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Webcam

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Logitech QuickCam Pro 9000 WebcamThere was a time when having a webcam was only for the wealthy.  Those days are long gone.  Today almost every household in the U.S. is able to connect to the Internet.  With the boom of the Internet came social networking, online dating, instant messaging, and even online business meetings. No longer do we have to worry about the low quality, blurry, spherical webcams provided in the past. The future is here, and webcam quality has risen so much in such a short time it’s astonishing, with Logitech leading the way. They released their Logitech QuickCam Pro 9000 not too long ago, and we’re lucky enough to be able to give you a quick overview of it.

One of the first things you’ll notice about the camera is the Carl Zeiss lens located on the left side of its uniquely horizontal body. The microphone is located on the right, and you’ll also find a button beside the lens that allows you to take pictures. Around the Logitech logo is an indicatory illuminated circle that lets you know when the QuickCam Pro 9000 is on. It has a very unique, two-hinged support structure that bends in different shapes so that you have the versatility to either secure the webcam to a CRT or LCD monitor or stand it on a table.

Regardless of the features a webcam has, it must be able to transmit great image and sound for it to be a worthy solution. With a 2 megapixel Carl Zeiss lens, Logitech’s new QuickCam quickly put all our other webcams to shame. Everyone that we had a video chat with via instant messaging said the image transmitted was extremely sharp and of astonishingly high quality. Using the high resolution setting on the QuickCam, we were able to enjoy full screen video chat with contacts without image noise. One of the best features of the camera is HD recording, which allows you to record in HD, for those who love to make high quality videos and host them on your PC or online.

The QuickCam Pro can be purchased for about $113, which is affordable for the quality provided. You definitely won’t need another webcam for awhile if you purchase the new Logitech QuickCam Pro 9000.

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UMID Mini-NetbookIn size its rival would be the Nintendo DS, but in function it can rival some decent laptops. With 1GB of RAM, a 1.3 mega-pixel webcam, a mini-USB port, wireless connectivity (WIMAX, WiBro, HSDPA), and a card reader, the UMID is a formidable netbook.  It probably would not be considered a netbook, though.  Like the IMOVIO iKIT handtop computer, it’s more of a mini-netbook.  You could almost call it a pocket-sized laptop.  It’s screen is 4.8", touch screen enabled, and runs at 1024×600 resolution.  The device is powered by Intel’s Atom processor @ 1.33 GHz. It packs quite a punch for such a small device. Some sources on the Internet claim the mini-netbook can support Linux, Windows XP, and even Windows Vista.

The casing looks great, even though there hasn’t been any word on the exact dimensions. It almost looks like the new PDAs or stylish cell phones, but a little bigger. It’s not available outside of Korea yet, but we’re just excited as everyone else. Pricing information should be available soon.
 

Earlier this year Lenovo released their ThinkPad X300, a great notebook for the business minded. Recently, the X300 has been updated to the ThinkPad X301 model. With many improvements from its already great predecessor, you can expect great things from the X301.

Familiar, Sturdy Design

When it comes to design, the Lenovo X301 has the same look as most other ThinkPad notebooks that have come before it.  It’s a personal choice if you like the ThinkPad design.  Some think it’s dull, some people believe it to be simple and effective.  It’s a matter of opinion either way.  However, there’s no argument that ThinkPad machines have some strong characteristics that stand out from the competition.  The X301 laptop weighs a little less than 3.5lbs with an 8X DVD burner and a 6-cell battery equipped.  The X301’s exterior is squared off and has a matte black finish. It’s dimensions are 12.5 x 9.1 x 0.9, and just like it’s predecessor the X300, the sides are slightly tapered. The X301 is a beautifully constructed machine with Lenovo’s internal roll cage design and a carbon and class fiber interior, which according to Lenovo, is not only stronger but lighter than titanium.

ThinkPad X301

The keyboard deck and outer shell utilize a new rubberized soft touch paint which helps provide a more secure grip and a more comfortable feel. The X301 has all the regular connectors and ports with three USB 2.0, Ethernet, microphone and headphone jacks, DisplayPort, and a VGA connector. Unfortunately, no memory card slot is included with this laptop, which means you’ll have to use a USB card reader device or adapter to read from memory cards.

ThinkPad X301 Design

Display and Speakers

The X301 employs a LED-backlit, 13.3″ (1440×900 resolution) display with a matte finish that prevents most glare. The high resolution certainly makes a difference when viewing documents and web pages, though the default text may be too small for some eyes. The backlit, low-reflectivity LED keeps the display legible when outdoors.  Rich colors and wide viewing angles are available for watching DVDs and other content. The stereo speakers lacked low-end punch, but due to their close proximity (they’re located in the palmrest), the volume was clear and loud. Above the display is a 1.3 megapixel webcam that provided somewhat dark visuals when tested through video chat.

