Monthly Archives: July 2007

Sexy new Windows Vista based laptops and Tablets

From Microsoft PressPass

Quote:

"Windows Photo Gallery and Windows Mobility Center are among the enhancements designed to help people pursue their passion, whether at home or on the go.

REDMOND, Wash., July 23, 2007 – Holiday gift giving in July?

The holidays may be months away, but holiday spending brings out the expressive, the extravagant — and the exceptional. In preparation, Microsoft and computer hardware makers have been hard at work creating PCs that cater to the whim of givers and receivers alike. With Windows Vista, there are laptops for style mavens, gamers and lovers of all media. A person’s computer is often a statement about who they are, and they can rest assured that their computer will be well equipped, regardless of their choice.

Since the release of Windows Vista earlier this year, several companies have created PCs loaded with new mobility and multimedia capabilities. Windows Photo Gallery is designed to let users easily access all their photos and videos in one centralized place. Synchronizing content and personal information between computers and devices is also much easier; with Windows Mobility Center, Windows Sync Center and Windows Network and Sharing Center, users can ensure that content on their desktop, laptop, and Smartphone – or other mobile device – is consistent and up to date. "

The hardware coming out for Vista is just amazingly, aesthetically hot, here are three of my favorites:

Dell XPS M1330, from $1,299

Those who prefer a laptop designed for sleek lines and understated elegance may opt for the easy-to-carry Dell XPS M1330, which weighs in at four pounds. Use either computer as a portable entertainment center to tag, organize, share and view photos with Windows Live Photo Gallery.

Noteworthy Design Details of the M1330:

• The M1330 starts at 0.9 inches in thickness, and weighs just under 4 pounds, making it one of the lightest 13-inch systems in the market

• An integrated 2.0 megapixel Web cam makes it easy to create a video blog or add video to instant message chats with friends and family

• The optional biometric fingerprint reader restricts access to the computer or key data by requiring a biometric password – the owner’s own fingerprint

________________________________________________________________________

HP tx1000, from $999.99

A flip of the screen transforms the lightweight HPtx1000 tablet into a personal canvas for creative drawings, note taking and editing images. Plus, the new Sync Center will help users synchronize their Windows Vista based laptop, desktop, Smartphone and other devices, so they can always access their current contacts and appointments. The HP tx 1000 is designed to keep people stylish and on-time.

Noteworthy Design Details:

• The tx1000’s touch screen twists 180 degrees for presentations and DVD playback while traveling – and folds flat to capture hand-written notes and drawings

• The integrated fingerprint reader requires a swipe of the owner’s fingertips as part of the log-on process, and to access files and Websites that are password-protected

• A 1.3 MP Web cam and omni-directional microphone transform the tx1000 into the user’s own personal media hub

_________________________________________________________________________

Toshiba R500 Protégé, from $2,149

Stay connected anytime, anywhere with the Toshiba R500 Protégé. Among the thinnest laptops in the world (.77 inches thick), the Protégé is supremely portable, yet also powerful with a lengthy battery life. And with Windows Sidebar in Windows Vista, people can stay on top of the things they care about: display local weather, top news headlines, a gallery of favorite photos or content from one of Windows Sidebar’s hundreds of other mini applications.

Noteworthy Design Details of the R500 Protégé:

• Lightweight and durable, the R500 Protégé is designed to be a truly Mobile PC

• With a 64GB flash memory and 7-mm thin DVD-Super Multi Drive, the R500 Protégé does not compromise functionality for its lightweight design

• Along with a durable case, the R500 Protégé’s keyboard is also designed to resist liquids so people won’t have to worry about accidental spills

I’m surprised you can now get a Tablet at $999.99, the prices really are dropping. The main reason I wouldn’t mind having the R500 Protege is the 64 GB Flash memory drive. Although its small compared to what you will find in comparable or cheaper laptops, the Flash drive makes up for it in areas of performance and reliability and its deep integration with Vista.

