• Acer Aspire One vs MSI Wind

    Today, there is a comparison between 2 popular netbooks on the market now. First, it's Acer Aspire One, 8.9" screen, with the most reasonable price tag, $329 for regular version, and around $399 for bigger battery and hard drive which is the one here. Another one is MSI Wind, it comes with 10" screen, approx 1" extra from Acer Aspire One; However, they use the screen resolution. I believe it's such a tough call indeed.

    Besides these 2 netbooks, I also stack this up with Fujitsu P7230, 10" screen sub-notebook with DVD burner and everything packs in it. You'll see how they are =)

    <a href="/sites/default/files/2008/09/aspire1-wind/large/acer1-wind-p7230-1.jpg" rel="lightbox[acer-wind-fujitsu]"><img src="/sites/default/files/2008/09/aspire1-wind/thumb/acer1-wind-p7230-1.jpg" /></a> <br>
    <p>Fujitsu P7230--top, MSI Wind on the left and Acer Aspire 1 on the right. Looks like they are almost the same right, huh?</p>
    
    <a href="/sites/default/files/2008/09/aspire1-wind/large/acer1-wind-p7230-2.jpg" rel="lightbox[acer-wind-fujitsu]"><img src="/sites/default/files/2008/09/aspire1-wind/thumb/acer1-wind-p7230-2.jpg" /></a> <a href="/sites/default/files/2008/09/aspire1-wind/large/acer1-wind-p7230-3.jpg" rel="lightbox[acer-wind-fujitsu]"><img src="/sites/default/files/2008/09/aspire1-wind/thumb/acer1-wind-p7230-3.jpg" /></a><br>
    <p>Now you can see clearly that Acer Aspire One is really small. [Aspire on top, Wind in the middle, and P7230 as a base.]</p>
    
    <a href="/sites/default/files/2008/09/aspire1-wind/large/acer1-wind-p7230-4.jpg" rel="lightbox[acer-wind-fujitsu]"><img src="/sites/default/files/2008/09/aspire1-wind/thumb/acer1-wind-p7230-4.jpg" /></a> <a href="/sites/default/files/2008/09/aspire1-wind/large/acer1-wind-p7230-5.jpg" rel="lightbox[acer-wind-fujitsu]"><img src="/sites/default/files/2008/09/aspire1-wind/thumb/acer1-wind-p7230-5.jpg" /></a><br>
    <p>Adapter size is varied by the output power: 60W, 40W, and 30W consecutively from left to right</p>
    

    Next, we will compare the netbooks together to see what the differences between these two.

    <a href="/sites/default/files/2008/09/aspire1-wind/large/acer1-wind-1.jpg" rel="lightbox[acer-wind]"> <img src="/sites/default/files/2008/09/aspire1-wind/thumb/acer1-wind-1.jpg" /></a> 	<a href="/sites/default/files/2008/09/aspire1-wind/large/acer1-wind-4.jpg" rel="lightbox[acer-wind]"> <img src="/sites/default/files/2008/09/aspire1-wind/thumb/acer1-wind-4.jpg" /></a><br>
    <p>They are almost the same size really!</p>
    
    <a href="/sites/default/files/2008/09/aspire1-wind/large/acer1-wind-2.jpg" rel="lightbox[acer-wind]"> <img src="/sites/default/files/2008/09/aspire1-wind/thumb/acer1-wind-2.jpg" /></a> 	<a href="/sites/default/files/2008/09/aspire1-wind/large/acer1-wind-3.jpg" rel="lightbox[acer-wind]"> <img src="/sites/default/files/2008/09/aspire1-wind/thumb/acer1-wind-3.jpg" /></a><br>
    <p>Acer Aspire 1 could give you a little more space in your bag; that might be a deal breaker for someone.</p>
    
    <img src="/sites/default/files/2008/09/aspire1-wind/thumb/acer1-screen.jpg" /> <img src="/sites/default/files/2008/09/aspire1-wind/thumb/wind-screen.jpg" /><br>
    <p>Glossy vs matte screen: that's your choice of preference.</p>
    
