Comparing benchmarks – why a cheap 7″ windows tablet might not be such a good deal

I’ve been looking at the HP stream 7 as a cheap email tool – it comes with Office 365 personal so you can run full Office and Outlook on it if required.  It has an Atom processor (reviews suggest the current Atom isn’t that bad, I’ve got a nettop with an old one in packed away somewhere) but the most attractive feature is the price – £90 from the HP store with student discount.

I’m not a huge fan of benchmarks but there are a few browser-based benchmarks that are cross platform and let you compare devices.  I know the browser influences the score so I ran all the tests using Google Chrome, the final results should give a rough yardstick to compare devices.  Using my 10″ touchscreen netbook as a point of reference, I decided to run a couple of benchmarks…

Octane 2.0

Acer Aspire V5 Netbook running an AMD A6 processor- Score 3614

octane netbook

Galaxy Nexus 5 – Score 4163

Screenshot_2014-11-16-17-24-06

Toshiba core i5 (low voltage) based Ultrabook – 17476

HP Stream Octane score – 5897

Sunspider scores

  • Acer Aspire V5 netbook – 1178 ms
  • Galaxy Nexus 5 phone – 907 ms
  • Toshiba i5 ultrabook – 284ms

Whilst these are only a measure of browser performance and not general operating performance, you can see that buying underpowered Windows based tablets may be a false economy if you want to anything but the most basic of tasks.

Review: Mr. Mercedes

Mr. Mercedes
Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was a strange book for Stephen King. No supernatural beings, no aliens, no monsters or rabid animals. This is a classic thriller, the story of a retired cop who is targeted by a serial killer who he failed to catch when he was in service. The story turns into a cat and mouse tale, with the story switching between cop and killer.

What this book has got is the usual hallmarks of a King story. Excellent story telling, well built up and defined characters, a hook at the start to reel you in and plenty of suspense. What there isn’t in this book is anything different or special – whilst I enjoyed the book I felt it wasn’t one of his best books. It felt relatively ordinary and that disappointed me – I expect more from Stephen King.

I would still recommend reading this book but don’t be expecting ghosts, hauntings or supernatural goings-on, there isn’t any – it’s just a plain cop and killer story…

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Review: The Cuckoo’s Calling

The Cuckoo's Calling
The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I listened to this as an audiobook rather than read it as a paper/ebook which may be one of the reasons I enjoyed it so much (it makes the journey to and from work much more bearable).

The plot and the storyline isn’t one of the best ever but it was good enough to keep me hooked. The author cleverly leads you through the story getting to know the main characters but moving from suspect to suspect to keep you guessing about the end.

What I really loved about this book was the story telling. When I read a book I want a picture in my head and one thing Galbraith/Rowling does is to create excellent imagery using words. The detail in the book isn’t superfluous but helps add credibility to the story, and gets you involved and believing in the characters.

I loved the two main characters and the back-story that surround their lives. The ex-army private detective who has a fake leg and sleeps in the office, and his temporary secretary who turns out to be one of his greatest assets. The story is about the death of a famous supermodel and the quest to find her killer, and it takes us on a tour through fashion houses and the lives of the rich and famous.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I’m looking forward to reading the next one when I have time!

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Review: CyberStorm

CyberStorm
CyberStorm by Matthew Mather
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A 4.5 star read that I couldn’t put down when I started.

The book gets off to a slow start as the author builds up the characters and you get to know a little about their backgrounds. Stay with the book as the pace gradually picks up and I found myself wanting to know what happens next.

The story starts with the gradual failure of key computer systems and the author skilfully builds this up and expands the situation the characters face, and you find yourself sharing their plight. What makes the story more scary is that it is totally believable and as you read it you find yourself wondering could this really happen?

As with other sci-fi stories with an internet slant, there is a slight stretching of credibility and the obligatory use of a mesh network. However the people (lead characters and the others in the story) are the main focus of the story to which the technology plays an ancillary role. As with all apocalyptic disaster stories there are good friendly people and then there are the people who aren’t so nice. This story has both aplenty from the lovable Russian elderly neighbours who survived terrible events in their past to the thieves who steal food from other characters when it is in short supply.

As I got towards the end of the book I found myself wanting to see how the book would finish, as the story is brought to its conclusion and we find out who was behind the cyberstorm. I like the way the author spent a little time at the end telling us how the story finished and didn’t just leave it with hope in sight (like Hollywood blockbusters do!). Something else that impressed me was finding out that the author self-publishes, I didn’t realise this when I bought the book and wouldn’t have realised at the end had the author not said.

I really enjoyed reading this story and I hope that we don’t find ourselves in this situation in real life…

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Review: Little Brother

Little Brother
Little Brother by Cory Doctorow
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A book intended for young adults and that becomes apparent from the writing style. It shows that the author had some good ideas, Cory wrote this before the Edward Snowden revelations and in the current climate this book becomes even more believable.

Some of the technology is a bit iffy, and this was a frothy story without the depth and substance I would have liked. I did burn through it in a short time, but although I enjoyed it I don’t feel justified in giving it four stars (it just wasn’t that good).

A good reminder to young adults everywhere why online (and offline) privacy is worth fighting for. If you have children you could do worse than encouraging them to read it too.

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Review: Freedom (TM)

Freedom (TM)
Freedom (TM) by Daniel Suarez
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really wanted to give this book 3.5 stars but had to choose 4. The sequel or continuation of his daemon novel, this book picks up where the previous one left, so it wouldn’t be worth reading (in my opinion) without reading the first!

As this book went on I found myself changing sides and seeing the daemon as force for positive change rather than the destructive virus left behind by a computer programming genius. Of course the book is still a little far fetched in places, and there are a few scenes (as the first book) that contain some quite graphic violence.

I found that whilst I didn’t enjoy this book as much as the first, I had to keep reading to see where it ended. For that reason I’d recommend this book to my friends.

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Review: Daemon

Daemon
Daemon by Daniel Suarez
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Like the last book review I wrote for Daniel Suarez (Influx) this book is quite believable (at least at the start) and quickly draws you in with an action packed start. There is lots of action and the plot is fast paced with several strong characters who stay with us throughout the book (although Daniel isn’t afraid to build a character up and then write them off with the flick of a pen!)

This is a book of two halves and the first is much better than the second. It wasn’t until I got close to the end of the book that I realised that the story wasn’t going to be concluded in this volume. If you don’t like unfinished stories (I don’t!) then you’ll need to read the sequel.

I enjoyed this story, and I recommend it to computer literate friends. You’ll never look at the internet the same way again!

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Review: Influx

Influx
Influx by Daniel Suarez
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have to say that this book is one of the best I have read (well technically listened to) in ages. It is science fiction but deeply rooted in fact, and so believable that you start to ask yourself if this could account for the lack of technological leaps forward over the last decade or two!

I tend not to pay a lot of attention to books before I buy them and didn’t know what to expect. The action starts almost straight away, but the narrative draws you in from the opening paragraph. There are goodies and baddies in this story, and better still lots of technology (even artificial intelligences!) There are plot turns and twists and you never see which way the plot is going to turn.

Other reviewers have said that parts of this book are a little far fetched and that might be the case but they don’t detract from an excellent story. The plot is very well conceived and extremely well told. The hallmark of a good book is that you reflect on it when you aren’t reading it, and I certainly gave this one a lot of thought.

Would I recommend this book? Without hesitation. If you like science fiction or thrillers then you are likely to enjoy this book. I will be looking at the other titles by the same author – I enjoyed the book that much 🙂

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Review: The Ocean at the End of the Lane

The Ocean at the End of the Lane
The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I bought this book not knowing what to expect. The interpretation of what happens is left largely to the reader and that is one of the strengths of this book. Those with a belief in magic could see the characters as magical whereas those of us with a more scientific background might see them as aliens. What they are doesn’t affect the story but it is a clever way to write a book.

The characters in this book are likeable although not particularly deep, but that isn’t a criticism of the book and it still works well. There are some real feel good moments and I read the book quite quickly as a result.

Other reviews on here will talk about the plot, I would recommend just getting your hands on the book and giving it a go.

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Review: A Dog’s Purpose

A Dog's Purpose
A Dog’s Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I bought this book – it was a Kindle Daily Deal and I saw it was about a dog… The story revolves around a dog, who is born as a feral dog and is taken in by a kind human. He learns to trust humans and so marks the start of his journey.

Unfortunately it isn’t a journey in the style of “The Littlest Hobo” (You have to be of a certain age to get that reference!) but rather a journey of reincarnation from one life to another. If you suspend disbelief in the notion of being born again (and this is fiction after all…) then the story isn’t that bad.

We follow our dog getting wiser and wiser as he tries to work out what his purpose is. I started to enjoy the book more about half way through but it is one of those books that I could only read in small doses. The style of writing was a little off-putting and I nearly didn’t get through the first 10% of the book. If you’ve owned dogs before you’ll recognise the sorrow of the owners as they have to say goodbye to their beloved pet, but this part of the story (like so many others) lacks depth and was a wasted opportunity to find out more about the characters and their feelings.

Unfortunately when I got to the end I found out there are numerous sequels (no doubt the reason for the promotional price) but I won’t be following the exploits of our clever dog any further.

More candyfloss I’m afraid, ok in small doses but a bit sickly if you have too much!

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