funkyfresh computers and accessories

The ASUS UL30Vt-A1 Thin and Light Notebook Review

We’ve been using ASUS motherboards for many years and have been very impressed with the company’s engineering prowess. Having heard nothing but good things about its lineup of thin and light notebooks with extended battery life we figured it was time to take a look.

The ASUS UL30Vt-A1 (seriously, can we work on simpler naming conventions please) packs a lot of power into a very small and lightweight footprint, can handle most computing tasks with aplomb and has very good battery life. However, it suffers ergonomically from too much screen glare, a cheap feeling keyboard and a trackpad/button combination we just couldn’t get comfortable with.

When we first opened the box we were impressed with the silver body of the UL30Vt-A1. Doing the initial setup of Windows 7 and removing all the crapware takes some time. ASUS has loads of stuff installed and it’s not entirely clear what all of it does. We left the ASUS ware and removed the other free trial and useless utilities. Having worked in product management we’re familiar with the kickbacks companies get as a result of customers signing up for some of these bundled services but when it starts to seriously interfere with the OOBE (out of box experience) it’s time trim things down a bit.

In day to day use the ASUS UL30Vt-A1 is actually a pretty good machine. Office runs great, wireless access was nice and fast, editing photos in Picasa was seamless, videos ran well, HDMI is nice…etc., but we just couldn’t quite come to grips with the keyboard and touchpad. Maybe we’re just not ready for a thin and light notebook if this is the compromise we have to make. We also didn’t like having to use a tethered USB DVD drive to load software. Yes, most anything can be downloaded these days but it would be nice to squeeze in an optical drive. Again, maybe thin and light just isn’t our thing.

When it comes to notebooks and laptops it’s really subjective. A lot of it boils down to what you think is comfortable. For example, we still much prefer the TrackPoint on Lenovo (IBM) ThinkPads and some Dell products to any trackpad on any machine. The ASUS UL30Vt-A1 trackpad is funky. It has some multitouch features but the texture takes some getting used to. If portability and battery life are high priorities you may not find this trackpad acceptable. We anticipate a lot of users will just plug in a mouse and problem solved. However, on a plane that’s not going to cut it.

If you’re in the market for a thin and light notebook with great battery life the ASUS UL30Vt-A1 is certainly a contender. The specs are here and the design is appealing. This notebook is more than competent and very competitively priced in the sub $700 price range. Just make sure you get your hands on one before making the purchase.

Visit ASUS for more information.

SanDisk Blade USB Flash Drive Review

The SanDisk Blade is an ultra portable USB Flash memory drive that comes in capacities up to 16GB. The Blade has a curvy indentation that makes it easy to grab and insert or remove from PCs and other electronics. It’s perfect for students or anyone else that wants a solid portable flash drive and doesn’t require the highest capacity or speed available.

The SanDisk Blade is built sturdy enough but don’t step on it. It will survive a tumble in the washing machine but not a crushing as it’s made of nearly all plastic.

Our favorite use of the SanDisk Blade is for moving movies and music from the computer to the TV and car. Many DVD and Blu-ray players include a USB port on the front of the device and support myriad codecs of pictures, video and audio. Ford, Hyundai and other tech savvy car manufacturers are all including USB ports in its vehicles.

The SanDisk Blade is perfect for this. The reason is the Blade is nice and short so it doesn’t stick out too far when connected to the front of a DVD player or in the console of a car. Most USB Flash drives are too big and cumbersome and can easily be broken or damage USB ports when accidentally bumped into while sticking out of the port. The SanDisk blade can be connected to the front of a DVD or Blu-ray player and still allow you to close the media cabinet door and you don’t have to worry about it being snapped off.

Visit SanDisk for more information for more information.

Samsung S2 USB Portable Drive Review

The Samsung S2 is a super sleek 2.5 inch that weighs just 0.34 pounds. We tested the 5400 RPM, 250GB version that sells for under $50.

The S2 comes with a short USB cable just long enough to connect the device and place it next to a compact desktop machine. It gets power from the USB port so no additional power supply is required. The S2 worked fine with both legacy and USB 2.0 systems. It's extremely quiet and emits very little heat.

We also used it as a local drive as part of a Mozy backup scheme. The S2 worked great and would be a good solution for someone without massive storage needs. By the way, the new version of Mozy works good too.

The Samsung S2 comes with a little carrying case but we don't recommend using it because you may end up dropping the drive when sliding it out of the case. Just use it for the warranty period of 3 years and change it out when the time comes.

These little drives come in handy for all kinds of things. With this super slim form factor this drive can go just about anywhere a USB flash drive can go and you’ll get a lot more storage for the money.

Visit Samsung for more information.

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