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Samsung Galaxy Note GT-N7000 Unlocked Phone--International Version (Blue)
Samsung Galaxy Note GT-N7000 Unlocked Phone--International Version (Blue)
13 used & new from $199.00

345 of 355 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best of both worlds, December 29, 2011
2012 called. It said it wanted it's triple duty device. Kept saying that it wanted a phone, a tablet and a notepad all in one or else.....Luckily, Samsung answered.

The mobile phone / tablet market seems to be heading towards touchscreen only devices, styluses not included. Market leaders seem to have forgotten that some of us like to "write" instead of type. By limiting their input methods, they're forcing us to adapt to them, not making their products adapt to us. The Galaxy Note is a product that goes in the opposite direction. It allows you the flexibility to use it the way you want, whether you prefer to type, write or touch.

I've purchased it unlocked and since I bought it, I leave my cell phone and tablet at home. I no longer need to carry them round. It was a hassle carrying around my tablet + a stylus for writing notes, my laptop for all the other stuff and a cellphone to make calls. The Galaxy Note replaced my tablet and cell phone in one easy swoop, with no adjustment issues. I still carry my laptop though ( for more demanding work)

As a product, to me. the Note makes perfect sense. A 1280 x 800 resolution(285 pixels per inch - high pixel density) 5.3 inch SuperAMOLED screen ( bright, colorful, sharp ), makes The Note the perfect size for for quickly jotting down notes as well as carrying with you. Games and videos look brilliant on the 5.3 inch screen. Reading E-Books is fun and you don't have to squint to make out words like on a regular phone.

Some reviewers have claimed that the phone isn't portable, that's not true. It fits easily in my pockets. I wear regular jeans though, not super skinny stop blood flow to my organs jeans. The Note is 178 grams, has a sleek profile and doesn't weigh you down.

It's backed by other high end features like a dual core 1.4 ghz processor, 16 gb inbuilt memory + a micro SD card slot (Compatible with 32gb cards) GSM cell phone capabilities, 8 mp rear camera (1080 capable at 17mbps bitrate - clean crisp video), 2 mp front camera, and most importantly, the S - Pen. This makes the G-Note a capable notepad replacement. Need to jot down an idea quick? Make a shopping list? It's easy with the S-Pen. The S-Memo app that was specifically designed for taking notes with the S-Pen is smooth and responsive. It's perfect for using in conjunction with the S-Pen to write stuff down. However, in case you don't like the S-Memo app, you could download for your G-Note from the Amazon android market, apps like CATCH and SKITCH. Both are free, support the S-Pen and are great note taking / annotation tools.

Battery life is brilliant, considering the screen and processor powering the G-Note it easily lasts for a 2 days if used heavily (Web browsing, emails, phone calls,Note taking, games) and goes up till 3 days if you stick to non-demanding activities such as phone calls and web browsing.

Some of the "real world" ways in which I've used this phone are

Click a photo, jot down notes on it, send it to an interior designer.

Make annotations to an email.

Jot down drawings.

Write a shopping list.

Make a Travel Expense plan

Surf the internet (with flash enabled on demand ) so if I want to watch a flash video, it's up to me. Not anyone else.

Edit photos

Make phone / Skype video calls

Read Kindle books

Connect it to a PC monitor through a (MHL) USB to HDMI adapter and used a bluetooth keyboard to type out emails and watch movies. (Just for the heck of it - considering the G-Note has the specifications of a top of the line notebook from a few years ago, I wanted to test it out. If you feel like doing the same, you'll need a Menotek Micro USB to HDMI MHL Adapter for Samsung Galaxy S2, HTC Evo 3D, HTC Evo 4G Tablet, HTC Sensation 4G, Sprint Epic 4G Touch, Galaxy Nexus )

For me, the Galaxy Note shows what Samsung is capable of and what other companies should / could do if they weren't too scared of giving a customer a complete product instead of making him buy 2 products to do the job of one. Brilliant engineering, great design and a solid, flexible product that takes the place of two products in one easy move. In my opinion, in 2012, this is truly, the best of both worlds. Pocketable, portable, capable and fast. I no longer feel the need to buy an iPad2 or a Galaxy Tab 10 or any other tablet. The Note goes with me everywhere, in my pocket and does whatever I need it to do. It definitely gets my vote for best mobile phone / hybrid tablet for 2012. Highly recommended.

Technical Specifications (from Samsung.com) - for those who may be interested
Quad-band GSM and quad-band 3G support
5.3" 16M-color Super AMOLED capacitive touchscreen of WXGA resolution (800 x 1280 pixels)
Android OS v2.3.5 with TouchWiz 4 launcher
1.4 GHz dual-core Cortex-A9 CPU, Mali-400MP GPU, Exynos chipset, 1GB of RAM
Pre-bundled with the S Pen active stylus
2MP secondary video-call camera
8 MP wide-angle autofocus camera with LED flash, face, smile and blink detection
Video recording of up to 1080p@30fps
Dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11 b, g and n support; Wi-Fi Direct and Wi-Fi hotspot
GPS with A-GPS connectivity; Digital compass
16/32GB internal storage, microSD slot
Accelerometer, gyroscope and proximity sensor
Standard 3.5 mm audio jack
Charging MHL microUSB port with USB host and TV-out (1080p through optional adapter) support
Stereo Bluetooth v3.0
FM radio with RDS
9.7 mm slim / weighs 178g
Full Flash support and GPU-acceleration for the web browser permit 1080p flash video playback
NFC support (optional)
Document editor
2500 mAh battery

Hope this helps!
Comment Comments (41) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 5, 2013 4:52 PM PST


Apple Mac Mini MC815LL/A Desktop (OLD VERSION)
Apple Mac Mini MC815LL/A Desktop (OLD VERSION)
10 used & new from $479.89

426 of 465 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars OK MAC MINI, July 23, 2011
The Mac Mini has been updated on July 20th 2011. It no longer includes an optical drive. The price has also been reduced by $100. There are some major upgrades and minor changes between the 2011 base Mac Mini and 2010 model which I've detailed below.

Major Upgrades

2.3 GHz Intel Core i5 dual-core processor - a major upgrade over 2010's model which used the antiquated Intel Core 2 Duo processor.

Intel HD Graphics 3000 integrated graphics processor - An upgrade but not really as benchmarks show that the I.G 3000 is worse or at best equal to the Nvidia 320m integrated graphics processor in last years model.

Thunderbolt port - a super fast data transfer port. Data transfer speeds (in daily use) are supposed to be as fast as USB 3.0 and firewire 800 if not more. But useless as of now, because no consumer level thunderbolt compatible products are available. The products that do exist are horribly overpriced. The TB port also functions as a Minidisplay port. For connecting your Mac Mini to a monitor, you'll need a Syba High Quality Mini DisplayPort to DVI Adapter If you want to connect it to a tv, you'll need a Kanex iAdapt MDPHDMIV2 HDMI V2 - Mini DisplayPort to HDMI Adapter with Audio Support

Bluetooth 4.0 technology - the latest version of Bluetooth. Useful for transferring data off your mobile phone and connecting other Bluetooth peripherals (keyboards, magic trackpad etc) to your Mac Mini.

500 gb (5400 rpm) hard drive - last years model had a 320 gb hard drive. A minor upgrade. Slow.

NOTE - the Mac Mini no longer has an optical drive (Superdrive).

STANDARD FEATURES - from last years model (minor changes noted in brackets) are

Unibody enclosure
2gb of 1333 MHz DDR3 Ram - 1gb ram sticks x 2 (It supports up to 8 GB. In the 2010 model it was 2gb of 1066 Mhz DDR3 Ram.)

HDMI audio/video output with support for up to 1920 x 1200-pixel resolution and multichannel audio output (HDMI to DVI output adapter included if required to connect to a DVI only monitor)

Four USB 2.0 ports
One FireWire 800 port
Combined optical digital output/headphone output

Secure Digital memory card slot compatible with SD, SDHC, and SDXC media
Gigabit Ethernet wired networking (10/100/1000BASE-T)
Wi-Fi - 802.11n specification; 802.11a/b/g compatible

Software included is OS X 10.7 Lion and a 1 year warranty on parts and 90 day telephone technical support is standard.

The new Intel i5 processor in the base Mac Mini is a speed demon, allowing the Mac Mini to obliterate 2010's model in performance benchmarks as well as real world usage. The Mac Mini is excellent when it comes to watching full HD videos, working on documents, listening to music, streaming movies / music, surfing the web and other regular computing tasks.

Something to be aware of though,there is no optical drive in this year's Mac Mini. If you need one, you'll have to purchase an external DVD drive and connect it to the Mini through one of it's USB 2.0 ports. Apple expects you to download all software from the internet (Amazon digital downloads,Itunes Store, etc etc). Taking away choice from the buyer is never a good thing for anyone except for Apple.

Apple is still including 2 gb of ram in this machine - which is sad / shameful / disgusting (take your pick) for a product being sold in 2012 but I'm sure they have their reasons (Upsell to the mid level Mac Mini or the Mac Mini Server. Higher profit margins. Etc etc) but this leads to a degraded user experience out of the box. The Mac Mini is unable to multitask effectively. System lockups, pinwheels, stuttering.

I recommend adding 4gb (2 x 2 sticks) Corsair 8 GB DDR3 Laptop Memory Kit CMSO8GX3M2A1333C9 of ram if you want to multitask smoothly. It's easy to replace the ram, just twist the bottom cover, open it up, pull out the old ram sticks and add the new sticks. (I suggest reading through the manual once before you do so though) Apple has also bumped up the hard drive capacity from 320 to 500gb but it's still a 5400rpm hard drive. Another helpful way for contributing to a degraded user experience as programs take longer to launch.

Thunderbolt is a good addition to the machine but useless as of now because no consumer level (affordable) Thunderbolt products exist. The products that do exist like the Apple Thunderbolt Display and the Promise Pegasus NAS Hard Drive Array, both cost $1000. The Thunderbolt cable itself costs $50.

Last year, when I wrote my review of the 2010 Mac Mini. I said that the Mac Mini was a horrible value for the price considering it contained an antiquated C2D processor(and rightly so). However the changes in this year's model make the Mac Mini an OK purchase at this point in time. With a $100 price drop and the new machine being twice as powerful as the old one due to the Intel i5 processor, the base model 2011 Mac Mini is recommended if you're looking for a capable, non obtrusive,power saving machine that will handle your daily computing tasks. But think about it. For all of Apple's " It Just Works" motto, this machine doesn't "Just work" until you add additional ram by yourself. Which again makes me ask, why would I or any other customer pay a premium price for a hobbled user experience out of the box? Not a good move by Apple. It makes them seem no different than any of the other low end electronics companies that try to nickel and dime us. Hopefully next years model will include enough ram to run smoothly out of the box.

Notes of Interest - The power supply of the Mac Mini is still internal. This may look cleaner from a design standpoint but it can also be considered a design flaw. If the power supply ever malfunctions, instead of a power brick, you'll have to take your entire Mac mini in to an Apple Store or Apple Authorized Service Provider and leave it there for repairs which may lead to more downtime.

No optical Drive - From now on, it's basically BYOMKM and D (Bring your own Mouse, Keyboard, Monitor and Disc burner) If you need to buy an optical drive, that will be $50 - $80 extra. Certain reviewers are claiming that Apple was able to drop the optical drive which is why they have reduced the price by $100 and they wanted to pass the savings on to "us" the consumers. That's not true. Keep in mind that that the Mini has always had an optical drive before this model. The Mac Mini when launched, first cost $499, then went up to $599 and finally $699. At all those earlier price points, an optical drive was included in the machine. Now the machine costs $599 but doesn't include an optical drive. So if you read a review telling you that Apple could reduce the price by $100 only because they removed the optical drive, that's not true. Apple removed the optical drive for their selfish reasons ( To push users towards digital downloads from their App store, etc etc)

Also, the standard Mac Mini now has space for a second hard drive due to the removal of the optical drive. So if you wanted, you could add a second hard drive. It's a complicated process (Why? Cus Apple wants it that way) and it may void the warranty IF you break something while doing so but it's possible. You'll also need a special SATA cable. For detailed instructions on how to, check iFixit.com

Value Equation - Even though the Mac Mini is the cheapest mac desktop, it can get expensive fast. Cost is an important aspect to consider before you jump into Apple Land. If you decide to upgrade the ram ($60) and also need to purchase a LCD monitor ($100 to 300) keyboard and mouse ($30 to 60) and optical drive ($50 - $80) and AppleCare Protection Plan for Mac Mini (NEWEST VERSION) ($144) once you total it all up, the Mac mini will end up costing almost as much as a Macbook Air (low end model which is more portable) or the entry level iMac (21.5 inch screen, 4gb of ram, dedicated graphics). If that's the case, you better off examining those machines as purchase options instead of buying a Mini or purchasing a Home.Theater.PC by any reputed PC maker.

Hope this helps!
Comment Comments (29) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 19, 2013 9:31 PM PST


AppleCare Protection Plan for Mac Laptops 15 Inches and Above (NEWEST VERSION)
AppleCare Protection Plan for Mac Laptops 15 Inches and Above (NEWEST VERSION)
Price: $244.00
8 used & new from $239.00

82 of 91 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Necessary Payment, April 8, 2011
FULL DISCLOSURE - Parts of this review are the same / similar as / to my review of the A.P.P. for 13" Macbooks as both are essentially the same products.

Please note, this version of the Applecare.Protection.Plan is ONLY for the Macbook Pro 15" and 17".

The Macbook and the Macbook Pro 13" are covered under another version of the Applecare Protection Plan -AppleCare Protection Plan for Mac Laptops 13 Inches and Below (NEWEST VERSION)

The Applecare Protection Plan - an expensive requirement if you buy / own an Apple notebook.

What most people don't know is that Apple doesn't make the logicboards (motherboards) or the processors or the hard drives or the DVD burners inside their Macbooks. Like all computer manufacturers, Apple sources its parts from component manufacturers like Seagate, Nvidia, Intel, Sony etc etc. These parts just like all electronic components can and may fail after a period of time. Once a part fails and if your macbook pro's one year standard warranty is over, Apple charges extremely high fees to repair or replace parts.

For example - Motherboard replacement - $1000 to $1200. Superdrive replacement - $200 to $300. LCD screen replacement - $800 to $1000. It's better to pay for Applecare once than pay Apple exorbitant repair fees every time a part fails.

Basically, the A.P.P. is a 2 year warranty extension to your apple laptop's standard one year hardware warranty. It provides unlimited phone support and hardware diagnosis. It also offers Mail-in repair for Mac notebooks using a prepaid shipping box provided by Apple and service by an apple store or an Apple Authorized Service Provider.

The A.P.P. also gives you global repair coverage so if a hardware issues arises while you're in another country and there's an Apple Store or Apple Authorised Service Provider near by, you can take your mac in for diagnosis and repair.

It does not offer any sort of damage protection or on-site repair.

Please remember to buy the A.P.P. if you plan to do so before the first year of ownership is up. If you bought your machine on X Date 2011 - buy the A.P.P.before X Date 2012. Apple will not honor an A.P.P. policy bought even 2 days after the first year is over (in most cases unless you get lucky and speak to a friendly agent on the phone willing to relax the rules a bit)

I'm sorry to be recommending an extended warranty, but it's a necessary evil with Apple products. There is no guarantee that something will go wrong with your expensive mac notebook after the first year but if something does go wrong after the first year, it's better to be covered by the A.P.P. and avoid paying those exorbitant repair/replacement costs.

NOTE - Don't buy Applecare from Apple. Shop around - there are good deals to be found at Authorised Apple resellers and other legit online outlets. Amazon used to be one of the best places to purchase an A.P.P. from but Amazon has raised it's price also. It used to sell the A.P.P. for $ 299 dollars, but has now increased the price to $ 325 and it's been stuck there for a while. I have no idea why Amazon raised the price but you should buy when the price is low or a price correction occurs.
Hope this helps!
Comment Comments (15) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 5, 2014 3:37 PM PDT


AppleCare Protection Plan for Mac Laptops 13 Inches and Below (NEWEST VERSION)
AppleCare Protection Plan for Mac Laptops 13 Inches and Below (NEWEST VERSION)
Price: $174.00
10 used & new from $170.00

172 of 178 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Necessary but expensive, April 5, 2011
Please note, this version of the Applecare Protection Plan is only for the Macbook, the Macbook Pro 13" and the Macbook Air.

The Macbook Pro 15" and 17" are covered under another version of the Applecare Protection Plan - AppleCare Protection Plan for Mac Laptops 15 Inches and Above (NEWEST VERSION) - For Portable Apple Computers 15 Inches and Above

The Applecare Protection Plan - an expensive but necessary requirement if you buy an apple laptop.

Why is it a requirement? Because Apple doesn't make the hard drives or the logicboards (motherboards) or the processors or the DVD burners inside their machines. Apple sources its parts from component manufacturers like Seagate, Nvidia, Intel, Sony etc etc. These parts just like all electronic components can and may fail after a period of time. Once a part fails, Apple is generally known to charge extremely high fees to repair or replace parts.

For example - Motherboards - $800 to $1200. Superdrive replacement - $200 to $300. LCD screen replacement - $500 to $600) It's better to be pay for Applecare once than pay Apple exorbitant repair fees every time a part fails.

Basically, the A.P.P. is a 2 year warranty extension to your apple laptop (that comes with a one year hardware warranty), it provides unlimited phone support and hardware diagnosis. It also offers Mail-in repair for Mac notebooks using a prepaid shipping box provided by Apple and service by an apple store or an Apple Authorized Service Provider.

Every mac (just like any other computer maker) comes with a 1 year standard warranty with 90 days of telephone support. During that one year, your hardware is covered against defects and failure by the standard Apple warranty (but not damage caused by you or accidents) If you purchase Applecare, then it adds 2 more years of hardware coverage against defects and unlimited telephone support after the one year is up.

