Thursday, April 26, 2012

Google Drive... Arrives!

At long last, Google Drive is here.  Note, that currently, Google is rolling Google Drive out slowly, for users who are interested.  For Google Gmail users, you can go to:

... and Google will inform you when they are all set for you to install the Google Drive software.

Here's a great comparison between Google Drive and Dropbox, the current leader in cloud syncing.  We love both -- and if you haven't signed up for Dropbox, check it out!

Note that if you have multiple google/gmail accounts, only one Google Drive account may be used on one computer at a time.  (You may disconnect one account to sync another google account -- but it is not recommended that you do this frequently).

Dropbox - Google Drive comparison:

Monday, April 16, 2012

Drive Specs: Hard-Drives -- and Introducing Solid State Drives

When you buy PCs or hard drives, one of the overlooked specs is the speed of data read/writes.  Most often, we see specs on the size of the hard drive (for instance, 500 GBs of space).  However, with increasingly larger file sizes from digital cameras, and high-definition videos, the speed of data access is becoming increasingly important.  

Hard drives come in a range of rotational speed.  The most common speed is 5400-rpm, but 7200-rpm is a popular choice to improve performance.  You'll see a corresponding improvement in transfer speeds if you copy a lot of data -- say HD videos from a full 8 GB memory card -- to your hard drive, so pay attention to these specs.  

If this is an important factor -- you may want to look into Solid State Drives.  These drives have no moving parts, so data transfer speeds are very quick.  Some estimate that the speed is 30 - 100x faster than hard drives!

Speeding Up 

With the very fast paced lifestyle these days, most businesses are time-bound and cannot afford a slowing down in their transactions. This makes speed of HDDs a crucial point in technological purchases. The typical access time for a Flash based SSD is about 35 - 100 micro-seconds, whereas that of a rotating disk is around 5,000 - 10,000 micro-seconds. That makes a Flash-based SSD approximately 100 times faster than a rotating disk. 

This however raises another point - what's the benefit of a high-speed SSD when the entire system cannot support it? The evolution of CPUs in terms of performance has far surpassed the development of the data storage system. The HDD is actually limiting the potential of a computer system when they are not able to keep up with the performance of the other components, particularly the CPU. If an HDD is replaced by a high-speed SSD, the performance would significantly improve.

Read more on SSDs here:

On Flash Drives and SD Cards

Thumb drives and SD cards are slower than HDDs.  They use less battery than an SSD because they don't have as many chips that operate in parallel or a sophisticated controller with RAM caching. And they'll definitely use much less battery than an HDD. But they're also a lot slower for the same reasons. 

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Cloud Computing... As we wait for GDRIVE...

As we wait for Google's GDrive, we have been seeing articles about GDrive being a Dropbox killer.  We LOVE Dropbox as a way of syncing folders and files on multiple computers and the cloud.

We have been using Dropbox for more than a year.  It works great, is easy to set up -- and 2GB of synced space is free.  Check it out:

Always have your stuff when you need it with Dropbox. 2GB account is free!


Microsoft's Skydrive offers 25GB, with 5GB of synced files.  

Thursday, April 5, 2012

A Loaded Laptop (April 2012)

On our blog, we regularly talk about the "sweet spot" in terms of laptop performance vs. price.  In this blog post, we discuss laptops that are loaded with features.  This may come in handy for people performing computer-intensive research or working with large datasets -- where the increased specs would come into play.

  • Second Generation Intel Core i7 (We prefer the quad-core i7's)
  • Note that the i7-2640M is a Dual Core CPU (4064 benchmark rating).  
  • i7-2670QM is a Quad Core CPU (6808 rating)
  • i7-2760QM is Quad Core (7558, $378)
  • i7-2860QM is Quad Core (7977, $693)
  • CPU Links & Benchmarks for common CPUs, thanks to PassMark/  
  • 8GB Ram
  • Windows 7 - 64bit 
  • We prefer a 14" screen for portability and battery life, but we'd also go for 15" depending on the rest of the specs.
  • Hard-drive: most specs call for 5400RPM, and for accessing large files, 7200RPM will be that much faster...  
  • A hot item nowadays is the Solid State Drive (SSD), but it is expensive relative to to Price/GB.  We'll price this laptop with a 256GB SSD.
And what will these goodies cost?
  • $1350-$1500 is a decent price for these specs.  
  • Can also find refurbished laptops for about $1150-$1200 with these specs.
Solid State Drives (SSD)
  • The Solid State Drive is roughly a $500 premium, but for accessing the hard drive faster, the SSD can be 30-100x faster than a regular hard-drive.  

Without the SSD feature, a loaded laptop with the Second Generation i7 chip is starting to fall into our "sweet spot" of laptops (into the $600 range).  A good price for these laptops are usually in the $750-$900 range, but if you shop carefully, you may find some in the $650-$700 range.  Refurbished laptops might be in the $600-$650 range (10%-15% savings).

We expect prices to fall further, with the introduction of the Intel Ivy Bridge chip sets.  

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Intel Ivy Bridge Chips - Launch Date is 4/29/12

From CPU-World:

The original launch date for Ivy Bridge was to be April 8th, but that has had to be adjusted, not least because of surplus stocks of Sandy Bridge wafers that need to be used up. It seems that the 7 series desktop chipsets - Z77, Z75, H77 and B75 - will be available from retailers on April 8, but Ivy Bridge processors will start rolling out 3 weeks later, on April 29.

There are ten i5 and i7 processors due for release on April 29. These include i7-3770, i7-3770K, i7-3770S and i7-3770T from the i7 range. For the i5 range, we will see i5-3570K, i5-3550, i5-3550S, i5-3570T, i5-3450 and i5-3450S processors.

Five weeks later, on June 3, Intel will launch several more i5 processors, as well as the mobile chipsets. The processors to be launched at this stage include i5-3470, i5-3470S, i5-3475S, i5-3570 and i5-3570S. Core i3 and Pentium processors with the new core will not be available until the holiday season.

Read more here: