Tuesday, October 26, 2010


Notes From the Technoground: The Apple iPhone's Antennagate? Glassgate? I Get on the Case
The Apple iPhone 4's much-decried antenna and glass-cracking problems send me on a crusade for an iPhone case.
Yes, Apple's iPhone 4 has had a rough first few months. But before I put my two cents in (which might be worth more or less than face value), let me say that I do not actually own an iPhone 4. The title and subhead of this column might give that (false) impression, but here's full disclosure: I own only an iPhone 3GS. This should give me at least some credibility, I hope, in stating my opinion on these issues, no matter how close to the edge of I-have-no-idea-what-I’m-talking-about I might be...

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


Notes From the Technoground: Gabbing With a Blue Yeti
Professional-sounding recorded audio and voiceovers for a low price? Not an urban myth, I found, with this $149 USB microphone.
I’ve been told that I’ve got a good face for radio. I also happen to think that I’ve got a voice that’s perfect for silent films. But I haven’t let any of that stop me from making a fool of myself in front of the camera or providing voiceover narration to videos that I’ve produced. These videos are far from professional quality—mostly video product-reviews and tech-tradeshow summaries. With my learn-as-you-go skills in Final Cut Pro, I cobbled the videos together on my own, including shooting, editing, adding effects and titles, and frequently failing miserably at figuring out which codecs I should use to encode the videos when I’m done. (That last struggle will likely be a topic for a future "Notes From the Technoground" column...

Friday, October 15, 2010

HP Pavilion Elite HPE-410y Review
With a generous feature set and a sub-$1,000 price tag, the HP Pavilion Elite HPE-410y ($929.99 street) desktop, available at Best Buy, should meet the needs of a wide range of users. The 1TB hard drive can store tons of media, the Blu-ray drive can dish out gorgeous-looking high-def movies, and the Wi-Fi radio will let you work wirelessly. Application performance is decent as well; but you can find better performing desktops in the same price range...
Toshiba Satellite A665-S6086 Review
An awesome-sounding sound system and a gorgeous-looking 16-inch display make the Toshiba Satellite A665-S6086 ($804.99 list), available at Best Buy, a great entertainment laptop. It lacks the Blu-ray drive that the similarly configured and priced Toshiba Satellite A665-S6085 ($799.98 list, 4 stars) has; but it makes up for this loss with an extended-life battery that produces a much longer-lasting battery and a WiMax radio for high-speed wireless broadband...

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Samsung Epic 4G Android Smartphone Review
The most popular and powerful Android phones currently available are quite possibly members of the Samsung Galaxy S line. Powered by Samsung’s very own 1GHz Cortex A8-based Hummingbird processor and featuring a four-inch Super-AMOLED (active matrix organic light-emitting diode) capacitive touchscreen with a 480x800 resolution, it’s no wonder that Samsung has already sold over 5 million Galaxy S-branded phones. The latest member of the Galaxy S family is the Samsung Epic 4G Android Smartphone, which adds two unique features that the other Galaxy S handsets lack: a slide-out keyboard and 4G capabilities...

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


Notes From the Technoground: Doing Time With an Apple iPhone and an AT&T 3G MicroCell
A few months back, I received a letter in the mail from AT&T. The letter stated that, as “one of AT&T’s most valuable customers,” I was eligible for a free AT&T 3G MicroCell, which the company states, “acts like a mini-cell tower, boosting your bars and enhancing your voice and data coverage at home. If you are not getting the signal you expect in your house, this may be the perfect solution for you.” All I had to do was bring the letter into my local AT&T store, and they’d hand one over to me...

Monday, October 11, 2010

HP Pavilion p6654y Review
Its features are mostly modest, but the HP Pavilion p6654y's ($529.99 list) performance is stellar for a budget desktop—its not so modest attribute is a spacious 750GB hard drive. And not counting a rather anemic 250-watt power supply, the p6654y, which is available at Best Buy, has decent upgrade potential to boot. For its sheer performance capabilities, the p6654y presents an very good value for a budget desktop...

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Toshiba Satellite L675D-S7052 Review
You don't often see 17.3-inch laptops at the low price the Toshiba Satellite L675D-S7052 ($738.99 list) sells for. Available at Best Buy, the L675D-S7052 comes with a lot of screen real-estate and a spacious 500GB hard drive. But as far as desktop replacement laptops go, there are plenty of other options that provide better overall performance, longer battery life, and a more robust feature set...

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Asus UL20FT-A1 Review
Given today’s economic belt-tightening, even serious business road warriors find themselves on a budget. Answering the call to greater austerity, low-cost ultraportable laptops, like the $649 Asus UL20FT-A1, have emerged to deliver adequate productivity-application performance without breaking the bank. While its subpar battery life makes this notebook less compelling for road warriors, frequent commuters will enjoy the light weight and Core i3 speed.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Dell Inspiron IM5030-3413B3D Review
The Dell Inspiron IM5030-3413B3D ($629.98 list), available at Staples, is an unremarkable desktop replacement laptop. It's bulky and heavy, with poor application performance, below average battery life, and a relatively sparse feature set. That said, the IM5030-3413B3D has a pleasing, crisp display, a touchpad with customizable mutlitouch gestures, and its low price tag won't drain your wallet the way some other laptop options do...
HP Pavilion dv6-3122us Review
The HP Pavilion dv6-3122us ($649.98 list), available at Staples, brings a number of compelling features, including eye-catching good looks and an excellent price tag for a 15.6-inch desktop replacement laptops. Long battery life and a great-looking display only add to its appeal. But every Achilles must have its weakness, and the dv6-3122us's is its lackluster performance...

Friday, October 1, 2010

Toshiba Satellite A665D-S6085
The last time we looked at an A665D model from Toshiba—the Toshiba Satellite A665D-S6051 ($799.98 list, 3 stars)—we were largely unimpressed by what the 16-inch laptop brought to the table other than a pair of amazing-sounding Harman Kardon speakers. No other standout features and lackluster performance pegged the A665D as a decent choice as an entertainment laptop and little else. Fast-forward three months later and the new, but identical, Toshiba Satellite A665D-S6085 ($799.98 list), showed up. Luckily, this time around, Toshiba outfitted the A665D-S6085 with more robust components, giving the laptop the application performance boost it sorely needed. Toshiba also added a Blu-ray drive as well, increasing the A665D-S6085's entertainment credibility even further...
Lenovo ThinkPad X100e
The Lenovo ThinkPad X100e suffers from a bit of an identity crisis. Lenovo calls the notebook an entry-level “ultraportable,” but the X100e’s diminutive 11.6-inch display and 3.3-pound weight scream netbook. Depending on how you configure it, the scales can tip either way. Our configure-to-order unit came with a 1.6GHz AMD Athlon Neo MV-40 single-core processor, 2GB of 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM, an ATI Radeon HD3200 GPU, and a 320GB 5,400rpm hard drive. Like many netbooks, the X100e lacks an integrated optical drive. As a netbook, these are some powerful specs; as an ultraportable, the hardware is underwhelming. The $585 price tag lands it smack in the nowhere land between the two (prices for the X100e start at $450)...