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Tag Archives: Home Gadgets

Do you want more TV advertising, even if it's Google?

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Mid-May, Google announced a whole bunch of new products and services at its Google I/O event in San Francisco. The biggest surprise of the bunch was Google TV, a platform that Google’s developing to bring the richness of the Web to your TV.

This has of course been tried before for a vast number of years, but when Google talks, people tend to listen. The company is packed with clever and committed developers, and more than a small quantity of spare change to throw at its projects. It also doesn’t hurt that Google has a lot of goodwill amongst all of its clients. For the average consumer, Google’s products work well and are mostly free.

Free’s a nice price to pay, but it ignored a key element of how Google makes money and pays for that “free”, and that’s through targeted advertising. Every Google search is logged and analysed, and if you’re a user of Google’s excellent mail client, gmail, you’ll notice more specific ads turning up next to your mail as well. This does worry some privacy advocates, but it’s clearly the price one pays for free services. If you want it free, you pay with ads. It’s the model (more or less) that television (with the exception of state-run services such as the ABC) has worked on for more than half a century.

Bringing more ads to TV, though? That’s an interesting prospect, given one of the first things that most buyers of personal video recorders do is work out the best way to enable ad-skipping, whether that’s just fast-forwarding through the ads (a limitation of any “Freeview” branded PVR) or skipping them entirely. GoogleTV will be a combination of a hardware product and a software platform. At first in the US this year Google will launch a set top box built by Logitech, and Blu-Ray player and TV built by Sony with inbuilt Google TV. As yet, international plans (including Australia) point to 2011 as the earliest we might see GoogleTV here.

Google’s main product is still of course search, and the ability to search for TV-specific content easily from your sofa is pretty compelling. I put the question around ad-skipping and how to sell consumers on getting yet another box to chuck under the TV that’ll serve ads to them to Google’s product manager for Google TV, Rishi Chandra at a recent Google event. His response was rather telling about where Google’s priorities actually are.

Chandra’s take on advertising for end users (that’s you and me and everyone else presumably watching a Google TV) is that we’d prefer targeted advertising specific to our searches and our profiles. They’re more useful, he told me, and if the economics are right and they’re particularly targeted we may end up with less of them.

On the other side of the coin, while it’s possible to strip ads out of Web pages if you’re so inclined or fast forward the ads on the TV if you’ve pre-recorded it, don’t look for that kind of feature in Google TV. One of the benefits (to the advertisers) that Chandra highlighted was that users couldn’t skip the ads. They could ensure that the ads were played and were trackable. Google can help the advertising community with lots more specific data via Google TV. At the end of the day, Google’s actual clients are the advertisers that give the company cash by the barrowload.

It’s a difficult line that Google has to tread. Its money comes from advertising, and even online there’s no such thing as a free lunch. It still leaves me wondering if it’s going to be worth investing in a TV with inbuilt Google (or a set top box, Blu-Ray player or whatever) in order to be served even more advertising that I can’t easily ignore.


USB 3 has plenty of promise, but when will it deliver?

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I recently attended the launch of a line of Seagate external hard drives. By themselves, external hard drives aren’t much to get too excited about. Admittedly, backup is one of those tasks that everybody should do and precious few do properly, but there’s just no way  to make hard drives themselves exciting. Seagate’s attempt revolves around what it’s calling the GoFlex storage system. It’s basically a system of removable cables with different connection ends. Most of the drives ship with an ordinary USB 2.0 cable, but you can optionally buy Firewire, eSATA and USB 3.0 connectors.

It’s an interesting idea, but what really grabbed my attention and got me thinking was USB 3.0 specifically. Firewire and eSATA have their places, and they’re both significantly faster than the rather dusty USB 2.0 standard, but only USB 3.0 has the promise of both backwards compatibility and speed.

Quite a bit of speed, it should be said. USB 2.0 tops out at a theoretical 480Mbps, and a good bit slower in real world usage. USB 3.0’s promise is connection speed up to a theoretical 4.8Gbps. Again, we won’t see actual 4.8Gbps throughput, but even if USB 3.0 only manages a quarter of its potential, it’ll be much faster than USB 2.0. This has all sorts of knock-on implications, from the mundane matter of faster file copying through to data streaming, near invisible backup and seamless synchronisation of media devices.

There’s a problem, though. USB 3.0 requires two things to actively work. Firstly, you’ll need some kind of USB 3.0 storage device. As I write this, there’s one sitting just next to me. You wouldn’t spot it as USB 3.0 necessarily, but that’s due to the physical cabling being identical on first glance. This ensures backwards compatibility with older USB 2.0 only systems, albeit at USB 2.0 only speeds.

Backwards compatibility is a smart move, but the other part of the USB 3.0 puzzle is having a system that can actually take advantage of your investment in a USB 3.0 storage device.  USB 2.0 is everywhere, most notably in notebooks, which are quickly becoming the predominant computer model. If you want to add USB 3.0 to an existing desktop PC, there’s a number of available add-on cards. But for notebooks, there’s not such a wide choice. If your system has provision for a PC Express card you can update via a card, although there’s not a whole lot of choice right now. More problematically, PC Express isn’t widespread across notebook models, and notebooks simply aren’t built for the kinds of upgrades that can be applied to desktop systems. There aren’t any USB 3.0 capable notebook systems on the Australian market yet, and exactly when they’ll start to hit retail is still up in the air.

Most of us buy notebooks with the expectation that they’ll get at least three years service life out of them, especially if you’re buying for a small business and writing it off against tax. That could lead to a situation where USB 3.0 peripherals — and they’ll mostly be storage at first, as there’s little need for a mouse to use 4.8Gbps of bandwidth just yet — predominate, but few systems actually use them to their full potential.


iPad vs Kindle

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On the surface, Apple’s soon to be released iPad and Amazon’s already available Kindle appear to service the same market: eBook readers.

Amazon’s Kindle is available in two varieties. There’s the smaller screen US$259 6″ (15cm) Kindle, and the larger US$489 9.7″ (25cm) Kindle DX. Both have the same feature set, so the US$230 price difference just buys you more screen real estate. I’ve listed the prices there in US dollars because that’s what Amazon will charge you for them even though you’re shipping them to Australia. As such, depending on how the currency conversion goes, the price of the Kindle may fluctuate on a daily basis.

The local iPad prices have finally been set in stone. Pricing for the WiFi-only models starts at $629 (16GB), $759 (32GB) or $879 (64GB), while the 3G and GPS equipped version costs $799 (16GB), $928 (32GB) or $1,049 (64GB). As yet, unlike the iPhone, no carrier has said they’ll sell the iPad on a phone-style contract basis, but data plans have popped up starting at $20 for a 30 day expiry period. That’ll get you 1GB of usage from Telstra and 2GB from Optus. At the time of writing, Vodafone had yet to commit pricing, but it’s not a great stretch to suggest they’ll fall somewhere in line with Telstra and Optus anyway.

In the Kindle’s favour, the cost of the device includes lifetime wireless data access for browsing and buying books from Amazon’s Kindle bookstore. Pick a title, and pretty much anywhere in Australia it’ll be sent to your Kindle for quick and easy reading. In the US, the Kindle also offers limited web browsing, and will shortly offer Twitter and Facebook compatibility, but the “International” model doesn’t offer web browsing, so it seems unlikely we’ll get Twitter or Facebook either. The Kindle uses an e-ink solution that mimics the look of real paper — to a certain extent — and uses very little power. Charge your Kindle up, and it’ll last a number of weeks.

The iPad, on the other hand, uses a more traditional LCD display, as you’d find in a notebook or netbook. This has the downside that power consumption is much higher, but it’s readable by itself without any external light source. It’s also a much more capable device, somewhat akin to — but not quite like — a notebook or netbook. It doesn’t come with free lifetime data, but then what you can do with that data is far more wide reaching.

The iPad is somewhat akin to an iPod Touch with a touch of Frankenstein to it, and as such most iPod Touch/iPhone Apps will run on it, save those that need phone or camera functionality. It’s a more complete device in that it’ll handle a lot of simple computing tasks, but only one at a time. Like the iPod Touch/iPhone, there’s no multi-tasking capability out of the box, although the promised 4.0 iPhone software update due later this year may deal with some of those woes.

The iPad’s likely to be more expensive than the Kindle for the foreseeable future, although the difference between the Kindle DX and iPad 16GB isn’t that great after currency conversion and GST are taken into consideration. The Kindle hits the eBook market quite hard and with focus, and if all you’re after is an eBook reader, it’s the one to beat in single use terms. There are plenty of competitors in the wings. The iPad’s an eBook reader, but also quite a bit more, and it’s priced somewhat accordingly.


