Archive for May, 2010

Announced exactly a month ago, Blackberry’s new Bold is finally released to the public, available exclusively with Sprint. Promised last summer was a Wi-Fi enabled Tour, and although the 9650 has dropped the Tour name, not much has changed from the previous version like World Roaming capabilities and a compact QWERTY keyboard. The things that have changed however, are more significant to the average consumer like (obviously) Wi-Fi and double the onboard memory, making the new Bold 9650 equivalent to the highest-end Blackberry, the 9700.


Hardware-wise, the Bold is almost the exact same as the Tour, something none of us mind at all as it still has a great QWERTY keyboard and an overall comfortable and stylish build. That said, there is one major change and that is the addition (or replacement) of an optical trackpad. The smartphone joins RIM’s latest devices in replacing the trackball with an easy-to-use and very responsive optical trackpad. Personally, we prefer the trackpad over the trackball as it’s more comfortable to use and  the long-term advantage of the trackpad is you won’t have some of the problems associated with the trackball like debris/dirt build-up rendering the ball unusable. Overall, the design of the Tour is nothing special or revolutionary, but there’s nothing not to like about it either.


Much like the design, the Bold 9650 retains much of its features from the year old Tour, with a couple of exceptions. First, the Bold now has Wi-Fi so you don’t always have to rely on 3G for wireless data, plus it includes a few Wi-Fi tools like diagnostics and WEP encryption. The other difference is that the Bold now comes with double the onboard memory with 512 MB which gives you more room for apps. Although the 9650 was released alongside Blackberry OS 6.0, the phone won’t be shipped with the new software until Q3 of 2010, meaning we still have to deal with, debatably, the worst and most old-fashioned internet browser on any smartphone today. On the bright side, the features that were taken from the Tour include Dual-Band worldwide connection meaning you can use voice and data features all over the globe.

In general, the new Bold is basically a modernized version of the Tour, but with trackpad navigation, implemented Wi-Fi and double the onboard memory, the Bold 9650 has nothing to hate about and results in a great mid-entry level, messaging smartphone.


5. 2009 Audi Q5

Audi’s new compact style SUV, the Q5, reveals a new target of audience; the wealthy, fairly handsome man who’s going through his mid-life crisis but isn’t quite extreme enough to go for a Harley. – Audi. The Q5 uses the company’s new ‘Drive Select’ system, allowing the driver to individually select the perfect settings for power train, suspension and sport steering which results in the baby SUV to have amazing cornering capabilities and performance limits.

4. 2010 Mercedes-Benz ML 63 AMG

Mercedes have once again expanded the AMG portfolio with an SUV for when the kids are REALLY late for school. AMG’s heavily massaged 6.3 litre V8 pumps an impressive 510 HP and 465 lb-ft of torque, with a peak of 5,200 rpm. Several body upgrades have been brought along as well by AMG, including a larger chromed front grill, an AMG-designed full body-kit and 20-inch alloy rims. This monstrous SUV can definitely beat down that stretch of highway with ease, that is until you take a glimpse at your fuel gauge.

3. 2011 Porsche Cayenne Turbo

The German carmaker known for their high-performance sports cars have just unveiled the next generation of their SUV lineup, the Cayenne. Designed to excel both on the road and off, this mud-ready European beast has built its reputation around combining a high-performance motoring experience with proven all-terrain capabilities. The roaring 4.8 litre, twin-turbo V8 produces a highway-craving 500 HP and a terrain-craving 516 lb-ft of torque which results in a 0-60 time in less than 4.4 seconds. In more human terms, you don’t want to be up against this animal.

2. 2010 Land Rover Range Rover Sport Supercharged

Range Rover has a well-deserved reputation for forging through those tough terrains and climbing steep mountains with ease. Its little brother however, the Range Rover Sport, seems to maintain a perfect balance of luxury, speed, performance and off-road capabilities, resulting in a fair price. The direct-injection V-8 produces an impressive 510 HP and 461 lb-ft of torque, which gets this SUV to 60 in 5.9 seconds. Although the performance itself isn’t record-breaking, the amazing looks and engineering of the vehicle along with its impressive terrain capabilities put it very close to the top.

1. BMW X6 M

The European automarket has brought along all sorts of strange creations and concepts, which usually never end up going into production. The BMW X6, when released as a concept, was the same as any other concept vehicle; weirdly shaped, unreasonable but appealing to the eye. However, it wasn’t normal that the X6 found its way into production line and surprised most BMW fans. Although sales didn’t soar, the critically acclaimed X6 did become a success, managing to combine sexy-coupe design with SUV capabilities. The coupe-design was actually one of the biggest factors of the X6s’ success, as it not only brought physical similarities to a coupe, but performance-wise as well. Consumers and reviewers immediately noticed that the German automaker used a coupe-engine which produced specs that surpass some of BMW’s lower end sports cars. A roaring turbocharged V-8 produces 555 HP which pulls the 90 thousand dollar monster from 0 to 60 in less than 4.5 seconds, a time faster than cars half its weight like the Audi S5. BMW didn’t have the intention for the X6 to have off-road capabilities, but the X-drive that comes standard definitely proves its system when driving on snow or other slippery terrains. Overall, BMW’s X6 has the perfect formula of a coupe’s design and performance alongside a SUV’s off-road capabilities and power train.

PirateBay, the extremely popular and controversial BitTorrent site, is also the most targeted for elimination by content owners and film studios worldwide, mainly Hollywood.

On Monday, PirateBay went offline for a full day, presumably because of a ruling won by some Hollywood studio that ordered PB’s bandwidth provider to stop servicing the site; something that’s happened three times in the past, all in which PirateBay won.

Today, as expected, PirateBay re-emerged in a rebellious attitude by posting a picture of a cat and the following statement: “Ims ins yours skynets, lollings aways ats yours futile attempts ats controllings ours Internets”, to those who continue to attempt bringing down the multi-million user website.

New Chewed Section!

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A new category has been added to our trio lineup of grades, Wheels of Autopia. Everything and anything that has to do with the four wheeler will be put here including reviews, up-to-date news, concept overviews and much more. Guest writers anyone?

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After finally testing out the new Wikipedia user interface beta, i noticed a big difference in both physical interface and behind-the-scenes tweaking. Starting off with the most obvious, both the headers and left panels have a face-lifted design, with a light blue, much cleaner and curvier look than before. The tabs at the top are spaced in different sections, so it’s not as crowded and it has a much more ‘tabbed browsing’ feel to it. The search bar, probably one of the most used functions on Wikipedia, is located at the top right corner, in a much more visible fashion unlike before where it blended in with other links, especially for new users. Overall, the graphical user interface upgrade gets two thumbs up, with no noticeable flaws to the bare eye.

The site seems to run smoother than before, but there was nothing really to improve in that category. Editing, on the other hand, definitely required some adjustments for more basic end contributors. Although Wikipedia’s form of easy coding editing made it much easier to edit the page as a whole, it still seemed like it needed an easier to use, more compatible entry editor. In the new beta, the coding hasn’t changed at all, but the editor has similar updates to the main page, including the light blue look, and has more visible editing buttons. Although the editing upgrade isn’t extensive, this is still a beta and hopefully, the final release will do some finishing tweaks.

Publicized in multiple forums, it looks like Toshiba is gearing up to announce or even release what seems to be the ‘world’s lightest and thinnest’ 13-inch notebook, although there is no confirmation from Toshiba themselves. Thin-and-light laptops were a major trend in 2009, alongside netbooks, but is that still the case for 2010? If so, this new charm needs to keep up with its rivals like the Adamo XPS, the Macbook Air and MSI X340 meaning it also needs high-end performance stats and a ‘high-end’ price tag, but hopefully, will be more affordable to average consumers than its competitors. Judging by the photo(s), the device not only looks thin but amazingly sexy and still manages to carry the infamous design and architecture of other Toshiba notebooks. Rumours also state that Toshiba will be utilizing a regular voltage Intel i3/i5 unit but with a special Supercharged Ion Battery, a new technology, which can charge up to 90% of its capacity in 10 minutes, something no laptop on retail has yet, which might give Toshiba a more advantageous release, but nobody’s quite sure if this battery is going have a long life, or just have a fast charging cycle, either way, all this technical sounding gear is probably going to be delivered with a (high) price. Basically, as an overview, we’re gonna have ANOTHER Macbook Air slaughterer.

The most common question i get asked is simple: “What laptop should I buy?” Being a generally difficult person by nature, I usually respond with my own series of questions: “What size screen do you want? How much do you want to spend?” and so on. But sometimes people just want a simple suggestion, based on what I actually like. So, here is a jargon-free list of the current crop of laptops that I’m digging, either because they give you good bang for your buck, they excel in their specific category, or because they’re just plain awesome.

5. HP Mini 5102

Even though i’m not a big fan of netbooks, this one just stands out and forced its way onto this list. Being a sequel to its powerful predessecor, this little machine defenitely meets today’s standards, even for a notebook. It features the new Intel Atom proccessor with 1.66 GHz and 1GB of DDR2 RAM, more than enough for such a little computer. The build quality is one of best on any netbook on the market today, made of aluminum and magnesium alloy, some material nobody knows but sounds strong and complicated, so it suffices. The graphics are reasonable, a simple Intel GMA integrated chipset does the job fine. The machine overall stands out both performance-wise and construction-wise in today’s selection of netbooks and still manages to keep a steady price of $399.99.

