Sunday, March 27, 2011

Laptop Specs - April 2011

We keep track of laptops that we like for everyday / business use. Some people may like the most powerful laptops -- or more stylish looks -- but the specs shown in the chart below represent the "sweetspot" in terms of performance, price, and value. Here's a record of what you can get for the given price point over recent years.

It's exciting to have the new Intel "breakthrough" Core i3/i5/i7 series of chips in this price category. Other features that we have our eye on include:
  • The i5 and i7 chips and 6GB (or 8GB) of RAM memory are a little pricier than the laptops in the chart below.  You can step up to the the i5/i7 and increased memory for about $750 to $800 (about $200 more than our sweet spot below).
  • Some of the i5's are starting to edge into $599 laptops!!  (There is an HP i5 with 4GB Ram, 640HD; 6.5 hr battery life for $599).
  • Most laptops have around 4 hours of battery life - but a few have up to 8 hours.  Over time, the batteries degrade -- so you will see less than the listed battery life specs...
  • Some laptops have increased battery life.  You will have to look for this feature, however, as most do not have the extended battery life.  Extended battery life will cost a bit more.
  • LED screens use much less power than LCD screen -- meaning improved battery life.
  • Those concerned with battery life might want to consider a slightly smaller screen (14 inches instead of 15 inches means a smaller surface area to light up). (This is a trade-off for smartphones as well: a larger screen means more battery drain.)
  • HDMI output is increasingly available.

Processor Speed
Apr 11
2.5 Ghz (i3) Win 7
4GB (exp to 8)
500 GB
4.5 hrs
Jan 11
2.4 Ghz (i3) Win 7
4 GB (exp to 8)
500 GB
4.5 hrs / 8 hrs
Nov 10
2.4 Ghz (i3) Win 7
4 GB (exp to 8)
320 GB
4 hrs
Dec 09
2.2 Ghz (x2) Win 7
4 GB
300 GB
4 hrs
Aug 09
2.1 Ghz (x2) Vista
3 GB
320 GB
3 hrs
Dec 08
2.0 Ghz (x2) Vista
3 GB
300 GB
2.5 hrs
Aug 08
1.9 Ghz (x2) Vista
3 GB
250 GB
2 hrs
Dec 07
1.6 Ghz (x2) Vista
1.5 GB
120 GB
1.5 hrs

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Super Moon Tonight 3/19/11

Excerpt from NASA website:
On March 19th, a full Moon of rare size and beauty will rise in the east at sunset. It's a super "perigee moon"--the biggest in almost 20 years.

"The last full Moon so big and close to Earth occurred in March of 1993," says Geoff Chester of the US Naval Observatory in Washington DC. "I'd say it's worth a look."

Full Moons vary in size because of the oval shape of the Moon's orbit. It is an ellipse with one side (perigee) about 50,000 km closer to Earth than the other (apogee): diagram. Nearby perigee moons are about 14% bigger and 30% brighter than lesser moons that occur on the apogee side of the Moon's orbit.

Read more here.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Earthquake Moves Japan's Coast 8 feet; Tsunami; Radioactivity

Below is some information about the powerful earthquake on Friday, March 11, 2011 that struck Japan and sent tsunamis all the way to the northern US coast.  The quake struck at 2:46 pm local time (12:46 am ET).  The death toll may rise to over 1,000 -- and there are signs of radioactivity near Japanese nuclear power plants as the plants struggle to control the temperature of radioactive material.

CNN reports: The powerful earthquake that unleashed a devastating tsunami Friday appears to have moved the main island of Japan by 8 feet (2.4 meters) and shifted the Earth on its axis.

Read more here:


  • 12:46 am ET: Quake strikes, sending tsunami and 30-foot wall of water across Japan.  
  • 8:07 am ET: Less than 8 hours later, the tsunami struck Hawaii almost 4,000 miles away with 7-foot waves / swells.  
  • Afternoon, ET: Tsunami brings 8-foot waves to northern California, about 2,400 miles from Hawaii.  

CNN reports: The tsunami struck the Hawaiian Islands shortly after 3:07 a.m. Friday (8:07 a.m. ET) -- less than eight hours after the magnitude 8.9 earthquake struck off Japan, where nearly 300 people had been reported killed by early Saturday. The Hawaiian capital Honolulu is nearly 3,800 miles (6,100 km) from the epicenter of Friday's quake.
It brought six-foot waves to Maui, where harbors remained closed Friday night, and brought 8.1-foot waves to Crescent City, California...

Read more here:

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Alien Life on Meteorite

We are not alone in the universe -- and alien life forms may have a lot more in common with life on Earth than we had previously thought.

That's the stunning conclusion one NASA scientist has come to, releasing his groundbreaking revelations in a new study in the March edition of the Journal of Cosmology.

Dr. Richard B. Hoover, an astrobiologist with NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, has traveled to remote areas in Antarctica, Siberia, and Alaska, amongst others, for over ten years now, collecting and studying meteorites. He gave early access to the out-of-this-world research, published late Friday evening in the March edition of the Journal of Cosmology. In it, Hoover describes the latest findings in his study of an extremely rare class of meteorites, called CI1 carbonaceous chondrites -- only nine such meteorites are known to exist on Earth.

Read more: