• Logitech VX Nano review - good but not great

    Logitech VX nanoVX Nano seemed to have very positive feedback from most people. That was why I decided to get on my own, but the result was not that pleased. You will see later on how come it ends up like this.

    Personally, I would like to have just good solid mouse with at least backward button & 1+ customizable buttons. One acting as “Ctrl” for zooming [hold Ctrl + scroll up/down] and another one acting like middle button (since most Logitech’s and some Microsoft’s real middle button needs too much pressure, but I find razer does quite nice about this) That’s all I want.

    Logitech VX nano - package Logitech VX nano - in the box

    The box is what we expect from Logitech premium line, but there is nothing interesting about it. Logitech gives the mouse, nano receiver, USB extension cord (or cradle if you would), and a pouch which is nice to have for traveler.

    Design

    Logitech VX Nano is laptop mouse which is not too big, not too small. It’s about just the right size for most people, of course. Also, ambidextrous design makes this mouse attractive for lefty whom they find difficulty find featureful one, especially from Logitech.

    What they all share in term of design, VX & MX series, is Hyper-fast scrolling, material, rubberized grip. However, each of them has some sort of special feature :-P exactly for VX nano, it has to be its nano receiver. Although nano receiver was exclusive by VX nano, Logitech decided to share this unique feature—actually, hyper-fast scrolling wheel too—to its siblings, such as V450 nano (for the receiver) and V550 nano-clip (for both receiver & wheel)

    Hyper-fast scrolling wheel

    This distinguishes all VX & MX series and Logitech from other manufacturers. What I can tell you is once you use it, you will need it. At first, it might be too fiction-free kind of feeling. It seems pretty hard to control and make it precise, but learning curve is pretty short, believe me. That’s the reason why I grab VX Revolution, VX nano, and MX Revolution—all of them. You gotta try it to know how it really feels. Hard to explain in words, but very impressive.

    Logitech VX Revolution, Microsoft Bluetooth 5000, VX nano, G5, Razer
    Logitech VX Revolution, Microsoft Bluetooth 5000, VX nano, G5, Razer
    Logitech VX Revolution, Microsoft Bluetooth 5000, VX nano, G5, Razer
    Logitech VX Revolution, Microsoft Bluetooth 5000, VX nano, G5, Razer

    On the picture above, there are Razer on the left, Logitech G5, VX Revolution, V450 nano, MS bluetooth notebook mouse 5000, and VX nano on the right most. VX nano is considered as pretty small and flat  one.

    logitech nano receiver
    Logitech VX nano
    Logitech VX nano

    2* AAA battery is in pretty nice compartment--easy to replace (although we have no reason to open this often) Nano receiver slot is also pretty cool. Just push back in when you don’t need hanging on USB port, that would turn the mouse off automatically and when you want to use it, just press red button, receiver will pop out very nicely. I really like how Logitech care about all this detail.

    Logitech VX nano - in hand
    Logitech VX nano - in hand
    With rubberized grip on both side, it makes VX nano comfortable in hand. Basically it’s just depending on how you hold mouse in hand. If you are a claw gripper, that would not a a problem at all. but with the shape of VX, it’s just not that comfortable with palm gripper kind of guy, including me. It’s up to par in term of comfort though.

    The only thing I would love to see improvement of every Logitech mice is ‘click’ noise. It’s not as loud as Creative Fatality’s, but there are still many model that can do better than this, such as Microsoft Bluetooth Notebook Mouse 5000. It’s just annoying sometimes, esp. in the night, but its wheel is quiet, unlike other brands. We couldn’t get everything at the same time apparently.

    Usability

    Logitech VX nano  - SetPoint
    Logitech VX nano - SetPoint
    On its own, 3 extra buttons are backward/forward and search (opening Windows Explorer to search) But with a little help of SetPoint, Logitech Utilities, VX nano will be capable of customizing all buttons and checking battery status. That's what make VX nano a bit more special. You can change a button to serve like another one, keystroke, or even program shortcut.

