funkyfresh computers and accessories

Lenovo Idea Center K300-52162FU Review

The Lenovo Idea Center, Model: K300-53162FU, desktop is a good basic computer for everyday tasks. We tested the Best Buy version that sells for about $450. It includes Windows 7 64-bit home edition, 640GB hard drive (Western Digital Blue), 4GB of memory, plenty of USB ports and a multicard reader. The power button is conveniently located on the top of the unit. It’s a nicer button than the delicate rectangle on similar priced HP units.

The inside of the computer is nice and neat with space to work. The 280 watt power supply is anemic but quiet and good enough for the intended use. You could still add another hard drive and various cards if need be without taxing it too much. We were presently surprised to find snap-on hard drive rails that would make it really painless to drop in another drive. That’s pretty rare in value based systems that often are very cumbersome to upgrade. Any novice could open up this box and add a hard drive or card.

The case is a little chunky but it works with good airflow. It’s nice and quiet too. We like how Lenovo placed the card reader and power button on the top of the tower. This makes it easier to see what you’re doing especially when the computer is placed underneath a desk or in low light situations. If your parents need a new PC this is worth considering. They won’t have to hunt around the front of the computer for the power button. It also has a nice handle built into the top which makes it easy to move.

Performance wise, the Idea Center, Model: K300-53162FU, is perfect for everyday computer use. It was plenty fast for using Office, Picassa, web browsing, streaming media…etc. It’s not the most attractive box but the functionality is there and it’s friendly enough to work on for some minor upgrades. At $450 you’d be hard pressed to build your own with better performance. This is a good choice for the technically challenged or anyone that that just wants a basic system for under $500.

The keyboard and mouse that come with the unit are very cheap and uncomfortable to use. This decision lowered the BOM but really, why bother? So count on springing for a decent keyboard and mouse. All in all not a bad effort from Lenovo for an entry level PC.

Visit Lenovo for more information.

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.

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