Tag Archives: netbook

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
Cons:
  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.
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My Chromebook Is On The Way!

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Isn’t this a beautiful machine?

I put Google Docs to the test last week. I sold my netbook and iPad in the midst of midterm exams, so I had to use Google Docs on my spouses desktop to type my tests. Typing an equation heavy math test was just as easy as using Microsoft Word on my old netbook, but I didn’t have to worry about saving a copy in Dropbox.
Using Google Docs was infinitely more convenient than using my iPad to create a math test.

I’ve mentioned before how much I loved my Gateway Lt2104u netbook with Microsoft Office for doing school work…but booting was just…too…slow. The instant on feature of the extremely portable iPad 2 was a welcome change. Doing lesson plans on a Numbers spreadsheet was fun, and Pages is a great word processor for a teacher…as long as you don’t teach math. I found a decent work around that allowed me to insert equations using an app called MathBot, but it just wasn’t practical for large numbers of equations. See my related video.

I debated between the iPad 2 and a Chromebook this summer, and decided to go with the iPad 2. The iPad 2 is a wonderful machine, it just lacked an equation editor in the word processor- a feature that less 1% of the population would ever notice (closer to 0% than 1%).

I’m quirky when it comes to gadget purchases. Even though Chromebooks are not as popular as iPads (understatement), I think the Chromebook will suit my needs. I just bought one on EBay today – factory sealed for $322 total (it would have been $499 from a retailer).


I Am One Step Closer To Getting A Chromebook.

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I’ve spent the last week researching Chromebooks. I played around with Google Docs yesterday after school to make sure that my school’s firewall didn’t block any of the Google stuff. Equations were easy to create and edit in the word processor. My lesson plans looked good when viewed in the spreadsheet. When I got home, my daughter informed me that she wanted to sell her Nintendo DS on eBay. I figured, what the heck, I’ll sell my iPad 2 and Gateway netbook while we’re at it. I got everything listed earlier this evening, now I’m having sellers remorse. I’m selling all my stuff so that I can buy a gadget that I’ve never played with or even seen in real life.

However, I have studied every spec and read or watched every review I could find. I’ve listened carefully to the many criticisms people have had with the Chromebooks, and they have not dissuaded me from getting one. I find the whole concept intriguing. I’ll let you know how practical a Chromebook is for school.

By the way, is there any reason I shouldn’t buy a new Chromebook on eBay?


Update: Replacing my laptop with an iPad 2

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I have been 90% satisfied since replacing my netbook with an iPad 2. In fact, if I did not teach math, the iPad would easily meet 100% of my expectations.

The main reason I got an iPad was the instant on feature. A simple task like checking email was a 15 minute ordeal on my netbook. Now it takes less than a minute.

Doing lesson plans on my iPad is so convenient. I use a Numbers spreadsheet to schedule my lessons, then save it in Dropbox.

I also like the simple functionality of Pages as a word processor. The only complaint I have is that there is not a word processor available for iOS (or Android) that has a built-in equation editor. I made a video and posted a description of how I intended to work around this problem, but it is just not practical for a math teacher.

However, in my case, the pros outweigh the cons. I get a lot more use out of my iPad 2 than I did my netbook. I’ll just cross my fingers and hope that some day, someone will make a word processor with a built-in equation editor.


Samsung Series 5 Chromebook vs iPad 2

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Earlier this summer, I was torn between which gadget to replace my netbook with:
•A more powerful ultraportable laptop, like a 13″ MacBook Air or Acer TimelineX
•The Samsung Series 5 Chromebook
•The iPad 2

Cost concerns eliminated the ultraportables from consideration, so let’s focus on the Series 5 w/ Wifi & 3G and the 16GB iPad 2 w/ Wifi only.

Now, this may seem like we’re comparing apples to oranges, but both of these system are priced at $499, and were in competition for my money.

Storage
Series 5: 4GB, with documents and music stored online and Apps are web based. There is also an SD card slot.
iPad 2: 16GB, with documents, music, and apps stored locally on the device. However, storage is becoming less of a concern for iOS devices with the arrival of services like Dropbox. In addition to that, a new feature of iOS is online backup of iTunes and App Store purchases – so you can download apps and music that you’ve purchased when you need them, delete them when you are done, and re-download as needed.
***In my case, this category was a tie, but I don’t require a lot of local storage.

Design and Portability
***I like the design of both devices – large enough to meet my needs, yet still portable.

Productivity
Series 5: Google Docs has evolved into a very capable office suite for a math and science teacher (like me). The only strike against Google Docs is that you can’t work off-line (though this may change in the near future).
iPad 2: iWork is a nice, simple office suite for educators. I don’t get bogged down in a bunch of features that I don’t use. The main strike against iWork is that it’s word processor lacks an equation editor – a must have for a math and science teacher.
***I lean toward the iPad 2 in this category because there wasn’t a way to work in Google Docs off-line, but I was able to work around iWorks lack of an equation editor with an app called MathBot.

Battery Life
series 5: 8.5 hrs
iPad 2: 10 hrs
***iPad 2 takes this category.

Connectivity
Series 5: Wifi and 3G, with 100GB of free data per month from Verizon – that’s awesome!
iPad 2: Wifi only
***At the $499 price point, the series 5 wins this category, with the free data making this a very compelling device.

As you know, I chose the 16GB iPad 2 with Wifi because I was concerned about not being able to work on documents off-line. I considered the 3G version of my iPad, but in the end, Wifi connectivity is sufficient for me. On rare occasions that Wifi is not available, I can use iWork on on my iPhone. We will see how well the iPad works as my primary home computer for the 2011-2012 school year.