Tag Archives: laptops

Samsung R610 notebook review

REVIEW: Samsung R610 – a new noteworthy notebook

LAPTOPS may have been all the rage in 2008, but now attention has shifted to focus on their slimmer counterparts, namely notebooks and netbooks. It seems that slimness and light-weight mobile devices will always win favour over heftier ones, and none is lighter than the Samsung R610.

Weighing in at around 2.7kgs, the Samsung R610 is part of the latest generation of notebook PCs. It may be the lightest notebook currently available, yet it does have a hefty price-tag (close to R10 000). However, after playing with one for a week I’m confident that you get what you pay for. Let’s take a closer look.

Samsung R610 notebook

Operating system
The Samsung R610 should come equipped with either Windows Vista Ultimate or Windows 7 Ultimate – the latter being the latest operating system to date. If you are currently a Vista user, Windows 7 should be a warm welcome. It is the most user-friendly operating system I have ever experienced and by far the most visually-appealing.

If you shave off what Windows 7 Ultimate would have cost if purchased separately (roughly R2000), the cost of the notebook in question may seem less frightening.

CyberLink DVD Suite
Unlike netbooks (which are specifically designed and optimised for web-browsing and related activity), the Samsung R610 notebook encourages users to engage in multimedia production. It offers a software package called CyberLink DVD Suite, which has great programs such as PowerProducer and PowerDirector, which are all you need for managing data, photos, music, movies, creating DVDs and backing up your content.

What’s the difference between notebooks, netbooks and laptops?

  • LAPTOPS are mobile computers with full-sized keyboards, flip up monitors and space for built in optical or floppy disk storage drives. They are not usually as powerful as desktop PCs.
  • NOTEBOOKS are often referred to as portable “desktop replacement” PCs, which can do as any normal computer can. The latest models have full-sized keyboards as well as relatively large storage drives. In other words, a notebook is a more potent laptop.
  • NETBOOKS are ultra-mobile computers with keyboards smaller than full size and therefore a lot smaller than laptops and notebooks. They are designed and optimised for Internet use and can handle small programs such as MP3 players.

Touchpad
I have never quite managed to get used to using the touchpads on laptops as appose to a standard mouse. I’d rather plug in a mouse even if it’s a miniature one. Unfortunately the touchy bit on the Samsung R610 is smaller than usual and a bit of a nightmare to use. To make matters worse it has a scroll function on the same pad which changes the function of the mouse pointer into a scroller. This is really annoying if you fingertip ventures too far to the right, which will happen unless you’re a veteran laptop user.

I don’t understand why they don’t make the touchpad bigger, or at least separate the scroll function by placing it further away. There seems to be a lot of wasted space alongside the touchpad, which I would call a design flaw.

Keyboard
What often puts a lot of people off ever buying a laptop is the idea that the keyboard is a lot smaller than that of a desktop PC. It’s hard enough trying to operate a cellphone with small keys if you don’t have the slim and nimble fingers of a 13-year-old. However, this is not the case with most notebooks – the keys are simply more compact and just as easy to use as any standard keyboard.

Samsung R610 notebookLaptop keyboards have also taken things a step further by introducing function keys. When pressed, these give certain keys on the keyboard additional functions, such as checking battery life, adjusting monitor settings and managing volume control.

Battery
Battery life may be a second major concern for those considering buying a laptop. While some standard laptops can’t get more than two hours work done before going to bed, the Samsung R610’s battery can last for over three hours.

However, it’s important to note that battery life is relative to what you use your device for. There is a useful function key that makes it easy to monitor how much battery life you have left and I’m confident that it’s reliable enough to keep you entertained on a long trip.

Screen
The Samsung R610 has a sixteen inch HD gloss screen. I treated myself with a huge HD Samsung screen over Christmas last year and have never looked back. The picture quality of Samsung screens is really something to be admired, especially when viewing something recorded in HD. However, even watching low-quality videos on a smaller notebook screen will still look better than expected.

Other features
To be honest I can’t actually think of anything that the Samsung R610 doesn’t have. Apart from the above, it has 4 USB ports (for inserting flash-drives, cameras, external hard-drives or a good old-fashioned mouse), a 3-in-1 SD card slot (for quickly uploading photos), a slot for attaching a camcorder, a DVD drive, micro-phone and headphone holes and an internal 1.3 mega-pixel webcam (great for Skype).

It really has everything you could want in a well-designed notebook that will certainly make a statement. If you’re prepared to spend ten grand I would certainly recommend the Samsung R610. Christmas is right around the corner and prices might even drop during the festive season. It would make a great end of the year treat. Feel free to email me for my address details 🙂

Samsung R610 notebook specs

• Operating System: Windows Vista Home Premium or Windows 7 Ultimate.
Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo Processor T6400 (2.00GHz, 800MHz, 2MB).
System Memory: 3GB (DDR2 / 1GB x 1 + 2GB x 1 ).
LCD: 16” HD (1366 x 768) 16:9 Gloss.
Graphic Processor: nVIDIA GeForce Go 9200M GS; HDMI ouput.
Sound: HD (High Definition) Audio; 4W Stereo Speaker (2W x 2).
Multimedia Player: Play AVStation.
Camera: 1.3MP Web Camera.
Storage: HDD: 250GB (5,400rpm S-ATA).
ODD: Super Multi Dual Layer (S-ATA).
• Connectivity: Wired Ethernet LAN: Gigabit LAN.
Wireless LAN: Intel 802.11a/b/g/n 1 x 2 (MIMO).
Bluetooth 2.0 + EDR; 4 x USB 2.0
• Multi Card Slot: 3-in-1 (SD, SDHC, MMC).
Keyboard: 100 Key (Silver Nano Anti-Bacteria Keyboard).
Battery: standard 6-cell, (up to 3 hours battery-life).
AC Adapter: 90W.
Dimensions: 379.2 x 265.2 x 31.8 — 38.45mm.
Weight: 2.75kg

Related Review: The Samsung NC10 netbook

Weird Wired World

*View this post in HD*

Gadget blessings: Shinto priests protect electronics from bad mojo

I HAVE always had a fascination for religions other than the one that I was force-fed at school. I am not an unruly atheist, but simply feel that one should understand or at least lightly explore the views of religions other than your own before deciding what to believe.

To totally refute the beliefs of other religious groups is, as history will tell, sadly often the cause of futile conflict. It always seems that people who want to share their religious views with you never want you to share yours with them …

ShintoismAnyhoo, I have recently developed an interest in the religions of the Far East, specifically Japan’s Shinto religion. A core belief of Shinto is that all objects — living or not — have spiritual properties, and can thus be blessed. With the increasing introduction of electronics to Japan, there has been an interesting fusing of technology with the practices of Shinto.

Specifically since the introduction of Windows XP to Japan, more and more consumers have been taking their laptops and electronic devices to Shinto priests to be blessed against system crashes and technical failures.

A writer for Wired Magazine took his cellphone to a Shinto Priest to witness this phenomenon first-hand and provides a first-hand account of the whole experience …

Blessed are the Geek

'My cellphone sits in a lacquer tray waiting to be blessed by a Shinto priest. Late last year, I visited the ancient Kanda shrine, located in the heart of Tokyo’s consumer electronics district. The shrine does boffo business offering charms and ceremonial purifications that protect cellphones and laptops and even blogs and ISP services from bad mojo.'

'My cellphone sits in a lacquer tray waiting to be blessed by a Shinto priest. Late last year, I visited the ancient Kanda shrine, located in the heart of Tokyo’s consumer electronics district. The shrine does boffo business offering charms and ceremonial purifications that protect cellphones and laptops and even blogs and ISP services from bad mojo.'

Brian Ashcraft

Boom! … Boom! … My chest reverberates with the thumping of a huge wooden drum as two robed holy men shuffle across tatami mats. They kneel in a vermilion-coloured alcove, while an assistant announces that the ceremony has commenced.

The priests begin bowing and chanting rhythmically. I’ve been given a white “robe of cleansing” to wear. Actually, it’s more like a smock. I’m not sure what I should be doing. I bow a couple of times.

I’ve come to the 1 270-year-old Kanda Shrine in Tokyo to purify and bless something very near and dear to me: my cellphone. I’ve had hellish luck with cellphones over the past year. I left one on a ride at Universal Studios Japan. Its successor suddenly (and mysteriously) died. The next one accompanied my pants into the washing machine, and its replacement went awol in less than a week. Divine intervention was needed, and pronto.

Japan’s Shinto religion holds that nearly every object in the world, animate or inanimate, has a spiritual essence. Therefore, anything can be blessed, from a newborn child to an automobile. Priests at the Kanda Shrine, which overlooks Akihabara — Tokyo’s Mecca for consumer electronics — offer prayers for the well-being of gadgets.

Kanda found its calling in metaphysical IT work seven years ago, when Microsoft XP went on sale in Japan. The shrine created talismans to prevent system crashes, and they were snapped up by the throngs of nerds who prowl Akihabara for the latest gizmos and porn comics.

Soon requests were pouring in for priests to perform purification rites on laptops, cellphones, even web-portals. Today Kanda offers microchip-shaped good-luck charms for ¥800 (about R64) and private ceremonies for ¥5 000 (about R400).

