So the other day my iPod earphones finally gave way after 3 months of continual use. To be honest, I enjoyed the earphones and they only cost me $3 from eBay. In my hunt for new earphones I decided to give the Dre Beats a spin after hearing about them for so long. There are a wide selection of products from http://www.beatsbydre.com ranging from headphones to earphones to speakers. All of these will set you back anywhere between $120 and $400. So does the price you pay justify the quality that you get from your music? 

I first took myself down to some electronic goods stores and hooked my iPod up to the various demonstration models they have on offer. I went through a few songs on roughly 5 models within the headphone and earphone category. I didn’t notice anything too much that was different, so I found some friends who had various models and borrowed them to use. So for 1 week, I listened to a select 100 songs from different genres of music: metal, rock, rnb, hip hop, hardstyle, house, etc. My overall reaction was disappointing. Also just to mention, these aren’t crappy rips from YouTube that have a low bit-rate, we’re talking high bit-rate, high quality music fresh from cd’s and iTunes. 

Because I didn’t buy the products, I was more susceptible to a true opinion. I know people who have tried their hardest to justify their spending on these products and you can see the anguish in their eyes as they have buyers bias. But what exactly do I feel about the price? Does the price justify the quality? Very bluntly no. Although you can hear deeper bass and drums, more crisper vocals and instruments, it wasn’t anything different that a $35 pair of Sony earphones I had lying around from 3 years ago. Nothing is really different. Even the noise cancelling headphones I dislike. If you wear them in public, sure you get to listen to your music without blowing your eardrums out, but if you’re really that anti-social in public, then you’d probably get hit by a car that has lost control and people are yelling and screaming at you to get out of the way, but you’re too busy with your $250 headphones that cancel out background noise, and your volume is turned up so you can enjoy your music.

Some people try to say that they’re more designed for drum n bass and electronic music, but if you really want to spend that much money on earphones or headphones that deliver the same performance as a $30 to $40 pair, then by all means go ahead. I guess you could say that Beats By Dre are the Mercedes Benz of the audio world; it’s great to own them, but you can get the same functioning and audio experience for at least 10% of the price. 

Well, well, well. The world is now officially going to end. Facebook has finally one public. Zuckerberg is just a greedy pig who wants more money!

NO! If you think like that then you’re in the wrong mindset. Facebook going public essentially means nothing for you as a user. In fact, this is Zuckerberg’s own way of giving back to those that helped to turn Facebook into the success that it is today. It is capable of being utilised as a power marketing medium that offers a 1 cent click through rate, which entails advertisements for a very specific niche. 

If you invest in Facebook since it’s gone public then there are two ways, like any other company, that it could go. Either:

  • Facebook continues to be utilised as a marketing tool, and is able to generate more revenue. Share prices will increase tenfold due to more interest in the company. Or,
  • There will be too many disagreements between the decisions of the share owners and the users of facebook, so much so that it ends up dying a slow death like MySpace did several years ago

So what does this mean for the average Joe? Quite simply, nothing. Get on with your work, and move on with life.

/thread

Ultrabook laptops are now becoming a trend in the laptop computers world. Busy people need laptop computers, but not just any. Some are too large, bulky and heavy, while others are tiny and cause eye strain as you try to focus on the small 10” screen. Some laptop computers have incredibly short battery life.

Ultrabook

This ultrabook looks very nice too

But the fact of the matter is that people want something that is light, fast, easy on the eyes and overall, affordable. The fact that the ultrabook laptop market can be expensive can be a deterrent for people. If you walk into a computer sales store, you’ll be pushed towards the more expensive ultrabook laptops most of the time. So I’ll do my best to explain why you don’t need anything upwards of $1300 in regards to an ultrabook laptop. I guess the first thing people want to know is what this is like in comparison to a MacBook Air, Apples’ flagship ultrabook laptop.

