Sunday, October 30, 2011
Thursday, October 13, 2011
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Friday, October 7, 2011
Thursday, October 6, 2011
You may not be able to buy the SL10 anymore, but some people may still want one. Why would anyone want one? I personally think they are still quite useful. The best way to start off this review would be with some helpful description information.
What is the Sl10? The SL10 is a Palm OS 4.1 PDA made by Sony. It has a 16 gray scale screen, and a resolution of 320x320. This is the High Resolution display. Most Palms, and HandSpring Devices at the time used a 160x160 "standard" resolution display. The PDA also features a 33MHZ Dragonball CPU and a Memory Stick slot, but more on those later.
The first thing that should be done in a review is the hardware description. I like to start at the top, and work my way around then the front and back last.
On the top, from left to right, we have the lanyard loop hole, IRDA (infrared port), Memory Stick Slot, power button, and finally the stylus silo. I don't have the lanyard or he original stylus. i got this unit used and not new.
Just two screws here...
Here is where we have some action! The first thing we see from left to right is the Sony Jog Dial. I will have a whole section on this soon. Then we have the back button which is part of the Jog Dial. Then we have a standard Mini USB B port.
On the bottom we have the all familiar sync port. This is used for keyboards like the KB11 that i am using to type this, and cradles. The SL10 doesn't come with a cradle so you have to use the little USB port on the side, but that's more of an advantage to me.
This is where the screen tends to sit and this unit is no different there. There is the traditional 4 buttons for applications and an up and down rocker switch in the middle. These buttons are from left to right: Calendar, Contacts, Tasks, and Memo. The is the Graffiti input area above that as well.
On the back though is where it gets a little interesting. You have the various holes for the flip cover and cradle, but there is also a battery door on the bottom. Yes this Palm has a removable battery, or rather batteries. It is powered by 2 standard AAA batteries. This is why I wanted it actually. These make it a great PDA for writing.
Now, lets get a little more in dept with the various features of the device, in no real order.
Lets do the screen first since it tends to be the most used part of the PDA. As stated earlier this is NOT a color screen, but a 16 gray scale. This means that instead of black or white, like the earlier PDAs, or even black white and light/dark gray like my Visor, but this is 16 different gray shades. The screen is back lit, and has that nice greenish glow that digital watches usually have. This is a bit different from the white back lights that the older iPods had, but its really usable.
Let me be blunt here and just say it. THEY SUCK! OK, well mainly the up and down buttons but still. They could be worse though. The T series was the worst thing I have ever used though.
They have the default settings of Calendar, Address Book, To Do, and Memo Pad. These can be set to anything that you choose as well.
The Clie line has always had possibly my favorite feature, the Jog Dial. This little handy thing is pretty much a scroll wheel on the side of the case. It can move freely in up or down directions, and be pressed in. Under the wheel is the back button. This can be used to go back one screen or held for a pop up menu or cursor.
There is one important function of this button as well. You can set it to be a power button. There is a setting for holding it to turn the Clie on, and one to turn it off as well.
How much memory does your current phone have? 8GB? 16GB? Or even 32GB? Well, the Clie has just 8MB. Yes, only 8 megabytes of memory. While this may not seem like much today, it wasn't that bad at the time the SL10 came out. In fact, Palm OS PDAs topped out at 16MB at the time. This was less then a Pocket PC had, however Palm used its memory more efficiently.
Now, the Clie doesn't top out at 8MB only. It has a Memory Stick slot. These little cards topped out at 128MB at the time. This is a lot different then today when we have 32GB SD cards.
These cards can store anything from this review file to programs. Programs are able to be run off the card. The catch is though, that the files get copied to the internal memory then deleted on exit. This means you still need free internal memory.
This memory is also erased if your batteries die. This is not like on modern ones that use Flash memory, that can retain data when the battery dies. This is good that it has options for backing up your data.
Most reviews tend to ignore this it seems. I personally think that for a PDA to be good it needs to have a good stylus. I have seen some that have a great stylus, then there are some like Sony that use this thin metal toothpick as I have always called them. I won't say that its a bad stylus, I just think they should have used a thicker one. I can use it but I tend to just use a pen with a stylus. This makes me seem a bit better with Graffiti but I have never fully tested it.
