Category Archives: Recommendation

Definition of a netbook

I’m reading a lot of about people buying a netbook because they think they are buying a cheap laptop.  I could see why people could get confused.  They see something that looks like a laptop next to a price tag that reads below $400.  The natural reaction is to wonder why anyone would spend upwards of $1,000 on a laptop when they can purchase one for less than half the price.

A netbook is not for everyone.  A netbook is meant to be a secondary system.  Something you take with on on trips.  It’s not meant to replace your work machine.  I use it to write, email, surf the web, and light duty task.  It has a low powered CPU, no optical drive, and weak graphics.  Look at it this way, you’re expecting a four door sedan, but what you’re really getting is a scooter.  Keep that in mind.

I have a quad core desktop to handle most of my work, a laptop to support my mobile needs, and my netbook to keep me occupied during long trips.  It is not possible for me to have the netbook meet all of my needs.  Now, for some people who do not rely on a computer as much, a netbook might be perfect as the only computer in the house.

Asus Eee PC 1000H Optimization

It’s been a while since I’ve posted about my Eee.  I’ve been using it daily, and it’s holding up like a champ.  I did notice some slowing.  It’s really odd because I don’t install much software on it.  The only thing that I’ve notice is that the Windows Update might be causing the slow down.  SInce purchasing the it, there has been 3 updates.

Here’s a few tips to optimize your netbook and computer if you experience a slowdown.

  1. Defrag your hard drive.  Open up “My Computer” -> Right click on the “C:\” drive -> Go to properties -> Tools
  2. Software – Don’t install a lot of software and uninstall any you don’t use.
  3. Clean out your registry – The registry needs the occasional scrubbing to get rid of obsolete entries.  I recommend CCleaner.   CCleaner - Freeware Windows Optimization
  4. Scan for viruses and spyware.  You should have a anti-virus program and a anti-spyware program.  I recommend AVG’s Free Anti-Virus Protection:  AVG’s Website.  Here’s a good Anti-Spyware:  Lavasoft’s Ad-Aware Website.

I hope these tips will help you optimize your Netbook or computer.

Samsung 22″ Widescreen LCD for $200 after MIR

Samsung 2232BW Widescreen LCD Monitor

Samsung 2232BW LCD Widescreen Monitor

I can’t believe the price of LCD monitors have fallen so much.  Just a year ago, a 19 inch LCD monitor would run you $300 easily.  But just look at this here, a 22″ widescreen LCD monitor for $200.  This is the perfect monitor if you’re in the market for one.

Here are the specs:

  • 22 inch widescreen LCD
  • Native resolution 1680×1050
  • Dual VGA and DVI inputs
  • 1000:1 contrast ratio

It is currently $199.99 with Free Shipping at Newegg.com.  Click here to go to the product page at Newegg.com

Asus Eee PC – Cheap 2GB Memory Upgrade

I was just cruising Newegg’s site like any geek would and found this.  This is the perfect module for your Eee PC or your laptop.  It carries a lifetime warranty and pretty speedy.  If you’re a gamer, you’ll know what you’ll need.

CORSAIR ValueSelect 2GB 200-Pin DDR2 SO-DIMM DDR2 667 (PC2 5300) Laptop Memory

Asus Eee PC Corsair ValueSelect Laptop Memory

Price:  $24.99 with Free Shipping

Click Here for Newegg Product Page

Asus Eee PC 1000H – USB Annoyances

The Asus Eee PC 1000H has 3 USB ports.  These are pretty convenient, expect when you’re trying to connect an external hard drive, such as a Western Digital My Passport 320 GB ($110 at newegg.com and free shipping).

Asus Eee PC 1000H - Western Digital My Passport

To my surprise, the drive would not spin when connected to the Eee PC.  It’s not a defective drive because it connects to my desktop just fine.  Yes, I have an old fashion desktop.  I’m not just a UMPC type of geek.  Here’s the problem.  If you’re not connected to the AC adapter, the USB are running on less power to maximize battery life.  Plugged in, the Passport drive powers up  just fine.

On another note, the Passport drives are nice.  For about $100, I can transport all my media files without carrying a huge hard drive with me.  The Passport drive slips in my Eee PC case just fine.

Power Protection for your PC and more!

With so much hardware that goes in a computer, you sometimes forget about the important things around your computer that can cause damage and/or data loss.  Power spikes and surges are not common, but when it happens, it can do significant damage to your PC or any other electronics, like an expensive LCD TV.

A UPS, not the shipping people, is recommended for computers.  If there is data, you should plug the machine in to a UPS, Uninterruptible Power Supply.  It’s basically a glorified surge protector that provides continuous power, via battery, so that you can save your data and properly shut down.  It also helps smooth out the electricity that is used to power your machine.  Electricity comes in like waves on the beach.  Sometimes it more and sometimes it’s less than what you need to keep your PC running.  Also, when a brownout occurs, your PC is completely fine thanks to the battery power from a UPS.

APC UPS Asus Eee PC
For $50, you can protect your investment.  My recommendation and the one I own is the APC BE550VA.  Click here or the picture for the product page on Amazon.com.  The capacity of this unit is more than enough for home users.  It has 8 outlets available as well as phone line surge protection.  A surge can happen on a phone/DSL line, travel through the DSL modem, then passed to your PC via RJ-45/networking cable.

Surge Protection

belkin concel surge protector eee pc

For your other electronics, i.e. entertainment center, I would invest in a heavy duty surge protector.  Replacing an expensive LCD TV from a surge is adding salt to a wound.  To prevent that, look for a surge protector with 1000+ Joules protection and Max Spike protection.  For the entertainment center, I use a Belkin Conceal Surge Protector to conceal all the wires.  Click here or the picture for the product page on Amazon.com.

belkin 12 outlet surge protector eee pc

Or, you can this Belkin 12 outlet surge protector.  Click here to go to the Amazon product page.

Essential Free Software for your PC Part 1.

1.  Mozilla Firefox.

Popmonkeys Free Software

Internet Explorer is the default web browser installed on every Windows machine.  I hate it.  I don’t use it at all because it has so many security issues and it’s slow.  Instead, Mozilla Firefox 3 is a great free alternative to IE.  It has security issues too, but far less than IE.  It’s also faster when surfing the web.

Get Firefox

2.  Comodo Firewall

Popmonkeys Free Software

Firewalls are another essential security software you must have.  It acts like a bouncer between your computer and everyone else on the internet.  Infected machines often have viruses or worms that need to go online.  A firewall can prevent them from dialing their mother ship as well as stop the mother ship from dialing in.  Comodo is a great free firewall that is relative small and light compared to Zone Alarm.  Sure, Windows has a “built-in” firewall, but again, I don’t like it.

Get Comodo Free Firewall

3.  AVG – Anti Virus

Popmonkeys Free Software

Continuing the security theme, you will also need some sort of anti-virus program scanning and looking out for your computer.  There’s always Norton, but that’s so old and bulky.  It completely takes over your system.  If you have installed it, try uninstalling it.  You’ll have a difficult time removing it completely.  Instead, try the free Anti-virus program from AVG.  You get basic virus protection as well as email scan, link scan and other useful features for, that’s right, free.

Get AVG

4.  CD Burner XP

Popmonkeys Free Software

Does your new PC come with one of those fancy shmancy DVD burners?  It should.  It’s standard and if you didn’t get one, go back and demand it.  Well, for those that have them, what program do you use to create your CD/DVDs?  Well CD Burner XP is a nice lightweight program that can tackle disc creation like those other programs you have to purchase.

Get CD Burner XP

5.  Spyware Blaster

Now that you have all that security software and Firefox configured the way you like it, you might want to check out Spyware Blaster.  Basically it prevents spyware from installing on your machine from a malcious website you might have visited.  Of course, there are many options available to you when you’re talking about spyware.  Other than Spyware Blaster, you might want to look into Lavasoft Adaware (Download.com Link) and Spybot Search and Destroy.  Of course, these 3 options are free.

Get Spyware Blaster

More Free Software later.

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

Creative Zen 8GB – Ipod Alternative

If you’re like me, I’m not an iPod Fan.  I’m not sure what it is, but I always look elsewhere for my portable audio needs.  I also don’t like how the iPod goes obsolete so quickly.  There’s a new iPod every couple of months.

So I always turn to Creative to deliver functional players with outstanding sound quality.  Meet the Creative Zen.

Creative Zen Portable Audio Player

Pros:

  • Thin and Lightweight
  • Built in FM Turner
  • 30 hour audio playback
  • SDHC expandable Memory Slot
  • Video Playback
  • Photo viewer

Cons:

  • Dust and fingerprint magnet
  • No included case

These come in 2, 4, 8, 16, and 32GB varieties.  Prices range from $70 for the 2GB to over $200 for the 32GB model.  The 8 GB is my recommendation for most people.  You can always add a cheap SDHC card if you need more space.  The 8GB is currently $115 with Free Shipping at Newegg.com.

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

Best External Hard Drive

How to choose the best external hard drive for you. Click on the picture to go to the product page on Buy.com.

Basic

If you just need more storage, a simple drive is for you.
I recommend the Western Digital 500GB My Book drive. I have one of these personally.
Western Digital 500GB My Book Essential II USB 2.0 External Hard Drive

It features a USB 2.0 port and no fuss set up.  $108 and Free Shipping

Intermediate

If you are an intermediate user that works with large images and need to connect via FireWire, USB, or eSATA, than this drive is for you.
Western Digital 750GB My Book Home Edition - Triple Interface (USB 2.0, eSATA & FireWire 400) External Hard Drive

It features 3 types of connections, eSATA, USB 2.0, and Firewire.   $170 and Free Shipping

Advance

If you have media or files you want to share with other computers in the house, than the Buffalo LinkStation is for you.
Buffalo 750GB LinkStation Live Multimedia Storage Server - 7200 RPM, SATA, DLNA Certified - Network Hard Drive

This drive features 2 USB ports and a network port. The drive connects to your network like any computer, most likely through a free port on your router. Any file on the drive can be shared to any computer on the network. It’s that simple.

I really trust Buffalo drives. I have one as my main back up drive.  $222 and Free Shipping