Friday, October 21, 2011

Netbooks Now DOA! - Tablets Are The New Entry Level Notebook!

Wow! It did not take long for Tablet PCs to dominate the marketplace in such a short period of time. Ipad 2 and Android Tablet sales have skyrocketed over the last few months.

You can expect to see a lot of drastically price reduced Netbooks offered for sale this Holiday shopping season and you will probably see a bunch of them offered for around $100.00 on QVC and other national liquidators. This is clearly one of those situations that the computer manufacturers never planned for and the perfect storm of having a leapfrog class of product mass marketed totally destroying the viability of the Netbook product offerings in less than 12 months time. There is still a lot of inventory sitting on the shelves of big box warehouses and these Netbooks cannot be converted into Tablets so they will  in all likelihood be marked down very aggressively just in time for the Holiday season. The best Netbook to snag at a huge markdown is the Asus 1215N Seashell with the embedded Nvidia Ion 2 Graphics Video card or the Asus Lamborghini 12" LED notebook with the same Ion Graphics Chip. I would avoid any Netbook models unless they come equipped with the Nvidia Ion Graphics chip. Buying any other Netbook model would be a huge waste of money and you will be stuck with a boat anchor.

Check out this just published PC World Article:

Microsoft Posts Record Quarter But Says Tablets Cannibalizing Netbooks

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Samsung Series 3 Princeton 11.6 NP300U1A VS Apple MacBook Air 11.6"

Here's a chart I prepared which compares all of the key technical features and specs of the Samsung Series 3 Princeton 11.6" NP300U1A Notebook versus the Apple MacBook Air 11.6" Notebook Computer. At about 50 to almost 70% less cost the Samsung Series 3 Princeton 11.6" NP300U1A notebook offers far more value than a similarly configured Apple MacBook Air 11.6" Notebook. The Samsung also has a working version of Microsoft Office 2010 pre-loaded on the hard disk. Please check out my hands-on review of this feature packed notebook here:

Samsung Series 3 Princeton Notebook 11.6" NP300U1A Review

Tale Of The Tape:

Samsung Series 3 11.6" NP300U1A vs. Apple MacBook Air 11.6" Notebook



MSRP                                                                 $599.99                     $999.00
Lowest Price                                                                   $350.00                       $999.00



Standard memory  4GB   2GB 
Max memory  4GB   4GB 
Disk Storage  320 GB Hard Disk   64 GB SSD 
Screen Size  11.6" LED   11.6" LED 
Operating System  Windows 7 Home Premium   Apple O/S 
Processor  Intel Core i3 2357M Sandy Bridge   Intel Core i5  
Connectivity  802.11 a/b/g/n Bluetooth 3.0 + EDR   802.11 a/b/g/n Bluetooth 4.0 + EDR 
SDHC Memory Card Reader Writer  YES SD SDHC SDXC MMC   NO 
USB Ports 3 2 + Thunderbolt
HDMI Output

Height 0.87 0.68
Width 10.9 11.8
Depth 7.9 7.56
Weight 2.84 lbs 2.3 lbs
Battery Capacity 4000maH  3500mAH 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Hank Easton - Steely Dan Guitar Solo Medley

Hank Easton is an accomplished San Diego based jazz guitarist who performs in a local jazz band and is also the featured lead guitarist in Steely Damned, a Steely Dan tribute band also based in San Diego. A few years back, Hank performed an amazing medley of all of the best lead guitar parts from the very best Steely Dan Songs. We're talking Rikki Don't Lose That Number, Josie, Peg, Kid Charlemagne, Don't Take Me Alive, Bad Sneakers, Reelin' In The Years and My Old School. This guy is amazingly talented and nails every solo...and I mean nail it. His tone is exquisite and his playing chops will blow you away. Watch the video and you'll see what I mean. Just amazing. What a talented guitarist!

video

Monday, October 17, 2011

Sony Cybershot DSC-TX55 Digital Camera Hands On Review - Preview

Sony is just starting to ship the newest pocket-able TX digital camera, the Sony Cybershot DSC-TX55 and I have one on order which will be arriving soon for a complete hands-on review and evaluation. On paper, this digital camera is killer.

