Turning Salt Water to Fresh Water Inexpensively

Turning Salt Water to Fresh Water InexpensivelyHave you ever been to the point where you felt totally dehydrated and unable to find anything to quench your thirst? If so, you can relate to the estimated 3.4 million people from around the world who die each year from lack of access to fresh water. In fact, even though the US is generally blessed with an abundance of fresh, clean water, this summer’s Midwest drought situation even gave us time to speculate what it would be like to have our wells dry up. During this time, even though we still expected to open the spigot and find a fresh, clean supply of water, we learned to conserve this precious resource by watching the amount of it that we were using to water our lawns and take our daily showers.

So what happens in those areas of the world where this commodity is hard to find? Until now, the choices have been meager, centering around building desalination plants or going without. This has meant that providing inexpensive, fresh water for inhabitants of countries surrounded by salt water has always been a challenge — that is, until now.

While having known for thousands of years that a lack of fresh water is a problem, it has taken until the 21st century for researchers to perform a minor miracle and develop an inexpensive means of converting salt water to fresh. This new technology, called Eliodomestico, incorporates a simple process used by bootleggers to produce moonshine. This desalination process is inexpensive because it only requires the user to have access to a clay pot and a metal pan.

Apparently, these items, along with solar energy, are all that are needed. Salt water can be heated in a mini-still that uses the sun’s energy to evaporate it into vapor. The effectiveness of the process is achieved when water comes into contact with the hot sides of the clay pot, causing the water to evaporate and form droplets, which are collected in a basin. The user is then able to take the clear, purified water home, leaving the salt and other impurities behind to be disposed of later. Compared to a desalination plant that can cost hundreds of millions, these simple-to-use units can operate at a fraction of the cost.

While the above would be an individual solution, professionals are now also exploring the possibility of creating a unit that would be large enough to supply water for an entire village. If they are successful, it is also easy to see a future where solar panels could be used to help warm the water and / or provide a minimal amount of electricity that could make a villager’s life more comfortable.

For some villagers, the current design price — estimated to be about $50 pre-built — may still be too high. But once shown what is required, villagers may be able to configure their own schematics, which would further lower the cost. While this is acknowledged to be a wonderful development for those in third world countries, it must be noted that the system will only work to a certain extent. Each unit will only work under favorable weather conditions and is currently limited to producing only five liters of fresh water a day. To be a reliable source of safe, fresh water, one would think that the developers would find a way to incorporate a storage container into their design. One would also think that developers would want to design it in such a way as to ensure that the water was kept fresh and free from contaminants. Installing some type of netting that would act as a deterrent to mosquitoes that might use it as a breeding ground would also be ideal.

While it is true that I have concentrated on the advantages of this technology to third world countries, I can see its benefits right here in the US. In fact, I can see its application in a place that many consider paradise. Where is paradise? My daughter believes that it is found in Hawaii. So why would I suggest that this paradise needs access to fresh water? Well, on the Big Island of Hawaii, just south of Kona, there is a residential community in which there is no water system. The locals in this area are forced to use a system where water is delivered by truck in what look like railway containers that have been cut in half. Though I always thought that this water would work fine for bathing and washing dishes, I was somewhat skeptical as well as concerned about the sanitary conditions, leaving me in a quandary about its use as drinking water.

So my general impression with this concept is that it’s a great start; with a few modifications, it may be the answer to fresh water concerns — not only in third world countries, but for those in the US, as well. In other words, the Eliodomestico could be the answer to supplying a person’s daily fresh water needs and all they would have to do is haul a few gallons of saltwater to the machine in order to meet one person’s daily requirement of fresh water consumption.

If you got thirsty enough, wouldn’t you be willing to do this small chore to ensure your family’s well-being?

Comments welcome.


CC licensed Flickr photo above shared by Cesar R.

How Good is an $89.99 7″ Android 4.0 Tablet Computer?