Enough about the hardware. I love the fact that Palm OS is always fast even on the oldest hardware. This isn't that old, but they didn't really start having speedy processors until OS5 while this runs on OS4. The unit has a 33MHZ CPU, which is more then enough for the older Palms although they did reach a top end of 66MHZ. I can type this review in CardText, but Documents to Go 4 seems to be laggy so I assume its just the keyboard drivers as I use a Sony KB11, which is the older model.
The software package is pretty basic really. It has the standard Palm OS Software package, and some other little Sony programs in RAM. Lets go over these little programs one at a time.
This is a file that just takes up space and gives you a little bit of information about the PDA itself. This is on that can be deleted as its in RAM instead of the ROM.
This fun little program is a drawing program which I can assume that you guessed because the name. Its a little useless on the gray scale screen but I still like having it for when I want to doodle a bit.
Why the hell this is on a gray scale PDA with no sound is beyond me. I guess it can be useful for a quick thing but i see it as one of the more useless programs on a gray scale PDA that doesn't even have sound.
This on is useful at least. It will let you make a backup of everything that is installed and can make up 5 backups. This is useful because its in ROM so if you loose all the data you can still restore the data.
This is the file browser. This program is okay but I use Filez. I like the option that its in ROM so I can still get the programs I need off the memory stick if I don't have a backup. Least Sony has a file browser since most Palms I have seen need you to install one.
Don't have a Memory Stick slot on your computer or a USB Card reader? Well that's what this is for. It lets you use the Clie as a reader but needs the driver installed on the computer. This is annoying since if you don't have your PC and need to get a file off the card your still screwed.
This is a more useless program for me. It lets you tell the Clie to run a program when you put in the Memory Stick. This is useful for if you have one with Ebooks or some file, that you can make it run the reader or program for those files when you plug in the card.
PG Pocket and Photostand
These two programs are for viewing pictures. One is a slide show and one is just to browse through and show pictures. These seem to be a stupid addition to a gray scale PDA but oh well. I guess someone may have a use for these.
Now here is a useful program for you. its a World clock that has alarms. The alarms suck on the Sl10 but the world clock can be useful if your traveling a lot.
Everything else is just your standard Palm OS programs. I am not sure what is on the included CD as I didn't get one with the PDA. I am sure that its just Demos and maybe a full version of Documents to Go, probably Version 5.
What is SPB Wallet? It is a program that allows you to store and retain passwords for stuff like Websites, Credit Cards, Computer Serial Numbers and a ton of other things. So what does SPB Wallet have to offer? Lets take a look...
The program comes in two parts. One is for your Desktop computer. This will allow you to enter data from a PC and also to view data entered from a PDA. I will cover this Desktop one first. The Desktop application can import files from other programs such as eWallet, and from a custom CVS file.
This program also included web browser integration so that you can automatically fill out forms on websites that the you have entered. This works with both Firefox and Internet Explorer. It can automatically capture a card from the sites you visit to help you save time as well.
The second program is for your Pocket PC or SmartPhone. Since it also supports the touch screen and non touch screen Windows Mobile versions, it is set up for one handed usage. Being able to use the program one handed is very important as it will make getting your information faster.
The program even included "Smart tags" to call the SMS, email, or other programs up as well. For example, clicking a WWW button will open the web browser and log into the sit for you. This means that you do not need to spend time logging into the site and don't need to remember the login information.
There is a search feature to find the card you are looking for quicker. This can be extremely useful for when you have a lot of websites in the program. For example, if you had a site listing for a forum, you only need to hit the right soft key, search, and then start to type the forum name. You do not need to type the whole name in.
The program also includes a great password generator. You can set the password strength and size. You get the option to include lower and upper case letters, numbers, brackets, special characters, spaces, and even only a set of custom defined characters. There is also an option that will make the password pronounceable.
The program is easy to skin, with custom colors. This also includes the log in screen. The programs has tons of built in templates like Master Card, Visa, and many more. You can also create and order new templates for free.
One of the neater features is that you can input the number to call if your card is lost or stolen, and be able to have the program dial the number for you if you have a phone device. I only have a standard Pocket PC device so I can not test the SMS and Phone functions.
You can have a card display as many fields as you wish. For example, you can have the program display extra fields for a website, like describing the site, or the email account used to register for the site.
