May, 2009

  • Steve Clayton

    Microsoft’s next Laptop Hunters ad: Lauren and Sue

    • 15 Comments
    <br/><a href="http://video.msn.com/video.aspx?vid=0170090f-53b2-40fc-89a4-c759cb088e0a" target="_new" title="Laptop Hunters $1700 – Lauren and Sue get a Dell XPS 13">Video: Laptop Hunters $1700 – Lauren and Sue get a Dell XPS 13</a>

     

    The latest in the Laptop Hunters series. Speed, portability and battery life leads them to a Dell

     

    “With just $1700 to spend and a little help from Mom, Lauren finds her perfect laptop—a portable and speedy Dell with a battery life for long law-school lectures.”



  • Steve Clayton

    Windows 7 Wallpaper Quiz

    • 12 Comments

    img13 img14 img15 img16 img17 img18

    A pal of mine just pinged a few fellow softies asking if we could held identify the architecture wallpapers form the RC of Windows 7. He already had #1 above as the Space Needle in Seattle and #5 as Selfridges in Birmingham but the others remained a mystery.

     

    He’d hit on a Clayton soft spot here – I love challenges likes this and if it’s investigation, I’m a budding detective. #2 is pretty was covered in the E7 blog post on wallpapers recently and as it’s from Will Austin of Seattle I’m comfortable saying that it and #4 are both of the Experience Music Project in Seattle – the distinctive work of Frank Gehry.

     

    #3 and #6 took about 20 minutes of web sleuthing on but I think #3 is Düsseldorfer Schauspielhaus, and #6 is Melbourne City Link Gateway.

     

    Can anyone confirm/deny? Do a win a prize? :)



  • Steve Clayton

    Windows 7 Play To – Easily Stream Music Around Your House

    • 11 Comments

    playto

    Possibly my favourite new feature in Windows 7 is Play To in Windows Media Player. If you have a number of PC’s in your house running 7, this lets you redirect music from one machine to another. Perfect for scaring the shit out of unsuspecting family members but also quite handy for piping music around Chez Clayton.

    Here’s how it to get it working

     

    1. Setup a HomeGroup for your PC’s (click start and type homegroup)
    2. Step through the obvious check boxes
    3. Open Windows Media Player and under stream click on Allow Remote Control of my Player and Automatically Allow Devices to Play my Media
    4. Step through the obvious check boxes
    5. Now right click on a track or album and select “Play To”

     

    Sweet huh?

    more in this from Nic at On10



  • Steve Clayton

    My Adamo Experience

    • 11 Comments

     adamo-pearl

    Thanks to some friendly folks at Dell UK I had the chance to play with an Adamo over the weekend and I promised to post my thoughts so here goes…

     

    What I’m Looking For

    It’s important to point out what I’m looking for in a laptop before we begin as the PC market offers a wide a varied choice to suit your needs – be that a gamer wanting a mobile powerhouse or a high end portable from the likes of Sony to an inexpensive netbook such as the Samsung NC10. I’m looking for a machine that is light, has SSD storage (for heat and power reasons), a good screen, a good keyboard, at least two USB ports, WiFi and LAN (the latter for network transfers of large files), relatively lightweight and stylish. To meet those needs right now I run a Sony Vaio TZ which has been superseded by the Vaio TT. This machine has served me extremely well though the keyboard has been replaced twice as it loses it’s lettering and the screen replaced once. The screen is due another replacement as it gets far too easily bruised due to poor damping by Sony IMHO. So….will the Adamo fit the bill given it has many of these characteristics?

     

     

    First Impressions

    They count for a lot and I actually asked for a weekend loan of the Adamo as I was so impressed with the brief 30 minutes I spent with an Adamo when visiting Dell UK – especially the build quality and finish of the machine. It’s actually not as light as I’d like but has a reassuring heft that is lacking in machines like the Toshiba R500. Being hewn from a single piece of aluminium (like a MacBook Pro) it has a very solid case with zero flex. The detailing is excellent with those pesky Intel and Microsoft stickers replaced by laser etched logos on the underside. The pearl model I had on loan also has the etched exterior which looks impressive, though I’d personally buy the darker Onyx unit as it’s more subtle.

     

    adamopackage 

     

    Software

    I was very keen to install Windows 7 on this 64 bit machine but unfortunately it wasn’t possible as I didn’t want to screw up one of Dell’s review machines. I expect Windows 7 will install and run beautifully on this kit given my experience with the new OS on a range of other hardware. However, this did give me the chance to see the deep customisation that Dell has added to Vista – much of which is impressive as I didn’t know Vista was so skinnable by an OEM. The start menu looks terrific though other windows less so and the Dell dock on the desktop is a strange and unnecessary (in my view) imitation of the Apple dock. Also disappointing was the number of preinstalled apps with McAfee greeting me with all kinds of system tray pop-ups within a short while of use. They’re pretty easy to uninstall though and I hope Dell offers the option of not having them at all. On a more positive note, the performance of the OS was impressive.

