Tag Archives: laptop

Sony Vaio E11 Ultraportable Laptop Review


The Sony Vaio E11 falls into the ultraportable category which means it’s more capable than a netbook, yet not quite up to the standards of an ultrabook.

Netbooks typically have 10.1″ screens, traditional spinning hard drives, are powered by Intel Atom processors, and are housed in 1+ inch thick, plastic bodies. As a result, netbooks are slow, but affordable computers.

At the other end of the laptop spectrum you have ultrabooks (think MacBook Air). These laptops typically have 13″ screens, SSD drives, are powered by Intel Core i3, i5, or i7 processors, and are housed in attractive metal bodies that are less than half an inch thick. Ultrabooks are fast, expensive laptops.

The Sony E11 is a nice compromise. This ultraportable has an 11.6″ screen, a traditional spinning HD, and is powered by a dual core AMD processor. The plastic body is nearly an inch thick, but Sony’s clever design masks the thickness. Here is a complete list of specs.

What I like about the Sony Vaio E11:
-adequate processor
-large HD

What I don’t like about the Sony Vaio E11:
-trackpad lacks responsiveness
-fan noise
-cheap, plastic feel
-battery life (3-5 hrs)
These negative points may be deal breakers for some, but they were acceptable compromises for me.

Check out my video review.


Laptop Refurb Project Was a Bust!

I had a great Spring Break…the weather was warmer than expected…very Spring-like for a change. However, I spent much of my free time inside, glued to eBay, shopping for deals on hard drives, RAM, and batteries for an old laptop that I wanted to refurbish.  I was so excited about this project because I love playing around with new (to me) gadgets. In addition to that, I was going to get the satisfaction of knowing that I fixed the laptop myself.

I’m a tech fanatic, just not very tech savvy, so I also spent a lot of time on YouTube watching tutorials on replacing the parts I mentioned above. I also had to figure out what to do about re-installing the operating system. The original OS was Windows XP but I didn’t have a recovery disc. I found a Windows 98 recovery disc, but determined that it was too old to be of any use. I decided to install Ubuntu 12.10. This really amped up my excitement – a new OS would make this feel like a new laptop.

While I waited for the parts to arrive, I planned a series of YouTube videos staring me in the various stages of refurbishing my old broken-down laptop.

Well, the parts arrived. The Kid and I began filming Part 1: Hard Drive Replacement…and that’s as far as it got. Apparently, the laptop had issues in addition to the faulty HD. So disappointing. Fortunately, I bought the HD, RAM, and battery from eBay stores that accepted returns.

Well, I have a new project in mind. I’ll tell you about it in the next post.

Spring Break Project: Laptop Refurb

My project this week is to refurbish my old Compaq Presario 2100.

I sold some stuff on eBay last week, so now I have a few bucks burning a hole in my pocket. I thought about buying something like an Acer TimelineX that I could tinker with. My husband suggested that if I wanted something to tinker with I should dig out the old Presario. He was joking but I thought it was a good idea.

The Presario was collecting dust on a shelf in the basement because it started having HDD problems and eventually quit booting.

I brought it upstairs, plugged it in, and hit the power button, and what do you know…it fired right up! I spent several minutes looking around for a way to reset it to factory settings, like in Windows 7…no such luck. I guess Windows XP doesn’t give you that option. I powered it down because we were going out to eat. However, when I got home and tried to fire it back up – nothing – it had stopped booting again.

I did a little research on YouTube and found that this is called the freezer effect. Apparently my HDD has physical damage. the cold air in the basement caused the metal components of the HDD to contract and move freely again. The effect is temporary, though, and usually only works once.

I did a little shopping and found that I could get a replacement HDD pretty cheap. So, this is my plan for the week: replace the HDD, and while I’m at it, upgrade the RAM and replace the battery. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

Poll: Can a school go paperless in the classroom?

I might be naive, but I think I could go paperless in my Jr. High/High School math classes…on the condition that each of my students has access to a tablet at school and at home.  I’d like to know what other teachers think, though.

Do other math teachers think my expectations are realistic?

What about science, social studies and communication arts teachers?

I wouldn’t expect practical and fine arts classes to go paperless, but would a tablet computer in the hands of each student be significantly beneficial?

Take my poll and if you have any ideas or experience, leave me a comment.


