Thursday, February 28, 2008

Iomega StorCenter Pro NAS 150d Review: High Capacity, Low Price

Iomega StorCenter Pro NAS 150d
Your small or midsize business will get a whopping 3TB of storage from the four hot-swappable 750GB SATA II drives in the Iomega StorCenter 150d—and the price is certainly right. The NAS device—which uses an embedded Linux operating system, supports external USB drives (with two ports in the front and two in back), and has a Gigabit Ethernet port in the back—very nearly beats Ngadgeti's current SMB NAS Editors’ Choice, the Netgear ReadyNAS NV+.

The included and easy-to-use management console software comes in both Windows and Mac versions and lets you perform the setup—a simple process—from any PC on the network. The 150d fully supports Linux, Mac, and Windows file shares as well as Active Directory, so you can import users and groups from an Active Directory store. And I especially like the way you can make any share available in multiple protocols: By simply checking a box, you can open the NAS to AFP, FTP, and NFS in addition to CICS.

What you won’t find is the easy OS update capability or advanced reporting and logging that a Windows Storage Server system provides. And while the 150d proved very fast on write operations over a Gigabit network, managing 26-MBps and 17.2-MBps throughput with 32MB and 1GB files, respectively—read numbers were mixed (22.4 MBps and 13 MBps). Overall, though, the box performs more than acceptably. That, along with the huge capacity and very reasonable price, makes it a definite recommendation for SMBs needing a big storage resource for standard business duties.

Iomega StorCenter Pro NAS 150d Review
Price Range: $1,699, list
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NetApp StoreVault S300 Review: Storage for the Growing SMB

NetApp StoreVault S300
This system is a good first attempt at reconfiguring an outstanding enterprise-level platform to meet the NAS needs of SMBs. But while the NetApp StoreVault S300 performs well, it’s costly and requires a good deal of technical expertise to install.

You purchase the StoreVault through VARs—and take it from me, most SMBs will be better off having a VAR do the install, too. The NAS runs an OS you’re not likely to know—a slim version of NetApp’s Data ONTAP 7G enterprise storage OS—rather than embedded Linux, Windows Storage Server, or some other familiar product. NetApp has tried to make the admin front end easy to use, though. It still needs work, but the average SMB IT generalist should do fine with management tasks.

The S300 has an upper storage limit of 3TB and can live on a shelf or tabletop (the S500, a rack-mount unit, tops out at 6TB). Performance was outstanding: 64-plus MBps writes, 59-MBps reads using jumbo frames—and that was with RAID 5; without jumbo frames, 61 MBps and 54 MBps. StoreVault devices also build in tremendous flexibility. I tested with the internal iSCSI RAID array that shipped with the S300, but the box can connect to either an iSCSI or a Fibre Channel SAN, provided that you purchase the appropriate option license. That means you can start with the StoreVault as the hub of your small business storage and simply build a larger networked storage resource around it as your needs change; so if your business is growing by leaps and bounds this is an excellent solution.

If your business is expanding at a less frenetic pace, though, look for something more modest, like the Netgear ReadyNAS NV+.

NetApp StoreVault S300 Review
Price Range: $2,500, list; 500GB drives, $500 each; CIFS license, $249
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Kanguru Eco Drive (80GB) Review: This Hard Drive Saves Power

Kanguru Eco Drive 80GB
With green tech still in its infancy, new products touted as energy efficient are unpredictable in terms of performance. The Kanguru Eco Drive (80GB) is not the fastest or roomiest hard drive around, but its unique power-management technology reduces power consumption and extends the life of the drive.

The Eco Drive (80GB) operates in three power-saving states—Power Down, Standby, and Idle—along with a full power Access mode. The hard drive’s internal circuitry monitors activity and automatically switches between modes accordingly. Each step down represents a 5 to 20 percent power savings over Access mode. The included power management utility lets you alter the power schemes, but the software does not work on Windows Vista or Mac OS X.

The remaining apps, including a format transfer utility (to change from the default FAT32 to NTFS), are Windows only. The backup software is user-friendly and allows you to select which files to copy, to which location, and how often (using the scheduling option). Transfer speeds were so-so, ranging from 1 minute 4 seconds using drag-and-drop to 7:37 with the included software.

Despite disappointing overall performance, the Kanguru Eco Drive (80 GB) deserves a look for its power-management abilities and design.

Kanguru Eco Drive (80GB) Review
Price Range: $94.95 direct
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ViewSonic DiamaniDuo NX2232w Review: Jack-of-All-Trades Display

ViewSonic DiamaniDuo NX2232w
If you’re working in a small space, all your technology can add up to one big mess. The ViewSonic DiamaniDuo NX2232w, part desktop monitor and part HDTV, promises to cut down the clutter and handle your everyday computing needs.

I was impressed with the image quality when I connected the display to my high-definition cable box. Horizontal viewing angles were good, though vertical angles were disappointing enough to make me think twice before mounting the NX2232w at any height. The monitor’s grayscale reproduction fell short on the lightest shades of gray, but this will bother only the most finicky viewers. The panel did a good job of displaying small fonts and delivered a smooth 3D gaming experience.

The NX2232w offers a wide assortment of inputs, though notably lacking are a digital (DVI) input and useful features like a USB port. The integrated 5-watt speakers are better than most found in monitors, though they could use a little more bass. But my biggest gripe concerns the stand, which is not adjustable and is barely able to support the 22-inch LCD panel.

Despite its poorly designed stand and a few performance issues, the ViewSonic DiamaniDuo NX2232w is still a good choice for users looking to save some space.

ViewSonic DiamaniDuo NX2232w Review
Price Range: $400 street
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LaCie Ethernet Disk mini–Home Edition Review: Basic, Bargain-Basement NAS

LaCie Ethernet Disk mini
If you just want a cheap media-serving and Web-sharing solution, you’ll get it with the LaCie Ethernet Disk mini–Home Edition. As with the Editors’ Choice HP MediaSmart Server EX470, the hardware, which is LaCie’s, and the software (HipServ from Axentra) come from different sources, but LaCie needs to do a much better job of integrating the two. Also, the dismal installation process needs vast improvement.

