Category Archives: Hardware

Windows 8 Laptop Choices–Part Deux: The Choosening!

After contemplating Windows 8 Laptop Choices for almost a month, I finally Deux’ed it! I just ordered the Lenovo Yoga from Lenovo Outlet for $865.87 after taxes. The details are as follows:

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Once I get this, I will add a 2 year Depot warranty ($39).

And I will get a 8GB RAM memory module for Lenovo Yoga 13 from Crucial for $50.

They also have a 128GB SSD and a 256GB SSD available should you need it.

So what’s the tally?

Lenovo Yoga 13 – Core i5 1.7GHZ, 4GB RAM, 128GB SSD $866
2 Year Depot Warranty (you need to call Lenovo for this) $39
8GB RAM Module $50

TOTAL


$995

That is well below the cost of a Surface Pro before all the additions and has 4GB extra. More to come as I get this and play around with it.

Thanks to Scott Hanselman and The Curvy Fashionista for their tips and info.

Replacing RAM and replacing SSD for Lenovo Yoga 13.

 

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Building a new Computer – Part 1: The Parts List

A friend of mine who I work with asked me to put together a spec for a new machine. He needs the machine to do some video editing, and handle all of his and his family’s computing needs. One of the biggest things to remember when doing video editing is to ensure that you have lots of RAM, a good processor and a good bus speed. From all the reviews I read, the core i7 is a great CPU, OCZ has good ram and the ASUS P6T is a great Motherboard.

The video card I chose is the HD 4850 X2. My reasoning for this is that it’s pretty cheap, but can handle any video processing needs without a sweat. I threw in a Blu-Ray burner drive because my friend wants a way to burn a lot of videos and data. At 50Gb per disk, that should meet his needs.

With 6GB of RAM, I think his machine will be able to handle a lot of apps running simultaneously and render video easily. He has ordered the products from Newegg (links on the Product column) so hopefully in a week or two we should have the parts to start putting this together. I plan on putting this together for him and doing some stress testing with Prime95 and 3dMark. I want to put Windows 7 as his main OS and then create an image of the machine so that he can restore to a clean state whenever he needs to. But, more on that in the near future.

Here is the parts list :-

Type

Picture

Product

Unit Price

Quantity

Total Price

CPU Intel Core i7 920 2.66GHz LGA 1366 130W Quad-Core Processor - Retail Intel Core i7 920 Nehalem 2.66GHz LGA 1366 130W Quad-Core Processor Model BX80601920 – Retail $279.99 1 279.99
MOBO ASUS P6T ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail ASUS P6T LGA 1366 Intel X58 ATX Intel Motherboard – Retail $249.99 1 249.99
MEM OCZ Gold 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Triple Channel Kit Desktop Memory - Retail OCZ Gold 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Triple Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model OCZ3G1600LV6GK – Retail $130.99 1 130.99
VIDEO SAPPHIRE Radeon HD 4850 X2 100270SR Video Card - Retail SAPPHIRE 100270SR Radeon HD 4850 X2 2GB 512-bit (256-bit x 2) GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFire Supported Video Card – Retail $274.99 1 274.99
POWER SILVERSTONE DA1000 1000W Power Supply - Retail SILVERSTONE DA1000 1000W ATX 12V 2.2 & EPS 12V SLI Ready CrossFire Ready Modular Active PFC Power Supply – Retail $279.99 1 279.99
CASE Antec P182 Gun Metal Black Computer Case - Retail Antec P182 Gun Metal Black Computer Case – Retail $129.99 1 129.99
COOLER Noctua NH-U12P SE1366 120mm SSO CPU Cooler - Retail Noctua NH-U12P SE1366 120mm SSO CPU Cooler – Retail $84.99 1 84.99
DVD LG 22X DVD±R DVD Burner Black SATA Model GH22NS30 - OEM LG 22X DVD±R DVD Burner Black SATA Model GH22NS30 – OEM $24.99 1 24.99
BLU RAY LG Black Super Multi Blu-ray Disc Burner & HD DVD-ROM Drive SATA Model GGW-H20L - Retail LG Black 6X BD-R 2X BD-RE 16X DVD+R 6X Blu-ray DVD-ROM 4MB Cache SATA Internal Blu-ray Burner Super Multi Blu-ray Disc Burner & HD DVD-ROM Drive Model GGW-H20L – Retail $229.99 1 229.99
HD Western Digital VelociRaptor 150GB 3.5" SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive (bare drive) - OEM Western Digital VelociRaptor WD1500HLFS 150GB 10000 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive (bare drive) – OEM $179.99 2 359.98
ACCESSORY Arctic Silver 5 Thermal Compound - OEM Arctic Silver 5 Thermal Compound – OEM $6.99 1 6.99
       

TOTAL =

$2,052.88*

* there were some rebates that brought the price down by approx. $100.

And here are some related posts on building a computer from CodingHorror.

Building a PC, Part I
Building a PC, Part II
Building a PC, Part III – Overclocking
Building Your Own Home Theater PC
The Promise and Peril of Jumbo Frames – (Related to network video and file transfers but still very interesting)

Hopefully I can extend on what Jeff does and show you how to add backup and imaging to your machine, so stay tuned.

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Skype Devices

I have been a long time user of Skype and love it. I call locally in the US, and internationally to Europe, Asia and Africa. It’s convenient to call someone up while working on the computer. Since Skype introduced the flat plan for local US calling, I have invested in a multitude of dedicated Skype Phones and my experience has been mixed.

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Belkin Wi-Fi Phone for Skype with Boingo Hot Spot Manager ( F1PP000GN-SK )  starstarstar

Pros:
Wireless so call from anywhere in the house
Skype Contacts list to easily dial from
Charge lasts a few days
Incoming calls, voicemail etc are all available on this phone

Cons:
Wireless is intermittent. This impacts the call quality
Wireless needs WEP. I don’t like to keep my network so vulnerable

I gave up on this phone because the call quality was just so horrible. Even locally in the US, people were having trouble hearing me.

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D-Link DPH-50U Skype USB Phone Adapter star

Pros:
Cheap.
Works by plugging in a home phone into the VOIP socket

Cons:
Usability is horrible. You have some weird number sequence you have to press to make a call. And even then, it doesn’t work until you try it for about 20 minutes
Call quality is poor
No Skype list to call from
Tethered to a desktop. Which means you have to have the machine on all the time

I gave up on this phone too. If making a call requires 20 minutes and an always on computer, might as well just use a headset on the computer.

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Belkin F1PP010EN-SK Desktop Internet Phone for Skype (Black) starstarstarstar

Pros:
Slim design
Skype contacts list
Connects to your router
Incoming calls, voicemail etc are all available on this phone

Cons:
No wireless which means you are tethered to its location
Call quality is semi-decent

I settled on this phone because it seems to just work. I find that after a few days of usage, you have to turn the power off completely for about 30 seconds and then call quality is acceptable again. After searching the internet on ways to hack this, I came across Wiretrip Hardhack which was very revealing. The phone is actually a server which means you can see a UI that will let you update its firmware. BTW, there was NO mention of this in the documentation that came with the phone. Believe it or not, I setup QOS and also tried putting this phone in a DMZ in order to improve call quality before I found the power cycle fix.

From a security perspective, running a server is bad especially if the username is admin and the password is blank. Anyone can get in and if they have a hack for the firmware, upload a malicious firmware which will let them snoop on calls and get access to the rest of your network. If you have this device behind a router with a good firewall (I use DD-WRT) then you should be ok.

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