The A.P.P. also gives you global repair coverage so if a hardware issues arises while you're in another country and there's an Apple Store or Apple Authorised Service Provider near by, you can take your mac in for diagnosis and repair.

It does not offer any sort of damage protection or on-site repair.

Please remember to buy the A.P.P. if you plan to do so before the first year of ownership is up. If you bought your machine on X Date 2011 - buy the A.P.P.before X Date 2012. Apple will not honor an A.P.P. policy bought even 2 days after the first year is over (in most cases unless you get lucky and speak to a friendly agent on the phone willing to relax the rules a bit)

I HATE to be recommending an extended warranty, but it's a necessary evil. There is no guarantee that something will go wrong with your expensive mac notebook after the first year but if something does go wrong after the first year, it's better to be covered by the A.P.P. and avoid paying those exorbitant repair/replacement costs.

If you don't want to buy Applecare, a great alternative is SquareTrade 3-Year Laptop/Tablet Warranty Plus Accident Protection (Laptop/Tablet $1000-1250). They have a protection package for computers too AND it includes damage protection (which Applecare doesn't offer)

NOTE - Don't buy Applecare from Apple. Look around - there are good deals to be found at Authorised Apple resellers and other legit online outlets which sell Applecare at a better price than Apple itself.

Hope this helps!
Comment Comments (14) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 5, 2013 9:07 PM PDT


Apple MacBook Pro MC724LL/A 13.3-Inch Laptop (OLD VERSION)
Apple MacBook Pro MC724LL/A 13.3-Inch Laptop (OLD VERSION)
30 used & new from $679.99

371 of 385 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Sense and Dollars, March 24, 2011
Let's assume you're confused between buying the "standard" $1199 Macbook Pro 13 and this "high end" $1499 Macbook Pro 13.

I'd like to help in simplifying the decision making process.

This "High end" model is still not a good purchase (with regards to value) when compared to the "standard" Apple MacBook Pro MC700LL/A 13.3-Inch Laptop

The ONLY differences between the two 2011 MBP 13's are minor and consist of a super small processor speed difference and hard drive space. The standard MBP 13 has a 2.3GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor + a 320 gb 5400 rpm hard drive while the high end MBP 13 has a 2.7GHz dual-core Intel Core i7 processor + a 500 gb hard drive.

For value conscious consumers, I've pasted Speedmark 6.5 and Geekbench results below. Speedmark is Macworld Lab's standard test tool for benchmarking Macs. It's used to test overall speed and efficiency of macs. Geekbench is the most recognized benchmarking software for Mac.

Speedmark 6.5 results:
2011 Macbook Pro 13

13" MacBook Pro 2.3GHz Core i5 dual-core - Score = 140
13" MacBook Pro 2.7GHz Core i7 dual-core - Score = 155

Only 15 points more. Not even a 15% difference.

Geekbench Benchmark results
13" MBP 2.3 GHz dual i5 2011: 5948
13" MBP 2.7 GHz dual i7 2011, 6796

A difference of 848 points - which equals up to a 12% difference.

So you're paying $300 more (20% of the cost of the $1499 MBP 13 or 25% of the cost of the standard $1199 MBP 13) for a 12% difference, a 400 mhz processor speed difference (not at all major in any way as seen in the benchmarks) and a 180 gb hard drive space increase.

EVERYTHING else is is the same in both models, from the 1280 x 800 resolution 13 inch LED screen to the Intel HD 3000 integrated graphics to the Superdrive DVD burner to the Thunderbolt Port,FaceTime HD Camera, backlit keyboard, 4gb ram, two USB 2.0 ports, Wi-fi B/G/N, bluetooth 2.1 and Gigabit ethernet

The software included in both models is the same too, Mac OSX 10.7 "Lion" and the iLife suite of content creation tools. A 1 year warranty on parts and 90 day telephone technical support is also standard on both models

What if you chose to buy the standard MBP 13?

If you did that, you could then buy a 500 gb hard drive Western Digital Scorpio Blue 500 GB Bulk/OEM Hard Drive 2.5 Inch, 8 MB Cache, 5400 RPM SATA II WD5000BEVT for $ 55 and install it yourself in your standard MBP 13 which would then have a hard drive just as large as the higher end MBP 13.The installation instructions are included in the MBP 13 manual and it doesn't void the warranty. Installation videos are also available online.

And you'd still have $245 left to buy an AppleCare Protection Plan for Mac Laptops 13 Inches and Below (NEWEST VERSION) or a SquareTrade 3-Year Laptop/Tablet Warranty Plus Accident Protection (Laptop/Tablet $1000-1250) to protect your shiny new MBP 13 for 2 more years after the standard one year warranty is up.

Until Apple actually puts in a major differentiation feature or upgrade in the higher end MBP 13, I'd recommend you shop smart, save your money and opt for the standard Apple MacBook Pro MC700LL/A 13.3-Inch Laptop. It's 99% identical to the more expensive MBP 13 and a much stronger product when it comes to the value for money factor. And use the rest of the money to buy a warranty and a hard drive upgrade if you feel like.

Hope this helps!

NOTE - Fellow Amazon customer Diane (Her comment can be seen in the comments section of this review) has spoken to an Apple rep and she had this to say "Even the Apple Rep that I spoke with at the Apple store recommended the MBP 13 as is and said the differences were not worth the extra money. Said the average user would not notice any differences in the 2 units - just cost." Another Amazon customer, Marcin (His comment can be seen in the comments section of this review) said an apple salesperson told him ""We have both on the shelf. But there is no reason to buy i7, you will not see the difference".

Something to think about. Thank you.

UPDATE - Professional review site Notebookcheck.net did a review of both Machines. I've posted the links to the full reviews below as well as summary quotes.

Quote # 1 - referring to the performance difference between the standard and high end MBP 13 - ( link - [...]

"It's also interesting to take a look at how the model at hand measures up to the weaker MacBook Pro 13 version with a Core i5 processor. The less powerful model performs 91% as quickly as the Core i7 model, that is, only slightly slower."

Quote # 2 - Referring to the battery life of the standard MBP 13 ( link - [...]

