Archive for the 'Hardware' Category

Building a new PC

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

So I spec’ed out a new PC to fit into the case+power supply I bought from Iain:

CPU: Intel Core i7 920
    $310 (NewEgg.ca)/ $310 (CanadaComputers.com)
Motherboard: ASUS P6TD Deluxe
    $320 / $315
Memory: OCZ Platinum 12GB (6 x 2GB) DDR3 1333 MHz OCZ3P1333LV12GS
    $264.50 / $320
Disk: 1.5TB Western Digital Caviar Green WD15EADS
    $115 / $115
Optical drive: Pioneer BDR-205BKS 12x Blu-Ray Burner
    $233.50 / $240 (203BKS)
OS: Windows 7 Professional 64-bit – OEM
    $155 / $160

Total cost, before taxes etc

NewEgg.ca: $1,398
Canada Computers: $1,460

Iain points out I haven’t looked at a video card yet.
I replied that with the speed at which prices of video cards change, I will wait until the last minute and get two mid-level cards to run in SLI, preferably DirectX 11 cards.
If I had to get them now, they might be MSI GeForce GTX 260s.
Iain prefers the much higher-end Radeon HD 5870 1GB, of which there aren’t any right now it seems. :-)

Google Maps Navigation

Thursday, October 29th, 2009

Wow, very cool.
Google is now in the navigation biz.
But only on Android phones, not on the iPhone.

Someone did point out in
the comments about a TechCrunch article that Google’s stuff needs an internet connection:

Not so fast. This has yet to work. My mobile (Android, iPhone) has a tough time keeping a connection when driving. All on-line navigation systems that I know have failed so far.

Cool features but high risk of unhappy users due to mobile data availability and roaming issues.

but then..

Google said that when you plan your route, it precaches map data for that route to help alleviate this problem.

Wow, that would be awesome if it is true.

Personally, I am very happy that the TomTom car kit for the iPhone
is available in Canada now.
I would hope that the enhanced GPS antenna would be of benefit to *any* GPS-using app and not just TomTom’s app.

Not so long ago…

Wednesday, July 8th, 2009
Rockr
The Motorola Rockr

this was the first iTunes enable phone. We’ve come a long, long way.

Rogers has new shared family data plan

Friday, June 5th, 2009
Rogers family data plan

iPhone users are currently paying $30 for voice + $40 for data = $70/month,
so for two smartphone users sharing one Rogers bill, this could save $50.

This doesn’t includes all the service charges, 911 fees, and postage and handling that Rogers charges, which probably whittles the real savings down to 52¢ or something. :-/

It shows up at the top of the
search results for “family data plan”,
but Rogers isn’t very rigorous about links into their site, so YMMV.

More Rogers phone news

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009

Apparently Rogers
has revived the $30 for 6 GB data plan, originally offered at iPhone launch.
Also, they’ve
added MMS to the value pack while also increasing its cost from $15 to $20.

On top of all this, it is expected that Rogers will announce
a new high-capacity data plan for phones/mobile that will top out at 15 GB/month for $150. Yikes!

It’s phone season

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009
HTC Android phone
HTC Android phone – click for larger

Rogers
has announced
[1]
[2]
availability of the HTC Dream and HTC Magic phones, both running Google’s Android OS, which is not dissimilar to the iPhone’s OS.

The major concern with the previous Android phone, the G1, was the battery life.
It would last an hour.
Apparently this is no longer such an issue.
According to
ZDNet Asia:

Inevitably the connected nature of many of the HTC Magic’s applications means that you’ll push the battery pretty hard. The quoted life is up to 7.5 hours of talk and 420 hours on standby. We found we needed to charge the battery every day at first, but after the initial burst of heavy use this settled down to a couple of days between charges.

The phones cost the same – $150 – and Rogers offers a $45/month, 500 MB data plan.
Quite a bit less data than the 6 GB plan early iPhone users are currently enjoying.

Another phone on the horizon is the
Nokia N97.

4G networks + net-enabled-device = death of traditional cell phones

Friday, May 1st, 2009
verizon
Verizon LTE: 50 Mbps

On this week’s MacBreak they talked abour the much-rumoured Apple tablet (iPadd?).
But then they mentioned something I haven’t been keeping track of very much:
the next generation of wireless internet technology: 4G.

It’s fast.
Like 50 Mbps fast.
Theoretically 100 Mbps/50 Mbps down/up.
That’s pretty frickin’ fast.

Verizon is calling it “LTE” for “Long Term Evolution”,
and the rumours have Apple and Verizon talking about using LTE in the tablet.

Huh.

That got me thinking about how Rogers and Bell up here in Canada
really could use a good kick in the pants.
The whole cell phone industry is nickel and diming their customers to death.
What we need is someone to come along and say “here’s 50 Mbps and no cap — have fun”.
I would drop cell coverage and move to Skype in an instant.
Hell, I could get rid of my home internet connection too and get one of these instead.
With those speeds, they could deliver digital TV as well.

globalive yak

There is a player that could deliver this kick, and it’s
Globalive,
better known as the provider of Yak.
TMCnet describes Globalive’s strategy a month ago (Mar 17th):

New cellphone player Globalive will hire more than 1,000 employees as it works to become a major wireless player in Canada, aiming to take away customers not only from Rogers (TSX:RCI.B), Telus (TSX:T) and Bell (TSX:BCE) but also their discount brands.

Globalive Wireless Management Corp. isn’t going to position itself only as a discount cellphone player where there’s already competition, CEO Anthony Lacavera said Monday.

“Really, we’re going to be split into two brands,” Lacavera said from Toronto.

Globalive is looking to be Canada’s fourth major wireless carrier, with a national presence except for the province of Quebec.

Lacavera said that means fighting the three established cellphone players on two fronts.

One brand will give Globalive’s Yak long-distance and Internet customers the opportunity to have cellphones, taking on Rogers’ Fido, Telus’ Koodoo and Bell’s Solo discount brands.

The other higher-end brand will take on Rogers, Bell and Telus with mobile phones, including smartphones, with more features and fixed price plans with no contracts or limited contracts, he said. Its name and launch are still being worked out.

“At the end of the day, it’s easier for us to have a two-pronged strategy because we already have the Yak brand in the marketplace with customers.” Toronto-based Globalive said it services more than a million customers with brands such as Yak, Canopco and OneConnect.

While the weak economy is a concern for Globalive, Lacavera said it’s “monitoring” competitors Rogers, Telus and Bell even more closely.

Globalive plans to have its wireless network up and running in Toronto and Vancouver with fixed price plans around Christmas, Lacavera said, with other areas coming into service in 2010.

Ottawa held an auction last spring for radio waves over which cellphone networks to create more competition and more choices for consumers in the mobile phone industry, currently dominated by the big three players.

Globalive spent more than $442 million for spectrum in the auction which raised about $4 billion for the federal government’s coffers.

Analyst Troy Crandall said the discount end of the market is full.

“Everybody has been going after this lower-end market,” said Crandall of MacDougall, MacDougall and MacTier in Montreal.

“So who’s left? I guess the people who can’t afford to spend $15 a month,” he said, referring to Rogers Fido, which has plans from $15 and no system-access fee.

Globalive is one new entrant, along with regional networks being planned by Montreal-based Quebecor (TSX:QBR.B) through its Videotron cable unit and Toronto-based Public Mobile, which was born out of BMV Holdings.

Shaw Communications (TSX:SJR.B), which owns western Canada’s largest cable company, also bought spectrum but hasn’t announced plans for a wireless network.

Analyst Mark Goldberg said it’s still not clear what Shaw and Toronto-based DAVE Wireless will do with the spectrum they purchased, noting that new wireless players have come forward and the three established players have said they need it to increase capacity.

“DAVE and Shaw have written cheques and they’re sitting on an asset which is spectrum and it’s an expensive asset,” said Goldberg of Toronto-area Mark Goldberg and Associates. “I think people want to know when they’re going to make use of the asset.” Globalive said Monday it has officially been issued its wireless spectrum licences from Industry Canada and will make a significant investment in its network.

Lacavera said Globalive will hire a couple of hundred people to build its network, 300 to 400 people for its call centre in Windsor, Ont., where it already has 100 employees to support its Yak customers. The balance of the employees will be in support, billing, marketing and management.

Globalive has about 300 employees and Globalive Wireless has 70, he said.

TWiT gets it wrong – monitors

Friday, April 17th, 2009
Dell 2408WFP
The Dell 2408WFP

I couldn’t believe my ears on the recent
This Week in Tech
podcast when Leo and the gang trumpeted Apple’s monitor lineup.
There was much grousing about the quality of other LCD monitors.

Almost everyone i know has a Dell monitor because they are excellent quality and much less expensive.
Now they aren’t cheap — you get what you pay for in that respect — but they are loads less expensive than Apple’s.
We’re talking ones like
the Dell 2408WFP,
which costs $700 — hmm, it’s on sale for $600 at the moment.

On TWiT they talked about other monitors that cost $200-$300. Well duh!
If you buy cheap monitors you get what you pay for.
The only story there is that Apple doesn’t sell cheap monitors.
But if you compare apples to apples, as it were, you would see that the story changes.
Nobody in their right mind would buy an overpriced, underpowered Apple monitor, plain and simple.

Wow, this is almost an ad for the Dell monitor.
But hey, Iain, Jeff, John and I all have them.
So that’s a pretty resounding endorsement.

Mac: use a Windows ATi Radeon 4870 in your Mac Pro

Monday, March 16th, 2009

The price for Windows 4870 cards is substantially lower than Apple’s.
The Canada Apple Store currently
lists one for $420,
whereas
Canada Computers has one for $210.
In
this MacRumors forum thread
people are discussing how to do this and what the pitfalls are.

Basically, download and flash the ROM from
RapidShare.

One person said:

I just tried it on my Sapphire HD4870 (the 1st gen one, based on
ATI’s ref design).

I flashed using freedos and the following command line:
atiflash.exe -p -fs -fp 0 4870.rom
note: -fs and -fp are used to ignore SSID and P/N mismatches

And it works!

EFI driver is initialized correctly, (I don’t have the leaked MacOSX
drivers for this card, so I can’t tell if this one works too), and
bootcamp stil works (currently writing from GNU/Linux on my 2006 Mac
Pro).

Only problem is : only one output is active, no dual-head, it seems
(at least using ATI’s linux driver)

I should note that doing this seems to make the analog output (SVGA) not work. DVI is fine, though one person reported the “top” port as only going up to 1024×768.

Be careful out there. Read the thread for info on which cards work, and what possible side effects there are.

YMMV.

Reid

hard drive prices

Friday, March 13th, 2009

Bought a new hard drive today; a 1½ terabyte drive for $160.
Thats only 10?¢ per gigabyte!

Scott showed me
a site
that says the first hard drive was $10,000 per megabyte!
So over 50 years, the price of hard drive storage has dropped by a factor of a BILLION.

At this rate, by the year 2059, the lowest cost of storage should drop from the current cost of $100,000,000 per exabyte to 10¢.


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