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Darby Translation of the Bible
Darby Translation of the Bible
Price: $2.99

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars No table of contents, almost impossible to navigate, January 19, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
First of all, I feel bad to give a low rating to my favorite Bible translation. But this rating is not on J. N. Darby's translation itself, but the digital item only. It has no table of contents. Navigation on Kindle is already hard enough even if a table of contents is provided, and is nearly impossible for a book as long as Bible when table of contents is missing.

Sorry, but I humbly request that a better job be done. Darby's translation is no longer copyrighted, so the content is free. But if someone could provide a Kindle version with good content management, many would still be willing to pay.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 10, 2013 3:12 PM PST

No Title Available

79 of 87 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars One of the better PC tablets, but it's time to change, November 18, 2011
First of all, the fact that I rank this Windows-based convertible tablet three-star does not mean that I think the other Windows-based convertible tablets are better. Absolutely not. This is the best among the mediocre class.

Also, I am a PC person throughout and never even liked Apple products. So before you label me as a PC-hater, please at least give what I have to say some serious thought.

The Lenovo X2xx tablet has been a very good series for business purpose. Reliable, fast, businesslike plain appearance, and best-of-the-class keyboard.

But this is just not enough in a world that has changed.

I almost returned mine after I bought it, from Lenovo direct. The configuration I got is close to $2000 even after discount. SSD, top-of-the-line processor, 8G RAM, 3G/4G cellular network, etc.

I kept it in the end. After all that time spent on installing the software and doing configuration, I felt my time was too precious to be wasted. Besides, the prospect of waiting for almost a year for a Windows 8 tablet (which is not guaranteed to be good) is bad enough that I decided to stick to this imperfect but still useful machine.

After all, it is usable and powerful, and I am familiar with the Windows ecosystem for work. No other tablet on the market, regardless of how excellent it may be in the user interface, provides an adequate ecosystem for work.

Perhaps few things are really wrong with this machine, but so many things are just outdated, and pretty lame.

People blame Microsoft for not coming up with Windows 8 quick enough, but the primary reasons that these Windows-based convertible tablets are so bad are actually not Microsoft, but CPU makers and PC manufacturers:

(1) The inability of CPU makers (Intel and AMD) to make a tablet-suitable processor which is power efficient to run Windows sufficiently fast under 10W power consumption; and

(2) The failure of the PC manufacturers to understand what really is important for consumers.

If they are to make a good Windows 8 tablet, they will need to change the following at the minimum.


The tablet comes with a huge and ugly 6-cell battery. The appearance of this tablet would rank 7/10 without the ugly battery, but with the 6-cell battery, it would go down to 3/10. Just imagine the 9-cell battery that they also brag about.

The only battery that is reasonably sized for this type of battery is a 3-cell (and that's what is shown in the photos here), but guess what, the 3-cell battery would not last very long on this power-hungry laptop.

Lenovo claims 9 hours of battery life for the 6-cell battery (both Lenovo website and the Lenovo PDF datasheet make the same claim). Unfortunately, this is shamefully inaccurate, in fact outright untrue. When run in a very conservative "energy savor" mode, it lasts about 4 hour 30 min. according to my experience, just about half of what was claimed. I usually don't run any heavyweight programs. No video, no games. Just regular content generation software, document viewing and editing, and Internet. The screen brightness is set to 10/15 (about 65%) when used indoors. This is as conservative as you can get. And I don't see how you can go any more battery-friendly than this other than manually set the CPU maximum speed to a very low level, which defeats the point of having a machine like this.

The poor battery life is not only disappointing, it makes me so upset, especially because the primary reason I updated to this from my X200 tablet was due to the promised much-better battery life. Misled by the false claims, I was expecting much better battery life than X200, but this is just marginally better.

I needed a laptop that can last beyond 7 hours so you can go through a whole day without charging. This completely fails.

I seriously think that Lenovo could be subject to a class-action lawsuit in this matter of misrepresentation.

But when you think of it, although you can blame Lenovo for not being truthful, but you really can't blame Lenovo for not being able to make a laptop with that kind of battery life performance. No one can do magic with energy and power consumption. The Intel processor used in this machine consumes 35 W of power! (In comparison, the latest Nvidia Tegra 3 processor consumes 1-2 W.)

If Intel does not get their laptop processors to run under 10 W in the next year, I'm seeing a troubled company. They will be killed by Nvidia's Tegra 3 and Tegra 4 by then once Windows 8 machines start to run on Tegra processors. Although it is true that the Tegra processors (or any ARM processor for that matter) will not be immediately compatible with the legacy Windows applications, Microsoft has chosen Windows 8 to be run on these processors with a reason. It would be a beginning of a sea change. Once that begins, Intel must produce processors that are fairly competitive in power consumption, otherwise it could gradually lose it on every front on the mobile processors, and eventually the entire PC category. They would become a niche player in the server processors, plus perhaps also doing some foundry work for better designers for mobile processors.

The status quo is not going to work for Intel. Just look at these so-called ultracompact laptops now. So pathetic. As evidenced by PC tablets like Lenovo X220t, it is beyond doubt Intel will soon be facing its biggest crisis ever.

I am not predicting a failure of Intel, nor do I stand for a benefit from a failure of Intel. I very much hope for their success. I want a genuine Windows-based tablet that is sufficiently fast, under 2 pounds and has a battery life of 10 hours. The current PC processors simply can't do it. The Oak Trail processors used in the current Windows-based tablets are not even half way there in terms of performance/power efficiency.


Only 768 pixels on the shorter side? Have they ever tested this machine in the tablet mode viewing documents and webpages in the vertical direction? This is ridiculous. This is even a step back from the three years old X200 (which was two generations ago).

First of all, to highlight how outdated this is, the new generation of smart phones are approaching this vertical-width resolution (Sansone Nexus Prime is one). A class of small 7 inch tablets (for example, T-Mobile's Springboard) actually have better vertical-width resolution.

But I do not wish to make a point out of this just because others are offering more pixels. What is important is that when it comes to tablets, the vertical-width resolution (the shorter dimension) actually matters very much.

This is because the tablet mode almost cries out for, if not dictates, use in the portrait orientation. But with only 768 pixels, virtually nothing can be displayed in full width in the portrait orientation, and as a result it requires horizontal scrolling for every line you read.

Let me repeat, it is "scrolling every *line* you read", unlike in the case of a vertical scrolling you only do it for every page view. It destroys the user experience completely.

This type of screen can only be used for conventional laptop viewing in the horizontal orientation. So did they forget they were making a convertible tablet with X220 here? If documents and webpages can't be viewed in portrait mode, what's the point to have a tablet for business use?

You absolutely need a minimum of 900 pixels in the width in order to have a basic workable solution for working professionals who actually read full-size documents.

It's not like that there aren't screens that can satisfy this need. Lenovo's failure to use an adequate screen for is top-of-the-line PC tablets is frustrating.

Get real, you PC makers. As a loyal PC user, I am exasperated by the incompetence of these PC makers.


Thanks to Windows 7, the power management of X220 is definitely better than the traditional laptops. But again it is not good enough for a tablet. In order to be adequate for true mobile use, they desperately need an instant resume function.

Lenovo seems to be patiently waiting for Windows 8 for this functionality. A rather disappointing attitude. They need something like what Asus did for their ZenBooks which also run Windows 7. The 2-second instant resume of the ZenBooks would not only increase the effective battery life, but also significantly improve the mobile user experience. Because the X220 is a tablet intended for true mobile use, it needs that kind of instant resume function worse than ZenBooks do. But here we are, the ThinkPad tablets remain tepidly inadequate in this important respect.


This is another major letdown. Even after calibration, the active spot on the screen can be almost half a centimeter (5mm) misaligned with the tip of the digitizer, making it extremely confusing and time-wasting to use.

The X200 had the same problem, but I thought they should have made some progress in the last three years. Absolutely nothing.

Had they made it right, the digitizer would be such a wonderful tool on Windows operating system. Not only is it an excellent user interface for general purpose, it also gives you the most excellent and unique experience on Microsoft's OneNote and handwriting recognition. A major software advantage is marred by bad hardware.


The software (drivers) for the touch pad and pen tablet is buggy and unreliable. For example, when you restart the computer in the tablet mode, it often takes a very long time for the touchpad and pen to become responsive.

Because of the use of a fast processor and SSD, this computer boots up very quickly, in about 30 seconds. But when you get to the logon screen, it very often (rather randomly) takes almost another minute or two for the touchpad and pen input to become responsive, essentially leaving the tablet dead for a while. Oh please.

If you're using this in a regular laptop mode, you won't have the problem because the keyboard is responsive. But not the touchpad and pen.

This is clearly a software problem. I did all I could. I first used the ThinkPad update utility to do automatic updating, and then tried updating manually from the Lenovo site, and when that didn't work, I even went to Wacom's site to download the latest PC Tablet software. Nothing worked.

I don't know who is to blame, Wacom or Lenovo, but this is beyond just a bad nuisance. The three year old X200 did not have this problem.


OK this one is responsible by Microsoft mostly I guess. It baffles me that they just couldn't make a soft keyboard on a $2000 machine to work 1/10 as well as a $500 tablet (now $200 if you count Amazon Fire).

First, it isn't very responsive and reliable. You frequently need to try multiple times to get a response. But that is not even the biggest problem. The biggest problem is that it fails on a very basic user interface issue: when you need the keyboard, it does not show up automatically all the time.

Sometimes it does, but very frequently it doesn't, usually depending on which application environment you are in. You have to wait to see, plus guessing. When it doesn't show up automatically, you have to go all the way to the place the keyboard is hidden to manually call it out.

For something as basic as this, if it doesn't work reliably, it simply doesn't work. For something as basic as typing, you cannot rely on it if it works sometimes but not at other times. For a keyboard to work, it has to work nearly all the times. So you can basically forget about the soft keyboard on the Windows 7 based machine.


They even brag about the slimness and lightweight of this thing. Well, this thing is about twice as thick as MacBook Air, and about 50% heavier. There is absolutely no improvement in the form factor in the last three years since X200. It may still be OK compared with other even bulkier and uglier PC laptops, but the days are over for these machines to be acceptable.


The old X200 tablet used to have computer status indicator lights visible in the tablet mode to indicate whether the machine is in sleep status, charging or other. Oddly, these indicators are removed on the new X220. They are only visible when the computer is in the regular laptop mode.

The result? When you are in the tablet mode, you are left in the dark with regard to the sleep and charging status.

Another important button that is now missing on the X220 is the screen brightness adjustment button. You will now have to resort to software settings to change the screen brightness in the tablet mode.

After all these years, Lenovo seems to be taking the tablet idea less seriously. As if they're saying, well it's just a regular laptop which can sometimes be used as a tablet, and when you do, just make do with it and don't take it seriously because we are not even trying here.


The original X200 tablet had one thing that I never saw in any other laptop: remarkably clear microphone input through the regular 3.5 mm mic jack. I use professional grade speech recognition. Besides the original ThinkPad X200, I never used a laptop (and I used many) that had satisfactory built-in microphone input. They are all noisy. Just good enough for making VoIP calls, but absolutely not for reliable speech recognition. In order to use speech recognition, you would need to bypass the built-in sound and use a USB sound card, or a microphone that has built-in USB sound. In this respect, the original ThinkPad X200 was a remarkable exception.

Well, that is completely gone with the new X220 tablet. The microphone input stage has become noisy, just as nosy as any other average laptop computer. Why did they throw away something that worked remarkably? I don't think it is to save some manufacturing cost here. I suspect that the design engines were simply ignorant on this matter (not knowing that some people actually require better than VoIP quality microphone input on a laptop), and simply dropped the ball by settling with whatever at hand.

In addition, the new X220 started to use the combo jack for both microphone and headphones. This is the cell phone audio jack style, which seems to be becoming a trend for mobile devices. It has an advantage of saving some space because now the two jacks are combined into one. Nothing wrong with it technically, but what this means that the tablet is no longer compatible with any of the conventional headsets without an adapter, and is only compatible with headsets made for cell phones. And this is a problem.

At this point of time, it is very difficult, if possible at all, to find a professional grade cell phone headset that has a microphone good enough for speech recognition. Virtually all high quality microphones are naturally compatible with the separate 3.5 mm mic headphone jacks. Getting into that messy adapter business may give you hair-pulling experiences.

Given the fact that the microphone input of X220 is very noisy to start with, there is simply no point to even try. So external USB sound is on the way to go.


Most of the problems described above relate to the tablet mode. If you are using it as a regular laptop, you're not going to encounter most of these problems.

But this is sold as a convertible tablet. The tablet function isn't a minor throw-in bonus, but rather the very defining feature. It is why this is sold for over $1300 for the base model and run up to $2000. A similar configuration without the tablet function can be $500 cheaper.

In other words, you're paying $500 extra to just get a tablet experience based on the hardware and software you have already paid for. And what do you get for that $500? A pathetically frustrating user experience. That's all.

Overall, this gives a user experience that is absolutely nowhere as good as the cheap iPads and Android tablets.

But I can't go with iPads or Android tablets. What I want is a genuine Windows-based tablet that is sufficiently fast (fast enough to run speech recognition software, for example), under 2 pounds and has a battery life of more than 10 hours. This has nothing to do with brand loyalty. It is entirely practical. I need it for work. The iPads and Android tablets simply can't do it, not by a far stretch. But the current Windows-based tablets, including both the convertibles and the pure tablets, are not even halfway there in hardware.

Start to catch up, Intel, PC makers and Microsoft, or you don't deserve a position in the marketplace.


Overall, I am looking at this from the tablet point of view, not a laptop point of view. I feel those who take a defensive position for Intel and PC makers are still looking at this from the laptop point of view. Laptops will continue to play a role, but I strongly believe that mobile computing is moving away from laptops to handheld tablets. When looked upon in this direction, ThinkPad X220, despite being the best Windows convertible so far, is far from being adequate.

The truth is that there isn't a good processor for the windows-based tablet currently. Intel's Sandy Bridge processors (both i5 and i7) consume too much power for tablets, while ultra low voltage processors and the Atom processors (including the latest Oak Trail), which run under 10W but are underpowered and can't adequately run Windows to do business applications. I use speech recognition, for example, and also do digital media editing, and of course the complete set of Office. The Atom powered netbooks (and several tablets powered by Oak Trail processors) are simply not practical for my use.

No one can deny the current Intel advantage (particularly over AMD). But Intel is facing a crisis in the mobile front. This was the case even before Microsoft decided to allow ARM on board to run Windows 8. Now that the decision was already made, Intel is under great amount of pressure to develop much more competitive processors for mobile use. Intel already feels the pressure. Some of the recent shakeups in the Intel mobile division is a reflection of that reality. If they don't have a good solution in the next year, the pressure will become real in the marketing front instead of merely being perceived in the business front.

Finally, I would like to note that this review was not written from a customer point of view to complain about an individual purchase decision. This is an industrial review from a product design and development point of view. I just used my personal experience as a knowledge base to illustrate a point. The distinction is important, because I'm trying to point out what is lacking on the side of CPU and PC makers for current and future product developments. I'm not blaming them for my personal purchase (the X220 was paid by my company anyway). I am in the business of product design and developments. I look at these things very broadly and professionally, instead of just as an individual consumer.
Comment Comments (16) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 10, 2013 5:47 PM PST

AmeriLeather Leather Doctor's Carriage Bag
AmeriLeather Leather Doctor's Carriage Bag
Price: $113.88 - $213.99

7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good business bag with an annoying problem, October 5, 2011
I've used this for over three years now (I bought it at a different place) and have got a more mature feeling about it. It is a very good bag for business purpose, and I think some of the reviewers are a bit too harsh. I honestly couldn't find at a retail store a business bag that is nearly as good for under $200.

But before I tell you how good the bag is, let me warn you a problem that has bothered me from the very beginning:

The bag has a combination quick snap lock, which is a nice and convenient design with quick snap on and quick release. But there's one problem. It would frequently slip away from its set combination position, rendering the bag locked at a different code combination than you previously set. Fortunately, in most cases, it just slips away one at most two code positions from what you set, so it does not take that long to open it by trial and error. But this can be extremely frustrating when you're traveling and in a hurry. Just imagine, you can't open your own bag, and it's not that you forgot the combination!

By the way, please note that the lock is really meant to prevent it from being instantly opened by someone tempting to have a quick and unauthorized access to your bag. It is not meant to be a permanent security lock, because anyone can open it within about 5 min. It only has two digit code after all. But this is not a problem for me because I do not need a real security lock. It would be perfect if it does what it intends to do reliably without slipping.

The lock's slipping problem is unfortunate, because otherwise this is a very good business bag. In fact, I continued to use it despite the lock problem, because the particular design and the generous size serve my purpose uniquely and perfectly and I just could not find a reasonable substitute. And if this one is worn out, I will probably buy another one, if they still have it then.

The bag is of good quality. I think it is genuine leather, although I'm no expert on this. It is very business looking, with no gimmicks or trendy appearance but just functionality. It's durable because I have used it quite often on business trips during the last three years and the only thing the bag's got is a more experienced looking :-) which I even prefer to its looking when new. But I guess different people have different standards and tastes.

I think the bag is so much better than the cheap briefcases and computer cases you find in today's market. It is very roomy with three generous compartments plus an inner zipped layer for more important and confidential documents and items. It holds a laptop computer and its accessories very nicely.

Another reviewer seems to feel the enormous size of the bag embarrassing. This obviously depends on your personal situation. I never felt it was a problem. I do business travel a lot and attend business meetings. The fact is that I *need* a bag of such size, so there's nothing pretentious or abnormal (therefore nothing embarrassing) about the size. At the same time, it is not so big that I would find it too much to carry. It is a business briefcase, not a mere handbag or laptop bag. In fact, I usually put my very thin and compact laptop case along with the laptop computer itself into one of the compartments of this bag (yes, a bag in the bag, seriously). When I need the computer, I just pull out the compact laptop case with the computer. Strange? Perhaps, but it works perfectly for me this way. You might wonder why I still need the compact laptop case when I already have the big case. Well, first, the modularity gives me flexibility. Second, and more important, I often use the compact laptop case as a "table" that sits on my lap directly, and then put the laptop computer on top of the case. It raises the computer to a more comfortable position, and further shields the heat and perhaps also radiation very effectively. This system is what works for me and I will demand my next business bag to have the same capability.


Gigabyte Z68XP-UD5 LGA 1155 Intel Z68 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard GA-Z68XP-UD5
Gigabyte Z68XP-UD5 LGA 1155 Intel Z68 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard GA-Z68XP-UD5

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic motherboard with a small issue (only specialty use related), October 4, 2011
I'm not going to bore you to death by running a laundry list of features, which this motherboard has plenty at the high-end. I just wanted to quickly post here some information I think some may be interested.

Although I'm very satisfied with this motherboard, I found the microphone input stage of the onboard sound of this motherboard lacking. Please note that this is only relevant to those who make high-quality recordings. If you only use the sound for music playback, you will not have a problem at all because the onboard sound playback quality is very high. Further, if you are using the onboard sound for VoIP or even casual recordings, it will also be good enough. I just wanted to point out that the onboard sound is not up for high-quality recording.

I say this based on my real test in the context of professional speech recognition. With a new computer, I usually bypass the onboard sound and install a dedicated sound card for speech recognition. This time, however, I was intrigued to look into the onboard sound, because the specs of the onboard sound of the GIGABYTE GA-Z68XP-UD5 motherboard are very impressive. It has 24-bit and 192 kHz A/D converter, the highest spec you can find.

This is what I found: The microphone input of this onboard sound is noisy!

Interestingly, the music playback is quite impressive. The playback is clean (essentially noise free to my ears using very high quality headphones) and with high fidelity. I am not an audiophile to give a sophisticated evaluation, but the playback sound quality is excellent to my ears. The microphone recording input, on the other hand, is terribly noisy by my standard. I think no one is rigorously checking on this. People who use this kind of onboard sound are for VoIP applications in which you barely notice the noise at all. But I did some test recording using a pair of very high quality microphone and headphones and found it to be quite noisy, unusable for any serious purpose.

Although noisy, the recordings are very neutral, solid and smooth, reflecting its good quality A/D converter perhaps. It's just that the background noise is so obvious. Where does the noise come from? I suspect it's an onboard insulation problem, but I'm not sound engineer so I'm not sure. It could be the sound chip (Realtek ALC889) itself.

In case you are wondering, I did do a comparison test to compare the unbound sound with my dedicated system for recordings. There's no comparison. Under the otherwise identical conditions, the recordings using my dedicated sound system are essentially noise free. The difference is huge, nothing subtle at all.

I wouldn't want to generalize the conclusion of the above test to say that all onboard sounds are bad. Some probably are OK. Apparently, it is not a matter of digital specs but a matter of implementation quality. The onboard sound on my ThinkPad X200, for example is quite clean. It's surprising to me that GIGABYTE GA-Z68XP-UD5 motherboard has such high quality playback but such poor recording quality at the same time. The motherboard is rather high end.

The lesson: if you want high-quality recordings or voice applications, use a dedicated sound card whenever possible, unless you are absolutely certain that your onboard sound is good based on your real test. Don't just rely on the specs.


Lepai LP-2020A+ Tripath TA2020 Class-T Hi-Fi Audio Amplifier with Power Supply
Lepai LP-2020A+ Tripath TA2020 Class-T Hi-Fi Audio Amplifier with Power Supply

5.0 out of 5 stars Are you serious?, September 29, 2011
You honestly don't expect such good sound being produced by a toy-looking amplifier this small and this light.

I needed something very basic for my computer. I bought this amplifier plus a pair of Polk Audio Monitor 30 Series II Two-Way Bookshelf Loudspeakers (because they were on a clearance sale at Newegg). I really wasn't expecting any thing terribly good except that they should be just a slightly better than my $15 self-powered speakers used for the computer.

Both items arrived at about the same time. I was so surprised by how small the amplifier is, and almost equally surprised by how big the speakers are. Frankly, in my imagination, the amplifier should be four times as big, while the speakers should be just half the size or even smaller.

The Polk Audio speakers really are very high quality and beautiful. The amplifier, well, looks so cheap (and it is). And small, almost comically small. Looking at the two items side-by-side, I felt sorry for the Polk Audio speakers as they really don't seem to match. It is simply unfair. I even hesitated to actually connect them.

Long story short, you will have to fight me if you want to disconnect them now. Together, they make beautiful sound. Compared to the original PC speakers, these are in entirely different world. All right, they are probably nothing compared to a high-end home audio system, but you would need to take a side-by-side comparison to appreciate the difference at that level. When used alone, you suffer very little perceived inferiority in the sound quality. I was expecting just acceptable background music, but this is calling for some serious listening.

The small size of amplifier quickly becomes a thing to be appreciated because it is used on the computer desk.

For my particular use, it lacks nothing. Clarity, stereo separation, even base, and power. I only listen to light music such as jazz in my office. I don't think I would ever want to turn the volume knob pass the 12 clock.

However, it has its limitations. When you do turn the volume pass 50% (12 o'clock), this amplifier is noticeably noisy. I would not do that because it would bother me at work sitting nearby the speakers, especially when nothings playing. But as I said, in this environment, I don't need to. So it is a perfect solution.

Wow, this thing does sound beautiful as I am listening to it now.

Sony Alpha SLT-A77 Translucent Mirror Digital SLR Camera - Body only (OLD MODEL)
Sony Alpha SLT-A77 Translucent Mirror Digital SLR Camera - Body only (OLD MODEL)
Offered by 6ave
Price: $1,252.49
10 used & new from $399.99

59 of 141 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Best APS-C camera for normal light condition, but disappointing for lowlight, September 28, 2011
An UPDATE (read the original review after the following paragraphs):

(1) Sony officially released the updated firmware version 1.03. This is done even before the US product is released, indicating an admission to the dissatisfaction of its earlier versions of the firmware. But to Sony's credit, they did it quickly. I updated the rating accordingly.

(2) Judging from the DxOMarks which measure the raw performance of the sensor, Pentax K-5, Nikon D7000 and Sony NEX-5N are still the best among the APS-C cameras, each scoring around 1100 for high ISO performance, significantly better than the 800 score of Sony A77. By my standard, even K-5 and D7000 are still shy of giving truly excellent quality ISO 3200 performance, although they are getting close. But the fact that Sony A77 is a step back, instead of a step forward in lowlight performance, is depressing for those who need truly excellent lowlight performance.

Technologically, Sony already possesses the capability to make a APS-C camera that has lowlight performance close to what is offered about three years ago by Nikon's full-frame cameras, but they chose not to do so. It is their marketing choice, and I have no right to demand them to change. I just wanted to share my thought.

And my thoughts reflect a quite large group of users who are not satisfied with A77. That doesn't mean A77 is not an excellent camera for people who have different uses and preferences. It just means that Sony has not covered an important group of potential buyers. To make it up, Sony will need to either come up with a similar camera with a different emphasis, or use true hardware-based pixel binning to satisfy both camps. There is no indication at this time what Sony has in its mind.

Perhaps Fujifilm will come up with something to satisfy that need next year. They already said they will.


I don't pretend to be writing a full review based on scientific tests. I just wanted to tell you what I think about this camera, Sony A77.

Why only a 3-star rating for an apparently brilliant camera?

One star off for widely reported firmware bugs (search the Internet please, I'm not making this up). I will update when the bugs are fixed with a firmware update that is likely being rushed out soon (Sony knows they messed up on this).

Another star off for the disappointing lowlight performance. More discussion on the latter below.

If the bugs are fixed, Sony A77 would be a five-star camera for those who primarily use it at at low ISO (at or below ISO 800). But it would still not be the right camera for those who need lowlight abilities. For the lowlight performance, A77 is just slightly better than the 4-year old A700, which is supposed to be replaced by A77, and significantly worse than the 3-year old A900, which is not known for its high ISO capability in the same class.

Overall, A77 brings superb specifications. Virtually everything at least matches, and in many cases surpasses, competitions (cameras under $1500), be it resolution, speed, viewfinder clarity & coverage, AF performance, and video quality. Also, don't forget that A77 has built-in image stabilization, making every lens mounted to it a stabilized lens getting several stops of advantage.

The EVF in the A77 is both exciting and controversial. Some will love it, but some will hate it, and most will probably both love and hate. Although I am fully aware of the disadvantaged of even the best EVF in the world (battery consumption, for example, is an inherent disadvantage which is not going to go away in the future), I believe EVF is here to stay, and is likely to be quickly adopted in the vast majority of cameras. It just has too many benefits, including progressively lower cost, progressively higher quality, plus upgradability, flexibility and expandability.

My disappointment is with LOWLIGHT PERFORMANCE which is related to the very high SENSOR PIXEL DENSITY of the camera (the concept is explained in detail at the end of this writing).

I am an owner of a Sony A700, and for the last three years have been waiting for a Sony replacement. A77 is supposed to be Sony's long-waited replacement to A700. But when it has finally arrived, I decided to continue to use my A700.

So I am obviously disappointed with A77.

Sony wanted to make a camera of class-leading pixel density while maintaining reasonable lowlight performance. They succeeded. They chose a sensor with 24 megapixels, which is class-leading. Based on the early tests, it is virtually noise free at or below ISO 400, very clean at ISO 800, and reasonably clean up to ISO 1600. This is great news for those who primarily shoot at lower ISO only.

However, the sensor choice was a compromise which resulted in a level of noise which requires excessive noise reduction beyond ISO 800.

As a result, A77 has the following characteristics in terms of image qualities:

(1) at or below ISO 400 - A77 is the sharpest and the clearest among ASP-C cameras;

(2) at ISO 800 - on par with the best of others;

(3) at ISO 1600 - falls slightly below the best of the competition;

(4) at or above ISO 3200 - apparently worse than the top competitors despite its higher number of pixels. Essentially the noise cancels out whatever advantages brought by the extra number of pixels.

Both the DxOMarks by the DxO Labs and the test results produced by the raw files of A77 with the support of the newest Photoshop Light Room 3.5 seem to support this conclusion, and I don't believe the basic conclusion above is going to change.

I'm not suggesting Sony is stupid or has made the mistake. It may very well be a smart decision in terms of marketing. For many, Sony's approach is a good balance and compromise. Particularly, for people who shoot at low ISO only, A77's choice of sensor is ideal because its low ISO performance guarantees it to yield the best image quality in that condition.

But I wanted a camera that has a different emphasis and a different character. I need a high ISO performer. This desire is not a mere pursuit of a higher number. It has to do with the kind of photographs I take, frequently under low natural light without flash.

I almost never need resolution beyond 12 megapixels. In reality, a clean 12 megapixel photograph is capable of producing excellent poster size pictures. Even if you are hard-nosed to look for visible differences, one would have to make a print larger than 20"x16" to see any difference beyond 12 megapixels. Among the photos I take, perhaps less than one out of every thousand (that's less than 0.1%) may see that kind of enlargement. In contrast, at least 30% of the photos I take are indoors or lowlight outdoors and need good lowlight performance (at least excellent ISO 3200 and usable ISO 6400).

So for my own needs, lowlight performance is about 300 times more useful than more pixels (do the math, 30% to 0.1% = 300).

Besides, I, and my computer, hate to always carry the burden of the large file sizes which I nearly never need. That in itself is a negative.

Based on the tests so far, it seems that the new A77's lowlight performance is comparable to that of a fully updated A700. The old Sony A700 has a 12MP sensor. Although it had relatively unimpressive lowlight performance when the camera was first released, subsequent firmware update and RAW processing algorithm advances made some significant improvement. But Sony A700, and now A77, is still about two full f-stops short of perfectly meeting my lowlight needs. Had Sony used a 12MP sensor for A77 and focused on the sensor performance rather than MP, the camera could overcome that shortcoming and would have been the ideal camera fro me. Or even a 16MP sensor would have been a good choice. The 16MP sensor on NEX-5N seems to be doing just fine, and is at least a full f-stop better than A77.

Alternatively, had Sony used binning technique to give 6MP and 12MP RAW options with the 24MP sensor, it would have at least partially covered the best of the two worlds.

But of course Sony did not do any of the above. Instead, we have the A77 as it stands now. After four years (which is three generations in digital photography product development cycles), I was expecting significantly better lowlight performance instead of more pixels. Without this improvement, I lose a major reason to update.

I'll probably wait for the next full-frame Sony, especially if it is relatively compact with a full frame sensor staying at 24 MP (I would wish it were just 12 MP like Nikon D700, but there is not a chance that Sony would do that). And if they make a very compact full-frame NEX camera with fast AF and no more than 24 MP, that would be for me.

Considering that A77 has twice as many pixels as A700 does, Sony has effectively improved its sensor technology's fundamental performance by at least 100%, which is actually a quite significant technological achievement. So this is not saying Sony hasn't been capable in technology development. It's just about an unfortunate choice of emphasis.

I know this review is going to be controversial, and will be hated by many. For those who believe the ISO performance of A77 is good enough, that's great. Apparently, if you don't take photos beyond ISO 800, and if you don't mind handling larger file sizes whether or not you need the large files, A77 it is hard to beat. But for those still do not believe (or simply don't understand) that high MP (high pixel density) leads to poorer lowlight performance, please set aside what you believe to be "common sense" temporarily, and read the following, because you may be misunderstanding something fundamental.


There has been a lot of misunderstanding with regard to the relationship between sensor pixel density and low light performance. The problem is that many people think of this as an abstract math problem. In their eyes, having more megapixels on the same sensor should always be an advantage because you can always reduce the number of pixels by downsampling, and as a result the only burden of having more pixels is the file size, a relatively minor thing to complain about. But this understanding is incorrect. The issue of pixel density is not just a math matter. It is a physics matter.

First of all, photosites on a sensor have boundaries which are dead zones without any active sensing element to convert light to signals. These boundaries are always minimized as much as possible, but the reduction has a limit for a given technology.

The easiest way to understand this issue is to use the following analogy:

Suppose you draw a grid on a piece of paper. And suppose the line you draw has a certain width (which may be quite thin, but is not infinitely thin). The more dense you draw the grid, the more surface of the paper is going to be covered by the black lines. If you keep going, your paper would become darker and darker. That's why there is an absolute loss of optical performance when you put more photosites (pixels) on the same sensor of a certain area. (At the same time, more pixels are always desired to achieve higher resolution. So it's a balance.)

The reality in the sensor technology maybe a little bit better, thanks to the use of microlenses which collect some of the light that might have otherwise fallen onto the dead zones. But although microlenses are a quite effective solution, they are not a perfect one.

Another related issue is light diffraction when the photosites are too small. This affects resolution at small aperture settings. This is a widely discussed topic, although not very easy to understand, but relatively causes less misunderstanding.

In addition, at 24 megapixels, most lenses no longer have enough resolving power to materialize the resolution advantage even if there is any at the sensor level.

The truth is that getting more pixels isn't just a free math game, it's a war of physics. You lose something absolute in physics.

Unfortunately, companies are biased toward increasing the number of pixels because it is the easiest metrics to market. Most consumers don't understand or don't care what affect digital image quality, but everyone understands that 24 as a number is greater than 16, and than 12. Companies know that. It is a cheap good impression to create. It's about marketing.

Comment Comments (21) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 29, 2012 2:09 AM PDT

Panda Mini Wifi 150Mbps Wireless N USB Adapter - Windows XP/Vista/7/8/8.1, Mint, Ubuntu, Fedora, openSUSE, Puppy Linux and TVpad
Panda Mini Wifi 150Mbps Wireless N USB Adapter - Windows XP/Vista/7/8/8.1, Mint, Ubuntu, Fedora, openSUSE, Puppy Linux and TVpad
Offered by Panther One
Price: $10.99
2 used & new from $9.00

28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars So easy, but also so weak, September 28, 2011
This thing simply works, but has a very poor antenna.

On Windows 7, it is absolutely plug-and-play. It started to work so fast when I first plugged it in that I did not even notice the delay of automatic driver installation (the operating system might already have the driver that suits this device). Never thought a wireless connection can be made with so little trouble. Of course, if your network is secured, you still need to type in the right password, but that is really all you need to do: plug it in, and type the password.

But the easiest wireless adapter also happens to be the weakest in terms of signal pickup. You can only use this at a spot that has very strong wireless signal. I used it about 20 feet away from the router with one wall separation, and it had a 3-bar signal strength. Still very usable, but my laptop computer's built-in wireless (without an external antenna) has five-bar at the very same spot. Downstairs, my laptop has four-bar, while this has 2-bar, barely making a stable connection.

So depending on your wireless signal and how you use it, this can be either a great or terrible device.

Atech Flash Pro-55U Internal Flash Memory Card Reader w/ Front USB 2.0 Port for 5.25 Inch Drive Bay, Supports the latest UDMA, SDHC and SDXC Cards
Atech Flash Pro-55U Internal Flash Memory Card Reader w/ Front USB 2.0 Port for 5.25 Inch Drive Bay, Supports the latest UDMA, SDHC and SDXC Cards

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best internal card reader on the market, almost perfect, September 24, 2011
Every time when I built a new computer, I struggled to find a good internal card reader. I was never satisfied with one until this time when I got the AFT PRO-55U.

Reliable and nonproblematic I/O interface (surprisingly, many companies don't get this done right).

On Windows 7, it does not require a separate driver. It just plain works.

The compatibility level is very high. This is one of the those card readers that are compatible with CompactFlash.

It also uses separate slots for microSD and regular (full-size) SD. This may sound trivial, but in real-life it is important. If you have ever tried a card reader that combines these two different sizes, you will know what I'm saying. The combined slot makes the insertion of either type difficult uncertain. Given the large number of flash card types, combined slots are necessary. But because SD cards are the most frequently used, it is absolutely a good idea to give certain level of dedication to them.

Furthermore, I'd like to point out an important detail. This card reader hides its multiple drives from the list of computer drives until you actually insert a card. And when it does show up, it just shows the letter drive(s) associated with the actual card inserted. And once you remove the card, the card reader would disappear from the drive list on the computer. This is the way it should be! Otherwise, the card reader shows up on the list of computer drives as a bunch of empty drives all the time even when you are not using it, something that is not only untidy, but can also be confusing in file and folder handling.

In my use, the empty drive hiding feature functions properly, most of the time anyway, except that on several occasions the five different letter drives were found in the drive list even though there was nothing inserted. So there is a bit of mystery and inconsistency. But it works most of the time. I think it is good enough.

The only minor complaint I have about this card reader is the printed markings on the front face panel. The markings "Professional Series" and "PRO-55U" are prominently featured, and they have very amateurish printing fonts (the "PRO-55U" part especially). This is not only unnecessary, but in fact bad taste. Especially if you're building a high-end computer, these markings almost ruin the appearance of the computer face. They are a scar on the face of my otherwise beautiful computer, so to speak. But what can I do? Functionality overwrites the appearance. Besides, other than these bad markings, the card reader has a pretty good looking in black.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 17, 2012 1:23 PM PDT

No Title Available

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding quality and amazing effectiveness, September 23, 2011
There are many highly effective CPU coolers, but this one still stands out. The quality is outstanding. And they really know this business, as if they were making these to please themselves. Such meaningful details. Even the instructions are very well written and printed.

I especially liked the four noise reducing adapters included. They can be used on any other fans on the computer to reduce the noise. I used only one fan on the CPU cooler, so that leaves me three extra noise reduction adapters. I effectively used two of them on other fans. The whole computer is so quiet. Because I don't do much overclocking, so I can try to maintain the speed of the fans very low. But even at the lowest fan speed, the CPU and system temperature is only around 35°C at a regular load with a room temperature close of 25°C. This is what you call effortless.

One warning however: I use a GIGABYTE GA-Z68XP-UD5 board, which is a typical ATX board. But with a fan attached, this cooler is right over the top of the fourth RAM slot, rendering it impossible to place a stick in that slot. I'm not using the third and fourth slots, so I'm fine. But if you are going to use four memory sticks, you may have trouble. The only way to accommodate is to slide the fan upward. That may be OK, but it's a quite compromised position to take.

Sony SGPT111US/S Wi-Fi Tablet (16GB)
Sony SGPT111US/S Wi-Fi Tablet (16GB)
Offered by PriceBreaker2014
Price: $329.61
15 used & new from $98.99

329 of 366 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sony has still got it, September 17, 2011
First, a disclaimer: this is not a full review. It is based on less than one hour hands-on experience. I am buying one.

IN SHORT, I am very positively impressed by Sony S1 and think it is one of the best, if not the best, Android tablets made so far. My other favorite Android tablet is Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1. I would not regret to own either of them, but I now prefer Sony S1 for its unique handholding ergonomics (see detailed discussions below).

Running a comparison among the top tablets including iPad 2, Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 and this one (Sony S1) makes me feel we consumers are really spoiled. These products are all so good for what they are. It is like comparing different flavors of ice cream, and one might end up wanting to eat all of them. But still, the Sony S1 manages to somehow stand out with a few quite significant unique features.

On the other hand, even the best iPads and Android tablets cannot replace my Windows-based laptop computer. Like many, I do work on my computer. In fact I can't work without my computer. As much as I like the convenience of the current tablets, none of them comes even close to giving me the whole spectrum of business software applications and the ecosystem. This is not a complaint against a computing device that costs less than $500. It is just a statement of reality.

To name a few of PC software and system tools that lack a reasonable substitute on either iOS or Android: (1) sophisticated file system management (local, LAN and cloud), (2) the Office system (beyond Word, including PowerPoint, Excel), (3) NaturallySpeaking Pro (business-grade full-text speech recognition), (4) image editing and other multimedia creation and editing programs (such as Photoshop), (5) OneNote, (6) Microsoft's unmatched handwriting recognition, (7) Visio (vector drawing software), and (8) CRM, QuickBooks, business databases and other professional software. To me, a computer for work has to have almost all of these capabilities. I'm waiting for the Windows 8 tablet to come out to replace my laptop for this purpose (more about this at the end of this review).

But this review is not a fight between Windows and iOS/Android (which are frankly entirely different leagues serving different purposes). It's just some thoughts of a happy consumer with regard to a good product.

In the following, I will list and comment on some major aspects of Sony S1, starting with the ones that distinguish Sony S1 from the crowd the most, and ones that I personally think are more important.


Of the numerous tablets I have handled, Sony S1 feels the best in hands, noticeably better than both iPad 2 and Samsung galaxy 10.1, or any other tablets for that matter. This is largely because of its asymmetrical shape. I would not be surprised that a large number of people will feel the same way.

But I think there is something more than just a feel. In my particular case, there's a very significant practical benefit, in fact a health-related benefit. Due to longtime use of Windows-based convertible tablet computers (yes they do exist, and not to be confused with the tablets we talk about here), the skin of my fingers got a slowly-burnt condition which is very sensitive to any heat (I suspect it is radiation related, but I don't know for sure). Sony S1 gives me a cool handle to hold it, and I immediately know it is healthier, not just more comfortable. I would buy Sony S1 for this reason alone. I can't speak for others however.

In addition, the way Sony designed this tablet beems with quality and even pride. Once you have seen and held a Sony S1, a rare gleam of hope arises: finally a tablet that is not just trying to emulate the iPads. I don't hate iPads. I just want to see some freedom to break away from the "Apple Way" and good choices other than Apple products. So a tablet like Sony S1 gives me a bit of extra satisfaction other than its just being a good product. Call me biased. But I'm entitled to my opinion.


Although the Sony S1 tablet is based on Android Honeycomb, Sony introduced a few very unique features. The first interesting one is that the tablet works as a universal remote control, not only to Sony TVs but also electronics of other brands. I haven't tried this yet, but in theory, once they have that infrared sensor built in, they could make it work as a truly powerful universal control with good software implementation.

Another feature is that the Sony S1 has DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance) for streaming contents directly to a DLNA capable TV. Considering that newer TVs and many other home electronics are increasingly becoming "DLNA certified" as a matter of standard now, this is a good thing.

In addition, Sony is pitching its tablet as a PlayStation-certified tablet. I really don't know how much it means in terms of its integration with the PlayStation gaming system as I'm not a gamer. But one can expect better gaming performance than other Android tablets.

These unique features reflect Sony's expertise in entertainment. They are capable of making a particularly strong showing in the area of multimedia entertainment. The Sony S1 is a convincing proof. This could be a differentiator for Sony tablets.


The Sony uses a very high quality 9.4 inch IPS screen with 1280x800 pixels. The resolution matches the resolution of Galaxy Tab 10.1, and betters the 1028x768 of iPad 2.

