Once "inking" gets into your veins you will never be able to live without it. Frank J. Garcia
My Surface PRO 3 'Must Have' Accessories List
Friday, June 30, 2006
It does not have Touch Pack installed so it's not an Origami, it's a MicroTablet PC according to their own definition even when Windows XP Tablet PC Edition does not appear listed as available OS. This unit is equiped with an arm of accessories as you can see at the bottom of that page: BT foldable keyboard, video cable and a rugged case. These are the things that make a unit really apealing to buyers. It seems to me that Motion finally have found competition.
- Processor: VIA Eden- 1GHz
- Hard Disk: 40GB up to 100GB
- Memory: 128MB DDR/256MB DDR/512MB DDR/1GB DDR
- Video RAM: S3 UMA (AGP 8X LVDS Interface)
- System: Whizpro Bios, APM 1.2
- Communications: Wireless - Wi-Fi 802.11b/g & Bluetooth Integrated
- Modem: - NOT included in Australian Model due to approvals.
- LAN - Realtek 10/100 Base-T
- Sound: AC-97 Audio on board sound,16-bit stereo, full duplex built-in speaker and microphone
- Operating System: Microsoft Windows® XP Home Edition or Microsoft Windows® XP Professional
- Display: 8.4" TFT LCD Touch Panel SVGA 800×600
- Expansion I/O: 3 USB 2.0 port, 1 IrDA port, 1 Earphone jack, 1 Microphone jack, 1 PCMCIA Type II Slot, 1 Mini VGA output port, 10 HOT Key - Quick Access Button, 4 Directional Buttons
- Accessories: Smart Case, Stylus Pen, AC/DC adapter
- Battery: Removable Li-ion Standard Battery Pack (up to 3 hrs) (I hope that this was not calculated in the same way than a 2.5+ that I know about it)
- AC Adapter: Input : AC 100-240V 50/60 Hz, Output : DC 16V, 3.13A
- Dimensions: 231mm * 192mm * 42mm
- Weight: 1.19kg (with battery)
Source: Origami Project Forum
Thursday, June 29, 2006
Overall, the Samsung Q1 is a second-rate first outing for the UMPC platform that’s not worth $500, much less the $1100 street price. You’d be much better off buying one of the many multimedia players available on the market, and with the money left over, getting yourself a low-end notebook PC. Thumbs down, way down.
I thought that I have read everything that could have been said about Origamis. But I was wrong. Well Mr Charlie White, I feel so bad for you. Do you know how many people are virtually dying for having one of those Q1 in their hands?
And you... You had it and you could not see the beauty of this just born baby. Again, I'm very sorry for you.
Reading his toughts I remembered about one thing that I don't like in my eo that would be good if they change it in this new coming device. I don't like that everytime that I turn on my eo running on batteries I have to adjust brighness to 25% because it goes by default to 50%.
- Synaptic Pointing Device - This is a feature in current eos that helps a lot and it has a huge popularity within eo owners and even Q1 owners.
- Button Layout - The buttons layout and functionality currently found in the eo is perfect.
- Control-Alt-Delete Button - This is another point currently present in eo V7110 that is really good.
- Better Battery Life - Lets be realistic in this point. I do not expect to see 5 hours in these devices yet. But I think that a battery life between 2.5 and 3 hours is something that can be achieved this year.
- C3 State - You can not get the previous point if you do not have a device running in C3 State. I hope that the next UMPC coming from TabletKiosk will be configured properly.
- Better MIC - Current MIC installed in eos and the current drivers do not allow you to use Microsoft Voice Recognition. For those writing long documents this is a must have feature.
- At least one memory card slot - A memory card slot for CF or SD will be a plus opening the opportunity of using GPS and other accessories.
- Recovery CD/DVD and Companion CD with software needs to be present in the box.
- Better Heat dissipation.
- The inclusion of a better case- That yellow bag included with eos really sucks. The case does not have to be anything special. A CD case did a good job when it was modified by Steve at carrypad.com
If TabletKiosk is thinking about giving a new chance to VIA, them I would recommend:
To get from VIA a Video Player designed by them capable of using the VIA video chip capability. If they do not want to design a whole video player them at least they should give TabletKiosk a filter properly configured to be used with other video players such as Windows Media Player or Zoom Player. Using VIA Video technology in a device and no having any software capable of using the advantages that brings video decodification by hardware and hardware acceleration is a shame and will end damaging VIA and TabletKiosk reputiation. I think that this new device, if it use VIA needs to be released including VIA software capable of using this processor features. If VIA want to gain the market they have to work harder and no wait for developers to start working for these processors. At this moment they do not represent a percentage of the market big enough to make any developer to put huge amount of time and resources to develop for these processors and they have to understand that. StrongBox needs to be included by default or at least included in the Companion CD.
Ah, and I forgot to mention one very important point... PRICE! We are waiting to see prices within the 500 - 800 range promised by Microsoft!
Yeap, you may have noticed that since I started to investigate the battery issue and running my tests I stopped practically to link TabletKiosk and did not do anything to encourage people to buy these eos. I just did not feel that they had the quality needed to be recommended no just by me but by anybody working as an IT Professional.
But things have changed. At this moment the eo works at 85% of it potential taking in consideration that the C3 State could report 15% more of Battery Life. But in another hand, the C3 State is an issue that many many NoteBooks and Tablet PCs currently being used have and owner do not know about it. So taking in consideration this fact I can go ahead and recommend the eo.
The eo probably is not as powerful as the Q1 from the point of view of processor but I have been working in my eo in things that many thought impossible like developing in Visual Studio 2005. It's hard to compare VIA Processor with any Intel Processor or any other device using Intel and other video chips available in the market. VIA video chip is not supported by almost any program available in the market. And for this reason almost all the Benchmarks program fail to report good scores when testing the video capabilities of these chips. If you add to that that the processor by itself is not more powerful than the Intel version you will get a total score that does not represent the reality.
I have been comparing the reports of programs tested in Samsung Q1 and how they perform and I can conclude that both, the eo and the Q1 have the same capabilities. The Q1 will be the choice of anyone willing to use the device heavily playing videos. The eo will not perform that good in this task and need some tweaking to get it play movies with high bibrate and at the same time save battery life by not letting the processor to run all the time at full speed.
The battery life of the eo is less than what we see in a Q1 but the battery is also 10% smaller and these is the difference that we see at this moment. If we could get the C3 State working in an eo both, the Q1 and the eo will have the same battery life, that means only one thing: VIA processor is the way to go if you want better battery life. But unfortunately thanks to a poor job of AMTek and VIA we don't have C3 State.
I guess that all the above explain my current position. No, I have not fell in love with this eo, I just want to be fair. Will I buy another device running on VIA? No, unless I can read reports/reviews that show a processor using fully it power saving capacity. But do not take this last sentence in the wrong way; current eos work perfectly. It's just me that can't live knowing that there is processor inside that is not been used fully because of the ineptitude of some people. A processor that even with this problem is capable of having a battery life as good as an Intel Celeron processor running perfectly and using most of the time the C3 State. This tell you what a good choice the VIA processor could have been.
Wednesday, June 28, 2006
If we could get this unit going in C3 State mode and better drivers and support from VIA I would declare this a perfect machine. But even with these little problems (I say little because they are nothing compare to the already fixed battery issue) at this moment I can recommend the eo to anybody something that I could not do just a week ago.
I love the buttons positions and functionality and I can't see me using any other UMPC without the Synaptics Pointing Device.
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
HangMan is one of older Paper Games known. According to Wikipedia
Hangman is a paper and pencil guessing game for two players. One player thinks of a word and the other tries to guess it by suggesting letters.
This is a version of the game prepared for UMPCs and Tablet PCs where the computer thinks the word and it's our task to guess it.
The game comes with 3 lists of words, the main list of around 1000 words, the list of Capitals of Countries and the List of Countries names. You can create your own list of words in a TXT file adding one word per row, this feature makes the games virtually a new every time that you add a new list of words to be used by the program.
This game is a perfect tool to practice your handwriting with the Tablet PC recognizer. You can also use it as a learning tool to teach your kids new words making the learning process a big fun
The trial version can be downloaded here and it has a list of only 4 words fixed. The unlock version allows you to use what ever list of words you want to use.
For more information about the game and available discount, please click here.
Update: I just contacted Chase & Company, and they replied very quick that:
Sorry to hear about your complaint, but that gap exists to permit easy
removal for cleaning.
Well, in my 5 years using screen protectors this is the first time that I hear such thing and that I have seen such big gap (2 mm).
Monday, June 26, 2006
Friday, June 23, 2006
Handango is looking for fresh and premier Tablet PC and Ultra-Mobile PC content.are you up for the challenge? By converting your existing mobile applications or creating an entirely new title for Tablet PC and UMPC, you'll be eligible to win one of three Ultra-Mobile PCs! Personal Productivity, Travel, Fitness, Medical, Multimedia, and Entertainment titles are all great fits for our catalog. The contest runs from now until August 31st..start coding!
what's happening is that if I'm using it on battery power and I shut down (not standby or hibernate mode) with maybe about 10 - 20% or about 1 hours battery power left. And I come back to it about 10 hours later (i.e. overnight) then it won't turn on. when I plug it into the mains and immediately boot it up it tells me that the battery life its only 2% and charging - One of the Q1 Owners said.
More comments like this one can be found here.
Yesterday I noticed that the battery of my Q1 is draining much faster than it used to. I didn't change the brightness, or the battery settings. I didn't even install any new software. - Said Hamtaro
It's weird just last night, I was playing a MSN game and listening to music on my Q1 with WIFI on, and brightness at 3. It was on a full charge. About an hour later I check the battery and it's at 59%. Sounds OK. I'm note sure how much time later, but I check again and it's at 22%. It looked like at this rate I would get about 2:10, which is what I usually get. All of a sudden no more then 5 minutes later, I get a low battery warning at 5%. 17% in 5 minutes? Weird. - mvenini11
The weird thing is that these two users tested again the batteries after these problems and they did not find any thing wrong in their tests. In other cases, users are reporting Wear Levels up to 11%, something that is not normal in a new battery.
Using my Q1 today and having to charge it another two times (oh how I am sooo wanting the extended battery) my wear jumped from the 3% up to 7%. - Tuatara
I got my Q1 two weeks ago. Wear level was 7% when first I checked yesterday. I did the bios reset thing and now wear level is 11%??? - Chrisb
My brand new battery stated a wear level of 3%. - Maverick
Seems to me that even the Giant Samsung is not escaping without problems from this first round in the Origamis Arena where the common issue has been Battery Life.
Thursday, June 22, 2006
Even though I love the idea of an ultra miniature PC, it comes down to the fact that these devices just don't give me quite what I need in a mobile device of this size. First of all, the screen is too small for true Windows XP use. Maybe it's just me and my eyes though.
That's what I have been saying, XP in a 5 inches display is just a bad joke.
Then there's the battery life issue. When will our mobile devices be able to get us through an entire 8hr work day without needing to be recharged?
According to my friend Steve from CarryPad.com we will have to wait for more than two or three years.
My eo eventually will end on ebay unless TabletKiosk implements some kind of trade in program, so I'll protect my screen in the hope to get a few dollars more when the time comes.
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
- This eo runs cooler than my previous one when it's connected to its power supply.
- After the audio driver update I got a noise at the beginning of any sound that now no longer exist.
Tip: if you have your Mac address filter activated in your router do not forget to update it with the new mac address of your new eo.
Unfortunately, without a screen protector, the only way to remove scratches on your device’s screen is to fully replace the touchscreen for a minimum for $100.
I think that they cost a little more than 100 dollars and more likely around 400~500 dollars including labor. But again... I see me paying may be 20 dollars for such product but 60 dollars? 100 dollars? Come on PPCTech.... you should review these prices one more time.
- The unit has been replaced completely in my case. I had a little noise coming from the CPU fan in my old unit and I reported this when I sent it. Probably they thought that replacing the back cover was going to be the best solution in my case.
- The Battery is new too.
- I turn it on, I'm at work so I could not spend too much time testing anything but NHC reports a battery level of 67% - 1 hour and 20 minutes (that was the battery life of my old unit when the battery was full changed) and the screen at 25% of Brightness. NHC is also reporting around 12 W of power consumption under these conditions of brightness and no heave use. If we have 1 hour and 20 mins at 67 % that gives us around 2 hours at 100%. But... These are just predictions. I will have to run some real tests to confirm these numbers later today.
I did not have time to check the C3 state but considering these numbers I can say that the C3 State issue still there. I did not check neither the BIOS version to see if this has been updated.
Conclusion: For now I'm happy... I got a full new unit. I got the plastic stand, a Recover DVD and a CD with all drivers. I received too a nice T-Shirt cortesy of TabletKiosk. I don't think for what I have seen so far that the results of my new serie of tests are going to be different from what has been reported by Steve at CarryPad.com. It seems to me that these are the same units from a same batch.
And we are receiving also the plastic stand and the recover DVD plus a gift (T-Shirt). So basically, we can imagine that we had a prototype unit in our hands to test it and review it and now we are getting the real deal.
Still the C3 state issue to be fixed but this is something that it is no only a TabletKiosk eo issue. Many Notebooks out there suffer from the same issue and so far have not been fixed by OEMs. And if you want name here you have. HP has not been able to fix these issues in the nx9000 series. I know that because I own one and so far nothing has been released to fix this issue. And the worse thing is that nobody care about it and probably never will be fixed because owners are not putting any pressure to get it fixed. Off course, notebooks of that size are commonly used connected to power. In our case we have a unit that was designed thinking about mobility and in this case battery life is priority one. To get the C3 State issue fixed, AMTek and VIA have to work together very hard and probably right now this issue is not their priority one. I personally do not trust in AMTek any more after that I have seen. About VIA, I have my strong reservation at this moment. In my opinion they had to play a better role in the AMTek T700 release supervising that these units hit the market with VIA processors properly configured and with a good support of drivers and software capable of using the processor potential. They should have shipped these units with a companion CD with this kind of software like the StrongBox from VIA, that allow the creation of encrypted partition within your current HDD partitions. The fact that we had to spend weeks looking and testing to find what software to use to untie this processor capabilities have damaged a lot VIA's reputation. We, customers, have suffered a lot but these 3 companies, AMTek, VIA and TabletKiosk have seen their reputation diminished by these mistakes.
Tuesday, June 20, 2006
Stay tunned, Tomorrow I'll report back more about the report. And off course more tests are coming once I get the unit back. ;-)
Officials at the software giant said the new service will allow users to make video calls using the company's new LifeCams, which were unveiled last week.
Other features of the new product, Microsoft said, include the ability to connect users to the Verizon Web Calling service, allowing the use of cordless phones designed exclusively for the product, and enhanced file-sharing capabilities.
Martin Taylor, corporate vice president of Windows Live and MSN, said: "Windows Live Messenger offers people the ability to see, talk and share with family and friends in such a seamless way that puts them in control."
More information about this release can be read here.
Monday, June 19, 2006
ITworld also reports that according to Steel:
Consumers who have encountered the Q1 with no prior knowledge are generally positive about the device while those who read a lot about the Origami platform prior to seeing the Q1 have been more negative
And I'm totaly agree with him, as a consumer I can say that I was expecting something better in all senses. This first generation has been a big school for all of us, OEMs and buyers. OEMs have learned about what the market wants and how capable they are to bring that to reallity. As consumers we have learned what is possible at this point from the point of view of hardware and what hardware makers are doing to make the ORIGAMI dream become a reality.
Well, we have already a report from CarryPad about two new UMPCs that are about to hit the market and I there have been some rumors about TabletKiosk working in a new UMPC that will be released this year.
Sunday, June 18, 2006
Microsoft says it is investigating a report of a new vulnerability affecting Excel, the company's spreadsheet software. So far only one Microsoft customer has been hit by the attack.
"Here's what we know: In order for this attack to be carried out, a user must first open a malicious Excel document that is sent as an email attachment or otherwise provided to them by an attacker," explained Mike Reavey from the Microsoft Security Response Center. Microsoft has updated the Windows Live Safety Center to remove the malware that exploits the security flaw, and says it is sharing information with partners so their software can detect attacks as well.
Being Fathers day everybody was pleasing me and all I did these two days was watch the 3 game per day of the FIFA World Cup and Sofa-Browsing with my eo. The Origami has proved to me to be the perfect companion for a guy like me. For example, once in a while I have a customer with problems in the registration of one of my programs where I use a dll from a 3er company that has been unable to find a fix for this problem that happens due to a bug in Microsoft OS for Pocket PCs. In these cases I have to customize a little program with the needed info to force the registration of the program in that specific machine/customer where the problem happened. All this requires to turn on my main PC, change the code of a little tool and compile it. Now, I can do all that from my sofa. This happened today and it only interrupted my rest for a few minutes! I received the email from my customer telling me about the problem, I opened Visual Studio, changed the code as needed, compiled, zipped the exe and sent an email back to that person with the solution attached.
I could not do this with my old Jornada 720 and I never could have done this with any of the PPC that I own or have owned before. Yes, I could have done this from my laptop but having that 7 pounds monster on top of me in my sofa is not the picture of resting that I have; and off course, my sexy 2 pounds eo really get close to that ideal. And probably this is the point that some of those "specialists" writing for "specialized" magazines have failed to see in these devices: they are just that, perfect companions.
I felt that I had to share this moment with you guys, here, from my sofa, from my eo and without any keyboard attached.
Its not deeply technical (you can read some of the other articles for the really technical stuff) and its a long article, but as I mentioned in it, if you're looking to buy a UMPC, you'll probably want to understand as much as you can of the UMPC category.
Friday, June 16, 2006
I like that because that will increase the number of different accessories that will be available for these devices in the future.
I have been using these batteries since long time ago, they sent me various of them to be checked and I have written about my experiences using them in articles that can be read here, here and here (Both Google Translation from Spanish) and here.
This is a very good news for eo owners because these batteries are the cheaper I have found, they are good quality and they are a strong competition to Amtek extended battery that supposely will be sold next month.
Thursday, June 15, 2006
We will be transferring each customer's RAM, hard drive and back panel to a
new machine. If upon testing any of the reused parts appears to be defective it will also be replaced.
It seems to me that this is the best thing to do and I would like to thank TabletKiosk for trying so hard to have this issue fixed in the best way possible.
Wednesday, June 14, 2006
In truth - it is not hardware that defines the UMPC category, it is software. Whenever I use the term UMPC or origami I am referring to a device that is running the MS touch pack.
Now, although it is software that defines the category (for me - feel free to disagree) because of the requirements Microsoft put on OEMs the software dictates the hardware. Specifically:
- Approximately 7" diagonal display (or smaller)
- Minimum 800 x 480 resolution
- Approximately 2 pounds
- Integrated touch panel
- WiFi- and Bluetooth-enabled
Tuesday, June 13, 2006
I remember that the first time that I asked about using Visual Studio in one of this Origamis many people replied that these machines were not powerful enough to work with VS and that the screen resolution was going to be a big impediment.
Well, I have been working lately in a Game for Tablet PCs. Today when I came back from work I decided to work in my eo because I had to do some tests and I felt that would be better if I had those tests done in a real Origami. For those who said that VS wont work fast enough in an Origami and for those that have confused all my criticism and think that VIA processor is not powerful enough. I have been working for more than 3 hours in VS 2005. I have coded and I have added a few visual elements to some screens. But that's no all. I have been doing all that with SlingPlayer streaming video in the background and Outlook 2007 checking for email every minute. And I have not noticed any slowness that could made me think about turning on my laptop to proceed with my task there.
Give back to Ceasar what is Cesar’s
The video quality within the Home Network is "SUPER". I can stream video at 1500 kbps via WiFi in my eo V7110. This picture does not look as good as it's in the reality, but if you take a look you can see clearly the details in the bar with the score of the game. The video quality when I use SlingPlayer windowed is compare with what I see in my HDTV. The eo works stable at 600 MHz with a CPU Utilization of around 55 to 60%, that's is good enough to let me run Outlook and some other little tools to take care of my business having the SlingPlayer working in background or just paused.
At 800x480 you get a lot better picture than if you run SlingPlayer at any other resolution. Now, I'm sure that your main question is how it fits in that small resolution. This second picture (out of focus, sorry guys) gives you an idea of how it fit in an Origami Screen. I found that the player but it self and the remote control screen works fine at 800x480. The only screens that made me switch to 800x600 where Settings or when you want to add a favorite Channel to the Channel Bar at the bottom of SlingPlayer. Those screens get cut at the bottom and you can hit the OK button to apply changes.
I usually work in my bed with my laptop and lately with my eo V7110 all time. And I like to turn on the TV to heard and from time to time take a rest from what I'm doing and look at the TV Screen to see what is going on in my pre recorded programs (Thanks TiVo!). Well, the SlingBox is helping me to save some energy by leaving the TV off and opening SlingPlayer in my eo!
But how the SlingBox works when you are not at home? Until today I was very happy with my Broadband Internet Connection and provider BellSouth. I have a 1500 kbps plan that was fast enough for me. Until now that I found that they are giving me 1500 kbps downloading but just only 256 uploading. In the reality in my speed tests at home all I get is 218 kbps uploading and that's exactly what I get at work in SlingPlayer. Of course the quality at 218 kbps is almost 7 times worse that what I get in my home network. But as you can see from this picture it still good enough and it's not choppy at all. It's good enough for following news, a soccer game but the quality is not that good to watch a movie and of course, no recommended at all for a full screen viewing. So this is something that you should check with your Internet provider before you buy one of this.
SlingMedia is currently working in a version of SlingPlayer for SmartPhone which beta is available for download. I have a Cingular 2125 EDGE and I tested it.
In general I'm very pleased with SlingBox. But... (There is always a BUT) I find the price of 250 dollars excessive and if I would not have found the deal at amazon for only 187 dollars (plus the Ethernet Adaptors deal) I would not have bought it. Just take a pencil and lets do some calculations, SlingMedia wants to charge you 250 dollars for the SlingBox, 100 dollars for each Ethernet Adaptor to use your power line at home, that's 200 dollars more and on top of that if you have a SmartPhone and a Pocket PC, it charges you 30 dollars for each copy of the player. So you can easily end with 510 dollars less in your bank account. Come On, the SlingBox is good but not that good. I find unbelievable that after clients pay that high price for the hardware they have to pay for the different player versions, those should be free. Keep in mind that if you gave users the possibility of using the SlingPlayer at their phones and PPCs for free they are going to use them everywhere they can and they will attract people that eventually will think about buying a SlingBox for their self. I hope that SlingMedia reconsiders this point.
Update: One of our readers pointed me that he was getting a very good playback in his SP using EDGE. I went did a little research a little bit of tunning and... Tat ta ta ta! The Sling Player works find in SP using EDGE!
Monday, June 12, 2006
I hope that VIA have learned from their latest adventure enough to bring into the market a really competitive product because it's pity to see a processor like the C7-M being only half used.
The UMPC's are both VIA-C7-M based devices with the new VIA CX700 integrated north/southbridge chipset with hardware MPEG-4 and WMV-9 decoding support. (not just mpeg-2 as in the eo and Easybook UMPC's.)
BTW, I wonder if the rumors that I have read about new UMPCs coming from TabletKiosk have something to do with these Origamis?
The major problem is that the technology was not ready yet to deliver exactly the concept pictured by Microsoft. This is why the press has been given these bad reviews. It's true that they are heavy and that they have a battery life that is far from be considered the best for mobility, but I think that if Microsoft would not pushed to have this first generation as is at this moment we would not see coming generation with better technology. They had to prove that this concept has a market and so far it seems to me that sales are showing that, even with all this bad press. I have been reading news about new plans for new UMPCs and that's a good sign.
To me it's clear that UMPCs will have a long life and a place in the market.
Sunday, June 11, 2006
- Windows XP SP 1 has been installed in an eo and even disabling all USB adaptors the device did not enter in C3 state so it's clear now that this issue is not a SP2 issue.
- A CF hard drive was installed in an eo, The power comsumsion went down in 2 watts and all heat issues disappeared even when the device is connected to power.
Two watt less is around 15% more of battery life. So now we know for sure how much from the point of view of battery life this change represent. About the heat reduction it is dear that CF run cooler but I could not have associated the heat issues in the eo with the HDD.
MICROSOFT'S Origami Ultra-Mobile PC (UMPC) is looking like the company's biggest flop since Windows ME. Fortunately for Microsoft, it's not paying for this mistake, you are, if you buy one now.
The party is over and now is time to recollect data, regain strength and fix mistakes. And the reality is just one, Microsoft lost this round against The Press that was not impress from the beginning with any of the current UMPC that were released in this first generation.
Friday, June 09, 2006
Sounds good to me! If they change my battery for a new one I'll be more than happy too. You know what... If they just put my HDD in a new eo I'll be happier! So take your time TabletKiosk, this time I don't want any rush. Take your time getting all parts that you need beside the motherboard.
The next generation of Origami Ultra Mobile PCs (UMPCs) will boast enhanced features including longer battery life, larger screens, more powerful CPUs, TV tuners, GPS navigation and 3G connectivity.
Thursday, June 08, 2006
Some owners have reported a work around but it seems to me that it does not work all time.
An AMtek representative, who did not wish to be named, conceded that manufacturers are concerned.
Actions, no words is what we need. It seems to me that they were more concern about to get as soon as possible our money in their pocket than in configuring and testing this first batch properly. No wonder this representative does not want to be named.
It's evident that in general Origamis have a long way to go to completely gain a place in the market. Weight, heat and battery life are without any doubt concerns that needs to be addressed and I would add a better optimized Operating System unless the screen resolution of 800x480 is not used any more and 800x600 becomes the standard lower resolution.
If you don't know what is a SlingBox or you know but want to know more just read this excellent review.
Wednesday, June 07, 2006
Tuesday, June 06, 2006
Using the information passed to me by Steve, I changed the registry and configured Zoom Player to use WinDVD as Video Decoder and Audio Decoder and Overlay Mixer as Video Renderer.
Then I ran a few tests. The first result that shocked me was the CPU speed. For the first time I was getting a CPU speed of 400 MHz with just a few peaks to 1000 MHz with an almost perfect playback, previously in the same test the CPU speed was around 600 MHz going up to 800 and 1000 MHz very often.
The average CPU utilization was around 54% when previously WinDVD alone was getting an avarage of around 70% and the battery consumption went down from 18.869W to 17.79W (50% Brightness). And all this with very smooth performance. So this means that the VN800 is powerful enough to handle MPG-2 decodification and render with the processor running at 400 MHz.
I created a tool that can be downloaded here that will change the registry keys needed for this trick. The tool is freeware and need .NET Framework v2.
If you still using Windows Media Player 10 in your eo, I would recommend to install this patch released by Microsoft that enables DXVA in this program. I'm currently using WMP11 so I could not test this patch to see how it works. Another good tool that you may want to have around in your eo V7110 is the Microsoft Windows XP Video Decoder CheckUp Utility, this program allows you determine if an MPEG-2 video decoder (also called a DVD decoder) is installed on your Windows XP computer and whether or not the decoder is compatible with Windows Media Player.
Little by little we will get these babies back to maximum performance!
Monday, June 05, 2006
Armed with Zoom Player I started a serie of tests and this is what I found. Let me start by explaining in the simplest way possible what's behind any DVD player. Please, keep in mind that I'm far from being a specialist in this field. When you open a mpeg video file the video flayer starts a line of processes that start with splitting video and audio, then the video and audio stream go in two separate lines of processes where these streams are decoded and then rendered. The de-codification process can be done by software or hardware but the majority of video chips include some kind of video decoder to unload the CPU and save in this way some energy. In the case of the eo V7110 we have a video chip VN800 that includes a mpeg-2 decoder. The video render process is the one in charge of showing each frame in the screen applying modification according to the user specifications like brightness, screen shape, color, etc. Some video chips are prepared to handle the majority of these options but others no. This is why the video render process can be done using an Overlay Mixer or using a DirectX Mixer. when using Overlay Mixer the process is handle by the video chip, when using the DirectX Mixer the process is done using the video chip and in the options that are not supported by the Video chip DirectX takes over and does the job using software emulation. DirectX mixers are called WMR7 and WMR9.
The following screenshot shows the screen from zoom player where you can select from the different video decoders and video renders installed in the machine.
Now that we supposedly know a little bit how the whole thing works I'll show two screen shots, the first one shows the CPU load when a DVD is played using a video decoder that supports the video chip installed in my desktop computer and as Video renderer the Overlay Mixer, remember that the Overlay Mixer uses mostly the hardware capabilities of the video chip.
As you car see the CPU load or utilization in the first picture is 36% when using just hardware; taking inconsideration that both the decoder and the renderer where using the video chip.
The second picture shows a CPU load of 39%. In this case we where using the same decoder but WMR9 as video renderer. As you can see, the CPU load was very close, this is a dear indication that DirectX was using to the maximum the video chip.
Now lets runs the same test in the eo. I installed the demo version of PowerDVD and using Zoom Player I selected the PowerDVD video decoder because I found in other tests that this decoder was really using the VN800 video chip. In my first test I selected the Overlay Mixer to handle the Video render.
The CPU load was about 55%, I need to say that the video playback was a little be stutterered.
After that I repeated the same test but using WMR7...
The CPU utilization jumped up to 73%! I repeated the test using WMR9 with the same result. VIA says at their site that the VN800 supports DirectX and higher but my question after these tests is: Does DirectX supports VIA?
At the beginning of this article I posted two screenshots taken in my desktop PC where the CPU load was about 36%. During my research I found that Nvydia the maker of the video card installed in my desktop pc released some time ago its own video player. The program by itself is not anything good but the fact that it uses it own filters made and optimized by them. I configured Zoom Player to use these filters and this is the result:
18% CPU Load average using the overlay mixer! Using WMR9 the CPU utilization when of for 2 or 3% only! So my next and last question is: Why VIA does not show others how to create video filters customized for VIA video chips in the Same way that Nvydia did?
One more thing, according to some sources VIA processor is supported by PowerDVD and WinDVD. After many tests I could not find any evidence of WinDVD using VIA C7-M processor.
Sunday, June 04, 2006
It's so frustrated to see all this potential in a processor not being used!
- We have mpeg-2 decoding capability by hardware that is not used by any program yet.
- We have a better power management that's not used due to C3 state issue
- And we have encryption/decryption capability included in the processor that's only used by few programs designed by VIA
Well, we will have to work harder looking for tools that use the hidden potentials of this processor.
But Yesterday CarryPad insinuated that probably in the real world this potential was not being used either.
So why would VIA create a chipset that can't be fully utilised under Windows? Is it because the largest percentage of their sales is for embedded devices running Linux? I suggest that they need to put a bit more effort into getting C7/VN800 drivers and/or code out to software developers ASAP otherwise the VIA-based UMPC's are going to continue to look half-finished. We haven't even started to test the encryption capabilities (AES, SHA, RSA acceleration) of the chipset which are hugely superior to Intel-based processors. If the same issue occurs with encryption, I'm buying a Q1!
Thinking about this comment and having tested a tool called TrueCrypt, a program that allows users to create an encrypted drive using free space from your hard drive, I ran the benchmark option that comes with that program and here are the results in this screen shot:
Then I asked for help Q1 owners running the same option and here is the screenshot from a Q1:
Comparing these two screen shots you can see that the Q1 got better results in all tests. And no just better results but almost double of the speed.
Now, my question is: for what's good VIA processor if nobody is programming for this processor? Can anyone from VIA gives me just one reason why I should recommend this processor to my clients? Ah... because it's cheap? Well, AMD are cheaper and work a lot better than VIA.
I tested about 7 years ago a Cyrux processor and from that experience I never bought neither recommended these processors to anybody. 7 years later I have tested another processor from VIA and so far the only thing good that I have found is the potential of getting a good Battery life and even on this point VIA has failed because they could not deliver to the market a properly configured device. If I was Martin Smekal, CEO of TabletKiosk, I would ask VIA why I should keep using these I-DONT-KNOW-FOR-WHAT-THEY-ARE-GOOD processors?
I have to say that they just mentioned the negative aspects of these units and none of the good features.
These eos work very hot but it's something that can't be relative to VIA processor because the fact is that it gets very hot when it's connected to power and just warm when it's using the battery.
The program has a free version that works Ok, but the pro version gives you many other options like the DVD mode that converts your PC in virtually a DVD player.
One only thing I did not like; after I paid for the program I had to wait for more than 24 hours for the unlock key. I'm a developer that use the same system or almost the same payment mechanism (PayPal) than the one used by Zoom's developer and I try very hard to have a maximum of 8 hours wait in the worse of the cases that's when somebody place an order when I'm sleeping.
I would recommend Zoom's developer to buy an origami; that has helped me a lot to keep my clients pleased and the wait period the shorter that it can be.
Tablet PCs often have a few buttons that can be mapped with the Tablet Settings/Tablet Buttons control panel. For users who like to change these mappings frequently, the control panel is cumbersome. TBPM helps keep track of the groups of Tablet Button settings you like to switch between and automates those settings.
Saturday, June 03, 2006
Steve has been known for being a defender of VIA processors and today in a private conversation he told me that with all these results it's impossible to recommend VIA processors to anybody. And I have to agree with him. So far there are two companies (no counting Toshiba) that have demonstrated to me the highest level of un-professionalism: AMTek and VIA.
It's hard for me to say this being an owner of an eo, a device very close to what I needed in an origami and at the same time so badly configured. The recall will take care of the bad Job of AMtek and probably will we see all these driver problems fixed in the future, who knows? But until that moment I'm afraid that I'll not recommend these units to anyone. will I keep my eo? Sure! I like the exterior design of this device and I like the challenge of looking for fixes and workarounds! And don't get me wrong, eos are not bad machines, they are just not being prepared properly. The AMtek T700 is just a product that has been rushed to the market not being ready and the same applies to VIA C7 processor and the N800 graphic chip.
As of today we are still awaiting delivery / customs clearance...
386 Beech ave Suite B-6
Torrance, CA 90501
Friday, June 02, 2006
It appears that the Intel Celeron configuration is slightly more efficient than the Via setup from this preliminary analysis.
Kevin, I think you got a very wrong conclusion this time. Lets do a little bit of math.
29 Wh in Q1/26 Wh in eo = 1.11 (around 11%)
Now lets take one of the readings:
11.3 in eo/10.0 in the Q1 = 1.11 (around 11%)
So, from this simple operation you can conclude/see that both processors are consuming the same amount of energy. But...and here is the good part, if you check your Q1 processor performance, you will find that your processor in entering in what is called C3 State. Processor have 4 states of power saving, in the first 2 states C1 and C2, the processor is not saving almost any battery. After that you have C3 state where the processor save around 10 to 15% of battery compared to one processor that does not enter C3 state. Processor should enter in C3 state when the processor is not used heavily. The last one is C4 state; this gives the maximum of battery saving but to be honest. I only have seen this C4 state mentioned in some articles. I have not found a notebook with this state listed in the Performance Monitor Tool.
The Q1 enters and works in C3 state, while the eo does not enter at all in this state due to bad configuration of the VIA processor in these devices. So the right conclusion would be that the VIA processor installed in eo/PlaceBlade is around 15% more efficient from the point of view of battery saving than the Intel Celeron installed in the Q1. But unfortunately, AMTek has not done a good job at all implementing these processors in these units.
There are other numbers on that comparisson that are very interesting, for example. With brightness set at minimum both UMPC use almost the same amount of power. If the USB controllers are disabled in the eo these units enters in C3 state and having the processor working in that state you can see how the VIA processor becomes 13% more efficient than the Intel Celeron installed in the Q1. The reason why the VIA processor does not enter in C3 State is due to a bug in Windows XP SP2 that stops processor from entering in this state if an USB device is connected. In the case of the eo, the WiFi and BT are just usb cards connected to the main board. This is why to have the eo entering in C3 State we had to disabled the USB Controllers.