Savings on the Go!!!

As the economy begins its recovery, many of us are looking for ways to save a few bucks.  The other day, while shopping with my daughter at the mall, I saved over $20, just by using the very device that is by my side everywhere I go – my mobile phone. 

Remember the days when you had tons of coupons from mailers, newspapers etc and you forgot them at home?  Now all you need to do is turn on your mobile device, download one or many of the apps below and start searching for coupons, while you’re in the store!  No printing is usually required and many of the sales associates are aware of this common practice, which requires you to simply show the coupon on your phone. 

Here are some of the apps I would recommend (all of which were free in the Android Marketplace – other App Worlds/Stores might charge a fee, but these apps will pay for themselves):

GeoQpons

This app can be used along with your GPS to figure out where you are and what stores are in the vicinity.  If your store doesn’t show up or GPS is off, you can do a search for the store.  If a coupon exist, it will likely be on this application.  The app also has some nice additional features, including a Shopping list, a Wish List, Savings Calculator and Barcode integration to check pricing.

  

Coupons

Similar to GeoQpons, Coupons will also use GPS to figure out your location, if turned on.  Coupons also provides discounts that can be used right from the phone, but also shows discounts that can be obtained via e-mail sign-up.  Coupons main page provides the average gas price in your area, making you want to use the coupons provided, even more…

  

AAA Discounts

 

If you are a AAA member, you can get this app and it will provide all the AAA discounts offered in your area.  I didn’t know this, but apparently, New York and Company offers a discount for AAA members (don’t hold me to it, I am only going by what the app tells me).  You can also put your AAA membership number in the app, so if you need assistance, you can call right from the app and they will know your location.

 

Entertainment App

Do you have one of those Entertainment books and always forget the book when you are out?  Well, the app cannot act as a replacement for coupons in the book (it will tell you that there is a coupon for the store, but direct you to your book), but it can help for coupons that don’t require the book itself.  In addition, if you are in a store and you see there is a coupon, it will at least make you aware and you have the ability to save the offer, so you remember to clip the coupon (I am not sure about you, but I get overwhelmed whenever I start looking through the book itself).  What I have also found helpful, is letting the app find my location, so I can note all the coupons in my area.  I then go and save these under saved offers, so I know to clip, when I go to those retailers.  Membership number can be put right in the app, to validate you are a member.   

 

Foursquare

I reviewed this app awhile back and a lot more has been done to it since that time.  I will not go into a lot of details on the app itself other than to say there are some nice deals that can come out of Foursquare.  For example, I was once the mayor of Sports Authority in my area.  As a result, I received 10% off my purchase, any time I walked into that store!  There is also a coupon for a free Chips and Dip any time you go into a Chilis.  Some might think Foursquare is just a gimmick to check into places and let your friends know where you are, but as I wrote in my review, there are many practical uses – like saving money!!!

While there are probably many other apps out there, these are some of the ones I have found most helpful.  Even if you can save a little along the way, it can make a big difference in the end.  Happy savings!

How to Protect the Vault that Sits on Your Belt

 

Have you ever lost a credit card or wallet?  Maybe a purse?  How did you feel – pretty anxious about the whole situation, right?  I bet you ran to the phone and started cancelling credit cards and changing pin numbers.  Now imagine if you lost your wallet/purse, your file cabinets, personal files in your safe, computer hard drive and broadcasted all of your personal information to a total stranger – how would you feel?  Well, if you are like me, then if you were to ever lose your mobile phone, you would be in that same predicament. 

Mobile devices are always going to carry a high risk of being misplaced or stolen.  That is the nature of carrying a small device around with you everywhere you go.  So how would you protect yourself, if you lost your phone?  Who would you call?  You could try, well, your phone and hope someone answers, but what if they were up to no good and weren’t taking messages?

If you’re a corporate user, and using some type of corporate interface solution, like Blackberry Enterprise Server or Mobile Iron, you’re in good hands.  You can likely just call your help desk and have them send a remote wipe to your phone.  But what if you’re not on a corporate network? 

This takes me to one of my biggest concerns as a avid mobile device user – security.  Since I like to put my life story on my phone, I know I need to make sure the security setup is bulletproof.  I need to make sure my data is safe and cannot be compromised remotely.  I need to make sure if I lose the device, I have the ability to find it, or make my data a distant memory on it.   

When I was on my Blackberry, using my corporate BES, I didn’t really have much concern around security.  Blackberries  are one of the most secure mobile devices around.  The problem was moving to an open source Android device that put more emphasis on innovation than security and made me sweat at night.   

 

In order to compensate for the security issues, which I now faced with my Android, I went into the Android marketplace and began looking for a security solution.

In the marketplace, I found various security choices, but the one I liked best was an application called Lookout, which has a $29.99 yearly fee associated with it for the Premium edition (don’t panic, the lite edition is free and still very useful).  There is also a 30 day free trial period for the Premium.  I downloaded the application, after reading lots of positive reader reviews and began playing with it. 

The application, in a nutshell, provides the following benefits:

  • Virus/Malware Scanning
  • Privacy Advisor
  • Data Backup
  • Missing Device

 

 

Most people today have heard of a computer virus or malware.  They range from benign to severe and can cause major headaches.  While smart phone viruses are not as common, they are out there.  Lookout has a feature that will scan every application you put on your device and any file you open. 

Privacy Advisor analyzes apps that access your location, identity information or personal messages. 

The Data Backup function does exactly that – it backs up your data to a secure remote server, maintained by Lookout.

Missing Device is in my opinion the most important feature of this application.  If you were to misplace your device or be a victim of theft, you could go onto any internet connected device, log into your Lookout account and discover the location of your phone!  (assuming the phone is on and GPS enabled)  In addition, you could send a remote command to the phone and have the memory wiped (including any SD cards).  If you lost the phone locally, say for example, you just couldn’t find it in your house, you would also have the ability to make the phone ring. 

As I mentioned Lookout Lite is a free application, but costs $29.99 a year, if you want the Premium features.  Of course, one of the most important features, the remote wipe, is a premium feature, so I would have to recommend taking the plunge and spending the $29.99.   The one challenge with security is how to quantify ROI.  $29.99 might seem like a sunk cost each year when you have no issues, but lose that mobile device just once, and I guarantee you will pat yourself on the back for a well spent investment.

Check out Lookout at http://www.mylookout.com/

 

ConclusionA Must Have

 

Practicality Score 5.0 / 5.0

Practical use – Data / Personal Security

Target Market – people who want the piece of mind that they have taken the necessary precautions to protect the data on their phone.  Especially targeted towards people who keep personal and confidential information on phone 

Alternative Apps/Competition – Corporate Solution like MobileIron or BES, Smartguard

The Pragmatic Thumb

I love mobile technology and gadgets.  It is something I am very passionate about and could spend hours reading and discussing with others.  As a kid, I was always on the go, spending time at my Mom, Dad, and grandparent’s houses.  I enjoyed being able to take smaller electronic devices that allowed me to play my games wherever I was located.  Even as I grew older, I was more excited about mobile game players and devices. 

Today, mobility is finally making a push and people are using devices from iPads to PSP players to do work, play games and just communicate around the globe.  There has been an explosion of mobile devices and applications that have taken the world by storm. 

As one of my topics on this site, I want to provide reviews and tidbits of what I discover, when it comes to using these devices and applications.  Rather than just review the products, I want to put a pragmatic spin on the reviews.

How many times do you hear about an application or download it and wonder, this is great, but what does it really mean to me?  Between my Blackberry and Droid devices, I have downloaded and played with so many applications that I wonder how people who don’t have a knack for this stuff relate to it.   I want to provide not only insight into how the device or application works, but examine the practicality the product brings to your professional or personal life.  Some products have little practicality; other than, entertainment (which could be considered practical at times).  Others will wow you until you realize, they have no practical use. 

One thing is certain today, with the advent of a mobile era, there are hundreds of thousands of applications in the marketplaces, and one can become very overwhelmed.  My goal is to review the apps and determine how they fit in the practical parts of our lives.  Look for my new series of mobile reviews, specifically targeted at determining the pragmatic use of the products and how they fit into our daily lives.

Berries and Droid

That time of year came again, last October.  As the leaves changed and the November winds moved in, I could smell it in the air.  I was like one of Pavlov’s dogs, salivating at the mouth, ready for something new.  It was time to upgrade my mobile phone.  I had stuck it out with the Blackberry Storm 2 for just a little over a year, and it was time to make my yearly change.  This time it was different though because I envisioned lots of changes around the turn of the new year.  I read about the new 4G on the way, and strongly believed (and still do) that the iPhone would be on the Verizon network by Quarter 2 of 2011.  All of these factors made me hesitant not to upgrade using my yearly promotional discount.  Add to the mix that I was considering leaving the Blackberry brand, which I had stuck with since 2006. 

My one year promotional date came and went with no changes.  I decided to stay with the Storm 2 and wait to make my next move…that was, until one day found myself bored and on Ebay, looking at used Droid 1 phones.  I became obsessed and quickly considered bidding on a few of the phones.  They were going for great prices, but of course, there was always the risk something would be wrong with them.  I went from almost hitting bid now, to forget it, I’ll just wait.  It wasn’t until I went back onto Ebay, later that day, just for kicks that I found a phone, listed at a competitive price that was marked as barely used.  The bidding was almost done with 2 minutes remaining.  I quickly typed in my bid, just in case, and sat and thought about whether this was the right move.  I kept reading the details of the phone, and everything seemed right…1 min left…I reviewed the seller feedback, and everything checked out…45 sec left…I consulted with someone who sat next to me…30 sec left…I sat and stared at the phone…10, 9, 8, 7…I turned my head for a sec and clicked bid…auction over…I won. 

When the Droid was delivered to me, I was still hesitant to believe everything would be okay with it.  It was a great price and I was worried the ESN would be bad, or there would be a major scratch on the screen.  I quickly opened the box and examined the phone.  Nothing was wrong with it.  The phone looked brand new.  The only issue now would be the ESN, which if, time had allowed, I would have checked prior to purchasing (the price was just too good to pass up though, so risk was worth it). 

I decided to go into a parallel mode with both the Droid and my Blackberry Storm.  I would use the Droid in the house on Wi-Fi, while continuing to use my Blackberry as my normal smartphone outside of the house (and in the house for phone and txt msging).    It took about a week before I went ahead and swapped the phones on my Verizon account (ESN was good!).  There was no comparison for me.  The Droid just had more functionality, was a lot quicker and provided hours of entertainment.  That’s not to say I would now not recommend the Blackberry to anyone, or say I don’t miss some of the features from the Blackberry.  The Blackberry definitely excels in the way of messaging and privacy.  The Blackberry had a main bucket for e-mail, messages, etc, where all my communications could be seen, including Facebook and Linkedin messages.  The Blackberry just felt far more secure.  It’s used in very secure places and they have the reputation for security, so I never felt threatened (other than if I lost my phone).  I don’t get the same warm and fuzzy feeling from the Droid (at least not out of the box). 

Overall, the Droid is a friendlier phone for people who want the ability to customize and add numerous types of applications to their phone.  The Blackberry is more geared toward people who want a phone that has a simplified setup out of the box, with less customization required (or even available), does a stellar job with messaging and connects securely to their corporate network.  Basically, if you just want a smartphone for what its original purpose (calling, texting, e-mailing), then the Blackberry is the way to go.  But if you are like me and want the next coming of an all in one solution on your belt for communication, entertainment, navigation, etc you might want to look in the Droids directions.

More to come!

Foursquare Check-in – Amazingly Addictive!

Foursquare is a location-based social networking application that can be used on various mobile devices. While I was a bit hesitant to the nature of Foursquare at first, I must say it is quite addictive.

Foursquare allows people to “check-in” to various venues based on their location. Users can connect with other people allowing them to share their location, as well as seeing their friends’ location. Foursquare uses the GPS service on your mobile device to provide you with venues in your area. Users simply pick the venue and check-in, recording it within their profile. If the venue is not already on the list, the users have the ability to create the it.

In order to make it more interesting, there are various “badges” that users can earn. For example, when I checked into 5 different Starbucks, I was awarded the Barista badge. While this might sound silly, it is actually very addictive.

In addition to badges, users can become the Mayor of each venue, by being the person that checked into that venue the most times. Again, sounds silly, but it’s addictive.

So why would I even want this on my phone you might ask? Here are some reasons:

  • Allows your friends to see where you are and meet up with you if you are in the area. When you connect to a friend, they can see where you last checked in. In addition, each venue will show people recently here, allowing friends to connect. Of course if privacy is an issue and you don’t want anyone knowing where you are, you can turn off the feature and not publicize your whereabouts.

  • Allows users to see what is in the area. Foursquare utilizes the GPS technology on the mobile device, so when users are in the vicinity of different businesses, Foursquare will let them know. This is a great way for businesses to advertise themselves to potential customers.

  • Users can get opinions and tips on the venues they visit. When you check in there is a section that allows you to leave tips for other visitors to read.

  • Businesses can also attract customers by promoting specials. That’s right – there is the ability for businesses to tag their venues with special offers! A few examples are listed below (these were taken off the Foursquare website today)

Sports Authority (Baltimore, MD)
Get a $10 Cash Card towards today’s purchase as a thank you for being our Mayor & Sports “Authority”! Exclusions Apply.

Carrabba’s Italian Grill (Baltimore, MD)
Show that you’re the Mayor of Carrabba’s and enjoy a complimentary dessert with the purchase of an entrée. Grazie!

American Eagle (Ottawa, Ontario)
Check-in to any AE store and unlock a 15% Off discount towards your next merchandise purchase. Expires 7/31/10. Limit one per customer.

Field House (Baltimore, MD)

Free house wine beer for 3rd check-in Find Carly, John or a manager!

  • Businesses and users can track venue stats. For an individual, this is a way to remember where you were and how many times you were there. Even more important, businesses have the ability to obtain real-time venue stats that show such things as most recent visitors, most frequent visitors, visitor volumes by time of day, gender breakdown etc. If a business knows that more males visit their establishment on a Wednesday night, they have the ability to use this information and sponsor a “Ladies Night”.

As with any location-based application, users should be careful what they advertise. I would not necessarily create your home venue for everyone to see; unless, you want them to know where you live.

Foursquare has also been subject to users falsifying where they really are just to obtain mayor status and badges. Foursquare has worked around this by utilizing the GPS on the phone. If you are not near the venue based on GPS, you can check-in, but will not receive credit.

Similiar to most social networking apps, if you have a Twitter or Facebook account, and want to share your Foursquare statuses with everyone, you have the ability to link the accounts.

Foursquare might seem like a kid’s toy on the surface, but there is some real practical use to this application for both end-users and businesses. The application is a pleasant and addictive experience!

Check out Foursquare at http://www.foursquare.com/

ConclusionRecommend

Practicality Score3.5 / 5.0

Practical use – Social Networking / Marketing

Target Market – people who are looking to keep in touch with friends, looking for new places and deals, or want to play with a cool and addictive mobile application on the go!

Alternative Apps/Competition – Loopt, Gowalla, Yelp

The Amazon Kindle – An E-Reader’s Delight

When the Kindle was first released, I thought it was a great idea. I am one that likes to read. The problem is I like to read multiple books at a time and carrying 4 or 5 books around was always a challenge. In addition, the space books have taken in my house is insane. I have boxes of them and while I know my library would love to have them, some I have yet to complete and others are reference books. I saw the Kindle as a savior to relieving these issues, but at the $250 intial price tag, it seemed a bit steep.

The device sat on my Christmas and Birthday list over time and I never received one. It wasn’t that no one wanted to get it for me. The device just wasn’t “sexy” enough for me to want to push the issue. It is a pretty simplistic device and nothing “gadgety” really stood out that made me absolutely want it.

When the iPad was released this year, my first thought was this was bad news for the Kindle. How could it possibly compete with the beauty of the iPad screen and the fact that you could even get a Kindle application for the iPad itself? The price points could definitely be an issue for the iPad, with the most expensive iPad over $800 and the cheapest Kindle at the time still in the $200 range. Of course, if you were looking for a large screen and only e-reading ability, the price point between the Kindle DX (larger Kindle) and iPad low-end unit was under $50! So I thought to myself, this could be the beginning of the end for the Kindle and took the device off my wish list.

Slickdeals.net is one of the greatest deal sites out there in my opinion. I have saved (and lost from purchasing more than I really need!) a lot of money from using the site. It was two weeks ago when they posted the Kindle (older U.S. only edition) for $110, refurbished. It took me awhile to ponder whether it was worth buying now or just waiting for the point in time when I purchased an iPad. After watching the device go in and out of stock, and reading the reviews on the refurbished devices (which many seem to believe were brand new – just the older version), I decided to take the plunge. For $110, it was worth checking it out.

Now I am a gadget freak. I love the latest and greatest, but at the same time, I am trying to become a little more pragmatic with my choices. I own and Sony PSP and a Nintendo DS, and I will be the first to admit, I don’t need them both (these days, it seems I need neither). So when I started to use the Kindle, I was amazed that such a “non-sexy” gadget, could grab my attention so well. The Kindle does what many other devices miss the mark on – it does what it is suppose to – very well. The Kindle was not created to compete with a device like the iPad (although some would believe the iPad set out to compete with the Kindle). The Kindle is simply an e-reader that mimics reading a real book – that’s it – nothing fancy. I have to say, after using it a few weeks, I love it, and would even consider continuing its use, after I obtain my iPad.

There are a few different versions of the Kindle (6 inch screen) and Kindle DX (9.7 inch screen):

  • The first generation Kindle, which is no longer sold by Amazon;
  • Two versions of the newer 2nd Generation Kindle – a US only and a US/International. The “US only” means you can only get internet service (book store included) in the US. The “US/International” supports internet both in the US and overseas.
  • There is also the Kindle DX, which has a larger 9.7 inch screen. The Kindle DX supports both US and international. The new 2nd generation Kindle DX has also just been released with better screen resolution.

(Note that AT&T provides the US/International service, while Sprint provides the US only service).

The Kindle that I purchased is the 6 inch 2nd Generation US only version.

Here is what I discovered:

Pros:

  • Easy on the eyes
  • Simplicity
  • Convenience of the Amazon Store
  • Battery life
  • Size (for the smaller one)
  • Flexibility with reading other documents
  • Syncs all your devices and everything is backed up
  • Text to Voice

Cons:

  • Outside of an e-reader, other areas are sub par
  • No internal light
  • Subscriptions can be expensive – free content is not free
  • Cost money to read other docs

Let’s look at the Pros first. The number one advantage to the Kindle and perhaps the main reason I wanted to get one was the ease on the eyes. I am constantly in front of an LCD screen, whether it be my work PC, my Blackberry, a PC at home or my TV. My eyes can only take so much before I feel the strain, and the Kindle offers relief. The Kindle screen uses a technology called e-ink, where the words look to be floating on top of the screen and mimic a book. The screen is also pretty sharp, so despite only being in grayscale, the illustrations look pretty good. Unlike an LCD screen, this type of reading format is much easier on the eyes and adds other benefits, like less power consumption.

The Kindle is very user friendly. There are few bells and whistles to the Kindle and navigation and control is very easy. There are buttons to navigate on both sides of the device and a pretty decent keyboard on the bottom. Since I already had a Kindle account, the device was even already configured to my account and ready to go once I opened the box!

Having a book store with you 24/7 is a huge plus. Just knowing if I want a new book that I can purchase it immediately, eases my mind about going shopping or buying a book when I really don’t need it at that specific time. Amazon provides free internet access to the bookstore via Sprint or AT&T (depending on which Kindle you own – you don’t need to sign up or do anything with either provider), where you can sample or purchase material, all downloadable within minutes (usually under a minute). There is also a lot of free material in the Amazon store that you can download, including classics and books of the month.

Since the Kindle does not use LCD technology the battery life is amazing. The device can go about a week with the wireless turned on and up to two weeks with the wireless off. That is quite a long time for any device!

The Kindle size is a perfect fit. The six inch version that I own fits snug in my cargo shorts pocket. Anywhere I go I can take the device with little effort. Even the larger DX version is no worse than carrying around a day planner. Much better than carrying most books around!

The Kindle not only can display the content from the Amazon store, but has the ability to read word documents, pdfs and other text based files. Pdfs can be placed directly on the device using a PC connection, while the other documents have to be e-mailed to your Kindle e-mail (you get one of these once you setup a Kindle account) for reformatting.

If you read your material on different devices (i.e. Mobile phone or PC), one of the great features built into Amazon’s process is a sync up to the last spot you read in your material. So if you read up to Page 16 of your book on the PC and then hop onto your Kindle, the Kindle will startup at Page 16. In addition, all your material is archived at Amazon (that you purchase with them), so you can always get it back, if you lose or delete the information from a device.

The Kindle has the ability to read to you. The purchased material has to have this feature turned on and the voice is robotic, but it is not bad if you want to give your eyes a rest or are in a dark place. The Kindle also has the ability to play music or other audio files.

The Kindle is not without some disadvantages. They include:

It’s an e-reader – that’s it. If you cannot get passed this fact, then the Kindle might not be for you. It has some “Experimental” features, which are decent given the expectations, but they certainly don’t compete with other devices. The Kindle has a web browser, and it does the trick if you need quick access to G-mail, or a mobile site. Given the internet service is free; this could be a huge advantage to some people. If you already own a smartphone or phone with a web browser though, you will likely find those devices better. The text to voice is an advantage, but at the same time many of the books do not have this feature turned on, so it is still developing. Remember, the Kindle is great at e-reading, but if you are looking for other features that you might find on a device like the iPad, you are barking up the wrong tree.

The Kindle does not have a backlight. This can actually be considered a good thing, given it would hurt the battery life, and all you really need to do is purchase a separate pocket light. Still, it’s inconvenient when it’s dark, so it would be a nice option.

Subscriptions to newspapers on the Kindle can range from about $10 – $20 a month. Given you can read much of this content via the web on the paper’s websites, this can be pricey. The same goes for the blogs you can sign up for access on the Kindle (which are about $2 a month). Even so, if you’re looking for the convenience, it might be worth it, but for this type of material, I prefer the old fashion way of reading online via a PC or my mobile phone. All the subscriptions come with a 14 day free trial, so I do recommend trying one out to see if it is something for you. I ordered the Newsday paper (local LI newspaper), and did enjoy having it delivered each morning instantly, but again, the price was not right.

Any of the content (like word documents) that need to be converted to Kindle format, costs .15 cents per megabyte. While .pdfs can be placed on the Kindle directly from a PC without any cost, I was not able to do this with my word documents. If you have a lot of documents you want to carry around this can become costly.

Overall, I am really impressed with the Kindle. It provides what I want it to do, which is allowing me to read multiple books at my leisure, with the convenience of mobility and ease on my eyes. Given that Amazon has also been dropping the price of the older Kindle devices; the pricing is very attractive under the $200 range. If you are looking for more than just an e-reader, and ease on the eyes is not a major concern, I would then recommend something like the iPad or just using a free Kindle application on your mobile phone.

Some of the questions I have heard around the Kindle have been provided below with my answers.

Why the Kindle over the iPad?

As stated above – the Kindle is an excellent e-reader and if reading books in a digital format that best represents the way a physical book is read, is what you desire, than I believe this is the device for you.

The Kindle has also been around for a while and all the initial issues that come with first generation seem to be worked out.

Should I get an iPad instead?

If you want to be able to do other things on the go (like watch movies, play games etc) and e-reading is just one of them, then you would want to check out the iPad. Eye strain and price are also factors to consider.

In addition, beware first generation products – not saying the iPad is a bad device (I will likely have one sooner than later), but there will be newer generations to come – this is almost certain (although not guaranteed).

Why does Amazon provide other devices use when that could cannibalize Kindle sales?

Amazon makes its money off the material it sells in the Amazon Kindle Store. The Kindle is only one avenue for getting users to buy the material. By offering the Kindle applications on other devices, Amazon is actually trying to cannibalize those device’s offerings (for example, Apple’s E-book store). Before I even owned my Kindle, I had already bought 2 books from the store and was reading them on my Blackberry. Think of the Kindle as a cell phone, and the books are the services that are then later used on the phones. The wireless providers make their revenue from the services they provide, not the phones.

What devices is the Kindle application available for use?

The devices so far are the iPhone/iPad, Blackberry, and Android

What about the other e-readers?

Yes, Barnes and Nobles has the Nook, and while I was actually impressed with some of the features (especially in store features), it is the first generation and there are already some issues being reported. I suspect B&N will give Amazon a good run for its money, but I am confident Amazon will still fare well given the time it’s been in this space.

Borders has the Kobo and while it is one of the cheapest on the market, it does not offer the free internet and just doesn’t strike me as anything special.

Sony has a very good e-reader that is compatible with many different formats, but from what I have read it is not as user friendly (need to know how to upload etc) and there is no internet connection.

In all fairness, I have not played with these devices and am only making generalities from what I know and read on the web. I feel like there will eventually be some merging with someone like Borders making a deal with Amazon, hence having three or four major players in the e-reader business. Again – just gut feelings I have looking at the playing field. Nothing known or read for sure. Only time will tell…

ConclusionHighly Recommend

Practicality Score4.0 / 5.0

Practical use – E-Reader

Target Market – people who like to read and want a simple e-reader; desire to have instant access to over 500,000 titles; not looking for other features such as games, movies, planner etc.

Alternative devices/Competition – Nook, Kobo, Sony e-readers, iPad

My first review…The ASUS Eee PC Seashell PC 1201N 12.1 inch Netbook

Okay, so I am cheating a little here by posting my old review from Amazon – but really, why recreate the wheel? It’s all about efficiency!!

***The below was Originally Posted on Amazon 01/07/2010***

I am a huge gadget person and own numerous portable devices. This is the 4th laptop I have owned and it is the perfect blend of portability and performance. All of my past laptops have been Dell Inspirons 15 inch machines that have treated me well, but I wanted something that I could carry around without the hassle of it taking up my entire travel bag.

I played around with other 10.1 inch nebooks, but found them to be too small and not worth the hassle, especially since I have a Blackberry smartphone which can pretty much do everything a typical netbook can do.

I looked at the HP Mini that offered the Ion Nvidia graphic card and had a slightly bigger 11.6 screen and almost purchased that device until I saw the Asus 1201N in a website’s review. I noticed the Asus had a dual core atom and included all the upgrades of an HP 311 mini. I immediately found this Asus being sold on another vendor site (would have definitely bought from Amazon because I have never been dissatisfied with this site, but it wasn’t available yet) and purchased.

I have not regretted the decision. The dual atom processor and the ION NVIDIA graphic card means you don’t sacrifice as much functionality as you would with your typical netbook. I basically use it to do office work, light gaming and multimedia stuff like iTunes and watching movies (via web and locally) and have not been disappointed.

Below, in summary, are some of the pros and cons:

Pros:

– Outstanding screen resolution;

– high definition and crystal clear;

– perfect size – compared to the Dell mini, which is 10.1 the Asus 1201N machine is not that much bigger in size when folded, yet the screen offers a lot more view ability with 12.1 inches than a 10.1 inch screen;

– Plays multimedia pretty well. I have noticed some slowness with Hulu, but I have read this is a problem with Flash that is supposed to eventually be worked out. – Windows 7 Home Premium included. The HP Mini I was looking at had XP Home on it for the same price (assuming the other features included);

– Pretty quick loading up;

– less than a minute to fully boot and be ready to roll;

– stays pretty cool other than a small area on the left that disperses the heat;

– Various power modes you can set to balance efficiency versus performance;

– Very competitive price given HDD size and all the included features like Bluetooth and SD media reader.

Cons:

– Battery only goes for about 4.5 hours at best and takes awhile to charge (this also might be because I am using high performance mode at the least so to be fair there is a power saving mode I have not tried);

– Keyboard sometimes is a little less responsive than typical keyboard. Half keystrokes don’t necessarily work when typing quickly. This is not a big issue.

Overall, I am very satisfied with this netbook. I did quite a bit of research and was between a high power netbook like this one, a ULV (ultra low voltage), or a smaller laptop. In the end I felt this machine was the best option for the price. This machine seemed more powerful than any ULV in the same price range (when considering the ION Nvidia graphic card) and when you started going into higher price ranges, you were almost better off with a low end laptop. The battery is definitely not going to provide your typical 5-10 hrs of time other netbooks/ULVs provide, but with more performance power, you are going to sacrifice a little battery life. The way I look at it, I can always buy another battery to carry around, but I can’t just turn other netbooks into higher performance machines, when I need it.

****UPDATE****

I’ve gotten to play around with this netbook a little more since my initial review and I am happy to report that the 1080p on this unit is amazing given it is only a “netbook”. I was able to hook it up to both a 40 inch and 65 inch TV using an HDMI cable and the unit was immediately displaying on the screen in full HD without a hitch. In addition, I joined Netflixs and was able to run movies seamlessly from their Streaming Internet Movies On Demand application. Hulu is still a little choppy, but given Netflixs works great, I now have some sort of proof it is the Flash application Hulu is using and not the hardware causing any problems.