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Samsung Galaxy Note II N7100 16GB Gray-Unlocked International Phone No Warranty
Samsung Galaxy Note II N7100 16GB Gray-Unlocked International Phone No Warranty
Offered by FGS Trading
Price: $414.39
66 used & new from $299.00

7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mediocre default speakerphone, but here's the fix, December 15, 2012
EDIT January 6, 2013: I stand corrected about the mediocre speakerphone after figuring out the fix: this phone has an extra volume feature that will make it louder either in speakerphone, headset, and standard mode. To enable this you have to go to call settings in the phone app and select the "Use extra vol. for calls" check box. After this is enabled you will have an "extra volume" button in the right middle of the screen (round, no title with loudspeaker on it) displayed once the call is established.
END EDIT

OLD REVIEW:
If you also often use the speakerphone feature, you'll appreciate my two cents: iPhones aside, every other mobile phone I used in the past, including two $20 no-contract LG cheapos, leaves the Galaxy Note II in the dust with speakerphone loudness. Prior to this phone my wife and I had Samsung Galaxy Proclaim, HTC EVO 4G, LG Optimus S, two different iPhones and some low end phones.

I can't comfortably talk on the speakerphone when driving on the highway because of the road and wind noise. This wasn't the case with other phones mentioned above. The only exception were the iPhone models which were even worse than the Samsung Galaxy Note II.

If this is important to you, look elsewhere, otherwise it's a great phone.
EDIT: Disregard the old part and see my update at the beginning of the review.
Comment Comments (8) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 6, 2013 7:45 PM PST


ARCTIC S111 USB-Powered Portable Stereo Speakers for Tablet/eReader/MP3/Computers, Balanced Treble/Superior Bass - Silver
ARCTIC S111 USB-Powered Portable Stereo Speakers for Tablet/eReader/MP3/Computers, Balanced Treble/Superior Bass - Silver
Price: $22.15
16 used & new from $13.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best bang for the buck, June 4, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
ARctic Sound S111 speakers are not powerful enough to drive a party, but they make my laptop sound great. I bought them when I started using a full HD monitor at home - with full HD picture it didn't make sense to hear a cheapo sound of my ultralight laptop, but I didn't want to invest big bucks because I wanted them small and portable.

There was one review here stating they were not loud enough and that got me worried a bit, but after using them for a week I have to say these are much louder with much more bass than I ever expected, and they sound better than regular monitor or smaller LCD TV speakers. First I was plugging them in a powered USB hub but they play equally well when plugged directly into my laptop (without extra power) and it's hard to believe such a mighty sound is coming out of it. Not having an extra charger is a big plus for me as I really dislike having too many cables around my systems.

Initially I thought that the high frequencies were just a tad lower for my taste and that I had to adjust that with an equalizer, however the problem was in low quality of MP3 files I first played on them. When I listened to some of my best MP3s recorded far above 128kbps, the middle and high frequency response was awesome, and so was the high and middle range bass. The lower bass of course doesn't have the strength of a sub-woofer-equipped system, but considering the price and the size these have an amazing sound quality. I like them so much that ordering another set for a similar purpose would be a zero hesitation no-brainer for me.


SanDisk Cruzer 32GB USB 2.0 Flash Drive (SDCZ36-032G-A11)
SanDisk Cruzer 32GB USB 2.0 Flash Drive (SDCZ36-032G-A11)
Offered by IGEX Electronics
Price: $25.28
13 used & new from $15.60

2.0 out of 5 stars Not reliable, avoid, May 17, 2012
Recently I bought the 32gb SanDisk Cruzer to use on IT assignments loaded with my favorite tools and plenty of free space when I need to move files around. What a mistake! Another USB 2.0 32gb thumb drive from different manufacturer that I use at home has much better winsat.exe write and read speed results. This drive seems to have sporadic slowdowns and speedups but it's much slower at its best speeds. Second, when my laptop wakes up from sleep it shows an empty drive, but if I try to write to it, it says it can't access the drive, and same happens when I go to its properties. This happens on Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit. At the same time, the other flash drive works just fine and this happens with both or any of them in any USB slot. I tried to use this one for readyboost just like the other one to see whether I get any performance gains from having two USBs work together, but this one just keeps failing me. After the computer wakes up from sleep, it becomes dysfunctional and it's impossible to eject it gracefully. Same happens on my netbook. Big disappointment, even after I wiped it and reformatted with NTFS just to see what happens. It's going back to where it came from.


HTC Evo 4G 3500mAh Extended Battery + Cover (White) + Standard Wall Charger
HTC Evo 4G 3500mAh Extended Battery + Cover (White) + Standard Wall Charger
Offered by YESOO
Price: $12.99
2 used & new from $7.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Charges both extended and stock battery, November 4, 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
The extended battery is good and lasts as long as the $7 I ordered from another vendor at Amazon, but this comes in a package with a charger, which is also equipped with a USB port. The charging power is low, so it's bad for fast charging and it can't simultaneously charge both the phone and the battery, but it's good for overnight charges and for the battery health. The LED on the charger changes color when the charge is complete. White cover? The phone looks so funky with it that I'd wear it only if I were a man who came out of the late 70s movies, liked disco music, wore a fur coat, a hat with feathers, a walking stick, huge dark sunglasses and drove a 65 Caddy.


PNY 32GB Hi-Speed MicroSDHC Class 10 for Tablet PCs P-SDU32G10TEFM1
PNY 32GB Hi-Speed MicroSDHC Class 10 for Tablet PCs P-SDU32G10TEFM1
Offered by TheBestBuy442
Price: $35.99
4 used & new from $29.95

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Mediocre class 6 write speed, October 20, 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is for PNY 32GB Hi-Speed MicroSDHC Class 10 for Tablet PCs P-SDU32G10TEFM1. I have no problems with reading speed, but the write speed of the "Class 10" card I received is way under 10 MBps when tested on my systems.

Tests on my phone show write speed of about 7 MB/s, while on my laptop I'm getting about 8 MB/s continuous write (tested with 2.5 GB file), so in my book this card definitely doesn't deserve the class 10 attribute. Considering that my class 2 stock Samsung card gives me an amazing 5 MB/s write speed in my tests, I'd say this is more like Class 6. It works, sort of OK, but I'm sorry I bought it. Not worth the extra work for a return/replace, but worth warning you, fellow Amazon buyer.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 28, 2011 9:13 PM PST


SANOXY® 3500mAh Extended Battery + Black Cover for HTC Evo 4G
SANOXY® 3500mAh Extended Battery + Black Cover for HTC Evo 4G
Offered by A-ProStore
Price: $6.09
19 used & new from $5.00

5.0 out of 5 stars More juice & camera lens protection, January 27, 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Aside from its great price and noticeably increased periods between my EVO's nags for another juice fix, unlike the stock battery where the camera lens tends to lean directly on the table when you lay down your EVO on its back, this battery and cover design also protects the lens from direct contact. Although I keep my stock battery as a spare, I very seldom use it because of this. In addition, I dropped my phone so many times and in worst cases, just like with the original unit, the battery and the lid came off, but once put back together everything works just fine, no cracks or damage.


Taylor Street
Taylor Street
Price: $18.77
12 used & new from $10.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I'm very biased, but trust me about this, December 26, 2010
This review is from: Taylor Street (Audio CD)
I'm ordering this and I can't expect anything but a great CD. Josie Falbo's singing seems so effortless and rich as she has one of those angel voices, a lyric soprano of an impressive range that couldn't miss a note even if she tried. I hear her often at a local church and her singing makes that place feel so special. This is where my bias comes from - my admiration to her singing is making me write this review even before I received the CD. Knowing what to expect (and probably far more), I couldn't resist mentioning how much I enjoy listening to her.


HP EliteBook 2540P Notebook WH283UT#ABA 12.1" Core i7 i7-640LM 2.13 GHz
HP EliteBook 2540P Notebook WH283UT#ABA 12.1" Core i7 i7-640LM 2.13 GHz

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best Laptop Ever, October 31, 2010
I've grown so accustomed to this powerful and sturdy ultraportable for professionals that I believe this is THE laptop to have. My absolute favorite.

