Monday, August 27, 2007

Sophisticated Umbrella Can Forecast the Weather

Sophisticated Umbrella developed by Ambient Devices, a company in Cambridge, Massachusetts, what is founded since 2001 to commerce the research product of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Media Lab. Ambient Devices, which experienced integrate the information from Internet to various electronics product, installing radio signal receiver appliance on umbrella hilt. The appliance accepts the data from weather forecast site,, through the city Wi-fi network.

The umbrella nowadays not only good at rain fall moment, but also remind its owner about the weather forecast in the stand up place and various other region. The Umbrella hilt equipped by the electronics peripheral that presenting the data of 150 US big city weather forecast.

If forecasted that the rain will be come in about 12 hour, umbrella hilt will flame. If the lamp is flicker slowly its mean rainy, but if flick very quickly mean will come the storm.

" You can put this umbrella near the door, in umbrella place, and when you went to go out, the umbrella will give you advise whether you require to bring it or not". The electronics appliance of the umbrella operated with battery energy and its service have to be activated subscribed. Price of every unit it’s about US $140.

Hacker Free the iPhone

Spend more than 500 hours with gallons of energy drink bring the separate satisfaction for George Hotz (17), Glen Rock New Jersey (US) youngster.

Hotz succeed unlock the most popular touchsreen phone, iPhone. He actually make the iPhone can working with another phone operator besides the AT & T, the official operator of the Apple Inc high-tech phone product.

" Some of my friend tell me that I’m too much waste my time this summer, but I feel that all paid,” said Hotz to The Record of of Bergen Country. Hotz confesses that to unlock the iPhone is not easy an easy job. Hotz said that he did all process with solder and software help. Wrong step in the process can make the iPhone not work at all.

But the hard work from Hotz is worth it. The 4GB smartphone can run with any GSM operator in any country. In eBay, till Friday (24/8), the iPhone offered at US$12.600. The new iPhone are sold at US$499 price in all market in United States.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Drobo: Your Personal Data “Robot”

Robots are supposed to make life easier for human. On that score, Data Robotics' Drobo is a huge success in meeting the data storage needs of power users. No matter that the Drobo isn't a mechanical robot- it's a “logical robot” that has the smarts to arrange data among several external drives so that the data always remains secure and backed up.

The Drobo is a chassis with slots to hold up to four SATA hard drives. No need to worry about settings; just pop in two or more drives and the Drobo’s AI software takes care of the rest. It will even warn you, with colored light, when a drive is nearly full or about to fail. Should a drive be failing, or should you simply want to upgrade your capacity, you can just pop in a new d rive, cartridge-style. The Drobo will take any 3.5-inch drive with a standard SATA interface; SATA 150, SATA 300; 3-Gbps-compliant; 4,200-rpm, 5,400-rpm, 10,000-rpm; 8OGB, 12OGB, or ITB. Unlike competitors, such as the RDX cartridge system or anything removable you remember from Iomega, the Drobo uses bare, straight-out-of-the-box hard drives. You don't need carriages, sliding trays, or outer hulls. You don't even need to screw guide screws into the drives. The Drobo chassis has a neat retaining mechanism that doubles as an eject button.

There are a few caveats. For one, the actual hard drives are "extra," since the $500 covers only the chassis and the technology behind the Drobo. You have to pay for the drives separately when you buy the Drobo from or from online retailers such as Also, compared with multidrive RAID units, you pay more per gigabyte for the Drobo after you’ve equipped the chassis with additional drives.

The Drobo isn't cheap, and you must add the cost of the drives. But if you work with a lot of data and need to keep it securely backed up, this “data robot" is worth the investment. It's ready to step in and take control of your data storage needs.

Drobo: $499 direct

Yoggie Pico Personal: Thumb-Drive-Size Security Appliance

Employes who work at large companies have Internet connections that are firewalled and filtered for spam and viruses by server-based security software. Since the processing this protection requires happens on another computer, it doesn’t slow users' systems down. Now the Yoggie (pronounced YOH- gee, like the bear) Pico Personal brings this kind of protection to your personal desktop or laptop.

The Pico packs a complete Linux-based computer with a Pentium 3 equivalent CPU into a case the size and shape of a USD thumb drive. Thirteen security apps from well-regarded vendors run on the device (so they don't bog down your PC) and filter out problems at the network level. For added security, the driver blocks all network activity if the Pico isn’t plugged in; an emergency password lets you disable protection in case you lose or break the device.

The management console reports overall security status and offers slick charts and logs of all security events. It also lets you change a few simple settings; for example, you can toggle spam filtering on and off or configure content filtering. Most users should leave the advanced settings alone, though.

The hardware firewall protects against outside attack only; it doesn't include the program-control element common in sofirware-based firewalls. On my initial tests, it failed to stealth a couple of ports, but Yoggie techs quickly released a firmware update that brought 100 percent success. The hardware-based protection proved solid, too- I couldn't hack it.

The device, which filters incoming POP3 e-mail and flags messages that have a high spam score, works with any e-mail client, but the user, has to define a message rule to divert spam messages into their own folder. Out of hundreds of e-maiIs, the filter flagged only one valid message as spam and let less than 10 percent of spam e-mails into the Inbox. That's better than most antispam software. Primitive category-based content filtering is also available, though most users won't need it.

Yoggie's antivirus and antispyware protection scans only the files that come into the system via POP3, FTP, or HTML. To bolster this limited protection, the company offers a year's free subscription to Kaspersky AntiVirus. My testing showed that you'll definitely need the added protection: The Pica blocked less than half of my standard spyware samples.

The security the Yoggie Pico Personal adds is definitely effective- but expensive. And although you can rely on its spam server and firewall, you should retain local security software for full protection against viruses and spyware.

Yoggie Pico Personal: $179 direct

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Wowwee Roboquad: An Odd but Perceptive Droid

With four legs, a body like a 1970s airport terminal, and a longish neck topped off with a flat head, Wowwee 's new Roboquad Confounds and confuses, but ultimately wins you over.

At 14 inches call, the 3-pound Roboquad looks insect-like. It comes with a remote that lets you control movement and, to some degree, the bot’s mood. The Roboquad operates in four different modes-Default, Activity, Aggression, and Awareness- each affecting how the bot walks, sounds, and reacts to stimuli. Auditory input is registered on a single microphone, and the Roboquad's two "eyes" actually house an infrared receiver in one and an infrared transmitter in the other.

In my testing, the Roboquad did a fair job of seeing obstacles. But instead of avoiding them outright, it usually got within an inch or so before backing off and trying an alternate route.

The Roboquad's lack of resemblance to anything living- at home or in nature-makes it something of in oddity; nor is it the cheapest robot toy on the block. But for those who seek an unusual plaything, it satisfies.

Wowwee Roboquad: $99

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Samsung Q1 Ultra: A Just Okay UMPC

The UMPC ( Ultra-Mobile PC) platform is a peculiar mix of a laptop, a tablet, and a handheld PC. The Samsung Q1 was one of the first UMPCs, but it had component and performance flaws. Its new iteration, the Q1 Ultra, is better but still falls short of the mark.

This Vista-enabled, 1.5-pound device has an intensely bright screen. The 1.024-by-600 resolution is fine for watching video or perusing a site like Flickr, but the system lacks the processing power and RAM (just 1GB) to do Windows Vista justice, even with the Aero interface turned off.

The Q1 Ultra's touch-screen functions are enabled by Vista, so you can control the unit with just a finger. Writing a full sentence with the stylus, however, can be frustrating: The hand holding the stylus presses up against the screen, causing some interference. Moreover, the battery ran for only 2 hours 13 minutes playing a DVD via an external, optical drive.

The Q1 Ultra would have a better change of gaining market presence if Samsung dropped the price to $500 or $600. But even at that price, it would be no great bargain.

Samsung Q1 Ultra: $1,099

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Griffin Journi: Looks Good, Sounds Bad

The problems with the travel speaker setup from Griffin are pretty fundamental. First, the Journi distorts at low levels, even on acoustic songs. Second, it has almost no bass. This despite the device's inclusion of SRS Lab’s WOW technology, which is supposed to produce “an expanded sound stage and deep, rich bass.”

The Journi’s design, however, is quite attractive. My favorite touch is the black leather that wraps around the dock when the device is not in use and acts as a kickstand when it’s on. At just 6.5 by 10 by 1.3 inches, the Journi is easy to pack into your suitcase, too also, a remote attaches magnetically to the speaker grilles, so you’ll never lose it.

The rated rechargeable lithium ion battery life per charge is about 8 to 10 hours, but I squeezed 16.5 hours out of it on my tests. Of course, to get the best from the battery your iPod must be fully charged.

Put simply, the Journi looks sexy but sounds bad. Buy it only if you're looking for something stylish and audio performance isn't really a concern.

Griffin Journi: $129.99

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Thursday, August 23, 2007

Wowwee Robopanda: An Unbearably Cute Bot

You’ve got to give WowWee credit for reaching. Its Robopanda may not exactly be the robot companion of your dreams, but it is, in some crucial ways, the most sophisticated bot WowWee has ever rolled off the assembly line.

Weighing in at roughly 8 pounds with four AA and six C batteries, the toddler-size Panda-like robot toy “wakes up” when you turn it on and talks in a childlike mice. Invisible touch sensors are located on its head, stomach, back, hands, and feet. And believe me, you’ll want to touch the Robopanda (which it constantly and somewhat creepily asks you to do) because it's adorable. Its black and white body is quite animated: The Robopanda can move its arms, legs, head, rubber ears, and eyebrows. Sadly, it's not built crawling.

1 had both a two-year-old and a six-year-old play with the Robopanda. The two-year-old was intrigued, but grew bored and left the room. The six-year-old sat rooted in front of the Robopanda and responded to its every request, often answering it verbally. When I asked, "So you like it?" she nodded quickly, grinning ear-to-ear. In the end, I feel the same way.

Wowwee Robopanda: $169

Nokia N76: Flashy Smartphone Disappoints

Despite its good looks, this handset suffers from a slew of design flaws. And when you combine them with a very short battery life and the lack of any high-speed data capabilities, the N76 is simply a disappointing device.

Sure, the external music buttons and a huge external screen promise a great multimedia experience. And the speedy 367MHz processor should be terrific for handling audio and video. Unfortunately, music playback is marred by a hissing noise. You can't flip the phone open with the headphones plugged in, and you can’t use wireless headphones, either.

The phone uses Symbian OS, a good choice because so much software is available for it-even peer-to-peer downloads! But there's no Wi-fi support, and EDGE makes Web pages load very slowly compared with EV-DO or FISDPA network speeds.

Neither of the phone's two cameras takes particularly good shots, and after some use, the N76’s big screens and shiny finish take on an ugly sheen of face and finger grease. The final nail in the coffin is battery life: The phone's 8 hours of music playback time is half what I'd expect from a device of this class.

In the end, the N76 simply doesn't have a lot going for it. I’d turn to Nokia’s own N73 or the Apple iPhone instead for a better all-around experience.

Nokia N76: $499.99

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Macbook 13-inch (Core 2 Duo T7200): Faster Macbook at the Same Price

Apple has a knack for making a good thing even better. The 13-inch was already a crowd pleaser. The latest version moves to a 2.0 GHz processor, adding a larger (80GB) hard drive and more RAM (1GB) while keeping the price in check. (Still, you'll want to add another gig of RAM, which at $175 doesn't come cheap.) It doesn't include the new and faster Intel chipset (aka Santa Rosa) that the MacBook Pros offer, but that won't detract from your experience.

The screen is suitable for novice video and photo editors, as is the iLife '06 suite. The MacBook has a sweet keyboard and comes with two USB ports (it could use still more), plus a FireWire port and DVI-I Video out. You even get draft 802.11n wireless support. Battery-wise, I got a healthy 2 hours 37 minutes playing a DVD movie. The main drawback is that you can't upgradc the DVD/CD-RW drive to a DVD burner.

This laptop is not a compelling upgrade if you already have a MacBook, but it's a good start for first-time buyers.

Apple Macbook 13-inch (Core 2 Duo T7200): $1,099

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Altec Lansing IMV712: Improve your iPod Viewing

When an iPod speaker dock costs almost four hundred dollars, it should sound awesome, look nice, be easy to use, and have some cool extra features. This latest model from Altec Lansing fares pretty well on all counts. The speakers have decent audio, certainly look interesting, and are definitely simple to operate. The major selling point here, though, is the devices distinctive feature: an 8.5 inch widescreen placed between the speakers for viewing iPod content or videos from external devices like camcorders (via an Aux input).

And yet the iMV712 leaves me feeling a bit blah. The subwoofer lacks the rumble you’d expect for an audio product that costs this much; the remote feels cheap; and the stereo speakers offer up slightly tinny sound-though the dock's screen is adequately sized. YouTube videos converted for the iPod looked pretty good on the 480-by-240 screen, and iTunes store-bought video content looks plenty sharp. The screen, however, did seem a bit dark.

I still question whether anyone really wants to view iPod videos on a slightly bigger display, as opposed to a TV. Ultimately, I think the price is way too high for this average-sounding niche product.

Altec Lansing IMV712: $350

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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Sprint Muziq LX570: This Music Sells For a Song

No, it's not an iPhone, but for sprint subscribers it’s the best music phone yet. And it sells for one-fifth the price of Apples fancy device.

The Muziq syncs with Windows Media Player and lets you drag-and-drop AAC, MP3, and WMA music files onto the device via a USB cable. Sprint's own music store charges a reasonable 99 cents per song over the air, in case you can't wait until you get home to buy music. Once you have your music loaded, you can play it over Bluetooth, wired headphones, or even a nearby FM radio using the main keypad or the touch-sensitive buttons on the outside of the phone. Sprint's music-playing application is painfully basic, so although the Muziq supports 4GB memory cards, it's hard to find individual songs if you have more than 100 or so on board.

The Muziq also has an honest-to-goodness Web browser (though you can use Opera Mini if you like), a pretty good e-mail client with an attractive tabbed interface that alerts you when new messages arrive, and a mediocre 1.3-megapixel camera. As a phone, the Muziq is just okay, with good earpiece volume and not-so-great reception.

For $100 with contract, that’s a pretty good mix of features for users who want to go beyond basic voice calling.

Sprint Muziq LX570: $299.99

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iSkin Cerulean RX & TX Combo: Remote- Control Your Tunes

Here’s a combo device for iPods that's really an excellent concept. It consists of a lightweight, tiny transmitter (TX) that connects to your iPod and a receiver (RX) that connects to any almost iPod dock for wireless music transmission within a range of 65 feet or so.

