Archive for January, 2009

Lenovo ThinkPad X301 Review

Thursday, January 22nd, 2009

If you are familiar with the ThinkPad X300 of last year then there are very few surprises with the new X301 as it is just a Centrino 2 update. The new Lenovo ThinkPad X301 features the same carbon and glass fiber but is would survive a sales drop with its solid state disk. However like all the ThinkPads the system features a dual pointing system which includes joystick and trackpad with right and left mouse buttons for both side and also a middle mouse bottom. However the trackpad of Lenovo is not very satisfying regardless of how high you set its sensitivity.

The keyboard of this system is an effort of evolution which makes it one of the best keyboards to be used on laptops. Through the heritage of IBM, Lenovo has advanced it down to something which offers both a fast speed typing pad with pleasing travel pack. However users might find one annoyance with the F1 key which is moved towards the left in place of Esc key which is above the F1 key, but the keyboard shortcuts users might probably scowl as they constantly hit the F3 rather than F2. Beign a business laptop the shortcut buttons are sparse that include volume down and up, mute button and ThinkVantage buttons. The webcam and the fingerprint reader are fairly standard features but a feather that X301 has over Apple’s MacBook and R600 of Toshiba is its stereo speakers and also includes a great resolution.

The Lenovo ThinkPad X301 is a business based vista OS laptop that includes an Intel Core 2 duo processor that is clocked at 1.4GHz, 64GB, 2GB of RAM, which is although just Intel Integrated graphics that is only from a few things that MacBook has over this laptop. However the ThinkPad X301 is an upgrade to 64-bit vista if you need to upgrade to 4GB of RAM. The DVD+-RW drive is very pleasing which can be turned off to save battery life or even replaced with a secondary battery if needed. The laptop also features gigabit Ethernet connection with 5300AGB wireless adapter of Intel. The screen quality is acceptable but not great although it has a higher resolution than most of the 13.3 inch laptop screens. There are three USB ports designed in X301 one on the rear and two on the left but the lacking of eSATA can be a problem for several users.

You can also turn off the network location manager of Lenovo that pops up annoyingly when you make a new network connection. However the included notification software can also be annoying and the update manager of Lenovo might frequently error out or the servers might fall offline. However the best thing about Lenovo ThinkPad X301 is that it is light and easily portable which features a higher resolution screen. Although the Lenovo ThinkPad X301 is an improved notebook in an old chassis, it still has outstanding features that are not still used by Toshiba and Apple. However the only downside users might notice is its very short battery life but if you need an ultra-portable notebook then X301 makes a perfect choice for you.

Special printers for special needs

Thursday, January 22nd, 2009

Just imagine a market inclusive of warehouses, trucking delivery services; department of emergency services being a big customer base. These are the offerings of TallyGenicom, Chantilly, Va. Let some light be thrown on printers offered by it.

MIP480 mobile printer has been designed for usage in various trucks. Moreover, industries that have changed to this printer deal in fuel delivery, construction trades, and beverage distribution. Such a comparatively lightweight printer, i.e. 13 pounds, 9 ounces can be mounted vertically in a truck’s cab. It’s, in fact, designed keeping convenience of harried driver in mind. This printer involves simple ‘paper loading’ which doesn’t need backlit control panel and opening covers. The ribbon used has a long life. Hence, printer can go on operating non-stop, i.e. without any problems pertaining to ribbon. The average life of the ribbon is 3-4 months.

MIP480 Mobile Printer is a tiny printer. However, it has been constructed tough, and can easily withstand various temperatures ranging between 4 degrees F and 140 degrees F. Quality of print is surprisingly good. 24-wire ‘print head’ goes on to produce a crisp and clear image. Print-speed time has been peppy, particularly for dot-matrix printer. The speeds of printer can go upto 480 cpi, based on settings.

Connection options for this printer are: RS-232, Bluetooth, USB 2.0, and ‘802.11 b/g’. This device has been powered by vehicle. However, there is power converter present which runs the device from wall outlet of 100V.

Vertical mount kits have been made available for locating the device with driver within the cab. The best part of this printer is the fact that TallyGenicom would custom-design the hardware with regards to customers. The starting price is $2290. Reseller price has started at $1374.

Thermal printers have been regarded as a standard with respect to industries such as casinos, hospitals, gas stations, and industries whose operations need bar codes. The latest version of TallyGenicom’s thermal printers is 700x series. The ‘7006 model’ can be referred to as one amongst the industrial midrange desktop thermal printers. Print-speeds are upto 6″/second. It can easily handle eight-inch huge rolls apart from standard size. The above-mentioned model doesn’t have Liquid Crystal display. However, a 7008 model does have.

Connectivity options include parallel and serial centronics, Ethernet, and USB. Indexing capability is the most interesting feature of this thermal printer. 7006 version goes on to house censor which is capable of detecting gaps between die-cuts, labels, holes, notches, and black-marts. This helps in ‘fool-proof printing’, which is a must, as far as print-volume-heavy environments are concerned.

7006 version comes in 2 models: two-inch for smaller labels and four-inch for broader ones. 700x series goes on to support both, thermal-transfer and direct-thermal printing methods. The latter one doesn’t need a ribbon. Ink gets burned on paper itself. It is usually preferred by industries wherein printing images are not required to last long. The former method is preferred by the industries requiring long-lasting printing images. Here, wax and ink get transferred to paper.

Is your existing PC hardware ready for Windows 7

Monday, January 19th, 2009

With the outstanding launch of the new Windows 7 operating system from Microsoft, there are a number of bloggers who ware wondering noticeably about how perfectly the new operating system from Microsoft would run on their older hardware. This is an interesting and important question given by the symbiotic relationship of Microsoft with its hardware partners as they are actually constantly in search for new ways to convince the computers users to purchase newer and pricier computers.

According to those who are already using the windows 7 pre-beta and the beta release of Microsoft, the new Windows 7 operating system is running pretty fine on their older machines although with a less powerful processor and a less than optimal memory system. However the fact is that as it has been noted over the few previous months that windows 7 would run perfectly well on netbooks, it has actually not been able to accommodate windows vista. Additionally Microsoft has also trimmed the memory and size footprints of the new windows 7 operating system while still building the system on top of the windows vista kernel.

However with all this said, it seems that Microsoft and all their PC partners are not very keen on watching people use windows 7 operating system on older machines. They basically want to encourage computer users to purchase new and preferable a bit expensive computer to run windows 7. This seems to be a part of the reason why OEMs and Microsoft are pushing their multi-touch PCs as a new and ht feature for the forthcoming PC for windows 7 operating system. Although Microsoft could also support their older XDDM drivers for windows 7 they might even do so and would start sending mixed messages about their intention to move users to new WDDM driver model and also about their desire to attract more users to purchase new computers.

It would actually be very interesting to find out if Microsoft can offer their users the option to upgrade directly from windows XP to windows 7 operating system, or whether that the might only offer upgrades from windows vista to windows 7 after windows 7 operating system has been released in its final form. However the question would become even more pressing when you know that windows XP would probably be a bigger competitor for windows 7 compared to any other operating system of Microsoft. This is just like the internet explorer 6 which is one of the internet explorer 7 or 8 most of the formidable rivals from the market share the same prospective. Therefore if windows 7 operating system runs fine or better on your older computer hardware then might also consider installing it on your previous computers rather than purchasing a new computer for windows 7 operating system.

nVIDIA dropped Q4 sales

Monday, January 19th, 2009

According to the recent warning report posted by NVIDIA it stated that their forth quarter results that would soon show up, it expects a nearly 40 to 50 percent decline in its revenues from the third quarter. However the graphics company cited that the reason for this drop is the further weakness in the end user’s demand and also the inventory reductions by the channel partners of NVIDIA in the global PC supply chain.

This 40 to 50 percent is actually a very severe drop especially when they have stated that the fourth quarter revenues of NVIDIA will have risen from its third quarters and this also shows the weakness of the PC market today. The discrete graphics company is the strong partner of NVIDIA and so this company is also quite exposed to the drops in the global hunger of notebooks and PCs but this demand for them has absolutely dropped. This is the reason why NVIDIA is trying to push their HPC or high performance computing solutions such as Telas up-markets into the supercomputers and also their down market of mobile graphics parts into the notebooks through Ion.

Additionally Intel had also raised their forth quarter earnings recently which estimated downwards as it had expected to show nearly 20 percent drop in their revenues when compared to the previous quarters. The revenue drop could have even been worse for the company if it was not for Atom and the volatile growth in notebook sales. This can be the reason why NVIDIA considers Ion very important to the company as they need the notebook action on and going.

You can just recall that Ion is the name for a platform for NVIDIA which combines Atom of Intel with mobile GPU of NVIDIA. However shortly after NVIDIA had announced the platform there are already rumors that claim that NVIDIA had actually moved to stop itself from coming into the global markets. Additionally Intel would deny the rumors by responding that anyone is allowed to purchase Atom as the stand along part to combine it with whatever they think of. However there was actually some digging done into the story of Ion at CES, but although there are not clear reports on the story, it can still be stated that NVIDIA will clearly want to bring Ion into the PC market and also a great online response to the announcements of the platform which has been very positive. Therefore if you would not be seeing Ion based netbooks on the channels then there can only be two possible reasons for it which can be that either OEMs are just not interested in partnering with Ion or that Intel has really managed to put up some type of roadblock.

Brother MFC-9840CDW

Wednesday, January 14th, 2009

MFPs, i.e. multi-function printers have continued to dominate the market due to a wide spectrum of reasons. One of these reasons is that IT and system consolidation have continued unabated. These printers are known as all-in-ones. They present midsize and small offices features pertaining to multiple devices. The price is, however, low and footprints are smaller. SMBs can be let to attain identical consolidation advantages, in several cases, due to bigger enterprises. This is, of course, applicable only on the smaller scale.

Off late, CRN test Center had a look at Brother International Corp. MFC-9840CDW that goes on to combine functions of fax machine, scanner, copier, and printer- all in ‘color’. Having measured 20.9″ by 21″ by 20.5″ and having weighed just above 83 pounds, having unboxed and installed the unit isn’t the job of a person. However, once having seated in setup, location, and configuration, they’re pretty intuitive.

Connections are inclusive of Ethernet and USB ports, along with RJ-11 jacks with respect to fax usage. 9840 also goes on to support 802.11 b/g wirelesses. Reviewers turned unit on after having loaded 4 toner cartridges, followed by having connected network and power cables. This resulted in having configured the network connections by making use of DHCP.

Drivers as well as the other included utilities can easily get installed on Mac computers and Windows with wizard launching from CD. The applications included within install

are Brother’s Control Center 3 and Nuance’s ScanSoft PaperPort 11.

Getting connected to ‘wireless network’ is a bit trickier. This software goes on to suggest having connected to a computer on the direct basis, that too, temporarily to device through Ethernet to configure. However, if such a thing isn’t possible, it would take you via every individual step. Moreover, anyone who is confident enough for having configured their router mustn’t have trouble in making it work. ‘SecureEasySetup’ has also been supported for the ones with ‘capable routers’.

Reviewers have found quality of print ‘above average’, with various text documents well-defined. Even though not as vibrant and bright as certain color lasers tested so far, images and photos were found to be quite sharp. The colors were also found to be accurate. A thing noticed, although was that if one of the documents gets placed on the direct basis on glass to scan or copy, the centering should take place along left edge. Such a thing would make it a bit more time-consuming. However, a document feeder operating on the automatic basis completely eliminates this issue.

Brother’s ‘Control Center 2′ can be referred to as an exceptionally handy program which permits the users to have remotely customized and launched device’s every function. With the help of such an easy-to-use interface, scanning to an OCR-generated file, a file, an e-mail, or an image can be done. Options are also available with regards to configuration and utilization of PC-fax and copy features, along with 4 programmable ‘copy’ buttons relating to special configurations. Besides, simpler faxing can be facilitated by introduction of an ‘address book’.

NVIDIA enhances graphics performance on notebooks

Wednesday, January 14th, 2009

NVIDIA had a look on increasing popularity of ‘netbooks’ and drew the conclusion that something is missing- quality of visual performance demanded by users within the developed market. Hence, graphics chip-makers got set to have worked on constructing the Ion hardware platform with respect to tiny form-factor desktops and notebooks constructed on Atom processors of Intel. Moreover, early returns have suggested that such a thing can be one of the category killers.

ChannelWeb saw ‘Ion’ in action at NVIDIA’s headquarters on 15th of December, 2008. Its platform comprises of a motherboard (atom-based), paired with GeForce 9400 onboard graphics processor, complete CUDA support, and ridiculous quantity of I/O.

Team of NVIDIA demonstrated Ion within an ultra-small ‘desktop reference design’. This Ion is better known as ‘nettop’. However, platform has also been built for ‘mobile PCs’. The small desktop that was seen fitted in palm (of one hand). Moreover, it was just a ‘mess’ of ports. It wasn’t the slimmest-looking device. However, it was handy, as far as showing off graphics support was concerned and acceleration that was built by NVIDIA in to Ion.

NVIDIA went on to run the demo for making the product look better. However, results of neck-to-neck competition between standard netbook (atom-based) and Ion nettop with GMA 950 integrated graphics of Intel were spectacular. NVIDIA moved ahead with having fired up ‘Call of Duty 4′ without even a hitch; while Intel netbook went on to struggle to even have booted ‘visually rich’ PC game. Ion system also boasted of better video playback; thanks to ‘full-spec’ 1080p badaboom and HD video support, GPU-tapping ‘video Transco ding accelerator (from Elemental Technologies).

NVIDIA, already having its ‘GeForce 9400 GPUs’ within recent line of ‘Apple MacBooks’, has said that it has expected Ion-based netbooks to be priced at around $50 greater than present systems based on GMA 950. For extra cash, sixteen ‘graphics processing cores’ can be obtained by users, which deliver fifty-two Gflops of ‘processing power’, which seems to be a compelling story, at least from the perspective of the reviewers.

ChannelWeb has been quite bearish with regards to netbooks, in spite of hype and hooplah created about these products. That is basically due to the fact that it is being heard from retailers, resellers, and OEMs about extremely large numbers of ‘netbooks’ that’re being returned by purchasers, especially in markets of North America.

As said by sources, reason behind returns is that the users within mature markets might get fascinated by promise and price of notebooks, and might get completely disappointed with shortcomings of the same while getting them back home. Graphics shortcomings are the largest ones amongst factors of disappointment. These days, users, business travelers and commuters in particular wish to have quality playback on computing devices operating at the primary level.

As an outcome, makers of netbooks have, in certain cases, gone ahead with the amendment of their wild-eyed, earlier promotions of novel category. For instance- HP now markets HP mini-Note PCs in the form of complementary device of computing (not the primary one).

Belkin released new N+ wireless router

Monday, January 12th, 2009

Belkin N+, without any fancy name, has ultimately succeeded in impressing the audience where it matters the most: throughput performance and range. In the form of a bonus, a limited function of network-storage is offered by it. The only disappointment is the fact that dual-band support is not provided, like its counterparts Linksys WRT610N and DIR-855. The performance of N+, however, easily makes up in this regard, particularly having considered the street price, which is just $100. If having a ‘wireless network’, that too, in the neighbourhood which does not have so many of wireless signals is on the agenda, it’s advisable to go for Belkin N+ over the other routers.

Even though Belkin N+ can be described as one amongst the largest routers reviewed so far, it, in actual sense, has a curvy and an elegant design. This router is made in such a way that it works only in vertical position, with 2 antennas at the top, thereby having made it momentarily taller in comparison with majority of routers. The blue-colored LED lights and ports, located on front and back of router respectively have been clearly labelled. As such, novice users would also not have any problem in having figured out each port’s function and what each light implies.

