Windows 8 device comparison

by Shijaz Abdulla on 01.09.2012 at 08:35

With the explosion of new Windows 8 hardware in the industry, I stumbled upon this great comparison of devices on

Click to enlarge.



Surface: The Microsoft tablet

by Shijaz Abdulla on 19.06.2012 at 05:42


Microsoft yesterday announced Surface, a new family of PCs for Windows, at an event in Hollywood. The Microsoft-made hardware will be available starting with the release of Windows 8 and Windows RT. The devices were conceived, designed and engineered entirely by Microsoft employees.

Key points:

  • Two models of Surface will be available – one running an ARM processor featuring Windows RT and the other running a third generation Intel Core processor featuring Windows 8.
  • With a full-sized USB port, and 16:9 aspect ratio for HD, it has edges angled at 22 degrees, making it comfortable to use and lets the software take center stage, without hardware getting in the way.
  • The casing of Surface is created using a unique approach called VaporMg (pronounced Vapor-Mag), a combination of material selection and process to mold metal and deposit particles that creates a finish akin to a luxury watch. Starting with magnesium, parts can be molded as thin as .65 mm, thinner than the typical credit card, to create a product that is thin, light and rigid/strong.
  • An integrated kickstand is always available for use whenever needed without adding to extra weight or thickness.
  • Touch Cover: A 3mm keyboard interface using a unique pressure-sensing technology that senses keystrokes as gestures, helping you type faster than on an on-screen keyboard. Touch Covers will be available in various colors. The touch covers attach to the Surface through a built-in magnetic connector and also doubles up as a protective cover.


Surface for Windows RT

  • OS: Windows RT

  • Light(1): 676 g

  • Thin(2): 9.3 mm

  • Clear: 10.6” ClearType HD Display

  • Energized: 31.5 W-h

  • Connected: microSD, USB 2.0, Micro HD Video, 2×2 MIMO antennae

  • Productive: Office ‘15’ Apps, Touch Cover, Type Cover

  • Practical: VaporMg Case & Stand

  • Configurable: 32 GB, 64 GB

Surface for Windows 8 Pro

  • OS: Windows 8 Pro

  • Light(1): 903 g

  • Thin(2): 13.5 mm

  • Clear: 10.6” ClearType Full HD Display

  • Energized: 42 W-h

  • Connected: microSDXC, USB 3.0, Mini DisplayPort Video, 2×2 MIMO antennae

  • Productive: Touch Cover, Type Cover, Pen with Palm Block

  • Practical: VaporMg Case & Stand

  • Configurable: 64 GB, 128 GB

(1), (2). Actual size and weight of the device may vary due to configuration and manufacturing process.


Above and below are pictures of the devices from the Surface gallery on the Microsoft website.


How to install Windows 8 on Acer Iconia tab W500

by Shijaz Abdulla on 20.09.2011 at 23:05

Credit goes to fellow techie Ahmed Ali Ibrahim of Qatar for his inputs.

Here’s how we installed Windows 8 Developer Preview on an Acer Iconia tab W500.

  1. Extract the 32-bit Windows 8 Developer Preview ISO and copy the files to a USB thumb drive.
  2. Shutdown the tablet.
  3. Connect a USB keyboard to the tablet.
  4. Press and hold down the Windows button and the Power button, when the machine starts, press F2. This will display the BIOS setup.
  5. Change the boot order to boot from the USB HDD. WP_000069
  6. Save changes and exit BIOS setup, plug in the USB thumb drive, and restart the computer. You can disconnect the keyboard at this point.
  7. The computer boots into Windows 8 setup from the USB drive. DSC_0545DSC_0547DSC_0549
  8. Windows 8 automatically installs all the drivers, except for the Bluetooth and the G-Sensor. You can download these drivers from the Acer website. You also need to download the “Device Control” application from the Acer website (it is listed under applications). The screen rotation will not work both the G-Sensor driver and the Device Control application are not installed.DSC_0550

If you had installed the 64-bit version of Windows 8 Developer Preview, the G-sensor will not work as the driver on the Acer website is only for 32-bit versions of Windows.


Setting up a Hyper-V test lab

by Shijaz Abdulla on 31.01.2010 at 07:32

There are certain points to keep in mind while selecting hardware for a virtualized test lab environment, some of which I will enlist here.

  1. Processor

This is one of the most important components to be taken into consideration:

  • The higher the clock speed, the better. Remember, the clock speed of the processor is the speed at which ALL your guest virtual machines are going to run. If all it takes to step up to the next clock speed level is a few dollars, it might really be worth it.
  • Similarly the more cores a processor has, the merrier it gets with Hyper-V. Consider a Quad core processor to a Duo Core processor
  • Make sure your processor supports hardware virtualization. Yes, there are still desktop processors available that do not natively support virtualization. For Intel processors, this is known as Intel VT (Virtualization Technology), for AMD,  this is called AMD-V.
  • The processor must support x64 bit.
  • Intel eXecute Disable (XD) bit, or NX (No eXecute) bit on AMD processors.
  • Here is a list of Intel processors supporting VT.
  • If you want to check if a particular Intel processor model supports VT, 64-bit, or eXecute Disable (XD) bit, try the ProcessorFinder on Intel’s website.
  • Hardware-enforced DEP (Data Execution Prevention)
  • Processor cache: Again – the more, the merrier. The desktop processor I selected (Intel Q9650) has a 12 MB cache, 3 GHz clock speed and is Quad Core.

2. Motherboard & Memory

  • Make sure the motherboard and BIOS supports Virtualization. Check with the board manufacturer before you buy.
  • Make sure the motherboard can accept a large quantity of RAM. At the time of writing, desktop motherboards that support up to 16 GB RAM are available.
  • The more RAM you have, the better – for the simple reason that you can run more number of virtual machines simultaneously.

3. Storage

  • Hard drives should be fast. I use SATA 2.0
  • Get as much storage as possible, as the VHD files can get pretty big.

4. Networking

  • You might need an additional network card for testing advanced/firewall configurations

It goes without saying that you need proper cooling on your system chassis, a decent graphics card, a DVD-RW drive, and an LCD monitor that won’t strain your eyes too much.

Hope this helps you geeks out there in planning hardware purchases for your home lab :). Post a comment below to discuss this topic.

Setting up a Windows 7 Media Center

by Shijaz Abdulla on 06.12.2009 at 07:31

I’m setting up a Windows 7 Media Center at home and thought I’d share feedback on how I went about getting it done. Being a tech enthusiast, and NOT much of the movies/music person, I went for something very modest and inexpensive.


The PC: Acer Aspire Revo R3600


  • Very sleek, black, ultra small form factor, can be mounted on the back of a flat panel TV or mounted on its own footing. Both mounting kits are provided in the package.
  • Intel® Atom 230 processor @ 1.6GHz (intel’s smallest processor)
  • 2 GB RAM, expandable to 4 GB
  • NVIDIA ION chipset
  • NVIDIA GeForce 9400 upto 896 MB
  • HDMI output, VGA output
  • 6 USB ports,
  • 4-in-1 card reader
  • eSATA port
  • Built-in wireless adapter, Ethernet port
  • HD Audio 7.1

The Display: Videocon Haute 32” Flat Panel LCD TV (VBL32HBG-FLA)

  • 32” LCD, 16:9 aspect ratio, 1366×768 resolution
  • 2 HDMI ports, VGA with audio jack
  • 3 RCA inputs
  • Proudly made in India :) 


Human Interface: Microsoft Wireless Optical Desktop 1000

  • Media Center keys
  • Spill resistant (living room/coffee table use)
  • 6 month battery life. (I recommend using rechargeable Ni-Cd batteries for keyboard and mouse)

    I would have preferred a keyboard with built-in trackball instead of a mouse for living room coffee table convenience, but I couldn’t get hold of one.


