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01Jun08

TB Tech - tbtech.infoHello Readers,

Tom and I have recently been getting ready for the launch of the new blog at tbtech.info as was stated in a recent post. We have been doing many things to prepare for our third and (hopefully) final move, and one of those things has been setting up advertisements. 

We have been looking at high quality, unobtrusive banners that don’t disrupt the reading atmosphere. However we were wondering if you, as readers, had any particular suggestions about how you would like us to advertise.

One of the advertisement services we have been looking at is ‘buysellads.com’. This allows us to set up multiple spaces on the blog for people to advertise in. This means paying an amount of money to have their product/blog shown to the rest of the readers which means, for you, more hits and more publicity. 

You may be asking, Why is he telling us about this?. Well, we were just wondering whether any of you would like your services advertised on our blog in spaces that will attract attention and garner many hits.

Forward tips to advertising (at) tbtech (dawt) info.


The banner from the new site!

Hmm…, I imagine a lot of you are thinking. Why haven’t there been any witty updates over at TB Tech recently?

Well perhaps not so witty, but there have been numerous things going on behind the scenes with me that have taken up much of my time.

Family matters have occupied much of this lost time lately; however, events such as CeBIT, my photography hobbies, work, and a couple of review products that have required some attention have got me in a bit of a spin.

However, tune in – here’s a comprehensive update on the stuff that’s going on in regards to the site.

We’re almost ready to move!

As many of you will have guessed, from the hint in the sidebar, a couple of months ago we purchased the new domain name tbtech.info, and thanks to a lot of hard work from my loyal and ever-amazing designer-friend Will, the new site is looking great and it’s almost ready to go.

We’ll hopefully be fully moving within the next two weeks. Bookmark tbtech.info – it’s going to be our permanent address very soon.

What are we reviewing now?

I’ve got two things to review right now.

Firstly there’s the Dell XPS M1530 15.4″ ‘gaming’ laptop. My review unit is also the (PRODUCT)RED variety which is quite nice. It’s very good looking – somebody in the design department at Dell finally has the right idea. It’s pretty thin – not quite as thin as my hero notebook, the MacBook Pro, but it’s just as light realistically. However, it’s footprint is a little bit bigger, and it feels much larger to use on your lap.

Secondly, we’ve got the Palm Treo 500. This is a QWERTY smartphone – the first non-touchscreen Treo that I can remember. It’s running Windows Mobile 6 Standard on a 312MHz XScale processor, which can be a little slow at times. However, the full QWERTY keyboard is brilliant, and I’m nearly as fast on that as on BlackBerry’s SureType (Pearl) keyboard, which is my favourite messaging ‘pad at the moment.

Reviews of these devices will be complete in the next couple of weeks. Shots will be on Flickr over the weekend so keep checking the photostream.

Well, that’s pretty much it from the TB Tech front – check back soon for a weekend update on the state of the new site. For now, though, click over to tbtech.info for a peek at what’s to come. There’s still a few niggles, obviously… but expect good things from us in the next few weeks!


At CeBIT

20May08

As promised earlier in the year, I’m here at CeBIT Australia 2008, “reporting” with my colleague Tom Wilkins.

We don’t want to spend too much time couch-potatoting on the bean bags here, but we’ve seen a lot of interesting tech so far. Lots and lots of router tech; but some great new water-cooling technology through vendors like Altech computers – beast gaming machines, above A$5000.

Panasonic’s here again, I’m about to go see if their double-bed sized plasma is back this year!

Photos will be up on Flickr soon!


TB Tech Blog - Windows Live Mesh Beta

T. Baker & T. Wilkins

Like many aspiring technology departments, the innovative Windows Live section of the empire that is Microsoft has a ‘Labs’ section for its emerging, yet buggy technologies.

Usually this is the haunt of new, socially networked scientific calculators (seeing as everything must be socially networked these days) but over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been hearing more and more about the still-in-early-beta Windows Live Mesh. Check out the following vid:

Now – how cool is all that? Sure, at the start of the video, it’s just wireless communication (probably on the same network, too) between a Samsung i780 WM6.1 smartphone and a Vista Home Premium [(PRODUCT)RED, of course], then that PC sends the picture taken by Mrs. Glamourous to a wireless photoframe. Not too special. Existing tech does that already.

But in the scene after that is where things get really interesting. Presumably the father-figure of the family is sitting around in some U.S. airport, tapping away on his MacBook Air. And suddenly that image, taken just seconds ago by Mum on her Windows smartphone, appears in the Finder / Quick Look!

And even more interesting, the MacBook Air then starts communicating with a Zune which is notoriously non-Mac supporting.

The video then goes on to show another Windows smartphone, an HTC Touch Dual (suspiciously running what looks to be Windows Mobile 7) wirelessly sending some music to the media player in the daughter’s Volvo C70 – a car not actually equipped with the Microsoft Sync tech required to do this… perhaps it’s coming?

What I want to see, first, is Microsoft Sync come to Australia. It is out in the U.S. on some Ford models, but to see such well-integrated music/media syncing in automobiles truly accepted by consumers, it needs to go global quickly.

However, Windows Live Mesh represents a landmark product for Microsoft. It has opened a big hole in Microsoft’s traditional, closed-source views; it’s the first time that they are so willingly working to develop a solution for the bourgeoning Mac-user market, which they wanted to ignore. When it’s available to everyday consumers, and if it’s marketed right, Live Mesh has the potential to change how we think about technology and social communications.

Personally, I can’t wait.


TB Tech Blog - HP Pavilion dv2840tx Artist Edition

Pros

  • loud, statement-making design
  • wonderful display
  • massive 300gb hard drive standard
  • speedy processor
  • reliable
  • excellent value for money

Cons

  • Vista Ultimate should be standard
  • no high-definition drive available
  • display could be at higher resolution
  • design won’t appeal to everyone

Design

Whilst the casing design won’t appeal to everybody, HP never intentioned the dv2840tx Artist Edition notebook to appeal to the everyday consumer. This notebook is designed to swing a younger crowd into the HP stable – and perhaps even draw some graphic designers away from their MacBooks and into the world of Windows.

The actual casing was designed by Joao Oliviera from Portugal, as part of HP and MTV’s 2007 notebook design competition. Although thousands of stunning illustrations were sent in, HP has chosen a highly distinctive, and even thought-provoking variant.

The highlights continue under the lid, with the entire screen surrounds and keyboard layout painted a deep brown. In bright lighting this turns a rich chocolate, whilst in a more natural light it is almost black. The keyboard, having a ‘painted’ finish, can feel quite worn at times, but it is very comfortable to use, even during extended typing periods. It is also really well put together, with none of the keys bending and no difference in feel after a real keyboard bashing.

The touchpad is lacquered in a golden bronze finish and although it feels very ‘sticky’ at first, especially coming from a MacBook Pro user, it is very functional and accurate for when you are not using an external mouse.

The palm rests provide decent grip and do not grow too hot over extended use. They are decorated in a similar fashion to the lid of the notebook.

Feature set

The dv2840tx Artist Edition, like its other dv2000 series stablemates, ships with Windows Vista Home Premium. HP probably should have included Vista Ultimate for the premium market that this notebook will appeal to, if simply for Samba server integration (which alarmingly is not part of Home Premium).

HP does include some ‘bloatware’ with the notebook but we were very pleased to see that this does not clog the desktop with icons of free trials by default; all included ‘crapware’ is hidden away in the start menu and can be removed fairly easily.

Otherwise, apart from some full-version HP image editing software, the Artist Edition features a fairly vanilla Vista software set. Because it is not weighed down by unnecessary programs, the 2.4GHz processor, of the new ‘Penryn’ type from Intel can perform to its full capability.

