Archive for the ‘Hardware Review’ Category

Running Google’s Android on Your PC in Less than 5 Minutes

Saturday, March 12th, 2011

Ever wanted to play around with Google’s Android mobile OS but don’t have the right phone or tablet?  Tonight I discovered how to play with Android using the free Android x86 Live CD and the free VMware Player.  It took a bit of time for me to figure out, but now that I did I can tell you exactly how to set it up in under five minutes.

Click to view the Guide to Running Google’s Android on your PC.

^ Quinxy

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Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7: Admission of Failure

Wednesday, July 21st, 2010

Windows Phone 7 is now in the technical preview stage, and that means reviewers are getting their chance to just what it is, and what it’s not.  And I must confess I’m more than a little stunned by what Microsoft and the reviewers are saying.  Windows Phone 7 is a complete rewrite of the OS that Microsoft developed for the last decade and some as Pocket PC and then Windows Mobile.  And in completely rewriting the OS they have left out critical, previously available features such as copy/paste and multitasking and they provide no compatibility with the thousands and thousands of apps developers already produced for their previous mobile OS.  They are admitting their previous OS was a complete failure, and they undo the efforts of all those developers who wrote all the great apps that made the iPhone look elegantly stupid for its first three or more years of existence.  Microsoft’s mobile platform was seriously flawed, no doubt about it.  The paradigm they were using centered around the use of a stylus and this colored every aspect of OS and software design for the platform.  There was no elegance in Windows Mobile, it was all the ugliness of PC applications shoved into the discomfort of a small screen;  but it was powerful and flexible and unfettered by rules.   Perhaps the underpinnings of the OS were so badly written and so inappropriate to a mobile device that they had to be replaced, but even if that’s the case it’s ridiculous to try and out-Apple Apple while simultaneously removing the only good things that Windows Mobile had long represented.  With all their billions, surely Microsoft could have at least delivered a technical preview that assured the real thing was going to be at least as good as their old OS while making all the vital finger-focused improvements they desperately needed, and supporting the phenomenal feature-rich apps that developers had already invested all their energies and monies in creating (letting the user make the choice of whether to run these uglier UI apps while the developers have an opportunity to rewrite them).  No doubt Microsoft will find success with their copy-catting, I didn’t think the X-Box would stand the test of time when they first decided to get into that game, and they’ve managed it.  And while Zune is not succeeding, they’re at least rebranding things to make Zune not about a device but instead about accessing content (on a mobile device, on an X-Box, etc.).  Must be nice to have money enough to make people like you.

^Quinxy

 

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Review of the Viliv S10 Blade, the Windows iPad-ish Device

Tuesday, June 1st, 2010

Wanting the iPad form factor but not wanting the limitations an Apple product represents, I went with the Viliv S10 Blade, a Windows 7, Atom processor-based PC in a 10” screen tablet convertible form factor. It is roughly the same height and width as the iPad, but twice as thick, and 50% heavier. This is no iPad killer, but it’s not meant to be. It is instead a fully capable PC in a pleasingly iPad shape. I’ve been using it for three weeks now and I must say it’s a very good device, and if the right software were to come along to address its software-based shortcomings this could truly become great.

The machine I bought is the 2 GHz model, 60 GB SSD, no WWAN, with Windows 7 Home Premium for $1127 from Dynamism.


Hardware

I must confess my first impression of the computer at the time of unboxing was that the case felt a little cheap. The plastic they used, or perhaps its construction, feels a little unsatisfying. When you pick up the unit the case creaks like a floorboard in my dead grandmother’s house. It even creaks when your palms press against the top as you type. You just don’t expect that in a device which cost as much as this one did. I’ve been able to move past it and not let it get on my nerves, and in fact the longer I’ve had the S10 the better I’ve felt about its aesthetics and construction. It may make unnecessary creaking noises but otherwise feels solid.

Switching to and from tablet mode is a typical convertible tablet affair, and the screen hinge feels solid. Some people had written in reviews that the lack of a latch to secure the screen in place on the screen was a problem, but I’m pleased to say I’ve had no problems with it.

The keyboard is solid. I was struggling with my previous netbook’s keyboard, which had almost no action and routinely failed to register 20% of my keystrokes (the keys would bind if my fingers were a little off center). I can type on the Viliv’s keyboard for hours and hours and be quite happy.

The multi-touch supporting touch pad is good, but its buttons are lousy. The rocker design they use for the mouse buttons is unfortunate because it requires quite a lot of force to depress, and the force required depends on how far you are away from the fulcrum. And that wouldn’t be awful if there was some tactile indication that the click had been registered, but instead you just have to press until it seems like the button won’t go any further, which is a problem when the plastic they use is creaky. It’s not a fatal flaw, but you may find yourself using a bluetooth travel mouse more than you would if the buttons were more satisfying.

One of the truly most bizarrely confounding issues is that you can never leave the device in tablet mode between uses! No buttons, not even the power button, are accessible in tablet mode! You therefore need to lift the screen up almost all the way to expose the power switch located at the top of the keyboard just to turn the unit back on. This is a truly unfathomable decision. With this one simple design decision they guaranteed that no one would ever mistakenly compare this device to an iPad.

Read the rest of the review.

^Quinxy

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