Monday, September 21, 2009

Review Of Sony Vaio P

The VAIO P comes equipped with an Intel Atom Z520 CPU running at 1.33GHz, 2GB DDR2-533 RAM, and a 128GB SSD. Will the old adage of “good things come in small packages” ring true with the VAIO P? Let’s see.

Case look and feel

The VAIO P tested here had a glossy black lid, that surprisingly, didn’t attract as many fingerprints and smudges as I would have expected. That isn’t to say it was completely free of them, but it was less than many other manufacturers out there today.

Opening the lid, the keys are silver, and a glossy black bezel surrounds the LCD. It is the classic monochrome color scheme, executed very well.

Sony also offers several colors for the lid in addition to our unit’s “Onyx Black”. They are Garnet Red, Emerald Green, Crystal White, and Gold.

Size & Weight

The VAIO P measures 9.65" wide x 0.78" high x 4.72" deep and weighs 1.4 pounds, making it ridiculously portable. I could easily fit it in my inside coat pocket and in the pocket of a pair of Dockers, even though the rectangular bulge on my thigh came off looking a bit silly.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

V7 Laptop Bag

The V7 Metro Messenger Carrying Case and Smart Slip Case by Targus aren’t flashy. They aren’t fancy. They’re a couple of back-to-basics, black laptop bags. In our doubleheader review we take a look at both the messenger bag and the slip case and see how they perform in the real world. You can’t judge a bag by its cover, after all.

V7 is the in-house brand of Ingram Micro, a worldwide distributor of all things IT. As evidenced by the title at the top of this review, these V7 bags have been manufactured by a more familiar laptop accessories manufacturer – Targus.

Our last Targus bag review was of a decidedly higher-end piece of merchandise. The V7 bags are designed to fit a smaller budget, so they don’t have all the bells and whistles of a full Targus business traveler bag. These are slimmed-down bags, and bearing that in mind, I put them to the test.

V7 Smart Slip Case by Targus

  • Unit Dimensions: 15.50x 2.75x2.25 inches
  • Notebook Dimensions: 14.33x11.81x1.69 inches
  • Material: Durable 420 denier nylon with 1680 denier polyester accents.
  • Unit Weight: .75 lbs

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

ASUS K50IJ Review

At first glance the ASUS K50IJ might not look like anything special. Even the ASUS website describes the K50IJ as being "designed to provide a no-frills computing experience to users while on the move." Well, with glowing prose like that how can we be anything other than impressed?In all seriousness, the K50IJ isn't a poorly built laptop. The chassis is pretty solid with a mixture of glossy and matte plastics and doesn't suffer from the flex or squeaks that are common to cheap plastics. The glossy palmrests are nice and large with good support and the full-size keyboard with dedicated number pad is comfortable to type on during a full day at work. The one and only obvious area of weak build quality are the plastic covers over the screen hinges ... which can pop off with just a little bit of pressure.
Overall, the K50IJ is a reasonably nice looking desktop replacement. I use the term "desktop replacement" because most people in the market for a 15-inch notebook aren't planning to haul their notebook everywhere during frequent airline travel. The nearly six-pound weight of the K50IJ makes this laptop an unlikely candidate for road warriors.
When closed the K50IJ doesn't feel as sturdy as you might expect as the screen lid shows some flex under very light pressure. Additionally, the screen hinges don't provide much tension when the lid is closed so the lid will "flop" against the chassis until the screen lid is about two inches open. Overall, this notebook PC should survive regular day-to-day use and abuse on a desk but might start showing some wear and tear after months of travel inside a school backpack.