    As usual, by design, nano receiver is meant to stick in USB port all the time (and because of its very small size, it’s harder to pull out USB port :-P). Thus VX nano will have to conserve energy by itself. VX nano will turn to low power mode automatically after not being used for a while, but fortunately you will not feel anything at all. It just lives up immediately after first movement or click, zero lag issue. That’s only reason why Bluetooth mouse ain’t popular perhaps. By the way, Logitech also give power button on the bottom in case you think you won’t use it for very long.

    Battery life of VX nano is at least up to what Logitech claimed, I don’t use that often, but my battery since I first bought VX nano last about 8 months or so. I think for heavy use it should live up to 5 months at least without worrying about turn on/off.

    Drawback - there are two things I don’t like about VX nano.

    1. First, it’s the thing making me leave VX nano in a dust. It uses middle button as shift scroll mode [hyperfast or normal] Instead of using dedicated button on the bottom like VX nano, Logitech use middle button!! which mean there is no real middle button on VX nano too. That’s really dealbreaker for me, esp. I use middle button a lot—although I don’t use real middle button that much, I do sometimes and that doesn’t make me happy switch scroll mode back and forth again and again.
    2. Next, backward and forward buttons position. Instead of putting on the side for thumb to click, Logitech decides to give all work to index finger only—I just find it’s not that comfortable or intuitive to do so. Even though 2 buttons are nice, pretty easy to press, and quiet, they just don’t do the job for me.

    It might be only me though since they all are up to your usage pattern and familiarity.

    Conclusion

    What mode I can say? Most people would love to have this mouse, but I think there are better one out there, esp. VX revolution. However, VX nano has its own advantage which others in line don’t have—tiny receiver that you can leave in USB port, and small (portable size) shape and easy to have it in the bag. Well, it’s all up what your need most =)

    Pros

    • 3+ customizable buttons
    • Hyper-fast scrolling wheel
    • 6-month battery life
    • Nano receiver

    Cons

    • Forward & backward buttons’ placement is not comfortable
    • Sacrificing middle button as a Hyper-fast wheel is not worth
    • ‘click’ ‘click’ noise
  • Shuttle K45 WHS box review

    Honestly, I have used this as my Linux box, but once I had review HP EX470, which has only single core CPU, I decided to put WHS on Shuttle K45 with dual core Intel CPU and see the differences it may have. Although I have only 160GB on K45 box, it should give an idea whether or not CPU can make any significant difference.

    First thing first, my K45 box specification.

    CPU Intel Celeron dual-core E1200 @1.6GHz 512kB L2 Cache 800MHz
    Operating System Windows Home Server (based on Windows Server 2003)
    Display Don’t Care
    Memory 2*1GB DDR2-800 RAM (2 slots in total)
    Graphic card Don’t Care
    Chipset Intel i945 + Intel ICH7
    Hard Drive 1*Seagate ST3160811AS 160GB
    CD/DVD drive N/A
    Networking Marvell Yukon 88E8056 10/100/1000 (jumbo frame supported)
    Extra 2*Internal HDD bay
    5*USB (4 on the back), 1* Ethernet, 1*PCI slot
    Dimension (LWH) 11” x 7.5” x 6.5”

    As you see, I tried to have closet specification as HP EX470 as much as I can although one biggest factor here is the hard disk drive. It’s only 160GB while on HP EX470 I have 2 of 1TB from Hitachi and Seagate. Well, we’ll see if this hurts a lot, but please bear with me because I couldn’t find any spare bigger one at the moment too.

    HP EX470 -- duplicate file
    HP EX470 -- duplicate file
    HP EX470 -- duplicate file
    HP EX470 -- duplicate file
    HP EX470 -- duplicate file
    HP EX470 -- duplicate file

    With demigrator hard-working, you could expect the main HDD performance on HP EX470 drop quite a bit, but as you see both 1TB still outperform 160GB easily. That was testing in working condition with 80% space used while there is basically none K45 box.

