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Monthly Archives: September 2011

Archos 28 Internet Tablet Review

Archos 28 Internet Tablet

To look at it, the Archos 28 Internet Tablet would be more commonly associated with cell phones than tablets, but since it doesn’t make phone calls and it does have a web browser, it must be a tablet, right? The operating system is based on Android 2.2, customized here and there by Archos—with mixed results. The Archos 28′s primary flaw, however, isn’t its size but its poor touch screen. At $99.99 for 4GB, it’s cheap enough that we can forgive some drawbacks, but it’s hard to think of this “tablet” in the same realm as the iPad, Samsung Galaxy Tab, or even its more natural competition, the iPod touch ($229, 5 stars).

Archos 28 Design

Measuring 3.9 by 2.1 by 0.4 inches (HWD) and weighing 2.4 ounces, the Archos 28 Internet Tablet has an attractive dark metallic design, but make no mistake: it looks like a classic (as in, two years ago) portable media player. Smaller than an iPod touch, with a 2.8-inch QVGA (320 by 240-pixel) touch screen that dominates the front panel, the Archos 28 is one of the last remaining iPod competitors out there. Most of these devices have disappeared as manufacturers choose to focus on tiny, gym-friendly MP3 players or larger, multifunctional tablets. Archos is attempting to revitalize its line of players by referring to them as “Internet Tablets” and (mostly) doing away with its old operating system in favor of tweaking Google’s Android OS. The upgrade to Android is a wise decision, and several other Archos models can truly be called tablets, but one look at this device and there is no mistaking: it’s a plain old portable media player (yes, those can have browsers, too).

Archos 28 View SlideshowSee all (7) slides

Archos 28 Internet Tablet : Angle
Archos 28 Internet Tablet : Horizontal
Archos 28 Internet Tablet : Web
Archos 28 Internet Tablet : Bottom

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Below the screen, an array of icon-based buttons let you navigate back a page, call up the settings menu, go to the home screen, zoom in, or change the volume. The bottom panel houses the headphone jack (a pair of lousy earbuds comes with the player), a built-in microphone, a mini-USB jack (a cable for syncing with your computer also comes in the box), and a Power LED that seems strangely placed, since the Power button itself is all alone on the left-hand panel. Unlike the Archos 3cam vision ($99.99, 3.5 stars), the Archos 28 has no camera for recording video and shooting photos. The built-in mic is supposedly there for speech-to-text controls, but we had issues downloading the necessary software; it’s not included on the player, nor is a voice recording app.

The Archos 28 comes in 4 and 8GB models, uses an ARM Cortex A8 800MHz processor, and has an accelerometer for switching between horizontal and vertical viewing modes. The OS is based on Android 2.2 (“FroYo”), but customized for Archos players. File support for the device is a definite strength. For audio, it plays MP3, WMA, WAV, AAC, OGG Vorbis, and FLAC; it supports MPEG-4, H.264, WMV, and M-JPEG video files and JPEG, BMP, PNG, and GIF photo files. The Archos 28 connects to the Web via 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi.

Archos 28 Specifications

Screen Size
2.8 inches
Storage Capacity (as Tested)
4 GB
Dimensions
3.9 x 2.1 x 0.4 inches
Archos 28 Networking Options
802.11b, 802.11g, 802.11n

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Performance

Even if you are familiar with the Android operating system on cell phones, prepare for a different experience with the Archos 28. Google made Android a completely open operating system, so Archos and others are free to use it on devices like this one, but since the tablet has no built-in phone capabilities, Google denies access to the Andriod Market and offers no support. This means that the implementation of Android on the Archos device feels a little clunky at times.

The browser experience is similar to what you’d get on other Android-based devices, but it tends to load only mobile versions of sites. This is due to the sites themselves seeing the browser as a mobile one, but if you choose to load the full site (usually an option at the bottom of the webpage), you can see the real thing—sort of. First off, you won’t get any Flash support. There’s also no pinch-and-zoom or reliable scrolling thanks to the lackluster touch-screen—navigating, or even just pressing buttons or links on pages, becomes virtually impossible. In other words, viewing watered-down mobile versions of websites is generally as good as it gets. On the bright side, the pop-up keyboard, which works in both vertical and horizontal arrays, is surprisingly easy to use despite the screen’s other sensitivity issues—and the fact that the buttons are smaller than corn kernels.