Lenovo ThinkPad T400s Touch Review

Lenovo ThinkPad T400s Touch specifications:

Windows 7 Professional
1440 x 900 WXGA+ with MultiTouch LED Backlit (Matte finish)
Intel Core 2 Duo SP9600 (2.53GHz, 1066MHz FSB, 6MB Cache)
4GB DDR3 RAM (2GB x 2)
128GB Toshiba SSD
Intel 5100AGN, Bluetooth 2.0
Intel X4500M Integrated
Built-in web camera 6-cell 11.1v 44Wh
Dimensions: (LxWxH) 13.27 x 9.49 x 0.83"
Weight: 4lbs 6.9oz

Build and Design
The new ThinkPad T400s looks completely revamped and polished compared to the regular T400. The chassis has slimmed down significantly, and the weight of the notebook has also dropped by almost a pound. The exterior is still wrapped in Lenovo's much-loved rubberized black paint, but the design just looks cleaner and less busy than previous ThinkPad models.
Looking inside, the main changes start to become obvious. Besides the new keyboard and touchpad that we will go over shortly, Lenovo changed the shape of the palmrest around the touchpad, with the touchpad resting flush with the palmrest instead of being slightly recessed. The screen bezel is smooth all around the perimeter of the display, unlike the T400 which shows rough plastic grids near the built-in antennas and cutouts near the light and webcam. Even when compared to the ThinkPad X301, the new T400s looks more refined. The speaker grills are larger and look better suited to the design. Even the fingerprint reader manages to blend in better, with an all-black design instead of gold and silver like past models.
Build quality is still fantastic, with barely a hint of chassis flex even as it has decreased in thickness. The screen has some minor side-to-side flex when open, but no more than previous models. Protection for the screen, even with the super thin cover is surprisingly good, showing only small amounts of screen distortion when you are squeezing the back of the display. The new chassis feels quite rugged.
With the thinner design Lenovo completely reworked the chassis for the T400s, and it looks completely different than the T400 once you start opening it up. The hard drive is now accessed through a panel under the left side of the palmrest, which is now 1.8" instead of the 2.5" found in the T400. System memory and wireless cards are found under a single access panel on the bottom of the notebook. Compared to removing the palmrest on previous models, you now just loosen one screw and pop off a single panel to upgrade memory. With most of the slots changing location to the underside of the notebook, removing the keyboard is now only required to replace a broken one, or to get access to a half-sized mini-PCIe slot used for Wireless USB on some models. I really hope future ThinkPads follow a similar design to the T400s, since it is so much easier to upgrade components now.

How To Protect Your Laptop Against Theft & Loss

Laptop theft is rampant. Some reports even state you have
a 1 in 10 chance your shiny new laptop will be stolen.
And the real shocker: according to the FBI 97% are never
And they should know, the U.S. Department of Justice
stated in a recent report that the FBI lost 160 laptops
in a 44 month period ending in September of 2005. If
FBI agents have trouble keeping track of their laptops,
imagine what the ordinary person is facing.
The statistics are pretty grim. A laptop is stolen every
53 seconds. Ouch!
With stats like those you have to do everything in your
power to avoid becoming a victim of laptop theft. If you
keep valuable personal or business information on your laptop
the consequences can be even more gruesome and devastating.
For laptop hardware can be easily replaced, but your valuable
information may be lost forever.
So here are...

Some Practical Ways to Protect Your Laptop
Against Theft, Loss or Misplacement.

1. Keep Your Eyes On Your Laptop.
Be aware of your laptop at all times especially when traveling.
You wouldn't leave a Thousand Dollar Bill lying around unattended
would you? So watch your laptop closely.

2. Don't Use An Obvious Laptop Bag.
Carry your laptop in regular luggage that doesn't look like it
has a laptop. Don't advertise your laptop to any would-be thieves.

3. Use Visual Locks And Restraints
Use visual locks and restraints to secure your laptop and to use
as a deterrent. It won't fool hardened thieves but most will
opt for a less secure laptop. For example, you can use a product
like STOP, this system works by attaching a specially-made
security plate to your laptop. This plate is barcoded and
registered. It also carries a warning label letting would-be
cyber thieves know that the ownership of your laptop is permanently
In addition, most laptop now have a Kensington Security Slot for
a Kensington lock so this can be a part of your anti-theft system
for your laptop.

4. Use Passwords And Encryption
Use passwords and encryption to protect any sensitive
information on your laptop. Again, unless you use very
sophisticated encryption it won't fool the experienced hacker
or hard-core digital thief but it will slow down and hinder
the common criminal.
Set a BIOS Password for your laptop. You have to take advantage
of any security option that's on your laptop's OS or operating
system. For those using Mac OS X you can encrypt your entire
hard drive and set-up a master password in order to view it.
Windows XP & Vista lets you encrypt files and folders. Just
right click your data, select properties, open general tab and
then advanced to check "Encrypt contents to secure data box".

5. Use Encryption Programs Like Steganos Safe 2007
You can also try something like Steganos Safe 2007 ($49.95).
Vital files can be encrypted and it can even turn your USB
thumb drive or iPod into a key for unlocking your hard drive.

6. Use Anti-Theft Software Like LoJack
Use anti-theft software that can track and locate your laptop
or computer thru the IP address once the stolen laptop is used
to access the Internet. Use systems like LoJack For Laptops.
Costs around 50 bucks a year but it may be worth that price for
your peace of mind alone.
According to info on their site they recover 3 out of 4 stolen
laptops equipped with the LoJack system. It basically places
hidden and silent software that reports back the IP address and
location of the laptop once it is stolen and the thief connects
to the Internet.

7. Use Invisible Ultraviolet Markings
Use invisible ultraviolet markings so that any recovered
stolen laptops will be clearly marked as yours to the police. Keeping
track of your laptop's serial number is also a good idea and have
this number stored in a different place other than on your laptop.

8. Try Remote Data Deletion
If you place important information on your laptop have a
remotely controlled self-destruct solution in place. Then
your highly sensitive information can be deleted remotely
after your laptop is stolen.

9. Be Prepared
Create company policies for management of your company's laptops.
Have set procedures in place for tracking and reporting of any laptops
stolen or misplaced. Buying laptop insurance is another option you
should consider especially if you are a student or do a lot of
business traveling with your laptop in tow. Be prepared for
the inevitable.

10. Backup Backup Backup
Regularly backup any vital information you have on your laptop.
Most information will be useless to potential thieves but may
be extremely important to you personally or for the running of
your business.
No matter if it is through theft or simple misplacement, losing a
laptop is a painful experience, one you should avoid at all costs.
However, if it does happen to you, be assured you can minimize the pain
by having a complete backup of your laptop's contents. In most
cases, this information will be much more valuable than the laptop
Hardware can be easily replaced, your personal data and months/years
of work may take forever to recover or redo. Sometimes it is lost
forever, so BACKUP your information regularly. Keep your
laptop and its contents safe and out of harm's way. Protect yourself
and your laptop. Simply protect yourself and your laptop by using
the tips you have just read.

Dell Inspiron Mini 9


It took some time, but Dell has finally come out with a netbook of its own in the form of the Dell Inspiron Mini 9. The 8.9", 2.3lb subnotebook carries a 1.6GHz Intel® Atom Processor® N270, and our model came with 1GB RAM and an 8GB SSD. Despite having so little space to work with, Dell gave their Mini an integrated webcam and a decent amount of connectivity ports. While Dell couldn’t solve everything - the keyboard is still scrunched and the Atom powered unit does run warm. If you’re looking for an extremely portable computer that still has a little kick, look no further than the Dell Inspiron Mini 9.


The first word that comes to mind when you look at the Inspiron Mini is glossy. The screen is glossy, the lid is glossy, and even the plam rest and the silver border surrounding the keyboard and screen on either side is glossy. While this all looks very nice, it means just about the only things that won’t track fingerprints within the first ten minutes of use are the keyboard and the trackpad (although the silver borders don’t track nearly as much as the lid, which is entirely black but for a grey Dell logo at its center). In addition to the glossy rim of silver, the LCD has an interior border of black in which the integrated webcam is housed above and two speaker bays on either side of a shiny Dell logo are housed below. The keyboard is standard black matte and the trackpad and buttons are the same silver as the palm rest, blending nicely.