    Webcam: Microsoft LifeCam VX-6000

    LifeCam CinemaI used the LifeCam VX-6000 only because I had a spare one lying around. For those buying a new webcam, I would recommend the LifeCam Cinema, a great webcam that I had evaluated:

    • 720p HD widescreen @ up to 30fps!
    • Auto Focus
    • Digital microphone

    The LifeCam VX-6000 that I used is an older model, that has the following features:

    • 71 degree Wide Angle Lens (good for living room set up)LifeCam VX-6000
    • High Definition video
    • 3x digital zoom
    • Up to 30fps
    • Built-in microphone

    Why a webcam on my Media Center PC? OK, I like to use the living room computer for video conferencing with relatives, because this way the whole family can be on the couch *and* within frame 🙂

    TV Tuner:

    I am still looking for a good, locally available external TV Tuner/Capture card that is on the Windows Media Center Hardware Compatibility List (HCL). The ones that I found locally are from Lightwave – and that’s not listed on the HCL. I already have an STB with RCA composite output and RF out jack, and I’m looking for a capture card that will receive one of these and display it in Windows Media Center. I will post an update when I finally install a TV Tuner. 🙂

    Meanwhile, if any of you have got Lightwave TV tuner cards working with Windows Media Center, please post a comment and let me know of your experience.

    For now, the only thing I watch on my PC is Internet TV from IslamBox.TV.

    Other hardware:

    • Since the Acer Aspire Revo R3600 comes with no bluetooth, I have a USB bluetooth dongle plugged in.
    • The Revo comes with no DVD player/recorder and you might want to buy one. For me, I already have a DVD player hooked to my LCD TV, and I have other computers in my Windows 7 HomeGroup that have DVD recorders. Installation of Windows 7 on my Revo was done with a USB stick.
    • I had to buy an HDMI cable because neither the Revo nor the Videocon LCD TV came with one.

    Audio: HDMI output

    The audio from my TV is good enough for me. You can always connect a sophisticated audio system if your TV supports it. The Revo only has a headphone jack.



    • Unpack and set up the Revo as per the instructions enclosed, initially use the wired keyboard and mouse supplied with the Revo
    • Connect the HDMI cable between the PC and the LCD TV.
    • Power on both units, get connected to the internet, install updates, antivirus software, etc.
    • Install the wireless keyboard and mouse as per the instructions enclosed and unplug the Revo’s wired keyboard and mouse
    • Install the LifeCam as per instructions e
      nclosed. Plug the device in only when prompted by the installation software.
    • Uninstall any useless software that was pre-installed by Acer (some games, utilities and trial software)
    • Upgrade the Revo from Windows Vista to Windows 7 using a USB stick.
    • Connect your TV/STB to the TV tuner card and do the installation. Run through the Windows Media Center setup.
    • Set up a Windows 7 Homegroup to better share
    • Try not to mess around with the display resolution too much. I use 1024×768.

    Here are some pictures of my living room computer 🙂

    SNC00830 SNC00833


    What next?

    The next things on my list:

    Scroll Windows Mobile like the iPhone

    by Shijaz Abdulla on 06.01.2008 at 07:29

    Pointui is an “skin” application developed for Windows Mobile 5.0 and Windows Mobile 6.0. It adds the functionality to detect your “finger swipes” on the surface of Windows Mobile devices instead of the stylus, much like the iPhone.

    Pointui claims to run on any current Windows Mobile hardware. Who would have ever thought this is all just software?!

    Pointui is also a skin that redesigns the interface, gives you a better call log and also re-organizes menus, to make the WM interface easier to use.

    Oh yeah – and guess what?! It’s free.

    No more blackberries for breakfast!

    by Shijaz Abdulla on 27.10.2007 at 10:31

    For the past 3 years I’ve been using a Windows Mobile powered device and have actually surrounded my life around it. I’ve had good times with it (and bad ones too, with the regular restarts). Until now.

    Yes, the organization I joined runs Blackberry.

    During my consulting days, I have always attacked (or, tried to attack) Blackberry and have always positioned Windows Mobile and Activesync to all my clients.