Back in the great hall, an older priest waves a giant wand — essentially a mop of white parchment streamers — over his counterpart. Thus cleansed, the younger priest rises and carries my phone on a tray to the main altar. He begins a low-pitched chant, invoking the shrine’s deities to “watch over and protect Brian Ashcraft’s cellular phone”.

As the sound of plucked koto strings echoes through the hall, the assistant jingles gold bells over my head. I’m told to approach the altar and am given a tree branch — an offering to the shrine’s deities. A priest painstakingly instructs me to turn the branch 180° —no, no, clockwise— and place it on the altar. I am then told to bow deeply twice —that’s good — and clap twice.

Most Japanese people would probably stumble through this intricate ceremony as clumsily as I do, but the tenets of Shinto are deeply ingrained in their consciousness. It occurs to me that this must affect how they view their little electronic helpmates. Perhaps gadgets really do have souls. Maybe my problem isn’t bad luck, maybe I simply haven’t been giving my phones the respect they deserve. I bow again, and the ceremony concludes.

Near the great hall’s exit, I am presented with a wooden plaque certifying that my cell has been purified. Over a cup of sake, senior priest Katsuji Takahashi chuckles as he tells me, “I’ve lost my phone twice, but both times it turned up.”

Seven months later, my blessed cellphone is still with me.

We really do live in a weird wired world.

www.wired.com

The Samsung NC10 netbook

REVIEW: Small ‘n sexy netbook for geeks on the move

Samsung NC10 netbookIT’S never good to be dependent on something for your happiness or well-being. Some people are dependent on cigarettes and caffeine, others on soap operas, and some on digital products. I am dependent on my computer. Whether I’m connecting with friends and family on the Internet, escaping into the world of gaming, or keeping myself entertained with movies or TV series, it is all dependent on my home entertainment system – my PC. Without it, without my daily fix of computing, I reckon I would be a rather miserable sod.

What’s sadder than being dependent on this machine are my efforts to pack my bulky desktop PC into whatever size bag or box I have in order to take it with me whenever I go off somewhere for a few days. The simple solution is to buy myself a laptop. Unfortunately laptops haven’t yet become the technology of yesteryear and therefore do not fall within my pitiful budget.

But then, just before I was about to mail my doubtful Christmas wish-list off to Santa near the end of last year, an alternative was born…

The ultra-mobile netbook
The netbook is a type of basic laptop that can perform most of the same functions as any fully-qualified PC with the exception of advanced programming. One can think of a laptop as a glorified netbook. The main benefit is that it’s a lot cheaper, and slimmer too.

This year Samsung jumped on board with the release of the Samsung NC10 into the global netbook market. This little beauty is small, light and incredibly functional, and is a stylish alternative to existing netbook products.

Samsung NC10 netbookSamsung says that the NC10 was developed with the needs of the “kinetic elite” in mind, with the idea of achieving “more on the move.” Somewhat like my pop-idol, Pixie Bennett, the NC10 is ultra-compact and rather attractive, and would probably not be looked down on by any laptop opponents. It may be small, but it sure is talented.

Weighing in at 1.33kgs, with a screen size of just 10.2″, the NC10 is one of the world’s lightest netbooks. A 6 cell battery lights up its WSVGA (1024 x 600) SuperBright non-Gloss LED screen, which is fuelled by an ergonomic notebook PC-style keyboard. This little mobile powerhouse can provide up to 8 hours of mobile computing.

One would expect such a lightweight computer to break if shouted at too hard, however, Samsung assures us that the NC10’s robust Protect-o-Edge chassis has undergone no less than 54 “grueling” quality assurance tests, ranging from rapid temperature change to electrical surges.

Anti-bacterial keyboard
The NC10 keyboard is something a little special. Manufacturers use impressive-sounding ‘Silver Nano Technology’ to coat the keyboard with incredibly small, nano-sized silver ion powder, which makes it impossible for bacteria to live and breed. Theoretically, 99.9% of bacteria are successfully eliminated within 24 hours and the netbook remains relatively bacteria free.

I cleaned my keyboard once by removing all the keys and found more than one colony of mutated and overweight bacteria breeding and evolving beneath my fingertips. It wasn’t pretty. I’m all for silver ion powder.

Power and performance
The NC10’s brain may be small, but it’s not stupid. Its processor is Intel’s smallest and lowest power processor to date – the Intel Atom™, which enables the NC10 to deliver real computing power at a fraction of the weight, size and cost. Samsung suggests that incorporating Windows XP Home coupled with an 80-160GB hard disk, the NC10 sets a new standard in price / performance for netbooks.

The NC10’s Intel Atom™ processor is specifically designed to deliver an amazing Internet experience using netbooks. Based on an entirely new microarchtiechture, the Intel Atom™ processor increases energy efficiency to extend battery life, while delivering enhanced mobile performance and increased system responsiveness. 

