Review: MSI GT680

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Review: MSI GT680

The MSI GT680 is exactly what you want from a gaming machine. Raw power, great speakers and a chassis that looks like it began life as an X-Files prop.

The limited battery life and flimsy keyboard mean you won’t want to use this as a work machine but it’s excellent value for gaming.

Beginning with the design, the MSI GT680 continues the gaming laptop trend of aggressive styling, plenty of bulk and blinking LEDs. The black plastic chassis isn’t going for subtlety and the large speaker grilles next to the screen hinges are immediately noticeable. As is the chrome border around the touchpad and the banks of orange LEDs edging the screen and palm rest.

Unfortunately, while the LEDs look cool, they aren’t particularly bright and are easily forgotten when using the laptop in any brightly-lit environment.

The build quality doesn’t extend to the keyboard, which flexes horrendously. It looks nice, and there is plenty of space for typing, but it feels flimsy when working for any length of time.

The 15.6-inch screen is smaller than some of the other gaming and multimedia laptops we’ve seen, but this does mean you can fit the MSI into conventional laptop bags for some mobile gaming. At least, this would be the case if it didn’t weigh 3.5kg and have a battery life of 122 minutes.

The screen has a Super-TFT coating that adds plenty of colour and depth to games and movies. However, it isn’t nearly as bright as some machines we’ve reviewed, such as the Dell Latitude XFR.

The sound, meanwhile, took full advantage of the Dynaudio speakers and filled the room with gunshots, screeching tyres and the anguished cries of wounded henchmen.

Top specifications

Inside the MSI GT680 are some very impressive components. The Sandy Bridge Intel CPU is a top-spec Core i7 2630QM and the 8GB of RAM is twice as much as we’re used to.

Unsurprisingly the dedicated graphic card is one of Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 460M models and capable of running the latest games on their highest detail settings without affecting the frame rate.

TechRadar Labs

tech labs

Battery Eater ’05: 122 minutes
Cinebench: 17212
3DMark 2006: 13936

MSI has included plenty of connectivity and the GT680 boasts two USB 3.0 ports for faster connections to external drives and peripherals. Elsewhere there are two regular USB ports, HDMI and VGA slots for external monitors, an eSata port and a Gigabit Ethernet connection if you don’t fancy using the 802.11n Wi-Fi to connect to the internet. We’re also pleased to see a Blu-ray drive included as standard.

In most cases, we can recommend gaming laptops because their superior spec means they are suited to almost any task. Not in this case. If you’re a gamer, we’d suggest the MSI because of the way it looks and the excellent performance from that Intel Core i7 processor. If you’re not a gamer the irritating keyboard and mediocre battery life all count against the MSI as an all-rounder.

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Review: Acer Aspire 5742Z

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Review: Acer Aspire 5742Z

Acer is one of the most prolific manufacturers we know, producing everything from huge multimedia powerhouses such as the Aspire Ethos 8951G to stripped-down budget models. The Aspire 5742Z is one of the latter, and another strong entry-level contender.

At this price range, you won’t be getting the latest technology and performance will be limited. However, the 5742Z features an Intel Pentium P6200 processor backed up by a staggering 6GB of memory, much more than we usually see at this price. Only the MSI CR620 and Asus K52F performed better in our tests.

We managed to write this review, stream music over the internet and back up our files all at once, with no slowdown at all. Applications started up quickly and ran smoothly.

However, you only get basic integrated graphics to keep the price low. This means that you’re limited in what you can do with your media. Browsing your photo collection and touching up images with basic editing tools are perfectly possible, and we were impressed that high-definition movies played smoothly. However, don’t expect to be able to edit videos or play anything but basic or elderly games.

Optical drive

Acer aspire 5742z review

You can watch DVDs thanks to the built-in optical drive, although the 5742z’s speakers are far too quiet for enjoying music or movies. We recommend you attach an external pair.

Thankfully, the 15.6-inch screen is fine for enjoying films, with sharp contrast and rich colours. If you want to work on a larger display, VGA and HDMI ports can be used to hook up an external television or monitor.

Of course, you probably want a laptop for work as well as play, right? The Acer is a great option in this respect too, thanks to the firmly constructed keyboard which stretches the full width of the interior. Some may find the perfectly flat keys a little awkward at first if they’re used to bevelled keys, which feature slanted edges.

However, the keys are well sized, with the exception of the arrow keys which are flattened into a single row. You also have a separate numeric keypad to the right. The rest of the laptop is well constructed, although the palmrests do flex when you push on them.

The lid is solid enough to protect the screen against any knocks. We weren’t huge fans of the plain black design, but it doesn’t look particularly bad. The 5742Z simply won’t be winning any beauty awards.

At 2.3kg, it’s a lightweight laptop and would suit the regular commuter. The slim 35mm body slips easily into a bag or rucksack big enough to hold a 15.6-inch laptop, but make sure you pack the charger too.

The battery died before we finished a two-hour film and only lasts half an hour longer if you limit your use to basic office software.

