• Red Logitech V450 nano review

    V450 packageThis mouse might not give any new or exciting feature, but it could be the one you like to get. With the value & reliability of Logitech could give you enough trust to have this as one choice of budget mice in the market, as you'll see later on.

    Opening box

    Although it has been packed in a regular package, it's pleasure to see the improvement in this area!

    V450 package V450 package

    From now on, we don't have to put so much effort tear this down anymore =) and this is what you will get--only missing here in the photo is 2*AA battery.

    V450 package

    For this mouse, the selling point should be the nano receiver which is exactly the same as you saw with Logitech Vx Nano, only the serial & frequency or channel which are different perhaps--as shown below.

    nano receiver: Vx vs V450nano receiver: Vx vs V450

    They--Vx Nano on the left & V450 on the right--are almost identical really!

    Design

    Logitech V450 is just a plain notebook mouse which is around for a while. There is no significant change at all--at least I can't tell.

    Vx Nano vs V450 nano Vx Nano vs V450 nano vs G5 V450 nano V450 nano vs Vx Nano

    It's pretty close to Vx nano, but a bit taller (or fatter?) The weakest point of nano receiver in my opinion is when you have to pop in and out of the silo in this mouse and from USB port. That's why they recommended to leave this in your USB port at all time.

    V450 nano V450 nano V450 nano logitech nano receiver

    You have to push the switch on the bottom then you will be able to access the silo. If you have ever use Vx Revolution, you'll know why I don't like this design.

    Usability

    Because there is no any customized button, Logitech SetPoint is useless--truly plug-n-play here. I really disappoint here since I usually assign right scroll as middle button, but I couldn't do that with this mouse since SetPoint doesn't even support it.

    left-hand V450 right-hand V450

    With ambidextrous design--which I don't really care of, it feels the same on both hand. Rubberized texture on the side give you a comfortable feeling. However, as you see above, notebook mouse is just too short to rest your whole hand on it. I think it's more comfortable than VX Nano, but not even close with VX Revolution. One more thing, it's heavier than any laptop mouse I ever have since it packs with 2 AA battery while VX Nano uses 2 AAA and VX Revolution uses only 1 AA. As a result, Logitech claimed that the battery life is up to a year! I bet it's close since the claimed of 3-month battery life on VX Rev and 6-month on VX Nano are real.

    What I don't like on this mouse is the glossy feeling. It just don't feel right to me when click the button--I much prefer the matte finished if possible. Your mileage might differ though.

    Conclusion

    With the price tag around $30 or $20 AR, it's a good value. It's not easy to find the better mouse at this level. You won't be disappointed unless you are expecting full-feature mouse =)

    Pros:-

    • good value
    • nano receiver
    • a year battery life

    V450 designed for Dell

    Cons:-

    • glossy finished! **
    • it's quite heavy
    • not supported by Logitech SetPoint

    (**) I just found that there is matte finish version as well, but it’s exclusive by Dell!

  • New to Outlook: Take one--backing up

    imageLike most people out here, I'm not really a fan of Microsoft Outlook since I know how big, fat, and sluggish it is. I used to ask ones that use Outlook regularly why you have to use and how you live with it. The answer I always got, unsurprisingly, is they didn't know either whether they had another choices or they need to use it with an Exchange account.

    Either ways, that's what I have to deal with also; many of my clients want to get things done in their own ways. In other words, using in the same--familiar--environment. Although they want to speed thing up, learning new things--like switching from Outlook to Thunderbird--is much less productive--than slow Outlook that they used to. Thus, the way to improve overall speed & performance is not that much--yes, one way is doing clean installation, but it just normally scares people when talking about this. Tweaking all configuration & clean all messes should be preferred path in any cases.

    In order to fix any possible problem which might occur, the best way is to be with it--understand it--by myself. Therefore I could get the most from it. I will write a series of switching to Outlook based on my usage--normally with Thunderbird. You'll see, in the end, if Outlook is worth switching from Thunderbird in my scenario.

    From what I have experienced, most of my clients have >4GB mailbox with Outlook and it ran really slow. More and more stuffs makes things slower; it's just the fact, we couldn't do anything about it. What we might try to alleviate this problem is separating the big file into smaller pieces. It's sadly that I still could find the way to separate an Outlook file in case we are using on multiple machine. If you are using on a single machine, there is a good way to do this =) As you will see later on.

    Nonetheless, the first important thing we should have done with Outlook is backing up! It would be great if you know that you would never lose all your important archives--thousands of e-mail in Outlook specifically. This leads to the take one: all about backup and file location of Outlook.

    For the traditional way, you can use import/export feature in Outlook which is a straight forward. Anyone could do that. However, this feature is not really built-in (from/to another format, besides .pst)--some might not able to do this without an install disc. So, an alternative will take this role--just find its source and copy it!

    Basically, Outlook data has 2 main parts: mailbox & auto-complete e-mail list.

    1. Mailbox -- Outlook will separate file by mail folder. For example, it always has Personal Folders--this stores in "outlook.pst" file as a default. If you have an archive, it will be "archive.pst" or if you have IMAP account, it will be each file (.pst) for each account too. All this will store in:-

    %localappdata%\Microsoft\Outlook or C:\Users\<username>\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Outlook or
    C:\Documents and Settings\<username>\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook

    While the first one is of Vista and the latter is of Windows XP. %localappdata% varible is only valid in Windows Vista though.

    2. Auto-complete e-mail list file -- this might be the vital stuff for some people. It is stored in Outlook.NK2 file, but in different place which is

    %appdata%\Microsoft\Outlook or
    C:\Users\<username>\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Outlook or
    C:\Documents and Settings\<username>\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook

    %appdata% variable can be used in both Windows XP and Vista in this case; which gives you a different location by each OS--AppData\Roaming\ for Vista and Application Data\ in XP

    If you keep these files safe, you will have no worry at all!

    imageIn case you find the popup,

    The data file 'Personal Folders' was not closed properly. The file is
    being checked for problems.

    You may take a look at the utility coming with Office 2007, "SCANPST.EXE" in C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office12, you will be able to fix that without opening Outlook. It might not operate faster, but surely better than having frozen Outlook on the background =) I'm not quite sure if this is available separately in Office 2003 or not though. Thus, I wrapped this program (2MB) up for grab here, just in case.

    So far, you are not likely to lose your data. Then we will talk about how to use it in the next part!

    In brief, Outlook has good solutions enough comparing with Thunderbird. It might not cover every settings like backing up Thunderbird profile’s folder, but it’s up to par in my opinion. Thus, Outlook 1, Thunderbird 1 in this round.

  • Gizmo! Jr 4GB flash in darned tiny package

    Nowadays USB flash is a common thing everyone have. However, this one--Gizmo! Jr 4GB USB flash drive--is come in a very very tiny little package which makes me wow every time I look at it. 4GB on this thing is really showing how far we have come in semiconductor world.

    two little Gizmo! Jr vs Logitech G5  Gizmo! Jr 4GB

    As you can see it's so small and it looks like chewy gum indeed. This is probably the smallest flash drive could do for USB 2.0 because of limiting of USB port size.

    Gizmo! Jr vs SD card Gizmo! Jr in use

    Did I say this thing is darned tiny? It's not that small when I saw in the picture as well; you will amaze if seeing this in person. Thanks to Gizmo! that they don't forget to have a lanyard hole so that we will have a chance to impress this longer--make it easier to find & not get lost too easily :-P Or you could even put this flash drive in your key chain.

    Performance:

    We will take a look at the performance side. You are expecting this to be lightning fast, ain't you? you were wrong. This is just plain USB flash drive, yet not very slow.

    HDTune_Benchmark_Crucial_Gizmo!_JR.

    I don't know if HD Tune could show anything about flash drive better than real hard drive, at least, you see transfer rate is quite good for this small thing and the access time is excellent as expected. Then I decide to benchmark with SiSoft Sandra to get in depth detail, here is what I got.

    Gizmo! Jr 4GB Performance

    As you see, this drive's throughput on smaller file is mediocre; which is not pass Vista's ReadyBoost requirement. Thus, if you expect to use this as ReadyBoost stick, go find something else.

    ReadyBoost Requirement:
    The device must be able to do 3.5 MB/s for 4 KB random reads uniformly across the entire device and 2.5 MB/s for 512 KB random writes uniformly across the device.

    Its performance is quite good on the bigger file though. Imagine copying one CD image file to this in 1 and a half minutes to 2 minutes, it should be alright in daily basis work.

