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) have been replaced by a smart phone.  Actually, a smart phone is the combination of a PDA and a cellphone.  I know a few things about smart phones because I own a couple.

Smart phones

Very few people have a need for a standalone PDA because who needs to carry an extra “thing” around with you.  I only thought about my old PDA when I saw the Nokia N810 on sale for $250.  I almost bought it, but I held back.

My old PDA is a Dell Axim x51v.  It had all the makings of a good netbook.

Dell Axim x51v

Processor

Intel XScale PXA270 624 MHz Processor

Memory

64MB SD RAM
256MB Flash ROM

Display

Type: TFT Color 16-bit, Touch Sensitive, Transflective LCD 3.7 inches
Number of Colors: 65,536 colors
Display Resolution: 640 x 480

Dimensions

4.7″ (L) x 2.9″ (W) x .07″ (H)

Weight

6.2oz

MISC
Intel 2700G multimedia accelerator with 16MB video memory
Integrated CompactFlash, SDIO and MCC Expansion Slots
Integrated Integrated 802.11b and Bluetooth wireless technology

It was shipped with Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition.

So far, I flashed the OS to run Windows Mobile 6.

Dell Axim x51v WM6

There are a good tutorials out there if you want to do the same.  Stay tuned for more mods and hacks on my newly revived Dell Axim x51v.

Canon FS100 Flash Memory Camcorder

I wrote a few posts ago about using my Canon SD880IS digital camera as a camcorder.  Yes, for those quick moments, I would use the video recorder function.  But for those moments that you want to save and share, I would definitely get a camcorder.  But there are so many.  DVD, miniDV, Hard drive, flash memory.  Which one do you choose?  It’s all about how much you want to spend and what kind of features are you looking for?

Canon FS100 Flash Memory Camcorder

I highly recommend the Canon FS100 Flash Memory Camcorder if you’re looking for a basic camcorder that is portable and reliable.

Pros:

  • Small, lightweight, perfect for one handed operation
  • Uses Flash Memory as the recording medium, cheap and available
  • Image Stablization
  • 2.7 Inch LCD

Cons:

  • May lack some advance features
  • Battery life

I’ll speak to image quality when I get the actual camcorder.  It comes in a few colors, silver, purple (wine red), and blue.

The best deal I could find was from Abes of Maine.  For a limited time, they have a $10 off any $75 purchase coupon code:  LOYALTY10

$285.95 – $10 = $275.95 (Sales Tax only in NJ) + Free Shipping.  Click here to go to the product page.

Canon Powershot G10

I’ve written a lot about the Canon Powershot SD880IS lately.  It’s a great point and shoot with many advanced features found only on high end cameras.  However, what if you wanted a more advanced point and shoot?  My only complaint about the SD880IS is that I want to shoot in RAW mode.  RAW images as defined by wikipedia, is images saved directly from the image sensor of a camera without any compression.  Most people would recommend getting a Digital SLR.  But I don’t want to buy all the expensive lenses and fancy equipment.  Enter the Canon Powershot G10.  It’s a hybrid between a point & shoot and a Digital SLR.

Canon Powershot G10
Canon Powershot G10 Back

Here are some basic stats:

14.7-megapixel resolution
5x optical zoom with Optical Image Stabilizer; 28mm wide-angle lens
DIGIC 4 Image Processor
Face Detection
full range of shooting and recording modes
RAW Mode Shooting
3.0-inch PureColor LCD II
SD/SDHC memory card

You can’t go wrong with a Canon Powershot.  If you’re craving more advanced manual functions out of a camera but without the expense of a DSLR, the Canon G10 may be right for you.

The Canon Powershot G10 is available at Amazon.com for $409 with Free Shipping.  Click Here For Product Page

How would I change the Asus Eee PC 1000

I love my Asus Eee PC 1000H.

Asus Eee PC 1000H

But there some things I wish it can do better.  So here’s how I would change the Asus Eee PC 1000H

  1. 4GB maximum memory.  Currently only 2GB
  2. Higher resolution screen.  Currently only 1024×600
  3. LED Backlit screen.  Now standard
  4. More CPU power.  The new dual core Intel Atom CPU should be fine.
  5. Less weight.  It currently weighs 3.2 pounds.

