Sunday, April 24, 2011

Intel Core i3/i5/i7 Chips enter "Sweet Spot"

We keep track of laptops in terms of performance versus price -- and we are excited that more of the Intel Core i3/i5/i7 series is entering the sweet spot of performance to price.  BUT what are some of the differences between the i3 and i5 chip (and i7)?

Thermal Design Power (TDP):  The lower the number, the better.  This measures the power, or wattage needed to run and cool the computer's processor.  This is where the i5 shines over the i3.

  • The i3 uses about 75 watts of power as compared to 35 watts for the i5.  This means the i5 chip runs cooler and uses less energy.
  • This means better performance to energy usage (and more efficient battery usage!) for the i5.
  • Currently, tech limitations caps chip clock speed at around 4Ghz -- with many laptops running chips in the 2 Ghz range.
  • This is why the chip manufacturers (mainly Intel & AMD) have made dual core and quad core processors (using 2 or 4 processors to improve computing performance).    
  • The i5 has a Turbo-boost for better performance when needed.
  • The i7 uses about 45 watts of power but has higher specs in terms of number of cores and cache.  
  • The i7 is still a bit pricey, but i3 and i5 laptops are currently in our "sweet spot" of laptops.  
We love the i3 -- and especially the i5 chip -- if you are shopping for a laptop.  

Monday, April 11, 2011

GPS with Traffic: Google Maps App

Just a few years ago, GPS's were the hot thing.  Over time, some providers started to combine the GPS software with traffic information...

And then, smartphone providers started to provide GPS services for a fee.  This had the added benefit of up-to-date road maps.

The Google Maps app available on many smartphones now provides these features for free (with your smartphone's data-plan + the smartphone's GPS).  We've tested the "Google Maps app" -- with traffic enabled -- and the results have been very accurate (especially in metro areas).

Here's an interesting article on how traffic data is collected.