    Dual-core vs Single-core CPU

    What we want to find out here is whether dual core could help anything =) By comparing with HP EX470 which has AMD Sempron 3400+@2GHz 256kB L2 cache, Intel Celeron dual-core E1200@1.6GHz 512kB L2 cache is such a suitable opponent—not too different when core-by-core is concerned. Ok, wPrime can show exactly how different :-P

    wprime 

    When only thread is concerned, surprisingly AMD Sempron 3400+ outpaces Intel Celeron E120 by 12 seconds—that’s about 10%. When 2 threads is running simultaneously, Dual-core CPU shows its potential clearly. It cuts processing time by half as expected while single-core CPU have to run 1 second more to complete. What about 4 threads then? the same situation applied; dual-core needs only about half of single-core processing time to do the same job.

    What does it mean to us? It means if you use WHS, demigrator.exe—the most CPU time killer process in WHS—will take less CPU time to do things and CPU will have more time available to other tasks.If you are using SageTV, antivirus, etc, on your WHS box, dual-core CPU will definitely helps, but if not, I don’t know if that will help us about network throughput or not though.

    Performance

    System 1 configuration is Thinkpad X61T;

    CPU Intel Core 2 Duo L7700 @ 1.8GHz
    Operating System Vista Business 32-bit
    Chipset Intel GM965 + ICH8-M
    Memory 3GB PC2-5300 DDR2 SDRAM
    Network Intel 82566DM onboard gigabit
    Hard drive 120GB 5400rpm 2.5" Hitachi

    System 2 configuration is white box desktop

    CPU Intel Pentium E2180 @ 2.00GHz
    Operating System Vista Ultimate 32-bit
    Mainboard XFX MG-63MI-7159
    Chipset Geforce 7150 + nForce 630i
    Memory 3GB PC2-5300 DDR2 SDRAM
    Network nVidia nForce 10/100/1000
    Hard drive 500GB Seagate ST3500630AS 7200rpm 16MB Buffer

    First we tested with iozone;

    iozone -Rab .\k45-1000.xls -i 0 -i 1 -+u -f z:\x.tmp -y 64k -q 64k -n 32M -g 2G –z

    Yeah, testbeds are the same as HP EX470 review, but I expect to see something different in term of throughput.

    iozone-write K45 WHS

    iozone-read K45 WHS  

    Comparing to HP EX470 test, trend is awfully similar, but that’s expectable since we use the same OS. The value, which is lower than HP EX470, could come from 2 factors: hard drive & NIC chipset. Oh I wish I had spare 1TB HDD to test on this.

    robocopy K45 WHS  

    The same applied for robocopy, there is no different at all. I don’t think 1TB could help get significant boost though. I might be wrong though.

    Atto Disk Benchmark K45 WHS

    Write performance dropped a lot here. It has to be hard drive factor indeed since this 160GB has such a bad seek time comparing much higher plate density.

    After all these result, I couldn’t stop curiosity of how WHS use CPU to process things when only transferring file was concerned. So I had a look of how busy CPU was when there was only 1 io-zone test was involved.

    cpu-1-task 

    That was only one core job!! another core just sat doing nothing here. What if there was many transfer file involved then? Unfortunately, CPU usage was still similar. Its pattern was not the same as what you saw in HP EX470 because there was no demigrator working in the background—1 drive w/o any duplicate.

