HP Spectre XT Ultrabook

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The HP Spectre XT is one of those sleek looking Ultrabooks, and the moment I saw it I liked how it felt and looked. My first real Windows 8 experience at the Microsoft store in Boston, after trying out several different machines I went for the HP Spectre XT. I liked the 15-inch screen and the touch and feel of it.

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It is a different machine then last years Ultrabooks, the ASUS Zenbook Prime I have is thin with a metal finish which makes it slippery and a very nice 13 inch screen. Its great for traveling, and light the battery wasn’t that great. But it was a great machine, but I wanted something a bit bigger then is more powerful and so that is why I went with HP Spectre XT. It has this industrial finish to it that makes it very appealing, it really looks like an Apple device, if I didn’t know it was an HP laptop. This was the machine I was looking for to jump into Windows 8, I’m not used to a laptop with a Touch Screen but it was an interesting idea, and people are always surprised when I make adjustments right onto the screen.

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Specifications

  • Operating system – Windows 8 64
  • Processor – Intel® Core™ i7-3517U (3 GHz/1.9 GHz )
  • Screen size – 15.6″ diagonal full HD IPS BrightView LED-backlit (1920 x 1080)
  • Memory – 8 GB 1600 MHz DDR3
  • Hard drive – 500 GB SATA (5400 rpm)
  • Secondary hard drive – Acceleration cache (32 GB Solid State Drive cache) with Intel Smart Response Technology

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Pros:

  • Beautiful Design, I Love The Clean Metal Feel
  • Touch Screen – Works Perfectly
  • Very Nicely Spaced Out Full Keyboard
  • A Decent Touch Pad, but the Windows 8 gestures get a bit annoying
  • The Sound On the laptop is very loud and clear, Which was Perfect for my need
  • Powerful Processor – Can handle anything I threw at it

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Cons:

  • Seriously Horrible Battery, barely lasts two hours
  • Substantially Heavy Machine
  • During Hibernation it Loses Battery Power

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Wrap Up

I got this laptop before the new Intel Haswell boards came out which was optimized and in all the ultrabooks. The reason why this laptop annoys me after several months of use is because of the battery, its a beautiful machine that I enjoy using but runs out of battery so quickly. It barely lasts 2.5 hours with the screen at full, and if you lower the brightness you can get it to 3.5 hours but just barely, this isn’t what we have come to know from laptops, we expect more of them. But as my first experience into Windows 8 I have to say that I enjoyed it and learned a lot, the machine itself is perfect for Windows 8, there was a lot to it that I had to figure out. For $1299 over it is a powerful laptop in a beautiful package, and the price decent, but the battery is annoying.

Rating:

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Applecentric

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This post has been a long time coming, and at this point I think it is somewhat appropriate. I have been a Windows user for a very long time, some Linux and Solaris thrown into the mix for a little while but never really Apple. So over the past few years I got introduced to Apple, the first one being the Mac Mini from last year which was an impressive little guy. If you asked me back in 2006 if I would be using a Mac I would say that is blasphemy but now I will happily admit it. Over the years I think that Apple’s hardware has improved drastically and you get the better hardware for a better price unlike before, and OS X and higher is much better then its previous versions with better compatibility. Still I’m really annoyed that they don’t have NTFS built into OS X but I think its just Apple being their usual stubborn self so people can’t use the same external USB/Hard Drive between Apple & Windows Machines. I have been using my iPod for a while now, pretty much since the iPod Touch came out and the useful applications and games. So a few years later I got into my first apple, and it was as if I was walking into an unknown zone. Overall I think Apple does have a winning product but you can’t knock Windows just yet, it does have its good uses and I know you Apple fans do get crazy but it wouldn’t be dominating in the market if it didn’t do something right. A lot of you know how much I love Android products but I do love my iPad, I will admit which platform is better for which application, and Apple knows how to integrate all their products but its annoying how much they lock out other companies from innovating on their platforms. I prefer my Android over iOS by far but I wouldn’t mind it syncing with iTunes so I can get my music, of course there are ways to get around it but I’m too lazy to go through the hassle. Luckily for me I started using Spotify to a large extent and so I depended less on iTunes but still on an Apple device iTunes is worlds better then on Windows, for one thing it works.

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What I really think which is better in which:

Mac:

  • Graphical Items
  • Doesn’t Crash As Much, And Yes It Does Crash Under My Abuse
  • Very Smooth Interface, Very Nice Design Of Their Machines

Windows:

  • Network Management
  • Larger Software Compatibility
  • More Games, Alot More Games
  • Larger Variety of Manufacturers to Choose From

I haven’t really jumped into any video editing yet so I can’t compare between the machines, but most probably I will be trying it out on the Mac for sure. If you ask me which do I use more I would say its 70% Windows 30% Apple, and for work I can only use Windows. Apple can be used in Advertising or Media companies but everything else its Windows, too many work applications just aren’t compatible with Macs.

In-Flight Wifi on Lufthansa Flights

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This turned out to be a surprising feature on Lufthansa, In-Flight wifi that was useable, something I wasn’t expecting. I just flew back form the the US and on the flight back I was supposed to sleep to try to get my sleep in order, but that didn’t work out as I planned.

When I connected to the wireless I had a few emails to shoot and then I was done, I thought the connection was going to be mediocre at best because of previous in-flight wifi experience. I was wrong, to my surprise the connection was good, I was getting speeds from 3 to 5 MB which made surfing decent, I went through all my emails, and started going through my RSS Feeds on Google Reader. Even youtube streaming was working fine to my surprise, not lightning fast but pretty decent.

Pricing:

  • HotSpot Pass Sky 1 hour: €10.95 or 3,500 miles
  • HotSpot Pass Sky 24 hours: €19.95 or 7,000 miles

I went with the 24 hour option because that worked out perfectly for use on my flight back to Kuwait as well.

After using it for a while, I was very impressed, surfing was pretty good and some high bandwidth websites were operating fine. But don’t expect downloads to do much, overall I think Lufthansa did a fantastic job with the system they have setup. But from their website I understood coverage only works over the Atlantic, US, Europe and Middle East but not all the other regions yet. Also it isn’t on every plane, some planes have it and some don’t.

My Favorite Gear From 2012

This has been an interesting year with a lot of new hardware being introduced from everyone, from TVs, Cameras, Laptops, Tablets, Phones and a whole lot more. My list for electronics was freaking long, I had about 20 items on her and it was hard bringing them down to this, so many good pieces of hardware but I wanted to just list the gear that I really use. Basically what was abused, even if it was in a short period of time like the Nexus 4, but I have been waiting for that phone for so long and I’m happy that I’m using it. A few items didn’t make it to the list like the GoPro Hero 3 because its a bit too soon to judge, it has its crappy moments and its great moments. Still too many pieces of hardware to review but I will get to them.

  • Nexus 4 – Best Google Phone Yet
  • Nexus 7 – Still The Perfect Size Tablet
  • Canon G15 – Awesome Camera, Reviewing it Later
  • Nike Fuel – Loved it when I used it, and now don’t want to see my crappy numbers
  • Canon G1X – Great Camera, except for the Macro shots
  • Apple iPod Touch Gen 5 – Loving it! And so small
  • Asus Zenbook – Best Windows Laptop Ever!

Review: Asus Zenbook Prime UX31A

Having lived with this laptop for about three months now, I can safely say it is without question the best PC laptop I’ve ever owned. Every review out there just raves about this machine. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Retina-esque 1920×1080 resolution in an amazingly high quality 13.3″ IPS display
  • Intel’s latest 17 watt Ivy Bridge processor with (finally!) decent integrated graphics
  • 128 GB SSD with fast 6Gbps interface
  • Just under 3 pounds
  • Decent 5 to 6 hour runtime
  • Classy brushed metal case and cover

Pros:

  • The best ultrabook currently out there, it seems Asus just keeps stepping it up, if you are looking for a thin powerful Windows laptop then this is it.
  • 4.5 to 5.5 hours battery life with full media use
  • Amazing Screen, Very Bright and clear Details
  • Light Up Keyboard, and a very nice feel to it
  • The SSD & Processor are insanely fast, about a 17 second boot time from scratch and 5 seconds from sleep. These are numbers we wouldn’t even dream of before.
  • I love the aluminum clean cut finish of the Zenbook, surprisingly it doesn’t get too hot
  • it has just enough ports to make it useful
  • With the USB 3.0 I managed transfers of 100 to 130 MB/s from my External Seagate HD
  • The best thing is the price as well, its an amazing machine for $1299 and I would recommend it to anyone looking for an ultrabook

Cons:

  • The only downfall is the annoying sensitivity of the touch pad
  • Windows 7 that came wwith the ASUS was the home version and had bloatware, so I decided to do a clean install which worked perfectly, and it booted even faster, it is up and running within 12 to 17 seconds, nice and smooth.

Specifications:

  • Intel Core i7 -3517U 2.4GHz
  • Widows 7 64bit Unlimited (I reinstalled it because of the bloatware)
  • 4GB Ram
  • 128 GB SSD
  • Intel HD Graphics

Simple Conclusion:

I love this laptop and I would recommend it to anyone who is looking for a thin and powerful windows laptop. I started using it everywhere, I take it everywhere with me and it has taken a few odd drops with no issues at all. Its fast, lightening fast and it boots up within seconds, I can’t recommend it enough, and the price honestly is very reasonable.

The Chrome Book – Updated

I’m always interested in Google Products, and I have been very interested in their Chrome platform, basically the online all the time OS. There are very few times when we aren’t connected to the net and this case it is the only way the Chrome Books operate. Right now the Chrome OS received a major update and you can get a laptop and desktop/box version for it. The Verge has a fantastic article below which goes into every freaking detail of Chrome OS and basically giving you the breakdown of what is really useful for you and how it could improve and whats great about the update. The video below is a simple review of Chrome Book, and what major improvements they have done and the feel of it, and the capabilities of the Samsung hardware. The video review really got my interest, I’m tempted to pick one up a laptop and try it.

Link: TheVerge

Thin & Powerful Laptops

AsusZenbook

Asus ZenBook

  • Extremely Thin with High Specs
  • Screen Sizes 11 & 13 inches
  • Core i5 & i7
  • 4 GB Ram
  • USB 3.0
  • SSD
  • Extremely Reasonable Priced For The Power Your Getting

SonyVaioZ21

Sony VAIO Z

  • Power Machine On Steroids
  • 13inch Screen
  • Win 7 64 Bit Premium to Ultimate
  • Core i7
  • USB 3.0
  • SSD
  • 4-8 GB Ram
  • AMD Radeon HD 6650M (1GB) Graphics Card
  • Very Nice Expansion Dock
  • Most Expensize

DellLatitudeE6320

Dell Latitude

  • The Work Horse, Perfect For Business But Not That Powerful
  • E6320
  • HD not SSD
  • Windows 7 Professional
  • Core i7
  • 4 GB Ram
  • Mid Price Range

The Round Up:

There are a lot of great laptops that have come out over the last few months, some more interesting then the rest. If you are looking for a Windows laptop then this is a very good selection, there are other laptops to choose from but I went for more mobile and powerful. If you are looking for a good robust midrange workhorse then the Dell Latitude is the best option, if you are looking for the most powerful the Sony VAIO Z is top dog at the moment, and if you are looking for high specs but extremely mobile and light then the Asus Zenbook is the best option. From reading all the details regarding the laptops I would have definitely go with the Zenbook, the Sony VAIO is a great option if price is no issue.

Alienware M11x

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Alienware has fallen a bit off the radar after my last experience with them but I have to say that the new M11x does seem a bit enticing, and they have upgraded the hardware recently. And all this packed into an 11inch screen, pretty impressive overall and the starting price for the Core i7 is around $999.

Specs:

  • Core i7
  • 8 GB
  • 256 SSD
  • Windows 7 Ultimate – 64 Bit
  • HDMI & Lots of USB

Adding Up to $2400, with all the ridiculous options available

The Packing List

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Packing list before traveling is always a troubling task, I make a list every time and I still forget something or I wish I brought something with me. This is a work trip coming up with meetings packed for three days of traveling and two days of meetings. The bouncing back and forth is going to be very annoying to deal with but at this point I’m going to take advantage of the travel time to catch up with some shows and work on PC while on the plane. Filling up the HD and making sure I pack up everything always takes some times, and 80% of the time I forget the headphones to the last minute and I don’t like using the normal headphones when I got used to the in-ear headphones.

Packing List:

  • Other Currencies
  • Passport
  • Personal Moleskine
  • Work Moleskine
  • Canon G11
  • iPad
  • iPod Touch
  • Maximum PC & Wired Magazines
  • Work Documents
  • Business Cards
  • Phone, Camera, Laptop Charger

Dell Latitude Z

There are a lot of laptops currently in the market, more then ever before and one of the laptop series that I do prefer are the Dell Latitude line. This time around I think Dell has done a good job coming out with a unique quality product, a lot of the ultra-thin laptops were a bit on the weak side but not the Dell Latitude Z, at 0.79″ this laptop packs a punch with a 16 inch screen, and they have a wireless charging system through the docking station and starting at $1,800.


Specifications:

  • A svelte body that’s just 0.57 – 0.79″ tall
  • Weighs in at just 4.5 lbs.
  • Features a Intel Core 2 Duo processor running at either 1.4 or 1.6 GHz
  • Up to 4GB of DDR3 RAM
  • Four-cell battery
  • Soft-Touch Black Cherry finish
  • Two USB ports
  • One DisplayPort
  • Wi-Fi
  • Optional built-in 3G Wireless
  • Bluetooth
  • A beautiful 16-inch, 1600×900 display with a touch interface built into the bezel

Link: Gizmodo
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