ThinkPad X301 Display Screen

With the high resolution (1440×900) 13.3″ screen, the X301 is great for surfing the web and viewing documents. The LED display is amazingly clear for viewing outdoors because it’s extremely low reflectivity negates glare. The ThinkPad X301 features wide viewing angles with rich colors, which makes watching a DVD or other content more enjoyable.  The 1.3 megapixel camera (located above the display) was a little dark during the video chat tests performed via MSN Messenger.

First-Class Ergonomics

In line with all the other ThinkPad models, the X301 features a magnificent keyboard that definitely ranks with the top runners in the business. The typing experience is excellent because the keyboard provides space in between individual keys. The X301 includes a touchpad and a pointing stick (located between the G and H keys) for navigation. The touchpad may be small for some users since the design accommodates for the larger keys. A biometric fingerprint reader is integrated to the right of the touchpad to help keep private business away from unauthorized individuals.  Above the keyboard, you’ll notice buttons for volume, mute, ThinkVantage (for launching Lenovo’s system utilities), and, of course, the power button.

ThinkPad X301 Keyboard

Performance

The base configuration is equipped with 2GB of RAM and an Intel Core 2 Due (1.4GHz) U9400 Ultra Low Voltage processor.  The ThinkPad X301 achieved a PCMark Vantage score of 3157, which is 400 points higher than most ultraportables. It’s a great score, but still falls about 60 points shy of the Sony VAIO VGN-Z530N’s and almost 500 points shy of the Lenovo ThinkPad X200.

The X301 didn’t fare so well on all of its graphics tests. On the 3DMark03 benchmark, the X301 (which is powered by an Intel GMA X4500MHD graphics card) netted an 1812, a score that’s 400 points higher than its competitors and its predecessor the X300.  However, the 3DMark06 score was 200 points less than other machines in its category. F.E.A.R was also tested in auto-detect mode, and the game ran at a miniscule 14fps. When the settings were increased to maximum, it ran at only 6fps. W.O.W ran at 27.4fps, which is okay, but it is important to remember that this is not a gaming laptop, and should not be expected to out perform Alienware, for example.

Lenovo’s X301’s boot-up time was a little slower than expected. The X301, with its 64GB SSD, took about 1 minute and 37 seconds to boot-up Windows Vista, almost 30 seconds slower than the average ultraportable and 48 seconds slower than the older X300. The SSD did not disappoint and definitely lived up to its fast transfer time copying a 5 GB folder in about 2 minutes and 40 seconds, however. The SSD has a transfer rate of 32.4 megabytes per second, which is miles ahead of the 13.4 megabyte per second transfer rate of competitors using mechanical drives. If 64GB does not fill your needs for capacity, an upgrade option is available for a 128GB SSD, which costs $400.

Test Results

PCMark Vantage / 3DMark03 / 3DMark06 3,157 – 1,812 – 683
Battery Life 3:29
F.E.A.R. (auto-detect/max) 14/6fps
W.O.W. (auto-detect) / File Transfer Test 27.4fps – 32.4 MB/s
Boot time (m:ss) 1:37
Wireless Performance (15/50 ft) 20.8 MB/s – 18.7 MB/s

 

Wi-Fi and Battery Life

The 802.11a/g/n Wi-Fi moves data at an excellent speed of 20.8 MB/s at a distance of 15 feet from the access point, and 18.7 MB/s at 50 feet.  These are nice improvements over the 16.7 MB/s and 16.1 MB/s averages presented by the X300, and made for a pleasant surfing experience. Although the default configuration does not include integrated mobile broadband, you can add a 3G connection from AT&T ($80) or Verizon Wireless ($150), which also features integrated GPS. The X301 will support WiMAX and Ultra-Wideband technologies when they become available.

When it comes to long battery life, the X301 definitely falls short by quite a bit. Its six cell battery lasted only 3 hours and a half during tests.  On the same test, Sony’s VAIO VGN-Z530N lasted 5 hours.  A little more should be expected out of ultraportable laptops when it comes to battery life (at least 4 hours).

Software, Security, and Warranty

Those who care about security on their portable computers will definitely appreciate the X301’s full disk encryption, centrally managed passwords, ability to disable the BIOS port, and remote lockdown. The machine is covered with an extendable 1 year warranty and 24/7 tech support. Included with the X301 is Lenovo Camera Center, a 60-day trial to Microsoft Office, Access Connections 5, Adobe Acrobat Reader, and Roxio Creator Business Edition.

The X300 was an outstanding laptop released by Lenovo, but they have definitely done a nice job with the ThinkPad X301. They took all the good aspects from the X300, and made them better for the X301. With the new Centrino 2 platform and an ultra-fast 64GB SSD, the X301 comes at a price. If you’re looking for an amazing business notebook, though, it will not disappoint. One thing we’d have to mention, however, is that you should consider investing in a spare battery.

Technical Specifications

CPU 1.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo U9400 ULV
RAM Included 2GB
RAM Upgradable To 4GB
Hard Drive Size 64GB
Hard Drive Speed 90MB/s Read and 70MB/s Write
Hard Drive Type SSD Drive
Optical Drive Type DVD+RW
Optical Drive Speed 8X
Display Size (inches) 13.3
Native Resolution 1440×900
Graphics Card Intel GMA X4500MHD
Video Memory 384MB
Wi-Fi 802.11a/g/n
Bluetooth Bluetooth 2.0
Mobile Broadband Optional Add-on 3G connection from AT&T ($80) or Verizon Wireless ($150)
Operating System MS Windows Vista Business
Ports (excluding USB) DisplayPort; Ethernet; Headphone; Microphone; VGA
USB Ports 3
Card Slot(s) N/A
Warranty/Support One-year parts and labor/24/7 toll-free phone
Size 12.5 x 9.1 x 0.9 inches
Weight 3.4 pounds

 

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Whether you love or hate Apple, you must admit that the iPhone revolutionized cell phones as we know them today. Before the 1st generation iPhone hit the market, the top selling phone for the past three years was the Motorola RAZR.  However, not too long ago, the iPhone and Apple enjoyed monumental achievement by becoming the best selling phone in the third-quarter of 2008. It’s been almost two years since the release of the original iPhone, and only a few months ago Apple released the iPhone 3G. Both phones are still missing some basic features, but there has been an improvement in the latter version. In this article, we will cover the differences between the iPhone 2G (or first generation) iPhone and it’s newer counterpart, the iPhone 3G.

Apple iPhone 2G VS iPhone 3G

Design and Dimensions

Even though there aren’t too many differences in the exterior of the models, we are going to point them out before we get to the hardware. The screen size is exactly the same at 3.5" on both models, which provides for an ultra-clear 480×320 screen resolution. The rear of the original iPhone has a smooth metal finish with a black strip at the bottom. The front of it has a shiny metal piece that surrounds the side of the phone and ends behind the screen. The iPhone 3G has a smooth piano black or white finish. It also has the shiny metal piece around the outside of the screen. The iPhone 3G features buttons that are made from a shiny metal, excluding the home button. This gives them a sturdier feel compared to its predecessor. The shape of the 3G phone is a major difference as the original iPhone is a little thicker and completely flat when set down. The 3G has more of a round feel to it that flattens out slightly around the edges. It has been said that the screen of the 3G heats to a warmer temperature than that of the original iPhone.

Apple iPhone 2G/3G Size and weight

Features & Technical Specifications

Once we get under the hood, we begin to see where the 3G separates itself from it’s older brother. The iPhone 2G only supported WiFi, GSM, and Bluetooth. This means its speed surfing the Internet were quite limited. The iPhone 3G introduced 3G speeds to Apple’s flagship model, and it also supports WiFi, GSM, and Bluetooth. This makes for a better experience surfing, watching Youtube videos, and downloading data onto the phone from the Internet. The first generation iPhone supported the following frequencies:  GSM and Quad-Band (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz). The iPhone 3G supports all of those frequencies, but added to the list quite a few more to enable running at 3G speeds, including UMTS/HSDPA (850, 1900, 2100 MHz). The iPhone 3G also supports GPS, which was not included in the original iPhone.

Both phones have a 2MP camera, but do not feature a video recorder. The iPhone 3G weighs 4.7 ounces compared to the 2G’s weight of 4.8 ounces (not a notable difference). The only downside to 3G capabilities is that it eats into battery life.  The iPhone 2G beats out the newer version in that regard by providing up to 8 hours of talk-time compared to 5 hours with the 3G.

Apple iPhone 2G/3G Battery Life

Bottom Line

Comparing two great phones is always hard, but Apple made a great move by creating the 3G iPhone. The iPhone 2G is impressive, but with the features the 3G provides and the transition with new phones all moving to 3G, it’s a definite requirement if Apple wants to maintain its new status as the #1 selling phone in the US.

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CyberPower Gamer Xtreme M1 NotebookRecently, Alienware released their portable monster, the M17, easily topping the charts as the best laptop around.  However, a few days ago, custom gaming PC builder CyberPower introduced a rival to the M1. The name of the PC is the Gamer Xtreme M1, and this gaming system can stand up to most Alienware machines that have been released.  The downside is that CyberPower decided to install a standard DVD burner rather than a Blu-ray optical drive, which seems odd considering everything is moving HD now.

