Sunday, September 11, 2011

HP MINI 110-312TU

Another netbook, but this time by HP. No problem, since HP is the better choice when it comes to Customer Service, at least locally. They have a cozy and elegant Customer Service Office, with very fast response. So I guess, having a troublesome HP netbook would be okay. The HP Mini 110-3012TU is about 1” thick and weighing at around 1kg. It has a boring black design which is quite old according to the current trend of anti-fingerprints outer casing. The netbook is also pre-installed with Windows 7 Starter, which is good enough for light duties.
I hate the power button. It is a toggle which needs to be pull backward to turn the darn thing on. It may take you some time to adjust yourself with this kind of button, plus, I do not think you would like to spend most of your computing time with this kind of tool; long enough that would make you comfortable with it. Do you get what I mean? It’s that kind of thing, which after a few moments with it, you’ve started a calculation in your head about selling it off. The toggle button is hard to pull backward. Umm, maybe I had a soft finger tips. It is oddly placed at the right side of the palm rest. Having a cute palm rest is just burdensome enough and having a power switch like this, makes thing worse. It just that I hate you darn toggle-power-button!
The netbook-with-the-darn-toggle-power-button is equipped with a faster version of Intel Atom N455, which manages 1.66GHz. It also comes with 160GB of storage, WIFi, Webcam and Card Reader. The factory pre-installed Memory is hardly sufficient for current date task and duties. My experience, the netbook suffers frequent pauses and hangs when performing light multitasking, and even surfing the web, particularly when I am visiting those sites with heavy and intense flash graphic. Things like this is happening with Acer Netbook too, so I guess, it’s normal on 1GB base level netbook…accept on the Lenovo S10. The HP Mini 110-3012TU comes with 3 USB 2.0 ports, and also a nicely covered RJ45 connector. The VGA output is located on the left side of the netbook just a few centimeters away from the LCD.
After a few minutes of using it, the netbook has already shown signs of slow-motion’ness! Maybe it was the 1GB RAM. But how on earth can the Lenovo S10-3S not going through this kind of ‘slow’. Furthermore the HP Mini 110-3012TU comes with a better processor compared to the Lenovo, Intel Atom N450. Maybe the difference is unnoticeable, since the processors code difference is just 5 (LOL)! Pity for HP. The keyboard is pretty okay and wide for a netbook. This is much helpful to relive the stress of mistyped keys and generations of excuse upon typos and misspellings. The non-glare 10.1” WXGA screen is marvelous and sharp, and therefore no complains here. But I hate the design. I simply hate the design. HP should replace their designers. Makita and Ryobi designers are cool. Their new cordless power tools are awesome and splendid in design, that if it fitted with wings and tails, it could fly… with a little throw of course. I don’t know, maybe HP had spent too much on the Customer Service part, so that they are forgetting this design department. Yes, to be serious, I think I can design better than them.
Enough of the complaining… I want to sell this darn thing off.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


I thought I had the last sight on Samsung Handphones and PDSs since the last Omnia 2.  I thought wrong.  Eventually an in-law bought it and using it for almost a year, and I had the chance to write something about it. It was quite a superior android based PDA. It was the Samsung Galaxy S GT-I9000,  3G-capable PDA with awesome display.  My first impression was that, the Samsung Galaxy S is so un-Samsung. Maybe I had too much bad experience with Window-Mobile based Samsung PDA. Certainly that was the factor for my prejudice against Samsung mobiles, gadgets. I used to think that Samsung phones are slow, irresponsive and annoying. Getting rid of it is a must. The Samsung Galaxy GT-I9000 has shown huge improvements in areas that made me loathe Samsung phones.
The Galaxy S GT-I9000, is a 120gm 3G capable PDA, with android OS Éclair. Pretty nifty and fast as a PDA, since the burdens of Windows Mobile are over. Actually, I should hate Windows Mobile, not hating Samsung (lol). The Galaxy S is sported with awesome 4.0 inch Super Amoled capacitive touchscreen with 480x800 pixels. The Screen is pretty huge for a PDA, and actually Samsung is using Gorilla Glass Display for their Galaxy S. The result, a crude and firm touch screen. It is super responsive with the Touch Sensitive Controls, and less prone to errors. I am hooked with the pleasure of the screen sensitivity. Sliding through the glassy screen is easy and smooth. Unlike the feeling when you slide your fingers over Samsung Omnia 2 screen which feels like a burden to your muscle. How I’d wish I’ve acquired the Galaxy S over the Omnia 2.
The Galaxy S I9000 comes with a built-in memory of 8GB or 16GB, making it amongst the generous storage for PDA. The 512MB RAM and 2 GB RAM is adequately good enough to maintain the PDA at all-time fast even after load of applications being installed. If you find that not enough, you can opt for the external MicroSD card which supports up to 32GB. The Samsung Galaxy S is also capable of making HD video recording of 720p at 30 frames per second.
Out of the box the Samsung Galaxy S GT-I9000 looked flat-faced and thin and retaining an unfamiliar being of the IPhone2. On the front side, there are only 3 buttons below the LCD screen which are the Home-key, Back-key and Menu-key. The Power-Button is located at the right side of the PDA while the Volume-key is at the left side. The PDA is also featuring a dual camera, capable of making video conference and video calls. Based on the Android platform, the Samsung Galaxy S can download and install additional applications from Android Market. This feature is amongst the factor that popularize the Android based gadgetry. You can either select the free applications or for deeper pockets, buy them (the applications).
All the ooh and aah, comes to and end when it goes for battery life. The Samsung Galaxy S, has an awfully low battery life. The in-law had craved for a few kinds of Android games, and eventually, it ends up that the PDA needs to be charge daily. At usual pace and day, the battery would last about 24 hours of normal usage. By the way, the in-law still defending the purchase made bragging that it been with it for more than a year with no complain. Ironically, the in-law also maintains a secondary super cheap, single-color-LCD hand phone for her daily usage… with longer battery life of course.

Thursday, September 1, 2011


I had always wanted a router, since my last Bosch mini router or mini trimmer was sold. I had a project on hand that need to be executed effectively only with a router. It was a modular kitchen cabinet stands. The stands will act as an adjustable feet and can be relocated and joined together again using a carefully routed joints. Each stands will have like 10 joints which will be made you know, either traditionally using a 1 1/2” flat head-chisel. Since there are like 10 stands to be completed and I am one of those with unsteady hands that produce unsteady and uneven cuts, so I guess, banking with a small router would be handy. One thing I hate about router is the brutal start up! I have the tendency to miss the spot even after I tried hard enough on a free play routing. I was thinking of getting myself a plunge router, since it has wide base and easier to be fixed and guide.
Back in those days, not long ago, the cheapest plunge router was around RM800-RM1500. That was way over-budget for me. Paying that kind of money should at least produce me something worthwhile, but eventually, all my woodworking outputs are not of merchantable quality. So, I thought best to stick it low and slow. My interest was captured on the Skil router 1827. Yes it is a router, plunge router… no big deal, but it is price at less than RM400. This is awesome deal, or maybe hardware and tools are getting into the trendies like what happen with computer stuff too.
Basically the new Skil Router 1827 is a plunge based router. It is powered by a 1200w motor that capable of churning most application easily. The Skil Router is also feature a Soft Start Technology, which is new to the local market. This Soft Start will be so useful for smoother and easier handling during the start-ups, therefore reducing the errors and hiccups here and there that usually happen with traditional router. On the other hand, the Soft Start is also friendlier to me as I am going to slowly adapting my hands and machine as the work progresses. The ½ collet capacity router is presumable more powerful than my last mini router that only uses 1/4” collet. It has Micro-fine Depth Adjustment for precise cuts and Dual-Position On/Off Switch for user convenience and better control. The other I like about the plunge router compared to mini router is the variable speed control. The new router is also equipped with soft-grip handles for better comfort and control over the 1200W machine. On the router itself, it has a Depth Rod and Adjustable Turret for repeatable plunge routing applications while the Quick Clamp Release Lever is for easy motor adjustments and removal.
Out of the box the Skil Router 1827 comes with Edge guide, a wrench and a Collet Adaptor. The router can be used with either ¼" & ½" collet. Below are the basic specification of the new Skil Router;
Input power                                       1200W
No-load speed                                  10,500-25,000rpm
Collet capacity                                   ¼" & ½" collet
Spindle lock                                       Yes
Soft Start                                           Yes
Micro depth Adjustments                   Yes
Auto Zero/Zero reset                         Yes
Dual-position slide on tool                  Yes
Quick Pass Turet                               Yes
Built-in light                                        Yes
Plunge base                                       Yes
Chip deflector                                   Yes
Weight                                               4.9kg
Awesome eh…  Now where do I put those kitchen stands again?


