Monthly Archives: August 2009

Billion 7800N Wireless ADSL2+ Router Review

So I’ve been looking for a replacement wireless N ADSL router. Some have Gigabit ports, others Dual Band wireless N but few have both at least not in the UK anyway.

But I think I’ve found the best compromise and here it is, the New Billion BiPAC 7800N Wireless N ADSL2+ with Gigabit Ethernet Switch, catchy name isn’t it!? But it has all the features that I need, but will it perform how I hope.

My ISP is Bethere Internet or Be as they like to be known and they offer a potential connection speed of up to 24Mbits if you live right on top of it. But I don’t so typically my connection speeds are about 13-15Mbits with my old router a Speedtouch 780 that was supplied with by my ISP, but that is still a lot higher than most sub 8Mbit speeds.

After I’d ordered the new router I did a set of test and noted down the speeds and times of transferring a 780Mb file to multiple different locations around the house and to different PC’s.

Equipment used for test

Homeserver – 1.5tb Green WD drive – Gigabit Ethernet

PC – XPS 430 –  Quad core – Duel stripped drives = Wireless G

Laptop – Duel Core Dell XPS 1330 = Intel Wireless G / N

PS3 via Ethernet

False Start

You know what its like, you order a new gadget and can’t wait for it to arrive. Only this time the excitement didn’t last for long as when I opened the box there was no power supply inside. I was a bit disappointed to say the least but hey these things happen. A quick call to broadbandbuyer.co.uk from whom I’d purchase the router and they got onto Billion as they had sold out of the router and there was a new power supply on the way. It arrived only a couple of days later so did it live up to the performance expectations.

A quick note on the instructions supplied before I get to the performance. Lets just say they are a bit rough and ready, no more than a few pages of photocopied A4 pages to get you started and they really aren’t that useful. If you know what you are doing then it won’t be a problem but for the novice you might be a little daunted.

Performance and Set-up

Set-up wasn’t to complex but I did need to make a few tweaks to get everything working well. The Auto configure didn’t work so I had to use the manual method.  I used this Billion Be/O2 help page to get the right settings and it almost worked, the trick was to add in the correct manual Primary DNS IP address as the AUTO setting wasn’t working. Hey presto it was up and running, but what have I connected at?

Speedtouch – 1090(Up)/14834(Down)

Billion 7800 – 1191/15801kbps (initial figure)

But things are set to get better, Be/O2 use Annex M and this means I might be able to get an even better upload and download speed but how good? Very good is the answer check out the figures below, this is far better than I have ever got before so I did a speed check as well to see if things go better.

Billion 7800 Annex M – 1347 / 17931 kbps

That’s a 3000kbps or 3Mbit improvement in upload speeds, a very healthy increase indeed. A quick speed test confirmed the boosted speed, going from 13.2Mb/s to 15.7Mb/s, not quite the sync speed but as it was via wireless and there are other factors involved that’s still a healthy increase. Another reason is that the Billion 7800 N uses a broadcom which is know to often get better download speeds.

Wireless N, is it any quicker?

I’d say maybe a little but that would be a lie, it is much much quicker for me at least. Rather than waffle on to much here are the transfer differences I saw below on the PC and the Laptop. The test was to transfer a 780Mb AVI file.

Laptop performance

Wireless G – 99% Signal – 1.82Mb/s – 6 minutes 47 seconds.

Wireless N – 99% Signal – 2.72Mb/s – 4 minutes 57 seconds.

PC Performance

Wireless G – 81% Signal – 2.42Mb/s – 5 minutes 41 seconds.

Wireless N – 50/70% Signal – 8.92Mb/s – 1 minutes 25 seconds.

The Laptop is a bit quicker but the test was done when the laptop was as close as it can get to the router, this can cause an issue with performance thus why the difference in speed is small. Also the laptop was having to try fairly hard to transfer the data @35/40% processor usage meaning it will start to be a bit of a factor in the transfer speeds.

But for the PC the speed improvement is dramatic to say the least and a clear view of how much faster wireless N can be. It wasn’t initially that quick, I had to play around with the location of the Wireless N dongal and ariels before I got a better figure and the 50/70% still doesn’t look great. I used a Billion 3010N that I bought with the router that doesn’t have a wireless antenna, but regardless of the noise the performance the speed speaks for itself.