The CD that has been included with Belkin N+ contains the set-up software which guides you at every step. As such, the router starts running within the next 5 minutes of its setting up. On the other side, you can make use of Web interface of the router for setup process. The settings can also get customized further. Web interfaces of Belkin routers are usually intuitive. Moreover, their layouts haven’t changed since the 1st wireless-N router of Belkin, i.e. the ‘Belkin Wireless Pre-N router’, that was the 1st wireless-N router reviewed by CNET. However, when intuitiveness comes in to picture, web interfaces of Netgear routers or D-Link are preferred.

Even though N+ allows you to connect a USB hard drive externally, it, in fact, isn’t a full-featured ‘NAS server’. You won’t have the ability of managing external drive; inclusive of accessing privileges and creation of share folders-via its ‘web interface’, as can be done with Linksys WRT610N.

N+ is accompanied with ‘Belkin Storage Manager’ desktop application which simplifies your task of accessing the hard drive that has been externally connected. After having plugged a ‘USB hard drive’ in to the router, BSM application goes on to take around 10 seconds for detecting it and creating a network-drive mapped in to it. Remember that any of the computers in network which have BSM application installed within them have complete access to 100% content of the hard drive. If you happen to shut down this application, mapped drive would get disconnected.

There is also an option of accessing the storage by making use of router’s IP address without installing BSM application available. Novice users, however, are advised to have stuck to usage of desktop application.

Vista security flaw exposed by ATI driver

Monday, January 12th, 2009

One of the unpatched flaw within the drivers, that too, from ATI goes on to create a means for smuggling malware-past improved ‘security defences’ in new-fangled Windows version and in to Vista Kernel. Right now, Microsoft is found working with ‘ATI’ with regards to an update that, as warned by the security watchers might not be that entire straight forward for rolling-out.

The presence of security-flaw within driver of ATI is reported to have come to light following the release of POC, i.e. proof-of-concept tool known as Purple Pill by Alex lonescu, a developer, which is said to have created a simplified way of loading and unloading unsigned, i.e. potentially malicious drivers with regards to Vista. Utility of this type has circumvented novel anti-rootkit defences that were constructed in to Vista by having turned off checks concerned with signed drivers.

Lonescu went on to pull utility hours (after release) after having realized that ATI driver flaw Purple is still left out, in terms of patching. Lonescu had picked this fact up during a presentation conducted by Joanna Rutkowska, a ‘Vista Kernel Expert’.

For the people who have no knowledge about ATI, let it be made clear that Purple Pill’s functionality is identical to Atsiv, i.e. a tool solely designed by Linchpin Labs, a developer of Australian origin. This design was considered to be a portion of research project concerned with driver signing. The response of Microsoft to Atsiv’s creation was by having revoked its certificate as well as classifying its utility in the form of ‘malware’, much to chagrin of ‘Linchpin Labs’. Technocrats would be surprised to know that Atsiv has gotten evolved in to a project which permits legacy hardware’s users to have used their kit with regards to Vista, that too, without any of the signed drivers.

Having followed an identical approach for ‘Purple Pill’ is not straight forward as mentioned above as such a thing piggybacks on the security certificate for hardware driver which has been installed in 50% of laptops.

As per the opinion of Ollie Whitehouse, one of the security researchers at Symantec, the above-mentioned situation can make just anyone associated with Microsoft start to weep. ATI would have to obtain a novel certificate, move ahead with signing fixed versions regarding the affected drivers, and release them through Windows Update. Just then Microsoft would get VeriSign for revoking the ‘signing certificate’.

All these things highlight broader problems in Vista’s code-signing. Atsiv has showed that getting an age-old code signed is very simple. As per the illustration of Purple Pill, signed drivers also have bugs. Symantec goes on to reckon design error occurring in driver of ATI as one of the ‘short-cuts’ designed for making the procedure of software development much more straightforward than ever before. Now, you can go on to imagine that such a thing has come about owing to one of the requirements for extending the core driver with many arbitrary modules with respect to design of ATI.