Friday, December 24, 2010


Notes From the Technoground: A Peek at the Pandigital Novel Personal eReader
If all I want to do is read an e-book, do I really need the scads of features the Pandigital Novel comes with?
There have been times in my life when I was a voracious reader. Recent months, however, do not qualify. Between the book I’ve been writing over the course of the last six months, moving from an apartment in North Jersey to a house in South Jersey (plus all the fun things home living brings—who knew trees shed so many leaves?), and being a dad to a very active almost-three-year-old girl, reading has been far down on my leisure list. It’s been some years since I took a real vacation, but I remember that when I did, I read something like a book a day—perhaps making up for lost time...

Friday, December 17, 2010


Notes From the Technoground: Taking the Verizon FIOS Plunge
With my move to the ‘burbs, I say goodbye to Comcast and Vonage and hello to Verizon FIOS.
Some say that one of the benefits of living in a capitalist, democratic society is that as consumers we can choose where we spend our money. If we don’t like a particular company’s products or services (or even its policies, board members, or the color of its logo), we can choose to give our money to a different company. Unfortunately, that ideal is often less a reality than we would like...

Friday, December 3, 2010


Notes From the Technoground: Mission—Stream Everything, Everywhere!
The Orb Music Player sets me off on a quest to set up the ultimate media-streaming arrangement for my movies, music and photos. See how I got a third of the way there...
I like to take my media with me wherever I go. That’s why my iPhone is filled to the gills with my favorite music, videos, podcasts, recent photos, and even the odd audiobook. The trouble is, I can’t fit it all on my iPhone. My entire iTunes music library is currently at 6,568 items (iTunes reports that's 30.5 days worth of music) and takes up 65.28GB of space. It’s not that there’s so much I want to listen to at any given moment; I just like to know that I can access whatever I want, whenever I want. For instance, there have been occasions where I wanted to play a song for someone, but I couldn’t, because it wasn’t currently residing on my iPhone...

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Notes From the Technoground: Are Home Theater PCs Still Relevant?
In a world swimming in Apple TV, Roku, and Google TV, I wonder if HTPCs still serve a unique purpose.
One of the items on my endless tech to-do list has to been to set up a home-theater PC (HTPC). Unfortunately, that task has been relegated, of late, somewhere between “vacuum behind the couch” and “start that diet.” But I need to try it—after all, nearly all my music and photos are digital, and I’ve also taken to ripping some of the DVDs I own. While I keep hoping I’ll get around to ripping copies of some of my favorite films, such as The Third Man and Our Man in Havana (I'm a Carol Reed and Graham Greene fan), my almost-3-year-old daughter’s movies keep making it to the top of pile. As such, my current library of rips reads like a best-of list of "Disney movies with princesses in them." But I digress...

Monday, November 15, 2010


Notes From the Technoground: Cherry-Picking the CherryPad Android Tablet
While trying to use a CherryPad Android tablet as a portable media player, I’m stymied by problems with the Android Market.
We hadn’t even pulled out of the garage, and my nearly-three-year-old daughter asked, “Are we there yet?” It's not that we didn't expect it—my daughter expects most every car trip to be short, and my wife and I heard the same question several times within the first few minutes of what would be an hour-and-half-long drive. On drives like this, my wife or I—depending on who’s driving—try to keep our daughter occupied with reading, drawing, or singing along to one of the many children’s-songs CDs that lives in our car’s player. Sometimes sleep wins the day, but often we eventually give in to her desire to watch a movie...

Monday, November 8, 2010


Notes From the Technoground: See Live TV on your PC With ivi TV
Upstart ivi TV aims to bring live TV streaming to your computer, and in the process becomes a legal piƱata.
I like to joke that everything I know, I learned from television. Yes, I watched a lot of it growing up—and I have two very distinct TV-related memories from childhood: One is when we got our first color TV; the other is when we got cable. Both events opened up my world to new vistas. For instance, until then, I don’t think I knew that Cookie Monster was blue. And my favorite thing about HBO wasn’t the Hollywood movies, but the short films that played between the movies—if you’ve never seen Ernie Fosselius’s short films, Hardware Wars (a parody of Star Wars) or Porklips Now (a send-up of Apocalypse Now), you’re missing out on some classic spoofs...