    <br>
    <a href="/sites/default/files/2008/09/aspire1-wind/large/acer1-keyboard.jpg" rel="lightbox[acer-wind]"><img src="/sites/default/files/2008/09/aspire1-wind/thumb/acer1-keyboard.jpg" /></a> 
    <a href="/sites/default/files/2008/09/aspire1-wind/large/wind-keyboard.jpg" rel="lightbox[acer-wind]"><img src="/sites/default/files/2008/09/aspire1-wind/thumb/wind-keyboard.jpg" /></a><br>
    <p>As you see, although Aspire 1 is smaller, the keyboard layout is so much better! At least, Acer let us know that we can really have usual keyboard on netbook, not only a handicap one.</p>
    

    I hope you would get an idea which one you like from these quick comparison. If you ask me between these two netbooks, I might take MSI Wind since I hate glossy screen, but the thing is I prefer more usable keyboard. I just hope newer netbook would follow what Acer has done here with the keyboard. Good job, Acer! [What a surprise since I rarely found I liked things Acer did.]

  • Replacing Compaq V5000us' CPU

    Well, this notebook is quite old due to rapidly changing of semiconductor's world. It's equipped with a budget CPU and few of RAMs. Sometimes, it's just not quite good enough for everyday usage. However, it's still in a great shape; why we have to buy a new one while upgrading some components can extend its life for at least a few years. Yes, I know that this days you have choices of budget notebook for less than $400, not including popular netbooks though since that's not in the same category or target.

    How about spending about $75 and getting a decent performance from your old laptop sound to you? It's good, isn't it?

    This time, it's time of Compaq Presario V5000, 2004-2005 model, packing with AMD Sempron and 512 MB of DDR-333 RAM. To boost the performance, we have to max these 2 main factors. For RAM, it might be a bit hard to get a good deal since this is DDR-333, not currently DDR2. But you will be able to grab 1GB stick for around $30 with a bit efforts. For CPU, in this case, the only choice you have is upgrading to Turion64 series, at the time I'm writing, I can find a deal for AMD Turion MT-37 for $45 on eBay.

    Note: MT uses lower power than ML and DDR-400 is fully backward compatible, it just ran at lower frequency here, but possibly better timing than normal DDR-333

    Now it's time for finding these two. Remember, finding old stuffs, eBay and Google are your very good friends. For me, I already have a spare Turion MT-37, so let's begin.

    "Most of budget notebook doesn't require any knowledge to take them apart, besides unscrewing. So, turn it around and take them all out! -- just keep them in a good place. They are tiny and very prone to be missing. Also, you have to know that notebook doesn't build to be modified really, so don't rush doing all these steps. Although it looks fragile, it's quite tough with little care.", //1 "First thing first, take the battery out.", //2 "Then, take out all things you can.", //3 "Easy with the hard drive, once you drop it, it's gone. Such a fragile part in solid chassis. *here is another significant factor effecting the performance, but in my opinion it's not worth paying around $100 getting 7200rpm 2.5\" IDE hard drive for such a old lappy.", //4 "WLAN card", //5 "Just pull the antenna wire vertically, so we can take out this card.", //6 "We've done with easy parts.", //7 "Then, start taking screws out.", //8 "This magnetic screw driver comes in handy here.", //9 "CD drive is out as well.", //10 "Keep them in a safe place", //11 "Now, we have to flip over to the top side and get ready to disassemble it.", //12 "First, the top panel, if you find difficulty taking out, use your very thin card and try each side. Slowly and patiently--don't force it too much, you don't want to break the lock. I'm pretty sure.", //13 "Now, we can take keyboard out, unlock the cable first though.", //14 "", //15 "", //16 "Be careful with these antenna wire while you are taking things out. It could be damaged easily.", //17 "", //18 "Here it comes, CPU", //19 "Trying to take heatsink out is not that easy, nor too hard.", //20 "There is a glue around the vent + fan too.", //21 "taking out", //22 "At this point, you will be able to pop the new one in, don't forget silicone (arctic silver is recommended, but don't put too much since the older CPU package reveal core solely and spilled arctic silver is not a good idea indeed) Be sure that you wipe out the old silicone on the heat sink, it's not a good idea to leave it since when you applied this back on CPU (+new silicone) you will have a lot of spill and non-unified thermal conductivity.", //23 "After assemble it back by reversing the procedure. You will get same old brand new faster notebook. ^_^ Enjoy!" //24 ); for ($i=1;$i<=24;$i++) { ?>
    <div class="liImage">
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  • Thinkpad X61T -- spec & performance