    Summary

    This was a quick test just after I was wonder if dual-core CPU could help anything performance or not, but very different HDDs in both test might effect more than I thought. However, what I can I see so far is dual-core PC won’t help you NAS produce any magnificent performance over single-core CPU, but for things like WHS with many hard drives, it might help demigrator process a little bit more smooth =)

  • Replacing Fujitsu P7230's keyboard

    Fujitsu Lifebook P7230Today I will show step-by-step of how to take Fujitsu Lifebook P7230 out. I have no idea why I have a lot of Fujitsu system, but I can say that it's quite a good notebook. Although P7230 uses a bit different step from its predecessor, taking keyboard out is the first step of everything in most notebook. Thus, you will find much easier when trying to upgrade anything else. What surprise me most is you don't have to have even a screw driver to complete this job since Fujitsu decided to use a sticky tape + plastic lock mechanism to stabilize keyboard instead of any screw and it gets the job done nicely. (although the whole machine has a lot of flex, keyboard is not.

    1. Bottom of P7230 before doing anyting.
      Fujitsu Lifebook P7230 -- disassembly
      Fujitsu Lifebook P7230 -- disassembly
    2. Take keyboard out. Don't expect to unscrew anything though because you don't have to.
      Fujitsu Lifebook P7230 -- disassembly
      Fujitsu Lifebook P7230 -- disassembly
    3. Look closer to at the bottom of plastic bar that holds keyboard (that's P-series design). You will see what you have to do basically--slide to unlock.
      Fujitsu Lifebook P7230 -- disassembly
      Fujitsu Lifebook P7230 -- disassembly
    4. Well, what you have to do is lift the bar on the right, where the lock on upper side is. You have to put an effort little by little, not to break anything. This is only time consuming task.
      Fujitsu Lifebook P7230 -- disassembly
      Fujitsu Lifebook P7230 -- disassembly
    5. There is nothing in your way to take keyboard so far.
      Fujitsu Lifebook P7230 -- disassembly
      Fujitsu Lifebook P7230 -- disassembly
    6. Lift it up slowly; keyboard wire is really fragile. If you find it's sticked somehow, you can expect some sticky glue underneath, Fujitsu usually does that. Thus be patient.
      Fujitsu Lifebook P7230 -- disassembly
      Fujitsu Lifebook P7230 -- disassembly
      Fujitsu Lifebook P7230 -- disassembly
      Fujitsu Lifebook P7230 -- disassembly
    7. Here is the keyboard connector. Just pull up straight, you will get it.
      Fujitsu Lifebook P7230 -- disassembly
      Fujitsu Lifebook P7230 -- disassembly
    8. Yeah! we're done.
      Fujitsu Lifebook P7230 -- disassembly
      Fujitsu Lifebook P7230 -- disassembly

      Here are the rest of the show :-P If you want to take apart the rest, what you have to do is just unscrewing them and tearing apart carefully. It's possible to upgrade WLAN to 802.11n or swap Core 2 Duo ULV in. That's going to be such a boost to the system.

      Fujitsu Lifebook P7230 -- disassembly
      Fujitsu Lifebook P7230 -- disassembly
      Fujitsu Lifebook P7230 -- disassembly
      Fujitsu Lifebook P7230 -- disassembly

      Visit http://repair4laptop.org/ for more laptop models.

  • Replacing Fujitsu P5020's keyboard

    Fujitsu Lifebook P-5020The way to take keyboard out of Fujitsu P5020 is relatively easy. One reason is you have to take this out in order to just upgrade RAM.

    1. This is what P5020 looks like if you are not sure what model you have.
      Fujitsu Lifebook P5020 -- disassembly
      Fujitsu Lifebook P5020 -- disassembly
    2. OK, look at its back then take the battery out. You will see 3 screws which hold a little plastic covering keyboard; those are what you have to unscrew.
      Fujitsu Lifebook P5020 -- disassembly
      Fujitsu Lifebook P5020 -- disassembly
    3. Now you have to lift this up by either screw driver or your nail. If using screw driver, don't put too much effort because you will leave some dents to it.
      Fujitsu Lifebook P5020 -- disassembly
      Fujitsu Lifebook P5020 -- disassembly
    4. Now you get it. It's time to take keyboard out.
      Fujitsu Lifebook P5020 -- disassembly
      Fujitsu Lifebook P5020 -- disassembly
    5. Lift it up slowly; keyboard wire is really fragile. If you find it's sticked somehow, you can expect some sticky glue underneath, Fujitsu usually does that. Thus be patient.
      Fujitsu Lifebook P5020 -- disassembly
      Fujitsu Lifebook P5020 -- disassembly
    6. Here is the keyboard connector, with a little help from small screw driver. RAM is on the side, you can replace it easily now.
      Fujitsu Lifebook P5020 -- disassembly
      Fujitsu Lifebook P5020 -- disassembly
    7. You are done =)