Friday, November 5, 2010

Apple TV Wireless HD Media Streamer Review
In early September, Steve Jobs took to the stage and unveiled the new-and-improved Apple TV. What was once considered a “hobby” device was reworked, streamlined, made more affordable, and aimed squarely at the masses. It enters an increasingly crowded market of devices that offer near-instant access to libraries of recent movies and TV shows, as well other online streaming media content from the likes of Netflix, YouTube, and Flickr. Not to mention the ability to also stream media you already own—videos, music, and photos—from your computer to your TV and audio system...

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


Notes From the Technoground: The Apple iPhone's Antennagate? Glassgate? I Get on the Case
The Apple iPhone 4's much-decried antenna and glass-cracking problems send me on a crusade for an iPhone case.
Yes, Apple's iPhone 4 has had a rough first few months. But before I put my two cents in (which might be worth more or less than face value), let me say that I do not actually own an iPhone 4. The title and subhead of this column might give that (false) impression, but here's full disclosure: I own only an iPhone 3GS. This should give me at least some credibility, I hope, in stating my opinion on these issues, no matter how close to the edge of I-have-no-idea-what-I’m-talking-about I might be...

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


Notes From the Technoground: Gabbing With a Blue Yeti
Professional-sounding recorded audio and voiceovers for a low price? Not an urban myth, I found, with this $149 USB microphone.
I’ve been told that I’ve got a good face for radio. I also happen to think that I’ve got a voice that’s perfect for silent films. But I haven’t let any of that stop me from making a fool of myself in front of the camera or providing voiceover narration to videos that I’ve produced. These videos are far from professional quality—mostly video product-reviews and tech-tradeshow summaries. With my learn-as-you-go skills in Final Cut Pro, I cobbled the videos together on my own, including shooting, editing, adding effects and titles, and frequently failing miserably at figuring out which codecs I should use to encode the videos when I’m done. (That last struggle will likely be a topic for a future "Notes From the Technoground" column...

Friday, October 15, 2010

HP Pavilion Elite HPE-410y Review
With a generous feature set and a sub-$1,000 price tag, the HP Pavilion Elite HPE-410y ($929.99 street) desktop, available at Best Buy, should meet the needs of a wide range of users. The 1TB hard drive can store tons of media, the Blu-ray drive can dish out gorgeous-looking high-def movies, and the Wi-Fi radio will let you work wirelessly. Application performance is decent as well; but you can find better performing desktops in the same price range...
Toshiba Satellite A665-S6086 Review
An awesome-sounding sound system and a gorgeous-looking 16-inch display make the Toshiba Satellite A665-S6086 ($804.99 list), available at Best Buy, a great entertainment laptop. It lacks the Blu-ray drive that the similarly configured and priced Toshiba Satellite A665-S6085 ($799.98 list, 4 stars) has; but it makes up for this loss with an extended-life battery that produces a much longer-lasting battery and a WiMax radio for high-speed wireless broadband...

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Samsung Epic 4G Android Smartphone Review
The most popular and powerful Android phones currently available are quite possibly members of the Samsung Galaxy S line. Powered by Samsung’s very own 1GHz Cortex A8-based Hummingbird processor and featuring a four-inch Super-AMOLED (active matrix organic light-emitting diode) capacitive touchscreen with a 480x800 resolution, it’s no wonder that Samsung has already sold over 5 million Galaxy S-branded phones. The latest member of the Galaxy S family is the Samsung Epic 4G Android Smartphone, which adds two unique features that the other Galaxy S handsets lack: a slide-out keyboard and 4G capabilities...

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


Notes From the Technoground: Doing Time With an Apple iPhone and an AT&T 3G MicroCell
A few months back, I received a letter in the mail from AT&T. The letter stated that, as “one of AT&T’s most valuable customers,” I was eligible for a free AT&T 3G MicroCell, which the company states, “acts like a mini-cell tower, boosting your bars and enhancing your voice and data coverage at home. If you are not getting the signal you expect in your house, this may be the perfect solution for you.” All I had to do was bring the letter into my local AT&T store, and they’d hand one over to me...

