Google Chromebooks to be sold in Canada

Google just announced that Chromebooks manufactured by Acer, HP and Samsung will soon be available in 6 countries, including Canada. Other countries included in the rollout are: Australia, France, Germany, Ireland and the Netherlands. The laptops will retail for under $350 and come with 100 GB of cloud storage for two years. Although Google Docs and Gmail will be available offline, to get the most out the functionality of these devices you will need a WiFi connection. The Samsung version of the Chromebook has a 11.6 inch 1366 x 768 display, a dual-core A15 based Exynos CPU, 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of flash storage. For further information about the Samsung variation, visit Engadget. It is expected that the Samsung and Acer Chromebooks will be available at the Future Shop and Best Buy. If you are interested in the HP Pavilion Chromebook you will have to get that directly from their website.

In other Chromebook news, Digitimes is reporting that Google has only sold 500,000 units so far. The fact that it is now available in 6 other countries could help sales figures but it could take a while for the Chromebook to gain any sort of traction in the laptop market. Further acceptance could come if Google makes progress on integrating the Chrome and Android OS.

Source: Engadget, Mobile Syrup and BGR.

Bell Fibe TV – Should you take the plunge?

If you live in Ottawa, Toronto, Montreal or Quebec City and subscribe to other Bell Services you are probably getting inundated with publicity for Fibe TV. For those of you not familiar with it, Fibe TV is an IP (Internet Protocol) based television service that is delivered through your telephone line. Bell started testing the service back in 2006 in limited areas, but it was not until 2010 that it started offering the service to its customers in Montreal and Toronto and more recently to Ottawa and Quebec City.

Read the rest of the article here.

Galaxy S 4 likely to be available in Canada in May

Samsung Canada announced that their new flagship phone, the Galaxy S 4, will be available on most major carriers in Canada in Q2.  They offered no specific dates but Q2 availability is expected to mean mid-May.

For those of you who missed the New York City event, below is a breakdown of features on the new super phone:

  • 5 inch, 1080 p, 441 ppi super AMOLED display
  • 1.9 GHz quad core (or 8 core depending on region) Snapdragon CPU
  • Android OS version 4.2.2 (Jelly Bean)
  • 13 MP rear camera, 2 MP front camera
  • 2 GB RAM
  • 16 GB, 32 GB and 64 GB storage size options
  • 2600 mAh battery

As was the case for its predecessor, the S III, the new model is built in plastic to make it lighter.  At least initially it will be available in black or white but is expected to ship in other colors later.

Source: Mobile Syrup and iPhone in Canada

Mountain Lion update now available for download

Apple released OS X 10.8.3 this week with a number of fixes and enhancements, including official support for Boot Camp for Windows 8.  The update also brings with it the ability to redeem iTunes gift cards in the App store by using the built-in iSight camera.  Other enhancements include:

  • Boot Camp support for Macs with a 3 TB hard drive
  • fix for 2011 iMacs that suffer from audio stutter
  • fix for an issue that causes your desktop picture to change after logging out or restarting
  • ability for the Slideshow screen saver to display pictures located in a sub-folder
  • reliability improvements while using a Microsoft Exchange account in Mail

The new release also includes Safari 6.0.3 which itself addresses a number of fixes and adds a number of performance improvements.  Some of these are: improved scrolling on Facebook and while zoomed in on a webpage, improved performance on web pages with plug-in content, and a fix for issue that could prevent Safari from restoring the last position on a webpage.

Ultimate Otter Box for iPhone 5/4S/4 now available

The Otter Box Armour Series for iPhone 5/4S/4 is now available at a cost of $99. Quite a price to pay for a smartphone case but as you can expect from Otter Box it provides protection under some pretty tough conditions. This new case can protect your phone from drops of 10 feet and being crushed by a 2 ton weight. In addition it offers waterproofing, being able to keep your iPhone high and dry in up to 6.6 feet of water for 30 minutes.

