Friday, July 11, 2008

LG PRADA KE850:Sophistication made simple

Key Features:

* Exclusive design and slim form factor
* Full touch-based Flash user interface
* 3" TFT display with a WQVGA resolution (400 x 240 pixels)
* 2 megapixel camera with auto focus
* Shoots video in WQVGA resolution
* Bluetooth 2.0 with A2DP stereo support
* microSD memory card slot
* Office documents viewer
* FM radio
* Standard 3.5 mm audio adapter

Main Disadvantages:

* No 3G or HSDPA support
* Unimpressive battery life
* Really basic web browser
* Fingerprint magnet

The LG Prada phone is truly unique and thus has no direct competitors. With its touch-based user interface it outranks all current fashion mobiles.

When it comes to product packaging LG already have a tradition of offering their products in high-quality retail packages that are visually attractive as the handsets themselves. The LG Prada phone makes no difference to that rule. The Prada phone retail box is a black cube and the contents are positioned on different levels inside the box.

The large touch screen display is the centerpiece in this work of technological art. It measures a good 3 inches in diagonal and supports up to 262K colors in a WQVGA (400 x 240 pixels) resolution. The original PRADA theme doesn't seem to take full advantage of the rich colors. But rest assured, there are full color interface themes, too. Above the display there is the PRADA insignia and the loudspeaker grill and below it are three control keys - the two receiver keys plus a Back key in the middle. This middle key is so small that it's hardly noticeable but proves rather comfortable in everyday use.

The battery cover is easily removed after you release it with the abovementioned release key. The LGIP-A750 Li-Ion battery with a capacity of 800 mAh is hidden below it. According to the manufacturer, the battery should sustain the handset for up to 300 hours in standby mode and up to 3 hours in constant talking. Now we weren't able to measure the battery life correctly since we used the handset heavily during our tests but under a moderate everyday usage you would probably need to charge the Prada phone every two days or so. The SIM card bed is located above the battery while the memory card slot is buried even deeper - being under the SIM card slot itself. You would have to take out the battery in order to take out the memory card which is a bit of a nuisance.

Epson PictureMate Dash (PM 260) Portable Photo Lab

The PictureMate is a lunch boxed sized printer with a handle that you can use to tote it around. This little printer does not require a computer in order to print your photos. It reads your images from its built in card readers, or an attached USB storage device. If you want to connect it to a computer, you have that option too. Drivers are available for Windows and Mac OS X.

The front of the PictureMate closes up for transport. To open the paper tray, you just press the spring loaded latch in the upper right corner. When the paper tray is opened, you'll also see the built in card readers. The top reader slot can accommodate MemorySticks and SD cards. The bottom slot is for Compact Flash Type I and II cards. Other card formats such as MicroSD and miniSD can be used if you have the appropriate adapter.

If we look at the back of the printer, we will find a USB port for external storage devices, a USB port to use to connect to your computer, a power connector, a battery compartment and an ink cartridge compartment.

In addition to loading images from flash cards and USB devices, you can also send images wirelessly from a Bluetooth enabled phone, PDA or computer. Slide the cartridge into the slot, move the locking lever to the lock position and close the compartment door. Totally quick and easy, just the way I like things to be.

Monday, July 7, 2008


Pros: Size, Wi-Fi, Ease of Use, Price

Cons: Seperate Pwr cord, "trickle charge USB"

After running around the world with Palm's E2 and having to switch my SD storage card for my Wi-Fi card and not being able to download files I decided to bite the bullet and purchase Palm's T|X. Upon opening the flashy business box the T|X gleems like a new penny. After a 3 hr initial charge I got to play with the T|X's features. Doc2GO, Versimail, and bluetooth connectivity all worked like a champ.

The media program played mp3s and showed pictures on a beautiful landscape or vertical screen in millions of colors. The most impressive feature was the ease of use of the built-in Wi-Fi. I detected not only my home's network but 3 others in my neighborhood. I took my T|X on the road for the first time and connected to the hotel Wi-Fi without any trouble. My only complaint would be with the battery life is not a long as I would like it to be but there are ways to get your battery to last longer. (i.e. turn off BT or Wi-Fi when not in use). Also, I am not a big fan of the 2 wire set up on the latest Palm products.

2 ports on the bottom of the device, one for hotsync and the other for power. What ever happened to the cradle? If your USB port supports 500 mA power you can "trickle charge" your T|X through it's USB cable and not the power charger. Word to the wise though..."trickle charge" takes up to 9 hrs vs 3 hrs on the power charger. The other 2 items I highly recommend is the hard case to protect your purchase and a 1 or 2 GB SD card so you can work and download from you Wi-Fi connections.