"The model we're reviewing here trumps the more powerful version of the MBP13 with an 11-16% longer battery life in all test scenarios (note: wifi test results not comparable)"

So the standard Apple MacBook Pro MC700LL/A 13.3-Inch Laptop has better battery life by 11 to 16%, has 91% of this "higher end" MBP 13's performance ability AND costs 25% less.

Hope this helps!
Comment Comments (81) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 2, 2011 9:11 AM PDT


Apple MacBook Pro MC700LL/A 13.3-Inch Laptop (OLD VERSION)
Apple MacBook Pro MC700LL/A 13.3-Inch Laptop (OLD VERSION)
83 used & new from $559.98

45 of 49 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars MBP 13 GOOD!, March 11, 2011
The Macbook Pro 13 has just been updated on Feb 24th 2010. There are some upgrades and a few major changes between this years model and 2010's model, detailed below.

The UPGRADES are

1) The MBP 13 base model now has a 2.3 GHz Intel Core i5 dual-core processor which is a massive upgrade over the outdated Core2Duo processors in last years model. These processors are great for multitasking and content creation (video and audio encoding/decoding )

2)Thunderbolt port. This is a super fast data transfer port now included in the MBP 13. Data transfer speeds (in daily use) are supposed to be as fast as USB 3.0 and firewire 800 if not more. As of now, no thunderbolt compatible products are available at retail but should be available soon. The TB port also functions as a Minidisplay port. For connecting your MBP 13 to an external monitor, you'll need a Syba High Quality Mini DisplayPort to DVI Adapter If you want to connect it to a tv, you'll need a Kanex iAdapt MDPHDMIV2 HDMI V2 - Mini DisplayPort to HDMI Adapter with Audio Support

3) iSight HD Camera - The camera now can make 720p resolution videocalls with support for facetime.

4) 320 GB hard drive - up from 250 gb in last years model (a small 70 gb difference)

5) SDXC card slot - the XC stands for extended capacity so you'll be able to add SD cards of extremely high capacities.

STANDARD FEATURES carried over from last years 13 inch model are

An Aluminum unibody,
1280 x 800 resolution Glossy LED backlit screen,
8x slot-loading SuperDrive dvd burner
4GB ram

Large glass multi-touch trackpad
Backlit keyboard with comfortable chiclet keys
Magsafe power adapter (with redesigned tip to reduce stress on the cable)

1 Firewire 800 port,
2 USB 2.0 ports ,

Stereo speakers and subwoofer.
Wi-Fi - 802.11n ; 802.11a/b/g compatible, Bluetooth 2.1 and Gigabit Ethernet -10/100/1000.
7 hours of battery life.

So some key changes, including a transition to Intel's 2011 processors, a thunderbolt port and a HD webcam make up the list of upgrades for the early 2011 model. The processor is much faster than last year's Core 2 Duo model and editing photos and videos is a lot snappier.

Apple continues to include integrated graphics in the MBP 13's and these models have Intel's Integrated.Graphics 3000 graphics processor. Which is not really an upgrade. Most benchmarks reveal that the I.G 3000 is worse or at best equal to the Nvidia 320m integrated graphics processor in last years model.

The machine still has 4gb of ram, which is great for multi-tasking. You probably won't need more unless you're really into running virtual machines or editing super large graphic files or images.

It also comes with a 320gb 5400 rpm hard drive, which is not that great capacity wise and probably contributes to a somewhat degraded user experience (as applications will take longer to launch due to the slow rotational speed of the hard drive) Apple needs to realise it's selling a "Pro" product priced at a premium and the user experience should reflect that. (In totality, not just through the software) Luckily, its quite easy to upgrade the hard drive by yourself and doesn't void the warranty unless you break something (so be careful)

Apple now advertises the 2011 MBP as having battery life upto 7 hours. As I mentioned in my 2010 MBP review, the battery life of the MBP 13 was closer to 5 to 6 hours instead of the impossible to achieve 9 to 10 hours Apple advertised. The reduction in the 2011 MBP 13 battery life is not a downgrade, it's just Apple being honest. The battery is still inbuilt so once it's exhausted, you will have to take your machine back to an Apple store or an Apple Authorized Service Provider for replacement. However, Apple states that the battery will hold 80% of it's charge for up to a 1000 charges which means approximately 3 to 4 years of daily use. So it should be a while before you have to go in for that battery replacement.

Software included is OS X 10.7 "Lion" and the iLife 2011 suite of content creation tools (which include iPhoto, Garageband, iWeb and iMovie).

A 1 year warranty on parts and 90 day telephone technical support is standard.

The new i5 processor upgrade, 4gb of ram and other design elements such as the large multitouch trackpad and the backlit keyboard make this a great machine to use daily. The MBP 13 is a sleek, solid product, fast enough for most purposes and is more than capable for the majority of daily tasks. Demanding applications like Skype, Photoshop, Lightroom, iMovie run smoothly. Definitely recommended for school / college work, photo editing, music composing, basic video editing and video chat.

If you do decide to purchase a MBP 13, I recommend purchasing applecare also - AppleCare Protection Plan for Portable Apple Computers 13 Inches and Below (Newest Version) along with the notebook.

As Apple uses most of the same parts (hard drives, processors, dvd drives, wireless cards) that other laptop manufacturers use, their reliability is no worse or better than other laptop manufacturers. But when and if a product / part malfunction occurs after the first year limited warranty has ended, Apple charges extremely high fees for repairing and replacing parts (when compared to other laptop manufacturers ) IF you don't have Applecare.

Keep in mind, the A.P.P. only covers hardware failure - not accidental damage so it's still expensive for what you get but it's better than paying Apple's prices for repair/replacement parts.

Another viable warranty extension option that you could buy instead of Applecare is SquareTrade 3-Year Laptop/Tablet Warranty Plus Accident Protection (Laptop/Tablet $1000-1250)(which costs the same as Applecare but also includes damage protection which is a big plus point ). It's better to pay once for Applecare or Squaretrade (whatever you prefer) and be covered for 2 more years after the first year is up than pay exorbitant repair/replacement fees to Apple if a part malfunctions.

