• Dell Latitude XT review

    This probably was the most innovative tablet PC so far since it was the first time capacitive touch was included. However, Dell's decision that chose ULV CPU instead of more powerful CPU like LV one might be a deal breaker for many people that looked over this machine.

    By the way, Dell Latitude XT still has enough potential to be one of very good tablet PC with almost every things you could imagine to have on tablet PC:- good quality build like all Latitude series, multi-touch screen (in Apple's sense, not Lenovo's one), pretty thin chassis. Moreover, on hardware side, besides ultra low voltage, there are plenty of things you could imagine. We'll see how it is later.

    You might feel I compare this machine directly with Thinkpad X61T, but I got to say that it really is. Since Thinkpad X61 Tablet is my 1st tablet PC, I just can't avoid doing that indeed. Anyway, I do believe that you will feel and get my idea better this way than just talking what the heck this machine is alone.

    Well, as usual, preview of Dell Latitude XT; just enough for calling your attention:-

    And some Norwegian guys, PeliasMobile, did a stress test on Dell XT, it's unbelievably incredibly durable. Check this YouTube clip out!

    Now you are ready to begin exploring Dell latitude - build & design

  • Dell Latitude XT -- build & design

    Simple, plain and no flashy, as business line machine would be, still apply to the beginning of the new Latitude series, XT. At first sight, it looks like Thinkpad series of Dell indeed--solid construct, beautiful design (at least to me.)

    Dell Latitude XT Dell Latitude XT Dell XT

    The machine itself looks slim while it isn't that slim. If it's not a tablet PC and use thin screen, I think it can be fight with Sony VAIO competitively. However, it's tablet PC, then the screen is thick due to the active digitizer which required a circuit to build EMF, electromagnetic field, around the screen to catch a pen for input.

    Dell XT -- surface Dell XT - bottom

    Talking about the material a bit, Latitude XT seems to be solid, but I feel it fragile somehow. With the material and so on, it just doesn't feel *tough* like you can find with Thinkpad. It's more like Macbook Aluminum which makes you feel solid and fragile at the same time. Probably it's like the chassis might be prone to scratch or similar.

    stack1-thumb stack2-thumb stack3-thumbstack4-thumb

    As you see above when Latitude XT stacks up with Thinkpad X61 Tablet and HP Pavillion tx2500z, their thickness is pretty close.

    Dell XT - LED status inside Dell Lat XT - LED status on the lid

    Black - Blue is theme of this machine and quite a lot of recent machines. It used to be cool to have blue LED while LED technology was boom firstly. But I feel like blue LED's color is too intensive and too bright since I like to use PC in the dark room, so if this is Alienware, I would change it to yellow or anything similar indeed :-P Anyway, regardless the color, I wish I had non-blink dedicated sleep indicator and power-on indicator like Thinkpad because that is much more convenient to see the status. Also I'm pleased to see indicator on the lid; I do like that a lot when using Thinkpad X61T.

    Dell XT power adapter is another interesting thing, perhaps Dell think it so good. Thus they don't care that much about battery life :-P As you can see below, it's 45W adapter, very light and slim, yet has pretty long cable suiting any situation. However, it runs hot because of too small heat sink, maybe. Nothing effects performance though. Kudo to Dell for having this.

    Dell XT vs Thinkpad X61T vs hp tx2500z adapter Dell XT vs Thinkpad X61T vs hp tx2500z adapter Dell Latitude XT - adapter Dell Latitude XT - adapter Dell Latitude XT - adapter - cable

    Screen

    Screen probably is the selling-point for Latitude XT since it is equipped with N-Trig dual digitizer which cannot be found elsewhere. Active and capacitive digitizer are new combination that Wacom are trying to enter, but with unknown reason Wacom still cannot make paper real thing. So N-Trig took the advantage cooperating with Dell producing Latitude XT first. By putting capacitive digitizer on the screen, it does make screen grainy, but fortunately in an acceptable level. If you have iPhone or iPod touch, you know what it's like. When you look at it indirectly, esp. when backlight is off, you will see like the net all over the screen. That's the digitizer. For the active one, it's underneath the LCD layer, thus it's not an issue here.

    Dell XT - horizontal viewing angle

    When it comes to quality of LCD, XT screen, which is matte, may not have exaggerated contrast ratio like glossy one. It's a choice of preference here. For viewing angle, all tablet PC screen supposes to be a great one; this might not truly right for this screen. Horizontal viewing angle is great. There is no invert or washout color at any angle, but, for vertical one, the viewing angle is just too narrow in my opinion (Probably I expected it to be as great as X61T screen)

    Dell XT - vertical viewing angle

    Tablet Features

    Dell Latitude XT Dell XT - jog dial

    Jog-dial like what you found on Sony Clie or Blackberry is the navigation I like most for tablet PC. It's real easy to navigate--UP/DOWN, click and back button are so nice. It just works beautifully as we want, nothing more.

    Dell Latitude XT -- tablet buttons Dell Latitude XT -- LED - light sensor

    In tablet mode, Latitude XT flies beautifully. I can tell that I'm enjoy using Latitude XT as a tablet PC more than X61T. I don't know if it is form factor that matters. But it seems XT just fits better in this role. For the buttons on the screen, there are power, ctrl+alt+del, rotate the screen, Dell Tablet setting, and E-mail. 2 latter buttons are able to customize fitting you need with press and press - hold options which is a big plus. If Dell allows to change all 4 buttons freely, that would be awesome. Close to the indicator, there is a ambient light sensor which will help changing screen brightness to suit the environment. However, I found that's not that practical and too sensitive to the light. As a result, screen brightness changes frequently even your hand pass over that sensor. Thus, I choose to disable it.

    Dell XT - fingerprint

    Fingerprint sensor also is a nice plus if and only if you are changing the default security program, Wave, to UPEK Protector Suite QL. Since Wave can gain nothing from fingerprint sensor, but for logging in. With UPEK Protector Suite QL, you will be able to use you finger as password manager for ie, Firefox and some other applications without any hassle. One drawback of both programs Dell provided is you will not be able to swipe you finger in another direction. In other words, it won't recognize your fingerprint if you enroll your finger by swiping from left to right, but using from right to left. It's just a bad algorithm from the developer which you won't find in Thinkpad X61T. If this is regular notebook, it should be alright because no one will turn notebook around for swiping finger, but that's not the case of tablet PC.

    N-Trig Technology

    This review will not be completed if I haven't talked about this. You guys may wonder how good this is comparing to Wacom for both for pen and for finger.

    Active digitizer -- EMF pen

    Dell XT - pen-silo Dell XT - pen

    Although N-trig pen has every features it should have, pen itself has nothing to compare with Wacom since N-Trig is the only provider and that means you don't have a choice like Wacom which you can buy from any 3rd party you like while performing the same. Well, especially lacking the intuitive erase at the top of the pen, that almost every Wacom pens have, and inconvenient erase button size on the pen are killing this pen. Probably because I was using Wacom pen first, so I have a bias about this, but I thought if anyone has tried both of them, more than 70% would choose Wacom pen instantly. However, the weight and balance of this pen is good, not too heavy or light. There also are choice of pen tip which are blue and black one. The blue one is softer while the black one is hard--good to have choices.

    For the feeling while inking, I could tell that Wacom gives a bit better feeling to ink and more importantly much better in term of compatibility such as pen pressure sensitivity in Adobe product family. I would suggest N-Trig firmly that you should work on this immediately if you are expecting to have better market share.

    Capacitive touch

    Inkseine - with touch

    This is the real selling-point of N-Trig and only thing N-Trig cares perhaps. As you may know, that N-Trig released pre-beta Multitouch driver for Windows 7; It SUCKS. No pen support, new features which is good, but the thing is they couldn't even give the quality on par with the old driver for Vista. In other words, when you hold the title of the window steadily by finger, it supposes to be as steady, doesn't it? But the window is jerky around continuously, not even a sec that it sits unmoved. It might sound good to have newer features; however, stability is much more important in order to work. If they can't get back in the right track on time, I expect to see Wacom release its own capacitive touch and N-Trig would be only the history. Nonetheless, Wacom don't have it so far and N-Trig driver in Vista work quite well--not the best you could imagine, but it can keep up your expectation. One thing I like to notice is the matte screen might not give such a fluid experience when dragging finger around like iPhone, but it works reasonably well, I must say.

    Comparing to pressure touch or passive digitizer, they all have their own strength. Regardless of how smooth capacitive touch can be when controlling, moving something around or drawing some simple line or curve, it cannot beat passive digitizer in term of precise touch and flicks at all. You may imagine using Windows Mobile with capacitive touch and you have to tap very small icon/option, it just could do comfortably because your finger will block what you see completely. But with iPhone and passive digitizer would be not a good match as capacitive touch too because its interface implements for finger--probably not big fat one :-P, but reasonable size should tap just fine. Flicks in Vista is another I like most for tablet PC; I just can't do that as often as I did with X61T because of this kind of touch screen. So it always ends up with a tradeoff, you have to choose.

    Before go to the next topic, I would like to mention that there are 4 modes when using N-trig dual digitizer: pen only, touch only, auto mode, and dual mode. Pen or touch only is straight forward. Dual mode is using both digitizer simultaneously, but when pen is close to the screen, capacitive touch will disable instantly. I found that I have a problem with this mode a lot while inking since my writing behavior is lifting pen up too high sometimes. As a result, my palm which sits on the screen is registered as a dot or line as always. Thus, auto mode is the only solution I have and it works great. Auto mode is a mode which gives pen more priority than finger; which means when pen gets closer to the screen, finger will be disable as expected. However, when moving pen out of EMF range, finger will not be resume yet--no palm rest problem. What you have to do to enable finger again is double tap finger on the screen twice to let it know that we want to use finger to navigate now. Then capacitive touch will work as normal. I think it's quite nice idea.

    Input devices

    Dell Latitude XT - touchpad - trackpad

    Dell is kind enough to put both Touchpad - TrackPoint for you to choose what you like best. Touchpad is a regular one; just plain pad with 2 buttons. These 2 buttons are below the palm rest level, which is annoying a bit, but there is no/very minimal click noise from this which is very nice. The sensitivity is nice, no scroll bar as a default like many machine. You, nonetheless, can tweak in Dell TouchPad software for vertical or horizontal scroll bar or even disable the pad and/or any button. It's great to have highly customizable options, but I rather want simpler software which more embedded to the OS than this--that's only my taste though.

    Dell Latitude XT -- trackpoint

    TrackPoint or PointStick or anything you want to call is likely the be the primary pointing device on business machine with unknown/unclear reason. Probably this market used to have only Thinkpad and they get used to TrackPoint, I guess. It's sort of love or hate stuff. Some people, like me, love to use this; some might want to get rid of it completely. But I got to say that this track stick on Latitude is a shame, required too much pressure, less sensitivity, lack of middle button to scroll, and last but not least 2 buttons aren't not well place. They are almost below the level of palm rest which is not so comfortable using it. Like touchpad, you can disable this if you don't want. You might want to know which one I primarily use on XT. Believe it or not, TrackPoint is still my preference over Touchpad any time. (my finger, touching directly on the screen, rules them all though)

    Dell Latitude XT - touchpad Dell Latitude XT - touchpad

    One thing I like to comment about this is flat design of these 2 devices. I suspected that this might design to avoid the problem that some people face from Thinkpad Tablet which the screen lid touches TrackPoint causing moving cursor while inking. Although I still haven't faced this issue myself, that should be painful while experiencing that. However, with this design, it might be too expensive trade-off between functionality and possible annoying problem. If I were Dell, I might find the way to disable TrackPoint in tablet mode and make this more usable. That should be hell lot better.

    Dell Latitude XT -- KeyboardKeyboard, another important thing for convertible tablet PC, on Dell Latitude XT has a nice feedback, very minimal audible feedback. Although it's far from Thinkpad's level, it's nice enough to touch typing for long article without a problem. Most people may like the fact that Ctrl button is on the left most, unlike Thinkpad which Fn is there. I found using these 2 machines back and forth make me confused and frustrated, not their fault at all :-S For this keyboard layout, PgUp - PgDw are on odd place--next to arrow keys, but very useful. I found myself use it quite a lot. Also, Del, Home, Insert, and End are on the top of backspace which can be complained. I can use all this button w/o seeing it with only a little time practicing. Nevertheless, down side of this keyboard is full of Fn + button. I much prefer to have dedicated buttons for volume control rather than 2 hand-operation for just increasing/decreasing volume.

    Array of ports

    I like the fact that Dell provides port on the back, esp. Ethernet port, which you rarely find these days. I just think it's much cleaner to plug LAN cable and Power cord on the back and have a clean space around the laptop.

    Dell XT - right
    Right: Wireless switch, Wi-Fi Catcher switch, USB 2.0, SD card reader, Express Card/54 slot, headphone and microphone jack.

    Dell XT - left

    Left: N-Trig pen silo, WWAN antenna connector, IEEE1394 4-pin port, USB 2.0, Air vent, and speaker

    Dell XT - front

    Front: Nothing.

    Dell XT - back

    Rear: Power jack, VGA port, Gigabit LAN port, and USB 2.0 + power port [as far as I know, it provides 5VDC with enough current to run DVD burner at full-speed, sadly nothing else will work with this special port though]

    Dell XT - bottom

    Bottom: Expansion port for Media base/Slice Battery

    Audio & Speaker

    Dell XT - right

    Although no one expects portable machine to have a good speaker, it's good to have a nice speaker that's loud enough to work in noisy environment. As usual, bass you won't find here, but I can confirm that mono speaker on Dell Latitude XT is nice and loud both in notebook and tablet mode. Thanks to design team that put the speaker on the side, so it would work well in any situation. By the way, for built-in array microphone, I still am not able to confirm if it's working great or not since I find it too low sensitivity. In other words, I have to yell in front of the screen like insane just to record my voice clearly or on another end will hear me.

    Well, this is not the machine of the speed, but I will talk a bit about that in [Dell Latitude XT -- spec - performance](http://mycapsules.com/review/dell-latitude-xt/2)

  • Configuring PIX Firewall -- part I

    Well, after playing with PIX firewall simulator for a while to get used to all command in different shells. Thus, it's time to set on the real one. What I have is PIX 501; I bought off of craiglist.org only $70.  First thing we have to know is removing old password and restoring or clearing factory configuration.

    Well, what is a requirement in order to remove the password is:-Cisco PIX Firewall - # show version

    • PIX itself for sure
    • Console cable
    • PIX Password Lockout Utility - this is depending on PIX software you are running--beware of BIOS version which is not the same thing, you can see when you try to login to PIX shell as figure on the right. (But surely you couldn't get in because of unknown password)
    • TFTP server
    • HyperTerminal in Win XP or PuTTy application for accessing PIX
    • Time!! It's actually taking < 10min for whole process.

    For TFTP server, I recommend you this, http://sourceforge.net/projects/tftp-server/, easy to use, freeware and open-source, what else can you ask for. For setting up you, just have to go through installation wizard.

    TFTP server statusThen, you have to edit a bit in configuration file.

    [HOME]
    c:\myHome
    [TFTP-OPTIONS]
    Read=Y
    

    Afterward, putting PIX Password Lockout Utility in home directory of TFTP server and restart the service or start stand-alone command in the menu to be able to see server status while doing all this.

    So far, we have TFTP server ready. Now we need to access PIX by connecting console cable and ethernet0 interface to gateway or router which TFTP server connected to.

    Network Diagram
    Fig 1. Network Diagram

    Once you set all this up, get yourself into terminal/PuTTY. Then you have to interrupt boot process for monitor shell by pressing BREAK or ESC.

    Cisco Secure PIX Firewall BI0S (4.2) #6: Mon Aug 27 15:09:54 PDT 2001
    Platforn PIX-501
    Flash=E28F660J3 @ Ox3000000

    Use BREAK or ESC to interrupt flash boot.
    Use SPACE to begin flash boot immediately.
    Flash boot interrupted.
    0: i8255X @ PCI(bus:0 dev:17 irq:9
    1: i8255X @ PCI(bus:0 dev:18 irq:10)
    Using 1: i82557 @ PCI(bus:0 dev:18 irq:10), MAC: 000d.2370.40ac Use ? for help.

    monitor>

    What you have to do is setting IP address of PIX, gateway, and TFTP server, and Password Lockout Firewall filename.

    monitor> interface 0
    0: i8255X @ PCI(bus:0 dev:17 irq:9
    1: i8255X @ PCI(bus:0 dev:18 irq:10)
    Using 0: i82557 @ PCI(bus:0 dev:17 irq:9 ), MAC: 000d.2870.L0ab
    monitor> address 192.168.10.99
    address 192.168.10.99
    monitor> server 192.168.10.128
    server 192.168.10.128
    monitor> file np63.bin
    file np63.bin
    monitor> gateway 192.168.10.10
    gateway 192.168.10.10
    monitor> ping 192.168.10.128
    Sending 5, 100-byte 0x7206 ICMP Echoes to 192.168.10.128, timeout is 5 seconds:

    Success rate is 0 percent (0/5)
    monitor> ping 192.168.10.128
    Sending 5, 100-byte 0x7205 ICMP Echoes to 192.168.10.128, timeout is 5 seconds:
    !!!!!
    Success rate is 100 percent (5/5)
    monitor> tftp
    tftp np63.bin@192.168.1O.128 via 192.168.1O.1O<6><3><3>.<11><11><11> ........................................
    ...............................................
    Received 92160 bytes

    Cisco Secure PIX Firewall password tool (3.0) #0: Thu Jul 17 08:01:09 PDT 2003
    Flash=E28F640J3 @ 0x3000000
    BIOS F1ash=E28F66OJ3 @ 0xD8000

    Do you wish to erase the passwords? [yn]

    There you go, your PIX will be accessible afterward. However, this will not erase any configuration in the PIX. You have 2 choices of doing it though:-

    1. pixfirewall(config)# configure factory-default
    2. pixfirewall(config)# clear configure all
    

    What difference between these 2 commands are the first one will restore back factory default value which enables DHCP server for inside and get IP address by DHCP for outside, but the latter is clear everything, so you have to use console to start configuring from the beginning.

    By the way, if you read up to here, you, might be like me, are starting to understand all PIX commands and configurations. Then 'clear configure all' is the way to go. Next time, we will go through how to set this up in existing network. Stay tuned.

  • How to install and play with Cisco IOS/PIX Simulator

    What we need:-

    • GNS3 - is a graphical network simulator that allows simulation of complex networks which included Dynamips, Dynagen, and Pemu (PIX Firewall emulator) project. Download here
    • Cisco IOS ROM - if you want to play with PIX, then you need that ROM image. If you like to use router also, then you have to have router ROM image too. Since this is belong to Cisco, Google is your friend, then download it.
    • Serial # of PIX if you want to use PIX firewall simulator. Again, Google is your best friend here.
    • Turn Windows Features on or offTelnet or SSH client
      • For Windows XP, you are likely to have telnet turn on by default
      • For Vista, telnet is disabled as a default, so go to Control Panel | Program and Features | Turn Windows on and off | check at Telnet Client the list, then click OK.

    In order to use this simulator, you have to install GNS3 first. All you have to do is going through setup wizard which you don't have to tweak a thing.

    GNS3 setup wizard GNS3 setup wizard

    GNS3 setup wizard GNS3 setup wizard

    GNS3 setup wizard

    Then you have GNS3 in your start menu.

    GNS3 start menu 

    At this point, you will have set some options to let GNS3 know where IOS image is.

    GNS3

    • For PIX firewall, click edit menu | Preferences... | Pemu
      • then put image file, key, and serial in PIX image, Key, Serial key consecutively.

    PIX image file

    • For Router, click edit menu | IOS images and hypervisors
      • put image files to Image file field, then save the image of the model you like to use.

    Cisco IOS image files 

    If you are at this point, you are good to go now. You can drag any device from left sidebar to create any topology you want.

    PIX simulator

    Figure above, I am simulating firewall for testing. You have to click start to be able to connect to the firewall (red dot changes to green indicating that Firewall is running)

    PIX simulator - start

    For setting, you can click Console to connect to firewall through telnet program.

    PIX simulator -- telnet

    All set.

  • Keyboard Protection Film

    ไปเดินเล่นมา ลูบๆคลำๆ netbook เล่น เจอแผ่น silicone ปิดอยู่คล้ายๆ macbook แต่เรียบๆๆมาก ไม่มีปุ่มตัวอักษรนูนๆ นีกว่าเค้าตัดมาปิดเอง ลองถามดู ขายด้วย 80 บาท

    เลยลองเอามาดูหน่อย หมู่นี่มีเด็กเล็กๆกินเก่งๆกำลังหัดเล่นคอมอยู่

     DSCN5362 ติดมาบนกระดาษเลย ตอนแรกก็ไม่เห็น นึกว่าอยู่ด้านใน

    ขยำเล่นได้ไม่ต้องดูแลมากนัก ล้างน้ำได้

     DSCN5364

    ลองกับ Dell Vostro 1500 พอดีเลยไม่ต้องทำอะไรอีก

     DSCN5367 DSCN5353

    ส่วน Fujitsu s2110 ต้องตัดออกโดยรอบ ก็ไม่ยากใช้คัตเตอร์คมๆหน่อย อย่าออกแรงมาก มันจะย่นตามได้ วัดขนาดแล้วตัดเลย ลองน้ำหนักดูกับขอบๆแผ่นก่อนลงตัดจริงก็จะดี

     DSCN5354 DSCN5360

    ความแนบไม่ต้องพูดถึง อย่างที่เห็นเลย ไม่แนบมากนักในเครื่องที่เหลือเนื้อที่รอบๆคีบอร์ดน้อยหน่อย

    การมองเห็น ก็สามารถเห็นตัวอักษรได้ดี ถึงแม้ว่าไม่ชัดมากและดูเลอะๆไปบ้าง แต่ก็ไม่มีปัญหากับการมองเห็น

    ความรู้สีกสัมผัสขณะใช้งาน มันดูนิ่มๆให้ความรู้สีกแปลกไป และขาดการแยกแยะระหว่างปุ่มไปบ้าง แต่สำหรับคนที่พิมพ์สัมผัสอยู่แล้วอาจไม่มีปัญหา จะมีปัญหากับพวกครึ่งๆกลางๆ ดูด้วย เดาด้วยอาจขัดใจได้ :P

    ทำให้เครื่องร้อนขึ้นหรือเปล่า บางคนอาจสงสัย 555 คงไม่มีเครื่องใครระบายความร้อนทางคีบอร์ดนะ ถ้ามีก็ไม่ยากนัก เอาออกได้ทันที ไม่มีผลข้างเคียงใดๆ

     

    ผลการใช้งาน 1 วันที่ผ่านมา ได้ผลมากสำหรับเด็กน้อย เธอเอามันออกก่อนเล่น และเธอก็เล่นของเธอเหมือนเดิม กินขนมเหมือนเดิม <' '>DSCN5370  .. ขยำๆๆ .. ทิ้งซะ .. อิอิ ..

    อีกไม่นานเราคงได้ review การถอด Dell Vostro Keyboard ออกมาล้างกัน ...