    Conclusion: <p>It’s quite good, isn’t it? It’s tiny, yet acceptable performance. If you are looking for an USB flash drive, this one–$9.99 at the time I bought–is really good one. You can even use this as a gift–it’s damned cute–I really mean it. The only thing I found that is not really good of this tiny design is the plastic envelop. It’s really easily to loose and doesn’t have anything to hold it on tight. Probably they don’t design to give any protection to this drive anyway since it’s already durable by itself.</p> <p>Pros:
    » tiny
    » cute
    » Did I say it’s very small yet?</p> <p>Cons:
    » so-so performance
    » easily to get lost</p>

  • Bigger hard drive, there is something more besides size

    Today, I got a quick review of a consumer hard drive which has one of the biggest platter, 320GB/platter, around. This could demonstrate pretty well what you will get extra if you choose bigger hard drive instead of smaller & more value one. In this case, you will see the comparison between my previous storage--a pair of Seagate Barracuda 7200.9 160GB SATA as RAID0--and Western Digital Caviar SE16 640GB.

    Specification:

    Testing machine spec 

    Harddisk comparison 

    wd640gb-1 wd640gb-2 wd640gb-3

    One and two disks in hard drive really do effect how big hard drive is--I wonder how big 1TB (4 disks) would be really.

    Actually, I haven't had any clean installation for testing; however, I made sure that two hard drive had the same thing by copying an image from one to another. Fair enough, right? Before getting into benchmark results, as you see the comparison above, I have used 2*160GB as RAID 0 for quite a while. What I expect to get better by replacing with 640GB is less power--that's from 2*12W to only 8W and another thing I hope it's going to be better is CPU utilization. Why? because software RAID 0 I have used needs CPU to process also. Let's see how much we have to waste CPU work on software RAID in shortly.

    Right before benchmark, we haven't yet talked why bigger platter in hard drive helps. Imagine that you are on the center of the people circle, one has 16 people around. Another one has 32 people around. When you turn around 360 degree, you will see 16 and 32 people consecutively. No matter how fast you do, you still see the same. Yes, that's the same as hard drive head from both drives. When they read around a disk at the same speed, one with higher capacity per disk always reads more--which means better transfer rate theoretically.

    Benchmark:

    Start at how fast they help Vista boot up. I decided to start from hitting enter from GRUB menu since RAID required a bit more time on POST. This way will eliminate the factor from different controller that might effect the result.

    image

    Although RAID 0 is considerably fast, larger platter (more density to disk) could do better in this case. Now it's going to be HDTune time; we might get some more info of the reason underneath.

    HDTune_Benchmark_NVIDIA__STRIPE___298.10G-2 

    HDTune_Benchmark_WDC_WD6400AAKS-65A7B-3 

    As you see above, WD 640GB performs really impressive.It's almost the same transfer rate as RAID 0 320GB. What is getting even better is access time which you can see a result in boot time test. In addition, CPU usage decreases 50% from what it has to do on software RAID. Anyway, software RAID 0 still has pretty strong performance as expected--only little transfer rate drop in the end of the test.

    HDTune_Info_NVIDIA__STRIPE___298.10G-2 HDTune_Info_WDC_WD6400AAKS-65A7B

    Conclusion:

    If you are looking for a new storage device or finding a replacement from the old one, one big drive may not outperforms dual drives, but for one on one round, it definitely outclasses without doubt and something else around also could be another important factors to consider. Especially, if you do media center box or NAS, this helps you a lot. As always, the problem is choices.

  • Fujitsu Lifebook P7230 review

    Fujitsu P7230Fujitsu Lifebook P7230 is 10.6" laptop with everything you could imagine starting from almost full-size keyboard layout, DVD burner, Wifi, Bluetooth, 40GB Harddrive (this sounds to small but sometimes you have to trade off with the size as well.), SD/SDHC slot and the last but not least PCMCIA slot. All these things weights only less than 3lbs (2.95lbs to be exact.) Very impressive engineer from Fujitsu. However, there are a lot of compromise in this machine as well as you will see later on.

    Well, I have this for about 2 weeks, so it might not cover everything you need to know but surely cover almost everything you should know for one device. Fujitsu Lifebook P7230 is a third Fujitsu I have bought following Lifebook S2020 & S2110 over past 3 years. I like everything on them, besides 2 parts: one is screen which has mediocre view-angle screen and power connector on the machine itself since the longer we plug in and out, the looser that connector will be. It's really is. You know? It's pretty to have the same connector on almost every single model, but could Fujitsu have any better type? Now, it's a good time to move on to this baby.

