Swedish TV manufacturers implement Android in a flatscreen TV

Articles

Swedish TV Manufacture, People of Lava, Intros Worlds First Android-Powered HDTV | eHomeUpgrade

Une TV sous Android chez Lava | Le Journal du Geek (France – French language)

From the horse’s mouth

People Of Lava – Company page

Product Page

My comments

I was not surprised with the Google Android software  being implemented as an embedded-applications platform beyond the smartphone and Internet tablet. Here, “People Of Lava” have introduced a range of Internet-connected main-lounge-area television sets that use Android as their operating firmware. In fact, what’s more is that these sets are open to the Google Android Marketplace so that users can add extra functionality to them by drawing-down the appropriate apps.

What I also liked about this design was that a lot of the design costs were cut out for the manufacturer because they didn’t need to design an operating environment from the ground up when they wanted to design the equipment. It has also provided an easier path for user customisation, which may be of benefit with Internet-based TV services like IPTV and catch-up TV; and sets deployed in hotels and similar businesses.

This has then proven that the Google Android platform can become a serious contender for the embedded and dedicated-purpose operating system marketplace.

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Network-Attached Storage with Built-in Battery Backup

 Thecus NAS server ( Network attached storage ) | Unbeatable Protection with Thecus® Battery Backup Module

Product Page

My Comments

Most of us who run a network-attached storage device will realise that these devices will need to have constant power supply in order to keep the data safe. The common solution that we would take would be to connect the NAS’s AC power supply through an uninterruptible power supply. These devices have a built-in battery to provide enough power to allow for an orderly shutdown of the device or allow the device to run longer through a short outage.

Now Thecus have taken a cue from a common security-system design practice. This is where an alarm system has an integrated battery that is maintained by the system’s power supply. It is so that the alarm system can continue to protect the premises if there is a power outage.

They have extended this concept by providing an optional battery-backup module for the N4200 “muscle-NAS” unit as an alternative to a UPS setup, with the battery allowing enough power for an orderly shutdown or completion of firmware installation. This can also cater for power outages including situations where the device may be accidentally unplugged and may be enough for most home and small-business environments.  If the NAS is used with an UPS, it could allow a larger safety margin for the data through the provision of “dual-layered” battery backup arrangement.

The concept may be worth it for equipment that is used in the home or by small businesses and would be a must for places where the power supply is likely to be unreliable. It also is another example where the manufacturers are racing to build the best example of a top-end network-attached storage device for the home or small business in a similar way to what Ford, GM and Chrysler were doing in the late 60s and early 70s with the “muscle cars”.

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What is the National Broadband Plan for the USA?

Articles

National Broadband Plan: An Effort For The Ages | Microsoft On The Issues

FCC releases its national broadband plan for the US | ThinkBroadband (UK)

From the horse’s mouth

National Broadband Plan – broadband.gov

My comments

One of the main goals with the US National Broadband Plan was to make sure that an affordable broadband Internet service with a minimum headline speed of 100Mbps downstream / 50Mbps upstream passes at least 100 million households across that country.

The main limitation concerning this goal is that, at the moment, one third of the US population cannot benefit from broadband Internet. In my opinion, most of this would be in sparsely-populated rural areas.

Need for universal Internet service similar to what is required for the telephone

In the US, the universal landline telephone service (private phone with directories for all households, plus commonly-accessible public payphones) is provided by the local incumbent telephony service provider, with the costs paid for by a levy on all telephone services in that country.

Part of the plan would be to release money from Universal Service Fund which is funded by the aforementioned levy to fund a universal broadband service.

Need for highly-competitive service with barriers to entry taken down

Part of this same requirement also includes a highly-competitive service in all markets with any and all barriers to competition taken down. This is in a similar manner to what has happened with the local “dial-tone” phone service in the US and other countries where this same service can be provided by competing service providers.

Coverage improvements

The improvement to universal Internet service goals will also lead to coverage improvements. This may not be an issue with most of the USA because of the country being densely populated but will be of concern with places like Alaska. Of course, there are rural patches within the contiguous 48 stats where not many people are living and these will have to be serviced with proper broadband. This will be looked at with the improvements to the Universal Service Fund.

Similarly, this plan will also satisfy the desire to make sure that next-generation broadband service passes anchor institutions like schools, colleges, hospitals, libraries and the like. It also includes making sure that military bases have access to next-generation broadband.

Implementation

The issue of access to basic broadband Internet service by the poor is being dealt with. Here, the FCC are putting forward the idea of extending the scope of the Lifeline and Link-Up communications financial-assistance programs to include this level of Internet access.

It will also include opening up radio spectrum, most likely “digital dividend” TV spectrum, for use in providing wireless broadband service, especially to rural areas. This may also include competitive mobile wireless broadband in urban areas.