     

     

     

    Hardware

    The Adamo meets most of my criteria – with a 128GB SSD, 4GB or RAM, great screen, 3 USB ports (1 eSATA), LAN, WiFi with G support and even a Display Port. Before we get to that though, lets talk about the industrial design. I have waxed on about the beauty of Jonathan Ive’s Mac’s before on this blog and frankly, I think Dell has them matched with this machine. The engineering is stunning and the detailing more so. Details like cutouts on the back of the machine, which I assume are for ventilation – are beautifully done. The underside of the machine is as good to look at as the lid, shorn of the ridiculous array of stickers we have come accustomed to in the PC world. The microphone on the machine is a finely pierced series of dots to the left of the keyboard and power is indicated with a small white light on the back of the unit – again in a very subtle way. The music control keys seemed slightly out of place as did the Mac like eject key on the keyboard but those aside, it’s a truly impressive piece of work that will draw many admirers in the coffee shop or team meeting. The detailing on previously ignored elements such as the hinge and underside really sets it apart. Though the industrial design has been carried over to the power supply it felt like a bit of an afterthought so I expect they’ll work on that as part of the package. Speaking of package, the whole thing comes in a hermetically sealed plastic case which is quite impressive though probably not great for it’s recycle credentials. As someone who pays a lot of attention to the industrial design I was very impressed and look forward to seeing an Onyx unit as I suspect it’ll be even more stunning. dell-adamo_1

    Size and weight wise, it’s a little heavier than I’d like at 1.81 kg but I’d forego that concern for the quality of the build. It feels like a hunk of metal and that’s because it is. Despite that, it comes in a significantly thinner than a Lenovo X301 and even thinner than a MacBook Air at it’s thinnest point. As an admirer of industrial design the Air’s tapered edges give it an odd look in my opinion and I much prefer the squared off look of the Adamo which is closer to a MacBook Pro in it’s styling.

    The kit inside the is what you’d expect from this unit though suitably impressive. 1.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo Processor, 4GB 800MHz DDR3 memory, 128GB SSD and a mobile broadband slot (though the model I had didn’t seem to have the 3G module). I didn’t have long enough time or chance to install all the software I would typically use to give an honest assessment of performance but I’m confident it would adequately meet my needs. That bespoke industrial design though means there are no user accessible parts such as extra battery, memory or indeed a built in DVD. A matched in design DVD/BluRay drive is available though and to be honest, I’d be more than happy with that as I load most stuff off the network or USB these days.

    The screen was very impressive – bright and clear though not quite as edge to edge as you may expect it was on a par with the excellent screen on my Vaio and beat the Lenovo X301 I sat it next to. It was quite reflective in bright light but I rarely work in such conditions so not a problem for me. The screen supports 720p and output is via display port and hidden in the top of the screen is a 1.3 megapixel camera.

    The trackpad was solid and easy to use and though I initially hated trackpads over “nipples” I’ve come to like them and this is as good as any I have used. I prefer it’s flat keys to the odd raised ones on the Lenovo’s.

    The keyboard – this was a part of the unit that I was most interested to see for a numbers of reasons. It’s backlit like the MacBook Pro and something I have longed for on my Vaio. I use my PC a lot on dark airplanes, at conferences and tend to enjoy working in dark areas hence my interest. On that count, the Adamo shines – literally. I was also interested to see the font on the keyboard which is very Porsche-esque and may be something of an acquired taste. Someone also pointed out to me that the letters are in the centre of the keys rather than left justified which frankly I’d never noticed on a keyboard before but take a look at yours – I bet they’re on the left. This could take a little getting used to but I pseudo touch type so it’s far from a deal breaker. That can’t be said of the keys in terms of spacing and flex though. Given the keyboard is the main point of input for most people this is an area that needs special attention – which is what I gave it. The keyboard is very flat in profile and though each key is slightly scalloped I think a castled key (like most desktop keyboards or Lenovo style) would have been a much better choice. Even better than that would have been a chiclet style keyboard that most Vaio’s now use and MacBook’s also use. The chiclet is a great, great keyboard that makes it very easy to judge one key from another and it has very little flex. For me, the Adamo suffered on both of these points. The keyboard flexed a little too much and the keys were hard to delineate between. I hasten to add that I am VERY picky about the keyboard so this may be a minor issue for many people. For me it would make me think long and hard before committing to the Adamo.

     

     

    Summary

    In summary, Dell has done a stunning job with the Adamo in my opinion. They have upped the ante for Sony for sure and have all but matched Apple’s industrial design with this kit. If someone put an Onyx unit in front of me now, running Windows 7 I would find it very hard not to take it from them – by this I mean parting with my own hard earned cash (£2500 of it) – tadamoseto take the unit home. The only concern I would have, and it’s a big one, is that keyboard and whether it’d drive me mad over time. If they changed it to a chiclet I would be buying this thing tomorrow and having to do some explaining back at Chez Clayton.

    If you’re A PC and you want high quality design with a 64bit OS and head turning looks – this is the machine go for I think – even over a Vaio Z. For me…I’m left in a quandary as to what will succeed my Vaio TZ.



  • Steve Clayton

    Zune Pass Takes it to Apple’s Wallet

    • 9 Comments

    image

    Now Zune is going after Apple where it hurts most right now – in the wallet. the Zune pass is sadly not available for my imported Zune but it if was I’d be using it. $15 a month for as much music as you like.

    Check out the video of Wes Moss

    <br/><a href="http://video.msn.com/video.aspx?vid=684af04d-ab7a-4eef-ac52-bfcb127036a5" target="_new" title="Zune-Capacity">Video: Zune-Capacity</a>

     

    hat tip to Liveside



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