I recently reviewed the Acer Ferrari 5000 which I consider to be a very nice mobile system which features really great technologies and specs such as a 2 GHz AMD Turion x2 64 bit processor, 2 GB’s of RAM, and 160 GB hard disk, integrated 1.3 MP Web camera, HMDI its definitely a fast system and it comes preloaded with Vista x64. I am also looking forward to learning more also about Dells forthcoming Dell Latitude Tablet PC.

 

Check out the Acer Ferrari 5000 review HERE

Check out the other Vista based formfactors here

 

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Windows Vista In The Know Links – .No 9

Links taken from this months Windows Newsletter – Volume 82

Stay in touch wherever you go

It’s summer–don’t be tied to your desk! Spend time outside the office or your home and reconnect with people who matter to you. Think you’re too busy? All you need is a mobile PC or mobile phone and the power of Windows.

With Windows Vista on your mobile PC:

Go to work late or leave early: make the most of your commute

Organize and share digital memories while you travel

Connect online on the go

New and notable

Get more from Windows Vista
Already have Windows Vista but want to upgrade to a more advanced edition? Learn about the Windows Anytime Upgrade.

Halo 2 for Windows Vista now available
The legendary game adventure continues, now enhanced for Windows Vista.

Help protect your PCs with Windows SteadyState
Windows SteadyState helps shared PCs run smoothly in schools, Internet cafés, libraries, and other locations–and it’s free.

Get free antivirus, online ID theft, and antispyware protection
For an all-in-one PC security and performance service, try Windows Live OneCare for free for 90 days.

Featured tip for Windows Vista

Create an XPS document
XPS documents are a new archiving format perfect for preserving content and securely sharing information, no matter which program you’re using. To create an XPS document:

1. Open any document in virtually any application and click Print.

2. In the Printer Selection menu, choose Microsoft XPS Document Writer and save the file.

3. Double-click the file to open it in the XPS Viewer, which Windows Internet Explorer 7 hosts.

The XPS document is a pixel-perfect rendition of the original source material.

Visit our Help and How-to website to learn more about using Windows Vista.

More tips for Windows Vista

Master digital music
Want to learn how to rip, burn, sync, share, play, and organize all your digital music? Then check out our Music and Sounds section for Windows Vista.

Kids always online? Time Limits in Windows Vista can help
Windows Vista Parental Controls can help you ensure that your kids aren’t surfing when they should be doing homework or something else.

 

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Windows Vista Hotfix now available for SLI based GPU configurations

From Microsoft Knowledge Base

SYMPTOMS

Consider the following scenario:

• You have a Windows Vista-based computer that uses a high-performance video card.

•This video card uses multiple graphics processing units (GPUs).

In this scenario, the computer’s graphics performance seems to indicate that only a single GPU is being used.

CAUSE

This problem occurs because the operating system does not forward driver-render requests to the secondary GPU.

Click HERE to learn more about obtaining a Hotfix for this problem.

 

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Windows Seven: Think 2010 – All About Microsoft

From All About Microsoft

Mary Jo Foley gives us some juicy details on the next client release of Windows coming out of Microsoft in the near or not so near (depending on who ask) future.

"Windows Seven now has an official ship target — 2010.

At Microsoft’s Global Exchange (MGX) annual sales conference in Orlando this week, Microsoft shared a bit more — albeit at a high level — on Windows Seven, according to a copy of a slide deck I saw that was distributed to the field sales force during the conference. Among the information shared was that Microsoft is anticipating it will take at least three years from now to get the next version of Windows client out the door."

MJ also revealed more information on proposed features and supported processor architectures – don’t throw those x86 machines out just yet. 😉

Read the entire story here

Office Topic: Looks like I have been updated to the new Windows Live Spaces update. Sweet! 🙂

 

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ATI Catalyst™ 7.7 Display Driver for Windows Vista

From AMD via ActiveWin

Catalyst™ 7.7 releases a number of new Avivo features and enhancements which optimize video playback and display configuration. These include

  • Enhanced video color pages with two new color controls1: flesh tone correction and color vibrance
  • Enhanced video quality pages with easier to use deinterlacing controls and layout
  • Simplified Theater Mode2 controls, layout and now supporting Windows Vista
  • Enhanced quick settings for video controls (available through the basic layout in Catalyst™ Control Center)
  • Easy to use display scaling controls2 when outputting to display devices that support TV timings (480i/p, 720p, 1080i, 1080p) through either digital (DVI or HDMI) or analog (component) interfaces

