Smartphone or Laptop? Both - Dell Latitude E4200/E4300 !

. Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Don’t we love to have a laptop which can browse internet, play music and videos, read email including calendar and attachments and while doing all that sustain life battery for several days??!
And then flip the switch and have full power of mobile dual/quad core processor to play games/HD videos etc ….
Dell Latitude E4200 laptop makes its possible and achievable by basically marring a Smartphone with regular laptop.

This was made possible due to inclusion of same processor found in 98% of smartphones , mobile internet devices (MID), handheld gaming consoles and PDA’s is based  on ARM technology.

ARM is small, fabless (doesn’t own its own manufacturing plants), originally found in England IP (intellectual property) company which owns the patents for design of ARM processor. Among unique features are most important is very low power usage which exactly were Intel’s Atom CPU would love compete, but unfortunately for later is still far off playing catch up game in low-power platforms.

This August, Dell shown us Dell Latitude ON technology, which company says enables near all of daily tasks, we require from laptop, without actually powering on the main system. It would allow us to enjoy these amazing power savings provided by ARM processor.

Hybrid technologies are in high demand right now from cars to dual video card system found in new MacBook Pro laptops. Using hybrid IGP/discrete GPU solution, allows getting best of both worlds – usually performance and energy savings.

Several other vendors decided to use similar technologies – for example Asus, but instead of targeting battery life, the focus is on the boot-up time of operating system. The technology, Asus marketing calls ExpressGate, can boot ready to use windows like interface (based on Linux) in 5 seconds. This shell allows features and applications such as photo viewing and sharing, Internet access, chat and email.

Dell E4200 is on sale now starting mere $1949 with our favorite Windows Vista or for extra $99 “downgraded” to XP.

New Xbox Experience (NXE) and Netflix Recap

. Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I have to confess - in one stage of life, about a year ago I gave in to temptation to have my own digital entertainment/gaming system- aka Xbox 360.
I assumed after a while most of problems associated with the Famous RCD - Red Circle of Death should been solved and gather together some money put aside for toys and become a proud owner of new Xbox 360 Elite system - Why elite for me? I wanted to have two things: bigger HD is plus (thou its shame how much MS charges for it ! ) and HDMI port. Black (or actually very dark gray) colored body was a added bonus.

I personally find nothing wrong with "blades" menu navigation system Xbox had until today, but someone at Microsoft decided that this system appeals mostly to geeks (like me self :), but should be easier to use for masses, currently attracted to Wii.

Microsoft decide to bestow upon us a new menu navigation system, which someone "very creatively" named - New Xbox Experience or for txtrs crowd - NXE.
As lots of other reviews noticed the new menu looks very Apple TV alike and it's no wonder - Good consoles borrow. Great consoles steal.

Me, being lucky owner of Elite version - I'm blessed with "huge" 120gb hard drive so for me, 128mb of space needed for NXE were a breeze, not so much for owners of Arcade version which doesn't include hard drive at all, but a puny 512mb flash card... MS to offer "storage solutions" aka a change to make even more money on overpriced hard drives.

Some of new features include ability to create and customize your own full body sized avatar (*cough* Idea stolen of Wii *cough*)
Multiplayer parties were several of your RL or virtual buddies. I haven't tested it yet, since none of my Xbox owners friends had a chance to update the console yet.
Themes and Full game installs bring Xbox much closer to PC than I personally liked it to, but the game running of hard drive does bring some speed boosts.

and Finally

Now, I'd like LOVE to tell you that this feature launch rolled out smoothly and problems free, but I would be lying.
Several issues from small ones to big still haunting this great feature.

Lots of people including me, stuck with unable to simply enable the integration of Netflix and Xbox 360, as I tried multiple times without success. An internet search revealed bunch of other people with same problems as It appears as the integration didn't worked quite as good as it was with Roku's device. Some people suggested the problem was on Netflix web site - But alas next day things started to move along and I was able to begin my Netflix movies on my Xbox 360.

Too bad for Roku since basically Microsoft made the product basically obsolete since Xbox 360 supports Netflix HD streams as well, while Roku doesn't :(

As owner of 15mbps downstream cable, the 2mbps downstream minimum suggested bandwidth was breeze for me as movies started pretty quickly only after a minute or two. Quality wise the picture worse than DVD , but still huge step up from other movie streaming services like Amazon Unbox.
Rewind functions works well as performed as expected.

Regarding HD, as per Netflix - streaming HD content requires connection of at least 8mbps - It poses no issues for me [evil grin]

The quality was very good. Next to regular SD content it's sharper and doesn't stagger and feels like much higher frame rate. While it's a far cry from Blue-Ray quality or even downloaded Xbox Live HD movies, it's closer to some of my cable HD channels as they compress the crap out of them to squeeze every drop of aging Mpeg-2 to add more crappy "Stretch-o-Rama" fake HD channels like new additions of reality shows channels: VH1 and MTV.

However there is a big catch - Fast forwarding and rewinding have been completely disabled. Instead, you can only "skip" in 10-minute intervals. Ouch.

Plus there are reports of unlucky owners of None-HDMI setup - streaming HD Content on Xbox 360 Netflix DOES require HDCP ! You still can use analog component or VGA cable, that is until Netflix decides to close the analog hole , but for now enjoy while you can - I got the feeling they will force down sampling or disabling it completely in future update.
So if you unlucky chap with DVI is your ONLY option - sorry - you are out of luck - no HD Netflix for you buddy :(

But if you think you all through - you got HDMI connection and your Xbox was successfully integrated with Netflix , Sony decided to drop the ball -

As for now all Sony/Columbia titles on Netflix streaming are not available only for Xbox. Netflix hopes to see issue resolved soon.
Something tells me PS3/Netflix integration with Sony content will be much more smoother :)

But for now we are grateful for additional value we got thanks to Netflix and Microsoft efforts.

FCC approves Sprint & Clearwire merger. WiMAX Is GO!

. Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Despite AT&T attempts to slow or halt this merger by requesting FCC to elevate scrutiny on this deal, last night the deal was approved with 5-0 vote.
According to Clearwire & Sprint such merger is only way to make WiMax spread across planed 140 million Americans. Largely the deal, heavy supported by Intel, Google, Cisco and lots of other IT and Telecommunications heavy lifters presents loud and clear danger for Qualcomm.

Since the dawn of human kind... errr. dawn of Cellphone industry Qualcomm has been using all methods available to it's disposal to achieve basically 100% monopoly in cellphone devices chipsets. Ether legal or patent battle - Qualcomm didn't spared anything and on the road got a few major players very upset. Remember recent refusal of Nokia to pay Qualcomm royalties and after long legal battles setting down for undisclosed amount. Nokia which is by far number one manufacturer of cellphones have a pretty good reason to be upset - as Qualcomm charged 5% fee based on final device cost !!
Meaning, for example, From $600 N95, Qualcomm gets $30 from each device sold. Rather hefty price, especially in light of current tight margins due to slowing economy.

Lets hope WiMax will able to bring wireless computing to new levels , and fix some of 3G issues like disconnects in fast moving vehicles like cars and trains, faster speeds and generally more reliable connection.

Thou its still not clear about WiMax future , but one thing I can tell you - inside sources tell me, what next Intel Centrino Platform aka Centrino 3 will REQUIRE to include WiMax adapter, just like first generation required to include Wi-Fi to be certified and Intel will be throwing another HUGE marketing campaign, rival or equal of original $300 Million one.

More Info:

Verizon: Less Features+More Ads = "Best Possible online experience" ??

. Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Verizon/Yahoo! webmail and portal users begun receiving emails saying that they'll soon be seeing advertisements in their webmail as well as the elimination of some features.

The new ads, according to the alert, "allow us to deliver new and innovative services and helps us keep prices competitive." "As we remain committed to providing users with the best possible online experience," the email continues : 
"The new advertisements will be carefully integrated, with the goal of being useful to you." - Thanks ?

But the service itself is actually becoming less useful, with some of the premium services associated with Verizon/Yahoo! webmail being either changed or eliminated altogether.

Verizon website also ads, that the company is eliminating the Verizon’s LAUNCHcast Plus streaming music radio service, the "Online Protection all in one security suite" and downgrading your free Flickr Pro account to a standard Flickr account.

But don't feel bad, the email to customers informs them they're losing features in order to....gain features? huh?

[Via DSLReports]

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New TMPGEnc XPress Uses Nvidia’s GPU to Accelerate Video Processing

. Monday, November 3, 2008


After somewhat silly named Badaboom Media converter software, which we had a chance to test earlier this year, yet another company decided to jump on GPU processing wagon.

Pegasys - maker of TMPGEnc one of original tools to convert video to mpeg 1/2 introduced new version - TMPGEnc Xpress 4.0 with Beta support for Nvidia CUDA GPU processing.
For now this software will be available only for lucky buyers of MSI 260/280 cards
(The 8800GT/GTX cards not yet supported).

The benchmarks shows a mixed bag of results:

  • On one hand, heavy processing, involving set of concurrent use of 5 filter/post-processing enables over 4.5 times boost
  • But, on the other hard , Test using simple de-interlacing and resizing was twice faster on quad core Intel processor.

Unfortunately the title of this article is about Accelerating Video Processing, not specifically encoding, and it looks like we missing the incredible video converting speeds of Bamboo media converted shown us (up to 12 times)

More info: