Categories
Gadgets Hack

Making Phone Calls Using Your iPad SIM

Background

I needed a second phone. The previous one that acted as a backup phone – housing my spare SIM card – was an ageing Samsung Galaxy Duos S6102 that was beginning to present some quirks.

This is a project that i did not set out to spend too much on, being just a backup phone to my trusty Samsung S3. But more importantly, stack of bills jostling for my attention would not allow me to be frivolous with my spending.

My Requirements

1. 7+ inch screen – Now, suddenly, even 5 inch screen phones seem so small. Thanks Samsung! But really, I was through with straining my eyes reading from a 3 inch screen, like that of the Galaxy Duos S6102. I wanted a phone that could double as a tablet too (Phablet), something i can easily read my Pdf files from, my Zinio Magazines and other eBook formats. My days of having separate tablet and phone devices are long gone.

2. A Dual SIM device would be fantastic

3. Budget of N40,000 (US$250) – Preferrably less

4. Preferably, an Alternative OS to Android. Do not get me wrong here. Android is fantastic, and the best mobile OS – without doubt. However, all i have known for about 3 years now is android, android and android! A little breather would not hurt.

My Shortlist

1. Techno Phantom A+ – Had to slip this device in, i felt i needed to give it a honourable mention. This Chinese company has made a good job of trying to change our perception of Chinese products as being inferior. At about N35,000 (US$230), the Phantom A+, though half the price of the Samsung S3, has been compared favourably with it. Unfortunately, its 5-inch screen makes it not worthy of consideration.

2. Chinese Tablet Clones – Some even come with Dual SIM and some are actually useable. My younger son has one. If i get one of these, would probably take me just a week to fling it at the wall.

3. Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 or 3 (7 inch) – The cheapest i got for this class of devices is N38,000 (US$235) that i negotiated for a used Galaxy Tab 2 i saw online. Comes straight out of the box with phoning capabilities. Pdf files and eBooks render fairly well on it but there will be very frequent need to zoom to view texts conveniently because of its relatively small screen estate.

4. iPad Classic (iPad 1 – First Generation) – Let us call this the grand daddy of the lot. Though the oldest in this line-up, its specifications compares favourably with the previously listed. However, its miserly 256MB RAM was a bit of a show stopper.

Unfortunately, hardware restrictions in iPad 2 and later iterations has made it IMPOSSIBLE to use any of these later iPad models for phone calls. Reason why they where not consider.

Conclusion

My eventual choice was the grand daddy, iPad First Generation. I am sure many will disagree with my choice, however i will share my reasons with you at the end of this write-up.

With a 2-minute hack (jailbreak) using absinthe and a US$19.99 software download from the guys at iphoneislam.com, the iPad is turned to a larger version of iPhone 4. For a few months back in 2011, i had experimented with using iPad as a phone. You may read about my experiences here.

Pros:

  • A breather from Android. Let me see what the competition has been up to.
  • Very generous screen estate, all 9.7 inch
  • Is it just me? Why do i think iPad tablets have sharper displays than Android tabs?
  • I only paid N35,000 for the 3G, 32GB variant of iPad 1. Pricing is very comparable, if not cheaper than i would have shipped it in from the United States.
  • Think of it as an iPhone 4, has about the same features.
  • Perfect for use in conference calls, very loud speakers.

Cons:

  • You will look very stupid slapping a 9.7 inch phone to your ears. Do not try it!
  • Apple, in its infinite wisdom, crippled the bluetooth hardware on the iPad 1 and i believe later models too. You can not make calls over bluetooth. You are stuck with a wired ear piece.
  • Though not very noticeable, iPad 1 has a miserly 256 MB RAM. It, however, does a better job in managing low RAM than Android devices.
  • Pegged at iOS 5.1.1, guess that is the highest iOS version its low RAM can accommodate. Because of this, you can not install recent apps made for iOS 6+ on iPad 1.

View the screenshots from the “phone” below;

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IMG_0018

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Categories
Tips

Improve Your Windows PC Boot-Up Speed

You hit the power on button on your PC, wait for minutes for the Microsoft boot up logo to even appear, before finally hitting your desktop. In all, it took you about 10 minutes. Sounds familiar to anyone? It is a fact that about everyone at sometime would have had this hair-pulling experience of slow Windows PC boot up.

While the geeks blame the slow boot up of Windows PC on its design architecture, however, how fast your PC boots is usually dependent on your PC processor speed, RAM, viruses, and installed program that load during boot up. Using fairly recent PC hardware with decent specifications, the average boot up time for fresh installations of various Windows OSes should not take up to 30 seconds, even with the dreadful Windows Vista. Windows 8 has actually put Microsoft haters to shame by greatly improving on its bootup time by saving the system state and memory contents to a file on disk, and simply reload it on reboot, rather than initiating everything all over again. You can actually boot up a new installation of Windows 8 in less than 10 secs!

Okay, that seems like a tall tale as most never get to experience these speeds mainly because right from when your PC slides out of the production line, manufacturers already have them stuffed with bloatwares – softwares you never asked for and you will never need. Thing is, for every single softwares that you install, chances are that it will negatively impact on your boot up speed.

I will take you through a routine that can help to reduce the time it takes to boot up your PC.

  • Click your Start Menu button. Check for the RUN link on the right pane, it is at the bottom. For Windows 8, just type RUN from your Start Screen
  • Not there? Okay, right click on the Start Menu and select Properties
  • Click the Start Menu tab and click Customize
  • Scroll down and select the check box labelled Run Command
  • Click Okay twice
  • Now go back to your Start Menu, click Run
  • Type into the dialogue box msconfig
  • Click the Services tab
  • Select the Hide Microsoft Services checkbox at the bottom of the dialogue box. Trust me, you do not want to mess with stuff that can break your system. Unselect everything else except anything that has to do with your antivirus. You can always select any other service you may need later.
  • Click Exit Without Restart
  • Next select the Start Up tab. Here again leave everything related to your Antivirus or Intel. Uncheck or disable everything else.
  • Close the dialogue box and restart your system.

You should notice an improvement in the boot up speed of your PC.

If you are confused about any step, check out my video on Youtube here.

Windows 7-2013-08-25-08-59-30

 

Categories
Gadgets

Check Out These Awesome Ways To Use Your Flash Drive

Flash or thumb drives are probably a dime a dozen nowadays with good quality original 2GB drive costing as little as N1500.  Apart from the popular use of simple file transfers, many are missing out on the best use that any of these tiny data buckets can fulfill. Enthusiasts know that flash drives are the perfect portable repositories for all sorts of software that can breathe life or enhance your PC usage experience.

Run Portable Applications

The first thing you’ll want to install on your USB rescue drive is PortableApps, a free, open-source platform for installing desktop applications on USB drives and other removable media. PortableApps manages the installation of new portable software on your USB drive, and it also acts as a front end when you’re actually using the USB drive, allowing you to browse and launch applications easily.

PortableApps maintains a list of hundreds of “portable” versions of popular free programs, each of them designed to work without installation. For the complete list, see portableapps.com/apps.

Each of the following applications that has “Portable” in its title is available for the PortableApps platform. You can download these items at the URLs provided, or start PortableApps and click Apps ▸ Get More Apps. You’ll see a large list of applications; just check the ones you want and then click Next to download and install all of them automatically.

Boot an operating system

If you want to do more than just run your own applications, you might want to consider booting an entire operating system from your USB flash drive. You can boot either Windows or Linux from a USB flash drive; however, the process is not an exact science and you may be in for a technical adventure.

Most existing operating systems support or can be adapted to support this feature.

Run A Website From It

If you are a Web developer, you may be interested to know that with Server2Go, you can easily run a Web server that supports Apache, PHP, MySQL, and Perl right from a USB flash drive. You can use Server2Go right out of the box without any installation. It runs on all versions of Windows, supports most common browsers, and is completely free. To a developer, the benefits of having a portable Web server on a USB drive are numerous. For example, imagine being able to carry a live Web site demo into a sales pitch meeting. For more information about this package, visit the Server2Go site.

Lock Your PC

Have you ever seen a movie in which a person in some secret government installation simply inserts and removes a card to log in and log out of a PC? If you thought that idea was cool, you’ll definitely want to investigate Predator. Once installed and configured, this little freeware utility will allow you to turn a USB flash drive into a key you can use to lock and unlock your computer.

While the USB flash drive is connected to your computer, everything works as it normally would. Once you remove the USB flash drive, your computer is locked down — the keyboard and mouse are disabled and the screen darkens. To unlock your computer, you just plug in the USB flash drive and the computer will be unlocked and you can begin using it.

PREDATOR locks your PC when you are away, even if your Windows session is still opened. It uses a regular USB flash drive as an access control device, and works as follows:

  • you insert the USB drive
  • you run PREDATOR (autostart with Windows is possible)
  • you do your work…
  • when you’re away from your PC, you simply remove the USB drive:
  • once it is removed, the keyboard and mouse are disabled and the screen darkens
  • when you return back to your PC, you put the USB flash drive in place:
  • keyboard and mouse are immediately released, and the display is restored.

It’s easier and faster than closing your Windows session, since you do not have to retype your password when you return.

Turn a USB Flash Drive into Extra Virtual RAM

It is not hard to turn an extra USB stick lying around collecting dust into an extra memory for your computer, allowing it to run speedier and manage more applications better.

You can put the flash drive to good use by using it to increase the virtual RAM on your Windows computer, preferably a USB drive smaller than 4 GB. The procedure has been summarized below:

  • Rename your thumb drive as “RAM DRIVE” or something similar, so you can see which drive is being used as RAM.
  • Delete all the stuff on the flash drive. Check for hidden files.
  • Right click on My Computer, and go to Properties. Once there, click on Advanced and go to the system output’s Settings.
  • Click on Advanced, and then Edit.
  • Click on your thumb drive above, and select “user-defined size.” Here you can see the size of your flash drive.
  • Calculate the size of the flash drive, and subtract 5 Mb.
  • Type this number in the first box. In the second box, type in the same number.
  • Click Set and confirm all your settings, applying them wherever you can.
  • Restart your computer.

Windows 7 users should go into their System Properties, under the Performance tab for these options. After you’re done, your computer will recognize your flash drive as extra virtual memory. Do not pull out your thumb drive after these settings are implemented. It could crash your computer. More detailed information can be found here.

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Categories
Gadgets Mobile

Your Next Desktop Could Be A Phone

Why carry two devices, when you could carry only one? Imagine carrying a full desktop computer in your pocket. We’re talking about a real desktop OS built in to your smartphone. Your next high-end smartphone has far more horsepower than you’ll need on a phone, and more than enough for a laptop. Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu, wants to make that happen. Android for the phone experience, Ubuntu for the desktop, all on one device, running at the same time.

In your pocket, it’s an Android-powered smartphone. Not just any smartphone, either – it’s your smartphone. Pull it out and drop it in a docking station, though, and it becomes a full workstation powered by Ubuntu, complete with monitor and keyboard. Sounds incredible, right? One address book. One set of bookmarks. One place for your text messages and email. No more typing on a tiny screen when all you want is a keyboard and a mouse. No more going round in circles trying to make your mobile do what it was not intended for. Seamless integration of your desktop and mobile worlds. Brilliant.

Why add anything to Android?

Android is a mobile solution, designed for a touch interface on a handheld device. On the desktop, where users expect a pointer-driven experience, a PC operating system is essential. Several vendors have tried to bring Android-based desktops or laptops to market, with no success; Android was designed for touch only, and has its hands full winning the tablet wars.

A complete desktop solution needs a full range of desktop applications. While a mobile OS carries no deep desktop software catalogue, Ubuntu offers thousands of applications, all designed for the desktop and most, like Ubuntu, free. And Ubuntu is certified by governments, industry and enterprises, widely deployed on the desktop, and supported by leading management solutions.

Another alternative would be a web-top, or web only desktop. But markets have not responded to web-only environments. The desktop is a high-productivity mode, not a media consumption mode or a browsing mode like you have on mobiles.

Canonical seems to have covered all the bases here, too; since the Android kernel is based on the Linux kernel, it’s fully compatible with Ubuntu. This means that, thanks to some software tweaks built into Ubuntu for Android, you still have access to all of your phone’s goodies, including SMS messages and phone calls.

What kind of horsepower would it take to run something like this, though? Honestly, not that much. In fact, most multi-core phones with at least 512MB of RAM, HDMI, and USB should be able to handle what Canonical is proposing.

At this point, Canonical is still calling out to manufacturers and carriers to hop on board so they can start integrating Ubuntu for Android into handsets, so it’s hard to say when we’ll actually see this in the consumer market. Canonical is, however, planning to demo Ubuntu for Android at next week’s Mobile World Congress convention in Barcelona, so hopefully that will spark more interest.

Categories
Articles

Why a 64-Bit Version of Windows 7 Might Be a Better Choice

For those of you that installed a 32-bit version of Windows, you have my condolences. Otherwise, you really made the right choice based on a number of reasons. I think it’s important in this day and age to run any operating system on the highest possible bit width offered, but there’s a few reasons particular to Windows 7 that might make its x64 version more advantageous than simply running on 32-bit x86 microprocessor architecture.

1: It Still Runs 32-Bit Applications

Not so long ago, people were making a transition from 16-bit to 32-bit. Today, there are still many people running 32-bit versions of their operating systems when 64-bit editions are available for fear that their old applications might not run on the newer version. To those who know how processor registries work, this would be like worrying whether you can put the same amount of clothes in your new washing machine with a 9 kg capacity as you did with the older one that had a 7 kg capacity. Processors work much like onions, with several layers of registers. Two 16-bit layers compose a 32-bit layer, and one 32-bit layer always sits within a 64-bit layer. That allows for total reverse compatibility. I still almost exclusively run Win32 applications, although I run a 64-bit version of Windows 7.

2: The OS Recognizes More RAM

Windows x86 users often complain that they don’t even see all 4 GB of memory when they have that much RAM installed. Guess what happens when you install 8 GB of RAM on your x86 system?

Windows x64 is able to detect as much RAM as you put into it without any hitch. There’s no magic trick you have to perform to add memory, and you don’t have to fight with the system to get it to recognize everything. In the end, you come out winning, especially if you’re a gamer. In fact, x64 supports up to 192 GB of RAM!

3: Less Driver Fuss & BSODs

I’m serious. You’ll have less problems with compatible drivers and less blue screen errors (crashes) when you use a 64-bit version, particularly because drivers on Windows x64 are digitally signed. Heck, I keep the computer on for months on end without stability issues. That’s something I cannot say about my experience with x86 versions. The only setback, though, is with older drivers that don’t run on 64-bit systems. 32-bit drivers cannot run on Win64. Make sure you think of this when making a hardware purchase.

4: Lower Response Time

Despite the fact that, at the time of this article’s publication, there are less 64-bit native applications out there, you can still enjoy the benefits of faster response time with bigger processor registers used for every single hardware signal in Windows. The operating system will handle just about any request you make at the bat of an eyelash because all your hardware will be using a bigger bit width. The Windows environment itself, to say the least, will run almost solely on the 64-bit channel and run faster.

The Other Side of The Coin

Wait a second… If you’re still using a computer with less than 4 GB of memory, you shouldn’t be in a hurry to upgrade. The addressing system on a 64-bit machine might have a lot of unnecessary zeros to work with, which ends up being a waste of time. If you still use legacy applications or old devices that didn’t express compatibility with Win7, you’re in for a headache if you try to run a 64-bit OS. There still are reasons an upgrade would be illogical, but on more modern systems, you’re good to go.

Categories
Gadgets

Which Gadget Specs Really Matter?

Everyone’s needs and budget are different. And new gadgets always come along and render yesterday’s hottest tech obsolete—and much more affordable.

In every category, however, you’ll find over-marketed specs that really shouldn’t mean much to most people. And a few specs don’t get nearly enough attention.

Laptops, Desktops, and Storage

Before you plop down your cash, consider our advice. Here are the specs we think you can safely ignore, the specs you should consider in certain contexts, and the specs you should seek out. As long as you’re buying a modern processor, you’ll probably discover that the amount of RAM or storage space you select will have a bigger impact on your desktop or laptop’s performance than minor differences in clock speed will.

Specs That Don’t Matter

Slight differences in CPU or RAM speed: Yes, a 2.6GHz processor will be faster than a 1.2GHz CPU, but you shouldn’t pay more for small increases. You won’t notice the difference between a 2.3GHz Core i5 and a 2.5GHz Core i5, for instance, so don’t pay $100 for an unnoticeable uptick. Likewise, the noticeable difference between 1066MHz and 1333MHz RAM is practically none.

DVD/Blu-ray write speeds: Even if you are one of the few folks left tinkering with physical media, you’d be hard-pressed to find a drive that offered much of a leg up in burning speed. If you’re burning a disc, you’ll be waiting a bit whether it’s a 6X drive or a 10X drive. And all drives play movies just fine.

Specs That Sometimes Matter

Graphics RAM: For watching high-def YouTube clips and Blu-ray discs, most people have no need to go from 1GB to 2GB of RAM on a midrange graphics card. The card that ships with your PC will more than likely be enough. Gamers are the exception, as a beefy card with 1GB of RAM will outpace a 256MB or 512MB rival, while the 2GB realm is reserved for $700-and-up, enthusiast cards. A faster graphics chip with less RAM will almost always do better than a slower chip with more RAM.

Quad-core processors: In the laptop world, a dual-core processor is likely to be faster than a quad-core CPU for mainstream applications. A dual-core CPU often runs at a higher clock speed, and most general-purpose programs don’t make good use of four CPU cores. But if you do a lot of video processing, scientific computation, or engineering work, four cores may be the way to go. Multithreaded applications are becoming the norm, and your PC will be able to hammer away at more tasks if it has a bit of headroom. Truth be told, aside from truly low-end models, it’s difficult to find a desktop PC that doesn’t come equipped with a quad-core CPU.

Laptop display brightness: A bright screen usually drains the battery quickly. Besides, 300 nits is so bright that it’s hard to look at indoors, and most users turn the brightness down a bit anyway. If you work outside often, though, you’ll want all the brightness you can get.

Specs That Always Matter

Amount of RAM: Whatever the computer, you’re better off with more RAM. Don’t settle for less than 4GB—buying 6GB or 8GB of RAM isn’t a bad idea, either.

A roomy, 7200-rpm hard drive: The revolutions-per-minute figure refers to how fast a drive platter spins. A 7200-rpm hard drive will often be more responsive than a 5400-rpm hard drive will. As for storage space, what’s the use of a souped-up rig if you can’t fit anything in it? Fortunately, storage is becoming increasingly inexpensive, and gargantuan 3TB drives are appearing.

Laptop weight: Small differences in weight make a big difference when you’re lugging your laptop around. The difference between 3.5 pounds and 5 pounds may not seem like much at first, but when your laptop bag is on your shoulder all day, it’s enormous.

Laptop battery life: Obviously, the more battery life a laptop has, the better. When you’re assessing this spec, though, take any claim the manufacturer makes and then chop off 20 percent. Vendors’ claimed battery life always assumes a best-case scenario—a scenario that you will never see in real life.

Storage interfaces: If you want to add storage to your system, make sure to buy a drive that is compatible with your machine. Obviously, a SATA 6Gb/s connector won’t help if you don’t have SATA 6Gb/s on your computer. When shopping for an external drive, look for the fastest connector that your system can support. For PCs, that includes eSATA and USB 3.0—but only the latter can work without a power adapter.

In the laptop world, a dual-core processor is likely to be faster than a quad-core CPu for most mainstream applications.

Phones

Considering a new phone? It’s easy to get pulled into the specs war. Single-core chip or dual-core processor? 3G or 4G? Today’s smartphones, however, place the greatest emphasis on big screens, so it makes more sense to pay particular attention to how everything will look on a phone’s display.

Specs That Don’t Matter

Noise-reduction technology: A few new phones boast “noise-reduction technology,” which supposedly blocks out the background clatter when you’re calling on a busy street. In our hands-on tests with such phones, however, we’ve noticed that this technology can make your voice sound strange to the parties on the other end of the line, and that it sometimes adds a weird muffling effect to your contacts’ voices.

HDMI port: Unless you plan to store a library of high-definition movies on your phone, and unless you have an HDMI cable with the proper connection for the phone (you’ll have to buy that separately) as well as an HDTV, pay no attention to whether a phone has an HDMI port. It’s a nice extra for movie junkies who want to have a lot of full-length flicks on their handset, but we’re not sure that description fits many people.

Specs That Sometimes Matter

4G: If you don’t have 4G coverage in your area (or even close to your region), don’t buy a 4G phone yet. If you have the coverage, 4G is fantastic for streaming music and movies on your phone, surfing the Web, and downloading apps quickly. Be careful, though: 4G will drain your phone’s battery long before you finish streaming a typical feature film.

Camera megapixel count: When it comes to image quality, megapixels are largely meaningless. If you’ll mostly be viewing your snapshots directly on your phone, sharing them through email and MMS, uploading them to Facebook, and overlaying effects such as the ones you’ll find in apps like Hipstamatic and Instagram, a 12-megapixel camera is overkill in both resolution and file size. That said, you should choose a phone with at least a 3-megapixel camera, just to have a little more flexibility with the photos you take.

Processor speed: Dual-core processors are getting a lot of buzz, but such power is unnecessary for the average user. Unless you’re doing a lot of app multitasking or playing games with 3D graphics, you’ll probably be fine with a 1GHz processor. Aside from the chip speed, other factors—such as the software your phone runs (Android 2.3 is faster than Android 2.2, for instance) and network speeds—contribute to fast, fluid phone performance.

Specs That Always Matter

Display size/resolution: If you intend to surf the Web, use the calendar and organizer, or compose and read email and text messages, make sure the phone’s screen is up to snuff. For Web browsing or document editing, a screen that measures less than 2.7 inches diagonally will feel cramped. Consider the resolution, too: The higher it is, the sharper videos and photos will look. Being able to control the contrast and backlight settings can also be important, as phones have noticeable differences in their default display settings. If your phone allows you to adjust contrast and brightness, text and graphics can be easily viewable in well-lit places, and you can save battery life in a pinch.


Tablets

Since tablets are still fairly new, it’s easy for manufacturers to rattle off a litany of specs. The ones that matter most, however, are those that determine how quickly a tablet will respond to your input, and how well images and text will appear on the slate’s screen.

Specs That Don’t Matter

This Space Intentionally Left Blank”: At the moment, there’s very little you shouldn’t be considering when buying a tablet. Fortunately, manufacturers have refrained from filling their tablet specs lists with confusing jargon. Here’s hoping the situation stays that way.

Specs That Sometimes Matter

Ports: With tablets, integrated ports are a double-edged sword. If the connections are built in, you don’t need a dongle to add HDMI, an SD Card, or a USB device. Ports add weight and thickness to the tablet, though. For many people, the port-free Apple iPad 2 and Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 are capable, attractive choices; and if you want to add some of the aforementioned ports to one or the other, you can easily do so via extra-cost dongles. However, if you plan to use a tablet for productivity tasks (not just for media consumption), find one that has the ports you’ll want on board.

Specs That Always Matter

Screen resolution: The higher the resolution, the sharper the display—that’s a rule of thumb you can count on. While many tablets have crisp 1280-by-800-pixel displays, some—such as the Apple iPad 2 (1024 by 768) and the abysmally low-resolution Dell Streak 7 (800 by 480)—fall shy of that figure. Because the display is such an integral and unchangeable part of a tablet, try not to skimp on the screen resolution.

Processor speed: Most bargain-bin tablets cut corners on the processor, and carry a sub-1GHz CPU. Single-core models, especially those with clock speeds less than 1GHz, are slow. Stick with a dual-core CPU, or a single-core chip that’s at least faster than 1GHz.

Cameras

Many people still believe that more megapixels means a better camera. But it’s more important to look for features that won’t hold you back, such as quick startup and easy-to-use controls.

Specs That Don’t Matter

Digital zoom: Although the technology is getting better, digital zoom still crops a photo in the center and enlarges that cropped area, reducing the resolution of the final image. You can accomplish the same thing through image-editing software, and if you need to enlarge part of a photo during playback, you can do that with the camera’s zoom controls without affecting the source image.

Digital image stabilization: Normally these systems either boost the ISO sensitivity to noise-inducing levels (allowing the camera to use a faster shutter speed) or crop and enlarge a video image in the center of the frame, using the rest of the scene as a buffer to make the center look somewhat steady. Cameras that combine optical/mechanical and digital stabilization are effective, but we’ve rarely been impressed with digital stabilization alone.

LCD screen size and resolution: On point-and-shoots, LCD viewfinders that measure 3 inches or more diagonally are now the norm. Big screens drain the battery faster, however, and a sharp, high-resolution LCD can make image quality appear better than it actually is.

Specs That Sometimes Matter

Megapixels: You shouldn’t ignore megapixels entirely, but they matter much more for DSLRs. A megapixel count indicates how large you can view, resize, or print an image without a noticeable decrease in resolution. Factor in a megapixel count if you want to make large prints or to crop and enlarge portions of an image. In point-and-shoots and camera phones, a high megapixel count often leads to noisier photos and a larger file size, which eats up storage and affects your ability to share images electronically without first reducing them.

High-definition video recording: The figures “720” and “1080” simply refer to the number of horizontal lines the video will scale to on an HDTV. The quality depends on a lot of factors: the recording bitrate, the quality of the lens and sensor, the frame rate of the video capture, and other variables. Video performance is hard to gauge; we’ve seen great (and not-so-great) HD video shot with both pocket cameras and DSLRs.

ISO: Most point-and-shoots now have astonishingly high ISO sensitivity—up to ISO 6400 or even ISO 12800—but their small sensors add noise starting at around ISO 400. A DSLR handles the upper reaches of the ISO range much better. If low-light shots and fast action are important to you, a DSLR with high-ISO settings is a good fit. But if you’re looking at point-and-shoots, consider one with a low-light mode that does something more than jack up the ISO.

Specs That Always Matter

Physical buttons for manual controls: If you want to get serious about photography, don’t buy a DSLR right away. Save money and learn the ropes by buying a compact camera with manual controls for aperture, shutter, and focus. Using buttons and dials on a small camera first makes using a DSLR’s controls more intuitive. Touchscreen manual controls aren’t ready for prime time yet, anyway.

Fast startup time and burst mode: Shutter lag isn’t much of a problem now, but newer cameras can still make you miss a shot. Look for a camera that turns on and allows you to shoot within about a second and a half. You may need to disable the power-on “splash screen” (if the camera lets you do that). A “burst mode” or “continuous shooting” speed is also worth noting: Even if you’re not into sports, the ability to fire the shutter continuously can help you capture a hyperactive pet, a fidgety baby, or another fast subject. Look for a burst mode of 3 frames per second or greater.

HDTVs

TV makers love impressive-sounding specs, but you should concentrate on selecting the right-size set for your home.

Specs That Don’t Matter

Contrast ratio: Supposedly this spec measures the difference between a TV’s darkest blacks and its brightest whites. But because manufacturers report contrast ratios without standardized testing guidelines, the numbers aren’t a reliable indicator of picture quality.

Response time: Theoretically useful for showing whether a TV has “smearing” or “blurring,” response time measures how long a pixel in an LCD takes to turn from one color to another. It is not always clear which measurement a TV maker reports; a black-to-white-to-black transition takes twice as long as gray-to-gray. Regardless, these days response times are generally adequate.

Specs That Sometimes Matter

Refresh rate: The difference in image quality between a 60Hz LCD HDTV and a 120Hz LCD HDTV is tremendous; beyond 120Hz, though, refresh rate is not so important. We’ve seen 120Hz models beat 240Hz sets in our motion tests, because 240Hz frame-interpolation algorithms can create “judder” artifacts.

Specs That Always Matter

The smartest size: A big TV is nice. But if you don’t have a lot of space between your TV and your couch, you might end up moving your head around or viewing inferior video. And with a big set, you may see the individual lines in the image.

The difference in image quality between a 60Hz LCD HDTV and a 120Hz LCD HDTV is tremendous.

Printers

Look for a high cartridge page yield and automatic duplexing. A printer lacking both might cost too much over time.

Specs That Don’t Matter

Engine speed: Printer makers usually calculate and report engine speed using methods that do not reflect real-world usage. For instance, they may use the faster “draft” mode for their speed tests. A more realistic indicator is the ISO/IEC 24734 “Laser Quality Print Speed” standard, which prints in default mode and includes first-page-out time.

Specs That Sometimes Matter

Monthly duty cycle: This number is an indication of how durable a printer is, so it’s an important metric for businesses. Even so, the actual volume of printing that you can expect to do is likely to be a small fraction—10 to 25 percent—of a printer’s reported duty-cycle number.

Print resolution: Specs labeled “optimized,” “interpolated,” or “up to” are manipulated resolutions. If you encounter a true 1200-by-1200-dpi printer (still a rarity), you will notice that it can make remarkably smooth, sharp text and images.

Scan resolution: Look for the “optical resolution” as the true measure; 300 dpi is usually sufficient. Going higher will result in slow scans, huge files, and images that aren’t necessarily sharper.

Specs That Always Matter

Automatic duplexing: A printer that can print on both sides of the page saves paper. Manual duplexing—usually with on-screen prompts to turn over the paper—is a hassle for most people.

Page yield: All cartridges have a spec that states how many pages they can print before they run dry. ISO/IEC standards have helped make most cartridges’ page yields directly comparable.

Starter-size cartridges: Some low-end laser and LED printers ship with “starter-size” toner cartridges that have lower page yields. They’ll run out faster than a standard cartridge will, forcing you to buy a replacement sooner.

PCWorld Magazine – October 2011

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

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Articles

What You Need in a Desktop

CPU, RAM, and video card? How important is the PSU and extra hard drive space? Each of these things you need to consider when looking for a new desktop computer. Rather than grouping everything into the basket that exclaims that you just need a faster computer, let’s look at each feature individually. This way you’re sure to be buying the best computer you can afford.

The CPU
Arguably the brains of your computer, virtually any Intel or AMD processor is going to be fast enough for most people. The fact is, these things are so fast that unless you’re gaming, doing AutoCAD, a multi-layer Photoshop project, or editing video, you will find systems at Best Buy or other stores with plenty of speed. The end game here is to stick with a solid dual-core CPU and life will be just fine. For those folks mentioned above needing more from their CPU, following the rule that faster is better works too.

RAM provides for a stable system
If multitasking is something you do, then you’ll want a 4 gigabyte minimum for your computer. For Windows and OS X users, adding as much RAM as you can afford is recommended, while Linux users will find that 2 gigs should be enough. RAM is cheap enough that you should go ahead and toss as much as your OS/Motherboard will support. It’s a cheap upgrade that will definitely extend the life of your computer; why not?

CPU can be key
If RAM is helpful for multitasking, then the CPU is going to be the feature that gets everything launching at top speed. If initiating things quickly matters to you, then making sure you are running with a mid-priced CPU is a good plan. I don’t believe most people need to subject themselves to the cost of the latest and greatest, but going bargain basement isn’t always the best idea either.

A video card (GPU) brings it all together
Most people think on-board graphics are fine for what they need. Typically integrated graphics cards put a strain on the rest of your computer resources, because they rely on system RAM for performance. If, however, you’re running with dual monitors or would like to have a halfway decent visual experience when enjoying movies, then a mid to high-end video card is on the table.

But what does all of this really mean?
I apologize in advance for not being too specific. I’m afraid that every time I try to do so, I miss one segment of the readership or the other. The long and short of selecting what you need in a desktop PC really comes down to this simple formula.

For email, browsing the Web, and some low-end Flash games — most entry level to mid-way components are okay.

For multi-tasking, some  DirectX or OpenGL type games, and possibly some video watched on a full screen — mid to high end system components. You get the general idea.

Other factors to consider include power to the tower and system cooling. Without both, all of the above will be for naught. Make sure you buy a good, brand name PSU (power supply unit) — unless you are purchasing a pre-built OEM computer — if you care to not have a system that crashes frequently. And the same goes for cooling — just fans aren’t enough; you’ll want good air flow through the case when dealing with mid to high end systems, especially.

SOURCE – IT PROFESSIONALS

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Hosting Tutorials

Virtualization Part 3 – Configuring Virtualbox

STEP 1
Read Parts One and Two of this series if you have not.

STEP 2
Ensure you have the Linux DVD/CD in your DVD Drive. We are using Ubuntu 10.04. Get one for free if you don’t have one.

STEP 3
Launch the Virtualbox icon from your desktop or the Start menu.

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Hosting Tutorials

Virtualization

In my last post, i introduced some of us to the world of Linux, the advantages it offers and the status it confers.

Understandably, it is still a Microsoft world, so i wouldn’t expect you to just clean out your Windows operating system and install Linux. If you do that, trust me, you will definitely have issues, truck loads.

I can think of two paths to follow if you’ll like to have a feel of Linux; DUAL/MULTIPLE BOOTING or VIRTUALIZATION.