Sawing a straight cut on plywood and treated wood is tiresome for not-so-professional professionals. Since I had the kick of collecting power tools, I had given a try on a base line circular saw available on your local store. It is Skil Saw 5300, a 1300W brute. The Circular Saw is priced below RM300, making it amongst the affordable Circular Saw in the local market.
Out of the box, the saw comes with 7 ¼” Tungsten Carbide Tipped (TCT) blade equivalents to 184mm. The blade is 40 tooth blades is designed to cool down quickly compared to ordinary blades. The Circular Saw itself weighing at around 5 kg is no ordinary toy at its peak no load speed of 5,000 r.p.m. The built is sturdy and robust, able to withstand pressures and precisely designed meeting the acceptable safety standard. The motor is powerful enough to maintain a precise 60mm depth cut. Standard equipment provided with the saw are the 7 ¼” TCT blade itself, Blade Wrench and a Parallel Cutting Guide. The maximum adjustable bevel cut for the saw is 45 degree angle.  The Skil Saw sports a red colored tone similar to my old Black and Decker KR hammer drill. Kind of unoriginal, since out of thousands of available colors, why choose a color that has been normally linked to another brand.
The operation is quite simple, provided with the right technique and method. Cutting off a 3” wide treated wood is a short operation. However, for large surface area like ripping through an 8’ long plywood needs some initial planning and preparation. The rip fence guide is useful for such kind of long cuts. However, I prefer to use a dual rails and gliding action. The method is by fixing the plywood flat on a surface, then arranging 2 piece of long material clamped on both sides of the saw onto the plywood itself. The long material can be 2 piece of 9’ 1”X2” wood, or aluminum or anything that is long enough for the rip cut and wide enough to act as a glider for Circular saw. Before the real ripping commence, usually I will glide the Circular Saw back and forth, ensuring that the blade really touched the cutting mark. Once certain, turn on the plug and make the cut. You will be amazed on how simple it can be done. However, ripping a long cut without a guide rail, you are prone to slews and skips here and there, thus spoiling the subject. Keep in mind that wood material is not cheap locally, since our timber house are busy exporting our timbers for better pricing, so the best method is, measure twice or thrice, cut once!


Generally there are few grades of tools and stuff we usually find all around us. Starting from the crap grade then followed by the normal grade, then the high end grade. After that, there is also the sick grade. The new Acer Travelmate 8481G is no doubt a sick notebook. It is basically because it is an i7 notebook that weight only at 1.5kg. Plus this sick notebook is equipped with nVidia GT250Mobile further enhancing its ability to excel in wider scope. The Acer is also boasts to have up to 9 hours of battery life. That is one sick of a notebook at RM4k range. Let’s see what inside…
Out of the box, the Travelmate is kind of elegantly thin and slender with pretty boring of a design. It reminds me of the old Macbook Pro type of design, but with that un-cool Signal. The sick thin case is of magnesium based therefore Acer manages to skim its weight to a measly 1.5kg. The 14.1” LCD display is beautiful and crisp, leaving the panel holding it with only slight centimeters to spare on each sides and top. Even on the bright sunlight, the screen is viewable since the LCD is protected with a matte cover. The keyboard is pretty comfortable, but eventually it is the type of keyboard layout that is easy to trap dust and dirt. It is similar with the Aspire model. The palm rest is wide and generous where the touch screen is placed. The fingerprint reader is located between the buttons.
I do not know what has the engineers at Acer are eating, but equipping the already sick notebook with NVIDIA’s GT520M, is making the notebook into a beast. The notebook is also utilizing the Optimus technology where discreet graphics card will be turned on only when needed. Therefore reducing heat and reducing power consumption. This is the specification of the Acer Travelmate 8481G that is being reviewed here;
Processor: Intel Core i7 2637M with 4MB L2 Cache; Turbo Boost up to 2.80GHz. This is one of the fastest 17W TDP processor.
Graphics Adapter: NVIDIA GeForce GT 520M with dedicated 1GB DDR3 VRAM
Display: 14.1 inch, 16:9, 1366x768 pixels,
HDD: 320GB 7200RPM Anti-shock Protected
Magnesium Aluminium Body Casing and Carbon Top LCD Panel
Integrated Bluetooth 3.0, Webcam, WiFi, USB2.0, E-SATA, VGA Output, Ethernet Jack 
The verdict; Acer’s TravelMate8481G is one of the sickest laptop around available at less than RM4k. I have to agree, that this sicko will play a contributing role in the demise of desktop industry. Now, who wants to buy an i7 desktop at the same specification around the same price? Secondly, who wants to buy a desktop that usually will last around 3-4 years, about the same age of any offered notebook in the market? Thirdly, who wants to buy a desktop that churns on your money on electric bills? Fourth, who on earth wants to buy a desktop that produces more heat? This Acer Travelmate can play Call of Duty Balck Ops and Starcraft 2 at reasonably good settings, and who on earth does not content for that, plus the additional bonus of mobility, cooler and more energy efficient system.
Now where do I start to save?
Picture taken from: Acer