Source: TUAW

Angry Birds Toons to be distributed through its apps

In an unusual move for a games manufacturer, Rovio will distribute its cartoon series through its existing smartphone and tablet apps. When updates are pushed out to users in the coming week they will include a new video channel. Users of the popular games will then have the option to watch the weekly episodes of Angry Bird Toons, 52 episodes are planned. The cartoons will also be available on some Samsung Smart TV’s and Comcast’s Xfinity on Demand channel.

Source: The Verge

Solid State Drives (SSD)

Background

You may have heard a lot these days about Solid State Drives or SSD’s as they are commonly referred to as. The interest has arisen as a result of the popularity of tablets and smart phones which invariably use these devices for storage. Many computer manufacturers are now incorporating them in their laptops to reduce their size and increase battery life, Apple was one of the first companies to make their use more widespread with the introduction of the MacBook Air in 2008.

SSD’s perform much the same function as traditional Hard Disk Drives (HDD), one thing that they do not have in common with HDD’s is moving parts. Instead of storing data on spinning platters, a SSD reads and writes data to and from nonvolatile flash memory. As a result they are less susceptible to physical shock and are thus ideal for mobile computing devices. Other advantages are they are much quieter, consume less energy and have faster access times, in some cases up to 10 times faster. The one major disadvantage that keeps them from being used in all computing devices is their cost, they presently cost about 10 times as much as HDD’s of the same size. For example a good SSD with 256 GB of memory will cost about $200 – 250, while for this price you could probably buy a HDD with 2-3 TB of memory. This price difference will continue to narrow as they are being used in more and more devices, they are now close to 1/3 of the cost they were in 2009.

Making a decision on a new laptop

So should you get a SSD instead of a HDD? The answer to this question varies depending on a number of factors. If you are buying a laptop computer and want a super light computer and don’t need a lot of hard drive space then you should get a computer with a SDD, an ultra thin MacBook Air or a new HP or Dell Ultrabook. If you do need a lot of storage space and don’t care about the extra seconds it will take to boot, then you could probably save yourself some money a get a regular laptop with a conventional hard drive. Some manufacturers allow you to get the best of both worlds with hybrid drives that include a small SDD that has enough space for your operating system so that you can enjoy super fast boot and response times, and a HDD, to store all of your data.

Installing a SSD on a desktop computer

If you already have a desktop computer you can also enjoy the benefits of an SSD by installing one on your device, this is probably the most cost effective way of improving the performance of your computer. Before you go out and buy a SDD you should open up your computer and see if it can be added. The first thing you need to check is if there are extra bays, most computers have space so that additional hard drives can be installed. Regular HDD’s are 3.5 inches wide while SDD’s are 2.5 inches, there are conversion kits that can be purchased. The SDD will have to be connected to the computer motherboard, this is done through a SATA data connector, there are 3 versions, SATA 1, 2 or 3 which support transfer rates of 1.5, 3 or 6 Gbps respectively. If your computer is relatively new (i.e. 2 years or newer), you will likely have SATA 3 connectors, you can check the manual that came with your motherboard to check. If your computer only has SATA 1 or 2 connectors, you don’t need to worry as SSD’s are backwards compatible, you will just not be able to enjoy the faster speeds of the SATA 3 SSD’s. Finally the SSD needs power, there are usually extra power cables on your computer’s power supply.

If you have checked the interior of computer and have found that it can handle a SSD then go ahead and start shopping for one at your local computer or electronics store. The size that you ultimately purchase will likely depend on your budget since they are quite expensive, the current sweet spot 256 GB, there are 512 GB SSD’s available but they can run upwards of $500.

If you are able to afford a large enough SDD to store all of the data on your computer then the setup will involve a simple transfer or mirroring of your HDD onto to the SDD (some SDD’s include software to do this, Acronis True Image can also perform this function). If you have too much data on your existing HDD, you will have to install your OS on the SDD, your computer will then use the SDD to run Windows and it will access other applications and data from the HDD. Later if you want to increase the speed of your applications you would have to re-install them on the SDD. Once you have installed the OS on the SSD you will have to enter the Bios and make the SSD the main boot device. A detailed step by step guide to the installation of SSDś is described in the PC Advisor article sourced at the end of this blog.

Source: PC World, Computer World, Wikipedia, Storage Reviews, PC Advisor