Update: Toshiba z835 Ultrabook after a Month

     I’ve been using a Toshiba z835 Ultrabook as my primary home computer for over a month now, and I have no complaints.  It came with MS Office 2010 Starter, which would have been fine, except I’m a math teacher and the equation editor was disabled on the Starter version.  I upgraded to Office 2010 Home and Student.  Now my lesson plans are always up to date because I write them in an Excel workbook that I saved in Dropbox.  It’s the most convenient setup I’ve ever used.

I’m usually ready for school before my daughter, so thanks to the z835’s quick boot time I can review my lesson plans or check out the news while I wait for her.

I use Chrome as my default browser.

Durability has not been an issue, even though it feels so fragile.

I appreciate the battery life of the z835 since my youngest daughter (9 years old) uses it as much as I do, and she usually closes the screen when she is done and just lets it go to sleep.

Bottom Line:  The Toshiba z835 is still my favorite laptop, as well as the best value in the Ultrabook category.

Toshiba z835 Ultrabook

Best All Around Ultrabook!

     I got a new gadget over Christmas break.  This is going to have to be my last gadget…for a while anyway…as in more than a year.  I got a Toshiba z835 ultrabook – and I love it.  Instead of being a distraction that keeps me from work I need to be doing, it is a beautiful effective tool that makes doing my work fun.
     I sold my Samsung Series 5 Chromebook and Blackberry Playbook Prior to getting my new laptop.  Samsung’s 1st generation Chrombook was a nice device – felt kind of cheap, but looked nice, worked well, but Google docs was not working to my satisfaction.  I would type a test or worksheet and get it formatted the way I wanted, then when I printed it, the formatting was totally different.  The 7″ 16 GB Blackberry Playbook is a nice tablet – perfect size, high-end feel, nice OS, but the selection of apps is horrible.
     I’ve tried other options, but I keep coming back to a Windows 7 device running Office 2010 and Dropbox.  This is the most efficient way for me to create and edit/update lesson plans, grades, and other documents at home and at school.
Toshiba z835 Pros:
  1. boots fast – around 20 seconds
  2. very light – 2.5 lbs
  3. long battery life
  4. back lit  keyboard – didn’t know I needed it until I had it
  5. reasonable price – $799
  6. doesn’t get hot
  7. looks nice
  1. The extreme light weight of the z835 makes it feel fragile, thought I don’t know how fragile it actually is.
     Though the individual specs don’t stand out as super awesome, when considered together, the Toshiba z835 is the best all around Ultrabook for using around the house, or in my case for a teacher.  I let my 9 year old daughter borrow mine, but she knows she has to be careful with my gadgets, so I don’t know if it’s sturdy enough to stand up to students use.  I did read a user review (I think it was on Best Buy) from a student who claims the z835 travels well in his backpack.
The Bottom Line:  I think you get the best bang for your buck with the Toshiba z835.

Is the Blackberry Playbook Underrated?

Blackberry Playbook

I got one of the $198 Blackberry Playbooks (16GB) from Walmart – but just barely.  I noticed Sunday morning that Walmart was offering the super discounted price – online only.  I ordered one, got the super fast shipping, and have been enjoying my new Playbook since Tuesday.  However, I noticed Sunday evening that Walmart had sold out of the 16GB models

What I like about the Playbook:

  • It feels well built; solid and substantial in your hands
  • The rubberized back is nice
  • The user interface is easy to learn and practical to use
  • I’ve been able to find apps that meet most of my needs
  • Battery life is good
  • It fits in my bag; I can take it with me everywhere
  • User reviews at online retailers are mostly positive

These are my concerns about the Playbook:

  • Professional reviewers are largely critical of the Playbook
  • Blackberry’s App World has a smaller selection of apps than Apple or Android
  • No Kindle or Nook apps

One of the most frequent criticisms of the Playbook is the “tiny” and “difficult to depress” power button.  However, I think the power button functions just fine.  In defense of the reviewers, I did read somewhere that Blackberry was going to raise the power button to make it easier to press.  So, I could have gotten a Playbook with a “new and improved” power button.

Another criticism of the Playbook (and other 7″ tablets) is that it is half the size of the iPad.  Well, I’ve had an iPad 2, and I thought it was a great device, but the 7″ Playbook is a better fit for me because it’s easier  to keep with me at all times.

I like the Blackberry Playbook and think that the bad press it is getting is undeserved.  I also think that the bad press has discouraged developers from devoting resources to creating apps for the Playbook.  But I’ve only been using a Playbook for 3 days.  Let me know what you think.