Best Gaming Laptop June 2010

If your looking for a gaming laptop, this is what I recommend.

Enthusiast
$1750 – ASUS G73jh (Canada Computers)
(Core i7-920, 8GB, 1TB, Radeon 5870 w\ 1GB, Blu-Ray, 17.3″, 1080P)

High End
$1400 – ASUS G51JX-A1 (Canada Computers)
(Core i7-920, 6GB, 500GB, Geforce GTS 360M w\ 1GB, 15.6″, 1080P)

Mid Range
$900 – Acer AS5740DG-5217 (BestBuy.ca)
(Core i3-330, 4GB, 500GB, Radeon 5650 w\ 1GB, 15.6″, 720P)

Entry Level
$700 – Acer AS5738DG-6925 (Canada Computers)
(Core 2 Duo T6600, 4GB, 500GB, Radeon 4570 w\ 512MB, 15.6″, 720P)

Ultra Portable
$1250 – Alienware M11x (Dell.ca)
(Core i5-520UM, 4GB, 500GB, Geforce GT 335M w\ 1GB, 11,6″, 720P)

Dave Loft

Hilotrons Happymatic Review

Originally written in 2008

80’s, indie, synth pop and new wave comes to mind when listening to Happymatic. As the name suggests this album is a sugary pop affair. My first thought was a fun record that I would soon tire of. Yet they managed to surprise me, underneath its happy and infectious bubbly shell is a varied and interesting album waiting to be discovered.

Their opening track is almost a little too poppy and I wasn’t sure what to think of it. I continued to listen and thankfully the album gets better as you listen. Their second track reminds of the English Beat, especially their song March of the Swivelheads used in the final chase scene from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Dominika is a fairly generic track, but Lovesuit is a track I can`t get enough of. Deep River continues that feeling without missing a beat; it almost feels like the song is just making a slight adjustment to its route, but the final destination is unchanged. If these songs don`t bring a smile to your face, there must be something wrong with you.

Emergency Street is confident and robotic in nature and the beat drives the song to a somewhat repetitive ending. Caught on Video could easily be caught on an album coined by Ric Ocasek, recapturing that sound so perfectly played in the Cars. Feet First is one of their more interesting and varied songs, showing some diversity and emphasizing the use of horns. This instrumental song is one that would feel at home on any Tarantino soundtrack. I`m a Parade may be the quietest and barest song on the record, but underneath it has quite a bit of substance. Teen Dreams, the final track is one of my favourite songs on the album. But then it just dies, abruptly fading out. Now, there`s nothing wrong with a song fading out. But that song just wasn`t finished, for that matter the album wasn`t either. It`s a terrible end to an otherwise great song.

Overall they craft a well rounded album with each track varying in scope and sound, moving from slow to quirky to upbeat energetic ear candy pop. They sound like a lot of popular artists from the past including the Cars, Devo, XTC, Thomas Dolby, Dire Straits, Talking Heads and the English Beat, yet they still manage a sound authentically their own. While the tone of the album may be a happy one, the lyrics and themes rarely are. It`s what`s underneath that`s truly interesting and keeps me coming back for more. On a technically point the instrumentation, vocals and production are all top notch. I definitely recommend you give this album a listen, it may not change the world of music but it sure is fun to listen too.

Score: 6.9

Buy from eMusic

Buy from Zunior

Dave Loft

Why is everyone just handing the tablet category to Apple?

Microsoft is currently recommending full blown Windows 7 for a tablet, while also offering up Windows Embedded Compact 7 to OEM’s as an option. At first I thought that sounded interesting. Then I heard they are not creating the UI for it and instead leaving it up to the OEM to design their own interface. It doesn’t make any sense and I can’t believe anyone would think this was a good idea.

Now I’m a huge fan of Windows 7 and it’s great on a laptop and desktop. Windows EC 7 is small and light and is the underpinnings for the Zune and Windows Phone 7. It would make an excellent basis for a tablet. But they need to create the UI and ecosystem with a cohesive marketplace that provides the same experience on all OEM’s products. They can base it on Silverlight which would make it very easy to create apps for the tablet as well as Windows Phone 7.

I believe Microsoft’s long-term goal is to head in that direction but they are putting all their resources into two big launches this fall, Windows Phone 7 and Project Natal for Xbox 360. The recent release of the Kin by Microsoft was a waste of time. It doesn’t make sense and takes away from what they are doing with Windows Phone 7. Microsoft is late to the phone market and because of it they are also late to the tablet market. The current promotion of full Windows 7 on tablets is just to fill the gap till they have a proper product in place.

Google has caught up to Apple in the phone department but has nothing for tablets. They don’t talk about them or do anything to help current Android tablets succeed. I’m hoping that when Google launches the next version of Android codenamed Gingerbread that it includes a modified UI and ecosystem for Tablets. Either that or they make good on their promise of the Chrome OS if it can make better use of the screen space the tablet provides.

That leads me to my other point and question why everyone says Microsoft should just bring their phone OS to the tablet. Many people believe Google should just bring Android to the tablet and forget about Chrome OS. Also HP bought Palm mainly with the purpose of bringing WebOS to the tablet. I’m not sure that’s the best strategy. A tablet is a different category and needs a similar touch based OS but it needs to be more powerful with a focus on multitasking and frankly multiple windows. I have no interest in running games or apps designed for a small 3-4″ screen on a 7-12″ tablet. They need apps written specifically for them, so why not make an OS specifically for the tablet.

I also believe that flash is fundamental to a tablet competing with Apple. It will provide them with some leverage to win over customers. The internet will take longer to change to HTML5 then it will take for competing tablets to hit the market. Also the hardware to run Flash smoothly without killing the battery will be available long before HTML5. I can live without it on my phone, but not on a tablet.

I don’t like the direction everyone is heading with tablets. If they actually want them to replace laptops for most consumer uses they need to be more of a PC and less of a Phone. They really need to find the perfect medium between the two and if Google, HP or Microsoft can actually do it they have a chance of capturing this emerging market. If they release a tablet running a phone OS or desktop OS, they blew it.

Dave Loft

Why does Bell suck at keeping track of data?

I singed up for contract on Bell with an HTC Touch Pro a year and a half ago which I unlocked a week after getting to run a custom ROM. A month ago I switched to the unlocked HTC built Google Nexus One. I am continuing my original contract and I have an unlimited Data plan with it. My old phone was on the CDMA network while my new phone is on the HSPA network.

First let me say I was really impressed with how easy the switch was and how quick it was accomplished. I thought they may make me sign another contract, or force another plan or make me wait a few days to transfer the service. But no, it was done in 5 minutes. Best experience I’ve had with Bell up to that point.

One thing I thought would change to when I switched to the newer network was better tracking of data. At the end of the month I would always have around 5-10 MB of data use on my Touch Pro according to Bell. I got my first bill from Bell which covers the month I had with my Nexus One and it says I used 15 MB. I have an app on my Android phone keeping track of data usage and so far today I have used 100 MB. They clearly are doing something wrong. When I look at my bill it shows each data connection just like it was a phone call or text and the data usage always shows 0.0977 MB or less no matter how long I’m connected and no matter how much I download.

Can anyone tell me why Bell can’t keep track of it? I know it’s nothing to complain about as it means I could drop to the 500MB plan and save some money. But it does worry me as Bell could just all of sudden start keeping track properly and then hit me with a huge overage charge. Does it have to do with the fact that the only phones I’ve used on Bell have been unlocked? Is it because I have unlimited data that they don’t put the full amount on the Bill?

I have asked a few Bell associates from the store as well as staff from Best Buy Mobile and none of them can answer this simple question. So I’m putting this out to the few people who read this blog and hopefully someone can answer this question.

Have a great weekend.

Dave Loft

The Stats on Internet Pornography

Google Latitude Helped Recover Stolen Property

While traveling on the long weekend a couple’s car was broken into and had a lot of items stolen including the wife’s HTC Droid Eris. The husband who had his HTC Droid Incredible with him launched Google Maps and checked her phones location using Google Latitude. It showed his wife’s phone motoring down the I-5. He called the CHP with a description of the car and location information. The suspects were caught and all of their items were recovered.

The Droid Truly Does.

Read more at Android Central

Dave Loft

Slim Twig Derelict Dialect Review

Originally written in 2008.

While opening for Born Ruffians at the end of April, Slim Twig had me at first yelp. It wasn’t so much the music, but his presence on stage. He twitched, jived and quivered singing emphatically during his set. He had the charisma of a classic 50’s Rockabilly star. The sound was rough around the edges, but something brilliant crept underneath. Slim Twig is a performer revelling in dark personas taken from the pages of his twisted imagination; I was intrigued. I picked up his EP before heading home and quickly proceeded to take it all in.

While opening for Born Ruffians at the end of April, Slim Twig had me at first yelp. It wasn’t so much the music, but his presence on stage. He twitched, jived and quivered singing emphatically during his set. He had the charisma of a classic 50’s Rockabilly star. The sound was rough around the edges, but something brilliant crept underneath. Slim Twig is a performer revelling in dark personas taken from the pages of his twisted imagination; I was intrigued. I picked up his EP before heading home and quickly proceeded to take it all in.

Slim Twig seems to take a completely different approach in the creation of his music, focusing on the vision of his sound and less on the sound of his vision. His music is heavily influenced by the visual texture of sound and his love for film. As much as I`ve come to appreciate Derelict Dialect, I expect most people’s first impression with it will be poor. It’s weird song structure and somewhat monotone melodies will turn people off quickly. Most will not give it a full listen, let alone the multiple listens required to fully appreciate Derelict Dialect. It’s just not what most people are used too.

The album gets better as it goes, not only with repeated listens but as the album itself progresses. The first track His Eyes Hum Hymns doesn’t impress as much as the album does as a whole. Replica and Martyr sounded like it was titled well and felt like more of the same, it’s the predominantly repetitive monotone beat that can quickly turn people off. It’s just about past one minute of this song that this starts to change. You really feel this change of perspective and it continues throughout the album. The build-up on this song is wonderfully climactic. All the aspects of the song seem to come together and mesh well in the final stretch.

The third track Drag Down the Dirtpike, dragged my feeling of hope for the EP down a bit after the brilliant second track having just raised it. It was about this time that I noticed how Derelict Dialect is very reminiscent of Liars latest album. Birthing & Birthing hears the resurgence of what Slim Twig is all about. The theme of the songs, the flow of the EP and the feelings they inspire are obviously meticulously created. Austere Gentleman is an interesting track standing out from the rest of the album with the subtle influence of hip hop and great pop sensibility. Maudlin Jack is definitely his strongest track, reminding me somewhat of a rockabilly Spencer Krug. Derelict Dialect ends with Trembletongue, an effective closer to the album. The song climaxes early ending with heavily atmospheric sound effects, obviously influenced by film.

Breaking down the songs may give you an idea what to expect but it definitely takes away from the EP. Derelict Dialect is most definitely more than the sum of its parts. It can’t truly be appreciated broken down by track, this is an album that stands strongest as a whole. Judging an album by one song is like judging a movie based on one scene. The subtle nuances and message only come through once you step back and see the big picture. It took a few listens, but I was able to step back and really appreciate what Slim Twig accomplished with this EP. It’s not without its rough patches, but it shows tremendous potential nonetheless. Derelict Dialect is an EP for everyone who enjoys an album that`s not easy to love. The potential of Slim Twig is hard to ignore and this is an artist everyone should keep an eye out for in 2008.

Score: 7.2

Buy from eMusic

Buy from Zunior

Dave Loft

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