Friday, November 20, 2009

Want To Try Out Google Chrome OS For Yourself? Here’s How.

The public debut of Google Chrome OS today has the press abuzz over the potential of the new web-based operating system. And now that it’s open sourced, you have the chance to try it out for yourself. Unfortunately, most people aren’t ready to undertake the daunting task of actually taking Google’s recently open-sourced code and turning that into a bootable computer. So we’ve put together a step-by-step guide to doing this, for free, in around 15 minutes (depending on how long it takes to download the OS itself). No, this won’t get your computer booting Chrome OS natively (and frankly, you probably wouldn’t want to yet anyway). But it will get it up and running in a virtual machine using the free software VirtualBox, which is available for Macs, PCs, and Linux.

First, a few caveats: we didn’t create the Chrome OS build ourselves — it was downloaded from BitTorrent. In theory it could possibly have been tweaked by some malicious hacker to steal your Google account information (this is unlikely, but who knows). There’s an easy fix if you’re worried though: just go make a throwaway Gmail account, and use that to play around with the OS. Also note that because this is running in a virtual machine, you’re probably not going to be seeing great performance (like that 7 second boot time). But it’s more than good enough to get a feel for the OS for yourself.

First, you need to get an image of Chrome OS. You can do that using this torrent. You can also try out the build that GDGT has uploaded, which worked fine in our test as well. If you get the torrent version, you’ll see it’s in a .BZ2 format. You’ll need to extract it. Macs should be able to do this automatically, but for Windows you may need a tool like Win Rar.

Once that’s done, download a version of VirtualBox for whatever OS you’re running on here and install it. After registering (or declining to) you’ll be met with a screen like this. Click the button that says “New” in the upper left hand corner. We’re going to be making a new virtual machine.:

You’ll enter a wizard like this. Hit next.

Go ahead and title the OS whatever you’d like. For the operating system, choose Linux, with Ubuntu as the version (other setups could potentially work, but this is the only one we’ve gotten working).

Choose how much memory to allocate to this virtual machine. This will be dependent on how much memory you have in your computer. The more, the better, but if you choose too much your real computer will become unstable/very slow.

Here’s the tricky part (fortunately it isn’t very tricky). You don’t want to create a new hard disk, instead, you want to use an existing hard disk. Don’t choose one from the drop down menu either — you’re going to want to hit the folder icon just to the right of that to enter the ‘virtual media manager’.

Hit the ‘Add’ button.

Now you have to find the Chrome OS image you downloaded earlier. This is probably on your desktop or in your downloads folder. Once you’ve found it, hit ‘Open’.

Hit ‘Select’ once you reach this window.

Almost there. Make sure ‘use existing hard disk’ is checked. Hit next.

Hit ‘Finish’

You’re done! Hit Start. Hopefully the screen will go black, but only for a little while (this could be anywhere from 10 seconds to a minute or so, depending on how fast your computer is).

Once you’re in, you’ll see a splash screen for ‘Chromium’ (which is what Google calls dev builds of Chrome). To login, you’ll need to enter a valid Google Account ID. Your standard Gmail account should work, but as we said before, this build of ChromeOS came from bittorrent, so you may want to use a throw away account like we did in the screenshots below (you can make one here).

You’re in. Now time to explore. To be honest, everything looks quite similar to Google’s Chrome browser, but there are a few key differences. Note the battery life indicator and options menu in the far upper right. Also try playing around with the ‘New Window’ functions — you’ll find that it’s difficult (if not impossible) to navigate between multiple windows. And be wary of the Bookmarks manager. As far as I can tell, there’s no easy way to get out of it — you’ll have to manually create a new bookmark, which will kick you back into the browser mode once you click it. Oh, and good luck finding the ’shut down’ button, because we sure can’t.

You probably won’t need it, but the shared user password for this install (which you’d need for functions like sudo) is ‘chromeos’ according to the torrent’s listing on ThePirateBay.

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Monday, November 9, 2009

Meet Samsung's iPod killer, the touchscreen P3

The last of the Samsung press conference: their P3 touchscreen MP3 player.

The P3, a widescreen portable multimedia player, has an “EmoTure” interface with true haptic feedback. It’s a CES Innovations 2009 Design and Engineering Award honoree. The 8GB player boasts a 3-inch WQVGA TFT-LCD touch screen for photos and video at 16:9 aspect ratio without letterboxing.

Samsung P3

As for the “EmoTure” touch interface with haptic feedback. the company says the following: “With every command gesture, from swiping a finger across the screen, to switching audio tracks, to holding down a digital button for fast-forwarding video, the P3 reacts with a variety of physical sensations for a more intimate user experience versus other media players.” It’s also got a Music Hot Touch Key, located just below the touch screen, as a shortcut to music features and selections.

As for the audio, the P3 has Samsung’s updated DNSe 3.0 sound enhancement tech, but we’ll see when we hear it.

The unit is just 0.39 inches thin, and can be paired with a Bluetooth-enabled phone, allowing users to use the built-in microphone to answer calls directly through the player.

It’s got a reinforced die-cast metal casing in either matte black or matte silver. Why? “The player’s housing is built to combat the fingerprints and scratching, which typically mar today’s portable electronic devices.” Sorry, iPod touch.

sources :

The P3 will be available in the first half of 2009 in 4GB, 8GB, 16GB and 32 GB storage capacities. Note about being an iPod touch-killer: I didn’t see anything about Wi-Fi in there!

notification : click to the picture to enlarge

Sunday, November 1, 2009

review for Apple iMac

It's said that a thing of beauty is a joy forever, but current Apple iMac owners have only had a couple of years to enjoy their desktop PC before being presented with a new object of desire. The latest iMacs are more evolutionary than revolutionary, but still offer a leap forward. The 21.5-inch iMac starts at around £950, while the 27-inch model, upon which this review is based, begins at about £1,350.

Unibody upgrade
Both the 21.5-inch and 27-inch iMacs have essentially the same appearance as the old 21-inch and 24-inch models, but elements of the MacBook Pro's design have also crept in, adding a greater degree of design consistency across the Mac range.

The old black plastic back has been replaced with case that's carved from a single block of aluminium, for a 'unibody' feel, and the glass screen now extends right to the edge of the case. The bottom bezel has also shrunk and now measures 60mm on the 27-inch iMac, compared to 85mm on the old 24-inch model.

As you might expect, the 27-inch iMac is wider than the 24-inch version -- measuring 650mm across, as opposed to 570mm -- but it's no taller and so should fit on a desk just as easily. It still feels ridiculously large when you sit in front of it, but we'll probably all be craving a 32-inch model before too long.

LED-backlit screen
The major change for all new iMac models is the move to LED-backlit screens. These pop to full brightness much more quickly than the previous CCFL displays and are more evenly lit across their entire expanse, although our model still had a faint discoloured stripe towards its bottom edge. The new displays also provide a much greater brightness range. The 27-inch iMac screen is positively dim at its lowest setting -- something that couldn't be said of the older iMacs.

With a widescreen, high-definition display, it's a shame that the 27-inch iMac lacks a Blu-ray drive

The screen might be smaller, but the 1,920x1,080-pixel resolution of the 21.5-inch iMac's display is only slightly lower than the 1,920x1,200-pixel resolution of the outgoing 24-inch model. The 27-inch iMac has a whopping resolution of 2,560x1,440 pixels, which is enough to display two 1,280x1,024-pixel windows side by side. The increased pixel density of both screens also makes everything on the display look sharper, but everything in the Mac OS X operating system is rendered slightly smaller as a result.

Apple supplies the new Bluetooth keyboard as standard (it's the same as before, but with one less battery), but you can still opt for a wired keyboard with a numeric keypad. Also included is the new Magic Mouse, which, while a vast improvement over the Mighty Mouse, still won't please everyone.

The whole of the Magic Mouse's seamless plastic surface is a multi-touch sensor. This works much like the MacBook's trackpad for clicking and scrolling, but two-finger swipes for moving back and forth require a degree of dexterity that Apple's designers seem to have underestimated. The mouse is also very flat, and held between the thumb and little finger, rather than in the palm. We didn't find this very comfortable, but it probably won't be a problem for everyone.

Slight performance boost
The thinner, LED-backlit screen has freed up space inside the iMac's case, which has allowed Apple to switch to stock desktop processors and beef up the cooling system (the all-aluminium case no doubt also acts as a giant heat sink).

All iMacs now ship with a 3.06GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E7600 processor as standard, with a 3.33GHz chip available for an extra £160. Also standard across the board is 4GB of RAM, and Apple has added an extra pair of SODIMM slots for cheaper upgrades to 8GB. In addition, Apple has increased the maximum RAM to 16GB.

The 27-inch iMac is also available with either an Intel Core i5 or Core i7 quad-core processor, but these models are still a few weeks from arrival, so we can only speculate about the stonking performance they'll deliver.

In the meantime, our 27-inch iMac with an Intel Core 2 Duo E7600 processor and ATI Radeon HD 4670 graphics returned a score of 190.52 in the synthetic Xbench benchmark test. A 24-inch iMac with a 2.93GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E8335 chip and ATI Radeon HD 4850 graphics scored 162.3. You're not really getting much more in terms of performance with these new iMacs, then, but you are getting a better overall specification at a similar price point to the old models.

The gap in screen sizes between the new 21.5-inch and 27-inch Apple iMacs seems rather wide to us, but that's the only real complaint we can conjure up. The increased specifications and much-improved construction mean they both offer decent value for money, although the usual grumble about iMacs costing more than equivalent Windows PCs still applies.

Edited by Charles Kloet

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