The real allure of the Cerulean is that the iPod now becomes its own remote, and you can avoid the lousy, screen-less controllers that come with so many docks. Navigate and play tracks as you normally would, but now music will pump out of your speakers wirelessly. The trade-off, as is usual with tunes over Bluetooth, is mediocre audio that distorts in the high frequencies. On a positive note, the Cerulean is not jut for iPod- an included USB Cable lets you stream music from your computer to the iPod speaker dock, as well. Setup is a piece of cake.

Is this the easiest way to navigate your iPod during your backyard BBQ? You bet, if you and your guests can live with less-than-stellar sound.

iSkin Cerulean RX & TX Combo: $149.99

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Intellitouch EOS Wireless: A Budget Home Broadcaster

Sonos’s zone player, the premier wireless multiroom home audio system, costs $1,000-speakers- not included. Most people can't spend that kind of money on a stereo system. IntelliTouch sees an opening here; the company is betting that the same basic concept (albeit with far fewer flourishes) selling at a fraction of the price could be very, very popular.

The Eos Wireless setup ships with an iPod dock armed with a membrane-button remote and a single wireless stereo speaker unit. You can purchase additional speakers for $150 apiece. Keep in mind that there's a 20-ms delay between the music originating at the dock and the receiving speakers. When a Range Ex switch is activated, that delay becomes 64 ms, allowing the receiving units more time to pick up dropped bits of information.

With a rated range of 150 feet using GigaWave technology, the Eos sounds like an excellent deal, but design flaws, a very limited remote and a decidedly bass- free audio performance will leave many listeners frustrated. Strangely, the receiving unit sounds better than the dock itself. In both scenarios, however, the bass is sorely lacking.

In its defense, the Eos will surely rock your next outdoor party. I just don’t recommend having it as your default home audio system.

Intellitouch EOS Wireless:
$300 – core speaker system;
$150 for additional speakers.

Samsung HP-S4273: A Media- Savvy Plasma HDTV

This 42-inch Plasma HDTV from Samsung may have fewer pixels than some of the latest high-resolution flat-panel displays, but it compensates for that with its superb contrast and easy multimedia file support.

Weighing 89.7 pounds, the TV has a glossy black frame that features an unobtrusive Samsung logo and an illuminated circular power button centered on the lower bezel. Most notable among the HP-S4273's many connections are a CableCARD slot along with a USB port and two flash memory card slots that provide easy access to digital images and music using the TV’s integrated player.

While viewing the set, I was disappointed to find that it couldn't stretch widescreen programming (SD or HD) to fill the entire screen. Also, some video noise cropped up in the darkest grays and was evident during some dark movie scenes. Color accuracy was average, with red tones shifted slightly toward orange and green shifted significantly toward cyan. (TV manufacturers often set green tones to look mow bluish in order to grab the attention of sports fans, as this adjustment has the effect of making half-dead lawns look lively and the turf of a stadium "pop.") Another phase of my testing revealed that the HP-S4273 was capable of impressively dark black levels (0, 09 Cd/m2), which allowed it to produce an average contrast ratio of 1,190:1- an excellent result.

Standard- definition (SD) video can look terrible on an HDTV that lacks effective video processing. I gauge the SD video-processing prowess of HDTVs using a selection of popular DVD movies and DVD-based test materials, including the Silicon Optix HQV benchmark test DVD. When it was fed a 480i signal over component video cable, the HIP-S4273’s performance was quite good at minimizing jagged edges that can appear when interlaced video is displayed. The HP-S4273 had fewer jaggies than the value-priced 42-inch Vizio VP42 plasma television, an Editors’ Choice winner. Aside from that, however, the Vizio - as well as the amazing and expensive 42-inch pioneer PRO-940HD- delivered a more detailed picture when displaying HQV’s challenging bridge scene and the faces of actors.

The HP-S4273 was also slow to detect film sourced DVD movies, leaving obvious jagged edges and moiré artifact visible until it finally locked on. Moreover, the TV failed one of the two film mode tests on the HQV test disc. The HP-S4273's handling of the HD HQV benchmark rest resulted in a barely above-average final wore, with points deducted for some minor jagged artifacts and half-resolution (single-field) processing of the 1080i material.

Still, it was a decent performance. Aside from some problems screening film- sourced DVDs and dark scenes, the Samsung HP-S4273 is an excellent HDTV option.

Samsung HP-S4273: $2,799

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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Sony VAIO VGN- SZ370P: Ultraportable Powerhouse

Makers of ultraportables are in a perpetual race to pack more into an ever-shrinking space. The Sony VAIO VGN-SZ370P is a classic case of Miniaturization meeting power, as it loads a high-performance processor and discrete graphics (plus a dual-layer DVD drive) into its 3.8-pound frame.

Performance-wise the SZ370P is strong. It runs a standard-voltage, 2-GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7200 and comes with 2GB of RAM. The SZ37OP’s 13.3-inch XBrite screen is about an inch larger than that of most ultraportables, and its optical drive can burn up to 8.5 GB of data onto a dual-Layer disc.