Pros:

- Very light (3.4 lbs)
- Excellent performance - virtually as fast as much bigger laptops
- Great battery life (up to 7 hours per my experience)
- Extra sturdy finish and feel, meets dust, vibration and heat military specs
- Excellent 2 MP webcam - the best built-in one I encountered
- Pop-up keyboard light great for work in total darkness
- If enabled, environment light sensor automatically adjusts screen brightness

Cons:
- Sometimes gets warm (not hot)
- Fan somewhat audible during high processing tasks in a quiet place
- No 3 cell battery option (super small and light config sufficient for 3-4 hour meetings without the charger)
- No HDMI port
- No Blu-ray drive option

I have a longer review in my blog: [...]


MSI U230 Light-087 11.6-Inch Netbook (Black)
MSI U230 Light-087 11.6-Inch Netbook (Black)

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Better than many nettops; CPU speed halved on battery, October 25, 2010
Searching for the second, slower home laptop, I didn't really want a netbook because I had a problem with small screens and small keyboards, so I was considering tablets for a while. Having had an iPad in the past, I'd rather wait for the second generation. The Android or Palm OS tablets are not yet serious contenders, thus I finally focused more on laptops and netbooks due to their versatility. After browsing several stores and reviews, I found an opportunity I couldn't pass: the 11.6'" MSI U230-870 Light netbook on sale for $300 at my favorite local electronics superstore. This thing is packed with good deals - quality 250 GB HDD, a HDMI port, 11.6" anti-reflective LED backlit screen, one 2 GB RAM chip (add another chip to upgrade to 4 GB), 3 USB ports, etc.

We have been running this netbook mostly connected to power and it has been performing great. However, we gradually discovered that the online videos of higher resolution were terribly choppy whenever this netbook was not on AC power. One of Windows 7 gadgets, "All Cpu Meter" by Addgadget.com showed that the CPU was constantly running at 800 MHz on battery, which is one half of its rated speed of 1.6 GHz. No matter what I tried and which power plan or lack thereof I chose, I wasn't able to increase the CPU clock without plugging the laptop into the power grid. It seems that the manufacturer has halved this system's CPU clock when not connected to the power supply to get seemingly better battery life. I was able to find a workaround by going into BIOS (pres Del key during bootup) and disabling "PowerNow", but after that the clock remains at 1.6 GHz all the time, so I expect the battery life to suffer a lot. The speed change as necessary for optimum performance should be happening automatically on balanced power plan, while constantly running on highest speed should be happening only on maximum performance plan as is usually the case with other laptops. Perhaps a BIOS firmware upgrade will fix this, so hear me out, MSI. Netbooks are not speed kings, and so it's a shame that the manufacturer furthermore halved its performance in order to "cheat" on battery life without giving end user an easy choice between either the full CPU speed or longer battery life. There's a lot of information about this and similar MSI netbooks in various netbook forums and some people have underclocked them for longer battery life, while others have overclocked the CPU even up to 2 GHz and above for better performance.

Pros:
- Anti-reflective screen, a rare find in consumer notebooks, usually $50-100 extra
- Big 11.6"' LED backlit screen with 1366 x 768 resolution
- 64-bit Windows 7 Home Premium (unlike slow Vista, Windows 7 does great on Netbooks)
- 2 GB RAM with additional empty slot for memory upgrade (I upgraded it to 4 GB)
- 1.3 Megapixel webcam
- b/g/n WiFi
- CPU faster than ATOM
- Good graphics chip
- Many ports: 3 USB, 1 HDMI, multi card-reader (SD/MMc/MS/XDSU)
- Same power supply as on my Toshiba Portege laptop (even better, w/ LED indicator and angular plug)
- Speakers louder than expected for such a small machine
- Quality 250 GB 2.5" 5400 rpm WD HDD (can be easily upgraded to faster or bigger capacity hard drive)
Western Digital 250 GB 5400rpm SATA2 8MB 2.5-Inch Notebook Hard Drive WD2500BEVT (Scorpio Blue)

Cons:
- CPU speed halved on battery power
- A bit tight keyboard takes time to get used to if you're a touch typist.
- no 802.11a (5 GHz band) WiFi capability
- Yesteryear CPU (AMD Athlon Neo MV-40), but still faster than Atom
- Hot bottom left side after prolonged use
- The fan can be heard, but it's not too loud

Summary: Although advertised as a notebook, this is a netbook due to its single core netbook class processor. However, it can be a laptop surrogate or a great nettop, due to its solid performance on AC power (the Athlon Neo is quite faster than Atom). Yes, it's not a speed king, but that's why it was so affordable. It is more than sufficient for web browsing and email or text processing, youtube videos and netflix movies (low resolution on battery power and HD on AC). It only lacks one p for perfection - the HDMI goes up to 1080i, but it's still an impressive feature for a netbook. When I saw the anti-glare screen on this netbook I had to buy it because these are very hard to find and I have a big problem with most consumer laptops, netbooks, smartphones and iPads having highly reflective screens. Unlike those daylight challenged devices, this one can be used outside or in a bright office. Considering the price I paid for it ($300), it was an amazing deal.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 16, 2010 11:57 PM PST


Toshiba Portege R705-P25 13.3-Inch Laptop (Magnesium Finish in Blue)
Toshiba Portege R705-P25 13.3-Inch Laptop (Magnesium Finish in Blue)
3 used & new from $425.00

37 of 38 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Optimal power, features, battery life, size, weight and price combination, October 12, 2010
After a long research I chose Toshiba Portege R705-P25 laptop as my final answer for a very light but powerful home unit. Being spoiled at work with a much more expensive and sturdy military spec 12' HP Elitebook 2540p with Core i7, I wanted something that wouldn't break my home bank, equally light and of a similar power, with a bit bigger screen, so I decided to look for a 13.3' screen size. At first I thought that this laptop was expensive, but when I compared it to other units of similar size and features, this was actually very attractively priced (bought on special at a local M&B store for $800 plus tax). What really made me go back to the store and buy it after reviewing all the alternatives is the fact that I had it in my hands and felt its weight, or lack thereof. It is so light that it reminds me of fake laptops they use at furniture stores. After several weeks I could tell why this one won CNET's Editor's Choice. After several months everything it is mostly great except that I'm still not too fond of its keyboard.

This laptop is lighter and much faster than Macbook Air and faster and much lighter than the 13.3' Macbook Pro, not to mention double the amount of RAM and hard drive capacity. At 3.2 lbs, this is the second lightest 13.3' laptop, still with full blown 32 nanometers Intel Arrandale Core i3 CPU with built in graphics and 5-8 hrs of battery life... It has similar capacity and speed but longer battery life than the barely lighter 3 lbs Sony VAIO of same size, but you will pay more than double for the Sony. The spanking new Intel Wireless Display technology is also a good perk, but be aware that you need the receiver on the other end (I believe you can get Netgear's device for under $100) or one of the brand new and expensive TVs that have this feature built in.

Many other laptops have an incomplete 802.11 b/g/n wireless network card, thus lacking the capability to connect to a 5 GHz WiFi a/n access point. This one has a fully compliant 802.11 a/b/g/n WiFi NIC and this is important to me because of the interference I'm getting from hundreds of access points in our building (I see over 40 from my condo), so I'm able to happily utilize the 5 GHz a/n radio on my dual band WiFi router, while everybody else is struggling with great interference on the few available 2.4 GHz b/g/n channels.

Long battery life is somehow achieved without using the slower ultra-low voltage CPU. The sticker at the store claims eight hours. I say maybe you'll get that when you're not doing anything processor-intensive and while using Toshiba's Eco power setting, which slows down the system a bit, but even on the normal balanced power settings and bright screen we still get five-ish hours, depending on the activity. Charging the battery while the system is working seems to take longer than on my 12' HP Elitebook 2540p work laptop. I can't figure out why, because this machine has the equal number of battery cells (6) and equally powerful 65W AC supply. Did Toshiba achieve a better battery capacity at same number of cells and weight and is that why this unit's battery lasts longer than on most similar laptops of other manufacturers? Still, the 12' HP 2540p has similar battery life, but charges much quicker (smaller screen?).

About Core i3 vs Core i5 and i7 - humans can barely notice a 20% performance improvement on a computer. Core i5 and i7 CPUs do provide a bit higher speed particularly at turbo boost, but turbo works ONLY when another core is not busy, and at that time the single core is working at only up to 25% faster. I decided to stay at Core i3 and not be taxed the significant amount for the marginal benefit on a home laptop. According to my experience throughout the years, about 10% under the performance mountain top lies the treasure cave with best bargain systems that are still powerful enough to keep you zipping through the next 3-5 years without any disadvantage or impairment. Of course, if you're a gamer, you may be willing to go for 100% or so higher price for that 10-25% increase in speed, but that definitely doesn't apply to a home laptop. However, if you really want to see the biggest return on upgrade investment, instead of upgrading to i5 or i7 CPU eliminate the biggest bottleneck and upgrade the hard disk to a solid state HDD. That alone is the biggest performance boost you can give to your laptop and I might do the same soon because I've seen SSD drives do miracles.

Although very light and thin, this thing still has a DVD burner. Blu-ray would be a great plus, but you benefit from Blu-ray movies when watching them on a 1080p big screen (40' or more) HDTV, which usually already has a dedicated Blu-ray player or PS3 connected to it. This 13.3' screen, although at 720p HD, is too small to experience the full benefit of the Blu-ray movies. If you really want the high definition movies and the higher data capacity of the BD technology, this may be a deal breaker and you may go with one of the 14' Samsungs or lower end Sonys at a similar price. I wonder if an upgrade to Blu-ray could be purchased from Toshiba, but considering their loss during the format war between Blu-ray and HD DVD, I understand their lag with this feature.

Pros:
- Very light, but still sturdy with a robust hinge
- Much faster than most other ultraportables of this size and weight
- Plethora of ports (HDMI/eSata/3 USB/Multi-format card reader), DVD/CD writer
- Windows Home Premium 64 bit w/ 4 GB RAM, upgradeable to 8
- Brushed metal magnesium alloy chassis with good cooling
- It gets totally cool if you put it to sleep for 1-2 minutes, even after hours of work
- Intel WiDi
- One USB port (the one combined with eSATA) provides power even when the laptop is shut off

Cons:
- After two months I'm still not entirely used to this keyboard. It's not as good as on HP business laptops or Thinkpads.
- No keyboard backlight or LED
- Instead of being in the center, the touchpad is slightly moved to the left. This is causing occasional sudden and unintentional moves of my cursor to a different position whenever my palm touches the touchpad.
- Some reviewers have complained about the fan noise - under normal load I can only hear it at night when it's absolutely calm and quiet, but it's not loud enough to bother me. If you're in your 20s the high pitch sound coming from the fan may bother you, but at 45 I can barely hear it as it's virtually ultrasound. But now about work under heavy loads:
- I noticed recently that the system can get significantly louder and warmer (not lap-comfortable without a lapdesk) when the CPU/GPU is heavily taxed as in Google Earth flight simulator mode with 3D landscapes and objects enabled and set to max. This also happens when I'm viewing HD Flash video on it.

All in all, this is the winner. Not perfect, but close to it, considering its cost, weight, size, power and features. It can get loud and warm when under heavy load, but most of the time it stays quiet and cool. Recently I've seen this unit priced at about $1,100 which is $300 more than what I paid for it. At that price I'd think twice, particularly when similar model with faster Core i5 CPU (model r705-p41) can be bought for way under $1,000, so first check the faster model's price at Toshiba Portégé R705-P41 TruBrite LED 13.3-Inch Laptop (Metal/Blue). If you can get either one for about $800 it's a no brainer. Go for it.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 8, 2010 10:55 PM PST


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