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Tech

Coolest and Most interesting PCs of the past decade

Yup! It’s another gadget article! This time we’re gonna look at the coolest computers that have come out over the past decade (2004-2014), as PCs come in many different shapes and sizes. Of particular interest to me are PCs that are quirky or unique in some way, as Handheld PCs and Ultra Mobile PCs interest me greatly, being very niche devices. That said, a lot of people may not know some of these PCs exist, which is the purpose of this article to provide some rare PCs that have been available.

Sony P series (2009)

Sony Vaio P series
Sony Vaio P series

This is a Handheld PC from Sony that weighs only 1.4lbs, has the potential to have up to 256GB SSD, a single core Intel Atom processor, 2GB RAM, and 8″ 1600×768 screen.

Samsung Q1 (2006)

Samsung Q1
Samsung Q1

This is the first UMPC that came out. UMPCs are like small PDA sized devices that run full blown windows, this one comes with up to Intel Core Solo 1.33GHz processor, split keyboard, 2GB RAM, 60GB HDD, SD card slot, 1024×600 screen, and weighs 1.72lbs.

OQO Model 02 (2007)

OQO Model 2
OQO Model 2

This is another UMPC thats pretty cool. Runs on a VIA 1.6Ghz CPU, 64GB SSD, 2GB RAM, 5″ 800×480 OLED screen, only weighs 0.91lbs, and runs full blown Windows Vista, has a built in keyboard and comes with a docking station as well.

Dell XPS M2010 (2006)

Dell XPS M2010
Dell XPS M2010

This is Dell’s discontinued 20″ desktop-replacement “laptop”, and the form factor was pretty darn cool. It came with a Core Duo 2.16Ghz processor, 2GB RAM, ATI X1800 GPU, 2 100GB HDDs in RAID 0 configuration, and also came with a Media center remote and detachable keyboard. Did I mention this thing has a handle on it??

Sony Vaio Multi Flip (2014)

Sony Vaio Multi Flip
Sony Vaio Multi Flip

There’s a lot of Windows 8 convertible ultrabooks out there, and this is one of the coolest. It looks like the evolution of the Vaio Duo series. Intel Core i7 1.8Ghz, 12GB RAM, 2880×1620 resolution, Geforce GT 735M, 1TB HDD, has a multitouch screen and weighs 5 pounds. The coolest part of this notebook is that the screen flips into three configurations: presentation mode (reversed), normal mode, and tablet mode.

Asus Taichi 31 (2013)

Asus Taichi 31
Asus Taichi 31

It’s an ultrabook that has two screens. Two. Screens. The one on the inside is non touch and the lid itself is a touch screen. They can be dual-screened or mirrored for presentations too. Comes with Core i5 1.7Ghz, 4GB RAM, 2 13.3″ 1920×1080 FHD screens, 256GB SSD, and weighs 3.4lbs.

Asus Lamborghini VX7 (2011)

Asus Lamborghini
Asus Lamborghini

Now this looks like a high performance machine! Looks like a car… performs like one too: Core i7 CPU, Nvidia GTX 460M graphics, FHD display, 16GB RAM and a whopping 8.4lbs.

Asus NX90 (2010)

Asus NX90
Asus NX90

Asus just doesn’t stop with the cool looking PCs. This one is designed with audio in mind, with massive Bang and Olufsen powered speakers attached to it. It also comes with the Core i7 processor, 4GB RAM, 1TB HDD, Nvidia GT 335M GPU, FHD 18.4″ display, and weighs a massive 9.7lbs. For a multimedia laptop though, can’t get better than this.

Asus U43 (2010)

Asus U43
Asus U43

What’s next Asus? How about a PC made with Bamboo? Like a high end piece of furniture? This elegant notebook comes with a Core i5 processor, 6GB RAM, Nvidia 310M GPU, 14″ 720p display, and weighs 5lbs.

Sony UX Micro PC (2006)

Sony Vaio UX
Sony Vaio UX

Sony’s VAIO series of PCs are very diverse, and this is Sony’s UMPC entry. It came with Core 2 Solo 1.2Ghz processor, 1GB RAM, 48 GB SSD, 4.5″ 1024×768 screen, a keyboard, a fingerprint reader, weighed around 1.2lbs and ran full blown Windows Vista. This was probably the most powerful UMPC out there at the time.

