Well, recently there have been about three things geek-toy wise I have thought about:
1. iRiver mp3 player- actually this one I already though about for a while. I bought the iRiver IFP-395T 512 megs ram flash model. It has a built in FM radio, built in line-in mp3 encode record, can record from FM also, built in MIC (for voice), MP3 & Windows Media playback (Org Vorbis support comming up), *tons of configuration options*.
Why on Earth did I go with this instead of an iPod, due to its price? (yeah the 512 megs flash model IS expensive) I don't like the iPod's idea of the irrepleaceable battery, and I want something small for working out that will not get screwed up. I am sorry but when I think of a hardisk tumbling, it doesn't sound to me that it is going to last long.
Doesn't help that at www.dcresource.com, Jeff hasn't had much luck with IBM microdrives lasting too long...
The most amazing part is perhaps, that I am really using the iRiver pretty well. I am listening to npr ocasionally now, I am recording some of my own personal audio notes and I get to carry around some of my very personal favorite video game music :-)
More info at: www.iriver.com
2. A new laptop. What? A new what? Don't you um.. have one already? That nice Toshiba with 64 megs Vram Geforce 440 MX go? The one with the 1600x1200 screen? The one with that Toshiba exclusive subwoofer and built in SD reader?
Well.. yeah.. ahem. That's true. I actually like my laptop quite a bit, and it's my one and only computer (I no longer have a desktop). So why on Earth am I thinking of a new one?
Well it all started when I saw the new Toshiba M35 at a Circuit City. I don't know why but some Toshiba models just.. umm.. catch my instant attention. This machine is a Centrino @ 1.4 Ghz with a Geforce FX 5200, 32 megs Vram, but optional battery capacity of 7+ hours... and widescreen... and damn does it look nice sleek and all that.. and.. I saw it after all rebates at Compusa for $1450.
Since if I jump and buy that I would definitively not keep my laptop, I would imagine I would probably have to pay about a $600-$800 "upgrade difference." Maybe even less, since my current laptop is still in Toshiba's nice warranty (the one where you can spill coffee on your keyboard and they will replace it, one incident like that per year). So it would make the purchase a bit near impulse to me..
What is holding me? Well first, those 32 megs vram. Hmm.. kinda little... then the screen resolution, being widescreen while it looks kick ass and particularly for playing DVD's (they had a DVD of Jennifer Lopez in concert and it looked absolutely amazing), it is 1280x800. But I would be coming down from 1600x1200.. and honestly, while some people find my display making everything too small, having that extra area for work being it be C++ coding, browsing, digital photo editing.. it would be a bummer. But still I toyed with the idea, and I still couldn't shake the 5200 w/ 32 vram feeling... not to mention that the 5200 Go performance really sucks.
It is to my surprise that I see Gateway just introduced a new Centrino model, but with a Radeon mobility 9600 w/64 megs Vram, a slot loading (like the Apple powerbooks) DVD-RW, widescreen also, faster hardisk, *2* firewire ports - one little firewire (non-powered) and a normal bigger firewire (6-pin, powered), *subwoofer*, etc. etc. (Gateway m505 series). and at a relatively speaking, affordable price. In fact without rebates, it's virtually at the same price of that other new Toshiba.
I saw it yesterday in person and it is really a nice interesting design. But I just can't shake the resolution of the screen.. still if you are looking for a laptop that can last 4 hours + on battery, and will be able to play Halflife 2 decently, I think this is the machine to get.
So I decided to pass... and I see DELL now has a WUXGA (that's 1920x1200!!!!!), with a Radeon 9600 *PRO* w/ 128 megs vram! and all that.. and .. well I don't trust DELL in general though.. and it all climbs to about $2500.. Relatively speaking not bad for the price, but now it's not that "impulse" purchase I at first felt with the Toshiba.
Oh and the other idea that got into my head was the new Toshiba M200 Tablet PC. To my surprise they offer it with a Centrino all the way up to 1.7 Ghz, a 7200 rpm hardisk and a 5200 Geforce FX w/ 32 megs. The 5200 geforce fx again, is not a big performer, but having this on a tablet PC means it probably outclasses the rest in the graphics department... and the screen resolution is SXGA+ - 1400 by 1050 which is not that bad.
Why on Earth a Tablet PC now? Well if I can never again write notes on paper THAT WOULD BE KEWL. But of course, I don't know how well that works, and I have to make sure I can run Warcraft 3 well on that machine. That's one thing though, if it can run any Blizzard game, then I don't care all that much about the rest.. really...
The Toshiba has the peculiar feature also of speech recognition (I wonder how well that would work with my accent) and two accelerometers (sp?) which makes the machine recognize if you are using it in landscape or portrait modes, and you can scroll up/down in a window by tilting the machine.
So what's holding me here? Again, price, and I really dont' know if I truly will use the Tablet PC's features.... I need to check out one for real first and see how it goes.
So from all this I gather that I want better battery life (my current laptop is about 1 hour, 40 mins), and a speed bump would be nice since I am dealing now with digital photography, although my laptop is still decent.
Anyway, I think I will probably keep my laptop and wait another round... I still like Toshiba's in general...
#3. Microsoft's new One Note
Many know I am not a super fan of big MS but I do like to give credit were due, and from reading a description about this application I decided to see if Microsoft had a trial- which they did.. and I downloaded it and have been using that for the last two days.
Wow... it's quite nice actually. It's basically an application for "writting down notes" - just like having a virtual notebook... and its gui/workflow/way of editing text/grouping text is intuitive, fast, easy and makes sense.... Makes me feel I have the flexibility of a whiteboard without the mess... although it's all text but you can draw pictures. On a tablet PC this application is probably at its best....
I understand now why I like Excel so much- it's the only app where I usually make lists and move text here and there quite easily, and One Note makes it even more natural to do this.... except I also use ocasionally Excel's ability to add a column/multiply numbers.. so if Microsoft added some "very light" Excel capabilities but keeping in mind the workflow or "intuitive" interface of One Note that would own.
A download just to check-out how it works is recommended... just brainstorm some mini project and see how it feels using it once you get the basics... I have to admit I have been *addicted* to it in the last two days...