Size and Weight

It wouldn’t be a netbook without a miniscule size and weight, and the Inspiron Mini fits right in with the rest of the class. With a weight of 2.3lbs and dimensions of just 9.1"x6.8"x1.3", the Mini feels comfortable on your lap, and as long as the warm underbody doesn’t bother you the laptop will never be a distraction there. Placing both hands on either side of the laptop’s keyboard we were able to balance it conveniently on one knee, although for obvious reasons we recommend scrunching those legs together to balance it on both legs when not typing. The AC adapter doesn’t add much weight either, for a combined weight of 2.6lbs that’s easy to throw into a small bag or case.


If the size and weight are the main attraction of a netbook, the keyboard is almost by necessity one of the main minuses. Dell actually does an very decent job of fitting as much of a keyboard as it can into such a small area, but it is far from perfect. All keys above the numbers have been removed, with F1-F10 still accessible by pressing function and the middle row of keys. But some keys are just gone, such as F11, F12, and scroll/num lock. We don’t really miss scroll lock and we can understand not having a number pad or num lock, but F11 is a useful key for putting browser windows into full screen. More frustrating than the occasional missing key, however, is the fraction of an inch allowed to such keys as tab, right shift, the period and the comma, and others. The keyboard is sufficiently crowded that touch typing is nearly impossible, and we found ourselves looking down and jabbing the keyboard with one or two fingers in order to avoid making mistakes. We had to expect this out of a netbook, but that doesn’t mean we have to like it, and if you’re thinking about making this a primary computer we highly recommend an external keyboard.

The trackpad leaves less to complain about. The left-click is about the same size as the right-click and neither make an annoying sound when you press them, which is nice. The trackpad itself is a decent size, and our only complaint is that the horizontal scroll is a bit sensitive. We found ourselves pressing from right to left almost halfway up the trackpad and instead of moving the mouse, our window attempted to scroll. While the trackpad is serviceable, we also recommend an external mouse for everyday use.

Display Quality

With an 8.9" LCD and a resolution of 1024x600, the Dell Mini has a reasonable amount of screen real estate for such a small unit, with just enough room to view the webpages or documents you need. The glossy finish makes the colors sharp, but adds glare, and viewing the screen outdoors was difficult. Indoors, however, there was no problem at all, and with minimal horizontal distortion the viewing angles are good enough that more than one person could crowd around to watch a video. The vertical angles are not as good, but viewing from underneath is noticeably better than viewing from above.


The Dell Inspiron Mini 9 actually features a good amount of connectivity for a unit so small, although you won’t find any HD ports such as DisplayPort or HDMI. Like with most netbooks, you also won’t find an optical drive. Still, it’s as much as you can expect from a netbook, if not a little bit more.

The LCD pivots not just above but behind the keyboard, which means the power cord, usually located on the back, is pushed to the left side instead. Also on the left side are 2 USB ports as well as a multicard reader.

The right side contains headphone/microphone jacks, a third USB port, VGA out and Ethernet. There is a tiny and relatively ineffective exhaust between the microphone jack and the USB port.

No ports on the front, although we do have a power indicator light as well as a battery indicator light.


Dell has actually made this unit fairly upgradable. As always with a Dell there is a reasonable amount of customization available through their website, and you can choose between Linux and Windows XP, 512MB RAM or 1GB, 4GB, 8GB or 16GB SSD, webcam or no webcam, and even a choice of color between alpine white (which might track fewer prints) and obsidian black. It’s also easier to manually upgrade than most other netbooks, with most of the upgradable parts grouped together directly underneath a simple access panel in front of the battery.

The Inspiron Mini doesn’t really have room for too many surprise features, but it does have a few nice touches. First is the optional integrated Bluetooth, which is in a lot of notebooks but not everywhere and certainly comes in handy on a portable unit like this. It also has the optional integrated webcam, with options of .3MP or 1.3MP, and a multicard reader. Most interesting, however, is the internal mobile broadband antennae. Vodaphone recently announced it would offer a mobile broadband plan for Dell Mini users in the UK, and it is expected that more information for US users will surface soon.

Performance and Conclusion

WorldBench: The testing didn't complete and kept throwing a faiilure message.

WPrime: 32M 124.125sec

Battery Life:
General Usage: 187 minutes
Recharge Time: 122 minutes

Real-life usage

Not having seen one in a while, having a netbook readily at hand again was certainly convenient. The Dell Mini is small and light enough to pretty much travel with anywhere, whether you’re putting it down on the coffee table, on your lap, or next to the old CRT monitor your desktop is still plugged into on your desk (where you can marvel that a whole computer takes up just a fraction of the space that hulking mass of hardware does). After the novelty of having a computer we could pick up and put down casually with one hand wore off, the limitations of the unit began to shine through. The keyboard is too cramped to touch type, and if you’re used to that, pretty much everything you do becomes slower when you have to hunt-and-peck. The hard drive, at 8GB, can house a few movies and music albums but can hardly store a collection. The base of the unit also ran fairly warm, not to the point where we had to shift it from leg to leg, but to the point where we could feel it. Eventually, we realized it is what it is - an economical ultraportable notebook designed for secondary use on undemanding tasks such as surfing the internet, light word processing, and viewing the occasional movie on the road (albeit without an optical drive). Viewed in that light it was easy to accept the shortcomings with the strengths and really appreciate the Mini.


Overall, we found we enjoyed the Dell Inspiron Mini 9, so long as we viewed it realistically. The 8.9" screen size and 1024x600 resolution was adequate for viewing websites and video clips and had some pretty awesome color reproduction. Combined with the 2.3lb weight it was extremely easy to move the unit around. As long as we were performing light tasks the 1GB RAM and 1.6GHz Intel Atom processor served perfectly well, and the 8GB SSD was very quiet. You won’t be watching Blu-Ray on the Mini and if you need to type more than a few lines in a row it becomes tedious, but for a lightly used secondary computer it serves just fine. We wish it didn’t run so warm, but with Linux models starting at only $349, we can accept a few limitations. The Dell Inspiron Mini 9 is perfect for travelers who want to check their email on the road, desktop users who want to be able to access the internet anywhere in the house, and even as a primary computer for people who really don’t use a computer very often but want internet access to be available when they need it. As long as you know you want a netbook, the Dell Mini is an excellent choice for anyone.

Fujitsu Lifebook T5010 Tablet PC

The T5010 is a tablet notebook sporting some pretty useful features, not least among them enough size and power to use the computer like a regular notebook. The Lifebook T5010 sports a modern Intel Core 2 Duo P8600 at 2.40GHz, 2GB DDR3 RAM, and a 160GB HDD. This muscle, in concert with the 13.3” LED backlit display, gives the computer enough firepower to make it more than “just” a tablet. On the flipside, the weight and the battery life aren’t quite up to snuff for ultraportables, and you’re paying a premium price for a tablet that tries to do it all.

Case look and feel

Fujitsu has designed this tablet with the business professional in mind, so the overarching design theme is your traditional black and boxy. The lid is black with a relatively muted Fujitsu logo at its center and a glossy black stripe at the top. The frame around the active digitizer display is dark grey, although on the sides the glassy black display is almost flush with the edges. On the top of the display is a silver enclosure for the webcam and display latch, while on the bottom you will find a few dull grey buttons and a small blue power switch. The bidirectional swivel hinge shines metallically at you from beneath a white Fujistu logo, and is surrounded by the last bit of dark grey before we hit the all white keyboard and wristrest. The touchpad is nestled just left of center and sports silver dots on the right denoting the scroll wheel. There are lusterless grey rubber strips on either side of the keyboard and a few blue status indicators at its base, which are the only things to mar the minimalistic white design aside from the handful of customary stickers. For some reason, the Bluetooth sticker is on its own on the left side – it would have been nice to have one side free of the unattractive advertisements.

Size & Weight

The LifeBook T5010 is a little large and heavy for an ultraportable and a little light and small for a standard laptop – which, in my opinion, puts it at the sweet spot for portability and usefulness. The display is 13.3-inches, and the overall laptop dimensions are 12.56 x 9.61 x 1.44-1.52 inches. The weight is between 4.5-4.9 lbs, depending on whether you are using the optical drive (we are) or the space saver. It was thick enough to feel sturdy and light enough to lift with one hand, although of course we always recommend handling laptops with two hands. We personally had no problem carrying it on our shoulder for over a mile as we walked around town on a summer day.

Keyboard & Mouse

The keyboard is full sized and surprisingly comfortable to type on for a laptop of this size, featuring a reasonably spacious 19mm pitch. There is no flex in the keyboard and the key stroke, while it’s no ThinkPad, is still decent. The standard keys are all full sized, although predictably the non standard keys such as Fn and pg up/pg dn are a little shrunken. The only annoying part in all of this was that home/end are now functions on the pg up/pg dn buttons, causing me much frustration as these are keys I use all the time and hitting that tiny Fn button isn’t easy while touch-typing. The touchpad was a decent size and the buttons and scroll wheel were easy to use and responsive. Both the keyboard and the touchpad buttons were a little loud, but nothing intolerable.

Display Quality

The 1280x800 resolution is nothing to write home about, but it’s not that bad for a tablet, and the roomy 13.3” screen keeps viewing easy on the eyes. Also helping that case is the excellent overall quality of the glossy display, which was bright and sharp, although there was still some glare when viewed outdoors (for those who really want to avoid that, Fujitsu offers an indoor/outdoor display upgrade for $50). As might be expected from a tablet, the viewing angles on the display are excellent all the way around, only dimming slightly at extremes.


The T5010 has enough ports to get you by, but nothing too exceptional. There is no HDMI and ours did not come with WWAN, though you can upgrade to that if you need to.

Making spacious use of the entire rear housing, the back of the laptop from left to right has a USB port, an Ethernet jack, a hidden VGA port beneath a protective casing, another USB port, the modem jack and a lock slot.

The left side features the power jack, the fan exhaust, audio in/out, the third and final USB port, and FireWire, followed by a card reader tucked beneath the slightly antiquated PC Card slot. There is also a slot for the stylus here.

The front features a place to grab the stylus from to get it out from the left side slot, but not much else.

The right side has another lock slot and the optical drive.


Fujistu gives you a few options if you’d like to upgrade your LifeBook. If a power saving P-series CPU isn’t powerful enough for you, the laptop can sport up to a 2.8GHz T9600. It can handle up to 4GB DDR3 RAM and the hard drive can be upgraded to as much as 250GB, or you can opt for the 64GB SSD. It comes standard with a dual layer multi-format DVD writer, but you can shave a few bucks as well as ounces by ordering one with no optical drive at all, or alternatively you can raise the price by simply replacing it with a modular 6-cell 3800mAh battery bay. There is also an option to go with an indoor/outdoor display for those who plan on using the tablet frequently while outside.


The LifeBook T5010 is a tablet first and a laptop second, thus the most interesting features revolve around the tablet functionality. The touchscreen display has an active digitizer, ensuring that it will only respond to the Wacom stylus. The stylus comes with a right click button and an “eraser” on the back, allowing the user to simply flip the pen over and erase errant text. There are also programmable Pen Flicks, allowing one to flick the pen in any of eight directions to perform a shortcut function like forward/back or copy/paste. Handwriting recognition was good to start, and can be easily trained to your individual penmanship.

The hinge is sturdy and bidirectional, allowing swiveling 180 degrees in either direction, and the latch can be rotated to secure the display in tablet mode as well as laptop mode. There is a button to change from portrait to landscape mode in just 2 seconds as well as several other programmable function buttons on the tablet screen. A sensitive “Scroll Sensor” for scrolling and a fingerprint reader can be found along the base.

As for more standard laptop features, the LifeBook comes with dual microphones, an integrated webcam, 802.11n WiFi, and Bluetooth. There is also a dual layer DVD writer, which is something you don’t often see in a tablet notebook. The optical drive slot is modular, so you can also replace it with an extra battery or with a weight saver as described above.


The LifeBook T5010 is strong enough to be used as a standard notebook as well as a tablet, but it still sports a mere 2GB RAM and an integrated Intel GMA 4500MHD graphics card, so our expectations were tempered. We expected it to form adequately for normal tasks but to be nothing exceptional.