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I’ve been running Windows 8 for some two weeks now, and there are a lot to like about the new operating system from Microsoft.

Here are the 10 things I like about Windows 8 that you can take advantage of, being using on a computer with or without a touch capable monitor.

1. Live Tiles

Live Tile is the heart and soul of the Windows 8 UI-Style. This interface isn’t foreign to most who are used to tablets and smart phones, but it adds to that.

It is essentially a combination of launch icons and widgets with live updates from the applications, and you can re-size, move, and group them as you like. Hitting the Start button now gets you to the live tiles instead of the old boring Start Menu, which is now a thing of the past.

2. No more Start Menu, Apps listed in full screen and searchable

Wait, did you say no more Start Menu?

That’s right, launching application is in fact quite a lot easier now. Just start typing the name of the application and this will activate the Search function. Applications both in displayed on live tiles and those that aren’t are instantly shown on the screen. A much more efficient way than navigating the old multi-tiered  program menu of old.

No more Start – Program Files – Application folder – Application exe

3. Integrated Search Function

The search function is now integrated in one location. The same search box that you use to look for application installed is also the search box you use to search within applications such as Bing, Map, Windows Store, or like the example above – recipes from Allrecipes application (I searched “chicken”).

This is a very neat feature and one that really made sense.

4. Embracing full screen

Most applications for Windows 8 now take advantage of the entire real estate of your computer screen. There is nothing that gets in the way, no maximize/minimize/close buttons, status bar, or even File menu. It is beautiful and actually very usable.

There is a multitasking bar on the left when you swipe from the edge of the screen from the left. This allows easy switching between applications.

Tasks such as closing a running application is achieved by dragging it down to the bottom of the screen, pretty ingenious. This takes a few minutes to get used to, and I find it pretty neat doing it with a mouse or by touch.

5. Running two apps in one screen, with one in “minimal” mode

There are many applications that will run in a smaller mode, one of which is the messaging application (which allows you to connect to MSN chat, facebook chat, etc). Simply drag the application to the side dock it there. You’ll then be able to use the “main” space to run another application, like the browser, or map, or really, anything you like.

Of course, you can still run other applications on the background, and switch them to the front with short cut keys or gestures.

6. Windows Store

Getting applications is now a click away to the Windows Store. All applications in the store are approved by Microsoft to ensure safety (malware/virus free) and certain standards.

Applications are separated into different categories, and they come with ratings, screen shots, and user reviews as well. I remember 10 years ago we used to go to CNET Download to find apps, this is like that, except 100 times better.

7. Background updates and installation of applications

Application installation and updates now runs quietly in the background (though you can bring it up to observe). There won’t be those pesky problems where you can’t install or update one while the other installation procedure is running, and no more going clicking through multiple steps just to get an app on the computer.

This also removes the problem of each application running a background application to check for updates (a problem that bloats up the machine eventually), everything is handled by Windows 8 natively.

8. Local applications

It is also good to see that many local players are now embracing Windows 8 and producing applications specifically for the platform. Some of these are

  • The Star – most popular English daily
  • iProperty – property search application
  • Mydin hypermarket
and more. These application takes advantage of the full screen functionality, integrated search, and background updates features described above. There’ll be more and more local players soon.

9. Full compatibility with all traditional Windows Applications

Windows 8 still runs all the “older” Windows applications. Your propriety engineering software? No problem, Photoshop? Lightroom? Chrome? Diablo 3?

All these application will still run just as well as they did on Windows 7. There is still a desktop with background image of your choice and a little clock on the right bottom corner when you run these applications.

In fact, you can even have desktop run as one of the applications with another running in “minimal” mode as described in feature 5.

10. SkyDrive

Windows 8 also comes with Microsoft SkyDrive. The cloud storage space that gives you free 7 GB online storage that you can use to store basically anything. Photos, videos, documents, and more.

The one thing that really sets SkyDrive apart from the competition is the way it works with Office documents. Files created with Office will be synchronized to SkyDrive automatically, you can then open them on your phone, tablets, or even another PC that you signed in with your credential. The same documents can also be shared with other users. In fact, SkyDrive also allows you to open and edit Office documents from a browser as well.

These are just some of the new features of Windows 8, there are many other improvements (such as super fast startup/shutdown and more) on the operating system that I think you should check out.

Those new touch enabled laptops, all-in-one, and hybrid laptop/tablets with Windows 8 are really cool, but even if you’re to upgrade a non-touch enabled computer to Windows 8, you’ll still get to enjoy all the features described above.

By the way, there’re also touch screen AIO (all in one) computers available. (something to ponder about…)

How do I get Windows 8?

Well, for those who bought Windows 7 PC from Jun 2 onwards, they can upgrade to Windows 8 with USD 14.99 (RM49.92). For more logon to www.windowsupgradeoffer.com. Pretty awesome offer if you ask me.

For those who has PC and would like to install or upgrade to Windows 8, they can purchase it at USD39.99 (RM122). For more, logon to windows.my.

Also, do note that these promos last till 31st January 2013 only, otherwise it cost RM885 to get one.

In today’s world of computing, devices are definitely embracing better and better mobility. A decade ago laptop was your best portable gadget, a few years ago it was netbook, but now, it is definitely the era of tablets.

Unlike pure content consumption with a limited screen space a smart phone provides, and the still limited portability a netbook offers, tablet strikes a very good middle ground that gives us the best of both worlds, and the newly launched Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 is a perfect specimen of this evolution.

here's the white & black samsung galaxy tab 10.1
here’s the white & black samsung galaxy tab 10.1

I was invited to a blogger’s only preview of the device that was organized with Celcom and Samsung a couple weeks before the launch, and the good people from Samsung even let us get a hold of the tab for a few days to play with it (check out the short video here).

The tab comes in either white or black (photo above has Cheesie holding the white, and myself holding the black tab… but you can’t tell can you?) colored black plate, for the benefit of the geeks, lets look at the specifications first, shall we?

specifications of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1
specifications of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1

The graphic above illustrates the dimension of this beautiful gadget. There’s an On/Off button, a set of volume up/down buttons, front (2MP) & back cameras (3MP), a standard 3.5mm jack for headsets, and a SIM card slot. The whole thing is only 8.5mm thick, making the Galaxy Tab 10.1 the thinnest tablet yet, and at 565 grams, one of the lightest too.

The screen is also the brightest I’ve seen, with a 16:10 aspect ration (1280 x 800 pixels) spread across the 10.1″ LCD real estate when measured diagonally, yes, this is where the name comes from too. The screen is simply stunning, you gotta see it for yourself.

look at how thin this tablet is, only 8.6 mm
look at how thin this tablet is, only 8.6 mm

Under the hood there’s the 1 GHz dual-core NvidiaTegra 2 processor with 1 GB RAM and 16 GB ROM.

Of course, for a tablet, connectivity is very important:

  • HSPA +21 850/900/1900/2100
  • EDGE/GPRS850/900/1800/1900
  • Wifi 802.11 a/b/g/n dual band support (2.4, 5Ghz)
  • Bluetooh 3.0
  • Wifi-direct

Which basically means, almost every single wireless data technology except for the old infrared that you grandfather might still be using.

Samsung put in a 7000 mAh battery in the tab, and this is good for some 9 hours of movies or up to 72 hours of music. When I was reviewing it, 3-4 hours of playing and online activities uses close to half the juice, so the claim should be pretty accurate.

note: full specs here.

stunning youtube application, 3D google map, and ... this blog :D
stunning youtube application, 3D google map, and … this blog on Galaxy Tab 10.1

This gadget of course, runs the latest Android honeycomb that is built specifically for tablets. This comes with, for example, the latest Google Map application that has 3D maps for certain locations (and hopefully Malaysia soon), Picasa web album synchronizations, and an updated YouTube application too.

The Picasa web album is pretty neat, after signing in with my Google account, the photos I took with my Android phone magically appears on the tab too. This would be very handy especially for blogging & digital manipulation on the tab before sharing to the public. I love this feature.

There are also now a host of new HD applications built specifically for Android Honeycomb too, and just like the phones, you can sign into Android Market place on PC or tab itself, click download on the chosen apps, and they will be downloaded to the tab wirelessly. I think I wasted over 10 hours on a HD tower defense game….

Then there’s the accessories. There are at least two types of keyboards for the tab (look at the photo above), the docked version make it act like a netbook, good for content creation, and there is also a bluetooth version that comes with a casing to hold the tab too.

Celcom broadband plan with Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1
Celcom broadband plan with Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1

However, to me, the best accessories has got to be the SD & USB card adapters. With these you can copy photos from your camera’s SD card directly onto the tablet, by passing any computer usage altogether, and the USB adapter means that you can back up files, play movies, and basically extend the storage of the tab without limit.

Everyone has been asking for USB connectivity, and finally we have a device that can do exactly that.

Next question is fo course, how much does this cost?

The Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 (3G + wifi & 16 GB) is currently only available via Celcom broadband, RRP at RM 1,899, but with a Celcom broadband contract, you can have it as low as RM 1,468. Check out Celcom Samsung Galaxy Tab page here.

and Lainey won a Galaxy Tab at the launching event for media, grr
and Lainey won a Galaxy Tab at the launching event for media, grr

I went for the media launching event last Friday too, and guess what? Lainey was one of the 2 lucky winners to walk away with a Galaxy Tab 10.1. You can see I wasn’t so thrilled on the photo above, I want one too!

Now let me budget budget abit. 😀

I’ve always been a bit of a reader, from trivial wikipedia articles to ESPN sports analysis, and of course, books. This is how I spend my one hour or so LRT rides everyday.

Reading beats standing idle looking at strangers that slowly became nameless familiar faces over the months, reading also beats listening to music in the train unless a better way is found in to deal with my spontaneous dancing/karaoke sessions on public transport property.

Barnes and Noble Nook
my ebook reader – the Barnes and Noble Nook

I was one of the earliest adopters of ebook. In fact, back in 2003 I had a little Sony Clie PDA that I used to read on. The tiny screen displays pretty crisp colors, but suffers from the drawbacks of having relatively small memory, and rather miserable battery life. It was tough to find ebooks then too.

Then came the age of smart phones, I tried reading on my phones with mobipocket and so on but gave up eventually. The screens were too small, and LCD with back light was never kind to the eyes.

Many argues that physical book is best and that nothing beats the feel and smell and whatever, but I disagree. Book is good, but ebook readers with e-Ink technology are awesome. How about being able to store thousands of books in your hand, with built in dictionary, and weigh only as much as a typical book? Of course, there are more features too.

Barnes and Noble Nook, size comparison

Since most ebook readers use e-ink screens from the same company (and they are awesome, you can read under direct sun, battery life lasts over a week), choosing a reader for me became a slightly harder task.

After quite an extensive research, I narrowed down the choices to Kindle and Nook, and finally I got myself a Barnes and Noble Nook Wifi model, and this is why:

  • reads ePub (the most popular ebook format, lacking in Kindle), PDF, HTML, and graphics
  • has a webkit browser (like firefox/chrome) and wifi access
  • based on Android and has a community built firmware at Nookdev.com (with other open source apps too)
  • 2 screen design with color touch screen at the bottom for navigation
  • ability to add microSD card to extend the 2GB built in storage (Kindle doesn’t allow that)
  • plays MP3, comes with 3.5mm universal stereo phone jack
  • user replaceable battery
  • relatively light at 320 grams or so (less than half the weight of an iPad)
  • relatively low price at US $149

The only problem was well, Barnes and Noble doesn’t ship the Nook to Malaysia, and you can’t buy ebooks directly from B&N without some tricks. But fear not, there are many ways to skin this cat.

I got my nook from ipmart and paid some RM 800 including shipping and a nice leather sleeve. Alternatively, you can also get them via other shop/shipping sites like vshub or USunlocked. If you’re interested in buying ebooks from B&N directly, you can use a debit card with US billing address from services like the one from USunlocked (US $10 to get the card).

There are also free ebooks from the likes of Project Gutenberg as well as some other sources, use your imagination.

Believe it or not, the ebook readers sold at MPH are more expensive, and comes with quite a bit less features than the Nook, terrible.

I’ve had the Nook for about a month now, read half a dozen books on it and only had to charge it 3-4 times so far. The experience in fantastic, and I highly recommend anyone who love to read consider one of these e-ink readers seriously.

I am KY and I’m a gadget junkie.

I have 6 phones, 3 cameras, 4 watches, 2 desktops, and a life so entrenched in technology it is bordering lunacy. The latest shiny toy that I have with me, thanks to Kim, is a review unit of the Garmin-Asus nüvifone M10.


Garmin Asus nüvifone M10

I must be one of the earliest adopters of GPS devices. Back in 2002 I bought a usb GPS receiver, hooked it up on my laptop and drove around Northern Virginia. There were no routing program I could use back then, just a little moving dot on the map showing where I was.

I felt like James Bond, the concoction was as cool as it was impractical.

Fast forward to 2010, enter the Nuvifone M10.


Nuvifone M10 in action, a true road warrior

In essence, this is the same solution in 2002 shrunk to a little device not larger than any ordinary smart phones. Running Windows Mobile 6.5.3 Professional with full featured Garmin GPS.

Flip it around (actually works in portrait mode too) to landscape mode, search or input your destination, click a button, and viola! The phone is now a true blue GPS device.

The Garmin GPS is definitely not stripped down mobile version found in some other phones. It is turn-by-turn navigation that actually speaks out the road names, and there’s even junction view too.

Since it’s a Nuvifone designed to move you, locking on GPS is a snap. I can’t tell you how many times I actually need to stop the car and wait for GPS on my other phones to lock, no such problem with this nifty little thing.

The car kit for M10 is pretty smartly designed. I like how the power cable is connected to the kit so when you remove the phone from the kit there’s no need for the extra step to take off the cable.


the bright 3.5″ screen

The 3.5 WVGA display is bright and very refined. With 800 x 480 pixels, it is actually very useful to browse most websites without having to scroll side to side especially when you use it in landscape mode.

For the workaholics, there’s also Office Mobile with the familiar Excel, Word, PowerPoint, and OneNote.


mini keyboard and wireless manager

When I first lay these fingers on Windows Mobile, it was on a Sharp PDA with a built in 36 kbps modem (to hook up with an actual phone line!) running on Windows CE 2.0. It didn’t have colors, it was sluggish, sucks battery faster than little kids with on lollipops, and downright impractical. Of course, that was something like 1999.

Actually even just a few years back working with Windows Mobile 2003 and version 5, I wasn’t impressed. However, with version 6.5, I think Microsoft has finally gotten it right. The UI is much cleaner, sleeker, and finally very usable. The touch interface is very responsive too.


sample photo shot with the M10

The M10 comes with a 5 megapixel camera that takes pretty good photos, just about the only qualm I have with this phone is the lack of flash (just like iPhone). Fortunately, the sensor managed to do pretty well even in pretty low light condition. The above photo is taken straight out of the camera at KLCC during night time when it wasn’t brightly lit.

I hooked up the phone on my work laptop running Windows 7 trying to download the photos, and within a few minutes this little applet showed up – Windows Mobile Device Center. At the end of the day, mobile phones running Windows Mobile is going to beat any other platform when you pair it up with a Windows machine.

Here you can download/transfer photos, music, video, change device setting, install programs, etc etc. Pretty cool, I didn’t even insert the CD to the laptop and all this was done automatically.

The Garmin-Asus nuvifone M10 will be released on the 25th of March, and I’ve heard that it’s gonna be priced below RM 1.8k.

I think this is unquestionably the #1 choice if you’re looking for a GPS phone, nothing I’ve tried came close to it, unless you prefer to have a 14″ laptop in your car…