Still, the slick HipServ software offers better sharing and media serving than Windows Home Server (the MediaSmart’s OS). The HipServ portal combines private and public features. You can publish content and restrict access to users with accounts on your NAS. Via a contact database, you can also assign shares to others and even send e-mails inviting people to see new content. Considering the unit’s low cost, performance is adequate, varying from an average write throughput of 14.1 Mbps with 32MB files to 10 Mbps with 1GB files. Read speed went from a little over 18 Mbps to 12.5.

LaCie’s offering costs far less than HP’s, but relying on just one drive limits expandability, and more important, redundancy. And while I like HipServ, it isn’t nearly as polished as Windows Home Server, has fewer backup features, doesn’t integrate as well with Windows PCs, and offers no remote-control capability. For folks who can’t spend more than $200 on home network storage and need only a single-disk storage bin, the LaCie might be the way to go. But if you need data redundancy, look elsewhere.

LaCie Ethernet Disk mini–Home Edition Review
Price Range: $199 direct
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DYMO DiscPainter CD/DVD Printer Review: Decorate Discs with Ease

DYMO DiscPainter
You’ve taken the time to lovingly put together a CD of your latest proposal, your band’s new recordings, or a portfolio of your photography. Shouldn’t the disc itself be as attractive as what’s contained within? Label your discs like a professional with the DYMO DiscPainter CD/DVD Printer. This boot shaped printer is a hefty investment, but it’s worth the cost if your priority is speedy printing with minimal effort.

Setup is straightforward. Once you unpack the printer and run the automated installation, the included software walks you through the rest. The program, called Discus for DYMO, offers a variety of options that let you design attractive disc labels with minimal skill or minimal time, providing colorful background options and fairly sophisticated templates. The installation also bundles templates for use with other programs like QuarkXPress, Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, and InDesign.

DYMO claims that the DiscPainter can print a disc in about 1 minute in fast mode, 2 minutes in the default normal mode, and 3 minutes in bestmode. This is consistent with the times I saw, although the actual speeds vary with the image. On my tests using waterproof glossy discs, the fastest had a bit of a draft mode look to it, particularly for photos, but normal and best looked fully professional. In general, of course, output quality and image durability depend on the type of discs you use as much as—or more than—on the printer itself.

This brings me back to price, my only real issue with the DiscPainter. DYMO claims a cost per disc of 39 cents, based on a yield of 100 discs for each $39 ink cartridge. Keeping in mind the cost of the printer (which is rated to last for 2,000 discs), this works out to 14 cents extra per disc, for a total price of 53 cents per disc. And don’t forget the additional cost of the blank discs themselves.

If you can’t justify the expense, you may want to consider an all-in-one printer that can print standard output as well as discs. Both Epson and HP make such printers. If you can swing the cost, however, the DiscPainter will give you quick and easy, professional-looking labels.

DYMO DiscPainter CD/DVD Printer Review
Price Range: $280 street
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HP MediaSmart Server EX470 Review: The Home Server Sweet Spot

HP MediaSmart Server EX470
For a good example of what a Windows Home Server (WHS) appliance can be, take a look at the HP MediaSmart Server. The device, designed primarily for use as network-attached storage in homes, takes advantage of the capabilities of the OS, but it adds media-serving smarts of its own in the form of an iTunes server that creates a shared song library and automatically updates its playlist from the networked computers.

As with all WHS boxes, this one runs headless—without a display, keyboard, or mouse. You manage the NAS via a console app on any networked Windows machine or a browser using the Remote Access feature. The server’s four bays accept drives of any capacity (the EX470 I tested comes with one 500GB unit), but the capacities must match. External drives connect via USB ports (three on the front and one in back) or via an eSATA port in the back. They provide easy expandability and can vary in storage size.

Performance was fast on a home Gigabit network (123-MBps and 47.2-MBps write throughput with 32MB and 1GB files, respectively, and 56-MBps and 21.2-MBps read throughput). But a 100-Mbps network noticeably limits speed. I’d like to see wireless Ethernet and print- serving capability built in, but even without them the HP Media Smart Server’s ease of use, nice price, iTunes feature, and smart styling make it a good bet for most home networks that have at least one Windows PC.

HP MediaSmart Server Review
Price Range:
HP MediaSmart Server EX470: 599$
HP MediaSmart Server EX475: 749$

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Philips Prestigo SRM7500 Review: Control Your TV and Your PC

Philips Prestigo SRM7500
Philips hopes to cater to compulsive clickers with its new Prestigo SRM7500, an easy-to-use device that controls not only your home theater gear but your PC, too.

In fact, the SRM7500 is designed primarily to control your PC. In Microsoft’s Media Center, the large, green Windows button serves as an anchor, returning you to the main screen from wherever you are in the file structure.

The most exciting of the SRM7500’s features is support for Windows SideShow technology. With it, compatible products can display and manipulate information pulled off the Internet, such as weather data and headlines, or data from the PC itself, such as photos or music. Unfortunately, at press time, the Side-Show support wasn’t fully developed.

Apart from that, the remote is still pretty neat. It lets you control up to six devices and even program macros for more complex functions involving up to 25 button presses.

As universal remote software goes, Philips’s is tops. Control over the PC, which is the main reason you’ll consider buying this device, was hiccup-free, too. But since another big reason to choose this remote is SideShow, you might want to wait and see how well Philips pulls this one off.

Philips Prestigo SRM7500 Review
$200 street
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Ugobe Pleo Review: Cute Dinobot Is a Robotic Triumph

Years in the making, Pleo, a fully articulated and autonomous robot dinosaur, will charm and wheedle its way into your heart—and it just might help pave the way for a robot renaissance.

Pleo responds to touch, visual stimuli, and even physical position. It can detect whether it is standing up, lying down, or even being hung by its tail. It’s bright blue eyes open and close to simulate life, though they can’t actually see anything. The main image sensor, a color camera, is in its nose, and there are infrared sensors in its snout and mouth.

Pleo’s animation and sounds are well synchronized. Audio emanates from its open mouth, and the panting is usually timed to the rhythmic motion of the bot’s body. The illusion that Pleo is alive is partly spoiled by the near constant whir of the 14 motors embedded in its body. You do get used to the sound, however, and will likely look past the distraction, as I did, to its realistic responses. Pleo comes with a USB port so you can download updates, and there’s an SD card slot for additional tricks and interactions.

