Posts filed under ‘Vista’

New Expert Zone Column on My Connected Home

Microsoft has published my column on Vista computers and devices that all work together transparently on my home network.

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October 16, 2007 at 8:19 pm Leave a comment

Hey, Acer CEO – YOU are Part of the Vista Problem

Gianfranco Lanci, you’re an uninformed CEO if you don’t know that the disappointment is in YOUR company’s lack of driver support, unintelligible support and download site. How can you state:

"While the industry had waited for years for Vista, the software was not really ready when it was launched to great pomp at the start of this year" when your company has done so little itself?

Don’t blame Microsoft. You’ve had more than enough time to join the party.

Yes, my Ferrari 5000 runs like a dream under x64 Ultimate, but my Ferrari 4000 is still missing updated drivers for the pccard controller and media reader/card slot. Yeah, the 3 year old ones from XP x64 still work, sorta, almost.

The word "schmuck" comes to mind.

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July 24, 2007 at 10:20 am Leave a comment

My Velocity Micro x64 & Vista MCE & CableCARDs=Happy Together

Some of you may remember that back in December 2006, Microsoft and AMD shipped me a Velocity Micro Cinemagix Pro Cinema Entertainment System.

This AMD Athlon X2 system with an ATI x1950 dual DVI card, 2 gigs RAM and huge hard drive was a wonder. Microsoft installed Windows Vista x64 Ultimate and Office 2007 and I was in, well, computer heaven. It was exactly the box I’d spec out myself. Perfect in every way. And certainly the fastest computer I’d ever had in my home.

It was perfect then, but today it is more than perfect. It returned last week after visiting the Velocity Micro factory where it received a BIOS upgrade and a tune up. Why send it back for a BIOS upgrade? The only thing missing was Digital Cable Tuner compatibility (to use CableCARD technology to view and record high definition TV). That feature was not available at the time I received this computer, but IT IS NOW.

To use CableCARD technology with Windows Media Center in Windows Vista, you need five pieces:

1. A machine with a certified (by CableLABS) DCT BIOS
2. A video card with HDCP compliance
3. A monitor or TV that is HDCP compliant
4. A Digital Cable Tuner (formerly called OCUR device)/DCT (or two if you want to watch and record at the same time)
5. A CableCARD from your local cable company.

Velocity Micro is offering this amazing machine with either an internal or external DCT. (You can add a second tuner as well).

I’ve got two external DCT’s attached to this machine and I’m in, well, high definition TV heaven.

If you’ve been waiting for the ability to watch and record high def TV on a kick-ass machine, run, don’t walk to Velocity Micro and customize one of these. Even if you aren’t into high def, this is one great computer.

May 8, 2007 at 5:57 pm Leave a comment

Awaiting return of Velocity Micro PC with DCT(CableCARD) Upgrade

Last week I shipped my screamer VM box back to the company for the upgrade needed to enable cable card support (and to get a few things fixed – busted USB port and screw down the hard drive cage).

I am so missing this computer but when it comes back, it will be without question the meanest, screaming-est pc on the planet.

April 26, 2007 at 10:35 am Leave a comment

TX1000 – Much nicer wireless with 802.11 Draft N ExpressCard from D-Link

One of my few complaints about HP’s TX1000 is the 802.11g performance with the embedded Broadcom radio. 802.11a on the same wireless radio is better, but the G side performance was not up to my expectations nor was it as good as other Vista Broadcom chipset/driver combinations.

So, I asked my friends at D-Link for one of their new ExpressCard/34 draft 802.11n cards.

It (DWA-643) arrived this morning. The difference was like night and day. I can copy files over the network at blazingly fast speeds and no dropped connections.

D-Link uses Atheros (as opposed to Broadcom) chips in their draft N gear.

 

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April 2, 2007 at 4:49 pm Leave a comment

HP TX1000 – Get the Fingerprint Reader Option!

HP’s TX1000 series Entertainment (Tablet PC Convertible) has one feature that deserves a post of its own. An embedded fingerprint reads (Authentec AES 1610) can be found on the left side of the screen, and coupled with the Bioscrypt Verisoft Access Manager software, this a a very cool and functional convenience tool. Note that I don’t consider this to be a security feature. I think that HP will agree that this was not the intent of including a fingerprint reader device and that their mission was to provide a multimedia entertainment device with bells and whistles to make it really stand out. I think they’ve succeeded.

