Monday, August 17, 2009

How to choose Windows 7 laptops?

Research suggests that Windows 7 is not going to give the PC market much of a lift when it makes its retail appearance on 22 October. My contrary opinion is based on a survey of only one user, but I get the impression from Ask Jack emails that I won't be the only person shopping for a new laptop when Windows 7 appears.

Buying a portable Windows machine can be a bit of a challenge, because there is so much choice. There are hundreds if not thousands of suppliers, and some of them offer two dozen different models. The trick is to know what sort of laptop you want. To simplify things a bit, there are roughly six classes of portable PC: netbooks, "value" systems, mainstream notebooks, ultraportables, desktop replacements and gaming systems.

Most netbooks today have Intel Atom processors with 1GB of memory, a 10in screen and Windows XP. Some will appear running the cheaper Windows 7 Starter Edition, which you can't buy in the shops. If buying a netbook, make sure you can upgrade it to 2GB, and do that as soon as possible. You will also be able to upgrade the version of Windows 7 "in place" — at a price.

Netbooks are not designed for serious computer work, such as sound and image processing, or playing games. They are intended mainly for use with web-based applications, as the name implies. They do that well, but they don't do everything.

"Value" or "entry level" systems have low-end specifications, and low prices. You can buy them in supermarkets and high street shops, typically for £249 to £399. They're bigger, heavier and more powerful than similarly priced netbooks, and have built-in DVD drives.

Mainstream notebooks have mainstream specifications (Intel Core 2 Duo etc) and offer more power and functionality for the extra price. Most cost between £499 and £999 depending on how good the graphics are, and whether you get a Blu-ray drive instead of a DVD writer. If you're buying one for Windows 7, go for the 64-bit version with 4GB of memory and, for preference, DirectX 11 graphics.

Ultraportables are "road warrior" machines, designed for light weight and long battery life, and tend to leave out the optical (CD/DVD drive). The processor of choice is an Intel CULV (Consumer Ultra Low Voltage) chip, but go for a Duo rather than a Solo. Screens are typically 12 inch standard or 13-14 inch widescreen, and prices range from about £600 to £1,200.

Desktop replacements are intended to have roughly the same power as desktop PCs, but they can be very heavy and most have poor battery life. (Mostly they'll be used at home, on the mains.) The high-end models may have quad-core processors, 17in screens, Blu-ray drives and stereo speakers. The ones that stress the movie-playing (and, sometimes, games-playing) features are often called "entertainment notebooks": for example, Toshiba's Qosmio range.

Gaming machines are like desktop replacement notebooks but with high-end performance and, especially, fast graphics. Leading brands include Alienware (owned by Dell) and Voodoo (owned by HP), but there are also independent suppliers. Although the specification is generally the key feature of a PC, the bigger suppliers also divide the market by price. Dell, for example, has the Inspiron range for price-conscious buyers, then the stylish Studio range models for the more aspirational mainstream, with XPS as a luxury brand. It also has a Vostro "value range" aimed mainly at businesses.

The huge Windows PC ecosystem also supports many more specialised machines – handheld systems, touch-screen tablets, convertibles that work both as traditional notebooks and tablet PCs, ruggedised machines for military and similar uses, and PCs designed for certain industries such as education and health services.

However, you should find it easier to choose a portable PC if you decide what kind of system you want, and ignore the ones that don't fit your chosen category

Friday, August 14, 2009

Cheeper ISD Calls with Google Skype Phone

If your rising international phone calls’ bill has been giving you sleepless nights, try Belkin’s new Google Skype phone. All you need is a wireless router (which comes for just Rs 1,500) installed in your home or office.

Detecting a Wi-Fi environment, the phone automatically logs into your Skype account. With Skype logged in, dial either a Skype number or a mobile number of a person overseas or in India. Calls rates are as cheap as Rs 1 per minute via Skype to other mobile phones overseas. However, making STD calls via Skype phone to other mobiles are not feasible, as its expensive. But if you have friends who are always logged in on Skype, the phone can be of excellent use.

The paucity of Wi-Fi zones in India, however, does pose a handicap. In comparison, GSM wi-fi phones can log on to Skype from anywhere. But the drawback of GSM phones is that a Skype call will get disrupted as soon as you receive a GSM call. The voice clarity is, however, much higher in the Skype phone.

The drawback for the phone is its inability to work on other VoIP platforms and its low battery power. Even though the company claims a talktime of two hours and a standby time of 30 hours, the phone’s battery gets discharged earlier.
The landline Belkin Skype phone is priced in India at Rs 7,300, the cordless Skype phone is much more handy and priced at Rs 9,712.

While there are other VoIP phones in the market, Belkin’s cordless skype phone comes with 30 minutes of free Skype calling to any number in India or overseas.

The phone is excellent for people who want the comfort of mobility from a VoIP phone. So, if you have to conduct a business meeting, over ISD, chose a mobile VoIP phone. With touch and feel of a regular mobile phone, its also easier to handle for the elderly.
Price: Rs 9,712

Monday, August 10, 2009

Was Google Earth Search Engine Hacked? Google says it's a 'mistake'!

Search engine Google has admitted its "mistake" of wrong depiction of certain areas of Arunachal Pradesh (Part of India) as parts of China and said its maps would be rectified shortly.

"Earlier, this week, as part of routine update to Google Earth, we published new data for the Arunachal Pradesh region that changed the depiction of certain place names in the product. The change was a result of a mistake in our processing of new map data," a spokesperson for the search giant said in a statement.

The spokesperson was reacting after a media report which highlighted that Google maps showed certain areas of Arunachal Pradesh (south sharing border with Assam and North sharing border with China) outlined with a dotted line while its borders with Bhutan and Burma are shown in a continuous line. The media report had raised suspicion about the search engine being hacked by Chinese considering that Beijing has been laying claim over entire Arunachal Pradesh, which India rejects.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Google Chrome Third Beta Version Goes Faster!!!

Google has unleashed a brand new beta edition of its Google Chrome web browser, promising a speed hike of over 30 percent improvement on both the V8 and SunSpider benchmarks over our current stable channel release.

The supercharged performance isn’t the only reason to grab the new beta: the Google Chrome blog also promises improvements to the New Tab page and Omnibox. For instance, the New Tab page now allows you to move websites in and out of your Most Visited slot by clicking and dragging.

Customize the new New Tab page

The New Tab page has been one of the most popular features in Google Chrome. It's also the one that we hear the most about. Embarrassed that checking out lolcats is showing up as your most popular browser pastime? Now you can bump up something dignified and refined into that top Most Visited slot with a simple click and drag of your mouse. You can pin website thumbnails to a particular spot so they don't disappear even if your browsing habits change. Last but not least, you can hide parts of the page if you don't want to see them using the layout buttons on the top right of the New Tab page.

The Omnibox (which combines URL entry, search and more) now has a better drop-down menu, with new icons added to distinguish between searches, bookmarks, sites from your browsing history and suggested sites.

The Omnibox is indisputably an important part of Google Chrome -- it helps you get to the sites you're looking for with just a few keystrokes. With this release, Google has optimized the presentation of the drop-down menu and added little icons to help you distinguish between suggested sites, searches, bookmarks, and sites from your browsing history.

Lastly, Google Chrome now has themes, allowing you to customise the browser’s look.Now you can pick a wonderful theme from the google galary and dress up your browser to match your mood and taste.

If you want to try it out yourself head over to the Google Chrome beta download page. It’s currently only available for machines running Windows Vista or XP SP2+.

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