Monday, December 31, 2012

QuickPro Camera Guides Nikon D5100 DVD Review

I'm still suffering from a bad cold so I didn't write a blog entry last week and this week, I decided to write a very short blog entry on a DVD. I received the QuickPro Camera Guides Nikon D5100 DVD for Christmas and after watching it, I thought that I would write a quick review on it.

Having my Nikon D5100 for about 1.5 years and still not using it to its full potential, I look for various books/DVDs/videos specifically on the Nikon D5100.

The DVD is divided into 10 chapters with each chapter covering a specific topic or topics on the Nikon D5100. The majority of this DVD shows the video presenter describing the Nikon D5100's various menu options and makes a few suggestions on what setting to use for various situations (sporting events, portraits, etc.). While a Nikon D5100 novice who might not have read the Nikon D5100 user's manual might find the information found in this DVD to be very good, I found it to be somewhat boring especially since I purchased 2 books that cover the Nikon D5100 in depth.

If you are someone who doesn't like reading through user's manuals or books on your specific camera model, you might find this DVD to be useful. However, I believe that you can probably find a lot of free informative videos online (such as on YouTube) which might be better.

I can't really recommend this DVD unless you are a complete novice to the Nikon D5100 and you are the type of person who doesn't like reading through the user's manual or reading any book. While this DVD might make a great gift with the Nikon D5100, as a standalone gift/purchase, I can't really recommend it since I found the information to be very dry. Based on the suggested purchase price of this DVD, I would recommend a book specifically on the Nikon D5100 over this DVD.

If you have any questions/comments regarding this blog entry, please don't hesitate to leave a comment in the comments section below. Please note that the comments are moderated and any comment that contains a URL link (whether or not it is embedded) will automatically be flagged as being spam and will not be posted.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Dell Vostro 2420 Review

I've been taking care of a bad cough which is one of the reasons why I didn't write a blog entry last week. I'm still coughing but it isn't as bad as it was last week so I've decided to resume my blog entries.

A friend asked me to install Windows on his Dell Vostro 2420. The version that he purchased had Ubuntu 11.10 pre-installed on it. I got the chance to test it out for a few hours before reformatting it and installing Windows on it.

Hardware-wise, the Vostro 2420 sports a 14" screen and is about twice the thickness of my Samsung Chromebook. It is roughly the same thickness as my Acer Netbook (but obviously larger). It has a full-size keyboard (minus the numeric keypad). I find the keyboard to be quite good and I like the fact that it is easy to clean since the space between keys is "filled" so hair and dirt/dust can't easily slip inside the keyboard (and it is just a simple matter of vacuuming the keyboard). The trackpad is also very responsive.

The Dell Vostro comes with an HDMI port, 3 USB ports, a VGA port, and ethernet network port, a DVD-RW drive, an earphone/microphone jack, a built-in webcam, and an SD/MMC/MS memory card slot. I tested out the HDMI port on my HD television and it works very well, although with the resolution set on the laptop, part of display didn't appear on my television set. I've also tested the wireless connection and I found that it worked very well. The version that my friend purchased came with an Intel Core i3 CPU so it was relatively fast with Ubuntu 11.10 as well as when I reformatted it and installed Windows 7 on it.

The system boots up fast in Linux. I didn't get a chance to test out all the features of the Ubuntu 11.10 operating system but I didn't have any issues with it nor did I have any issues configuring it to work with my wireless router.

When booting up the system initially, it would go through a set-up and then prompt you to save a recovery disk. I opted to do this onto a USB thumbdrive and found that it worked well. I tested reformatting the machine with the USB thumbdrive and didn't experience any problems.

After trying the Ubuntu 11.10 for about 1 hour, I reformatted the laptop and installed Windows 7 onto it. The Windows 7 installation was very straightforward. After the system rebooted with Windows 7 installed, it didn't detect a few of the devices (video adapter, sound card, network card, wireless, & chipset). This was all available on Dell's website. For this laptop model, Dell has the drivers for Windows 7 (32bit & 64bit), Ubuntu, and Windows 8 (32bit & 64bit). The entire installation (with the drivers) took under 1 hour. What took long was downloading all of Microsoft's updates (I didn't time this and it would depend on the network speed as well as the version of Windows 7 that is being used for the installation but I would estimate that it took 1.5 hours to download/install all the Microsoft updates).

I used the laptop for a few hours with Windows 7 installed on it and I found it to be very fast/responsive. Since there was nothing installed on the laptop (excluding the operating system, the drivers, and a few standard applications that I installed for my friend (Adobe Flash, Acrobat Reader, HP Officejet Pro 8600 drivers/files (since he has the same printer as I do), and Google Chrome), I didn't really expect it to be slow.

In the short time that I used the laptop, I find it to be very good. I don't know how much my friend paid for it but the price will determine whether I would recommend it or not.

If you have any comments/questions regarding this blog entry, please don't hesitate to leave a comment in the comments section below. Please note that comments are moderated and any comment containing a URL link (whether or not it is embedded) will automatically be flagged as being spam and will not be posted.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Kobo Mini Review

I purchased a Kobo Mini on sale during the Black Friday weekend sale last week and I've been using it for a few days (enough so that I can write a review about the product). Even though I use my various tablets (Android tablet, Acer Iconia Tab A100 Android tablet, & HP TouchPad) and my various phones to read my PDF documents/books, I heard good things about the dedicated e-readers so I decided to purchase the Kobo Mini when it went on sale.

Since I had a lot of PDF documents/books, I wanted to be sure that whatever e-reader that I purchased would accommodate the PDF file format. The Kobo Mini specifications mention that it does support PDF.

After charging my Kobo Mini, when I turned it on, the first thing that it asked me is what language I wanted. It then asked me whether I wanted to configure it using a computer or whether I wanted to configure it using the wireless connection. I opted for the wireless connection. It then asked me to configure the date/time/timezone and then prompted me to connect to my wireless network. Because of the added security of my wireless network, I did have some problems with connecting to my wireless router but most people won't have an issue. The one thing that I did find difficult was typing my password on the Kobo Mini touchscreen. The touchscreen is not particularly sensitive (not as sensitive as on any of my smartphones or my tablets) and it sometimes required pressing the screen multiple times for a single letter.

After connecting to my wireless network, it automatically detected that there was an update available and it proceeded to download the update and update my device. The entire update process took ~15 minutes. Once it finished updating, my Kobo Mini rebooted and I was prompted again for whether I wanted to configure the device using the wireless connection on via a direct connection to my computer. I opted again for the wireless connection and I had to re-enter my wireless connection password. Although I only had 2 books available to me on my Kobo account, I then connected to my Kobo account and the 2 books downloaded via wireless to my Kobo Mini.

In order to transfer my PDF documents/books to my Kobo Mini, I connected my Kobo Mini to my computer. The Kobo Mini then appeared on my computer (similar to an external hard drive) and I dragged/dropped my PDF documents/books onto my Kobo Mini (without placing them into any subdirectory). After doing that, I "ejected" the Kobo USB device from my computer and removed the USB cable from my computer as well as from my Kobo Mini. The Kobo Mini then processed the files that I dropped onto it and within a few seconds I saw my PDF documents/books on my Kobo Mini's home screen.

The Kobo Mini displays the 2 Kobo ePub books from my Kobo account very well. The font is large enough to be readable. However, I find that because of the size of the Kobo Mini, it doesn't really do that great of a job with my PDF documents/books. The font size is extremely small. Even though I can still read it without magnifying the font/page (which the Kobo Mini does allow you to do), I prefer reading the PDF documents/books on my HP TouchPad because of the larger size or on my Acer Iconia A100 Android Tablet.

In proper lighting (similar to the amount of light you would need to read any real book), the Kobo ePub books are extremely easy to read and easy on the eyes because of the e-ink.

I find the speed at which the pages turn on the Kobo Mini to be somewhat slow. It is faster with the Kobo ePub books than with my PDF documents/books but I still find it to be somewhat slow with both.

The Kobo Mini also has 3 applications in the "Extra" menu within Settings (a sudoku game, a sketch pad, and an extremely limited web browser). I can't really recommend any of these. The browser is extremely slow and limited to the point of being frustrating since for example, it required me to entire the URL for my blog about 10 times before it finally went to my blog. The sketch pad will allow you to draw/doodle on the Kobo Mini's touchscreen and save what you've done but once saved, the only way of deleting the PNG image is to connect the Mini to your computer and then manually delete the file using your computer. I can't really comment on the sudoku game since I don't play sudoku.

All in all, I would say that the Kobo Mini is okay for the Black Friday sale price that I paid for it. I would not purchase the device at its regular price of ~$80+taxes. The 5" screen is too small for reading of PDF documents/books but fine for the Kobo books that I've previewed. The Kobo Mini is extremely light (obviously lighter than my ~10" screen-size of my HP TouchPad or the ~7" screen-size of my Acer Iconia A100 tablet). It is also lighter (or feels lighter) than any of my smartphones. The battery life is also very good. The 2 things that I find lacking is the speed of the device and the responsiveness of the touchscreen when using the virtual on-screen keyboard.

If you have any questions/comments regarding this blog entry, please don't hesitate to leave your question/comment in the comments section. Please note that the comments are moderated and any comment that contains a URL link (whether or not it is embedded) will automatically be flagged as being spam and will not be posted.