Since this laptop is a 13”, we’ll compare Apples with apples (get it? No?) The MacBook Air: 13-inch : 128GB • 1.7GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor • 4GB memory • 128GB flash storage1 • Intel HD Graphics 3000 • A$ 1,449.00

So, this seems somewhat reasonable, and the specs of the 128GB SSD model match those of the HP Folio-13 ultrabook laptop. The only difference is a 1.6GHz processor. In comparison, you wouldn’t notice the difference when carrying out even the most intensive tasks. For an extra $350 you get a hard drive upgrade from 128GB SSD to 256GB SSD. But before we proceed, what is an SSD? In case you don’t know, an SSD is a Solid State Drive that is a 2.5” hard drive which has no platter, so no spinning. Which means information can be transferred and written much faster. The disadvantage of this is that they are relatively costly, however a quick search on SSD prices will tell you that you can upgrade from 128GB to 256GB for less than $200. But what does this have to do with everything? I’ve surely done a lot of rambling on about things but haven’t really identified why you should buy this particular ultrabook laptop.

In terms of price, this ultrabook, the HP Folio-13, comes valued in at $1100-$1300 depending on where you buy from. In comparison to the MacBook air price, this is obviously cheaper. For this range of price, you are getting similar speed, performance and hard drive space to some of the higher end ultrabook laptops. But why not go for the better ones? If you’re a die-hard performance freak, you’ll probably end up returning the higher end ones. They contain an i7 processor, which is essentially design to be in a desktop computer. As I work in a particular retail store, we have had a high rate of returns on the i7 models. Simply because they aren’t built well, have half the battery life, and overall have no real noticeable boost in performance.

For this ultrabook, the i5 is an ideal medium between the i3 (essentially designed for small netbooks, and the i7. The i5 has 2 cores and 2 virtual cores, meaning that it will essentially get the job done. That’s really all you need to know. It gets the job done fast and effectively. We’ll move onto the RAM next; Random Access Memory. This essentially dictates how many programs/processes you can have running at once until you begin to notice a significant decrease in performance, and an increase in lag. Think of this as a buffer. And that’s really all you need to know about RAM. For an ultrabook, the extent of things you’ll be doing on this will mean the 4GB is more than plenty, and to be honest you could get away with 2GB.

If you’re keen on gaming, read this section, if not you can skip this section. This ultrabook comes with an Intel HD 3000 integrated graphics card. What does this mean for gaming? Not much. You can get away with playing some recent games on low settings and achieve around 30-40fps. Older games (pre 2003) you can probably get away with playing on higher settings and achieve similar frame rates. Notebook Check does a really nice review on this graphics unit and you should definitely check it out for benchmarks, etc: http://www.notebookcheck.net/Intel-HD-Graphics-3000.37948.0.html

Most ultrabooks will boast battery life of between 6 to 8 hours. With the HP Folio-13 ultrabook, if all you want to do is type things on Microsoft OneNote, Word or any other application like these, you can turn of the wifi button, and achieve 10 hours of battery life. I use this in uni a lot and it’s simply amazing. If you turn the wifi on, you’ll get around 7 hours of battery life. Furthermore, this charges relatively fast, often achieving a full charge from empty battery to 100% within 2 hours.

This ultrabook handles pretty well too. By this I mean the mouse pad and the keypad. The mouse pad will come with standard features such as two finger scrolling, and various other actions that allow you to zoom, etc. The keypad also feels really nice and is backlit too (with the option of turning it on or off). I somewhat prefer the MacBook mouse pads though. I find that it is the most smooth, however this ultrabooks mouse pad is relatively smooth and has a nice feel to it. Overall, the HP Folio 13 is topped off with a nice finish to the material, a light sort of metal (I’m not too sure on). It doesn’t really scratch which is a good thing. The screen is nice, a standard 13.3″ LED provides the ultrabook a nice glossy sort of finish, however it is quite prone to fingerprints, so just be careful with that.

So what is my final verdict on this ultrabook? Quite simply it’s money well spent. And I couldn’t have asked for a light, fast and reliable ultrabook. I will rate this 9/10. The only downside to this is that you have a lot of unnecessary HP and other software preinstalled to this, and it’s best to remove these immediately.

NB: Please note that ultrabooks do not have CD Drives and therefore you will have to transfer things via USB.

