Pixelbook Review: First Impressions

 

 

Pixelbook Review: First Impressions
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  • Screen flashes / changes when “too much” white appears suddenly? Unsure if it’s hardware or software, but insanely jarring
  • Some button styles during the setup wizard are styled differently than other ones (like, legacy buttons that haven’t been tweaked yet)
  • Both video and scrolling are relatively smooth, but there seems to be a blur at times – as though pixels aren’t able to keep up (one video seemed to exhibit frame drops at times with high speed object)
  • Generally, items are responsive when interacting with them on the screen. There’s still quite a bit of jank, but not nightmare-scenario.
  • Screen wobbles pretty badly when touching in “laptop” mode.
  • Android apps don’t like the touchpad as much as they like your finger for interactions (Instagram)
  • Keep tripping the Assistant key accidentally (while trying to use the
  • Alt key for shortcuts, remapped to work like MacOS Command)
  • App manager can be a bit confusing – mixed between Chrome apps and Android apps, sometimes unable to tell which is which (Google Play Music)
  • Awesome to see Chrome extensions working
  • Worried about silicone palm rests wearing down / getting dirty
  • Backlit keyboard ONLY useful in VERY dark rooms
  • Touch input lag with Android apps
  • Lap play is just fine, balanced
  • Tent mode will prove to be quite convenient
  • Trackpad is taking some getting used to compared to bring accustomed to MacBook trackpad
  • Bonus: 2 Years worth of 100GB on Google Drive
  • Bonus: 3 Months of Play Music (Saving me on YouTube Red, Family)?
  • Kinda starting to feel like a $500 experience, not a $1,000 one
  • Battery life seems to be okay – so long as brightness isn’t at full power
  • Seemingly wanting to use it more than iPad – but I have to consider when, how, why I would use it

My Favorite Bag is the Bag of Holding

My Favorite Bag is the Bag of HoldingFor years, I’ve been on a search for the ultimate daily use bag. I bought backpacks made for carrying electronics, messenger bags, and even a few camera bags hoping to find one that I could keep my laptop, notepad, pens, flip cam, and other essentials in. Unfortunately, in the world of bags for men it’s either a disappointment or a glorified purse.

About a year ago, I finally decided to purchase the Bag of Holding. The first thing I noticed about it when browsing on the site was the 20-sided die logo on the front along with that extremely familiar name known to D&D players around the world. At low price point, it could be considered a bargain in a market where budget laptop bags with barely enough room for a miniature mouse can cost twice as much.

The Bag of Holding in the gaming world is an enchanted bag capable of holding items that far exceed the size possible in regular bags in addition to providing some weight reduction properties. In this sense, this bag is a miserable failure, as it can get quite heavy just like any other container when loaded down with gear.

http://youtu.be/vlTwJ9trNN8

Storage capacity is where it did exceed my expectations. The Bag of Holding has an extremely generous amount of room inside, even though the bag itself doesn’t appear very big from the outside. It certainly takes up more room than a typical laptop bag, but it doesn’t have the bulk and hassle of a backpack. It’s somewhere in-between, like a messenger bag on steroids.

The thick canvas material and heavy duty hardware has stood the test of time. Over a year of abuse including being weighed down with multiple notebook computers, tablets, notepads, cables, etc. and it doesn’t really show any signs of use beyond an occasional need for a wash. The seams are surprisingly sturdy and I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a loose thread anywhere since the day I took it out of the box.

One drawback I found is the strap isn’t detachable. This can be very annoying, especially when you want to throw it in the washing machine without risking the strap getting caught up in things. The strap material is thick and wide, however, giving your shoulder a lot of support even without a shoulder pad.

Over all, if you’re looking for a bag that can hold just about anything and not appear to be a “purse,” this is certainly a brilliant product to consider. It’s durable, spacious, and light even though its design does skimp in areas where cheap bags often try to make up for shortcomings with frills. In a sense, the Bag of Holding knows it’s awesome and it doesn’t need a detachable strap or extra shoulder support to prove it.

Get your own Bag of Holding here!

Glow in the Dark Portable USB Light Bulb

Glow In The Dark Portable USB Light Bulb
The Glow In The Dark Portable USB Light Bulb is a flexible work light that will make your tasks easier. [Image shared by Amazon]
The Glow In The Dark Portable USB Light Bulb is a flexible work light that will make your tasks easier when you find yourself in a poor lighting situation. Picture this: You are right in the middle of working on a business report, school project, or some other important document. Then the power goes out. Wouldn’t it be nice to power up your USB Light Bulb so that you could see your keyboard and continue typing in the dark?

How the Glow in the Dark Portable USB Light Bulb Works

The basics of how the bulb functions is fairly simple. Once you plug the Glow in the Dark Portable USB Light Bulb into a USB port, an LED inside of the bulb is powered on. The bulb gives off a soft blue light, which can highlight your work area while you type. Though the light bulb looks like an incandescent light, the amount of light generated is significantly less than that radiated from a standard light bulb. However, it will enable you to use your laptop or notebook computer and is suitable for most situations where additional light is needed.