Aside from that, the CyberPower Gamer Xtreme M1 comes fully loaded with an ultra clear 17" WUXGA TFT LCD display which runs at 1920×1200 pixels. Powered by an Intel Core 2 Duo Extreme processor, you won’t have to worry about slow operation, or opening too many applications with the 4GB of DDR3 that is also featured. The notebook comes with built-in dual ATI Mobile Radeon 512MB DDR2 graphics cards in a CrossfireX configuration. It also offers built-in bluetooth, a 2MP camera (webcam), and fingerprint sensor.  The laptop is presented to buyers with a pre-installed copy of Window Vista.

With Christmas around the corner, this is a great present for gaming enthusiasts. Pricing starts at  $2199, and the system is customizable.

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Fujitsu U820 UMPCFujitsu has released the diary sized 5.6" U820 touch screen laptop refresh to their tablet line.  Offering massive improvements over its predecessor, the U820 provides longer battery life, an included Global Positioning System (GPS), an ultra clear WSXGA touch screen, and a 1.6GHz Atom processor. The device is completely ultra-portable, only weighing about 1.3 pounds.  The Fujitsu U820 UMPC can be purchased starting at a reasonable $1049.

The U820 features a built-in GPS receiver with integrated Garmin Mobile PC software.  It also comes pre-loaded with maps of the U.S. and Canada. With millions of destinations, points of interest, route planning, and turn by turn directions, this UMPC may even be able to replace your dedicated GPS navigation device. It’s a lot lighter than the previous U810. It’s also powered by Intel’s Centrino Atom Z series processor, which provides lower power consumption for a longer battery life, fewer chips, and integrated support for 1080p HD video decoding.

Fujitsu’s U820 comes with an additional row of keys and a new keyboard layout that provides a more QWERTY experience.  High-tech security features are included as well, such as a BIOS lock, fingerprint sensor, and a Kensington lock slot to repel physical theft. The HDD is up to 120GB or a 64GB SSD. The screen resolution has been greatly improved with a WXGA display, and you have the choice whether you want to use touch or pen on the screen.  Bluetooth wireless and a 1.3 mega-pixel webcam are also provided.  The UMPC comes pre-installed with Windows Vista Business or Home Premium.

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Nanovision MIMO 7-inch USB MonitorWe’ve covered USB monitors here before with the ASUS UFOTO UF735 and Century Japan’s 4.3” monitor.  What makes the Nanovision MIMO series LCD monitors different is the display’s feature-set.  The 7” Nanovisions MIMO display is available in models that include touch-screen support, a 1.3MP webcam, and microphone and headphone jacks.

USB monitors are usually purchased for a specific secondary monitor purpose, such as being able to check your screen content from a location other than directly in front of your main display.  The MIMO monitors are also a great way to dedicate space to applications that normally can clutter your desktop. Think of some applications that you mostly use at a glance, like an instant messenger, weather monitoring, movies or music playing, a video conference, and much more.

The monitor uses the USB connection as the power source, which therefore requires one less cable.  Starting with UM-710 model, the 700 series is around $129 dollars, which is quite affordable. Supporting an 800×480 resolution, the MIMO can be viewed in many different display modes such as mirror, extended display, and landscape or portrait mode.
 

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Archos 5 Media PlayerBuilding on the success of the Archos 605 WiFi, Archos has now released the new Archos 5 portable media player.  The units feature a new, faster Texas Instruments central processor, a larger screen (exceptional quality), touch-screen operation, vivid colors, up to 720p resolution, plugin support (most cost extra), and more in a simple, intuitive design.  The Archos 5 supports MPEG, WMV, H.264, AVI, and DivX (versions 3.11, 4, 5, and 6) video formats as well as subtitled files.  Most operations are performed via the touchscreen.  Only the power button and volume controls are separated from the touchscreen operation.  The Archos 5 media player has a fixed battery life, following the new trend of many current devices.  Battery life measures at about 4 hours and 30 minutes during video playback, and 12 hours and 30 minutes during audio playback.

The exterior design of the Archos 5 is made of stainless steel, which provides for a very solid build quality.  However, it also results in the player being highly prone to smugging and fingerprints

The new player also boasts Internet operations such as web browsing and email.  streaming video is also available.  While some Internet TV content appears clear and smooth, other services yield jerky, low resolution content. Of course, this is not under the control of Archos, but it is worth mentioning nonetheless so that buyers are not surprised.

The Archos 5 is compact at 5”x3”x.5”, with a weight of .55 pound for the 60GB version and 5”x3”x.75”, with a weight of .66 pound for the 120GB and 250GB versions.

Available accessories for the unit include the DVR Station, which allows customers to connect the Archos directly to a television for recording TV programs onto the device or transmitting content from the media player to the TV. GPS and Webcam accessories are also available.

Prices

  • Archos 5 60 GB Internet Media Tablet:  $339.49
  • Archos 5 120 GB Internet Media Tablet:  $389.49
  • Archos 5 250 GB Internet Media Tablet:  $439.49

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