Laptop Thoughts: News & Reviews on Laptops, Netbooks, Slates, and More.

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All posts tagged "reviews"

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Manfrotto Unica VII Messenger Bag ~ Near Perfect Camera Bag

Posted by Stacie Huckeba in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 04:17 PM

Product Category: Camera Bag
Manufacturer: Manfrotto
Where to Buy: Best Buy, Amazon
Price: $50 - $99 USD
Holds: DSLR with lens attached as well as 1 to 2 other lenses, 17" Macbook (15.4" laptop) and personal effects.
Specifications: Product Height 12.2", Product Width 7.5", Product Depth18.9",Product Weight 2.2 lbs.


  • Lightweight;
  • Cost Effective;
  • Lots of Storage Space.


  • Shoulder Pad is not Comfortable;
  • No Regular Tripod Attachment;
  • No Easy Access Side Pockets.

Summary: The Manfrotto Unica VII Messenger Bag is a great camera bag for photographers on the go or who travel frequently. It is stylish and has an easy access top zipper that lets you get to all your gear in a hurry. That same zipper makes it easy to grab your laptop out for airport security checkpoints and, yes, the whole bag is carry-on friendly for both domestic and international flights.

The ability to carry a pro body with a battery pack attached and a 17 inch laptop along with other lenses and equipment without weighing a ton or requiring you to stop and find a place to sit your bag down in order to access your equipment is a lifesaver. The messenger bag style makes it easy to carry around all day and doesn't scream "I have an expensive camera in here!". The price point on this can't be beat - at $50 - $100, it easily compares to bags twice the price. Read more...

Friday, December 23, 2011

Slipping into the LTE Jetstream -- a review of Rogers' HTC Jetstream

Posted by Don Tolson in "Other Slates & Tablets" @ 08:30 AM

Product Category: Tablet
Manufacturer: HTC
Where to Buy: Rogers or AT&T
Price: USD $499 w/3 year contract, $799 w/o contract from Rogers; $599 with w/2 year contract, $749 w/o contract from AT&T
System Requirements: Android 3.1 (Honeycomb) with HTC Sense
Specifications: 256mm (10.1in diagonal) LCD tablet with 1.5GHz, dual core CPU; 1G RAM; Quad band GPRS, Tri-band HPSA + LTE; 32G internal memory (28G available) + microSD card slot (32G maximum); 250mm (9.87in) x 178mm (7in) x 13mm (0.5in); 750g (26.5oz). Full specifications can be found here.


  • First LTE-capable tablet available in Canada;
  • Very comfortable size and weight;


  • Pricey compared to other tablet offerings available;
  • Yet another non-standard charging/sync port.

Summary: In October 2011, with much fanfare, Rogers announced the availability of the HTC Jetstream (aka the HTC P715a) -- Canada's first LTE-capable tablet. Even though the LTE network is limited to three cities in Canada (Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver) we were able to get one of the preview units and play with it for a week in Victoria and Vancouver! So, does an LTE-equipped tablet run circles around mere 3G/H models? The results were surprising. Read more...

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Netbooks are not Completely Dead. Behold the HP dm1z!

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Laptop Thoughts News" @ 01:00 PM

"Netbooks, having enjoyed so much excitement during their early days, have now retreated for the most part from the public eye. Part of the reason is likely the rise in tablets, and now Ultrabooks, but netbooks themselves are also partially responsible. There simply has not been much movement in the market."

It is true that netbooks are no longer the hot buy they once were. Tablets are all the rage, and interest in Ultrabooks is increasing. Still, netbooks are still around, and while there has been very little progress with them, either in horsepower or design, they still provide a very portable choice for someone on the go. The only development I have really seen with netbooks is that they are slowly improving in their graphics capability. With more capable GPUs, things like HD video playback is getting better. Pricing, however, varies. While newer models like the latest dm1z are still a bit high at just shy of $400, you can find older models bumping around at half the price. Does anyone remember when ultra-portable laptops cost thousands of dollars?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Transforming into a Better Tablet

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Laptop Thoughts News" @ 05:00 PM

"It’s thinner, smaller and lighter then its predecessor and its made out of superior materials. The aluminum body has an improved look and feel and the higher integrity of the materials has allowed for an even more sturdy hinge for the keyboard docking station."