The future of TV is nearly here, but it won't be "free"

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Chances are reasonably good that you’re a pay TV subscriber, or know someone who is. If you’re not, the odds are pretty high you’ve invested in a digital set top box (or digital ready TV). The bad old days of 1-5 channels (depending on where you live) are truly behind us. Meanwhile, both free to air and pay TV are gearing up for the next “big thing”. It’s not digital TV as the Freeview ads would have you believe it, but instead direct TV delivery over the Internet, sometimes referred to as IPTV.

You can already get a taste of how IPTV could work through services like Channel 7’s Plus7, Channel 9’s Fixplay, Foxtel’s Downloads and ABC TV’s iView platforms. They’re not even limited to your internet-connected computer, with several TV makers offering Channel 7 options, and ABC’s iView available through the Playstation 3 console. Fire up a web browser and go to the relevant site and a wealth of Internet-delivered TV goodies are yours for the viewing.

There’s a couple of minor catches with these approaches. First of all, they play pretty much exclusively in the “catch up” space. Most of them work off time limited availability of recently run programs. Great if you’ve missed the last episode of 24, but only within a week or two. Some older programs are available on a consistent basis, but the quality varies. Not so much the quality of the programs, as tastes may vary, but the quality of the encoding used to convert them. Sitting down with Channel 7’s Plus7 to enjoy an episode or two of the genuinely classic Father Ted, I couldn’t help but notice a lot of blockiness and digital artefacts making the experience a lot less compelling than it should be.

There are solutions on the horizon that may fix the “Catch Up” nature of these services. A company called FetchTV is promising up to 20 channels and a video on demand service over the Internet to be launching this year. iiNet’s already signed up to deliver the service, which is expected to cost “under $30” per month. $30 per month might sound like a lot for Internet-delivered TV, and they’ll certainly have to iron out quality and speed of delivery issues, especially with the woeful speeds that many Australians have to suffer through.

The big issue with IPTV is that you’re likely to be paying for it either way. iiNet’s said that they won’t count FetchTV content against a user’s data cap, but then they’ll be getting $30 (or more) of your hard earned cash upfront.  A handful of ISPs (including Internode, iPrimus, Adam and iiNet) offer iView unmetered, but it’s really the exception rather than the rule. For everyone else’s services, you’ll pay in the form of your data allowance. A typical program may chew up hundreds of megabytes of download allowance, but as they’re really streaming rather than downloading, you’ll be using up that data without being able to easily re-watch downloads at a later date. If you’re on a plan that charges for excess data, that could get expensive fast, and even those on capped plans that drop speed may find a large part of their month’s service at crawling rates if they get too keen on Desperate Housewives.


Can you get ISP satisfaction?

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Internet connectivity is everywhere you look, from PCs to smart phones to games consoles, whether it’s delivered over cables, phone lines or even wirelessly. For most of us, we don’t really think about our Internet Service Provider (ISP) except in two key areas. Firstly, there’s the time when we’ve got to pay the bill, although with bundling and direct debits quite normal for most ISPs you may never even think about that. Competition is still fierce and the price of both wireless and fixed line broadband services still continues to tumble on a per-gigabyte basis.

The other time, of course, is when things go wrong. When your connection is slow, flaky, or worst of all inexplicably “down”, you’re going to want to know why, and fast. Quite how your ISP responds (if they respond at all) will form a big part of how you relate to them, as beyond picking your plan details, it’s the primary time that you do relate to them at all. If the support person has an impenetrable accent, a poor line connection, baffles you with jargon or rigidly sticks to a support script that doesn’t help you in the least, it can quickly get annoying.

A recent Roy Morgan poll of ISP Satisfaction ratings reveals some interesting figures.  Overall, ISPs must be getting something right. In the six month period from July to December 2009, 73.3% of surveyed customers were at least “satisfied”. Of those, 43.7 were “Fairly Satisfied” and 29.6%” were “Very Satisfied”. Breaking it out into the actual providers reveals a lot more detail. Internode (90.3% satisfied) and iiNet (86.8%) customers seemed happiest with their service.

The wooden spoons — those ISPs whose customers fell below the 73.3% industry average — fared worse. Amongst the major players, these included dodo (66.9%), Telstra BigPond (66.1%) and iPrimus (65.1%). The interesting thing there is the gap between the the bottom rung and top rung, which Roy Morgan notes is higher than in other service industries. In other words, where you might expect a small gap between ISPs depending on how cranky given customers were, it’s odd that it’s this large. Either the good guys are exceptionally good, or the bad guys are doing particularly poorly. Telstra’s a particularly interesting case, as they’ve still got the lion’s share of the overall market. Are Telstra customers more irritable with some facet of their service, or does the number of customers give rise to a higher level of “squeaky wheel” dissatisfaction?

So what can an ISP do to “improve” customer satisfaction, given that in an ideal world, the only time you’d even notice your ISP is if they improved your service?


What will your next digital camera be?

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Digital cameras have rendered the humble old box brownie all but obsolete. You probably own multiple digital cameras, especially once your mobile phone is taken into consideration. Beyond the race to cram more and more megapixels into compact cameras — a fairly useless activity once you get beyond around 8 megapixels unless you need to shoot outdoor advertising posters — there are limits to what a compact camera can do.  The compact digital you most likely own is fine for taking happy snap style shots, and if you’re lucky, you may end up with some really nice photos. But what do you do if you want a little bit more control over your images?

The traditional answer would have been to step up from the box brownie style of a compact digital to a Digital Single Lens Reflex (DSLR) camera. These allow for discrete image processing steps, multiple lenses — both for zoom/macro/fixed focus work and for specific effects such as fisheye or tilt shift lens photography — but have always had a few particular problems for novices wanting a little more power. For a start, DSLRs are pretty expensive. This has changed in recent years; you can typically pick up a DSLR body from companies such as Nikon or Canon for under a thousand dollars, but lenses can often cost a great deal more. The learning curve on a DSLR is pretty sharp, and most DSLRs are solidly built and therefore heavy, which limits their portability. You’re much less likely to take a DSLR out for a quick shot of your nephews on a swing if it takes five minutes to set up and take the shot.

There is a middle way emerging that promises some of the fine control and lens swapping ability of DSLRs without all of the challenging complexity or higher price of a DSLR. These mini DSLRs — often referred to as micro 4/3rds cameras (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Micro_Four_Thirds_system) are cheaper and smaller than a DSLR with a reasonable amount of the power that DSLRs offer. Not all of these compact DSLRs are actually Micro 4/3rds cameras, though. I recently had a chance to have a field test at Taronga Zoo with Samsung’s recently released $899 NX10 camera, which uses a full APS-C sensor, such as you’d find on a “full” DSLR, but with a mirror-less design that makes the camera body a lot smaller, and therefore a lot more portable. I do know my way around a DSLR to a fair extent, but even I came away impressed with the quick and easy shots I could take.

So they’re typically cheaper than DSLRs and more powerful than compact digital models. What’s the downside of opting for a Micro 4/3rds style camera? Well, you do get the flexibility of being able to change lenses that are typically going to be a lot cheaper than their DSLR equivalents, but in most cases you’re limited to the lenses produced for that camera series. Some Micro 4/3rds cameras do allow for additional lens types to be fitted via adaptors, but often with some specific features such as auto focusing removed. By contrast, if you buy a “Full” DSLR, you’ll be able to change out the main camera “body” but keep using the same lenses year in and year out, taking advantage of the new body features each time. As a stepping stone up in your photographic knowledge, or a gift for somebody wanting a little more than a compact can offer, they’re a good alternative.


Remember when tech did one thing well?

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Well, forget about it. It’s abundantly clear that, for better or worse, tech gear is going to be loaded with as many features as possible, whether or not they serve a useful purpose. Sometimes they do, and sometimes they don’t, but there’s no shortage of multi-purpose devices.

The most obvious upcoming example of this would have to be Apple’s iPad, but here in Australia we’ll have to wait a while to properly assess how well or poorly it handles the multi-function job of ebook reader, music player, web browser and portable Street Fighter IV machine. Apple announced mid-April that the originally touted “late April” release date was going to slip to late May, because it had sold so well in the US. We’re even meant to be happy about this. The official statement from Apple reads:

“We know that many international customers waiting to buy an iPad will be disappointed by this news, but we hope they will be pleased to learn the reason – the iPad is a runaway success in the US thus far.”

Yeah, whatever. Some companies are just plain weird.

