Oct 20, 2009

Asus Eee PC S101, a luxury netbook?

As you may have seen in our comparative netbooks, the market for small laptops is so promising that many manufacturers now offer their products. However, constraints on the dimensions of netbooks and the ubiquity of Intel's components that equip these phones lock manufacturers in shackles it difficult to break. The differences are few and between different models, especially in performance. The autonomy and power management, however, manage to give some relief to the market, like design, which is another element adjustable in a netbook.

It is obviously this last criterion that focused on his Asus Eee PC S101. Great architect of the advent of these new laptops that are netbooks, the Taiwanese firm has stepped up its portfolio with references Eee PC, the first 7 inches to 10 inches today. The S101 is in this latter category, which is also the Eee PC 1000H. After a detailed outline of the Asus netbook this as a luxury, it is therefore 1000H we confront the S101, to quantify the contributions made by the manufacturer on a model sold much more expensive than the Eee PC 1000H.

The design strength of the S101
The Asus Eee PC S101 comes in the form of a 10.2-inch netbook to dress chocolate, champagne or, more soberly, black. Thinner than its cousin, the Eee PC 1000H (3 to 3.8 cm thick 2.3 cm only cons for S101), it is also lighter, since with its 1.09kg, it weighs 250 grams lighter than the 1000H. It is also slightly shallower by about one centimeter. This smaller footprint, however, did not affect the size of the keyboard, since it will even 2 mm in height to reach dimensions that make it one of the most comfortable among netbooks.

The chassis of the Eee PC S101 is made of plastic better than most netbooks (with the possible exception of Dell Mini 9 and Mini 12). The area around the keyboard receives the same treatment as the colored outer shell and the pad is also stained. The edges of the screen is black about him, while the hinge, particularly discreet, imitates the look of metal. If the record is pretty nice, we regret once again the tendency of this type of surface to score easily.

Finally, note the little touch of fantasy Asus signed with this keyboard mottled multicolored sequins that some people find attractive while others will not appreciate this eccentricity.

Asus Eee PC S101
Asus Eee PC S101

Try Dell Mini 12: netbook netbook or not.?

Last week, we were testing the Eee PC S101 Asus and concluding that its price too high, the excluded category of netbooks. That name is, we believe, not infinitely expandable, and it should define its borders, notably with the ultra-portable. And now the Dell Mini 12 is positioned on the cell border we seek to build. So netbook netbook or not?

After the Mini 9 that we tested in our comparative 14 netbooks, Dell offers this month its new model, the Mini 12. As its name implies, the latest addition to Dell offers a 12-inch screen, larger than 10 inches tiles found on netbooks. And this is not the only surprise awaiting us here. But let's start by describing the appearance of the Mini 12. Proposed black as regards the outer shell, it features around the keyboard and screen a gray plastic of good quality, pleasant to the touch. Very stripped, the design of the Mini will please or not. The area left blank for the palm rest is such a little too high for our liking. In contrast, fineness should be unanimous, with 2.8 cm thick and even feet including 6 mm for the front.
Dell Mini 12 (14)
Dell Mini 12 (19)

If weight of 1.28 kg (including battery) is not among the lowest of the netbooks we've already tested, it is good to put this value by the size of the screen. Note well that it is lighter than some 10-inch models we've had in my hands, like the Eee PC 1000H from Asus.

Configure the Livebox Mini: we guide you
Several months after its official announcement, the Livebox Mini has finally made its
appearance in Orange. Succeeding the first Livebox Livebox Mini, also called Livebox 1.2, wants to be more compact and more environmentally friendly because it consumes less energy according to Orange. Technically, its features are pretty much identical to the first Livebox except that Bluetooth has this time gone for good. Note improved resistance to storms, a range Wi-Fi improved and a greater quantity of onboard memory.

