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Product Review: Eken 7″ Android MID Tablet M009F

The Eken 7″ Android MID M009F tablet is powered by an InfoTMIC 800MHz CPU, 186 MB Ram, 2 0r 4 GB of storage space (Upgradeable to 16GB via an SD memory card), a 7″ 800×480 resistive screen, WiFi (802.11 a/b/g/n)

Beware of this and other copycat tablets like it. If you are in the market for a tablet, do your homework first. These tablets do run Android, and the one I tested was quite compatible with most Android apps. However, these tablets do not perform anything like an iPAD. It has a “resistive” touch screen that requires a stylus, or fingernail, to operate. Using the tip of your finger just will not work, which makes this tablet hard to use. You need to look for a “capacitive” touch screen, which you can use your fingertips for navigating. It’s InfoTMIC 800MHz CPU is very slow in handling the software. It also says it has 186 MB of ram, but in reality, you end up with at most 25 MB of ram to run your programs with.

The tablet I tested included Ethernet, WIFI and 3G for networking. Ethernet worked flawlessly using the supplied dongle, but that is where the fun ended. Wifi signals were very weak, and dropped in and out unless you are right next to the router. There are modifications on the internet that remedy this problem however, and 3G was non-existent.

The INs and OUTs of Windows 8 Consumer Preview

After using Windows 8 Consumer Preview since the release date there are certain issues that should be addressed. Not only does Windows 8 have a new “Metro” interface that many people are still adapting to, but there are several changes to how software will behave while running Windows 8 CP.

The first and possibly the most important one is Windows 8 does NOT support the Microsoft Visual C++ 2005 Redistributable Package. This means that if your software requires this package, you will have to buy new software that has a later version of the package or one that does not use it at all.

Another issue with Windows 8 is browsing the web with Firefox on a computer with an NVIDIA GPU. Firefox seems to have a hard time keeping its graphics straight. A lot of anomalies on the screen as you move through tabs and pages, but other than that it works fine.

Sometimes Metro apps do not start on first click (or touch). Every once in a while, they will start as usual and then go straight back to the Start Screen. On the second click they will start normally. I am sure that this will be fixed by the time RTM comes out.

These are only some of the issues found in Windows 8 thus far. Windows 8 seems quite stable and once you get used to how things work, and seems easy to use. A lot of people have voiced their concern about the Start Button being removed. With a software package called ViStart by Lee-Soft which will put a start button on the taskbar.

UEFI, Secure Boot and what it means to you

With the advent of UEFI and Windows 8 comes some security and usability issues. When Windows 8 is released, UEFI’s “Secure Boot” will be required to be turned on by default and it will be left to the OEM’s on how to implement it. What does this mean to you? Maybe nothing.

Windows is still the most popular PC Operating System in the world. As such, it is highly likely that the computer you are reading this article on is running some version of Microsoft Windows. If you are running Windows 7 and up, your OS is compliant to UEFI specifications. But what if you want to run a different OS, like Linux, older versions of Windows? You could be out of luck.

What is Secure Boot?

Secure Boot is a UEFI 2.3.1 specification that during the boot process verifies certificates (or keys) held in the firmware, and compares them to other Option Roms and OS boot loaders. If the correct key is not in the firmware, or is in the “Blacklist”, Secure Boot will prevent the OS from loading or could prevent you from upgrading to certain manufacturers option cards. Since it will be up to the OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) to implement the Secure Boot feature, it is also up to them whether or not to add an option in the set-up to disable it, or to be able to update the “Allowed” OS list. So, if you were to buy a Windows 8 PC and want to install a new version of Linux, and there is no option to disable Secure Boot, and the key for the version of Linux you are installing is not found in the firmware, the OS will fail to load. This feature is intended to prevent malware such as “rootkits” and “bootkits” to install themselves and run when booting your OS. According to Microsoft, the Windows 8 implementation of Secure Boot, programs will not be able to change Secure Boot security settings to prevent malware from gaining access through reprogramming the firmware.

Out with BIOS, in with UEFI.

Ever since the computer was born, there needed to be a program to tell the CPU where things are and how to use them. In 1981 the IBM 5150 introduced the BIOS (Basic Input/Output System) to the IBM-PC market. The IBM 5150 had an 8088 16bit (16bit internal bus, 8bit external bus) processor, so the BIOS chip was limited to 16 bits and 1MB of memory space. Years went by and the CPU became more powerful, with a wider bus and more memory access. However, the BIOS remained the same, and retained it’s 16bit bus and 1MB memory limit, depending on the PC-AT hardware platform.

Enter EFI/UEFI (Extensible Firmware Interface/Unified Extensible Firmware Interface respectively). EFI was introduced in the mid-1990′s with the Intel-HP Itanium processor systems as the older BIOS was considered too limited for large server systems. In 2005 Intel dropped the EFI platform and handed it over to the Unified EFI Forum, which then became the UEFI.

There are several advantages to UEFI over the BIOS. UEFI boots faster, has the ability to boot from very large hard disks over 2TB, drops the MBR (master boot record) for the GUID Partition table, architecture and drivers are CPU-independent, an extensive GUI with mouse and network capabilities are possible, and ACPI and SMBIOS are also included as these are not dependent on the 16bit limitations of the older BIOS.