Posts Tagged ‘Samsung’

"Electronic Surgery"

I was preparing some Vista drivers for the impending migration when I noticed a BIOS firmware update available for my Samsung laptop. Decided to go for it & succeeded without any hiccups. Feeling adventurous, I decided to overhaul the physical innards of my laptop to clean the fans & reduce heat build-up. This proved to be a folly as I guess one is limited to a single brash act per night.

Notice the version number of the outdated firmware

The BIOS flashing is performed within a live Windows session

...& it is done

In short, I tore the laptop apart, failed to access the fan comfortably enough to clean it. And when I put everything back together again, the Touchpad & Bluetooth wasn’t working. Great, I damaged my system just when I was about to format it. After the initial panic, I googled around for solutions & more importantly, the service manuals of my specific system. After some examination of the printed labels of the components on my laptop mainboard, I cross-referenced the connection pathways with 3 related Samsung models’ (one of which is my model) schematics. With a more-or-less affirmative Bluetooth module part number. (technicians should find this term very familiar), I performed a “Google Image Search” for this part no. to obtain a visual confirmation to avoid “operating” & destroying another component by mistake. After I know visually what I’m supposed to work on, I went back to the schematics to trace the connection across the Printed Circuit Board. One time, I was very sure the components exist correctly on both the schematics & my actual laptop mainboard, but the layout on the schematics is foreign to me; it turned out I was looking at the inverse side of my laptop plastic shell & the whole inspection was upside-down literally. Once I set my orientation straight I was able to verify the integrity of the module’s connection, and by-chance, I managed to ID the disconnected cable of my Touchpad and all was fine again, expected for 4 broken keys on my keyboard (collateral damage?).

Let's split this unit open!

In the process of dismantling...

Again, I suspect Samsung service cte forgot to return some of my screws from last time

Read 5 Samsung notebook schematics from other models within the family before I chanced upon the right part number...

Next, I have to figure out the correct orientation of the pieces I have on my hands...

Finally found the elusive pathway of the bluetooth module

...& re-connect the dislodged Synaptics touch-pad cable.

Nope, I still didn’t manage to clean my fan. I will also not like to do this again. I supposed to broken keys will serve as a painful reminder the next time I’m feeling adventurous it is probably a sign to forecast the possible occurrence of an act of stupidity. Did I mention I have no electrical engineering fundamentals & half the time I was interpreting the schematics my brain was fuelled by instinct in place of logic?


The past few months seen the influx of a heightened interest in PDA phones, particularly those with a full qwerty keypad which the Blackberries are the representative models. I was looking out for a mobile with full qwerty keypad also, and my initial choice was the Motorola Q9M, as shown below:

However, Singapore telco like to do stupid things and brought in the Motorola Q9H instead, which offers 3.5G(calling it HSDPA doesn’t alleviate the situation, morons) instead of WiFi. So, despite the soft rubbery grippy back and cooler demeanor of a Motorola, and a Windows Mobile interface as opposed to BlackBerry’s spartan interface, no Wifi = no-go for me.

Then I chanced upon the Samsung i780 in a brochure and it seems to pack a punch, as below:

Key features include:

  • WiFi
  • 3.5G(hedge-ass-dee-pee-air)
  • GPS
  • Full QWERTY keypad
  • Optical joystick (a.k.a. trackball/pad-like surface for you to control your on-screen cursor/pointer, like the Blackberries)
  • 2.6″ TFT Touch-screen
  • 2MP camera
  • WM6

How cool is that! And a 14xxmAh capacity battery helps a lot too! Summary? If you have have WLAN access point you can switch over to 3.5G or use the built-in GPS to find a place that has WiFi. If you are sick of typing you can either use the stylus to navigate or even the integrated trackpad too!

Now, at the Ultimate series, we do not leave things as such, so I actually stumbled upon…this:

Now, I know it doesn’t have a physical QWERTY keypad, but it does offer few feature over the i780, namely:

  • Windows Mobile 6.1
  • 5 mega-pixel camera (with auto-focus)
  • Even larger 3.5″ 240X400 Touch-screen
  • FM Radio
  • TV-out
  • 8GB of internal memory
  • WiFi, GPS, 3.5G, of course

So, if you want a physical keypad, wait for i780 to have a price slash(it’s currently sold out in Singapore, btw), if you want a more useful(for productivity) “iPhone”, wait for the i900(in case, you haven’t figure out, this is the model no.). Now, tell me why do I keep running into Samsung products…?

P.S. I know the i900 photo ain’t impressive, but note that this is a prototype shot.

Ever since the demise of my Konica Minolta Z3 (due to my negligence, left the batteries in for an extended period of time & mercury leakage ensued), I’ve been searching high & low for another worthy successor. Furthermore, Konica Minolta’s digital still cameras division has been sold to Sony; so I couldn’t get another KM anyway.

However, even though whipping out a hefty-sized snapper makes you look pro, it often discourages me to pack the camera in my backpack 24/7 and hence my portfolio suffers. Therefore a quest for a compact camera with manual features begins…I know it is a tall order, but I do wish to improve (& perhaps even “formalize” my learnings), so an “Ultimate” camera must be found to suffice this ridiculous demand.

When I first heard of the Fujifilm Finepix F100fd & its Wide Dynamic Range capability, and limited manual capabilities, I was quite certain this was it. WDR, simply put, means that the camera (sensor) is able to detect finer granularity of color range and distinguish the details in your blacks & whites. What this means to say is, for typical shots, should the sky be too bright, beyond a certain shade of blue, everything else will be treated & recorded by the camera as white. Same goes for the blacks, beyond a certain darkness shade, any details darker than that(but NOT black) will be recorded as black. WDR capability extends this range & perhaps put me in a position to learn how to do HDR photos, which I will draft a post about, in another entry,

So at that time to me, F100fd = manual features + WDR, + compact + Finepix F-series’s legendary high ISO(but low noise) capability. The ol’ school conservative look struck a chord with me too. But recently as it surfaces in Singapore, for a super cheap price (~$500 with 2 * GB SD card), issues began to spread from other international owners. While I will like to elaborate on them issues, a quick summary will probably be more appropriate for the random reader:

  1. pink band is captured at left side of photo with shots above ISO800, rendering high ISO capabilities moot
  2. black sets are made in China, no good ol’ Fujifilm Japan heritage
  3. Conflicts with Transcend SD cards
  4. Manual features do NOT have aperture & shutter priority modes

So I actually tried out the F100fd in Singapore and I was able to easily recreate the pink band issue, multiple times, within a casual store lighting setting, no need for total blackout of surrounding light sources to exaggerate the effect. the pink band is definitely there. In my face. So if I anyhow anyhow can recreate this flaw, then it’s a definite no-go. Despite the wide-angle, despite the incredulous-face detection 3.0, despite the true 12MP, & ISO128000(@ 3MPmax) capabilities, if the camera can NOT even take a completely proper/correct photo, then what’s the point? It will just devolve into a regret that I have to leave with everyday. The Fujifilm F100fd dream is over.

A good friend of mine then recommended the Samsung NV24HD. I’m a heavy user of Samsung products (X11 notebook + U600 cellphone + Samsung portable HDD) & my impression of their durability is less-than-optimal. Besides, Samsung seems to be an unheard-of player in the digital camera scene. My parents even have a Samsung low-end digicam, which I’ve handled and tried and at best, it is a piece of trash. but for those who are more than adventurous, I shall highlight the NV24 HD key features:

  • 24mm (better than 28mm) Wide-angle lense
  • 3.6x Opt. zoom
  • face detection & smile/blink shot-trigger
  • physical image stabilization
  • 720p HDmovie recording with stereo sound
  • touch screen
  • slide-show playback

So for those of you who insist on giving this Samsung snapper a try, please head down to Alan Photo this coming week. I heard first-hand from a bespectacled tall Chinese staff it’s arriving. Beware of the staff at Alan Photo, Funan. Apparently if you are dressed in shorts, tee & a baseball cap they are less than enthusiastic to engage your business. Another thing to beware of is the existing NV30 & NV40. The Samsung NV24 HD is newer & offers HD movie recording, while the other 2 does NOT.

