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Archive for March 14th, 2010

Toshiba Satellite T135-S1310RD, Perfect Balance Between Netbook And Full Laptop

March 14, 2010 By: lilybird Category: Desktop and Laptop

Toshiba Satellite T135-S1310RD TruBrite 13.3-Inch Ultrathin Black/Red Laptop – 9 Hours 22 Minutes of Battery Life (Windows 7 Home Premium)
List Price: $699.99
Buy New: $693.65
You Save: $6.34 (1%)

I was torn between getting a netbook or upgrade my several year old laptop. I do a lot of traveling so I liked the idea of the smaller netbooks that were lightweight and easy to carry around. I didn’t like that fact that they were underpowered and had low screen resolution so I was hesitant about buying one.

My main criteria were

1. Lightweight and portable
2. Powerful enough to handle video and other media without too much struggle
3. Long battery life

I started looking at laptops but most were no lighter than my current laptop and had battery power lasting around 3 or 4 hours (unless I went with a Mac…no thank you). I looked at various netbooks such as the million that Asus offers and liked the long battery life but the Intel Atom chip just seemed too weak for my liking. So I was stuck between underpowered netbook and too big to lug around laptop.

I made a trip to Best Buy and saw the newly released Toshiba Satellite laptops. I like the design, bigger than a netbook but smaller than a laptop and I liked the fact that they run dual core processors (at least this model and the one Best Buy had). Seemed to meet my needs in the middle.

I decided to give this laptop a try but had a decision to make. Do I buy this model from Amazon (T135-S1310) for $700 or do I buy the model at Best Buy (T135-S1309) for $550. Confused as to that main differences between the two, I started doing some research. The Best Buy model seemed to have everything that the Amazon model had with the exception of 1gb less of RAM. Well, I can upgrade to 4gb easily and cheaply enough so the $150 gap still works in my favor but then I noticed that the Best Buy model is only running 32bit Windows 7. Not knowing if it will accept a 64 bit operating system (i.e. is the computer only 32 bit) I decided to spend a little more and get it from Amazon. Plus, I was able to get it in red which looks very nice (sans the fingerprints!). Not sure if the 64bit makes that much of a difference but at least I can run 4gb of RAM and have it recognized.

The laptop works as I would expect. Size is perfect for me to travel with. It is much smaller in overall size compared to my Dell 15 inch and the weight of abut 3.8 pounds feels like a feather to my Dell which comes in close to 6.5 pounds. It is significant!!!! Overall, I can’t complain about the speed of the computer as I was not expecting it to rival the new I7’s coming out. My older laptop runs an Intel, Core Duo (not Core 2) at 1.66ghz and the Toshiba seems to compete with that very well, probably a bit faster due to Windows 7 Home Premium. I don’t feel like I downgraded on my laptop by using this.

The wireless N network card had no issues finding my home network and connecting. My speed tests showed me getting almost 12mbps download speeds compared to my G laptop that gets about 7mbps. So the N speeds are faster. This was my first device that could utilize my D-Link DIR-655 N router so I am glad it actually works!

I have played a bit with video online with Hulu, Netflix and stuff I have created and it handles it fairly well. HD content can get a bit choppy at times but does play smoothly unless something else decides to run in the background. This is one area that you must sacrifice when buying such a small computer for this price, no dedicated graphics card. Not a deal breaker since most things seems to run well.

Sound is a big issue and my one main complaint. At full volume, you can barely hear anything out of the main speakers. This will be useless to use unless a set of external speakers or headphones are used. Hopefully this can be fixed in some future firmware/driver update but who knows.

Battery life is amazing. In Eco mode, you can run this for close to the 9 hours it is listed at. Of course, video or other media will cut that down quite a bit but I am averaging around 7 hours per charge with a decent amount of video/music playing. This is a great feature for travelers.

I did remove most of the preinstalled software that came with the machine as I find most of it useless but I left most of the Toshiba stuff on it to see if any of it is worth keeping for now. The face recognition software is cool but I am not sure how useful it will be over time as I will be the only user of the computer and I don’t keep any important files on it. I guess it is for bragging rights that I have that capability.

I will try and post updates as I use this but right now I am completely satisfied with my purchase. Oh, as you already know, this does not come with an optical drive so if you need one, you either need an external or skip this machine all together.

****Update****
JMesa….thank you!!!!!! Your audio tweak worked. I can fianlly hear the other perosn on the nd of my video calls now!! It’s strange how low the volume is until you push all the equalizer adjustments to the top. Wouldn’t want to play music through headphones with these levels but at least I can finally hear stuff!. Makes this purchase even better!! Big fan of this laptop and Windows 7…..so much I upgraded all 3 machines in my house!

****One more Update*****

Had to write a quick update to express how happy I am that this laptop is a lot more rugged than it appears! I was carrying a few things from my kitchen to my basement yesterday and had my laptop resting on top of the stuff I was carrying. It slipped off and fell on my tile kitchen floor. Bateery came carshing off and I could see the laptop bounce a bit (it was about a 4 foot drop!). I first impression was….there goes $700! Hwever, I popped the battery back in, tunred it on and eveything is fine. Not even a scratch or dent! If this was my 100 pound Dell, it would have shattered into a million pieces and my floor would probably need replacing. Toshiba difinitely made a laptop worthy of business travel combining lightweight, power, and now…sturdiness. Is it bulletproof too? I hope I never have to find out.

Oh, and I just got back from a cross country trip (Boston to Seattle) and my Toshiba performed wonderfully during the whole trip. Even the video conferencing with my my wife and son using the hotel’s free wi-fi connection worked well under Live Messenger (haven’t tried Skype with it yet). The camera quality is a little blah compared to my 2mp camera on my desktop, but I can live with it!
Toshiba Satellite

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WorkStation Optimizer Review – Protect Your Computer From Harmful Viruses With WorkStation Optimizer

March 14, 2010 By: lilybird Category: Software

Every internet user should be aware of the slew of viruses and harmful software waiting to attack your computer. You may not realize it, but your computer has probably already picked up dozens of smaller viruses or malware that can slow you down and worse – transmit your valuable passwords and credit card numbers to a hacker who would be happy to drain your accounts.

You need to keep an eye on your system’s configuration. If your registry is disorganized or your hard drive is full of unnecessary files, your computer will run much more slowly. It is a good idea to run diagnostic software, like WorkStation Optimizer, to make sure that your computer is operating at its optimal level.

1. Don’t Be Fooled By Freeware.

Free antivirus software is available on the internet. But how do you know you can trust them? Their slick website with its promises of safer web browsing may actually be an invitation to download dangerous tracking software. Even if the free software is genuine, you will be hounded constantly by a barrage of pop ups and e-mails asking you to pay for an upgrade to their premium software. You don’t have to worry if you download and install WorkStation Optimizer.

2. What Is WorkStation Optimizer And What It Can Do For You?

If you are serious about reducing the threat of internet viruses on your computer, you should purchase a quality product. WorkStation Optimizer can quickly improve the speed of your computer system and also remove any unwanted viruses or tracking software. The software cleans your system and then arranges your data for the best performance. You’ll find you have more disc space after your initial WorkStation Optimizer scan. You can also use it to install and uninstall software programs manually. Don’t worry about losing data, Workstation Optimizer has an easy to use undo feature that can recover unintentionally deleted items.

By running the WorkStation Optimizer on your computer, you are going to find that your load up time on your computer will be faster and that other programs are going to run better as well. You will be able to open a web browser faster than ever before and if you are a gamer than your games are going to play better than you ever thought possible. Protection is essential if you like to purchase online or even pay your bills.

3. Should You Get The WorkStation Optimizer?

The software will keep your computer running as well as it did the first day you turned it on, and you won’t have to worry about anyone accessing your sensitive data through viruses or tracking software ever again.

With all of the hackers that can get your information it is important to make sure that you have all of the security that is possible for your computer. Everything that you need is all wrapped up into one neat little package. Stop risking your computers life span with threats and viruses.

Workstation Optimizer Software, Visit Workstation Optimizer to learn more about this Registry Fix and Spyware Removal Software!

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New DV6 Model With New CPU And Graphics

March 14, 2010 By: lilybird Category: Desktop and Laptop

HP Pavilion DV6-2162NR 15.6-Inch Black Laptop – Up to 4.25 Hours of Battery Life
If you are looking at the DV6 line of notebooks you may have noticed that there are several new models out with model numbers like “DV6-21xx”. These are basically the same notebook as the previous models with a new CPU/graphics combo that greatly improves performance. Like the previous DV6 generation it is well constructed with a metallic toned black exterior (HP also offers versions in white). Take a good look at the shell art since it is something that may not appeal to everyone. I bought mine for my mother-in-law and she definitely appreciated having something a little more individual than the usual dull grey exterior. Despite the glossy exterior we haven’t noticed much in the way of finger prints or any scratches despite the helping hands of our kids who love to “help” grandma with her computer.

The specs for this model are set well above what the average home owner needs today which (in my mind) future proofs it nicely. If you are on a tight budget you can get what you need for less (look at the HP Pavilion G60 line). If you have a little bit more to spend and you want some headroom to handle your computing needs for the next few years this is a great choice.

CPU – This is one of the first models from HP that sports Intel’s new “Core i5” line of CPUs. The short version is that it outperforms the older “Core2” chips and is slightly better than the (also) new “Core i3” chips. As noted in the description it’s 2.26GHz part that can “Turbo Boost” up to 2.53GHz. What isn’t mentioned is that this is a dual core part with 3MB of cache. That may sound a lot like the old Core2 chips but don’t be fooled: this chip will outperform the old Core2 by 20%-50%. If you are trying to decide between the “Core i5” and “Core i3” I would recommend the Core i5 to gamers and people who run high end applications (like CAD software) and the Core i3 for people running business applications (like MS Office) and web browsing. If you want to know more read on. If nerd stuff bores you then just trust me, this is a great chip to have in your laptop.

Okay here is why the Core i5 is a big deal: The Core i5 (and Core i3) have Intel’s newest, fastest and smallest CPU core (also known as the “Westmere” core) which is two generations newer than the “Penryn” core used in the Core2 line. Because with each generation the parts get smaller they get cheaper to make. Also with the Westmere core Intel has bundled the chipset and a new graphics chip onto one package which also reduces cost (and allows Intel to do some new and cool performance tricks). One thing the Core i3 and i5 have that Core2 does not is “hyperthreading.” Hyperthreading is a feature that makes two CPUs act like four. To do this Intel has enabled each CPU core to act on two software threads at once. So the two CPU Core i5 is almost as good as a four CPU part for a lot less money and requiring a lot less power (there are a few four core mobile CPUs out there but the battery life is terrible and I don’t recommend them). Hyperthreading is something that every user can benefit from: no more watching your computer slow to a crawl because your anti-virus kicked in. Windows 7 just dumps that off on a new thread and you keep humming along surfing the web or playing a game. The main difference between the Core i3 and i5 is that the Core i5 has “Turboboost” (which can speed up your CPU or the graphics chip as needed) and the Core i3 does not. If you aren’t stressing the CPU or the graphics chip then the Turboboost found in the i5 isn’t going to do a lot for you.

RAM – 4GB of DDR3 RAM running at 1066MHz is combined with a 64bit OS to which should provide more than enough memory for pretty much any application you can think of outside of extremely high end gaming. Note that most older notebooks come with “DDR2” and this one has “DDR3”. The main difference is that “DDR3” uses about 20% less power “DDR2” which of course equals slightly better battery life.

HDD – The 500GB drive is far more space than most users need (few people will use more than 100GB). HP also offers 320GB and 640GB drives in some models. This one runs at 7200RPM but HP has version that run at 5400RPM. The 7200RPM drive offers better performance but the failure rate is slightly higher than the slower 5400RPM drives. I have a slight preference for the slower drive just because I hate HDD failures but honestly the 7200RPM drives have improved to the point where there’s not much difference in failure rates anymore.

Graphics – This model is using uses Intel’s new “HD” graphics which is vastly superior to their old “4500MHD” chip. You can actually do a some 3D gaming on this notebook though newer high-end 3D games will need to run at reduced settings. Online games like World of Warcraft will run best at reduced settings. It can do 1080p HD graphics but notice this model doesn’t have a Blu-ray drive so I’m not sure it matters that much (the only DV6’s I know of with Blu-ray are custom models ordered direct from HP).

Display – I don’t like that about a year ago HP switched the DV6 from a full 16″ display to the slightly smaller 15.6″. Still the 1366 x 768 widescreen LED Brightview display on this model doesn’t disappoint. Indoors it is brilliant with surprisingly strong blacks (too many notebook displays are all brightness with no depth). Outdoors you’ll have some issues with glare but it’s better than a lot of competitors. I like that the screen provides a decent amount of vertical space without overdoing it. The difference between the 15.6″ and a 14″ is surprising (go compare them in a store if you haven’t had a chance).

Sound – Surprisingly good sound for a notebook. The speakers are well positioned and deliver a good range. I’ve heard better but it was on a $3K notebook.

Battery – HP bundles 12 cell Lithium-Ion battery on this model but most DV6 models have a 6 cell. If you are on the road a lot the 12 cell is nice. Home users who plan to plug in a lot probably won’t care. Personally I prefer the 12 cell. The 6 cell will give you 2-4 hours of real use and the 12 cell will give you 3-6 hours (HP claims “up to seven hours” on their website but that’s only if you do everything possible to conserve power). The 12 cell will bulge out a little in the back and adds about 1/5 of a pound to the weight.

Operating System – This model the “Premium” version of Windows 7. The “SB” (small business) models have the Win 7 “Professional” version. Win 7 premium is fine for most users but the Pro version lets you back up over a network and better support for older software (it can basically run Windows XP in the background for your older programs). Most homes users will be fine with Win 7 Premium but if you have a lot of old software you may consider getting a notebook with Win 7 Pro (which will add a little to the cost of the notebook).

Optical Drive: The standard HP DVD/CD RW Drive with Lightscribe. If you haven’t used Lightscribe it basically allows you to burn black text or images onto LightScribe compatible CD or DVD media. A typical image burn takes 20 minutes or so. It’s nice to have but be aware the images are a little dull. I’ve noticed mine fade over but I mostly burn copies of CDs for my kids and they are rough on them.

I don’t have any serious “cons” for this computer. The “Touch Media Controls” for things like the volume (as opposed to buttons you push) are a little odd at first but we got used to them quickly and hey, they look cool when they light up. I also don’t find the included remote to be that useful but anyone planning to hook this up to their TV might like it. I suspect most people will just put in a drawer and forget about it.

If you’re staring at the various DV6 models trying to decide which one to buy my advice is (based on the models available when I wrote this):

– For home users who aren’t gamers you can save about $100 if you go with the HP Pavilion DV6-2150US 15.6-Inch Laptop which combines a Core i3 with Win 7 Premium and a 6 cell battery. The performance for non-gaming software will be very close to the more expensive i5 models and you’ll save money by going with Win 7 Premium and a smaller battery.

– If you need good battery life, run higher end software, or like to game a bit go for the HP Pavilion DV6-2170US which combines the Core i5 with the 12 cell battery. The Intel graphics aren’t the best but it’s a big improvement over past products. This is the model I think has the best balance of features.

– If gaming matters more than battery life you should probably look at other laptop lines but if you are sold on the DV6 go for the HP Pavilion DV6-2190US which has a quad CPU Core i7 and NVIDIA GeForce GT 230M graphics. It’s only got a 6 cell battery and that CPU and graphics are going to drain it quickly. On the plus side it’s the only model in this group with gigabit ethernet (most home users will be fine with 10/100 ethernet [which is more than enough for several computers surfing the web] but if you want or need 10/100/1000 ethernet only the higher end DV6 models have it).

– If you have a lot of older software consider the HP Pavilion DV6-2157SB Small Business Editionwhich comes with Windows 7 Pro (which can run older software in a WinXP kernel). It has a Core i3 and a 6 cell battery. It also has a different finish (“Plaid Mocha”) but I haven’t seen it so I can’t comment on it.

To wrap it all up: you can always buy more features for more money but if you are looking for a laptop with some higher-end features and upscale build quality this is an excellent choice. HP spent money in the right places and has created a high-end laptop at a mid-tier price. I think the HP Pavilion DV6-2150US 15.6-Inch Laptop is one of the better values out there today but I prefer the features offered in the HP Pavilion DV6-2170US. If you are a student you may want to check out HPs “Academy” program which offers student discounts (it can be hard to find on HP’s web site – just search for “HP Academy”).
HP Laptop

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