Saturday, December 31, 2011

American Pie by Don McLean - The Perfect Seque into 2012

As the 2011 year winds down the song American Pie gets a lot of airplay between Christmas and the New Year. I guess a lot of DJs feel that the reflective nature of this song is most appropriate to play at the end of the year. I would have to agree with them. American Pie is Don McLean's Magnum Opus of a song which skyrocketed when it was first released way back in 1971. It is a song that resonates in everyone and carries so many personal meanings and interpretations and like carbon dating, links all of us to prior experiences when we all grew up in the seventies and eighties. The lyrics were amazingly simple, direct and heartfelt, and wove a story that even to this day sounds fresh and interesting as it did in the seventies. I remember saving my allowance and newspaper route money and buying the American Pie album from EJ Korvettes in Nanuet, New York. I played it so many times and now as I am much older, I have even more respect for Don as he was able to incorporate so many themes and touch on so many topics that related to the time when I was growing up during my adolescent years in a suburb of New York City..

The song was an instant classic even though it ran way longer time-wise than most other charting hit songs played on the radio. The recording was very clean and the choice of backing studio musicians made a big difference in the overall production quality of the song. Warren Bernhardt played the piano on American Pie and his contributions elevated the performance and made lasting impressions with each listener. Warren is a very famous and talented Jazz pianist whose mentor was Bill Evans. He also played on Paul SImon albums and was the musical director and piano player for the 1993-94 Steely Dan concert Tour. There were few popular top forty hits that showcased the piano front and center except for Billy Joel, Elton John and Paul Simon. It really raised the bar for songwriters to come up with songs that really delivered on both harmony and lyrical content.

Don really came into his own as a popular singer songwriter in the seventies and really carved his own musical career path and led a very independent life as he eschewed commercialism, performed at a lot of Hudson River benefit concerts, and aligned his music and philanthropic work with Pete Seeger and Arlo Guthrie. Moreover, Don was a local musician, born in New Rochelle, NY.

A few years ago, when I was selling for Voyage-Air guitars, I had met with Stan Jay, the iconic owner of the famed Mandolin Brothers vintage guitar shop in Staten Island. He counts amongst his clients, Bruce Springsteen, Don McLean, Conan O'Brien, George Benson, and most every famous rock and jazz guitarist in the NY metro area. He said that Don lives in Vermont with his family and visits his guitar shop about once a year and picks out some nice Martin Acoustic Guitars for his sons to buy. He told Jay that the royalty checks from American Pie allows him to do this and for that he is very grateful.

I don't think there is anyone, child, baby boomer or in between who does not know all of the lyrics of American Pie. Most people will also sing along when American Pie is played on the radio. Don wrote a song that is permanently embedded in the psyche of our country and I for one am very grateful for American Pie. It's been a helluva year. Any music that makes it a little easier for me to reflect and to count my blessings is a welcome gift so to Don McLean a big thank you is in order.

"So bye bye Miss American Pie drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry
them good old boys were drinkin' whiskey and rye singin' this'll be the day that I die
this'll be the day that I die, they were singin' bye bye Miss American Pie drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee but the levee was dry, them good old boys were drinkin' whiskey and rye singin' this'll be the day that I die."

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Reflections on 2011 - Happy Holidays to All

Holiday greetings to all of my Blog readers and followers. After accumulating some 43,000 cumulative hits, I would like to personally thank everyone for taking the time to read my Blog and also for making valuable comments, technical advice and providing excellent insightful feedback on my articles and posts.

To my international Blog readers a heart felt thank you for reading my Blog. I am amazed at how many readers I have in countries around the world. I feel like an author who has a following outside of the United States and am grateful for all of the attention it has attracted to date.

Here are my reflections on 2011:
I think it's pretty obvious that 2011 was the year of the Tablet computer as Apple's iPad 2 along with the Android gang of Tablets from (Samsung, Acer, Asus, Toshiba, IBM/Lenovo, to name a few) found their way into consumers hands at an ever increasing pace. Coinciding with the Tablet's meteoric rise in sales and overall acceptance by the buying public is the rapid decline of Netbooks which were rapidly removed from store shelves and warehouses to make room for all of the new Tablets.

Steve Jobs passed away and one of the truly great leaders of the PC computing community left his indelible mark on personal and business computing by way of all of the great Apple products brought to market under his guidance and stewardship. The one take-away that resonated with me the most was Steve's regret that he did not have enough time to spend with his family as he was battling cancer to the very end. We can all learn from Steve's work ethic, his vision, the zen-like focus he had on changing the way we make and use computers and demonstrating consistently great leadership in all of the companies he was involved with. He will be missed and his legacy lives on through the continued success and acceptance of all products with the Apple logo.

It was a very tough year economy wise and a lot of small businesses struggled to keep their businesses solvent. I want to take a moment to recognize these unsung heroes of US Business who have been the backbone of our economy year after year without getting much if any help from our government. If you are a small business owner you have my greatest respect in adapting to a down economy and having the fortitude and stamina to tough it out during this extraordinarily tough business climate.

I think the country is doing a better job in reducing our overall energy consumption by purchasing cars that get better mileage and hybrid/electric/diesel cars, installing solar panels, replacing older appliances with Energy Star efficient ones and changing their incandescent bulbs to fluorescent and LED light bulbs. We still have a long way to go in reducing our dependence on foreign oil but I believe the tide is turning in favor of those who want to see us become totally energy self-sufficient. Research continues on safe alternate ways of generating electricity and we need to keep the pressure up on our law makers to continue to spend money on alternate methods of energy production.

