Sabtu, 16 Maret 2013

#4: HTC DROID INCREDIBLE Android Phone (Verizon Wireless)

I've had this phone since April 28th and I'm actually rewriting my original review using my HTC Incredible as my laptop's internet connection via EasyTether Lite (free). I must say I'm really impressed with this phone. It's super fast, good looking, and customizable. It's a treat to finally have a great phone paired with a great network!

Update September 1st 2010: I have the Froyo Update (Android 2.2 Operating System). I personally manually installed it, but it seems that the Over The Air (OTA) Update from Verizon is finally making it out to the masses. This update lagged some of the competition, but the HTC Droid Incredible is right back at number one in my book!
This update has the following:
Faster More Optimized Operating System (some specific tests show better than 300% improvements, i.e. Linpack)
720p Video Camera Capture Supported
Dual LED Flashlight
3G Mobile Hotspot (there are added charges for using this new feature, I believe about $20/month)
Various New Widgets and More!

It's got 7 screens, which can be viewed individually or all at once. I've got mine setup like this:
1. Home/Main Screen - Weather and Top Used Apps (Last.fm, Skyfire, Gmail, Market, Mail, Mint, Flixster, Camera)
2. Agenda
3. Text Widget from HTC Sense
4. Stock Widget from HTC Sense
5. Favorite Contacts
6. Power Widget and Empty Space
7. FriendStream - HTC Sense seemlessly integrated Facebook/Twitter/Flickr

I don't intend for this review to be the end-all of reviews, so I'll try not to cover things other people did already.

Something others have mentioned and I've noticed as well is that battery life could be better. This is the one thing I would change if I could, and I might just do that. It comes stock with the 1300 mAh battery as you can see in the specs below, which just barely cuts it for me. I'm strongly considering upgrading the the Seidio 1750 mAh slim battery which fits in the same space, and should yield about 30% more charge for somewhere around 40 bucks here on Amazon.

I didn't notice you can drag your finger from the top of your screen to see ongoing applications, and current notifications. Hopefully this helps someone else figure this out too! Someone showed me this a couple days in, and it's very nice. Basically this is a quick link to what's just happened on your phone.

Another thing I didn't see in my brief look through reviews is a list of free apps to get you started with brief descriptions:
Advanced Task Killer Free - Kill any application running
AndroidPoker - Texas Holdem Card Calculator App
Astro File Manager - Manage Files, Backup Applications, Install Applications from Backup
BatteryTime Lite - Keep track of Battery Left, Battery Temperature
EasyTether Lite - Tethering App, free version does not access https sites, pay version does
Engadget - Tech Review Site Application
Flashlight - Simple help when you need it
Fring - Skype, Google Talk, AIM, Yahoo, Twitter, ICQ, SIP, and MSN Live Client (works on Wi-fi too unlike Skype's basic app)
Google Goggles - Cool app for image based google searches
Google Sky Map - Star Gazer App, based on phone location and phone orientation, shows what stars and planets are out there
Last.fm - Depending on the day I like this streaming music app better than Pandora.
Layar - Imagine Google Sky Map for restaurants, bars, etc.
MaplePaint - Painting App
Mint - A great application for tracking personal finances
Movies/Flixster - Great movie app (theater and dvd) integrated with Netflix/Rotten Tomato, able to watch trailers instantly
My Verizon - Helpful for tracking phone usage
Pandora - Streaming Music
Scanner Radio - Police Scanner
Shazam - Figures out what song is playing
Skyfire - Slick web browser (or maybe you prefer Opera)
ShopSavvy - Barcode Scanner, Web and local price-checker
The Weather Channel - A good alternative to the Sense Weather Widgets

Games I like (I'm a simple minded phone gamer, all free as well, no descriptions):
Action Potato
Angry Birds - Now on Android!
Bonsai Blast
Jewels
Labyrinth Lite
The 'Papi' Series - PapiCatch, PapiJump, PapiMissile, PapiPole, PapiRiver
Super Tetris
Texas Holdem - Red Poker Club
Toss It

Nerdy Details:
Size/Weight: 4.63 x 2.30 x 0.47 inches / 4.6 ounces
Screen: 480x800 3.7 inch AMOLED
Processor: 1 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon (QSD8650) CDMA version of Nexus One Processor (QSD8250)
Wi-fi: 802.11 b/g/n (I've clocked my phone on speed tests over 6 Mbps when connected to Comcast)
microSD: 2 GB included / up to 32 GB supported
Radio: FM using headphone cable as antenna
Operating System: Android 2.1 (Eclair) with HTC Sense
Camera: 8 Megapixels with Dual LED Flash
Bluetooth: 2.1 with A2DP Stereo and EDR
GPS: A-GPS (Assisted GPS, can be used for locating you during a 911 call, or more commonly navigation)
Keyboard: Virtual Only
Speech to Text: Basically can dictate texts, web addresses, and almost anywhere you can type
Text to Speech: Google Navigation can speak directions
Network: Verizon!
RAM: 512 MB
ROM: 768 MB / 512 MB for user
Internal Storage: 8 GB moviNand
Battery: 1300 mAh Lithium Ion (checkout Seidio 1750 mAh slim which fits in same space, if you need more power)
Physical Buttons: Volume Control (up/down), Power/Lock (share same button), Optical Joystick (with click)
Additional Sensors: Multi-touch capacitive touchscreen, Ambient Light Sensor, 3-axis accelerometer, Digital Compass, Proximity Sensor
Audio Out: 3.5 mm stereo audio jack
USB: micro-USB (charging and data)
Audio file types supported: AAC, AMR0, OGG, M4A, MID, MP3, WAV, WMA
Video file types supported: 3GP, 3G2, MP4, WMV

Please rate my review up or down as you see fit! Thank you!



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Read More - #4: HTC DROID INCREDIBLE Android Phone (Verizon Wireless)

Jumat, 15 Maret 2013

#5: Samsung Fascinate Android Phone (Verizon Wireless)

Read More - #5: Samsung Fascinate Android Phone (Verizon Wireless)

#3: Motorola DROID X Android Phone (Verizon Wireless)

I've own many of the Verizon Wireless (VZW) smart phones including the Treo, Moto Q, XV6700, Saga, Omnia, Touch Pro, Blackberry Curve, Storm1, Tour, etc. I also owned the first Droid (D1) and thought at the time it was the best VZW phone I've ever owned. Well, Droid X (DX) has changed all of that. The DX is now my favorite phone of all time. But is it actually "better" than the D1?!?!?!? Check out my review.

PROS

- The DX's X-tra large screen is beautiful. The touch interface is very responsive. I feels like a powerful computer in your pocket.

- DX is big but I don't think it's too big. I could actually "do" a 5 inch phone if VZW ever sold one. I use the DX one handed but I have big hands. ;-) YMMV, however.

- The screen size also makes typing on the screen easier. I usually hate virtual keyboards but I like this one.

- Web browsing on the big screen is a great experience. I can see myself not using my iPad as much now (I would take it along to the barber, doctor's office, etc.). When the DX gets Flash support, the iPad might be going to eBay. :)

- HD Video recording capability is super great.

- I actually like the new version of Moto Blur. The re-sizable widgets are cool. Plus you can remove anything you don't want to use. I guess this wasn't the case with the original Moto Blur. They just need to add a "close" button (or swipe to close) to the widgets so I don't have to reach down for the back button.

- Battery life seems pretty good, much better than the Incredible.

- FM Radio is actually pretty good.

- DLNA support will allow you to browse media stored on your computers, wirelessly.

- The DX is V Cast compatible.

- The DX has all of the standard Android functionality including the best, free voice activated GPS known to man. Need directions to "123 Main Street"? Simply press the search button and say, "Navigate to 123 Main Street". Want to know where the closest Pizza place is? Say, "Map of Pizza". Google voice navigation is unbelievably good.

- The DX includes full Microsoft Exchange support. I'm not sure if it includes remote wipe or other security features that were missing from the initial D1 release.

CONS

- I usually prefer physical buttons but the ones on the DX aren't that great. They feel cheap. Plus they are all the same height so you can't easily press the button you want without looking at the device. This takes away one of the biggest advantages of having buttons.

- Like many smart phones these days, DX doesn't have Send or End buttons. I don't understand why companies make PHONES that don't include buttons for starting and ending a PHONE call!

- Unlike D1, the DX power button is in the middle-top of the phone. This probably helps out the lefties (the D1 power button is on the top-right). However, I don't like the extra reach for the power button. I'm already reaching over a much larger device.

- Motorola has locked/encrypted the boot loader on the DX. Thus, it will be harder or impossible for third party developers to create custom roms for the DX. I think this is a mistake. Custom roms is one of the biggest reasons why the D1 was so popular. The d1 put Android on the map.

- "Free" wifi tether is not available at this time but hopefully soon.

- The syncing software that comes with DX is nothing to write home about. Syncing music, photos, and video to Android phones still remain a hassle. Google needs to develop something like iTunes ASAP. I read that they are working on a music service though...

- I find it hard to put the DX in its desktop doc.

- Haven't tried the camera much yet...

VS BLACKBERRY

I read that the growth of Android is more likely to hurt Blackberry (BB) than iPhone and I believe it. I tried many phones and always went back to the BB for it's reliable and efficient email experience. The keyboard, trackball, shortcuts, sleep case and more kept me very productive. Unfortunately, some of the BB advantages like push email, MS Exchange integration, unlimited messaging, etc. are now available on other platforms. Add to that, the BB doesn't have many of the nice features or apps offered on other platforms.

If 90% of what you do is send email and text messages, the BB is for you. Other than that, I can't really recommend a 5.0 BB device anymore. Hopefully BB OS 6 and the new web kit browser will change that.

VS INCREDIBLE

The INC has a nice screen but it's hard to see in day light. The INC also has incredibly bad battery life lol, possibly due to questionable signal strength. I have to laugh when I read about people disabling stuff on their INCs just to get the battery to last a day.

VS IPHONE

I think the DX is one of the best alternatives to the iPhone, if not the best. However, the advantage the iPhone has over the DX is really about the OS advantage. iOS offers better apps, better developer support, better integration with the desktop, and better overall user experience. The fact that Google leaves android owners to fend for themselves to sync data from the desktop is an epic fail. Sure, I can troll web forums, try several Market downloads, and get something to partially work. iPhone users don't have to do that. Within 10 minutes of getting their new phone home, iPhone owners can sync music, video, apps, photos, files, video podcasts, video rentals, files, etc. to their phone.

Also, custom roms are nice (DX doesn't even have this yet) but I don't think most consumers care about that. Flash might be a big differentiator but for all we know, Apple may soon allow flash to run on iPhone 4.

Until Google offers better desktop integration, the iPhone will maintain a significant advantage over Android phones.

VS DROID 1

This is a tough one... For me, it really comes down to how much you value the bigger screen over custom roms and/or having a keyboard. Some people may be interested in the DX's HD video recording as well. I can't say which is better because it comes down to what features are most important to you. I have to lean toward the DX being "better" at this point. The bigger screen and faster processor makes it better than the stock D1. If you hack the D1, all bets are off. However, if the DX gets custom roms, overclocking, etc., I think it will become the clear winner, at least until Droid 2 comes out. :-)

BOTTOM LINE

I think the Droid X is best stock VZW phone available. Its big screen makes it really a computer in your pocket. The HD video recording capability is great. DLNA support is great. I didn't even know an FM radio was included- nice! Battery life so far has been really good, especially considering its big screen. The DX offers just about anything you need in a phone sans the front facing camera. This one device may replace a standalone mp3 player, gps, camera, camcorder, netbook, and possibly, an iPad. The Droid X simply does it all.

Is it the best Android phone on any carrier? I haven't used the EVO so I can't say which I would like more. VZW's voice network and customer service are better than Sprint's so the EVO loses in that respect. The Incredible was crippled with poor battery life so that's a no-contest. The only real, current competition is a hacked Droid 1, if you care about hacking your phone. I personally don't care about custom roms. For these reasons, I think the DX is the best Android phone to date. However, the current champ may lose its belt to one of the many great phones that are coming out soon. But at the end of the day, the real winner is the Consumer. There will be many great devices to pick from and that's always a good thing.

TIPS

- Hitting the home button twice brings up the voice dial app.

- For free USB or blue-tooth tethering to your laptop/netbook, try PDANet.

- You can tether to your iPad! You have to jailbreak the iPad and install the blue-tooth dial-up networking. Search one of the iPad forums for details.



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Read More - #3: Motorola DROID X Android Phone (Verizon Wireless)

#2: Samsung Epic 4G Android Phone (Sprint)

Read More - #2: Samsung Epic 4G Android Phone (Sprint)

#4: HTC DROID INCREDIBLE Android Phone (Verizon Wireless)

I've had this phone since April 28th and I'm actually rewriting my original review using my HTC Incredible as my laptop's internet connection via EasyTether Lite (free). I must say I'm really impressed with this phone. It's super fast, good looking, and customizable. It's a treat to finally have a great phone paired with a great network!

Update September 1st 2010: I have the Froyo Update (Android 2.2 Operating System). I personally manually installed it, but it seems that the Over The Air (OTA) Update from Verizon is finally making it out to the masses. This update lagged some of the competition, but the HTC Droid Incredible is right back at number one in my book!
This update has the following:
Faster More Optimized Operating System (some specific tests show better than 300% improvements, i.e. Linpack)
720p Video Camera Capture Supported
Dual LED Flashlight
3G Mobile Hotspot (there are added charges for using this new feature, I believe about $20/month)
Various New Widgets and More!

It's got 7 screens, which can be viewed individually or all at once. I've got mine setup like this:
1. Home/Main Screen - Weather and Top Used Apps (Last.fm, Skyfire, Gmail, Market, Mail, Mint, Flixster, Camera)
2. Agenda
3. Text Widget from HTC Sense
4. Stock Widget from HTC Sense
5. Favorite Contacts
6. Power Widget and Empty Space
7. FriendStream - HTC Sense seemlessly integrated Facebook/Twitter/Flickr

I don't intend for this review to be the end-all of reviews, so I'll try not to cover things other people did already.

Something others have mentioned and I've noticed as well is that battery life could be better. This is the one thing I would change if I could, and I might just do that. It comes stock with the 1300 mAh battery as you can see in the specs below, which just barely cuts it for me. I'm strongly considering upgrading the the Seidio 1750 mAh slim battery which fits in the same space, and should yield about 30% more charge for somewhere around 40 bucks here on Amazon.

I didn't notice you can drag your finger from the top of your screen to see ongoing applications, and current notifications. Hopefully this helps someone else figure this out too! Someone showed me this a couple days in, and it's very nice. Basically this is a quick link to what's just happened on your phone.

Another thing I didn't see in my brief look through reviews is a list of free apps to get you started with brief descriptions:
Advanced Task Killer Free - Kill any application running
AndroidPoker - Texas Holdem Card Calculator App
Astro File Manager - Manage Files, Backup Applications, Install Applications from Backup
BatteryTime Lite - Keep track of Battery Left, Battery Temperature
EasyTether Lite - Tethering App, free version does not access https sites, pay version does
Engadget - Tech Review Site Application
Flashlight - Simple help when you need it
Fring - Skype, Google Talk, AIM, Yahoo, Twitter, ICQ, SIP, and MSN Live Client (works on Wi-fi too unlike Skype's basic app)
Google Goggles - Cool app for image based google searches
Google Sky Map - Star Gazer App, based on phone location and phone orientation, shows what stars and planets are out there
Last.fm - Depending on the day I like this streaming music app better than Pandora.
Layar - Imagine Google Sky Map for restaurants, bars, etc.
MaplePaint - Painting App
Mint - A great application for tracking personal finances
Movies/Flixster - Great movie app (theater and dvd) integrated with Netflix/Rotten Tomato, able to watch trailers instantly
My Verizon - Helpful for tracking phone usage
Pandora - Streaming Music
Scanner Radio - Police Scanner
Shazam - Figures out what song is playing
Skyfire - Slick web browser (or maybe you prefer Opera)
ShopSavvy - Barcode Scanner, Web and local price-checker
The Weather Channel - A good alternative to the Sense Weather Widgets

Games I like (I'm a simple minded phone gamer, all free as well, no descriptions):
Action Potato
Angry Birds - Now on Android!
Bonsai Blast
Jewels
Labyrinth Lite
The 'Papi' Series - PapiCatch, PapiJump, PapiMissile, PapiPole, PapiRiver
Super Tetris
Texas Holdem - Red Poker Club
Toss It

Nerdy Details:
Size/Weight: 4.63 x 2.30 x 0.47 inches / 4.6 ounces
Screen: 480x800 3.7 inch AMOLED
Processor: 1 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon (QSD8650) CDMA version of Nexus One Processor (QSD8250)
Wi-fi: 802.11 b/g/n (I've clocked my phone on speed tests over 6 Mbps when connected to Comcast)
microSD: 2 GB included / up to 32 GB supported
Radio: FM using headphone cable as antenna
Operating System: Android 2.1 (Eclair) with HTC Sense
Camera: 8 Megapixels with Dual LED Flash
Bluetooth: 2.1 with A2DP Stereo and EDR
GPS: A-GPS (Assisted GPS, can be used for locating you during a 911 call, or more commonly navigation)
Keyboard: Virtual Only
Speech to Text: Basically can dictate texts, web addresses, and almost anywhere you can type
Text to Speech: Google Navigation can speak directions
Network: Verizon!
RAM: 512 MB
ROM: 768 MB / 512 MB for user
Internal Storage: 8 GB moviNand
Battery: 1300 mAh Lithium Ion (checkout Seidio 1750 mAh slim which fits in same space, if you need more power)
Physical Buttons: Volume Control (up/down), Power/Lock (share same button), Optical Joystick (with click)
Additional Sensors: Multi-touch capacitive touchscreen, Ambient Light Sensor, 3-axis accelerometer, Digital Compass, Proximity Sensor
Audio Out: 3.5 mm stereo audio jack
USB: micro-USB (charging and data)
Audio file types supported: AAC, AMR0, OGG, M4A, MID, MP3, WAV, WMA
Video file types supported: 3GP, 3G2, MP4, WMV

Please rate my review up or down as you see fit! Thank you!



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Read More - #4: HTC DROID INCREDIBLE Android Phone (Verizon Wireless)

Kamis, 14 Maret 2013

#4: Salt-Water Style 800 Original Sandal


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Read More - #4: Salt-Water Style 800 Original Sandal

#3: Minnetonka Women's Kilty Moccasin


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Read More - #3: Minnetonka Women's Kilty Moccasin

Rabu, 13 Maret 2013

#6: Salt-Water Style 1400 Sun-San Sweetheart Sandal


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Read More - #6: Salt-Water Style 1400 Sun-San Sweetheart Sandal

#8: Skechers Women's Go Walk Slip-On


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Read More - #8: Skechers Women's Go Walk Slip-On

#9: ASICS Women's Gel-Blur33 2.0 Running Shoe


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Read More - #9: ASICS Women's Gel-Blur33 2.0 Running Shoe

#10: New Balance KV689 Tie Running Shoe (Little Kid/Big Kid)


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Read More - #10: New Balance KV689 Tie Running Shoe (Little Kid/Big Kid)

#5: Crocs Unisex Classic Clog

At first I didn't know what to make of this shoe/sandal... it's lightweight, comfortable and "convertible", which is a nice feature that I've never seen in a sandal before. First, I'll break down the benefits, then give the low-points.

"LIGHTWEIGHT & COMFORTABLE"
This is probably the most attractive feature of the CROC, because it adds to the comfort and makes you feel like you're walking on air. By far the most comfortable things I've ever worn and I'm a picky shoe person. I have only owned 1 pair of sandals for the past 6 years and have hated every other sandal I've tried on, so these CROCS are definitely special.

"CONVERTIBLE"
You can turn the "sandal" into a "shoe" simply by pushing forward the strap. In "shoe" mode, it's a tighter more snug fit, so you don't have to worry about it coming off your feet. In "sandal" mode, it's easy to slip on and off (although it has a tendency to cling to the bottom of your feet), for that quick trip outside to take out the trash, or pick up your cell phone that you left in the car.

PROBLEM: "SWEATY FEET"
One problem I have with the CROC is that it doesn't ventilate very well. Sure, it's got holes. But the material is such that it traps heat so you're feet end up sweating in warm weather.

PROBLEM: "HOLES ALLOW DEBRIS IN"
Another problem is that the holes allow all sorts of debris into the sandal while you're walking, such as loose rocks, wood chips at the playground, sand and dirt (when you're not at the beach), and rain water (puddles in the parking lot). This means that you're feet get dirty rather quickly and can be uncomfortable at places where there is a lot of debris - eg, playgrounds.

"SIZE & PRICE"
Sizing is a bit weird. I'd recommend going to a store first to try it on and see what size you are. It's hard to find a good selection at a store, so it's best just to dip in for sizing and then purchase the one you want on Amazon. Turned out to be the best thing for me, as I was able to score Army Green Caymans from Amazon, while searching at numerous stores I've only been able to find blue and black Caymans in sizes way too big. For $29.99 I think it's a bit pricey actually, but if you're picky about sandals like me, there's nothing you can do about it.

"STYLE"
One other thing you'll have to get used to is how aesthetically disgusting it is. Let's be frank: it's a damn ugly shoe and there's no way getting around it. It's not the prettiest thing to wear, but it's hands-down the most comfortable. Just be careful where you tread. Definitely not an all-terrain/purpose sandal. Good for beach and casual sidewalk/short trip walking.

"DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE BEACH AND CAYMAN STYLES"
None. Except that the sizes for Beach version are "ranges" and are more roomy for your feet. Cayman sizes are exact and are more narrow. Try on before you buy as the versions are not the same.



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Read More - #5: Crocs Unisex Classic Clog

#2: Crocs Classic Clogs

Sorry, I could not read the content fromt this page.

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Read More - #2: Crocs Classic Clogs

Selasa, 12 Maret 2013

#7: ASICS Women's GEL-Noosa Tri 8 Running Shoe

AsicsAsics Women's GEL Noosa Tri 8

For triathlons or cross training, the ASICS Women's GEL-Noosa Tri 8 Shoe offers quick, stable transitions. Featuring the Propulsion Trusstic System and Impact Guidance System to enhance your natural movement and response off the ground, the lightweight shoe helps absorb shock in the rear and forefoot with the GEL cushioning system. Plus, the shoe features a perforated sock liner and a breathable mesh upper to help keep your feet cool and dry.

Propulsion Trusstic and I.G.S. enhance natural foot functionHeel and forefoot GEL cushioning absorbs shockLightweight midsole made with Solyte material for stabilityAHAR in outsoles for durabilityPerforated sock liner and breathable, mesh upper for comfort

The 8.1-ounce ASICS Women's GEL-Noosa Tri 8 Shoe allows you to maximize your performance with quick transitions, especially from biking to running. For outstanding responsiveness, it features the Propulsion Trusstic System, which creates tension as your heel strikes the ground and your toes lift off. Designed with the Impact Guidance System (I.G.S.) to enhance your natural gait and movement off the ground, the shoe includes the Guidance Line, a vertical flex groove that enables efficiency during your runs.

The GEL-Noosa Tri 8 features the GEL cushioning system in both the front and rear of shoe for maximum flexibility and shock absorption.

The GEL-Noosa Tri 8 is made from Solyte midsole material, which offers different densities in the heel and forefoot for a comfortable feel. The shoe also features the Space Trusstic System, a stabilizing feature that creates a pocket next to the midsole, which results in more efficient foot function while maintaining structural integrity. For support and durability, it features Dynamic DuoMax support in the midsole and ASICS High Abrasion Rubber (AHAR) in the DuraSponge outsole.

The shoe features a breathable mesh upper to reduce irritation on long runs or rides and helps keep your feet cool and comfortable. The perforated sock liner supports moisture drainage to keep your feet cool and prevent odors. The Wet Grip Outsole is made from a blend of components that enhances traction when running on wet surfaces.

To help with quick transitions and allow for a personalized fit, the GEL-Noosa Tri 8 features optional elastic laces along with heel and tongue grips for stability. The shoe is designed with bright colors on the upper and the soles for a vivid look that allows you to express your individual style and be more visible when running.

ASICS takes its name from an acronym formed by the Latin phrase "anima sana in corpore sano": a sound mind in a sound body. To promote the spirit of this phrase, ASICS strives to produce exceptional sports footwear and apparel. The research and design teams at ASICS use high-tech equipment and computer software to explore, analyze, and test new technologies that are incorporated into each product. ASICS also works with elite athletes to understand their performance needs, which translates to better products for ordinary road warriors and weekend sports enthusiasts.

ASICS Women's GEL-Noosa Tri 8.



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Read More - #7: ASICS Women's GEL-Noosa Tri 8 Running Shoe

#9: Apple MacBook Pro MD101LL/A 13.3-Inch Laptop (NEWEST VERSION)

I had eagerly been awaiting the new Mid-2012 MacBook Pro upgrade primarily because of the move to the new Intel processor, "Ivy Bridge." The 2.9GHz Intel Core i7 dual-core processor just makes this MacBook Pro fly. And it runs much cooler than its predecessors. I had my laptop running while on my lap for a couple hours and the bottom case was barely warm. Fan noise was not noticeable whatsoever. To be honest, I don't even know if the fan was operating or not, it was that quiet.

The aluminum unibody case has remained pretty much unchanged for several years. In fact, my previous MacBook Pro, a 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo with 4GB of RAM has the identical case that this new laptop has... it is designated as Model No: A1278 if you look at the bottom of the laptop case.

What Apple threw into the mix, which made my decision of which new Apple laptop to purchase more difficult, was the addition of the Retina Display MacBook. Initially I was tormented with making the correct decision of which computer to purchase. After I weighed the differences and factored in the cost, it became clear to me that for my use, the 13" MacBook Pro was the way to go rather than an Air or Retina Display MacBook Pro. Here are my reasons...

-The Retina Display MacBook lacks an optical drive. For me, that was a critical feature as I am a Mobile DJ and still rip a lot of CD's to my computer. I did not want to have to carry around an external optical drive so having the internal optical drive on the new MacBook Pro was key.

-The Retina Display MacBook does not have an Ethernet port. Again, this won't affect all people, but for me it was an essential feature that I use all the time. I wasn't ready to give up my dedicated ethernet connectivity port.

-The Retina Display MacBook was priced out of my comfort zone. It's a phenomenal computer but I just could not justify the price.

-The Air doesn't offer the disk space that I need nor the right combination of ports.

Honestly, the display on the 13.3" MacBook Pro is gorgeous. I can see where a photographer might enjoy the Retina Display, but for me, the 1280x800 resolution of the screen on this laptop is perfect. The display is bright, very bright, sharp and has excellent viewing from side to side. I'm a little conflicted with the glossy screen, but I think I have grudgingly accepted it for the most part. In most situations I find it nicer than a glare-free screen. For some situations however, it is not the best because of the reflections on the screen of surrounding lights and such. You must remember that while reducing glare on a screen might make it easier to view in certain situations by reducing reflections of light and surroundings, by its nature the anti-glare will reduce sharpness of the screen image. By having the glossy screen you have an amazingly bright, clear and sharp image that is just beautiful to view.

I had also considered getting an early 2012 refurbished MacBook Pro. That was my second-best option. But for the small difference in price, I would not have gotten USB 3.0 ports and that was important to me, as well as getting Thunderbolt. Admittedly, there are not yet many peripherals that utilize Thunderbolt or USB 3.0 but that is certainly going to change quite rapidly. USB 3.0 is 10 times faster than USB 2.0 and offers throughput of up to 5Gbps. Thunderbolt is even faster and allows daisy-chaining of monitors and other devices. This new MacBook Pro also has an upgraded facetime camera. It is now 720p HD and that's pretty awesome.

Firewire 800 is still included on this MacBook Pro. Undoubtedly, Firewire is getting towards the end of its lifespan but many videographers are still using video cameras that use Firewire and I also have external hard drives using firewire, so this is still useful for me.

The newly added Tunderbolt port is also useable as a mini-display port and you can easily obtain adapters to enable you to hook up to DVI, VAG and HDMI. I do miss not having a dedicated HDMI port, but at least it is possible to get an adapter to fill that need.

The Lion and soon to be released Mountain Lion operating system has garnered a lot of comments both positive and negative. Personally I have not experienced any issues with Lion. The integration with iCloud is fantastic and allows me to keep my contacts, address book, bookmarks all in sync across all my devices (iMac, iPhone, iPod Touch and another MacBook Pro.)

The iLife suite of applicatons included with the computer are excellent. iPhoto, iMovie and GarageBand are tightly integrated and work well. There is room for improvement, to be sure, but I use iPhoto and iMovie all the time and it is an amazingly capable duo.

If you're considering a MacBook Pro for the first time and are coming from the PC world, welcome. You will have a little adjusting to do but it's really easy and you will probably be impressed with how straightforward the operating system is. It just works. I can't even think of when I had a crash or freeze.

I've not yet reached the 7-hours mark for battery life, but still, I've been getting at least 5 hours plus so no complaints.

If you are considering the new MacBook Pro and you're already a Mac user then you will welcome the addition of a much faster processor, the addition of Thunderbolt and USB 3.0.

I am really liking my new MacBook Pro and with 8GB of RAM, and the new i7 Processor running at 2.9GHZ (turbo-boost to 3.6GHz) you will be very happy with the performance.

Regarding the 8GB RAM memory maximum for this MacBook Pro, it is interesting to note that Crucial sells a 16GB RAM kit for this particular model. Despite this, Apple does not acknowledge that the computer will accept 16GB of RAM. I called Apple Technical Support to ask about this and I was told that even though the computer may accept 16GB of RAM and seem to run without any problems with 16GB of RAM, the full amount of RAM may not actually be used by the MacBook Pro. It's kind of hard to say what the implications are of adding 16GB of RAM when Apple says the maximum is 8GB for this model. What will happen though is if you have any issues with the computer and Apple discovers that you've put 16GB of RAM in it, you could be denied service under the warranty. So I guess I'd be happy with 8GB of RAM until this issue gets more clarification, either by benchmark tests that show an improvement in performance or a firmware update or some acknowledgment from Apple approving the option of 16GB of RAM. I"d like to think that if Apple wanted to make as much money as possible that they would offer this computer with an 16GB option. Since they don't, there must be a technical reason why.

