Thursday, November 14, 2013

Android 4.3 Jelly Bean on Xperia Mini Pro (SK17)

Sony decided that Android 4.0.4 is as good as Xperia mini pro gets, and a lot of other phones for that matter. Ice cream sandwich is no slouch, but no thanks to Java, the UI layer can be cumbersome for phones with slower hardware. Jelly bean to the rescue!. With project butter and various software optimizations the UI layer now can operate at 60 fps for a buttery smooth experience.
So how did I get jellybean on my Xperia ? Keep reading to find out. 

The first thing you have to do is rooting the phone, that's a no brainer eh? Find out how to root your device before everything else. It's usually different from device to device. Next up is unlocking your boot loader. Now some devices have factory unlocked boot loaders, if that's your case consider yourself lucky. This is not to say that others are unlucky, but YMMV. There are some devices where the boot loader is not unlockable. Now this is where most of you will choke and it will cost you money to make it unlockable. I had to pay close to 7 euros to Wotan server to get it done online. Mind you the process involves fiddling with hardware so it's not for the faint of heart. Once you are done you can get your boot loader unlocked with Test point method ( Wotan server also uses this).

When everything is done you are ready to flash that shiny jellybean ROM of yours. At the moment I use Legacy Xperia Jellybean 4.3 ROM which is based on Cyanogen mod 10.2 as the daily driver. You have to extract the ROM and flash the kernel file using the Flashtool. Then boot to recovery (CWM) and proceed to flash the ROM. I have the nAa kernel which is really good and fast. If you need more information on how to flash custom ROMs head over to xda-forums.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Bought an Asus X55A

So I had this itch to get a full fledged notebook again for sometime. The Lenovo netbook I had was painfully slow for most tasks. High bitrate 720p video playback was troublesome at times. It was 2years+ old so it was up for an upgrade. I was monitoring the market prices for affordable notebooks for several months. I didn't need a high-end or a gaming notebook since I ain't gonna replace the desktop with laptop as my primary PC. I decided that I should get either a Pentium dual core or a Core i3 based notebook. One thing that does not go well with bugdet offerings is the looks. HP lineup is so fugly with cheap looking glossy plastics. Dell lineup is so boxy. I don't like boxy designs at all. One day I noticed an Asus lappy that was advertised on lapzone dot lk. I've always had a soft spot for Asus in my heart ( Rock Solid - Heart Touching :) ) besides the price was good and it looked great. I read few online reviews and ran to catch a train to Bambalapitiya.

This lapzone store was located directly infront of the Majestic city. I noticed a Lenovo lappy with the same configuration as the ASUS one save for a slightly slower CPU but the rest were same, even the price. Lenovo one looked a little better with it's color scheme and I believe it had a slightly better LCD panel too. I love the Lenovo keyboard BTW. ASUS one carried 2 years hardware warranty from the dealer itself while the Lenovo had only 1 year. Then I bargained it down to a good price and left the place to check other shops out. Asian computers in Unity plaza had few Gigabyte notebooks with 2 years hardware warranty as well. All the laptops in the stores were playing the movie Adventures of Tintin (2011) . Then I noticed a lappy with an absolutely gorgeous LCD panel. It really did stand out from the rest. The colors and contrast were off the chart, so were the viewing angles. I guessed it had an IPS panel, but I don't know how is it feasible to slap an IPS panel in a budget laptop. I'm a bit of a pixel peeper myself but unfortunately it was way over my budget. The lappy was a Gigabyte with a Core i3 CPU btw. There wasn't any particular lappy that caught my eye so I returned to lapzone and bought the Asus lappy I mentioned earlier for Rs 52,500. The model is X55A.
The display is average at best, you can't expect better panels in this price range though. And I usually watch movies on the TV connected to the lappy anyways. One bigger drawback of this lappy is the ports. It has only 2 USB ports (1xUSB3.0 + 1xUSB2.0) and all the ports and power connector are on the left hand side. So it is pretty crowded. Right side houses only the optical drive.

I hate to fiddle with so many cables so I ordered an HDMI cable off eBay to replace my audio and VGA cables that run to the TV set. The old Lenovo didn't sport an HDMI out.
The battery pack is a 47Wh unit. I tested it for the runtime with my HSDPA modem plugged in and it achived not-so-bad 4 hours of web browsing. That means a power usage of 11.75W ( 47Wh/4h) . This was with 30% brightness and Asus battery saver profile enabled. The modem is a mega battery hogger @~2.5W. All the other components use only ~9.25W. My guess is that the lappy should do around 5 hours of surfing with WiFi.

God I miss the Lenovo keyboard, I really do. Keyboard on the Asus is rather unresponsive at times, you have to press on the dead center of the keys to register it. Asus should learn a thing or two from Lenovo on how to make great keyboards.
I don't have many complaints other than the ones I mentioned above. It is really fast for the tasks it is used for. The cpu is B980 @ 2.4GHz ; a cut down version of Sandy Bridge; is nippy enough for day to day tasks, and will serve my needs for at least another 2 years. :)

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Got myself a GTX650Ti

So I gifted myself a new VGA just in time for the new year. The aged 9800GT died on me few months back so I had no gaming life during the past months so to speak. Oh btw I got a PlayStation2 from a friend of mine and had some fun with it. The old 9800GT was 4 years+ old but still had some kick left in it, but it died and I had to get a new one. Local prices were absurd as usual and a Geforce 650 was around 20K, a GTX 650Ti would set you back a hefty 27K+.

Luckily Anusha  asked me if I want to get one from Japan when he comes to SL in December. So I checked few japanese online stores and opted to get a GTX650Ti made by Palit for JPY11,380 which was roughly equivalent to LKR18,000. That marks it as my 6th encounter with nVidia and I'm yet to buy any ATi/AMD card. Does that make me an nVidia Fanboy ?? :)

One fine Wednesday I met Anusha and got the card from him, oh and I had to bug him to check the card for DOA when he got it from Japan. We had a small mishap with money where I had given him less than the promised amount, managed to solve it but the embarrassment is still there :)

Plugged the card and did the routine installations and voila! Everything is fine. Now I had FarCry3 and Most Wanted pre-installed :) , cranked to max possible graphics quality on FarCry3 and it delivered near 30FPS (@1366x768) during the opening scene, not to say it is playable but still being on a 5 years old CPU ( E6750 overclocked to 3GHz) that is decent. Anyways had to lower some options here and there (specially SSAO) to get it to play at a smooth frame rate. One thing I noticed in FarCry3 was even at 30FPS the game play is nowhere near smooth as it would with Call Of Duty. So some sacrifices with the graphics quality had to be made.

The card is dead silent while sitting at idle and is much much cooler than my old card. To give you some perspective, the 9800GT sat around 58-60C with the fan @ 100% speed, while the 650Ti manages to do away with less than 40C, and that is with the fan @ 35% (Auto). I always had the 9800GT fan at full throttle to avoid any unnecessary overheating.

This was the significant gadget(PC) purchase I did in 2 years so "the itch" to get a new gadget is resisted for few months to come :)