Archive for the ‘Hardware’ Category

Samsung SGH-A727

august 15, 2007 Lasă un comentariu


It’s the thinnest thing out there for AT&T users right now, but there are better phones available for AT&T’s new Video Share service.Very slim. Good voice quality. New Video Share feature.Keypad and screen feel cramped. Camera doesn’t swivel for Video Share.

Samsung Electronics

Price As Tested: $129.99 – $279.99

Service Provider: AT&T Wireless

Screen Size: 1.8 inches

Screen Details: 1.8″, 176×220 65k-color landscape format screen

Camera: Yes

Megapixels: 1.3

Bluetooth: Yes

Web Browser: Yes

Network: GSM

Bands: 850, 900, 1800, 1900

High-Speed Data: GPRS, EDGE, UMTS, HSDPA

Processor Speed: 146 MHz

Special Features: Music

$40.00 – $100.00

The Samsung’s new A727 cell is nice and slim. Better still, it won’t make much of a dent in your pocket or your wallet. What’s really cool about this handset, though, is that it lets you beam videos to your friends through AT&T’s new Video Share service. Even so, its keypad can be frustrating for those with less-than-nimble fingers, and the camera’s position limits Video Share’s usefulness. Let’s praise the A727 first. I got good call quality and surprisingly decent reception on this 3G phone. It was able to complete calls slightly more often than its companion A717 flip phone, and its earpiece and speakerphone were both louder, with just a bit of clipping at top volume. Both the microphone and the speakerphone mic deliver voices loudly to call recipients, too, but at the cost of some included background noise. I measured 3 hours 46 minutes of talk time, which is quite long for a 3G phone this thin. Bluetooth support is also excellent: Using both mono and stereo headsets, printing, file transfers, and dial-up networking are all possible. Ringers are strong, but only come in Samsung’s proprietary MMF format—you can’t use your MP3s. Unfortunately, there’s no voice dialing.

The handset’s unusual landscape-mode, 220-by-176 display is very bright, clear, and sharp, and it helps the phone achieve a slim 4.5- by 2.0- by 0.4-inch profile and a 2.8-ounce weight. But the screen’s squashed format means that fewer menu options are visible than on portrait-mode displays. Web browsing, especially, can feel cramped, which is a pity, because this phone uses the admirable Access NetFront Web browser and works well with Opera Mini.

The A727’s keypad is going to annoy more than a few people as well. The buttons are flat and extremely close together, and the cursor pad is small—a recipe for frustrating misdialing. Ridges between the keys are also very low, which sometimes caused me to press the next button down.

A 1.3-megapixel camera is also fixed on the back of the phone, which makes it awkward to send your image to recipients of Video Share calls. (You have to turn the phone around and hope it’s pointed correctly at you.) I strongly prefer the swiveling camera on the Samsung A717 or Samsung Sync for video calling. The A727’s camera itself has decent low-light performance, but in brighter illumination, shots look a bit hazy, with bright areas overexposed and dark areas somewhat underexposed. The video mode takes 176-by-144, 15-frames-per-second videos.

The phone’s 32MB of memory for programs, photos, and music can be supplemented by a microSD card of up to 2GB (I tried a 4GB card, but it didn’t work). The built-in music player plays MP3s, AAC, and WMA files (including purchased WMAs) and would sync with Windows Media Player if the phone came with a USB cable, which ours didn’t. MP3s and WMAs, but, oddly, not AACs, play over Bluetooth stereo headsets. Nor did my evaluation phone come with a wired headset, which is inexcusable given that the A727 has a strange, proprietary headset connector. There’s a dedicated music key on the front of the phone, though, and you have the ability to search by artist, album, or title. The phone also has a decent e-mail client—the standard Cingular Mobile Email, which supports AOL, Windows Live, Yahoo!, and POP/IMAP e-mail—and a built-in AIM/Windows Live/Yahoo! IM client. You can multitask music, Web surfing, and IM. Java performance on the JBenchmark test suite wasn’t outstandingly good or bad, and the 146-MHz processor is fairly standard for midrange phones nowadays.