The ASUS Transformer got attention for being a tablet with a dockable keyboard. It apparently was an enough of a success to have a sequel which puts the Transformer Prime on par with more recent if not cutting edge hardware. Part tablet, part laptop, I do think that this is largely where mobile computing is headed, and what could ultimately put an end to netbooks, if it were not for the cost. An 18 hour battery life is most impressive, and likely will not be seen by laptops for a very long time. If only productivity apps were more caught up with their "desktop" counterparts it would be a real killer.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Xoom 2 Gets Looked Over

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Laptop Thoughts News" @ 05:00 PM

"The Xoom 2 is another 10.1-inch widescreen Honeycomb offering, looking to make up for the lost opportunities of its predecessor -- slimmer, faster and certainly packing more vertices. While we put it through its paces, we thought you'd appreciated some close-up shots with what appears to be the final retail model. First impressions? Those corners certainly do help keep it in our hands, and performance seemed suitably speedy."

While Apple may dominate the tablet market, that is not stopping other companies like Samsung and Motorola trying to carve out their own market share. If Apple is not your cup of tea, the Xoom 2 may be your kind of toy productivity tool. The great thing is that we are seeing a wonderful amount of choice when it comes to tablets now, though prices seem to be largely the same for most of these higher end tablets. If only manufacturers would take a lesson from HP and learn that the best way to get sales is to slash prices and sell them for way below cost!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Archos 80 G9: Quick Review of a New 8-inch Tablet

Posted by Michael Knutson in "Archos Tablets" @ 11:00 AM

"As far as tablets go, a couple of interesting things are going to happen between now and the holiday season. One, we're going to see a glut of smaller 7- and 8-inch tablets running Honeycomb (like this, this and this) hit the market. And if the Kindle Fire and Acer Iconia Tab A100 are any indication, they're going to be cheaper, making slates palatable to folks who previously couldn't bring themselves to spend $500 on a plaything. The Archos 80 G9, then, is the perfect specimen on both counts."

A surprisingly good, solid wifi-only tablet for the money, and it's sporting Android Honeycomb 3.2 (nearly pristine) rather than Gingerbread (2.x) as found on most tablets with a smaller form factor. A very good 1024x768 display (with a very useful kickstand) that can actually be seen outdoors, and a decent processor and battery life (for this smaller size) are the highlights. Negatives are a tinny sound, and a relatively poor 720p front-facing camera. Also offered is an HDD option with a 250GB drive, and a 4GB flash drive for the OS. Prices are $300 for an 8GB version, $320 for a 16GB version, and $370 for the 250GB HDD + Flash version. Nice to see that prices are realistic for potential buyers that are not willing to spend more for a tablet.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

OS X Lion From A Different Vista

Posted by Eric Juillerat in "Apple Software (OS X)" @ 08:00 AM

There are those in life who would, by their own will, take a bullet for you. And while they may be called by different names - Secret Service, Best Friend, Idiot, Early Adopter - they are by all accounts, heroes. My friends, we here at Thoughts Media - we are those people. As early adopters of new technology, we take bullets for you on a daily basis; and we do this with pride. Though we may not wear capes (well some of us anyway - let's not get Jason into this) we take on new devices and software products with the knowledge that our actions may result in a smaller bank account, bricked phone, inoperable computer, and many other horrible, horrible possibilities.

And with that, I present to you Apple's latest operating system, OS X Lion. Lion's are hunters. They have been known to stalk humans; later known as dinner. Their claws are sharp, their teeth pointy, and their attacks deadly. So what does this have to do with Apples latest OS? In one word: plenty. This review, or anti-review, is not meant to compliment the hundreds of Lion reviews already posted. Instead, it is a real account of experiences with the operating system that we here at Thoughts Media felt you could benefit from; it is a map around a minefield - set in the Serengeti. Read more...

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Who's The Thinnest in the Land?

Posted by Michael Knutson in "Laptop Thoughts Talk" @ 07:30 PM

"Intel’s ultrabooks have well and truly arrived at IFA this week, with Acer, Lenovo and Toshiba revealing their entries into the new category of super-skinny laptop. The Aspire S3, IdeaPad U300s, and Portege Z830 all have their subtle differences, but at their core, they’re machines designed for maximum portability with a minimal corresponding sacrifice in utility. Apple’s MacBook Air is the gold standard in this respect, so we thought it worthwhile to see how well it stacked up against the Windows-equipped newcomers."

Not much to add to this article, as it's physical size comparisons between a bunch of ultrabooks. Of course, the MacBook Air is still sitting atop the (size) pedestal, waiting for challengers. Some very nice offerings for Windows users! Take a peek at the galleries and let us know what you think!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

MacBook Air, Now With More Speed!

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Laptop Thoughts News" @ 03:00 PM

"The 1.8GHz Core i7 is offered as an upgrade to both the 11 and 13-inch MacBook Air. With much higher max turbo speeds and another megabyte of L3 cache, it's clear this is going to be a big upgrade over the standard 11-inch Air. Last week we got our hands on one of these upgraded 11-inch models to find out just how much faster it is."

The MacBook Air is a well designed notebook and faster speeds are always appreciated. What impresses me is that the 11" model gets a Core i7 model and how there could be a perceived need for someone using a notebook that small needing that much number-crunching mojo. Still, no real compromises seem to have been made, so the more powerful, the better! If you need a slick, high end cake slicer, the updated MacBook Air definitely seems like one of the top choices around.

Monday, August 1, 2011

iTwin: Your Missing Link Has Been Found

Posted by Chris Sacksteder in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 08:00 AM

iTwin first picture

Product Category: File Sharing Utility
Manufacturer: iTwin, Inc.
Where to Buy: Amazon [Affiliate]
Price: $99.99 USD
System Requirements: Windows 7, XP or Vista (32-bit or 64-bit)
Specifications: Size: 90mm x 21mm x 8mm; 50g. Symmetrical USB (2.0) connectors, LED activity lights.


  • Easy to use.
  • Can connect two computers to copy files when other means don't work.
  • Easier than connecting to a remote file share.


  • May not be as good as connecting to a file share.
  • Needs access to company's server to operate.
  • No local help or trouble-shooting options.

Summary: This is a unique little device that enables secure file sharing between two (and only two) computers, and may be just the thing you need when other methods are blocked by company firewalls or home routers, or are simply too difficult to set up by a novice user. The company's slick marketing-oriented web site may over state its features, but it works well. Read more...

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Sony's VAIO Z Hands-on Review: Super Powerful and Expensive

Posted by Michael Knutson in "Sony Laptops & Netbooks" @ 10:30 AM

"We see countless laptops come and go through the seasons, but a rare few have built up something of a following. Make no mistake: the Sony VAIO Z, a skinny ultraportable brimming with cutting-edge technology and powerful innards, is that kind of gem. So when it disappeared from Sony's online store earlier this year, more than a few techies took note. After all, the Z is part of a small fraternity of notebooks that combine an impossibly lightweight design with performance worthy of a larger system."

Sony has taken the newest generation of their ultralight, ultra-powerful and expensive laptop in a new direction. No more wedge. No more on-board optical drive, and even though it's still ultralight, Samsung's Series 9 and the MacBook Air are thinner, but not lighter. An included Power Media Dock now handles discrete graphics: with an AMD Radeon HD 6650M card with 1GB of video memory; a LightPeak (Thunderbolt in Apple's vernacular) port; and an optical drive. The Z is still constructed of aluminum and carbon fiber, and now uses integrated Intel graphics, along with a Sandy Bridge i7 processor, and keeps a large complement of ports along the sides.

Performance is still by far best-in-class, but at the expense of fan noise and heat, with the track-pad that is a bit troublesome, in part due to the integrated fingerprint reader. Battery life ranges from very good with the standard battery, to excellent when the optional ($150) sheet battery is added, with a tested runtime of about nine-hours. This a quite a system when the configuration is maxed-out, but it's expensive, at over $2700. Less expensive (but less powerful) alternatives are the Samsung Series 9 and/or the MacBook Air.

Friday, July 22, 2011

iPad, TouchPad, ThinkPad or Windows: And the Business Winner is?

Posted by John London in "Laptop Thoughts Articles & Resources" @ 01:30 PM

"This week, Good Technology released numbers indicating that the iPad was outdistancing Android-based products for the enterprise, but it didn't track the RIM Playbook or HP TouchPad, which are two products that specifically target the enterprise. In addition, the ThinkPad isn’t shipping yet and it might be the best shot Android has in getting into the enterprise."

I haven't worked in the corporate sector for a few years now, so I haven't thought much about this, but tablets invading the work force in a big way. With Apple's overwhelmingly successful iPad one would have thought it was a no brainer. It turns out that, considering most corporations use Microsoft solutions, it was closer than I thought. One reason could be because the corporate force needs productivity tools that the iPad can't yet provide. The iPad is a great media device (I just spent a few hours on one over the past week), however, it's not like it can replace the laptop for productivity.

That might change one day as businesses start requesting more productivity tools from the development community. And that's the twist coming from the article. Windows 8 on the tablet is not to far away, (business time that is) so the tablet market will really heat up sometime next year. The unknown right now is the HP Touchpad because of the large corporate sector they have pull in.

Android seems to be having problems right now and until the issues are fixed, corporations are looking to steer clear for now. Having worked in a large corporation I have my thoughts on which tablet will eventually win out. And, at this point, I reserve the right to speak. 2012 will shape up nicely for the tablet in the business sector and which tablet will win out is anyone's guess at this point. I would like to hear what your company in terms of tablets is doing, and why?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Touching on the TouchPad

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Laptop Thoughts News" @ 05:00 AM

"Say what you say about the boring interface, the closed ecosystem, and the limited utility of the hardware, Apple has a winner on their hands. Next up is the Honeycomb army from Android. This is where selection rules above all else and the differences across the lineup are immense. Trailing far behind is the BlackBerry from RIM, who in my opinion have been caught with their pants down. The crippled nature of the Playbook was a let down from the go, as well as only releasing a chubby 7? tablet. But RIM was smart and stole injected a lot of WebOS into their system design. Now it’s HP’s turn to bring their own platform to the party. How well does the TouchPad battle with the other tablets?"

The HP TouchPad has been out for a while, but that has not stopped people from providing their own opinion on the latest competitior to the venerable iPad. If the iPad was not the gold standard, the TouchPad might actually be regarded fairly well. The problem is that we have seen better and liked it. Maybe the TouchPad 2 will prove to be more compelling.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Acer Ethos Provides Movies In Your Pocket! Really Big Pocket!

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Laptop Thoughts News" @ 04:00 PM

"With a full HD display, Dolby speakers, and Blu-ray drive, the Ethos 8951G packs a veritable home theater into an 8.8-pound chassis. But with a price of $1,599, this system faces hefty competition for your hard-earned cash. Read on to find out if the Ethos is awesome or overkill."

When I see notebooks whose screen is 17 inches or bigger, I cringe. Maybe I am just reliving old memories. A few years back, I decided that a lovely 17" high resolution screen laptop was the answer to all my problems. It would be powerful, offer lots of screen real estate and have some graphics punch for when I wanted to have fun. Oh, and it would be portable. Cue laughter. My solution ended up becoming a heavy lead ball that, I swear, made me shorter by several inches as I carried it around the world. At 8.8lbs, the Acer Ethos is not that much lighter than my one time joy, but does offer a fair bit more. Desktop replacement laptops do have their place, and there is nothing like having a beast of machine with you at all times, but if I were to make one recommendation, is that if you do pick up one of these babies, make sure you invest in a really good laptop bag. That or a sherpa.

Sony Ultraportable Shows Next Generation Dock

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Laptop Thoughts News" @ 02:00 PM

"The super-slim and super-light Sony VAIO Z wasn't just designed to take on ultraportables such as the MacBook Air and Samsung Series 9. This 2.6-pound wonder (starting at $2,000) attempts to take the entire category to the next level with a very unique dock that's powered by Intel's blazing Light Peak technology."

The Sony Vaio Z has all the standard accoutrements you would expect of an ultraportable. Slim styling, light weight, blazing SSDs and a peppy CPU. However, like most ultraportables, some compromises are made, usually in the form of expansion and ports. With something this anorexic, you cannot expect 15 USB 3.0 ports, a PCI Express 54 slot, Blu-ray drive and three modular hot swap bays. Well, maybe you can try to expect it, but be prepared for disappointment. Enter LightPeak. Laptop Notebook docking stations have been around for a very long time, but until recently, they either were custom made for specific series of computers, or were USB based and very limited in what they could do. Some weird magic is at hand here, as it supposedly uses a power and USB 3.0 port, but the end result is some nifty expansion. Worthwhile? Maybe, but LightPeak and its uses are still very new. I think waiting to see what else they can come up with would be worth the wait.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Twice the Tablet, Twice the Failure

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Laptop Thoughts News" @ 04:00 PM

"Someday, not very far in the future, in business school, the tales of both the BlackBerry PlayBook and the HP TouchPad will both be told. It will be recounted that when it finally came time for both of these companies to execute in their attempts to adequately compete with Apple’s iPad and Google Android Tablets, they both failed miserably."

Two hot tablets have come to market, and both are being panned by many writers are pale comparisons to the iPad 2, Android tablets, and even the original iPad. While the PlayBook and TouchPad can hardly be considered great successes, it should be noted that they both are operating off of relatively new operating systems. The hardware buried inside these babies seems to be pretty comparable to other tablets on the market, but what they have in hardware, they seem to lack in software. They do not have the wonderful polish that Apple puts on its products, and they haven't had the experience and numerous releases that Android has gone through to adapt to the tablet. If either BlackBerry or HP are committed to the market, we might see these tablets given a chance to mature, and possibly, act as serious contenders for your tablet dollars.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Efun Nextbook Next5 Review Bombs

Posted by John London in "Laptop Thoughts Articles & Resources" @ 03:30 PM

"With the marketplace seemingly flooded with a glut of Android tablets, manufacturers are constantly looking for new and different ways to help their products stand out. To that end, the folks over at EFun have chosen to add a digital pen and bundled notepad case to the mix. Included with the company's 7-inch Nextbook Next5 Android tablet, this combo digitizes handwritten notes and transfers them to the tablet, where they are displayed and can be saved as digital files. But does this feature save the $299 Next5 from all its other flaws? Not even close."

Is this Android tablet worth the $299 price? The answer is NO. One of the main reasons is the processor is a mere 600MHz and performance is sluggish. The build quality lacks, the touchscreen is not accurate, battery life is not as good as other tablets and the sound is terrible. With all these negative qualities this tablet is doomed. A few good things are the tablet comes with a digital pen that works well. It does come with a nice carrying case though. And, it comes with mini-HDMI and a USB 2.0 ports. There are a few other goodies, however, the bottom line is to steer clear of this tablet.

Lenovo Offers the G570

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Laptop Thoughts News" @ 12:30 PM

"The Lenovo G570 ($749) is a 15-inch laptop that has a little more flair than its ThinkPad cousins, featuring a glossy lid and a metal palm rest. But you also get ThinkPad-like amenitites, including an AccuType keyboard. Add to that a fast Intel Core i5 processor and a roomy 500GB hard drive and you've got a solid system."

Another day, another new laptop. The Lenovo G570 is a good addition to your options though its weakish graphics does have me worried. Even if you have no interest in high powered 3D gaming, a powerful GPU can offer a lot of benefits such as faster Photoshopping to video processing to bitcoin mining. One thing that it does have going for it, and one thing I appreciate about Thinkpads is a nice keyboard. I personally think they could make a mint licensing the keyboard out to other manufacturers. One can dream.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Lenovo ThinkPad T420s Review: Lightweight and Powerful

Posted by John London in "Laptop Thoughts Articles & Resources" @ 12:00 PM

Lenovo's ThinkPad T420s is the business user's ultimate Goldilocks notebook. At 14.1-inches and 4 pounds, the laptop is extremely light and portable, but large enough to provide a generous high-res screen, a powerful processor, and full-sized keyboard and touchpad. However, with a price of $1,349 (as configured), the ThinkPad T420s costs more than heavier 14-inch systems such as the ThinkPad T420 or the HP EliteBook 8460p. Spoiler alert: this lightweight notebook is worth the investment.

I have not used a ThinkPad since around Y2K. At that time I swore that I would never buy one. Of course work bought them and even today the ThinkPad is still a business worrier’s tool. Boy has time change my thoughts. First, it weights a mere 4lbs and less than a 1 inch thick. The build quality is excellent with the use of carbon fiber and plastics for durability, in case of a fall. Even the screen is excellent for watching HD movies. The keyboard was even mentioned as having the ability to channel a spill (coffee or your favorite beverage) away from the computer. Of course the downside is the cost. Time has changed the ThinkPad and is looking like a contender. For you ThinkPad fans does this fit the bill?

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A Slate For Every Taste

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Laptop Thoughts News" @ 01:00 PM

"Between a slew of new Android Honeycomb slates and the HP TouchPad, shoppers have plenty of compelling Apple alternatives to choose from. Here are the 10 tablets we’re most excited about."

The iPad has been out for over a year now and continues to dominate the consumer tablet marketplace. Competitors have had over a year to develop their own slate goodness and some alternatives are starting to gain traction. Unfortunately, few will ever seen a fraction of the media attention that the iPad gets, but Laptop Magazine has compiled a useful list of some options. After being inundated with tablet after tablet, I have to admit that they are all starting to look alike to me, even the iPad. I wonder how long it will be before the slate tablet, with all the energy put into it, will start turning out to be a commodity item, much like how the traditional computer is seen.

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