Monday, October 11, 2010

HP Pavilion p6654y Review
Its features are mostly modest, but the HP Pavilion p6654y's ($529.99 list) performance is stellar for a budget desktop—its not so modest attribute is a spacious 750GB hard drive. And not counting a rather anemic 250-watt power supply, the p6654y, which is available at Best Buy, has decent upgrade potential to boot. For its sheer performance capabilities, the p6654y presents an very good value for a budget desktop...

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Toshiba Satellite L675D-S7052 Review
You don't often see 17.3-inch laptops at the low price the Toshiba Satellite L675D-S7052 ($738.99 list) sells for. Available at Best Buy, the L675D-S7052 comes with a lot of screen real-estate and a spacious 500GB hard drive. But as far as desktop replacement laptops go, there are plenty of other options that provide better overall performance, longer battery life, and a more robust feature set...

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Asus UL20FT-A1 Review
Given today’s economic belt-tightening, even serious business road warriors find themselves on a budget. Answering the call to greater austerity, low-cost ultraportable laptops, like the $649 Asus UL20FT-A1, have emerged to deliver adequate productivity-application performance without breaking the bank. While its subpar battery life makes this notebook less compelling for road warriors, frequent commuters will enjoy the light weight and Core i3 speed.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Dell Inspiron IM5030-3413B3D Review
The Dell Inspiron IM5030-3413B3D ($629.98 list), available at Staples, is an unremarkable desktop replacement laptop. It's bulky and heavy, with poor application performance, below average battery life, and a relatively sparse feature set. That said, the IM5030-3413B3D has a pleasing, crisp display, a touchpad with customizable mutlitouch gestures, and its low price tag won't drain your wallet the way some other laptop options do...
HP Pavilion dv6-3122us Review
The HP Pavilion dv6-3122us ($649.98 list), available at Staples, brings a number of compelling features, including eye-catching good looks and an excellent price tag for a 15.6-inch desktop replacement laptops. Long battery life and a great-looking display only add to its appeal. But every Achilles must have its weakness, and the dv6-3122us's is its lackluster performance...

Friday, October 1, 2010

Toshiba Satellite A665D-S6085
The last time we looked at an A665D model from Toshiba—the Toshiba Satellite A665D-S6051 ($799.98 list, 3 stars)—we were largely unimpressed by what the 16-inch laptop brought to the table other than a pair of amazing-sounding Harman Kardon speakers. No other standout features and lackluster performance pegged the A665D as a decent choice as an entertainment laptop and little else. Fast-forward three months later and the new, but identical, Toshiba Satellite A665D-S6085 ($799.98 list), showed up. Luckily, this time around, Toshiba outfitted the A665D-S6085 with more robust components, giving the laptop the application performance boost it sorely needed. Toshiba also added a Blu-ray drive as well, increasing the A665D-S6085's entertainment credibility even further...
Lenovo ThinkPad X100e
The Lenovo ThinkPad X100e suffers from a bit of an identity crisis. Lenovo calls the notebook an entry-level “ultraportable,” but the X100e’s diminutive 11.6-inch display and 3.3-pound weight scream netbook. Depending on how you configure it, the scales can tip either way. Our configure-to-order unit came with a 1.6GHz AMD Athlon Neo MV-40 single-core processor, 2GB of 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM, an ATI Radeon HD3200 GPU, and a 320GB 5,400rpm hard drive. Like many netbooks, the X100e lacks an integrated optical drive. As a netbook, these are some powerful specs; as an ultraportable, the hardware is underwhelming. The $585 price tag lands it smack in the nowhere land between the two (prices for the X100e start at $450)...

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Cirago TV Platinum Network HD Multimedia Center Review
Why wade through a sea of DVDs, audio CDs, and digital photos when you can serve up any movie, song, or picture that you own on your HDTV with just a few button presses on a remote control? Such is the freedom that a networked media-player device offers. The $249.99-list-price Cirago TV Platinum Network HD Multimedia Center (CMC3000 Series) is the latest in a long line of such set-top devices—all roughly similar in function—that includes Western Digital's WDTV Live, the Seagate GoFlex TV HD Media Player, and the Asus O!Play. Like similar media boxes, Cirago's TV Platinum lets you stream digital media from your computer to your television and stereo, but its spec sheet promises a few features that competing devices don't. It's a good deal among media streamers if you're tech-savvy (and patient) enough to figure out its spate of features...