Sure there are other netbooks out there that all of these, but I always have an issue with the keyboard.  On the 1000H, the keyboard is about 95% of a full size keyboard.  Any smaller and it will be uncomfortable typing for a long period of time.

Maybe someone will make an awesome netbook in the near future.  Until then, I’ll keep on loving my 1000H

Canon SD880IS – Video Settings

Sometimes I take my gadgets for granted.  My digital camera, the Canon SD880IS, has been the new toy in my life, and I’ve been going snap happy.  However, I never checked out the video recording capabilities of the SD880.  It only records video in .mov files.  The output file at 640×480 resolution is about 1.2 MB per second.  You better get a 16GB SDHC card if you want record a lot of video. It’s only $30 at Amazon, Click Here.  That’s not a bad price for 16GB.

Transcend 16GB SDHC Class 6

The video quality is better than the Flip Video cameras.  Images are sharp and sound quality isn’t that bad.  What do you expect?  You’re capture at a higher resolution with a better lens.  I wouldn’t replace my HD camcorder for those precious moments.  But it’s great for the YouTube worthy content we all know and love.  Anyways, let’s talk about the different recording modes and settings you can do while recording video with the Canon SD880IS.

There’s the Macro Mode for those close up videos.

Canon SD880IS Video Macro Mode

Then there are the more advance shooting modes where you can play around with the colors.

canon sd880is video color accent mode
canon sd880is video color swap mode

Then there’s settings.  You can set your own white balance or select from a few preset options.  You can also pick your video resolution.  Your options are only 640×480 or 320×240, both recording at 30 frames per second.

Canon SD880IS Video White Balance
Canon SD880IS Video 640x480
Canon SD880IS Video 320x240

Of course, if you want to purchase this awesome camera or check out more details, I’ll direct you to where I got mine.  Click here to go to the Amazon Product Page. It’s only $247 + Free Shipping.

Sony Vaio P Series – First Impressions

I love CES time.  New gadgets and computers are being announced.  It’s almost too much to gadget news for one week.  The hottest news is probably the launch of Sony’s new netbook, the VAIO P series.  I always knew Sony would have their very own netbook.  But the prices may make you think otherwise.  Let’s get with the pics and specs first.

Sony Vaio P Series

Sony Vaio P Series GPS
Sony Vaio P Series Keyboard
Sony Vaio P Series Dimensions

Now for the Specs.

Intel (1.33GHz) CPU
60GB HDD or up to 128GB SSD
2GB DDR2 SDRAM
Up to 4 hours of battery life
Atheros 802.11 b/g/n
Bluetooth
Memory Stick Pro Slot
SD memory card slot
Full GPS Capabilities
Integrated Mobile Broadband
8″ display with Xbrite-ECO LCD LED Back lit (1600×768)
Windows Vista

Starting at $899

For sure, the keyboard is going to be extemely cramped.  Don’t count on writing your novel on this sucker.  A long email might even be challenging.  Windows Vista on this unit will definitely slow it down.  At only 2GB of memory and a 1.33GHz CPU, that’s barely enough to run the OS smoothly.  It’s going to be slow and it’s going to run a little hot.   The display is pretty impressive.  At only 8 inches, Sony managed to cram an extremely high resolution into a tiny LCD.  That’s good and bad.  You’ll see everything on the screen, but you’ll be squinting also.

It’s definitely a high end netbook.  But it might be a little too high end.  It starts at $899 and goes all the way up to $1499.  That’s far too much to pay for a netbook.  At $899, $1499, or anything in between, I could buy a nice little laptop/netbook that has much more muscle and some style.

Review: Portable External Hard Drives

External hard drives are an easy way to increase media storage.  If you work with large images, music files, and video, an external hard drive is almost essential for you.  I deal with all three of the above so storage is important to me.

external-hard-drives

There’s one hard drive that I like the most because it’s small, portable, spacious, and easy to use.  The Western Digital My Passport drive has not disappoint me.   The drive is 320GB and is about the size of a BlackBerry Curve.

Western Digital My Passport

I can’t believe this little drive is 320GB.  In the first photos, most of the external drives are 500GB.  The best part of the Western Digital My Passport drive is that it only need a USB 2.0 cable to power and connect the drive.  There’s no other power supply needed.

Western Digital My Passport

Best of all, I carry this with my Asus Eee PC 1000H (only $389 at Amazon.com) to have access to all my media files.  They are both tiny and can easily fit into a slim dvd player case.

The Western Digital is available in assorted colors and in different capacities. Prices are extremely good at Amazon.com.

Western Digital My Passport 250GB – $80 with Free Shipping – Click Here For The Amazon Product Page

Western Digital My Passport 320GB – $90 with Free Shipping – Click Here For The Amazon Product Page

Western Digital My Passport 500GB – $135 with Free Shipping – Click Here For The Amazon Product Page

Canon SD880IS – Manual Settings

So after owning the Canon SD880IS for a while, I felt a deep review of some advance features is in order.  First of all, this is a great 10 megapixel point and shoot.  It’s versitile enough to tackle most situation with outstanding picture quality.

In Scene mode (SCN), you have a few more options than in Auto mode.  First of all, this is where the ISO 3200 lives.  It took me a while to find it.  In Scene mode, you have 16 different options to choose from depending on your shooting conditions.  There’s even a Color Accent mode that takes the picture in black and white except for one color.  You can access SCN mode by toggling the switch at the top to the middle position.

Canon SD880IS Toggle Switch

Canon SD880IS Toggle Switch

Canon SD880IS ISO3200

Canon SD880IS ISO3200

Canon SD880IS Color Accent

Canon SD880IS Color Accent

The SD880IS does have some manual controls.  Keep in mind that this digital camera is considered a point and shoot.  There is a “P” mode on the SD880 IS, which stands for Program AE.  It is highly recommended that you read the manual before messing with this function.  Okay, now that the disclaimer is out of the way.  To get to Program AE mode, switch to camera mode, toggle all the way to the right on the top of the camera.  It’s noted with a camera symbol.  Then toggle the scroll wheel to choose between “Auto” and “P”.

Canon SD880IS Program AE Mode

Canon SD880IS Program AE Mode

So what can you manually set?  You can set the exposure compensation, white balance, tone, and ISO.  Yes, sounds pretty basic for a the professional photographer right?  Keep in mind that this is a 6.3 ounce ultra compact point and shoot.

Canon SD880IS Program AE Settings

Canon SD880IS Program AE Settings

I’m still having fun with this camera.

The Canon SD880IS is available at Amazon.com for as low as $247 with Free Shipping.  Click here for more details.

Dropping CPU Prices

Ever since the release of the Intel Core i7 Quad core CPUs, the prices for everything else has been on the decline.  Some of these CPUs are some noteworthy models are below $250.

Intel Core 2 Quad Q9300

Intel Core 2 Quad Q9300
Yorkfield
2.5 GHz
LGA 775
45nm
6MB L2 Cache
1333 MHz FSB

For a low price of $240, Amazon.com has Newegg beaten ($274.99).  For a few build, I would recommend this CPU because it gives you more bang for your buck right now.

Click Here to go to the Product Page

Netbook Wars

I don’t think Asus knew that they would pioneer a whole new class of computers.  After the super successful launch of the Eee PC line, so many competitors are moving into the netbook space.  I still like my Asus Eee PC 1000H because it does what I need it to do.  However, some new models might be better suited for you.

