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Dell Vostro 1510

Bleep Rating

Bye bye Inspiron, hello Vostro! Dell has rebranded their business Inspiron laptops & desktops whilst leaving the old moniker for home machines. The 1510 is an Intel “Santa Rosa” based laptop in a reasonably attractive and thin chassis and it won’t break your back at a modest 2.6KG in its default configuration.

This laptop packs all the standard features you would expect but surprises with super quiet operation even when the hard drive is thrashing away. A couple of other nice features are the handy media buttons and the slick new slot loading DVD writer. One awful feature is Dell’s inclusion of a cheap “sticky” touch pad. Also, the new glossy black finish on the back is a finger print magnet.

Mercifully, Dell has recently toned down their need to fill new machines with preinstalled crap. I only had to uninstall the Google search bar and Google desktop apps. The 1510 in its default configuration offer’s superb value for money but please Dell please, put a nice touch pad in the next one!

The Vostro 1510 can be purchased from Dell’s website from €449 + vat and shipping.

Review: Motorola RAZR V8

Bleep Rating

It’s hard to follow up on something which in a way was game-changing. Also with recent strife in Moto, this could be the last of their great phones. Sequels in movies rarely outdo the originals and the same can be true for most phones. The RAZR 2 V8 developers obviously knew this so worked really hard on the design of the phone, both outside and inside. The RAZR 2 is thinner again which is a feat in itself. It now has two screens so you don’t even need to flip the phone to get a lot of usage from it.

Motorola Razr V8

The phone comes with either 512mb of built-in memory or else 2GB but the big drawback with this is that it is one or the other, there is no memory expansion slot which is quite disappointing given most other phones offer this. Using the phone itself, you feel like it is a strong and sturdy phone and will survive the usual bumps and knocks of a phone and this is backed up by the quality material put into the phone.

When it comes to the software on the phone, the V8 is very simple to use with an interface that makes sense instantly. The menu options will get you to the main features of the phone almost instantly. Good camera, efficient mp3 player and many accessories. The big drawback for the V8 though is the lack of 3G which is almost a prerequisite in most new phones. If you liked the original RAZR you’ll love this, a fantastic improvement on an already good phone. Well worth investing in if you like thin flip phones.

Review: Sony Ericsson W910i

Bleep Rating

Sony Ericsson W910i

Sony Ericsson w910i

W as in Walkman. Yet another phone from the Walkman range. This latest improvement on the Sony Ericsson Walkman range has seen the software improved and made even easier to use. Music is at the heart of the phone with all other features built out from this. This is a slide phone unlike most other Sony Ericsson Walkman phones and also comes with 3G giving you a lot of access to online services, no matter where you are.

While not as thin as other Sony Ericssons, this is still on the svelt side. What this phone has that you don’t see in most other phones is an accelerometer tied into the menu system. Move the phone to the side and the menu system will reflect this, just like an iPhone but unlike the iPhone if you nudge the phone left or right it skips to the next or previous song and shaking the phone like a polaroid naturally has it shuffle your music selection, presenting you with random tracks. The old shake N’ Vac ads from the 80s come to mind. Design inspiration perhaps?

Sony Ericsson w910i

Probably the best part of this phone is the media software on it, allowing you to create multiple playlists and you can even have the phone react to your mood by playing certain types of music. The motion sensors also react to the speed you are moving or not moving at.

All in all this is a fantastic multimedia phone, designed with multimedia in mind while also giving you 3G connectivity. If you like your music then this is the phone for you. This gets a 5, something most phones will not get.

TechWank Thursday - June 19th 2008

Welcome to TechWank Thursday. The weekly discussion of all things stupid, useless and totally idiotic that we see crop up every now and then in the world of tech gadgets. Despite the most intelligent people in the world working in the sector and some of the best industrial designers ever, you combine some people and you get the shoddiest, trashiest pieces of crap ever.

Since this is our first feature, here are a few examples and not just one.

A crystal Nespresso Machine. Yeah, diamonds on a bloody coffee machine!

A designer rocket-launcher.

and the best:
A gold-plated MacBook Air.

Gold-plated macbook air

4 Minute Review: HP 2133 Mini-Note

Bleep Rating

Bleep.ie got our hands on the HP 2133 Mini-Note lightweight very portable laptop at the HP event in Berlin last week and tested it out for a few minutes. We liked.

HP 2133 Mini-Note

The HP 2133 Mini-Note is obviously a competitor/answer to the nerd-popular Asus Eee PC but oddly when you look at the Eee PC you instantly reflect how dinky and small it is, almost like a laptop designed for the little people that fix your shoes at night. It is smaller than the pics show. However when checking out the HP 2133 you don’t realise it’s a mini-pc. Maybe it’s the slightly larger 8.9inch screen.

Unlike said Eee PC it’s pretty configurable, Henry Ford would not be proud. You can get 160GB and 120GB 7,200rpm or 5400 rpms hard drives or a 4GB solid state drive. You can also choose your OS for it. Under the hood is a 1.6-GHz processor, VIA graphics chip, and 2GB of memory.

HP 2133 Mini-Note

All in all a great laptop, slightly bigger than the Eee PC (probably a good thing) and at 3.2lbs slightly heavier though it’s still light. Of course it’s more expensive too but for anyone wanting more than a novelty laptop and wanting it for business, consider this. Then again, this is only a 4 minute review.

Review: Sony Ericsson W890i

Bleep Rating

After spending so much time with the Nokias and iPhones of the world you forget that technology and design has progressed enough to bring us feather-light and waif-thin phones. Hello Sony Ericsson W series phones and a big hello to the W890i.

w890i

The W890i didn’t exactly come out of the blue. It’s pretty much an update of the W880 but that’s fine as the W880 was also a great phone, just like this. The best feature of this phone might actually be the thin design when you consider that this is also a 3G phone. You rarely see 3G phones this thin. The brushed metal design of the silver one really rocks. Forget the other choices. I loved this design.

Being from the W series it’s a music phone first and foremost with Walkman Player software version 3.0 on it, 2 gigs of plug in memory for all your music which isn’t a lot when you have an 8GB Nokia N91 or a 16GB iPhone but enough for a few albums at least. One button (on side) access to the Walkman feature displays the tracks in a great user interface. This is the one bugbear I have with phones. Too many of them fail when it comes to the software and the interface. They got it right here. Nice features too for sorting and tagging your music. For the music fascists amongst us (hi!) this power feature is great but 99% of people will probably not use it. We also have a radio on this phone. Yeah, no having to buy an outside jack with a radio at more expense.

w890i

Texting is easy on this and very easy considering the size of the keyboard. The areas where this phone is let down are actually the lack of WiFi but it doesn’t bill itself as offering everything and it doesn’t have a flash for the camera which is almost unusual for a Sony Ericsson these days.

Summary:
This is a brilliant music phone, a great 3G phone and a lovely waif phone. Ticks many boxes.

Review: Nokia N95 8GB

Bleep Rating

It’s been around for a good while now but since we already reviewed the N81 and wished it were more like the N95, we might as well look at what could be argued is the best Nokia phone on the market. If you want it all and want it with power, the N95 is for you.

Nokia N95

For all of those that fell in love with the 7650 (I still have mine) this is the modern equivalent. A 5 megapixel camera means you’ve got a full-blown digital camera with you and a video camera to boot.

Connectivity-wise it can connect using 3g, WiFi and bluetooth. Mobile broadband using 3g
is a gamechanging piece of technology and having 3g in a phone like this helps in changing your digital lifestyle and then add WiFi on top of that. You might not even need to buy a 3g connection were you in any other country in the EU except broadband poor Ireland though to get the most you really do need to sign up to a 3G package.

Then there’s the GPS. Flaky indoors but over the months the maps when you’re on the road are fairly good, apart from the odd snafu. Just as good as the standalone, one purpose only GPS units. But it’s on your phone that already has everything else.

Nokia N95

A definite bonus with this phone is that you can install applications on it without having to “hack” or “unlock” it and there are tonnes of these applications that make use of all the inbuilt power features. Take that iPhone version 1 (but maybe not version 2)

There are of course negative bits to this phone. The cluttered interface could really be made a little simpler and there are far far too many buttons on this phone. It’s the forty coats of phones as
a result. Also, this computer in your pocket is too big for my pockets though not massively too big. The biggest issue though is the battery life. It sucks the juice far too quickly especially if using WiFi and 3G. The design too isn’t as sexy as other phones but it destroys the competition when it comes to features.