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Dell Streak Android Tablet Review
When it comes to Android devices, there are two inevitabilities. The first is that its popularity is unstoppable. Twice as many Android smartphones are sold now than were only two months earlier; Google’s CEO, Eric Schmidt, claims that about 200,000 Android devices are sold every day. The second given is that an onslaught of Android tablets are about to descend upon us. There is already a smattering of Android tablet devices, but the choices are still few and far between. However, major manufacturers, such as Asus, LG, Motorola, and Samsung have their devices in the pipeline for later this summer, the fall, or early next year. But Dell says, why wait? The Dell Streak Android tablet is available right now. (In fact, not only has it already been available in the U.K. since June, but we first got a glimpse of it back in January, when it was still being called the Dell Mini 5...

Friday, August 27, 2010

Acer Aspire 5745PG-3882 Review
The $900 Acer Aspire 5745PG-3882 is an attractive-looking, moderately priced notebook with some nifty multitouch features, a high-quality display, and audio attributes that make it a very capable multimedia system. But with middling 3D graphics performance, it’s not going to make anyone’s top-10 list of portable gaming rigs...
Gateway ID49C08u Review
When we looked at the $679.99 Gateway ID49C07u earlier this month, we were impressed by its ability to combine impressive specs, a smart-looking design, and speedy performance into an inexpensive 14-inch laptop. So when its $849.99 sibling, the ID49C08u, arrived with beefier specs and a higher price tag, we wondered if the extra power would justify the higher cost. Not only did it deliver, but it also brought with it some of the speediest 3D-graphics performance we’ve seen from a thin-and-light laptop...
HP Pavilion p6510f Review
When the $519.99 HP Pavilion p6510f arrived in our labs, it came in the same big box as the $699.99 HP Pavilion p6540f we tested earlier this month. Both systems have a lot in common, including the same pre-installed software and chassis design, though the p6540f sports an uncharacteristic gray faceplate, rather than the typical Pavilion black. In fact, this PC's case sports the same design that HP has been using for its Pavilion line for years, with just some minor variations over time. The components inside, however, are different, with the Pavilion p6510f’s array of parts being a bit more conservative than the p6540f’s. But as we'll see, the performance difference between these two PCs is minimal. Factoring in the $180 price difference, the less-spendy p6510f winds up being a much better value...

Monday, August 23, 2010

MSI GX640-098US Review
Neither the MSI GX640-098US’s specs nor its $1,200 price tag necessarily scream “mobile gaming rig,” but the notebook’s highlighted W, A, S, and D keys say otherwise. So when the GX480 showed up on our doorstep, we wondered if the moderately powered notebook could muster up enough moxie to satisfy mobile gamers on a budget...

Friday, August 20, 2010

HP Pavilion p6540f Review
When we got our first glimpse of the $699.99 HP Pavilion p6540f, we were taken aback. It's the first HP Pavilion we’ve seen in a long time that doesn't use the Pavilion line’s unmistakable design aesthetic of an all-black chassis with silver highlights. Instead, the p6540f has a gray faceplate ("Magnesium Gray," according to HP). If HP is finally letting its guard down and allowing some design variation to creep into its desktop products, gray is as good a place to start as any. With a PC, of course, looks will only get you so far—it’s mostly what’s inside that counts. And the p6540f is powered by capable components that make the system a worthy mainstream PC...

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Gateway ID49C07u Review
If you tried to guess how much the 14-inch Gateway ID49C07u costs, you’d probably start by evaluating its specifications, tallying up its features, and appraising the quality of its design. You’d probably be impressed on all counts and likely shocked to discover that the ID49C07u is actually a budget laptop with a list price of only $679.99. Currently available only at Best Buy, the ID49C07u was actually selling for only $629.99 at the time this review posted—making it the least expensive Intel Core-i3 laptop that Best Buy sells...

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Toshiba Satellite M645-S4055 Review
Toshiba claims that its new series of Satellite M645 14-inch laptops provide “do-everything performance” and are “perfect for mobile multimedia.” We can’t speak for the entire line—which starts at $729.99—but the $1,049.99 Toshiba Satellite M645-S4055 we looked at meets Toshiba’s bold claims. The laptop offers excellent performance for its price and class and delivers a number of multimedia-specific features—most notably, a set of impressive-sounding stereo speakers...

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Techliciousness Blog: The VueZone iPhone App—Don’t Use it to Spy on Your Children
While trying out the VueZone iPhone app, I consider the ethics of having my two-and-a-half year-old daughter under surveillance.
A number of months ago I was watching one of the final episodes of 24. (I was never really much of a 24 fan, but I started watching it during the final season because Battlestar Galactica babe, Katee Sackhoff, was in it). There was an interrogation scene, where for a few brief seconds, I could have sworn I saw something sitting on the table that looked very familiar. That familiar-looking item was a Vue camera from the very same Vue Personal Video Network Wireless Camera System that I looked at last October...

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

LaCie Network Space Max (2TB) NAS Review
Network-attached-storage (NAS) devices come in all shapes and sizes, but seldom is the word "sexy" used in connection with them. Rarer still are NAS drives that have the stylish looks of LaCie’s Network Space Max, imagined by award-winning industrial designer Neil Poulton. The shiny black exterior, with a bottom-mounted blue LED status light, is a minimalist design, one that LaCie has used before for a number of its external hard drive and NAS products. In addition to its good looks, the Network Space Max also offers relatively speedy performance and a basic feature set that should meet the needs of most general home and SOHO users...
LG N1T1 NAS Review
With so many network-attached storage (NAS) devices crowding the market today, it’s difficult for manufacturers to create a device and get heard above the din. But LG Electronics did just that, letting out a mighty roar with its N1T1 NAS device. In addition to being a speedy NAS drive with a feature set beyond what you find in most consumer-level NAS devices, the N1T1 has two unusual abilities: It can function as a stand-alone external hard drive, or as a DVD burner. (Looking quickly at the N1T1, you probably wouldn’t even notice that the seam on the front of the device is actually a slot-loading optical drive that writes DVDs at 16x and CDs at 40x.) The device does have a few flaws—and it's more expensive than other one-terabyte (1TB) NAS devices. (The 1TB model we tested has a list price of $199.) But getting three devices in one is worth a few sacrifices and the extra cash if you need the functionality...

Monday, July 26, 2010

Dane-Elec myDitto NAS Review
Anyone who has tried to set up remote access on a network-attached-storage (NAS) device is keenly aware what a Sisyphean feat it can be to get it to work. Not only do you have to make sure that the device’s two-way communications make their way though your router’s ports and firewalls, but you also have to ensure that remote users can connect to the device without having to guide them painstakingly through the process. If this describes a networking purgatory you've visited—or the morass you are hoping to avoid—Dane-Elec has an escape with its myDitto NAS device...

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Apple MacBook Pro 15-inch Review
With the latest iteration of its 15-inch and 17-inch MacBook Pro laptops, Apple finally jumped onto the Intel Core i3 and Core i5 bandwagon—bringing its flagship line of laptops up to the same performance level as the Windows-based competition (the 13-inch MacBook Pro laptops still use Intel Core 2 Duo processors). With a starting price of $1,799 for the 15-inch model, and $2,299 for the 17-inch version, MacBook Pros are far from your garden-variety bargain-basement laptops. But Macs have always come with a premium price tag—at least when compared against comparably configured Windows systems—and many will argue that their elegant designs and the intuitive user interface are well worth it...

Saturday, July 17, 2010

2010 Student Buying Guide: How to Buy the Right Desktop PC for School
Summer vacation, alas, is always way too short. For certain, you (or your school-bound son or daughter) may someday look back at these times as the endless summers of youth. But, today, let's be practical: It’s time to start thinking about tech needs for the upcoming school year. It takes time to shop for that perfect PC, get it delivered, and poke and prod it enough before you or your child is comfortable relying on it...
HP TouchSmart 600-1155 Review
When the $1,799 HP TouchSmart 600-1155 all-in-one PC arrived on our doorstep, it took us down memory lane—though, admittedly, that was not too far back. It was October of 2009 when we first looked at the HP TouchSmart 600, and back then, we liked it enough to award it an Editors’ Choice for its elegant design, best-in-class touch software, good mix of connectivity options, and robust feature set. There were some downsides: We weren’t so thrilled with its $1,600 price at the time or its overall performance. And while the touch-specific software was far better than anything we’d seen on other touch-enabled all-in-ones, it was still flawed. So as we set up the latest iteration of the TouchSmart, we were hopeful for improvements in these areas...
HP Pavilion Elite HPE-235f Review
Chip maker AMD has recently attempted to simplify the PC-buying process with its Vision branding scheme. The basic idea: Classify AMD-based computers according to different tiers, such as Vision, Vision Premium, and Vision Ultimate, with in-store (and online) descriptors of what you should expect to be able to do with a given PC, depending on what tier it falls into. It's a nice enough idea in theory, but if you're trying to keep the average consumer from being confused, the Ultimate label should probably actually offer the top level of performance available. Instead, for HD-video-editing-enthusiasts and very demanding gamers, AMD added the Vision Black label, which, oddly, offers better performance and features than you'll find in a machine with the Vision Ultimate label. So, as far as simplifying the PC-buying experience goes, Vision feels a bit like two steps forward and one step back...

Friday, July 9, 2010

How to Run Android Apps on Your Windows PC
If you're not currently an Android phone user, you may be wondering what all the hoopla is about. Perhaps you've spent some time in the cell phone store at your local mall playing around with an Android phone, or maybe you got a few minutes with your friend's phone before he snatched it back from you. But if you are truly intrigued by what the Android OS is all about, you can spend some quality time with it, at your leisure, in the comfort of your own home—and for free! All you need to do is download and install some free software, configure a few settings, and you'll have a "virtual" Android phone running on your computer...

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Dell Inspiron 17R-2211OBK Review
As far as features go, the Dell Inspiron 17R-2211OBK ($799.98 list) is decidedly average for a 17.3-inch laptops. But dig just below the surface and you'll find above-average performance for this desktop replacement. Currently available at Staples, the 17R-2211OBK provides the standard features you'll find in any number of 17.3-inch laptops, but where it excels is in performance. Other than that, there's not much that makes the 17R-2211OBK standout from the competition. As long as performance isn't your top priority, you can find more feature-rich laptops for not much more than what the 17R-2211OBK sells for...
Lenovo G560 Review
When you come across a 15.6-inch laptop with a sub-$700 price tag, you’re probably going to assume that it must be riddled with compromises in order to sell for several hundred dollars less than most other mainstream laptops. The Lenovo G560—which sells direct from Lenovo for $699—comes with its share of concessions. But it doesn’t drop the ball in the areas where it really counts; it dishes out excellent performance and battery life. Further defying expectations, the G560 even comes with a few surprising features, including HDMI and eSATA ports, as well as an ExpressCard/34 slot and an integrated media-card reader...

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Acer Aspire AS5741Z-5433 Review
With a 15.6-inch screen, dual-core Pentium processor, 4GB of RAM, 320GB hard drive, and running Windows 7 Home Premium, the Acer Aspire AS5741Z-5433 ($579.98 list, at Staples) has an impressive list of features for a budget laptop. In addition, its battery life and overall performance place it among the top tier in its category. All this earns it an Editors' Choice for budget laptops...

Monday, June 28, 2010

HP TouchSmart tm2t Review
Thanks to the Apple iPad, tablet computers are a concept recently discovered by countless consumers, but a contingent of die-hard road warriors and business-laptop users have been using them for years. And perhaps no one has been making tablets quite as long as Hewlett-Packard has, which is why HP is able to throw a few pleasant surprises into its newly revamped, configure-to-order TouchSmart tm2t line. Tablets in this line start at $829, and depending on how you configure yours, you can land decent battery life and switchable graphics. The biggest surprise, though, is that HP can put together a compelling ultraportable convertible tablet for less than $1,000—$919, in the case of the model we looked at...

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

HP Pavilion p6507c-b Review
With older technology under its hood and a relatively unchanged chassis design, the HP Pavilion p6507c-b ($599.99 list), available at Costco, isn't quite cutting-edge. But before you disregard it and move along to a more modern design with newer components, consider that the p6507c-b offers competitive performance with room for expansion. Factor in the bundled 20-inch HP monitor and HP Pavilion p6507c-b represents a decent entry level PC for the money...

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Dell Studio s7100-1060NBK Review
The Dell Studio s7100-1060NBK ($899.99 list) is a solid general-purpose desktop with strong overall performance. Available at Staples, the s7100-1060NBK's nearly-$900 price tag puts the system on the more-expensive end of the spectrum of the mostly budget-class desktops that Staples sells. But as the old adage goes, you get what you pay for. The extra cash you'd plunk down for the s7100-1060NBK garners not only speedier performance, but also upgrade potential should your computing needs ever grow. The premium you'd pay now for the s7100-1060NBK might later be the difference between an inexpensive upgrade or needing to purchase a new system. The one thing the s7100-1060NBK won't give you is decent 3D gaming performance—but with the ability to upgrade the system, you could always pop in a more powerful graphics card...
HP G62-225nr Review
The HP G62-225nr ($579.98 list) is a mainstream, budget laptop that should serve the needs of a wide range of users—as long as speedy performance isn't a prerequisite. Available at Staples, there's actually not much to make the HP G62-225nr stand out from other 15.6-inch laptops; but that doesn't mean you should overlook it. Not only are you going to have a hard time beating its affordable price tag, but very good battery life and a smudge-resistant design should appeal to frequent travelers...

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Dell Inspiron iM501R-13230BK Review
With a sub-$600 price tag, the Dell Inspiron iM501R-13230BK ($599.99 list) would be a winning entry-level 15.6-inch laptop if it weren't for its lackluster performance. The iM501R-13230BK, available at Staples, has all the essentials that you should need from a mainstream laptop, including even a few extras such as a combination USB/eSATA port, great-sounding audio, and no pre-installed bloatware. But while its feature set is a boon at this low price, you can find similarly priced 15.6-inch laptops that offer noticeably faster performance...

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Sony VAIO VPC-EB13FX/BIC Review
There is no denying that the Sony VAIO VPC-EB13FX/BIX ($999.99 list) is a feature-packed, mainstream laptop that offers more than enough performance to satisfy most folks' needs from a sub-$1,000 machine with lots of entertainment potential. What Costco customer would pooh-pooh a Blu-ray drive, HDMI and eSATA ports, a 500GB hard drive, and even an ExpressCard/34 slot? But a laptop is more than the sum of its parts. Below-average battery life, no real 3D gaming performance to speak of, and a few design flaws, all detract from its appeal—especially when you can find the same feature set in another laptop that has better battery life and costs less...

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Weekend Project: How to Set Up a Tech-Efficient Home Office
Our comprehensive, practical tech overhaul will put your home office miles ahead in efficiency and productivity.
Sometimes it’s by choice; sometimes it’s forced on you. But in increasing numbers, today’s knowledge workers are trading in corner offices and cubicles for the comfort and ease of working out of their own homes. If you’re one of them, you quickly learn a harsh truth, however: You are your own IT department. But whether you’re self-employed or working remotely for The Man (or The Woman), the right technologies can make you far more productive working from home than shoveling away on a cube farm...
HP Pavilion dm4t Review
HP’s goal for its new Pavilion dm4t series of thin-and-light laptops is to deliver a strong balance of performance, entertainment features, and long battery life in a lightweight, good-looking laptop. You’ll have to make some adjustments to the dm4t’s configure-to-order specifications to get a system that comes close to meeting this objective, but you need not venture too far from the base model's $729.99 starting price. The $904.99 model that we looked at delivers on many of these promises, though we still longed for a dedicated graphics chip to round out the entertainment image HP is going for...

Friday, June 4, 2010

How to Set Up a Virtual KVM
For many, the Windows-versus-Mac debate is a moot point. An increasing number of users who previously found themselves in one camp or the other now are firmly straddling the fence. For some it's purely a personal choice, having been swayed towards the Mac because of the iPhone Halo Effect, or perhaps enticed by an inexpensive Windows netbook. For others, their work demands that they use both platforms. The commonality between these users is that many of them try to cram two systems onto a desk that's barely big enough for one...