I love upgrading stuff in my home. Especially things related to technology. I kind of see it as a very definite jump in the quality of life possibly because so much in my home is now run via our computers and phones.
A round up
The big one last month has to be the Dell U3011 because of the tremendous productivity boost I have experienced. I tend to do all my work digitally. Notes are taken via Evernote in text or photos, I don’t print lecture slides preferring to view them in school via by laptop or phone, etc. It so happened that this semester featured plenty of work centered on research and writing (and not mathematics) and the U3011 has been a huge blessing. Someone should find a good way to make it easy to input mathematics. MS Word’s iteration is rather unwieldy.
My mom must have experienced the biggest jump for quite a bit. She took over my Samsung T260HD shifting up from her 22”. The screen size really fits her living room desk well. It also helps that the pixel density is not too fine especially with her eyesight.
But the biggest upgrade of all must be her move from the LG Optimus One (P500) to the Samsung Galaxy SII. She is more of a phone person than I am and is absolutely blown away by it. To be frank, I was very tempted to go Andriod after setting up the phone for her. The 4.3 inch screen is awesome. To top it off it is lighter and thinner than my iPhone 4. If Apple doesn’t up its screen to 4.3, I will be definitely shifting. Screen estate is serious business. It is amazing how much more you can do with just a little more screen space.
As mentioned before, I am not really a phone person and am more of a desktop/laptop guy. I don’t plan on upgrading my laptop because it is serving me really well and I don’t think the ultrabook market as matured yet. So that leaves me with my desktop.
Upping my screen resolution to 2560×1600 + 1024×1280 has one drawback. It is taxing my GTX460 pretty heavily. But yet again I do not play many games. I am more into digital content creation and consumption so it may be hard to justify sinking $700 into this. I expect the GTX680 prices to come down quite a bit in 4 months but what is really enticing is how power efficient this new card is. I’ll likely to stick to my GTX460 at the moment. If I do move for the GTX680 I will probably try for a reference design this time. After market coolers tend to dump the heat within my casing which I am not in favor of considering I went for a smaller case to minimize desktop footprint.
Ivy Bridge i7 3770 + Z77
This was my targeted upgrade at end 2011 because of the numerous issues I had with my MSI X58 Pro mainboard. I RMAed the mainboard during the winter hols and it has been holding up really well. My first generation i7 920 is pulling its weight fine but is a power consumption and heat generating hog. It tops out at 135TDP while Ivy Bridge is looking at a significantly lower 77TDP. That’s nearly half. A big part of my future upgrades are focused on power consumption and heat. I think I’ve reached a comfortable speed and level of computing that I do not feel that I am hindered by inferior hardware. So optimization of power consumption and reducing heat output is a natural step ahead. I think what would swing it for me would be the prices of the i7 3770 and its companion Z77 mainboards. I’ll give it a full 3-4 months to see how the reviews are like. I am not going for a ‘k’ version because I do not plan to overclock and am past the days of breaking benchmarks. So it’ll be interesting to see how this pans out. If Ivy Bridge is not justifying the cost I will put this off. I am pretty happy at where I am now besides the power consumption and heat part.
My first and current mechanical keyboard is the Razer Blackwidow Ultimate. It is a pretty good mechanical keyboard but has serious build quality flaws. This is my first Razer peripheral and will likely be my last. The LED backlighting has failed consistently on some keys and I have RMAed the keyboard twice. My current board has issues with backlighting the ‘r’ key off and on. It is now worse because the ‘f’ key is occasionally registers two hits instead of one when I hit it once. This hinders typing directly and I am looking to move away from this. The problem is there is no really good mechanical keyboard with backlighting and a respectable macro feature. The ones that spring to mind is the Ducky Shine and the Corsair K90. But I feel that they are not ‘really there’ yet and am hoping for the next generation to be better. I also hope that Logitech gets into the mechanical keyboard businesses. All the keyboards and mice I have used from them have been solid. (G15v2, G5, G9, G500, G700, m705 and also their trackball mice). Well I’ll stick to Razer for just their mousepads. The goliathus is pretty good.
Hard to Resist – Lumia 900
I am also reaching the end of my two year contract this year and am looking to make the leap to Windows Phone. I am not really an app person so the lack of apps is not a massive consideration. The OS quality is higher than Andriod and in various ways superior to its rather dated looking iOS counterpart. WP has not been paired with a good hardware partner until Nokia came along. Nokia has always consistently put out great hardware surpassing that of Samsung and the like. The Lumia 900 looks really solid and good looking. I have handled the Lumia 800 extensively and I love it. I will really have to see how the iPhone 5 is like before making this switch. As a matter of principle and personal preference, I’d really love to dump iOS for WP7.5
Tons to look forward for
With a limited budget I’m going to be selective in this upgrade cycle. But this is an exciting 2012 to look forward to.