Monday, December 29, 2008

ASUS EeePC 904hd for $350 shipped

Buy.com is offering the ASUS Eee PC 904HD for $350 plus free budget shipping. This lightweight has an 8.9" display, an Intel Celeron M 353 processor, 1GB of memory, 80GB of hard disk, webcam, and the retro-popular Windows XP Home. The body is a trendy-loooking galaxy black.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

$500 Toshiba at Best Buy

Best Buy, home of no-rebates, is tempting laptop buyers with a $500 Toshiba special. The Toshiba L305D-S5895 is quite the laptop, with an AMD 64 X2 DC processor, 3gb memory, 250gb disk, 15.4" widescreen, Vista of course, and things like that. This is good enough for pretty much most of the dialy grind web errands, assuming of course you don't have any special applications (eg Photoshop, CAD, handful of Office apps, etc). And this is a Toshiba, not some unknown brand :-)

Monday, December 22, 2008

Acer Aspire One AOA150-1179 for $350 and free ship

If you love pink netbooks, you will adore this new deal offered by JR.com of New York! And to make this sweeter, free shipping is included in the price! We are talking of course about the Acer Aspire One, modelAOA150-1178, a netbook with a 8.9" display, and in adorable pink color, for $350. Did we mention free stork delivery? Oops, I mean, free shipping :) This adorable weighs just barely two pounds with its 3-cell battery, and is powered by a 1.6GHz Atom processor which eats tiny tiny tiny bites of power from the battery ;-) But it's no pushover, it has 1GB of memory (DDR2, PC2-4200), and a 120gb SATA (5400rpm) hard disk drive. Along with the usual connectively features of course :-)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Refurbished IBM ThinkPad R51-PM for $350

You can get a piece of IBM laptop history with this refurbished IBM ThinkPad R51-PM offered at Buy.com for $350. Obviously this is an older laptop, so don't expect modern-day luxuries. But it does feature a 1.7GHz processor, 512MB of memory, 40GB of hard disk, DVD-CDRW combo, wifi, and the respected by many Windows XP Pro. The display is a 14.1" but do note it is a 4:3, not a widescreen.

Save 20% off Dell Inspirons over $1000

This just in from Dell! Get 20% off all Inspiron laptop purchases $999 or more with coupon code 5Z0TC5B4TM83C6. Yum! Oh so many temptations, so little time. And can someone please stop the Dow Jones from dropping? It's ruining the Cyber Monday shopping mood :-(

MicroCenter CENTERewards tempts buyers with free 2gb SD or USB stick

MicroCenter is going to be launching a brand new rewards program, and they are having a freebie-giveaway to encourage tech buyers and geeks alike to sign up for the program.The program is FREE to join, and the freebie is a 2gb SD memory card or a 2gb USB Flash drive.

The program is currently in pre-enrollment phase and it will go live on January 5, 2009, just after all the major holiday shopping is done. I'm sure not be coincidence, since people would pile up a lot of rewards during the busy shopping month of December :-)

The benefits of the reward program, judging from the brochure that came in the mail, include special reward coupon offers and additional benefits once the program launched in 2009. You will earn a bonus every time you shop, but there are no details yet on how you earn the points and how they can be redeemed. This is in the early-stages for the hardcore pre-enrollment geeks :-)

Monday, December 1, 2008

Gadget Review: Nextar MA566-106 at Staples

We have a special treat for you today, a gadget review! We just couldn't resist trying out the 1gb USB-stick mp3 player that is featured in this week's circular ad by Staples. This is the Nextar MA566-106 and sells for $10 after a $10 Easy Rebate (see the bottom of the post for more on the rebate - it's good news). Here is a quick review!


Key features
  • 1gb storage
  • USB-stick plugs directly into regular-size USB ports or cables
  • plays mp3 and WMA
  • plays FM radio
  • records FM radio (ideal for NPR users since there are no commercials to skip)
  • records voice memos
  • takes one AAA battery



What's inside the box?
  • The mp3 player
  • One pair of earphones
  • One USB cable
  • a mini-CD with the setup driver for older operating systems
  • a multi-lingual user manual
  • registration card
  • battery is NOT included
  • one year warranty (!)



Opening the box (Unboxing?)
The mp3 player is housed in a lightweight shrink-wrap. This is definitely not frustration-free packaging, but a basic pair of scissors can open the box :-)


Connecting to the computer
I tried this on a Windows Vista computer, and there was no need to use the mini-CD. I simply plugged in the player directly to a front USB port (desktop computer) and Vista auto-discovered it and installed the necessarily drivers. From there on, I opened Windows Explorer and pasted about half a gigabyte of mp3 folders to the Nextar. From there, I used the "safely remove hardware" link in the System Tray to "remove" it virtually, and then I unplugged it.


Using the mp3 player
I highly recommend using rechargeable batteries for all gadgets, and that's what I am using on this mp3 player. A rechargeable NiMH AAA battery!

If you have used any of the other budget usb-stick mp3 players, the general user interface will be relatively familiar to you. It's not exactly the smoothest interface, but once you get the hang of it (a few minutes), then you are smooth sailing. There are not that many options anyway!

Size-wise, it is thicker than a typical USB-stick, it's about 2cm tall and 8cm wide at its tallest and widest points. This may be a good thing if you throw it in your pocket, it will fall to the bottom of the pocket and not drop out accidentally.

The tiny but jam-packed screen is dark blue, and let's not forget, you get what you pay for. The default setting turns off the neon-blue backlight every 5 seconds, so you may want to increase that in the settings, at least initially while you are getting used to the player and the interface.

I'm by no means a music expert, so I can't really comment on the audio quality. After all, we are talking about a $10 USB-stick mp3 player here, not the latest and greatest iPod or Bose system :)

Another handy thing is that it has a "Hold" button, aka a "Lock" button, that way if you accidentally press any buttons, it won't affect playback or recording.

Voice recording is implemented nicely, even during music playback you can start recording a voice memo if you press and hold the AB/REC button for a couple of seconds. This is nice if you have one of those "light bulb moments" and want to record it before it flies away again ;-)

The user manual is very usable as it covers all the features of the player. It is your typical not-perfectly-translated user manual (eg "previous" instead of "previews"), but then again, when you get similar manuals for $200 gadgets, why complain for a $10 gadget? :-) I did cross-reference the manual 3-4 times, and each time I found the answer relatively easily and quickly.


Potential uses
  • listen to music
  • listen to FM radio
  • record FM radio programs
  • voice recorder
  • up to 1gb USB backup for your computer



Don't fear the rebate!
The price of this is $20 but Staples is offering a $10 rebate. The good news is that this is not a mail-in rebate, but an online rebate, which Staples calls "Easy Rebate". You don't mail anything, you don't cut the UPC code, you don't photocopy receipts.

To submit the rebate, you go to the rebate website, and enter information from your cash register receipt. After you finish that and submit the request, you wait for a few weeks, and the check arrives at your door. You can always track the progress of the rebate online.

I've been using the Staples Easy Rebates for many years, and they have been consistently consistent.


Not one, but TEN!
If you read the rebate form, it says that this offer is good for up to ten units per household. This means you can buy up to ten of them and each will qualify for a $10 rebate. So if you max out, you buy 10 mp3 players, you pay $200 at the cash register, you submit your Easy Rebate online, and you receive $100 of checks after a few weeks.


Reference
This is Nextar model MA566-106, listed at the Staples website with product code 716099 (MA566-1BL) for the black unit and product code 716101 (MA566-1P) for the pink-red unit.

Acer Aspire One AOA150-1029 for $350

TigerDirect is offering netbook-aholics with the
Acer Aspire One AOA150-1029
for just $350 plus just $2 shipping. This is a reasonably spec'ed netbook with the Intel Atom N270 processor (1.60GHz), 1GB DDR2 memory, 120GB disk (nice!), 8.9" WSVGA (1024x600), wireless and webcam, along with Windows XP Home. This comes in a respectable-looking Onyx Black style as you can see from the picture below.


Acer Aspire AS5315-2698 with D-Link WBR-1310 G-Router for $400 (after $40 rebate)

Tigerdirect has bundled together the Acer Aspire AS5315-2698 laptop with the D-Link WBR-1310 Wireless G Router for one low price of exactly four hundred dollars after a $40 mail-in rebate is submitted and processed.

The laptop is an "oldie" and it has an Intel Celeron 560 2.13GHz processor, 1GB DDR2 memory, 120GB disk, dvd burner, 15.4" WXGA display (1280x800), wireless (b and g), along with webcam, and of course Vista Home Premium.

Sony VAIO VGN-AR820E for $700 (17" laptop!!!)

CompUSA's Cyber Monday temptation is the Sony VAIO VGN-AR820E notebook for $700. This laptop is powered by the Intel T5750 (2GHz) processor, it has 3gb of DDR2 memory, 250GB of hard disk, and the obligatory dvd burner. Other features include wifi, webcam, HDMI, and of course Vista Premium.

But the biggest star (pun intended) is the 17" WXGA+ display which offers a 1440x900 resolution. If this is not a deal breaker for you (eg you want wider than 1600), then take a long hard look at this!

Toshiba Satellite L305D-S5904 for $570 and free shipping

Hello Cyber Monday! Buy.com is having a special on the Toshiba Satellite L305D-S5904 laptop for $570 and with free budget shipping. Sales tax in some states. This price is only good today, so don't delay, get yours now :-)

This Satellite orbits around the AMD Turion dualcore TL-60 (2GHz) processor and has 3GB of memory, 250GB disk, dvd burner of course, and things like that. The display is a 15.4 TruBrite TFT WXGA. Other features include wireless, webcam, and Vista Premium. Graphics is ATI Radeon X1250 using shared memory. Product code is PSLC0U-02C01G.