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Review: WPS54G

For aWPS54G long time I’ve been looking for a print server so that I can access that Canon MF5xxx printer from the network, without resorting to leave a computer on all day (you know, via the regular shared printing mess). I finally managed to get the Linksys WPS54G (product description) from the local computer chain. It’s an older model so it is not too expensive (they go for 69 to 79 CDN). If you need access to a multi-purpose printer (you know the ones with faxing and scanning), you probably want to look for the WPM54 series of this device.

If you’re familiar with Linksys devices, the setup is always the same: generally, you grab an extra network cable, connect the device to your computer connect to the web-based configuration screen (using the default IP address, which is generally at 192.168.1.1, or the IP-address provided in the manual) and start changing settings. This isn’t true for the WPS54G: the default IP address is nowhere to be found in the manuals, so the only way to find out the device’s IP address is to start up the Print Server setup program and follow the on-screen instructions. I stopped halfway (right before it wants you to setup the wireless section) after the setup program revealed the Print Server’s IP Address (you guessed it, the device will look for a DHCP server first). This is where I changed the IP address and other settings straight from within the device’s web server (which will generally require a restart of your computer).

If you’re not familiar with networks and networking, the setup program will probably do for you, I guess: however, if you’ve found the IP address of the WPS54G, I’d recommend to assign a static IP address to this thing. You may need to make changes to your router, though.

The next step is to configure your desktop computers: there’s a portion in the setup program that will do this for you too but you can ignore that. If you’re on Windows, make sure that your computer’s workgroup matches the one you’ve setup on your print server. For all Windows versions, you generally go to Printers & Faxes, select ‘Add Printer’. When the Printer Wizard comes up select the ‘Local Printer attached to this computer’ (make sure to uncheck ‘automatically detect and install’). Then, ‘create a new port’ (type of port TCP/IP). In the next screen enter the IP address of the Print Server (use generic networking card/port), select the printer from the printer drivers list (notice that most likely your printer driver has already been installed because you have been printing to this printer before…) and then, print out your test page.

For the rest, the WPS54G works as promised in the flyers: it’s reasonably fast but it gets a bit hot though after printing a couple of jobs. You may also wish to upgrade to the latest firmware (you can download the latest firmware from here). You can configure a couple of goodies or ungoodies from within the device’s webpanel: I think I saw a couple of settings that allow you to send print jobs via e-mail, which may fill your uh, needs. And that’s basically it.

Nowadays, a lot of printer models come with networking capabilities. If you’re looking around for a new printer, it’s a good idea to consider one with an ethernet connection.

Feb 2nd, 2009: It looks like the WPS54G died on me. I’ll have to either look for the same model or see if I want to go look at the M version

Feb 4th, 2009: And here is the WPSM54G.

You asked: Satellite A100-TA9 review

ThereThe A100-TA9 we go again: you ask and I’ll take a look at it.

To start right off: It appears that Toshiba has been rushing to get laptops out before the official Vista release, last week. Their current A100 high-end laptop (the VA-9) features almost exactly the same case (the black/silver coloured one) but comes with slighly different hardware: for example the VA9 comes with a T5500 processor, while the TA9 has a T5600. Both are (as you probably know) Duo Core 2 processors (wikipedia). Other slight differences between the two is that the VA9 apparently comes with a 200 Gig harddrive, while the TA9 comes with ‘only’ 160 gig: additionally, the VA9 comes with Windows Vista Home Premium. Since the TA9 is basically a slightly older model (Fall 2006), it comes with Windows XP (or Media Center, generally). You may (or you may not) consider upgrading to Windows Vista (as discussed here).

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You asked: Satellite P100 SD3 review

Yes a Toshiba P100 SD3brandnew category at xsamplex: you ask, we deliver!

I’ve been working on a Toshiba Satellite P100 SD3 (action picture) for a while now and I generally like it OK. It’s priced fairly well (it’s currently available at Staples and FutureShop) for what you get: it’s Duo (T2400), it’s got 1 Gig and most importantly, it has a GeForce GO 7300 (128 MB) which means that it will play your recent PC games. Look for X3 here for what you can expect.

That said, I find the harddrive the slowing factor: the built-in HD (a Toshiba MK1032GSX) is not a fast drive, which you may notice when you switch from fullscreen apps (games) to windowed apps [CTRL+TAB]. I also find 100 Gig not enough, particularly if you think about the space Windows XP already takes up.

The other part I don’t like is the keyboard: For some kind of illogical reason, the most important keys (arrow keys, semicolon, period, pipe, single quote) have been made smaller than the rest of the keys just so that the board would fit a freaking numeric keypad. So, the right side part of the keyboard doesn’t feel ‘well-balanced’, particularly if you’re a programmer: all the important programming keys are twice as small as the normal keys on the left hand side (see the image above: you can literally draw a diagonal line that separates the small keys from the big ones, starting from the > key up to the upper Pause/Break key). I also have my doubts about the quality of the keyboard: I have had no problems with previous Toshiba laptop keyboards, so maybe I’m wrong. If you look into buying this computer, I’d recommend you try out the keyboard first: if you’re not a programmer, you may not even notice the keyboard issues. You may even love that extra numeric keypad. Oh: don’t worry about that sales representative. It’s your right to fully test a laptop’s keyboard.

I do like the screen and since it allows you, you may just as well set the screen to the highest possible resolution. The NVidia driver comes with plenty of gimmicks: most of the features you probably end up turning off. The big screen (17″!) seems to be the main cause of the lower than average battery lifetime: if you make it two hours on the standard battery, consider yourself lucky. I’m pretty sure it has nothing to do with the Duo core: actually, I find the T2400 perform excellent: for the power push test, try executing multiple applications that run multiple threads. It’s a damn well, efficient processor. Which makes me wonder how those other processor do (I’m particularly curious about those AMD Dual Athlon processors).

The low-down: it’s a remarkably well-priced computer. It runs Debian and Ubuntu with no problems, which makes this laptop ready for the latest and greatest stuff on Linux. Its Duo Core performs extremely efficient under stress (without generating too much heat, as far as I can tell). The Harman Kardon speakers are extra and produce excellent sound, and the screen, it’s huge, brilliant and perfect. However, I’ll be honest: if you can and are willing to spend an extra 100 dollars on a computer with a bigger (and faster) harddrive1, with the same configuration (i.e, 1 Gig, NVidia/ATI, Duo Core), you may want to look for something else. If you think you’re going mobile a lot, consider going for a laptop with a smaller screen: the 17 inch screens look l33t, but frankly, they just kill battery life. And, if you’re a programmer who types a lot, you may want to try the keyboard out before buying this: ironically all important programming keys that happen to be on the right-hand side of the keyboard have been made significantly smaller.

1 : Most laptops probably carry Toshiba HDs.

Extra Linux stuff (how to get the sound working back again)