Product Review – HP LaserJet Pro P1560 Series desktop laser printer

I am reviewing the Hewlett-Packard LaserJet Pro P1560 Series desktop laser printer which is part of a range of monochrome laser printers offered by HP for “quick-form-turnout” applications like invoices or health-insurance forms at a medical clinic.HP LaserJet Pro 1560 printer

This model, which costs AUD$329, that I am testing is an entry-level desktop unit that is directly-attached to the computer via a USB cable.  The P1600 Series is the “step-up” version that has the same functionality but is equipped with network-printing ability as well as a duplexer for printing on both sides of the paper. This is in a similar practice to how most vehicles are sold with extra options being part of increasingly-expensive “trim levels”.

It works with an HP CE278a toner cartridge which has an average page yield of 2100 pages and costs AUD$94.60 each on the streets. This would lead to a running cost of approximately AUD$0.04 per page.

Set-up and Operation

The main feature that impressed me about this laser printer was that I didn’t need to find a CD or download files from HP’s Website to get the printer going with my Windows 7 computer. Once it was plugged in to the USB hub, the computer discovered a USB Mass-Storage device on the printer and mounted it as a drive letter. Then I went to that drive letter with Windows Explorer and ran the Setup file whereupon the drivers were in place and the printer clicked in to action with the Windows Test page on the output tray on the printer very shortly. I have touched on this earlier in my blog as a separate article because it was a “dream come true” when it comes to printer setup. The P1600 would allow me to “hit” its Web front-end to load the necessary driver files at least when installing it on the network.

The other thing I am impressed about is a very quick “cold start”. I have often seen older laser printers and copiers require a warm-up time of a few minutes before they are ready to print. This is mainly to have the fuser rollers warm enough and able to melt the toner in to the paper. Here, the printer was able to be ready to print from “cold standby” within four seconds.

Once underway with a print job, it took four seconds to print each page and wasn’t running very hot. This is even though I ran a copy of the PDF user manual as a large “reliability-test” print job. There may have been some steam coming out of the output slot but this may be to do with moisture buildup in the machine which had been unpacked shortly before this print run.

The printer has an automatic “energy-save” function where it powers down to a “cold standby” mode whenever there are no print jobs coming through for a few minutes. It only uses enough power to “listen” to the USB port for print jobs from the host computer.

Maintenance

The printer is very easy to maintain, especially when it comes to replacing the toner cartridge. Here, you just pop the lid open then pull out the used cartridge from the bottom of the cavity without much force. Then you put the new cartridge in to the bottom of the cavity without any need for any extra pressure.

This unit is at least an example of improving the design of the equipment to make it more useable for all people.

Limitations and Points of Improvement

Beyond the need to provide CD-free setup for the Apple Macintosh platform, there haven’t been any further limitations that I have come across with this direct-connect printer.

Conclusion and Positioning Notes

The HP LaserJet Pro 1560 Series printer could be best positioned for single-computer workstations like reception desks in small clinics and the like for use as a printer for “turning out” documents like invoices or similar forms. It would be best used as an “exact replacement” for an older direct-connect monochrome laser printer that has come to the end of its useful life.

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Your Android phone now can control the UPnP AV / DLNA Home Media Network

Web site

AndroMote – An Android UPnP Remote Control

You can pick the software up at the Android MarketPlace using your Android device.

My Comments

Previously, TwonkyMedia have released a version of the TwonkyMedia Server for the Android platform but this program presents media that is held in your Android device to the UPnP AV / DLNA Home Media Network. It doesn’t offer any way for you to play media already available on the network through your Android device nor does it allow you to “push” media to another UPnP AV / DLNA device for playback or control its playback on that device.

Now another German developer have shown up with a UPnP AV control point / media player for the Android platform. This will allow you to use phones like the HTC Desire to control playback of media on UPnP MediaRenderer devices or “bring down” media available on your UPnP MediaServer to your phone for instant playback.

I had observed on the site that there is a wish for people to copy a “collection” of media like an album from the UPnP MediaServer to the Android phone’s local storage. But could this function be available for an upcoming version?

It is now becoming very real that a programmable mobile phone platform like the iPhone or the Android can be part of the UPnP AV / DLNA Home Media Network once people write software that provides media-service, media-control or media-playback functionality for the platform.

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Regenerating the Carmarthenshire towns should include providing proper broadband Internet

News article

BBC News – Plans to regenerate four Carmarthenshire towns

My comments

I had been reviewing this BBC News article about plans to regenerate some Carmartheshire towns but had found scant information about improvements to broadband Internet service in those towns.

If there are plans to regenerate a country town, these plans should also include improvements to infrastructure that provide broadband Internet access. This could range from reassessing the telephony infrastructure so that ADSL2 broadband is capable of 2Mbps “at every door”, through improvements in wireless broadband coverage to provision of next-generation broadband in that town.

It could then allow for the town to become competitive as far as technology-driven businesses, such as R&D or universities, are concerned. As well, the town can also allow other small businesses that operate therein to “come on to the map” and be competitive on the world stage. It will also benefit the outlying properties and neighbouring villages / hamlets by exposing them to proper broadband service rather than just horrible old dial-up Internet.

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Another one for the Android-based TV platform

News Article

Sony Internet TV Has An Intel Atom Processor And Runs Google TV, Chrome, Flash 10.1 | Sony Insider

From the horse’s mouth

Sony’s official Internet TV Website – Sony Style

My comments

Previously, I had written in my blog about People Of Lava introducing an Internet-enabled TV that was based on the Google Android Platform. This is a brand that may not be on everyone’s lips, especially when it comes to consumer electronics.

But now Google had determined an Android-based app-driven TV platform to go alongside their Android app-driven mobile phone platform and described it as “Google TV”. They have pitched this at digital TV sets and various set-top applications, primarily as an open platform for delivering Internet-enabled interactive TV.

Sony have become the first mainstream TV manufacturer to implement this platform, which will give it an air of legitimacy in the consumer-electronics space. This is eve though the interactive-TV space has been dominated by various closed or limited platforms like the games consoles, the PVR boxes such as TiVo, and various pay-TV platforms.

I often wonder that if Google keeps the Android platform as an open platform, they could provide many interesting applications and uses for many devices.

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Someone’s listening to my call for CD-free printer setup

I have mentioned in this blog about the need for printer manufacturers to move away from supplying CDs or USB memory keys full of printer drivers with their printers. What I was wanting to see was the driver software being held in separate memory on the printer that is accessible as a USB Mass-Storage Device for direct-attached printers or through common network protocols for network printers.

At last, Hewlett-Packard has answered this need as far as Windows users are concerned with the LaserJet Pro 1560 and 1600 Series monochrome laser printers, one of which will be reviewed in this blog. The review printer which is the LaserJet Pro 1560 – a low-end direct-attached printer, was set up without me needing to find a CD in the box.

The setup experience went like this:

1. Once the printer was connected to my computer’s USB socket and to the power, Windows 7 discovered the printer and mounted an extra drive letter for that printer.

2. I then visited the extra drive and ran the setup file, whereupon the printer’s driver set was installed and I was offered the ability to print the Windows Test Page.

The networked versions allowed you to log in to the printer’s IP address from your browser, once you have printed the network information page, in order to download the driver software.

No mess, no fuss!

No need to worry about the printer setup CD anymore!

Points of improvement

Some improvements that I would like to see include a driver set for the Apple MacOS X Macintosh computers available on the “CD-free install” memory and that the printer’s “CD-free install” memory mounts as another disk on the Macintosh Desktop.

Another improvement would be to let Windows discover the driver set without any user intervention once the printer is connected to the USB port. This could then lead to true plug-and-play printing for this class of printer.

