Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Get the Most From Your Laptop With Free Downloads

Get the Most From Your Laptop With Free Downloads

Most people want to get the most from their laptops, but many do not know how. More importantly, most people don't know how to do it for free! Yes, there are free downloads out there that can help you with everything from battery life to Wi-Fi. They'll definitely make your life a lot easier! Let's take a look a some of them:

Battery Managers - It seems as though every laptop owner has a gripe about their battery, whether you don't think your battery has enough power or you lose power too quickly, the following downloads will help you keep track of battery life and maybe even get more power out of your charge.

  • BattCursor - This program shows your remaining battery life on your mouse cursor so you don't have to to continued checking how much is left, over and over again. You have your cursor's color and transparency change based on the power level. It also offers lots of little extras including tips on how to improve battery life.
  • BatteryBar - If you don't like the idea of your cursor or pointer displaying battery info, this alternative hows up on your taskbar. It shows exactly how much power you've already used and how much you have left. You can decide if you want it to show your battery life in percentage or minutes and when you hover the mouse over the bar, it'll show you even more info, including capacity, discharge rate, battery wear, and how much total capacity your battery has per charge.

Wirless-Networking Utilities - Most laptop users connect wirelessly. Here are a couple of downloads that can help you find a wireless connection and keep you safe when connected.

  • Hotspot Shield - Anytime you connect to a public Wi-Fi hotspot, whether you're in a restaurant or an airport, you put yourself at risk for hackers. Criminals can find your data packets, invade your computer, and steal your log in information for a number of websites. This programs keeps you safe by encrypting your connection so no one else can read your information. It's easy to install but it will change your homepage and add toolbars to your computer if you're not careful.
  • WeFi - This program not only helps you find Wi-Fi hotspots to connect to, it also helps you find people to connect to, as well. Upon installation, the program lists nearby hotspots along with their information (signal strength, encryption info, etc.). To connect, all you have to do is click it. It also allows you to connect to people who are connected to the hotspots near you and get in touch with them via the program. It can also help aid in secure browsing.

USB Flash Drives - You may rely on USB flash drives to make your information portable but do you ever worry that your files aren't compromised or lost if your computer goes nuts? These programs can do just that...and then some.

  • PortableApps - If your software leaves you with very little hard-disks space, this program will provide you with smaller alternatives. It comes with antivirus utility, a small version of Firefox, OpenOffice (an alternative to Microsoft Office), and other programs that can clear up some of your space. It takes 150 MB once it's installed (or you can opt for the 355 MB full-featured version) and it can be installed on any laptop or netbook, not matter how much space you have available.
  • TrueCrypt - USB drives are great for traveling but what happens if you lose them? All of your sensitive personal files could end up in the wrong hands. This program keeps your files safe from prying eyes by allowing you to encrypt the files and folders and hide them so no one but you knows that they're there.
  • USBDriveFresher - With each use, your USB drive becomes more and more cluttered and even when you delete certain files, you can end up with leftovers you don't need. This program is simple but it cleans the mess for you and sweets up unnecessary files that are plaguing your computer.

Synchronization - If you're constantly interchanging files between your desktop and laptop, it's easy to make mistakes. Pulling up old versions or overwriting new ones can be a problem. These programs help you avoid those mistakes.

  • SugarSync Free - This program not only synchronizes but also serves as a backup program. It's easy to use and offers 2GB of free backup space. It uses very little RAM and a few system resources and can work with your PC or your Mac. Install the software, indicate what folders you'd like to synchronize and it works in the background, backing up your files at the same time. It offers lots of other options such as sharing files and folders with other people and also keeps older files online in case you need them. It only works with two computers, though you can pay a fee to have it work with more.
  • Windows Live Sync - If you don't want to pay the fee to synchronize more than two computers, this program is for you. Sync folders on as many computers as you like, but this one doesn't inlude the free backup. It's easy and straightforward, and you can manage it all from a website. It also works with Macs and PCs.
  • Xmarks - This program synchronizes your favorites and bookmarked sites between your desktop and laptop and on multiple PCs. It even works between browsers and multiple operating systems.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Will the Smartbook Really Cause Netbooks to be Obsolete?

smartbookSo there has been a new word that has been circling around…a “smartbook.” I was curious at to what exactly a smartbook was, so I did a little research and this what I have found. Companies have decided that that they want to try to incorporate a iPhone or Motorola Droid-type experience into a much larger device. Is this possible or is this just a bunch of hype?