The product is described as:

  • Having a USB bulb that gives off a frosted, soft LED blue light
  • Being usable by simply plugging the bulb into the standard USB port of any laptop or notebook computer
  • Still glowing in the dark when unplugged from a USB port
  • having a flexible housing arm
  • Useful as a USB hub

What Other Uses Does the Glow in the Dark Portable USB Light Bulb Offer?

I was trying to think of some other uses for the Glow in the Dark Portable USB Light Bulb and came up with these additional thoughts. The USB light bulb would come in handy when working late at night in your bedroom when you do not want to disturb your partner by using a bright standard light bulb. It would also be useful when you are camping and need a portable light to see your notes as you type. Another idea is to use it around a pool or an outdoor sporting event where a convenient electrical outlet may not be available. Last but not least, college students who need to study late can do their cramming without disturbing their exhausted room mate.

Order your Glow In The Dark Portable USB Light Bulb from Amazon today!

Is It Worth Putting an SSD in My Mac?

LockerGnome.net user ryebread761 writes:

Hello. I have a mid-2010 13.3″ MacBook Pro. It has a 2.4 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, 4 GB RAM, and (I believe 5400 RPM) 250 GB HDD that came with it.

If I don’t get a new computer this year, I was planning on upgrading to 8 GB RAM and possibly an SSD. Will the processor still be holding back the SSD and hence make it not worth upgrading?

Is It Worth Putting an SSD in My Mac?It’s nearly always going to be worth putting an SSD in your computer — so long as your computer can support the SSD. Not all computers are compatible with an SSD, you see, but for those that can — Mac or PC — I say do it! RAM used to be the first and most important upgrade I would recommend to anyone; these days, an SSD is right up there with RAM, and in many cases surpasses the need for more RAM. It all depends on how you use your computer. If you tend to use a bunch of applications at once, then yes, get more RAM first. But if you typically use only one application that doesn’t eat up much memory, then I recommend getting the SSD first. (I know, I know. My advice goes completely against the wisdom we’ve been taught for ages. But the times, they are a’changin’.)

As for your 2010 MacBook Pro: I don’t see your computer facing any significant bottlenecks. You’ll certainly notice a significant gain in performance on a computer that is that recent. You’ll notice a significant gain on older computers, too, but some older computers can only support a PATA SSD rather than the considerably faster SATA SSDs more recent computers can use. But your MacBook Pro can handle an SATA SSD just fine, so you can pretty much get your choice of SSD. Check out Other World Computing, a quality vendor that has specialized in Mac components (beginning with hard drives, I believe) since the ’90s, maybe even longer. It’s a great place to purchase RAM if you want to be absolutely certain your RAM will be compatible with your particular Mac. You can also purchase an OWC SSD on Amazon.

I mentioned that there are SSDs available for older computers. In the case of older PowerBooks and iBooks (the brand names of pre-Intel-based MacBooks and MacBook Pros), the price/performance ratio doesn’t add up. Sure, you’ll probably notice a speed bump after installing one of these drives in one of these older Mac portables, but the cost of doing so is simply too great for me to recommend. Plus, with the best of older PowerBooks only able to accept two gigs of RAM, you’ll face bottlenecks unless you only plan on using your computer to surf the Web. Even then, you may find your PowerBook running out of memory. So unless you’re really attached to one of those old Macs, I’d suggest completely upgrading to a newer computer. You don’t have to worry about that, though, if you’re cruisin’ along with a relatively recent MacBook Pro.

Okay, now I’m going to say something that may seem to contradict everything I’ve already stated. You mentioned upgrading your RAM along with your internal storage. If you’re going to perform both upgrades, seriously consider saving the money toward the purchase of your next computer. SSDs are expensive (though worth every penny in my opinion), particularly if you’re looking to buy a quality one that’s in the 250 gigabyte range or above. (Rather than skimp on an SSD, make sure to buy a good one with a warranty. Again, check out Other World Computing.) If you’re going to be spending hundreds of dollars today only to purchase a new MacBook Pro next year, you might want to wait. On the other hand, if you plan on making your MacBook Pro last a few more years, go for it. A 2010 MacBook Pro will likely still be performing like a champ for a few more years, while a few earlier MacBook models are already unable to even accept the latest version of Mac OS X.

Anyone who has replaced the hard drive in their 2010-era (or older) MacBook Pro with an SSD recently: have you been satisfied with the upgrade, or did you find yourself experiencing buyer’s remorse?

Image from Other World Computing

First Laptop Computer: Test Before You Buy

First Laptop Computer: Test Before You BuyWhile it was about 20 years ago that I bought my first brand-name desktop computer system (ordered from a computer warehouse magazine), I am still amazed about how much they have influenced my life. My first computer was ordered, however, without following the advice from a group of local computer gurus who recommended that I order a heavier-equipped PC. I guess, at the time, I thought that the expense would outweigh the extra benefit and that the unit I was purchasing would perform well and meet my needs. It didn’t take me long though to realize that I should have listened to them; after about six months, I began to replace the unit’s internal parts. However, now looking back, I can see how this process started me on the road to a computer career that would provide a good income and eventually consume many aspects of my life.

I think that this was, in part, due to the fact that I found replacing computer parts to be relatively easy, thus making it simple for me enjoy working with the hardware aspect of computing. I took to it like the proverbial duck to water. Fortunately, for me, I also found that I enjoyed manipulating software and that the process was a snap for me as well. In fact, I was blessed to discover that, with a little tenaciousness, my aptitude for technology allowed me to open my own successful computer business.

Not to brag, but merely to inform you of the credentials supporting my advice, let me expound a little on what has happened by the grace of a higher power. Within the business, I did everything from building new custom computer gaming systems to networking business systems as well as performing repair and maintenance on older personal PCs for my clients. In addition to this, I was blessed to secure a technology teaching position at our local junior college where I taught everything from DOS to how to use many of Microsoft’s Office software products. These ventures continued for 14 years, at which time we made a major move across country so that my wife could be near her family.

To date, my credentials also include recognition by the Microsoft Corporation, which has awarded me the coveted Most Valuable Professional (MVP) acknowledgement for the past eight years.

Again, I am not writing about my personal computer experience to toot my own horn, but rather to explain my expertise in the field of personal computers. I have dealt with hundreds of clients and students alike and have learned more from them than I believe I have taught in return. However, what I have learned over the years is that every individual has a distinct preference for the personal computer[s] with which they are comfortable using. This means that there is no “one size fits all,” or one kind of personal computer that will meet everyone’s needs and wants. Even Apple’s mighty iPad has limitations and is usually used as a supplement to — and not a total replacement for — the personal computer. In fact, the weight of the iPad, over time, can cause neck and / or shoulder discomfort if held for long periods of time.

Today, if you are preparing to make your first computer purchase, you will most likely be looking to buy a laptop computer. Laptop personal computers come in many different flavors, sizes, and configurations. In addition, the prices vary from inexpensive models to the absurdly expensive. However, like the advice that experts I long ago ignored gave me, there are some common features among computers that the potential buyer should try out before they buy.

Touchpad

The first thing, if you are buying a laptop, is how well the touchpad device works for you. The touchpad is generally located below the keypad and is meant to take the place of the traditional mouse that many of us prefer. Unfortunately, however, not all touchpads function the same. For example, when I received the Cr-48 Google Chrome computer for testing, the touchpad in that particular model was horrible. In fact, it took the folks at Google many moons to finally fix the problems and to get the touchpad to function properly.

So, if you are anticipating purchasing a laptop system, I would personally recommend that you visit your local Best Buy, Sam’s Club, or other retailer to try out the various touchpads before you make your purchase to see which one performs best for you. These tests are simple; just single or double click on the touchpad to determine how well the touchpad responds.

Keyboard

Next, give that shiny new keyboard a good thumping. Pound on the keys, within reason, to determine how much flex is exhibited and if the keys are the right size for your hands. There are also specialty keyboards that are equipped to prevent repetitive typing injuries. Then, once you think that you have found the right keyboard, sit down and see how well your palm rests on the computer. In this situation, you are looking to see if the keys are shaped properly and that your fingers will be able to comfortably type on the system.

Interface Adjustment

After this is settled, you may also wish to determine how easy it is to find the volume and display brightness keys in order to see how well they operate.

Webcam

Moving on, will you be using the computer to keep in touch with family and friends through Skype or some other VoIP system that might require the use of a webcam? If so, you are going to want to check out the built-in webcam to see how well it functions. Do you look like you need makeup and should be laid to rest in a coffin? If so, you may want to keep looking since this is what others will be seeing on their screen. This is also a great opportunity to check out the built-in software that can add or detract from your webcam experience.

Display

While there, also check out the display on the computer when it is rendering movies or YouTube. To do this, make sure that the computer is connected to the Internet so that you can test the system to see if the colors in the video are sharp or washed out. You can even test the system by going to Hulu and playing a TV show or movie. You do not want to get the system home to learn later that the display on the computer is pure junk.

Speakers

Last, you may wish to crank up the sound while playing the video. The sound should be crisp and clear and not sound like an echo from a soup can. A tinny sound can distort the user experience and totally make listening to a loved one’s voice over Skype annoying. The speakers should provide a clear sound when listening to music.

Most big box retailers have a large display of all of the most popular new models for you to test. Take advantage of what they have on display and try before you buy. You will be glad you did.

Comments welcome.

Source: Laptop

Image: radiant guy via Flickr

Will the Intel Ultrabook Be Right for You?

In the land of computers, we have come to recognize terms such as desktop, laptop, notebook, and even the newer netbook; now, along our yellow brick road, Intel is ready to introduce the Ultrabook. According to Intel, which holds the registered trademark on the term, the Ultrabook will be orchestrated by the wonderful Oz when it comes to design and performance.

So what exactly is an Ultrabook and how will it differ from a traditional laptop, notebook, netbook, or anything else with the name of ‘book’ in its title? Well, according to Intel, this stop along our road will introduce us to the following:

Ultrabook will be a new category of ultra responsive, ultra sleek, and ultra stylish devices that will be less than an inch thick and wake up in a flash. They will provide the optimal blend of performance and smart capabilities that you have come to expect — along with the portability and style you want.

Intel has a host of included improvements and features that the company states will enhance your computing experience; among these are:

  • Intel Rapid Start Technology: Your computer will return to its full operational speed within seconds.
  • Intel Smart Response Technology: Your computer will keep track of the files and applications you use most often.
  • Intel Smart Connect Technology: Even in sleep mode your computer will keep your email, social networks, and favorite apps. updated.
  • Intel Anti-Theft Technology: If someone steals your laptop, the system can be locked down so that your data is protected.

Asus Zenbook UX31E-DH53 13.3-Inch Thin and Light Ultrabook (Silver Aluminum)

My experience with an Ultrabook is limited to removing a virus from an Asus Zenbook UX31E-DH53 13.3-Inch Thin and Light Ultrabook (Asus is one of the companies contracted to use the Intel trademark name Ultrabook). This pint-sized unit is offered, through Amazon, for a staggering $1,377.93 and features an Intel i5 processor, a 256 GB SSD, and 4 GB of memory. What is impressive about the Asus Zenbook is the aluminum case and the fact that it weighs in at less than three pounds.

It is a beautiful machine and, in my opinion, worth the price.

Acer Aspire S3 -951-6646 13.3-Inch Ultrabook

Another company contracted with Intel to use the Ultrabook name is Acer. Acer is offering its Acer Aspire S3-951-6646 13.3-Inch Ultrabook to the consumer for a price of $877.99. This model is a hybrid of sorts in that it comes with a 20 GB SSD for booting quickly into the operating system plus a standard 320 GB hard disk for storage. This unit comes with an Intel i5 processor, 4 GB of memory, and weighs in at under three pounds. While not a give-away price, it is definitely being offered at a more affordable price point, for most of us, than others on the market. So, if you don’t have an extra $1,400 to spend on a new computer, there are other low cost alternatives available.

But is an Ultrabook Right for You?

That depends on where you are on your personal yellow brick road. If you are a business person who travels a lot and spends a considerable amount of time in airports, waiting to return to Kansas, then an Ultrabook may fit your needs. The system, with its Intel i5 processor, is quick and, with its light weight and stylish design, will surely draw the attention of your fellow travelers. Adding to its attraction is its 256 GB SSD of storage space and its five+ hours of battery life — both of which make it the perfect system for the business traveler.

Students and teachers may also find the Ultrabook the answer to their request from Oz as they could carry the unit from class to class, take notes, and type reports, before returning to their abodes to be charged. The unit’s light weight alone and high processing speed are just two of the reasons that this compact little computer is a perfect fit for the busy academician.

However, if you are currently taking a different bend in the road and simply need a desktop replacement, then the Ultrabook may be less attractive. For you there may be little advantage to the device’s light weight design or its extended battery life, especially if you plan on using the unit at home, where you can always connect to an electrical outlet if your charge runs low. Additionally, due to the smaller case and the smaller fan in these units, I would be concerned about using them for gaming or video processing, since both of these produce a large degree of heat.

Should You Buy an Ultrabook Now, or Wait for Windows 8?

The biggest attraction to waiting for Windows 8 is that the operating system will support touch screen technology. Most of these current generation of laptops are not touch screen enabled. However, when released, Lenovo’s new combo Ultrabook / tablet type computer could potentially change the game altogether. I recently wrote about the Lenovo IdeaPad YOGA in my post, Five Reasons Windows 8 Will Impress Users.

So Will Ultrabooks Be Popular?

That all depends. These Ultrabooks are going to be competing against laptop computers, which get cheaper every year. Also, newer laptop computers already have longer battery life and are getting lighter than the units they are replacing. The other obstacle to Ultrabooks is the increasing popularity of tablet computers and smart phones, making one wonder if Microsoft and Intel have waited too long to offer the computer market yet another juncture on their already cluttered yellow brick road. However, I would seriously doubt that either company really needs the Ultrabook to succeed in order to keep raking in the big bucks.

Comments welcome.

Review of the Toshiba Satellite L775D-S7340 17.3″ Laptop

Back on December 22, 2011, I wrote an article addressing my reasons for sticking with Windows and why I had purchased a laptop computer system.