The iPad isn’t the only converged device on the block, however. The most obvious tech area where converged devices play is in home modems and routers. The combination of router and modem’s something that most vendors have offered for some time, and there’s an emerging trend to add even more functionality to the router, including USB ports for sharing printers or files, VoIP compatibility and even inbuilt displays to give to an instant health check of your network and Internet connection.

Telstra’s also just taken the wraps off its latest converged device, the T-Hub. Looking rather like an iPad on steroids, it combines a DECT wireless phone and base station with a Tablet-style device that can be used for making calls, keeping up with social media contacts, texting and photo display.

It’s a neat idea, and it’s certainly capable of a lot more than a standard phone handset is, but at the same time, it encapsulates the dangers of converged devices. Yes, it’ll do a lot. But it’s limited only to Telstra customers who also have BigPond accounts. It’s limited to the applications that Telstra’s got pre-loaded onto it, and naturally Telstra applications predominate. Quite how well it’ll handle complex Web pages, such as those with forms or Flash is entirely unclear.

Finally — and this is the real catch of a converged tech device — it’s a putting all your eggs in one basket style device. If it goes awry, as tech is wont to do, then there goes your phone line. Your photo frame. Your easy Net tablet.

That’s not to say it’s a bad buy per se. It’s worth balancing the convenience of a converged device — fewer boxes to manage, a single interface to deal with — against the issues that it may introduce if things go wrong, or if you work out that there’s a feature that it doesn’t do as well as a dedicated device may have.


E-Readers

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E-books continue to grow in popularity. Not only are today’s consumers willing to pay for their e-books, many authors are making a living exclusively through selling their books in electronic format. The most convenient way to read your e-book is through the use of an e-reader device. These are usually small, hand held devices that can be carried anywhere with you. There are some excellent models in e-readers on the market. In this article, I will mention just a few of the e-readers that I feel fall among the best on the market.

Sony PRS600
The Sony PRS600 is an attractive device that has a 6-inch touch-sensitive screen. The PRS600 holds countless e-books which are stored on an SD memory card. While reading from the device, users can easily turn the pages of their e-books by simply moving their finger across the screen. This great feature makes things feel very much like reading a physical book however this model can have screen glare.
Size: Height = 174.5 x Width = 121 x Depth = 10mm
Weight: The PRS600R weighs just 286g so it is very easy to carry around
Battery Life: Comes with a rechargeable lithium ion battery. As measured by page turns, the battery lasts 7,500 page turns when using it for reading (excluding when other features are being used).
Memory: Uses SD memory and has a built in slot for cards.

The Kindle Wireless Reading Device
The Kindle is a great e-reader made available by Amazon.com. Users can use it to read ebooks, to store up to 1,500 ebooks, to purchase ebooks from Amazon.com and to do a host of other things. This well-engineered device has a screen that looks like paper. Unlike many LCD screens, it can be read in sunlight as well as in any other environment as well.
Size: 1/3 inch slim (about the thickness of a magazine)
Weight: 10.2 ounces
Battery Life: User can read for up to 1 week on a single charge even with the wireless feature switched on.
Memory: Holds up to 1,500 books

Bookeen Cybook Opus
The Bookeen Cybook Opus is an attractive e-book reading device. It is extremely easy to read from. It makes use of ePaper technology which emulates the way that ink prints on a piece of paper. The screen can be read in all types of lighting conditions, including sunlight. The Cybook has very long battery life. Users can download a huge number of books from a catalogue made available by a variety of web sites.
Size: Height = 151mm x Width = 10mm
Weight: 150g
Battery Life: Battery lasts for 8,000 page flips.
Memory: The Opus has 32 MB of built in memory with 1 GB of NAND storage. It also accepts Micro SD storage cards.


Back up Strategy – Drobo to the Rescue

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The new age of technology that we are in has opened up a whole new realm of possibilities for people of all age groups. Today’s technology allows us to communicate and entertain ourselves on a whim in a way that has never been possible before. In fact, the Internet alone provides us with more hours of intellectual stimulation, fun and conversation than was imaginable just a few short years ago… not to mention the many ways that we can use computers for work and personal tasks.

The shift to such a heavy reliance on technology means that many of our important documents and even personal information exist in electronic form only. Less and less are we relying on physical documents anymore. In fact, for some people, family photographs and diaries are all kept solely on the personal computer. With so much of our information stored electronically it is important for computer owners to have a back up strategy for their files. Ideally, your electronic data should be backed up in a secure way on a regular basis. This protects you in case your computer suffers damage or suffers a loss of data for some other reason.