The SZ370 includes a clever solution to the "speed versus battery life" dilemma that laptop makers-and buyer-face. It delivers both, though only one at a time. Sony loaded two different graphics chipsets, nVidia’s GeForce Go 7400 discrete card and Intel’s integrated GMA 950 graphics, into the SZ370P. A switch labeled "speed" and “stamina" lets you choose which chipset to run. (A downside is that you’ll need to reboot after each setting change.) Punching "speed” runs the nVidia card for smoother and faster3D transitions in gaming, in viewing high definition videos, and in AutoCAD work. It also pulls the battery life down to 1 hour 53 minutes. Hit “stamina” you lose some performance, but the battery lasts much longer (2:43 on our DVD rundown test). The standard battery is 58 Wh; you can buy an 87-Wh battery for $299.

The carbon fiber material surrounding the frame feels a bit hollow and isn't as tough as the metals found on the Lenovo ThinkPad X60 (Vista) or the Panasonic Toughbook CF-W5. I don't like the mushy keyboard, either. Despite these nits, the SZ370, s combination of light weight, power, and that built-in DVD burner makes it a must-consider if you're shopping for an ultraportable.

Sony VAIO VGN- SZ370P: $2,080

Sprint Mogul by HTC (PPC-6800): A Smartphone Upgrade

Bombarded by all that phone hype, you may have missed this powerful handset. Extremely useful, it syncs with Microsoft Exchange, runs thousands of Windows Mobile apps, and plays Windows Media DRM music, too.

The Mogul may have arrived quietly, but it makes a lot of noise in terms of features. With its 400-MHz processor, EV-DO (Rev 0, not the faster RevA), and Wi-Fi networking, plus the pepply new Windows Mobile 6, it’s the fastest all-around handheld running on the Sprint network. That said, Windows Mobile is a heavy 0S, and I saw some delays in screen redrawing. A crazy array of hard buttons (including a full, if mushy, slide-out QWERTY keyboard) gives you one-touch access to many functions.

Battery life was very good and phone reception adequate, but phone sound quality was middling: The earpiece is clear, but I was disappointed by the microphone. The 2-megapixel camera has plenty of scene modes, but serious blur problems appear in low light. It also often blew out bright areas,

Since all of Sprint's other handhelds are beginning to look outdated. 1 recommend the Mogul for anyone seeking tight connections to Exchange servers or Windows Media Player. It could definitely feel faster and sleeker, but it's the best the carrier has at the moment.

Sprint Mogul by HTC (PPC-6800): $549.99; $399.99

Nokia E61i: Unlocked and Loaded

Nokia smarthphone fans in the U.S. can rejoice. The company's update to last year’s E62 adds Wi-Fi support, a 2-megapixel camera, and a revamped D-pad; all incorporated into a slimmer design. Best of all, it’s available unlocked, so it will work with both AT&T and T-Mobile.

The E61i impressed me with its sleek, thin, aluminum and black-plastic enclosure. Its sharp 2.8-inch screen is a looker as well, and its keyboard is the best one I've tested, with dedicated symbol keys and good resistance. Calls sounded good, with clear reception, and the phone paired easily with Bluetooth headsets.

Oddly, although the E61i works over 3G data networks overseas, it won’t work over them in the U.S. It supports only UMTS, not HSDPA, and only on the overseas 2,100-MHz band. That means the otherwise high-flying E61i still kicks down to EDGE speeds when used stateside. Web surfing, however, was speedy even in EDGE mode, with an average download rate of 177 Kbps.

Multimedia options are spare, and the phone doesn’t support stereo Bluetooth. The 2MP camera takes mediocre pictures.

Nonetheless, the Nokia E61i's sleek design, nimble operating system, built-in Wi-Fi, and nice keyboard put it a step ahead of other business-focused handsets.

Nokia E61i: $484.95

Fujitsu Lifebook U1010: Combination of Notebook, Handheld, and Tablet PC

It is notebook, it is tablet PC, and it’s also handheld. The newest product from Fujitsu is small and equipped by all above product features so properly if conceived as 3 in 1 ultramobile PC.

Likely as a notebook, the product which named Lifebook U1010 is equipped by standard QWERTY keyboard. But, it's also equipped by touch screen which can be used in tablet PC time. The angle of the screen can be turned and bended. You also can use it as a handheld because it’s available an Origami application feature which provide virtual keyboard that can be controlled by two hand thumb.

The Origami feature also provides the amenity for you to access and play music and video file. Especially when functioned as a handheld, enjoying the entertainment become easier and pleasing.

This peripheral also supports the office application which needed to support the work. With the operating system of Windows Vista, all PC application can be installed here.

Lifebook U1010 represent the first product of Fujitsu developed with the concept of UMPC (Ultramobile PC) and have been equipped by Origami application which developed by Microsoft and a number of vendor since 2006. This product claimed as smallest UMPC in the world today with the 171 millimeter x 133 millimeter x 26, 5 millimeter dimension. The screen only 5, 6 inch and weight about 610 gram.

This product equipped by Intel Ultra Mobile platform 2007 A110 800 MHZ processor, 512 L2 cache, 400 MHZ FSB, DDR2 400 MHZ 1 gigabyte memory, 40 gigabyte hardisk, Ethernet connection, Bluetooth, and wireless, fingerprint sensor, and also 0,3 megapixel camera.

Fujitsu Lifebook U1010: $1988

Monday, August 6, 2007

Apple iPhone: Never to Late For iPhone

With its groundbreaking interface, the Apple iPhone is the best portable media player ever made, and it browses the Web like a champ. We've never had this much fun testing a handheld, but as a voice phone and a messaging device, it will leave you craving more.

Make no mistake-using your fingers to zoom, skip, crop, and edit is Sheer joy. Pinching and Sliding through the menus is just as cool as the commercials make it seem. The real pleasure of the iPhone, however, is in how seamlessly everything works together. For example, one function, the YouTube browser, always seems to mesh with other important features such as e-mail and text messaging.

The iPhone is available in two models, 4GB ($499) and 8GB ($599), and its multimedia capabilities are astounding. The scroll wheel of previous iPods is replaced by the multi touch screen, and the payoff is huge. We can't emphasize enough just how much the iPhones interface, which allows you to sift through your tunes using the beautiful Cover Flow view or a standard test list, is a huge leap forward for browsing music. The hardware is less impressive. The built-in speaker (mainly for phone use) can be used for music and movies, but sounds lousy. Volume controls sit conveniently on the left-hand side, but the headphone jack is recessed, which makes it all but impossible to use a standard stereo, headset without an adapter.

Audio and Video

The iPhone syncs easily with Macs and PCs using iTunes 7.3. For music, we successfully loaded and played AAC (128, 256, and 320 Kbps), AIFF, Apple Lossless, MP3 VBR, MP3 (192,256, and 320 Kbps), MP364, Audible, and WAV files. We had no luck loading a MIDI ringtone or OGG files, and-surprise! There’s no WMA support, either. The iPhones audio quality is fantastic, provided you upgrade the cheap earphones that come with it. As for battery life, our audio tests yielded 22 hours 15 minutes (with Wi-Fi off)- 1 hour 45 minutes shy off its rated life.

When you're watching videos, the resolution is impressive-just fine enough for YouTube to not appear too bad and for iTunes movie downloads such as High Fidelity to look amazing. In fact, the iPhone made a 3OGB iPod playing video seem puny and less sharp-no small feat. We’re happy to report that syncing with iTunes is accomplished quickly and easily. For photos, the iPhone can open and view just about any type of image you can throw at it- JPG, PNG, TIFF, no problem.

The iPhone as a Phone

The iPhone is in essence a super-advanced iPod, and sadly, despite its name, it is not a very good phone. To dial a number, you have to click at least four times, but usually six: power button, unlock swipe, phone icon, and then, if you're lucky, both on you’re “favorites" screen and the name of one of your favorites. Otherwise, you have to tap "keypad" and start dialing. Fortunately, the virtual keypad's buttons are huge, so it's easy to type on.

Call quality was the worst we’ve heard on a high end device in years. Earpiece volume is a bit understated, and the speakerphone is downright quiet. Voices through the earpiece are a bit muffled, but comprehensible. Transmission, on the other hand, is vile. We got static in our in-ear feedback, and calls made with the iPhone sounded hideously compressed on the other end. We had two dropped calls and significant audio wobble. Inexplicably, at one point we got the distinctive dit-dit-dit of GSM RFI interference over our own call.

We're not going to put these audio issues on AT&T, either, since our BlackBerry Curve made much clearer calIs at the same time, in the same place. Reception also leaves something to be desired. Basically, as a handset, the iPhone is complicated to dial,difficult to send text messages with, and missing all sorts of features that are usually taken for granted in high-end multimedia phones nowadays, including picture messaging, IM, and voice dialing.

Internet in Your Pocket

The iPhone Internet experience is loads of fun. The screen displays HTML pages gorgeously (even over EDGE!). The trouble is that the Internet is now loaded up with Flash, streaming media, and other plug-ins. The iPhone can't hit many of these rich experiences, so while the browser is the best a phone ever had, it’s not desktop-quality and some sites are off-limits. One bonus: You can witch a selection of YouTube videos through a special built -in browser, and they look great over both Wi-Fi and EDGE.

E-mail looks fine, for what it does-basic POP/ IMAP e-mail, including multiple accounts, embedded images and links, and very limited DOC.XLS, and graphic attachment support. You can check accounts manually or poll them up to every 15 minutes. We tried the iPhone with Yahoo!, Gmail, Mac, and generic IMAP accounts, successfully enough. When it comes to corporate e-mail, though, you're still better off with a BlackBerry.