It is a little thicker than a penlight battery, features the latest and greatest 16 megapixel EXMOR CMOS sensor, and adds some new features, the most notable being the 10X digital zoom capability that stretches the 5X optical zoom to 10X zoom with no reduction in pixel count meaning you will get 10X zoom at full 16 megapixel resolution comparable to what you would achieve with a 10X optical zoom with little to no pixelation or digital artifacts associated with conventional digital zoom equipped cameras.

Here's a better explanation (from the Expert Reviews website (http://www.expertreviews.co.uk/digital-cameras/1286095/sony-clear-image-zoom-digital-enhancement-technology-detailed)

"The technology, which Consumer Reports claims is to be dubbed 'Clear Image Zoom,' uses a new form of interpolation called 'by-pixel super resolution'. Unlike traditional digital zoom capabilities, which simply enlarge the centre portion of an image and can cause severe image quality issues, Sony's new technology claims to use intelligent pattern matching to ensure that the zoomed image is as clear as it would have been had it been taking with optical zoom capabilities."

Sony calls this feature "Clear Image Digital Zoom" which is one of the first things I will be testing with sample photos posted to see if this revolutionary new technology works as advertised. It also has a 3.3" high resolution OLED screen and the camera features faster image processing and response times. Stay tuned as the review will be posted shortly.

When I first read the Sony press release about the Clear Image Digital Zoom technology, I was reminded of a key scene from the movie Blade Runner where Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) scans a photo into a special high tech scanner/printer and he enlarges (Enhances) the image using voice recognition and there is no loss in image quality as he magnifies the image by at least a power of 8-800X. This is a excellent example of te technology being invented after it is realistically imagined in a brilliant Science Fiction movie. Kudos to Ridley Scott and the production team of Blade Runner for getting the technology so right in 1982.




FROM THE SONY DSC-TX55 SALES TRAINING GUIDE:

Get Close with Clear Image Zoom
Clear image zoom BOOSTS magnification WITHOUT lowering the pixel count in the final image so your customer can zoom in and still get amazing, high resolution images.

Without Clear Image Zoom
Fuzzy ears (not in a good way)

With Clear Image Zoom
Adorable, whiskered perfection!
Clear image digital zoom maintains a high-resolution feel that is as precise as optical zoom and vastly expands the zoom range without lowering visible quality or pixel count in the final image. With By Pixel Super Resolution processing, the camera's 5x optical zoom range is extended, allowing full resolution 16.2MP images with a maximum digital 10x zoom.
How does Sony-exclusive By Pixel Super Resolution processing work?

  • The DSC-TX55 includes a Sony-developed database that categorizes hundreds of patterns
  • Each image is analyzed pixel by pixel, patterns are classified and compared to the database
  • To double the size of the image, by pixel, it could mean creating 3 additional pixels from the original pixel
  • (four times more information compared to original pixel, causing possible degradation of image quality)
  • To avoid degradation, By Pixel Super Resolution creates optimal new pixel data using the database
  • Final picture is clear and detailed!

What is the customer benefit?
Photos
Clear image digital zoom boosts magnification without lowering the pixel count in the final image. Edge sharpness is superb and subtle textures such as leaves and wood grain (and lion fur!) exhibit outstanding realism. Your customers will enjoy photos that beautifully capture every precious moment.
Videos
Significantly boosts still image quality during movie recording. At a touch of the shutter button, 'Dual Rec' grabs detail-packed 12 megapixel-level still photos without interrupting Full HD video shooting.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Why Samsung is Rocking the PC and Tablet US Markets!

Updated November 1, 2011
Samsung is taking no prisoners in the US Notebook PC and Tablet Market. Samsung started testing the waters a few years ago with notebook computers and although they were reliable, they were nothing to write home about style and feature wise. Today, that has all changed. Much in the same way Hyundai has taken the US subcompact and compact and premium upscale large sedan segment with their newly styled Elantra, Sonata,Genesis and Equus Samsung has pulled all the stops out in taking the leadership position in the US when it comes to notebook and tablet computers.


