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Monthly Archives: January 2009

Asus eeePC vs Dell Inspiron mini

When Dell released their netbook called Inspiron mini, a lot of review sites and blogs online quickly favor it over the previous heartthrob Asus eeePC. I have the eeePC 1000H model, a 10″ eeePC with regular hard-drive (not SSD) and XP. It’s okay, but I find it still a bit large for on-the-go use, plus it has a fragile hard-drive. I managed to score a refurbished Dell inspiron mini 9 for cheap ($300) with 16GB SSD and XP. Let’s compare them.

Obviously the Dell is smaller and a bit lighter. Build quality wise, both are made from cheap plastic. However, the Asus feels to be higher quality plastic than the Dell. The hinges on the Asus feels solid, while there’s an obvious large gap between the plastics on the Dell. First obvious downside on the Dell, no LED on the AC adapter. The Asus’ AC adapter has a blue LED to show that it has current. On the unit itself, the Dell has no indication if it’s being charged or not, while the Asus has an LED indicating charging just like a traditional laptop. There is an LED with a battery icon on the Dell, which logically should light up when the device is charging. It doesn’t. I though my Dell is faulty, but looking at the manual, the LED will only light up to indicate low battery. That’s not intuitive. Also, the Asus has a blue LED that lights up if wifi is on while the Dell has no such indicator. Asus +1. The Asus also has an LED indicator for hard-drive activity. The Dell uses an SSD, so I guess that doesn’t matter. 1 annoying thing on the Asus though, once the battery reaches 70% or so, the battery LED light starts blinking. Can be annoying since 70% still has plenty of juice.

Ports wise, both seems to do a mirror image of each other. Ethernet, 1 USB port, headphone + mic port are found on the right side of the Dell, and on the left side of the Asus. 2 USB port, AC adapter port, and the SD card slot are on the left side of the Dell, and on the right side of the Asus. Both have the VGA port on the right side. The SD slot on the Dell seems to have poorer built quality. I find it pretty hard to push an SD card in, while the Asus’ is pretty smooth.

Both screens have the same resolution, 1024×600. This is an issue with netbooks in general since the general UI on operating systems are designed for resolution of at least 1025×768. I find many programs have their dialog boxes being cut off. This can even make some programs or some programs’ settings screens unusable. At least on the Asus, there is an option to set the screen res to 1024×768, and you can “scroll” the screen up/down. No such option on the Dell.

I find overall speed on the Asus to be pretty slow, especially when loading programs, presumably due to the slow hard-drive. I had high expectations on the Dell since it uses SSD. Boot time is definitely faster on the Dell, but the SSD on it is dog slow. Installing updates from Windows update took forever, significantly much longer than any hard-drive based PCs I’ve used. The same thing can be said to installing programs. On the other hand, it’s solid state, meaning there’s no moving part, so I can move the Dell around, even turning it upside down without having to worry that I might damange something. I even spin the Dell upside down while it is installing Windows update without any ill effects. Amazing. Another upside with SSD is no hard-drive clicking noise. With the Asus, sometimes I’m not even comfortable using it on my lap since I’m afraid I would make a sudden movement and killed the hard-drive. If I would buy a notebook, I would definitely get a solid state drive. It has a price premium, but it makes portable computing much more enjoyable without having to worry about a moving hard-drive.

As for keyboard, the Asus is a definite winner. The Dell’s keyboard keys feel very tough to push while the Asus’ keyboard feels just like a regular laptop keyboard. The Dell also doesn’t have a separate function keys, obviously due to size restriction, while the Asus has the full complement of them.

Overall, I think Asus eeePC has better design and build quality. Price wise, they’re quite comparable for the same configurations, although I think the eeePC can be usually found cheaper. Due to the fact that the Dell has SSD, I would probably use it more often, just because it’s worry-free. I have not tested the webcam and audio. I do know that the Asus’ speaker is quite low in volume.

Netbooks bring a new class of affordable portable computers to the market. My wishes for future models are to use higher performance SSDs and definitely better battery life. It will be more interesting when Windows 7 comes out.

Now I just have to find a case/sleeve for the Dell. Asus included a sleeve with the eeePC.

 
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Posted by on January 30, 2009 in 9, asus, comparison, dell, eeepc, inspiron, mini, netbook, xp

 

Kamen Rider Kiva ended, and Kamen Rider Decade starts

Kamen Rider Kiva has ended. The previous 2 episodes before the finale were pretty grim. The final episode definitely tried to turn things around to a happier end, obviously since Kamen Rider is a kids show. Taiga actually didn’t kill Maya, he (the scene) faked it. Wataru and Taiga are friends again, and teamed up to defeat the reincarnation of the previous Fangire King. Nago-kun miraculously got his eyesight back, and married Megumi. The last episode brought more closure than previous Kamen Rider series, although there are still a lot of things unexplained (what happened to Sagarc? What’s the history of Kivat?). The final episode should’ve just ended with Nago’s wedding. Instead, they have Wataru’s son + Kivat 4th(?) and future Fangire attacking, creating an endless ending.

The series started pretty weak. Usually, I find the actors of previous Kamen Rider series to be quite believable that they were the ones under the Kamen Rider costume too (In reality, the person under the Kamen Rider suits are not the actors themselves). Wataru is the first Kamen Rider that is quite obvious that a stunt man is under the Kiva costume. I mean Kouji Seto (the actor playing Wataru), is super skinny, while Kiva is obviously quite muscular. Also, Wataru’s shy personality is a complete contrast of Fangire fighting Kiva. The only draw of the show for me in the beginning was the 80s storyline. Otoya is simply hilarious, overshadowing Wataru himself. Nago + IXA seems to be more interesting than Wataru, but of course Nago is only a supporting character, thus the character was dumbed down in the middle, becoming the slapstick humor. Kengo is an unnecessary distraction. He’s not even relevant in the last couple episodes. I definitely hated his character when he became emo and stole IXA from Nago. The show got better and more interesting when Taiga was introduced, then Mio becoming a selfish Queen. Bishop is another awesome character, and freaky too! The best and strongest episodes were definitely the 2 episodes before the finale. Overall, it’s an okay Kamen Rider series, but definitely underwhelming compared to the likes of Kuuga and Den-O. It’s less confusing then 555/Ryuuki/Kabuto, and has a few powerful and funny scenes. Kiva’s henshin belt is not as cool as Kabuto’s. I think Den-O was definitely more enjoyable since they’re simply hilarious, and didn’t pretend not to.

The next Kamen Rider Series is Decade. The first episode is already on Youtube, unsubbed. Just on the first episode, Decade already henshin into 3 major Kamen Rider, Kabuto, Faiz, and Hibiki, complete with Kabuto’s clock up. They definitely didn’t hold back as Decade is the 10th anniversary of the Heisei Kamen Rider series. Below is the henshin scenes in the first episode, and I already want the belt!

I hope they can bring previous Kamen Rider actors as it will excite the fans, especially Hiro Mizushima as Kabuto, Kento Handa as Faiz, the supporting riders like Knight from Ryuuki, Zeronos from Den-O, Blade, and maybe even Shouwa riders or Kamen Rider The First! Alas, we already know that Joe Odagiri won’t be Kuuga. Hopefully it will be an exciting show. KAMEN RIDE…. DECADE!!

 

Sailor Moon US version

No, not the dubbed one. Saban was actually going to remake Sailor Moon into a cartoon and live action US version. Yup, Sailor Moon with white people. Watch this promo video (the actual promo video is not until minute 1:50).

Good thing they didn’t actually do it, although Sailor Moon was still heavily censored. But imagine. Yeah, Power Rangers is stupid enough.

 
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Posted by on January 20, 2009 in live action, sailor moon, us, version

 

Kamen Rider Kiva Ep46 & 47

2 episodes before the finale of Kamen Rider Kiva are no longer funny. No more funny scenes nor slapstick jokes.