Furthermore, I would like to see this function made available in more of the consumer multifunction printers because the people who use these printers are more likely to end up with grief because they of driver-install issues.

The function can be augmented by allowing for driver update procedures to include in-field refreshing of the driver set available on the printer. This can lead to support for newer operating platforms or improvements that are provided in the current operating platforms.

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Feature Article – Moving your closed-circuit TV surveillance to IP technology

WARNING THESE PREMISES ARE PROTECTED BY VIDEO-SURVEILLANCE

The typical video-surveillance system

You have established a video-surveillance system in your business premises and have had it going well for many years. It would be based on four to nine analogue cameras located through the business premises and all of these cameras are connected to a multiplexer, commonly known as a “quad”. This device, which presents video images from the cameras in a sequence and / or as a matrix of four images on the one screen, is then connected to a VHS time-lapse video recorder that is recording whatever is going on in the premises. You are able to see the output of the cameras through one or two monitors, whether dedicated video monitors or a spare TV that is pressed in to service as a monitor.

If you are lucky enough to do so, you may have used a dedicated digital video recorder instead of the VHS time-lapse video recorder as the system’s video recorder. These units would have a built-in hard disk and may copy images or video segments that are needed for reference to a DVD using an integrated DVD burner. There is also an increased likelihood of these units being able to work with multiple cameras without the need to use a “quad”.

But now you have heard talk from people in the IT or security industry, such as your system’s installer, about the concept of network-based video surveillance and perhaps seen other businesses and government sites being equipped with this technology. What with the ability to have the increased expandability and flexibility that it provides at all points of the equation.

What benefits does the new IP technology provide?

For example, you could have the recording functionality located away from the premises so employees can’t handle the recording media or to permit security firms to offer offsite video monitoring as another service. In some cases, an IP-based video-surveillance system can make it easier for business partner groups such as police officers or your landlord’s security team to easily “patch in” to your cameras as needed and upon you agreeing without upsetting your existing system’s setup.  As well, you may want to benefit from advanced handling of the video feed which can lead to functions like video motion detection, automatic vehicle number-plate (license-plate) recognition or people-counting being part of your system, whether integrated in to the cameras or as part of extra software in other system devices. These systems may also offer the ability to use high-resolution cameras which may appeal to you in certain security scenarios like fraud detection.

The technology is becoming available at a cost that most small business users can afford. One of the reasons is because most of the infrastructure may already exist due to the data network being laid down for Internet access and computer networking. Similarly, you may benefit from your network-attached storage device or business server being able to work as a DVR device simply by you adding cheap or free software to that device. On the other hand, there are some DVR devices that work with network cameras and offer a lot more video-surveillance functionality and integration in the long run, with some of them offering a Web-based system dashboard available over the network. As well, your regular desktop or laptop PCs can work as cost-effective system-control and monitoring terminals through the addition of cheap or free software or the computers’ Web browsers being pointed to the cameras’ Web sites. This may then make you think that your closed-circuit TV system is simply “too old” for today’s requirements. How should you go about moving towards the technology?

The IP network infrastructure

The network infrastructure that is part of your IP-based video surveillance system should be based on Cat5 Ethernet cable, which can be used as your business’s wired data network. This can provide for a reliable system and permit you to move towards “Power Over Ethernet”, which allows a single Cat5 Ethernet cable to carry power to the cameras as well as the data back from the cameras. This is infact a scenario you should look towards deploying, with a multi-port “power midspan” or “powered switch” providing the power-supply needs for the cameras and obtaining its power via a good-quality uninterruptible power supply that has adequate power capacity.

You could use other network media like Wi-Fi or HomePlug powerline for supplementary camera installations such as additional event-specific cameras or test-run cameras that you may use as part of building out your system.

Standards and setup issues

When you choose your equipment, make sure that your equipment works to common standards such as video codecs that are commonly in use or Internet-standard protocols. You may also want to make sure that each camera is accessible by either a known IP address or host name through the logical network at all times so as to make it easy to set up or revise your system.

If you are thinking of remote access, it may be worth using a dynamic-DNS service or fixed IP service; and establish port mapping so you can navigate to the cameras from outside of the network. This is to allow you to use a known IP address or fully-qualified domain name to refer to your system from outside.

The main objective with a proper IP upgrade is that you don’t lose any functionality that your existing system has provided you. Rather, you gain more in the way of functionality, expandability and security from the new setup because of the new features that the IP-based equipment and software will provide.

The upgrade path

Check your DVR for additional network functionality

If your system uses a DVR rather than the VHS time-lapse recorder as its recording device, find out if the DVR offers access to stored footage or live camera streams via industry-standard network setups. It also includes the possibility of the DVR sending images or footage to nominated people by e-mail or MMS in response to an alarm event. As well, the extra functionality could also include the ability to record images or footage from network cameras.

This functionality may be available through hardware and/or software that you may be able to retrofit, whether done by yourself or a competent computer or security technician. The software may be available for a very low price or, in some cases, for free from the manufacturer’s site or a respected third-party developer.

Network video encoders

These devices are used to connect the existing system to your network. They come in one-channel or multi-channel versions. The one-channel version can service one existing camera or the “MONITOR” output of an analogue system’s multiplexer, whereas a multi-channel version can service multiple cameras. The latter solution can come in handy if you want individual access to your legacy system’s camera outputs via your network.

It is also worth noting that some of the high-end network video encoders come in the form of an expandable infrastructure where there are many encoder “blades” that are installed in a rack-mount “master chassis”. This could allow a user to increase the number of channels in the encoder simply by replacing the “blade” which has fewer channels with one that has more channels. These units may appeal more to installations where there are many serviceable analogue cameras.

If any of the cameras in your system use “pan-tilt-zoom” functionality, the network video encoder that you use for these cameras should have a compatible “PTZ” interface so that you don’t lose this functionality. Similarly, if your system uses alarm connectivity for changing how it records the video information, the network video encoder should support this same alarm connectivity.

Recording

The IP-based video-surveillance system has increased recording flexibility compared to the legacy systems. Here, you could have the images captured on a network-attached storage unit that exists within the logical reach of your business network. For example, you could have one of QNAP’s multi-disk “muscle-NAS” units located in your premises AND a D-Link two-disk NAS at home or in another premises under your control set up to record images from the same lot of cameras  You also benefit from the fact that most of these NAS units can be upgraded to higher capacity in the field through the purchase of larger capacity OEM hard disks from independent computer stores.

In some cases, you can set up some of the NAS units like most of the QNAP range to work as network video recorders by installing software applications in these units. This usually allows the cameras and the recordings to be viewed from the NAS’s management Web page.

It may be worth knowing that there are some special NAS units that are optimised for IP-based video-surveillance setups. These will usually have functions like a Web-based dashboard, improved user interface for indexing and, in some cases, video-analysis functionality not available in the cameras. These are worth considering for larger video-surveillance systems.

Alarm integration and POS Exception Monitoring

Your system may be set up so that your video recorder works in real time if, for example, the building’s alarm is triggered or a staff member presses the duress-alarm button during a hold-up. You can make sure you don’t lose this functionality when your system is network-enabled. As well, you may benefit further from this through network cameras sending through pictures to specified e-mail addresses or MMS-enabled phone numbers upon alarm events.

To achieve this, you need to make sure that your cameras that are in the alarm’s scope have alarm-input terminals and that the signalling devices are properly wired to these terminals as specified in the documentation. In some cases, you may need to use a relay or optocoupler as a way of achieving a compatible connection that operates properly. An alarm installer or electronics technician can do this kind of work easily.

If you are a retailer who integrates POS Exception monitoring where certain normal or abnormal transactions cause your closed-circuit TV system to register them as alarm events or overlay transaction data on the video information, you should make sure you can integrate this functionality in your network-enabled system. The network-based system may allow for transaction-searching or exposure of transaction data independent of the video and could work with network-based POS systems.

Scenarios

These scenarios avoid the need to replace any equipment that is in good working order ahead of its time and prefer that the IP-based technology be “bolted on” to a video-surveillance system in a manner to enhance the system without losing any of its functionality.

Simple network enablement

You may simply start out by connecting the monitor output of your existing system to a single-channel network video encoder. This may be of use if your current-term objective is to view the system’s output on your network-connected PC or your mobile phone.

On the other hand, you may use a multi-channel network video encoder to network-enable all the cameras in a small 4-camera system or, for a larger system, a few cameras that you consider important as well as the monitor output. Then you add another multi-channel network video encoder to network-enable more cameras. You then run a video-surveillance manager program on your general-purpose PC so you can easily view the cameras and set up your network-based recording options.

You will still keep your “quad” and VHS time-lapse recorder or DVR going as a “failover recording setup” until that hardware breaks down irreparably.

Additional or replacement cameras

When you “build out” your video-surveillance system with extra cameras or replace any of the existing cameras, the newer cameras that you deploy in this scenario should be network-capable units. As mentioned before, you run a video-surveillance program on your PC to set up the recording and viewing options.  If you have enough room on your existing system’s multiplexer for extra channels or are replacing existing cameras, you have the option to connect these cameras to the multiplexer because they will have video outputs as well as network outputs. This setup will then appeal to those of us who have plenty of mileage left on the older equipment and still want to use that equipment to record the footage; or haven’t yet run Ethernet wiring out to the new cameras.

Moving away from tape or proprietary DVR

Your VHS time-lapse recorder may be just at the end of its service life and you may be thinking of where to go next. Similarly, you may have had enough of that proprietary DVR that cannot be expanded easily and want to look for something better. This could be a time to network-enable your existing video-surveillance system. Here, you could deploy a multi-channel network video encoder and a network-attached storage like a QNAP unit on your network dedicated for the video surveillance system. Then you use video-management software on your PC to direct the cameras to record to the NAS and to make DVDs of footage that you need to provide.

Complete system upgrades

You may be in a position to upgrade your video-surveillance system, such as through new premises, renovations, newer security requirements placed by government, insurance or company needs; or a large number of the components coming to the end of their useful life. Sometimes, the government may financially assist you in improving your system whether through a grant, loan or tax break towards the cost of the equipment as part of a compliance or “safer cities” program.

This upgrade may give you the break to move towards an “all-IP” system with IP-based cameras, one or more recording devices being network-attached storage devices, computers running video management software; and all of them interconnected using the business’s Cat5 Ethernet cabling.

Conclusion

Any business who has the premises protected by a video-surveillance system should be aware of the IP-based video-surveillance setups. As well, they should know when to evolve to the IP-based technology and how to do it without unnecessarily replacing existing equipment.

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Why are we using email client applications over Web-based email

Articles

What draws people to Windows Live Mail and other email applications | The Windows Blog

My comments

Previous use of desktop email clients until Web-based email matured

Ever since the start of the Internet, we mainly used desktop email clients which were often part of a larger electronic-mail infrastructure like CompuServe or AOL or a corporate messaging platform. Some of us who used terminal-based email like email applications running on corporate or university mainframes; or through viewdata services like MiniTel may have had the opportunity to send Internet-based email by adding a special Internet-mail qualifier to the address.

These desktop email clients had become more sophisticated by inheriting personal organisation or word-processing abilities. It also included HTML-based email as well as easy-to-manage attachments.

The Web-based email services started to appear in 1997 with the likes of Hotmail and allowed people who use Internet cafes to send and receive mail from any computer without configuring email clients. These email services were considered as an auxiliary or temporary email service for people with their own computers as well as primary email services for nomadic people.

Mature Web-based email services

Over the years, GMail, Hotmail and Yahoo Mail improved their Web-based email services that they became a similar standard to a desktop-client experience and some computer users had moved towards these services rather than setting up a POP3 inbox and a desktop email client. Similarly, most Internet service providers and companies are also running Web-based email front-ends for their email servers.

It has also been intensified because of Internet service providers locking down their SMTP outbound-mail services in order to make it harder to send spam and this has put various limitations on travellers and others who move between locations with their own laptop computers. It also became easier for multiple-computer users to see what was read on each terminal synchronously – if it was read on one PC, it was treated as read on the other PC. This was more so as the home network became more popular as people signed up to affordable always-on broadband Internet.

Return of client-based email

We are now seeing the return of client-based email due to varying factors.

One is that Web-based email services are increasingly becoming oversubscribed and their front-end servers are taking a longer time to respond to user-generated activity. It has led to the service providers scrambling to increase bandwidth and server power to service an increased user base.

Similarly, there is an increasing number of free desktop email clients that come with either the operating system or available for download, whether as part of a Web services platform or a sidekick application to one of the many Web browsers. These clients are becoming as good as either one of the current Web-based services or as good as a premium desktop email client of a generation or two ago. They include functionality like calendar / taskpad management and RSS feed-reading support which provides for a highly-valuable highly-affordable personal-information-management solution.

The same email clients are being integrated in to handlheld devices like smartphones which have Wi-Fi or wireless-broadband support. Similarly, the size and cost of laptop computers has reduced due to the arrival of netbooks and ultraportable notebooks that have integrated Wi-Fi and, perhaps, wireless broadband. These lead to the ability to check on your email anywhere you go rather than operating a large computer for this purpose.

In the same context, Web-based email services now offers SMTP/POP3 or IMAP support either as a free service or as an add-on for a small extra cost. ISPs are also setting up secure portable access mechanisms to their SMTP servers, such that users have to log in to these servers with their mailbox credentials before they can send mail through them. This has now made client-based email become increasing relevant for more users.

Why use a desktop email client

The desktop email client provides for use of standard email application protocols and allows the messages to be held locally on the computer’s hard disk.

The speed and performance of the desktop email client is consistent to that of the local computer device rather than combination of Internet bandwidth and a busy Web-based email server.

Similarly. the experience provided by these programs is consistent to that provided by the local computer device and you can even use keyboard shortcuts that are provided by the local computer device for expediting most tasks.

People who use portable computing devices like smartphones or laptops “on the road” can benefit from creating emails offline then sending them out when they choose to go online to update the mailbox. This is also of similar benefit for rural users who are stuck with dial-up Internet and who should be getting broadband Internet service.

Why use a browser-based email experience

A browser-based email experience would suit users who have to use shared computers such as Internet cafes, public libraries or friends’ houses. It can also be used as an adjunct to client-based email setups for quick creation of supplementary email accounts.

What needs to happen further

A major flaw that currently exists with most client-based personal email setups is that there isn’t support for synchronous multi-terminal access. That is if you read an email on one computer or other device, it is marked as read when you see your emails on other devices.

This could be achieved by allowing people who subscribe to personal email services like ISP-provided email to use IMAP4 or “hosted Exchange” mail protocols as alternatives to the POP3/SMTP protocols. These protocols are being supported by most email clients that are currently in service. These protocols allow for “header-only” view for skimming email lists on low-memory devices as well as synchronous multi-terminal access.

They, especially the IMAP4 protocol, could be provided for free by most personal / residential ISPs and there could be an “auto-negotiate” routine which prefers the best option available for the user as part of email client setup.

Conclusion

Now that client-based email use is returning to common use, ISPs and third-party email providers should consider operating a speedy AJAX-driven Web-based interface with “best-case” rendering as well as a client-based interface that works with secure implementations of the POP3 /SMTP, IMAP4 and “hosted-Exchange” protocols. 

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The first of the “netvertibles” or convertible netbooks – a possible challenge to the Apple iPad perhaps

News article

Acer launches 11.6-inch Aspire Timeline 1825PT netvertible – Engadget

My comments

This computer is becoming one of the first netbook-class notebook computers to have a multi-touch screen. The main problem with these machines is that consumers will forget about them because they are so entranced by Apple’s iPad.

If you want to make this class of netbook come up very well with consumers, you will have to provide touch-enabled book-reading applications for the main e-book and online-comic platforms to work with Windows and other “freely-programmable” operating systems. As well, machines like this Acer should use a “tilt-sensor” to determine the display orientation in order to provide a “broadsheet” or “tabloid” view.

As well, anyone who provides an “online newspaper” platform will need to make sure that people can subscribe to their papers from any platform as long as the appropriate reading software is in place and the software should be ported to many platforms like Windows, MacOS X and Android.

Then they could effectively challenge the iPad in providing an online reading platform for books or newspapers.

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Product Review – Dell Inspiron 13z notebook computer

I am reviewing the Dell Inspiron 13z notebook computer which would be best classed as a “subnotebook”or ultraportable. This would be a step up from the netbook form factor and would suit users who value portability and mainstream specifications.Dell Inspiron 12z

Description

The Inspiron 13z is finished in a similar manner to its current stablemate, the Dell Studio 15 and has that same glossy black lid. But the inside is based on a two-tone styling for the keyboard area with a silver palm-rest area.

This unit is based on an Intel Core Duo U7300 processor and the review sample came with 4Gb RAM and 320Gb hard disk. Unlike the Studio 15, this one had the hard disk partitioned out with a system space of 58.5Gb, a recovery space of 9.76 Gb and the rest as space for the user’s files. There is wireless functionality that can work with Bluetooth peripherals or 802.11g Wi-Fi networks. The model will be available at the Dell store with 500Gb for the hard disk rather than the 320Gb hard disk that is in the review sample.

There is a tray-load DVD burner and an SD card reader for integrated removeable storage. There are 3 USB ports, an audio jack and the ability to connect an external display through either a VGA port or an HDMI audio-video port. It also has, last but not least, an Ethernet port for connection to Ethernet networks or HomePlug powerline networks.

Tests and observations

The keyboard has worked well for accuracy especially when you touch-type, although it may appear cramped. The trackpad is very similar to the one that is part of the Dell Studio 15, where the sensitive area is integrated in to the palm rest as a recess and the two buttons being the only thing different from that area. Like all the recent laptops that I reviewed, this unit still requires you to press Fn and the function key to gain access to the function keys.

The screen does well on readability and you can get away with typing for a long time without being uncomfortable. It also work properly with the colour, especially when working with still photographs.

I have done the “DVD run-down”test on the battery which I have done with the other laptops I have reviewed here. This was done with the unit in the default “Dell”power configuration to avoid any power-saving functions cutting in. It was able to play a movie for 1 hour 37 minutes with the wireless function enabled and 10 minutes longer without wireless enabled. It can also run for a significant part of the day on basic tasks without running out of power.

Limitations and Points of Improvement

There will always be the problem with limited battery life especially if you work the computer very hard with multimedia, especially games or DVD playback. As well, the wireless-network interface could be able to work with an 802.11n network, but you may have to pay extra for this function. Other than that, there is nothing much to complain about the laptop.

Conclusion and Placement Notes

I would recommend this computer for those of us who want a compact laptop computer for travelling with and are likely to make good use of it on our travels. Journalists and similar users would appreciate it being the “right size” for use when taking notes or preparing copy while “in the field”. The generous hard disk and the integrated SD card reader can also be a boon when it is used as a staging post for digital images or as a jukebox for music while you travel.

But I wouldn’t recommend it as a computer for students to use because there isn’t anything to protect it against excessive damage like a hard-disk shock sensor.

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