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ITY BITY BYTES w/e 1 February

A brief roundup of interesting IT happenings and deals that didn’t warrant a full article.

Toshiba released a new range of notebooks – sorry but hardware is pretty ho-hum and no one from Toshi was available to comment. So for the record:

A new Quasimoto (sorry that is a hulking hunchback), Qosmio (that is a hulking big notebook) X870, 17.3” HD screen, i7 Quad core, ranging in price from $3-4K depending on hard disk configuration. These have desktop performance and great sound (harman kardon) and graphics (NVIDIA GTX670M 3GB) but a tad expensive. Still there are few peers in this market space.

Satellite P840, 14” HD touchscreen notebook with i7 Quad core, NVIDIA GT630M 2GB video (or Intel HD on entry level model) starting from $1,699.

Satellite P850, 15.6” (not touch) i7 Quad core, NVIDIA GT630M 2GB video (or Intel HD on entry level model) starting from $1,399.

Satellite U920t, 12.5” Gorilla Glass, Tablet, i5 Quad core, up to 256GB SSD, 4GB memory, Near Field Communications and GPS chip. Expensive but Toshi quality may tip the scales on this oversized, overweight (1.5kg) tablet cum Ultrabook (includes cocking keyboard). Starts from $1399 to $1699/

Satellite U940, 14” (not touch) UltraBook, i5 Quad core, 500GB (not SSD), NVIDIA GT630M 2GB (or Intel HD on entry level model) starting from $999.

Asus released the ViVoTab 810, 11.6” HD tablet with Wacom digitiser stylus input. It uses an Intel Atom 1.8GHz dual core and has 2GB ram and 32GB storage.. Interesting feature is that when docked to the keyboard it extends the tablets claimed 10.5hours to 19 hours – very impressive. The tablet weights 675g and is 8.7mm thick. At $1099 RRP this looks like a real winner.

Flash memory prices reached new lows with 16GB USB drives around $10, 32GB around $18 and 64GB around $39 (and these are OfficeWorks prices for branded memory – you can get slightly cheaper at discount computer stores). A few months ago this was well over $1 per GB – now 60 cents. Note that the USB3.0 USB sticks are a little dearer. Makes you wonder how Apple can charge a $100 premium to step up from 16GB to 32GB on an “Apples for Apples” iPad…

SSD drives have taken a price tumble. For example Samsung’s 250GB 2.5” SSD 840 series was selling for up to $249 and you can get them on-line for around $195. The 500GB model is around $400 – love to see price drops and the 120GB model may be a steal. SSD is becoming popular to replace the “boot disk” on PC’s or notebooks to get much faster boot and response times.

Seagate’s Momentus XT hybrid SSD and HDD (being referred to as SSHD) available in 500GB and 750GB are also good buying. They have 4 and 8GB SSD (respectively) for read operations and to delay write to the slower 7200 RPM hard disk which is used for storage. IN real world tests they come close to pure SSD for performance. They come in either a Mac Upgrade bundle or a PC upgrade bundle. On-line prices for the 750GB model start from $85 plus delivery (down from around $140 1 month ago).

Add USB3.0 to your desktop computer. Seen around the discount computer stores PCI-e cards (2 port) for $15 and 4 port for $17 with powered 4 port hubs for $25. For the non techies you can’t add easily USB 3.0 to notebooks.

You have all heard of Wi-Fi routers – 802.11 A, B, G, N (and N150, 300, 600, 750) but the latest standard is 802.11 AC. I will do an in-depth review this month but if you want the fastest Wi-Fi router with claimed gigabit speeds its worth looking out for this new standard. Problem is that most computing devices only have B/G/N adaptors.

LG has released an EA93, 29” IPS ultra-wide monitor (pictured) that has 21:9 ratio (widescreen is 16:9) and can be used as a single very, very wide screen or 2 or four screen split. It can link to 2 computing devices as well and show each screen simultaneously. No word on retail availability (March seems likely) . RRP is expected to be $749

LG also released a 23” HD 23ET83V monitor with 10 point touch allowing users to use all 10 fingers simultaneously (i.e. for an on-screen piano). Be warned that “Wintel” have made it clear to all monitor makers that touch is the preferred monitor for Windows 8 and we will see a lot more action in this space (and perhaps that explains the rapid price drops on non-touch monitors recently).

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Ray Shaw

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Ray Shaw ray@im.com.au  has a passion for IT ever since building his first computer in 1980. He is a qualified journalist, hosted a consumer IT based radio program on ABC radio for 10 years, has developed world leading software for the events industry and is smart enough to no longer own a retail computer store!