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Archive for November, 2010

This LCD impresses across the board

One of HP’s most recent display offerings, the 2310e, takes a number of current trends—super-slim size, LED backlighting, environmentally conscious materials—and wraps them up into one impressive package.

Physically, the 2310e is sleek, sophisticated, and incredibly shiny. Between the piano-black finish on the frame and the glossy TN active-matrix panel, this 23-inch, 1080p display can pick up a ton of smudges and fingerprints, so get those soft cloths ready. The rear of the display has standard DVI and HDMI inputs as well as a bonus input—DisplayPort. Ironically enough, the 2310e lacks a VESA mount on the rear, instead opting for a CD-size HP logo that lights up enough to illuminate your surroundings in low light. If this annoys you, you can turn it off.


Thin is in: The 2310e is nearly notebook-monitor slim.

The bottom of the frame holds five capacitive touch buttons that light up when pressed; the onscreen display menus are nicely organized and easy to navigate. The 2310e maintains the trend of increasingly slim displays—it’s only about one inch thick— but gives up some features in exchange: mainly built-in speakers, which isn’t that big a loss in our book, as they’re usually not that great.

The 2310e features HP’s BrightView technology, which is supposed to increase sharpness, reduce glare, and offer a 70 percent color gamut. LED backlighting seems to have come of age with the 2310e as well, and makes it a more environmentally conscious product since mercury is eliminated; the display uses BFR/PVC-free plastics, arsenic-free display glass, and recyclable plastics on the rear cover, base, and packaging.

That’s all well and good, but how does it perform? Beautifully, for a TN panel. Although TN panels are generally considered inferior technology to IPS, the 2301e excelled in our video tests. While watching V for Vendetta, it reproduced exceptional levels of details (we could literally see specs of dust floating in the air in some scenes) and incredible black-level detail even in dark or shadowed scenes. Likewise, while playing the game Arkham Asylum, we were impressed by the crisp, clean feel of the game. It did suffer some white-level saturation in our DisplayMate tests, but excelled in the color-tracking, gray-scale, color-purity, and multiple intensity tests. Overall, an admirable display if you can handle a reflective screen and don’t require speakers.

Amber Bouman

Houdini

Impressive and crisp detail; good performance in black levels; pristine colors.

Chris Angel

No speakers; picks up fingerprints and smudges very easily.

score:9

Sprint on Monday rolled out its 4G service in a handful of new markets, including Los Angeles, Miami, Washington D.C., Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Columbus, Ohio. That brings the total count to 68 markets across the country, with plans to launch 4G service in San Francisco on December 28, 2010.

“We have witnessed a great demand from our customers for 4G speeds, power, and capabilities in these cities already and today they officially have it,” said Matt Carter, president, Sprint 4G. “We are proud to deliver on our commitment to serve our customers and deliver 4G to more major metropolitan areas in 2010.”

Sprint’s 4G service (6Mbps) offers up to 10 times faster Web browsing compared to 3G (600kbps – 1.7Mbps), which comes as a boon for things like streaming video and music.

What are you thankful for? It’s such a cliché statement, especially given that we’re barely past the brief period of time where we’re all allowed to indulge ourselves in vast quantities of food—leftover or otherwise.

Of course, the Thanksgiving break—if you had one—provides for a perfect time to get some home cleaning done. But I’m not just talking about dusting off your action figure collection. No, of course, all fingers point to your PC. That poor, neglected piece of equipment does nothing but provide for you, day in and day out. It’s become bloated to excess and you, realizing that there’s no time like the present, have decided to wipe it clean and start anew.

So what, pray tell, do you install first? It’s a simple question and, indeed, one with nearly a thousand answers. Look, as far as I’m concerned, you’re still on vacation. Allow me to do the work for you. For I present to you a five-course meal of applications that we should all be thankful for on some level—game-changers that, really, deserve to be installed on any system you touch, period.

If you’ve already heard of them, excellent. You’re just that ahead of the game. If not, consider this your chance to get caught up to all that is awesome in the world of freeware and open-source software.

 

TeraCopy

Why would you install this first on a brand-new PC? Simply put, it speeds up your file transfers. As well, it’s a far more feature-packed way to copy or move files around instead of the default, no-options and no-frills Windows Explorer. You can pause and resume transfers at your leisure, automatically retry files that screw up for whatever reason, and stack more and more copy and move requests in a virtual queue that Teracopy handles one at a time.

But, really, it speeds up your file transfers!

Download it here!

 

Dropbox

I used to freak out a lot whenever I had to wipe my primary hard drive and reinstall windows. Although it wasn’t so much the formatting process that got to me: I, of course, had previously backed up (most) critical files onto a separate hard drive. However, when it came time for these files to make their way back to their new home, I’d always get a little nervous. What if I was missing something? What if I neglected to copy over a particular directory and, poof, there went all my saved games or high school papers or something?

We could talk circles about how Dropbox, the awesome cloud-based storage utility, is a wonderful way to store information in a virtual environment. We could talk about all the different hacks and modifications that you can use to really supercharge Dropbox into a completely different experience. But at the end of the day, Dropbox is awesome because it helps you be less forgetful: Slap your super-important files into your Dropbox folder, and they’ll be right there waiting for you when you reinstall the app on a fresh Windows installation.

Download it here!

 

Anything that isn’t Internet Explorer

Let us not overlook the most important part of reinstalling windows: Dropping Internet Explorer like it was a bad joke. I’m not going to use this paragraph to promote one browser over another, however, because I know just how easy it is to latch onto a browser of choice as if it was a familiar seat on a couch. It’s yours. Nobody—and no recommendation—is going to take it from you.

So, be my guest. Use Firefox, Chrome, Opera, or Safari (yes, even Safari) if you want to stay with the mainstream. Or… you could get a little crazier and bust out the xB Browser, Sleipnir, Flock (yeep), SpaceTime, or Lunascape. So many choices exist that are each, themselves, better than Internet Explorer. Start investigating!

 

ImgBurn

Simple. Easy. Efficient. I would have slapped AnyDVD onto my list, were that application free. But it is not. And, frankly, I kind of like the ability to directly rip full CDs down into nicely packaged .ISO files. Of course, that all goes out the window if you’re trying to do that to a copy-protected DVD—which you are not, of course.

Anyway, ImgBurn is a fast and excellent tool for either burning or ripping disc-based media. For the layperson, that’s CDs and DVDs. Create your own “playlist” of files, or create images files from the folders and files on your system that you can subsequently burn in a one-shot method within Imgburn. And, as I mentioned, it’s super-easy to rip optical media down to its own little packaged ISO file (or what-have-you). If you’re using the standard Windows burning tool to make CDs, well, you’re doing it wrong.

Download it here!

 

Revo Uninstaller

I don’t like the default uninstallation tools that come with most apps. One installation of Revo Uninstaller (that very phrase drips with irony) and you’ll soon see why yourself. For when you go to uninstall a program with this app, Revo usually runs the default uninstallation tool built into the program you’re trying to nuke. Simple, right?

Only, when said app’s routine is done, Revo then scans your drive and registry for any leftover information—an errant file here, an empty folder there, a billion registry keys left untouched, et cetera. Nine times out of ten—or, at least, a heck of a frequent amount—you’ll find a wealth of things that the default uninstallation tool didn’t manage to wipe.

Now, multiply this by the number of apps, games, and assorted software bits that you likely tinker around with over a given year… and you have quite a lot of drive/operating system bloat! Consider Revo Uninstaller your golden ticket to software sanity.

Download it here!

 

Funny you should mention it, for David Murphy reinstalled his entire system this Thanksgiving break.  Nothing says “day off” like “hey, your operating system is totally hosed.”  Sigh.

Have you found a good deal on an LCD monitor or large screen television? Perhaps you should pounce. According to market research firm iSuppli, global pricing for LCD panels used in televisions and computers is rising in 2010.

Keeping things in perspective, iSuppli is only quoting a 0.9 percent price hike for desktop PC monitors, notebooks, and televisions, but what troubles the research firm is that this is the first increase in pricing since the end of the first quarter. Ever since March of this year, panel pricing has been falling every month.

“With buyers preparing for this year’s holiday season, the introduction of new models in early 2011 and for the Lunar New Year in February, brands and manufacturers alike are starting to buy panels again after maintaining strict inventory control for several months,” said Sweta Dash, senior director for LCD research at iSuppli. “This, combined with lower level of panel inventories, is causing pricing to rise after several months of decline.”

Looking ahead, iSuppli says LCD manufacturers plan to ramp up production, but it’s still uncertain what effect that will have in December and the months to follow.

Image Credit: themediawonk.com

We often preach how easy it is to roll your own rig, once you know how. And even if you don’t, it’s not hard to take that next step — all it requires is a little bit of research, some careful planning, and the right parts.

One of the best ways to learn how to piece together your own system is to build up experience by upgrading your existing PC. If you think about it, a full system install is really just one big upgrade, and some of the steps are so easy even a chimpanzee can do it. Literally. Don’t believe it? Check out Mushkin’s new video showing a chimp installing a kit of RAM, and then celebrating (which is perfectly acceptable after completing your first build/upgrade).

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