It wasn’t long ago that only business road warriors needed laptop computers and bags to carry them in. My — how things have changed! Now retirees are using laptops when they hit the road, and people of all ages are toting their laptops along so so they can connect to the Internet when they travel.
With security screening at airports, toting a laptop has become problematic because with most cases, you must remove the laptop from the bag and put it on the conveyor belt. The new ScanFast laptop bags are different. They are TSA approved so you don’t have to remove the laptop from the case. You simply open the case and send it through the x-ray machine. It’s one way to make air travel easier.
Since this January, I have used Mobile Edge ScanFast Messenger bag for several flights. Each time it went through security quickly and easily without removing the laptop saving a lot of aggravation. Best of all, after you get through security, you can simply zip the bag and go. I feel a lot more comfortable about having control over my laptop when it travels down the belt.
I am using the Mobile Edge Checkpoint Friendly Messenger style bag. Mobile Edge has obviously put a lot of thought into the design of this bag. It has a small handle plus a comfortable shoulder strap.There are four outside zippered pockets. One is the perfect size for airline tickets and travel documents. The area for the computer is padded and marked “Computer Friendly”. The bag is not over-sized, but it can easily handle my 16″ Sony laptop. There are also several inside pouches and pockets, including ones that are perfectly sized for paper folders, USB drives, CDs & DVDs, pens, memory cards, and business cards. Everything is easily accessible. I now have no excuse for not being organized when I travel.
I am also impressed with the quality of the bag, itself. It is sturdy. The zippers are strong. Best of all the bag is eco-friendly. It is made from corn. Specifically, it is made from DuPont Sorona, a material derived from corn, requiring 30% less energy to manufacture and reducing greenhouse emissions by 63%!
This bag retails for $99 and is worth every penny. Mobile Edge also has a briefcase bag and a backpack in the same model line.
Let’s face it, I have a lot of laptop bags to choose from. I started off using this bag for air travel, but it has become my “go-to” bag whenever I need to take my laptop along!
In choosing a computer, there are times when you want all the gadgets and gizmos it can have, but there are also times when you just want a simple workhorse. If you are looking for the workhorse, the Toshiba Satellite Pro L500 will be a good choice.
This Satellite comes with a clear and crisp 15.4 inch TruBrite widescreen display that has good viewing angles. The 1280 x 800 screen resolution may not suit those who like to keep many windows on the screen, but it is perfect for the average user. The mat black full-sized keyboard has clearly marked keys and an excellent feel. The black keyboard is surrounded by a mat silver surround that incorporates a responsive touchpad. Multi-tasking is no problem with this laptop’s Intel Centrino processor technology and Core 2 Duo processors. (The L500 can also be purchased in an AMD dual core processor configuration.) It has built-in 802.11 a/b/g wireless support.
Although this laptop doesn’t have a fingerprint reader or bright color exteriors, it does have just about everything that you need for everyday computing. The built-in webcam with 3.0 megapixel resolution and the built-in microphone are useful tools. The Webcam is especially easy to use, just move your cursor to the left side of the screen, and the webcam software pops up allowing you to start the camera, control the settings and add fun effects.
There is a memory card reader for SD cards and Memory Sticks. The 160 GB hard drive (5400rpm) is large enough for most business and/or home use. My test unit came with 2 GB (PC2-5300 DDR2 667MHz SDRAM) memory, which is plenty for the Windows XP Professional operating system that came pre-installed. The L300 is also available with Vista Business with the downgrade media necessary for Windows XP Professional. This is a great feature that gives you the best of both worlds. Try Vista and if [you don’t like it, go back to XP at no additional cost.
This Toshiba L500 comes with a DVD-SuperMulti drive which supported every format I threw at it. It also has a modem, 10/100 Ethernet port, stereo speakers, and a PC ExpressCard slot. It has three USB ports. I really like the fact that it has two USB ports on one side and one on the other. This gives you the choice of using whichever side is more convenient. For instance, if you are left-handed and use a USB mouse, you can attach it to the left side of the computer. If you are right-handed, you can use the ports on the right. This is something that all laptop manufacturers should take note of.
The only useful thing missing was built-in Bluetooth. There is also no S-Video or HDMI port, but this is not surprising. The XP Professional and/or Vista Business operating system is aimed more at business use rather than home entertainment use.
The software that came with the computer included the Toshiba Disc Creator, Google Picasa™, InterVideo® WinDVD®, Toshiba ConfigFree, which is a utility to help you connect to Wi-Fi networks. The Toshiba Recovery Disc Creator is also installed with an icon on the desktop. However, I was never prompted to create the disks, which is a reminder that most users will need to remember to make the recovery disks well before they need them.
There are also two 60-day trial pieces of software, Microsoft Office Professional 2007 and Norton 360™ All-In-One Security.
In normal everyday use, the Toshiba was strong and sturdy. I enjoyed the mat finish which always looked professional and didn’t attract fingerprints. The computer also performed well, even for intensive graphic tasks and multi-tasking. Benchmarks done by others rate the L300 average in performance. At 5.7 lbs. it is a little heavy, but still tote able.
The battery life is adequate. Expect to get 2-4 hours depending on the screen brightness that you prefer and if wireless is enabled or disabled. The L300 is wonderfully quite and doesn’t seem to generate much heat. All-in-all, it is a good, solid performer that is quite and sturdy.
Reviewed: Toshiba Satellite Pro L500 L300-EZ1005X
• Good design
• Full-size keyboard
• Crisp, clear screen
• Easy-to-access ports
• Webcam & microphone
• Somewhat heavy
• No Bluetooth
• Intel Core 2 Duo T8100 2.1GHz processor
• 2GB RAM DDR2
• Intel X3100 Integrated Graphics
• 160GB (5400 rpm) hard drive
• Windows XP Professional
• 15.4″ WXGA 1280×800 screen
• Intel PRO/Wireless 3945ABG (802.11a/b/g)
• 10/100 Ethernet LAN
• VGA-15 pin
• DVD-SuperMulti drive (+/-R double layer) supporting up to 11 formats
• ExpressCard Slot
• SDCard Slot
• 3x USB 2.0
• Stereo headphone and mono microphone jack
• Integrated Webcam
• Lithium Ion battery
• Weight: 5.7lbs
• Retail Price: $899
Sometimes the simplest things in life are the most useful. This little device is simply two pieces of plastic that are joined together, but it is designed and implemented in a way that make it a useful item that many laptop owners will use daily. The device is the Laptop Desk by LapWorks.
When my colleague, Gabe Goldberg reviewed the Laptop Desk for Compu-KISS last year, both he and his wife loved it. So when LapWorks offered to send me their new model for review, I jumped at the chance. They sent me a Red Marble Painted Futura Laptop Desk.
This model is essentially the one that Gabe loved, with 2 additional features. They have added open ventilation slots to dissipate heat and they have used a special coloring technique to spruce up its looks. The regular Laptop Desk stands are black, but these new Painted Futura’s come in many bright colors and patterns, including Jungle Camou, Largely Leopard, and the American Flag that you see here. The colors are added using a heavy coat of industrial grade ink that is dried and hardened by exposure to a UV light. You can get either glossy or matt finish. The finish will not rub off or discolor. It can scratch, but it is not prone to scratching.
With the proliferation of wireless networks, more and more people are using laptop computers on a daily basis. Yet laptops have 3 problems when they are used:
1. A laptop set on a desk can be at the wrong height for proper ergonomic computer resulting in a real pain in the neck.
2. A laptop, in spite of its name, can be difficult to balance on your lap,
3. A laptop can generate a lot of heat, especially when used against clothing.
The Laptop Desk solves all of these problems. When it is folded in half it has five different inclines that can be used to set the laptop on a desk to position the screen at the proper viewing angle. It can be used to stabilize the laptop on your lap, and its open ventilation slots dissipate any heat buildup.
The Futura is small, thin, and light, but it is very sturdy so you can take it along when you travel. Rubber pads on the bottom help keep it in place on the desktop. When you use it in the open position on your lap with a 15” or smaller laptop, it provides enough room for a mouse.
If you use your laptop on a regular basis, this may be a good investment for you. While the painted Futuras are fun to look at and fun to use, you will have to decide if they are worth the extra $20.
Regular Futura Retail Price: $29.95
Painted Futura Retail Price: $49.95
I recently received the XO computer which is a laptop computer being distributed to children around the world. The lime green and white computer looks like the pictures that I’ve seen on the Internet. As I expected, it is very well-built. The fully enclosed keyboard has a surprisingly good tactile feel. I was, however, completely blown away by the computer itself. I expected it to be at least somewhat like the laptops that I am used to. It is not at all like a Lenovo or Toshiba. Not only is the interface completely different, the emphasis of the computer itself is different. Perhaps a child who has had not previous contact with a computer would find it intuitive, but every computer-literate child and adult that has looked at it has not found it intuitive at all. It is different than the computers we are used to.
I guess I expected to find a laptop that a child could pick up and use without any tutoring. I don’t think the XO fits that definition. It is obviously meant for a classroom setting where the teacher, at least at first, leads the children in their exploration of the laptop. It is also obvious that one of the main focuses of this laptop is collaboration. It is difficult to even review just one unit, because the XO is so obviously made to attach to a mesh network and have all of the children working in collaboration with each other. The other emphasis is on imagination. The drawing program is fantastic. Not only can you draw things, you can animate them. Having that rocket ship actually take off is amazing. The music program and other portions of the computer’s software seem to be wonderfully designed to spark a child’s imagination.
I’ll write more on this laptop as I explore it myself. So far I can say that it is surely nothing like others writers have led me to believe.
The big announcement at Mac World this year was the MacBook Air, the world’s thinnest laptop, weighing in at 3 pounds. After watching the demo and reading initial reviews, I am in love with it. As usual, Apple’s sense of style comes through. Kudo to Apple for giving us yet another device that is both useful and stylish. Of course, because of size limitations,certain things may be missing. I lament the loss of the firewire port and card slot, but all-in-all, it looks like Apple did a wonderful job.
What’s not to like? The sealed battery. I guess Apple thinks that since they did that with iPods and iPhones and no one complained, they could get away with it in a laptop. I think it is a bad move. I realize that it is a cost-saving measure, but I would gladly pay a little extra to get a replaceable battery for a laptop. Having an extra battery for long trips is essential to many mobile computer users.
Check out the Apple guideded tour of the MacBook Air to get a feel for what it is all about.