Tag Archives: notebook

What's the Future of Portable Computing?

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I’m quite surprised with the number of reactions we received after the unboxing of the Asus Eee PC. I received an email from Gordon that was thought-provoking, and thought we should discuss what he has to say.

I just watched your ASUS EEE review on CNN. It costs 400$. Have you ever compared it to the iPod touch? You might be wondering how can they possibly be comparable. When in China, I found out an unintentional usage for my iPod Touch: it’s a mini computer. When I got homesick, I’d find a wifi hotspot, and surf the web with my iPod Touch. I’d also write email, and check on my MySpace to say hi to friends. Even at home, when I’m eating chips or drinking beer, I can lean back on my sofa and surf the Web, as opposed to walking to my computer. When I visit my friends’ houses, I don’t have to kick them out of their computer to use the internet. I just pop out my iPod Touch, and surf away without making anything inconvenient for my friends.

Now that I think about it, it’s not comparable to an iTouch… it’s comparable more to an iPhone, due to the hardware capacity. I think the future of portable computing is more geared towards things like the iPhone, more so than a device such as the Eee. For one reason, the iPhone fits in your pocket. The Eee has a full-on keyboard, and can run Windows.

What do you really need from a portable computer? You’ll surf the web, check your email, maybe create or edit some documents. Gosh… why can’t we just use the iPhone? It’s easier and smaller… much better portability.

With great timing, Julian also sent an email to me with his top five reasons for using an Eee PC.

  • Cost For what you get, the Eee is a complete bargain in my view. I have the 701 4G, which came with the Xandros system loaded on it. I have replaced that with XP. However, there is a temptation to add extra memory, and also large SD cards. Once you have spent extra money on those components, you are heading towards the price of a reasonably well-featured, full-size laptop. If you do this, then think carefully about the uses you want to put the Eee to, as the small form factor may not be reason enough compared to a ‘proper’ laptop.
  • What operating system? Linux or XP? Try Xandros first before going to XP. If you are a regular Windows or Mac user, the temptation may be to ignore Linux altogether. Don’t. You will surprised at how functional Xandros is, and find that open-source applications may work fine for your needs. Buying, say, a copy of XP to put onto the Eee also questions the overall cost. For me, the small size and portability is key so these extra costs are acceptable. But this will not be true for all users. There are plenty of resource websites to help you look at alternative operating systems, such as Ubuntu.
  • Why do I want one? Before buying, sit down and write a list of your needs for such a machine. Do you only want it because of the “coolness factor”?Once the novelty has worn off, you may be left with a computer that has no more function than to collect dust. Key motivations may be a first PC for a child, portability whilst on the road, quick email and internet access, or portability around the home. Make sure you are going to have a real use for it.
  • Which versions to get? Buy the 4 gig version. 2 gig is ok if staying with Xandros, but for XP in particular… 4 gig is a must. Newer models are now available with 8 gig, and 9 inch screens. Apart from that, they are the same as older models. There are a couple of really nice utilities available for free. Astray Plus allows higher screen resolution with some loss of quality. Be careful not to overdo it though, as you are effectively forcing the machine to operate in a manner it was not designed for.
  • Battery life The battery life is ok, but I’m a heavy user of Internet and Wifi, which will drain the battery fairly quickly. There are larger capacity batteries available, but be careful what you buy. Some restrict the ability of the lid to open all the way back, and of course adds weight and size to the overall machine. A standard spare battery may be sufficient, but is something else to carry around.


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How to Build your own Laptop

LaMott is a PC Tech, and wrote in to ask this: “My question is why isn’t there an industry standard of MBD’s & cases that techs can use to build their own laptops? Also, what percent of people in the U.S. would you say build their own PC’s vs. those that buy?”

PC fanatics are up in arms over how Apple doesn’t let you build your own Mac. I hate to say it, but there’s a good reason for it. Some people feel that’s not how things should be. I guess I won’t open that particular can of worms.

By the way, if you are subscribed to my Podcast, you could be eligible to win a computer this Saturday, March 15th! If we reach 20,000 subscribers, I will be giving away the AMD Spider computer system. Ok, so now on to your answer!

I don’t think 12% of the world population build their own computers. I actually think it’s less than 5%. Most people will buy off the shelves. It’s a matter of convenience and being taken care of. People think that they are better off buying from a well-known brand. I seem to recall an old movement surrounding building laptops. There are so many things that go into a laptop. A notebook needs to be designed to move around. Weight is a concern, the lid needs to easily and fully shut, the connections need to be secure. Is it possible? Yes, it is. At the end of the day, I really think it may not be worth it. There’s just too much that goes into it, and it can get to be extremely expensive to get everything just right. CCMike, who is an Op in my Chat room said it best: “Many laptop platforms are much too “style” specific to be able to find parts for”.

For any of you who enjoy building machines, I ask you this: If the parts were all available, would you build a laptop from scratch? I honestly don’t know that I would. There’s just so many complexities that go into building something that’s designed to be mobile. It’s a different level of challenge from building a desktop computer.


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Don't Jerk Your Power Cables!

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Every day I get mail. Every once in awhile I get companies that send me products to review, and share information about with all of you. Those are always fun. Today, I got a package with a tin full of little plastic doo-hickeys. The paperwork with it said “Stop Jerking!” HUH? Stop jerking what??

Jerkstopper has come up with a way to use an unused port on your notebook to tether down your power cable. Technically it’s a CRD (Cable Retention Device) designed to utilize any existing port (USB, RJ11 or RJ45) on a laptop computer as a stay or restraint to keep the very fragile AC power connector from being damaged. Repairs to this connector can range from $100 to $250 or more if repairable. The JerkStoppe Cable Retention Device keeps you and others from causing costly damage to your Laptop Computer. For ten dollars, you get three connectors: 1 each USB, RJ45 & RJ11. Plus… you also get a one year money back guarantee!

Here are some of the problems you can now avoid, by using the Jerkstopper:

  • The power LED and/or battery charge LED flicker when you wiggle the power cord and/or the AC adapter tip on the back or your laptop.
  • Laptop suffers from spontaneous and/or instantaneous power-downs for no apparent reason.
  • Laptop only runs when you keep the power cord and plug in a certain direction.. Movement of the AC power adapter plug causes power “glitches” or outages.
  • Strange “clicking” noises coming from the area near the power plug. Laptop switches from AC power to battery power intermittently.
  • Laptop refuses to start or charge a properly inserted battery. Laptop appears to be “dead” when you plug AC adapter.
  • Laptop suddenly shuts off without any warning. Sparks come out of the back of your laptop.
  • Laptop will not charge the battery and/or Laptop only runs on battery power.

At only $10.00… and having a full one year guarantee… what are you waiting for?


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Notebook Cooler

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Notebooks come with many accessories. Something important that you really need is something to keep it cool. You can find many different options online. Let’s take a look at this Targus Notebook cooler.

The Targus Notebook Cooling Chill Mat really works! My Mac is running about ten degrees cooler on average. It’s definitely cooler to the touch, where it used to run a bit warm. The best thing about it, is the fact that there’s no need for a power cord. It runs off of a mini-USB port, and includes four additional USB ports! I don’t really like the long USB cable that comes with it, but we all know how much I hate ALL cords. I’m going to try and find a retractable cord to use.

Maximize notebook performance by keeping the notebook cool during use. Two fans generate cool air to help prevent the notebook from overheating. The Chill Mat can be used in the office to protect furniture from heat damage, or on the go to protect your lap from notebook heat. Four rubber feet keep your notebook in place on the Chill Mat to avoid slipping and provide a sturdy workspace. The Chill Mat is highly portable for travel and plugs directly into your notebooks’ USB port so no AC adapter is required.

At only about $30.00, this truly is an excellent buy. One tip to keep in mind, is to turn the cooling on prior to booting up the notebook, for maximum cooling performance.

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How to Buy a Laptop (Notebook, Portable Computer)

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No matter which name you prefer to call it, let’s look at some ways to help you decide which one is right for you.

  • Get a laptop stand. Having the laptop on an angle and allowing air to move underneath will dramatically reduce the heat your laptop runs at! The stands can be expensive so a large book or piece of wood will do. I have a Targus port extender. It is a wedge shaped hub that has all kinds of connections and goes into my laptop via USB two. Its portable and handy as well as allowing my laptop run cooler by sitting under the back edge and raising the it up. Plus this is a better angle for typing.
  • Go for integration! Built in webcams and card readers are a god send! Chances are you won’t have loads of USB’s so the less external devices the better. This will be better for traveling, battery life and general desk clutter. Built in tv tuners can be great if you end up in a hotel room with decent tv reception. A laptop with bluetooth can be handy for syncing with a phone.
  • Get a good Laptop bag or case. If you have a mobility-based laptop, a good bag is essential. I have seen friends laptops die way before their time because they travel without sufficient protection for them. Often, the free case supplied won’t be up to the job.
  • Insure your laptop! I have nearly dropped mine a million times. They get moved around a lot, and the law of averages says sooner or later it will be dropped. Make it a less expensive mistake by having it covered. Also if you travel with it theft is a real threat!
  • Peripherals complete the package. Get decent headphones and a good mouse. Chances are, no matter how much you’ve spent on your laptop the speakers won’t be much good for watching films or listening to music. So, good quality headphones are a must. As for the mouse, track pads are great for keeping the laptop a “one price device”, but you’re going to want to use a mouse whenever its convenient, so a small travel mouse is a good idea.

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One Laptop Per Child vs Asus Eee Notebook PC

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SWAT sometimes hangs out on Ventrilo with us, and even occasionally streams for me when I’m gone. He was wondering if he should go with the One Laptop Per Child(OLPC) program and help another child as well, or spend the same money and get better components for his daughter by buying the Asus Eeee.

I just spoke with my friend David from EyeJot the other day about this same thing. In the terms of price and what you get, the Asus would be a better deal. But for the same price, you get a tad bit “lesser” laptop for your child… AND get one sent on your behalf to a needy child in a third world country. We talk all the time about how technology changes lives. We talk about the ways computers enhance our daily life, give us opportunities, and broaden our horizons. How could you not want to give those same opportunities to another child… and not have to pay anything extra?

One learning child. One connected child. One laptop at a time.

The mission of One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) is to empower the children of developing countries to learn by providing one connected laptop to every school-age child. In order to accomplish our goal, we need people who believe in what we’re doing and want to help make education for the world’s children a priority, not a privilege. Between November 12 and November 26, OLPC is offering a Give One Get One program in the United States and Canada. During this time, you can donate the revolutionary XO laptop to a child in a developing nation, and also receive one for the child in your life in recognition of your contribution.

The laptop through the OLPC program is a solid laptop. It’s good, and will work wonderfully for your child. Many years and an infinite amount of sweat equity went into the creation of the XO laptop. Designed collaboratively by experts from academia and industry, the XO is the product of the very best thinking about technology and learning. It was designed with the real world in mind, considering everything from extreme environmental conditions such as high heat and humidity, to technological issues such as local-language support. As a result, the XO laptop is extremely durable, brilliantly functional, energy-efficient, responsive, and fun.

If you’re planning to buy a laptop for your young child, or any young child… this is the one you should buy. It’s an excellent machine, and you’ll be giving the gift of opening the future to a child who otherwise may not ever have that chance.

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Top Cool Laptop Accessories

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I’ve been multi-tasking today using Ponzi’s MacBook Pro… AND my own, as well. Doing so much on Ponzi’s machine caused it to run really hot, so I needed a good way to cool it. I tried out the Chill Pak I ordered awhile back. Oh and yes… her MacBook Pro has a red Speck case.

On Ponzi’s machine, I’ve been installing Boot Camp, and using VMWare Fusion to access it. Using such system-instensive tasks made the MacBook run really hot. So, I grabbed the Chill Pak. I’m sure you remember when I bought it? It was created by actor Dean Haglund, from the X-Files. You just throw it in the freezer for about an hour, and the gel inside of it freezes. You then place it under the hottest part of the Notebook… staying away from the battery and any vents. Voila! The temperatures will return to normal, and the Notebook will run MUCH better.

I’m also running smcFan Control on my machines. smcFan Control displays temperature and fan speed in the menubar. You can apply different fan-settings with just one click. It also lets you set different minimum speeds for every fan separately… and save them as favorites.

The Speck Case on the outside of Ponzi’s MacBook Pro is not just for looks. It also helps protect the case. It’s removable… just snap it off or on. And well, yeah. It looks cool. I like the color red, don’t get me wrong. But on a Notebook? I’m just not convinced of that.

What I want to know is what accessories do you have (or want) for your Notebook? What can’t you live without? Which ones do you wish you had never bought because they just weren’t worth the money? Leave me a follow up comment to this video, or send me an email to [email protected]

E Ya Later!

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