Pleo’s battery can take up to 3 hours to recharge, and then you get roughly an hour of playtime.

At $349, the Ugobe Pleo is pricey, but it is one of the most sophisticated personal home entertainment robots on the market today.

Ugobe Pleo Review
$349 list
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Logitech Pure-Fi Elite Review: This iPod Dock Rocks

Logitech Pure-Fi Elite
Here’s a sleek speaker set that packs plenty of features— including an AM/FM tuner, a sleep timer, an iPod video-out, and a better-than-average remote— all at an affordable price. And when it comes to what really counts—namely, sound quality—the Pure-Fi Elite delivers.

Clad in slick black with metal speaker grilles, the Pure-Fi Elite looks as good as it sounds. It’s wide but surprisingly shallow, and you pop your iPod in the center just above its display. The remote is backlit and features six keys you can program to cue up your favorite iPod playlists or radio-station presets, but you can’t navigate the iPod’s menu system.

Compared with the Bose SoundDock, the Pure-Fi Elite has deeper bass extension. It also sounded smoother and more detailed than the SoundDock in the upper midrange. In fact, the Pure-Fi Elite excelled with just about any type of tune I threw at it.

A minor gripe: My test system didn’t always power on quickly. Sometimes I had to press the button three or four times before it did so, whether I used the remote or the front-panel buttons. I was also disappointed that the set doesn’t have an alarm clock, which, combined with its built-in clock and sleep timer, would have made it the perfect bedroom sound system.

The bottom line is that looks, punch, and price steal the show here. The Logitech Pure-Fi Elite turns heads and pumps out top-notch sound quality at an attractive price.

Logitech Pure-Fi Elite Review
$179 list
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Eye-Fi Card Review: Pics from Cam to PC, Without Wires

Eye-Fi Card
Imagine this: You come home from a day of shooting photos, and while you veg out, your images are automatically transferred from your camera to your favorite photo-sharing site. This is what the $99 Eye-Fi Card does: All you need is a Wi-Fi connection, a camera that accepts SD cards, and a PC or Mac -it’s really that simple.

The 2GB Eye-Fi Card looks like your basic SD card on the outside, but Wi-Fi technology is hidden inside. To get started, you have to install the Web based Eye-Fi Manager on your PC and set up an account. First you detect and connect to a nearby wireless network: You can access secure networks if you have the password (this worked well on my tests), but the card can’t connect to public hot spots. Next, you specify where on your hard drive you want to save your images and choose which of nearly 20 online photo sites you’d like to associate with the card. I spent several days shooting images and was able to upload them to a variety of photo sites without a hitch. There is a downside: The Eye-Fi Card is powered by your camera’s battery and can be a drain during long file transfers.

The Eye-Fi is a truly innovative and handy way to streamline the digital photo process—and with the right equipment it works flawlessly.

Eye-Fi Card Review
$99.99 list
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Canon Pixma mini320 Review: This Mini Printer Looms Large

Canon Pixma mini320
This printer may be called mini, but in the small format printer space, it’s anything but. The Canon Pixma mini320 is larger than the unit it replaces (the Pixma mini260), which in turn was larger than many other small-format photo printers. The mini320 lets you print at sizes up to 5-by-7 and 4-by-8, and its performance isn’t small, either: It churns out quality prints in a hurry.

The only flaws I saw in its output were a slight tint in a monochrome print and a tendency for some straight lines to have wiggly edges. More troubling is that the prints scratched easily. Its average speed of 47 seconds per 4-by-6-inch print in our test suite is quite fast.

The cost per photo using Canon’s Photo Plus Glossy paper is a fairly high 31.5 cents. Cheaper paper can cut that to 28 cents, but you may not be happy with the results.

The mini320’s speed, quality, and choice of paper sizes make it a fine option, but I wish the photos were more scratch-resistant and that the price per photo was lower with high-quality papers.

Canon Pixma mini320 Review:
Price Range: $179.99 direct
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Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T2 Review: Slick Shooter Needs No Memory Cards

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T2What sets this cute little camera apart from the pack is its 4GB of onboard memory. That’s generous compared with the standard-issue 32MB or so you get on most point-and-shooters, and it means you don’t have to spend any extra cash on memory cards.

Clearly aimed at the hip and stylish, the $349.99 T2 comes in five colors. A 2.7-inch touch-screen LCD is the interface for most of the camera’s controls. You can also edit images in-camera on the touch screen. The controls are intuitive and easy to use, though it might take some time for those with larger fingers to get used to pushing the smallish on-screen buttons.

With multiple automatic and manual settings and a selection of scene modes, the T2 shines when it comes to versatility. In both daylight and flash shots, images were generally well exposed, with realistic color. In field-test images; highlight areas were accurate, with bright coloring.

The camera’s most notable feature, Smile Shutter, which helps capture subjects’ smiles by snapping a shot only when a smile is detected in the frame, also worked well. My only gripe was that although ISO levels can be set all the way up to 3200 in manual mode, image noise was considerable at any number higher than 400.

With good looks, easy-to-use touch-screen controls, lots of onboard memory, and impressive image quality, the T2 should please style-conscious snap shooters.

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T2 Review
$349.99 direct
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LG VX8800 Venus Review: Cool Slider Is Capable, Too

LG VX8800 Venus
Here’s a head-turner of a handset for Verizon that offers some extra pizzazz thanks to its cool hybrid touch-screen/keypad interface. With its faux leather back and comfortable keypad, the Venus feels luxurious. Just below the 2-inch main screen is a 1.5-inch 176-by-240-pixel touch screen with virtual buttons that change with each menu. Force feedback on the buttons lets you know you’ve pressed them, though responses lag a bit. These virtual buttons add a lot of flexibility and usability to the mostly standard Verizon interface.

The Venus’s call quality is respectable, though reception in weak signal areas leaves something to be desired. The earpiece is loud, with some distortion at high volumes. Battery life, at nearly 5 hours of talk time, isn’t bad.

Phone aside, the Venus has a ton of other features. By navigating through various menus you’ll find a good e-mail client that supports MSN, Yahoo!, and POP3; instant-messaging apps for AIM, MSN, and Yahoo!; Verizon’s VZNavigator GPS-based driving directions service; and a bare-bones Web browser. The phone has an average-quality 2-megapixel camera, and it will work as a modem for your laptop, too.

The Venus practically oozes style. If you’re willing to pay the price, there’s no shame in choosing this capable phone primarily for its innovative design and good looks.

LG VX8800 Venus Review
$399.99; $249.99 and up with contract
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Pioneer Elite KURO PRO-150FD Review: Near-Perfect Plasma

Pioneer Elite KURO PRO-150FD
An HDTV that produces deeper, darker blacks offers better contrast and a more colorful picture than those that cannot—and the 60-inch Pioneer Elite KURO PRO-150FD delivers black levels like no other set I’ve seen. In addition, the PRO-150FD’s new video processor is the best I’ve come across for all HD sources. If you’re looking for the most pleasing plasma you can buy, this pricey set fills the bill.

An antireflective screen provides native 1080p resolution (1,920 by 1,080 pixels progressively scanned) and accepts 1080p video input only through its HDMI ports. Widescreen VGA resolution support topped out at 1,360 by 768 pixels. Fortunately, image over scan with 1080i/p video signals could be disabled, revealing every pixel, but 720p video sources were cropped 3 percent, sacrificing a slight amount of detail and clarity. The Elite’s 1080p video support includes 24-Hz and 60-Hz formats, and the TV’s Advanced PureCinema feature enables a 72-Hz refresh rate that eliminates a shaking artifact known as “judder” when displaying video sourced from 24-frame-per-second material (most films and digital cinema).

As I said before, this set’s contrast and ability to deliver luscious hues of black is unsurpassed. Using the PRO-150FD’s pure-picture preset, I measured its average black level at 0.03 cd/m2, which yielded a high contrast ratio (CR) of 2,612:1. No other HDTV I’ve seen even comes close to this level of performance. That black-level measurement also approaches the limit of my Konica Minolta CS-200 meter’s rated sensitivity, and in the pitch-black test lab, only the slightest screen glow could be seen after my eyes were fully accustomed to the dark.

Color measurements revealed that the PRO-150FD’s movie picture preset produced a color gamut that exceeded the HD spec—that is, oversaturated colors, albeit uniformly so. Switching to the PRO-150FD’s “pure” picture preset resulted in the best out-of-box HD color gamut response I’ve ever drawn from a TV.

The set’s new video processor aced all of my HD video-processing tests, including the HD HQV benchmark test. That’s the first time I’ve seen a perfect score on this test. On more subjective viewing tests, the PRO-150FD’s performance was equally impressive: It exhibited superb video noise management and detail preservation. Standard-definition video tests also showed the PRO-150FD to be an above-average performer.

The Pioneer Elite KURO PRO-150FD delivered the most outstanding image contrast, color quality, HD video processing, and viewing angles I’ve seen from any HDTV display technology that is currently available to consumers. Of course, the PRO-150FD isn’t the least expensive 1080p plasma in its size range, but it delivers a level of picture performance that is simply unmatched.

Pioneer Elite KURO PRO-150FD Review
$7,500 list
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HP Photosmart A526 Compact Photo Printer Review: Print Panoramas On the Cheap

HP Photosmart A526Bargain-price small-format photo printers don’t offer much beyond the basics. In this the HP Photosmart A526 is typical. Output quality is iffy, speed is average, cost per print is on the high side of acceptable, and its 2.4-inch LCD is underwhelming. It has one big selling point, though: It prints larger-than-standard sizes—namely, 4-by-8 and 4-by-12 panoramas.

At 5.4 by 8.9 by 4.6 inches (HWD) and 2.7 pounds, the A526 is highly portable. There’s no battery option, so you have to print within reach of an outlet. In terms of performance the A526 did pretty well. It averaged 1 minute 24 seconds per 4-by-6. Its cost per print is 29.2 cents, based on a print pack containing enough ink and paper for 120 photos.

In terms of output, prints were mostly of drugstore quality, but darker details tended to blend into shadows. HP claims a long lifetime for the prints (200 years in albums, 50 years under glass), and they’re water- and scratch-resistant.

While the A526 is a perfectly capable small-format photo printer, it simply doesn’t live up to the high standards of its more expensive siblings. Still, if you’re on a tight budget and want to print panoramas, the A526 is worth a look.

HP Photosmart A526 Compact Photo Printer Review
Price Range: $99.99 direct
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Monday, February 25, 2008

HP Pavilion dv6500t Review: A Jam-Packed Budget Notebook

HP Pavilion dv6500t
Being the world’s number one PC maker has some perks, including the ability to design attractive, powerful laptops that sell for less than the competition. Case in point: HP and its Pavilion dv6500t, a 15.4-inch media notebook. HP supplies a dual-core processor, 2GB of RAM, and a 120GB hard drive, all for less than $1,000. Not to mention all the handy extra features that comes standard on all HP units, whether a budget system likes the dv6500t or a $2,000 model.

I’m used to reviewing HP Pavilion laptops with piano-black finishes, so it was a real treat to test the dv6500t. It gleams in glossy white, and is imprinted with a series of short parallel bars resembling the results of a DNA test.

The dv6500t’s 5.8-pound frame isn’t heavy, considering that it features a brilliant 15.4-inch screen. The system also comes standard with a 1.3- megapixel webcam and a built-in fingerprint reader. The included dual-layer DVD burner supports LightScribe, an HP technology that uses a laser instead of ink to print labels onto a DVD or CD. Other features include two headphone ports, a wireless on/off switch, touch-sensitive media keys, and a dedicated button to disable the touchpad.

The notebook is powerful, thanks to its Intel processor, but integrated graphics hold it back on 3D performance. For an extra $79, you can upgrade to a discrete graphics card that will let you play the latest 3D gaming titles. The dv6500t’s Overall score on the SYSmark 2007 Preview test edged out the competition, though video-encoding and Photoshop scores fell slightly short. Its 44-Wh battery cranked out 3 hours 13 minutes of life, but I highly recommend upgrading to the 12-cell battery for an extra $20, although it will increase the system’s weight by about half a pound.

Even in this age of terrific deals, the dv6500t is easily a top-tier budget laptop. It’s loaded with features, provides a comfortable user experience, and packs performance parts that can tackle some of today’s toughest tasks.

HP Pavilion dv6500t Review
Price Range: $899 direct
Specs: 1.67-GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T5450; 2GB DDR2 SDRAM; 120GB, 5,400-rpm hard drive; 358MB Intel Graphics Media Accelerator integrated graphics; 15.4-inch, 1,280-by-800 LCD; 5.8 pounds system weight (6.6 pounds travel weight); 44-Wh, 4.4-Ah lithium ion battery; Windows Vista Home Premium.

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Nokia E90 Communicator Review: Do-It-All Device Doesn’t Come Cheap

Nokia E90 Communicator
Nokia’s newest unlocked smartphone comes with dual screens and keyboards, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 2.0, GPS, plus a suite of bundled apps that’s unmatched by any other smartphone out there. Brimming with features, this pricey beast of a device is strictly for those with extra large (and deep) pockets.

Inside are an 800-by-352 widescreen and a five-row QWERTY keyboard. A quad-band GSM phone, the E90 is a good choice for business travelers, although it supports only the 2,100-MHz band for 3G data speeds overseas. Here in the U.S., we’re stuck with EDGE, but over Wi-Fi, the E90 practically flies.

The E90 is one of the best-sounding cell phones I’ve ever reviewed. I could hear perfectly clearly, and folks on the other end thought I sounded great. You also get robust e-mail, messaging, and multimedia applications, and since the phone runs Symbian Series 60 3rd Edition it will work with thousands of third-party applications. In addition, Nokia bundles Quickoffice, which lets you create, edit, and save Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents— a boon given the E90’s incredibly comfortable input devices.

At an eye-popping $1,099, the E90 certainly isn’t for everyone. It’s larger and, at 7.4 ounces, heavier than just about any other smartphone on the market, but given the device’s extensive capabilities, I don’t mind a bit.

Nokia E90 Communicator Review
Price Range: $1,099 list
Network: (2G) GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900, (3G) HSDPA 2100
Dimensions: 132 x 57 x 20 mm, 140 cc
Weight: 210 g
Display: TFT, 16M colors,800 x 352 pixels, 4 inches, Second external 16M colors display (240 x 320 pixels), 2 inches, Full QWERTY keyboard, Downloadable themes
OS: Symbian OS v9.2, S60 rel. 3.1
Messaging: SMS, MMS, Email, Instant Messaging
Browser: WAP 2.0/xHTML, HTML
Colors: Red, Mocha
Camera: 3.15 MP, 2048x1536 pixels, autofocus, video(VGA 30fps), flash; secondary QCIF videocall camera
Audio: MP3/M4A/AAC/eAAC+/WMA player
Battery: Li-Ion 1500 mAh
Feature: Built-in GPS receiver (with preinstalled maps), Push to talk, Video calling, Java MIDP 2.0, FM radio, TV out, Voice command/dial, PIM including, calendar, to-do list and printing, Document viewer, Photo/video editor, Integrated handsfree, microSD (TransFlash), GPRS, HSCSD, EDGE, 3G, HSDPA (3.6 Mbps),WLAN, Wi-Fi 802.11b/g,Bluetooth (v2.0 with A2DP), Infrared port, v2.0, miniUSB

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Gateway P-170L QS Review: Stylin’ Mammoth Media Laptop

Gateway P-170L QS
In the epic struggle to come out on top of the media center heap, design and price can really set a laptop apart. Enter the Gateway P-170L QS, a stylish hulk of a desktop-replacement notebook. Unfortunately, this 17-inch widescreen wonder is hobbled by a lack of features, weak graphics, and no HD drive.

Measuring 11.4 by 15.7 by 1.5 inches (HWD) and weighing 8.5 pounds, the P-170L QS lives up to its pre-launch code name, Godzilla. The sleek chassis was designed using in-mold decoration, a process in which decorative art is imprinted beneath the glossy finish. The high-definition widescreen is delightful to look at and fine for multitasking. At 720p screen resolution, it falls a bit short of the 1080p boasted by some of its competitors, but that’s still enough to make HD content look good. Still, the absences of an HD DVD-ROM drive stings.

The system’s feature set is, at best, satisfactory. The three USB ports fall short of the competition. The FireWire port, which Gateway claims its customers aren’t using anymore, has been replaced by an eSATA port. Though eSATA peripherals are in their infancy, they offer significant performance improvements over FireWire and USB. The P170L QS also adds an HDMI-out port, convenient for displaying photo slide shows and presentations on a bigger screen. The 1.3-megapixel camera is handy for video chats, despite the weak included speakers.

The laptop’s 320GB worth of storage space (two 160GB hard drives) is enough to keep you downloading video and photo content for a long time. The P-170L QS performed well despite some mediocre aspects, particularly the graphics, which are integrated—
an unusual choice on such a big laptop. What the notebook lacks in 3D performance it makes up for in battery life, generating more than 3 hours on MobileMark 2007 using its 58-Wh battery.

Although the P-170L QS is a decent bargain when you factor in the price tag and new design, you’re getting only passable features and mediocre performance parts for your money.

Gateway P-170L QS Review
Price Range: $1,299 direct
Specs: 2-GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7250; 2GB DDR2 SDRAM; two 160GB, 5,400-rpm hard drives; 358MB Intel Graphics Media Accelerator X3100 graphics; 17-inch, 1,440-by-900 display; 8.5-pound system weight (9.7-pound travel weight); 58-Wh, 5.2-Ah lithium ion battery; Windows Vista Home Premium.

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Epson PictureMate Zoom Review:A Small,Fast Photo Printer

Epson PictureMate Zoom
The best small-format dedicated photo printers are fast, with good output quality and large LCDs for previewing photos. The Epson PictureMate Zoom brings something extra, building on its sibling—the Editors’ Choice PictureMate Dash—by adding a DVD reader/CD-RW burner that lets you print from optical discs and archive photos to CD. This flourish garners the Zoom an Editors’ Choice of its own for high-end small-format photo printers.

The Zoom makes burning photo CDs easy. Insert a memory card, press the Save to CD button, and follow the instructions on the LCD. You can even print an index sheet with thumbnails of the photos on the disc. The printer will organize new sets of photos that you copy to the disc into folders.

As befitting their names, the Zoom tied the Dash as the fastest small-format printer we’ve tested, averaging 42 seconds per 4-by-6 on our test suite and ranging from 38 to 49 seconds when printing from USB key, digital camera, memory card, or computer. All of my test prints with the Zoom were of true photo quality, a match for drugstore prints. Cost per print is just 25.3 cents per glossy photo—the lowest price per print for any dedicated small-format photo printer, comparable to the cost of photos printed on the spot at drugstore chains.

Epson claims a 200-year lifetime for photos in dark storage (albums) and 96 years framed behind glass. The test prints proved both water resistant and scratch resistant.

The Zoom is a hefty 6.6 pounds and measures 9.9 by 9.1 by 6.5 inches (HWD), but an attached handle helps you lug it, and an optional battery ($49.99) lets you print anywhere. The Zoom’s portability, speed, print quality, and optical drive add up to a compelling choice.

Epson PictureMate Zoom Review
Price Range: $199.99 direct
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Friday, February 22, 2008

Kodak EasyShare Z812 IS Review: Little Upgrade from Kodak

Kodak EasyShare Z812 IS
If before we have presented Kodak EasyShare Z712 IS, hence at this Z812 IS series have similar specification, like setting manual panel, high optical zoom (12x), Image Stabilizer (IS) feature to prevent blur, to high ISO/ASA choice (64-3200). But at this Z812 IS, its video ability has been improved equivalent to HD (High Definition).

The presence of EasyShare Z812 IS is cheer up the line of camera with high optical zoom character like Canon S5 IS, Panasonic FZ18, Sony H9, Fuji S800fd, and Olympus SP-550UZ. 12x optical zoom of course very useful to make a picture form long distance, but this thing also has risk. It can make “shaky” photo. That’s why IS feature takes important role here.

As semi pro compact camera, Z812 IS offers so many ability, start from completely automatic usage to manual setting like SLR camera. Even so, selling price of Kodak is including inexpensive if compared to its competitor.

Many similarities between Z812 IS and Z712 IS series, starts from it physical (and its button structure) to available function. What is different, at Z812 IS is available Panorama shot mode at shot choice dial button. With this choice, you can create panorama photo with wide view range created from 3 frame shot. Moreover, linking process between frames is very smart so that the result of photo seems perfect, almost be unseen interposed extension between three frames.

Z812 IS also has other interesting facility passed HD format movie recording. Besides VGA format (640x480 pixel), you can make HD video in MOV format (1280x720 pixel). This video type is clearly softer and suited for documentation that equivalent with DVD quality. But must be remember, HDTV record very wastes memory. The camera also get power inefficiency if only uses alkaline battery; better if uses figured in CRV3 battery. Unhappily, camera do not compatible with NiMH battery which usually easier to get.

As a whole, Kodak Z812 IS is very attractive to applies for various photo needed. Besides the available of creative manual choice, there is also available automatic modus including photo scheme choice. Its principal and quality as a whole is still looking like Z712 IS which already tested before. Camera greatness is at panorama photo function and video record ability with HDTV quality which its result seen well in TV.

Kodak EasyShare Z812 IS Review
Price range: $240 - $280
Pixel Resolution: 8,1 Megapixel CCD
Photo Resolution (min/max): 1280x960 / 3264x2448 pixel
Video Resolution (min/max): 320x240 / 1280x720 pixel @30 fps
Storage media: 32 MB internal dan SD/MMC
File Format (photo/video): JPG / MOV
Lens equivalent: 36 – 432mm
Aperture setting: F3.6 – F8
ISO equivalent: 64 – 3200
Zoom: 12x Optical / 4,2x Digital
Shutter Speed (sec.): 16 – 1/1000
Macrofocus: 12 cm
Viewfinder: electric
LCD Diagonal: 2.5 inches (wide)
Connectivity: USB,
Battery: Lithium CR-V3 or 2 alkaline AA baterry (rechargeable)
Dimension: 10,8 x 7,4 x 7,6 cm
Weight: 300 gram (with battery)

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Sony HDR-SR7E Review: Another High-Def Camcorder from Sony

The increasing of video player that supporting Full HD system is followed with the presence of recorder product that is also carrying Full HD. Maybe Sony step is rather late if compared to JVC which in advance launch Full HD camcorder, but Sony direct enter the market with Full HD model which said can be really great competitor, one of them is HDR-SR7. This camcorder is SR1 series continuations which already succeed in the market. What makes it different?

Sony HDR-SR7E now present in more light and compact form compared to the old series. However, the technology is exactly higher. The sensor is still using CMOS ClearVid 1/3”, equal with its predecessor, but this time offers 3,2 Megapixel resolution which can be enhanced until 6,1 Megapixel. To assist best picture acquirement, SR7 has applied Optic Image Stabilizer (OIS) which better if compared to Electronic Image Stabilizer (EIS) at SR1.

Physically, Sony camcorder is well-known more comfortable even almost around its body is having many port or navigation button. Its 2,7 inches LCD screen has simple navigation through touch screen system that is easy enough to accessed. If you still feeling troubled with this navigation mode, just press the EASY button to make simple this device usage.

As harddisk camcorder, SR7 relies on 60GB storage to keep photo and video record result. With this harddisk the user even can record to 22 hours at LP mode. Other storage media is available through MemoryStick Pro Duo. Record process in SR7 is using AVCHD compression format which do not fail with MPEG2 HDV compression. Unhappily, this AVCHD format is only recognized by some video editing software like Sony Vegas 7, Ulead Video Studio 11, and Pinnacle Studio 11. HDR-SR7 itself is figures in Picture Motion Browser 2.0, but this application only did clip merger process without video effect addition.

Some important facilities at SR7 are interesting enough and give satisfaction for us when testing it. One thing we like it is ability to record slow motion with so smooth by multiplying the frame. Its dual record ability is also unique because can record video to harddisk while still can make a picture every time (to 4,6 Megapixel resolution) to MS Pro Duo. For you which loving photography will like TeleMacro feature. With this feature you can make a picture of an object with so focus, without worried about its background. There is also a SuperNightShot feature to make a picture at low light condition.

Record produced by HDR-SR7 of course so interesting. xvColor system do color reproduction almost twofold of conventional camcorder so that image can come up realistic and alike man eye ability. Not only the picture, the audio recording systems also have supported Dolby Digital. Easy digital transfer also becomes good point with the presence of USB and HDMI connection. SR7 camcorder offers an unique experience at a Full HD media.