    The reason why I bought this is my sister wants a machine which is light and small enough to carry anywhere. More importantly, it should have a DVD drive for her to watch DVD while laying over abroad. Last but not least, it must be reasonable price, or cheap enough for grab. I finally found that Fujitsu P7230 has everything she need and it is 2007 model which is discontinued--EOL a while ago. Thus, it is available only on the Fujitsu outlet. After seeking for a good spot for a while, I was able to grab this baby for $780 (new unit with 1 year international warranty). Yes, it's worth than $500 Eee indeed, at least IMHO. Let's see if you are agree.

    Fujitsu P7230 Specs:

    • Processor: Intel Core Solo U1400 (Ultra Low Voltage 1.20GHz)
    • Memory: 1GB RAM (1-DIMM slot, 2GB Max)
    • Hard Drive: 40GB 4200RPM 1.8" Toshiba MK4007GAL
    • Graphics: Intel GMA 940 (Integrated graphics)
    • Screen: 10.6” WXGA (1280 x 768) LED Backlight
    • Wireless:  802.11 a/b/g Wi-Fi (Intel 3945), Bluetooth
    • Size:  10.74"(w) x 7.91"(d) x 1.07/1.18"(h) (272.9 mm x 200.9 mm x 27.1/29.9 mm)
    • Weight:  2.93lbs (1.33kg) (with optical drive and battery in)
    • Fingerprint Reader with optional scroll ability
    • Main battery: 6-cell Li-Ion: 10.8V, 5800 mAh, 62 WHr (optional 6-cell modular bay battery: 10.8V, 2300 mAh, 25 WHr)
    • OS: Windows Vista Home Premium

    You may notice that there are quite unusual parts like Intel Core Solo and 1.8" hard drive. Not only are these 2 you not likely to find in ubiquitous system but they are really effecting the performance of the machine.

    Processor
    Intel Core Solo -- It's based on Core technology, but it has only one core, unlike its popular sibling Core 2 Duo. But one thing that Core Solo leads dramatically is power consumption since Core Solo U1400, for example, needs around only 5.5W maximum comparing to 10W, 17W, 35W of ULV, LV, and normal Core 2 Duo respectively.

    Hard Drive

    Toshiba MK4007GAL Toshiba MK4007GAL vs 3 quarter thick
    1.8" hard drive -- this is a big trade off for ultra portable device since not only does it spins at 4200rpm but also has a small plate which means the data would transfer less per round too. Anyway, it's still adequate for everyday use. The transfer rate is about 25MB/s or less. If you want more depth, you check out at tomshardware.com. There is a useful article about this drive.

    Build & Design

    Fujitsu P7230 Fujitsu P7230
    For this day, I think P7230 is kind of thick for its class, but thin and light enough to give people a wow factor. The one I have is matted white plastic chassis and has a matted pink on the cover. You can feel from the first touch that you need to be careful using it since it feels like a dirt magnet, probably I only have a black notebook which is pretty hard to see any dirt. However, opposite to what we feel, the notebook itself is solid. It may be not like a tank, but sturdy enough to use on the go everywhere. Plus you could take DVD burner off to save the weight as well; Fujitsu doesn't forget providing the cover in this situation too. That's quite a good thought here.

    Fujitsu P7230 LED & light Fujitsu P7230 vs Eee vs DVD

    LED status is another thing Fujitsu has learned from a mistake in the past (no light at all); now all status indicators come with an array of LEDs which is not too bright because of a plastic cover. This way it looks like eye candy which is very cute. In sleep mode, power button, however, does blink all the time; IMO they should have a dedicated spot for it instead since it's annoying sometimes.


    Screen

    Fujitsu P7230
    The screen has no latch as you see, it uses the hinge mechanism to hold the screen place both open or close. I guess it's because they tried to keep the screen as thin as possible. Although the screen is very thin and light, you still cannot open by one hand; you have to hold the body a bit while opening as well. (because the whole body weight is too light to support)

    For the viewing angle, it's just only acceptable as what we usually have on Fujitsu notebooks. That's sad; why Fujitsu doesn't put better screen, like the one on T2010, on all their notebook.

    7230 viewing angle 7230 viewing angle  7230 viewing angle 7230 viewing angle

    For screen quality, if you overlook a viewing angle, it's pretty good one, small and sharp. 10.6" screen with pretty high resolution--1280 x 768--has plenty of screen estate for daily work.


    Keyboard & Touch pad

    Fujitsu P7230 keyboard Fujitsu P7230
    For keyboard, the layout is like typical Fujitsu keyboard. Size is very comfortable to touch type on; there is no flex. One thing I concerned is dedicated Page-up/down which usually place at arrow key is gone to be with up/down plus fn key. Otherwise is really good.