I also tested the A727 as a Bluetooth modem for a PC. It has an HSDPA 1.8 modem—slower than the cutting-edge HSDPA 3.6 system—and got about 330 Kbps down and 315 Kbps up when connected to the Internet. That download speed looks slow, but I think it was restricted by the Bluetooth connection, not by the phone itself.

Certainly the Samsung SGH-A727 is an attractive phone, but I find some of the design elements frustrating. For folks looking for a Video Share device, I’d recommend the Samsung Sync instead.

By Sascha Segan




Asus U1F

iulie 4, 2007 Lasă un comentariu


LED backlights will soon start showing up in many laptops, enabling thin and sleek designs that will blow your mind. The ASUS U1F, a 2.7-pound ultraportable, is one of the first to rock this technology.LED backlight offers terrific contrast. Good battery life. Leather palm rests. Featherweight. Innovative design.Lacks integrated optical drive. Low-powered components.


AsusTek Computer Inc.

Spec data:

Price As Tested: $2,099.00

Type: Media, Ultraportable, Business, Small Business

Operating System: Microsoft Windows Vista Business

Processor Name: Intel Core Duo U2400

Processor Speed: 1.06 GHz

RAM: 1.5 GB

Weight: 2.7 lb

Screen Size: 11.1 inches

Screen Size Type: widescreen

Graphics Card: Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 950

Storage Capacity: 80 GB

Networking Options: 802.11a/g

Primary Optical Drive: External



ASUS laptops have fervently pushed the design envelope in the past two years. After all, AsusTek is widely considered one of the top five ODMs (original design manufacturers) in the world. It makes every laptop component imaginable, including chassis designs for Apple computers, so it’s only logical that it would excel in this area. The ASUS U1F ($2,100 street) is the company’s latest bid into the ultraportable market. It weighs a svelte 2.7 pounds and rocks LED (light-emitting diode) screen backlighting technology. The U1F is a traveler’s delight—that is, if you can live with carrying an external DVD drive.Only a handful of vendors use LED backlights in their laptops. Sony recently implemented this technology in its TX series (Sony VAIO VGN-TXN15P), and the Toshiba Portégé R500 Series also features an LED screen. Now, the ASUS U1F is reaping its benefits, too. For one, LEDs are more compact in size, roughly half the thickness of traditional fluorescent-lamp backlighting systems. This lets companies develop ultrathin screens; the one ASUS designed for the U1F is 5mm (0.2 inches) thick. That is almost as thin as the screen found on the Sony TXN15P; Sony is able to make its screen even thinner by housing it in carbon fiber. ASUS uses a magnesium-aluminum alloy to protect its screen, which is a little thicker but offers more protection from flexing. Another advantage is that the LEDs emit light in distinct colors: Light from three sources (red, green, and blue) is combined to form the picture. This yields uniform picture quality and excellent color contrast, and translates to deeper blacks and whiter whites on the screen.

The 11.1-inch screen looked magnificent when playing the DVD of The Incredibles. ASUS bundles desktop wallpaper that showcases the deep blacks displayed by the LED screen. My digital photos and even my YouTube videos look amazing under low light. The problem is that despite the fabulous colors, the screen is very sensitive to glare coming from any light source above you. If you want to avoid glare, you’ll want the Lenovo ThinkPad X60 (Vista) with its matte-finish screen instead.

Like the Sony TXN15P, the U1F’s keyboard is horizontally challenged. The 92-percent-size keyboard is made for those with slender fingers, unlike the full-size one on the Panasonic CF-W5. Anyone who applies leather to a laptop is worthy of praise. In the U1F’s case, the leather located on the palm rests is like an ottoman made for your wrists. The touchpad is responsive, but I found the mouse buttons difficult to press.

