Thursday, April 29, 2010

HP G60-630US 15.6-Inch Laptop (Black)

Favourable Review:

This laptop worked perfectly right out of the box! I had absolutely no problems setting this machine up or in getting it to connect to my network. It does everything that it was advertised as being able to do. Even the built in webcam works great. If there is even a single negative , it's that it comes with a lot of superfluous HP software. Other than that, I am incredibly pleased with this laptop. 

Critical Review:

The internal microphone is broken, and not just in the one I bought. According to HP, it's broken in the entire G60 series of laptops. I've had mine for one week; I discovered the microphone was broken on the second day, and I've been talking with HP's case managers about my options. Looks like I'm going to return it, because there's no fix in the works at HP. And who needs a laptop that you can't use for videoconferencing, Skype, Gmail Videochat, and so on? It's a shame, too, because the laptop is otherwise great.

Why is HP still selling this product when they know it's dysfunctional?

Apple MacBook Pro MC226LL/A 17-Inch Laptop

Favorable Review:

Simply put, the best laptop I've ever owned. I configured it through Apple with the 128GB SSD and apps install incredibly fast and launch instantly. The screen is a marvel, 1920 X 1200 with LCD backlight. I opted to go with the glossy, so there are some reflections but only when using directly in front of a bright window, otherwise its not a problem (for me anyway).

Bear in mind, this is a BIG laptop...its a tray table...but very sturdy and NO flex in the chassis. The trackpad is also very useable, although I still opted for a mouse (Logitech M555b Bluetooth, highly recommended also).

It doesn't heat up much and has incredible battery life...if I switch to the 9400M integrated graphics (which is fine for most uses), I can get 6 hours on a charge no problem, with WiFi, Bluetooth, brightness at about 60% and the SSD as the primary HD. With a different config YMMV, but I'd bet 5-6 hours is the norm for this machine.

All-in-all, a great laptop. I'll have this 2-3 years no problems.  

Critical Review:

One year ago, disgusted by dismal experiences with multiple PC manufacturers (Dell, Acer, among others) in terms of their terrible support for Windows (along with poor hardware reliability issues and very poor servicing of hardware), I took the plunge and decided I would buy a Mac. I basically have to have windows XP because it's required to interface with various hospital systems, but I thought if the Windows partition went down (a virtual guarantee with Windows XP at some point), at least I would have a reliable Mac system as a backup. I expected a far better experience, given the customer service ratings of Apple, which are far better than any PC manufacturer. Little did I know what I was getting into.

The XP partition blue screened on a regular basis, from the first moment it was created. Microsoft of course makes it anything but easy to figure out why XP is bluescreening - part of their effort to duck and cover around the OS being a buggy mess. (Any misbehaving driver will bring it down.) And Apple's position on this consistently was that "this is not their problem." Adding insult to injury, I was charged for support by Microshaft (despite this partition being built from a new copy of Windows XP professional). Well, what else is new - this is standard PC fare, and the primary reason why so many people are switching to Macs.

What was a revelation was to discover (after using a great little program called BlueScreenView that not even Microsoft was aware of) that the driver causing ALL the blue screens was Apple's proprietary mouse driver for the touchpad/mouse. Even more stunning, I found out that Apple apparently was aware of this all along (12+ months), but failed to contact users, and failed to correct the mouse driver issues for over one year, despite numerous complaints on the part of numerous boot Camp users about the mouse driver causing major problems. Apple's position on this is that all Windows issues have nothing to do with them. That might be true . . . except for the small fact that Apple was writing the XP driver software for the mouse that was causing all the problems. This kind of "it's not my responsibility" attitude is something you expect from Microsoft, or perhaps from Dell, but you don't expect from Apple.

After roughly one year of difficulties (blue screens almost every day or every other day, bringing down the system and causing loss of work and endless grief along with two corrupted C drive partitions), I was able to find a fix for this, no thanks to Apple. It's been a shock to see Apple operate the way that every other big corporation in America appears to operate. The Mac side of course works just fine, but I bought this system to use it primarily as a PC (with Mac OS X capability as a backup). If you are never going to use as a dual OS system, this is a fine computer and OS. However, I would strongly caution anyone against buying an Apple laptop or desktop system if they intend to have serious dual boot capability and intend to use some version of Windows more than 10% of the time. What you'll find is a serious lack of support and a position of complete denial of responsibility by Apple for anything that happens under boot Camp. Although they finally provided a viable mouse driver (hence I upgraded this review from one to two stars), they could have not stonewalled me for a year, and simply admitted that their driver was buggy and crash-prone, but they didn't.