4. Gateway NV7915u

In the past, desktop-replacement notebooks were never any interest to mainstream consumers, considering they were usually bulky, expensive and were never really fast enough to be compared to a desktop. Gateway (or Acer) addressed this ‘issue’ by introducing the NV79 series, more specifically, the 7915u. The 600 dollar notebook features Intel’s new Core i3 processor alongside 2.13 GHZ and 4GBs of RAM, specs that no-doubt compares to average desktops. It has a wide and glossy 17.3′ inch screen, perfect for handling multiple windows or just sitting back and watching a movie. At $599, it’s one of the cheapest laptops you’ll find at retail with Intel’s Core i3 processor. Only minor flaws like poor battery life and an awkward trackpad button give us reason to not favour the Gateway NV7915u.

3. Toshiba Satellite E205

At this year’s CES conference, one of the technologies introduced that captured everyone’s interest was Intel’s Wireless Display Technology, or WiDi. WiDi, however, needs to be compatible on computers to work, and one of the first notebook computers to include WiDi at retail is the $899 Toshiba Satellite E205-S1904, a model that’s exclusive to Best Buy. The E205 defenitely has some changed looks from its predecessor, the E105. Gone is the boxy  look, replaced with a sleek curved blue design. A new Intel Core i5 replaces the old Core 2 Duo, bringing some performance and power-management upgrades along with it. Still featuring a backlit keyboard, for $50 more than the previous E105 for improved CPU and wireless display technology, it’s arguably worth it, placing it third in our top five list.

2. Sony Vaio Z Series VPC-Z116GX/S

Because of the economy, recently, everyone is looking into value and low-priced computers, and has really taken the spotlight off the more high-end machines that are a bit expensive but fully-featured beastly masterpieces. Also due to the economy, many companies have limited their high-end notebook production dramatically, the same way automakers have limited their production of SUVs. Each of the famous corporations like HP and Dell have only one or two of these high-priced monsters, like the Envy 13 from HP and Adamo XPS from Dell, and from Sony, they’ve released a successor to their very much-loved notebook, the Z-series. In the latest refresh, the Vaio Z has a very fast Intel Core i5 processing unit with 2.4 GHZ and 4GBs of DDR3 RAM, an Nvidia GT 330M GPU which can be switched over to Intel GMA 4500MHD integrated graphics for better battery life, a DVD/CD drive and a huge 256GB SSD (SSDs are much more expensive than regular HDs, even for less space) hard drive, which is a big portion of the $2,299 price. Price aside, the new Vaio Z is my 13-inch laptop of choice, as it breezed by many of the other 13-inch notebooks with slower CPUs. The trade-off though, is battery life. The Vaio Z has only a 3-hour batter life, which compared to other 13-inch laptops, like the Macbooks which has up to 10 hour batteries now, is a flaw. Although the price is out-of-range for most consumers, the price is definitely worth the bang on this machine as it powers by most other high-end notebooks with ease, placing it second on our list.

1. Macbook Pro 15-inch (Spring 2010 Model) – Core i7 2.66 GHz/4GB RAM/500GB HDD

Apple’s lineup of high-end notebooks have never been disappointing, especially the recently updated lineup of Pros. Apple’s upgrades to their devices have always been closely watched, falling into two main categories; major evolutions such as the switch to unibody aluminum construction in 2008 or minor spec upgrades like the iPhone 3GS. The Spring 2010 upgrade for the Macbook Pros however, don’t fall into either. The unibody construction remains the same, well actually, the physical attributes of the new MBPs are identical to their predecessors and the internal components are upgraded, but these are no minor spec updates. The Pros have made a switch over to Intel’s new Core lineup, both the mainstream i5 and the high-end i7 CPUs (unfortunately, the 13-inch still uses the Core 2 Duo processor). This requires new chipset construction(according to Intel) which carry onto the next upgrade to a more powerful and efficient GPU, the Nvidia GeForce 9400M and Intel integrated chipset, which switch between the two seamlessly and automatically when needed. The basic model of the 15-inch is priced at $1,799, but i’ve come to realize you get a better bang-for-your-buck with the highest-end model (Core i7 2.66 GHz/4GB RAM/500GB HDD) which values at $2,199. With the 13-inch stuck with a Core 2 Duo, this revamp seems like the 15-inch is their new powerhouse flagship model, deserving its prestigious standing on our Best Notebook list.