9 inch Model

Acer Aspire One

Acer Aspire One

8.9-Inch WSVGA TFT Screen (1024 x 600)
1.6 GHz Intel Atom N270 Processor
1 GB RAM
160 GB Hard Drive
XP Home
6 Cell Battery (5.5 Hours)
Price:  $380

More Information is available here.  Product Page

Other noteworthy 9 Inch Netbooks:  Asus Eee PC 904 for $350 & Dell Inspiron 9 for $400

10 Inch Model

Lenovo S10

Lenovo S10

10.2 inch LED Screen (1024 x 600)
1.6 GHz Intel Atom N270 Processor
1 GB RAM
160 GB Hard Drive
XP Home
3 Cell Battery (3 Hours)
Price:  $400

More Information is available here.  Product Page

Other noteworthy 10 Inch models:  Asus Eee PC 1000HA for $380 & MSI Wind U100 for $430

12 Inch Model

Dell Inspiron Mini 12

Dell Inspiron Mini 12

12.1″ widescreen TrueLife® Display (1280×800)
Intel®Atom®Processor Z530 (1.6GHz/533MHz FSB/512K Cache)
1GB DDR2 SDRAM at 533MHz (onboard)
60GB PATA Hard Drive (4200 RPM)
XP Home
Wireless 802.11g Mini Card
3 Cell Battery (3 Hours)
Price:  $600

More Information is available here.  Product Page

Flip Video

A couple of years ago, I bought a Panasonic Mini DV camcorder.  It takes fantastic video, but the problem is that getting that video to your computer is complicated and cumbersome.  First I have install software so that the camcorder cand connect with the computer.  Then I have to transfer the video to the computer.  Each DV tape is like 300MB of raw uncompressed data.  Then you have to edit the video and then encode it to a DVD.  This all takes time.  But in as little as 2 years, technology has changed so much.

Enter the Flip Video.

flip video ultra black

The 2GB of onboard memory will hold 60 minutes of video.  It has a 1.5 inch LCD on the back with a built in speaker.  The convenient built in USB plug connects to your computer easily.  The video is easily downloaded onto your computer to watch or share on places like Youtube.  At $129 with free shipping at Amazon.com, it’s an affordable and fun gadget.  Click Here to go to the Amazon.com Product Page.

I recommend it.  We have a few of those at work to record those funny moments.

Canon Rebel XSI Digital SLR 12.2MP

I’ve been covering a couple of popular Canon point and shoot cameras lately.  But what if you’re looking for something better.  Perhaps a Digital SLR (DSLR)?  Canon’s got you covered in that department too.  DSLR can cost over $5,000 for some professional models.  That’s way too much to spend on a gadget.  How about $700?  That’s a little more affordable for much more functionality and much more camera.  Enter the Canon Rebel XSI DSLR.

Canon Rebel XSI

Here are the spec:

  • 12.2 Megapixel
  • 3.0 LCD with Live View (Think Point and Shoot)
  • EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS Lens with Image Stabilization
  • DIGIC III processor
  • SD/SDHC Memory Cards
Canon Rebel XSI

Since DSLR write so much data in such a short time, a fast memory card can help reduce the lag time between shots.  You certainly don’t want to spend all this money on such a good camera and have it take bad photos.

The Canon Rebel XSI wanders away from the traditional compact flash and adopts SD/SDHC memory cards.  This is certainly a welcomed change due to the popularity and variety of SD/SDHC memory cards.  But when you aska professional photographer, most will recommend the Sandisk Extreme III 8GB SDHC.

SanDisk Extreme III 8GB SDHC

The bottom line…How much will all this cost me?

I’m picking Amazon.com for this purchase because they are reliable and shipping is free and fast.

Canon Rebel XSI DSLR -$635 + Free Shipping – Click Here

SanDisk Extreme III 8GB SDHC – $80 + Free Shipping – Click Here

Unique Gifts for a Geek

Do you know a geek that has everything he or she wants?  Are you having trouble picking out that one piece of technology that they don’t have?  Well wonder no more.  Introducing the Chumby.

Chumby

Chumby

Chumby is a little internet device that displays current relative information when you want it.  It displays a constant stream of your favorite information, view photos on Flickr, message your friends and family on Twitter and Facebook, and much more.  With so much information packed away in such a little gadget, your geek will love it too.

The price of one of these range from $180 to $230 for a limited edition.

UPDATED (12.12.08) – For a limited time, use coupon code: CHUMBYCJ to receive an additional $30 off the 2008 Latte and Black Chumby.  Happy Shopping.

www.chumby.com