The iPhone comes loaded with mini applications-so-called “widgets”- that show weather, stock info and Goole Maps. There is also a Notes widget that lets you type notes that you can then e-mail, but you can't sync them to anything. The widgets are all beautiful and easy to use, but alas, they’re all you get-unlike every other phone on Earth, the iPhonecomes with no games and no way to buy them. Furthermore, third- party developers have been forbidden to write programs for it. That’s why we don’t consider it a true smartphone.

When you boil it all down, the Apple iPhone is an iPod with Internet, YouTube, beauty ful graphics, a camera, and a huge screen-and oh yeah, it can also make calls and check e-mail. When Apple eventually releases an iPod with all these features except the phone, it will blow away the competition. As it stands right now, the iPhone is a truly amazing (and expensive) toy.

Apple iPhone: 4 GB ($499), 8 GB ($599)

Panasonic Lumic DMC-FZ8: A Super-Versatile Superzoom

With a 12X optical zoom, full manual controls, and a cool new Intelligent ISO mode, this superzoom has a lot to offer. But although the 7.2-megapixel Lumix DMC-FZ8 takes pretty good pictures and performs well, it lacks a feature we think important: wide-angle capability.

Because of its 36mm lens, the FZ8 doesn't unseat our current Editors' Choice, the Lumix DMC-TZ3. The TZ3 allows less zoom (1OX), but its 28mm lens can capture more of a particular scene, whether a sweeping landscape or a group shot, without your having to stitch the shots together afterward.

The TZ8 has full manual modes-something The TZ3 lacks. With manual modes, you can compose creative shots by playing around with aperture and shutter speed setting. For example, you can freeze action shots or blur background objects.

Like the TZ3, the FZ8 has an Intelligent ISO mode, which automatically increases the camera’s ISO Setting so as to decrease blur in action shots. When the ISO is raised, say from 100 to 400, the sensitivity of the camera sensor increases, allowing you to shoot with a faster shutter speed. I found Intelligent ISO to work much better in bright light, when it boosted the ISO to 1250 for moving objects and dropped it down to 400 for stationary ones, than in low-light situations. You can specify the maximum ISO yourself (400, 800, or 1250) to avoid excessive noise in the image.

In the lab, my test images had excellent color saturation, good color matching, and very little noise. My only complaint was that some pictures had a bit too much contrast, which caused a loss of detail in shadowy areas. On the plus side, I found that the camera's flash provided just the right amount of illumination. You can fiddle with the flash settings, too, adjusting illumination and exposure.

For video, the camera records motion JPEGs at 30 frames per second to the capacity of the card. The camera adjusted well to various light conditions, but the highlights in the video seemed blown out. Another feature I liked was that you could easily switch between 4:3 and 16:93 aspect ratios.

The FZ8 excelled in performance, improving on its predecessor, the Lumix DMC-FZ7, in all areas. Boot-up time was just over 3 seconds, and recycle time was 1.4 seconds. Shutter lag was negligible.

This is a fine camera for those who like the flexibility that manual modes offer. If you enjoy taking panoramic images, though, and don't want to have to stitch your shots together after the fact, the TZ3 makes a better choice-and it also has a more compact, stylish design. But all things considered, the FZ8 is a capable camera offering lots of features at a good price.

Panasonic Lumic DMC-FZ8: $349.95

Sennheiser PXC 450 Noisegard: Silence Comes at a Hefty Price

Simply put, these Sennheiser are the nest noise-canceling headphones I've ever heard. Unfortunately, they cost $100 more than Bose’s top-of-the-line Quiet Comfort 3 and a full $150 more than Bose’s popular Quiet Comfort 2. That makes the NoiseGard mostly a luxury purchase.

A large but comfortable circumaural headphone set, the PXC 450 comes in a fairly slim and easy-to-pack black zipper case. The handy Talk Through function, which works only when the headphones are in active mode, mutes audio and activates an external microphone to pick up conversations- an excellent feature. The right ear houses volume controls, a Talk Through button, a power switch, and a single AAA battery. The left ear houses the detachable audio cable and normal/ bypass switch.

In a head-to-head comparison, the PXC 450 reduced slightly more ambient sound and eliminated more high-frequency hiss than either the Quiet Comfort 2 or 3. Sonically, the PXC 450 blows Bose away. Its sound quality makes for some of the most powerful-yet tight-bass I've experienced in a pair of headphones. I know the price is ridiculous, but these headphones sound superb.

Sennheiser PXC 450 Noisegard: $450

MSI Q677 Crystal Edition: Bling-Happy Laptop

Many pc makers are now experimating with eye-catching covers for their laptops. MSI adds class to its Q677 Crystal Edition notebook with a Swarovski crystal-adorned lid. The crystals are a nice touch, but the overall design lacks panache. Unfortunately, that can also be said of this laptop's performance.

