Category Archives: Computing

So what is the Apple iSlate going to offer us?

I’m sitting here writing this on a good old laptop with a keyboard and a lovely LED backlit 13″ screen. But could I do that with the new iState, well I don’t think so I quite like having a nice keyboard to use thank you very much. But maybe this isn’t the audiance for the new iState, well thats if what the new Apple Tablet is going to get called.


So what is it going to be used for?

Well I can see it as being a good way of viewing and surfing the net and looking at news articles and yes you guessed it reading books, how will Apple cope with having a device that doesn’t have a glossy screen. So thats good but I’m not sure I want to spend upwards of £400 or even more to get one. Surely its going to have to be more than that, it might be quite good for larger stratergy games the developers have been asked to look at higher resolution games after all and expect it to have 3D graphics chips to spice things up.

Yes it will be super thin, and have a nice big 10″ OLED screen which will help to improve the battery life, it will need to be quite light aswell. I’d expect it might also have 3G as well as Wifi otherwise how would it update when you are on the move, I bet the networks will love having more devices to deal with.

So we could be looking at a device that is going to start to shape computing into the next decade or a big flop and and expensive one at that. It will probably be a great hit that many will love and an equal measure hate, me I’m yet to be convinced but I guess we will find out more on the 26th of January, launch date? I’d go for April or May pre-updated iPhone etc. likely in June.

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 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.

Where are all the ADSL Dual Band Wireless N routers?

Now Wireless N has been out for a while, ADSL out for a lot longer and gigabit ethernet out for well… you guessed it a lot longer than both. So where are all the routers that have it all then? Well there aren’t.

So what I want this

Dual Band Wireless N
4x Gigabit Ethernet
ADSL+ 24Mb supported modem, all in one box

And do you know what in the UK, it just doesn’t exist. Netgear, nope, Belikin, erm nope, oh hold on D-Link erm … nope, Vigor well nearly everything but the 4x Gigabit, I mean why have 3x 100m and then 1Gigabit, that is just stingy for a router that costs £180.

Now if you check out the Cable models they have it all and plenty of them, dual band, loads of Gigabit ethernet ports and plenty more besides. So come on all you manufacturers out there where is my erm ‘Dream wireless router’ then, surely it can’t be that hard to produce can it?

Excellent Dell XPS Warranty Service

sv_xps_fam_article_002Well as already reported a few days ago DELL XPS1330 – Nvida graphics card dies its now been fixed and the service was mighty impressive.

I called and reported the problem on Tuesday evening after a very helpful call to confirm diagnosis of the problem, they even organised the appointment at work so no need to take a day off. Dell called on Thursday morning as agreed to tell me the time of the appointment and an engineer arrived and fixed the laptop in the afternoon within 20 minutes.

When I got home I found that I had got no sound but had no time to try and fix it. But Dell called to check everything was OK today (Friday) and I mentioned the sound issue, ‘No problem I will call you at home later on and help fix the problem’, great service. They connected onto my in theory unsupported Windows 7 build no problem and fixed the issue that was a driver problem, which was strange as it worked before the re-build.

Anyway, either way the service was excellent at every step, if this is what you get from a Dell XPS machine I will be buying more. As the warranty was due to expire in a couple of weeks I’ve renewed it for another few years for £100, worth every penny.

DELL XPS1330 – Nvida graphics card dies

Well as I already mentioned in my previous post Windows 7 RC inital views I was having a few problems with Windows 7 graphics issues. Well its not Windows 7 at all its a failure of the good old Nvidia 8400GS graphics card.

Just after I got the laptop I read many articles relating to Nvidia saying it had had issues with many of these chips especially under high heat. Well will only days to go before then end of the warranty period its gone. The screen won’t show a thing except for lines running vertically down the screen and the colour goes from black to white and back again with lots of other interesting lines of various colours.

Not great I know but at least it can be sorted. I have to say that so far I’m very impressed with Dells XPS support line and the quick tests, as the laptop has next business day support they are indeed coming to fix it in just over a days time (I called after 5pm so its not quite next day). Fingers crossed it all gets fixed and its back up and running for more updates on Windows 7, minus any problems.

On the warranty front , for those that are interested its £80 for 1 extra year NBD support and only £92 for 2 years. Whilst I don’t want to pay I don’t want to spend another £500 in a few months if I get another dodgy Nvidia card so I think I will be extending.

I will report back when its all fixed.

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