Sony HDR-SR7E Review
Price range:$1,149.95 - $1,942.18
Sensor Resolution: 3,2 Megapixel CMOS
Photo Resolution (min/max): 640x480 / 1632x1224 pixel
Video Resolution (min/max): 384x388 / 768x756 pixel
Storage media: 60 GB internal harddisk dan MS Pro Duo
File Format (photo/video): JPG / AVCHD
Aperture setting (wide/tele): F1.8 - F2.4
ISO equivalent: 100 – 200
Zoom: 10x Optical / 20x Digital
Shutter Speed (sec.): ½ - 1/500 (photo) / ½ - 1/4000 (video)
LCD Diagonal: 2.7 inches (wide)
Connectivity: USB, FireWire, Composite, S-Video (docking)
Battery: Li-Ion Polymer 7,2V 730 mAh (rechargeable)
Dimension: 11 x 6,6 x 7,1 cm
Weight: 589 gram (with battery)

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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Samsung SGH-E950 Review: Troubled Touch Navigation

Samsung SGH-E950
Touch technology for softkey button is not a new thing; LG through Chocolate KG800 has applied this technology, including some Samsung Ultra Edition series. But, new improvement tried offered by Samsung SGH-E950 with presenting “full touch navigation key”.

In the multimedia phone line, SGH-E950 can be said as testing product of some new innovations. The display now is also sweeter; in designs, user interface, entertainment amusement and some other facilities differed from its senior, E900. E950 physical display is seen more luxuriant. The body is wrapped by plastic material with reflective metal nuance, with few rough surfaces. Do not monopolize again with dark color, which becoming Samsung phone typically.

But, E950 still have another interesting feature. Big revolution is offered by Samsung, through the navigation button of full touch sensitive technology alias touch sensor so-called “Dynamic Adaptive Control Pad”. Not only softkey which adopted this technology, like SGH-U600/U700 also LG Chocolate KG800. 1,14 inches area is inserted by unique shortcut and claimed to relies on 65 thousand colors OLED screen and 128 x 112 pixels resolution.

Unhappily, touch sensor planted felt over sensitive. It mean can cause you to execute unwanted command / menu, just because accidentally a few touching it. It’s similar with Samsung SGH-U600 / U700 softkey.

The unique, SGH-E950 is accompanied by screen setting for excessive light condition passed “Sunlight mode” modus. The result, this media interface display remain to be bright and clear even below direct sunlight. It’s s similar with the Samsung SGH-U600 ability. Whereas at the sector menu, Samsung SGH-E950 is adopts the new interface model, namely “Espresso UI”. Do not like some ultra editions, which dominant by black nuance.

The presents of uGo feature in SGH-E950 automatically can arrange “Home screen” background display according to town or domicile country. Plus its wallpaper ‘living’ feature, which dynamically changed according to daily clock calculation. Attractive enough!

Do not like its one class phone which mostly placing forward the 3G technology support, including high speed data transfer via HSDPA line, Samsung SGH-E950 still a step behind.

Can be understand, this phone only works in GSM triband frequency (900/1800/1900 MHZ) and EDGE/GPRS channel to process data transfer. It’s similar to the old series, SGH-E900. What a pity.

E950 has carried 3,2 megapixel camera. Even minus autofocus feature and macro modus, but some standard abilities remain to be figured in. There is a flash lamp, ISO choice and white balance setting. In default, the camera viewfinder is at landscape position. This thing is according to the placing of camera button shutter, which imitates digital pocket camera concept.

Even this camera is not a music phone, but SGH-E950 still equipped with good enough music players. Its ability to list the song is also not failed if compared to Sony Ericsson Walkman series. The playlist can be arranged based on artist, genre, album, most played and including equalizer choice. Playlist setting also can be performed so easy.

Like Symbian operating system phone which supporting multitasking function, SGH-E950 also figures in “Background playing” feature with same ability for its music player. So, you can explore the other menu while listens your favorite music.

Samsung E950 cooperates with Yahoo! in providing business facilities. Similar with Yahoo! service in PC, Yahoo! Ready feature in E950 also provides interactive messaging line via Yahoo! messenger.

Through TV out feature, you can display SGH-E950 interface directly to television screen. It’s including your photo result, documents and other. Setting provided is PAL-B and NTSC. Unfortunately, TV out connection cable does not figured in at sale package.

Samsung SGH-E950 can be said complete enough for middle-weight phone. Its can be look from the feature; 3,2 megapixel camera, good music player, Yahoo! search and Yahoo! Messenger feature till microSD card slot.

But, minus of third generation technology (3G) or 3,5G make it fails to compete with other phone in its class. Moreover, its touch sensor navigation button is also disturbing enough and can be a barrier to get successes in the market.

Samsung SGH-E950 Review
Price range: $235 - $280
- Main screen: TFT, 262.144 million color, 240 x 320 pixel, 2 inches
- Touch panel screen: OLED, 65.536 color, 128 x 112 pixel,1,14 inches
- Camera: 3,2 Megapixel (2048x1536 pixel), flash
- Video recorder: CIF
- Messaging: sms, mms, email, push message, SOS Message
- Internal memory: 60 MB
- External memory: MicroSD (TransFlash) up to 2GB
- Phonebook: 1000 contact
- Connectivity: Bluetooth v2.0 (A2DP), USB 2.0 cable data
- Browser: WAP 2.0/ xHTML, HTML (NetFront3.4)
- Data Transfer: EDGE class 10, GPRS class 10
- Audio File: MP3, AAC+, WMA, MIDI, Polyphonic 64 channel
- Video file: MPEG-4, 3GP
- Network: Triband GSM 900/1800/1900 MHz
- Dimension: 9.5 x 4.6 x 1.54 cm
- Weight: 85 grams
- Battery: Lithium ion, 800 mAh ]
- Color: Blacj, Metallic silver
- Feature: Music Player, Video Player, Games, Yahoo! Search, Yahoo! Messenger, Smart Search, Image editor, Image stamp, Mobile Tracker, Privacy, TV Out, Calendar, Alarm, World Clock, Converter, Stopwatch, Memo

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Nokia 7900 Prism Review: Luxurious Prism

Nokia 7900 Prism
Prism phone come out with two choices. Economical package without 3G represented by 7500 Prism and premium package with 3G is 7900 Prism. Even is considered to be older brother, this 3G Prism still have some weaknesses. Mainly lays in software support and usage of risky OLED display.

Designs concept is the heart of this phone. Still same as former product, light luminescence passing prism area become its main interest.

7900 prism made in a real simple candybar. In a flash it’s not different with 7500. But if we look closely, this prism product is far simpler.

Absence of buttons and addition portal is reason why 7900 called simpler. You will only find mini USB portal on top of phone. The rest, function is delivered to buttons at phone face. It’s including the camera access and volume.

Innovation likely becomes keyword at this fashion product. After diagonal lines access in its surface, 7900 its dare to take the risk applies OLED screen type with 16.7 million color depth (24 bits), QVGA resolution (240x320 pixel), and 2 inches diagonal.

From the specification, there are should be no problem with it screen display. But the problem is OLED type has some insufficiency which make it cannot go in front of TFT strength.

The next innovation is the presence of background lamp which able to personalized. You can combine a number of colors, can be adapted for mood, or applied theme. At least there are 49 colors which can be selected. Background lamp color will appear in keypad part and around the USB port.

Nokia likely is making new boundaries in classifying the products. New phone which is not including E and N series tends to not equipped with open operating system (symbian). Instead, they are equipped by newest java technology and go into S40 newest version category.

Besides design and 3G connection, 7900 still have good music player. The performance is satisfying. Its supports 3D sound output with its “widening” feature. Unhappily, its ability to widen the distance between low and high frequency is less maximally because the speaker ability limits. Best way to listen music is through its figured in headset, that also still relying on USB port. For you music lover and requires 3.5 mm stereo audio port likely must be disappointed with this condition. Nokia 7900 prism is an expensive phone. With its high price we only offered by its attractive designs and dynamic music player. The rest you must please with its average feature.

Nokia 7900 Prism Review
Price range: $250 -$495
- Software version: V 03.40 10-09-07 RM-264
- Screen: OLED, 16.7 million color (24 bit), 240 x 320 pixel, 2 inches
- Camera: 2 Megapixel, 8x digital zoom, flash
- Video recorder: QCIF
- Messaging: sms, mms, email
- Internal memory: 1GB
- Connectivity: Bluetooth, infrared, mini USB
- Browser: Nokia Web Micro browser
- Data Transfer: WCDMA 2100, EDGE, GPRS 10
- Audio File: MP3, AAC, eAAC+
- Video file: MPEG-4, 3GP
- Network: WCDMA 850/2100, GSM 850/900/1800/1900 MHz
- Dimension: 11.2 x 4.5 x 1.1 cm
- Weight: 101 grams
- Battery: Lithium ion, 830 mAh
- Feature: Voice recorder, Java MIDP 2.0 and CLDC 1.1,, Music Player, Speakerphone, Push To Talk, PIM, Voice command

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Saturday, February 16, 2008

Sanyo Xacti HD1000 Review: Great Full HD Camcorder

Not like its little brother, Sanyo Xacti HD700, Xacti HD1000 digital camcorder lens is wider and bigger. This lens is having spiral so that easily to added by accessory like semi fish-eye lens, wide-conversion lens, tele lens, or microphone. A built-in blitz appears if you press button on the top of unit.

Main feature of HD1000 lays in its ability to record full HD (high definition) video at 1920x1080 (1080i) 60fps. Moreover, video is recorded at 1280x720, 640x480, or 320x240 resolution. While still photo taken at maximum resolution of 2288x1712 or 3264x2448 (interpolation).

Sanyo Xacti HD1000 which is targeting point-and-shoot user relies on CMOS sensor, not CCD. CMOS selected is because having fast frame approach for help reaches full HD. But its impact, photo ability is decrease to 4 megapixel”. HD1000 is having various apertures of F1.8 until F8, 10x optical zoom, and ISO 3200 support.

Video will be recorded at format MPEG-4AVC/H264 (MP4) to memory card (SD/SDHC). Applies a 4GB SDHC card we able to record video during 43 minutes in full HD format. This video camera offers manual focus, and via joystick operation which moved by your thumb. Focus at Auto modus is selected between 9-spot, while for the exposure is available multiple, center, or spot point. You can choose aperture or shutter priority modus, or controls both separately.

Its available 6 modus resolution for video and 8 for photo, and Face Chaser feature (also available on HD700) to handle various light condition in all places. Its Li-Ion battery claimed to be life to records during 120 minutes in sequential. Sanyo Xacti HD1000 available in two color choices (black and silver).

Sanyo Xacti HD1000 Review
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SANYO XACTI VPC-HD2: Good Color and Images 710 Review: Offers 1GB Capacities 710
Transcend presents a big capacities digital photo frame: 710. This is a multi function peripheral, because besides as photo frame, 710 also able to saves and play music and as time indicators.

Christmas and New Year has passed. So, now you surely require a device to displayed your fascinate holidays photo. Just display it in digital photo frame, for example 710 from Transcend. Their offer is interesting enough: 1GB internal memory capacity.

With big enough capacities, can save hundreds of photo. When will send it as present for friend or family; before, you can fill it with hundreds of photo and can update it any time you want.

Even has provided big capacities, 710 still give support to SD, SDHC, MMC, MS, and CF memory card type. Just attach the memory card which has contained picture to frame. Then this 2,8 cm thickness digital frame would search automatically and display photo files in memory card or USB flash, in every folder you saves it.

Takes picture from PC is done without difficulty. Just attach the figured in USB cable to computer. MP3 file is also accommodated by 710 so you able to present your photo as slide-show with music background. Do drag & drop to remove photo from PC with quickly.

To be more pleases the user, Transcend installs Thumbnail modus for search quickly and presents certain photo which you chooses, complete with zooming and rotating facility. Photo size will not be changed by 710 so pictures presented will not get distortion.

This frame with 0,7 inches screen, 480 x 234 resolution, and can be turned around by vertical and horizontal is also can be use as alarm. Transcend equipped it with pictorial clock, calendar, alarm, and built-in MP3 player along with speaker.

Put in desk or hung in wall no matter for 710 because Transcend complements it with hanger hole and prop. In black and gold color wrapping, very cute to displays in house or office. 710 Review
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