Sunday, December 04, 2011

Xperia Pro keyboard

I finally managed to find a retail shop to try out the Sony Ericsson Xperia Pro.

First impressions are not encouraging. The key edges are straight instead of being domed, which enable one's thumbs to move around the keyboard.

Also, the keys are slightly softly sprung. They don't provide the positive clicky feeling I have with my Sony Ericsson X10 Mini Pro.

The sales assistant was hovering around constantly, asking questions, so I didn't have a lot of time to really test the keyboard and camera.

Guess I'll have to find another shop to try it again. Now tempted to reconsider the HTC ChaCha even with its inherent problems of insufficient memory, short battery life, and slow processor. The keyboard on the ChaCha is that good.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Xperia Pro finally lands in Singapore

After what seems to be an eternity, the Xperia Pro has finally landed in Singapore. Currently selling at $598 (without contract), it belongs to a rare breed of QWERTY Android handphones.

I need to try out the keyboard before I can decide on whether this handphone is a suitable replacement for my aging X10 Mini Pro.

This is further complicated by a desire for a QWERTY candybar form factor (aka HTC ChaCha), and a super camera phone (Nokia N8).

I already have 2 mobile devices (X10 Mini Pro & Galaxy Tab), so adding another device just sounds extravagant and wasteful.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Has it arrived too late to the game?

Trying out the Xperia pro — Sony Ericsson Product Blog
After almost one year of delays, we finally see the Xperia Pro becoming available.

With an ample screen, QWERTY keyboard, and a potentially good camera, perhaps the only stumbling block is the form factor.

A horizontal slider means plenty of switching between portrait and landscape formats. Also, the fact that I had to replace the connector between the 2 sliding pieces on my X10 Mini Pro means question marks regarding reliability.
I suppose I'm still tempted by the HTC ChaCha, even it has quite a few bugs.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

QuickWeb on the HP DM1

By accident, I stumbled onto the QuickWeb feature on my HP DM1, while it was crammed into a bag. A quick google search later, I found that pressing F5 (which also corresponds to the shortcut to opening a browser) would boot the notebook into the QuickWeb environment, which is a Linux OS which allows quick access (about 20-25sec) to the Web upon booting.

Tested several websites with the browser, and found most functions working (e.g. Flash, Java, etc). The browser was generally snappy, and easy to use.

As most of my work is done online, this is an interesting option that I may use quite regularly in the future.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

A portable Windows device with QWERTY keyboard

Panasonic Toughbook U1 gets new sunlight-viewable screen, still solid to its Atom core -- Engadget
The price is expensive (US$2,799), but it has the right combination of features
- Windows (full desktop experience)
- hardware QWERTY keyboard (needed for extended text entry)
- touchscreen (important feature on a portable device)
- reasonable battery life

Friday, August 05, 2011

Xperia Mini Pro lands in Singapore; Xperia Pro still delayed

The successor to my current phone (X10 Mini Pro), has arrived in Singapore.

Features include
  1. a bigger screen (from 2.5-inch to 3-inch)
  2. faster processor (from 600MHz to 1Ghz); this also means Adobe Flash is supported
  3. OS upgrade (from Android 2.1 to 2.3)
  4. front-facing camera (Skype just announced expanded video-calling capability for its Android app)
  5. hardware QWERTY keyboard has more keys, including 4-way arrow keys and shortcut keys
Looks tempting, but I don't think I will get this phone, as it does not have the backlit CMOS sensor (a.k.a. Exmor-R) in its camera. The long delayed Xperia Pro has that feature, but is also bulkier.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Backpack for DSLR and notebook

Went to Funan yesterday to look for a bag to carry my Pentax K100D DSLR plus other lens, and my HP DM1 notebook.

Why a backpack and not a messenger bag, like the one that I'm currently using?
  1. Weight - a DSLR + notebook adds up to a considerable weight, which would be heavy to carry on 1 shoulder
  2. Strap interference - on the same day, I purchased a Blackrapid strap which is worn across the body. Using a messenger bag would interfere with the usage of the strap
I tried out a few bags at Challenger and SLR Revolution.
  1. Kata 3N1-22
  2. Vanguard Up-rise 46
  3. Lowepro Compuday 250
The Kata's notebook slot was a bit too narrow for the DM1. So it was instantly out. Nice design though, but expensive. The bigger version, the 3N1-33 looks a little too boxy.