    Spec

    X61T specification

    This is based on Santa Rosa platform (2007 Intel platform), so there is nothing much to say since the successor, current generation--Montevina platform-- is a bit better in almost every aspects. Anyway, the distinction here besides the screen is low-voltage CPU. It really helps boosting the battery life into over 5 hours easily while this is a bit high threshold for its generation and it's still performing good with 4MB L2 cache. You'll see later on.

    Performance

    Although the tablet PC doesn't need any kind of topnotch performance, a general idea how fast it is still concerned most people.

    First with Windows Experience Index, as far as most people are concerned, this could easily compare to everyone's system without messing setting up anything else.

    WEI: X61T

    Start-up time: [from windows splash screen to be able to open ie8 with fully loaded myCapsules.com page. It's not necessarily complete loading everything though.]

    X61T boot time

    wPrime -- testing multi-core CPU solely.

    wPrime: X61T

    HDTune - for both internal SATA hard disk and the external one to see how good USB controller performs.

    HDTune-via-SATA HDTune-via-USB

    CrystalMark2004 -- it might be dated a bit, but you'll get a good idea.

    CrystalMark2004: X61T

    PCMark05: X61tPCMark05

     

    3DMark06 - X61t 3DMark06

     

    Let's say that Warcraft III is able to play flawlessly, but I couldn't get all max--just some. I just hope I could play Diablo III as beautiful as the trailer was =) Otherwise I have to play on another machine which is sad!

    Battery Life

    Power Plan Option This probably is the selling point of this machine. 8-cell battery with 66Wh can live up your machine 5 hour normally with Wifi on and <=30% screen brightness. In this scenario, it uses about 12.5-13.5W regularly. However, if you shut off all wirelesses, dim the screen all the way to the lowest, you might be able to reach 6 hours with 10-12W power consumption.

    When playing 720p Xvid video, the processor usage is vary between 20%-60% and sucks the juice 20.2W maximum w/max brightness or about 17-18.8W when dimming you screen to my regular usage--40%). So you may get the idea on the shortest life this could be, 66/20 = 3 hours and 20 minutes.

    In short, it's impressive, but not surprisingly fantastic this day.

    Heat & Noise

    It's almost impossible to hear the machine whining even though you would feel not that hot air coming out of air vent regularly. As a result, you will feel a bit warm on the palm rest, more specifically on the right side where WLAN card sit underneath. It also is very hot if you are using High Performance power plan, but almost no one wants to use that on the go anyway. Probably only when it sits at your desktop at work/home. I do recommend you to have a notebook cooler, it really helps.

    In case you are using Power saver profile with maximum power saving for wireless setting, you will barely feel the heat from the machine, but that's a trade off for wireless range & performance as well. You have to try and see if that's possible for your scenario.

    Service

    This is the part I haven't had an experience much for most computers I bought. However, for X61T I had sent this to a repair center once, just to fix the BIOS error after updating via Vista. At first, it was great, IBM, repeatedly IBM is the one who is in charged for all Thinkpad machines, not Lenovo, sent me a box for shipping it to the repair center with overnight shipping free of charge if yours is under warranty. You could track all the process via IBM's web site instantly. Nonetheless, in my case--my very unlucky day perhaps, I got a wrong machine back after only couple days from the day I sent in. Although I made an arrangement to ship the wrong one back immediately. It took me full 36 day for waiting my tablet PC back home and more than >30 hours for >20 times calling about the issue. You can take a look for more detail here.