Given that this dual operating system capability has become one of Apple's strong selling cards and responsible for a significant fraction of sales, this position by Apple has to be seen as egregious, and totally unacceptable. My discouraged conclusion is that if you intend to use this system to operate any version of Windows, you have to be aware that you will be on your own. Microsoft will regard all OS issues under BootCamp as Apple's problem, Apple will regard them as Microsoft's problem, and in the final analysis, they are all going to be YOUR problem. Watch out!! (and unfortunately the virtual emulation of Windows under Parallels or VMWare is no solution either - earlier versions were massively buggy!!)

I am confident that this review will be unpopular with the Mac faithful (leading to poor ratings!) - attacking Apple is about like insulting someone's mother in some people's eyes. Such loyalty is admirable, and speaks to some of Apple's strengths - which make this experience all the more puzzling. But for anyone that has struggled with an XP, Vista or (soon) Window 7 partition on a MacBook, this experience should be a MAJOR caution. For those who will never cross into the unreliable and buggy world of Windows on this hardware (a most fortunate majority of owners spared all the headaches of the PC world), this is probably a five star system. But it is striking to see such disparity between Apple on these two sides of an issue (OS X support vs Windows support), and it's really a shame. I had hoped for far better.

Footnote April 2010: After finally getting updated drivers from Apple, I have now have four months go by without a single blue screen of death. For this reason I am updating my rating to three stars. I wish Apple had made the updated mouse/touchpad driver widely available earlier, and had informed users of the fact that this driver was very buggy and crash-prone. The Apple side is a five star product, and between that and the restored functionality of the XP/Windows side, I am changing my overall rating upwards. Hopefully Apple learned something that will ensure that future BootCamp users not have to go through what I went through. 

Acer Aspire 4810TZ-4011 Timeline 14.0-Inch Laptop

Favorable Review:

I have been using the Acer Timeline (14 inch, Aspire 4810TZ-4011) since yesterday evening and so far so good. Here are my first impressions:

1. The delivery was quick and packaging was good.
2. The looks of the laptop are fantastic. Love the isolation-type keyboard. The screen hinges could have been more solid but for a lightweight machine appear ok.
3. The eject button for the CD, various ports, the card reader, are all very suitably positioned.
4. The colours of the screen are beautiful. There are setup options to adjust those to taste, but I did not need to use them.
5. The laptop was easy to set up. I loaded the battery for about an hour before starting, perhaps an overkill, and was rewarded with a blue light coming from beneath the touchpad.
6. Setting up Vista for the first time was much quicker than my last XP setup on a netbook. Feels natural so far.
7. Soon after startup I was prompted to create recovery disks, and made two DVDs with the system and one with software.
8. There is (was) a lot of preloaded software. I spent a good deal of time finding out what it does (on Google) and cleaning most of it up.
9. People who have complained from performance issues maybe should take care to remove the redundant backup software (two or three of those pre-installed?!), the trial antivirus and other FUD nonsense.
10. I registerted for a FREE copy of Windows 7 for Timeline owners, to be shipped in October (woot!).
11. Set up Skype (after combating for a while with the firewall settings of Vista), and made a call -- the sound is good, the mic is well positioned, the camera works fine, even better after peeling off the protective plastic sheet :)
12. Tested a youtube video in HD and it did not play smooth, which was a disappointment.

Comparing this to my 4y old FS, the Acer Timeline feels about as solid, a lot more silent, cooler, lighter by more than 2 pounds, with 6 times the RAM, 4 times the battery time, and a newer processor -- clearly an upgrade in every aspect.  

Critical Review:

This review relates more to the AS4810T-8480, but as it is not sold on Amazon yet, I wanted to make sure everyone is aware of the problems I am experiencing on that model, as this might impact the entire product line.

I received my new laptop 4 days ago. Overall it is great, and I'd love to post a positive review here. It looks great from the outside, the 6-8 hours of battery life is a reality (let's see how long it lasts before the battery worns out), keyboard is nice, etc... Also agree that the built quality is not perfect, but overall it is fine.

My major concern, is the overall system stability. I am not a heavy user, mostly internet surfing.

However, in the past 4 days, I have experienced a tremendous number of crashes, maybe 2 to 3 a day, just using normal programs such as Skype, Internet Explorer 8 and MSN Live Messenger... At somepoint, the CPU goes to 100% utilization and the system becomes very slow or totally unresponsive, so I need to do a forced shut down. I thought this was due to Internet Explorer, but experienced the same with Firefox yesterday...