The only thing hindering the U1F from taking off is its lack of an integrated optical drive. At 2.7 pounds, I feel that AsusTek should have found a way to push the envelope even further. The Sony TXN15P and the Panasonic CF-W5, both of which weigh under 3 pounds, include dual-layer DVD burners, and the Toshiba R500 manages to integrate an optical drive in its tiny 2.4-pound frame. On a brighter note, the U1F’s four USB ports (two on each side) are extremely rare on such a small system. In addition, you also get a FireWire port, ExpressCard slot, and a 4-in-1 card reader. The U1F doesn’t have integrated WWAN yet, unlike the Sony and Panasonic, but you can always occupy the ExpressCard slot with a WWAN card. Because of its size and shape, the U1F can fit only a 1.8-inch hard drive. This also means that the drive spins at only 4,200 rpm, which downgrades performance.

It comes as no surprise that size constraints would greatly affect the system’s performance. The U1F uses an Ultra Low Voltage (ULV) Intel Core Duo processor, much like the Sony and the Panasonic. The Gateway C-120X, on the other hand, uses a ULV Core 2 Duo U7500, the latest in ULV processors from Intel. On SYSmark 2007 Preview, the Gateway’s overall scores were about 6 percent better than those of the U1F, which uses a 1.06-GHz Core Duo U2400 rated at the same speed. The U1F’s RAM configuration is a little weird. It comes with 1.5GB of RAM (a 512MB plus a 1,024MB module), instead of implementing a full 2GB, as does the C-120X. Regardless, it’s enough to handle all Windows Vista Business’s bells and whistles. Still, I’d prefer the system to come standard with 2GB of RAM, to offset some of the memory requirement from Intel’s integrated graphics.

Aside from uniform picture quality, LED backlights have the advantage of lowering power consumption, increasing battery life. The system comes with a 53-Wh battery, which is considered medium size. Nevertheless, it lasted 2 hours 48 minutes playing a compilation of DVD videos. This is pretty decent battery life, considering the task. Playing DVDs is typically more demanding than day-to-day tasks such as e-mailing, Web browsing, and photo editing. With the U1F, you can get 5 to 6 hours of battery time running these basic tasks and more.

In the next few months, you’ll be seeing more and more PC makers implementing LED backlights into their laptops. The ASUS U1F is one of the first of what’s sure to be many ultraportables packing LED technology, and that and most of its other features earn it a clear thumbs-up. Still, you may find yourself missing that optical drive.

By Cisco Cheng


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LG Flatron L226WTQ-BF

mai 19, 2007 5 comentarii


The LG Flatron L226WTQ-BF delivers a very sharp picture, excellent color quality, and a lightning-fast pixel response, but its handling of light-gray shading is mediocre at best.Fast pixel response. Good color quality and text readability. HDCP-compliant.Weak light-grayscale performance. No additional multimedia ports. DVI cable not included.

LG Electronics U.S.A. Inc

Type: LCD Monitor

Native Resolution: 1680 x 1050

Screen Size: 22 inches

Pixel Pitch: 0.282 mm

Video Inputs: DVI

PC Interfaces: Analog VGA, Digital (DVI-D)

Built-in TV Tuner: None

Rated Maximum Viewing Angle: Horizontal: 170 degrees

Rated Maximum Viewing Angle: Vertical : 160 degrees

Brightness (Max): 300 cd/m^2

Max PC Resolution: 1680 x 1050 pixels x pixels


The LG Flatron L226WTQ-BF ($350 street) is a versatile 22-inch widescreen LCD monitor with a 1,680-by-1,050 pixel resolution and a speedy 2-millisecond black-to-white pixel response. Extra features are scarce on this display, but it’s more than capable of meeting your everyday work needs. Its excellent motion performance and sharp image quality make it a good choice for after-hours activities, too.With its piano-black cabinetry framed by an ultrathin matte-black bezel, the L226WTQ will dress up the drabbest of desks. The panel rests atop a glossy oval base with tilt-and-swivel capabilities, but the stand lacks height and pivot maneuverability. Mounted at the rear of the display are two PC inputs (DVI-D and analog) and a power plug. The monitor lacks extra connections such as USB ports and additional video ports, but at least the DVI port is HDCP-compliant, so you can view movies from an HD DVD or Blu-ray drive.