    After my experience, I got 3-month warranty extra to cover their fault and an offer for memory or extend 6 more month of warranty from the Lenovo's employee. Sadly, it's just the offer, but no actual result or even any contact explaining what was happening really.

    In brief, no matter how much I like Thinkpad machine, I couldn't stand to support their service, excuses, and liars. My best bet would be not to extend to any extra warranty, just find someone you trust to fix it and stay away from their depot or service center as much as you can. That's just me though; your mileage might be different story.

    Drawback

    Well, it's just normal for everything. Things always have good sides and of course bad sides. For Thinkpad X61T, it has a real pain issue of its own Multitouch feature. It's the driver for that which cannot work with Photoshop easily. In other words, without your effort, you will not be able to use pressure sensitivity in Photoshop. It's like Photoshop doesn't recognize the Wacom pen in a normal way. You will have to work around a bit to get it work. Some might find it's not working, some may find it work. This is the way to try so; if you have any difficulty getting it work, just ask.

    One more thing I told you earlier is the microphone jack. It just doesn't work as it should be--I have to loose the microphone connector a bit to get it work. If you have X61T, please let me now if you have the same problem.

    ThinkLight on X61T Next, I hate the thing that looks like it has, but actually doesn't. I'm talking about ThinkLight. If Lenove didn't want to have this feature, why on earth do they have it as Fn + PgUp. Although they might come up with an easy excuse like decreasing cost for creating a new layout, it still sucks not to get rid of it completely.

     

    The last which I'm not sure I could count is its Ultrabase is soo expensive. Thus I couldn't buy it :-P

    Conclusion

    If you are looking for a professional tablet PC, Thinkpad X61 Tablet won't disappoint you since this is one of the most powerful tablet PC available. It's worth every penny although it's expensive. With all features like ActiveRotate, swivel screen, and Multitouch, can draw an attention from your friends easily, but those features will be useless without practicing. You just have to spend time to get used to, then you will be able to get the most of it.

    For the time I'm writing, there are so many newer machines available but only some of them come with more powerful solution. You may have to decide between performance & battery life which is more important to you.

    Pros:

    • Multitouch screen
    • Solid construction
    • Excellent Keyboard
    • Great battery life
    • TrackPoint! (it's a pros for me!)

    Cons:

    • Service is below par
    • Multitouch driver issue
    • most of ThinkVantage softwares are not really good
  • Thinkpad X61T -- build & design

    When you take a look at Thinkpad series, they all are similar. That's really the point of this design--simply the best. There is no fancy stuff or wow factor for folks around, but if you give it a shot, you will know this plain design has fulfilled with magnesium alloy and pretty study plastic, give this system a strength. You will find no flex anywhere in this machine, even on the screen.

    Thinkpad X61 Tablet Thinkpad X61 Tablet

    Well, to whom you are new to Tablet PC; you may like to know what is really a distinct between notebook and Tablet PC. It's mostly the screen that matters. For Tablet PC, you will have an active digitizer, mostly from Wacom, and swivel screen so that you could put your machine into tablet mode.

    Actually there are 3 types of Tablet PC available: -

    1. Slate Tablet PC -- this doesn't have keyboard attached.
    2. Convertible Tablet PC -- this is what Thinkpad X61 Tablet is; like notebook, but can change to tablet mode.
    3. Hybrid Tablet PC -- there is only a few on the market, e.g. HP TC1100. The thing is you could detach the screen from the keyboard completely to use the same way as slate one. Plus, you can attach a keyboard whenever you want touch-type, faster way to input your information.

    Now, you may get the idea and you probably are the same as me which I don't think Slate Tablet PC could fulfil my needs. As a result, I got the convertible one as you see.

    Well, the main thing which concerns me a lot before buying tablet PC is the hinge. Instead of 2 hinges at least to support the screen, tablet PC has only 1 and it provides swivel screen capability also. When I first got Thinkpad X61T, I did feel it was a bit fragile since the screen could be tilted a bit on both left & right side. However, from almost-full-year heavy usage, I haven't seen any sign of wear. Which is a good news here. Therefore, it's just the matter of design that couldn't do more sturdy in term of feeling.

    Views

    X61t X61t X61t - screen X61t - tablet mode X61t - Tablet mode w/ CD case X61t in-hand

    Yes, as the photos shown above. You can write while in notebook mode, but it's just not that comfortable since the screen is not solid at that point; you'd better put it in tablet mode or just have some help from CD case--to have a comfortable angle to write.

    IMG_0178 IMG_0179

    It's really simple black-box design. There is nothing changed much from the predecessors.

     x61t - outside LED status x61t - LED status

    This is the basic Thinkpad feature. You will be able to know whether your machine is sleep or not with only a glance. Even though the lid is closed or opened, "no problem!"

    Tablet PC features

    x61t - hinge x61t - back hinge

    Swivel screen is rock solid; seems like it will last forever. Though it can be rotated only one way, clockwise, not both way like some systems. Thus, Lenovo doesn't forget to remind you the direction you need to turn screen around. They probably are aware of broken hinge =) if you turn it in opposite way forcibly. I found this is annoying me a bit because sometimes I just want to turn the screen to the person next to the right of me too. I just can't!

    x61t - tablet buttons x61t - navigation button

    Since in tablet mode you will not able to use anything on keyboard side, fingerprint sensor needs to be on screen side. Also, buttons on screen side are intentionally designed for using in tablet mode. Power button with lock power button switch which is to prevent accidentally power button press are the first in line. Ctrt+Alt+Del--tiny button, rotate screen, Tablet shortcut menu and Esc button are next in line. I was surprise to find all these buttons need very hard press to register, unlike the keyboard & mouse. IMO, it's good to prevent accidentally press but it's too much because a button height are on the same level as chassis already and the most important one has the lock already. I see no reason why they have to make any extra protection like this. For the navigation button on the right is great! very soft and firm when using it, but I rarely use it since I mostly use pen to control in tablet mode. Unsurprisingly, the only button I really use is rotate screen one =)

    Screen

    The construct of this is very robust. No matter how hard you press the border or the screen itself, you will not find any of ring occurred like when you press regular LCD. If you leave the fact that this screen is not super bright, this is the splendid screen you can get. Fantastic screen angle, uniform brightness throughout the screen in contrast to Thinkpad X61/X61s screen which is not so great.

     screen-side-view screen-tilt-back-front

    X61t - screenThere is almost no invert or wash out color. It's almost 180 degree viewing angle on both left-right and up-down side.

    On the left side, it shows how good back light on this screen is--there is almost no visible leakage. Nonetheless, some will find this matte screen is too dim to their favor. grainy screenBut to me, I prefer matte screen to glossy one any day since I can't stand the reflect on glossy screen, especially when you are using in tablet mode in a room with a lot of light. It's hurting my eyes!

    For graininess, most people told that all multi-touch screens are grainy. Honestly, I have no clue since from what I see it's in normal condition. It doesn't have any graininess like the right picture shown--that's what I can tell so far.

    I probably have to have very grainy screen and not-grainy one sit side-by-side first. Then I could tell much more detail on that. I will do comparison when I get HP tx2500z in hand though.

    Input devices

    keyboard layout For the keyboard, there is no question about how well Thinkpad keyboard is: well constructed, nice size and space between button Although the keyboard is firm--no flex by any mean, I don't really think this Thinkpad keyboard layout is great. Instead putting all home, end, PgUp, and PgDw as the function of arrow keys could be better. By the fact that, when you want to use PgUp/PgDw, you are likely to use arrow keys as well. IMO, they are just too far away from each other. Well, I prefer this layout than putting all 4 buttons as new column on the right like many manufacturers like to do.