The system I purchased at Staples — for a bargain basement price of only $529.99 — is a Toshiba Satellite model L775-S7340. This is a replacement for my older Toshiba laptop system and boasts a screen measuring in at a whopping 17.3″, while weighing in, according to the specifications provided by Toshiba, at 6.2 lbs. Given these specifications, you are already aware that this is not something you want to lug through an airport, but once you settle down to the fact that this is something you use at home or in a small office environment, you can then savor the awesome hardware that this laptop provides. The hardware specifications for this model include:

Review of the Toshiba Satellite L775D-S7340 17.3

  • Quad core AMD processor
  • 6 GB RAM
  • 640 GB hard disk
  • Blu-ray player
  • HDMI, 3 USB, and RGB
  • Wireless & RJ-45 LAN jack
  • HD+ TruBrite LED backlit display
  • Built-in Web cam and mic

Since purchasing this laptop, I have been able to compare it to the four-year-old Toshiba laptop that I already owned. Upon seeing them side-by-side, as I transferred my files over to the new system, I immediately noticed the increased resolution and clarity of the monitoring screen. I guess part of this is due to the fact that you don’t notice how, over time (and without a new screen next to it for comparison), an old screen softens in intensity. However, the new screen, with its LED backlight and a higher resolution, definitely displays a much brighter picture. In fact, the picture was initially so bright that I actually had to tone it down to prevent it from being overwhelming. After noting and readjusting the screen settings to my liking, I then spent the next several hours moving files, installing programs, and removing extraneous software that bogs down all new computers. This, in turn, allowed me to defrag and scan my disks to free up additional hard disk space and to adjust all of my settings to my personal preferences.

Once all of the setup was out of the way, I was really anxious to evaluate just how good this system would operate when used to stream video or play DVDs/Blu-ray discs on our HDTV. In preparation for this, I had previously purchased a 15′ HDMI cable from Amazon. The cost of the cable was a mere $3.64, and, with me being an Amazon Prime account holder, the shipping was free. (At that cost I knew I couldn’t go wrong, but when I received it the next day, I was still surprised at the quality of the HDMI cable.) With the computer ready and the cable in hand, I held my breath as I connected the pieces to test out my newest toy. The result: I was delighted to find that streaming from Netflix, Hulu, and a number of online TV channels was flawless, while the DVD and Blu-ray playback was comparable to our Samsung Blu-ray player’s performance. With that in mind, this laptop may prove itself invaluable when I finally cut the cord with my satellite company.

If you desire an aesthetically pleasing device for your small office, this unit, with its full-sized keyboard and handy ten-key pad, provides the tools you need at your fingertips and should meet your needs to a tee. The specialized look is enhanced with some classy aspects such as a brushed blue aluminum-looking paint job as well as chrome plastic trim around the speakers. The trackball mouse is a nice touch, too. Toshiba was, however, quite careful in its description so that no one could (or should) expect an aluminum-bodied laptop system at this price point.

So, while this new look is a selling feature for the unit, I think that the paint job is just okay. However, its major advantage for me over my old Toshiba is that I don’t have to deal with the fingerprints and smudges that drove me nuts on the shiny surface of the old unit.

Review of the Toshiba Satellite L775D-S7340 17.3Putting looks aside, it is performance that ultimately matters, and using the AMD quad core provides what it promises. This is AMD’s model A-6 3400m, which supposedly runs at a meager 1.4 GHz as its base clock speed. This clock speed may seem slow compared to the specs of other machines, but I didn’t notice any slowness of operation when I first fired up the system — I was actually impressed with how snappy this unit was in loading Windows and Office (two huge memory and processor intensive pieces of software). I was quick to see that, when the need arises for faster processing speeds, the AMD quad kicks up the speed to 2.3 GHz by using its built-in turbo feature. To further amplify its performance, the unit comes equipped with a Radeon HD 6520G video chip that is integrated into the CPU to handle the HD video which, in my tests, displayed flawlessly.

Additional features include one program that I have been using called sleep-and-charge. This feature allows you to charge your smartphone or other device when the computer is asleep or turned off. Another feature that I think is worth mentioning is the built-in facial recognition software. This makes logging into your computer a breeze because you no longer have to remember different or incomprehensible passwords in order to log on since the system will simply remember your face and unlock on recognition. This particular feature can be of great value to anyone who chooses to lock down their system, protecting it from young family members or coworkers.

For performance, this system came preloaded with the Windows Home Premium 64-bit operating system that is designed with 6 GB of memory. Fortunately, the 64-bit OS recognizes all 6 GB to add to the performance. Additionally, the 640 GB hard disk provides plenty of storage space while providing support for the Blu-ray player, DVD playback, and recording.

The cons to the new system are minor, and include such minor concessions as dealing with a keyboard that has flat keys, whereas my old Toshiba was designed with slightly curved keys. While this is a change that I immediately noticed, it does not affect your typing ability — it simply has a different feel. The second con is that two of the USB connectors are on the right-hand side of the unit. This creates a minor issue for me because I use a Cooler Master laptop cooler under my laptop to help cool the unit. Due to its required placement, I chose to connect the cooler adapter into the lone USB port on the left side of the laptop, which meant that I had to connect my wireless mouse adapter to one of the USB slots on the right. This resulted in the USB adapter, for the mouse, sticking out and slightly interfering with the mouse’s operation. However, I resolved this minor issue by moving the unit slightly to the left, thus eliminating the problem.

Why did I choose a Toshiba laptop to purchase instead of another brand? The answer is simple. After having owned three previous Toshiba laptops, without issue, I know them to be reliable. The only time I did have a problem — a hard disk failed in the first 30 days of use — Toshiba support mailed me a pre-addressed and paid for box in which to return the unit. It then repaired and returned the unit to me within five days. That is what I call fantastic service and support.

If I were to rate this laptop on a scale of one to five, with five being the highest possible rating, I would give this laptop a 4.5 star rating. Staples is currently selling the unit for $579.99, and though it is $50 more than what I had paid, I still believe it is a steal.

Comments welcome.

The Staples sale price on the Toshiba L775-S7340 is $579.99 between January 1st to the 7th, 2012.

How to Keep Your Laptop Cool

One of the biggest problems with laptops, even today, is cooling and preventing them from over heating. It is a common occurrence for not only Windows based laptops but Apple laptops, too. If left unchecked, a worst case outcome could make your laptop catch fire, but that’s the worst of the worst; usually it will just burn up your legs if it’s sitting on your lap. There are a couple ways to circumvent this and if you’re willing to spend a couple dollars, it can make your laptop run cooler and longer.

The reason why laptops get so hot is because of the components inside of them; they are all crammed into a tight space. As with all electronics, they generate heat, but since a laptop is in such a confined space, it will heat up much quicker. Another reason why laptops become so hot is the power needed to run them — as processors become more powerful, they need more energy to keep them running, and this also creates an immense amount of heat.

If you’re not willing to spend any money to cool off your laptop, or you cannot do this on a constant basis, take a look at your fan speeds when running. A simple diagnostic application can give you all this information. If you are using Windows, check out CPUID to look at fan speeds and Mac users check out iStat Pro as a free dashboard widget to find fan speeds and heat information. That is all you can pretty much do when looking at the hardware side of it.

If you’re willing to spend some money to cool down your laptop, check out a laptop cooling platform. You can find these from many different manufacturers. Some are plastic and have only one fan attached to them and use a USB cable to power them. This is fine for keeping your laptop cool, but it has some setbacks. Because they’re made out of plastic and have a single fan, they’re known to be cheap and break after some time. If you’re serious about keeping your laptop cool, check out a laptop cooler made from metal — like aluminum. This not only makes the cooler a bit more rugged, but the metal acts as a heat sink and pulls the heat from the device much more quickly effectively. After searching around, I found the perfect one at a great price — and it even comes with an extra USB port so you don’t lose one. It’s the Zalman ZM-NC2000 Notebook Cooler. It works like a charm and I’ve used it for the past two years with no issues; just remember to clean out the fans with a little compressed air to keep the airways clean.

Can Your Apple iPad Replace Your Laptop Computer?

Six weeks ago I bought my wife an first generation Apple iPad refurbished 16GB Wi-Fi only model from the Apple Store. The unit was priced at $349.99 with free Fed-Ex shipping. My wife loves her iPad. Apple still has these units available for the same price, which includes a new case, new battery, manual, and charger unit. In addition these refurbished iPads also come with a full one year warranty.

Last year I bought my wife a new Toshiba laptop for her personal use. She basically uses a computer for checking her email, surfing the Internet, staying in contact with family and friends on Facebook, plus she enjoys playing games. Her favorite games are Mahjong and solitaire card games.

As an experiment I wanted to see if I could get my wife’s Apple iPad to replace her laptop, becming her only mobile computer. For this to work, the iPad needed to perform all of the basic functions of her laptop. I started looking for free gaming apps that would keep my wife content and happy. This was actually a very easy process. I located and installed 8 free games on her iPad.

My wife had been receiving her email from our ISP via her laptop system. I wanted her to have a Gmail account for her primary account instead of the ISP email. I personally like Gmail and have been using the free account for several years. I enjoy the fact the Google has a fairly good spam catcher and if a spam message does slip through the cracks, I can go back into my Gmail account and tag the offending message as spam. After I setup a new Gmail account for her I setup up Mail on the iPad to use the new account. She sent out an email from our ISP account to all of her contacts stating she had a new email address. I later imported all of her contacts from Outlook over to Mail on the iPad.

We had previously sent up Facebook in the iPad Safari browser and she also had bookmarked her favorite sites. I bookmarked Google Docs for her just in case she needed to create a document. We both rarely, if ever, use our Microsoft Office software any longer.

Is replacing a laptop with an iPad something anyone can do? I don’t believe the iPad is the solution for everyone. I know in my own situation this would not work very well for me. In my wife’s case, she has found this change over from a laptop computer to an iPad uneventful. It just works for her.

Comments welcome.

Shopping For A New PC? Consult Windows PC Scout First

Last Wednesday evening we were having dinner with several other couples when one mentioned they were in the market for a new laptop PC. The words were just out of his mouth when the recommendations came pouring out, including from myself.

“You need at least an Intel i5 processor,” said one person. No, get an AMD processor, I said. “4GB of RAM should be enough,” said another. Nope, get 6MB of RAM if you are going to do video editing, I countered. Back and forth went the recommendations for buying a new computer without one of the most important considerations. How much money did this person want to spend on a new computer?

When I was teaching computer science classes for the Community Education Dept., at Columbia College in Sonora, CA., I was asked many times by my students what computer should they buy. I always responded by asking them the question ‘How much money do you want to spend?’ Or I would joke asking them ,’How much money do you have in the bank?’

Microsoft now offers a simpler way to select a laptop or desktop computer, with a website designed to help you make an informed computer shopping decision. The website is called Shop: Windows PC Scout, in which a consumer can make an intelligent choice about which Windows 7 desktop or laptop they should purchase.

The Windows PC Scout website is broken down into 5 computing categories, which include Everyday, Professional, Gaming, Entertainment, and Mobile computers. The Windows PC Scout starts by asking the user some general questions to ascertain how they will be using their new computer.

As the user proceeds through each page, they are asked a series of questions. Towards the end of the process the user is asked the question how much they are willing to spend. When I did a search for a laptop PC with my specifics, I was asked if wanted to spend $800 or less or more than $800. I choose less than $800 and I ended up with a list of 8 different laptops meeting my needs.

The laptop models varied and were from several computer manufacturers, including Lenovo, Toshiba, HP, and Asus. A specification sheet presented all 8 laptop systems and the specifications for each. A list of three sources showed me where I could purchase one of the PCs.

Overall I believe that Microsoft’s Shop: Windows PC Scout is a valuable source in helping to determine which PC computer is right for you and will meet your needs. Before you make a computer purchase, I would also recommend showing the list generated by Windows PC Scout to your family, friends or co-workers and garner their opinions as well. By doing this, I believe you will make the best choice possible for your next PC purchase.

Here Is Why The PC Will Not Be Replaced By The iPad Or Tablet

Though the term ‘post PC era’ makes for great journalist headlines, the fact is that the words that Steve Jobs stated have been misinterpreted. Some seem to believe that we are entering into a period of time where the PC or Mac desktop and laptops will be replaced by either the Apple iPad or other brand of tablet computer. Though this makes for great headlines and snappy commentary, the fact is that the PC, whether it be a Windows or Mac machine, is not going anywhere.

In our home we have the following computers that serve a specific purpose:

Desktop PC: I have what I consider to be a fairly powerful computer for gaming which uses Windows 7 and functions very well. The system has a large monitor and superior sound system, to make game playing as realistic as humanely possible.

Laptop PC: I have a 17″ laptop that I use as my main computer. I use the system for blogging, Internet surfing, emails, and social networking. The laptop has a full-sized keyboard, which makes typing easy for me and a pleasure to use.

Google Cr-48 notebook beta: I use the Google Chrome OS notebook about three to four times a week. I use the system mainly when I am outside of the home and will connect via a Wi-Fi or Verizon 3G network. What is attractive about this device is that it is lightweight compared to my laptop, and it can be used easily almost anywhere, since it takes up very little space — I can surf and eat at the same time when outside of the home.

Apple iPad: This is my wife’s computer along with a laptop she also owns. I bought a Bluetooth keyboard and protective case for the iPad. The keyboard, though smallish like the one on the Cr-48, does work well and makes typing easier compared to the on-screen keyboard.

Like many of you, I am in a quandary. I find that I rarely use my desktop any longer for gaming. In fact the system sits alone by itself in a closed bookcase and rarely sees the light of day. I guess my old gaming days have come to an end and I am giving some consideration of selling the unit. My laptop will need to be replaced sometime this year and here is where my problem surfaces. What do I buy to replace the 17″ laptop?

I have been considering another laptop, but most likely will buy a 15.6″ model. The new Toshiba laptops have wide screens that are just as big as the 17″, but weigh a few pounds less. But wait. If I don’t need to lug the 17″ around when I leave the home, does it really matter how much it weighs? I basically use the laptop as a desktop replacement. There are also the Google Chrome notebooks being released in June of this year that could replace my laptop. Or do I get an Apple iPad 2 with Bluetooth keyboard?

Decisions, decisions, and more decisions. But is this decision really that hard to make? The bottom line for me is that each of these machines provides a different user experience and performs a different function. I believe that the computer user of the future will have many different devices in order to take advantage of everything that technology has to offer.

What do you think?

Comments welcome.

Source – Macworld

What The Samsung Keylogger Fiasco Should Teach Us All

I was one the people who was duped by a story about how Samsung was installing a keylogger on its new laptop computers. The incident was originally reported by a ‘security expert’ who posted his alleged findings on the Internet in which many of us bloggers took his claim as being gospel. As we ranted and raved about how Samsung had crossed over the line, little did we know that this was not the case and it was actually a false-positive by VIPRE security software.

The ‘security expert’ in question, Mohamed Hassan, holds many degrees including the initials MSIA, CISSP, and CISA, and is with the Norwich University Center for Advanced Computing and Digital Forensics. Yet he relied on a security product and the results as provided by the software, without properly investigating the matter further and before providing his results. What was also disturbing was his report of a conversation with a Samsung employee who allegedly confirmed that a keylogger was being placed on its laptop computers.

But there is something more important than the original report itself. It is the ability of the Internet to potentially destroy the reputation of a company before the allegations are actually proved. No matter how many apologies nor how many retractions are posted, the image for Samsung has been tarnished.

So why were we so eager to believe the worst about a major corporation and distrustful of its motives? In our defense we consumers have very little confidence in corporations, since they are ruled by greed. It is disgraceful that a company like G.E. can pay no federal taxes and have the audacity to have its CEO report on TV that G.E. had a couple of bad years, so this is why it owed no taxes. What a crock.

We have also become anesthetized by our local, state, and federal leaders who we can no longer trust to provide us the truth and are suspect to what their real motives are. No longer do these people represent the interest of the people but put themselves before the common good. So how can any of us not feel distrustful of big corporations, our representatives, or the shenanigans of Wall Street?

So while I do not like being duped and believe that Mr. Hassan should have investigated more thoroughly the case against Samsung before providing his results, I also believe he felt his warning was justified. Unfortunately he relied on a single security software to substantiate his claim which provided a false-positive to the presence of a keylogger.

Hopefully this will teach us all to be more cautious in our reports and wait until the allegations are properly investigated.

What do you think?

Comments welcome.

Source – networkworld

Do All Samsung Laptops Come With A Keylogger Installed By The Company?

Samsung has learned that the report of their computers have a keylogger installed are false. The company states that the security software VIPER actually gave a false-positive and actually tagged a Microsoft program called Microsoft Live Application as the culprit in the keylogger accusation.

As far as accusations go, this one against Samsung could damage the company’s reputation beyond repair. The accusation is that one person has purchased two different Samsung laptop computers and both had keyloggers installed on them. In the first instance a consumer, while setting up his new Samsung laptop, installed a paid commercial security software on his new system. During the first scan the security program found two instances of a keylogger called StarLogger. The keylogger software was located in c:windowsSL diretory.

What is most disturbing about StarLogger software is that it records every keystroke on the computer — including computers that are password protected. The software can then call home with all of the details it has collected for any of your personal information. This personal information could include all of your emails such as your address book, any document you create on the system, the Web pages you visit, any usernames or passwords you use, and possibly even more.

It does get better. The person who owned the infected computer developed display issues and returned the unit to the store he bought it from. He opted to get a more expensive Samsung laptop and guess what? The same keylogger in the same directory was found on the second Samsung laptop.

It gets even better. According to the article, Samsung representative admits the company has been including the keylogger software to monitor performance of the machine. The information collected also shows how the computer is being used.

Wow! I find this very hard to believe. I think that Samsung has dug itself a huge hole that it may not be able to dig out of. Consumers are going to avoid any Samsung computer if they suspect that the system is being monitored — no matter what the reason.

What do you think?

Comments welcome.

Source – networkworld

Google Chrome OS Cr-48 Trackpad Fixed? I Think Not

For many of us, the number one complaint concerning the Google Chrome OS Cr-48 notebook computer, has been the trackpad. I know that when I first received by Google notebook back in December, the first thing I did was attach a USB mouse to it. The trackpad, in my opinion, was horrible and just didn’t function properly. Though some testers stated it worked OK for them, many of us found the behavior of the trackpad unusable and frustrating.

Like with any new product or hardware, I didn’t give it much thought. I used my USB mouse and the little notebook worked fine. But there was one though going through my mind. We are travelling next month via some of the nations busier airports and would like to just take the Cr-48 and forgo the mouse.

So when the folks at Google sent out an update that supposedly fixed the trackpad issues and few other problems, I was optimistic that the problem was solved. Unfortunately it seemed to me to have made matters worse. :-(

But that is just my experience. If you have a Google Chrome OS Cr-48 notebook computer, did the update help or hinder the use of your trackpad?

Let me know.

Comments welcome.