How Good is an $89.99 7-inch Android 4.0 Tablet Computer?Let me explain how I came about to even thinking about buying or even using an $89.99 tablet computer — something about which I never before gave any thought. Like many of you who are reading this, I buy mainly brand name products such as from Apple, Google, or Amazon to satisfy my tablet needs. In our home we already use an Apple iPad, Amazon Kindle Fire, and a Google Nexus 7 should be arriving soon. So what attracted me to a cheapie, no-name tablet computer?

I found myself surfing around eBay when I accidentally stumbled upon a no-name, no-brand 7″ tablet computer for only $69.89. But what was strange about this device was that it came with the following:

  • Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich
  • 7″ touchscreen
  • 512 MB memory with 4 GB flash storage.
  • 1.5 GHz processor and 800 x 480 screen resolution
  • Micro SD and USB
  • HDMI

I know, I know; the specifications are fairly weak and I seriously doubt that this would be a blazing experience. I also didn’t want to order from the eBay website since the device needed to be shipped directly from Hong Kong. Because of this, I thought that returning the device might be problematic and I looked elsewhere to order one of the devices. I found a similar device (priced at $89.99) on Amazon, which was also being offered with an optional keyboard and case. The total cost was $98.84. I also added a SanDisk 16 GB MicroSD for added storage at only $7.67, bringing the total cost for the unit to a low of only $105.32.

What Did I Get for the Price?

What I got for the price was a surprisingly snappy 7″ Android-powered tablet. The first thing I noticed was how much lighter and more comfortable the unit was compared to my Amazon Kindle Fire. I estimated that the no-name tablet weighed in at about four to six ounces lighter, which, when holding in your hand for extended periods, is quite noticeable.

I was immediately able to set up a Wi-Fi connection and activated my Google account. Email started to flow to my Gmail application and I was able to sync to my account without issue. I then downloaded those Android apps that I use including Dolphin HD browser, Easy Installer, ES File Explorer, App2SD, Box, Lookout, Facebook, and several games, which all installed without a problem.

How Good is an $89.99 7

I next connected the keyboard/case to the unit and the keyboard worked perfect. When the keyboard is connected, the device automatically shuts down the built-in keyboard. Typing on the pint-sized keyboard was actually easy and everything on the keyboard worked perfectly. I must admit that I was pleasantly surprised because I did have reservations about how well a $10 keyboard would function. Also, the no-name 7″ tablet fit perfectly into the case and did not slide; it fit tightly, holding the tablet securely in place. The case, which also houses the keyboard, is imitation leather, but has a nice, quality fit and appears to be well-made. There is a stand on the back of the case to hold up the tablet while typing and a magnetic case latch.

Some of the Other Features I Like

  • The on and off button is located on the top right side of the unit and is easily accessible.
  • Next to the on and off switch is a rocker arm for setting the speaker volume up and down. (Hello, Amazon. This is one of the biggest complaints about the Kindle Fire.)
  • The keyboard/case combo included a micro USB to standard USB connection cord.
  • The device also came with a micro USB connector to standard USB connection cord to connect the tablet computer to a PC.
  • The microSD slot worked perfectly and immediately recognized the added storage when I inserted the SanDisk microSD card once inserted into the device.
  • The tablet also came with a micro HDMI connector.

What I Don’t Like About the Tablet

  • Picture quality and resolution, at 800 x 480, is rather poor when compared to an Amazon Kindle Fire, Google Nexus 7, or any of the Apple iPad models.
  • The rear of the tablet is made of cheap, shiny plastic and is a fingerprint magnet.
  • The unit did not come with a micro HDMI connector.


I believe that this would be a great tablet computer for anyone looking for an inexpensive device, knowing the tablet’s limitations. The tablet responds very well to commands and I found Ice Cream Sandwich very easy to use. For surfing the Internet, checking email, and playing games, this tablet will meet your needs.

While we are all making goo-goo eyes for the new Google Nexus 7, what is surprising is that the none of the bigger names — Nexus 7, Kindle Fire, Apple iPad — include a microSD slot for added storage.

