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Asus Eee PC 2G Surf

Asus Eee PC 2G Surf

Image courtesy of Reviewheaven.net

The ‘Asus EEE PC 2G Surf‘ is a sleek netbook designed by ASUS. They say it is Easy to learn, Easy to Work and Easy to play. The Eee stands for these three E qualities of this net book. The Asus Eee PC 2G Surf is manufactured by Pegatron Technology and developed by ASUSTek Computer Inc. This netbook measures 8.86 inch x 6.30 inch x 0.79-1.26 inch and weighs 2.0 lbs. There’s a 4400 mAh Battery of 4-cell that comes with this netbook. There are three versions of this model and they are the 2G, 4G and 8G units. They are available in the following colors, black, white, pink, blue and green. This netbooks comes with a restore disk, driver disk (for Windows installs) and documentation. The Asus Eee PC 2G Surf can be purchased at a starting price of $299.

Specifications
Asus has always promoted the Eee netbook series to be easy to work, easy to learn and easy to play. It has 10/100 Ethernet and 802.11b/g wireless. It comes with a VGA port and an SD Card Slot that supports SDHC. The Celeron-M 800 MHz operates at 571 MHz. System memory of this Eee netbook is at 512MB. There’s a flash memory reader slot whereby users can use an SD memory card to write or read. This netbook comes with a 4400 mAh 4-cell unit that can last for about 2.5 hours. The battery can be upgraded to a 5600 mAh which can last for about 3.5 hours.

Display
The display is a 7-inch LCD monitor that comes with a resolution of 800 x 480 pixels.

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Netbooks Versus the Competition

Netbooks Versus the Competition Sometimes, in life, the answers are very apparent, but that is not always the case. The matter of choosing the gear to outfit your office is not always as easily settled as one might think. Is it best to go with a PC or a Mac? Can I really afford the price associated with some of these models? What about the printer? Is the thought of printing the number of pages required in my office really practical given the cost of ink cartridges?

These are the sorts of questions that can arise when trying to make those initial decisions to build an office, or even the decisions regarding replacement of the out of date goods of yesteryear. Another question that many are finding themselves asking today is “Notebook, netbook, or tablet?” Consider this article for information to make that decision easier.

What are my options?
Buying a computer today is nothing like what it was ten years ago. First of all, walking out of the store with a computer might only mean carrying a small, traditional plastic bag. After all, many of the tablets and even some notebooks are so thin and light weight today that they could easily fit in a woman’s purse and be carried without the person even feeling the added weight. Added to that, however, is the furthered agony of decision making. No longer is it as simple as choosing between five or ten desktop models in the local electronics store. Instead one is faced with a number of options for portable computing, including netbooks, notebooks, and the tablet. Most are familiar with all that a notebook (aka laptop) can do, so consider these evaluations of how the others stack up.

The newest thing in computer land is the tablet. These low cost, light weight handy devices are perfect for those looking for a secondary computer, or those who wish only to use the computer for photos, music, games, and email. They do have the internet as well, and a number of fun, functional, and funky applications, but they also have a couple major drawbacks. The first is that there is not yet a real functional version of traditional word processing and spreadsheet softwares that work on the tablet. Surely that will change in the near future, but as of now, that it something that one should not expect to accomplish on the tablet. Even Google Docs and Microsoft’s online versions of word processing are not where they need to be to make this device functional in that way. The second major flaw is printing. You are not going to easily find ink cartridges that will work with these mini computers. This is going to change in the very near future as wireless printing has started to become a possibility, but you will still be limited when compared to the other computers that offer a wide variety of printer from ink cartridge or toner, wired or wireless, all-in-one or single function.

Netbooks, similarly, are newer to the market and have a number of advantages and disadvantages as compared to the more traditional notebook. These are not going to feature many of the added perks of a traditional computer, such as the DVD/CD drive and extended keyboards. However, the ultra-mini models, are light weight and easily carted from one venue to another, where they can be flipped open to do most everything that a traditional laptop can do, taking up a fraction of the space. The best part is, that unlike the tablet, these USB supporting mini pads are able to work with nearly every printer on the market, which means that you, like the rest of the computer world will also have another decision to make. Which brand? Which model? Ink cartridge or toner? Manufacturer’s ink or third party?

Posted by: Joslyn    Source

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Reliability and Satisfaction: What the Measures Mean

PCWorld Reliability and Service

More than 63,000 PCWorld readers responded to our online and print advertisements or email messages, and volunteered to participate in our survey. With the help of statistical consultant Ferd Britton, we analyzed the resulting survey data to determine which companies’ numbers were reliably above or below the average of all responses for a particular product type. It’s important to note that our survey results don’t necessarily reflect the opinions of a given company’s customers as a whole. And because our data comes only from PCWorld readers who chose to take part in the survey, our results don’t necessarily reflect the opinions of PCWorld readers in general.

About the Survey

PCWorld readers rated hardware vendors in seven product categories: laptop PCs, desktop PCs, tablets, printers, smartphones, HDTVs, and digital cameras. For each category, our survey included at least four measures of the reliability of a brand’s products, such as failed components (a laptop hard drive, say) and problems that the user noticed right away (“out of the box”).

In the laptop, desktop, and printer categories, we also asked readers about their experiences with customer support.

This year’s survey included a series of questions asking readers how satisfied they were with the performance or specific features of a brand’s products (Samsung smartphone owners were asked to rate the phone’s touchscreen, for instance).

For each reliability, service, and product satisfaction measure, we determined whether the vendor’s score was significantly better than, not significantly different from, or significantly worse than the average of its peers.

If a vendor received fewer than 50 responses in a subsection, we discarded the results as statistically insignificant. This threshold prevented us from rating some companies.

We rated smartphone makers on four reliability criteria and five ease-of-use criteria. For wireless carriers that sell smartphones, we evaluated five aspects of their customer support and two aspects of their network performance: wireless Internet service quality and voice call quality.

Reliability Measures

Problems on arrival (all devices): Based on the percentage of survey respondents who reported any problem with the device out of the box.

Any significant problem (all devices): Based on the percentage of survey respondents who reported any problem at all during the product’s lifetime.

Any failed component replaced (laptop and desktop PCs): Based on the percentage of survey respondents who reported replacing one or more original components because the components had failed.

Dead PC (laptop and desktop PCs): Based on the percentage of survey respondents who reported problems with the processor, motherboard, power supply, hard drive, system memory, or graphics board/chip at any time during the life of their laptop or desktop PC.

Severe problem (HDTVs, phones, cameras, tablets, and printers): Based on the percentage of survey respondents who reported a problem that rendered their device impossible to use.

Overall satisfaction with reliability (all devices): Based on the owner’s overall satisfaction with the reliability of the device.

Service Measures (Laptop PCs, Desktop PCs, and Printers)

Phone hold time: Based on the average time a product’s owners waited on hold to speak to a phone support representative.

Average phone and Web service rating: Based on readers’ ratings of several aspects of their experience in using the company’s phone-based or Web-based technical support services. Among the factors considered were whether the information was easy to understand, and whether the phone support rep spoke clearly and knowledgeably.

Unresolved problem: Based on the percentage of survey respondents who said their problem was never fixed despite their contact with the company’s support service.

Service experience: Based on readers’ responses to a series of questions focusing on 11 specific aspects of their experience with the company’s service department.

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Sony VAIO S Series: Mediocre Performance in a Thin, Sexy Chassis

Sony VAIO S Series all-purpose laptopThe Sony VAIO S Series isn’t the most powerful all-purpose laptop, but I like it–and not just because I have a soft spot for Sony. Although the VAIO S Series offers mediocre general performance and modest graphics speed, it’s also light, thin, stylish, and very portable.

Our review model, priced at $1000 (as of December 14, 2011), sports an Intel Core i5-2430M processor, an AMD Radeon HD 6470M graphics card, and 4GB of RAM. It also has a 640GB hard drive, a DVD-RW optical drive, and built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 3.0. This model runs the 64-bit version of Windows 7 Home Premium.