    So here I am, exiling my Windows Mobile to the back of the drawer for a Nokia E61 that runs the Blackberry app and has no stylus/touch-screen. Its frustrating each time I feel the urge to poke at the screen with my finger to control the device, but in vain. I guess I’ll learn to live with it some day.

    What’s inside the Apple iPhone?

    by Shijaz Abdulla on 26.10.2007 at 10:22

    The guys at TechRepublic have totally disassembled an Apple iPhone. If you’ve always wondered what its like inside one of those, this is your chance. Check out their step by step image gallery as they strip the handheld piece by piece.

    From PDA2k to X-BOND

    by Shijaz Abdulla on 20.01.2007 at 16:20

    My views on this subject have changed with time. Please scroll on to the end of this post for latest information.

    My i-mate PDA2k had served me flawlessly (well, with ROM updates) for the past 2 years. But now, with the onset of newer and better (read: smaller) handhelds, my PDA2k with its handful size was becoming more of a subject of public attention (and conversation!).

    It was time. I finally decided that I should get rid of my PDA2k and have it replaced by newer, more “handy” technology.

    I had already begun looking away from the i-mate, with other competitors like Eten and i-teq coming up with innovative and pretty cool devices. First on my wishlist was the Eten Glofiish X500 with its GPS capability. After doing some research on the web, I decided to get down to GOSI Shopping Complex and have a look myself.

    The Eten Glofiish X500 was cool with its GPS capability, but I ended up buying the i-teq X-BOND. I also looked at minute features (even the carry case – which apparently was a book-type case in the Glofiish – the type without the belt clip).
    The X-BOND has TV and FM Radio receiving capabilities (although the TV antenna attachment is kind of … well.. big). Apart from the usual software (Word Mobile, Excel Mobile, Powerpoint Mobile, Pocket MSN, and the lot) it came with great software that lets you block incoming calls selectively (Block list), answering machine (wow), set up a background noise while you attend calls (you can make your boss/friends believe you’re in a car, in the street, in a meeting, or even at the airport!).

    Thinking again, I wouldn’t need to use much of GPS – it would be one of those things which would be good to have, but rarely used. So I finally decided to go for the i-teq.

    For me, it was more about doing out with the old and in with the new. You can see for yourself what that means!:

    The new and the old: X-BOND (left) and PDA2k (right)

    Update (25-Apr-2007): Don’t buy this device!

    I found the following issues with the i-teq X-BOND:

    – When you use GPRS for sometime, and the device goes into standby, it never comes back on again. During this time, you will not receive incoming call indications although the calling party will hear ringing.
    – If you do a soft reset under this circumstance, sometimes you lose the latest additions to data (new contacts added or new SMS message received or last few calls in call history)
    – There was one instance where I had to do a hard reset and re-install the ROM because the device went bonkers. Incoming calls automatically went into ‘Speaker ON’ mode.
    – The TV feature doesn’t work well indoors.
    – Online support is no good. The forums in the members area are full of people who hate the device. Now the forum doesnt work. They blocked people from adding new messages to their forum.
    I guess we will have to wait for the next ROM update from iteq.

    July 12, 2007: They still havent released an update, they still haven’t responded to customer queries by email, the forum on the members area of the site is dead. Everybody there hates the device. They will not survive in the market.
    – They have another brand name called G-Smart. It is the same inferior device with a different branding.
    – The screen is of inferior quality and is prone to scratches – the ‘original’ stylus that came with the device itself makes scratches on the LCD display.

    It is PDA vendors like iteq / gsmart that give Windows Mobile a bad name. Microsoft should thoroughly screen these vendors before giving them the right to use the Windows logo on their devices.

    January 8, 2007:

    I left the phone switched off for a month, and then the phone became a dead brick. It wouldn’t turn on. I took it back to the service center in Bahrain, they sent it to Dubai and after 2 weeks of “fixing”, they sent it back. Now the phone boots, but the microphone is dead. The person on the other end can’t hear me. My warranty is expiring on January 19th. No software updates released yet. Repeat: DO NOT BUY THIS DEVICE.