Amazon 7″ Android tablet at $88.09

Amazon keyboard at $9.54

SanDisk 16 GB MicroSD at $7.69

Comments, as always, are welcome.

CC licensed Flickr photo above shared by Mesq

Source: eBay

Can an Inexpensive Tablet from Vizio Succeed Where Others Have Failed?

Can an Inexpensive Tablet from Vizio Succeed Where Others Have Failed?On May 24th, I wrote an article entitled, If You Can’t Beat the Apple iPad on Features, Beat the Price. This article comes to a similar conclusion as one written by Robert Scoble in which he gives his opinion on Vizio’s computer tablet and why he thinks it could shake up the tablet marketplace. His assessment is based on the premise that many consumers don’t want to spend $500 or more for a premium device from Apple when Vizio’s tablet, priced inexpensively at just $350, will meet their needs.

However, we are all familiar with the traditional differences between an Apple computer and the PC. The first noticeable difference being the cost of the devices from these two manufacturers, with Apple marketing to the discriminating computer user, thereby being much more costly than the PC. The iPad’s higher cost is understood, however, when one sees the quality devices Apple manufactures that operate with its own OS, making them less susceptible to tampering than the Windows OS. In contrast, the PC is less expensive, while meeting the needs of the masses, thus making it a favorite among consumers. I find myself in this latter category, because of price, since I believe in getting the most bang for my buck.

While I agreed with Stoble’s article, I did encounter one section that needs to be clarified. Scoble states in his written article that the Vizio tablet will hit the store shelves in July. However, in his video of the new tablet, it is mentioned that it is scheduled for release during the first quarter of 2012. In addition, he fails to mention that the Vizio tablet will be using the new Google Honeycomb OS, which Vizio feels is the best stable Android release. As far as its hardware components go, he only mentions that the Vizio will use a 1 GHz processor and come with dual stereo speakers. This is a fact that is mentioned at least three times in the interview. He also points out that Vizio will have its own application to sync its tablet with its Vizio televisions, home theater systems, and other devices that it produces.

It should be noted that Vizio is becoming a well known contender in electronic circles due to its aggressive pricing in the home television market. To see this, one only needs to walk into any Walmart or Costco to watch these Vizio TVs flying off the shelves and one must note that Vizio makes a great product for the price and a solid option for that second, third or fourth TV that may be needed to replace older SD televisions. I believe that Vizio could do for the tablet and smartphone market what it did in the HDTV marketplace, in that it will provide a well-built tablet computer at a reasonable price.

What do you think?

Comments welcome.

Acer Iconia Tablet is for Price Conscious Consumers

I recently wrote about how companies serious about entering into the crowded tablet market would need to compete against Apple by offering a less expensive alternative to the iPad. Acer, which is the number two computer company in the world (behind HP) has been offering less expensive alternatives in the laptop, netbook, and desktop computer market. When I see a company that can offer a full featured laptop computer in the sub-$400 price range, I had a feeling that Acer would be the first with a full featured tablet priced below an Apple iPad 2.

The Acer Iconia tablet computer is feature rich and includes the following:

NVIDIA Tegra 2 dual-core processor features a 1.0GHz processing speed, 1 GB DDR2 memory, 10.1″ WXGA high-definition touch-screen display 1280 x 800 resolution, 16 GB eMMC on-board memory, NVIDIA GeForce graphics with micro-HDMI output for connection to an HDTV, built-in 2.0MP webcam rear-facing 5.0 MP camera, digital media card reader supports microSD up to 32 GB, high-speed USB 2.0 port, built-in 802.11b/g/n wireless LAN, Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR, weighs only 1.7 lbs. and measures just 0.5″ thin, extended battery life up to eight hours, Android 3.0 Honeycomb operating system

The specifications are impressive and priced at $449 at Best Buy. Acer seems to have a tablet that may just be able to compete against the Apple iPad — or can it? On Monday morning I took a ride up to our local Best Buy for a look-see at the Acer Iconia.