I've been using a protective case for my MacBook Pro and I recommend it. It's priced very fairly, comes in a variety of colors and has worked really well for me. It even lets the Apple Logo shine through the case. Here is a link to the Red color version of the case. RED iPearl mCover? Hard Shell Case for A1278 Aluminum Unibody MacBook Pro 13-inch (RED color)

UPDATE: July 1, 2012 - I've been reading reports online about the fact that the new Retina Display MacBook Pro has pushed the graphics handling capabilities of the computer to the max. This has resulted in some problems that are only just beginning to manifest themselves, such as sluggish screen draw in some situations, slow frame rates in other situations and image retention issues.

In other words, by pushing the limits, as Apple frequently does (and I'm not suggesting that that's a bad thing) early adopters are paying the price. So I'm feeling even better about choosing this particular model rather than spending significantly more for the Retina Display MacBook Pro and having to deal with the first generation issues.

UPDATE: July 5, 2012 - Note to PC users considering the switch to a Mac. Don't be intimidated to switch. Mac OSX is a fantastic operating system and not difficult to learn at all. But there are definitely some subtle differences between the PC and Mac user interface and experience. I would strongly suggest getting a good book such as Switching to the Mac: The Missing Manual, Lion Edition. It's an excellent overview of what you'll need to know regarding the Mac experience and the Lion operating system. I use both Windows 7 and Mac OSX and own both a PC laptop and Mac laptop and desktop machines. I consider Macs to be my primary computer because of my familiarity with them and their ease of use. However, a helpful book will ease your transition and eliminate the guesswork.

UPDATE: August 24, 2012 - I've upgraded my OS to Mountain Lion, 10.8, and have been running it for about 2 weeks. I have not noticed any issues and the upgrade went very smoothly. Some of the new features are great. I particularly like the dictation feature that lets you speak while in any application that accepts text input and the MBP will automatically and accurately convert your speech to text. The new way that messages are handled is very similar to IOS and I like it. Some users are reporting less battery life but I have not noticed any degradation in battery life on my comptuer.



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Read More - #9: Apple MacBook Pro MD101LL/A 13.3-Inch Laptop (NEWEST VERSION)

#3: Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 (10.1-Inch, Wi-Fi)

Keep yourself entertained at home and on the road and enjoy big performance with the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 (10.1). Weighing 21 ounces and sporting a vibrant 10.1-inch touchscreen display, the Galaxy Tab 2 runs the Android 4.0 ("Ice Cream Sandwich") operating system and is powered by a 1.0 GHz dual-core processor to help you achieve maximum usage across various demanding applications.

galaxy tab 2-10 wide Exceptional 10.1-inch multitouch screen designed for reading books and magazines, watching movies, playing games, and more (view larger).

Access the Internet and stream media over your home network via ultra-fast Wireless-N Wi-Fi. And with the Smart Remote app and built-in IR Blaster, you can watch and control your TV content--all from the palm of your hand. The Galaxy Tab offers full support for Adobe Flash Player 10.1 for accessing Flash-enabled websites, watching video and playing games.

Designed to fit in one hand, typing messages or notes is simple and easy with the Galaxy Tab's virtual QWERTY keyboard. It's outfitted with a 3-megapixel rear-facing camera for photo capture and sharing as well as a VGA front-facing camera for video chat. Other features include 16 GB of internal memory, microSD memory expansion (for up to 32 GB of expansion via optional cards), Bluetooth 3.0 wireless connectivity for hands-free devices and stereo music streaming, and GPS for navigation and location services.

galaxy tab 2-10 wide Access thousands of TV shows and movies
via Samsung's Media Hub (view larger).

With the Android 4.0 OS (aka, Ice Cream Sandwich), you can enjoy the most ramped up, up to the minute features and multitudes of apps supported by new the ICS technology. You'll get an evolved, intuitively designed UI that transitions seamlessly across all your applications, plus enhanced web browsing, faster overall response, and easier accessibility to preloaded Google Mobile apps including YouTube, Maps, and more.

With integrated Google technology, the Galaxy Tab 2 brings one-touch access to the popular Google mobile services millions use every day, including Google Search, Gtalk, Google+, and contacts/calendar synchronization. And through Google Play, you'll get access to thousands of useful applications and fun games to download and install on your tablet, with many more apps being added every day.

galaxy tab 2-10 android Intuitively designed Android 4.0 with preloaded
Google Mobile apps (view larger).

Samsung's Video Hub is your personal video store concierge--1,000+ titles and counting--with virtually no wait time during progressive downloads so that you can enjoy video contents right away. Forget lugging around stacks of books--Readers Hub lets you delve into the intimate pleasures of digital reading, a wealth of e-books on your own personal screen. Additionally, Music Hub provides a full music store loaded with your favorite tunes. And Game Hub is your go-to source for premium and multi-player games, letting you jump into action any time, wherever you are.

You can immediately check out top e-books, latest hit songs, premium games, and recent video releases. The home screen layout maximizes your experience of Samsung Hub services by providing direct access to apps you use all the time.

Samsung's ChatON app connects your friends and acquaintances across devices and platforms in a more expressive, dynamic way with unique features like Group Chat, Multimedia Transmission, Buddy Interaction, and more. You can also engage in spur-of-the-moment group video sessions with Google+ Hangouts as easily as bumping into somebody on the street.

AllShare Play melds digital content from different networked devices into one seamless flow--it's almost like having one device. You have the freedom to download photos or movies to store, then push to watch later on your Samsung HDTV. AllShare Play also acts as a gateway to web storage services where you can conveniently and securely upload and backup your data for safekeeping or sharing.



galaxy tab 2-10 rear Memory expansion via optional microSD cards
up to 32 GB in size (view larger).Operating system: Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) Display: 10.1-inch multitouch screen (1280 x 800 pixels) for native HD 720p resolution Processor: 1 GHz dual-core processor Internal memory: 16 GB RAM: 1 GB Memory expansion: microSD cards (up to 32 GB in size) Cameras: 3-megapixel rear; VGA (640 x 480) front Wireless connectivity: Wireless N Wi-Fi (802.11b/g/n); Bluetooth 3.0 Ports: 1 USB 2.0 (host); 3.5mm headphone/microphone jack Sensors: Accelerometer, digital compass, light, proximity Dimensions: 10.1 x 6.9 x 0.38 inches Weight: 1.28 pounds (21 ounces) Battery: 7,000 mAh Documents: Word (.doc .docx .txt .hwp .rtf); Excel (.xls .xlsx .csv); PowerPoint (.ppt .pptx .pps); PDF Audio: MP3, AAC, AC-3, AMR, FLAC, MID, WMA, WAV, OGG Images: GIF, AGIF, JPEG, PNG, BMP, WBMP, WEBP Video: Playback up to Full HD 1080p @ 30 fps (frames per second) with following compatibility: Codec: MPEG4, H.263, H.264, VC-1, DivX, WMV7, WMV8, WMV9, VP8 Format: 3GP, ASF, AVI, MP4, WMV, FLV, MKV, WebM Core apps: Contacts, Alarm/Clock, S Planner, Camera, Gallery, Photo Editor, Video Maker, Web Browser, My Files, Email, Calculator, World Clock, Task Manager, Music Player, Video Player, Navigation Google services: Google Search, Google Talk, Gmail, YouTube, Latitude, Places, Google Maps, Google +, Google + Messenger, Play Store, Google Play Books, Google Play Music, Google Play Videos Samsung apps: AllShare (DLNA), ChatON, S-Memo, Smart Remote Samsung Hub widgets: Media Hub, Game Hub, Music Hub, Readers Hub (Kobo, Zinio, NPD), Additional apps and services: Amazon Kindle, Polaris Office, Dropbox, Netflix

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 (10.1); USB cable; charger; operating instructions



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Read More - #3: Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 (10.1-Inch, Wi-Fi)

#6: Apple AirPort Express Base Station (MC414LL/A)

The Airport Express, much like most Apple devices, is amazingly simple to set up and is up and running in no time. I have this connected to extend the wi-fi network off the Time Capsule that is essentially the main router for the network. Quick set up procedure and review:

FORM FACTOR - the device looks sleek and is probably exactly the same size as Apple TV. Doesn't take up much space. It comes with a power cord that needs to be attached, unlike the previous generation AE which had the power outlet prongs built in. The addition of the power cord somewhat reduces options in terms of where the device can be placed in the house. If you don't mind the cable showing, you can place it anywhere in the house. But if you want to install this say in the living room where cables would look unpleasant, you're better off installing it somewhere else in the house (or behind furniture where it can't be seen). Not a major issue but one worth mentioning.

SET UP - I had this device up and running in probably less than 5 minutes, it is that simple.

1. After plugging in the device to a power outlet, wait for the device's light to turn from amber to solid green, indicating that it is ready for use. There is no need to connect this to the router with an ethernet cable.

2. Open Airport Utility on the Mac (Applications -> Utilities -> Airport Utility). If you are using a PC, the Airport Utility for Windows will need to be downloaded first.

3. Inside Airport Utility, the AE Base Station will appear for configuration. This, I think, is a rather important step depending on what you're looking to use this device for. If you are looking to boost Wi-Fi signal in the house, select the "Extend Existing Wireless Network" when setting up this device. This will essentially connect the AE to your main wireless router to boost signal. If however, you don't care about boosting Wi-Fi signal and care more about setting up a network for guests to access, you can select the "Create New Wireless Network" for this device. Under both options, you can still use the device for Air Play from your Apple devices.

4. You can then proceed to name the Airport Express device and set up a password in the Airport Utility set up. If you are setting up multiple devices in the house it is useful to name each one individually so that you know which device to connect to later when using Air Play (e.g. AE Living Room, or AE Basement, etc). Now the device should be up and running and you will notice a significant improvement in Wi-Fi signal around the house.

5. Once the initial set up is complete, you can also download the Airport Utility App to your iPhone/iPad/iPod to manage the configuration of the AE station straight from the handheld device, if required.

AIR PLAY - The AE device comes with a built-in 3.5mm audio out jack. You can use any 3.5mm to RCA cable to connect the device to the input of your stereo. Once this is done, play a track on your handheld, it will initially stream on the handheld itself. Now, go into the "Now Playing" part of the iPod and next to the track forward button, you will see a small icon. Clicking on that icon will give you the option of changing the sound output device from the handheld to the Airport Express. Select the AE device at this point and music will stream from the stereo (moment of truth!). You can change tracks and control volume right from the iPod!