Despite these bits, this phone is still getting a very rare five out of five rating. It’s that good.

More pics of the Voodoo Envy 133 Ultra-thin Laptop

Here are two more pics from the HP event in Berlin

Pictured are the fantastically engaging Rahul Sood from Voodoo and Damien Mulley from Bleep.ie with Bleep.ie shown on the Envy.

Rahul Sood and Damien and the Voodoo Envy

Rahul Sood and Damien and the Voodoo Envy

Edit: With thanks to Marie Boran from Silicon Republic for taking them.

4 Minute Review: HP Touchsmart 2

Bleep Rating

Another quick review, this time of the second and much better iteration of the HP Touchsmart. This new one comes with a 22inch screen and looks very like the iMac with pretty much everything built into and behind the screen. Full optical drive. Being all about thin/thick, this PC is 2.6 inches thick, has half a terrabyte of storage, 2.16Ghz processor, Wifi and all that jazz.

Oh and did we mention it does touch? We were waiting for “I touch myself” to play during them showing off the interface but they played some good pop-punk-like song about touching. If you’ve used the touch interface on the iPhone then you know how it works. Flick through photos, play songs, drag stuff around. However it’s still very very basic. No copying and pasting functionality. Only inside the HP TouchSmart software can this functionality work. Big shame.

It’s still rough too in that you have to use the keyboard for copying and pasting and inside the music player you can’t adjust the volume. That’s hardware only. That seems a massive oversight.

Overall giving this a three because of the limited/restricted use for the touch interface which I hope changes over time but on pushing HP about opening up their Touch “platform”, it seems management won’t allow an SDK or API for it. Hello? Imagine every Facebook developer making apps for this? I’d love to see a child’s game made for this for people to play over the net. Get kids playing each other etc. Or fathers and daughters playing online when they are oceans apart.

4 Minute Review: Voodoo Envy 133 Ultra-thin Laptop

Bleep Rating

So we managed to get a few minutes alone with the very very new Voodoo Envy, the new “thin is in” laptop from the very talented people in Voodoo who are now owned by HP.

Voodoo Envy 133

Unlike most others, this laptop is encased in carbon fiber with a custom micro-weave design. So yes, you can put your own “mark” on the exterior, though not just yet. It’s a lightweight but powerful laptop, weighing in at 3.37lbs and a processor clocking in at 1.8Ghz with the usual 2GB of RAM. It has a 64GB solid state hard drive and a 13.3″ WXGA High-Definition Widescreen LED Backlit Display with resolution of 1280×800, it has the usual ambient light censor.

No optical drive, though a nice external one and no built-in ethernet BUT the power brick does have ethernet built in there. Clever. Where there’s ethernet there’s a power source. The battery can also come out, unlike the MacBook Air. Battery life is 3hrs 45. Slightly less than what you get out of an Air but actual field testing might prove different here.

Voodoo Envy 133

A worthy competitor to the MacBook Air and Lenovo Thinkpad x300 but the crowd that will go for this might not even consider the x300 and vice versa. Only drawbacks so far are the trackpad doesn’t feel great and the shape is far too rectangular(for my tastes). Pricing stateside is: $2,099. It’s going to be a great success.

A proper more in-depth review will happen once we get a loaner from HP/Voodoo and have it for a few days.

Review: Nokia N81 8GB

Bleep Rating

The Swiss Army Knife entertainment phone.

Before we start off it needs to be pointed out that I’m not a gamer, don’t really like games and my Nintendo Wii is gathering dust. I may not be the best person to review a gaming phone. The Nokia N81 8GB does it all. Almost. It’s a powerful phone. Here are the specs.

Nokia N81 Engage

The idea of it being a Swiss Army knife for entertainment is important because it’s probably trying too much to be everything. Incorporating the N-Gage gaming platform, this does photos, videos, Wifi surfing the web and good enough games. The games are fun enough but this reviewer isn’t really a gamer so doesn’t appreciate them but then perhaps a serious gamer might appreciate them even less. Snake? That’s enough for me.

