Sunday, December 14, 2008

How To Choose a Netbook : Tips

Netbook is booming!

Within a year after Asus release their first UMPC (Ultra Mobile PC) EEE PC 2G, now we have soo many UMPC (now also called Netbook) to choose. Not only the big brands like Asus, HP, Acer and Lenovo, smaller brands are also come up with their latest netbook such as Zyrex (local), MSI, Benq, and Axioo.

With too many netbooks to pick, how can we select the one for us? below are few items to consider:

a. CPU: most netbooks now are using intel Atom N270 (1.60 GHz, 533 MHz FSB, 512 KB L2 cache), the older ones use intel Celeron ULV (mostly Asus EEE earlier generation). HP Mini Note uses VIA instead of Intel

b. RAM: most netbooks now equipped with 1GB RAM DDR2, some can be upgraded to 2GB

c. Screen Size, dimension, weight : most netbooks now have 8.9" LCD, some have 10" LCD (eg. zyrex, Ideapad S10, Axioo Pico), while older netbooks have 7" LCD (EEE 8G and older). Dont worry about VGA memory, you will not playing hi-res game with this gadget. Most netbooks are within the same size range (25x19x3) and weigh 1.2kg, except Asus EEE older generation (22x18x3) and weigh 0.9kg

d. Storage : older netbooks use SSD (solid state drive) with max storage of 20GB, nowadays many netbooks already use HD with storage up to 160GB

e. Bluetooth, Wifi, Modem, LAN, 3G, Card reader, USB slot, Webcam : Not many netbooks have bluetooth, but most if not all of them will have Wifi and LAN connection. Also most netbooks don't have internal dial up modem. Acer aspire one at the moment is the only one with internal 3G slot, so you directly insert your 3G chip into the machine. Card reader is standard for most netbook, and good netbooks will have 3 USB slot. I think we need many USB slot since we may have to connect to many external devices, such as optical drive and external HD. Webcam is also a standard feature in current netbooks, either VGA (0.3MP) or 1.3MP.

g. Warranty and After Sales Service : most netbooks come with 1 yr warranty. I think most of them are made in Asia (China, Malaysia, Indonesia) anyway so after sales service and parts availability are so-so. Unless you are in the State where 24hr technical support hotline is available and running.

f. Price and design. Basically all netbooks now have more or less the same specs, the only differences are price and design. Therefore, the KEY CRITERIA is the design of the netbook itself. Dont look at the brochure, the will fool you. Most brochure are not accurate, the will simply put a picture of a similar type, not the real unit, especially if they are the latest release. So you have to go to the stores and look for your self. Not all white colors are the same, some of them looks cheap.

Happy hunting!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

GPS Routing in Jakarta

One of the cool stuffs you can do with your GPS is routing. It's not only that the GPS shows your destination point on the map, but it can also show and lead you the way to get there. Fancy ay?

Well, unfortunately based on my personal experience, in Jakarta (I mean greater Jakarta, ie Jabotabek) you can't rely 100% on the GPS routing for two main reasons :

First, Jakarta's traffic condition is unpredictable, hence each of you already has your own favorite route to go to some places.

Second, Jakarta's traffic rules may change from time to time.

Let's discuss one by one. The first reason; GPS route works using two linear approaches, first is by using the shortest distance and second is by the fastest (travel) time. Please note that the shortest distance is not necessary the fastest route, therefore you need to choose which approach you prefer. My suggestion is to use the fastest time approach.

The thing is, while shortest route is fixed, the actual fastest route is actually changed depends on time of the day. For example, I already have several different routes just from Lebak Bulus to Citos before 7am, between 7am to 10am, after 10am, on weekdays, on Saturday, or on Sunday.

I don't think even Garmin have the ability to analyse the traffic pattern! I believe Garmin will only consider the road size (small, major) and type (toll and non toll) to calculate fastest travel time.

Please also check your route preference/avoidance setup, for example do you prefer to take shortcut via small roads? do you mind taking a u-turn? do you mind taking the tollway? These setups will determine how the GPS will calculate the route for you. However in Jakarta this is very complex, I like to take small road, but not in all parts of Jakarta. Therefore, my recommendation is to avoid small roads, because you cannot be sure about the situation of that small road. However, do not avoid u-turn and toll road, because based on my experience, if you do not allow u-turn then your route will be extra long, while the toll road will help saves time (but not always).

The second reason; Jakarta's traffic rule is often changed. I'm not talking about the traffic rules in the major road, but more on the local traffic rules outskirts of Jakarta. This is not limited to the traffic signs, but also physical road barriers, traffic cones etc. Jakarta's traffic is so heavy sometimes the authority closed a u turn spot or put a barrier to prevent the traffic to make a left or right turn. For example, Tendean road from Santa towards Warung Buncit, you cannot make a u turn back to Santa under the flyover at Buncit intersection in the morning (before 10am?) because all incoming traffic is directed to turn left to Kuningan. I'm not sure whether Jakarta map data includes this time based traffic rule.

Therefore, this is my final recommendation for GPS user in Jakarta :

a. Use your own proven route whenever possible, most of the time that is the best route for you

b. Only use the GPS route on the section that you are not familiar with

c. Browse the GPS map before you follow a route, so you understand how the GPS will take you and analyse if the route is make sense

d. Always observe traffic rules and sign, don't follow the route if it's against the traffic rule (eg enter a one way street, make a turn where it's prohibited to do so). There's a possibility that the traffic rule has changed and you GPS map is not updated

e. Check you route preference and setup. Reset the setup according your needs and situation

Palm TX and Garmin Mobile 10

When I moved back to Jakarta last July, one thing I planned to do was to update my GPS map. It's not that I have forgotten the streets in Jakarta but hey, it's a mega city, there are still areas that you are not familiar with, no matter how long you have stayed in this city.

My GPS is a Garmin Mobile 10, paired via bluetooth with my Palm TX PDA. The GM10 acts as the satellite receiver and the pda acts as the data processor and screen display. The large 4" color touch screen display is really helpful for browsing the map.

GPS consists of two main elements, hardware and software. The hardware consist of the satellite receiver, the data processor, and the display. Most GPS will have all these 3 hardware in one unit, except mine. The only reason why I bought only the satellite receiver was because of the price. Routeable GPS was still expensive back then. Nowadays, the price is much cheaper and I suggest you bought the complete unit.

The software consist of two main components namely the GPS software and the GPS map. Since I only have Garmin, then I can only write about this brand. The GPS software is just like the software in your mobile phone. It's the program that operates the function of your GPS and just like mobile phones, Garmin software are also available in several OS beside Garmin itself, such as Symbian, Pocket PC or Windows Mobile, and Palm OS. At the moment, I'm using Garmin Mobile XT ver 4 for Palm Garnet, because that is the OS of my Palm TX. Therefore, you will need a different GPS software depending on your GPS device. If you are connecting Garmin receiver with Nokia phones, for example N72, you will need to install the Symbian version.

However, unlike Garmin GPS software, the Garmin GPS map (or compatible) is universal for several types of Garmin devices which are able to read the same map type, regardless the device OS. However, please note that not all Garmin GPS device read the same maps. There are different types of GPS; aviation, marine, off track, on road, sports, etc and they all required different type of map data. My GPS is for on road navigation, hence it will not be suitable for hiking or off track camping.

Garmin maps consists of two separate maps, the base map and the detailed map. The base map will cover a very large area, for example a continent, and the detailed map will cover the detailed streets in a smaller area, such as big cities. The GPS will use these two maps simultaneously depending on your zoom factor (ie the scale of your map). So if you zoom out to let say 50km scale, you will use the base map, but if you zoom in to 20m scale you will use the detail map. At the moment, I'm using the Asia Pacific base map with Jakarta City Navigator v3.1 as the detail map. If I travel to another city in Asia, I just need to change the detail map while maintaining the same base map. However, if I travel to US or Europe, I have to change both the base and the detail map. What happen if you don't use the right map combination? if that happens, the GPS display will show you on uncharted or blank area.

Where can you get a correct map? My advice is to as much as possible buy the correct map at the GPS dealer at your destination point. For example, if you travelling to Melbourne, you better buy the GPS map in Melbourne. The main reason is to make sure that you buy the latest map version of that city. This is the same logic of buying a printed map.

Please note that similar to computer software, Garmin maps software are also locked. In fact, you will need two unlock codes for garmin city map. The first code is to unlocked the map, and the second code is to unlock the device. One Garmin map is designed to be used only in one device, but one device can have many maps. Therefore, you have to use different maps if you have more than one gps device. However, most of the time, whenever you buy a gps device, the map data is already included. If every mobile phones have a unique IMEI number, every Garmin GPS device also have a unique serial number. This serial number will be match with the unlock code of the map, if it does not match, the map cannot be opened.