After Mio died, the body count continues. Otoya died, then Maya died. Even more depressing, Nago is blind. In episode 47, Taiga becomes Dark Kiva, and in the end of the episode Wataru becomes King. What’s going to happen on the last episode, and how things will turn in just 1 episode?

Let’s step back and think. This show is marketed towards kindergarten kids in Japan. I guess it’s a training wheel when the kids grow up and start watching J-Dorama. LOL.

 

Club Prince

 

Windows 7 beta

I have Windows 7 beta up and running, albeit with questionable stability. Here’s the rundown.

The system: HP slimline s7410n: Celeron M 1.7GHz, 1GB RAM, intel 915GV chipset, intel GMA900 integrated graphic, realtek integrated sound, 250GB hard-drive, DVD burner, running XP SP3. A pretty low end system. Its performance with XP is not that great, yet it has the Vista capable sticker on it. It would be a great system to test Windows 7, which is supposedly more optimized to run on low end systems compared to Vista.

First of all, why does Microsoft still use DVD installation? That’s so, 2001. LOL. More and more PCs and laptops, especially netbooks, are sold without an optical drive. Luckily, it’s quite easy preparing the Windows 7 install disc into a USB flash drive, as long as you have a Vista machine. The basic instruction of making a bootable USB drive can be found here. After that, simply copy the content of the ISO into the USB drive.

Installation of Windows 7 is pretty straight forward. A lot of the setup screens and process have been simplified to make the whole process feel simpler and faster. I have never done a clean Vista install, but I would think the experience is similar. With win2k/XP, when booting from the install disc, I was greeted with text based screens, starting with the loading of several drivers. In windows 7, all I saw was a bar at the bottom and a simple description. Sometimes it can be unnerving though, simply waiting for the bar to move without any hint of what’s going on. After that, instead of a text based setup, the rest of the installation is run under a Windows GUI environment (Windows Preinstallation Environment to be exact). No more forgetting to press F6 in the beginning of setup to load some drivers as the GUI will allow you to load necessary drivers manually. The rest of the setup is just like installing a Windows program. All have simple point and click UI, with very few user questions. On the other hand, Windows 7 setup forced me to provide a hint for my password, weird. Networking setup couldn’t be simpler, as I was only given 3 options: Home networking, Office, or Public. These presets automatically setup (or skip) necessary file sharing, etc.

The whole installation was fairly quick (mind you I used a USB flash drive instead of a DVD), with I think 2 reboots. Then that’s it, I was greeted with a very fancy and more attractive Windows “loading” screen, and the log-in screen is pretty much the same as Vista’s, with blue background. Somewhere in between, Windows 7 ask a vague question about what I thought what setting of Automatic Updates I would want. But from the description, it seems to involved other settings, probably also related to the UAC. I picked the second option. I wish MS put a better descriptions for this. Logging in, everything looks exactly like Vista, except for the new task bar. I noticed that I didn’t hear any startup chimes. That’s right, Windows 7 failed to detect and install the audio driver. Also, screen res is only set at 1024×768. I checked Device Manager, and Windows 7 only had the default VGA driver. On the new system tray, there is a flag icon for the new “Activity Center.” I guess this is the new Security Center, telling me that I don’t have anti-virus, I need to run Defender, etc. All the warnings can be disabled easily. Oh, and guess what, no UAC pop up yet. In Vista, UAC will pop up anytime I access anything in Control Panel. This is much better. Then I noticed the network connectivity icon. As with Vista, the default is a static icon. I prefer the animated blinking icons like in older windows as that is a better quick diagnosis tool to see if there’s a current data transfer or not. For some reason, I couldn’t find a way to show this in Windows 7. Bummer.

I ran Windows Update next. Voila, there’s a driver for the intel chipset integrated driver. Installed, restarted, and now the GMA900 is detected properly. However, still stuck in Windows Basic theme, no aero. Still no sound. I was interested to see the performance index of this PC, but it was not available. I ran the assessment tool, and Windows 7 crashed for the first time. It crashed when the tool is running Windows Media decoding performance. I thought maybe it’s because I don’t have a sound driver yet. HP doesn’t provide a Vista driver for the realtek integrated audio. The HP motherboard is actually made by Asus, so I went to Asus website and download the Vista audio driver for a different motherboard with the same chipset. Rebooted, then I hear the familiar Vista chime. Sound works in general, but realtek’s control panel applet doesn’t seem to work properly. Alas, Windows Performance assessment tool still hard crashed Windows.

