Archive for the ‘Electronic’ Category

Vista is fast on HP Mini

In Electronic, OS on 20 February, 2009 at 7:00 am

I’ve always been wondering why netbook can’t run Vista properly.  Somehow a lot of review have put it that if a netbook is using Vista it will take a performance hit.  A modern processor at 1.6Ghz and 1GB of RAM can’t run a modern Vista OS?  I know that Vista is resource hungry but I don’t think it is that resource hungry.  After some thoughts, I felt that the reason might be due to the slow hard disk that most netbook are using, since Vista is always doing file indexing on the fly and will thus cause a performance dip if the hard disk is slow.

After trying out Sony Vaio P at the Sony shop, it is confirmed that Vista felt sluggish on the Vaio P which is using a 1.3Ghz Atom but with 2GB of RAM.  But I still have my doubts. Then when I get my hand on a HP Mini 1000 (1012TU), I’ve decided to install a dual boot Vista on top of the XP to try out the theory.  I was thinking that if it is slow then I’ll just turn off the file indexing and see whether the speed will become decent.  However, after successfully getting Vista installed, I feel that it is fast, as fast as the XP that was originally installed and I did not do any tweaking and this is even with Aero turn on!  This confirm the theory that with 1GB of RAM Vista should be as fast as XP.

So why is it that people are saying that netbook can’t take Vista?  I feel that this is because the manufacturer want to sell the netbook cheap, the first netbook came installed with Linux but Linux is not something that people are comfortable to use (not all people, at least) and soon people are asking for a Window version.  But if HP, Dell, Lenovo and what not put Vista on their netbook, the cost will be much higher than those netbook that comes with Linux.  Thus Windows XP came into the scene.  Being cheaper than Vista, manufacturer can thus keep the price range of netbook.  To justify the choice, they make use of the negative image of Vista, since netbook comes with cheap setup, it can’t run Vista.  And it seems like they are successful in this marketing gimmick.

Omnia? No thanks.

In Electronic on 10 October, 2008 at 7:00 pm

But that is just my personal feeling, I’ve never like those phone without any keypad anyway.  Though I should say that SMS with Omnia is definitely better than iPhone as the predictive text input pick out the word that I want to type just after 3 characters, for iPhone it is like until the 2nd last character.  Overall the phone is sturdy, nice screen and it has a side bar kind of thing that let you drag and drop application just like the side bar on Vista.  The 5 mega pixel camera let you take really sharp picture such that even text on a printed label can be seen very clearly.  Also it has a smile detection feature, good for taking cute baby, you just need to point the camera and wait for the baby to smile and you have a very good picture to keep for memory.  Size wise it is just nice to hold when you want to make a phone call.

However the problem with Omnia is the Windows Mobile 6.1.  Since the OS has its own icon and Samsung take pain to create nice looking icon to complement their nice phone, the default icon use by the system look very much out of place.  And why is it that every Windows Mobile phone’s default system icon look so jagged, I thought by now icon should be looking sharp with so much advancement in technology.  What a disappointment.

So much for Apple’s ease of use claim

In Electronic, OS on 5 October, 2008 at 5:39 pm

I was helping my elder sis setting up her iPhone 3G.  She actually had her iPhone 3G for a while already but wasn’t able to download any application into her phone.  I was a bit puzzled when I heard that but it became clear once I sat down in front of her computer.  Her iTunes can’t run, somehow iTunes seems to crash every time it start up.  Data Execution Prevention (DEP) of Vista prevented iTunes from illegally accessing the system memory.  A bit of search found out that this kind of incompatibility happened for quite sometime already, since the days of iTunes 7.x but my sis is actually using the latest 8.0.  OK, so this might be some Vista problem, but a company as big as Apple can’t get their act together to make their software compatible with the latest OS?  And the OS has been out for nearly 2 years already!

Luckily my sis has another laptop with XP instead of Vista, thus I managed to install iTunes 8 on that laptop.  iTunes managed to startup with no problem this time and we quickly get to the part whereby iTunes ask to register the iPhone.  We were thinking “Why not” and so we started the registration process but the problem quickly came in the middle of trying to submit the payment method.  No matter how many times we try to click the submit button, iTunes just stay at the request for payment method page.  Finally we’ve got no choice but to choose “Cancel”, but that doesn’t help as well. iTunes needs to be restarted.  We tried to re-register but were told that the account is already in used.  We tried the apple account and everything seems OK.  Thus I decide just to carry on.

Since the iPhone 3G has some problem with the WiFi (all other devices can access the WiFi in the house with no problem but the iPhone just don’t like the WiFi, it can connect to the WiFi with no problem but it won’t display any website, keep saying that the server is busy) and that I’ve read somewhere in the papers that the original firmware that comes with the phone cause a lot of problem, I decided to help my sis upgrade her iPhone to the latest 2.1 firmware.  It seems simple, iTunes 8 detected that the phone needs the latest 2.1 firmware and there is this “Update” button.  So I click the update button and iTunes prompt an error, something like “unknown problem, code 9006”.  Good it tell me the problem is 9006 but what is 9006!  My goodness this is Apple software!  I quickly realize that iTunes was trying to download the firmware, I click on the downloading page and saw that the download goes until about 10Mb and the error appear.  I decided to try again, this time 12Mb and I tried again, 9Mb, and again 15Mb.  So it seems that there is some problem while trying to download the about 200Mb of firmware update and since there is no way the iTunes going to help, I’ve decided to keep trying.  Fortunately the download went through after several more retry and luckily the download didn’t stop at 199Mb.  But the thing is that automatically resuming an aborted download has been around for so long already, can’t iTunes just help to do that?

Sure enough the 2.1 firmware helps to make the iPhone agrees to work nicely with the existing WiFi and web surfing is now possible.  What a relief.  So we decided to try the Apple store and download some free applications into the iPhone.  Again problem strike, clicking the “Install” button produce nothing, then I realized that it is again trying to download something but the download status quickly disappear.  This time though I can’t get the download to work, but then I realized that there isn’t any error and I decide to check the iPhone “tab”.  Under the “Applications” tab, sure enough the application that we are trying to install was listed, but from the page you can see that the application is on the PC but it wasn’t sync to the iPhone.  When we were trying to setup the phone, we choose not to automatically sync the PC to the iPhone.  So we need to manually sync the downloaded application to the iPhone but iTunes didn’t tell us that we need to do this, after it download the application, it just stop there.

Yeah, so much for Apple’s claim that their software are easy to use and that their products never fail.  They are also human and they also make mistake, just like any other software or hardware company.

Battle of the Giants: Intel Core 2 Duo Vs AMD Athlon64 FX-62

In Electronic on 7 July, 2006 at 3:00 pm

This month will see the arrival of Intel’s latest weapon against AMD, the Core 2 Duo processor.  The battle will thus heat up and a price war will also be looming on the horizon.  This can only be good news for consumer like me.  Currently AMD is holding the crown for the fastest processor that can be use for Windows and thus the price for such a processor is also very expensive.  Its used to be that Intel is the more expensive party, but now the situation has been turn around.  When the new Core 2 Duo is out, I believe the situation will change again.  Tom’s Hardware has come out with a preview of the performance of the Core 2 Duo (codename Conroe) and it seems that the slower Core 2 Duo at 2.6 GHz can even beat the fastest FX-62 at 3.0GHz.  Yes, price war!  Let us, consumers, reap some benefit.

I can still remember the days when an Intel spoke person said that they are not afraid of AMD, this is prior to AMD launching its ever so successful Athlon.

LCD Monitor – Are they the same?

In Electronic on 18 March, 2006 at 6:25 am

They seem the same, so are they the same?

Response time?  Sure some are 4ms, some 8ms and some 12ms.  But in actual fact these figures might not be measuring the same thing.  Response time refers to the speed of pixels, how fast can they change from color to color.  A faster response time will not cause a “ghost” effect to appear in games and movies.  However, nowadays, the panels are fast enough that you will hardly get any that will be that bad.  Furthermore, the response time measured might be from gray to gray or black to white, depending on which is the fastest.  Thus, on average most panels are really responding at the same speed.

Contrast?  Brightness?  For contrast, a 500:1 is normally good enough, which is the standard nowadays anyway.  Brightness is actually quite adequate for any LCD panel, normally it is above 250 cd/m2.

So are there really any difference?  Luckily, there are, if not they won’t be price so differently.  I think the current most important difference is the color depth.

Color depth refers to the number of colors the panel can produce.  Currently there are 6 bit and 8 bit panels.  8 bits panel are the so called true color panel as it can display a total of 16.7 million colors.  This is the best panel if you are interested in watching movies on your monitor, or even for future gaming that is of a high definition.  6 bit panel can only display a total of 0.262 million colors.  This is actually the same color depth as the latest mobile phone display.  However, monitor manufacturer use a technique call dithering to help to increase the color depth in 6 bit panel.  This technique display two close colors very fast so that only one is seen and thus fool the eyes into thinking that it can see more colors.  With dithering the perceive color depth becomes 16.2 million colors.

A panel that can produce a total of 16.7 million colors is still the best for watching movies and graphic designing.

HD Ready?

In Electronic on 23 February, 2006 at 5:00 am

I don’t think so.  After so many years of bombardment by marketing terms, “XXXXX Ready” should alert you that something fishy is going on.  Recently, I went around looking at the HDTV products that are currently available on the market.  I have also blog about some Plasma Vs LCD.  TV manufacturers are using the “Ready” trick again, specifically “HD Ready”.

They are not wrong when they said that certain technology are “Ready” in their products, but to us consumers, we need to know what do they mean by “Ready”.  “Ready” does not necessary means that the product already has that technology.  It can means that you need to add certain component to get that technology, or that it can simply interface with that technology.  In this case “HD Ready” really just means that the TV can accept any HD input.

So what is HD input?  Let’s start with SD.  SD is Standard Definition and is the current format of normal TV.  It means that the video display has roughly about 480 viewable lines.  HD on the other hand is High Definition and consist of at least 720 viewable lines.

Coming back to “HD Ready”.  Certain cheaper TV Panel although it claims “HD Ready”, you can’t really enjoy HD quality when the format becomes vastly available.  This is because this type of panel can only display 852 x 480 pixels.  Which means that at most it can display 480 lines horizontally.  Which means that this panel is actually a SD panel.  So although it can accept HD input, it will use some technique to decrease the 720 or more lines to only 480 lines.  This is of course not true HD quality.

Some people will say, “Well, I can’t see the difference.”  This is true, unless the shop you go to has HD broadcast set top, you can’t really see the difference between SD and HD.  DVD is actually a SD input source and normal broadcast is also of a SD quality.  So when both SD and HD panels are displaying SD video, how can you see the difference?

So the next time when you go shopping for a new TV and want it to be able to last another 5-10 years, you need to check the specification and see what resolution does the panel support.  If it states that the panel can support 1366 x 768 or 1024 x 768, then you can rest assured that this panel can display HD quality video.

Plasma vs LCD – again

In Electronic on 9 February, 2006 at 6:08 am

Which is good?

Plasma will give a better black, since it can off its pixel totally which will make it as black.   LCD on the other hand use filter to change color and thus will only give shades of gray and not true black.  However, with today’s technology, LCD’s “black” is not as obvious to the naked eyes.

LCD will give a sharper image.  Thus when you walk into a room with both plasma and LCD of the same size, you will first be attracted to the LCD panel as it look nicer.  But after staying in the room for sometime, you will feel that the plasma panel is nicer to watch.

Plasma has a burn-in effect, meaning if you watch a channel with a channel logo on the top right corner and watch only that channel.  After sometimes the color at that top right corner will be similar to the logo even when you watch other channel without any logo.  There will be a dim logo as if it has been printed on the screen.  But this is very rare.  LCD doesn’t suffer from this effect.

Plasma has a life span of 30,000 hours, but if you do the maths, watching TV 10 hours a day, 7 days a week, your plasma will still last you 8 years.  And if you drop it down to 5 hours a day, which is more of a norm, then it will last you 16 years.  LCD on the other hand doesn’t neccessary has a standard life span, but the light bulb will burn out after sometimes and it can be changed.  But the cost of changing the light bulb is normally quite expensive.

Plasma is cheaper now as compared with the price of an LCD of the same size.  This is because plasma as a technology is more mature than LCD, at least in terms of bigger screen TV panel.

Both are good technology, so in the end it is just your budget and your eyes that will decide which panel you will ultimately go for.  Just remember don’t let the sales person decide for you, you are the one using it and not him/her.

Multi-touch technology

In Electronic on 8 February, 2006 at 9:40 am

I have come across a new touch screen technology from New York University Media Research Lab.  Its really amazing.  Zooming in and out of a picture, dragging them here and there, zooming and panning a world map in 2D or 3D, turn table and music mixer.  You can do all these with a touch screen and your hand.  Kind of remind me of the movie Minority Report, whereby Tom Cruise interact with the futuristic computer to find information.

But I still think that our “fat” finger will get in the way once the touch screen panel becomes smaller.  Thus the recent Apple’s patent filing for multipoint touch screen might be a bit of a stretch if they are going to implement it on a screen as small as the current iPod.

Plasma vs LCD – which is better for our eyesight

In Electronic on 8 February, 2006 at 5:02 am

During one of my Chinese New Year gathering, one of my friends asked me whether plasma or LCD is better for one’s eyesight.  My answer was that both are OK.  Since plasma and LCD are both fixed pixel display (meaning to say both don’t draw pixel one by one from left to right, all pixels are drawn at the same time), flickering is a non-issue.  Both panels also do not emit low-radiation and thus not harmful to our health.  Which lead me to conclude that both panels are better for the eyesight than conventional TV and both are equally good.  Provided that brightness and contrast are set to a comfortable level.

However, after giving the issue another thought, I feel that the time you spent in front of the TV is still important.  The focusing of our eyes at a certain object for too long, will make our eyes too dry and will cause myopia.  Thus after watching TV for 2 or 3 hours, one should take a break and let our eyes have a good rest, like looking out through the window at some beautiful scenery.  This way, we can maintain our eyesight and still enjoy our favourite TV programme.

Sony Reader

In Electronic on 6 February, 2006 at 2:00 am

Will this device finally revolutionize reading experience?  Weighing about 255g, it can store the equivalent of 80 books.  But the size and storage is not the main thing, the truly innovative feature is the display.  Quote from its official website:

“The result is a reading experience that’s similar to paper – high contrast, high resolution, viewable in direct sunlight and at a nearly 180-degree angle, and requiring no power to maintain the image.”Available in Spring 2006, you can get the detail here.