I love the convenience of not having to store passwords and logons for all the places I visit on the web that demand that you create logins. (And I’m annoyed everyday by websites that force you to create logins which I know serve no other purpose than to generate mailing lists. I use mailinator.com for one time throw away addresses. I receive the “authentication” email there and never use the address again.) The problem is how to keep track of all of these individual and unique logins. Some can be stored (cookies) when a website offers to keep you logged in or offers a “remember me” option. There are lots of ways to handle this, but one thing makes sense: if you’re using a pc in tablet mode, there’s no easier way to login or enter a password than using a fingerprint reader. This is a combination that makes a lot of sense to me. (And it makes sense when using the pc in notebook with keyboard mode, too, especially if you tend to fat finger these things as I frequently do.)

Kudos to HP for including this functionality in a non business entertainment computer. The convenience makes this a must have option. If you decide to purchase a TX1000 series notebook and customize on the HP website, be sure to include this option.

March 28, 2007 at 2:01 pm Leave a comment

HP’s TX1000 Entertainment Notebook – First Look Part 2

The more I use the HP TX1000 (TX1001xx) convertible (tablet) entertainment PC, the more I think that this machine is a great all around choice for the mainstream consumer. It’s got just about everything, and the customization choices on the HP web site provide enough options for just about anyone.

I’m still struggling with the Tablet PC handwriting functionality. Without taking extra care to apply pressure to the stylus and write “just so”, I’m still getting Klingon letters. My friends among more knowledgeable tablet pc owners and Tablet PC MVPs tell me that this is due to the difference between the passive technology and the Wacom technology found in other vendor’s offerings. Still, I think that after some additional training, I could get some usefulness (but could never use tablet handwriting full time and give up the keyboard).

I’ve been sampling the entertainment features. The included QuickPlay application interface seems dull when compared to the Windows Media Center interface. QuickPlay doesn’t “see” media on networked drives except using Windows Media Sharing UPnP. I’ve got a lot of media on desktops, so would have preferred the ability within the QuickPlay app to find source media on these drives directly in the same way MCE allows me to. QuickPlay does support Karaoke and .car files. I’m pretty sure college kids will find this a great feature. (If you’ve ever heard me try to sing you will be grateful that I didn’t attach an audio sample to this post.) I’ve heard a rumor that QuickPlay will eventually tie in with Slingbox and asked HP about this. They’ve confirmed this will happen and will show up after an update in the TV source section of QuickPlay.

Speaking of Recorded (and Live TV) while HP makes a TV Tuner that fits older notebooks with an ExpressCard/54 slot, they do not offer one for ExpressCard/34 slots. This is disappointing (although there are USB tuners available). This would be a great accessory add-on and hopefully this is at least on the drawing board.
The TX1000 comes with an awesome mini remote. One real plus (and a great feature) is that the included mini remote control that stores in the ExpressCard/34 slot operates both QuickPlay and MCE. That was a surprise and a pleasant one at that! Equally surprising (and amazing) is that the remote can be used to present a PowerPoint slide show.

Stereo Altec Lansing speakers are mounted below the screen and rotate with the display. This means that when tablet mode is used, the speakers don’t get buried under the screen (and are front and center in every configuration you use). There are dual headphone jacks (good for those airplanes trips when two of you want to watch the same DVD or listen to the same music) and one apparently supports SPDIF if you purchase a special cable. There were two sets of (really cheap, as in $6.99 for two when you include if customizing the notebook on line) earbuds included with the package I received. I’m a proud owner of Shure E5C’s (http://www.shure.com/PersonalAudio/Products/Earphones/ESeries/us_pa_E5c_content ) so I happened tried the earbuds that were supplied.

 
There are buttons surrounding the rim of the screen that invoke QuickPlay, DVD and buttons behind the rim for stop, play/pause, FFWD, REW, etc. These are accessible in all rotation modes. Clearly well thought out and pretty neat to find. This gives the TX1000 high marks as an entertainment device.

March 27, 2007 at 2:34 pm Leave a comment

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