Yet equipped with Wi-Fi circuit type i802.11g the Livebox Mini undergoes profound changes in
Logo Orange
its configuration interface. This has indeed been fully reviewed
and has nothing in common with the old interface of the first Livebox. So that always distinguishes two types of Livebox Mini, a model manufactured by Sagem another by Inventel, Orange had the good idea to unify the interface configuration: that your Livebox Mini is a Sagem or Inventel presentation and options are identical. But what is the difference between the model and the model Sagem Inventel? Using a different chip, the Livebox Mini Inventel using a Broadcom chip. But we lose our way because our purpose here is to present in detail the configuration options of the Livebox Mini: small tower owner!

Beware, the aim of this paper is not explain in detail what a router, please refer to our section dedicated to configuring a router for a detailed explanation of basic concepts.

Orange Livebox Mini

A new homepage
The home page of this new formula Livebox Mini consists of two tabs and a box "condition of your home network. This lists all devices connected to your network without you even having to identify yourself. Access to the Configuration tab needs to be identified as an administrator.

Orange Livebox Mini - 1

Creative ZEN X-Fi vs iPod Touch 2G 32GB: game on
It is a fact, Apple dominates the market for digital music players via its famous and iconic iPod. Fortunately, competition is not standing still! Thus the firm in Singapore, Creative, to whom we owe the first portable digital hard drive, launched at the end of last year's ZEN X-Fi. A player who bid for the first time some of the functions offered by the latest audio chip from Creative. Meanwhile, Apple renewed its line of iPods, with the release of the iPod Touch second generation.

While both devices offer the same amount in terms of storage, ie 32 GB each, their features but also their design are at odds. One is ultra-flat and gives pride to a generous display, the other is more compact, more compact and placed on the processing capabilities of its convincing. The match between these two devices in the following lines!

Creative ZEN X-Fi: A stylish player
Compact, about 70 grams, the ZEN X-Fi comes in a green transparent plastic that is reminiscent of previous packages iPods. The opening of it is also a touch sensitive so that the extraction of its video player retention requires some care and patience if we do not want to break everything.

Level design, the ZEN X-Fi is more a mat and if the finish is definitely neat, the aesthetics of the whole should not trigger hysteria of crowds. When Apple retains quality materials but it is true to its fragile iPod Touch first or second name, Creative merely a plastic shell, silver gray. The manufacturer is once again the opposite of Apple, as it equips its ZEN X-Fi with a color screen (16.7 million) relatively small 2.5-inch diagonal, a very good quality. And where Apple offers only the bare minimum of buttons, Creative will have 13 to the right of the screen, including 9 for navigating menus. Other buttons there is a rewind button, a button play / pause, and a button to access the configuration menu.

Relatively intuitive, these controls are poorly positioned and their label is usually confused when we regret the lack of backlighting of keys: the black view that the 9 buttons directional keypad is used is an exercise difficult.
Creative Zen X-Fi 32 Go - 1
Creative Zen X-Fi 32 Go - 2

On the right side of the player, there is a jack could not be more standard mini USB connector, one button reset and an operation indicator. The top of the device includes a slot to slide a memory card Secure Digital (SD HC compatible) to expand the storage capacity of the player while a window on the bottom of the unit can enjoy the sound the built-in speaker. Finally and probably the greatest aberration in the design of the ZEN, the button start is at the back of the camera. His modus operandi is somewhat curious since it is necessary to drag the button down and hold this position for a few seconds to turn on or off ZEN whereas positioning the button up on the block mode current the camera and all those buttons.
Creative Zen X-Fi 32 Go - 10

HTC Dream and Magic: the Google Phone in Test
It took 5 months for the first terminal boarding the first operating system for mobile Google landed on our territory. While the HTC Dream is already available in Orange, SFR will sell the HTC Magic in the month of April. The main feature that differentiates the two terminals on the presence of a physical keyboard (on the HTC Dream). Must choose one or the other devices? We try to respond to people who are seriously considering the alternative Android. In all cases, it is certain that Google's mobile OS is not without assets to attract fans of all stripes mobility. Trimmed to discover the two first "Google Phone"? Enter the heart of the matter without further delay!

In two short years, the market of mobile telephony has witnessed many changes. Major players like Nokia or Sony Ericson had to make room for the invading Apple's iPhone, while others are dying brands like Palm, whose arrival of Pre will be saving. It is in this context that Google attacks the market with a mobile operating system, Android, which has yet to find its audience. Fans of the first hour can be reassured that the newcomer is not without assets to satisfy fans of mobility. In a few months old barely environment Google has proved that he was able to compete with the best mobile systems. On the other hand, compared to OS in the market for several years, Windows Mobile and Symbian, the gain of ergonomics looks very important.

Google Phone nokia

HTC Dream and Magic: the Google Phone in Test
Based on the mobile version of OS X that runs the iPhone, iPod Touch boasts as the Apple phone to install third party applications since version 2.0 system, including video games a amazing quality offered at very low prices. After shaking the world of music and that of mobile phones, Apple may well be a place in the handheld gaming industry, especially to provide shade to the Sony PSP.

MP3 player / Multimedia Apple iPod Touch 16GB (clone)
When Apple launched the first iPod games in 2006, the Cupertino company aroused some curiosity, but do not frankly shook the gaming industry. The few available titles (Pac-Man, Tetris, Bejeweled ...) has a huge technological gap in relation to portable consoles from Sony and Nintendo and it was impossible to see players at the tiny screen to shade the DS or PSP. Things have changed dramatically with the release of the iPhone, then the iPod Touch, both devices incorporate a much more complex components and advanced enough to run games in 3D, using what is more capacity to innovative interaction (touch, accelerometer).

However, if the game is one of the strengths highlighted on the iPhone, the stroke of genius from Apple could be positioning the iPod Touch so aggressive on the field of portable consoles, thus attracting a wider audience than that of the iPhone that is essentially a smartphone. The message could not be clearer: the latest advertising player has a dozen games before concluding on the possibility of incidental use for listening to music! The catalog is already available therefore a platform it launched less than a year and prices are well below those of a game for DS or PSP. Moreover, distribution via the App Store allows you to switch from cartridges, or even to download games directly on the device, Wi-fi. All assets that lead us to wonder if the iPod Touch can bring a good game console. For this, we compared the user experience of the player than the PSP and the DS and scoured the App Store in search of the best games available, or at least those who come closest to what located on a console "classic" (knowing that they are naturally compatible with the iPhone).

Oct 17, 2009

Sony Vaio VGN-P11Z a netbook in particular format
While the market for netbooks appears advocating the status quo technology, some manufacturers are trying to hold their own game is the case with Dell, for instance, with its Mini range including the Mini 12, or from Asus, with its Eee PC S101. Sony, meanwhile, did not immediately thrown into the battle were delivered MSI, Asus and many others. And with almost a year behind everyone that the Japanese company announced at CES this year, the Vaio VGN-P11Z. A year of reflection, a year to mature a product that would stand out from the competition? This is what we'll see.

We used the term "netbook" to describe this laptop, and it is not necessarily appropriate. In fact, Sony even refute some of this appellation, considering its product as relatively remote from traditional netbooks like the Asus Eee PC or MSI Wind. We shall see later, some arguments, however, lead us to consider it as such. Others not. This applies to the shape of its chassis, which is not connected to anything that exists today. The Sony Vaio VGN-P11Z measure indeed 24.5 inches wide, 12 cm deep and 2 cm thick. It is almost as large as a netbook classic, but is much less deep and weighs particularly heavy half with 600 grams ... Battery included! This is not the transformer that supplied by Sony will charge more, the latter being particularly discreet.

Sony Vaio P
Sony Vaio P
Sony Vaio P - Chargeur

The Sony VGN-P11Z placed on the Samsung NC10, though one of the finest in its class

In the bowels of the Vaio VGN-P11Z

Logo vista seguridad bubble

While the vast majority of netbooks on the market today are equipped with all Intel Atom N270 processor and Intel 945 chipset, Sony has opted for the platform Poulsbo already tested in our columns via the article in the Dell Mini 12. This platform is equipped with Intel GMA 500, a graphics chip that can decode HD material, but rather uncomfortable in 3D. So much so that even with 2 GB of RAM provided by Sony, the activation causes Aero, Windows Vista, real slow. You will understand, it's Windows Vista Home Premium is installed on the laptop from Sony.

As for the processor installed in the Vaio is still a model of the Atom family, the Z520 in this case . Clocked at 1.33 GHz (against 1.6 for the N270), the FSB is only 533MHz and its memory, L2 cache of 512 K. In other words, this processor is anything but a lightning war. However, it has the advantage to be 45nm and have a thermal envelope (TDP) of only 2 Watts. So a component that heats very little, which explains the lack of ventilation on the Sony netbook.

The hard drive that the team Vaio VGN-P11Z is not a source of heat. With a capacity (relatively low) to 60 GB, 2.5-inch hard drive only runs at 4 200 rpm, which reduces both the noise, heat and ... performance. Note however that it is possible to replace this disc a SSD of 64 or 128 GB (option proposed by Sony). For those who remain in the good old magnetic disk, Sony has provided a protection of the latter. Accessible via the control panel, the Vaio Control Center offers three settings: protecting low, medium or high. If you opt for the latter setting, the performance of your disk will be significantly reduced compared with the setting "Low", about 13% according to our tests.

Protection DD

What equipment for this netbook?
The battery is one of the most important components of a computer made for mobility, because its characteristics have to deal with the need for substantial autonomy and a weight that should be as low as possible. The team that the Vaio VGN-P11Z is particularly small (less than 140 grams) and has 4 cells for a capacity of 2 300 mAh. A weight-capacity so interesting. It remains to see the real autonomy of the machine, knowing that if it does not satisfy you, Sony also offers models with 8 cell battery, with an additional financial effort.

Sony Vaio P

The battery of Sony Vaio VGN-P11Z, thin and lightweight

The small size of the computer associated with a keyboard that retains some ergonomics requires some sacrifices. This is why you will not find a touchpad on this notebook. He is replaced by a trackpad fashionable Dell. As well tell you right now, we're not fans of this type of device: the time taken to point to a specific element is much larger than a mouse or a touchpad. However, one supplied by Sony is accurate and handy. The webcam placed in the top right corner of the screen is however a fairly average quality, since the resolution does not exceed 0.3 megapixel.

Sony Vaio P
Sony Vaio P

For reasons of space, the trackpad has replaced the traditional touchpad

If we look a little on the ends of the Vaio, it is a USB socket, audio output and the outlet on the left side, while the right side also has a USB connector and a rather unusual .
A USB socket, audio output and the outlet on the left side ...

This decision is in fact support an additional module supplied by Sony and which contains a VGA connector and an Ethernet. The trick to relocate the ports that are not always necessary displacement is fairly well found, although the appearance of the module in question somewhat spoils the aesthetics of the Vaio.

Sony Vaio P
Sony Vaio P

Vaio Smart Network

Sony Ericsson C905

Sony Ericsson C905

Fruit of the convergence of expertise in telephony, Ericsson and Sony in multimedia subsidiary, Sony Ericsson has a great potential for creating mobile in the era of time. Example with the C905, where the letter C stands for Cybershot range of Sony photo. No doubt it is really a camera phone!
Sony Ericsson C905
Sony Ericsson C905_ouvert