1These features are only available on the ATI Radeon™ HD 2000 series using Windows Vista.
2These features are only available on the ATI Radeon™ X1000 series and HD 2000 series
This release of Catalyst™ introduces support for 12X and 24X Anti-Aliasing for the ATI Radeon™ HD 2900 XT, and ATI Radeon™ HD 2600 Series. These new Anti-Aliasing settings are available through the new Anti-Aliasing Edge Detect Filter. Selecting 4X Anti-Aliasing plus selecting the Edge Detect filter deliver the equivalent of 12X Anti-Aliasing. Selecting 8X Anti-Aliasing plus selecting the Edge Detect filter deliver the equivalent of 24X Anti-Aliasing.
The ATI Radeon™ HD2400, HD2600 and HD2900 (single and CrossFire™) can see performance improvements of 13.2% or more in various Far Cry maps.

 

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New Updates for Windows Live Spaces

Microsoft’s Blogging service got some nice updates yesterday, but still missing important ones that the service badly needs I believe. But here is a list of some of the new features in this update courtesy of the folks over at LiveSide.net

  • Birthdays
  • List Ordering
  • New Photos Features
  • Templates and Live Blog Titles

You will find more detailed information here

All are nice, welcome changes that truly enhance the user experience when browsing and managing Windows Live Space, but the issue remains sticky in one area, Search. I have come to realize, Microsoft still does not get or understand Search and what it means to have it setup right and work right. You can see the faults in Live Services such as Hotmail and Spaces. Why can’t I search within an individuals Space, instead of across Spaces? I would like people to find the content they want within my space, because they know its there. I notice I can’t search by Folders either in Live Hotmail or Category for instance on my Space, that’s something the Live Search folks need to think about fixing.

Another thing is, why isn’t Live Space taking advantage of tags to produce more relevant Search Results? I did a search for my recent Microsoft Wireless Entertain Desktop 7000 review and it was almost at the bottom of the Search results, Google does a way better job when it comes to finding information on my Space. Also, an option to have vertical banner ads would be nice instead of horizontal. I also wouldn’t mind a Tag Gallery, so many websites and blogs use it these days, its like an integral part of every blog. It would be nice if the Spaces Team in the future phase in updates to certain blogs with more priority. My blog still has not gotten the new look regardless I blog on a regular basis (this is just a personal thing), but I feel really left out.

There is so much more spaces can fix, but these are only some of the changes I wouldn’t mind seeing enhanced in the Live Services.

 

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Microsoft Wireless Entertainment Desktop 7000 Review

Disclaimer: This is a Microsoft asset-tagged item that Microsoft Corporation provided ActiveWin and Teching It Easy for review under no obligation and that it is expected to be returned at the end of the review period.

Features:

Keyboard Mouse

Gadgets Button

One-touch access to gadgets like weather, news, stock quotes, and more

Media Controls

Control your media activities with the touch of a button.

Windows Live Call Button

One-touch access to your Windows Live Messenger buddy list

My Favorites Hot Keys

Customize these five touch-sensitive keys to instantly bring up the folders, files and web pages you use most.

Windows Start Button

Simply press to launch you Start menu. Use it to search your PC or the web with Windows Vista installed.

Navigation PAD

You’re in command with integrated touch pad cursor control.

Proximity awareness

Your presence wakes the keyboard – saving battery life while not in use.

Windows Media Center Start Button

Quickly launch Media Center Functions

Instant Viewer

Click the scroll wheel button to display open windows

4-way scrolling

Scroll side to side as up and down

Magnifier

Just point and press to enlarge and edit details.

Recharging

Mouse charging Station

One look at Microsoft’s Wireless Entertainment Desktop 7000 and you will know this keyboard and mouse combination is all about Windows Vista. Featuring an innovative sleek design, these input devices deliver a first class experience on Microsoft’s consumer operating systems. The first time you take notice of the keyboard you will immediately admire its slim compact design, but begin to discover the differences that set it apart from traditional keyboards. I am one of those persons who love light and this keyboard wins already by making it easy to move around your living room or bedroom when using the Media Center functionality.

A significant aspect of the Wireless Entertainment Desktop 7000, is well, it’s “Wireless”, but requires some initial setup to achieve this experience. The keyboard for instance requires 4 AA alkaline batteries and 1 rechargeable battery for the mouse, all included in the package. Also included is a Mini Bluetooth Transceiver which provides the wireless signal for both devices. According to the package, the Bluetooth wireless speed is at 2.4 GHz allowing connectivity at a range of up to 30 feet.

Wireless Laser 7000 keyboard – Setup:

I tested the Wireless Laser 7000 Bluetooth keyboard on Vista Ultimate Edition; Home Premium in addition to Windows XP Media Center is also supported. You are most likely not going to use it on Vista Business or Home Basic since those editions are missing certain functionality such as Media Center which is a highlight of the keyboard integration, but I don’t see anything preventing you from doing so. Also, the lack of a dedicated numeric pad wouldn’t make it ideal for number crunchers either, although you can still access an embedded one using the Fn command. So its clear to begin with, this is a multimedia based keyboard with a target audience in mind. After opening the box, I took out the User Guide and installation CD; a green pamphlet provides a notice requiring that you install a critical update from http://www.microsoft.com/hardware/vistaupdate before proceeding with installation.

This update provides stability improvements to the USB stack under Vista x86 and x64 for Microsoft keyboard and Mice. So before connecting the Wireless Laser 7000 keyboard I used my existing corded keyboard to prepare my system. The installation from the Drivers CD which comes with Microsoft IntelliPoint and IntelliType 6.1 software was very simple. Parts during the installation require that you select the appropriate model number for the keyboard and mouse. After the installation completed, the Bluetooth wizard starts which prepares both mouse and keyboard to operate wirelessly in addition to devices such as Bluetooth based PDA’s and Printers that can be peered to function with the Bluetooth dongle.

 

It is important that you select the device model during setup. To see more screenshots from the installation, click HERE

Usage:

The first real world experience I tried on the keyboard was typing a document in Microsoft Word. To be honest, it takes some adjustment; the keyboard has a similar curved layout found on the Acer Ferrari 5000 laptop only with larger keys. Typing was responsive, but the large alphabetical keys resulted in numerous mistakes at first. I notice the alphabet keys are not consistent in size either, the ‘N’ and ‘B’ keys for instance are strangely the largest, I don’t know if this is based on research. The more I began using it the more I felt I had to study the keyboard to become more adjusted. The four way arrow keys are unusually slim which in some scenarios can result in accidentally hitting the wrong arrow if you are utilizing them in a particular task such as navigating through Media Center or a spreadsheet.

As noted there is no dedicated numeric keypad, then again, this is not a keyboard for accountants, it’s called the Wireless “Entertainment” Desktop for a reason. The tactile feed back from the keyboard is very good, the last keyboard that I did appreciate typing on is the one included with IBM’s Aptiva desktop systems. The response was instant, it’s definitely a pleasure to type on, and the keys themselves are more like those you find on laptops. The keyboards curvature provides an almost ergonomic layout that makes it easier on wrist movement, it’s not a definite replacement for Microsoft’s Natural Keyboard, but does provide a welcome level of comfort when in long usage.

Function keys are another major difference that I immediately noticed. Instead of traditional keys, Touch Sensitive buttons are used instead along with embedded keys you can easily activate with the function “Fn” key command. The function keys are divided into four distinctive sets with a combination of modes depending on the environment. You have quick access to common explorers such as Music and Pictures along with embedded functions for quick access to Windows Live Messenger and your home page when in your web browser. When I was about to take screenshots of the Intelli software installation, I became a bit perplexed at how I would do an ALT + PRSCRN. Surprisingly it worked well although you are left feeling unsure if the command was done because of a lack of tactile feedback. Of course it adds to the style and elegance of the keyboard making it lighter and more simplified.

The Wireless Laser 7000 is very well organised, both sides feature buttons that make handling the keyboard easy and logical. On the left side are integrated mouse buttons that act as pointing devices and works in accordance with the Navigation pad on the right side which curiously can also be used as a pointing device for navigating up, down, left and right depending on the mode it is set to.

Wirelessly moving through Windows Media Center 🙂

Design & Technologies

The keyboard accents Vista nicely by featuring a physical Vista pearl Start Button for quickly accessing programs and launching commands. The hand rest features proximity awareness which intelligently detects your presence and wakes the keyboard when in use, great for conserving battery life. I like the two tone finish which is combination of dark grey textured finish and silver frame surrounding the keys.

The left side of the keyboard features quick access to buttons for Magnification and Windows Sidebar Gadgets. When the magnifying glass is enabled, a rectangular window appears enlarging items on screen. Player controls are also available for Media player and Media Center which make it easy to manipulate your music so you can pause, play and scan through tracks directly from the keyboard. In addition to these I also discovered buttons for Volume, Mute and Channels which comes in handy when you are operating in Media Center from your sofa or bed. A Windows Live Call Button is also available for quick access to your Live Messenger Buddy list. I like the focus on making the keyboard a part of the living room while still maintaining its traditional functionality when working in a two feet environment, the remote and touch pad capabilities left me highly impressed.

Media Center

The keyboard features an integrated Media Center Start button for quick access. Using the keyboard in Media Center is very good! Once you set the Navigation Pad to the right mode; located at the upper extreme right of the keyboard, it makes it a cinch flying through the Media Center interface. If you are in one of the Media Center locations such as Picture or Music libraries, you can easily go back to the interface home by hitting the green button. I used the Media Center and wireless capabilities at approximately eight feet away and continued browsing, listening to music and navigating without any hindrance. The Navigation Pad is really a nice addition; if you are using it in the living room you can easily enjoy your multimedia and get work done at the same time. It would have been nice if the keyboard also featured a tracking ball (found on some laptops) to provide some fluidity in movement through out the Windows environment when not in Media Center. You can do it with the Navigation Pad when set back to mouse mode, but it’s so small, and hinders the time it takes to move the pointer to a part of the user interface. I could have used the mouse too, but would defeat the purpose of having this feature integrated in the keyboard in the first place. What I find strange is you can already accomplish some of the Navigation Pads capabilities with the four way arrow keys and the Enter button, so at times I was left confused why its there in the first place.

Laser 8000 Mouse Instant Viewer

Wireless Laser 8000 Bluetooth Mouse

As I already noted, the Wireless Entertainment Desktop 7000 includes a mouse, which uses a 1,000 DPI laser sensor. Included with the Mouse is a rechargeable NiMH AA battery, a companion recharging base is also provided. In comparison to the wireless Bluetooth Ferrari 5000 mouse its very light, but not as light as the Logitech MX Revolution which I recently reviewed. It does a good job, there really are no surprising features that really set it apart, but the standard features make it very comfortable and productive to use. Don’t be mistaken though, this mouse still does feature some innovative features which I enjoyed using such as the Instant Viewer which gives you quick access to your open windows. The Laser 8000 also features four- way scrolling so you can scroll side to side, in addition to up and down. It’s not a dedicated gaming mouse, but works quite well in first-person shooter games, there is a bit of slugginess when using in fast games and in some cases this will hinder persons who have good game reflexes.

Software

The ability to customize your keyboard and mouse is also one of the great functions of this package. Both Keyboard and Mouse tie into Vista’s existing settings and adds their enhanced tools for customization. The IntelliPoint software provides straightforward options for remapping the various commands that are available, whether you are a gamer or need specific options for working in a particular program. You can also tweak the mouse speed for faster feedback when clicking. I personally chose not to alter any of the default settings. The highlight of the Laser 7000 Entertainment keyboard customization is the Favourites Hot Keys for which you can assign quick access to your most commonly used programs. As you can see in the following screenshot, I had assigned commands to the programs I most often use daily such as Microsoft Word, Media Player, Photo Gallery, Firefox and ActiveWin.com. You can also use the Favourites button above the F10 key which calls up a dialog from which you can customize on the fly or launch the desired application. I would have liked if the Laser 8000s Instant Viewer took advantage of Vista’s existing ALT +TAB application switcher instead of using its own implementation, although it’s still nice to look at, but I notice when I click the scroll wheel as advertised, it does not immediately appear.

Quirks and Glitches

The day before this review was published; my brother came over to visit and also wanted to check out the new hardware I was reviewing. I was excited to show him the many features and wow him with the wireless capabilities. It kind of happened the way I wanted it to, I launched MCE using the MCE button, but strangely enough, when I switched to navigation mode on the Navigation Pad, the Up and Down arrows did not work at all, when I switched back to the Pointing Device mode, the mouse functionality did not work either. Then I navigated to the contents of a library, and pressed the MCE Start button to go back instantly to the MCE home screen, it activated the Start Panel. A restart eventually sorted things out and my brother was overall impressed by the wireless capabilities and the keyboards sleek design. The Laser 8000 was not without its quirks either, when I went to demonstrate Instant Viewer, clicking scroll again did not instantly bring up the application, it almost felt like a lucky hit when it eventually came up.

Final Thoughts

What can I say? I love the Wireless Entertain Desktop 7000 and I am positively overwhelmed by its many features. Its tight integration with Windows Vista will leave users of the operating system very impressed and comfortable. When I look back at my Dell PS/2 keyboard, I have to wonder how am I going readjust to it after having such a great time with the Wireless Entertainment Desktop 7000 <sigh>. Although there are some misses in areas such as no numeric keypad and touch based functions might require some getting accustomed to, the Laser Desktop 7000 is a great combination when used with Media Center and the Vista OS’s various features. The Laser 8000 mouse when coupled with Vista also shines and includes really productive features that make it a treat for users. While it’s not for gamers, it’s a great value when combined with the Laser 7000 keyboard, the wireless capabilities in addition to the recharging station results in very high points. Overall, I would recommend this to any home user running Microsoft’s multimedia operating systems, whether Vista or XP Media Center, it’s great for general purpose and media center activities. I am happy to say, this package is designed to improve your user experiences in the living room for the better.

Andre

Keyboard

Pros Cons
Sleek Compact Design

Lack of tactile feedback from function keys leaves users feeling unsure

Light Requires Four AA Batteries
Wireless/Bluetooth Navigation Pad does not work well throughout entire Vista operating (recommend track ball)
Tight Integration with Media Center and quick access to programs through MCE and Vista Start buttons Repetitive features
Favourite Hot Keys Inconsistent key sizes, takes a little adjustment
Proximity Awareness  
Customizable/Easy to setup  

Mouse

Pros Cons
Quick Access to functionality – Magnifier, Open Application Viewer Instant Viewer should take advantage of Vista’s Flip 3D instead using its own implementation
Light Not optimized for really fast games.
Wireless/Bluetooth Clicking scroll wheel to activate Instant Viewer is not as instant as advertised.
Rechargeable Battery  
Customizable/Easy to setup  

In the Box:

  • Recharging station 
  • AC power cord 
  • Bluetooth dongle 
  • Microsoft IntelliPoint and IntelliType 6.1 software
  • Setup guide
  • One Rechargeable battery (for Laser 8000 Mouse)
  • Four AA Alkaline batteries (for Laser 7000 Keyboard)

Ratings:

  • Installation: 90 % 
  • Ease of Use: 86%
  • Features: 95%
  • Design: 95%
  • Options: 95%
  • Help & Documentation: 85%
  • Price: 90%

Overall: 95%

Price $129
Certified for Windows Vista

Check out the Microsoft Wireless Entertain Desktop 7000 Gallery HERE

Windows Vista Logo Program: http://www.windowsvista.com/lookforthelogo

Microsoft Hardware: http://www.microsoft.com/hardware/mouseandkeyboard/productdetails.aspx?pid=081

 Previous Reviews:
Logitech MX Revolution mouse 
Acer Ferrari 5000

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