COMPARISON TO APPLE TV - If you are looking for a device only for Air Play, Apple TV may perhaps be a better option because it has the ability of streaming audio and video from the iPod, connects to iTunes or Netflix for online streaming services, and allows online gaming. It has an HDMI out and also comes with a remote that allows you to manage the device and what is being streamed on it. However, note that the Apple TV does NOT come with a standard 3.5mm audio jack, it comes with an Optical Audio jack, which might not connect to all stereos. Check for cables that would be able to connect your stereo to the HDMI or optical audio jack. If that doesn't work, Airport Express is the better alternative because it has a 3.5mm audio jack and almost all stereos connect easily to this through a 3.5m-Dual RCA cable. In addition, Airport Express serves as a Wi-Fi repeater that Apple TV doesn't.

---

UPDATE - 12/28 - Recently discovered a neat feature. If you have more than 1 Airport Express, or if you can have AE and an Apple TV, you can stream music from iTunes to all devices at the same time using your PC/Mac. This is a great way to play the same music in different rooms if you have the devices connected to independent speakers. Can't do this from a iPhone/iPod/iPad (they let you stream only to one source at a time), but this feature is supported on PCs and Macs. Thought it was really cool!



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Read More - #6: Apple AirPort Express Base Station (MC414LL/A)

Senin, 11 Maret 2013

#2: Samsung Chromebook (Wi-Fi, 11.6-Inch)

I'm based in the UK and bought my unit there. However, physically this model is nearly identical to ours (to my knowledge only the keyboard layout and socket you need for charging it differs) and I've been using Chrome OS and previous Chrome hardware for a while, so I thought I'd give my take on this device.

I've owned the Cr-48 for a while, which was a kind of test unit Google sent out to people to beta test the operating system. That came out a long time ago and none of the commercial units have felt good enough to me to justify buying, up until now. They were always a little too expensive, despite the obvious advantages.

This will be a long review. For those wanting a short summary, I'll include one at the end.

The software

For those unclear, Chrome OS (which the Chromebook runs) is fundamentally different to a Windows, Mac or Linux-based laptop, desktop or netbook. This is because it runs the web. No native applications exist specifically for this machine. There are apps (sometimes referred to as Chrome apps) but they also work in the Chrome browser.

Because this computer runs what many call 'just a browser' it has several advantages, as well as disadvantages when compared to a Windows machine. I've chosen Windows for most comparisons here as more people typically use Windows than a Mac or Linux machine.

Security

You cannot install Windows applications (or other native software) on Chrome OS. This means that the computer can operate more securely than a Windows machine simply because the computer knows what should be installed. If something is there that shouldn't be there, the computer will erase all local data and install a version of the software that's stored in a secure area. Once you're connected to the internet, you'll be updated to the most recent version of the operating system. As your settings, bookmarks and Chrome applications are stored by Google, they are also restored after the machine is reset and you log in. Typically the operating system is updated every 6 weeks, meaning bugs get fixed pretty quickly (important bug fixes will arrive more quickly) and new features are released quickly, too.

Getting things done

This is where the big problem is for some people; you can't install Microsoft Office, Adobe's Photoshop or other software packages. You're limited to software that's delivered through a website. Most people are perfectly comfortable with using things like Facebook, Twitter and email this way. The web offers some pretty powerful tools, though. For instance, pretty sophisticated image editing software exists on-line, as do audio and video editing tools. Using the massive resources of the internet (typically referred to as 'the cloud') means that video editing and other resource-intensive tasks can be made dramatically quicker than doing it locally. Make no mistake though, if you do need something like Photoshop it's just not possible, unless you use software specifically designed to deliver 'normal' software through the web. Companies like Citrix offer products that can do that, but given the additional cost, it's usually only big businesses that use them.

If you don't need extremely-specialised software though, there's a lot available. Google, Zoho and Microsoft all offer tools that will let you create, open and export documents in popular formats, such as Microsoft Office. There are advantages to this approach, too. Google Docs (as an example) allows individuals to use their on-line document, spreadsheet and presentation software free of charge and, even better, you can collaborate with up to 50 people on the same document, practically in real-time. This sort of thing just isn't typically possible with traditional software. Where it is, it's likely to be clunkier than a web-based tool as a website just lets you login and work.

Calendars, Angry Birds, finance tools (Sage and QuickBooks are available through the browser) are all also available in this way. It's worth checking out if the things you'll want to do are available in this way before ordering a Chromebook.

There are also many off-line capable applications. That is, things that will work without an internet connection. These include Google Documents (editing and viewing) Google Docs spreadsheets (viewing) and things like Google Calendar. Keep in mind though that this is primarily a device for accessing the internet. Without a connection, this device is extremely-limited. Applications delivered through a browser will get more and more capable over time, though.

Other drawbacks

As I've said, not everything is available through a browser. Critical things that people take for granted either aren't available or are very different on a Chromebook.
It's not possible to watch AVI or MKV video files (at the time this was written) for example, without converting them. That's a big pain for some. Printing is different too, as you can't just plugin a printer on Chrome OS and have it work. For those that are curious, Google has a service called Cloud Print, which involves hooking up your printer to the internet. This approach does have an advantage in that you're able to print to your printer from anywhere with an internet connection, either from a mobile device or any installation of Chrome. For those without a printer that can connect to the internet independently of a regular computer, you can enable a normal printer by installing Chrome on a Windows machine and running it that way.

Storage

A key thing about Chromebooks is that they come with a 16GB hard drive. This is considered very low by modern standards as a typical Windows machine will come with a minimum of 500GB and often far more.

Google Drive is Google's solution for this. Essentially, Google Drive is on-line storage. It stores files from Google Docs and will store pretty much any type of file, too. A key thing is that it integrates with the file system, meaning you can save files directly to your account (Drive can be used on Windows and other computers, as well as Android and iOS devices) and access them from whichever device you're using.
By default, Drive comes with 5GB of storage. This isn't a huge amount, but for free on-line storage it's pretty typical. Many other services actually offer much less. However, if you buy a Chromebook you get 100GB free for two years, which is very useful given that it can be used across many devices. If after two years you're using more than whatever the normal free allowance is at that point (things do change) and you've not qualified for some other promotion, you'll no longer be able to add new files. Your existing data will be accessible, meaning files will not be deleted.
Another great thing about Drive is that files can be shared with others. Google Docs files are not counted towards your storage.
Again, it's worth noting that other great on-line storage solutions exist, such as Dropbox and Box. The difference of course is that they're not tightly-integrated with the Chromebook.

Hardware (general)

This new Chromebook is running on an ARM chip, the type of processor you'd typically find in a mobile phone or tablet. That may sound slow given the demands of a typical Windows machine, but it's very quick. It boots in around 7 seconds (it feels more like 5 as the logo is on the screen almost as soon as you open the lid) and you can be on-line with your normal tabs open in under 30 seconds with ease. The keyboard is extremely responsive and many professional reviewers have remarked that it's the best that's ever been on a Chromebook, which includes the much more expensive Samsung Series 5 550 machine. The trackpad, too, is very good indeed.

The machine is extremely responsive due to it needing very few resources to operate. If you attempt to run 20+ tabs, yes, it will slow down a whole lot. But if, like most typical users, you use this for email, Facebook and the like, you should have no performance issues. Depending on your usage, the stated 6.5 hours of battery life are very close. In fact I'd suggest that you'd get more, depending on screen brightness etc.

Other hardware

On this particular unit you'll find one USB 2.0 port, one USB 3.0 port, HDMI out (for putting what's on your screen on a bigger screen, like a computer monitor or TV) and an SD card reader. External USB hard drives work fine in my experience and many phones are treated properly as mass storage too. However certain devices such as external optical (CD/DVD) drives will not work at all. As a commenter noted, I originally forgot to point out that this machine has no moving parts because of the type of hard drive used. This means the machine is extremely quiet and doesn't get hot.

Miscellaneous

It should be noted that since Chromebooks are essentially stateless (that is, they have little personal data stored on them) they can be wiped at any time without a problem and you can start over. This also means that they can easily be shared and Chrome devices (a desktop version, called a Chromebox also exists) have something called Guest Mode, which allows a friend to browse the web without accessing your settings or bookmarks and when they're done, their browsing history is automatically deleted. For those with whom you share your Chrome device regularly, you can add them to the list of permanent users.

Summary

Essentially, if you use the web most of the time (this is what most computer users do) or want a second machine that can be used without any technical knowledge for that purpose by others in your household, this is an ideal device. If, however, you like to play a lot of 'real' video games or access specialised software, chances are that this device isn't for you. Read more ›



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Read More - #2: Samsung Chromebook (Wi-Fi, 11.6-Inch)

#8: Dell Inspiron i15R-1632sLV 15-Inch Laptop (Silver)


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#1: Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 (7-Inch, Wi-Fi)

I have a Kindle Fire and do enjoy using it (for the most part) -- love the form factor, enjoy the apps that I can get for it and am very pleased with the Kindle eReader app and ability to share books across all our Kindles. But when we were offered an opportunity to check out the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 a few days early, we jumped at the chance. The Kindle Fire is great at what it does, but its custom Android O/S, non-standard Web browser, limited selection of apps, lack of expandable storage and lack of Bluetooth support leave me cold.

*Browser Issues*

I've experienced multiple issues trying to browse web sites with the Kindle's Silk browser which work fine on the Galaxy Tab 2 and other full-fledged Android devices. Although Flash videos can be played on the Kindle Fire (if you enable Flash in the Silk browser's setting menu, which is OFF by default), Flash-based games on the Web such as Words with Friends and Bejeweled Blitz (both on Facebook) are painfully jittery and sluggish on the Kindle Fire. The native Words with Friends app does work well on the Kindle, for the most part, but not the web browser-based version. But Flash support on mobile devices is spotty at best so this is not the worst flaw in the Kindle. Also, the content management system we use on our web site is able to load pages (articles) on the Fire, but unable to scroll within large text input windows. The same problem does not occur on the Galaxy Tab 2's browser. The Silk browser is able to access many web sites properly, but when it fails, there isn't much you can do since updates to the Silk browser have been few and far between.

*App and content space*

The Kindle Fire and Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 each come with 8 GB of internal storage on board. Some of this is used for O/S and system files which leaves even less available for apps and media content. The Kindle Fire has no expandable storage, as it is designed to work in "The Cloud." In other words, they expect you to store music and movies on an internet-based cloud storage area for access when you want it. The big caveat here is that the Kindle Fire offers only WiFi access (no 4G support) so if you do not happen to have a WiFi hotspot or home network handy (like, for example, on a long distance car trip), your cloud-based content is completely inaccessible. I filled up the Kindle Fire's internal storage within the first six weeks of ownership. If I want to install more apps or add local content now, I'll have to remove some from the device. These apps and content are still available to download later from the cloud, if I wish to do so, but this really isn't convenient. The Galaxy Tab 2 also lacks 4G support (in its current version) but its standard microSDHC slot allows you to expand the on-board storage up to an additional 32 GB, which is plenty of room to move your movies, music and additional content to be stored locally without requiring access to the internet.

*Bluetooth Support*

When I am taking notes at an event or meeting, there's nothing like a full sized QWERTY keyboard. With the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2, you can connect just about any standard Bluetooth keyboard and happily start typing away at full speed. With the Kindle Fire, since it lacks Bluetooth support, you do not have this option. Also, when you want to listen to music, movies or apps on the Fire without bothering those around you, you'll need to plug in a pair of standard headphones (with the jack awkwardly placed on the bottom of the device instead of the top). With the Galaxy Tab 2, not only is the jack placed more logically at the top, but you can also use Bluetooth 3.0 stereo headphones for high quality sound without the wired tether.

*Cameras*

The Kindle Fire lacks an on-board camera while the Galaxy Tab 2 includes both a front and rear-facing camera. Admittedly the camera on the Galaxy Tab can't really compare with a real digital camera (particularly indoors) but having the camera available on the Galaxy does allow you to snap a quick pic when the real camera may have been left at home, or participate in Google+ Hangouts (not an option on the camera-free Kindle).

*Limited App Support*

Amazon's Kindle Fire, like Barnes and Noble's Nook Tablet, is not compatible with the Google Play Store app market without rooting the device (not for beginners). To install apps on the Fire, you have to use the proprietary Amazon app market which has a limited selection of apps. There's no access to cool apps like the Logitech Harmony app, or the Samsung or Panasonic remote control Android apps for their TVs and Blu-ray players. The list of Android apps you can't get for the Fire goes on (and on... and on). And speaking of remote apps, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 comes pre-loaded with the Peel app which uses the Galaxy Tab's integrated IR port (another option not available on the Kindle Fire or Nook Tablet) to control an entire home theater or multimedia system *without* any additional out of pocket expense. It's there; it works; it's great! Also, if you want access to the Amazon app store from the Galaxy tablet, you can do this by downloading and installing the Amazon apk. I've done this and have been able to access my Amazon-purchased apps on the Galaxy tablet.

Overall, I'd say the Kindle Fire is great for people who like to read Kindle books, who are satisfied with a smaller selection of apps, who like streaming movies and TV shows from Amazon Prime (as I do) and who don't need the extra flexibility of a full-fledged Android tablet. But for those who do want those extras - Bluetooth, cameras, expandable storage, Android O/S 4.0 - the new Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 provides an excellent upgrade for a minimal amount of additional cash. Highly recommended.

You can read our comprehensive reviews of the Kindle Fire, Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 and Nook Tablet on Big Picture Big Sound.

2013 update: This review was written in April, 2012 and is based on a comparison to the first generation Kindle Fire which was the only Kindle fire that was available at that time. The Kindle Fire HD does address *some* of the limitations of the Kindle Fire including adding a front camera, mic and Bluetooth headset support but there's still no access to Google Play Store unless you root the device. Also, there is still no extended storage option (e.g., microSD card) on the Fire or Fire HD as there is on the Samsung tablet.



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#10: Apple iPad 2 MC769LL/A Tablet (16GB, WiFi, Black) 2nd Generation

I have purchased both an iPad2 and Xoom for different family members. I thought it worth comparing the two devices for anyone interested. Many of my comments are subjective so bear that in mind when reading the review.

External appearance and feel:
The iPad2 screen has a different feel from the Xoom screen - the iPad2 is a bit slicker, less likely to stick when moving short distances. The screen on the Xoom tends to show fingerprints more than the Ipad2 for some reason. Everyone in this family thinks that the iPad2 looks sharper than the Xoom.

Both weigh 1.6 lbs. Subjectively, the Xoom feels heavier than the Ipad2, but it's an illusion perhaps caused by it's slightly smaller size. UPDATE: I need to learn to use the scales - the Xoom is about 3 ounces heavier than the iPad2.

Both have a similar size screen, measured diagonally. But the aspect ratio is different - 4:3 for iPad2, 16:9 for Xoom. This means that the iPad2 actually has a larger viewing area, and this makes a real difference when scrolling through a web site. The iPad2 screen is brighter than the Xoom screen.

Hardware performance:
The Xoom feels a bit faster than the iPad2, and the specs show that it is faster. Both have dual core processors based on ARM designs. The Xoom seems to be able to handle graphics better than the iPad2. As far as connecting to Wifi networks, both seem to have this one down pat - they both just work.

User Interface:
The iPad2 is just like a big iPhone. Whether this good or bad is subjective. For me, it's good - polished, flexible and can be customized to my needs. The Xoom user interface is totally new, and unfortunately it shows - there are many rough edges. Some examples: moving icons around to group programs together is not intuitive and they keep moving back; you can see the first 5 applications running on the Xoom and select one, but the list doesn't scroll so applications that don't show in the list can't be selected; you can't close applications (except by a force quit that can lose data) as the Xoom decides when to quit an application; customization is possible but more difficult than the iPad2. In short, the Xoom user interface is a work in progress - great potential but currently quite flawed.

Operating System:
The iPad2 uses Apple's IOS. It works, but it uses cooperative multitasking which (in theory) is less effective than the full multitasking on the Xoom which uses a version of Google's Android designed for tablets. In practice, they both work fine and I doubt anyone would notice the difference.

Applications:
iPad2 has 70,000 apps available from the Apple App store and it also runs the 300,000 apps available for the iPhone. Xoom currently has around 60 apps and it can run Android phone apps (but they are stretched in one direction which makes them look strange). Some of the iPad2 applications are pretty impressive - GarageBand for example. There are many games on the iPad2, and just a few games made for the Xoom. If this doesn't improve quickly, the Xoom is sunk. After all, applications are generally the reason people buy these devices.

Browsing:
Because of the screen aspect ratio that I mentioned, I prefer browsing on the iPad2. The Xoom has Adobe Flash and the iPad2 doesn't, but so far I haven't come across a single instance where this has been an issue. I'm sure there are very many sites not compatible with iPad2, but I haven't browsed to one of them yet.

Camera:
I don't use the camera much, and I'm not really sure if either is better. In the family, the Xoom owner says the Xoom is better, the iPad2 owner says the iPad2. The Xoom has flash and iPad2 doesn't which is a win for Xoom, but the Xoom seems slower to take a picture.

Speakers:
The Xoom has two small speakers, iPad2 has one slightly larger speaker. The sound is somewhat better quality on the iPad2 and the Xoom cannot achieve the same volume as the iPad2. But they are both pretty poor - use earphones or an external speaker if you want decent audio.

Battery life:
Difficult for me to give an exact comparison, but based on family usage it seems the iPad2 has the edge here, but not by much.

Internal storage:
The Xoom has 1GB of RAM and 32 GB of flash storage. The iPad2 has 512MB of RAM and 16GB, 32GB or 64GB of flash storage - I bought the 64GB model.

External storage:
The Xoom has an external card slot that supports SD cards, but the software was not ready in time for the product release. The slot is inoperative until Motorola releases an operating system update. The iPad2 has no external storage support.

User Experience:
The iPad2 was up and running quite quickly. I connected the device to iTunes and it automatically updated to the latest version of the operating system. I was then able to select and download Apps immediately and start using them.

The Xoom was not so easy. For some reason, I was not able to install the latest version of Google Maps or Adobe Flash. I was able to download the apps, and the install process appeared to work without errors, but the new apps just were not installed. After some time trying I finally returned the Xoom back to the factory settings and started again, and this time both the installs worked. Of course, this wouldn't be a good solution if you had a ton of applications and/or data on the device.

Support:
Apple has their retail stores. You can get a huge amount of help from these stores from people whose only job is to support users. Both iPad2 and Xoom users have web sites available that support their products but you have to spend the time digging for the sites and digging through the sites. You can also purchase an Applecare support package which gives you a couple of years extra support for the iPad2.

Bottom line:
I believe the Xoom hardware may be slightly better than the iPad2 (apart from the screen aspect ratio and the speakers), but the software is terribly lacking. The Xoom was released FAR too early, it's just not ready for primetime.

If I had to pick just one, I'd pick the iPad2 - less hassle, apps for everything, better browsing experience, better support options. The Xoom needs less buggy software and more applications; it has potential but it's not there yet. And by the time it gets there, there will be something better available.

Update 7/5/2011

We have now had the two devices for over 3 months. During that time Motorola released an update to fix some of the issues with the original Xoom. It's somewhat faster, the problem of only seeing the first 5 applications is fixed, there are some extra capabilities for USB, and most importantly, the Xoom doesn't crash every few hours.

However, the biggest issue with the Xoom is still the number of applications available to run in native tablet mode, as opposed to running Android phone applications. I've read that there are 300 applications available, but it's hard to find them. The Android Market doesn't distinguish between phone applications designed for a small screen and tablet applications. You have to read the description of each application to see what it is designed to run on, and finding 300 apps in 200,000 is very time consuming. Apple claims to have 100,000 iPad specific apps in their store.

Another problem with the Android Market is the complete lack of supervision. I understand that anybody can put any application there without any review, and I've read there have been a few problems with malware. Recently I saw an article that claimed there are spyware applications on the store, which worries me a little. I'm not saying you can't get malware from the Apple store, but Apple does look at the apps first - I'm not aware of any malware getting into the Apple store.

The iPad2 does have some downsides I wasn't aware of when I wrote my review. It would be nice to have a general purpose USB connection and a card slot. There is an extra-cost adapter available from Apple that supplies HDMI out and a limited function USB connector. Also the keyboard attachment made for the original iPad doesn't work on the iPad2.

For us, the iPad2 is the winner. The Xoom is sitting on a shelf and I don't think it's been used over a week now. In contrast, iPad2 is in use every day and continues to be a big hit. The primary problem with the Xoom is the lack of tablet-based applications.

Update 7/7/2011

The Xoom has been sold to a colleague who wants an Android tablet. I think the Xoom is better than most of the Android tablets currently available. However, the Honeycomb software feels so unfinished, and the paucity of available tablet-based applications was a major issue. I lost several hundred dollars on the sale, but nobody wanted to use it and there was no point in letting it lay around unused. I'm already under some pressure to buy another iPad2, but I want to wait to see if the rumors of another iPad version in September are true.



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Read More - #10: Apple iPad 2 MC769LL/A Tablet (16GB, WiFi, Black) 2nd Generation

#7: Google Nexus 7 Tablet (16 GB)

Full Disclosure:

I own an iPad 3 and an iTouch and a four, going on five year old Motorola dumb phone.

I'm not going deep into hardware specs, you can read other reviews for that.

[EDIT FOR NEWEST GOOGLE PRESS RELEASE]

On October 29th, Google released the updated Nexus 7. The ONLY things that changed was that the 8gb version was discontinued, the 16gb version dropped to $199 and the 32gb version was released for $249 (both available for purchase NOW). The 3G cellular version is on sale starting November 13, 2012. Do not buy the existing Nexus 7 versions at current prices posted on Amazon! You're paying way too much.

[/END EDIT]

Let's address some of the perceived flaws and some of the real flaws of the Nexus 7.

1) Storage. 8gb and 16gb (the two flavors the Nexus 7 comes in) can go real fast real quick in today's age of HD movies. I took my 16gb iPad on a trip and I maxed out with movies incredibly fast, even after I shrunk them down to least tolerable quality. The Nexus 7 does deserve some criticism for no Micro-SD slot and I was not going to buy it for that sole reason. However, like all good Android Tablets, there's a solution.

[SUPER BIG EDIT FOR HIGHLY IMPORTANT INFORMATION]:

It's called USB On The Go. Essentially you take a USB OTG cable (like $1 on Ebay), plug it into your Nexus 7, download the Nexus Media Importer app (Currently $3 on Google Play) and then connect whatever side hard drive or flash drive you want. The largest size external media I could connect to (and have access too) is a 3TB Western Digital. So much for 8/16 gig limits! The only problem I encountered with large drives is that the Media Importer app (which streams media as well as allowing one way coping to the Nexus 7) is that it crashes when you try to stream media out of folders that contain huge amounts of files, like 3,000 mp3s. If you're cheap, you can do much of the same via Stickmount and a file manager (Stickmount requires rooting). But the Nexus Media Importer just makes it ridiculously easy. Best $3 in credit I spent.

With OTG and flash drives you don't need the cloud. Ever. Seriously, whoever decided to not put in the MicroSD to force cloud should be fired at Google.

Oh yeah. And this requires absolutely ZERO rooting. Take your Nexus out of the box. Download the Nexus Media Importer App. Buy the cable. Plug in your thumb drive. You're good to go.

As of today (10/5/12), I was able to connect a canon point and shoot, iPad 3, iTouch, 4 small flash drives (less than 2 GB), a 1 TB and 3 TB external hard drives (Western Digital), a SD card reader (with regular and microSD via adapter) and was able to pull/stream files off all of them (FAT and NFTS formatting, no EXFAT at the moment sorry!). For some reason my old Motorola ZN5 (ancient eh?) no longer registers anymore, but as long as you plug in relatively new devices you'll be okay. An exception is I plugged in my 9 year old iRiver player and it streamed music perfectly.

Don't forget that OTG also lets you plug in and use keyboards (wired and wireless via dongle) and mice without rooting. Mice generate a cursor when plugged in. Also be aware that OTG may charge devices from your Nexus 7. For you true gamers, PS/3 controllers work as well. Not on all games, but games like Dead Trigger they'll work just like they do on a PS/3. Like to see that on a Kindle Fire or an iPad!

2) Display. Yes, it's not an iPad. It's also less than half the price of the new iPad. Text is still crisp and clean and colors are largely well done. Not iPad well done, but save yourself $300 well done. It's fairly responsive, not iPad response, but better than many other tablets out there. I have no complaints about it. As for the screen separation, that seems to be more of an issue with the 16gb version than the 8gb. I haven't had any ghosting issues either.

3) Camera is pretty terrible. The front facing 1.2 megapixel is nothing to get excited about. And there is no back camera. I honestly don't get why that's just a big deal. You look like a tool using the back camera. Anyone does. Even Olivia Wilde (13 on a total possible score of 10 house fans!) would look like a douche using a tablet's back camera to take video/pictures. Odds are you have your smartphone with a decent camera. Use that. There oddly though, is no app for the camera that ships with the Nexus 7. But there is a free Nexus 7 camera launcher app.

4) Apps. True, the Apple ecosystems has far more apps designed for tablets than Android does. But most of your apps, like skype, facebook, office utilities are all there. Furthermore, rather than being stuck on iTunes you can install Amazon's app store in addition to the preloaded Google Play store.

5) No cellular connection. Fair enough, but it does have the capacity to get on to a hotspot. Meaning, just tether your smart phone. Granted, that costs money, but the fact that something like 80% of all tablets sold, Android and Apple are wifi only suggests that cellular connections on tablets is highly overrated. If you're one of those 8 out of 10 people who don't care about cell connections on your tablet, this shouldn't obviously matter.

[EDIT]: The 3G cellular model available now on Google Play sells for $300. Also, does not support CDMA networks so no Verizon or Sprint. Ships with an AT&T sim card.[/Edit]

6) No Flash - This is technically half wrong. While Jelly Bean does not support Flash off the bat, there are FREE fixes to get flash on to your Nexus.

Google "Install Flash On Nexus 7"

The downside is you need a browser that is flash coded which includes Firefox Beta (free on Google play). It's a bit convoluted but follow the instructions and you'll have your flash games. I've posted pictures on the Nexus 7 8GB image gallery of both flash games AND streaming flash video off my Nexus 7.

If an iPad user like me can figure this out, you can too!

Now on to other things:

Little black rectangle is lightning fast. The five core processor (yes, there are five I'll get to that later) loads things speedy without crashes and without bugs. My iPad crashes apps pretty regularly. Only once has my settings crashed but that was largely due to me screwing up my setup of my Wi-Fi extender. I can't fault the Nexus 7 for that. Speaking of which, the Nexus was super useful walking all over my house and yard to diagnosis network deadzones and other problems. 3/4 of a pound and strong Wi-Fi pick up made that job real easy, especially with free Wi-Fi apps. I could have done that with my iPad, but that would have been far less fun. Also, the Nexus 7 picks up Wi-Fi networks my iPad doesn't.

Jelly Bean isn't as smooth as iOS 5/6 but it is better than every other Android device that my friends and family have used (and I played around with).

Oh yes, five cores. The process actually has a fifth core that keeps basic services running when the device is in sleep mode. That saves massive amounts of energy. The battery life on the Nexus is better than my iPad without comparison even when doing the same things. The fifth core doesn't operate during normal operations. Battery life on this device is phenomenal.

EDIT: On light usage, I am able to get ~195 hours before hitting 5% battery. On medium, movie watching no heavy gaming, I can regularly do ~110 hours before hitting 5%. GPS however, will eat power like nobody's business.

What I like about the Nexus 7 is that I can largely customize anything I want. The Nexus ships with a format that is more phone than tablet, but with a Root and a few apps, I was able to switch it to the Tablet UI that you see in 10" Android tablets. I personally prefer that format but it makes icons smaller to fit it all in. Not the best for older people. But that's the great thing about Android in general. Whatever you want to change, you probably can. And the Nexus 7 is no different.

Google Voice Search is pretty awesome. It's not as good as Siri in actually reading back answers to you, most of my searches lead to a web search with links. Weather does get repeated in a Siri like female voice. Speak slowly and clearly. Or you'll get weird results. Also, phrase questions more as searches than something you'd ask a real human. Google Voice does not do well with questions like "do I need an umbrella today?" Ask "Weather forecast (your location)."

Now, in my opinion, one of the coolest things about the Nexus 7 is in the built in GPS coupled with the free cached maps. Say you're going to visit your friend who's getting married in small town in Iowa. You can either buy a GPS or bring your Nexus 7 with the map of the small town saved to memory. Turn on the GPS and it will track where you on in the town on the map real time no wifi/cell connection required. I downloaded a map of my town and tracked myself going to work. Planning your route out can easily turn the Nexus 7 into a GPS system without any additional costs.

EDIT: Note, this doesn't give you turn by turn directions by itself. To get turn by turn directions you need the "NAvFree USA" (there is a Navfree for other countries) app off the Google Play store. It's free. Download your state and set your destination. It gives out voice commands on when to turn similar to a dedicated GPS device. It doesn't name street names which is expected considering it's free, but it is largely accurate saying "in 100 meters, turn right." My recent test of the app did ask me to drive over a divided highway though. As long as you pay attention though, this app coupled with the Nexus 7 will function as decent GPS offline, no wifi, no cell connection. And it even recalculates the route if you miss a turn. Read more ›



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Read More - #7: Google Nexus 7 Tablet (16 GB)

#5: ASUS RT-N66U Dual-Band Wireless-N900 Gigabit Router

Incredible Performance with Incredible Control

From the Black Diamond series that brought the world's most powerful router, the RT-N56U,1 The ASUS RT-N66U dual-band wireless-N900 gigabit router delivers incredible performance and coverage range. With ASUSWRT, quickly setup your network, customize user access, and monitor signal strength. Following the award-winning RT-N56U, the RT-N66U increases Wi-Fi speed for both 5 GHz and 2.4 GHz transmission by 50% up to 900Mbps that makes it ideal for bandwidth demanding tasks such as HD video steaming, multiplayer gaming, USB hard drive file sharing, and USB connected printer sharing. Built-in Wi-Fi amplifiers make the RT-N66U the perfect wireless router for larger, multi-level homes and buildings with signal range that reaches virtually any area.

Whether you're a tech-savvy enthusiast or a first-time user, the RT-N66U is exceptional easy to use with CD-free, Quick Installation Setup (QIS) that lets you plug-n-surf right out of the box and connect PCs, smartphones, tablets, and other wireless devices quickly. Thanks to its refined interface tools, you get control like never before, letting you monitor signal strength, setup parental settings, and other useful functions in a robust yet intuitive way.

Designed for Class-Leading Speed and Range

Designed with the latest in networking technology, the RT-N66U delivers exceptionally fast wired and wireless connectivity. What's more, it comes with a powerful detachable Wi-Fi antenna to further extend wireless range.

Dual-Band Connectivity for Lag-Free Entertainment

Delivering both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz concurrent bands up to 450Mbps and 450Mbps respectively, the RT-N66U has a total speed of up to 900Mbps connectivity to provide speed with stability. Perform basic internet tasks like Web browsing and file downloading under the 2.4 GHz band, whil e also simultaneously streaming HD content and other demanding applications smoothly on the 5 GHz band.

Optimized and Reliable Wireless Coverage via Ai Radar

ASUS Ai Radar intelligently strengthens connections to wireless devices. With high-powered amplification and beam forming, it provides optimized signals in any direction with better coverage to improve data throu ghput.

Easy Setup Through Your Tablet, Smartphone, or PC

With the RT-N66U, setup is simple. Simply power and connect the router and then open a bowser on a Wi-Fi-enabled device like a laptop o r tablet. You will be taken to a setup page with a prompt to enter the ID/password listed in your manual and that's it! Now setting up your net work is easier than ever.

Powerful functions, easiest management

With the ASUSWRT Dashboard UI, setup, monitor, and control network applications all in one intuitive area. The whole new dashboard interface lets you manage all clients and settings on a single graphic al interface and provides 1-click updates.

Optimize Your Network for You

Do you game a lot, or spend most of your time streaming videos? Whatever your planned use is, the RT-N66U has a Quality of Service (QoS) that lets you select how much bandwidth is prioritized for virtually any task. Plus, the traffic monitor allows you to check your Web usage in a clear and graphical interface.

Two Multi-Functional Built-in USB ports

Featuring connectivity to devices, FTPs, SAMBA, UPnP AV servers, and DLNA support, the RT-N66U makes sharing and networking easier with two built-in USB ports. Download HTTP, FTP, and P2P files to a router-connected USB storage device all day a nd without a PC. Additionally, the twin USB ports allow for networked printer and file server connections, so you perform multiple tasks at on ce.

2.4 GHz and 5 GHz Concurrent Dual-Band Transmissions for b Signal Strength and Ultra-Fast Connection Rates up to 900Mbps (Learn more)Gigabit Ethernet Ports for the Fastest, Most Reliable Internet Performance (Learn more)Download Master for Wireless Data Storage and Access to Router-Connected USB Storage Devices (Learn more)Expanded Wireless Coverage with Detachable High-Powered Antennas (Learn more)File Sharing, Printer Sharing, and 3G Sharing via Multi-Function Twin USB Ports (Learn more)IPv6 enabled for future proof Web surfing compatibilityASUSWRT for Easy Setup, Signal Monitoring, and Network Appli cation Control (Learn more)Processor: Broadcom 470 @ 600MHzRAM: 256MB DDR2Flash: 32MB Flash + Micro SD slotWAN: 1 x Gigabit Ethernet or USB 3G/4G dongle LAN: 4 x Gigabit Ethernet USB: 2 x USB 2.0 ports Antenna: 3 x external detachable for 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz Dimensions: 207 x 148.8 x35.5 (L x W x H)Power Supply: AC Input: 100~240Vac/1.2A 50~60HzDC Output: 19V/ 1.58AButtons: WPS Button, Reset Button, Power Button Frequency: 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz (concurrent)Data Rate: 802.11n (2.4 GHz & 5 GHz) up to 450Mbps; 802.11a/g up to 54Mbps; 802.11b up to 11MbpsOutput Power: High po wer: 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz (user adjustable); 802.11n 17~26 dBm; 802.11g 17~26 dBm; 802.11b up to 26 dBmEncryption: 64/128 bit WEP , WPA-PSK/WPA2-PSK, WPA-Enterprise, WPA2-EnterpriseAuthentication: Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS & PIN)Network Protocol: Automatic IP, Static IP, PPPoE (MPPE support), PPTP, L2TP IPv4, IPv6DHCP: Server, Cl ient, DHCP, Client list, IP and MAC bindingQoS: WMM, User definable rule for IP/MAC, Port, Protocol, upload and download band width managementPort Forwarding: Port forward, Port Trigger, UPnP, DMZDynamic DNS: ASUS DDNS, DynDNS, TZO, Z ONEEDITNAT Pass through: IPSec, PPTP, L2TP, RTSP pass through, PPPoE relayFirewall: NAT and SPI, intrusion detection, DoS protect, Port filter, MAC filterAccess Control: Parental controls, MAC filter, Network service filter, URL fil terManagement: Network map, Traffic monitor, Performance tuning, Telnet server, System logOperation Mode: Rou ter Mode, AP ModeDownload Master: Support BT, NZB, HTTP, FTP, E2DK download; Support encryption: DHT, PEX and Magnet Link; Upl oad and download bandwidth control; Download schedulingDLNA Server: Image: JPEG; Audio: MP3, WMA, WAV, PCM, MP4, LPCM, OGG; Vi deo: ASF, AVI, DIVX, MP2P, MPEG, MPG, TS, VOB, WMV, MKV, MOVPrinter Server: Multifunctional printer supportFil e Server: Samba server & FTP server with account managementVPN Server: PPTP VPN serverRT-N66U Dual-Band Wireless-N900 RouterRJ-45 CableSupport C D (User Manual and Utility Software)Power Adapter Warranty Card Quick Start Guide

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Read More - #5: ASUS RT-N66U Dual-Band Wireless-N900 Gigabit Router

Minggu, 10 Maret 2013

#4: ASUS ASUS RT-AC66U Dual-Band Wireless-AC1750 Gigabit Router

Update (10/1/12):
I downgraded the firmware back to 164. Since I upgraded the firmware to 220, I have already rebooted the router about 4~5x, the internet connection suddenly stops. I don't know if it's just me, but I feel that the router is a bit warmer when I touch it using firmware 220. I don't have any temperature measuring device so I can't confirm that it's really warmer (I did not adjust the transmit power setting, fyi).

Update (9/12/12):
I updated the firmware to version 3.0.0.4.220, and the 2 previous problems I stated is still existing.. I don't mind it that much but I still hope Asus fixes it soon. Workaround for 1.) I connect my PC to 2.4Ghz. 2.) I use Splashtop from my iPhone to connect to my home PC from office.

AiCloud looks promising, supposedly you could view/play your media files from your iphone/ipad and android devices within and outside your network. But I'm stuck with the loading page, after I put my login user and password. My iphone can't login. Can anyone confirm if the aicloud works?

Update (8/30/12):
So far have encountered 2 problems with the latest firmware (3.0.0.4.164)

1. I'm using Nero Media Home 4 in my PC to share my media to my wireless TV, Bluray and PS3. When my PC is connected to 5Ghz, the tv, bluray and ps3 cannot connect to Nero. When I connect to 2.4Ghz, they can see Nero and play the media. This works fine with N66U.

2. I have setup port forwarding for Remote Desktop Connection, so I can connect to my home PC from my office. It's not working. This again, is working fine with N66U.

QOS is also a known problem, but I'm not using it for now. I believe it's just a firmware issue since both are working with N66U. I hope it gets fixed with the next firmware release.

Original Review:
I bought this to share my media files, from an external hard drive, to my 3d tv and wireless bluray in bedroom. So far I'm not disappointed. I also have N66U to compare with, I've read from other reviewers that this router gets hot, when I touch the top part, it is warm but not hot, which is the same with my N66U.

This is suppose to have a greater coverage compare to N66, but to my experience, the coverage is the same, which is already awesome.

Initial setup was very straightforward, easy, fast and CD-less. Below are the actual steps after opening the box:
1. Connect LAN cable from modem, LAN cable going to PC, and power cable
2. Open web browser. Router setup page automatically shows up. Click Next
3. Type the User login and Password that you want. Click Next
4. Type the SSID and key for 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz (or you can click the checkbox: Copy 2.4Ghz settings to 5Ghz settings). Click Apply.
After that, your wireless device should now be able to connect to your new router. I even used the same SSID and password from my previous router, and my devices connected automatically after the setup.

These are my devices that connects to this router:
- 3 laptops
- 2 Iphones
- Ipad
- wireless tv
- wireless bluray
- PS3
- wireless printer
No problem with connections, no disconnects, iphones when outside the apartment are still connected.

PROS
- Media Bridge mode. Applicable using 2 AC66U. This feature is not available to N66U
- Dual band, 450Mbps+1300Mbps. I can't comment with the AC speeds, I don't have wireless AC clients for now.
- HTTPS authentication when accessing admin page. If your using this for office/business use, this is plus.
- AiCloud. Coming soon, the app is not yet available from the appstore/googleplay as of this review. (This is now available as of firmware version 3.0.0.4.220)
- 2 USB ports. Supports external hard drives, printers or 3g/4g modems
- 3TB external harddrive works (Manual says only up to 2TB is supported). Tested using Seagate expansion 3TB STBV3000100. My TVs won't even accept 3TB harddrives when connected directly to its usb ports.
- DHCP Manual IP assignment (if you need static private IP on your device)
- DLNA. Streams HD vids, pics and 3D vids to my LG tv and my LG bluray player, no lags, no disconnects. And this is even using wireless connection and not wired.
- Awesome range. Before, I was using a cheap netgear, single band 2.4Ghz, included from my ISP. From the farthest point in my apartment, I get 2 bars of signal in windows 7 wireless network connection settings. With AC66U, I get full 5 bars using 2.4Ghz, and 4 bars on the 5Ghz band.
- 3 Large external antennas
- Download Master (if your into P2P downloading/uploading)
- Option to vertically stand the router, or wall mount
- User friendly setup
- Impressive performance particularly on 5Ghz band
- Stylish looks and superb quality
- Ability to install 3rd party firmwares

CONS
- Steep price (but worth it!)
- Lack of USB 3.0 (not a big deal, since I don't get usb 2.0 speeds for file transfer using FTP or Samba, which I already know before purchasing this)
- Manual is a bit helpful, but this router has tons of features and the manual only mentions the basic functionalities.

If you got the money, and want a great performing router and stylish as well, I Highly Recommend Asus RT-AC66U. If you're about to buy N66U, just add $20~30 to your budget, and get this router, you won't regret.



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Read More - #4: ASUS ASUS RT-AC66U Dual-Band Wireless-AC1750 Gigabit Router