So, if you don't need to be connected all the time and don't want the monthly cost of a data plan on a smartphone like the 700w or Motorola Q but still want processing power, internet connectivity, and a robust email program for all your email needs then this sleek, beautiful, handheld is for you.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Cowon D2 (8GB)

Photos of the Cowon D2 really don't do the player justice--it has such a nice feel to it, so we definitely recommend some hands-on time with the player before you pass final judgment. The sleek body is wrapped in a brushed-metal border, where you can find some tactile controls: a power/hold slider, volume buttons, and a menu key. On the left edge, hidden beneath a flap, are two USB ports: one standard mini for syncing with the computer and one proprietary for use with the included wallwart power adapter. The bottom of the device features an SD card expansion slot for adding more memory. At 3x2.2x0.6 inches, the player is pleasantly compact overall, though it feels a bit weighty at 2.1 ounces.

The D2 is dominated by a 2.5-inch color screen, which makes it look quite similar to the iRiver Clix. Unlike the Clix, however, the D2's display is touch-sensitive, which means the majority of navigation is accomplished by poking at the screen PDA-style. Your finger will do the trick, or you can use the included stylus--which also acts as a nifty kickstand, by the way. The D2's touch screen is responsive, but we prefer tactile controls for MP3 players since a touch interface makes blind navigation impossible. All in all, the D2's user interface is pretty straightforward, with an icon-driven main menu that reminds me of Archos' PVPs, but deeper navigation will take some acclimation. Still, anyone with a bit of tech experience should catch on swiftly.

Getting started with the Cowon D2 is a simple task on Windows XP. (The player also works with previous Windows versions back to 98, as well as Mac and Linux operating systems.) You can simply connect the player to your computer using the included USB cable and begin transferring content, either via drag-and-drop in Windows Explorer or by using Windows Media Player (WMP). Cowon also includes a software CD that includes JetShell for transferring files and JetAudio for media playback and conversion. We prefer WMP to JetShell for syncing, but JetAudio is a worthwhile install--and necessary if you want to convert video for playback on the D2. Transcoding takes time, but it proved easy to do in testing, and the resulting files played back flawlessly on the D2. However, we had to use drag-and-drop to transfer it over--WMP gave an error message.

As with all Cowon players, the D2 is teeming with features. It offers support for multiple audio codecs, including MP3, Ogg, WAV, FLAC, and WMA--including subscription tracks. We tested the player with Urge and the D2 had no problem playing back the tracks and recognizing prebuilt playlists. (You can also create a dynamic playlist on the device itself.) Music playback options include shuffle and repeat modes, six EQ presets as well as a user-defined mode, and BBE sound effects (Mach3Bass, 3D Surround, and Stereo Enhance). You can also view photos and videos on the device. It supports WMV and AVI natively, and the aforementioned JetShell can help you with other formats, such as DiVX. There's also voice and line-in recording, as well as an FM tuner with autoscan and a seemingly limitless number of preset slots.

And how about that ever-pressing performance issue? As I've come to expect from Cowon players, the D2 sounds great when paired with a decent pair of headphones, such as the Shure E4c. You'll definitely want to replace the set that comes with the player--they sound pretty awful. The multitude of sound-adjustment options should help you find the perfect balance for your tastes. Overall, tunes sounded rich, warm, and detailed with a thumping low-end to satisfy bass-freaks. The stellar sound quality remained consistent across all genres of music. Photos looked crisp and detailed on the bright, color screen, and it's kind of cool to see the chunky, pixilated effect just before an image comes fully into focus. Video playback also proved more than acceptable--we wouldn't mind watching a 30-minute clip on the D2, though we still think the screen is too small for feature-length movie watching.

Friday, July 4, 2008

E61i: billed as Nokia's communicator device

smartphone communicator segment. This is where QWERTY thumbboards, an emphasis on messaging, and all around usablity are the keys to success. Devices such as RIM's BlackBerry 8700/8800 and Palm's Treo 680/750/755p models head out this group as the benchmarks for usability and style.
view large image

Nokia's initial forray into this arena was the E61. As its first QWERTY communicator device, it was received well by only a few. Problems with usability and an unclear product focus made it a hard peg for consumers to fit well. It didn't help that in bringing this smartphone to the U.S., Nokia stripped the E61 of Wi-Fi and a few other programs, making an essentially underspeced model in the E62.

The E61i was released in an effort to correct issues with the original E61, and also to give the world audience something not named Treo or BlackBerry to consider when looking for a solid smartphone communicator.

Here are a few other points about the E61i that I found cool/interesting:
When you put your SIM in and turn the E61i on, the Settings Wizard comes up guiding you through the process of setting up the data features of your phone. The only niggle here is that some carriers might be asked for gateway information that most users just do not know.
Microsoft Exchange integration comes through Nokia's Mail for Exchange. This is a free download, and will sync calendar, contacts, and email with your Exchange Server. It also supports direct push. I liked using this program, and it made it feel just like my Treo as soon as my calendar and contacts were synced over.
The E61i connects to your computer thru PC Suite. This is a complete device manager as you can even go as far as removing contacts from your phone or making a full backup of your contacts and other data. It will sync, install, connect to Nokia LifeBlog and update your E61i software if there is an update to be had.
Bluetooth (BT) functionality was simple and tenacious. Between my jawbone BT headset and my Moto BT headphones, the E61i would get a hold and not let go. Because it supported A2DP, it was just as simple as pairing the headset and then I could hear music over it.
The E61i takes microSD cards. I liked that it could take the cards, just not that I had to remove the battery cover to get access to the slot. Once the cover was off, I could remove the card without having to remove the battery (which is not the case for the SIM card). Much like the recent reports of the N95 supporting SDHC, I would hope that the E61i also gets this support, because having a number of fingernail-sized memory cards is not a good proposition.
Much of the E61i is made of a hard plastic, but the battery cover is made of metal and feels no differnt than the rest of the device. Compared to even the N95, the E61i feels like an expensive device, and a sturdy one.
As with many mobile devices, the E61i uses a propriteory interface connector for syncing, the Nokia pop-port. Much like Palm's multiconnector, this is a sure connection, but can make you uneasy when trying to take the cable from the device. A syncronized up and out motion seems to be best, but that didn't work all the time either.


Symbian S60 Feature Pack 1
Quad band (850, 900, 1800, 1900), EU WCDMA (2100)
Display: 320-by-240 pixel (QVGA), 16 million colors
802.11b/g WLAN
Bluetooth 1.2
microSD card slot (up to 2GB)
2.0 Megapixel camera, with video capture
Battery: 1500 mAh

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Canon PowerShot S3 IS

The Canon PowerShot S3 IS's aesthetic seems to be a cross between those of a classic Volkswagen Beetle and a Busy Box. Granted, it's the same body as its predecessor's, but the silver bits stand out more against the current version's iridescent, dark gray plastic than they did against the previous model's silver coloring. As with the S2, there's certainly enough here to keep you busy for a long time, though, and loving every minute of it. (For more details about the S2/S3's basic design and features, read the PowerShot S2 IS review.)

For the S3, Canon upped the size of the flip-and-twist LCD to 2 inches from 1.8, which is still disappointingly small. The company also added a ludicrous 16:9 aspect mode: not only does it simply crop and letterbox the standard 4:3 image, but the LCD is too small for a functional letterbox display. More useful is the new 320x240 60fps movie-capture mode, which produces slick little movies, as does the VGA, 30fps mode. Unfortunately, the camera still lacks raw format support.

Oddly, despite the different sensors--or perhaps because they use the same f/2.7-to-f/3.5, 36mm-to-432mm lens and Digic II imaging processor--the S3's photos look almost identical to the S2's. They display a broad tonal range, albeit with some clipping in the highlights and shadows, very good color accuracy and saturation, and acceptable edge-to-edge sharpness. Its noise profile follows suit as well: low until about ISO 200, then increasingly bad. Though the camera can now boost ISO sensitivity to as high as ISO 800, either manually or by enabling ISO Boost in a programmed-exposure mode, the noise at that setting is quite obtrusive. In general, the S3's photos look good but can't really shake the digital look, either onscreen or in print.

Performance, while not identical to the S2's, is either the equivalent or better. Start-up to first shot takes only 1.5 seconds, which is quite zippy overall, and extremely good for a camera that has a long lens to extend. Shutter lag in bright light runs about 0.4 second and doubles to 0.8 second when the lights get low. The S3 is also relatively responsive: 1.1 seconds typically from shot to shot, plus another second if the flash needs to recycle. Though it maxes out at 1.5fps in continuous-shooting mode, there's no buffer-constraint on the number of sequential shots at maximum resolution; I find that much more useful than a fast but limited burst mode. It was certainly sufficient to capture active dogs and children playing in the park, including kids spinning in a tire swing.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Giga-Byte G-MAX TA4 Mini PC

The market for the small form factor (SFF) PC, also known as the Mini PC, is one that has been steadily growing since Shuttle first shipped the SV24 in 2001. Other companies have since followed suit, answering consumers’ pleas for smaller (and quieter) computers by making alterations to the original Shuttle design. Taiwanese PC manufacturer, Giga-Byte, known best for their popular motherboards, entered the Mini PC market with the G-MAX TA1, a barebones kit noted for its incredibly small size. Its success with the TA1 has led them to follow up with other Mini PC models, such as those in the SA and TC lines.

The G-MAX TA4 (version 2.0) is one of the latest in Giga-Byte’s offerings, although it has recently been joined by the SA4 and TC4. It is, like its predecessors, a barebones kit, although there are enough options to flesh out an almost-complete system right out of the box. It’s encased in the G-MAX Mini PC form factor casing distinctive of all Giga-Byte Mini PC offerings, such as those listed in their Mini PC product page, as well as some offerings by others who’ve licensed the design, such as AMD.

in the package is the following:
PC Case and system
Specialized Heat Sink*
External Power Supply Unit
24X Slim CD-ROM or DVD-Rom (Optional)
PCMCIA Slot (Optional)
2.5-inch Slim Hard Drive (Optional)
Power Cord
Keyboard and Mouse (Optional)
Flat Screen to CRT Adaptor
System Assembly Manual
Windows Driver CD
Ribbon Cable
Screws for the Slim Hard Drive and CR-ROM.