Now that I have sound, I want to test video playback and as MS said Windows 7 comes with divx/H.264 support built-in. Alas, anytime I tried playing videos on Windows Media Player, it hard crashed Windows. So much for that. I installed VLC, and the videos are played just fine.

At this point, I feel the performance is not any slower than XP, which is a good thing. Despite the low-end config, the desktop seems to load faster after logging in. The PC was pretty slow already at startup when it was running XP. Loading Control Panel seems to lag a bit. Disabling some animation effects definitely improves overall feel of the OS. I decided to plug in an 512MB USB flash drive to enable ready boost, and things seems to be snappier even more. Loading control panel doesn’t lag anymore.

I installed Firefox with a bunch of add-ons. It runs fine so far. I did leave the machine idle for a while, and when I came back, there’s a constant of disk activity, but the mouse & keyboard were not responsive. Another hard crash.

Tweaking the system takes time as things are not in the same place as XP. Personalization setting is better as now Windows 7 allow complete theme selections, not just colors. Alas, without Aero, I don’t see any difference except for the different wallpaper. As expected, most things are the same as Vista. The new task bar is the most glaring change. I’m not sure if it works though. I’m having a hard time differentiating active apps and shortcuts. Maybe it works better with Aero, but the least MS should do is add a dot on the active apps like OS X.

Other than Firefox and VLC, the next software I installed was the Windows Home Server connector software. It installed fine, and Windows 7 is detected as Vista by Windows Home Server. I’m sure this will be updated once Windows 7 ships.

Quick recap about Windows 7 beta:
-Installation is faster and more streamlined
-Most things are the same as Vista, so for those that are already bitching about Vista, too bad
-Performance on my low end config doesn’t seem to be any slower than XP with certain things like logging in actually feels faster. I haven’t installed any anti-virus, which I expect would put a hit in performance.
-GMA900 sux. Intel decided not to release aero-supporting driver. Without Aero, a lot of the UI features of Windows 7 is not available.
-I suspect the crashes is due to the video and/or audio driver. Still, it’s annoying, and shouldn’t crash the whole OS.

Contrary to what people are hoping, Windows 7 is Vista SE, not XP. Sooner or later, people have to start learning the way things are in Vista/7. Annoying, yes. Like I already stated, devices that are not supported in Vista won’t magically work in 7. Should you wait for Windows 7? If you’re buying a netbook or a fairly low-end PC, yes. Windows 7 is more optimized and would run a bit better on lesser hardware. On the other hand, if you’re buying a mid to high-end PC, there’s not much difference between Vista and 7. I would still recommend a similar hardware ocnfiguration for 7 as with Vista though, meaning dual-core, 2GB RAM, DX9 GPU with 128MB video memory. After saying that, for basic tasks, 1GB RAM seems to run 7 okay. I just hope MS doesn’t fool consumers like the Vista capable sticker. Many GPUs won’t be able to run Aero. I just hope this will push more and more PCs away from using the really old and sucky intel GMA950.

To close, Aero is the main focus for eye candy in Vista and 7. However, the basic theme does have a tiny yet neat eye candy.

 
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Posted by on January 11, 2009 in aero, beta, GMA100, hp, s7410n, windows 7

 

Back to eurobeat

Okay, watching various 90’s chinese pop music videos is not good for my health, so to recover, I need a couple doses of eurobeat.
Ace: Play the Music

And of course, para para (Go2 – Not for Sale)

Watch Parabeat – Not For Sale / Go2 in Music Videos  |  View More Free Videos Online at Veoh.com

Ah, that feels better. 😀 LOL

 
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Posted by on January 10, 2009 in ace, eurobeat, fastway, music video, para para