There’s always a trade-off between design and thinness and power and most times Nokia decides as an engineer not as a designer so we get some of the most powerful phones in the world but also some of the clunkiest. However with this phone it has the size of the N95 (a fantastic power-phone) but with a lot less power. A two megapixel camera is severely disappointing for this phone and it being part of the N series.

Others have talked up the battery power of this phone but I didn’t find the battery life to be that impressive and with WiFi left on, the battery drained quite quickly.

Music

8GB of music storage is good, the music player itself is pretty good but with a music store with DRM crippled music and a website that hates Firefox users, I can’t see a reason to buy any content from Nokia. Battery life when it comes to music is pretty good actually and as far as I can see it kicks the ass of the iPhone.

Games

There are a lot of titles with more promised. That’s as much as I can say really. Again I point out my lack of interest in games and gaming.

Summary

Personally I was disappointed with the phone when compared to having used an N95 and their lovely range of thin music phones. Nokia may once again need to rethink the idea of games on phones with this offering. It still gets 3 out of 5 because it does have the power options, though let down by a lo-spec camera. I’ll happily send the phone out to a gamer and see what they think if Nokia are willing to submit it for another review.

Review: Lenovo Thinkpad x300

Bleep Rating

Two words: No compromise. Funnily enough this is the tagline Lenovo want you to use but they really didn’t need to say it as the specs say it without prompting. This does it all and in a thin and light way.

Lenovo Thinkpad x300

The Lenovo Thinkpad x300 has it all. Optical drive, full size keyboard, power, good and large enough screen, more than one USB port, an ethernet port!, a battery that comes out so you can add extra life and more. Laptops Direct have it for around €2196.29.

I have the power

Performance-wise the x300 is meant to last 4.3 hours. No it doesn’t. Using it to surf the net and do a little processor crunching and that starts to drop. Still, it does almost 4 hours with wireless on and surfing the net.

Lenovo x300 thin

The MacBook Air livened up the laptop market when it came out with a beautiful design, super model thinness and made people who never wanted a laptop before to want one. But quite quickly after it was released Lenovo announced the x300 and the bits the Air ejected to be so thin were all in the x300 while it still remained thin.

x300 will win Lenovo new customers

The x300 ensures existing Thinkpad owners will stay within the fold and will probably migrate to a thinner, lighter and more powerful version of the Thinkpad they have while the likes of Dell and HP should be worried that their market might be cannibalised. I don’t think many Thinkpad owners will get an Air and I don’t think people that like the Air for the design qualities will get an x300.

Could do ever so slightly better

And thus we get to the weakpoints of the x300. If people have used the Air, the Thinkpad x300 actually seems fat and the too traditional look of the x300 is holding it back. It would have been nice to have seen a greater transition away from the very samey Thinkpad look. It blends right in with all the previous models when maybe it should stick out so existing Thinkpad owners will want to move. Apple does this well. Another issue is the keyboard area is far too cluttered and messy and the trackapd needs to be bigger to give powerusers the ability to up their game. And please, get rid of that bloody red nipple. It’s 2008.

In summary

Fond of Thinkpads already? You’ll love this. Apple fanboy? You’ll hate this. Dell, HP, other person? Do consider trying this out because you’ll probably like it. The x300 is an excellent laptop and one of the best I’ve ever tested out. No fuss, powerful and makes going mobile so much easier. I’d buy one.

Bleep goes to Berlin

HP are down with the bloggers this year with Bleep and loads more being invited to partake in their annual press and analyst shindig. Here’s the official HP blog too.

HP Berlin

There are rumours going around that perhaps the reason Rahul Sood didn’t want his MacBook Air is because something better is on the way. Let’s hope so. We’ve reviewed the Lenovo x300 and we’ve reviewed the MacBook Air (on way later this week on Bleep) so it would be nice to add a HP competitor to the deathmatch.

Expect updates Monday to Wednesday from Berlin.

What is Bleep?

Bleep is an Irish Technology News and Reviews website run by Damien Mulley and Damien Callan along with various other contributors. It’s funded by sponsorship. It also contains an Irish Technology Blogger Aggregator. We’re still fiddling with bits and pieces so hang on for another while until we sort them all out.

If you want to contribute reviews or want to contribute gear to be reviewed, give us an email. If you spot any bugs too, leave a comment, thanks!

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