AppsLib is Archos’ stab at the Android Market, since Google denies access to its cherished collection of mobile apps. Archos does curate the apps and divide them into useful categories like “Tools” or “Entertainment”, but often, you click on an app to find the app lacking any description, and user comments are all in French. This makes sense since Archos is based in France, but it’s not exactly useful if you don’t speak the language. Beyond this annoyance, the apps just don’t seem up to snuff; they seem more often created by users than companies, and are more often widgets than useful or exciting programs.

The music player app is one of the better-looking aspects of the device. An album cover array reminiscent of Apple’s Cover Flow moves with your finger. Selecting an album with the touch screen’s weak sensitivity can be annoying, but the Now Playing screen displays album art, playback controls and a setting menu. In the main settings menu, you can access EQ, which has only preset adjustments and no user customizable options. I suggest leaving this setting at “flat”, and perhaps upgrading your earphones if things sound too weak; PCMag’s headphone buying guide is a good place to start that search.

Video and photo viewing default to horizontal mode. Both are fine for a quick reference or to show friends snapshots you’ve taken, but the screen’s low resolution makes it a challenge to enjoy long term video viewing. Yes, the device has commendable file support, but its playback does not, shall we say, feel like a high-definition experience.

It is also possible to sync an email account with the player. It was easy syncing a Hotmail account with the Archos 28, though new messages were not pushed to the main menu page. If your account does not sync, your only other option is to use the browser, which, given the screen issues, could be a bit of a hassle depending on which service you use.

One final, troubling issue I had with the Archos 28 occurred while recharging the device. When you connect to a computer for power (via the included USB cable) you’re prompted to choose between syncing the device or connecting in charge-only mode. I chose the latter, left the player connected to my work computer overnight, and arrived in the morning to find the screen frozen on the “Archos, Entertainment Your Way” start-up screen. Disconnecting the player did nothing to make this go away. The only thing that worked was holding the Power button for ten seconds, which turned the device off. Going through this process on even a semi-regular basis would get old quickly.

Archos claims the Archos 28 gets 16 hours of battery life for audio playback and 4 for video, reasonable numbers for a touch-screen device this size. Our own test results will be posted here soon.

It may sound like we’re being harsh, but the bottom line is: just because a device is affordable doesn’t make it a good value. The Archos 28 has a tiny screen that doesn’t respond well to touch. This means Web browsing, as well as simply navigating the device, offers more annoyance than entertainment or convenience. Whether you agree with Archos that this is a tablet or not, it is nonetheless a device with issues, and at this low price, my advice is to avoid the Internet-browsing “tablets” altogether. In 2010-11, $100 is too little to pay for a strong, Internet equipped device; they’re just not there yet. It’s just the right amount for a decent portable media player, like the Samsung YP-R0 ($99.99 list, 3.5 stars), which comes with better-than-average earphones, or the aforementioned Archos 3cam Vision. Ironically, the 3cam is set to be discontinued soon, which is too bad. For the same price, I felt it offered a better-executed set of features—most notably, a camera.

Archos 28

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Posted by on September 28, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ100 Camera Review

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ100

Panasonic presents a hybrid digital camera with a 14.1 megapixel MOS optical sensor and the 25 millimeter wide-angle Leica DC Vario-Elmarit lens with 24x optical zoom, the Lumix DMC-FZ100 ($499.95 list). While it looks nearly identical to both the DMC-FZ35 ($399.95 list) and DMC-FZ40($399.95 list), this camera’s insides and capabilities are far different.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ100 Design and Features
This hybrid shooter comes in the familiar black frame of the Lumix series with its extended, rubberized shutter area and pop-up flash. The back end includes its 3-inch LCD display, optical viewfinder and standard controls surrounded by a rubber grip. However, this camera’s screen is free angle, meaning it can both swivel and rotate to shoot video or images at multiple angles.

 

 

 

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ100

The Leica lens within the Lumix DMC-FZ100 can zoom from 25 millimeter wide-angle to 600 millimeter telephoto. But using its Intelligent Resolution technology, its zoom can virtually extend to 32x. The lens can also record 1080i HD video and can perform burst shooting at 11 frames per second in maximum resolution. Bring it down to 3.5 megapixels and this camera can shoot 60 frames per second. Photos shot using burst mode are automatically organized for later playback. For different shooting situations, the DMC-FZ100 is compatible with several Panasonic lens attachments.

This camera includes the Intelligent Auto (iA) system that automatically optimizes scene settings, face detection and image stabilization according to the contents of the frame before firing the shutter. Panasonic’s new Venus Engine image processor is packed within the DMC-FZ100, which powers the camera’s extended virtual zoom in addition to noise reduction, gradation and high-speed burst shooting. Finally, the Venus Engine also enables this hybrid camera to record HD video shoot images simultaneously.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ100 Specifications

Megapixels
14.1 MP
Optical Zoom
24 x
LCD size
3 inches
Video Resolution
Yes

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ100

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Tt eSports Meka G1 Keyboard Review

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Tt eSports Meka G1 Thermaltake and Tt eSports Meka G1 gaming subdivision, Tt eSports, enjoy skirting extremes—even where usually unexciting keyboards are concerned. In December we looked at the company’s Challenger Gaming Keyboard Pro ($69.99 list, 3.5 stars), a traditional take on the kind of keyboard aimed at die-hard FPS lovers. Now we meet the Meka G1 ($139.99 list), loaded with hefty construction and serious mechanical key switches that address concerns of diminished functionality once game windows are closed. But its refreshed focus paradoxically results in the loss of the features one typically associates with gaming keyboards. Don’t mind the lack of lights, digital displays, or macro keys? Then the Tt eSports Meka G1 is for you. Otherwise, your search for the ideal blend of typing convenience and fragging efficiency does not end here.

Still, it’s unheard of to see so much attention paid to something other than the bling on a gaming keyboard. In stature and overall feel, the Meka G1 more closely resembles the Das Keyboard($129.99 direct, 4.5 stars) than the Challenger. Measuring about 1.6 by 16.9 by 6.3 inches (HWD) and weighing about three pounds, it’s highly sturdy, but doesn’t take up an obscene amount of space on your desk. (Attaching the included palm rest will increase the depth by a couple of inches.) The layout is essentially the standard 104-key configuration, with one difference we’ll get to presently. The Caps Lock, Num Lock, and Scroll Lock lights are a shockingly bright red, and a hub on the rear of the keyboard provides two USB 2.0 ports and headphone and microphone jacks. To use these, you’ll need to connect all the patch cables to the appropriate ports on your PC’s rear panel, in addition to either USB or PS/2 for sending typing data. (You’ll want to use the latter if you want full N-key rollover capabilities.)

Tt eSports Meka G1 View SlideshowSee all (6) slides

Tt eSports Meka G1 : Angle
Tt eSports Meka G1 : Front
Tt eSports Meka G1 : Side
Tt eSports Meka G1 : Rear Ports

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The Meka G1′s most unusual functionality features are its key switches. Rated for a mind-boggling 50 million key presses, they’re of the Cherry MX Black variety. These are both non-tactile and non-clicky—meaning you get neither physical nor auditory feedback when you press a key. These are widely considered ideal for gaming, as they diminish distractions that can affect reaction times and all but eliminate the chance you’ll accidentally register a key press twice if you don’t completely release the key.

In our tests, the Meka G1 more than satisfied, proving accurate and comfortable during regular typing tasks and gaming (in titles as diverse as Call of Duty: Black Ops and Civilization V) alike. The balance between appropriateness for both uses is about as good as we’ve seen on any gaming keyboard. We have to admit, though, that for typing purposes, we prefer the Cherry MX Blue switches. The kind used on the Das Keyboard, they are both tactile and clicky, and feel crisp and natural in ways the Blacks can’t quite manage. But the presence of mechanical keys at all propels the Meka G1 far ahead of most keyboards, and even without the feedback it delivers an outstanding typing experience.