The Q677 has a gorgeous, glossy-coated widescreen, but its resolution (1.280-by-800) is poor for a 15.4-inch media laptop. Also, its 2-GHz AMD Tarion 64 X2 TL-60 processor isn't as fast as some on similar systems, and performance was unimpressive. We liked its DVI-I port, 6-in-l card reader, 16OGB hard drive, dual-layer DVD burner, and 2GB of RAM, plus the nVidia GeForce Go 7600 discrete graphics chipset. The 49-Wh battery, however, lasted a mere I hour 19 minutes running down a DVD.

In addition, the Q677 lacks market presence. You can't buy it direct or through retailers, and the only e-shop with this model is NewEgg. For those who can find it, the Q677 represents a full-featured, fair-performing media laptop.

MSI Q677 Crystal Edition: $1,900

Thursday, August 2, 2007


The latest low-end ink jet all-in-one (AIO) from Dell is slower than the unit it replaces, produces lower-quality output, and costs $10 more. But the 926 is still fairly fast, and it’s a solid choice for a budget AIO if you can make do with less-than-perfect output.

The 926 can copy, scan, and print from PictBridge cameras and memory cards. It can scan to e-mail, and, if you have a fax modem, the 926 can scan to its own fax utility on your PC and send the scan as a fax. It lacks an ADF, so you have to load documents one page at a time.

Text printing was below par, even for an ink jet. Small type was full of flaws including broken lines, filled-in loops in letters, and varying line thickness. Graphics were good enough for internal business use, though with visible flaws. Photo output was inconsistent, though okay for snapshots. Dell claims a 100-year lifetime for the 926s photos in dark storage. Prints are fairly resistant to water and smudging. The 926 is a reasonable choice as a low-priced AIO for home, dorm, or home office. It does the job, as long as you don’t need high-quality outputs.

Dell Photo All-In-One Printer 926: $99


One of the most affordable 37-inch LCD HDTV’s available, the ViewSonic boasts a nice, bright picture and amazingly high contrast, but it has serious trouble with standard-definition video. Connections include three HDMI ports, a component video input, separate RF inputs for antenna and cable tuning, and a VGA input for PC use.

Producing a very bright picture, the TV delivered a peak contrast ratio of 1,406:1, an extremely high reading. Unfortunately, the sets fixed backlight managed a less impressive contrast ratio of 317:1, which translates to lighter black levels, especially in low-light conditions. Worse, when showing a selection of film-sourced DVD videos, the N3751w was slow to engage film-mode processing, which caused distracting moiré and flicker artifacts. Ghosting and image smearing was evident in fast-motion scenes. Furthermore, I noticed distracting jagged-edge artifacts when watching interlaced video.

Basically, the ViewSonic N3751w is a tease. Though inexpensive, it lacks the ability to produce a convincing picture in a darkened environment and stumbles when performing common video processing functions.

ViewSonic N3751w: $1,199 list


Sure, this navigation device isn’t exactly small. Still, it’s quite capable, relatively inexpensive, and a breeze to operate. With a 3.5-inch no reflective touch screen, the 7.5-ounce Intellinav One is somewhat chunky. It comes with a 20-channel SiRFstarIII receiver, though, and a 1GB SD card preloaded with Navteq-based maps for the U.S., Canada, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, with 1.2 million POIs (points of interest) included.

To take advantage of the devices basic multimedia players, however, you’ll want to upgrade to a 2GB card. There are two features on the Intellinav One that you don’t always find in entry-level GPSs: multisegment routing and text-to-speech, which handily pronounces street names for you.

Finding an address is quite simple, too. As you enter letters, a two-line scroll box shows matching searches. When the complete address has been entered, you can save it as a favorite, show the location on the map, or navigate to the address. On my standard test routes, the Intellinav One created the same routes as did other Navteq-based GPS devices. Boasting an easy-to-use menu system and high-end features, the moderately priced Intellinav One is a solid choice.

Netropa Intellinav One GPS: $349.99 list


Sharps new flagship 52-inch liquid crystal HDTV offers an amazingly detailed and colorful picture and the greatest number of digital video inputs I’ve seen on an HDTV to date.

The LC-52D92Us 1080p screen is surrounded by a glossy black bezel trimmed in cool chrome accents. A bundled remote features a fully backlit keypad that makes up for its smallish buttons. In addition to three HDMI inputs, the LC-52D92U also provides a DVI- I connection for PC use, an RF input for cable/antenna reception, and two component video inputs.

As far as picture quality goes, color saturation and image detail were good, but I noticed jagged edge artifacts (jaggies ) in objects like folds and creases of clothing. I was impressed, however, with how dark the black bars of letterboxed movies appeared nearly indistinguishable from the displays black bezel. Even better was the measured contrast ratio of 1,426:1one of the best I’ve ever seen.

All in all, the Sharp Aquos LC-52D92U offers superior image contrast resulting in one of the most detailed pictures I’ve seen in a 1080p display. Unfortunately, this exceptional sharpness highlights a weak video processor that created too many jagged edges for my taste.

Sharp Aquos LC-52D92U: $5,299.99