The five clearly labeled function buttons hidden beneath the lower left bezel help you navigate the on-screen display (OSD) menu, where you can change image settings and manipulate screen properties. Color temperature, tracking (clock and phase), brightness, contrast, and gamma levels can all be tweaked via the OSD. If you’d rather not use the function buttons, the included LG forteManager software lets you make all the same adjustments from your keyboard and provides wizards to help you obtain the best picture quality for your environment. One of the buttons is used to invoke the auto-adjust function. Another takes you to the f-Engine screen, where you can choose one of three preprogrammed image settings for specific applications: Text, Movie, and Normal. A User setting lets you program and save your own custom brightness and color management properties. There’s also an EZ Zooming button, which is supposed to let you switch resolutions on the fly. According to LG, however, it may not work with all video cards. I tried it on a system with an nVidia GeForce 6600 GT in both digital and analog modes and could not get it to work. It also didn’t work with an ATI X1650 XT graphics card.

Overall, image quality was impressive. The L226WTQ delivered a bright, sharp picture with a good balance of dark-black and bright-white levels, thanks to a high dynamic contrast ratio (3,000:1). It’s worth noting that most LCD monitors of this size have a contrast ratio of under 1,000:1, such as the ViewSonic VX2245wmb, which is rated at 700:1 but is still plenty bright. The monitor had no trouble displaying small fonts, and colors were vivid and uniform across the scale with no evidence of tinting. But my DisplayMate ( testing revealed a weakness with light grayscale reproduction. Light shades of gray appeared white, and highlights were blurry on my photo test as well. I also noticed a slight problem with dark grays. Fortunately, the flaws didn’t affect color quality. If you work with photos and require a higher degree of grayscale integrity, Samsung’s SyncMaster 225BW may be a better fit (as long as you can run it in digital mode).

The L226WTQ really shines when it comes to displaying moving images. I was blown away by how it handled motion while I was playing a few rounds of F.E.A.R., a notoriously fast game with lots of explosions and detail. The monitor showed no signs of ghosting or background noise, and game play was as smooth as can be. Likewise, movies looked awesome on the widescreen, although the viewing angle was closer to 160 degrees (horizontal) than LG’s claim of 170 degrees.

A three-year warranty covers parts and labor, but LG chintzes out on the backlight, which is covered for only one year. Also annoying is the lack of a DVI cable (an analog cable is included). This means you have to part with another 20 bucks or so to run in digital mode.

Superb gaming and video performance and a razor-sharp picture make the LG L226WTQ-BF a solid choice for anyone in the market for a 22-inch LCD. If superior grayscale performance is vital, however, you may want to check out alternatives.

By John R. Delaney



ATI Radeon HD 2900 XT


If the promised driver update can fix the noise issue, we’d gladly call the ATI Radeon HD 2900 XT the best $400 card around, even though the power requirements are steep. Until then, we have to ding it for power and noise issues.

Forward-looking DX10 features and more. Advanced video processing. New AA modes. Blazing fast performance.

Power-hungry and loud (for now). DX10 performance is hard to predict.


Last summer, if you asked us when we would see new graphics cards based on the next-gen R600 architecture from ATI, we’d have told you „this fall.” All signs pointed to a release ahead of Windows Vista. Then last fall, Nvidia released their DX10 graphics cards, the GeForce 8800 GTX and GTS. Microsoft followed up with the release of Vista at the end of January (required to run DirectX 10), and still no word from ATI. Now acquired by processor giant AMD, ATI finally pushes their DirectX 10 products out the door. The first to be released is the Radeon HD 2900 XT, a $400 top-of-the-line card. Midrange and budget cards, the HD 2600 and HD 2400 series, are announced today as well, though cards won’t be available until the second half of June. There’s even a full line of notebook graphics, also hitting the market in the June/July timeframe, based on this new architecture.

