Category Archives: laptops

My New Laptop – Asus UL80Vt

I considered buying a 12 inch netbook but decided against that.

Asus UL80Vt

I chose the Asus UL80Vt because it offers performance in a thin and light package.  This laptop gave me the best of both worlds.  It’s very good on battery life when in the right settings.  However, it has the hardware to handle some gaming if I wanted.

The switchable graphic option was the main reason why I got this laptop.  I don’t need a discrete graphic card all the time.  The overclocked CPU is the same.  The system will overclock the CPU to 1.73 GHz when you need more power but will operate at 1.3 GHz to extend battery life.  Asus does over the same package in a 13.3″  (UL30Vt) and a 15″ model (UL50Vt), but I wanted a DVD drive for movies on the go.

Asus UL80Vt

Here are the specs:

Intel Core 2 Duo SU7300 1.3GHz (Factory overclocked to 1.73 GHZ in Turbo33 Mode)
Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit
4GB DDR3 1066 MHz
14″ (1366×768) LED backlit screen
Intel GMA 4500MHD and Nvidia G210M 512MB DDR3 Graphics
500GB 5400RPM Hard drive
DVD RW drive
SD card reader
0.3 Web cam
802.11G/N Wifi
11.5 hours of battery life
2 Year warrenty with 1 year of Accidental Damage Warranty

You can pick this unit up for about $820 at Amazon with Free Shipping.  Amazon Product Page Link

Choosing A New Laptop Part 1

There are so many things to consider when choosing a new laptop.  I mean, for geeks, buying a new computer is like buying a new car for most folks.  What do I want to do with the computer?  What kind of features do I want?  How fast?  Now compare that to a car.  Do I want a sedan or a SUV?  Sports package, luxury package, technology package, etc.?

It’s finally time for the Chief Monkey to buy a new laptop.  My 4 year old IBM T43 Thinkpad has served me well and finally gave out the other night.  I thought my Eee PC 1000H could support my mobile computing needs, but I find it a little challenging.  I aos consider getting the bigger Asus Eee PC 1201N netbook, but $500 is a lot to spend on a faster netbook.  So, a new laptop is in order.

The first thing you want to consider when buying a new laptop is budget.  How much do you want to spend?  Once you know your budget, you can figure out what kind of computer you can get.  The keyword here is compromise.

Once you set your budget, think about what you want to use this laptop for?  Will you need a fast processor for demanding tasks?  Do you need a dedicated graphic solution for games?  How about mobility?  Will you be traveling much with it?  Do you need something that is thin and light for easy packing?  Do you need a large battery to stay mobile for longer periods of time?

So for me, I want all that. I need something fast with a dedicated graphic solution in a thin and light package.  I don’t need the fastest laptop.  Just something with enough horsepower to handle anything I will throw at it.  No, I’m not going to render a whole 3-D movie on it.  Here’s the tricky part.  I need something that get’s good battery life too.  That’s like getting an extremely fuel efficient car with a lot of horsepower.  It’s a difficult balance.  With power, you sacrifice battery life and vice versa.

Fortunately, many of the laptop components are designed with light power consumption in mind.  Every component is to be as efficient as possible.  Look at the netbooks.  The Intel Atom CPU is so small and so efficient that you can squeeze out at least 6+ hours of battery life depending on how you use the netbook.  However, the Intel Atom CPU can’t handle a demanding task.  Intel is getting better at designing processing chips that are powerful while efficient at the same time.

To be continued…

More 12 inch laptops

For those that are considering the 12 inch netbooks, also think about what kind of laptop you can get for the same price.  A lot of times, people think that a very low priced laptop means that they are giving up functionality.  This is not true.  Here’s my pick for the $500 range, the price of the Samsung NC20.

Lenovo G530-444638U

lenovo-g530

  • Intel Core 2 Duo T6500 2.1 GHz
  • 3GB DDR2
  • 250GB Hard Drive
  • Intel GMA 4500MHD
  • 15.4 WXGA 1280 x 800
  • DVD Burner
  • 4 USB Ports
  • SD Card Reader
  • Webcam
  • 6 cell battery, 4.6 hours
  • Windows Vista Business downgraded to XP Pro preloaded

You’re getting a much faster processor, up to 4GB of memory, bigger screen, better onboard graphics, and an optical drive.

This laptop is $499 with Free Shipping at newegg.com.

Update:  A reader pointed out that I failed mention that if you you are sacrificing weight and portability with the Lenovo.  Yes, people buy netbooks to be very mobile.  However, consumers see the small laptop and small price will think that it’s a cheap laptop.  They need to know what they are buying.

Now, for those looking for a value laptop, the Lenovo is for you.  It’s priced the same as a netbook and can do more in terms of functionality.  The downside is that it’s heavier and less mobile.

A netbook will have some lag when you’re running more than 3 programs.  The small  size limits the hardware you can use inside a netbook.  Currently, most netbooks can only support a maximum of 2GB of memory.  The Intel Atom CPU is very efficient in terms of power use, but is only recommended for light duty tasks.  The upside of a netbook is that it’s extremely portable and light.

Laptop Deal – Best Bang for the Buck #1

Acer Aspire AS5735-6694 Notebook is a good value for your bucks.

acer-aspire-as5735-6694

acer-aspire-as5735-6694

In this economy, you have to stretch your dollar and get the most you can.  Buying a new notebook can be tough.  Most of the salesman in the big box stores seem to speak another language.  I admit that you really should buy a laptop that fits your needs.  For the sake of simplicity, I’ll pick one that does a little bit of everything.

I recommend this Acer laptop because it has a strong CPU, a nice screen, lots of memory, a decent hard drive, and a better integrated graphic chipset.  It could have a stand alone graphic processor, but the Intel GMA 4500MHD is a newer chip.  It has an Intel Core 2 Duo T6400 (2.0 GHz), 4 GB of memory, 15.4 inch WXGA screen  (1366×768), and comes with wireless N connectivity.

Rating 4 out of 5, 5 being the best.

Amazon.com has this unit for $594 with free shipping.

Newegg.com has this unit for $599.

AMD Athlon Neo

I was wondering when AMD would come out with a small, snappy CPU.  The AMD Athlon Neo CPU is not the same as the Intel Atom CPU.

AMD Athlon Neo

AMD Athlon Neo

The Neo is meant for a small laptop, 10 inch – 13 inch models.  For a laptop CPU, this is a low power comsuming chip at 15 watts.  The Intel Atom consumes between 4 – 8 watts.  It’s also a 65nm chip, which means that it’s not as efficient as the new 45 nm chips.

Here’s where the Neo outshines the Atom.  It operates at the same frequency as the Atom at 1.6 GHz.  The Neo can operate as a 64 bit processor, has more Cache than the Atom, and an integrated memory controller.

Currently, the Neo CPU could be found on select HP laptops like this one at Newegg.com.

Laptop Batteries Dead or Dying

As you may know, I have an older IBM Thinkpad T43.  I love the thing because it’s so reliable.  However, after the years, the battery life on my laptop has been dying.  I started out being able to go 3-4 hours between charges.  Then it went down to 2, then 90 minutes.  It was a sad sad day when my Thinkpad could only operate by being tethered to a wall socket.  Then I invested in a netbook with 6.5 hours of battery life.  It’s nice to be mobile, but to do serious work, I need my ThinkPad.  So I searched for a new battery.  Ideally, I wanted to find an OEM extended battery, but those are rare now.  I went with an aftermarket vareity.

Don’t replace your notebook just because the battery is dead.  Replace the battery.  Like buying anything online, research the store before making a purchase.  I went with Pacific Battery Systems.  They have a wide selection, awesome prices, great customer service, and fast shipping.  For $80, I bought the 9 cell battery for my Thinkpad.  I can last about 9 hours with the wifi on now.

Monkey Deals – HP Basic Notebook at Netbook Prices

If you are looking for a little more than a netbook but refuse to pay more, check out this deal at Newegg.com.  In my opinion, I’m not a big fan of the celeron processor, but at these prices, I’ll make an exception. For less than $500, you have a bigger screen and a CPU that is faster than the Intel Atom powering most netbooks.

HP 530 cheap laptop Deal

Here are the specs:

Intel Celeron M 530 (1.73 GHz)
Windows Vista Home Basic
15.4″ WXGA 1280×800
1GB DDR2
120 GB Hard Drive
DVD ROM drive
Integrated Graphics
Up to 2 hours and 42 minutes of Battery Life
Wireless B/G Connectivity
10/100 Mbps
2 USB ports
About 6 pounds

Newegg.com price – $469.99 + $17.20 Shipping

Top 5 Reasons to Get an Asus Eee PC 1000H

It’s been a couple of weeks of owning the Asus Eee PC 1000H and I have nothing but good things to say.

Here’s 5 reasons to own this little netbook.

1.  Bigger Keyboard and Screen is awesome and usable compared to the first Eee PC.

2.  6 hours of computing from the 6 cell battery.

3.  Intel Atom CPU runs quiet, cool, and zippy.  Diablo 2 is no problem.

4.  Easy upgrade.  Memory, hard drive, and wireless card is all located on the bottom panel.

5.  Multi-touch trackpad.  Use two fingers to scroll.

No cons yet.

The Asus Eee PC 1000H has been replaced…

with another Asus Eee PC 1000H.  The unit that you see in previous posts had a defective F key. Typing with a broken keyboard was a pain.

Asus Eee PC 1000H

The plastic clips holding down the keys had broken off on the F key.  I knew that getting this unit replaced by the reseller was tough.  They made it really difficult for me to exchange it.  I didn’t want to return it, but exchange for a new unit.  In the end, they replaced it after an hour of back and forth.

Asus Eee PC 1000H

Next time, I’ll by it from Buy.com where the customer comes first.  It is instock now for $549.99 with Free Shipping.

Asus Eee PC 1000H – Memory Upgrade

The Asus Eee PC 1000H came with 1GB of memory pre-installed.  With today’s memory hungry applications, 2 GB is better for smooth computing.  SInce 2 GB is the maximum amount you can install in the Asus Eee PC 1000H.  I went with a Corsair 2GB module I bought at Fry’s for $25 after rebate.  The Asus Eee PC 1000H can use any memory module 200 Pin So-dimm DDR2 PC5300 667 MHz.  The system will adjust to the right speed if you install a faster module.

Here’s what you need to get this done.

  • Small Philips Screwdriver
  • The 2 GB Memory Module
  • Asus Eee PC 1000H
  • 10 Minutes
  • Difficulty – Easy

Asus Eee PC 1000H

Here’s what you do.

Step 1 – Remove Battery – Just a safety precaution

Asus Eee PC 1000H

Step 2 – Unscrew the two screws on the back cover nearest to the battery.

Asus Eee PC 1000H

Step 3 – Remove Back Cover.  Carefully pry the cover off.  It’s held in place by plastic clips attaced to the edge of the back cover.  Your Eee PC 1000H should look like the picture below.  With the MSI Wind, you have to remove the whole plastic shell of the computer to access these parts.  Asus cleverly placed the two items, memory and hard drive, that most people will upgrade right under a very accessible cover.

Asus Eee PC 1000H

Step 4 – Remove the memory module.  Like most laptops, the module is held in place by two metal clips (red arrows) on two sides of the module.  Carefully and slowly pull the metal clips away from the module.  You just have to pry it out a little bit, maybe 2 mm, and the module will pop up.

Asus Eee PC 1000H

Step 5 – Remove the memory module.

Asus Eee PC 1000H

Step 6 – Insert new memory module at a 45 degree angle and press down until the two metal clips snaps around the module.  Check to make sure the module is secure.  Replace cover and you’re done.

Asus Eee PC 1000H

Sony VAIO VGN-FW139E/H

Sony Vaio FW-139E/H

The Sony Vaio FW139E/H is a laptop with some interesting specs.  First things first, it’s $1100 with Free Shipping at Newegg.com.  What makes this laptop special is the high definition 16.4 inch widescreen (1600×900).  That 16:9 aspect ratio for all your widescreen movies.  So this laptop is a perfect desktop replacement.  At 6.4 pounds, it can be portable, but not recommended.  This is definitely the laptop for movie buffs that travel a lot.  It’s also good for everyday home use.  It packs enough power to tackle whatever you throw at it and a roomy 250GB hard drive for lots of storage.

Specs:

Intel Core 2 Duo P8400 2.26 GHz
3GB DDR2 Memory
250GB Hard Drive  5400 RPM
DVD R/RW Drive
ATI Mobility Radeon HD 3470 256MB
16.4 inch Widescreen 1600×900

Windows Vista Home Premium
Wireless 802.11b/g
Bluetooth
VGA Port
HDMI port
1.3MP Webcam
Dimensions: 15.1″ x 10.3″ x 1.14-1.46″

Sony Vaio FW139E/H

sony vaio fw139E/H

Sony Vaio FW

Review: Lenovo IdeaPad Y510

I never had the intention of reviewing the IdeaPad from Lenovo.   Reason is that I would always recommend a ThinkPad.  When I met my college buddy for lunch today, he was carrying one of these around.

Lenovo IdeaPad Y510

Specs:

Intel Pentium Dual Core T2390 (1.86GHz)
3GB DDR2 Memory
160GB Hard drive
DL DVD Burner
15.4″ WXGA Screen (1280×800)
6.4 lbs.
4 hours battery life
Wifi, 10/100 LAN, 56K Modem
6-in-1 Card reader
Windows Vista Home Premium

Price at Newegg.com is $599.99 after $50 Mail in Rebate (Expire 10/2008), with Free Shipping.  You really can’t beat this price for such a quality laptop.  It definitely has more style than the more conservative and business-like ThinkPad.

This particular laptop is good for light use.  The processor is on the slow side but is more than adequate for web browsing, emailing, Microsoft Office, and other light use.  Don’t expect to edit photos on this machine.  You’ll need something with more power.

For $799.99 after $100 Mail in rebate and free shipping, you get the exact same notebook with a Intel Core 2 Duo T5750 (2.0 GHz) CPU, 250 GB Hard Drive, .  This has more muscle for all your picture and video needs.  The Lenovo IdeaPad Y510-5132U is available here.

-Monkey

Laptops for Students

When I was in school, not too long ago, laptops were pretty expensive.   They were huge, heavy, didn’t last more than 3 hours.  I also hear from many people that their laptopsare not durable.  Most say the life of their laptops is about 1 year…maybe 2.  That’s why I buy business laptops.

Pros

  • The build quality is better.  It has to stand all that traveling and abuse.
  • The warranty is usually longer than consumer laptops.
  • You won’t need a new one in a couple of years.

Cons

  • They more expensive.  But it’ll last longer.
  • They not very visually appealing.  It’s a computer, not an accessory.

Here are 3 recommendations for three different students.

1.   Take notes, surf the web, emails, writing papers, music, youtube, and very portable 9 inch screen.

The Asus Eee 901 will do the job.  It’s just about $550 everywhere.  Click here to get Free Shipping on this product from Buy.com.

2.  I want the same thing as #1 but a little faster with a bigger screen.

I recommend the Lenovo Thinkpad X61s.  It has a 12.1 inch screen and the Lenovo Thinkpad legendary build quality. This cost $1,165.99.  It more expensive but will last a while.  My 4 year old Thinkpad is still my daily computer.  Click here to get Free Shipping on this laptop at Buy.com

3.  I want to play games on my computer.

To me, gaming on a laptop is the toughest thing you can do to a laptop.  To play games, the computer has to work very hard.  The Acer TravelMate 5720-6370 has an Intel Core 2 Duo T9300 and an ATI Mobility Radeon HD 2400 HT Video Card.  This will cost you $1,315 and Free Shipping at Buy.com.  The downside of this system is that it will get hot and the battery won’t last longer than 3 hours.

acer-travelmate-5270-6370

MSI Wind

The MSI Wind is no where in sight.  A lucky few already had their’s shipped.  However, for the rest of us, we have to wait because it is not available at major retailers.  But I think waiting may be the better option at this point.  The current units are being shipped with a 3-cell battery.  The new Intel Atom CPU consumes less power, but with the puny 3-cell battery, you’re looking at 3 hours of up time.

I would wait a month for the unit to ship with the 6-cell battery, good for at least 5 hours of up time.

Features:

  • 10″ WSVGA LCD 1024×600 (LED Backlight)
  • Intel Atom N270 CPU 1.6 GHz
  • Intel GMA950 Integrated Graphics
  • 1 GB DDR2 667 MHz memory
  • 80GB Hard Drive 2.5″ SATA
  • 10/100 LAN & Built in 802.11b/g WLAN & Bluetooth
  • 4 in 1 Card Reader
  • 1.3 MP Webcam
  • 3 USB 2.0 Ports
  • 1 VGA port
  • 1 Mic in, 1 Headphone out
  • 10.23″(L) x 7.08″(D) x 0.748″~1.24″(H)

-Monkey

Gadget Review Part 2: Asus Eee PC

I’ve been using an Asus Eee PC 4G for a few months now.  I originally bought it to be a companion PC for my work laptop.  I don’t like to mix business and personal.

Right off the bat, I complained about the tiny keyboard.  I have fat fingers.  Then there’s the tiny screen, 7 inches.  It’s hard to view web pages at 800×480 resolution.  Everything involved scrolling on the tiny track pad.  But it served its purpose.  It was small, lightweight, and handled the job of basic computing.

So what now?  I’m tired of squinting to read the screen.  I’m tired of mashing 3 tiny keys under my finger.  I think I’ll be upgrading to the MSI Wind.  After all, I got my economic stimulus rebate and I have to spend it right?  More about the MSI Wind later.

-Monkey

Buy a new Laptop

I own many computers. I like computers. So when it’s time to buy a computer, my family and friends ask me. I always ask two questions: What is your budget and what will you do with it?

If people ask me which laptop they should buy, I normally don’t recommend the Eee because Linux is not right for everyone.

Honestly, you can go really far for $600, about the price of the 9 inch Eee PC. I would definitely take a look at Toshiba in that price range. You can get an Intel dual core processor with at least 1 GB of memory. You’ll definitely get a 15.4 inch wide screen display. If you want to splurge, get an entry level Apple Macbook for about $1100. Software will be more expensive.

If you’re looking for something lightweight, look for a laptop with a screen size of 14.1 inches or less. It will be a little more expensive due to the miniature size.

Again, the Eee PC and all it’s competitors might be a little too under-powered if you’re looking for a regular laptop.

If you are just looking to do email, browse the web, type up a light document, the Asus EEE PC 900 might be right for you. It’s runs Windows XP, 8.9 inch screen, and cost about $550. Don’t expect to edit your pictures because the processor is only a 900 Mhz Intel Celeron. You’re not going to multi-task or play any games.