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2008 Year In Review

Colin Dean’s Year In Review
2008 was an interesting year in technology. I reviewed for ThinkComputers several PSUs, NASes, and storage accessories, as well as a few knick-knacks.

I reviewed tens of products this year, but had a few favorites.

Shining Stars
I’m still using the Cooler Master Cosmos S I reviewed in March of this year. I find its spacious interior to be most hospitable for my constant PSU swapping. There is plenty of drive space in it, too, and I’ve contemplated using the recently-reviewed Icydock multi-bay module as an extra harbor for drives if I add more than the three hard drives and single optical drive the case is already harboring. I’m also still using the Antec TruePower Quattro 1000W PSU I reviewed at the very beginning of 2008. It’s powerful enough for my rig (although I’ve discovered it’s overkill: my rig draws just less than 500W under load!) and has the modularity I need.

ThinkComputers 2008 Year In Review ThinkComputers 2008 Year In Review

I’m also still using the ASUS M3A32-MVP motherboard I reviewed in March. It has sufficient expansion for my purposes and excellent compatibilty with both Windows XP 64-bit and Ubuntu Linux. The downside is still the onboard wireless card, which generates unnecessary interrupts in both Windows and Linux, slowing the whole system down. I disabled it in the BIOS. Other than that, though, it’s been a great board. I know of at least two business owners which bought the Buffalo TeraStation Pro II 1 TB rackmount NAS after reading my review. One of them would later become my employer. While I don’t access the unit often, much of the company’s business relies on it, and it’s been hassle-free since day 1.

ThinkComputers 2008 Year In Review ThinkComputers 2008 Year In Review

I also enjoyed reviewing QNAP’s TS-409U and TS-209 Pro II NASes. QNAP makes some excellent and very hackable hardware, as indicated by one enthusiast’s successful port of Debian Linux to it. These units are still too expensive for the home user, though–the TS-209 Pro II at last glance was just under $400.

ThinkComputers 2008 Year In Review ThinkComputers 2008 Year In Review

Playing around with the ASUS Eee PC 2G Surf was fun and exciting, too. It was my first hands-on with a netbook, and it left very, very good impressions. Since then, I’ve recommended netbooks to a handful of people who would have otherwise spent an excessive amount of money on hardware they didn’t really need for their simple Internet usage. Ubuntu Netbook Remix has matured a lot since my review in September with the release of Ubuntu Intrepid, and I can’t wait to get my hands on a next generation ASUS Eee PC.

Not So Great
Unfortunately, not every product I review is one that I would keep myself or even recommend to folks. Every now and then, there are products I’d actively recommend avoiding. Such was the Galaxy Tvisto Pro Digital Media Enclosure. It barely worked. Its menus were terrible. Video playback, except uncompressed, unencrypted, ripped DVDs was unbearable.

I wasn’t a big fan of the Yoggie Gatekeeper Pico security mini-computer, despite the amazing innovation behind it. The device offloaded all virus scanning and firewall duties to a USB device. However, if the device was removed, the computer was entirely unable to communicate with the outside network. That is, unless the user remembered to note the unmemorable password inside the quick start guide, a password which could be used to disable the custom routing. The device is also useless for Mac OS X and Linux users, who actually don’t need it in the first place.

ThinkComputers 2008 Year In Review ThinkComputers 2008 Year In Review

Fortunately, I didn’t review anything this year which damaged my hardware, unlike last year’s debacle with a bad PSU which shorted and burned out my primary hard drive.

Memorable Moments
An excellent tech moment this year was compounded by something silly and awesome. First of all, the T-Mobile G1 with Google Android was released on October 22. This marked the first major release of a completely open operating system with available software development kit on a mass-market consumer level phone (I don’t count the OpenMoko Neo Freerunner because it’s not mass-market). I waited a few weeks to get it, mostly because I knew of the initial problems through an anonymous source. Once I got it, though, I couldn’t be happier. The Market is already poised to blow away the iPhone App Store because of its inexpensive development (Java versus Objective-C for the iPhone) and bazaar-like model, wherein the masters of the Market are not approving every application that is uploaded. The aforementioned silliness occurred during the release press conference when Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin skated onto the stage on Rollerblades to give their remarks. That single act said so much to me about Google’s way of life: “we’re awesome, and we have fun doing it.”

I was particularly excited recently when Bob announced the ThinkComputers Blog. Blogs are a great informal way to let visitors peer into the workings of an organization such as ThinkComputers. We’ve only had a couple of posts on it since its launch, but expect a steady stream during our coverage of CES 2009.

2009 – What Will it Bring?
In 2009, I hope that ThinkComputers will continue to grow in both daily visitors and notoriety in the industry. At CES in 2008, folks would see my badge and recognize the site and its connection to Bob. I look forward to covering power supplies and network hardware and other exciting equipment.

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