So what’s new? Just about everything. R600 (the codename for the graphics processor in the HD 2900 XT) borrows quite a bit from the GPU built into the Xbox 360, also designed by ATI. It’s certainly much more than just „the PC version of the Xbox GPU” though. We have broken the details of the 3D architecture down in a separate article, here we provide performance details in a full review of the Radeon HD 2900 XT.

by Jason Cross


AMD Launches Quad-Core Brand, R600 GPUs

mai 15, 2007 2 comentarii


SAN FRANCISCO – At a press event on Friday, Advanced Micro Devices provided a comprehensive overview of its new branding strategy for „Phenom,” the company’s forthcoming enthusiast-level, quad-core desktop CPU family based on its „Barcelona” technology.

The company also used Friday’s event to officially launch its previously delayed Radeon HD 2000 (formerly known as the R600) series of GPUs.

According to AMD, the new DirectX 10 ATI Radeon HD 2000 family will begin shipping today and consist of 10 products, from the ultra high-end Radeon HD 2900 XT (available Monday) on down to middle and lower-end versions of the graphics card, which the company says will be released in early June.

As AMD had previously stated in March, the release date for the Radeon HD 2000 series, while never firm, was pushed back so that the company could debut a „more comprehensive” set of new GPU products simultaneously—as opposed to just one high-end version.

In the coming weeks, AMD said it will be making good on that promise.

AMD’s ‘True’ Quad-Core Family: The Phenom

As far as the revamped processor line-up is concerned, the Sunnyvale-based company announced it will be adding a new high-end processor family, dubbed Phenom, to its desktop processor lineup in the second half of the year—one that AMD is describing as a „true” quad-core solution.


New Nokia N75


People have been waiting around for Nokia’s powerful N75 handset for quite some time now. That’s because it’s the first Symbian flip-style smart phone to hit US shores. Sadly, the battery life is very short and several features are annoying to use. Nokia can do better.

Excellent screen. Comfortable keypad. Very good music support.

Extremely poor battery life. Dim camera. Annoying Pop-Port door. 3G isn’t HSDPA.

Company : Nokia

Service Provider: AT&T Wireless, Cingular Wireless

Operating System: Symbian OS

Screen Size: 2.4 inches

Screen Details: 2.4″, 320×240 TFT main screen; 1.4″, 160×128 front screen

Camera: Yes

Megapixels: 2

Bluetooth: Yes

Web Browser: Yes

Network: GSM, UMTS

Bands: 850, 900, 1800, 1900

High-Speed Data: GPRS, EDGE, UMTS

Special Features: Music

Price 249.99 $


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Sony may add capacity to PS3 hard disks

aprilie 17, 2007 Lasă un comentariu


TOKYO — Sony said on Tuesday it is considering launching PlayStation 3 (PS3) game consoles with larger hard disk drive capacity, in a bid to cater to the needs of hardcore gamers and other heavy users.

Sony currently offers the basic version of the PS3 with a 20-gigabyte hard disk drive and an advanced model with a 60-gigabyte drive in North America and Japan, but it plans to discontinue the lower-capacity PS3 in North America.

„For users who vigorously store (games and other entertainment content) in the PS3, 20-giga is probably going to be too small, and even 60-giga may not be big enough eventually,” Sony Computer Entertainment spokesman Satoshi Fukuoka said.

Sony Computer Entertainment is the video game unit of Sony.

Fukuoka said, however, that potential changes to the PS3 are not limited to its hard disk drive capacity.
We are not likely to change its core components and functions such as the Cell, RSX, Blu-ray drive and network capability. But outside that realm, addition and deletion is quite possible,” he said.

Sony packs the PS3 with its cutting-edge technology including the Cell microchip, dubbed „supercomputer on a chip”, an RSX graphic processor, and a Blu-ray high-definition DVD player.

The advanced functions have driven up PS3’s manufacturing costs, and Sony’s game unit is estimated to have made a loss of more than 200 billion yen ($1.7 billion) for the year ended March 31, making the game console the biggest risk factor for Sony’s earnings growth.