No need to be worried about your data being stolen from the application thanks to its 256 bit AES encryption system! The only way that they can get this data is if you have a weak password or someones knows it. The best part is that it gets backed up on your computer so if your PDA fails, you lose very little data.
So, is this program worth the 30 dollars? I think so! The program only uses 3.2MB of storage space, and the space for the data that you enter. The cards are highly customizable so you could even use it for different things then credit cards and passwords! The program is easy to use as well.
Zen Vision:M Review
The Zen Vision:M is a MP3 and movie player made by Creative. Its available in both 30 and 60 gigabyte models. I will be reviewing the 30GB model in black. The player is available in 5 colors, black, white, blue, green, and pink. The player is thicker then an iPod but I believe its worth it for a much better player.
Whats in the box:
When you open the box, you will find the standard stuff like software and headphones. There is a USB 2.0 "mini B" cable, the standard on mos everything now, and a "Mini Dock". Do not lose this dock as without it, you can't charge or sync the player. The dock has the USB port, the charger port, and the AV out port. There is, however, no charger or AV cable in the box. You can buy them separately, as the player charges over USB.
Side Note: Lack of Charger
Since the player will charge over USB, there is only one problem. It must be connected to a computer. You can use a hub, as long as the hub is connected to the computer. Just a powered hub will not charge the player. You can avoid paying creative 30 dollars for the adapter though. It uses a 5V adapter that can be found on USB hubs or HP iPAQ PDA's. Charging will take 2.5 hours on an adapter but 6 hours over USB. That means that if you like to use the player while at the computer instead of the computer like I do, you can't.
When you take the player out of the box, one thing you will notice is that there is already a screen protector on the player. Good job Creative! The players face contains the “High Resolution” screen. The screen is a 2.5” (thats inches in case you didn't know) QVGA screen. QVGA is the same resolution as the standard Windows Mobile PDA. Its 320 by 240 pixel wide screen. It is a TFT LCD with good color. The back is bare containing the name, size, and other information. The bottom has the dock connector and reset button. The reset button needs to be pressed with a paper clip. The right side contains a microphone and nothing more. The left side is empty. The top contains the headphone jack and power/lock slide switch.
You will notice the plastic on the front, which is colored, is very easy to scratch. For me this is not a problem a long as the screen is fine. The player has a screen protector on it already and I suggest that you always use one. It is also prone to finger prints. The back is a pearl white painted shell. I read that is magnesium. This does not scratch as easy as the front.
The Zen Vision:M looks like there are only 4 buttons at first, and a touch strip. The touch strip is used for scrolling and on the side are left and right buttons. These are the skip track buttons. The left side buttons are a shortcut key that you can assign, and a back key. The right side has the play/pause button and the context menu key. These buttons are pretty stiff to press so that will help prevent accidental pressing. The lock switch will lock the buttons and turn the screen off.
The interface of this player is the same as on most every player creative makes. Its a series of menus that I will not go into detail on. The Now Playing screen will tell you what track in number and name, album, and artist. The bottom bar is the progress bar. Clicking the touch strip once will bring up a rating system. You can assign the track zero to five stars by scrolling up or down. Click it again and it has the Now Playing track list. I will not go into the settings like some other reviews. I will say this though, there is a custom EQ option, various play modes, and the Creative DJ. DJ mode is for music you haven't listened to in a while and is a variation of shuffle mode.
The 320 by 240 pixel wide screen is capable of displaying 262,144 colors and is very crisp. It is a TFT display so it does suffer a little outside but you should have no problem if you shade the screen with your hand. The screen is very bright, and at half brightness should be good for about everyone.
The player sounds very good, better then my PDA's even. Pictures also look great on the screen. I have not tested video yet but I assume that it would be good too. The volume goes quite loud. It can be too loud for me even.
Though I haven't timed the battery life, I can say that it will last about all day for me. Creative says that it gets up 18 hours audio, and up to 6 hours video.
The player contains a FM radio that has 32 presets. The radio comes in pretty well too. There is also and organizer program that syncs to you computer. This means that you need the computer to add information to it. There is also a removable disk option that can be set from 512MB to 16GB on the 30GB model, 32GB on the 60GB model. There is also a handy clock and alarm feature.
+ Great battery life
+ Good quality player
+ Can be found cheaper then iPod of same size. I paid 200.