Another part of the program is to mandate cost-effective access to telecommunications infrastructure like telegraph poles, underground conduits, towers / building rooftops, land patches and the like. This includes a “dig-once” policy which allows multiple companies to use the same telegraph poles and underground conduits for their own wiring as well as commonly-known infrastructure details to facilitate efficient Internet-service rollout.

Net Neutrality

An issue that hasn’t been talked about in the Broadband Plan is the concept of Net Neutrality. This divisive issue concerns whether certain Internet services and applications have better throughput versus the idea of all Internet applications and services having equal access. It is also of importance whenever telephone and TV move to IP-based transmission and this concept would assure that competitive and complementary services can exist on the same pipe with proper quality of service. This subject also leads to:

Multi-Channel TV

The American populace has been disaffected by the way multi-channel TV, especially cable TV, has been handled by the service providers, which are mainly cable-TV monopolies like Comcast.

One main disaffection was that the set-top boxes are literally controlled by the multi-channel TV providers and customers cannot buy and install set-top boxes or similar devices from retail outlets. There have been attempts to achieve a customer-controlled level playing field for set-top-box supply such as the CableCARD system but the cable industry have frustrated these attempts with measures like requiring a cable-TV technician to visit the customer’s premises to supply the card.

Part of this plan is to require the supply of a broadcast-IP tuner gateway to be provided by the cable company and connected to the customer’s home network and these same customers connecting their own IP-based equipment to the same home network. Here, the main goal would be to provide a competitive program-navigation system for customers to benefit from.

Integration in US public life; and IT literacy

Another goal with the US National Broadband Program is to integrate the high-speed broadband service in to US public life such as providing access to “e-government” at all levels and integrating the service with public education for example.

The plan also includes IT awareness through the community, but as I have noticed, there will be people who will find technology hard to use and will need further assistance. This is exemplified by people who find operating consumer electronics very difficult and are likely to resist using devices like a set-top box beyond changing channels for example.

Summary

What this all leads to is that one of the cornerstones of the US National Broadband Plan is to liberate broadband Internet and multi-channel TV service in a similar way to what has happened to the US telephone service since the Carterfone Decision and the AT&T anti-trust investigation of the late 70s.

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Product Review – Revo IKON stereo table Internet radio (Frontier Internet Radio platform)

I am reviewing the Revo IKON, which is the first Internet radio that I have reviewed to be designed in a similar manner to a classic boombox. Here, it has been designed with that similar footprint in mind and also is equipped with stereo speakers that are angled outwards.

Description

The unit actually has an oval shape and has a pop-out iPod dock on the front, under a colour LCD touchscreen which is the set’s main user interface. The volume knob and the power button are located on top of the set, although the volume knob is a rotary-encoder type which doesn’t show on the display what volume position you have set it to.

Operation and Sound Quality

The colour LCD touchscreen is easy to read and the user interface that it presents to you when you select stations or other options is similar to an automatic teller machine that uses a touch-screen. The home menu shows a list of all the sources available – DAB, FM, Internet, LAST.FM, Media Player (UPnP AV), iPod dock and auxiliary input.

It also comes with a remote control which offers volume control, snooze / sleep control, transport control for the UPnP media player function or attached iPods, LAST.FM song voting as well as the ability to turn the unit on and off. You don’t have the ability to change stations or sources from this remote control.

If you are using the Internet radio mode, you can’t have ready access to the preset stations like you can with DAB or FM where you press a star icon to see the preset list. Instead, you have to meander around the menus to see the preset list. This can be an annoyance to those who tune in to local RF-based radio and are likely to visit Internet radio programs frequently and can be a pain for older users.

The unit works with DLNA-compliant media servers but you have to use the touchscreen or remote control to navigate the DLNA media server. This is common with Internet radios because Frontier or Reciva, who make most of the firmware for these radios don’t support “three-box” operation using UPnP AV Control Points.

The set supports LAST.FM and can allow users to “scrobble” (expose listening habits to LAST.FM) content from LAST.FM content or from content from a UPnP AV / DLNA media server.

The set has a “clean-up function” that makes it easier to manage changes to the DAB station list, which can be of importance if it is taken between locations or the DAB multiplexes in a city are being re-arranged.

Revo IKON - iPod dock exposed

iPod dock exposed

The set has a similar tone control to the previously-reviewed Revo Domino, where you can select one of five tone presets or set up a customised tone preset. Here, you have bass and treble controls and a loudness-compensation switch. Infact, the “normal” tone preset is with flat bass and treble settings and with loudness compensation switched on.

Speaking of the sound, the sound quality is very similar to most of the low-end to mid-range portable radios made through the late 1970s to early 1980s. It can also fill a small to medium-size room with sound in an intelligible manner.

Connectivity

The set can work with WiFi networks that use conventional WPA2-PSK passphrases or can be “bonded” to routers that support WPS “push-button” configuration. This function should be made available not as a WiFi network option but as part of the setup wizard. It can store the parameters relating to four different WiFi networks, which can be useful for home networks with more than one SSID or if you take the radio between multiple locations.

This radio also has an Ethernet socket which adds plenty of flexibility to how it is connected to the Internet. Here, you could connect it to a HomePlug or MoCA “existing-wires” segment using the appropriate bridge adaptor, a WiFi network that it can’t connect to using a WiFi-client bridge or directly to to an Ethernet network like in business premises.

There is only one external output socket in the form of an SPDIF optical socket for connection to a digital amplifier, home-theatre receiver or a digital recorder like a MiniDisc deck. This is limiting as far as outputs are concerned because a set like this could benefit from an analogue output like a headphone jack (to connect to headphones or external active speakers) or a line output jack (to connect to another amplifier or a cassette deck).

Advantages

One main advantage with this set is the stereo sound provided by the two speaker systems built in to the unit. This is an advantage compared to the Internet radios that I have been reviewing in the blog so far. The other main advantage that this set has is the ability to work with an Ethernet network rather than just a WiFi wireless network, which opens up a world of flexibility.

Other features that I like include the colour display, improved DAB handling and support for stations that present logos as part of their Internet-radio streams.

Limitations and Points of Improvement

One main limitation with the Internet radio function is the inability to access the preset-station list from all of the Internet-radio screens unlike what you can do with FM and DAB. This limitation could be rectified through a software update and impairs an otherwise very good Internet radio.

The other limitation with this set is the lack of a headphone jack or line-level output. This also limits the flexibility that the set could offer as far as connection to external audio equipment is concerned.

Conclusion and Placement Notes

Other than the few limitations concerning output connectivity and ready access to Internet-radio presets, this radio does have a lot going for it as a general-purpose Internet table radio.

It would work well as a radio for a kitchen, office or small shop, especially if it is used as a direct replacement for an older boombox or iPod dock or as an upgrade from a single-speaker Internet radio like the Revo Domino or Kogan Internet radio.

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Why I cover rural broadband access in this blog

I have been covering articles the talk about the state of broadband access in country areas because of the fact that high-speed Internet is needed there just as it is needed in the urban or regional areas.

One common reality is that there are many farmers and small businesses, many of which this blog is targeted at, who need to be able to build their livelihoods up using this technology, such as to send media-rich emails or view / host media-rich Web pages as part of their business life. Eventually, IP-telephony technology will make voice and video communications much more affordable with these users thus putting them at a competitive level with city folk.

Similarly, there are people who live and work in the country either to keep these farms and small businesses going or to provide supporting services for the farmers and small-business owners out there. There is also the city folk who either own properties in the country that they use during holidays or just simply want to live in the country.

Here, these people need to be able to use the telecommunications abilities provided by high-speed Internet to maintain contact with people who live in their home city or elsewhere. Similarly, the high-speed Internet services will provide the ability to bring in entertainment without the people having to travel long distances to get that entertainment. As well, telemedicine will benefit from this technology by allowing specialised doctors and nurses placed in large towns to conduct observations on ill and convalescing patients who are located in rural areas, with only as much as low-skilled medical professionals like GPs or district nurses attending to the patient in these areas.

I have also lived for a while in the country and have experienced firsthand that people who live there often get second-rate treatment when it comes to utilities and telecommunications services. So that’s why I consider the issue of rural broadband access, especially as part of the universal broadband service, very important in this blog.

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UPnP AV / DLNA pour la plateforme Apple Macintosh

Introduction

Je vous écris ceci pour aider les utilisateurs d’Apple Macintosh savent ce qui est disponible quand il s’agit de l’intégration de leurs ordinateurs avec l’AV UPnP / DLNA Media Network, particulièrement en tant que moyen de fournir de manière rentable de distribuer la musique, des photos et vidéo sur la réseau de maison. C’est aussi parce que la plupart de l’équipement conforme de la norme DLNA est disponible à des prix que la plupart des gens peuvent se permettre et que la plupart des fabricants qui vendent des “premium” de qualité grand équipement audio-vidéo comme Linn [1] ou Loewe exécutent au moins une unité capable de jouer au moins la musique d’un Media Server qui conforme à la norme  DLNA.

De même, l’article est également plantée aux personnes qui ont décidé de passer à la plate-forme Apple Macintosh en provenance d’autres plates-formes informatiques qui fournirait inhérents prenant en charge DLNA Media Server comme Windows.

Apple ne fournit pas de logiciel pour combler la plate-forme Apple Macintosh pour le Network Media DLNA, que ce soit en tant que serveur, la lecture ou le programme de contrôle. Une des raisons principales est de maintenir la plate-forme étroitement intégré avec les produits multimédias d’Apple comme l’iPod, Apple TV et Apple Airport Express. As well, some Apple Macintosh diehards may consider the UPnP AV / DLNA Home Media Network as an anathema to the “purely Apple” IT lifestyle that they desire. En outre, certains irréductibles Apple Macintosh mai envisager les résaux qui conforme à les normes UPnP AV / DLNA omme un anathème pour le «purement Apple» e vie qu’ils désirent.

Donc, ce besoin est rempli par un logiciel écrit par des développeurs tiers. Le logiciel est principalement sous forme de serveurs de médias, qui peuvent user prestation définie par les bibliothèques ou les bibliothèques iTunes et iPhoto pour le Network Media DLNA. Les programmes qui disposition des utilisateurs des bibliothèques défini peut être fait à iTunes et bibliothèques iPhoto fois que vous savez où ces programmes stockent leurs fichiers.

Logiciels DLNA pour la plateforme Apple Macintosh

TwonkyMedia fournissent une version du serveur TwonkyMedia à MacOS X, qui peuvent travailler depuis n’importe quel utilisateur défini par les dossiers. Ce programme est disponible par le biais http://www.twonkymedia.com/.  Ils ont l’intention de porter le logiciel TwonkyMedia Manager à la plate-forme Apple Macintosh dans un avenir proche.

Allegrosoft ont eu Allegro Media Server pour un certain temps et cela fonctionne directement avec l’iTunes Music Library. Ce programme est disponible à partir http://www.allegrosoft.com/ams.html [3].

Elgato EyeConnect [4] est disponible chez tous les concessionnaires d’Apple Macintosh qui vend Elgato EyeTV cartes tuner TV et est étroitement intégré avec le système d’Apple iLife. Cela signifie qu’il ne peut partager les dossiers utilisés par iTunes, iPhoto et d’autres logiciels Apple sur le réseau DLNA Media accueil d’une manière plus polie.

Nullriver Connect360 et Medialink. These shareware products are pitched at integrating iTunes and iPhoto with the XBox360 and PlayStation 3 games consoles, but can provision content to DLNA Home Media Network devices. Ces produits de shareware sont arrêtés à l’intégration d’iTunes et iPhoto avec les consoles de jeux Xbox 360 et PlayStation 3, mais peut fournir un contenu de dispositifs le reseau de DLNA Media. Infact, some friends that I know are using the NullRiver MediaLink to bring their online video collection which is held on their Apple Macintosh to a PS3 to view on their flatscreen TV in the main lounge area of their home. Enfait, certains amis que je connais sont en utilisant le logiciel Nullriver Medialink d’apporter leur collection de vidéos en ligne qui a lieu sur leur ordinateur Apple Macintosh  pour une PS3 pour afficher sur leur téléviseur à écran plat dans le salon principal de leur maison. . Elles sont disponibles via www.nullriver.com.

Songbook Mac est un autre iTunes serveur pour les réseaux UPnP AV/ DLNA, mais ce programme est aussi l’un des premier UPnP AV programmes de maîtrise des points disponibles pour le Macintosh. Elle est principalement destinée aux personnes qui font fonctionner l’une des médias sur les lecteurs du réseau Linn, mais peut être exécuté sur n’importe quel appareil avec MediaRenderer UPnP AV. Il est disponible à http://www.bookshelfapps.com/songbookmac.php.

YazSoft Playback est un autre programme qui est étroitement intégrée à la plateforme Macintosh et peut traiter tous de la vidéo haute définition que beaucoup d’utilisateurs Mac seront confrontés. Il peut aussi travailler avec les utilisateurs désignés par les dossiers et est disponible à www.yazsoft.com [7].

L’utilisation de périphériques de tierce partie NAS

Si vous utilisez une partie du tiers (non-Apple) connecté un périphérique de stockage de réseau comme le Netgear ReadyNAS, ou les QNAP TeraStations Buffalo, vous pouvez utiliser ces dispositifs comme un serveur UPnP / DLNA media. Ils proposeront également des fonctionnalités de serveur de musique iTunes, ainsi que Time Machine sauvegarde. Aussi, votre «box» comme les Livebox, Neufbox / Box SFR et Bbox peut partager les fichiers audiovisuelles sur une disque dur USB qui est connecté à cet appareil.

Multimédia DLNA logiciel de contrôleur pour l’iPhone

La plupart d’entre vous qui possèdent un Macintosh d’Apple sera propriétaire ou manquent de posséder un iPhone d’Apple ou iPod Touch par l’entreprise et ces appareils peuvent fonctionner en tant que contrôleurs des médias pour les médias-Dispositifs de rendu qui acceptent “poussé” de contenu.  Ils sont le iMediaSuite (iTunes directs) et iNetFrame (iTunes directs et mention blog) à CyberGarage, PlugPlayer  (iTunes directe et mention blog) et Songbook Touch  (iTunes directe), qui sont tous disponibles sur le iTunes App Store.

Conclusion

Rester fidèle à la plateforme Apple ne veut pas dire que vous avez à manquer sur les aptitudes que le DLNA Home Media Network offre, surtout maintenant que de plus en plus de consommateurs font des fabricants de produits électroniques DLNA-compliant équipements multimédia en réseau disponible à tous les niveaux de prix et les marchés.

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Product Review – Hewlett-Packard OfficeJet 7000 wide-format network printer

HP OfficeJet 7000 wide-format printerI am reviewing one of the few inkjet-based dedicated printers that can be connected to a small network. This printer, the Hewlett-Packard OfficeJet 7000, is an A3-capable wide-format printer, but it has a little brother in the form of the OfficeJet 6000 which can only print on A4 paper. These printers, like the OfficeJet 6500 all-in-one that I had previously reviewed use the same family of ink cartridges as each other – the 920 cartridges for standard runs and the 920XL for high-yield runs.

Setup

Loading ink cartridges

The ink cartridges are very easy to install and replace and the lid is able to be operated without any extra effort. This would be typical of a dedicated inkjet printer rather than most of the multifunction devices that I have been reviewing.

Network connectivity

This printer connects to your network using Ethernet only and this may be seen as a mixed blessing because you can use a wireless client bridge for connection to a wireless network or simply use the existing-wires technologies like HomePlug powerline or MoCA to connect the printer in a more flexible manner.

You know when you are connected to your network if the left-most button lights up and you can check on the current IP address that it has taken by holding this button down for it to print a network report.

Software setup

Like the other HP printers that I have reviewed, there is a CD with all of the drivers and software that you may need to get your computers going with the printer, but I always prefer you to download the latest driver software from the HP website. This may also make sure that your printer can work with Windows 7 or Apple MacOS X Snow Leopard.

If you have another recent HP printer, you can get by with downloading the “basic” drivers rather than the full software set so as to allow it to work with the existing HP software. 

Print abilities

HP OfficeJet 7000 - head-on picture showing wide-format design

HP OfficeJet 7000 ready to take A3 paper

Here, I am mainly assessing the printer as an A3 wide-format printer, which is what the people who are after this model would be seeing the printer as. Therefore, I have run a significant number of tests on its ability to handle A3 print runs.

The time to print on to an A3 sheet of regular paper would be around 1 minute 38 seconds. It doesn’t matter whether the job was a photo “blow-up” or a text-graphics job.

I printed a photo of a baby in her father’s arms on to A3 paper to assess flesh-tone accuracy and quality and had found that that these had come up accurate even with a mixture of complexions. It may look better on photo paper but I don’t have any A3 photo paper to assess with.

Limitations and Points Of Improvement

The OfficeJet 7000 could benefit from increased local memory for buffering multipage A3 print jobs, thus taking the load off the host computer. It could also benefit from a dedicated A4 paper tray so that it can become useful as a secondary A4 printer, especially if it is the colour printer for an office.

Another limitation that these printers have is the lack of an automatic duplexer which may limit paper-saving efforts that may be in force in many offices.

Conclusion and Placement Notes

This printer is suitable as a large-format complementary printer for a small organisation who has an inkjet or laser multifunction printer as their main printer. Here, it could work well for printing large spreadsheets, “download-to-print” campaign / promotional materials, “inkjet proofs” of publications, maps, presentation slides and similar documents.

Both it and Its little brother, the OfficeJet 6000 could also be used as a complementary colour inkjet printer for an office where there is primarily a laser or LED monochrome printer or multifunction centre as the main printer device.

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Product Review- Hewlett-Packard OfficeJet 6500 all-in-one printer

HP OfficeJet 6500In this review, I have been given the opportunity to assess a multifunction printer that is optimised for small-business use rather than a consumer-rated unit. These units are designed to be economical to run, have high-speed throughput for scanning and printing; as well as supporting a higher duty cycle than the consumer units.

The HP OfficeJet 6500 is a size similar to most multifunction printers and has the controls located closer to the user. It has a large high-contrast two-line LCD monochrome display which is good as a status display for tasks like faxing or scanning. The controls are arranged in a task-specific manner that makes it easier to perform what you want to do.

Setup

The only assembly that you would have needed to do beyond installing the ink cartridges is to attach the duplexer mechanism to the back of the printer. This unit, which looks like a laser printer’s toner cartridge just snapped in to the back without much effort.

Control panel and display

Control panel and display

As far as connections go, the printer can be directly connected to the host computer via USB or it can be connected to an Ethernet wired network or a WiFi wireless network. There are two RJ11 phone sockets for use when setting the unit up as a fax machine. This is to permit you to connect existing telephone devices to the unit thus obviating the need to use a splitter.

The printer comes with a CD-ROM which has all of the drivers and applications needed to get the printer going, but it would be a good idea to download the latest drivers from HP’s Web site. This also means that newer operating systems like Windows 7 or MacOS X “Snow Leopard” will be catered for.

Loading ink cartridges

You don’t need much effort to open or close the lid to install new ink cartridges. As well, like the Photosmart Wireless multifunction printer that I reviewed previously, you don’t have to mess with any stays to keep the lid open while changing the cartridges. Similarly, you don’t need much effort to remove or install the ink cartridges and there is nothing “fiddly” about this job.

Network setup and abilities

This printer can work in a small network as a network printer or scanner. It connects to the network either via 802.11g WPA2 wireless or Cat5 Ethernet cable, which can also work in conjunction with a better Wi-Fi client bridge or an existing-wires technology like HomePlug powerline or MoCA TV coaxial.

You can use the printer’s control panel to enrol it with a wireless network, including entering the WPA-PSK passphrase using the numeric keypad in a manner similar to how a teenager taps out a text message on their mobile phone. On the other hand, you can use the USB port and the supplied software to configure the printer for your wireless network. It doesn’t support WPS easy-configure modes, but this omission may not be missed in a lot of business setups.

If the printer is connected wirelessly to the network, it can lose touch with the network when it goes in to low-power state and you may have to turn it off and on using the ON/OFF switch on the control panel when you want to start printing. This problem is due to the absence of a standard “wake-on-wireless-network” protocol for activating network devices connected to a wireless network that have entered a low-power state. This problem doesn’t occur if the printer is connected via an Ethernet network whether directly or via a HomePlug segment.

There is a built-in Web server that is used for managing the unit and this is accessible through a shortcut on the HP software. Windows Vista and 7 computers can gain access to this interface through the “Network” option as part of the DPWS technology that is part of the operating systems. There is also the ability to start “plug-and-play” installation from this interface by right-clicking on the printer icon in the Network folder and selecting “Install”. Here, you would need to make sure that the drivers are installed in the computer beforehand.

Use

Printing

The OfficeJet 6500 Wireless comes with a rear-mounted duplexer attachment so you can save paper by printing on both sides. The only disadvantage with this is that the document has to have a larger bottom margin so that the duplexer can properly handle the paper when turning it over.

I have the printer print a large document (214 page user manual) with double-sided printing in order to assess how it goes with handling a large print run. This would mimic conditions similar to printing a large report or something similar; or simply sustaining a large run of documents. I have then found that it could complete this kind of job unattended without printing-reliability issues.

Scanning

Automatic Document Feeder

Automatic Document Feeder

This OfficeJet unit can also work as a scanner and has an automatic document feeder that is capable of handling 35 pages at a time. Here I ran the automatic document feeder through a reliability test by having the unit copy a 20-page document fed through the feeder and it performed the job properly although there was a high-pitch squealing noise from the ADF. This phenomenon may be particular to the review sample that I was using.

It supports scanning over a network link, either with the scan job initiated at the computer or at the unit’s control panel. The latter method requires you to have the supplied scanner software on your computer to receive and process the documents. This software allows you to scan as a document or picture and save the file to the computer’s local file system or send it as an e-mail.

Use with digital-camera cards

There is a built-in memory card reader for use with digital-camera memory cards but this function is very limited. This is brought about by the printer not having a colour LCD display which can make it easier for you to choose pictures to print. If you want to print selected images, you would need to select the pictures using your camera’s DPOF print selection menus before putting the card in the printer.

Another limitation is that the card reader doesn’t support the SDHC memory cards which are now being used in most of the current digital-camera range. On the other hand, the card reader is accessible over the network as a network storage location with its own drive letter on Windows systems but it can be accessed as the MEMORY_CARD share-name for the printer.

Fax

The OfficeJet 6500 is an inkjet plain-paper fax machine that can work as an elegant replacement for that economy-tier fax machine that many small businesses and home users see as their fax solution.

It can be set up to work on a dedicated line or on a shared line with support for distinctive-ring setups (separate number for fax) or fax auto-answer. The latter mode has it that the unit takes the call if it hears the distinct repeating “CNG” beep from a transmitting fax machine when another device like an answering machine answers the line. When you determine the fax header information, you only need to provide your own name or company name and your fax number rather than having to determine “CSID” and “TSID” fields which can be obscure when you set up fax equipment.

The unit has memory for one outgoing fax job (for scheduled transmission) and is able to keep new received faxes in memory at all times or only during error conditions. There are limitations with this machine’s implementation is that you cannot set the fax machine to receive “only to memory”, a feature which could come in handy for secure “out-of-hours” fax reception; and you cannot schedule multiple outgoing fax jobs, which may be a pain in the neck for people who do a lot of overseas business.

It also supports transmission and reception of colour faxes with compatible fax endpoints and can work in high-resolution modes for “best-case” fax operation. There is a 100-number “speed-dial” list with the first three entries being available for “one-push” access from the control panel.

The unit supports “fax-from-computer” with a dedicated fax print driver and this can be done from any computers that exist on the network. It can also support “fax-to-computer” with jobs ending up at one computer on the network. The “fax-to-computer” mod is limited to monochrome faxes and requires a computer to be alive and running the supplied software all the time.

Output Speed And Quality

The output quality is very typical of a good business inkjet printer and it takes a few seconds per page to print a typical business document. You don’t lose any extra speed when you print colour documents, especially now that most business documents now have some form of colour on them.

If you do double-sided printing, you will have a speed penalty of 10 seconds per sheet of paper to allow the ink to dry on the “first” side of the paper.

Photos printed with this printer have a good dynamic range and the flesh-tones being accurate even when handling a group shot with people of different races. This is on a par with the Photosmart Wireless printer that I reviewed previously and it certainly says that the unit could make a satisfactory effort for printing photos in a “general-purpose” office environment.

Advantages

The unit is easy to use for most tasks and offers a capability set at a price that most small business owners and home-office owners will appreciate. Here, you have functions like an automatic document feeder, double-sided printing and wired / wireless network connectivity as well as separate cartridges for each colour that will be appreciated by the cost-conscious business user.

Limitations and Points of Improvement

I will always be saying this with all consumer and small-business network-ready inkjet printers, especially multifunction printers, is that the manufacturers could improve on the provision of non-volatile onboard memory. This will certainly increase user productivity for improved multi-source print queue management, failed-job recovery, improved fax functionality – more delayed fax sends, receive-to-memory, etc. It can also cater for “CD-free” network printer setup through the Web interface.

Another point of improvement that I would like to see is support for Internet-based (NTP) time synchronisation. This would avoid the need to manually set the time and date whenever ther is a power failure or as part of setting it up. It could then be based on time-zone settings with automatically-updated daylight-savings rules similar to what happens with most computer operating systems.

It can also benefit from the SD card slot supporting SDHC cards in order to work with the newer digital cameras that can use these cards. As well, it could benefit from a USB host port for connection to PictBridge-enabled digital cameras.

Conclusion and Placement

From what I have see, I have described this unit as a capable general-purpose workhorse that suits most small-business and home-office requirements. So I would recommend it be used in a home office or “back office” or “reception-area” in most small organisations. As well, it could work as a colour “general-purpose” multifunction printer for a place like a clinic where one or more monochrome laser printers may be used for receipt printing and similar applications.

The best price that I could get for this printer was AUD$178 from the Officeworks office-supplies chain in Australia. As well, the ink cartridges cost $22.26 each for the colour cartridges and $45 for the black cartridge assuming you are using the 920XL high-capacity cartridges. There is the option of using the cheaper “920” standard-yield cartridges but I would suggest using the 920XL high-yield cartridge for the black ink if you do receive faxes on a regular basis.

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Another step towards the return of the iconic Commodore computer brand

News articles

The Commodore name licensed again for a line of keyboard PCs – Engadget

Commodore Is Back – Le Journal Du Geek (France – French language)

My comments

What was this legendary brand?

Think of watching these films: “Fame”, “Flashdance”, “Back To The Future” or “Ruthless People” at the cinema or on the VHS video recorder. Or think of these songs “Fame”, “Let’s Hear It For The Boy”, “Caribbean Queen”, “The Power Of Love” or “Ruthless People” playing out of that ghetto-blaster.  The thing that is common with all of this was that it was part of life of the mid 1980s, in which a certain brand became part of personal and educational computing life. 

This brand was “Commodore” who got their claws in to the personal-computing market with the “VIC-20” home computer in 1982. This machine had the processing power installed in the same chassis as the keyboard and was able to be connected to a regular TV set whereupon it provided a display capable of rendering in 8 colours as well as basic musical audio output through the TV’s speaker. You were able to load software from ROM cartridges, audio cassettes (with an optional cassette drive) or 5.25” floppy disks (with an optional disk drive).

Then, in 1984, they launched the Commodore 64 which had improved memory, graphics and sound capability but could use any peripherals that worked with the VIC-20. But this computer had a large collection of software, especially games, written for it and had attracted a larger legion of computer hobbyist followers with it.

The VIC-20 and the Commodore 64 used a compact chassis that was just as big as the keyboard itself both of them had set a standard for highly-capable “keyboard computer” designs. Most earlier “keyboard computers”, especially those that offered sophisticated display or sound capabilities, typically were deeper than the keyboard itself due to the extra electronics and inefficient circuit design that existed at that time. As well, Commodore released the Executive-64 series of transportable computers which were simply a Commodore 64 with a disk drive, small display, speaker and power supply in a “sewing-machine” case with the keyboard being the system’s lid. Compared to machines of its type, this unit offered a lot more capability, especially in the form of colour display and sound capability.

By the late 80s, Commodore had released the Amiga which had greater processing ability, a WIMP-based user interface and the basic unit used 3.5” disks as secondary storage. This unit became popular with video produces as a machine for editing video or inserting graphics in to a video production. But it was also released at a time close to the “acid-house” craze and these computers were used by hobbyists to create many “demos” which were animated graphic display loops that were accompanied by an “acid-house” music soundtrack generated by the computer. Some of these were shown off at competitions or used as part of the “acid-house” parties of the day.

But this brand disappeared in the early 90s when they tried ideas that the market wasn’t ready for, such as selling a games console and a “lounge-room” PC based on the Amiga platform; as well as releasing in to a crowded market, regular desktop computers based on the MS-DOS platform.

The revival of the Commodore brand

There have been “placeholder companies” who are protecting the Commodore brand with its “chickenhead logo” in order to make sure it only ends up on suitable computer and consumer-electronics products. They also are reviving the classic games that were available for the Commodore 64 by porting them to mobile phones, Java-based online play and other current platforms. Through this decade, they are releasing contract-built products in a way as to revive the nostalgia associated with this brand and its market position in its heyday of the ‘80s. One of these companies released a series of customisable tower-style “gaming-rig” PCs in 2008 to evoke memories of the Commodore 64 and the Amiga being considered “games machines of all time”.

Now this company is releasing a “keyboard PC” which has a similar footprint to any of these Commodore classic machines but is slimmer than them. It also has secondary storage built in to it like the Amiga 500, but it is in the form of a large-capacity hard disk, an optical drive and a multi-format card reader. The idea behind this machine was to evoke the nostalgia associated with these machines.

The main question with Commodore resurfacing is whether there will be broad takeup of any of these products. The people who will value this brand more will be those of us who lived through the 1980s where the brand was considered to be significant, but others may just consider it insignificant in a crowded home or small-business IT market.

Also, could this story of Commodore be like a lot of other classic brands who previously produced iconic products then closed up shop or left the market due to differing conditions in their market, only to be used as a marketing tool by other firms as a way of selling “ho-hum” products to the generations that remember these brands?

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Rural Broadband Activity in the Haute-Pyrénées and Brittany regions in France

News articles (French-language only)

 Les Hautes-Pyrénées et le Finistère en haut et très haut débit – DegroupNews.com

From the horse’s mouth

Hautes-Pyrénées Conseil-Général

Press release

Brochure (PDF)

Finistère Conseil-Général

Press release

My Notes and Comments

Hautes-Pyrénées

In this mountainous département of France, there are plans to establish a fibre-optic backbone that will lead to an improvement in Internet service across this area.

The improvements will be in the form of improved ADSL service for more of the telephone exchanges, including “dégroupage” (local-loop unbundling) for competitive-service access as well as a fibre-optic uplink. It also includes “sub-loop access” where DSLAMs will be installed closer to customers’ premises for those customers that are far away from the exchanges, like farms or mountain properties. These improvements will allow the customers to have the same level of IPTV access as would be expected around France.

There will also be a WiMAX wireless broadband network with 58 stations that will be set up to cover areas that are not likely to have proper broadband service, with satellite coverage for the most difficult cases. This situation may be necessary for some of those properties that exist on the slopes of the Pyrenees.

The fibre-optic network will not just be for a backbone but will provide “next-generation broadband” for key areas such as public service, health, research and education as well as “communities of interest” for the département.

Finistère (Brittany)

This département. which covers the western-most tip of France, has a goal of achieving the minimum of 2Mbps throughout its area.

This will be achieved with a fibre optic backbone through that département. It will also mean that exchanges that service ADSL “dead-spots” can be lit up for ADSL. There is also the possibility of a 97-station WiMAX wireless-broadband network set up in this area.

Both areas

The “sub-loop access” effort that is being undertaken with the Hautes-Pyrénées project is impressive because it represents an effort to get the full-speed broadband to the customer’s front door. But I would also suggest that these efforts include checking for decaying wiring and other limitations that can impede ADSL performance.

Also, the fibre deployments should cover not just the key economic areas in the départements, but assure FTTH deployments in the cities where the key economic areas are, especially the residential parts of these cities. This can avoid the tendency to “redline” the towns when it comes to further investment in them. In the case of the Hautes-Pyrénées project, if a town is identified as being a ski resort, it should be looked at in the context of full fibre deployment so that the small businesses in that area which service the snowfield traffic can gain as much benefit as the big businesses in the cities.

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