Reality TV shows dominated the airwaves this past year and the dumbing down of TV content has reached new lows. I think that the networks have really given up on creating decent programs and content for network television and have also gotten extremely lazy by resorting to Reality TV drivel that is cheap to produce but gets astronomical ratings and sells tons of Ad time. It really insults our intelligence to have this drivel on network television as it continues to dumb down the TV audience. Do we really need more Reality TV shows? I don't think so.

Consumers figured out how to use coupons to their advantage and value shopping became popular as Black Friday approached. Consumers are much more savvy shoppers now and are looking for the best possible deals they can find. They are educating them-selves by researching products on the internet and by reading Consumer's Reports. Money is being spent on high quality items that out-perform their competition and mor folks are fixing rather than replacing higher cost items, such as appliances, electronics and automobiles.

All of us are adapting to the changing times. Most of us can remember the good and the bad economic times we have gone through. We are all wary of scammers and criminals like Bernard Madoff and I think 2011 sobered up a lot of folks with lessons learned from Computer Security Breaches, Hacker Attacks and Identity Thefts.

Here are my predictions for 2012:
The economy will improve somewhat and I think real estate will show some signs of life on both the buying and selling side.

A fire-sale on Netbooks will occur shortly after the 1st of the year. They have to write those suckers down and get them off the books before it impacts the 2nd and third quarter profits.

Amazon will become the dominant eBook and entry level Tablet sales leader by the end of second quarter of 2012. Their cloud computing content delivery model will pick up steam and they will sell a ton of movies through their Amazon Fire Tablet platform.

The Post Office will begin to shut down as half of their service offerings will be shut down to conserve costs and to help stop the hemorrhaging of red ink. Fed-Ex and UPS will step in the fray to provide the services the Post Office was providing but at different price structures. I think letter and junk mail will eventually be phased out. Email and Spam have put the nails in the coffin for the USPS to profitably deliver these items.

I think Fred Smith and the top management at UPS already have a doomsday plan in place that they are ready to implement once the Post Office makes the next round of severe service cutbacks, office closing and lay-offs.

Channels that offer luxury items at a steep discount will continue to prosper and grow. paying full price is something that is reserved for only the richest sheiks these days and even they are looking for ways to save money.

More models of diesel automobiles will be announced and begin their first shipments into the US markets in 2012. Look for the first diesel cars from Mazda and Subaru with more models being announced from Mercedes, BMW and Volkswagen.

That's about it for 2012 predictions. Let's see if these predictions were even close in a years time when I will be writing the Reflections on 2012 and predictions for 2013 Blog Entry next year.

Have a happy and safe holiday.


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Samsung Series 3 11.6" Princeton Notebook $349.00 STAPLES Deal

12/18/2012 UPDATE
The Staples Ad for the week of 12/18-12/24/2011 just went live on their web site and sure enough, the Samsung  Series 3 11.6" Princeton Notebook with the Intel Core i3 Processor, 4 GB of memory and the 320GB Hard Drive is on sale for $349.99 WHILE SUPPLIES LAST!!!!!!


This is a super deal and if you don't pick one up, you will miss out on the deal of the year. THis notebook offers much more bang for the buck than the Mac Book Air. At $349.99 it blows the mac Book 11 inch notebook into the weeds!!!!

Looks like Staples is blowing out the Samsung Series 3 11.6" Princeton Core i3 Notebook again and the alert is for next week (week of December 19-23rd). If you trade-in a qualifying used notebook you can get the price down to an incredible $249.00 by way of a $100.00 Visa Gift Card. The normal price at Staples is $599.00.

Thanks to TTRAN88 for posting this tip:

Here is the link to the tip:

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Amazon - Cloud Computing Colossus Has Arrived

I have been following Amazon ever since the company was formed some 15 years ago. In their very early years, their initial goal was to build a company that could deliver books to the masses in a very cost effective but profitable way. They took a lot of criticism at first spending millions and millions of dollars building out their computer infrastructure to handle the order fulfillment and advanced supply chain mechanism that has served them so well over the years. They re-invested virtually every dollar they earned into building a data center and network infrastructure that could easily handle their current and future (10 years down the road) computing and network requirements. I remember many Wall Street analysts chastising and publicly criticizing the delay of profitability when Jeff Bezos stuck to his guns and continued to heavily invest in technology and computing infrastructure. Well today, Amazon sits atop the heap of computing companies that has the best cloud computing services and is the go-to leading edge company for outsourcing IT, web hosting, order fulfillment and now platform media services. Amazon counts amongst its current Cloud Computing Services Customers: NASA, Foursquare, PBS, Harvard Medical School, Yelp, Newsweek, Netflix, Virgin Atlantic, and Newsweek. With the impending shipments of the new Amazon Kindle E-Book Readers and the revolutionary new $199.00 Fire Tablets, Amazon is poised to make a ton of money streaming video content and delivering e-books through the cloud faster than any other company that offers those services. They have figured out how to build a tablet that offers users almost 80-90% of the functionality of an Apple iPad with half of the memory required (8 GB vs 16 GB) while offering faster performance as the readers and tablets have been optimized (read perform much faster) to work with Amazon Cloud computing services. Their razor and razor blade model is brilliant and although seems to have lower profit margins, the pricing scheme and volume of users that will buy the Kindle and Fire will more than make up for it. This is a huge wager Bezos is making and believe me, he has pulled out all the stops in stacking the cards in Amazon's favor to win this bet. Apple is taking the totally opposite approach where 90% of their profits come from selling expensive Mac hardware platrforms, both mobile and desktops. Only 8% of their profits come from iTunes. Amazon will sell millions of their Fire tablets with only 8 GB of memory on board and the user will experience faster streaming and performance as each Amazon Fire will be hardware and software optimized to take advantage of the super fast Amazon Cloud computing engine. They came up with a hybrid Android based browser where half of the browser code resides on the Amazon Fire Tablet and the other half is embedded in the Amazon Cloud Computing Services. Since movies will be streamed, there is no need to store the movies on your Amazon Fire Tablet. With iTunes, you download the movie to your local hard drive and that requires a much larger storage capacity. Bezos claims that the Amazon Fire Tablet will easily outperform other computing devices with traditional client based browsers found on Mac, Windows and Linux PCs with traditional operating systems. This is no small feat and in some ways represents the holy grail of distributed computing. For a company like Amazon to pull this off with a pricing and business profit model that makes most software companies envious Bezos and his engineering team is to be congratulated for executing this plan in such a short time span. I really think that Amazon has paved the way for media distribution model that works for all economic classes and delivers affordability and computing functionality to the masses.

Amazon is the tech company to watch as it is really focused on doing things differently and changing the way media content can be sold and delivered over the internet. It is also bringing tablet computing to the masses with a full function Tablet that retails for less than $199.00 which is pretty amazing. The overall impact on the consumer and business computer markets will be positive as an entirely new level of price performance will be introduced into the marketplace and will drive down hardware and software costs once people figure out how great Amazon's streaming delivery service works. It will also add additional validation proof and competitive differentiation for Amazons Cloud computing service as they can point to the fact that millions upon millions of users are streaming high definition videos to their tablets

If you want to read the detail on how Bezos achieved what amounts to total domination of streamed and e-book content delivery please read the excellent cover article just published in the January 2012 issue of Wired Magazine written by Steven Levy; Amazon Owns The Internet "Jeff Bezos Started With Books. Now His Company Dominates The Web in More Ways Than You Think".

Anyone who thinks that US companies today lack vision or innovation are dead wrong. Amazon is just one example of thinking out of the box and coming up with a way to deliver innovation and services using a whole new paradigm that is not only insanely efficient and cost-effective, but brings some of the latest and greatest computer technology to the masses who previously could not afford it.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Ultrabook Trade-Offs & Ultrabook Alternatives

Intel had a pretty good idea when it came up with a development fund and specification for the new Ultrabook PC Computer class. The idea was pretty well received by most of the PC notebook manufacturers as they are still recovering from the Netbook sales shortfall. They watched as Apple cleaned up with the Mac Book Air and took copious notes. Thin, sexy designed notebook computers like thin fashion models never seem to go out of style. The thinner the better is now the mantra and battle cry. The commoditization of notebook PCs has now established $1,000.00 as the magic price point for which consumers are budgeting their well earned dollars on spending for a brand new latest and greatest notebook. As we rapidly approach Black Friday and the 2011 holiday gift giving season approaches, I felt it would be important to explain the trade-offs of buying an Ultrabook versus buying a less expensive notebook PC.

Form Factor
It's all about the form factor of the notebook chassis in terms of figuring out what feature set you can include or exclude. The majority of notebooks measure at least and inch 1/2 thick and follow the usual 8.5" x 11 " form factor for a 13.3 inch screen. The solidity of the chassis and construction materials ultimately determines what the chassis of the notebook is made of. Is it plastic, metal, a combination of both, or some form of aluminum, titanium or even carbon fiber?. All of these materials or combinations of them go into the construction of the notebook chassis, covers and LCD frames. To design and engineer a notebook for mass production you need to take into account: power consumption, heat generation by the CPU, cooling requirements, ergonomics, and durability requirements. Making the notebook thin introduces many more challenges from the design perspective.  How do you keep the notebook cool when you cannot have a huge honkin fan? How do you design a keyboard and touch pad that allows you to touch type error free at a decent clip? Is 2 USB ports enough? How about a built in HDMI port and a SD-HC-XC card reader writer? Forget about including an optical drive as the real estate on a.5-.75 inch thick notebook is extremely limited and fitting a battery that will offer 5 or more continuous hours of run time becomes even more of a challenge.

In summary, buying a new Ultrabook will leave the buyer with the following trade-offs or feature shortcomings:

1) Limited to just 2 USB ports
2) No Dedicated ATI or Nvidia Graphics Cards - You are limited to the latest Intel HD internal Graphics chip that limits game play to less than 30 frames per second at 800 x 600 resolution for games like Halo and Call of Duty.
3) No user removeable battery - Battery is integrated and can only be swapped out by a trained PC technician
4) No HD LCD display. Most right now is 720i or 1600 x 900 resolution.
5) Proprietary connectors that require conversion dongles for modems, ethernet and standard monitor and projector connections.
6) Price- Most Ultrabooks are well over $1,000.00 in price, more like $1299.00 with a 128 GB SSD drive.
7) No internal optical drive - but you can pack a portable external drive for those times when you need to read or write an optical disk when on the road.
8) Good fitted cases (that actually fit the new Ultrabooks) are hard to find. You need to settle for MacBook Air Apple Notebook cases and bags which surprise cost twice as much as the cases and bags made for PC notebooks. I guess that Apple tax has really caught on with the accessory maaufacturers (InCase, Kensington, etc.)

If you are looking for a good thin notebook computer that is not as thin as an Ultrabook but is much thinner than the average notebook, we're talking any notebook that is thinner than 1.25 inches....and will not break the bank; then you will find a bunch of computers out there that can be had for well under $800.00. Lots of models from Lenovo, HP, Sony, Acer, Asus and Samsung. Samsung has a value line of notebooks that start at around $599 called the Princeton Series 3. These notebooks are all less than an inch and 1/4" thick and have the latest Intel Core i3 Sandy Bridge Processors.

The market for used, refurbished or last year's models notebooks is more robust than ever.You can find many deals on Ebay, at Office Depot, Office Max or your local Staples Fry's or Best Buy Store, and mail order companies like Newegg, B&H Photo, J&R, Buydig, and Amazon are all blowing out notebooks at up to 50% off the original retail prices. There are so many options now for a consumer to purchase notebooks. One thing is for certain. The rapid acceleration of new models like the Ultrabooks brought into the market will ultimately lower the cost of buying a really good used, refurbished or older model new PC notebook computers for everyone.

 It's a great time to snag that notebook you've always wanted but couldn't quite afford.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Samsung Series 9 13.3" Notebook Review - Mr Darth Vader-You're Notebook is Ready!!!

Samsung Series 9 Model Number 900X3A-A03 Notebook Review - REVISED 11/17/2011

Paging Mr Darth Vader....Your notebook is ready to go!!!!!!
Greetings! Yours truly just received a Samsung Series 9 13.3 Notebook and I have to say, this notebook is about as close to notebook least for my requirements and what I've seen from the competition so far. This notebook comes with a super speedy 128 GB SSD drive, Windows 7  and a gorgeous ultra bright and sharp matte anti glare LCD screen that is backlit by LEDs and is rated at 400 Nits of Brightness which is brighter than most desktop LCD monitors. It measures about .62" thick and weighs a tad less than 3 pounds with the 6 cell Lithium Ion Battery installed. The entire notebook is constructed and finished with a material used on aircraft called duralumin which is at least two times stronger that aluminum. This notebook does not exhibit any flex when touch typing or just holding the notebook. The hinges are smooth and the display screen is so thin but solidly constructed where it does not bend or exhibit any tendency to flex or change shape. The entire keyboard is back lit by LEDs which is a very nice touch and the finish does attract fingerprints as the black surfaces are like magnets. I suggest that you keep a microfiber cloth packed in the computer bag as this is one of the few shortcomings (read design flaws) of this notebook. It runs cool with zero fan noise and the second generation Sandy Bridge Core i5 Intel processor is plenty fast for most business applications.

Thin is In!!! or.....Cuts Like a Knife!
Samsung named it the Series 9
But they should have named it the Katana (Sword in Japanese)
IMHO & with apologies to Bryan Adams

What about battery life? I ran it down with surfing, WiFi and Bluetooth on and MS-Word and Excel open (4 GB of RAM installed and the LCD brightness set to about 33% or 1/3 of the brightest setting and I got about 5 and 1/4 hours of continuous run-time on the battery before it shut down. For an Intel equipped Core i5 notebook weighing just 2.9 LBs  that is a little more than 1/2" thick, the battery performance numbers are very impressive indeed.

Pay attention 007!!! Samsung also got the back-lit keyboard right.
Q wants his Samsung Series 9 returned from the field
 in the same condition as when it originally left...
Got that Bond?
Bond to Q...You must be joking?
Q to Bond... I never joke about my work 007!
I do not foresee any problems carrying this notebook anywhere as it is built to withstand the rigors of day-to-day business travel and usage and is supremely use-able. I am averaging a boot time from power off to the windows desktop in about 18 seconds. It comes to life after sleep mode in a few seconds and sips battery power when in the sleep mode.

The only knock I can see on this notebook is the omission of a USB 3.0 port and having  a built in micro SD memory card slot instead of a standard SD-HC-XC memory card slot reader writer. It just means you need to carry a USB SD card reader when you travel if you need to download photos from your digital camera.

I also like the fact that this notebook on average is about two to three hundred dollars cheaper than a comparably configured MacBook Air.

Samsung even figured out how to take the flex out of the chassis and LCD frame.
The entire notebook feels substantial......almost as if it was carved out of a solid block of titanium.
I can attest to the fact that it is a helluva a lot stronger and durable than it looks in the photos.
I really believe this is what Intel had in mind when they came up with the design specification for the Ultrabook. Take the Samsung Series 9 design and see if you can come with a package that can retail for under $1,000.00 with some design and material construction trade-offs.

I call the Samsung Series 9 Notebook the uber Ultrabook much in the same way the original Audi Quattro was affectionately nick-named the uber Quattro.

Audi S1 World Rally Champion Car 1981
Driven By Walter Rohrl
aka Uber Quattro

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Asus UX31 Ultrabook Glitches and Teething Pains

The Asus UX31 Ultrabook, one of the most promising ultra thin notebooks released to market in October has some serious useability issues right out of the box and the early reviews have identified two problem areas with the notebook that I believe should be corrected before it is released for mass distribution. The trackpad driver does not work properly and you need to download the updated trackpad driver from the Asus web-site to fix it. Testers and early adopter/users have complained that the fixed driver is very rough around the edges and still needs work. The keyboard was also identified as a potential deal-breaker as it requires more than average pressure to engage the keys forcing key-stroking errors as you need to press down with much more force to make sure the keys register. I believe Asus will do the right thing and suspend shipment of these notebooks until the problems are corrected. The standard for thin notebooks is the MacBook Air and the Samsung Series 9. Both of those ultra-thin notebooks have smooth trackpads and keyboards that allow touch typists to type normally without having to worry about abnormal keyboard pressure.

In early test reviews the Asus UX31 Ultrabook garnered praise and high marks for its sleek design, classy textured surface and the overall strength of the chassis, lid and covers using a reinforced aluminum unibody design.Weight is a shade under 3 pounds and is as thin or a little thinner than a Mac Book AIr. Performance is also one of its strong points along with a longer than normal battery life topping out at around six hours.