So I kinda didn’t really wanna try the Samsung NV24, & I’ve heard of the Panasonic TZ5 being compared against the Finepix F100fd, & finally I decided to check it out. It turns out to be quite a pretty device, as you can see:

Specs are more than incredible for a compact camera, as follows:

  • 10x Opt. zoom
  • 9.1megapixels
  • HD video recording (720p, same as NV24 HD)
  • the famous Mega O.I.S., as found in their FZ-prosumer series
  • 3.0″ LCD display (currently the best in the market is Sony’s T-series’ 3.5″)
  • fancy slide-show playback as well
  • I tink it has face detection

As you can see clearly, good looks and superior specs. I actually tried out the device at a Panasonic roadshow in IMM shopping mall. the physical device is slightly larger than it looks on websites. On the other hand, zooming into a taken shot reveals the noise inherent in the capture. the same goes for the FX36 which I tested at the roadshow also. So if it is like that, then die liao lor…

At this point I wanna say to the PnS/compact devices division of Fujifilm & Panasonic: “You throw anymore of these oh-I-have-all-those-features-except-one-just-so-I-am-not-100%-perfect” products at me, and I’ll go ahead and get the one below then:

For those who knows the above, well, I need not elaborate further except re-iterate the fixed focal length (read: no optical zoom). For those who dunno, you dun need this kinda camera. For those who dunno AND keen to throw their money down the drain, click here.

Even though the gorgeous TZ5(btw, it’s known as TZ15 in Singapore, confirm, cos got public announcement in Panasonic Japan) seems to fall short with image quality (noise), I found a superior hidden gem in the Lumix line-up, the Lumix FX520! Instead of repeating all the god-damn details, I’m just gonna opint ut the differences between it and the TZ5/15 which I’d already described above:

  • “only” 5x opt. zoom as compared to TZ5’s 10x(which I still tink is remarkable engineering in a compact shell)
  • 25mm (TZ5’s 28mm) wide-angle lense (again, this number is the smaller the better)
  • 10.1MP (as compared to TZ5’s 9.1MP)
  • 3.0″ Touch-screen with point-to-fix-subject-focus capability (akin to Sony T-series)
  • Complete manual features!!!!! Aperture AND shutter priority modes, DULL Manual mode. And u know what’s so cool? U fine-tune those settings using touch-sliders on-screen
  • Of course, 6 million other scene modes (like Finepix F100fd) for us, “mediocre” photographers
  • AF tracking (for those who dunno what this feature this, just click on this feature’s elaboration in this FX520 link. See how the “cross-hair” stays on the grouse’s head even though it’s cocking its head here & there? for those who dunno what a grouse is, click on the same link too)
  • Face detection, HD movie recording, same good stuff as the TZ5
  • Ol’ school conservative design partial reason why I fell for Finepix F100fd)

So I’m gonna try out the FX520 once it hits our shores, and if the image quality (which is the most important point when considering a camera model; and fujifilm ppl, pink band = fail) manages to pass my discretion…this is the top contender for the moment.

Links as follows:

Fujifilm Finepix F100fd

Pink band issue

How to test for pink band

Samsung NV24 HD

Panasonic TZ5 review

Panasonic TZ5 official site

Panasonic FX520 official site

Sigma DP1

Next major item, finally a new battery for my 1-hour laptop, & an extended one at that! My laptop has a very special feature: it can only last 52min(excluding boot-up consumption) on a single charge. Pretty cool eh, that’s why you always see me typing very fast in school.

I understand battery are normally not covered under warranty for most electronic devices, so I actually called Samsung up & hope that I’m able to buy, NOT claim one. But apparently they did not stock this model as it’s probably too old(my laptop’s a Core Duo, not the newer Core 2 Duo, nor Penryn). So when I saw this extended battery for $148 (yup no discount 😦 ) I pounced on the chance to order it.

Expect my feedback in a week’s time when I collect it. It’s capacity is twice that of the standard battery, & 4 times as much as MY current standard battery, which has a 50% wear level already…