In terms of expansion and external ports, the Artist Edition is pretty well set. Disappointingly you only get two USB ports, and they’re side by side, which can be a squeeze, but the laptop more than makes up for that lack by integrating three video out solutions – S-Video, VGA, and outstandingly – HDMI. You also get a solitary FireWire port, 100mbit Ethernet, a media card reader, 56k modem port, DVD read/write drive, and a special holder-port for the bundled Media Centre remote.

On the front edge of the notebook are three audio ports – one microphone in, but two headphone out ports. This is great, as that one time that you need to share audio with your friends, or are on a long flight, you’ll be able to plug two sets in.

Wirelessly, you can connect to the net via 802.11g spec WiFi or to peripherals via Bluetooth 2.0. Unfortunately we were not able to share any files between a MacBook Pro and the Artist Edition, but this may have been a niggly glitch with the loaner.

Performance

The Artist Edition is definitely quick, due to its 2.4 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo ‘Penryn’ processor. As already stated, it really shines right out of the box, and even under very heavy pressure from two or three Adobe CS3 applications running together.

For designers who may have a Mac Pro, or possibly a strong Windows desktop at the office, the Artist Edition can and will satisfy their needs for a portable Adobe app powerhouse. Photoshop CS3 was a standout on the Artist Edition, opening quickly and processing large edits faster than a base MacBook, which was a surprise.

The dedicated 128mb NVIDIA GeForce 8400M GS graphics card works pretty well for some light gaming, too. In highly intensive and immersive games it stumbled a bit but generally framerates of 25+ were achievable on most games with medium-high graphics settings.

Cold booting to the login screen took less than average lengths of time, too, usually taking around 45-60 seconds to achieve this.

Bottom line

The HP Pavilion dv2840tx Artist Edition is a great notebook. If you are an artist, or designer of some sort, than I am sure you would find this to be a reliable, fast, stylish portable powerhouse for on-the-go editing. However, if you really want the best of power and looks for your laptop, you’re still better with an Apple MacBook or MacBook Pro.

Whilst that may be, though, if you are after a Windows laptop for below A$2000, then the Artist Edition, or its slightly more conservative ‘Thrive’ sibling, and its decent feature list, above average performance and sheer comfort when working for extended periods should appeal to you.

The HP dv2840tx is too good to look over. Highly recommended.


Throughout these last couple of months, the numbers here at TB Tech Blog have been rising. We’ve had almost one thousands hits already, and it’s been just over a month since we started here at WordPress. This has been the direct result of your support.

You can view our latest news and posts in many different ways. Either you can view the site all the time, sometimes a boring task or you can subscribe to our RSS feed using Google Reader, NetNewsWire, Apple Mail, the new Mac application ‘Times’ and many other web based applications. 

Keep checking the website now and then also as sidebar widgets may reveal information that you may not see in full until a bit later.

Thank you so much for the support over the past few months. We really appreciate your help and hope you appreciate the work we put into maintaining this blog. Don’t forget there may be some surprises along the way as we gradually move through the year. Lots of little goodies to enhance the time you spend here with us and your knowledge on the latest things around.

Thanks again.

Will (the designer).


TB Tech Blog - iPhone 1st Gen

Generally, I don’t post news that’s probably been repeated thousands of times around the interwebs here at TB Tech – however, this evening has proved too important.

Our friends at Engadget have just broken the news that Vodafone (my chosen carrier) has indeed signed a massive contract with Apple, and it will soon be selling the iPhone — neither company has stated whether it will be the original iPhone, or a revamped model – in Australia, the Czech Republic, Egypt, Greece, Italy, India, Portugal, New Zealand, South Africa and Turkey.

This is all we know, and all Vodafone’s telling.

Will all those individuals who bought their iPhone overseas early, and brought it out to Australia for use (through warranty-voiding hacks, of course) be peeved at this news? Probably not. They got the head start on all this, after all.

As soon as we can get our hands on a legal iPhone here in Australia, we’ll have a comprehensive review up. However, the actual sale of these devices may still be months away. However, knowledge of the deal has given Apple and smartphone fans in general a far brighter outlook for the iPhone down under!

If anything more comes out of this news — like which model(s) they’re referring to — we’ll have it all.