In our WorldBench 6 benchmark tests, the VAIO S Series earned a score of 112. This is a decent, but not excellent, score that puts the VAIO S Series right around the middle of our Top All-Purpose Laptops list. While the VAIO S Series should be fine for most basic work tasks and streaming video, it’s by no means a graphics powerhouse or a gaming laptop.

In our graphics tests, the VAIO S Series’ performance was acceptable. The system does have switchable graphics, which is a benefit for people who want to use this laptop for consuming multimedia and performing basic, nonintensive tasks (switching to integrated graphics will conserve battery life). In our Far Cry 2 graphics tests, the VAIO S Series managed a frame rate of 50 frames per second at the lowest quality setting (800 by 600 resolution), and a rate of 24 fps at the highest quality setting (same resolution).

Our review unit was the 15.5-inch VAIO S Series in black. The 15.5-inch model also comes in silver, while the 13.3-inch model comes in black, blue, pink, red, or white. The VAIO S Series’ most desirable trait might be its portability: The 15.5-inch version weighs 4.3 pounds (5.2 pounds with accessories), and measures 14.9 inches wide by 10.1 inches long and just about 1 inch thick.

The VAIO S Series has a thin, squared-off chassis with sharp corners. The cover is a plain matte black, with a medium-size mirrored VAIO logo in the center. The hinge–which sticks out of the back of the machine by about a quarter of an inch–is plastic with a dark mirrored finish, and it feels a little flimsy. The rest of the exterior is simple, and exudes a minimalist aesthetic.

The interior is also pretty simple, consisting of a matte-black wrist rest, a black Chiclet-style keyboard, and a smooth touchpad with two discrete buttons. Several buttons and switches sit above the keyboard, however–and when you turn the laptop on, it also has a lot of lights to go with those buttons and switches. From left to right, the controls include a physical eject button (though the DVD-RW drive is tray-loaded), a switch for changing between the Intel integrated graphics and the AMD discrete graphics, an “Assist” button (which opens the Help screen), a Web button, and a VAIO button (which you can program to open different VAIO multimedia programs).

The keyboard is backlit and easy to type on, and it comes with a ten-key number pad. The touchpad, which supports multitouch gestures, is smooth and sensitive; its two discrete buttons are big and easy to press, if a little light on feedback.

Ports-wise, the VAIO S Series is fairly basic. The very smooth left side has only a headphone jack and an optical drive. The headphone jack is located all the way toward the back of the computer–which means that if your headphone wire is particularly short, you may have to maneuver around a bit. (I have to admit, though, that the last VAIO I owned had the headphone jack located on the front of the machine, which is a lot more annoying.)

On the front of the laptop is a Wi-Fi switch, which is always a nice addition. The right side of the system is crammed with ports and slots: You’ll find two card slots (one for Sony Memory Stick and one for SD Card), a gigabit ethernet port, a VGA-out port, an HDMI-out port, one USB 3.0 port, two USB 2.0 ports, and a Kensington lock slot. I’m not a big fan of having all three USB ports on one side and next to each other, because USB peripherals are often bulky and can’t be placed side by side. Sony probably should have included at least one USB port on the laptop’s left edge, because that side has plenty of space.

The display is a bright, glossy 15.5-inch screen with a full HD native resolution of 1920 by 1080. The screen is just beautiful: It’s crisp and clear, and it honestly almost took my breath away the first time I saw it. Unfortunately, it isn’t perfect: At the lower brightness settings, the screen has a noticeably yellow tint, and skin tones are sometimes washed out.

The VAIO S Series is good for light multimedia usage. High-def streaming video plays smoothly, but the picture in full screen looks a bit soft. Audio playback is not very good. Though the speakers are loud, the sound is thin and lacking in bass. Music and voices sound almost like shrieking. I definitely recommend headphones with this laptop.

Sony includes a lot of software on its VAIO machines, which is good if you like Sony software, and not so great if you don’t. The VAIO S Series comes packed with Sony’s Media Gallery, VAIO Care, VAIO Gate, and PMB VAIO Edition photo/video management software. It also has other software, including Norton Internet Security, Adobe’s bundle (Acrobat, Photoshop Elements, and the like), and Sony’s Imagination Studio Suite.

The Sony VAIO S Series may seem like a mediocre all-purpose laptop, and it is one. But it’s also thin, light, and quite portable, and it sports Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, Intel Wireless Display technology, and optional embedded mobile broadband. In other words, if you’re looking for an all-purpose laptop that’s stylish and easy to tote, the VAIO S Series might be the system for you.

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DNSCrypt: Encrypting DNS communications

DNS (Domain Name System), the “designated comptroller” of domain names and IP addresses is in trouble. And, the list of reasons is long. I’d like to focus on just one: the way Internet-connected computers talk to DNS servers — the veritable DNS query.

What’s wrong with DNS queries? For one, they’re not encrypted. That opens the door to:

Spying: Attackers use DNS to spy on Internet users’ online activity via DNS replay, observation, and timing attacks.Man-in-the-middle attacks: When an attacker intercepts the communication stream and impersonates both the local and remote station.Resolver impersonation: Intermediaries hijack DNS traffic destined for trusted naming servers, rerouting them to malicious name servers; which in turn, provide fraudulent query responses.

In plain-speak, when you type a name in the URL field of a web browser, you expect to go to the appropriate web site. But if something or someone is messing with the DNS query, that may not be the case. For example, instead of going to your bank’s website, you may be sent to a very good copy of the actual website — built by bad people specifically to steal your banking credentials.

If you aren’t familiar with OpenDNS, it’s an independent DNS resolution service. OpenDNS also provides URL misspelling correction, phishing protection, and content filtering.

Why bring up OpenDNS? The company may have the answer to DNS-query hijacking. It’s called DNSCrypt. From the OpenDNS press release:

“In the same way SSL turns HTTP Web traffic into HTTPS encrypted Web traffic, DNSCrypt turns regular DNS traffic into encrypted DNS traffic that is secure from eavesdropping and man-in-the-middle attacks.

It doesn’t require any changes to domain names or how they work. It simply provides a method for securely encrypting communications between Internet users and DNS servers in the OpenDNS data centers.”

I use OpenDNS and getting rid of the issues I described earlier would be a welcome improvement. I have concerns though, important ones, that were not addressed. So, I called OpenDNS and Allison Rhodes, VP of Communications, allayed my concerns:

Kassner: I am confused by the “last mile” comment:

“This insecure connection between the end user and their DNS resolver, which might be described as the “last mile,” is ripe for abuse, and has been abused in the past. The insecure nature of that “last mile” connection enables an array or attacks and privacy violations.

In truth, Internet users have very little privacy when accessing the Internet on unsecured wireless networks and as a result, are left highly vulnerable.”

To me the “last mile” is from my computer to the ISP. Wouldn’t traffic from DNSCrypt be secure all the way to OpenDNS servers?

Rhodes: You are correct. DNS traffic is secure from the subscriber’s computer to our name servers. Also, OpenDNS CEO David Ulevitch wanted to point out:

“DNSCrypt also insulates subscribers from their Internet Service Provider’s uninhibited access to their DNS activity and domain lookup history.”

Kassner: Is there a way to tell if DNSCrypt is working and if the packet stream is encrypted?

Rhodes: If DNSCrypt has been correctly installed and configured, the DNSCrypt icon in the menu bar will turn green. If the icon is yellow, it indicates OpenDNS is in use, but not DNSCrypt.

There are types of malware that are capable of altering DNS settings, so we added a third option. The icon will turn red if neither OpenDNS nor DNSCrypt are being used.

Kassner: I noticed that DNSCrypt uses elliptic-curve cryptography. I only recently heard of it. What are the advantages? Does it lend itself to this type of encrypting process?

Rhodes: A major advantage of elliptic-curve cryptography is speed. It is considerably faster than other systems like RSA. Another advantage is that long keys are not required in order to be extremely secure.

Kassner: I read the following on your website:

“The service is not configured to maintain state between reboots, it defaults to off when you reboot. This is only for early releases. Eventually we will have it maintain your preferences between reboots.”

How are we supposed to restart DNSCrypt?

Rhodes: In order to turn DNSCrypt back on, just click the menu icon, open the DNSCrypt preferences pane and check the “Enable DNSCrypt” button.

Kassner: Next, I read:

“If you have a firewall or other middleware mangling your packets, you should try enabling DNSCrypt with TCP over port 443. This will make most firewalls think it’s HTTPS traffic and leave it alone.”

If this is a problem, is the fix you recommend available in the DNSCrypt app itself?

Rhodes: The workaround for firewalls mangling DNS packets is handled by the client. All it takes to enable is checking the “TCP/443? box in the preferences pane. However, use this workaround only when necessary — it introduces latency.

Kassner: I get almost through the press release and read this:

“At current, DNSCrypt is available for Mac. Downloads, code and more information can be found at http://www.opendns.com/technology/dnscrypt/”

I’m betting a vast majority of your subscribers use Windows machines. So why wasn’t DNSCrypt ported to Windows first? When will a Windows version be available?

Rhodes: Well, most of our developers use Macs, so they built a Mac version first. We realize the need for a Windows version and are working on one. It looks like the Windows version will be ready sometime in February.

DNS as a technology is essential to our digital existence. It also is past its prime and needs to be fixed — better yet, replaced. For now, OpenDNS is providing another band-aid.

A special thanks to Allison Rhodes and OpenDNS.

Michael Kassner Michael Kassner is currently a systems manager for an international company. Together with his son, they run MKassner Net, a small IT publication consultancy.

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Hide and Secure Data With Folder Lock

Folder Lock 7 is a jack-of-all-trades for file encryption and data security. Not only does it encrypt and hide volumes and folders with an on-the-fly 256-bit algorithm, it also protects USB drives and creates wallets to list and store important information such as bank accounts, online passwords, and such. The program goes even further with a secure erase (shred) function, data lockers (think Windows Briefcase), and the ability to run stealthily–that is, without any sign that it’s operating.

Folder Lock 7 screenshotFolder Lock 7’s interface is super-easy to use, but a bit over the top in appearance.Version 7 of Folder Lock adds an optional online component to the mix, synching your data lockers to NewSoftwares’ own storage service if you desire. The service is $5 per month for every 10GB, not the cheapest but relatively competitive. 10GB should be more than enough for only your secure data. Other neat features are login attempt tracking, and creating both normal and self-extracting password protected zip files. (PCWorld last reviewed Folder Lock at version 6.25).

The program couldn’t be any easier to use, though the first time you lock and hide a folder it can be a bit shocking to go to a drive and see it locked, or to find a folder missing. Folder Lock keeps two services running, but didn’t appear to impact performance at all. The program is completely password driven, so there are no certificates to lose as with Windows Bitlocker. There’s a master password for the program, which you will need if you decide to uninstall it.

If I have any complaint at all about Folder Lock, it’s about the look of the interface. While it’s extremely well-designed in terms of workflow, placement of options, and navigation, it looks a little brash. A little more sedate and it might be easier to sell to business users, whom even as it is would be well served by taking a look.

Also, while the lockers are perfectly secure, be aware that the hidden files and folders are hidden only while Folder Lock is running. You may access them freely by simply booting from CD such as Ubuntu Live or Parted Magic.

It’s not often I’m as impressed with a program as I am with Folder Lock. For $40, if fulfills basically every security need there is. A definite must download if you need to secure your files.

–Jon L. Jacobi

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Ultrabooks: Laptops as Light as Air

Apple’s most recent MacBook Air is selling like hotcakes, for good reason. Current Airs are incredibly thin and light, and–unlike the first version–they’re powerful enough for most everyday work. But what if you don’t want an Apple laptop? Finally, thanks to Intel and its partners, you have a Windows alternative: the Ultrabook.

Ultrabooks are thinner, lighter, and in some ways faster than standard ultraportables. Most are barely more than half an inch thick. Priced from around $800 to over $1500, these are premium products, and they feel like it. Some early Ultrabooks eschew cheap plastic in favor of materials such as aluminum and magnesium alloy. You’ll find solid-state drives in most units, making them seem snappier and more responsive. Open the lid, and your Ultrabook will go from hibernate to working in seconds, and it’ll resume from sleep in the blink of an eye.

What Makes an Ultrabook Different?

Since Intel has trademarked the Ultrabook name, the company isn’t going to let PC makers slap the label on just any skinny laptop. A few requirements are involved. According to Intel, a laptop has to meet these five characteristics to qualify for the Ultrabook label.

Quick startup: Going from hibernate to keyboard interaction must take 7 seconds or less. Resume from sleep should be even faster than that.Long battery life: The minimum for a single charge of the battery is 5 hours, and some models promise up to 8 hours.Thinness: Ultrabooks need to be less than 21mm (0.82 inch) thick. Most models that have come out so far are much thinner.Enhanced security: The laptop firmware has to support Intel’s Anti-Theft and Identity Protection technology.Powered by Intel: You didn’t expect Intel to allow AMD CPUs, did you?

Of course, Ultrabooks ask you to make a few compromises. They don’t have room for optical drives, so you’ll need to add a USB DVD or Blu-ray drive to load software or movie discs. The cramped sides and back mean fewer ports, and a greater reliance on mini connections (such as Mini HDMI or Mini DisplayPort). Most don’t have ethernet jacks; it’s Wi-Fi or nothing, short of breaking out another USB peripheral. For most users, these trade-offs are worthwhile, and buying a new cable or adapter is a small extra price to pay for a half-inch-thick laptop that weighs about 3 pounds.

Ultrabook Reviews

Will your next laptop be an Ultrabook? Our tests of the first four featherweight PCs to carry the label should help you decide whether an Ultrabook is right for you–click the links below to read our full reviews. Don’t worry if you don’t see something you like; in 2012, Ultrabooks are expected to flood the market, improving selection and driving down prices.

Acer Aspire S3-951: The Basic Ultrabook

Acer Aspire S3-951 UltrabookAcer is offering its new Aspire S3 for a comparatively reasonable $899, and you can find it discounted to sub-$850 online. Still, $850 isn’t a budget price by today’s standards. Can the Aspire S3 deliver on the promise of good performance in an ultralight, ultrathin package at a not-unreasonable price? Unfortunately, no: Acer’s attempt at a cost-effective Ultrabook ultimately cuts too many corners.

Asus Zenbook UX31E: Sleek Machine, Iffy Touchpad

Asus Zenbook UX31E UltrabookAsus’s supersleek Zenbook UX31E is gorgeous. With its brushed-aluminum design, it more closely resembles the MacBook Air than other Ultrabooks do, and it really does elicit a Zen-like feeling. Throw in an i5 processor, Bluetooth 4.0, and a USB 3.0 port, and the $1099 Zenbook UX31E is almost perfect–except for its mediocre touchpad.

Lenovo IdeaPad U300s: Thin and Luxurious

Lenovo IdeaPad U300s UltrabookIf there’s a laptop that deserves the moniker “Ultrabook,” it’s the Lenovo IdeaPad U300s. Not because it’s faster or beefier than the competition (it’s not), but because it actually looks like a thin coffee-table book when closed. It’s also the Ultrabook that many staffers in the PCWorld Labs gravitated toward due to its luxuriously minimalist styling and superior input ergonomics. At least, they did until they heard that it cost $1595, a price tag that reflects the expense of the machine’s large (256GB) solid-state drive.

Toshiba Portege Z835: Light Weight, Middling Specs

Toshiba Portege Z835 UltrabookAt just 2.4 pounds, the Toshiba Portege Z835 is the lightest of the first wave of Ultrabooks. Most rivals, like the Lenovo and the Asus, weigh around 3 pounds. You can immediately feel the difference when you pick up this light-as-a-feather laptop. Unfortunately, this Best Buy exclusive configuration makes a few obvious concessions to reach its attractive $799 price.

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