Also, in case you're confused between the standard MBP 13 and the higher end MBP 13, it's simple - This is the better buy between the two MBP 13's with regards to value.

Here are some facts to help you make an informed choice. I've posted Geekbench results below - Geekbench is the most recognized benchmarking software for Macs.

Geekbench Benchmark results
Standard 13" MBP 2.3 GHz dual i5 2011: 5948
High end 13" MBP 2.7 GHz dual i7 2011, 6796

There is a difference of 848 points between the standard MBP 13 and the high end MBP 13 - which shows a 12% difference.

If you buy the higher end MBP 13, you'd pay $300 more (25% of the cost of the standard $1199 MBP 13 or 20% of the cost of the $1499 MBP 13 ) for a minor 12% difference due to a 400 mhz processor speed difference (not at all major in any way as seen in the benchmarks) and a 180 gb hard drive space increase. This standard MBP 13 is the better buy between the two models in terms of bang for your buck since every other tech specification and feature is identical amongst the two models.

Hope this helps!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 2, 2011 11:55 PM PST


Apple iPod touch 32GB Black (4th Generation) (Discontinued by Manufacturer)
Apple iPod touch 32GB Black (4th Generation) (Discontinued by Manufacturer)
Offered by PRICE 2 SAVE
Price: $234.75
280 used & new from $118.00

69 of 78 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Does a lot Device, September 6, 2010
The iPod touch 4th generation was introduced on Sep 1 2010. There are a few substantial upgrades in comparison to the 2009 iPod touch detailed below.

UPGRADES

A 1ghz A4 processor - faster and more energy efficient than the 2009 model

960-by-640 resolution backlit 3.5 inch LCD ("Retina") display - 4 x increase in resolution over the 2009 model's 480 by 320 pixel resolution screen.

Three-axis gyroscope - useful for gaming and motion controlled applications.

Dual cameras
Camera 1 is a 640 x 480 resolution frontal camera for video chat (through Wi-Fi networks but limited to video chats only between iPhone 4's and the iPod touch 4th generation through the Facetime app)

Camera 2 is a 1280 x 720 resolution rear camera for recording 720P HD video - limited to 960 x 720 resolution for photos which is extremely low. However the 720P video quality is good enough.

In Built microphone - Useful for voice and video chat ("Facetime") and voice and video recording.

Longer battery life by 33% - it now lasts for 40 hours for listening to music and 7 hours for playing videos - (2009 iPod touch was 30 hours of music playback and 6 hours of video playback)

802.11b/g/n wireless (2009 iPod touch was only 802.11b/g capable)

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This is a capable upgrade, with the video chat capability "FACETIME" being the flagship feature of the 4th generation iPod touch. You can use either of the two cameras( rear or frontal ) to talk to people over a wi-fi connection. This makes it a great communication tool if you're sitting at home and want to talk to someone without having to go through the motions of turning on your laptop etc etc. The Facetime videochat app also allows you to video chat between other iPhone 4 and 4th generation iPod touch devices as well as Apple computer products.

The iPod touch as a portable audio player is still a great device. The sound quality output is good, when heard through earphones or speakers although it also depends on what bit-rate you encode your audio files at.

In terms of value for money, the 32gb iPod touch hits the sweet spot, for $299 (70$ more than the $229 8gb iPod touch), you get 4 times the storage capacity. The 64gb iPod touch costs $399 which is 100$ more than the $299 32gb but only doubles the storage capacity.

If you own a 3rd generation iPod touch, you could if you like, skip this years model , since the memory capacity of the 2010 models are the same as the 2009 models which is 8gb for $229(price increase by $30), 32gb for $299 and 64gb for $399.

For new users and potential buyers, the 4th generation iPod touch is is a great multipurpose device. You can do a lot with it such as

Listen to music
Record audio
Record videos
Watch videos
Video chat
Check your email
Manage your schedule
Check stock prices
Surf the Web
Use it as a mouse or remote control (after downloading Apple's remote app or Logitech's touch mouse app)
Play games

And much more. Various applications can also be purchased for it through the iTunes app store to expand it's capabilities. Some of the new upgrades are compelling features which definitely add value to the product.

Sure, the quality/resolution of the still camera is extremely low so you'll still need to carry around a dedicated camera with you if you want to take pictures, but then again, no one said it's a "do it all device" but it's definitely a "does a lot" device. Recommended if you're in the market for a new multipurpose multimedia device.

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Some points to be aware of before you purchase an iPod touch.

All three 2010 iPod touch models share the same technical specifications (1 ghz processor, "Retina Display", Dual Cameras, in built microphone etc.The only difference between the 3 models is the memory capacity.)

It's a great portable device for surfing the web. But it doesn't support Adobe Flash.

The still camera of the iPod touch captures extremely low resolution still photos

Apple also no longer includes the inline remote and mic headphones with any of the iPod touch models (they did last year with the 32gb and 64gb models) and now bundles the basic headphones with the iPod touch. So you'll have to spend $30 or more if you want earbuds with an inline remote and mic.

The price of the 8GB iPod touch has also gone up by $30 - from $199 to $229.

The iPod touch has a built in battery - as all iPod's do since the first generation. So only Apple can replace the battery when it is depleted. And they charge approximately $79 to do so which is 26% of the price of a 32gb iPod.

Apple also charges a flat price for any out of warranty repairs to your iPod touch - which ranges from $99 for the 8gb model to $149 (50% of the cost)for the 32gb model to $199 (50% of the cost) for the 64gb model. So if anything goes wrong with your iPod touch once the 1 year warranty is over, those are the repair charges you will have to pay, unless you have AppleCare Protection Plan for iPod touch/classic for the iPod - which extends your iPod touch warranty for one more year after the 1 year warranty ends.