TechRadar Labs

Tech labs

Battery Eater ’05: 113 minutes
Cinebench: 5661
3DMark 2006: 1703

Still, at least you can carry your entire media collection if you take to the road, thanks to the generous 640GB hard drive. This is the largest amount of storage offered by any laptop here, and something we would expect from more expensive mid-range models.

The Aspire 5742Z offers strong value for money, although the poor battery life is a shame. If you want a highly portable laptop, the Lenovo IdeaPad S205 may be more suitable.

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Review: Smart Witness Smart-i

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Review: Smart Witness Smart-i

The tiny Smart Witness Smart-i is certainly the smallest network camera we’ve tested. While its tiny size means it offers some fun features and possibilities, it causes a few problems as well.

There are two ways to connect to the Smart-i. The first is to link it directly to your PC, smartphone or tablet. The Smart-i broadcasts its own wireless network, and once we’d connected to it via our test laptop, we simply opened a browser and accessed the IP address 192.168.2.1 to access the video stream.

Despite the camera’s diminutive size, the image quality is pretty good. The ‘Stream images’ option didn’t work in Internet Explorer 9, but it did in Chrome. You can change the resolution and compression of the footage, though the higher compression makes the video stream look awful.

Watching the video on a smartphone is also easy – simply access the IP address 192.168.2.1 using a browser. There are also Android and iPhone apps available to record footage to your phone.

The direct method of connecting the Smart-i suffers from a major shortcoming: you’re limited to the Smart-i’s wireless range, which is around 20 metres. This means that the only footage you’ll be able to record with he Smart-i will be of things you can see with your own eyes anyway.

To get around this limitation, you can connect the Smart-i to your wireless network by switching it to ‘Setup’ mode. With a bit more tinkering, you can then to access the video stream via another computer on the network, or over the internet.

This is easily solved, but a more troubling shortcoming then presented itself. We noticed that the Smart-i became very hot when running, and the battery life was just under two hours. This severely limits the usefulness of the device, though a USB power adapter is available for an extra cost.

As a fun novelty it’s not a bad device, but the Smart-i isn’t going to replace a full-size network camera.

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Review: Logitech Tablet Keyboard for iPad

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There’s no shortage of reasons to be writing on Apple’s iPad: emails, memos, office suites with word processors and spreadsheets, angry internet comments…

Apple’s tablet can do it all, but a lot of people aren’t so keen on the on-screen keyboard. This is partly why Apple included Bluetooth keyboard integration into the iPad, and why other tablet makers, including Asus with the Eee Pad Transformer and Lenovo with its U1 Hybrid saw fit to create tablet-cum-laptop devices.

The Logitech Tablet Keyboard for iPad is probably the best iPad keyboard we’ve seen, though. It’s a standalone Bluetooth keyboard that’s been customised with iOS control keys, and a case for the keyboard that doubles as an iPad stand.

logitech tablet keyboardSee full-res image

The extra functions added to the keyboard are a Home button key, a lock/unlock key to wake the iPad, media controls, a key to bring up the on-screen keyboard if you so wish, and even a key to put the iPad into Photo Viewer mode. There’s also a Search key, which takes you to the Spotlight screen (although you can’t use Spotlight with key commands alone, which is a bit of a shame).

The keyboard is right up there with the best we’ve used. The keys aren’t too small, but the unit is still compact. Pressing keys has a nice responsiveness to it – they aren’t too resistive or too soft.

The keyboard is powered by AAA batteries, which lasted plenty during our testing. There’s a battery indicator light on the keyboard, though, so you’ll know when it’s getting low.

Now, even if this were just a keyboard, we’d be totally recommending it for iPad owners. But it’s also got the case.

logitech tablet keyboard

The slip case for the keyboard doubles as a stand for the iPad, opening up once you’ve removed the keyboard to reveal a panel that fits across the bottom to hold it in a triangle.

logitech tablet keyboard

The iPad then sits in a little holder, which is on a slider, so you can adjust the angle of the iPad so it’s at a comfortable viewing angle. The case feels really well-made (as does the keyboard), and is what puts this setup over the top, since it’s not even that expensive in the grand scheme of things.

iPad owner? Want a keyboard? Get this one.

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Review: Logitech Wireless Keyboard K360

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The Logitech Wireless Keyboard K360 is a pretty standard wireless PC keyboard, but it has a few nice features and design choices that make it worth considering if you’re on the lookout for a new keyboard.

To begin with, the K360 is pretty small – around three quarters of the size of a usual keyboard. This reduction frees up a lot of space on the desk, and makes it easier to carry around.

We’ve often found that typing for long periods on a laptop – or even worse, a netbook – can be quite uncomfortable. So having a larger keyboard to use on them, that is still small and light enough to fit into a laptop bag is a real bonus.

Smaller keyboards can often lead to more discomfort and, unlike a lot of recent Logitech keyboards, the K360 is not ergonomically designed. However, we found that when using it, the Logitech Wireless Keyboard K360 felt very comfortable – a lot of this being down to the ample spacing between the keys.

The small size also allows for an excellent battery life of around three years.

As well as six media-centric keys (back, forward, play/pause, mute, volume down and volume up) there are 12 programmable F keys for linking to much-used applications such as internet browsers and email. These can be easily programmed via Logitech’s user-friendly software.