The Vanguard was nice, but I didn't really like it's fancy-looking V-shaped clips. It looked a little large and heavy also. Maybe I was a little biased, but I thought a China brand would be cheaper.

The Lowepro was light, but it's straps look a little too lightly padded, and the side-access slot for the DSLR did not come with additional dividers for additional lens. Cheapest of the 3 though at $95. Ugly though...

While I was at Challenger, I also tried the Vanguard Sydney 27 messenger bag. Nice design (not black), with a removable DSLR insert. Pity that it was a little small.

Back home, I spotted new versions of the Kata 3N1 bag online. The 3N1-25 looks good, and sized between the 22 & 33 models. Likely to be expensive though.

Most likely I will get the Lowepro Compuday 250. A pity that I missed the previous promotion where it was selling at $77...

Saturday, July 16, 2011

HP DM1 - 1 week on...

After almost 1 week of usage, I still feel that the laptop is not fully optimised.

Removed several HP software, but had to reinstall them, as I found that they were needed for certain functions, e.g. on-screen display, wireless assistant.

The notebookreview DM1 forum thread is useful, but with 300 pages of posts, I'm struggling to find the gems quickly. Still at page 73 currently.

I brought the DM1 out once, and the battery life was good. Screen reflection was not too serious (I was in a cafe).

One more small glitch. After changing the power button setting to shutdown the laptop, the button continues to put the laptop to sleep only...

Blank Screen on Twitter

Twitter Help Center | Blank Screen on #NewTwitter
Have been facing the above issue on Chrome and other browsers.

Following the help options, I managed to see Twitter using the https version...

Monday, July 11, 2011

HP DM1 quick review

Finally decided to buy the HP DM1, after deciding that I wasn't going to buy the Lenovo X120E over the internet.

Deciding factor was a bit weird, really. Didn't want to reward Lenovo for making it so hard for consumers to buy one of their AMD E-350 laptops.

Anyway, got the DM1 for S$699 with free 4GB RAM upgrade. First impressions are mixed.
  1. screen is glossy, but not too much reflections
  2. still getting used to the screen brightness; full brightness a little too bright, one step down a little too much
  3. high CPU usage; really need to find out which are the bloatware, and to uninstall them. lots of HP software installed by default
  4. removed Norton Anti-virus; replaced with Microsoft Security Essentials
  5. Keyboard is large, but keystroke a little shallow, compared to the Asus A42JV that my brother and I are sharing
  6. the sloping design is good for wrists; won't have carpal tunnel syndrome
  7. build quality a little iffy; panel gaps not consistent, speaker grill a little off already
  8. seems the singapore version comes with a 500GB 5400rpm hard disk :(

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Lenovo X121E incoming soon

The successor to the Lenovo X120E is coming soon. Rumours first arose when a Lenovo notebook sleeve mentioned the ability to accommodate a "X121E".

More recently, a user manual (in Chinese) popped up on a Lenovo website.
User manual on Lenovo China website (PDF)

What are the changes?
  1. It seems the X121E mousepad has adopted the button-less design, first seen on the X220
  2. The battery placement has moved slightly to a DM1-like design, with the battery taking up space below the screen. Consequently, the keyboard is moved slightly downwards
  3. The screen hinge position also changes, to accommodate the change above. This results in no space for the VGA port and power supply port, which move to the sides
  4. There is also an addition of a fingerprint reader
The most important difference remains unclear. The user manual does not explicitly mention what platform it is running on, although references are made to both AMD and Intel. As alluded to in a few forums, it is possible that the X121E may run on both platforms.

Whatever the platform, I hope the performance/battery balance remains just as good, if not better than the AMD E-350 running on the X120E.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Xperia pro slips to late July

Sony Ericsson UK store
Seems the Xperia Pro's availability is slow compared to other models that were launched around the same date.

Looking at this model because it has a Exmor-R backlit camera sensor, plus a QWERTY keyboard.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Trying to get a Lenovo X120e in Singapore

Ever since AMD launched its new E-350 processor, I have been looking forward to buy a laptop with that chip. The chip offered a nice balance between price and performance; faster than an Intel Atom, but cheaper than an i3.

The following models were released, with my comments in brackets
  • Asus 1215B (cheap, has page up/page down keys)
  • Dell M102z (9-cell battery option, but expensive)
  • HP DM1 (pretty, good battery life, big chicklet keyboard, but no page up/page down keys, and no dedicated trackpad keys)
  • Lenovo X120e (matte screen, page up/page down keys, but not sold in retail shops)
  • MSI U270 (similar to 1215B, haven't seen it in person)
  • Sony YB-series (expensive)
With the Lenovo X120e having most of the features desired, I decided to write to Lenovo Singapore to try to get them to reconsider their decision.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Online reviews can only go that far

Visited Funan today to get some hands-on contact with a few electronic products that I'm considering

1. Rii portable bluetooth keyboard (for Galaxy Tab)
Main target today; visited Trends Mobile to see this product. Keypad felt ok, but the design, which places a trackpad on the right of the keypad, meant that it was awkward to thumb-type, especially for the right thumb, which had problems reaching keys near the centre)

2. Sony TX5 or TX10 camera (for candid street photography)
Didn't manage to get my hands on a TX5, as it is a run-out model. The TX10 felt a little too small, with my hands struggling to find a comfortable shooting position. The sliding mechanism is also a little iffy. Instead of sliding downwards in a linear motion, it actually has to pivot outwards before moving down.

3. HP DM1 notebook (to replace my old workforce, the Asus Eee PC 4G)
The DM1 sits between a netbook and a notebook, running on AMD's E-350 chip. Pity that the Challenger offer of a 4GB model for $699 seems to be gone, with the specs sheet mentioning it with 2GB of RAM. Saw it's other 2 direct rivals too, the Asus 1215B ($599, 2GB), and the Dell M102z ($799, 4GB). The Asus was a little bland looking, and I was not convinced about the battery life. The 1215B though, is the only 1 of the 3 that has dedicated Page Up and Page Down keys. The Dell on the other hand, seemed to look a little bulky, and the screen seemed to have a limited tilt angle.

4. Kata 3N1-22 (backpack that can take a DSLR + notebook)
The 22 model seemed a little too narrow, while the 33 model looked a little boxy. Price wasn't cheap either, with both close to the $200 mark.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Too fast

Modern communication is too fast for our own good.

The world of copy-and-paste has made it too easy to make a boo boo.

Even typing has been accelerated, with tools like word prediction, like what I'm using now.

Facebook "boliao"ness - "Forbidden love" story is viral marketing campaign

This is the kind of story that exposes the "boliao"ness of Facebook.

The content of the story is close to my heart though...

Sunday, April 10, 2011

More tinkering: How MotoGP will change in 2012?

The 2012 MotoGP Revolution: Part 1 - The Rules, The Bikes And The Teams | | Kropotkin Thinks
Great detailed analysis on the rather confusing rule changes for MotoGP in 2012. Part 2 found here.

Fifth Gear - [19x02] - 2011.04.08

Car Videos on StreetFire
Episode 2 of Season 19 of Fifth Gear. Loved the reviews of the M3 GTS & DS3 Racing.

Fifth Gear - [19x01] - 2011.04.01

Car Videos on StreetFire
Glad to see Fifth Gear back for Season 19. Relieved to see a human beat the gizmo-filled GT-R, although I suspect the result would be different if it was a mere mortal (and not Tiff) at the wheel.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

The invisible hand of Intel?

Quick post to update on the availability of AMD Fusion laptops in Singapore.

Besides the HP DM1, which has been available for a while, it seems the well regarded Lenovo X120E will only be available in certain markets, see Facebook reply from Lenovo below.
...On February 15 it will be available in North America, China and other emerging market countries (such as Eastern Europe, Indonesia, Korea). Unfortunately at this time there are no plans to launch X120e in Latin America, Japan, Australia or Western Europe (including Germany and Norway).
Sad really. But a piece of good news is the updated Dell M102Z, which I spotted on the Dell Singapore website. There's an option for a 9-cell battery, which bodes well for all-day computing...

Back to the blog post title. A while ago, I noticed that some model ranges of certain brands were deliberated omitted from the quarterly IT shows because they contained AMD processors. Not very appropriate, in my view.

So I am glad that AMD has once again caught up and produced a great competitor to the Atom processor. Next step will be to challenge the dominance Intel currently enjoys in the i5 & i7 range.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Another channel to discuss the Galaxy Tab

As the current Wordpress Android app is better than the Blogger app (I should write about this), my ongoing comments on my newly acquired Galaxy Tab will be posted in the blog below.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Galaxy Tab - First baptism of fire

First serious day of actual use, quite a few issues.

Large screen size is great, but a little slippery to hold. 2 handed grip is more comfortable, but typing on landscape keyboard is a stretch for thumbs.

A simple operation of copying text from a PDF to an Excel file turned out to be a stern test for the device.

Thinkfree Office, which came free with the Galaxy Tab, didn't support text selection in it's PDF reader.

Downloaded Adobe Reader from Android Market, but that also didn't allow copying of text inside a PDF. Eventually resolved it by downloading the paid version of Documents To Go.

But the device hung and I had to restart it. Not a great start.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Welcome to Galaxy Tab

Finally bit the bullet and bought the Samsung Galaxy Tab. Still getting the hang of typing on the touchscreen.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Lenovo ThinkPad X120e notebook

Lenovo ThinkPad X120e notebook now available for $399 and up
Here's a distraction; instead of a convertible PC, what if I bought a notebook and a tablet separately, in this case a AMD Zacate notebook (either the Lenovo here, or a HP DM1z, or a Sony Vaio-YB), and a Samsung Galaxy Tab.


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

New Chrome extension: block sites from Google’s web search results

Official Google Blog
Nice to see Google offering a choice for users to tweak their search results, as content farms seem to have infiltrated the 1st page of several of my Google searches.

One example is thetechjournal dot com. First domain to be "banished" by me using this new Google Chrome extension. :)

Sum 41- Screaming Bloody Murder

Where is the mega-screen QWERTY smartphone?

Nice to see the announcement of the Sony Ericsson Xperia Pro, but why is it a 3.7-inch screen again?

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Motorola Milestone 2 finally in Singapore

This Android QWERTY handphone has just gone on sale this weekend, but it's a bit too late for me.

But perhaps I should try it out physically just to test out it's keyboard and touchscreen.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Testing the official Blogger android app

Finally managed to find a apk file online. This post is posted on the app. It is also a good time to say a sad farewell to the Symbian OS, as today's announcement by Nokia pretty much means the end of the road for one of the first smartphone platforms. Really sad. On the other hand, the future for Android knows no bounds.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Fujifilm FinePix X100 unboxing by CNET Asia

The X100 is finally in the hands of reviewers. Only an unboxing, though we get to see it powered on for a while...

Thursday, February 10, 2011

HP Pre 3

HP Pre 3: 1.4GHz Qualcomm CPU, 3.6-inch WVGA, coming this summer (video) -- Engadget
Good news of new WebOS products, including the Pre 3 above. However, I noticed that editing of Office documents (via Quickoffice Connect Mobile Suite) is still a work in progress.

Even though I don't use this function everyday, it is a feature that I require. That's just too bad, as the way WebOS handles certain functions (e.g. Just Type) is refreshing.

An easy way to use Opera Mini on the desktop

Java in the Field: OMLDSuite V0.2 released
Regular offthebeatenpath readers will know that my favorite internet browser is Opera Mini. So I was glad that I found an easy way to use this mobile browser on a PC desktop environment.

Click on the link above and follow the steps. You do have to click on 'Accept' a few times during the installation process (slightly omitted from the instructions provided), but overall, it's really easy.

Now I can surf at a reasonable speed, even when the internet speed is slow. Using the mobile browser also means access to mobile versions of websites, which I normally prefer as I do not need to scan the content horizontally. Many websites these days can be quite cluttered, and using the mobile version is faster and easier.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Earth - Old Black

Just heard this on BBC Radio 1 Rock Show; nice and dreamy

Introducing Blogger Android App

Blogger Buzz
Google has finally produced an official Android app for Blogger. But I can't seem to find it on Market. Found the app on the website version of Market, but wasn't able to install it, with a "This item is not available on your carrier" message shown. :(

Fujitsu T580 First Impressions

Tablet PC Forums
Pretty good comments from a user who just got himself a new T580.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Pentax K-R body at $717

Yet another tempting price from SLR Revolution. Just spotted on their Facebook page; promotion runs from now till 28 Feb...

My K100D has been underused for quite a while, but will I shoot more with another Pentax body in my bag (that also shoots video)?

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Torres Liverpool Nike Ad

It all seems so long ago...

Xperia arc - Camera Improvements

A big f2.4 aperture sounds impressive. With so many similar Android flagship handphones out there, one of the ways to stand out is great hardware, in this case, a good camera. With the Nokia N8 rather underwhelming in terms of its OS (but great camera), the Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc could potentially provide a good compromise between a progressive OS (Android), big screen (4.2 inch) and a good camera.

Monday, January 31, 2011

FinePix X100 Mode Dial Demo

Great preview by the Fuji Guys, 2 Fuji reps based in Canada. A lot of photo geeks are waiting in anticipation. The Olympus XZ-1 looks to be a good competitor in the serious compact class, but the Fujifilm X100 could start an entire new class.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Electronic Medical Records Don’t Improve Outpatient Care Quality: Study

Health Blog - WSJ
Evidence that not all 'e' or 'i' initiatives are helpful...

Fujitsu LifeBook T580 Review

Laptops | CNET UK
Another so-so review. Quite tired of waiting for a convertible tablet with good battery life, reasonable speed, light weight, and 3G capability.

Should I just buy a end-of-line Acer 1825PTZ?

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Let them shine: Caterham and Radical take centre stage

Caterham makes a track car, and Radical converts a track car to a street legal road car. Nice, but Radical really should put in a bit more engineering and put in a roof. While they're at it, they should remove the front splitter.

What they'll get is a mini Le Mans street legal racer. And it'll sell. To fit a roof, they'll have to figure out how to build doors into the chassis (or maybe some innovative folding roof mechanism).

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Better images of XPERIA X10 mini pro successor break loose news
The specs look quite nice, except for one thing. Why do almost all QWERTY Android phones have specs just a little below the top of the line 1GHz processors?

Anyway, good to see the bigger space (screen now 3-inch) used for additional buttons like up and down, plus a browser shortcut button.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Are organisations rushing into Facebook?

Short answer: Yes.

The costs outweigh the benefits. Most organisations want to jump on the bandwagon and look "hip".

What costs you say? Isn't Facebook free?

Let me list some of them
  1. manpower needed to cross-post items and manage comments
  2. content on the Facebook can't be backed up
  3. no comment moderation options available
  4. content cannot be restricted to paying customers/members

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Automobili Lamborghini SPA - Megafactories - National Geographic

Fantastic documentary showcasing the process of building a Murcielago. Lots of details, the car is really hand-made...

This is part 1 of 6 clips.

Lenovo LePad tablet and IdeaPad U1 Hybrid return with Android 2.2 in tow

After a few tweaks, Lenovo has finally produced this tablet/notebook hybrid which looks promising. Though not mentioned here, I saw another video highlighting that it has a digitiser also.

Friday, January 07, 2011

Tunisia's bitter cyberwar

Al Jazeera
A powerful technique used to enable phishing...
The initial signs that something was underway came on Saturday, he said, when the secure https protocol became unavailable in Tunisia. This forced web users to use the non-secure http protocol.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Motorola Atrix 4G, HD multimedia dock, and laptop dock hands-on

The handphone is the computer. View the video in the link above to see the handphone being used like a mobile CPU, viewing a desktop browser via a dock or a laptop, and also the ability to run full OS software via a virtualised Citrix setup. Cool...

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Fujitsu LifeBook T580 Convertible review

Another T580 review. Dropped by Funan yesterday, looked like it's still not available on our shores...

Vimeo Video School

Nicely shot videos on how to shoot videos :)

Abandon your resolutions. Stop looking for your soulmate. Reject positive thinking

Fresh thoughts on our usual New Year resolutions, including this one below.

The best way to impose some quality control on your digital life isn't to quit Twitter, Facebook and the rest in a fit of renunciation, but to break the spell they cast. Email, social networking and blogs all resemble Pavlovian conditioning experiments on animals: we click compulsively because there might or might not be a reward – a new email, a new blog post – waiting for us. If you can schedule your email checking or web surfing to specific times of day, that uncertainty will vanish: new stuff will have accumulated, so there will almost always be a "reward" in store, and the compulsiveness should fade. Or use software such as the Firefox add-in Leechblock , which limit you to fixed-time visits to the sites you're most addicted to. Can you, as the blogger Paul Roetzer suggests, make it a habit to unplug for four hours a day? Three? Two? What matters most isn't the amount of time, but who's calling the shots: the ceaseless data stream, or you. Decide when to be connected, then decide to disconnect. Alternative metaphor: it's a one-on-one fistfight between you and Mark Zuckerberg for control of your brain. Make sure you win.