The Asus notebook range is like car plate number. It doesn’t have a model name like the Dell Inspiron or Acer Aspire or Vaio by Sony or some of the HP notebook model. So it is hard to remember and distinguish. Same goes with the MSI notebook. The Asus K52JR was brought into the local market somewhere in mid 2010. It is a big notebook with 15.6” HL Led screen. The notebook is equipped with processor option of Intel® Core™ i5 Processor 540M/520M/450M430M or Intel® Core™ i3 Processor 370M/350M/330M or Intel® Pentium® Dual-Core Processor P6000. Imbedded with the Mobile Intel® HM55 Express Chipset  is the ATI Mobility™ Radeon® HD 5470 1G DDR3 VRAM, which is a quite a formidable graphic processor. The notebook comes with a factory pre-installed 2GB DDR3 1066 MHz SDRAM and upgradeable up to 8GB SDRAM within its 2 SODIMM socket. The storage option is either 250GB at 5400rpm, 320GB at 5400 and 7200 rpm up to 640GB at 5400rpm. According to Asus, the K52JR was designed to improve multitasking and mobile computing.
Apart from the aforementioned option we can get from it, the ASUS K52JR has a normal modem, Ethernet port, Card Reader, WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth, Microphone-in jack, Headphone-out jack, VGA port, 3 x USB 2.0 ports and one HDMI. DVD Writer is made standard with the notebook, and Blu-Ray DVD Combo is an option. The Notebook is also weight around 2.6kg which is pretty normal for a 15.6” notebook.
Design wise the notebook is pretty big since it is a 15.6” notebook, plus the K52JR does come with the number pad. The palm rest is wide and spacious and friendly to the hands upon resting on it, since the edge of the notebook is amazingly smooth. The touch pad is prompt and responsive as it features the intuitive multi-touch touch pad which is very handy for scrolling pages and zooming in and out. The touch pad is fitted with a feature which distinguishes the differences between palm and finger contact. This is pretty useful, since accidental movements of cursor can be reduced automatically. The notebook has hinge that draws the LCD away upon opening it up. Asus claimed that the ‘sunken hinge’ provides better viewing and increase in comfort. The LCD back panel is simply smooth without that cheap plastic feeling, and so does the overall keyboard section. The ASUS K52JR uses Altec Lansing speakers which has SRS Premium Sound. The keyboard design and layout, is marvelously sleek. It’s like a Lenovo keyboard, which the keys are raised over the panel, with just a tiny opening for each key, minimizing trapped dust and dirt. The webcam is located above the HD screen just like any other notebook. The 14” LED panel LCD is pretty sharp too, but a little too glossy to be viewed comfortably when there’s too much external light.
The notebook is loaded with Operating options of Windows® 7 Ultimate, Windows® 7 Professional, Windows® 7 Home Premium or Windows® 7 Home Basic. The one thing I hate about getting a system with factory pre-installed Operating System is the rubbish they put inside the Windows. That goes the same too for almost any notebook.  They installed too many unneeded crap, that the first 4-5 hours of the notebook life usually be used uninstalling them or figuring how clean them up. There was a time, it took me more than a week to properly clean a factory preinstalled ‘junkware’. If you can’t get the picture, purchase a new mainboard, and installed every darn applications they include free in the mainboard driver CD or DVD.
Performance wise, the notebook is freaking fast. The i3 processor is quite enough to handle most of my gaming need and processing speed. I guess the i5 equipped model will be much nicer and faster. Booting is easy and smooth. However, without cleaning the notebook out of its pre-installed applications, the notebook is like other ordinary notebook, which on the first impression is only fitted with 1GB RAM. The default 2 years warranty on all Asus Notebook and netbook is another plus that need to be considered. O yes, they have a crappy name for a notebook model that may sound nice for automobiles, but seriously the Asus K52JR is worth checking. Deciding and committing will be a little later.
Picture taken from: Asustek