    Fujitsu P7230 touchpad
    For touch pad, it's really strange to have a rough plastic cover the pad. It does feel different, but the sensitivity and response is very good as it should be. You could customize features in control panel though. For both left and right button, I really like that there is no "click" noise from them, but find that it's required a bit more than usual pressure to click which need some time to get used to. The fingerprint between two button are very responsive, probably the best I have ever used. (maybe it's because a software side as well)


    Ports

    back
    Since laptops recently most has arrays of ports on the side which I don't like at all, I found that at least Fujitsu is kind enough to put Gigabit Ethernet and modem port on the back. So that I don't have to have messy cables around my laptop much.

    front
    On the front, there is only SD/SDHC slot and a vent which I don't notice a hot air coming out from it.

    right
    On the right, there are DVD burner, USB port, and power port. Sometimes I found it's very awkward using USB port since the power cable blocked it.

    left
    On the left, there is a lock slot, VGA port, microphone, headphone jack, air vent, IEEE1394 4pin port, USB port, and PCMCIA slot. Honestly, I don't like an alignment of all the ports much. I rather prefer USB on the half back to on the front like this.


    Wireless
    The performance of Wifi is average. For example, I see about 5-6 routers around my room while the strongest Wifi I have can see about 9 routers or so. About throughput, it's about the same as others though.

    For Bluetooth, it's working as it should. I could transfer files to my treo without any hassles.


    Heat & Noise
    This machine doesn't build much heat really; but weird thing is the fan (I guess it's CPU fan) kicks out so often and it's LOUD, loud enough to called noisy when you are not in a good mood. I tried to set Fan level as low in BIOS, but it doesn't help much. I guess I have to live with it probably.


    Battery life

    image This is probably the best thing of this machine since the power management of Intel Core Solo, LED backlight and 1.8" hard drive are pretty darned good. As far as I observed, it consumes around 7W on average and 12W maximum. Thus I easily achieve 5 hours with Wifi connection all the time. In this case I set the brightness about 70% or so. If I dim the screen brightness to the lowest I could see and turn Wifi off, sometimes I could go upto 6 hours too.


    I can't imagine if I swap the DVD burner with bay battery which is about half capacity of the main battery, we should get about 7-8 hours without worry finding an outlet. That's going to be awesome.

     Fujitsu P7230 ECO button
    One thing I haven't mentioned yet is ECO button, it's similar to Battery Stretch feature on Thinkpad which means the machine will shut any unnecessary peripheral device, such as DVD burner, Wifi, Speaker, etc, off to get the maximum battery life. However, I don't see any significant advantage over taking care myself, but one thing, fan kicks off much less often than usual.

    Fujitsu P7230 speaker
    Speaker
    This is the weakest point for any ultra-portable machine because the smaller a device is means the even smaller speakers are as well. I can barely hear in normal environment. It's gotta be in quiet environment to hear anything clearly.


    Complaint
    The internal mic doesn't support in some programs which are very bad. I need to use an external microphone instead. Fujitsu should provide better driver for this very soon; but since this is not a current model, I can't see any chance of having that.


    Another issue is still in the sound scope. Not only do speakers not have power enough, but when we use headphone, it's still not very loud as well. I think this might be a driver issue rather than hardware. I hope to have an updated sound card driver to fix this issue as well.

    Fujitsu P7230 PCMCIA fake card
    PCMCIA fake card that cover slot is a real mess on this machine. It's not even stable in the slot, I can take it out without using the switch. In other words, it might slip out unintentionally. I prefer to have a slot cover instead of this.


    Conclusion
    All in all, I'm pleased with this pink baby with how small, portable, and light it is. And the most important factor for mobility this day is fantastic battery life. Even though it has some weaknesses, it wouldn't effect your work directly. Otherwise, for this particular color, I'm sure that girls would love to have it. For guys, there is an alternative, all black model, also.

    Sorry guys whom you want to see any benchmarks on this device, I really don't have time to finish them all. However, that's really not a point of this machine. I hope you guys understand the limit.


    Pros
    - cute
    - impressive battery life
    - light, small, portable
    Cons
    - mediocre view-angle screen
    - a lot of noise from fan (CPU?)
    - some sound card driver issues.

    more pics >>

    Fujitsu P7230 more Fujitsu P7230 more Fujitsu P7230 more Fujitsu P7230 more  Fujitsu P7230 more Fujitsu P7230 more Fujitsu P7230 more