Initial Conclusion 9/10

Well the Billion 7800N is cheaper than many of the other wireless N and Gigabit Ethernet routers, add to that it has full ADSL2+ and Annex M support and its a great package that these initial speed results show. The slight disappointment with the power supply is now  forgotten as everything else is as good or better than I hoped for.

I will update this review when I have done the Ethernet performance tests and if the router is more stable than the frankly terrible Speedtouch.  If you are in the market for a new ADSL router and are with Be or 02 or anyone for that matter then I would give this a serious look as it ticks all the boxes for me.

Gran Turismo 5 – Full Game Features list released

Well what do we have here, yes a full list of the features of Gran Turismo 5, but no release date, will they hurry up already. Fingers crossed the released date won’t be far off but the signs look very positive. I think learning 60 yes 60 tracks will be interesting and I for one can’t wait to find out.

They have been comparing it to Forza recently but who will come out on to? Only time and a hell of a lot of game place will we find out. So have a read a drool over this lovely list of features, now what am I going to call the private race room then…….

With any luck it will be out well before Christmas as the signs are that its going to be launched before December, watch this space.

– models included

1,000 vehicles

170 Premium new models (full interior modelling, the interior corresponds to vehicle damage)

830 kinds of standard model (some are from Gran Turismo 4 that have been carried over to GT5) [Read: Cars we have seen in GT4 before ]

– Courses

60 courses confirmed with 20 or more to be revealed

– physical simulation of vehicles

Physics system simulation is brand new

Represented is full fall in vehicles [possibly rollover]

Damage representation (reproduced in full by real-time collision deformation)

faithfully reproducing the behavior of electric cars, i.e. Prius, Insight, hybrid cars and the latest Tesla model

– Arcade Mode

Single Race

2 player battle

– GT Mode

World Map

My Garage

Car Dealer

Tuning Shop (parts, tires)

Car Washes/Oil Change

Race Championship (Series system, point system)

License Test

– Online

Open Lobby

Text / Voice Chat

Private rooms

Online Photo Album

Online Replay Album

YouTube replay output

– Photo Mode

Photo Drive (Circuit)

Photo stage (Stage Photo mode only)

– Gran Turismo TV

Video output to a PSP or PSP Go®

Progressive Download

Improved user interface

Continuous Play for videos

– Museums

The Gran Turismo 5 Prologue version, + more information at TGS

– Sound

Custom soundtracks (Use songs from your PS3 hard-drive)

Dolby Digital 5.1 and 7.1

– User Interface

The Gran Turismo 5 Prologue, and the same design concept. The icons change color

Able to track the movement of Cockpit Camera interface (confirmed in full 3-D. The camera can be fully manipulated and you can opt to have your head tracked by the PSEye)

Dyson Handheld DC31 Animal Vacuum Review

[singlepic id=21 w=320 h=240 float=left]We have bought handheld vacuums in the past, you know the black and decker £50 ones that really don’t seem to do the job, they just suck a bit, clog up and need to be emptied every two seconds. They don’t last that long either and the range of attachments is limited to say the least.

I’d looked at the previous range of Dyson handhelds and wasn’t convinced. But they have just launched a new range of which the flagship of the range is the DC31 Animal. The new vacuum comes with an all new patented digital electric motor that spins at up to 104,000rpm. This new motor helps to give the vacuum cleaner truly stunning suction power.

The model I decided to purchase was the DC31 Animal and it has turned out to be an excellent choice. The most useful element of the DC31 Animal is the motorised brush. Using it on the stairs its brilliant and better than using a normal vacuum cleaner. Its also very easy to clean the motorised brush, a simple turn of the end with a coin and the bar comes out and you can untangle anything thats in its way and then slip it back in and lock it in place.  Its not heavy to use either it feels surprisingly light in fact, my wife prefers to use it than the standard vacuum sometimes.

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Battery life is good but not great, you can do the stairs and a bit more with ease or do the entire car with it no problem. Charging takes a good while but it is a Li-Ion battery so you should get any loss of battery performance for a long time after your purchase. You can use the boost mode (there is a button on the back to get full power mode) to get even more suction but to be honest I don’t tend to use it that much and on the standard setting there is more than enough suction for most situations.

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Emptying the cylinder is easy peasy, press the button and bing, the rubbish is gone. It does fling out quite quickly so hold it in the bin not over it when you do it otherwise you will get the rubbish flying everywhere.

There is a filter that needs washing once a month or so depending on usage but do keep it clean. Many people don’t keep the filters clean on their Dysons and wonder why they aren’t performing as well as when they bought them.

The 2 year warranty is good and gives a good bit of piece of mind.

Conclusion

Lets face it at £150 its expensive but do you know what it just works and does a brilliant job in the process. It would be better if the price was sub £100 but to be honest it really is THAT much better than any other handheld I’ve used, and then some. You could go for the standard DC31 model without the motorised brush but I wouldn’t its a great addition that really is worth having. Oh and the colour purple does look great on it and very funcky sitting there in the house (did I really just say that?!?).

9/10 for me, a little improvement to the battery life and reduced cost and this would be 10/10

# Motorised brush bar for pet hair pick-up
# Dyson digital motor
# Dual power mode for 10 minutes of high constant suction or 6 minutes with 40% higher suction
# Lightweight – only 1.5kg for easy handling
# LED low battery power indicator
# Patented Root Cyclone technology
# Quick and hygienic to empty – just press the button
# No extra costs – no bags or filters to buy
# 22.2V lithium ion battery – recharges up to 3 times faster than others
# Crevice tool converts to brush tool for dusting
# 2 years parts and labour guarantee

Will Jessops survive?

Firstly I hope they do because its good to have camera shops dotted around the country, but will they survive?

Lets face it most of the stores are very tired and poor by modern retail standards, compare it to the look of the updated Currys Digital stores and you can see a vast difference. Step into the store in the Trafford centre for instance and its dark and poorly lit like they don’t want to replace broken light bulbs.

The lack of strength in the pound is also hurting the premium SLR sales and especially lenses. A canon 70-200f4 IS last year was £700, now its barely below £1000. Thats a big difference thats delaying many potential purchases, certainly from me anyway.

They still insist on charging a small fortune for memory cards but even then they are often very poorly stocked, so when you are in a hurray you are stuck, not great. The ordering system isn’t that slick either, the person in the shop said call us if you want to check stock as he has lost count of the number of times a customer has reserved an item for it not to be in when they arrive.

Fingers crossed the economy starts to free up and Jessops have a good summer and Christmas period, if they don’t sort out their funding problems then we might lose another store from out high street. But if they do survive, put some money into a refresh program hey.

The Joy of an iPhone

Ok so I like my gadgets but in the past have been VERY anti iPhone. I mean its not small really, its battery life is terrible and the resolution of the screen is ok no better.

But I’ve got one now and oh my is it a fantastic device. As many annoyingly say ‘it just works’ well it does. Installing applications is childs play, browsing is a dream and setting up getting e-mail from just about anywhere is an absolute doddle.

If you want a good phone that you can play games on and the games are incredible and there are thousands of them so you aren’t going to get board anytime soon!

Yes the battery life isn’t great but you get used to just needing to charge it every night but then I do have wifi and bluetooth on all the time and they both get regular use. I’m not using it on 02 in the UK either I’ve jailbroken it to work on T-Mobile to which it does and everything still works.

The screen never appears to need a higher resolution either and the number of free applications that you can use to get the best out of the devices is just amazing, if you can’t find the app you need you aren’t searching for the right thing.

And when you do have 50 applications on the phone how do you update them? Well again thats easy, every time you go into the app store it checks all of your installed applications and then tells you which have updates. You click update date all and it just does it, no installing and downloading on a PC no hassle just easy.

I’m not going to rate it 10/10 because elements of it are a compromise. So I will give it 9/10.

Fingers crossed the camera improves as does the battery life, but other than these few things its an amazing device that deserves all of the plaudits that have been showed upon it.

I will post some application and game reviews in coming days and weeks.

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