Wednesday, August 31, 2011


The HP Compaq CQ42-203AU is the successor from the previous version of HP Compaq CQ40 and HP Compaq CQ41 notebook range. It has newer design compared with the older model. Yes, newer and ironically cheap-feeling and amazingly boring-look of a black piece of plastic component. The specification is somehow better than the older model of CQ40 and CQ41. It came with a dual core processor, DDR3 Memory and an upgraded version of graphics engine. However, since the notebook was targeted to be on the base line system, it did not come with Operating System. I had to acquire 6 units of this model in order to cater the business need for expansion. Sold off 4 units and keeping the rest for company usage. I had upgraded a few units with additional 2 years warranty due to heavy usage day in day out. Had a unit sent back to HP for repair, and next few hours, it was ready to be collected. This is the best part of HP goods and stuff. They are very good and spectacular when it comes to RMA (Return Merchandise Agreement). Maybe it was the reps at HP. 

The factory given RAM is surely low, and upgrading it to 2GB is a must. Otherwise, you will find this notebook is not much different with those super slow-motion netbook trying to run Windows 7 Ultimate with Kaspersky Anti-Virus installed. The touchpad is among the hideous part of the notebook. It is ugly and horrid in design. Why on earth did they design such a horror palm rest? The touchpad was raised to the same level of the palm rest, which looked like colored brick. Maybe if the color was carbon-grey or red, it might be cool, but black… so not cool. The led-light, which usually indicate whether we had Caps Lock and also the power indicator are so tiny. That goes the same too for the power button. It seemed that HP is trying use small parts to reduce the cost. Cheap plastic, cheap led lights, cheap power button, cheap designing yields this HP Compaq CQ42-203AU. By the way, the notebook itself was not that bad after all. This is the specification of the notebook;
AMD Athlon™ II Dual-Core Processor P320 (2.1GHz, 1MB L2 Cache)
1024MB 1333MHz / DDR3 Memory (1024 x 1 pcs)
320GB 7200rpm Hard Disk Drive
14.0” (1366 x 768) Screen
AMD M880G with ATI Mobility Radeon™ HD 4250 Graphics
Integrated B/G/N Wireless, USB 2.0 (3), HDMI Port, Card Reader, Webcam
Weight: 2.2kg
Upon first few hours, the notebook managed to run the installed applications smoothly on Windows 7 64bit. After it had finished collecting the necessary updates on the drivers and Direct X, I had put them on the game test. The result was pretty much the same like its older brother, namely the HP CQ40 and HP CQ41. The CQ 42-203AU manages to run these game; Call of Duty Modern Warfare, Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2, StarCraft 2 (very low setting), Fifa 2011, Section 8, Crysis, Halo, Halo 2 and almost all the games near the range. Unfortunately, it cannot play Call of Duty Black Ops, Battlefield Bad Company 2 and astonishingly GTA San Andreas. It left me stumped for explanation. The CQ 42-203 has been put to test on a straight 12 hours gaming mode, at I did perform well. Apart from a few glitch, pause and hang here and there, the notebook is considerably tough a crude. By the way, seriously upgrading the warranty from the default 1 year to 3 years warranty is worthy.
Picture taken from: HP Malaysia