Dell Adamo XPS (2010)

Dell Adamo XPS
Dell Adamo XPS

Well Dell makes some pretty cool laptops too. This one is only 10mm thin, and fits the keyboard inside the display when closed, which acts as a stand as well. It came with a 1.4Ghz Core Duo, 4GB RAM, 128GB SSD, 13.4″ 720p display, and weighed 3.2lbs.

Razer Edge Pro (2013)

Razer Edge Pro
Razer Edge Pro

This is probably the most powerful “tablet” I’ve seen yet. Razer made a tablet (actually a full PC) that could play heavy games with a proprietary controller joystick that attaches to it. The specs? HD display, 8GB RAM, Core i7 1.9Ghz CPU, Nvidia GT 640M GPU, 256GB SSD, and weighs 2.1lbs. Have you ever seen a tablet that had that kind of specs??

Lenovo Horizon (2013)

Lenovo Horizon
Lenovo Horizon

Yes, this is a PC!! Actually its a 27″ table-top PC that you can either use flat on a table to play party games, or as a massive desktop computer. The specs? 27″ FHD resolution display, 1.8Ghz Core i5 CPU, 8GB RAM, Nvidia GT620M GPU, 1TB HDD, and weighs a massive 15.7lbs.

Panasonic Toughbook 19 (2012)

Panasonic Toughbook 19
Panasonic Toughbook 19

Panasonic Toughbooks are renowned as incredibly durable laptops. They are military spec tested and they look like a tank. Fully rugged, 10″ swivel screen, Wacom stylus, Core i5, 8GB RAM, 512GB SSD, fingerprint reader and weighs about 5.1lbs. You will not find a tougher looking notebook than this.

Fujitsu ST5100 (2006)

Fujitsu Stylistic
Fujitsu Stylistic

Fujitsu makes some very interesting looking laptops and tablets. In fact they were one of the first to make slate tablet PCs. This one came with Core 2 Duo CPU, 10.4″ 1024×768 display, 1GB RAM, 80GB HDD, fingerprint reader and weighed 3.5lbs.

Fujitsu Lifebook U810 (2007)

Fujitsu U810
Fujitsu U810

This is a UMPC/Handheld PC from Fujitsu, slightly smaller than the Sony P series, but also a convertible tablet that has a digitizer and fingerprint reader as well (!). It comes with an Intel A110 processor, 1GB RAM, 40GB HDD, 5.6″ screen, a webcam, and weighs 1.5lbs.

Pepperpad 3 (2007)

Pepper pad 3
Pepper pad 3

This is a UMPC made by a korean company that has a split screen keyboard, 800×480 7″ screen, 30GB HDD, 256MB RAM/ROM, AMD CPU Geode processor.

Vulcan Flipstart (2007)

Vulcan Flipstart
Vulcan Flipstart

I know a lot of PCs in this post are Handheld or UMPCs, but they are all very unique and niche PCs so I want to cover this one as well. The Vulcan Flipstart has a 5.6-inch screen with 1024×600 resolution, a 30GB hard drive, built-in Wi-Fi, bluetooth, VGA webcam, Pentium M ULV processor running at 1.1 GHz, and 512MB RAM. Curiously, this unit has a small screen on the lid when closed, that displays PIM information like Calendar, time, email, etc.

Flybook VM (2008)

Flybook VM
Flybook VM

Manufactured by a company called Dialogue Technology, the Flybook VM has a unique design that allows the screen panel to be lifted up, swung forward, and tilted into a more ergonomic position, or used in a traditional position. It came with a 12″ screen, 1.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, 2GB RAM, 80GB HDD, a DVD burner, a sim card reader, fingerprint reader, webcam, and weighs 3.5lbs.

Toshiba Libretto W100 (2010)

Toshiba Libretto W100
Toshiba Libretto W100

This is one of the most unique netbooks I’ve seen. A 62B SSD, low voltage Pentium processor, 2GB RAM, netbook specs but has a unique dual 7″ touch screen display with a virtual keyboard and a clamshell form factor. This is the last Libretto Toshiba ever released, and in limited quantities.

Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro (2014)

Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro
Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro

As of Sept 2014, the best convertible ultrabook on the market. Weighing only 2.6lbs, with new Core M processors, 8GB RAM, 3200×1800 display, 256+GB SSD, a gold color option, and a unique watchband hinge that allows it to be ultra thin, this is how ultrabooks look in the future.

Alienware M11x (2010)

Alienware M11x
Alienware M11x

I put this one here only because its the smallest gaming laptop that has been released recently (barring the Razer Edge Pro). Yes, it’s an 11″ gaming laptop with all the fancy AlienwareFX lights, with an 1.3Ghz Core 2 duo, 4GB RAM, 11.6″ 720p display, 160GB HDD, Nvidia GT 335M GPU and weighs 4.4lbs. It’s an ultraportable gaming laptop.

Asus EeePC T91 (2009)

Asus EEEPC T91
Asus EEEPC T91

Asus’ EeePC’s started the netbook trend, and this one is the original convertible netbook. 8.9″ touch screen, 1.33Ghz processor, 1GB RAM, 16GB SSD, and weighing 2lbs put its in the standard netbook/UMPC territory.

Wibrain B (2008)

Wibrain B
Wibrain B

Can I say UMPC’s look cool? Yes they come in all sorts of flavors, but most of them didn’t catch on because they were too expensive and too underpowered. This one had looks like an oversized Sony PSP, had a 4.8″ screen, a 1.2Ghz Via processor, 30GB HDD, only 512MB RAM, and weighed 1.2lbs.

Viliv N5

Viliv N5
Viliv N5

Similar to the Fujitsu Lifebook U810 and U900, Viliv makes quite a few UMPC/Netbooks (you can also check out the S5 and the S7, and this one is the lightest of the lot, weighing a mere 0.85lbs!! It had an Intel Atom 1.33Ghz CPU, 64GB SSD, 1GB RAM, and 4.8″ touch screen.

OLPC XO-1 (2007)

OLPC XO-1
OLPC XO-1

The OLPC Project, or the One Laptop Per Child Project, was designed to provide a cheap computer to children in developing countries. They were powered by a 433Mhz AMD CPU, 256MB RAM, 1GB Flash disk space, 7.5″ LCD display, and averaged 3 hours of battery life. They had a handle, could be rotated into ‘e-book’ mode as a convertible laptop, and can be powered by a hand-crank generator. Unfortunately, they still ended up costing $200, more than the $100 target price, with specs that are lower than the average netbook.

Asus W5fe (2007)

Asus W5fe
Asus W5fe

I swear Asus and Sony make the coolest laptops. This one has a second display on the lid of the notebook that displays PIM information making using of Windows Vista “Slideshow” feature. It came with a Core 2 Duo processor, Intel GMA 950 (infamous integrated graphics), 12.1″ 1280×800 display, webcam, and weighed 4.2lbs.

Acer Aspire R7 (2014)

Acer Aspire R7
Acer Aspire R7

What an interesting laptop. Can be an ultrabook, a tablet, an Easel, a Star-trek enterprise mode… quite a versatile machine. Similar to a cross between a Sony Vaio Duo and a Sony Vaio Multi Flip… specs are 15.4″ 1080p screen, core i5 processor, SSD and HDD options and 6GB of RAM, and weighs a relatively heavy 5.2lbs.

Asus Transformer Trio (2014)

Asus Transformer Book Trio
Asus Transformer Book Trio

A 3 in one computer! It runs Android on the display which can also become a tablet, and the keyboard itself is a core i5 PC with 500GB HDD. So it’s actually two computers in one! That’s pretty cool, I think. The keyboard can also hook up with another monitor to become a desktop as well.

Categories
General School/Work

Video Recording, Korean studying

Korean
Ok, first post of the new year. First off, my new years resolution, and my only one, is to understand at least 60-70% of Korean conversation. I’ve been really disappointed with my progress with Korean speaking/listening despite having studied it for 2.5 years. But I know why now. With anything, it takes a lot of exposure and practice to be good at something. With languages its the same. To improve my reading/writing, one has to simply read and write Korean articles, and to improve listening and speaking, one has to simply speak and listen to korean. But the trick is to have enough discipline to do this all the time. This is difficult, especially when you live in a country where the language you are learning is not spoken.

But I don’t give up easily, and I have to be more disciplined. I have to expose myself to Korean everyday. Read more Korean articles and news online. Watch more Korean dramas, movies, programs. Write Korean on my Facebook posts. Speak Korean to my friends. Speaking might be the hardest, because that one requires me to find a language conversation partner, and its not like I have many good Korean friends in San Francisco or a Korean girlfriend or anything, so its difficult to meet someone who is willing to talk to your regularly. Reading, Watching and Writing I can do on my own time however, just need to be disciplined.

I found the reason why I couldn’t understand almost all of Korean conversation is: 1) Some Korean words sound different spoken than written (take 작년 or 설날 as an example), 2) There’s lots of Korean slang and idioms I don’t know about and 3) There’s lots of Korean vocab in general I don’t know about. But I am confident I can improve my listening if I knew those words. I can already pick out the words I DO know from what they are saying, and I’m getting better at picking them out even when they’re spoken fast. Takes time however.

For my reading/writing, it also doesn’t help that Google Translate is just awful at doing asian languages. I’m not sure how Google can do things like make self-driving cars and augmented reality glasses but they can’t make a decent asian translator. Seems like no one has been able to figure out a good translator for asian languages, and I’m not totally sure why no one has started an app which specializes in asian languages (WordLens, Memrise and Duolingo like most language apps focuses on western languages).
I’ve been using mostly Naver for translation, but even then they don’t have all the idioms and slang in there.

Video recording
I do alot of video recording. I try to do at least one video every week, if I have time, and if possible I prefer recording video to taking photos. Why is this? Because videos show you the atmosphere and vibe that happens at the time. Photos don’t show that. Photos have the advantage of being faster, easier to take, easier to share and easier to digest, but there’s alot of information lost in the moment that are better captured in videos. Some people use expensive DSLRs to take great pictures which get compressed when they get uploaded to Facebook, and some people even upload blurry pictures! what’s the point of that??

That said, I haven’t taken as many videos as I would have liked. Last year, there were alot of moments where I regret not taking any videos, this is mostly due to the inconvenience factor, but also because videos take up a lot of storage space, and my iPhone4S is only 16GB. If I want to have room for videos, I have to sacrifice some music for it. Another reason is that some situations like clubs, parties, bars, etc is just hard to take a video because of dark lightning, poor low light performance from cameraphones, too much noise and hard to hear any one person, and too inconvenient because you are always socializing, but would I have liked to have some videos of a special house party, or myself breakdancing? Of course I would’ve.

Another thing is, although I take alot of videos when I travel, I’m usually not in the video!! It would be nice if I could get a video of myself but its inconvenient to ask other people to take a video for you. And if you are travelling with friends, they are usually too busy enjoying themselves to hold a camera for you. Which brings me to another point, most people including me have trouble steadying a video camera and need optical image stabilization. Unfortunately, the Canon M400 I use disables OIS when its on the auto mode (the default one), for what reason I don’t know and I just found out so I have to re-stabilize all my Korea videos.

And when I take videos of myself playing music, I would prefer to have a camera-man rather than a tripod doing it, for a better video, but its difficult to find a camera-man every week, so I have to rely on my tripod everywhere. Which results in basically one constant shot the whole video. Like this:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bhc6wqafr9Y

This is probably the best I can do without a camera-man. Using autofocus + tripod + wireless mic. In the future though, I want something like this Pocket Drone which will auto direct a video for me. I feel video drones are the way to go, and the solution to inconvenience, however right now their performance is not perfect and their battery life tops out around 30min, which sucks.

Side rant: Laptops need 4G/LTE
Why don’t companies make a notebook with built in 4G/LTE?? Seriously, if a $300 tablet or smartphone can have 4G/LTE, then why can’t a $2000 laptop. You’re paying $1000+ for something that can only be used in places with wifi, and in the US that usually means Starbucks, McDonalds, and your home. Thats about as useful as having a tablet thats wifi-only, which is not much. And no I don’t want to always tether my phone (costs extra, takes up battery life) or use a 4G dongle (takes up a USB port, inconvenient). So far only business laptops have this, and by the way we should get fingerprint readers on consumer laptops too, these should be options on mainstream laptops!!

Anyways thats my rants for this month. Happy new year and Chinese new year!