The unit is slightly heavier than an Apple iPad 2. Starting up the system is quick and is comparable with the Apple iPad 2. The Iconia worked great when I went to take a picture. All of a sudden the system froze and was unresponsive and forced a hard boot. To be fair, this was a demo model and had been handled by many customers. One can conclude that someone may have changed a setting or two, which could be the culprit for the freeze.

I found the Android Honeycomb operating system very responsive without any lag or slowdown. In fact I used the Acer Iconia on and off for about an hour without any issues. Google Android OS is comparable to the Apple iOS and works well. In fact, I believe Acer has a product that could be an alternative to the Apple iPad 2, since it is priced at $50 less.

My opinion is that the Acer Iconia is a viable alternative to the Apple iPad 2 and is currently priced lower.

Comments welcome.

Inexpensive Android Devices

Chinese manufacturers ZTE and Huawei are bringing cheap Android phones to the market. Those cheap Android phones can for example be bought for below £100 in the UK on Orange’s pre-paid plan today. US carriers such as Virgin-Mobile, Cricket, MetroPCS are also bringing these types of cheap Android phones to the US market on pre-paid plans, no contracts needed. This video features the upcoming cheap Android phones ZTE Racer+, the ZTE Blade and ZTE P735E (with sliding keyboard), ZTE V852 Dreamer and the ZTE V881.

Add to iTunes | Add to YouTube | Add to Google | RSS Feed

This video was filmed by Charbax of <a href="http://ARMdevices.netARMdevices at CES 2011.

Brother HL-2170W 23ppm Laser Printer with Wireless and Wired Network Interfaces Only $109.99

Do you need a fast printer that can kick out 23 pages per minute? This Brother laser printer can do the work at a very reasonable price. The printer has been given an average of over 4 stars by some 465 users.  The basics of the printer are:

Technical Details

  • Monochrome laser printer prints up to 23 ppm, perfect for home or office use
  • High-quality 2400 x 600 dpi resolution
  • Features network connectivity via wireless/wired interfaces
  • 250-sheet capacity tray, Starter Toner Cartridge
  • One-year limited manufacturer’s warranty

Brother HL-2170W 23ppm Laser Printer with Wireless and Wired Network Interfaces only $109.99

According to the Amazon web site the retail price for this printer is $299 so at $109.99 this is a great deal on a laser printer.

Netbooks Continue To Gain In Popularity

Intel and Microsoft probably don’t want to hear that Netbooks are continuing to gain in popularity. The mini laptops are cheap, very portable and are great for those who only wish to surf the Internet or send/receive email. But these inexpensive computers are putting a dent into the profits of the WinTel alliance, since the little computers are extremely inexpensive.

According to a recent survey by NPD they state that Netbooks make up about 22.5% of total computer sales in the second quarter of 2009. The article also states that:

At this growth rate, netbooks will soon rival larger notebooks. Netbooks, or mini-notes as DisplaySearch calls them, outgrew larger notebook PCs by nearly 2 to 1. It grew 40 percent quarter over quarter, compared to 22 percent for larger notebooks. Of course, since netbooks are so much cheaper, the growth in revenues is not proportional.

Netbooks are taking the most share in Europe, where they had 32.9 percent share in the second quarter, followed by North America (26.6 percent), and China (18.8 percent). In North America, shipments are getting a boost because broadband providers are adding them as incentives for people who sign up for two-year plans. For instance, I’m getting a free HP netbook for signing up for Verizon FIOS. That’s going to be the kitchen/couch PC.

It should be interesting to see if Netbooks can over take laptop in sales this holiday season.

Comments welcome.


Printed Silicon Ink Chips – Boon or Bust?

Printed chips could be a boon for one Silicon Valley firm that hopes that the printed chips could assist consumers. Using silicon ink to print the chips, the chips could contained data to help consumers make the right purchase. So what makes printed chips so attractive? They could be inexpensive to produce compared to traditional silicon chips.

Over at the San Jose Mercury News, they state the following information:

Until now, creating the microchips that power all of our electronic gadgets has been a laborious, complex and time-consuming process costing billions of dollars.