Although most home computer users are aware that they need to back up their computer hard drives, they are rarely sure how they should go about this task nor which back up methods they should actually use. If you have a home computer user with a home network, you might find it much easier to back up important information if with a Network-Attached Storage (NAS) device.
(Check out our “Home NAS” article)

One device that functions very much like a network-attached storage devices is Drobo. Drobo is a storage and back up device that was developed by Data Robotics, a California-based company. The device can be attached to most computers via USB 2.0 or FireWire and is for all intents and purposes completely self-contained. It is one of the simplest devices on the market for data protection.

Once the Drobo is connected to your computer it will automatically back up and provide protection for the files on your computer as well as on any other storage device connected to your computer. It contains its own operating system which will recognize any storage device attached to it on the fly. Drobo is easy to use and therefore even the most basic of computer users can use this device to keep their files safe and to preserve the important documents that are increasingly stored in electronic form on their computers.


The Netbook Craze

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Netbook computers are small computers that look very similar to laptops yet are actually much smaller than laptops. A netbook has completely different capabilities to the average laptop and is designed to be quick and mobile, and to connect primarily to the Internet and other networks. Therefore, storage space on a netbook is very limited. If you are used to working with desktops and laptops, the small amount of storage space on a netbook can seem outrageous. However in reality the space is enough. These computers rely on the data and information that they need to access to be stored in remote locations either online or on a business local area network (LAN).

A netbook is a fairly distinct-looking computer that you have probably already seen people using in airports, cafes and other places. They look like laptops, but they are in fact much smaller than laptops. The size of a netbook screen is usually around nine inches wide as opposed to the usual twelve to fourteen inches of an average laptop computer. They are light and easy to carry around and they are quick.

Netbooks are an alternative type of mobile computer. These days, people can get online with all types of devices: mobile phones offer Internet access via your cell phone provider, PDAs can gain access to the Internet via WIFI but none of these devices have a full QWERTY keyboard. For people that need mobile computing for more than simply checking their email, a netbook is great alternative. Word documents and other business applications can run on a netbook and you can engage with those programs using a full keypad and mouse. This makes typing into the document quick and convenient.

Laptops and netbooks differ significantly although their style is relatively similar. Most laptops are packed with a lot of power and can for all intents and purposes be used in the same way as a desktop computer. This is not true with a netbook. Netbooks run with very limited power under the hood. Although netbooks have lots of RAM memory which makes them quick, they do not hold much storage space at all. They rely on information being stored on networks.

The average netbook comes with several USB ports so that peripheral devices can be attached to them. However they do not come with any type of DVD or CD drive. Also many of the common ports that you are probably used to having included with a laptop will not come with a netbook, such as monitor ports, a PCMCIA port and others. There are many features that we take for granted when we buy any type of computer but a netbook will not necessarily have those features.

Netbooks are great computers to buy if you are on the move a lot but need regular access to the Internet. They are a great mobile alternative if PDA and mobile phone access to the Internet are too limiting for you. Also their full size keyboard can be more comfortable and quicker to use than what is found on other mobile devices. Personally speaking, I completely love my netbook computer. I find it much more convenient to carry around with me than my old laptop.


Recent News

One of the biggest tech news stories of recent months emerged when the US Department of Justice announced that it’s going to take search giant Google to court, alleging that it has violated antitrust laws in a monopolistic fashion. According to statements reported by the New York Times, “nothing is off the table” in terms

Apple recently launched its 2020 crop of iPhone smartphones, comprising 4 different sizes and models that will become progressively available over the next month or so. The realities of the COVID-19 Pandemic have meant Apple has had to stagger its iPhone 12 launch schedule, with the basic iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro going on

NBN Co recently announced that it’s spending some $3.5 billion dollars to upgrade parts of the nation’s Fibre To the Node (FTTN) network to full Fibre To The Premises (FTTP) over the next 3 years. While the NBN itself has been one massive political football, for better or worse, the practical reality of its near-finished

Virtual Reality, often shortened to VR is one of those “future tech” concepts, along with hoverboards, jetpacks and teleportation that we always seem to be just on the cusp of… but never quite getting there. However, unlike teleportation – which conventional physics suggests might be a bit of a non-starter – or the risky nature

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