If you want to find out more about Garmin GPS, you can visit their website here. If you already have a garmin device and want to get the latest sofwares and drivers you can click here. I

If you want to know more about Palm TX, you can click here.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Hard Reset : Nokia E90

Few days back, my wife's Nokia E90 had a problem. The web browser didn't work, we could not seem to run the browser even though we got the WLAN connection. We tried the short cut button from the keypad inside, we tried from the main menu, from the WLAN menu, all didn't work.

I tried to soft reset the phone from the main menu : Menu > Tools > Settings > General > Factory Setting, also did not solve the problem, we still could not run the browser. After this, I knew that the only solution is to hard reset the phone, even though it will erase all data and program except those pre-installed from the factory.

Nokia E90 does not come with manual book, so I called my friend, who is the product marketing manager of Nokia Indonesia. He told me that the easy way to do hard reset is by doing the following step, from the main menu press *#7370# and key in the phone lock code, default is 12345. The phone will reset within few seconds, and start again as if we just turn it on for the first time.

This solved the problem, my web browser now works properly again, however all data, downloaded applications, pictures etc which were stored on the phone memory were lost (but not those stored in the memory card). So don't forget to back up your data before resetting your phone.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Compaq Presario V3837 and Windows XP

I have said in my previous posting that HP/Compaq is no longer provide support for Windows XP for their new laptops. Basically this means that your hardware may not work properly with Windows XP because HP/Compaq did not provide you with the correct driver.

Nevertheless, Imho there are 3 main reasons people are not moving to Win Vista. First, many people complain that Vista is slow due to heavy graphic interface (well, I have to admit that Vista looks is cool). Second, several hardware are not yet compatible with Vista (so it's the opposite case as well) and Third, Vista USD 130 is still more expensive than XP USD 90 (Home vs Home). So why do I have to pay more for somebody else experiment?

Therefore, until Vista is good and ready, let Microsoft fixes all the bugs and sort out all of the issues before coming back to us with a cheaper, faster and more compatible OS. In the mean time, lets keep Win XP in our laptops (or desktops).

However, there are 4 most common issues when installing Windows XP in Presario V3000 series, but all of them have solutions, as follows :

1. Windows XP will not be able to detect the SATA hard drive in the laptop when we try to install it for the first time. The solution is to integrate the SATA drivers in the installation CD, but this requires several steps. The easiest solution is to asked the store to install the Win XP for you

2. The internal mics do not work properly, internal speakers keep emitting sound even when a headset is plugged in. The solution is to install a correct driver. See my previous posting.

3. The scroll function in the touchpad do not work. The solution is to download the correct driver here :

4. The webcam does not work. The solution is to install the correct webcam driver from Youcam

Please ask the store to watch the above four issues when installing Win XP for your Presario V3000 series, so that you dont have to deal with them later.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Compaq Presario V3837 : My New Toys

I just bought this few weeks ago from a HP dealer in Poins, Jakarta for Rp 6.7mil (non OS) plus Rp 830K for Win XP Home + RAM upgrade to 1GB, total is Rp 7.53mil. The specs are moderate but enough for me.

Actually this laptop was designed to be used with Win Vista, however due to its notorious speed and troublesome, I opted to install it with Win XP. Everything was fine until I tried to make an internet call (using YM) to my wife in Bangkok.

Somehow the internal microphone didn't work. What supposed to be an easy talk was turned into a disappointment and hurdles. I couldn't seem to turn the mic on. I rushed to find an external mic and plugged it to laptop but that also didn't work. I'm afraid that my brand new gadget has some hardware error. I checked all driver setup, system info, etc but everything seems to work properly.

Until I read a discussion forum of compaq presario v3000 series users. It seems that mic problem for V3000 series is a common issue for Win XP user. Since Win XP is no longer supported, HP/Compaq is no longer providing the correct driver, hence the key is finding the right driver.

Some genius in the forum the pointed out the correct driver to be downloaded (click link below) :

In a nutshell, I downloaded and installed the file. Now the mic works properly! Thanks to all genius in Oprek PC!


PlatformNotebook PC with Intel Centrino Technology
Processor TypeIntel Pentium Dual Core Prosessor
Processor OnboardIntel® Pentium® Dual-Core T2370 (1.73 GHz, FSB 533, Cache 1 MB)
ChipsetIntel 965GM
Standard Memory512 MB DDR2 SDRAM PC-5300 (I upgraded to 1GB)
Max. Memory4 GB (2 DIMMs)
Video TypeIntel® Graphics Media Accelerator X3100 128 MB (shared)
Display Size14.1" WXGA TFT
Display Max. Resolution1280 x 800
Display TechnologyBrightView TFT
Audio TypeIntegrated
Speakers TypeIntegrated (Altec Lansing)
Floppy DriveOptional
Hard Drive Type120 GB Serial ATA 5400 RPM
Optical Drive TypeDVD±RW
Network Speed10 / 100 Mbps
Wireless Network TypeIntel PRO/Wireless 2200BG
Wireless Network ProtocolIEEE 802.11b, IEEE 802.11g
Wireless BluetoothOptional
Keyboard TypeQWERTY 82 keys
Input Device TypeTouch Pad
Slot ProvidedExpressCard/ 34/ 54
Card Reader ProvidedSD, MMC, Memory Stick / Stick PRO, xD-Picture Card
Interface Provided2x USB 2.0, Firewire, VGA, LAN, Audio
O/S ProvidedPre-sales Request Available
Battery Type Rechargeable Lithium-ion Battery
Power SupplyExternal AC Adapter
Dimension (WHD)237 x 39 x 334 mm
Weight2.4 kg
Standard Warranty1-year Limited Warranty by Authorized Distributor
Bundled PeripheralsCarrying Case
OthersIntegrated Compaq WEBCAM

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Intel Celeron vs Dual Core vs Core 2 Duo

If you are just an average computer user like me, then I think you will agree that Intel processors name are becoming too confusing. These days, when you shop for a notebook, most of them will have either Celeron, Dual Core or Core 2 Duo processor.

While most people are aware that Celeron is somewhat different with Dual Core and Core 2 Duo, but many like me will not know whether Dual Core and Core 2 Duo are actually different.

Without going to describe in detail the technical spec differences, I just want to share that basically now Intel has 3 processor families, namely :

  1. Intel Celeron: Celeron, Celeron M, Celeron D, Celeron Dual Core
  2. Intel Pentium : Pentium M, Pentium Dual Core
  3. Intel Core : Core Solo, Core 2 Solo, Core Duo, Core 2 Duo, Core 2 Duo Extreme

Celeron Family

logo_celeron This processor is basically designed to serve basic computing needs such as, writing documents using a word processor, making spreadsheet or presentation, browsing Internet, chatting, blogging, light games etc. The letter "M" and "D" denotes that it was specifically designed for Mobile (laptop) and Desktop computer. Due to its limited performance, the price of Celeron processor is much cheaper than the other families, however it doesn't mean that it's outdated. Intel keeps developing Celeron for its entry level - low cost segment, as a proof, Intel will soon release Celeron Dual Core processor.


Pentium Family

Logo_Pentium_DualCore3 If Celeron processors are for basic user, Pentium processors are for intermediate users with more advanced computing needs such as video editing, video rendering, mathematical modeling (CAD, graphics design, rapid prototyping), 3D animation design, heavy graphics games etc. The word "Dual Core" simply means that there are 2 unit processors in one chipset, resulting in higher multitasking ability with less power consumption.




Core Family

core2duo_logo_large Intel Core are the top end processors specifically designed for mobile (laptop) computing. It was the further development of Pentium M processor. There are 2 types of Core processor, Solo and Duo. Core Solo means it has only one processor in its chipset, while Core Duo means it has  2 processors in one chipset similar to Pentium Dual Core and Centrino Dual core. The most sophisticated processor at the moment is the Core 2 Duo Extreme with up to 3.2GHz clock speed which uses the 64bit architecture (the rest are still using 32bit architecture).


Which one to choose?

Well, if money is not an issue  then off course you should opt for the top end processor like Core 2 Duo. However, since the price gap is quite significant, then my suggestions is to think about what you need. If you ask a computer salesmen, surely he or she will persuade you to buy the most expensive items as possible to give him or her the highest commission, but this is not wise, right?

So if you are a light user, with browsing, chatting, blogging kind of activities, then Celeron is suitable for you. If you need to do serious work, big spread sheets with lots of pivot table, databases, then you should at least consider Pentium processor. However, if you are a graphic 3D animation designer, or a maniac PC gamer, or an engineer with CAD, prototyping, mathematical modeling, then Core 2 Duo is for you.

My wife owns a UMPC with Celeron processor, my personal laptop has a Centrino (Pentium M) processor (which soon will be upgraded to Pentium Dual Core... wink-wink), and my office laptop has a Core 2 Duo processor. Honestly, I don't see any differences in the performance because actually I'm a light to medium user. I don't play PC games, I don't create any graphic animation. My biggest spreadsheet files are only 2MB max, my average presentation file is only 10 pages. My word documents are less than 50 pages and less than 5MB each. So I don't have to buy a Core 2 Duo processor, even I think a Celeron processor will suits me fine.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Internet Safety for Kids

Few weeks ago my daughter (10 y.o) came to me and asked if she could have her own email address. The first concern I had in mind was not about the cost but more about Internet safety.

At the moment, there are plenty free web based email accounts on the Internet, such as Yahoo, Gmail, Hotmail, etc. Nevertheless, we also know that there are a lot of bad guys out there, so how could we protect our children but in the same time allowing them to learn and take advantages from the Internet?

My question was answered when I read about Family Safety from Windows Live OneCare. This free software allows us to manage and monitor our children's :

a. Email and messenger contact list (only applicable for Hotmail or Windows Live)

b. Blocked and approved Internet sites, including list of sites that has been visited

In order to do point b. first we have to download and install the Family Safety software to each computers that will be used by our children. Those computers must have Windows XP with Service Pack 2 or later, Internet Explorer 6 or later or Firefox 1.5 or later.


family safety


After downloading this software, every time they want to connect to the Internet, they will be asked for their Hotmail or Windows Life username and a password. The Internet security setting on that computer then will be adjusted according to the user (as a parent we will be able to adjust a different security setting for each children) and when ever our children want to add a contact or a web site address, a permission letter will be sent by email to us to approve or reject the request on line.

Please note that we can only monitor the browsing activities  if the Family Safety software is installed on that computer. Also make sure that the children don't know their parent password.

If you like to know more and download this free service, you can visit their site here .

Mentari : International Roaming

(cross posting from Indonesiana)

Even though I have been living in Thailand for almost 2 years now, somehow I still managed to keep my old Mentari GSM (Indonesian based pre-paid card) mobile number active by using its International Roaming (IR) feature. Nonetheless, I don't use this GSM card to make and receive call in Thailand because it will be very costly, instead I just keep it on stand by. It's just that I like this GSM number so much I decided to keep it and whenever I go back home for holidays, my friends can still call me at my old number.

What I like about this GSM card is that you can receive SMS/Text message for free, while other providers will charge you around Rp 3500-5000 per SMS received abroad. If you send SMS/text message to Indonesia while abroad, Mentari will charge you Rp 3500/SMS, but this is still cheaper than making or receiving a call.

According to Mentari CS, this IR feature is automatically on as long as we have a minimum balance of Rp 75,000. Please contact the Mentari CS before you go to check which GSM providers in the destination country that we can connect to.

On arrival, if you cannot automatically connect to the host network, you need to manually select it from your mobile phone. Go to the Setting menu > Network selection > Manual selection. In Thailand, you can choose either DTAC, AIS or TH GSM.

To check your balance, type : *101# then OK or *555# then OK

To top up your balance, type : *102*[voucher code]# then OK or *556*[voucher code]# then OK

For more detail, go to Klub Mentari website here.

Note : early this year, I still use *102* to top up my balance but few days ago tried again but it failed, then I tried *556* and it worked.

Friday, June 6, 2008

HP 2133 : First Comment

Last week I posted a news of the new UMPC from Hewlett Packard, the HP 2133, here and cross posted in my Multiply. Few days later, I received comment from my online buddy about his complaints on HP 2133.

Basically, he had three major complains as follows ;

1. The pre-installed Win Vista was very slow even with 2GB RAM. He has to downgrade to Win XP by himself and find the drivers on the Internet. HP 2133 works better with Win XP

2. The unit became very hot when in use. Hotter than any other laptops he had, including the Asus EEE. I'm not sure whether this is because of HP using VIA processor instead of Intel or it's just poor cooling system and design

3. Dead pixels. His brand new laptop had several rows of dead pixels on the screen. The HP service center didn't want to replace his unit with a new one so he has to come back to the store. Luckily the store was willing to replace it with the new one

In my opinion, while point 1 and 2 are most likely design/system errors, point 3 was just a manufacturing defect which hopefully will rarely occurs.

Read his full comment (in Bahasa) here.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Asus EEE PC 900 : New Release

After the success of previous EEE PC series, Asus comes back with another cool product, the EEE PC 900. Asus first announce the launch of EEE 900 in their pres release mid Apr 08 but the product will not be in the market until mid May 08 (dates vary between countires).

If you familiar with the previous series (2G, 4G, 8G), then you now that the most requested improvement is a bigger screen (see my previous review here). Despite minor differences on dimension (900 model is very slightly bigger) and weight (900 model is approx 70g heavier than previous models). There are three major improvements in this model, which are :

1. Bigger screen 9" (8.9" to be exact) versus 7" in the previous model (8G and older). See comparison below

2. Bigger storage capacity. This model has 12GB HD for Windows version or 20GB HD for Linux version. The 8GB difference is due to Windows OS requirement.

3. Double RAM capacity with 1GB DDR2, this is twice the RAM of 4G model (8G model already has 1 GB RAM).

Price approx. USD 550 (with Win XP Home pre-installed).

Specs :


8.9” Display, 1024 x 600 resolution


Pearl White, Black


Intel® Mobile CPU


Intel Mobile Chipset



Display Card

Intel UMA


12GB (4GB built-in + 8GB flash) SSD (Microsoft Windows OS Version)
20GB (4GB built-in +16GB flash) SSD (Linux OS Version)


HD audio / built-in speakers


Built-in 802.11b/g


1.3M Pixel webcam

Storage Cards


Input / Output

3xUSB / VGA-out (D-Sub, 15pin) / earphone jack / mic / RJ45 10/100 Mbps


Output: 12V, 36W;
Input: 100-240V AC, 50/60Hz universal

Operating System

Windows XP Home / Linux


22.5cm(W) x 17.0cm(D) x 2cm~3.38cm(H)


0.99 kg

Sunday, May 25, 2008

HP 2133 Mini Note : New Release

After Asus released their ultra mobile pc (UMPC), the EEE PC series, which became hits in many countries, many pc producers are geared up to launch similar products, including HP. Just recently, they annouced the release of HP 2133 Mini Note to compete with Asus. I think they really benchmarked with Asus, because somehow I see HP specs are direct improvement of Asus EEE.

Dimension. HP 2133 (255x165x27 mm) are slightly wider and thinner than Asus EEE (225x165x35 mm). This extra 30mm is used to enlarge the keyboard size, making it easier to type. HP 2133 is also 8mm slimmer.

Screen. HP has bigger screen (9") compares to EEE 4G (7", except EEE 900 has 9" screen). However its screen design reminds you a lot with Asus EEE. It doesnt occupy the whole frame, but instead left a 1" gap on the left and right side to make a way for the internal speakers outlet. I think this is for two purpose, to reduce the cost (instead of putting 11" screen) but allow a bigger keyboard.

Connectivity. Both HP 2133 and Asus EEE have similar connectivity features, however HP slightly better because it has an internal bluetooth adapter which is missing in EEE. However, HP has only 2 USB ports while EEE has 3. Both have WiFi and LAN 10/100 port, but HP does not provide optional port for dial up modem. Both has SD/MMC card reader and both don't have internal optical drive.

Memory. HP has better memory capability. It has 1 DIMM slot supports up to 2GB 667Mhz DDR2 SDRAM, while Asus EEE 4G has only 512MB RAM non upgradeable (except EEE 8G and 900 model has 1GB RAM).

Storage. HP has a far better storage capability than any Asus EEE series with internal HD bay capable to store up to 160GB SATA 7200rpm. However, this is also causing HP to weight more, starting with 1.1kg (excl internal HD), while Asus EEE is only 0.9kg

Processor. While Asus EEE uses Intel Celeron M ULV (Ultra Low Voltage) 900MHz, HP 2133 uses faster but non Intel processor VIA C7 M ULV 1.0-1.6GHz (depending on model, 1.0GHz is for Linux version).