But if a Milpitas-based startup succeeds, making them could be as easy as printing a piece of paper.

And that could open up a huge market for so called “printed semiconductors,” which would contain an enormous amount of data but would be cheap enough to slap on thousands of products. Imagine going to the grocery store and being able to find out what wine works best with your favorite chicken recipe.

Backed by investors who include former San Francisco 49ers Brent Jones and Tommy Vardell — and a board that boasts Sun Microsystems co-founder Vinod Khosla — privately held Kovio hopes to launch in a matter of weeks what is believed to be the world’s first manufacturing plant for printed semiconductors.

By using inkjet and other types of printers, the company plans to make radio frequency identification devices — so called RFID tags. Such tags traditionally contain microchips, but are so expensive now their use has been relatively limited.

If Kovio succeeds in keeping the price of the devices low, according to its executives and others familiar with the company, it could herald a new era for consumers and the chip business.

But will this be enough to make the printed chips successful? We won’t know the answer to that question until we see the final product. I must admit that if this does come about, we could be looking at a new era in technology.

Comments as always are welcome.


Marvell And Their Small Plug-In Computer

The folks at Marvell have a new miniature computer that is about the size of a network power adapter. The mini computer uses any Linux based operating system which uses the 2.6 kernel. The small computer uses a Marvell Kirkwood processor running at 1.2 GHz, 512 MB each of flash and DRAM. Also included is a USB 2.0 plug and Gigabit Ethernet.

According to Marvell the unit also features:

Plug computing is a logical evolution for the digital home in the same way enterprise applications moved from servers to network appliances,” Mr. Hajime Nakai, Director, Member of the Board, BUFFALO INC. “Marvell is probably the only company that can pack so much processor performance into such a compact form factor.”

“Marvell is a leader in designing high-performance, power-efficient CPUs,” commented Linley Gwennap, principal analyst of The Linley Group. “SheevaPlug leverages this capability to deliver an impressive amount of compute performance in an innovative form factor. As a silicon provider, Marvell is providing a flexible platform for a wide variety of applications that serves both consumers and service providers.”

Early adopters of plug computing began to launch Marvell based products at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2009. These include:

Axentra: HipServ™ software running on a SheevaPlug is a complete home server platform and applications suite that allows OEMs and service providers to quickly go to market with branded home server solutions. This highly secure and stable software platform allows users to easily store, manage, share, view, or listen to digital media content in the home or remotely. www.axentra.com

Cloud Engines, Inc.: Cloud Engines launched the Pogoplug, a new device which connects your external hard drive to the internet so you can easily share and access your files from anywhere. The $99 device won accolades at CES, and the company is taking discounted pre-orders now at www.pogoplug.com.

Besides being compact this mini computer is also frugal when using electricity and uses about 1/10th the juice of a standard system according to Marvell.

What do you think? Do you see a need for this mini computer?

Comments welcome.


Head-To-Head Video Game For $5 and Free Shipping

Over at eToys.com they have a deal on a Head-To-Head video game, designed for children five years and above. The toy normally sells for $19.99 but is on sale for $5 plus free shipping. The game is described on the web site as:

Play alone in one-player mode, or challenge a friend in two-player Head-to-Head mode. From Football to Boxing, Wall Breaker to Kung Fu Fly Catcher – everything you need to play all 12 rockin’ games is right in the included case. Requires 4 “AA” batteries, not included. Case measures 11.5″ x 9.5″.

You can order this game from here.

Comments welcome.

Fujitsu 300 GB USB Hard Drive For Under $100

Over the weekend I received an email from an old client who asked my advice about buying a USB hard disk for backing up. So I took a spin around the Internet and found this deal over at NewEgg. This Fujitsu has several features that makes this unit kind of user friendly. [I hate that term!] But the unit is powered by the USB port itself and does not need an adapter. Plus the USB cord is built in to the unit with an retractable cord. Nice touch.