+ Lock switch will turn off the screen.
+ Great screen.
- The Mini Dock is a pain...
- Replacement Mini Dock is 15 dollars. - Hard to find case in iPod dominated world.
= No power adapter included but easy to find one that works.
= Little on the chubby side makes finding a case even harder.
= Why the need for the Mini Dock?
More pictures can be found Here.
Sony Walkman NWZ-S616F Black Review
The name Walkman has always been known to mean quality. Sure Sony had some problems with software, and I am sure we all remember Sonic Stage well. They had pushed the Atrac format and lost to MP3. Well, in this revision of the Walkman MP3 player line, this one is all good.
Let's start with some general specifications to the S610 series. There is also a A810 series that has similar features with a different design. There are a few different models and colors. In stores you can find it in black, red and pink. There is a Sony exclusive silver model as well. They come in 2, 4, and 8 gigabyte models. I will be reviewing the 4GB model in black but they are all the same.
The main difference between the two is screen size. The S610 has a smaller 1.8" QVGA display (320 by 240) and the A810 has a larger 2" QVGA display. The display is measures diagonally and can be either portrait or landscape orientation.
They can support a variety of audio formats. These are MP3, WMA, AAC, and WAV. AAC is only for unsupported files so I don't think you can play iTunes DRM music on this. DRM files will work from stores that use Plays For Sure files such as Napster.
Video support is there but in a limited fashion. You can only play MP4 and M4Vfiles at 30 frames per second. It is easy enough to convert a video to play on it though. You can set it to play landscape or portrait mode. Most of the videos are so landscape so that will be the best setting.
The prices range from $99 for the 2GB and $179 for the 8GB. The 4GB will run you around $120 to $150 depending on where you buy the player. I paid $120 for mine at Circuit City.
1 Let's get onto the design overview now.
The front of the device contains the all-important screen. As stated before the screen is a 1.8" QVGA screen that looks absolutely gorgeous. I have a screen protector on mine since I do not like to risk scratching it but when the unit is on, you cannot even tell it's there. The screen is very bright and vivid. The colors look very amazing when displaying a picture or watching a movie.
The buttons are below the screen. There are 3 raised buttons. The first two are rectangular shaped and provide 2 functions each. The first is the back button. It will go back to the previous screen. When you hold the button down it will go back to the home page. The second one is the option button. This will bring up the context menu. Powering off the player is done by holding the option button. The other button also serves 2 purposes but not by holding the button. The button is the play/pause button and the select button. Surround these buttons is the directional pad. These are just 4 arrows that are pressed. They are not touch sensitive.
The back is very bland and only has logo and brand information.
The sides are very sparse, the only things on the left side lanyard loop attachment and the hold switch. The right side contains the volume up and down rocker. The top contains the headphone jack. The bottom has a WM Port for syncing and charging and a reset button.
Not really much stuff in the box. Just the usual documents, USB cable, headphones, and a attachment for the optional cradle. The Software CD contains a Napster trial and Windows Media Player 11. I did not need to use this since I already have Windows Media Player 11 installed.
2 The interface
The interface has a black color theme for the most part. The home screen is a 3 x 3 grid of icons. They are a bluish color but turn orange when selected. The icons are:
Intelligent Shuffle, FM Radio, Initial Search,
Photo Library, Music Library, Video Library,
Settings, Playlists, and Now Playing.
There are 2 bars, the top of which says Home. The bottom bar will show the info for current track and battery.
The now playing screen is the most important screen since it will be the one you see most of the time. It will display track titles, artist, album, and genre. The bottom bar has time and play mode.
This player does not have a lot of extras so people who like to fiddle with stuff when bored are somewhat out of luck there. The settings menu has settings for music, pictures, video, and common settings.
3 The good
This player is an amazing little device I must say. I love it and I don't think I will giving up using it any time soon that is for sure! The Thing has a lot going for it and I think that it could very well be the next iPod killer.
First, the battery life is amazing coming in at 33 hours. I have never timed it but I would say that seems to be spot on accurate. I have used it for a while and the battery was only half drained. This was over the course of 2 days. The battery even charges fast. 3 hours for a fully dead battery, and 1.5 hours to get to 80%.
The thing also gets 8 hours for video playback which is very good. I personally have never tested this because of the smallness of the screen. I bought this to use for music. not videos so I am very happy that it can play them if I never need to.