I just tried to install a USB AT&T 3G key, and despite a successful installation, now I am unable to log into Windows because on the log on screen my cursor and keyboards are none responsive. I have just logged a ticket with their Support Team, let's see what they come up.

I have never had some many problems with a new laptop in the past and am considering returning it for a refund.

Again, I would really like to love this laptop, I think ACER has a great product here, BUT I cannot recommended it at this point, and hope I will be able to update my recommendation very soon.

UPDATE: just over one month after receiving the laptop and as I was about to return it after ACER's customer service proved unable to provide a solution, I updated the Intel VGA driver (as many of you suggested in your comments, thanks a lot - my bad for not checking them out earlier!) and the BIOS, both being recommended on [..] and I am happy to confirm the issues have disappeared. The laptop is now fully functional, so I have decided to keep it.
In regards to other features of the computer, I would say that my main complaints are the lack of a hardware switch for the wireless, and the screen is a little too glossy for me. The speakers are a bit weak. Bluetooth could have been included but I knew about it so can't complain.

But overall I'm still happy with the Timeline, and would recommend it to anyone traveling a lot and not requiring high CPU power! 

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

ASUS UL30A-X5 Thin and Light 13.3-Inch Black Laptop (12 Hours of Battery Life)

Favorable Reviews:

Just received my Asus UL30A-X5 yesterday. After much review, and a try-out with an Acer 1410, I decided that I wanted a full-sized chiclet/island keyboard and the larger screen. I'm already quite pleased with my decision. At the <$700 price point, this is an excellent notebook.

- Keyboard. A pleasure to type on.
- Touchpad. It drags at first, but once you get some finger oil on it, and change the pointer speed, it's one of the best that I've used. Very smooth two finger scroller. Support for customized two and three finger click.
- Screen. Bright and easy to read at 30 degree angles.
- Battery life. Yes, it will do over 10 hours.
- Weight/size. 1 inch thin and very light.
- Body. Love the brushed black metal look on the case.
- Asus facial recognition login. Didn't think that I would care, but it's nice to have the computer log in, without touch, when I'm sitting in front of it.
- Asus FastBoot (not the BIOS fast boot). This lets you configure which programs load during startup and which load after. Speeds up the boot quite a bit.
- Decent speakers. Not ear-destroying, but suitable for the size. Much better than most netbooks.

- Placement of touchpad. It still registers my palm as I'm typing even at the extreme setting. Downloaded the new touchpad driver, but that didn't fix. Still looking for a solution. This is by far the most frustrating problem. UPDATE: The TouchFreeze utility seems to almost fix the issue.
- Case still shows fingerprints.
- Web cam is low res and has difficulty in low light (haven't tried different drivers yet). 

Critical Reviews: 
Update 11/14: I've decided that I'm going to return this laptop. The glossy display is too reflective. It's not really that noticeable if you are looking at a web page with a white background with the brightness turned all the way up, but in almost every case it's just too glossy for my tastes. Also, as mentioned blow, this display fails horribly for sharing the screen for something such as watching a movie. If they swapped out the display and trackpad, this would be the perfect budget laptop.


I was torn between this product and the Acer Aspire Timeline. I ultimately decided to go with this product because of the battery life claim. Obviously the battery life claim on ANY laptop is quoted using settings that will not be reflective of the typical user.

One of my biggest concerns with this laptop was the processor. I was not sure if it would be able to handle my daily computing activities. This machine is by no means a powerhouse, but it is more than capable. As long as you do not need to do anything such as gaming or multimedia editing, you should be fine with this laptop. This machine is capable of playing HD videos with a little extra left over for background tasks.

- While you do receive recovery DVDs, if you need to take advantage of them you will need to get an external DVD drive. I have heard some reports that some external DVD drives do not receive enough power through one USB port and require either a powered USB hub or plugging the drive into two USB ports. (This is why USB cables for portable HDD and portable disc drives have two heads.) I am pleased to say that the Samsung USB 2.0 8x DVD Writer External Optical Drive for Mac and PC SE-S084C/RSBN (Gloss Black) works perfectly with just one USB plug.
- The power brick can get hot. One review claimed it got as hot as 130 F. I have not personally experienced temperatures this extreme.

