Friday, August 26, 2011

Lenovo's M71z all-in-one is 20" of touchscreen, $599 and up

Lenovo’s all-in-one M71z may be geared for the office, but its impressive specs make it a powerful yet space-efficient computer hub at home too.

Powered by the second-generation Intel Core i-processor, DDR3 RAM, with the option for up to 1 TB hard drive or a 160 GB solid state drive for 15-second bootups, all combined with a 20″ touchscreen monitor, there is a lot to like about the M71z. (Windows 7 [Home Premium and up] and Vista do offer touch controls so you can open and close programs and windows by tapping the monitor.)

The all-in-one also comes equipped with a whopping six USB ports, a DVD burner, chassis intrusion switch to let you know when your computer has been opened, as well as a DisplayPort for plugging in a second monitor so you can catch up on your emails while you watch a movie. You also have the option for a 2-megapixel web cam and digital array microphone that should yield high-quality web chats, perhaps even good enough for a job or television interview. For those living in tight quarters who may not be able to spare a desk for an all-in-one computer, the M71z can be mounted on the wall or on a desk mount using the universal Vesa devices.

At $599, the M71z seems like better bang for your buck when compared to Dell’s all-in-one Inspiron One 2305, which has an older AMD CPU but offers a slightly larger touch display at 23″ for $750. HP’s business-minded Omni Pro 110 starts at $639 but doesn’t include a touchscreen monitor. To be fair, we won’t know until the M71z launches in October the exact components that are included in the base $599 price tag. Lenovo’s all-in-one will be sold on its website and through its business partners.


Apple's OS X Lion now on a USB stick, $69.99

Although downloading a copy of the OS X Lion from the Mac App Store is economical ($29.99) and convenient for those who already have Snow Leopard, it can make things much more difficult for some users who are:

  • Upgrading from Tiger to Lion (but on hardware that meets the OS requirements)
  • Upgrading from Snow Leopard for the first time but have no Internet connection
  • Installing a new hard drive (where previous copy of the OS is on the old hard drive) and have no Internet connection

In these more unusual circumstances, having the OS on a USB drive maybe the only way to get the job done. Starting today, Apple is offering the OS X Lion on a thumb drive for $69.99, available from its online store now and will probably be in retail stores soon.

The most important thing to note about installing Lion via the USB stick is that Lion’s built-in recovery mechanism — to automatically prompt you to re-download a copy from the Mac App Store — will not work. Subsequent installs of Lion must use this same drive:

When you install OS X Lion using the USB thumb drive, you will not be able to reinstall OS X Lion from Lion Recovery. You will need to use the USB thumb drive to reinstall OS X Lion.

This $70 8 GB USB drive buys some peace of mind that you can still get your Mac(s) up and running even under the least ideal conditions, as long as you don’t misplace it. Alternatively, if you’re feeling frugal and have some time to spare, you can create your own DVD boot image of the Lion installer following these instructions from CNET that will let you troubleshoot your computer even when there is no ‘net.


SanDisk Sansa Clip Zip is a budget iPod shuffle, but better

SanDisk’s newest Sansa Clip Zip MP3 player may look like an elongated iPod shuffle with a color display on top and a clip on the back, but is actually packed with so many features that it makes you wonder why anyone would hand $50 over to Apple for a shuffle.

For the same price as the 2 GB shuffle, you could get a 4 GB Sansa Clip Zip that comes with a micro SDHC card slot expandable to 32 GB, a 1.1-inch color display for cover art and a graphical interface, and a music player that triples as a stopwatch, FM radio and voice recorder. The SanDisk player is also available with 8 GB of internal storage for $70.

Audiophiles would be pleased to know the Sansa Clip Zip supports FLAC rather than Apple’s proprietary Lossless file format. Other music and audiobook file formats that it supports include: MP3, WMA, secure WMA, Ogg Vorbis and AAC compatible (DRM-free iTunes). So rather than spend time googling for tips and converters to get your non-M4a files to play on an i-device, this MP3 player simplifies the process of getting the files you want to your device.

While the Sansa Clip Zip is thicker than the shuffle at 0.58-inch and measuring almost twice as tall at 2.25-inch, it is still relatively light and portable for strapping onto belt hoops. Its internal rechargeable battery is good for 15 hours of use, according to press materials. Even though a dedicated MP3 player seems out of place when most phones already double as music players, it still has its uses. For students facing a long commute who do not want to drain their phone’s battery just by listening to music, or athletic types who need their own personal soundtrack while hiking but don’t want to risk dropping their phone on the trail, the Sansa Clip Zip is an affordable player to use, worry-free.

Taking a page from the shuffle, the 4 GB Sansa Clip Zip comes in seven different colors, while the 8 GB model is only available in Black or Grey. Both the 4 and 8 GB SanDisk players are available in the U.S. and Canada now for $50 and $70 respectively, with a rollout to Europe planned for September.

[Source: SanDisk press release]


Thursday, August 25, 2011

Sony confirms plans to make all PlayStation Vita games downloadable

Is digital distribution the future of gaming? Sony seems to think so. The company has announced that games for its upcoming PlayStation Vita will be sold on the PlayStation Store alongside their physical counterparts.

The news, however, is more of a confirmation. Sony had been saying as early as March that it planned to offer digital versions of the Vita’s titles. Still, its nice to know that the company is actually committing itself to the move.

Sony has been pretty busy with with announcements over the past few days. Yesterday, the company revealed the bizarre Wi-Fi-less PSP E-

1000 as well as a $50 price-drop for the PlayStation 3 to $250.


BlackBerry phones could get Android app compatibility in 2012

Could the Blackberry soon follow the PlayBook’s lead and gain the ability to run Android apps?

That’s the story according to Bloomberg, which says that RIM’s QNX phones could be seeing the functionality as soon as early 2012. The report says that the move is a result of RIM’s desire to boost the sagging sales of its phones. With the the Android Market currently boasting over 250,000 apps, the move would be a smart one if RIM is serious about increasing the appeal of its phones.

Of course, the move is also an admittance on RIM’s part that the PlayBook’s ecosystem doesn’t exactly fill the current demand for extensive app offerings. So let’s hope RIM fills out its own app selection as well.