Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Which Wish?

Which wish (from my Christmas "Wish List") was chosen and fulfilled?

A picture is worth a thousand words (the magazine is for size comparison):

Click here for a larger view.

(My apologies to PC Magazine, I also read PC World!)

I connected it up and needed to find out how long it needed to be charged. This is the reply I got from the manufacturer's site:
tech support?

I was very glad I didn't chose a Nintendo Wii though, as they were hard to get hold of - I actually saw some Playstation 3's on a shelf in a Circuit City store, but only heard talk of Wii shipments.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Suspended Search State

Well, I know that I wrote that my "Cellphone Research Stopped" over a month ago, but just to give the suspended cellphone (re)search status:

Consumer Reports advises chosing a cellphone carrier first, and then a handset. I hadn't read this article and went about my research the wrong way around at first, although I did not bother with cellphones from carriers I don't trust or have had problems with like Cingular and Sprint.

The phone on top of my shortlist was the T-Mobile SDA. This candy bar cell phone has a 1.3-megapixel camera built-in Wi-Fi. It runs Windows Mobile 5 smart phone edition as well. However I have had problems with being unable to get a signal previously with T-Mobile. Since T-Mobile's customer service is excellent, and their coverage has supposedly improved and I really wanted to go back to GSM, I tried an experiment with their prepaid service (it is actually one of the cheaper prepaid cellphone services out there) to see what the reception was like. It seems much improved, but I would need to do more testing. As much as I like GSM, I have found CDMA to be much clearer, to the point of not being able to tell if someone is on a cellphone. This may have to do with actual handsets though, as the CDMA handsets are much newer and technologically advanced in comparison to the GSM ones. I have heard a number of calls from an older CDMA handset which sounded terrible though.

The one Verizon (CDMA) handset which I have played with and which I liked is the Motorola Q. It also runs Windows Mobile 5 smart phone edition - meaning it doesn't have a touch screen or feature Word and Excel editing. This is basically what I'm looking for: a smartphone which is more cellphone than handheld computer. It has more functionality than a normal cellphone, allowing programs like SplashID to be run as well as a few other programs, but this doesn't interfere with its primary function of being a reliable cellphone.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

More Lite

Of course after publishing yesterdays blog about the Nintendo DS Lite I remembered some things I had forgotten to mention:

As with most items called something Lite, there is of course a Nintendo DS. The Lite version is slimmer and lighter (naturally!) and with brighter screens which are the same size as the original.

So, how big is the Nintendo DS Lite?

(I know hands differ in size, but this should give and better idea than saying it is about as wide as a Tungsten T3 and a bit longer.)

The Nintendo DS and DS Lite have also sold more units worldwide than the Microsoft Xbox 360, and the Sony PSP (according to this wikipedia List of Best-selling video game consoles)

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Micro, Lite

Although the Nintendo DS Lite was on my Christmas wish list, I was initially interested in the Nintendo (Game Boy) Micro*.

This gaming handheld was intended to tap the adult gaming market. It is as small as an Apple iPod Mini, and is extremely pocketable. It also costs only about $70.

Unfortunately it has a couple of problems and limitations:
The Micro only accepts GBA (Game Boy Advanced) game cartridges. There are supposedly 700+ games available in this format. I did some research and found a Nintendo website (Master Game List) which lists all the games for Nintendo and can be filtered by platform. A large percentage of the GBA games are aimed at the children's market (Pokemon anyone?). I also read that the GBA platform may be phased out next year or so in favor of the newer DS (Developers' System or Dual Screen) platform - "Nintendo sees at least one more Game Boy holiday" . This seemed to be confirmed by a listing of upcoming GBA game titles (on There are notably a lot more DS games scheduled for release in every category. Also, a number of games I had seen previously which appealed to me were Nintendo DS games and not Game Boy Advanced games.

The Nintendo DS Lite* on the other hand (excuse the pun!) supports both the older (GBA - Game Boy Advanced) and newer (DS) game cartridge formats. At first glance it looks like a handheld.