The thing has a FM radio too. I do not ever use this but I love having it. I have to say that I think that every MP3 player should have a radio. I do not listen to radio stations that often but they can be used with one of those transmitters to make wireless headphones that are better than the ones they sell.
The screen on the thing is amazing. It's a small screen with a 320x240 resolution so it looks great. There are 5 levels of brightness. I leave mine on 3 and its fine. The colors are very vibrant and text is easy to read.
Sound quality is amazing too. I use low bitrate WMA and still sounds amazing. I am not an audiophile nor do I want to be one but this thing has great sound. The settings allow you to tweak the sound with an equalizer, normalizer, and a surround sound and enhanced sound. There is also clear stereo.
One problem with most players is the volume. This one is nice and loud. I have been keeping mine around 10 for most songs except a few that have low volume. The thing can go higher than anyone will ever need.
The intelligent shuffle mode really works well too. I don't use the time machine mode but it takes a random year and plays all music from that year in random order. I use the shuffle all mode. It actually shuffles the playlist instead of playing random tracks.
THIS THING IS SMALL! At only 42 x 79 x 11.5 MM, this thing is going to fit in a pocket nicely. It's not too thin that it feels fragile but not so thick that it won't fit into a pocket. Though this is not going to win any smallest player awards it is a good size.
The thing also has a lanyard loop hole. I use a neck strap I got form an old flash drive and its prefect for this. It's easy enough to use on a loop and small enough that it isn't going to hurt your neck.
The player supports drag and drop on Windows! It can also be synced to Windows Media Player 11 or 10 if you choose to do it that way.
4 The Bad
There is not much to fiddle with as I said before. The only extras are photos and the clock really.
The one bad thing is that the battery is locked inside the device but thankfully it lasts a long time so you won't need to worry much about it going dead suddenly.
5 Mixed feelings
The only really bad thing is a mixed feeling really. There is a dock port instead of a standard mini USB. Now this is mixed because Sony is going to have accessories for the "WM Port" like cradles and Bluetooth adapters.
6 Final Thoughts
I would probably give this a 4.5 out of 5 stars. Why dock it half a star? The WM Port means that you cannot use any old USB cable. If you lose it, you have to get a new one. Over all though the player is an amazing device that sounds great and is small but not so small it feels bad in the hand.
Would I buy this for somebody? Yes I would. I would buy it again too but probably in a bigger capacity since by then; flash devices will be in the 128GB range for cheap.
IBM ThinkPad T20 Review
In this review, I will review an older laptop, made by IBM. It's the ThinkPad T20. What makes me love this enough to want to review it? Well you will just have to read on and see!
The model I will be reviewing is slightly upgraded. It's the 750MHZ model and contains 384MB of RAM, a 40GB hard drive, a DVD drive, and a 14 inch XGA screen. This model originally ran on Windows 98 Second Edition. I use XP Professional with no problems.
You can't really appreciate how small this is until you see it next to a bigger laptop. After using this for the past 3 days, my Acer feels huge now. The laptop is fast for a Pentium III. The graphics card is also good for how low end it is compared to today's standards. The TrackPoint and ThinkLight are also a joy to use.
The case and ports
The first thing you will notice is that the thing is covered in a rubberized sparkling black paint. There is an IBM ThinkPad logo on the lower right corner of the screen.
Lets flip it over now... The bottom of the unit is a very busy place. At the top in the center, we have the docking station adapter. Next to that on the right side is a cover for the Mini PCI card. On the right of this we have the helpful IBM label. This ThinkPad was made in Mexico. On the left is the Windows sticker. Windows 98 Second Edition on this model. The bottom left corner contains the oh so helpful battery pack. Next to this on the right is the RAM cover. On the right of this, we have the hard drive coin screw, and part of the hard drive caddy.
Lets move on to the front side. On the top on the hinge, we have a rubber plug covering the Ultraport. This is pretty much a USB interface with a different connecter. On the sides of this we have the screen latches. Both are slid over at the same time, but in opposite directions. Under this is the stereo speaker grill.
