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Old 04-12-2011, 03:45 AM
Jason Dunn
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Default The External Battery Round-Up Review

<div class='os_post_top_link'><a href='http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/notebook-battery-external-power-supply,2821.html#xtor=RSS-182' target='_blank'>http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews...ml#xtor=RSS-182</a><br /><br /></div><p><em>"Shopping for a notebook involves a delicate balance between battery life, performance, usability, and price. No two users share the exact same criteria for what they consider the right blend. That's why we try to evaluate mobile platforms based on their perceived strengths. Take last year's Netbook Buyer's Guide as an example. We considered the fact that some buyers are willing to spend more for battery life and forgo a bit of performance. Others are willing to pay an extra $100 or $150 to get both. Another group cares more about usability. The list of ways to break even this one specific market into tiny pieces goes on and on."</em></p><p><img src="http://images.thoughtsmedia.com/resizer/thumbs/size/600/dht/auto/1302575770.usr1.jpg" /></p><p>Looking to get more run-time out of your laptop or tablet? These external batteries are your ticket - though all are definitely not created equal. I've been a fan of external batteries for years, though I've always ran into the same problem: I'd get an external battery, it would work great with my current laptop, then I'd upgrade the laptop and the external battery would support my new laptop. The myriad of changing tips and the weird incompatibilities introduced by the laptop OEMs when it comes to third-party power solutions - my Dell Vostro V13 won't charge from my iGo Juice for instance unless it's in sleep mode, and Apple is infamous for making life hard on the people who make these products - can make for a lot of headaches.</p><p>On the plus side, when you have a combo designed to work together, it can be handy - I have a <a href="http://www.tekkeon.com/products-mypowerall.html" target="_blank">Tekkeon MP3750</a> that was sent to me for review, and I've used it with my Dell V13 with great success. Carrying an external battery can add to your overall travel weight, but if you need to work for long periods on your laptop or tablet device, they can be worth their weight in gold!</p>
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Old 04-12-2011, 05:02 PM
Sven Johannsen
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As much as it irks my libertarian sensibilities, it would be nice if some standard were defined and enforced for this. Seems to be coming to fruition with cell phones and the micro-USB chrage/sync connector the EU seems to have settled on.

The vast majority of laptop parts are very similar, so the power requirements shouldn't vary all that much. Most every Dell laptop I own, or have owned uses about 19v, at various current capabilites. I can see making different connectors for different wattages, just like is done for household current (15A plugs are different than 20/30A ones so you don't plug a dryer into a 15A socket), but why should two laptops whose bricks are both 19v, 3A, have different connectors?

Just got a HP Slate, whose little power brick was identical in spec and even physical size to an HP Mini I had, but the connectors were vastly different, requiring me to buy yet another extra brick for travel and as a hedge against the one dying.
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Old 04-12-2011, 06:40 PM
Jason Dunn
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sven View Post
As much as it irks my libertarian sensibilities, it would be nice if some standard were defined and enforced for this. Seems to be coming to fruition with cell phones and the micro-USB chrage/sync connector the EU seems to have settled on.
Agreed. It's massively irritating.

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Just got a HP Slate, whose little power brick was identical in spec and even physical size to an HP Mini I had, but the connectors were vastly different, requiring me to buy yet another extra brick for travel and as a hedge against the one dying.
Glad to hear you got your dream device - I'm curious to see if it lives up to your expectations. That would personally drive me nuts that they didn't use a standardized connector on it.
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Old 04-13-2011, 12:38 AM
Lee Yuan Sheng
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That's one thing I like about Thinkpads. Almost 20 years, and only two connectors!

I agree on standardising on a connector though. It would save us a lot of headaches. I mean, even batteries are technically standard; mostly they have 18650 cells in them...
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Old 04-13-2011, 02:42 AM
Sven Johannsen
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Glad to hear you got your dream device - I'm curious to see if it lives up to your expectations.
Well, since you asked. I am happy with it. Not GaGa over it, but happy. I had it with me at Summit and a few took a look at it. It is everything I expected. I will admit I expected it to feel a liitle sluggish, and it does, much like a similarly spec'd netbook. My hope is that HP doesn't scrap the idea for yet another phone OS on a slate, but upgrades the little guy with the new NVIDIA Tegra 2 ARM with Windows 10, blah, blah, blah.

Here is what is good about it. It is light and very comfortable to hold. Lighter than my iPad actually, but screen is smaller. It boots relatively fast and faster if you hibernate or sleep, though it is distinctly not instant on. The screen is very responsive with touch, in those applications that understand it. Most do, at least for selecting things and scrolling, like IE, Outlook, thinks like that. I'm not much of a gamer, but Solitaire, Mahjong, work just fine with fingers. Pinch and Zoom work just fine, again in apps that get it. You must remember that most apps for Windows expect you to use a mouse, to click and drag. You can certainly tap and hold, and drag to do everything you could normally. The onscreen keyboard is as responsive as my iPad's, and I have the option of resizing it if I wish.

I also have the option of using the stylus/pen. It isn't essential, but it certainly allows some things to be a bit easier as it functions much like a mouse, which is very familiar. It is a very different experience than using one of the capacitive kludges for the iPad. I have several. All feel like you are writing with a QueTip. Writing with the pen, feels like writing with a pen, whether that is on the input panel for HWR, or on an ink aware app like OneNote.

The hardware has it's own advantages. I have a USB port and SD slot on the device itself. The USB will accept a USB drive, DVD drive, USB GPS stick (Streets and Trips), anything you could normally stick in a PC USB port. I am really pleased with the little dock that comes with it. It is light as a feather, 212g, (7.5 oz), is 5x6x1.25" at its fattest. It is exceptionally portable and ads 2 USB ports and an HDMI, plus audio out and power in. I thought this would be a stay at home thing, but it adds almost nothing to throw in the travel bag.

The big deal to me though, is it is Windows. Yea, I know you think that is its biggest drawback. You do have to sacrifice a little slickness over a built for fingers device, BUT..... You can do some tweaks in the Personalization that makes the app bar buttons bigger, makes the scroll bars a little wider, and a few things to make things a bit easier. These are built OS options, not third part add-ons. Now, what do I get for these minor inconveniences. I get Outlook, not something as good as Outlook...Outlook. I get real Office, and can fully use Office Web. I get Zune and my Zune Pass with it, because this is one of my 3 PCs I can register. I get to keep things up to date with Live Mesh, without having a repetoire of third party sync/cloud solutions. I can see my Slate from my PCs on my network and vice-versa. It backs up with my Home Server. I can use Daemon tools to create a virtual DVD drive, and run virtual DVDs off of a USB stick or SD card. I can video conference using Skype, Live Messenger or Live Meeting. If I find I need to do more than touch and pen can do efficiently, I can easily add a small portable BT keybard and mouse and basically have a netbook, and I can add a bigger screen with the HDMI, duplicating, or expanding the screen.

Price was reasonable in my view. It was $799. A WiFi only 64G iPad is $699. I however get 3 USB ports, an HDMI out, a cradle/dock, stylus, SD slot. Add those items to the iPad in accessories and you are at the same price, but not quite at the capability vis-a-vis SD card/USB support etc. At the time I could also claim two cameras but Apple has rectified that.

So, all in all I'm happy with my HP Slate. How are you doing with your XOOM?
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Last edited by Sven Johannsen; 04-13-2011 at 02:51 AM..
 
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Old 04-13-2011, 04:13 AM
Jason Dunn
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sven View Post
So, all in all I'm happy with my HP Slate. How are you doing with your XOOM?
Glad you're happy with your it. I've experienced Windows 7 on that level of hardware, and I'm not much of a fan - at least not when you compare it to instant-on tablets. Netbooks are fine if your uses are limited, but running Outlook 2010 on a netbook isn't a great experience in my opinion...so some of the more advanced things you list as possibilities wouldn't be things I'd want to do. Maybe it'a a patience thing.

As for the XOOM, there are some things I really like about it, and some things I really don't. It's all about what your needs are though; when it comes to email/web/multimedia, it's quite capable - though I think any time it loads Flash in the banner it kind of drags. The drawbacks are the apps - there just aren't enough that are optimised for Honeycomb. I'm about 70% sure I'll be returning it next week.
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