You can have the coolest and best styled notebook on the planet or universe but if you cannot type or use the trackpad for normal operations, then it pretty much is nothing but a cool looking gadget with no useable functionality. The whole idea is to preserve and extend the portability of the desktop computing experience without sacrificing the input method. I think the other notebook manufactures are taking a very close look at this situation and are taking more steps to test their product very thoroughly before releasing it to the channels. The pre-announced Toshiba, Sony and Lenovo Ultrabooks all promise to deliver very thin (about .6 inches thick) powerful notebooks with great battery life (more than 5 continuous hours of run-time) with the latest generation of Intel Sandy Bridge Core i5 and i7 Processors).. I hope that they do not make the same mistake of releasing product before it has been thoroughly tested in the field.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Netbooks Now DOA! - Tablets Are The New Entry Level Notebook!

Wow! It did not take long for Tablet PCs to dominate the marketplace in such a short period of time. Ipad 2 and Android Tablet sales have skyrocketed over the last few months.

You can expect to see a lot of drastically price reduced Netbooks offered for sale this Holiday shopping season and you will probably see a bunch of them offered for around $100.00 on QVC and other national liquidators. This is clearly one of those situations that the computer manufacturers never planned for and the perfect storm of having a leapfrog class of product mass marketed totally destroying the viability of the Netbook product offerings in less than 12 months time. There is still a lot of inventory sitting on the shelves of big box warehouses and these Netbooks cannot be converted into Tablets so they will  in all likelihood be marked down very aggressively just in time for the Holiday season. The best Netbook to snag at a huge markdown is the Asus 1215N Seashell with the embedded Nvidia Ion 2 Graphics Video card or the Asus Lamborghini 12" LED notebook with the same Ion Graphics Chip. I would avoid any Netbook models unless they come equipped with the Nvidia Ion Graphics chip. Buying any other Netbook model would be a huge waste of money and you will be stuck with a boat anchor.

Check out this just published PC World Article:

Microsoft Posts Record Quarter But Says Tablets Cannibalizing Netbooks

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Samsung Series 3 Princeton 11.6 NP300U1A VS Apple MacBook Air 11.6"

Here's a chart I prepared which compares all of the key technical features and specs of the Samsung Series 3 Princeton 11.6" NP300U1A Notebook versus the Apple MacBook Air 11.6" Notebook Computer. At about 50 to almost 70% less cost the Samsung Series 3 Princeton 11.6" NP300U1A notebook offers far more value than a similarly configured Apple MacBook Air 11.6" Notebook. The Samsung also has a working version of Microsoft Office 2010 pre-loaded on the hard disk. Please check out my hands-on review of this feature packed notebook here:

Samsung Series 3 Princeton Notebook 11.6" NP300U1A Review

Tale Of The Tape:

Samsung Series 3 11.6" NP300U1A vs. Apple MacBook Air 11.6" Notebook

MSRP                                                                 $599.99                     $999.00
Lowest Price                                                                   $350.00                       $999.00

Standard memory  4GB   2GB 
Max memory  4GB   4GB 
Disk Storage  320 GB Hard Disk   64 GB SSD 
Screen Size  11.6" LED   11.6" LED 
Operating System  Windows 7 Home Premium   Apple O/S 
Processor  Intel Core i3 2357M Sandy Bridge   Intel Core i5  
Connectivity  802.11 a/b/g/n Bluetooth 3.0 + EDR   802.11 a/b/g/n Bluetooth 4.0 + EDR 
SDHC Memory Card Reader Writer  YES SD SDHC SDXC MMC   NO 
USB Ports 3 2 + Thunderbolt
HDMI Output

Height 0.87 0.68
Width 10.9 11.8
Depth 7.9 7.56
Weight 2.84 lbs 2.3 lbs
Battery Capacity 4000maH  3500mAH 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Hank Easton - Steely Dan Guitar Solo Medley

Hank Easton is an accomplished San Diego based jazz guitarist who performs in a local jazz band and is also the featured lead guitarist in Steely Damned, a Steely Dan tribute band also based in San Diego. A few years back, Hank performed an amazing medley of all of the best lead guitar parts from the very best Steely Dan Songs. We're talking Rikki Don't Lose That Number, Josie, Peg, Kid Charlemagne, Don't Take Me Alive, Bad Sneakers, Reelin' In The Years and My Old School. This guy is amazingly talented and nails every solo...and I mean nail it. His tone is exquisite and his playing chops will blow you away. Watch the video and you'll see what I mean. Just amazing. What a talented guitarist!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Sony Cybershot DSC-TX55 Digital Camera Hands On Review - Preview

Sony is just starting to ship the newest pocket-able TX digital camera, the Sony Cybershot DSC-TX55 and I have one on order which will be arriving soon for a complete hands-on review and evaluation. On paper, this digital camera is killer.

It is a little thicker than a penlight battery, features the latest and greatest 16 megapixel EXMOR CMOS sensor, and adds some new features, the most notable being the 10X digital zoom capability that stretches the 5X optical zoom to 10X zoom with no reduction in pixel count meaning you will get 10X zoom at full 16 megapixel resolution comparable to what you would achieve with a 10X optical zoom with little to no pixelation or digital artifacts associated with conventional digital zoom equipped cameras.

Here's a better explanation (from the Expert Reviews website (

"The technology, which Consumer Reports claims is to be dubbed 'Clear Image Zoom,' uses a new form of interpolation called 'by-pixel super resolution'. Unlike traditional digital zoom capabilities, which simply enlarge the centre portion of an image and can cause severe image quality issues, Sony's new technology claims to use intelligent pattern matching to ensure that the zoomed image is as clear as it would have been had it been taking with optical zoom capabilities."

Sony calls this feature "Clear Image Digital Zoom" which is one of the first things I will be testing with sample photos posted to see if this revolutionary new technology works as advertised. It also has a 3.3" high resolution OLED screen and the camera features faster image processing and response times. Stay tuned as the review will be posted shortly.