Usage: Microsoft Office, Web Browsing, Media Player

- Great balance between speed and battery life.
- The keyboard is fantastic.
- Very lightweight and portable.
- The laptop does not get so warm that it is uncomfortable in your lap.
- The laptop has a very sleek look.
- Excellent value for the price. Even on top of the specs, they throw in one year of accidental damage protection. That's an incredible value.
- The fans are very quiet even when they are on.
- Comes with little bloatware.
- Ability to play HD movies with no tweaking whatsoever (using VLC). Keep in mind that Adobe Flash will soon be releasing an update that will push HD decoding off to the GPU. If the new 1080p at YouTube is choppy for you now, just wait for the new version to come out.

- The screen is very glossy and reflective.
- I've really discovered that the viewing angles aren't all that great if you want more than one person to look at your screen at one time for something such as watching a movie together.
- The track-pad is less than ideal. The track-pad tends to move the cursor position while you are typing. The gestures are nice, but I found that the scrolling doesn't register. The trackpad utility is greatly lacking in features.
- The hard disk squeaks. It's not terribly loud, but you will notice if you have no other background noise.
- The chassis is indeed a fingerprint magnet. Again, this seems to be an issue with every make and every model laptop these days.
- No back-lit keyboard. This is not necessarily a bad thing since a back-lit keyboard would drain on the battery. 

HP Pavilion tx2500z 12.1" TOUCH-SCREEN Notebook LAPTOP PC, Latest AMD Turion X2 Ultra Dual-Core Mobile Processor ZM-82 2.2 GHz, 4GB RAM, 250GB HDD/DVD+/-RW DL, Wireless, Camera, Finger Print READER, 64-bit Vista Home Premium

Product Description:

Product Description Processor: AMD Turion(TM) X2 Ultra Dual-Core Mobile Processor ZM-82 (2.2 GHz), MEMORY 4GB DDR2 SDRAM (2x2048MB) HARD DRIVE 250 GB SATA DISPLAY 12.1" WXGA BrightView w/Integrated Touch-screen. MULTIMEDIA DRIVE LightScribe Super Multi 8X DVD+/-RW w/Double Layer. VIDEO GRAPHICS NVIDIA GeForce Go 6150 w/ Webcam DIGITAL MEDIA 5-in-1 media card reader COMMUNICATION 802.11b/g WLAN KEYBOARD Full-Size POINTING DEVICE TouchPad with dedicated vertical & horizontal scroll pad DIMENSIONS 8.82" (L) x 12.05" (W) x 1.23" (min H)/1.52" (max H) WEIGHT 4.59 lbs. PC CARD SLOTS ExpressCard/34 slot, EXTERNAL PORTS: Expansion port 3 connector,3 USB 2.0, S-video TV-out Headphones out Microphone in RJ-11 (modem) RJ-45 (LAN) VGA port SOUND Integrated Altec Lansing stereo speakers. POWER: Standard Lithium-Ion battery. OPERATING SYSTEM: Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium. SOFTWARE: HP PhotoSmart Essentials, Muvee AutoProducer Basic Edition 6.x (with 20-day-trial full version), Adobe Reader 8.x, Microsoft Works 9.0, Microsoft Windows Media Player 11, HP Games Powered by Wild Tangent, Cyberlink DVD Suite, Sling Player from Slingbox, the Sims Life Stories laptop edition, Slingbox Flash Tour (Desktop icon only), HP Quickplay, Corel Painter Essentials 3

Apple MacBook MC207LL/A 13.3-Inch Laptop


1- I was looking for a laptop for my GF for Xmas. I got an awesome deal on this $849 delivered through Amazon. I don't know if the price will come down again like that, but I will keep watching.

I originally started out on C=128, then an Amiga 500 and Amiga 1200 (The true 'multimedia pioneer' not Apple) and have been a Windows user for sometime now, my main computer at home is W7, and I admit, I like it a lot. So here is my view as a "PC User"

It arrived and was nicely packed. After unpacking, I opened it up and powered it on Viola! Comes to life, asks a few questions, and we are done. The first thing I notice is no butt-load of crap-ware found on most PC's (McAffee, Norton, RealMedia and the plethora of other junkware I usually must spend about 20 mins removing).

Next I set up her email, it asked for her Email address/pw (which is hotmail) and boom, away it goes determining the server and settings, next thing I know its downloading her Email messages! Fortunately the default was set NOT to delete them from the server. I set up a few "Smart Mailboxes" for family members and friends which was easy.

Next install was Skype, download, install and done easy-peasy! No spitting files all over the drive, and registry, etc...

I really like is the multi-touch pad, pretty sweet, the OS reminds me al ot of the older Amiga days with the menu bar up top.

That was about all it really needed, so on Xmas morning she can open it up and start using it. There is a slight learning curve, but nothing huge, any PC user would pick it up quickly.

The build is solid, it doesn't feel cheap.
The LED backlit display is very nice and easy on the eyes.
Keyboard feels nice and easy to use.
Many operations in this are pretty intuitive for any PC user to pick up on.
Even with its 5400RPM HD, The OS still feel snappy and responsive.
It has been a real pleasure to use. I wouldn't mind getting one for myself.

$849 was a steal, and any similar configured, quality PC would have cost about the same. It was too hard to pass up at this price.

I would like to download Parallels (I think thats it) and try running my older copy of Vista or XP in it. Id that works pretty well, I may just upgrade to the iMac or a MacBook like this.

If you are on a budget, there are plenty of fine PC Laptops out there. If you can afford a little bit more but still want value, I would seriously consider this laptop. If you have an Apple store near you, try to get over there and check them out (something I also did before purchase).

Another interesting thing I notice when looking around at Mac's they hold their value MUCH better than a PC. There are older versions out there going for $600. I figure if anything, in 2 years we can sell this, and get the latest model at a "discount".

I would not call myself a "convert", but I would certainly like to add a Macbook to my lineup of hardware! 

2- This is a great laptop but the aluminum body Macboook Pro is much hardier for $ 200 more. Of course the Apple laptops are 30 to 40% higher priced than HP and other Windows laptops so you need to see which OS suits you best - Windows 7 or Mac OSX.
Also the price of this laptop was $999 list and sold to me by Amazon for $952 + tax. Around 2 weeks later the price has gone down to $ 884.98. I feel ripped off.

Compaq Presario CQ61-410US 15.6-Inch Laptop (Black)


1- Great computer with HD Screen, the new Windows 7 so user friendly, and I love the expanded keyboard - with numbers set off to the side. I was looking at laptops twice the price ($600-$700) when I saw this one pop up on the best sellers list for Amazon. The only difference between the higher price notebooks and this Compaq is that it does not have a webcam or 4 GB of memory - it only has 2 but is expandable to 4. You can't get a better laptop for the price $379. Very happy with my purchase! 

2- I am a college student on a limited budget. I wanted a computer for under $500 that I could use for movies, video games, and homework. I bought the CQ61-410US a month ago and it has been working perfectly. I run Counter-Strike source on it and it runs well. It is quiet, has a nice battery life, although I have not let it die yet. I have dropped my laptop a couple times and it still works well. I would definitely recommend buying this. A+  

3- I just received this nice 15.6" notebook and I admit that I like it! The sound is great. The keypad is really handy when you need it. And the reponse of this computer is satisfying with windows 7 loaded.

However, pictures in its product page might be a deceiving. Although they are shown in the pics, this model does NOT come with a webcam and HDMI. I was surprised when I opened the box and found this truth. Hence, I further digged into the specification sheet and found that I was wrong. Beware, if you think this is really a steal with a webcam and HDMI for this low price, you may just make a mistake like what I did.

In all, I do not regret my decision of buying it at all. You can buy a netbook for $299.99. But I will pay a little bit more to go with this notebook ($379.99) with full capability, faster processing speed and a DVD burner in trade of the mobility. Now, I am going return my cute but slow netbook...

Dell D600 Laptop 1.6ghz 40gb DVD/CDRW B Grade Includes Genuine XP Professional restore cd!


1- This is a great laptop for the price. It functions beautifully for basic use (school, work, surfing the web, etc.). I have had absolutely no trouble with mine, and would highly recommend this product to everyday users. 

2- This is a fantastic laptop, It is a business machine and it has everything you need to conduct business on the road. I highly recommend this laptop.

3- Decent product however I bought the laptop from BRAVTEK and I got cheated on the deal. He sold me a defective product and refused to fix it. Be careful shopping for laptops and by all means avoid the above vendor.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Toshiba Satellite L505-GS5037 TruBrite 15.6-Inch Laptop (Black)


1- I just brought this computer a week ago, and I am very happy with it. The only thing I think that can be improved would be the speakers. They are clear but not really that loud. But I have to say that I did know about this from another review. So yes I would recommend this laptop to anyone I know.

2- This laptop is a very good purchase for the money. The only reason I gave it a 4 star is because the speakers are not too strong and battery life not too long. Personally it's not a problem for myself because I use in mainly at home but for those who want to take it on the road the battery life could be too short. Besides that it looks and works perfectly. Love it!!!! 

3- I love this laptop, its is fast, has lots of memory, big HD, looks really cool and the price is amazing.Buy it its really worth it!!