Another nice bonus is that if you have a number of other wireless Logitech devices, such as the Logitech Anywhere Mouse MX, then you can connect them all up to a single USB dongle, freeing up your computer’s USB ports.

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Android 2 i8000 Omnia, something is moving

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Android 2 i8000 Omnia, something is moving

After watching HD Omnia Windows Mobile 7, arrive at some information about porting Android Omnia i8000 2. The project began a few months but right now there seems no real hope. There have been small steps forward, but unfortunately for now you can not get anything working. The reason seems to lie in the Android source code released by Samsung that are incomplete. What is missing are some very important parts that would preclude this possibility of porting. Despite this, something is moving, and we show below.

New 1.0 FINAL Trhottlelauncher Windows 7 Phone and theme. Video in action on HD2

After the beta showed last year is available Trhottlelauncher final version 1.0 for Windows Mobile devices. The program allows you to have a really cool interface with widgets, support for OpenGL and is completely customizable thanks to a number of downloadable skins.

Besides being able to see in a video to follow the program in action in its original form, you can also see a skin for Trhottlelauncher about to be released shortly. The theme recreates in a fluid and functional Windows 7 Phone including the three now famous keys. The videos show the theme in action on a HD2 Sony Ericsson X1 and although it will be compatible with many other devices.

X2, have a new X-Series from Nokia?

According to the latest rumors and information provided by the Indonesian authorities, Nokia may soon introduce the new X2 (RM-618). As already announced, having a low ID number, the X2 should be a low-end device, although details are very few available.

The phone should only support GSM, 850/900/1800/1900 MHz, with the addition of the Bluetooth module.
We hope to receive more information as soon as possible.

Firmware 3.0 is one year old ..

Exactly one year ago, Apple released the first beta of iPhone 3.0 firmware, allowing you to discover new features that would come later with the official update: cut, copy and paste, MMS, tethering, Spotlight search, Voice Memo, purchasing in- app, turn-by-turn directions, stereo Bluetooth, landscape keyboard, and more.

Now, a year later, we arrived at firmware version 3.1.3 and SDK 3.2 beta release. In addition, we have gone from 30 million iPhone and iPod touch on the market to over 75 million (150,000 iPad pre-order), not to mention the ever application in the App Store app that now surpass 160,000.

Returning to wish the iPhone OS 3.0, we look forward to the release of the first beta of firmware 4.0.

Google is also coming on our televisions with Google TV

Google and its world are increasingly invading our everyday lives. Android with its thousands of uses we will soon see in uncommon equipment: fridges, ovens, cordless telephones and who knows what else. Soon Chrome OS will be installed on netbooks and internet tablet but the strata Google does not end there. According to The New York Times, Google has partnered are Sony and Intel to create a platform for television called Google TV.

The agreement will bring the web experience inside of our house without using a computer. The new televisions will have an integrated Intel Atom processor and is not excluded that the hardaware is very similar to that of the classic netbook, which will allow you to run a particular system (perhaps an adapted version of Chrome OS) that allow you to surf the net , stay connected to Google services and some social networks, and probably also handle other features.

A new experience, more and more connected to the Internet and Google increasingly oriented.

In 2010, sales of desktop computers will also increase due to the iMac

In recent years, including purchases that people make, we see more and more increase the number of netbook at the expense of desktop computers, which year after year continue to decline. According to the analyst for Caris & Company Robert CIHR, but 2010 will be levied for the year of the PC.

Leading the recovery we will once again Apple, for its unique and powerful iMac introduced in October last year. The growth of desktop PCs in 2010 is estimated at around 3% (high compared to the decrease of 12% in 2009), to which the iMac will contribute at least 1 / 4.

The excellent performance of the new iMac, 21.5 “and 27”, you have done that by the end of 2009, sales of the latter had reached a very high number.

The iMac has contributed to record sales in the first quarter of fiscal 2010 and the month of November 2009 recorded a growth of 74% over the same month of 2008.

Caris & Company analyst continues praising Apple for having kept entirely intact the average selling price of the iMac, leading many people to the actual upgrade from the old to the new version of iMac.

For 2010 we expect, for what the department that covers everything Mac, a growth of more than 1.6 times the industry average.

Next step: iMac Multitouch ….

Tablet PC for Samsung in 2010?

Samsung has always sought new ways and new forms of mobile communication. Back in 2007 launched the Samsung Q1, a small touch screen computers belonging to the range of UMPCs (ultra) with external USB keyboard that has undergone several upgrades over the years. A very interesting technological solution but has never been as successful as hoped. The year 2010 has become the year of the Korean Tablet and the company seems interested in developing a device belonging to this category of products.

Philip Newton, director of the division of Samsung Australia, has announced that the company is working on a Tablet PC is that:

“Our Tablet very high processing power and seamless connectivity”

Nothing is known about its actual pictures of this tablet (the photo above is not true), but his debut should take place in summer and become a new competitor to the iPad. It will be interesting? Samsung’s hard to say but knowing the screen is definitely among the best on the market.

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