When I first read the Sony press release about the Clear Image Digital Zoom technology, I was reminded of a key scene from the movie Blade Runner where Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) scans a photo into a special high tech scanner/printer and he enlarges (Enhances) the image using voice recognition and there is no loss in image quality as he magnifies the image by at least a power of 8-800X. This is a excellent example of te technology being invented after it is realistically imagined in a brilliant Science Fiction movie. Kudos to Ridley Scott and the production team of Blade Runner for getting the technology so right in 1982.


Get Close with Clear Image Zoom
Clear image zoom BOOSTS magnification WITHOUT lowering the pixel count in the final image so your customer can zoom in and still get amazing, high resolution images.

Without Clear Image Zoom
Fuzzy ears (not in a good way)

With Clear Image Zoom
Adorable, whiskered perfection!
Clear image digital zoom maintains a high-resolution feel that is as precise as optical zoom and vastly expands the zoom range without lowering visible quality or pixel count in the final image. With By Pixel Super Resolution processing, the camera's 5x optical zoom range is extended, allowing full resolution 16.2MP images with a maximum digital 10x zoom.
How does Sony-exclusive By Pixel Super Resolution processing work?

  • The DSC-TX55 includes a Sony-developed database that categorizes hundreds of patterns
  • Each image is analyzed pixel by pixel, patterns are classified and compared to the database
  • To double the size of the image, by pixel, it could mean creating 3 additional pixels from the original pixel
  • (four times more information compared to original pixel, causing possible degradation of image quality)
  • To avoid degradation, By Pixel Super Resolution creates optimal new pixel data using the database
  • Final picture is clear and detailed!

What is the customer benefit?
Clear image digital zoom boosts magnification without lowering the pixel count in the final image. Edge sharpness is superb and subtle textures such as leaves and wood grain (and lion fur!) exhibit outstanding realism. Your customers will enjoy photos that beautifully capture every precious moment.
Significantly boosts still image quality during movie recording. At a touch of the shutter button, 'Dual Rec' grabs detail-packed 12 megapixel-level still photos without interrupting Full HD video shooting.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Why Samsung is Rocking the PC and Tablet US Markets!

Updated November 1, 2011
Samsung is taking no prisoners in the US Notebook PC and Tablet Market. Samsung started testing the waters a few years ago with notebook computers and although they were reliable, they were nothing to write home about style and feature wise. Today, that has all changed. Much in the same way Hyundai has taken the US subcompact and compact and premium upscale large sedan segment with their newly styled Elantra, Sonata,Genesis and Equus Samsung has pulled all the stops out in taking the leadership position in the US when it comes to notebook and tablet computers.

A little background on Samsung. Samsung is a huge Korean technology conglomerate that is in of itself a world class innovator and manufacturer of PC computer components including flash memory, memory chips, LED and LCD displays and a whole host of semiconductor and micro electronics products that are marketed and sold worldwide. Sony decided back in 2003 to form an LCD manufacturing partnership with Samsung to reduce their capital expenditures. This solidified Samsung's leadership position with manufacturing flat panel screens  They are also a leading supplier of these components to to other computer manufacturers. They manufacture world class SSD hard drives and conventional spinning hard disks, DRAM memory and SODIMM memory simms and are one of the largest and most innovative flat panel LED manufacturers in  the world with OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode) bleeding edge technology that has appeared in their line of Samsung Android smartphones and consumer digital cameras. They have also been selling LCD and LED televisions within the US for some time now and have gotten rave reviews from technology and consumer magazines. Ditto their extensive line of appliances (Refrigerators, Dishwashers, Vacuum Cleaners Ranges, etc). They even manufacture washing machines under the Sears Kenmore brand name. Most all of their appliances are extremely reliable and are class leaders wen it comes to efficiency design and price value for the money. They are taking that same formula and are applying it big time to their current and future line of notebooks and tablets.

Samsung introduced their line of Q notebooks which were some of the first thin and powerful 13, 14 and 15 inch notebooks that had glass covering the LED displays for enhanced color and sharpness and wider viewing angles. They also came out with ultra bright (400 nit LED displays) for their Series 9 11.6 and 13.3 notebooks which are the first real alternatives to the Apple Mac Book Air thin notebook computers. Offering more features for the money, these Series 9 notebooks were every bit as sexy as the MacBook Air but offered more features like an SD slot and more standard USB ports. Battery life is comparable and they are one of the best selling lines of Samsung Notebooks in the consumer and the business market segments.

Samsung also announced and quietly started shipping their value line of thin notebooks called the Series 3 or Princeton family of notebooks. With super aggressively low pricing they were able to sell a ton of the Series 3 Princeton 11.6" Core i3 Notebooks just in time for the September back to school season. They wisely partnered and sold the notebook at a low price $599.00 through Staples and the price has dipped through newer Staples sales promotions to an unheard of price of $350.00. Yes you heard that correctly. Samsung is dead serious about dominating the US market for notebook computers.

When it comes to value or price performance, no other computer company, even Acer or Asus touches Samsung on price performance or bang for the buck. There's a revolution going on in the US notebook industry and Samsung is leading the charge.All of the other Notebook computer companies have to be playing their A game to stay up with Samsung now. You just need to stop by a local Office Max or Best Buy store to compare Samsung notebooks against their competitors, Apple, Lenovo, Asus, Acer, Toshiba, Sony,  HP and you will see what I mean.

From a sales and marketing perspective, Samsung is running on all 8 cylinders in the US markets. They have forged exclusive channels with Staples and Best Buy adding Office Depot and Office Max with select brands of their notebook and tablet lines. Some of the Costcos had initially sold the Series 9 ultra thin notebook in the summer.

Aggressive pricing with coupons and trade-in programs has boosted sales of Samsung notebooks this past quarter and they are prepared to take advantage of the holiday season. They have been hiring corporate sales reps to push the Samsung line of notebooks into corporate America and have been working with leasing firms like GE capital to accelerate the technology refresh at the fortune 1000 companies. Trade publications like PC magazine, PC World and even Consumer Reports have been cranking out glowing reviews of th e latest and greatest Samsung notebooks. I expect to see more advertising and marketing dollars spent in the coming year to elevate the sales figures to where they may quickly gain the number one or two sales slot for selling PCs in North America. Their tablets are also selling very well and I expect to see more feature creep from Notebooks moving to Tablets and vice versa. Samsung can pull this off as their time to market is lightning fast and they can easily introduce new models at the drop of a hat and change their pricing to accommodate most any corporate or individual buyer.

We all will benefit as this will result in all of the manufacturers having to make downward price adjustments just to stay competitive with Samsung notebook and tablet offerings.

1980 Disco Rats - A Trip Down Memory Lane

Disco Rats
Franklin Lakes Stereo, Franklin Lakes New Jersey

A trip down memory lane is in order. I fondly remember the days of the late seventies and early eighties, the Jimmy Carter years. Gas was around a $1.25 a gallon and a ten-spot filled your tank in a VW Beetle, or Plymouth Duster.The economy was coming out of a tail spin and good jobs were hard to find. I was carefree and happy not knowing what field I was going to pursue job-wise and had a good core group of friends that I used to hang out with and work when I wasn't attending college. Living at home had a lot of advantages and I spent most of my waking hours working anyway so it was a good way to save up money at the time. I held down two jobs after graduating college in 1977, a full time day job at FMNA (Fiat Motors of North America) and a week-end part-time sale job at Franklin Lakes Stereo in Franklin Lakes New Jersey. Franklin Lakes was a bedroom community located about 25 miles north east of New York City and was the home of the IBM CSD Service Division headquarters. A lot of celebrities lived in that town and I remember Earl Monroe of the Knicks lived close by and bought a bunch of high end stereo gear from us. I remember him first walking into the store like a kid in candy store. He was wearing his Knicks warm up sweats and a Walt Frazier style fur coat and stepped out of a black Mercedes SLC300 convertible with NJ vanity plates that read " PEARL". As you can tell from the clothing and haircuts, the disco years had an impact on all of us growing up and working in suburbia. Franklin Lakes Stereo was located on a small non-descript strip mall near the center of town and we had our share of audio geeks and characters visiting our store on a regular basis. Franklin Lakes Stereo was a high end stereo store and we were authorized resellers for Crown, Nakamichi, Trnscriptor, KEF, Sonab, B&O, Revox, Beyer, Rogers and a host of other esoteric brands of audio gear.

We used to send out for Pizza from this local pizzeria (Forgot the Name) and sometimes we would eat in. It had pretty good pizza, veal parmesan sandwiches, and excellent oven baked calzones. We always got this young waitress named Adelle and we gave her the nick-name of Dumbdelle as she was so scatter-brained and could never get our orders right.

Life was good, working hours were long, getting discounts on audio gear was a great side benefit, as was getting a really good car audio sound system for free. When Sunday rolled around, I usually slept in and didn't get up until noon-time exhausted from the seventy hour work-week but you know, those days were some of the happiest days of my life and will always look fondly on those years living and working in the burbs of New Jersey.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Breaking Bad - Face Off Final Episode - 4th Season - Holy Cow!

I have been a huge fan of Breaking Bad ever since the premiere first season episode first aired on AMC four years ago. The writing and acting in this series has always been superb and I always point to this television series as the state-of-the art in content....that is the writing is so good that it elevates the show to a much higher plane and is in many respects contains better writing and acting than you will find in most movies today. Cinematic and thoroughly engrossing story lines with a decent production budget that you can see is invested in every episode and you can see the money is wisely spent on special effects, sets and supporting actors and actresses. I think Vince Gilligan is a genius and has even shown the Coen brothers a thing or two regarding stylized and totally un-expected violence and mayhem. I would even throw in Martin Scorsese and David Cronenberg as well as they also get a wink and a nod or two when viewing the drug cartel shoot-outs and conflicts. The humor is twisted and you have to watch closely to pick up on the easter eggs or "tells" that hint at things to come or devious clues that conveniently connect the dots and fill in the holes of the sub-plots tot he main story line.

If you get a chance to watch this final episode, you will be blown away. Walter White's employer, Gus is blown up and killed in a nursing home by a bomb that is triggered by an old paralyzed member of the Mexican Drug Cartel by the little ringer he uses to communicate. You will see some graphic stuff (gory special effects) that was last used in the Terminator movies. This was by far the most satisfying episode as it tied up so many loose ends and displayed for all to see is the transformation of High School Chemistry Geek Teacher Walter White to cold and heartless killer Tony Montana (Scarface). This is must see television at its very, very best. Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul, Giancarlo Esposito all give bravura Emmy worthy performances in this episode. See this final episode. You will not be disappointed and you will be totally blown away.

Face Off Episode 13 Season 4
Breaking Bad on AMC

Gus Fring (GianCarlo Esposito)

Walter White (Bryan Cranston)

Tio Salamanca (Mark Margolis)

Hank Schrader (Dean Norris)

Friday, October 7, 2011

Aged Well - Not Aged Well or Is it Good Genes or Living a Clean Life?

Aged Well - Not Aged Well or Is it Good Genes or Living a Clean Life? Or Both?

Well my friends, time to decide for yourself. Here are some before and after photos. The before photos were taken around 1972  and the After Photos were taken in 2010.

Aged well?