A little background on Samsung. Samsung is a huge Korean technology conglomerate that is in of itself a world class innovator and manufacturer of PC computer components including flash memory, memory chips, LED and LCD displays and a whole host of semiconductor and micro electronics products that are marketed and sold worldwide. Sony decided back in 2003 to form an LCD manufacturing partnership with Samsung to reduce their capital expenditures. This solidified Samsung's leadership position with manufacturing flat panel screens  They are also a leading supplier of these components to to other computer manufacturers. They manufacture world class SSD hard drives and conventional spinning hard disks, DRAM memory and SODIMM memory simms and are one of the largest and most innovative flat panel LED manufacturers in  the world with OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode) bleeding edge technology that has appeared in their line of Samsung Android smartphones and consumer digital cameras. They have also been selling LCD and LED televisions within the US for some time now and have gotten rave reviews from technology and consumer magazines. Ditto their extensive line of appliances (Refrigerators, Dishwashers, Vacuum Cleaners Ranges, etc). They even manufacture washing machines under the Sears Kenmore brand name. Most all of their appliances are extremely reliable and are class leaders wen it comes to efficiency design and price performance...read value for the money. They are taking that same formula and are applying it big time to their current and future line of notebooks and tablets.

Samsung introduced their line of Q notebooks which were some of the first thin and powerful 13, 14 and 15 inch notebooks that had glass covering the LED displays for enhanced color and sharpness and wider viewing angles. They also came out with ultra bright (400 nit LED displays) for their Series 9 11.6 and 13.3 notebooks which are the first real alternatives to the Apple Mac Book Air thin notebook computers. Offering more features for the money, these Series 9 notebooks were every bit as sexy as the MacBook Air but offered more features like an SD slot and more standard USB ports. Battery life is comparable and they are one of the best selling lines of Samsung Notebooks in the consumer and the business market segments.

Samsung also announced and quietly started shipping their value line of thin notebooks called the Series 3 or Princeton family of notebooks. With super aggressively low pricing they were able to sell a ton of the Series 3 Princeton 11.6" Core i3 Notebooks just in time for the September back to school season. They wisely partnered and sold the notebook at a low price $599.00 through Staples and the price has dipped through newer Staples sales promotions to an unheard of price of $350.00. Yes you heard that correctly. Samsung is dead serious about dominating the US market for notebook computers.

When it comes to value or price performance, no other computer company, even Acer or Asus touches Samsung on price performance or bang for the buck. There's a revolution going on in the US notebook industry and Samsung is leading the charge.All of the other Notebook computer companies have to be playing their A game to stay up with Samsung now. You just need to stop by a local Office Max or Best Buy store to compare Samsung notebooks against their competitors, Apple, Lenovo, Asus, Acer, Toshiba, Sony,  HP and you will see what I mean.

From a sales and marketing perspective, Samsung is running on all 8 cylinders in the US markets. They have forged exclusive channels with Staples and Best Buy adding Office Depot and Office Max with select brands of their notebook and tablet lines. Some of the Costcos had initially sold the Series 9 ultra thin notebook in the summer.

Aggressive pricing with coupons and trade-in programs has boosted sales of Samsung notebooks this past quarter and they are prepared to take advantage of the holiday season. They have been hiring corporate sales reps to push the Samsung line of notebooks into corporate America and have been working with leasing firms like GE capital to accelerate the technology refresh at the fortune 1000 companies. Trade publications like PC magazine, PC World and even Consumer Reports have been cranking out glowing reviews of th e latest and greatest Samsung notebooks. I expect to see more advertising and marketing dollars spent in the coming year to elevate the sales figures to where they may quickly gain the number one or two sales slot for selling PCs in North America. Their tablets are also selling very well and I expect to see more feature creep from Notebooks moving to Tablets and vice versa. Samsung can pull this off as their time to market is lightning fast and they can easily introduce new models at the drop of a hat and change their pricing to accommodate most any corporate or individual buyer.

We all will benefit as this will result in all of the manufacturers having to make downward price adjustments just to stay competitive with Samsung notebook and tablet offerings.

1980 Disco Rats - A Trip Down Memory Lane


Disco Rats
Franklin Lakes Stereo, Franklin Lakes New Jersey




A trip down memory lane is in order. I fondly remember the days of the late seventies and early eighties, the Jimmy Carter years. Gas was around a $1.25 a gallon and a ten-spot filled your tank in a VW Beetle, or Plymouth Duster.The economy was coming out of a tail spin and good jobs were hard to find. I was carefree and happy not knowing what field I was going to pursue job-wise and had a good core group of friends that I used to hang out with and work when I wasn't attending college. Living at home had a lot of advantages and I spent most of my waking hours working anyway so it was a good way to save up money at the time. I held down two jobs after graduating college in 1977, a full time day job at FMNA (Fiat Motors of North America) and a week-end part-time sale job at Franklin Lakes Stereo in Franklin Lakes New Jersey. Franklin Lakes was a bedroom community located about 25 miles north east of New York City and was the home of the IBM CSD Service Division headquarters. A lot of celebrities lived in that town and I remember Earl Monroe of the Knicks lived close by and bought a bunch of high end stereo gear from us. I remember him first walking into the store like a kid in candy store. He was wearing his Knicks warm up sweats and a Walt Frazier style fur coat and stepped out of a black Mercedes SLC300 convertible with NJ vanity plates that read " PEARL". As you can tell from the clothing and haircuts, the disco years had an impact on all of us growing up and working in suburbia. Franklin Lakes Stereo was located on a small non-descript strip mall near the center of town and we had our share of audio geeks and characters visiting our store on a regular basis. Franklin Lakes Stereo was a high end stereo store and we were authorized resellers for Crown, Nakamichi, Trnscriptor, KEF, Sonab, B&O, Revox, Beyer, Rogers and a host of other esoteric brands of audio gear.

We used to send out for Pizza from this local pizzeria (Forgot the Name) and sometimes we would eat in. It had pretty good pizza, veal parmesan sandwiches, and excellent oven baked calzones. We always got this young waitress named Adelle and we gave her the nick-name of Dumbdelle as she was so scatter-brained and could never get our orders right.

Life was good, working hours were long, getting discounts on audio gear was a great side benefit, as was getting a really good car audio sound system for free. When Sunday rolled around, I usually slept in and didn't get up until noon-time exhausted from the seventy hour work-week but you know, those days were some of the happiest days of my life and will always look fondly on those years living and working in the burbs of New Jersey.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Breaking Bad - Face Off Final Episode - 4th Season - Holy Cow!

I have been a huge fan of Breaking Bad ever since the premiere first season episode first aired on AMC four years ago. The writing and acting in this series has always been superb and I always point to this television series as the state-of-the art in content....that is the writing is so good that it elevates the show to a much higher plane and is in many respects contains better writing and acting than you will find in most movies today. Cinematic and thoroughly engrossing story lines with a decent production budget that you can see is invested in every episode and you can see the money is wisely spent on special effects, sets and supporting actors and actresses. I think Vince Gilligan is a genius and has even shown the Coen brothers a thing or two regarding stylized and totally un-expected violence and mayhem. I would even throw in Martin Scorsese and David Cronenberg as well as they also get a wink and a nod or two when viewing the drug cartel shoot-outs and conflicts. The humor is twisted and you have to watch closely to pick up on the easter eggs or "tells" that hint at things to come or devious clues that conveniently connect the dots and fill in the holes of the sub-plots tot he main story line.

If you get a chance to watch this final episode, you will be blown away. Walter White's employer, Gus is blown up and killed in a nursing home by a bomb that is triggered by an old paralyzed member of the Mexican Drug Cartel by the little ringer he uses to communicate. You will see some graphic stuff (gory special effects) that was last used in the Terminator movies. This was by far the most satisfying episode as it tied up so many loose ends and displayed for all to see is the transformation of High School Chemistry Geek Teacher Walter White to cold and heartless killer Tony Montana (Scarface). This is must see television at its very, very best. Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul, Giancarlo Esposito all give bravura Emmy worthy performances in this episode. See this final episode. You will not be disappointed and you will be totally blown away.

Face Off Episode 13 Season 4
Breaking Bad on AMC

Gus Fring (GianCarlo Esposito)

Walter White (Bryan Cranston)


Tio Salamanca (Mark Margolis)

Hank Schrader (Dean Norris)




Friday, October 7, 2011

Aged Well - Not Aged Well or Is it Good Genes or Living a Clean Life?

Aged Well - Not Aged Well or Is it Good Genes or Living a Clean Life? Or Both?

Well my friends, time to decide for yourself. Here are some before and after photos. The before photos were taken around 1972  and the After Photos were taken in 2010.

Aged well?


Jackson Browne 1970






Jackson Browne 2010

Not Aged well?


Keith Richards 1974


Keith Richards 2010





Monday, October 3, 2011

Syd Mead -Visual Futurist - Science Fiction Hall of Fame

As a kid growing up in the suburbs of New York City, I was drawn to science fiction at an early age. I started reading Tom Swift books when I was nine or ten and on my thirteenth birthday, joined the science fiction book of the month club. I read Starship Troopers by Robert Heinlein, I Robot, Isaac Asimov, and later most of the novels and short stories penned by Michael Crichton, Greg Bear, and William Gibson. I was addicted to any and all things science fiction watching these new programs on network TV, Star Trek, Lost In Space, Time Tunnel, Supercar, UFO, Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons, Thunderbirds, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea and a ton of comic books and movies with similar fantasmagorical themes and storylines.






I remember seeing 2001, a Space Odyssey on a field trip to New York City were we saw it in a theatre that had Cinerama. Star Wars blew me away as did Blade Runner and Alien. All of the Jim Cameron movies were also impressive as these movies paid a lot of attention to production detail and constructing a future world that was eerily realistic and functionally fleshed out. It made you believe that their world was real. There was one name that keep coming up in the credits of the the Alien, Blade Runner and the Aliens sequel movie and that was Syd Mead. Syd Mead was the primary go-to consultant for coming up with the futuristic interior and exterior sets in these movies. His background as an automobile designer for Ford Motors and as an Industrial product designer for a number of well known Fortune 500 companies like US Steel and Caterpillar came in handy when director Ridley Scott wanted to present a believable future landscape with the matching interiors to draw in the viewer in a most visceral way.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

American Cool - Invented in the United States

Before I digress I wanted to preface this blog entry by saying that the United States is a melting pot of immigrants and descendents of immigrants and is one of the things that makes this country so desirable to live. Whether your parents, grandparents or great grand parents came to America to seek their fortunes (and to provide better lives for their families)  from Europe, Asia, Russia, Ukraine, South America, Mexico, Canada, Australia, Africa, Japan, Taiwan, Pacific Islands, Middle East, (Did I leave out any country or continent? If I did, apologies are in order), ALL and I mean all made significant contributions to United States culture and made the US a better place to live over the years. Working hard to put your kids through school was and still is the mantra and access to an infrastructure of affordable and quality public and private education was and still is the main drawing card along with finding a good paying job in a city or state that provided a reasonable cost of living.

I think it's important now to call out and highlight some of the very cool things (people and inventions) that were invented in the US and has become the calling card for the US globally as everyone around the world picked up on these cool things that came from the US. Further validation of cool items on this list is that Japanese are collecting these vintage items from the US in great quantities (Like vintage US electric and acoustic guitars and vintage automobiles). Lots of Japanese collectors like to acquire cool stuff from the US. The rarer, the better.

The Electric Guitar - Les Paul and Leo Fender are the US inventors who came up with the electric guitar and I think Rock and Roll never would have broken out if it had not been for these two ingenius inventors.

Levis's Blue Jeans - Hipster, Cowboy, Teen, Yuppie, Punk,.....and the genre goes on and on. You name the style or fashion period and you know that Levis' Blue Jeans were popular in virtually every era. The design and material spec has not changed for more than 100 years, and for a good reason. This was a jean that was copied and imitated by thousands of other clothing manufacturers but there is only one original Levis Blue Jeans.

57 Chevrolet Nomad Station Wagon - This iconic automobile is synonomous with surfing and the 60's teen era. The tail-fin styling is classic and timeless and more of these cars were souped up as hot rods and custom rides because everyone knew a really cool car when they saw it. The 57 Chevy Nomad fit that description perfectly.

Elvis Presley

James Dean

Motown

Jazz

Bob Dylan

The Personal Computer

Apple Computer and the Macintosh

The First Router

Adobe PostScript

The first L.E.D. Lightbulb - Cree Research

If there's more cool stuff (people and inventions) that you strongly feel deserves to be on this list, please write post a comment with your suggestion and a brief reason why you think it deserves to be on the list.