The bottom screen is touch sensitive, and the stylus is used for making choices and in-game control. Like the Sony PSP, the DS Lite has built in Wi-Fi, but it is primarily a gaming platform. The Opera web browser is currently available in Japan for the DS Lite, and should soon be making its appearance in the USA.

Oh, and the games... The graphics are not quite as detailed as the Sony PSP, but there are already almost 300 games available for the DS platform, and the DS Lite also plays the GBA games as mentioned previously. A number of games, like "Need for Speed:Carbon" come out for multiple gaming platforms (Playstation 3, Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii, Gamecube, Playstation 2 and Sony PSP), although with slight variations on the title: "Need for Speed Carbon: Own the City" is its title for the PSP.

* Articles on

Thursday, December 07, 2006

What's in a name?

The December 26 issue of PC Magazine mentioned the "Worst Company Name Ever": Revoltec .

I guess the company may have been thinking "A revolution in technology - Revoltec(h) - cool!" and no-one stepped back and really looked at the name (or no-one understood English well enough).

It almost sounds like the project code name Nintendo had for their next generation gaming console - the Revolution. Then they renamed it the "Wii" (see "Nintendo Revolution renamed" at Fortunately people don't seem to be put off by this moniker - the Wii sold 600,000 units in the first eight days after its release ( and others).

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Aliens beating PS3?

After seeing an article entitled "Gaming PCs Surpass New Consoles" on MyWay News I just had to comment.
The article says "The new video game consoles already look pretty wimpy compared with the latest gaming PCs", but then it turns out they are comparing Gaming PCs costing from $5000 to $9000 to gaming consoles costing a max of $600. The article admits that the high-end PCs have "an advanced 3-D graphics card from Nvidia Corp. that alone retails for $600 - as much as a high-end PlayStation 3", but still miss the point. Of course a $600 PlayStation 3 is not going to perform anywhere near as good as a $5000 Alienware Area-51 7500 mentioned in the article.

Six hundred dollars US for the Sony PlayStation 3 is expensive, but start charging five grand or more and there would be few(er) takers, although at that price Sony could probably include full PC functionality.

Oh well people will continue to compare apples and oranges I guess...

Monday, December 04, 2006

Essential Software

The Internet can be a wild place. According to statistics, an unprotected (Windows based) computer only needs to be connected to the internet for 12 minutes before getting infected. Also, a PC user probably wouldn't even know that their machine has been compromised. So, with some justifiable paranoia, I try to protect my computers with Internet Security software. I tend to go for the "Internet Security Suites", which can be frustrating at times. These software Suites usually include most of the security software components you need, like an antivirus, a firewall, anti-spam (sometimes more trouble than it is worth) and more recently anti-spyware.

Of course it is possible to put together your own "best of breed" Internet Security Suite from commercial or free software. I often go this route with either an new PC which already has some protection (usually a trial of an antivirus and a firewall) or an older one which is not used much. The main problem with this is that the software components from different vendors can cause conflicts and false alarms.

I've had Webroot Spysweeper raising alarms because a Norton component was trying to modify the "Hosts" file - I figured that I trusted the Norton utility although it was doing something it shouldn't. Other conflicts could possibly cause system crashes.

So far I've tried Norton Internet Security Suite (twice), McAfee Internet Security Suite (once, which was one too many), System Suite Professional (The utilities seem better than the Antivirus an Firewall, but it hasn't been really problematic) and finally ZoneAlarm Internet Security Suite which is top-rated by PC Magazine. PC World recommends Norton Internet Security Suite, but I've found it to be bloated an somewhat sluggish. The background virus scan also slowed computers down, although it may have been improved in later versions.

Although ZoneAlarm Internet Security Suite generates a lot of popups. I've basically standardized on it at home - having bought copies for 3 of my machines. It has a 30-day trial version, which is well worth trying if you want to see what the full suite is all about. After the trial period it simply runs as the free ZoneAlarm Firewall.