On the left side, starting with the lower corner... We have the 3 audio jacks. There's one for headphones, line in, and microphone. Next to this is the infrared data transmitter. This is primarily used for PDA syncing. This piece of plastic is also part of the hard drive caddy. Next to this, we have the PCMCIA/Cardbus slot. This can take either 1 type III or 2 type II cards. This will probably see its most use for a WiFi card. Under this is the in vent for the cooling system. Next to these is the out vent of the cooling system.
On the back from the right side over... We have the PS/2 mouse port. This is used for older mice and those with USB to PS/2 adapters. Next to this we have the solo USB port. This is only USB 1.1 so it is a bit slow. Next to this, we have the all familiar power adapter input. Moving on, we have the LAN and modem connecters. This is used for Internet usage. Moving more to the right, we have the VGA out. This is for hooking up a second monitor or projector. Next to this, we have the parallel port. This is also known as the printer port. Then we have the serial port. This is great for those legacy PDA users. There is an S-Video TV out port. This will let you hook the IBM to a S-Video TV. Last but not the very least is the lock port. I have never had a use for these.
On the left and final side. we have the barest side of them all, yet most important. This is where the DVD drive is. On the corner there is a switch to eject the drive. That's all we have over here... The drive bay can take a few different drives, including a battery.
Wow, we still didn't even open the hinge yet! Inside we have the screen. The top holds a secret too... That would be a small LED known as a ThinkLight. This is activated by holding FN and hitting PgUp. The bottom on the screen contains the suspend switch. On the hinge is one of the LED panels, It displays battery, sleep, and UltraBay status.
What's this? Rows of keys? That must be the keyboard! Above the keyboard we have the second LED panel and surrounding buttons. There is also the ThinkPad button which when everything is installed, launches a manual of sorts. Next we have the volume down, volume up, and volume mute buttons. Moving on what we see here is that row of LEDs. From left to right, we have hard drive access, number lock, caps lock, scroll lock, and power. Then we have the power button. Your mouse is the little dot between the G, H, and B keys. This is the TrackPoint. You apply pressure to it in the direction you want the cursor to move. The mouse buttons are under the space bar. It's like a 3 button mouse, with the blue bottom one acting as clicking the scroll wheel. There is a small microphone under the right arrow key.
The ThinkLight I mentioned is a small LED on the top of the screen assembly. This is used for typing in the dark. While this light is not blindingly bright, it serves its purpose of helping you see the keys. This is very useful for when working at night in a car.
The TrackPoint is your mouse. It works as a small joy stick. It doesn't move much, but your mouse cursor will! It will move the mouse cursor in what ever direction you push the stick. This includes circles.
They are extremely useful for in the car. Unlike a touch pad, these do not require much movement on your part. Since the mouse is in the same row as the home keys, they are preferred by touch typists. Personally I do not touch type, but I enjoy that I don't have to move my hand for the mouse.
The mouse buttons are located at the bottom on the space bar. This makes them very easy to press with your thumb. There are 3 buttons, 2 red and 1 blue. The red are left and right click, and the blue is the center button. This can also be used as a scroll wheel with the TrackPoint.
This is a joy to type on. There is enough travel to make typing comfortable. The keys have a little stiffness to them and are quite solid. This is also where the mouse is located.
This is where your optical drive is located. The UltraBay how ever has the option of more then just a DVD drive. You can get ZIP and floppy drives for it. Need more power? There is the extended battery option too!
I can not comment on this section as my battery is old. The quoted run times I have seen are about 3 hours.
I can not comment on this as it's an old unit. The screen is fine though. Still bright enough and color still looks OK.
This model contains the 750MHZ Pentium III. It has a power save mode speed of 600MHZ. For its age, it is still capable of running Windows XP Professional with only a few minor slow downs.
There are 384MB of RAM in my model. This is one 128MB and one 256MB stick. The hard drive is 40GB and is your standard laptop hard drive.
There is a modem and networking card built in to the laptop. This is the Mini PCI slot. It would be possible to add WiFi but there is no software to turn it on, nor is there an antenna. WiFi is provided through use of the PCMCIA slots. There is also an infrared port under the hard drive caddy. There is a window on the caddy to allow use of the infrared.
+ Small size with good screen
+ Great Keyboard
+ UltraBay allows for 2 batteries or to upgrade drives
- No built in WiFi, but that not a big deal
- ThinkLight could be brighter
- Would prefer 2 USB ports
- USB port is in a bad spot to me