5555

Ottawa-20111205-000645555. My work office is on the 5th floor of the building, and elevator number 5 was not working today on December 5. 555. But there is one more important five to consider: the five people, including myself, who were using BlackBerrys on my bus ride home. 5555.The fourth five of my day and the one which I want to talk about for a bit. (Picture at the right is one of my paintings I bought last summer)

I’ve wanted to write about BlackBerry and its parent company RIM for a while now but wasn’t really sure what to say. RIM has had a horrible year. If you pay any attention to what I call the big 3 in tech (Apple, Google and Microsoft) you would know that RIM this year has fallen far behind. Its share price is at its lowest levels in years and the buzz around the company is almost nil. It’s tough to say where the company will end up, especially while the other 3 are continually pushing new products which have consumer bases that are fanatical/evangelical about them.

But today on the bus showed me that people still care about BlackBerry. To see 3 people on the left of the bus with their BlackBerrys out and 2 others, myself included, with ours out on the right side, it was a telling reminder that the company might still have life. To be honest, the tech space is one of the most emotional spaces, arguably the most emotional place on earth to invest in. People wear their iPhones or BlackBerrys on their sleeves, display their MacBook Pro as the piece that differentiates them in a sea of PC users and their crappy Gateways (I had one which died on me badly).

When looking at my personal investing experience in junior mining small caps, much risker investing, where losses of 20% in a month are not uncommon should the slightest production hiccup occur, investing in the tech space is comparably safer. Also, by investing in companies worth millions rather than billions, you expose yourself to more risk.

So when looking at RIMs dramatic decline, it’s hard to say they have been that bad to dive over 60% this year, from a high of almost $70, to under $18 currently. Because if you go into what the company has been doing, rather than not doing you see a company making a recent $100 million dollar acquisition, having cash on hand, and trying to transition to what everyone believes is their last hope with QNX or BBX or whatever name the operating system for their new phones next year will be, is hardly a resume of a company on its way into oblivion.

With everything considered, whether BlackBerry and RIM get back to being number one in the smartphone game when it debuted or back into a favourable light with consumers and analysts as it was earlier this year, I’m just hoping that the iconic Canadian company gets back on solid footing. It’s hard to fight against the trend and popularity, where Apple and Google are so dominant in the tech space. However, to borrow from what Jim Prentice, a former Federal ministry leader in the Canadian government wrote so well in this piece for the the Globe and Mail said, I’m keeping my BlackBerry and cheering for RIM. And waiting patiently for my ordered PlayBook to arrive as well.

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Tech Review: Sony Vaio EA Series

I took a quick glance to the Sony Style website the other day and I noticed something. New Sony  Vaio laptops. With Widi (wireless display). Sigh. Widi (wireless display) is the newest technology available for laptops, allowing you to wirelessly display images from your laptop onto your TV screen. No HDMI cable. All done wirelessly. It was something I was hoping which would be available for my current laptop. Unfortunately it came a year later, so I had to “settle” with another Sony product, the Sony Vaio EA series. If you could call this settling.

When I was looking for a new laptop last year ( I had a Gateway one previously) it took me a long time. The whole summer actually and then some, about 6 months till last Christmas. When my Gateway went down last summer, I vowed to get a laptop that would not suffer the same fate.

I went to cnet.com, redflagdeals.com, computershopper.com, online laptop forums, pretty much everywhere that they were discussing new laptops and reviewing them. I learned a lot. So much that if you need recommendations on what to get, I’m your man. But it always comes back to your personal needs, and being the picky guy I am I had a few.

They were:

  • Good battery life (at least 3+ hrs)
  • Good video card (not the standard one available in most laptops found in electronic stores)
  • Core I3 processor or better
  • 14” screen or smaller
  • Great keyboard and touch pad
  • Larger than 320 Hard drive (that my old Gateway had)
  • Black
    Quite the list. My Gateway was about $770 (taxes in) so I decided I’d up the budget and settle on one which was around $1000. With my criteria in place, 6 months of research in place, it came down to two: The Sony Vaio EA and the MacBook Pro.
    The reasons were simple. I knew both were excellent brands with a very informed following, way more than the other brands I looked at such as Asus, HP (have heard horror stories), Dell, or Compaq. In terms of reliability, Sony and Apple, seemed to stand above those aforementioned laptop makers so it made me even more comfortable with them being my top two.

However, I could only get one laptop so I had to decide. And from criteria I was pushed into Sony’s direction. Firstly, I’m not a huge fan of Apple. They are one of the companies you either love or hate. You’re  PC or Mac. Although I love innovation and would consider myself creative, I’m a  PC guy. All day. So that was the first thing. Second, the Sony was customisable! Yay for choice! I was able to put in a Blu-Ray player (The Dark Knight looks fantastic on this laptop), and upgrade the battery to an extended battery. They even threw in Photoshop suite which was a nice bonus. Finally, It came in black. Colours matter and black > silver (MacBook Pro) sealed the deal. If they had the MacBook Pro, like the MacBook before it in all black, maybe it would have changed my mind…

So with that here is my video from last year, giving a quick look at the Sony Vaio’s EA’s unpacking. Enjoy! PS I sound a little nerdy.