 

Tt eSports Meka G1

But improved typing doesn’t come without a cost—beyond even the already steep purchase price. First, you’ll have to sacrifice the left Windows key. Ostensibly removed to eliminate the problem of getting booted to windows from your full-screen game when you accidentally hit it instead of the Ctrl or Alt, this means you can’t use it in windows, either, and that’s when you may really want it. I rely so much on windows key combinations—all performed with the left one, of course—that its absence complicated my ability to perform everyday windows tasks. It’s nice that Thermaltake has made that key a function key that turns F1-F7 into multimedia controls (Reverse, Play/Pause, Stop, Forward, Increase Volume, Decrease Volume, and Mute), but whether those will benefit you more than the Windows key depends entirely on your personal usage style.

Then there’s the issue of other special gaming features: The Meka G1 doesn’t have any. Though many gaming keyboards offer an array of programmable macro keys, digital displays, and other fun extras that can streamline the way you play your favorite game, the Meka G1 provides nothing of the sort. Its additional goodies are definitely more of the laid-back variety: a 1,000-Hz polling rate, a thick “military-grade” cable (which we found stiff and difficult to route), and a gold-plated USB connector. Laid out on your desk, this is not a keyboard that would stand out in a crowd, to say nothing of a LAN party.

The appropriateness of the Meka G1 to your computing life, then, is ultimately all about priorities. If gaming gizmos are your thing, something like the Microsoft SideWinder X4 ($39.95 list, 4 stars) or the Logitech G19 will suit you better. If pure typing precision matters more, a clicky Das Keyboard is the way to go. But if your gaming and productive lives are in near-perfect balance, and you’re looking for a keyboard to match, the Meka G1 could well be it.

 

Tt eSports Meka G1

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Posted by on September 28, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Rebit 5 (1TB) Hard Drive Review

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The Rebit 5 (1TB) ($124.95 list) is more than a simple hard drive. Sure, you can copy your files to it, and carry the drive across the room or across the country. What sets the Rebit 5 apart is the simple, yet comprehensive software that comes with the drive. The software is easy to set up and install, easy to recover files with, and easy to restore your entire hard drive with. If you’re the type that hates rebuilding your PC’s hard drive after every time it craps out, you are likely to be the target audience for the Rebit 5. It’s the low-effort backup that can get you back up and running shortly after a major hard drive crash.

Design and Features
The looks of the Rebit 5 drive are pretty standard. It measures approximately 5 by 2 by 8.5 inches (HWD) when you perch the drive on its stand. The black metal rounded case for the Rebit drive should work with just about any décor on your workspace. The back has a USB 2.0 port, on/off switch, and power port, while the front has a really bright blue power/activity LED light. This desktop-class hard drive has a 1TB capacity, but Rebit also has a 2TB desktop-class drive ($179.95) and a 500GB portable drive ($109.95) available.

Rebit 5 View SlideshowSee all (5) slides

Rebit 5 (1TB) : Angle
Rebit 5 (1TB) : Front
Rebit 5 (1TB) : Angle
Rebit 5 (1TB) : Side Ports

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The real star of the package is the software: Rebit 5 is the newest version of the software that comes with the Rebit 500($220 list, 3 stars) and is sold in a rebranded form with theSeagate Replica ($200 list, 4 stars). The Rebit 5 software gives you a full backup of your hard drive(s), featuring true disaster recovery to a bare metal hard drive (aka fresh out of the box). This can help if your PC won’t boot at all due to such things as “drive errors.” Rebit 5 can give you the peace of mind you may need once all of your business documents are filed on your PC.