Image

How were my experiences with the Diablo 3 Open Beta? Well with Diablo 3 right around the corner, headed for a May 15th release, Blizzard were kind enough to give anyone, yes anyone who took 2 minutes out of their lives to set up a battle.net account if they didn’t already have one, to play the game in its open beta form. Having played Diablo and Diablo 2 long after their release date, due to my age, I began to appreciate just how much the older person, probably mid twenties to thirties who had played the original 2, to be anticipating the third. But I was too.

To summarise; my thoughts towards the Diablo 3 open beta are all praiseworthy. But why is it so?

The game feels, put simply, amazing. Everything is so smooth and all the mechanics of the game work really well. I was never in a situation where I didn’t know what I was doing. Perhaps if a younger child with no familiarity with the Diablo series picked up Diablo 3, then they have a bit of difficulty understanding that indeed, you do not move with WASD. Everything is done with the mouse. But that’s what was good about the game. Your primary and secondary mapped attacks to the mouse doesn’t interfere or move randomly if you’re trying to attack enemies. One of my biggest gripes with Diablo and Diablo 2 was that you would move ever so slightly if you weren’t right on your enemy when trying to attack them. It’s not much, but it kind of got to me. So yeah, everything in the controls department is ay ok.

How about the gameplay you ask? Again, it’s spectacular. I decided to jump on the bandwagon and try out the monk; ideally a light armoured DPS class that specialises in using forceful moves to punish your enemies. It felt great. One thing I was curious with Diablo 3 was how the random generation of worlds would integrate with the multiplayer. From what I found is when you tag up in multiplayer to do a quest, it finds the player with the furthest advancement in that quest and uses their area of generation? I’m not entirely sure but that’s what it seems like. I did go back to create another character for the purpose of seeing the random world generation for non-major areas, and yes, it is there in the game and helps to add a new level of replayability.

The interface and graphics are quite well done too. Drawing on aspects from world of warcraft via the character creation, and the map is also now a part of the interface that you constantly see now. No more leaving a gigantic transparent map on your screen, but in a way, I kind of liked that as it made you explore more. But I guess Diablo 3′s random world generation may result in some players get lost if it weren’t for the map. Nothing is really intrusive when you play either. In terms of the aesthetics, they were really nice too. Nothing overly fancy, but everything in Diablo 3 just felt good.

I’m readily waiting the full release of Diablo 3 where you will be able to read a more comprehensive review of a game that could shape up to devour many hours of my life.

/thread

Poster published by Kotaku.com found a gamestop

Speculation for pre-order date

Oh My Gosh! I’ve never seen as much hype and speculation over a game than the recent installments to the Call of Duty franchise. I’m not bashing it, personally I think it’s quite awesome to be able to create the amount of chaos and confusion in the online community as Activision does. So yeah, the good old African American Ops Deuce is apparently right around the corner for a world wide reveal; check out http://www.callofduty.com for the offical countdown timer and some images that are slowly getting released.

It reminds me of a thriller/mystery novel; always keeps you guessing by teasing you with these measly clues and hints, only to have the reader speculate so much about things until it’s all finally released. And yeah, let’s face it, Treyarch could get things right here. If they nail the game, it could be played as much as Call of Duty 4, and dare I say, have a life span as long as Counter Strike Source.

Apparently the speculation says that Black Ops “2″ is meant to take place somewhere in the not too distant future. I won’t really be covering it that much, probably until the release of the game. So for now.

/thread

Welcome to a world of tech reviews from the perspective of a supple young adult who (according to the old folk stereotype for teens) thinks I know everything. But no, it’s sad isn’t it, not being able to know everything there is. But that’s not what this is about. My blog specifically is about my views and opinions on the latest, or existing things that I forgot to talk about, in the world of technology: laptops, desktops, computer parts, games, etc.

My technology reviews aim to be as informative as I can, while attempting to inform you all of the jargon that’s going on. Because, let’s face it, does the common person really know what a 20000:1, 2ms, 120Hz monitor is good for? Let alone what it all means. Let’s be real here. It’s all about being me and me only, if I say something that offends you, I’m sorry but it has to be. If I appear to be angry in a post, I probably am because it’s how I feel towards the product or thing, not how people want to me see it.

Every now and then I’ll do the odd non-tech review.

Laptops and TV’s? That’s just not natural. (Michael McIntyre)

/thread

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