Jackson Browne 1970

Jackson Browne 2010

Not Aged well?

Keith Richards 1974

Keith Richards 2010

Monday, October 3, 2011

Syd Mead -Visual Futurist - Science Fiction Hall of Fame

As a kid growing up in the suburbs of New York City, I was drawn to science fiction at an early age. I started reading Tom Swift books when I was nine or ten and on my thirteenth birthday, joined the science fiction book of the month club. I read Starship Troopers by Robert Heinlein, I Robot, Isaac Asimov, and later most of the novels and short stories penned by Michael Crichton, Greg Bear, and William Gibson. I was addicted to any and all things science fiction watching these new programs on network TV, Star Trek, Lost In Space, Time Tunnel, Supercar, UFO, Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons, Thunderbirds, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea and a ton of comic books and movies with similar fantasmagorical themes and storylines.

I remember seeing 2001, a Space Odyssey on a field trip to New York City were we saw it in a theatre that had Cinerama. Star Wars blew me away as did Blade Runner and Alien. All of the Jim Cameron movies were also impressive as these movies paid a lot of attention to production detail and constructing a future world that was eerily realistic and functionally fleshed out. It made you believe that their world was real. There was one name that keep coming up in the credits of the the Alien, Blade Runner and the Aliens sequel movie and that was Syd Mead. Syd Mead was the primary go-to consultant for coming up with the futuristic interior and exterior sets in these movies. His background as an automobile designer for Ford Motors and as an Industrial product designer for a number of well known Fortune 500 companies like US Steel and Caterpillar came in handy when director Ridley Scott wanted to present a believable future landscape with the matching interiors to draw in the viewer in a most visceral way.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

American Cool - Invented in the United States

Before I digress I wanted to preface this blog entry by saying that the United States is a melting pot of immigrants and descendents of immigrants and is one of the things that makes this country so desirable to live. Whether your parents, grandparents or great grand parents came to America to seek their fortunes (and to provide better lives for their families)  from Europe, Asia, Russia, Ukraine, South America, Mexico, Canada, Australia, Africa, Japan, Taiwan, Pacific Islands, Middle East, (Did I leave out any country or continent? If I did, apologies are in order), ALL and I mean all made significant contributions to United States culture and made the US a better place to live over the years. Working hard to put your kids through school was and still is the mantra and access to an infrastructure of affordable and quality public and private education was and still is the main drawing card along with finding a good paying job in a city or state that provided a reasonable cost of living.

I think it's important now to call out and highlight some of the very cool things (people and inventions) that were invented in the US and has become the calling card for the US globally as everyone around the world picked up on these cool things that came from the US. Further validation of cool items on this list is that Japanese are collecting these vintage items from the US in great quantities (Like vintage US electric and acoustic guitars and vintage automobiles). Lots of Japanese collectors like to acquire cool stuff from the US. The rarer, the better.

The Electric Guitar - Les Paul and Leo Fender are the US inventors who came up with the electric guitar and I think Rock and Roll never would have broken out if it had not been for these two ingenius inventors.

Levis's Blue Jeans - Hipster, Cowboy, Teen, Yuppie, Punk,.....and the genre goes on and on. You name the style or fashion period and you know that Levis' Blue Jeans were popular in virtually every era. The design and material spec has not changed for more than 100 years, and for a good reason. This was a jean that was copied and imitated by thousands of other clothing manufacturers but there is only one original Levis Blue Jeans.

57 Chevrolet Nomad Station Wagon - This iconic automobile is synonomous with surfing and the 60's teen era. The tail-fin styling is classic and timeless and more of these cars were souped up as hot rods and custom rides because everyone knew a really cool car when they saw it. The 57 Chevy Nomad fit that description perfectly.

Elvis Presley

James Dean



Bob Dylan

The Personal Computer

Apple Computer and the Macintosh

The First Router

Adobe PostScript

The first L.E.D. Lightbulb - Cree Research

If there's more cool stuff (people and inventions) that you strongly feel deserves to be on this list, please write post a comment with your suggestion and a brief reason why you think it deserves to be on the list.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Which Company Invented The Digital Camera?

This is NOT a trick question but which company invented the digital camera?

a) Nikon                 c) Sony                 e) Fujifilm           

b) Canon                d) Polaroid            f) Kodak

Big surprise here as the answer is f) Kodak. Actually, Kodak is the only company mentioned here that had a core focus and deep DNA in all technologies related to imaging and color science so they did early on have a leg up on all of their competitors with patents and research in the fields of color reproduction and with film manufacturing and processing. The big 3 Digital Camera companies of today. Canon, Nikon and Sony all embraced digital camera technology and applied their engineering and marketing prowess to beating Kodak in creating more advanced and easier to use digital cameras in a very big way. Kodak at one time like Polaroid was viewed as one of the most innovative product development companies and was often placed in the category of a IBM, Xerox, 3M, and Polaroid when it came to obtaining key patents that allowed them to produce consumer and business products that were so far ahead of every other company's technology offerings.

I think it's fair to say that Kodak missed the boat with digital cameras the same way Xerox lost out to Adobe when it came to PostScript.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

We're All Pulling for Pete Huttlinger!!!!

Here is the latest update on Pete Huttlinger. Vince Gill's web-site has been the focal point for the benefit concert publicity and has the latest info on Pete's progress:


Vince Gill
A Night of Great Music, Electrifying Jams & Cool Collaborations

Tuesday, July 26 at Mercy Lounge
Featuring Live Performances by Vince Gill, John Oates, The Long Players, John Jorgenson, Mark Selby, Joe Robinson, Baillie & the Boys Della Croce & more!

Vince Gill, John Oates, The Long Players, John Jorgenson, Mark Selby, