When Less Isn’t More – We Need Better Batteries

April 28th, 2010 |
More, more, more. In the tech world, who doesn’t want more megahertz in their CPUs? Faster and more powerful GPUs for the increasing demand of high definition video from 1080p. Moore’s Law states that every two years the number of transistors on a circuit board can be doubled. Thus, this is the reason why the iPhones or BlackBerry’s in our pocket are nearly as powerful as a computer I purchased ten years ago. The silicon is shrinking and the hardware is getting stronger.

There’s only one problem – the battery. Batteries haven’t improved as fast as the rest of the computing world. In fact, why the hell are we still using Duracells and Energizers? AA batteries should be obsolete by now. There shouldn’t be a single digital camera on the market that has a battery that can’t last through a days worth of picture taking. No buts. End of story. It’s two-oh-freaking-ten. Designers, get with the times, please!

When Apple revealed their iPhone back in 2007 sporting an internal non-replaceable battery, the world cried foul. Then look what happened. Oh right, no one is whining about it anymore (except for all those Nokia fanboys). The rate at which our gadgets are used to their fullest potential and then disposed is so rapid today that it doesn’t matter. I don’t know a single person who owns an iPhone and has used it to its max for two years and has needed to get the battery replaced – they are still holding charges and bobbing along.

Asutek (Asus) struck on something interesting back when it introduced the first eeePC and practically opened the floodgates to the Netbook category. Their batteries, at the time, sucked. The original 7″ eeePC ran a variant of the open source OS, Linux, and while it was supposed to be the stepping stone to the future, the OS never caught on. Unlike Windows XP, Linux is so un-bloated that a 3-cell battery lasted quite a long time back in the day. We all know what happened to Linux. Consumers demanded Windows XP, and they got it for another couple years until Microsoft shipped Windows 7. Once everyone made the jump to Windows again on their little Netbooks, people demanded more battery. The 3-cell could no longer cut it. We needed 6, 9, and even 12-cell batteries. As the batteries expanded, the slimness of Netbooks became chunky. The Netbook of today is hardly what you would consider ultraportable. At best, a good Netbook is expected to be able to handle a day’s worth of web browsing, because let’s face it, no one wants to be lugging around an AC adapter at all. Lesson: If you’re going to do Linux, make it a competitor to Windows. I’m willing to bet Google’s extremely feather light Chrome OS will be able to jump start what Asus, HP, and many other companies have failed at.

If you asked me which Atom processor is the best for a Netbook, I’d probably have to spend a bit of time on Google. I’ve lost track of all the Intel Atom versions (now there’s dual core Atoms?). The most important thing when considering any mobile device is now, of course, the battery.

With almost every Android phone packing a 1Ghz Snapdragon processsor or iPads with their A4’s and Netbooks with their Atoms, the processor is no longer the cherry on top. Finding a computer that fits your needs, looks good, and has incredible battery life is no easy feat.
One of the companies that have been innovating and putting a larger chunk of R&D into getting more juice out of the old Lithium is none other than Cupertino’s Apple, Inc. Apple may get a lot of attention for their shiny new gadgets from their iPods, iPads, and iPhones, but no one can complain that the batteries that power Apple’s latest gadgets are anything but spectacular. Read the rest of this entry »
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Raymond Wong

Apps That Make Cents

February 19th, 2010 |

Regardless of how rich or poor anyone is, we all love to save a little money – even if we’re just going to spend it on something else. Since we all probably shelled out a fair chunk of cash on our mobile devices, it’s good news that we can use them to start earning some of that money back. Therefore, it seems only natural for me share some finds.

Yowza! (Free, Getyowza.com)
This coupon app was created by a Twitter triumvirate that includes Heroes star Greg Grunberg (affectionately known as ‘Grunny’ to his fans). Basically what the app does is incorporate stores one by one and the stores publish exclusive coupons to the application. You bring in your device, show it to the cashier and bang. You’ve saved. Additionally, the app can show you what deals are available based on where you are at the moment and how far away they are. In the beginning, this app was slightly useless since only a small handful of stores were on it, especially if you lived outside of L.A. However, activity is definitely starting to pick up as Grunny painstakingly pursues merchants to add. Your results will vary from city to city, but since it’s a free app it’s basically no harm no foul if you download it and don’t use it. This app is definitely worth giving a try.

Cheap Gas! (Free, Gasbuddy.com)
Cheap Gas is a great little app that simply locates you and then tells you where the cheapest, nearest gas station is on a map. You can’t get any simpler than that and you can’t help but save money this way!

Mint (Free, Mint.com)
Mint.com is a website that helps you to organize your finances and maintain a budget. It’s very sophisticated web-based software that simultaneously logs in to all your banking and credit accounts online and allows you to categorize your expenses, tally up your budget, watch your savings, and see where your money is going. It will even warn you if you go over your budget, if there’s unusual spending on your account, or if your accounts have low balances. Naturally, the mobile application does all the same things, only it’s on the go. For anyone thinking of trying it, I’d definitely recommend using the Mint app in conjunction with the website, otherwise the amount of information could be overwhelming on a mobile device alone. But if you’re willing to put some time in it, Mint is the perfect app to help you get a hold of your finances.

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Joan Miller

A Girl and Her Apps – Part One

January 12th, 2010 |

Everyone knows that you can find out a lot about someone by going through their purse or wallet, but have you ever thought about tapping into their cell phone? There are so many apps out these days that a person can tailor his or her phone specifically to their needs and personality, especially if one has one of the larger capacity phones. So for my first post I thought I’d let you know a little bit more about this writer by way of checking out my apps.

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Joan Miller