Phone overview

The C905 is a phone fairly upscale. It is seen in its fact sheet that does not overlook anything: quad, 3G/3G, Bluetooth, WiFi, A-GPS, modem ... Côté communication, this phone will charm the most discerning! Even finding the multimedia part, where the C905 knows almost everything: music, videos, radio, video games ... The finishing C905, combining metal and plastic soft confirms its elitist aspirations. Note however that the first test model we received was obviously already spent several hands and was rather poorly lived thing scratches, varnish chipped keys, display bugs ... yet can not draw any conclusion whatsoever have already seen many other old phones to make and not knowing the fate that had undergone this phone. The housing of the C905 is quite compact but surprisingly heavy: the slice is 2 cm at the target! The phone, type slider, has a 2.4 inch TFT screen 240 x 320 pixel display 262 000 colors. Very bright and nice! Finally, side menus not change, it is always clear and well designed. The regulars will find their marks immediately, others will feel quickly at ease.
Sony Ericsson C905_épaisseur
Sony Ericsson C905_menu

Ergonomics and reactivity

From comfortable, it also feels great when moving the controls of the camera that lies dormant in him. Simply slide the lens cap in brushed metal and the phone starts the camera mode. The grip is excellent for a phone. Overweight of C905, ungracious for a high-end phone, plays in his favor. And unlike the Player Ultra, it is not necessary to have made the keyboard. Similarly, the controls are all on the top, arranged like a real camera, zoom left and right trigger. Between the two, Sony Ericsson has lodged a button for quick access to viewing content and another to switch between the photo and video modes. The icing on the cake, the manufacturer issued the directional pad shortcuts typical cameras (focus, measure expo, flash and self timer), with the usual icons backlit in blue. On the left edge of the device (the top of the phone), the two small buttons that are used normally to quickly access the phone's media are here to give two other shortcuts: choice of scenes and modes of shooting. Finally, the menus are modeled on those of Sony Digital Cameras: A banner at the bottom of the screen where you move to access various settings. Ergonomics yours!

Sony Ericsson C905_objectif
Sony Ericsson C905_commandes
C905 Objective and Controls

Sony Ericsson C905_pavé
Sony Ericsson C905_tenue

In terms of responsiveness, the C905 is doing pretty well overall, but still quite far from the leader of this comparison. The lighting is slightly faster than the Ultra Player, but 3.3 seconds is a little long when the situation requires a furtive trip. The C905 makes its worst performance on the sequence of shots, since it takes about 6 seconds between shots! For cons, the onset latency of approximately 0.4 seconds is reasonable. Autofocus understood it takes 1.4 seconds between the development and management of the photo. Sony Ericsson did not see fit to propose burst function, but you can always opt for BestPic mode that captures seven images in 8.5 seconds and then asks you where you want to keep. Finally, the data transfer (USB mass storage mode) reach 4.5 MB / s, a correct figure but worse than the laptop from Samsung. The cable is used as the owner ...

Sony Ericsson C905_connectique

Cable multi-purpose owner

Settings and Features
The Sony Ericsson C905 is slightly more moderate than the Ultra Player for settings and features. But the key is there, accessible through the shortcuts described above or directly from the menu. The user has first choice of shooting: normal, intelligent contrast, BestPic, panorama or frames. In contrast smart phone uses a levels adjustment so as to balance the picture. Effective enough to produce photos without flash but treatment remains imperfect as it also enhances the bright areas in addition to leading the shadows. So the result is often overexposed. Panorama mode, limited to three photos, is all there is more classic: you take the first shot, then the phone displays on the screen throughout the captured image that is superimposed on the new frame for take the next picture. The assembly is automated. Step menu, 8 scene modes (auto, landscape, portrait ... etc.). Then comes a bunch of settings: image resolution, focus (auto, face detection, macro or infinity), flash (auto, red eye reduction, off), timer, metering mode (normal or spot), balance white (car + four possibilities) and effects (black and white, negative, sepia and solarization). The last menu entry brings to camera settings that more image: JPEG (2 levels), beam AF speed BestPic mode, display pictures after the shooting, stabilizer, geo-tagging, location of 'registration, and rotate photos of his trip.

Sony Ericsson C905_menu principal
Sony Ericsson C905_mode PDV

Main menu and access mode by button shortcut

Sony Ericsson C905_panoramique

Pan made from the phone

What is missing in the C905? Not much. We would still appreciate the sensitivity settings of ISO or trio contrast, saturation and sharpness. Moreover, the option of marking through the Geographic GPS chip has proved far less effective than the Ultra Player, the C905 requires much more time to find satellites. And the video mode to the limited resolution of 320 x 240 pixels really pales beside the Ultra Player ...

Quality photos
The C905 does it better than the Ultra Player? Overall yes. Optics, barely wide angle (approx. 37 mm) is much more homogeneous. At the center sharpness is good on the edges, it is very correct, and without excessive distortion. Give expression to what the sensor of 8.1 Mpix. At this level, the difference is obvious. By cons, in terms of quality of treatment, we see by zooming to 100% on an image taken at ISO 64 textures that are already relatively smooth. And there is a perceived noise chromatic permanent, more or less visible depending on the brightness of the scene but this still! At lower sensitivities, the Ultra Player is doing better. However, even for prints in A4 rendering of Sony Ericsson will be better, thanks to its more serious approach. In low light conditions, the chromatic noise grows considerably but the smoothing is moderate and is for once quite normal at this level of sensitivity. The C905 does not apparently goes beyond ISO 400, but it is not very serious because its Xenon flash works well on a range of about 2-3m. Incomparably more efficient than the LED Ultra Player! White balance and exposure metering are generally fair, exterior and interior, although the color rendering tends slightly on the cold sunlight. Side digital zoom, the C905 is no miracle, interpolation is still as low quality. But at least the phases of zooming is fast and fluid (best for video). Finally, stabilization proposed by Sony Ericsson shows a little more effective than that proposed by Samsung, but still no common measure with optical stabilization.

Sony Ericsson C905_photo GA extérieur
Sony Ericsson C905_photo zoom 2,5 X extérieur
Sony Ericsson C905_photo zoom 16 X extérieur

Sony Ericsson C905_photo contre jour
Sony Ericsson C905_photo macro
Sony Ericsson C905_photo portrait flash

photo light with wide dynamic range enabled, macro, portrait indoors with flash

Sony Ericsson C905_photo mise en scène 5000K
Sony Ericsson C905_photo stab OFF
Sony Ericsson C905_photo stab ON

Publishing Opportunities

The C905 comes with software Sony Ericsson PC Suite, Media Manager and Adobe Photoshop Album Starter Edition 3.2. The first used the management functions smartphone from the PC and the second transfer of media files on the phone (with conversion if necessary). The third is actually a very simplified version of Photoshop Elements, which contains only the part manager pictures (album classification, labeling ...) plus some editing features. Automatic adjustment of color levels, contrast and sharpness, cropping and red-eye correction. This brief but still better than nothing! The C905 also incorporates its own editing tools. Two methods. Either you use the Photo Fix which optimizes the image so fully automatic (I kind of lucky with Picasa). Whether you go by the publisher and PhotoDJ and access to various settings: auto levels, light balance, brightness / contrast, saturation, rotate, add effects and elements. Among the effects, we find the classical black and white or sepia, but the addition of a hue (color shift), solarization, negative transition, filters and creative cartoon, frosted glass and paint. In addition to being simple to use, these editing features have the advantage of being controllable for some of them (brightness / contrast, saturation, adding color ...). The result is more accurate and qualitative!

Adobe Photoshop Album ED

Photoshop Album Starter Edition 3.2

Sony Ericsson C905_mode retouche
Sony Ericsson C905_choix effet
Sony Ericsson C905_dosage effet

The menu editing integrated

At least € 375 outside the package, the price of Sony Ericsson C905 up a notch compared to the Ultra Player. The fare difference is however justified by the presence of WiFi, but mostly by camera phone skills generally higher (quality lens, Xenon flash, zoom, fluid ...). With an increased responsiveness and image processing less smoothing in the low sensitivities, the C905 would have flirted with perfection. Meanwhile, the camera phone is clearly the comparative is closest to a DSLR in terms of ergonomics, an important aspect!