The NC10 offers impressive networking and Internet capabilities. It boasts a range of advanced communications technologies, including Atheros 802.11b.g wireless LAN for fast Internet access, a 10/100 Ethernet LAN and optional Bluetooth 2.0+EDR. It also incorporates an integrated 1.3 mega pixel digital motion camera – allowing video-conferencing or live messaging.

Other features include a 3 in 1 multi-memory card reader, a VGA connection, mic in, headphone out and 3 x USB ports. These should allow one to easily transfer pictures, movies and data to and from virtually any modern camera, peripheral or audio-visual device, as well as a user-friendly way to get onto the web, access emails and social networks.

The Samsung NC10 has been on the market since March this year and is available from R 5499 incl vat.

SAMSUNG NC10 SPECIFICATIONS

  • Processor: Intel Atom™ N270 processor (1.6GHz, 533MHz)
  • Operating System: Genuine Microsoft Windows XP Home (SP3)
  • Memory: DDR2 533 MHz 512MB – 1GB
  • LCD: 10.2″ WSVGA (1024 x 600) Non-gloss SuperBright© LED backlit
  • HDD: 80GB / 120 GB / 160GB (5400 rpm S-ATA)
  • Optical Drive:  –
  • Graphics: Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 950 graphics core
  • Wireless LAN:  Atheros 802.11b.g
    Bluetooth 2.0 + Enhanced Data Rate
    LAN 10/100 Ethernet
  • I / O Ports: 3-in-1 Card Reader (SD, SDHC, MMC)
    – 3 x USB 2.0
    – 1 x Headphone-out
    – 1 x Mic in
    – 1 x Integrated Mic
    – 1 x VGA Port
    – 1 x RJ45 (LAN)
  • Multimedia: 1.3 Mega Pixel Web Camera
  • Battery Life: 3 Cell Lithium ion (up to 3.5 hours); 6 Cell Lithium ion (up to 8 hours)
  • Keyboard: 84 Keys (Europe, Others), 17.7mm Pitch (93% size of Notebook KBD)
  • Speakers: 2 speakers with enclosure (1.5 Watt x 2 )
  • Dimensions: (W x D x H) 261.0 mm (W) x 185.5 mm (D) x 30.3 mm (H)
  • Weight: 1.19 kg (incl. 3 cell battery); 1.33 kg (incl. 6 cell battery)
  • Warranty: 1 Year International Collect and Return

Related Review: The Samsung R610 notebook

Green gadgets on show at Stuff Live!

GREEN TECH: Green gadgets that could help save the planet

WITH the possibilty of yet another energy crisis looming, coupled with the current financial crisis and soaring fuel prices, gadget makers got a chance to show off their green credentials at the Stuff Live! technology show held in London recently. Amid the usual array of power-hungry televisions, stereos and computers, a handful of companies promoted hi-tech products designed to cut energy consumption and help save the planet.

THE WATTSON
London-based firm DIY Kyoto has come up with the Wattson – a wireless device that lets families monitor exactly how much power they are using at home. It measures electricity consumption and displays the amount of power and how much it costs on a sleek portable box with a digital screen. The £100 device glows red when households use more power than normal or blue when they are being energy efficient.

“The whole idea is to save money and to save the environment, and what’s great is that you find people try to get the reading down as low as possible” – Jason Goldman of DIY Kyoto.

THE EGO STREET SCOOTA
British gadget website www.firebox.com displayed a Chinese-built electric scooter that it has converted for sale on the British market. Called the Ego Street Scoota, it has a 30 to 40 mile range and a top speed of 30 mph. It costs eight pence to charge the bike using the mains electricity supply.

Parked next to it was a more powerful scooter from U.S. firm Vectrix. Its Maxi-Scooter has a top speed of 62mph and a range of 68 miles at 25mph. Its latest model has a built-in music player and a system that sends music wirelessly to your helmet.

SOLIO SOLAR POWER CHARGERS
While nearly all gadgets rely on electricity or batteries, a range of portable chargers from U.S. company Solio, that use solar power, were on display. The devices can convert one hour of sunshine into an hour of playback on an iPod or 25 minutes of talk time on a mobile. The gadget has three blades which fan out to catch sunlight which it then stores in an internal battery for up to a year.

A LAPTOP MADE OF BAMBOO?
Wearing its heart on its sleeve, one energy-efficient laptop came with a shell made of bamboo instead of the usual plastic or metal in an attempt to reinforce its eco-friendly aspirations.

Taiwanese computer maker Asustek said it used bamboo because it is strong, grows back quickly and is biodegradable. Advised to keep away from pandas!

Related posts:
Save the trees with iPaper
Will e-readers end the Age of the Book?