DataCore DriveHarmony now available in Beta

Today, DataCore has released a beta of their DriveHarmony software for Windows Home Server 2011.

This beta release will expire after 30 days, and is NOT meant for production use. DO NOT use production data with this release.

I’m downloading right now and will have more later. If you want to download the beta, click the link below.

Review: HTC Surround

Introduction

The HTC Surround, introduced November 9th, 2010, is a Windows Phone 7 device for AT&T (US) and Telus (Canada). The device features 16GB of internal storage and is powered by a 1 GHz Qualcomm QSD8250 processor along with 448MB of RAM. A key differentiator for this device is the speakers powered by Dolby mobile technology and SRS. For photos and videos the device features a 5MP camera and the ability to record video at 720p.

Hardware

The Surround is in my opinion, one stout phone. Weighing in at about 6 ounces, the phone doesn’t feel like it would fly out of your hand, but it is also not so heavy that it becomes a burden to hold to your ear while talking. The slide mechanism to uncover the speakers is not flimsy, but fairly tight. I haven’t used the phone long enough to determine if the slide weakens over time, but overall I’d say that the hardware itself is pretty solid. Because this phone is called the “Surround” I had to test the speakers. In my opinion, they aren’t the greatest mobile phone speakers. They are definitely louder than the ones on my HTC HD7, but the sound enhancements seem very gimmicky. If you are only considering buying this phone for the speakers, you’ll be disappointed. For video and camera quality, I was pleasantly surprised. The camera takes decent pictures, and for recording video, the quality is as good as it can be at 720p.

Software

The Surround runs Windows Phone 7, and comes stock with the original (what I call 1.0) release of the operating system. At this point, AT&T has approved the “NoDo” (Copy and Paste) update for the device, so updating the software through Zune was not an issue. For this particular device, there was an included update from HTC for the device as well, but no details were provided on what it fixes. For running Windows Phone 7, performance was very sub-par. Many times, the device would lag when a phone call was received and I had to pull the battery and reboot several times in my week of testing. I was around a few others who have also just received HTC Surrounds who were seeing these same issues. Because of this, I’m inclined to believe that the device is underpowered at 448MB. Other than these issues, the OS and apps installed on the device performed as expected with some lag due to the small amount of memory in the device.

Network

In the interest of full disclosure, the device is designed for the AT&T network, but I SIM unlocked it for use on T-Mobile, so I was limited to the EDGE network, so I can’t accurately test the performance of the phone on a 3G network. However, call quality was very clear and very loud. I had no issues hearing what callers were saying and they had no issues hearing what I was saying.

Conclusion

In my opinion, the HTC Surround is fairly decent phone. However, it is does have issues. The biggest issue that I’ve experienced is the lack of performance with the OS. The freezing and the constant lock ups make the device near unusable. For being advertised as a phone with Dolby and SRS technology behind the speakers, it’s a gimmick. Sure, the speakers don’t sound tinny, but watching a movie from Netflix on the device won’t be a magical and memorable experience. I liked the photo and video quality of the Surround, which is a major plus. I like the overall size of the device. It’s not too big, not too small, it’s just right. If HTC, Microsoft, and AT&T can all work together to solve the performance issues, I see the Surround as a great device in the Windows Phone lineup.

My rating

I give the HTC Surround 3 out of 5 stars. I like Windows Phone 7, the size and weight of the device, and the photo / video quality. The speakers are too much of a gimmick and the performance issues are a concern.

Photos

Technical Specs (as tested)

Connectivity

GSM850/900/1800/1900 MHz

Weight

6 oz.

Dimensions

4.72″ x 2.44″ x 0.54″

Battery Life

Talk: 4 hours / Standby: 264 hours

Display

3.8” LCD – 480x800px

OS

Windows Phone 7 (updated to NoDo through Zune software)

Storage

16GB internal microSD storage

RAM

448MB

A Gift from Microsoft–HP ProLiant Microserver

HP_ProLiant_MicroServerIn the interest of full disclosure, I wanted to take a moment to announce that during the 2011 Global MVP Summit, Microsoft gave me an HP ProLiant Microserver.

The HP ProLiant Microserver is designed for the small business space, and is meant to be a first server for those that have no real IT infrastructure or are using a peer-to-peer network. The Microserver has a very low price point of only $349 for the base model with no OS.

The server supports RAID 0 and 1, and for those that want remote management, an optional iLO card can be purchased for an additional fee.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be installing Windows MultiPoint Server 2011, Windows Home Server 2011 RC, and Windows Small Business Server 2011 Essentials RC to test the software and the performance of the ProLiant Microserver. I may have just found my replacement for my aging HP MediaSmart EX475 server.

Thanks for the server, Microsoft!

Microsoft Surface – What is it and how does it work?

While in Seattle for Student Insider training, myself along with Jeremy Bray and Ryan Bucinell were fortunate to be able to meet with a couple members of the Surface team.

Below are the two segments of the interview. Apologies in advance, the first few seconds did not record, but the rest of the interview did.

Total interview length: 30 minutes

Interview with: Mark Hopkins, Programming Writer and Luis Cabrera, Software Design Engineer

Part one:

Part two:

First Impression: T-Mobile G1

Yesterday, I recieved a G1 from T-Mobile to try out and play with. The G1 is the first phone to offer Google’s Android Operating System.

The design and purpose of the Android operating system is to encourage openness and innovation.

The G1 is a 3G phone which means that data connections will be significantly faster than traditional EDGE connections.

So far after 24 hours of use, I’m impressed with Android and with the G1 itself.  The G1 weighs in at about 4.1 ounces and has a solid feel.

The G1 uses an HVGA (480×320) touch screen, and for someone like me whose has big fingers, the screen is very responsive, and I’ve had very few errors with using the on-screen keyboard.

This coming week I’ll be in Las Vegas for the International Consumer Electronics Show, and I’ll be making the G1 my phone of choice for the week.

Photo gallery will be posted soon and look for full review series over the new few weeks!

Litl : Unique and Innovative Webbook

The 'Litl' Webbook
In preparing for my first ever trip to the Consumer Electronics Show, or CES, as it’s commonly referred, I stumbled upon a company called Litl.
Litl makes a webbook. A webbook is a type of laptop computer that only has access to the web, and provides applications and other resources that require the internet. In some ways, Litl has done what Google will be doing down the road with their Chrome OS.
According to Litl, “…the litl webbbok was created with a fresh approach that makes enjoying online photos and using the web, simple, enjoyable, and fun.” 
This approach involves some unique features in design, usability, and the overall experience.
The Litl features a 12 inch screen, and can be used in laptop form, or in “easel” form, as illustrated in the photo.  In easel form, the Litl can be used to watch videos, photos, or even use it in the kitchen to look at a recipe while cooking.
Litl has partnered with several companies to create “channels” for the Litl. These channels can be used to display content in new ways. The Litl has a channel for Flickr and Shutterfly, enabling you to organize your photos, view your photos, and share them with family and friends. There is also a channel for Facebook that allows you to view your friends status updates and photos in new ways. The team at Litl has created a video about the Facebook channel, and I’ve included below for your viewing pleasure.
According to Litl, they are going to have a Software Development Kit available soon for any developers interested in creating channels for the Litl. No firm date has been set for release of the Litl SDK.
I’m going to be meeting with the folks from Litl at CES in January. I’ll have more details to share about the Litl in January. Until then, the Litl is available today at the Litl Store, store.litl.com