    Another one easy thing to improve this little machine is to change its WLAN card, which is supported only 802.11b, to 802.11g. You can change through the back panel. However, I will post step-by-step later on.

  • HP EX470 – Is CPU upgrade worth?

    This question comes to my mind after finished reviewing HP EX470. While more RAM the system has, more memory cache effect it returns—that’s good and gives such a obvious result absolutely. CPU for NAS could give better performance and CPU cache effect, but is CPU in EX470 the bottleneck really?

    I could imagine that we could achieve higher throughput by replacing better CPU. The need of very fast file transfer, especially comparing to already fast one, is just minimal. Thus, this point is negligible. Another point of being media server like this is streaming to multiple clients. I conducted 6 test scenarios:-

    • A – Streaming video file to 1-client
    • B – Streaming video files to 2-client
    • C – Streaming video files to 3-client
    • D – Streaming video files to 5-client
    • E – Streaming video files to 5-client + transferring files [66*350MB] from 1 host to server
    • F – Streaming video files to 5-client + transferring files [66*350MB & 2*10GB] from 2-host to server

    Note: each scenario, every tasks are running simultaneously; all video files are encoding by xvid 640px*352px, 25 frame/sec.

    Well, streaming video should be the most bandwidth consumed task for multimedia. Otherwise, directly file transfer is the most heaviest task for NAS. The tests shall begin..

    CPU usage on each scenario

    Page File Usage on each scenario

    As you see, CPU usage patterns were almost the same in first 4 scenarios which basically did the same thing, but more sessions involved. Page file usage also didn’t help indicated anything :-( Memory, however, had been invoked a lot more when many sessions occurred as shown below. That’s such a good sign showing that RAM we added earlier helped not to use virtual memory.

    Performance Monitor -- Scenario A
    Performance Monitor -- Scenario A
    Performance Monitor -- Scenario C
    Performance Monitor -- Scenario C
    Performance Monitor -- Scenario F
    Performance Monitor -- Scenario F

    Last 2 scenarios, there are writing processes involved. CPU and disk needed to work harder. Transfer rate in scenario F was about 20-30MB/s whole the process—I’m not sure how many exactly since I was not quite interested at the time. With this level of performance, I think it’s acceptable; remember, there are two copying task from 2-host to the server, not just this one shown in screenshot below.

    Network Throughput in scenario F
    Network Throughput in scenario F

    Back to our topic, CPU usage was around 40-50% on average all the test. If it were around 80%, I wouldn’t hesitate to get faster processor, but so far CPU limit problem is still not convincing enough. We’ll see if Intel Celeron E1200, dual-core, helps Shuttle K45 do better job than this. Then it will be clear whether CPU is the bottleneck or not.

    update : Tom's Hardware did the benchmark on different CPUs in EX47x, it showed that upgrading CPU didn't give any significant performance as same as our assumption.

    CPU Reference:

    cpu-list

    ** This is the best possible CPU for replacement w/o any modification. 1MB L2-cache, faster processor frequency, and a bit greener & cooler. I just don’t know if it’s worth spending $30 for extra 2-3MB/s throughput.
    Original CPU: AMD Sempron 3400+, 256kB L2-cache, 1800MHz, 90nm, TDP 62W