Operating System. HP 2133 comes with several options of pre-installed OS such as Windows, Linux or Free DOS. However, like most new computers these days, they only provide Windows Vista (either Home or Business) even though it also supports Window XP Professional (I'm not sure whether that's include XP Home). Please note that HP will not pre-install Windows XP for you unless you are a business customer with a minimum annual order of 25 units of the same spec. This means that if you want to install XP then have to install it yourself.

Price. HP 2133 1.6GHz Vista Business cost around USD 750, while 1.2GHz Vista Home cost around USD 620. This is almost double the price of Asus EEE 4G Linux at USD 370 (approx USD 470 with XP Home), while EEE 900 (12G) XP Home is sold at USD 550. However, I believe HP 2133 1.2GHz Vista Home is still value for money due to its bigger screen size and ample storage capacity.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Ban On Using Mobile Phone While Driving

As per May 8, 2008 Thailand Police will ban the use of mobile phones while driving. This will apply to all vehicles and roads. This also includes the use of mobile phone while stopping in the traffic light. Digital camera may be used by the Police to catch your act. The fine is varied between 400-1000 THB and you may get your licence suspended if caught for the second time. However, it is said that you can still use your phone while driving as long as you are using the hands-free kit (which I think may lead to a debate with the Boys in Brown)

My suggestion is just simply don't use your phone while driving..

Asus PC EEE 4G (701) : Review

It was in the last Bangkok Comtech exhibition (April 08) that I first saw this gadget for the first time. Interestingly, at that time, the sales persons were not really keen to sell this product. I think the main reason was perhaps they hadn’t yet met the exhibition sales target so they were focusing on selling the normal (and lot more expensive) laptops.

At the moment, there are 2 models available in Thailand, the Asus EEE 4G (701) and 4G SURF, the difference is that the SURF model doesn’t have an integrated webcam and it’s 1000B cheaper (US 29). I never seen the earlier model EEE 2G, and the newest model EEE 8G has not yet arrived (as per April 08). EEE is an acronym for Easy to learn, Easy to work and Easy to play, a concept further developed from OLPC (One Laptop Per Child) program sponsored by a global non profit private organisation.

I bought the black (the other colors are white, pink, light blue, light green) Asus EEE PC 4G (701) at 11,700B (US 334) in Pantip incl.1 year local Asus warranty. Even now you can buy this gadget at Carrefour at the same price. The original package comes with a manual book, a support DVD, travel charger and a nice soft case.

Main Features
Main features of the 4G (701) model are; Intel Celeron processor, 512MB RAM DDR2, 4GB solid state hard drive, 7” TFT LD monitor, 2in1 card reader, 3 USB port 1,3MP webcam, 10/100 LAN port, VGA port, and Wifi. It doesn’t have built in optical drive and bluetooth. The normal telephone dial up port RJ11, is also optional. Please request if you need one.

The size of this ultra mobile PC is tiny, even the whole box is about the same size of Nokia E90 communicator box. Basically you won’t realise that you but a laptop. It’s lightweight at only 0.9kg, small enough to carry around. Compares to regular sized 14”in ThinkPad R51, Asus EEE 4G is half the size.

Asus EEE has a taper design perhaps for ergonomic reason, so that the keyboard is slightly inclined towards the screen.

On the right side, you will find MMC/SD card slot, 2 USB slot, a 15pin VGA out and a Kensington lock port.
On the left side, you will find LAN port, Dial Up Modem port (optional), 1 USB slot, mic and head phone jacks. The rear side is only for the DC power input jack. There is also a built in mic port located in the bottom side just below the touch pad buttons.

7” Screen
There is no mechanical lock to open the screen, just lift it up carefully. The screen is tiny 7”, but reasonably clear. It doesn’t occupy the whole frame, but leave a lot of space inside the frame considering that it’s a 10” frame. On the left and the right side of the screen are the internal speaker outlet, and at the top middle side there is the webcam. I think most people will choose to have a bigger screen, ideally 9”, and relocate the internal speaker outlet somewhere else.

The 7” screen with 800x480 aspect ratio creates a little inconvenience in viewing a page, since we often need to scroll up-down to see the full screen. If using Windows XP, you need to set the Task Bar to auto hide, otherwise it’ll block the view. Also, Windows XP cannot adjust the screen resolution properly, so you need to adjust it using the Asus EEE PC utility program (provided).

The keyboard size is reduced, but still reasonable for typing. Any size smaller than this will not be convenient. Some keys have multi functions (+[Fn]) to reduce total number of keys.

The touch pad left and right buttons are combined together in one long silver bar, making it rather hard to press. The touch pad scroll up and down function somehow is not working in Windows environment, I still need to check why.

On the right bottom corner there are 4 lights indicator for power, battery, harddisk and Wifi status.

Operating System
Asus EEE comes with preinstalled Linux OS including several Linux based programs to work (document, spreadsheet, presentation, mail, PDF reader), learn (science, language, math) and play (media player, music and video manager, games). Mozilla web browser is also provided.

Asus EEE can also run under Windows XP (and XP only) environment which I did, but with only 4GB harddisk space we need to choose minimal installation and install only what we need (using Windows remove program/component utility), otherwise the system will be slow. The news says that Asus will launch the Windows XP version later with the 8G model.

I then bought a 8GB SDHD card and put it permanently in the card reader as the secondary harddisk. Then I moved “My Document” and “Internet Temporary File” folders to this card and leave drive C: only for Windows and essential program. We can also turn off “System Restore” monitor to save space, but note the consequences.

Another solutions is to connect to an external HD and or external optical drive using the USB slot. However, according to Asus manual, you need to check the compatibility first before buying an external peripherals (eg. external webcam etc).

I had this gadget for about a month now and only use it only for leisure purposes, such as browse Internet, chat, and blogging. Asus EEE PC boot sequence under Windows XP is relatively quick, even quicker than ThinkPad R51 (Pentium Centrino 1.6GHz, 512MB RAM, 40GB HD). Connecting to internet using its Wifi is very quick, within seconds it will connect to pre-assigned hot spot. This is much better than the R51 which has weaker and slower Wifi reception. The webcam also works well under Yahoo Messenger (please check compatibility under Linux software).

Due to its limited storage capacity, I haven’t tried it to download huge >10MB file from internet, but so far I did not notice any lag compares to R51 (but Asus EEE is not faster either).

I also have no issues working with the MS Word, except the screen size. I didn’t try the MS Excel, as I have no intension to do serious stuff with this gadget. I opened the Excel once and looked at the small cells displayed, it turned me off (now I’m wondering how much smaller it will be on the Nokia E90 communicator, do people really use it?).

Since Asus EEE is considered as an UMPC, off course its storage ability, compatibility, expandability is limited hence it may not be suitable for working as our primary computer/laptop.

It’s not as strong and as solid compares to normal laptops with Core 2 Duo processor, 1GB RAM and 80 GB HD to do heavy stuff with lots of multimedia processing, but its price is also a lot-lot cheaper.

There are even many mobile/smart phone/PDA phone a lot more expensive than the Asus EEE. More over, it works perfectly for regular internet browsing and normal office document processing. Except for its tiny 7” screen size (which make your normal 14” a giant screen), Asus EEE 4G (701) is worth every Baht I paid.

Bangkok Intl Motor Show Girls 2008

Bangkok International Motor Show (BIMS) in one of the hottest show in Bangkok!

Just in case you did not notice, I think only 50% of the BIMS visitors (mostly men) really want to see the cars, and out of those 50% who wants to see the cars, only half is thinking of buying a car and perhaps less than 5% who really did buy a car during the show.So, what did the rest of the visitors look for? well, honestly, I think they want to see the show girls hired by the car manufacturers to cheer up the show.

In Thailand they are very famous, people call them as Toyota Pretty Girls, Honda Pretty Girls, Subaru Pretty Girls and so on. They were hired not as a sales person, even though they also advertise the cars/motor cylces, but they are hired basically to as models with a little bit of product knowledge. If you really have a question about the car, you need to talk to the real sales person who can give you more detail of the car or credit arrangement.

Unlike in some other countries, Bangkok Pretty Girls are quite friendly are they willing to pose for everyone (not limited to official or media) so that everyone can take their pictures. Some people just use their phone camera, but some bring along some serious stuff with strange looking flash lamp and long big lenses.

I used my Nikon D40 with built in flash and Nikkor 55-200mm lens. A wrong choice of lens for the event since I also meant to take pictures of the cars. With only 55m lens wide, I could not take a full picture of any cars without being 10m away from it and without people obstructing my view. However, since the lens work OK for the girls, I was less disappointed, but next time I should bring my 18mm lens, or trade the 55-200mm with 18-200mm lens. It is quite expensive though...

Anyway, nuff said. Enjoy the pictures...