Qualcomm and Freescale, companies that are currently supplying the most up-to-date silicon technology for devices, are trying to push the idea of the smartbook. Their plans for the smartbook would make it different enough from a laptop or netbook to make it stand out.

The first preliminary presentation of the smartbook idea will be viewed at the Consumer Electronics Show held in January. It is expected that different smartbook designs will be shown.

Many question why it is necessary to call it a smartbook and differentiate itself from a netbook. Won’t that just cause a whole lot of confusion? Well it could, but it will also give the companies a lot more to work with concerning advertisement of the smartbook. A brand new type of portable computing device with cause a lot more stir than the release of just another netbook.

Honestly, the two companies are working hard to make the smartbook extremely different from a netbook. Qualcomm wants to essentially make the smartbook a large smartphone that will leave traditional laptops and netbooks in the dust. They want to make the smartbook so that it is a connected 3G device that’s always on, has data always pushed to the device, and an all-day battery life like a smartphone.

Earlier this month, Qualcomm’s CEO Paul Jacobs was proud to display a Lenovo smartbook. It has a thinner design than a netbook, actually about as thin as a typical smartphone. The smartbook will be sold through AT&T instead of a PC retailer. The Lenovo smartbook uses a Snapdragon chip, which was Qualcomm’s very first smartphone processor to hit a speed of 1Ghz. It has not yet been announced whether or not the device would use Google’s Android operating system or different Linux variant. Another thing that has not yet been revealed is the price point of a smartbook, but it is expected to inexpensive upfront but probably requiring a 2-year contract plan.

Many are skeptical that the smartbook will really be all that different from a netbook. They say that there doesn’t seem to be any huge difference, as of now, other than the battery life. Freescale obviously disagrees with this skepticism. They say that the whole look of the smartbook will be entirely different than that of a netbook.

Sharp is selling the NetWalker smartbook in Japan. This tiny smartbook has a 5-inch screen and utilizes a Freescale ARM processor. Developers say that it looks more like a gadget than a PC.

It has been stated that most first generation smartbooks will look similar to a netbook, and it will probably not be until the second generation that they will break away from traditional laptop appearance. It is said that the second generation smartbooks will utilize the tablet form factor and sliding keyboard. The screens will most likely range from 5 to 7-inches.

Freescale claims that by the first quarter of next year there should be eight to twelve “high-caliber” smartbook on retailers shelves. These smartbooks will incorporate the important defining aspects of the connected applications based on 3G, the form factor, battery life, and the operating system. We will have to watch the progress that is made with this new idea and see if it really takes off the way that some people believe it will.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Newest ASUS Netbook

asus eeepc1201ASUS is now ready to release their newest ION netbook, the ASUS EeePC 1201. Hewlett-Packard, Lenevo, and Samsung have all featured new ION netbooks, so you knew that ASUS would be quick to follow.

The ASUS 1201 has many similarities to its predecessors. It still features the Nvidia GeForce 9400M graphics chipset, but now it is bundled with a dual- core N330 Atom processor. The newest ASUS netbook really has been improved in the best possible ways.

I personally really like the look of this netbook. It is very long and slim and is enveloped in a shiny plastic that is available in black or silver. It weighs a mere 3.1 pound, making it the lightest 12-inch screen netbook on the market. The fact that it has a 12-inch screen is impressive, as most netbooks only have 10-inch screens. It also features incredible 1,366 x 768 resolution which is not found in many other netbooks. An element that is new to ASUS netbooks is the full size keyboard, which definitely comes in handy.

The specs on the ASUS 1201 are pretty standard for netbooks. It includes a 250GB hard drive, three USB ports, a media card reader, an Ethernet port, and a webcam. The dual-core Atom processor found in the ASUS 1201 is the first to be used in a netbook. This improves performance considerably. The 1201 also ships standard with 2GB of RAM and features a 6-cell battery that allows up to 5 hours of battery life.

There are two main benefits with the ION platform. You will be able to play all kinds of computer games with absolutely no restrictions and also be able to have smooth 1080p HD playback.

At $499, I feel that the ASUS EeePC 1201 is quite a good deal. With all the standard features plus the dual-core Atom processor, 12-inch screen, and 2GB of RAM, this little netbook stands out among the other similarly priced netbooks. This is definitely one to keep in mind.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Many Laptops Fail Within 3 Years

Many Laptops Fail Within 3 Years
According to a new study by Squaretrade, about one third (31%) of all laptops will fail within three years of being purchased. This includes both malfunctions and accidents, but malfunctions alone make up 20% of laptop failures. While the survey should be taken with a grain of salt - Squaretrade sells extended warranties - according to PC World, their last annual survey returned similar results. In addition to the number of unreliable laptops, Squaretrade also found that Asus, Toshiba, and Sony laptops were more reliable brands than MacBooks.

The study had many other findings that related to laptop durability. For example, the amount of time you spend on your laptop correlates to how likely it is to have problems, with Netbooks giving people the most trouble. The Netbook finding was surprising, considering the computers really just have one good year's worth of data to rely on, but Netbook users experienced 20% more malfunctions than those with more expensive laptops. According to Squartrade, Netbook malfunctions are likely to hit 25% in the next three years, compared to 21% for entry-level laptops, and 18% for more expensive notebooks.

When the study was broken down by brand, Asus had the best malfunction rate at 15.6% with Hewlett Packard the worst with a 25.6% malfunction rate within three years. Toshiba came in second, followed by Sony, and Apple. According to Squaretrade, failure rates are so high because of the sophisticated and delicate parts that make up a laptop, as well the amount of abuse portable computers receive. With numbers like this, it's no wonder more and more people are relying on inexpensive Laptop Rentals for their computer needs.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Windows 7 will drain your netbook battery faster than XP

When Microsoft released Windows 7, one of their big selling points was the extra battery life it provided over Vista. The guys at LaptopMag.com found that it was indeed true, but only on full-sized notebooks. When it came to netbooks, it was a completely different story. The batteries of the netbooks actually drained faster than with XP.

They tested three netbooks, Toshiba mini NB205, ASUS Eee PC 1008HA, and the HP Mini 311, all with Windows 7 OS. They tested them with the "laptop battery test", continuous web surfing over wi-fi, and found that each of them got a lot less battery time.

The results:               Win XP Battery Life         Win 7 Battery Life

Toshiba mini NB205             9:24                                       8:51

ASUS Eee PC 1008HA           5:40                                       4:43

HP Mini 311                         5:43                                       4:52

According to the tests, the netbooks average about 40 minutes less battery time with Windows 7, which is a big chunk of time. If you're looking for the longest possible battery time on your netbook, it may not be wise to upgrade your XP system just yet.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Prepaid Wireless Internet from Verizon

verizon prepaid wireless internetOn Thursday, Verizon Wireless announced that they will now be offering an on-the-go prepaid wireless broadband Internet service. The package will include the new Verizon Wireless USB760 to allow customers to access their Internet whenever and wherever. Users will be able to use this service on any laptop with a Windows, Mac, or Linux operating system.

There will be three different plans that Verizon will allow customers to choose from. They offer a daily, weekly, and monthly plan. The daily plan will cost $15 and will allow users to utilize 75 megabytes of data. This allows the user to send or receive 25,600 e-mails, download 500 Web pages, and send or receive 150 digital pictures. With the monthly plan, which Verizon will offer for $30, customers will be able to transfer 250 megabytes of data. This accounts for the sending or receipt of 85,300 e-mails, the viewing of 1,700 Web pages, and sending or receipt of 500 pictures. Finally with the monthly plan, users will be able use 500 megabytes of data usage for only $50. This will allow them to send or receive 170,000 emails, view 3,400 Web pages, and send or receive 1,000 digital pictures.

Before releasing this new prepaid plan, Verizon offered a contract wireless broadband service that is still available. Customers could choose between the $60 plan that allows users to utilize up to 5 gigabytes of data or a $40 plan that allows up to 250 megabytes of usage.

The new prepaid wireless modem will be available for purchase on November 16th at many Verizon Wireless Communications stores and Best Buy locations. If you’re looking for a reliable on-the-go wireless Internet service, I don’t know where better to look than Verizon Wireless.

Friday, November 6, 2009

A Deal You Can't Overlook: The ASUS UL80Vt-A1

ASUS UL80Vt-A1So while I was checking out the newest laptops, there was one that immediately caught my eye. The ASUS UL80Vt-A1 cannot help but be noticed. The optical drive, 14-inch widescreen, and new switchable graphics technology jumped off the page at me. I couldn’t help but investigate further.

The UL80Vt features a modest yet luxurious design. The lid is constructed of brushed black metal, and the overall feel of the laptop is strong and secure. Although the UL80Vt is not as thin as its predecessor, the UL30A, it still manages to remain thin and up-to-date measuring 13.4 x 9.7 x 1inches (HWD). The reason that the UL80Vt is not thinner is because of the awesome internal optical drive that it contains. The laptop comes in weighing 4.7 pounds. No, this is the lightest of laptops, but I feel that the features it has make the bit of added weight entirely unnoticeable. The 14-inch screen on the UL80Vt features 1,366 x 768 resolution and average brightness. The keys on the keyboard are all raised and isolated from one another, and the touchpad has built-in multi-touch gestures that can be very helpful at times.

One of the features that makes the UL80Vt stand out from its predecessors is its built-in dual-layer DVD drive. Other more common features would include the laptop’s three USB ports, VGA-Out, a multi-media card reader, and an Ethernet port. Also included is an HDMI-Out which allows you to display videos or slideshows on your television. The laptop contains 320 GB of hard drive which is pretty average, but it comes with an remarkable 2-year global warranty that definitely impressed me.

Once we get inside the UL80Vt, we discover a 1.3-GHz Intel Core Duo SU7300 CULV processor. No, its not the most outstanding processor available right now, but it still has great performance and is energy efficient. Now one thing that was definitely able to catch my attention about the UL80Vt is its switchable graphic technology. This means that you are able to view your laptop screen like any normal laptop, but you can also switch it over to 3D mode. This gives you the ability to now play any 3D intensive game and even view pictures and some video in 3D. Another huge advantage with this laptop is its amazing battery life. The UL80Vt comes standard with a huge 84Wh battery and can work off the battery for an average of 10 hours 10 minutes.

You can purchase this feature filled laptop for around $820, so this is an incredible deal. To add to the bargain, Amazon.com is offering a $100 gift card to those that purchase the ASUS UL80Vt-A1 through their website before December 15, 2009 (or while supplies last.) With the chic appearance, optical drive, switchable graphics, and incredible battery life what more could you want for such a reasonable price? I would recommend definitely moving this towards the top of your list if your shopping for a laptop.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Lenovo ThinkPad SL510

Thin & Light: the Lenovo ThinkPad SL510

Last week, Lenovo introduced three new laptops, just in time for the release of Windows 7. Among the new laptops is the SL510, a 15-inch ThinkPad that performs extremely well and is made with small to medium-business budgets in mind.


  • Intel Core 2 Duo P8700 Dual Core Mobile Processor
  • 4GB PC3-8500 DDR3 Memory
  • 320GB 7200rpm SATA Hard Drive
  • 8x DVD+/-RW Dual Layer Burner
  • 15.6" WXGA (1366x768) LED Backlit Display With 2.0 Megapixel Webcam
  • Intel GMA 4500MHD Integrated Graphics
  • Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11a/g/n Wireless
  • Four USB 2.0, eSATA, HDMI, VGA, ExpressCard/34, 4-in-1 Card Reader
  • 15" x 9.7" x 1.4"
  • 5.7 lbs
  • Windows 7 Professional, Office 2007, Norton Internet Security

The ThinkPad SL510 isn't exactly new. It's an updated version of Lenovo's original 15-inch business class laptop. The new version is not the prettiest laptop on the market - it's very plain and boxy, with a 1.4 inch frame, but it performs well and at a $500 starting price, it's a great deal for businesses and individuals on a budget.

And don't let the outside fool you. The computer performs great with its Intel Core 2 Duo P8700 mobile processor combined with its 4GB of DDR3 memory, allowing it to zip through almost any application without compromising battery life.

Usability is also a plus. The keyboard, in traditional Lenovo fashion, is solid and easy to use. It also has a multitouch trackpad or the trackpoint if you'd prefer not to use the trackpad.