I've posted the above points not to dissuade anyone from purchasing an iPod touch but to provide information that customers may not be aware of (such as cost of battery replacement or out of warranty repair prices)

Hope this helps!
Comment Comments (6) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 18, 2012 11:31 AM PST


Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch Laptop (OLD VERSION)
Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch Laptop (OLD VERSION)
28 used & new from $429.99

159 of 165 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Dollars and sense, August 2, 2010
This is an able computer, but the so called value additions that make this model $300 more expensive than the standard Macbook Pro 13 are hardly worth it. If you're thinking about buying this version of the 13 inch Macbook Pro, please consider taking a look at the standard Apple MacBook Pro MC374LL/A 13.3-Inch Laptop.

The only difference between this $1499 MBP 13 and the $1199 MBP 13 are processor speed and hard drive space - this MBP 13 has a 2.66ghz processor and 320 gb hard drive while the standard MBP 13 has a 2.4 ghz processor and 250 gb hard drive.

So you're paying $300 more (20% of the cost of the $1499 MBP 13 or 25% of the cost of the standard $1199 MBP 13) and getting only 70 gb more hard drive space and a processor faster by 266 mhz (Approximately 10%). Whether that's worth a $300 price difference over the standard MPB 13 is questionable.

Everything else is IDENTICAL in both MPB 13's - Superdrive, backlit keyboard, multi-touch trackpad, screen (1280 x 800 resolution Glossy LED backlit screen), iSight camera, Nvidia Geforce 320m integrated graphics, speakers, amount of ram (4gb - good for multitasking),number of ports(1 Firewire 800 port,2 USB 2.0 ports), SD Card slot, wireless capabilities (802.11n specification; 802.11a/b/g compatible, Bluetooth 2.1 and Gigabit Ethernet -10/100/1000). THE SAME EVERYTHING.

The software included is also the same - OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard and the iLife 09 suite of content creation tools. A 1 year warranty on parts and 90 day telephone technical support is also standard on both models

Let's consider a situation where you choose to buy the standard MBP 13 instead of this model. You'd save $300.

You could then put it towards purchasing a 500 gb hard drive (for approximately $80 on Amazon) and install it yourself. That's a bigger hard drive than the one included in this $1499 model. The installation instructions are included in the MBP 13 manual and it doesn't void the warranty. You'll need a Philips #00 screwdriver. Installation videos are also available online.

You'd also have $220 left with which,(if you decide to) you could buy Applecare or Squaretrade and protect your machine for 2 more years after the first year limited warranty runs out.

If you're interested in using your money optimally, do consider the standard Apple MacBook Pro MC374LL/A 13.3-Inch Laptop It's 99% identical in terms of hardware and capability in comparison to this $1499 MBP 13 and is in all aspects, a much better value for money buy.

Hope this helps!
Comment Comments (27) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 19, 2011 12:42 PM PST


Apple Mac Mini MC270LL/A Desktop
Apple Mac Mini MC270LL/A Desktop
10 used & new from $389.95

296 of 335 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars MM GOOD + BAD, July 26, 2010
The Mac Mini was updated on June 15th 2010. There are some upgrades and minor changes between the 2010 Mac Mini and 2009's model, detailed below.

UPGRADES

HDMI audio/video output (HDMI version 1.3 and supports up to 1920-by-1200 resolution and multichannel audio.) Allows you to connect the Mac Mini to your HDTV easily.

Nvidia Geforce 320 M integrated graphics processor. More powerful than last years Nvidia Geforce 9400 which was in the 2009 Mac mini. Useful for content creation.

320 gb hard drive - Last years base model had a 160gb hard drive.

Secure Digital (SD) memory card slot - Useful for transferring photos and videos from Cameras.

Unibody aluminum body.

STANDARD FEATURES - from last years model (minor changes noted in brackets) are

Core 2 Duo Processor ( 2.4 ghz - up from 2.26ghz )
2 GB 1066 MHz DDR3 Ram
8x slot-loading SuperDrive DVD burner

Mini DisplayPort video output with support for up to 2560-by-1600 resolution
Combined optical digital output/headphone output
Four USB 2.0 ports (1 less than the 2009 Mac Mini)

One FireWire 800 port
Wi-Fi - 802.11n specification; 802.11a/b/g compatible, Bluetooth 2.1 and Gigabit Ethernet -10/100/1000.

Software included is OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard and the iLife 09 suite of content creation tools. A 1 year warranty on parts and 90 day telephone technical support is standard.

As one can see, not much has changed. Apple is still using outdated Core 2 Duo processors while the rest of the computer industry has moved on to using Intel's "i" series of processors and it's still shipping the Mac mini with 2gb of ram which is completely inadequate for multi-tasking effectively.

However, whatever little has changed, is for the better.

Apple has finally acknowledged that people connect their Mac Mini's to HDTV's and use them as media centers. So it's added an HDMI port to the machine. This makes hooking up your Mac mini to a HDTV really easy. No Blu-ray drive though.

It's also included an SD card slot at the rear (Which also supports SDXC cards) - so you can transfer your photos / videos / data directly from an SD card without having to connect your camera / card reader to the machine.

Also, new in this year's Mac mini is a removable panel on the bottom of the Mac mini which allows you to easily upgrade the ram. This is a welcome addition considering that accessing the ram slots in earlier Mac mini's was a tedious and time consuming process. And since the Mac mini only comes with 2gb of ram, a ram upgrade should be one of the first things you choose to do. Kingston Apple 4GB Kit (2x2GB Modules) 1066MHz DDR3 SODIMM iMac and Macbook Memory (KTA-MB1066K2/4GR) for [...] currently. The operating system STRUGGLES with multi-tasking when there's only 2gb of ram present. Note to Apple. Stop skimping on the ram. Thanks.

Unfortunately, there are some negatives too.

First up is the power supply unit. In the 2009 Mac mini, the power supply was an external power adapter, which meant if anything went wrong with it, you'd take the adapter for servicing, not the whole machine. However, the power supply unit is now inside the June 2010 Mac mini. This may look better / cleaner from a design / clutter point of view but it also means that if it ever malfunctions, instead of the power adapter, you'll have to take your Mac mini in to an Apple Store or Apple Authorized Store Provider and leave it there for repairs which may lead to more downtime.

The SD card slot is at the back of the machine, and reaching behind to insert a card gets tedious fast.

Also, the machine is STILL not designed to not let users access the hard drive easily (or without voiding the warranty). This forces the customer to be dependent on Apple for servicing, replacing or upgrading the hard drive. Considering the amount of confidential data customers store on their computers, they should be allowed to take out the hard drive when they need or feel like instead of being forced to take their machines into an Apple store if there are any issues. This is definitely a privacy / security risk for many customers and Apple should address this in the next iteration of the machine.

Also, because of the closed design of the Mac Mini, Applecare will always be a requirement, since you can't replace anything in the machine if something goes wrong except for the ram. Power supply goes bad - no Applecare - pay Apple big money. Hard drive dies - no Applecare - pay Apple big money. So Applecare becomes a $ 150 requirement to protect yourself from Apple's exorbitant repair costs. It's like a hidden cost, You don't see it until you realize you're probably going to need it.

The price has also gone up by $ 100. Cost is an important aspect to consider. If you decide to upgrade the ram and also need to purchase a LCD monitor, keyboard and mouse, once you total it all up, the Mac mini will end up costing almost as much as a Macbook(which is more portable) or the entry level iMac (21.5 inch screen, 4gb of ram, dedicated graphics and bigger hard drive). If that's the case, you better off examining those machines as purchase options instead of buying a Mini.

The Mac mini is a capable machine for general tasks such as watching videos, working on documents, listening to music and surfing the web. It's small and occupies very little space. It's also very energy efficient which is good for the environment and your energy bill. I would have loved to rate it 4 stars but I can't ignore Apple still including only 2gb of ram which is inadequate for multitasking, not including a Blu-ray drive, STILL not allowing customers to access the hard drive AND increasing the price by $ 100.

If the issues mentioned above don't affect you in any way and you want a small, power efficient and capable machine (After upgrading the ram) the Mac Mini may be the machine for you.

Hope this helps!

NOTE - Mar 18 2011. The Mac Mini is now extremely out of date compared to other computer makers current products. C2D processor, 320 GB 5400 rpm hard drive, 2 gb ram (stutter stutter). In 2011, these specs for $ 700 + $ 150 Applecare = very bad value for money.

Forget about the superficial things like how small it is. Instead buy a $ 700 dollar HTPC(Home theater PC), Excluding the operating system (which is always a matter of personal preference) you'll get a lot more bang for your buck with regards to hardware. IF you must buy a Mac Mini, wait for Apple to update it so that the hardware will justify the cost.
Comment Comments (41) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 1, 2011 7:20 AM PDT


Kata KT CS-17 CS Camera Satchel
Kata KT CS-17 CS Camera Satchel

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Alright, July 20, 2010
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This bag is one of the few that is designed for carrying a 17 inch laptop and a basic set of camera equipment in one bag. The product description states that "the Kata CS-17 Camera Satchel holds a D/SLR Camera with lens attached, up to 2 lenses (the largest being a 70-200mm 2.8 with reversed hood), accessories and up to a 17-Inch laptop computer."

Unfortunately, the bag suffers from some design issues. Beginning with the point of contact. The bag's ( Gecko ) shoulder pad has small suction grips that prevent it from slipping. These also make it uncomfortable. Even when the bag is only half full, the "Gecko" pad cuts into your shoulder. If you fill the bag completely as per their product description (as shown in the images) it becomes very uncomfortable to carry the bag around. That totally defeats the point of advertising it as a "Camera Satchel". If you're not comfortable carrying your bag around with your equipment in it , you're probably not going to carry it around a lot.

Kata also put plastic hooks on the side of the bag to which the shoulder strap attaches to. Metal hooks are more durable. Saving a few dollars but putting the customers equipment at possible risk is not a smart decision.

On the outside, the bag has 2 external pockets, one which is small and can only be used for storing a set of keys ( it has a key chain clip ) and a packet of gum which may have been their design decision but is limiting for daily use. However, the second pocket is large enough to be useful and a pair of earphones, a cellphone, battery chargers and various cables (ipod, USB, firewire etc etc) can easily fit in there.

Some positive design aspects of the bag are

Inside, there is a dedicated laptop slot with adequate padding, A 17 inch notebook should fit in there and will be well protected. A 15 inch or 13 inch will fit easily with room to spare. On the right side of the laptop slot, there are 2 pen holders and a mobile phone slot.

There's a large middle pocket.This is where you store the camera insert. The camera insert is a large rectangular pouch. A camera with a 70-200mm lens attached, another lens, battery charger + flash will fit in the camera insert. Even with the camera insert inside, there's space for a 2.5 inch portable hard drive or a book in the middle pocket.

There's a third flat pocket for smaller items like notepads, MP3 players etc. At the back there's a document pocket which is useful for storing magazines and files. An expansion zipper runs across the bottom and sides of the bag. This is used to expand the width of the bag to allow it to hold extra gear. In real world use, it helps but not that much.

The bag seals up completely. Some other messenger bags have flaps which are open from the sides, so rain water can leak in and damage your equipment. The Kata CS-17 isn't like that. It has a 2 zipper system which will prevent water from leaking into the bag if you're ever caught in a downpour. Internally it is made out of Yelloop - the bright yellow soft fabric that all Kata bags are made out of. The bright yellow fabric allows you to locate items more easily in dim lighting.

It has a comfortable and sturdy carrying handle. A lot of messenger bags are designed without handles. This can be inconvenient as you're forced to use the shoulder strap all the time. Kata smartly allows you to carry the bag as you see fit - in briefcase mode or messenger mode. Near the handle, there's a quick access zipper opening on top which is convenient and allows you to insert and remove items out of the bag without having to open it up completely every time.

Included with the bag is Kata's double sided all weather protection cover which can be used to protect the bag in the event of rainfall or snow or used as a makeshift reflector.

This bag was designed to meet the needs of those who need a sling bag in which they can carry a large laptop and their basic camera kit. Unfortunately, due to a few design decisions, Kata has made a 4 / 5 star product into an average 3 star product. I'd recommend ordering it and seeing if it works for you, if it does, well and good. If not then return it.

Hope this helps!


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