Installing Rebit 5 software is easy. Just plug the drive in and run the installer. You’ll have to click OK a few times when prompted, but the install pretty much happens “hands off.” and the drive will start backing up everything on your C: drive automatically. There are options to back up other drives in your PC, including other internal or external drives, but the Rebit 5 software concentrates on the C: drive out of the box, since that’s where most people store their OS, apps, and data. Rebit 5 also has to option to back up your PC to network drives or any other external hard drive as well, so it’s really flexible. The Rebit 5 drive and software works with just about all versions of Windows: XP (32-bit), Vista (32-bit and 64-bit) and Windows 7 (32-bit and 64-bit). This is an improvement over the last version of the Rebit software, which was limited to 32-bit Windows. Just make sure your C: drive is formatted to NTFS, as the Rebit 5 software won’t work with FAT32 drives (Windows 7 defaults to NTFS).

Rebit 5 Specifications

Type
External, Mini
System Type
Notebook
Storage Capacity (as Tested)
1000 GB
Rotation Speed
7200 rpm
Ports
USB, USB 2.0, SATA

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Performance and Usability
Your first backup will take a while. Our hard drive testbed took the better part of a full 24 hours to back up several hundred GB of data. The drive is USB 2.0, rather than the faster USB 3.0, and no doubt this slowed things down. While all current PCs ship with USB 2.0 ports, adding USB 3.0 would be good for future proofing and the added speed would be welcome for USB 3.0-equipped PCs.

That said, the drive itself is decently fast. It returned a score of 3,919 points on PCMark05′s hard drive test. To put this in perspective, the ioSafe SoloPRO ($249.99 list, 4.5 stars) got a score of 3,682 points on USB 2.0 and 8,120 points on USB 3.0. You could buy and download the Rebit 5 software separately ($34.95 for 1 PC, $79.95 for 3 PCs), and use it with a USB 3.0 drive or NAS that you purchase separately.

There are two ways you can recover your data: file search or complete recovery. If you find you’ve misplaced a file or accidentally deleted it, you can simply browse the Rebit 5 drive for that file and copy it back to your PC’s hard drive using drag and drop. You can also mount the drive on another PC to transfer files, but since you’ll have to install a Rebit backup browser app (to that other PC), that may be less convenient. The Rebit 5 can also recover the PC’s entire hard drive, including operating system, installed applications, and data left in the same folder structure you backed up earlier. In this way it’s like Apple’s Time Machine: Rebit supports snapshots so you can go back in time and restore the whole hard drive at a certain point in time, say the version of your PC and files from three days ago rather than the version two hours ago. The drive comes with a recovery boot CD, but you can create a boot USB stick or DVD in case that’s more convenient for you. You can password-protect your backups for added security, though Rebit 5 Time Machine defaults to backing up everything without a password.

Compared with the competition, the Rebit 5 combines ease of use and disaster recovery into a compelling combo pack. It’s easier to set up than drives like the HP Portable External Hard Drive (1TB) ($169.99 direct, 4 stars), which has a simple backup software package that takes a bit of doing to get set up. The IDrive Portable ($69.99 list, 3.5 stars) is easy to set up, but it only backs up document folders, not the entire hard drive. It’s the same for the Clickfree Wireless ($179.99 list, 4 stars): Easy to set up, but only backs up documents. If you find that you need to back up not just your important files, but the state of your PC, including all the apps, OS tweaks, and settings, then you really need something like the Rebit 5 (1TB). As long as you are using one of the latest versions of Windows (Windows XP SP3, Vista SP2, Windows 7 SP1), you will get much more peace of mind using a product like the Rebit over a simple hard drive with a simple backup utility.

Rebit 5

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Posted by on September 28, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Vizio XVT3D554SV HDTV Review

Vizio XVT3D554SV

Vizio XVT3D554SV Vizio presents the XVT3D554SV ($2,199.99 list), a 55-inch, web-enabled LED 3D HDTV with a 480Hz refresh rate, 10 million to one contrast ratio and four millisecond response time. While it is smaller and more afforable than the 60-inch XVT3D554SV, there are few differences between the two machines. In addition to housing a list of Vizio’s web apps, the XVT3D554SV includes a universal Bluetooth remote with QWERTY keyboard and is Energy STAR 4.1 compliant.

Vizio XVT3D554SV Design and Features
This LED-backlit 3D set is surrounded by an angular, glossy black bezel with a speaker bar underneath. It rests on a large, rounded stand that does not swivel, though this screen sports a 178-degree viewing angle. The XVT3D554SV houses five HDMI inputs (four in the back and one on its side), one of each standard video input and three USB ports. Also included is both an Ethernet port and built-in 802.11n WiFi to take advantage of Vizio’s suite of of web apps, VIA.

The contrast and color balance within the XVT3D554SV is powered by Vizio’s Smart Dimming LED display, which controls all 120 blocks of LEDs within the screen to turn them off in support of the screen’s 10 million to one contrast ratio. Its 480Hz refresh rate delivers 480 scenes per second by combining its refresh rate with a scanning backlight. Of course, this HDTV puts out full 1080p HD, but also supports 3D viewing with the appropriate glasses and compatible 3D Blu-ray, premium television or gaming device. However, a two-pack of rechargeable 3D glasses through Vizio costs $219.99.

Vizio XVT3D554SV Specifications

Vizio XVT3D554SV Screen Size

55 inches
Vizio XVT3D554SV Type
LCD TV, HDTV
Aspect Ratio
Vizio XVT3D554SV 16:9
Vizio XVT3D554SVNetworking Options
Wi-Fi
Speakers Included
Yes

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The included universal Bluetooth remote with QWERTY keyboard will be used to navigate VIA, the suite of over 14 Vizio web apps including Facebook, Netflix, Pandora and more. Vizio’s line of XVT 3DTVs also sport SRS TruSurround HD sound with TruVolume, a feature that reduces the volume inconsistencies between TV programs. Finally, the XVT3D554SV is Energy STAR 4.1-compliant through its mercury-free LED screen and other power-saving features.

Vizio XVT3D554SV

 

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Canon imageClass MF4450 Printer Review

Canon imageClass MF4450

If you think of the Canon imageClass MF4450 ($249 direct) mono laser MFP as a personal version of the Editors’ Choice Canon imageClass MF4570dn ($299 direct, 4 stars), you won’t be far off. There are some important differences, most notably the lack of network support and a duplexer (for two-sided printing). However, it otherwise offers similar capabilities at a lower price, while its ability to connect only by USB makes it a definitively personal printer.

Like the MF4570dn, the MF4450 can print, scan, and fax directly from a PC and work as a standalone copier and fax machine. It also offers a 35-page ADF to complement its flatbed for scanning and easily handle multipage documents and legal-size pages. As long as you don’t need to duplex—a duplexer isn’t even offered as an option—paper handling for printing is more than enough for most personal needs, with a 250-sheet main tray and a one-sheet manual feed.

Canon imageClass MF4450 View SlideshowSee all (5) slides

Canon ImageClass MF4450: Right
Canon ImageClass MF4450: Open
Canon ImageClass MF4450: Left
Canon ImageClass MF4450: Front

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Canon imageClass MF4450 Setup and Speed
The MF4450 is a little bigger than you would probably want sitting on your desk, at 14.6 by 15.4 by 16.6 inches (HWD), but it’s small enough so you shouldn’t have trouble finding room for it nearby, even in a home office.

Setup on the Windows Vista system I tested with was standard fare. Canon rates the printer at 24 pages per minute (ppm), which is 2 ppm slower than the rating for the MF4570. The results on our tests, however, were essentially the same for both printers.

Canon imageClass MF4450 Specifications

Printer Category
Laser
Type
All-In-One
Canon imageClass MF4450 Color or Monochrome
Monochrome
Technology (for laser category only)
Laser
Canon imageClass MF4450 Maximum Standard Paper Size
Legal
Direct Printing from Cameras
No
Canon imageClass MF4450 Rated speed at Default Resolution (Mono)
24 ppm
 Canon imageClass MF4450 Standalone Copier and Fax
Copier, Fax
Canon imageClass MF4450Print Duplexing
No

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I timed the MF4450 on our business applications suite (usingQualityLogic’s hardware and software for timing), at 12.9 ppm. That makes it effectively tied with the MF4750dn at 12.3 ppm and the Canon imageClass D550 ($299 direct, 3 stars) at 13.2 ppm for fastest mono laser MFP in its price class or below. (A 1-ppm difference on our tests isn’t significant for lasers.) The next fastest MFP is the HP LaserJet Pro M1212nf MF ($199 direct, 3.5 stars), at 11.3 ppm.

Canon imageClass MF4450 Output Quality and Other Issues
The output quality doesn’t earn the same high marks as the print speed, but it’s easily good enough for most business needs. Text quality is a touch below par for a mono laser, which means you wouldn’t want to use it for high-quality desktop publishing or if you have an unusual need for small fonts. For anything short of that, however, you should find it more than acceptable.

Graphics quality is at the high end of a tight range where most mono laser MFPs fall, making it suitable for any internal business need. Photo output is a touch below par, but still suitable for printing Web pages with recognizable photos. Depending on how much of a perfectionist you are, you may or may not consider the photos good enough for client newsletters or the like.

Ultimately, the MF4450 is an attractive choice as a personal MFP. Both the MF4750dn and D550 offer better value—with the MF4750dn adding network support and a duplexer and the D550 adding both a print duplexer and a duplexing ADF for scanning—for just $50 more. But if you don’t need these additional features, there’s no reason why you should pay for them. And if that’s the case, choosing the MF4450 will give you what you need while leaving a little more money in your wallet.

 

Canon imageClass MF4450

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Posted by on September 28, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Apple Thunderbolt Display Moniter Review

Apple Thunderbolt Display

Apple Thunderbolt You don’t have to be an Apple fanboy to appreciate the new Apple Thunderbolt Display ($999 direct), but you will need to have a Thunderbolt-ready Mac destkop or laptop to use it, and be willing to shell out close to a grand for the privilege. This 27-inch beauty is the first display to utilize Thunderbolt I/O technology, and its connectivity prowess makes it an ideal docking station for Thunderbolt-enabled MacBooks. It also delivers bright, accurate colors and excellent image detail. Its flaws—a relatively slow response time produces some motion artifacts, and a glossy screen coating that can be very reflective—is somewhat minor compared with what it has to offer. It earns our Editors’ Choice for high-end monitors.

 

A word about Thunderbolt technology; co-developed by Intel and Apple, Thunderbolt is a dual-channel I/O solution (based on PCI Express and DisplayPort technologies) that delivers twice the I/O performance (10Gbps) as USB 3.0 (5Gbps) using a single cable. According to Apple, Thunderbolt is up to 20 times faster than USB 2.0 and 12 times faster than FireWire 800. All of that bandwidth allows users to daisy chain multiple peripherals and still achieve good I/O throughput. (For more on Thunderbolt, check out our primer, “Intel’s Thunderbolt: 10 Things You Need to Know.”)

 

 Apple Thunderbolt View SlideshowSee all (8) slides

Apple Thunderbolt Display : Display with MacBook
Apple Thunderbolt Display : Front
Apple Thunderbolt Display : Back
Apple Thunderbolt Display : Ports

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Apple Thunderbolt Design and Features
Design-wise, the Thunderbolt Display looks exactly like the Apple Cinema Display. The 27-inch, 2,560-by-1,440 resolution IPS (in-plane switching) panel is housed in the same silver aluminum cabinet and is supported by the same angled stand which contains a smooth, easy to maneuver tilt mechanism. You can’t adjust the panel’s height or swivel it for a better angle, however. Edge-to-edge glass over piano black bezels and rounded corners provide plenty of style, but the glossy glass is very reflective. Apple logos can be found on the rear of the cabinet and on the lower front bezel, and a FaceTime HD camera is embedded in the upper bezel. The cabinet also holds a 2.1 audio system (two speakers and a subwoofer) that delivers 49 watts of rich, crystal clear sound with incredibly deep bass response. It is hands-down the best audio output I’ve heard from a desktop display and a good deal better than a number of HDTVs that I’ve reviewed.

 

You won’t find any function buttons on this monitor, as all settings are adjusted from within the System Preferences Display control panel. Here, you can change the resolution, rotate the screen image, adjust brightness, and select a color profile. There’s also a Calibration Assistant that helps you tweak gamma and white point settings. Chances are you won’t have to do much tweaking as Apple calibrates each panel before it leaves the factory. As with the Cinema Display, a light sensor automatically adjusts the panel’s brightness according to ambient light levels, but you can disable this function if you prefer.

 

Apple Thunderbolt Specifications

Screen Size
27 inches
Native Resolution
2560 x 1440
Apple Thunderbolt Supported Video Formats
1080p
Widescreen
Yes
Apple Thunderbolt Aspect Ratio
16:9
Apple Thunderbolt PC Interfaces
Thunderbolt

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Two hard-wired cables protrude from the rear of the cabinet. One is a traditional three-pronged power cord and the other is a double header containing Apple’s awesome MagSafe power connector and a Thunderbolt connector. One of the many cool features of this display is that once you plug in the regular power cord you can power up and charge your laptop with the monitor’s MagSafe plug. Also around back are three USB (2.0) ports, a FireWire 800 port, a gigabit Ethernet port, and a Thunderbolt port. It’s not unusual to find an Ethernet port on an HDTV but you rarely see them on desktop monitors. I connected a labs Ethernet cable to the display, and thanks to Thunderbolt, received a wired network connection notification on my MacBook Air within seconds. You can use the display’s Thunderbolt port to connect up to six peripherals, such as external storage and video capture devices, as well as multiple monitors.

 

Apple Thunderbolt Performance
As with most IPS panels, the Thunderbolt Display delivers very accurate colors. Swatches from the DisplayMate Color Scales test scaled uniformly from dark to light and there was no evidence of tinting or over saturated reds, greens, or blues. The panel’s inky blacks gave the colors some pop as well. Grayscale performance was also quite good, particularly on the light end of the scale where every shade of gray was displayed correctly. Dark grays were well defined right up to the very darkest shade, which was slightly compressed and indistinguishable from black. Shadow detail was still very good, however; dark scenes from the HD movie trailer I Am Legend were strikingly detailed and skin tones were spot on. Only the NEC MultiSync PA301W($2,229 direct, 4.5 stars) did a better job with dark grays, but that’s a professional-grade monitor that costs $1,200 more than the Thunderbolt Display. If you work with large documents and prefer to arrange them side-by-side, the Thunderbolt Display is ideal for viewing small text; the font’s 5.3 points (the smallest available on the DisplayMate Scaled Fonts test) were completely legible and well defined.

 

IPS panels are known to deliver wide viewing angles, and the Thunderbolt Display is no exception. You can place this monitor just about anywhere without worrying about color shifting or experiencing that dark screen effect that you get with most TN+ panels. What you will get is some instances of motion blur, however, which comes by way of the Thunderbolt Display’s 12-millisecond pixel response. The artifacts aren’t overwhelming and certainly won’t have much of an impact while watching streaming video (which is usually susceptible to artifacts anyway), but if you decide to use this monitor for gaming you’ll notice some minor motion lag. That’s just one of the trade-offs that come with using an IPS panel rather than a TN+ panel, though.

 

There’s a lot to like about the Apple Thunderbolt Display. It’s the first monitor to offer Thunderbolt high-speed connectivity, it delivers excellent image quality, and its audio output is top shelf. Having the ability to connect multiple devices makes it an ideal base station for MacBook laptops, and like nearly every other product sporting an Apple logo, it’s a real head turner. It is certainly more expensive than most 27-inch monitors, but no other monitor can do what it does, at least not yet. All this is why this monitor earns the Editors’ Choice. If you own a Thunderbolt-enabled MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, Mac mini, or iMac, the Thunderbolt Display makes perfect sense.

 

Apple Thunderbolt

 

 

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Posted by on September 28, 2011 in Uncategorized