However, the displays of these tablets all disappoint me in terms of resolution. One of things that I do often on a tablet is to read documents in a vertical (portrait) orientation. If you have done that a lot, you might have noticed that a minimum 900 pixels are absolutely necessary to read a full page document (especially a PDF document) without zooming and horizontal scrolling. Unlike vertical scrolling which you do only once after reading a whole page, horizontal scrolling has to be done every single line when it is necessary. This difference has a huge impact on work efficiency and reading comfortableness, yet none of these manufacturers are paying attention to this. I guess they're just too much focused on the entertaining part.

I may be asking too much, considering that 1366x800 seems to be the present maximum resolution of laptops under 13.1 inches. But once the tablets have created the freedom of vertical viewing (especially reading documents in portrait orientation), the need for more than 900 pixels in the width (when viewed vertically) became very prominent. For other purposes, the difference between 900 and 800 pixels is only a bit over 10%, but for vertical viewing of documents, reaching 900 pixels and beyond makes a qualitatively critical difference. It is a different class. Anything less than 900 pixels really no longer matters that much because you are required to do horizontal scrolling anyway.

If you set the document viewing at 90% zooming, 800 pixels would work for full-width page viewing. So in this respect, Sony S1 and Galaxy Tab 10.1 are better than iPad 2, but not class-changing.


Sony S1 uses Nvidia Tegra 2 dual-core processor 1 Ghz, comparable to iPad 2 and seems identical to Galaxy Tab 10.1. Sony S1 has 1G RAM, same as Galaxy Tab 10.1, double the iPad. But I doubt you can tell any difference in practical terms during operation. Nothing stands out here.


Sony has 16G and 32G options. I did not see a 64G option listed. I personally don't need more than 16G, because I don't see myself installing a ton of apps. Ironically, of the hundreds of thousands apps, I could find no more than a dozen apps that are really useful to me. Besides, for media files which tend to be the most memory hungry, the external SD memory card would work just fine (see below).

However, I don't understand why 32G costs $100 more than 16G. The retail price of solid-state memory in SSD has come down close to $1/G. The component cost for the tablet manufacturers would be certainly below $1/G. So how is the $100 for a 16G memory difference justified? But everyone seems to be doing this, so I can't blame Sony for doing it.


The good news is that Sony S1 has a standard (full-size) SD card memory slot. Neither iPad 2 nor Galaxy Tab 10.1 has this. Motorola Xoom has a microSD card expansion, which is not nearly as good, economic and convenient, but better than nothing. The standard SD memory cards are probably the most efficient and least expensive portable memory one can get today. Thankfully, Sony did not push its proprietary memory stick. It would be absolutely foolish if they did that.

However, there is a limitation to the usefulness of the SD memory card. It seems that the SD card memory can be used for media exchange only, and not as an extension of the internal memory. It means the memory on the SD card is good for storing and transferring files, but not as system memory for installing apps. This seems to be an issue with the operating system, but I'm not sure.

I personally don't see the above limitation to be a problem, because I don't think I will be installing many apps to exceed the 16G capacity. For media files which tend to be the most memory hungry, the external SD memory card would work just fine.


Nothing stands out here. The Sony S1 models that are available now have only Wi-Fi. I believe they will have models with 3G/4G cellular network capability in the near future. As a workaround, you may buy an external WCDMA card for Android operating system to get 3G cellular network connection for the Wi-Fi model or even try to tether the tablet to your smart phone to share the cellular connection. But if you do need 3G/4G, it is a good idea to get a model that has built-in capability.

In terms of other connections, a mini USB and a headphone/microphone socket are all you have. You will need an extension base to get other connections such as HDMI for a TV or external computer screen.


I didn't get a chance to test. Reportedly Sony S1 is even slightly better than iPad 2 (8.5 hours versus 7.5 hours), but slightly worse than Galaxy Tab 10.1 (9.5 hours). If it can give me more than six hours, I am satisfied. To me, once it's beyond six hours, there is very little difference, unless it then reaches days and weeks like E-Ink (electronic paper) displays used in Amazon Kindle. This is because it is a daily life management issue. If it is shorter than six hours, you might have to do a midday recharge which is inconvenient. But if it is beyond six hours, most of the time you will be doing a daily overnight charge only. This is the case whether it's seven, eight or nine hours. But if the device requires a charge only once for several days, even a week or longer, that would be a different story.


Sony S1 is light (21 oz or 1.31 pounds, even slightly lighter than iPad 2), but why are people obsessed with this? Will an oz or two kill you? I think people are just psyched into this with no practical benefit to them. The same goes with how thick the tablet is.


OVERALL, I really like the Sony S1. I don't expect it to have dramatically better performance than other top Android tablets. In fact I can live with any of them as long as it is not an iPad : But the excellent ergonomics with the unique and healthy hand-holding characteristic and several unique functions mark the Sony S1 apart from others.

At the same time, I'm waiting for the Windows 8 tablet to come out to replace my laptop which I am getting tired of carrying. Just a year ago, I never thought I would complain about carrying around a laptop computer. I blame these tablets for this change. They spoiled me.

In other words, I see the current tablets as only transitional products to my personal needs. Once the Windows 8 tablet comes out, I will nearly certainly switch, unless they make a huge mess in terms of form factor, heat and battery life. I have no choice because I need to work. I will still use an e-reader based on the e-ink technology to supplement my Windows tablet because such an e-reader offers a unique reading advantage. I don't see any big benefit of having both a Windows tablet and an iPad or Android tablet.

But that's just me. I don't believe the current tablets are going to be replaced by Windows tablets in landslide scales. The current tablets are mostly sufficient for a vast majority of people. This is because most people are information consumers instead of information producers. The fact is that iPads and Android tablets have got good enough to deliver information for consumption, and they're likely to beat Windows tablets in price and portability.

Besides, there is another important type of applications that is within the comfortable territory of current tablets, namely the multimedia entertainment. In this area, I find it hard to think of anything that a Windows tablet can do but an Android tablet can't. (Perhaps Intel might come up with a killer low-power processor with graphics powerful enough to support high-end games which the ARM processors can't? I don't know. This should work out for Sony tablets particularly well. With Sony's expertise in entertainment, they are capable to make a strong showing in multimedia entertainment. The Sony S1 is a convincing proof.

Comment Comments (21) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 23, 2012 1:02 PM PST

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