    Also, Thinkpad always has something people afraid of--TrackPoint. It just the matter of preference whether like touchpad or trackpoint. For me, I hate Touchpad & love TrackPoint. 

    X61t keyboard trackPoint

    There is very little click sound when touch on this keyboard & mouse button and you also feel very very soft & responsive on every buttons. You will find very hard to find the keyboard to match this.

    Array of ports

    X61 Tablet provides enough ports for everyday use. Something extra like eSATA would be nice to have, but as you know, Thinkpad doesn't have any fancy anyway. :'(

    X61t - right

    Right: 4-pin IEEE1394, 2*USB port, Headphone and Microphone jack, modem RJ11, power jack, and Kensington lock

    X61t - left

    Left: air-vent, USB, VGA port, Ethernet port, SD & PCMCIA slot, and pen silo.

    X61t - front

    Front: Wireless switch and the screen latch switch.

    X61t - back

    Back: the battery!

    As you see, they all are on the side. Frankly, I don't like this much since I prefer to have Ethernet port on the back or at least tend to the back rather than tend to the front like this. It's a mess when connect all of them. Lenovo might think that they offer UltraBase, but they should think that not all of customers purchase that!

    Dell Latitude XT (top), Thinkpad X61T, HP tx2500z (bottom): adapter Dell Latitude XT (top), Thinkpad X61T, HP tx2500z (bottom): adapter

    The adapter is just normal size as anyone expected.

    Audio-related

    X61T - speakerThis area probably is the less significant things on any notebook/tablet PC especially on small machine (<13" screen.) The mono speaker you see on the right places on the bottom of the machine around center of palm rest. On the maximum volume, you will be able to hear clearly if and only if you are in quiet environment. With AC on (or fan on), you will barely hear a sound--only mosquito noise you will hear. Although that's fortunate, it is not up to my expectations. If it's only a bit louder, I won't complain.

    The built-in microphone is on the screen side. Its sensitivity is great, on the other end will be able to hear anything you said normally, but sometimes you will get an strange noise [like when microphone is close to speaker] when making a VoIP call. It's annoying sometimes, but acceptable. Odd things I found is microphone jack is not working as it should. In other words, when I plugged my microphone firmly, it didn't work. I had to loose it a little, then it would work. I still have no clue either this is the defective or the strange jack itself. I tried with several microphones which work flawlessly on another machine; the results were the same. However, I don't have time to send to repair center anytime soon. Probably right before warranty is about the expire, that will be the time.

    For spec & performance, please go on

  • New to Outlook: 2nd take--make it more intuitive

    imageAfter playing around for weeks, some Outlook's default settings are just not that intuitive. Well, I'm based on IMAP account experience only.

    strikethrough mailFirst and the most annoying thing Outlook has is choosing to inherit EXPUNGE command too straight forward. By putting strikethrough line on the letters, instead of hiding from inbox and showing it on Trash. It's just not what our common sense is--I think, in fact, this is what Microsoft put in our brains, that's why it causes the problem. I really have no clue why Microsoft did this, but at least there is a way to work around this.

    • hide messages marked for deletion.

    Many Views you can choose

    >> This is what Outlook should set as a default really! Having options is good but it just needs to use the right one as a default to eliminate frustration (or confusion)

    • purge automatically when switching the folder.  (Ctrl+Alt+s | edit | account properties | General tab)

    Auto purge 

    But what we will lose here is the capability to recover (aka recycle bin) It's just what you have to trade off when using Outlook or move to trash folder manually every time. Or you have any option to purge by yourself in edit | purge menu, this way, just remember to do it once in a while.

    <img style="border-top-width: 0px; border-left-width: 0px; border-bottom-width: 0px; border-right-width: 0px" height="224" alt="unopened items but no " src="http://mycapsules.com/sites/default/files/2008/08/image_45.png" width="300" align="right" border="0" inbox??="inbox??" unread="unread" />After solving this issue, then another issue, which bothered me, needs to be fixed as well. The problem is when opening Outlook, it will not initialize IMAP folder automatically, even when its schedule time to send/receive messages. Outlook will show you only there is a new mail arrived. However, oddly, there will be no bold inbox which indicate where unread mail is. It will be no problem at all if you have only 1 IMAP account, but in my case, 3 IMAP accounts, it's definitely annoying.

    Anyway, there is an indicator showing that you have initialized the folder or not

    This is the problem!

    Here you will see how different the icon is. If your icon's inbox is not plain folder, you will have no problem with it, but if not, you will have the same issue I concerned and leaving it alone don't help a bit.

    I usually open at all time, but sometimes it's closed no matter it's intentionally or not. When I reopen it, as you know, Outlook which is a big butt program is not ready after a few seconds like Thunderbird, you may have 5 seconds to check others and come back checking your new mail. At that time, I don't want to waste time click on each account's folder to activate IMAP folders. I want to know which account has a new mail at this point. Well I think you get my needs and scenario now.

    The way to workaround this is let the special page works for you. It's Personal Folder - Outlook Today page.

    outlook today

    It can be customize to show at when starting and show the message of the folder you want as well. It might not have the name you want (in my case above, they all are inbox) but it does the trick we want indeed.

    Customize Outlook Today Select Folders you want

    Just check at inbox, or any you want--at least 1 per account, Outlook will work like you expected it to be now. As a side note, you may wonder if Outlook takes longer to load. Yes, it does, but that would mean you will have few seconds extra getting other tasks done while waiting it in background. It's just worth than click each account yourself.

    Another little annoying thing when you are using IMAP account on Outlook is Personal Folders, which means nothing to us, will always be on top. Mail: Favorite folders: limited customizationThere is no way to get rid or rearrange of it. You probably will never notice this problem if you are using super high resolution screen, but mine is only 1024px*768px, so it's what I'm concerned.

    What we need is to create a shortcut in Favourite Folders, this way you will have the folders you want within an easy reach. The draw back here is you couldn't rename it, it will be like "inbox in bla bla bla" which is too long. It will not show how many the unread mails are since you are likely to expand this column that wide and narrow the rest until you can't read your mail easily. You just have to live with it though. However, if you really want to have super customizable place for it, Outlook also provide Shortcuts for you, but I found it's sometimes not convenient as much as Favorite Folders in Mail group itself.

    Shortcuts: fully customized links

    Here you go, if I could rename in Favorite Folders like I did in Shortcuts it should be really awesome.

    The last thing in this take is opening Outlook with keyboard shortcut. If you are like me, you will probably find the way to open it as quick as possible and do not want too many click in order to open it. Sometimes moving cursor is less preferable than just press the combination of few keys.

    There are many tricks here, but what I use is the simplest one and believe that it's the best one.

    Quick Launch

    Here it is, Quick Launch! Frankly I hadn't known this shortcut was existed for a long long time so far.

    Normally when you open Outlook for the first time, it will create a special shortcut in quick launch automatically, but if you already deleted that or it was somehow gone, just create a shortcut by on your own on the desktop and drag it into quick launch. The reason why I called the special shortcut is it's not only a shortcut to "outlook.exe" solely. It must have a parameter which stop generating a new Outlook's window every time we call--only restore the existed window. When you create a shortcut, just put this in the command line.

    "C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office12\OUTLOOK.EXE"  /recycle

    You will not end up having several Outlook's windows in your task bar like this

    tons of outlook

    Also, you might want to hide outlook when minimized--only show as an icon in task bar

    hide when minimized

    After all these tweaks, I can say that Outlook is much better (with IMAP) than it was. Although this is the method making Outlook close to Thunderbird in term of feeling, there is no where to compare both of them, so I think I'd better leave the comparison for this take. Surely, next time will be the direct comparison between Thunderbird 3.0 and Outlook 2007. Stay tuned.

    Note: if you guys have any idea or tweaks, please share :-D