The unit also features the following:


Ultra Portable
Lightweight, compact and self-powered, the Fujitsu RE25U300J external hard drive provides an ultra-portable storage solution for your home computer.
300GB Storage
The excessive 300 GB storage capacity stores your movies, music and applications for easy sharing with your friends and is perfect for backing up your system.
Extensive Shock Mounting
Incorporating a 16-point omni-directional shock mounting system, the Fujitsu RE25U300J external hard drive provides solid protection for your data against unintentional dropping or shaking on the go.
Integrated USB Connector
The Fujitsu RE25U300J external hard drive features an integrated USB connector to eliminate cable mess for the ultimate mobility and convenience.

The price is $99.99 and includes free 3 day shipping. Only downside I see is that the drive spins at 4200 rpm, though the reviews did not indicate that this hindered the drives performance. If you are looking for a large drive [300 GB] at a reasonable price, this may be for you.

Comments welcome.

NewEgg site

Ultra Low-Cost PCs To Get Cheap Windows

Microsoft is getting serious about making sure that those ultra low-cost computers that will be hitting the market in mass will be powered by Windows and not Linux. Microsoft has contacted OEMs and is offering a version of Windows XP Home edition for very low pricing to try and stay competitive with Linux boxes. What is unknown is how much pressure Microsoft will use to make sure that Windows is the only OS to be used.

In a recent article from IDG it states:

Microsoft is launching a program to promote the use of its Windows OS in ultra low-cost PCs, one effect of which will be to limit the hardware capabilities of this type of device, IDG News Service has learned.

Microsoft plans to offer PC makers steep discounts on Windows XP Home Edition to encourage them to use that OS instead of Linux on ultra low-cost PCs (ULPCs). To be eligible, however, the PC vendors that make ULPCs must limit screen sizes to 10.2 inches and hard drives to 80G bytes, and they cannot offer touch-screen PCs.

The program is outlined in confidential documents that Microsoft sent to PC makers last month, and which were obtained by IDG News Service. The goal apparently is to limit the hardware capabilities of ULPCs so that they don’t eat into the market for mainstream PCs running Windows Vista, something both Microsoft and the PC vendors would want to avoid.

When ULPCs were first being introduced most of these inexpensive systems came with a version of Linux installed. It is being predicted that ULPCs will be the next computer boom and this is why Microsoft has taken such a keen interest.

Comments welcome.

Full article is here.

Full article is here.

System Builders – Intel 2 Core Celeron

Intel has introduced their 2 core Celeron dubbed E1200 which is pegged at 1.6 GHz in processing speed. Over at Tiger Direct News that are touting the new processor as being ideal for low end systems since they are pricing the CPU at about $50.00, which is a bargain. They describe the new processor as:

As far as technology is concerned, state-of-the-art devices and gadgets always start out with a price that is a tad out of reach for the mainstream market. Because of this, it usually takes a while for people to fully adopt these new technologies. When a certain adoption point is reached however, manufacturers can then afford to offer more affordable choices. The same phenomenon happens in the ultra-competitive processor business. Dual-core processors used just for the privileged. But today, with the release of the Intel Celeron E1200, users on a budget now have a dual-core processor solution for tackling their multi-tasking computing needs.

The Intel Celeron E1200 is potentially the most affordable choice for PC users who have been meaning to jump onto the dual-core bandwagon, but did not have the budget to do so. Dual-core processors are slowly becoming the standard for daily computing as modern applications become more demanding and as we reorient our computing habits from simple computing to more complex multi-tasking. Multi-tasking is highly stressful for ill-equipped PCs, and without a dual-core processor such as the Intel Celeron E1200, multi-tasking just would not be as smooth, or even impossible in the case of older processors. The Intel Celeron E1200 offers dual-core capabilities and a price tag that won’t burn a hole through your pocket.

It would appear that with this new chip Intel will keep the pressure on AMD to try and match a 2 core at a cheap price.

Comments welcome.

Full article is at:


Comments welcome.

[tags]intel, Celeron, e1200, cheap, 2 core, inexpensive, low end, [/tags]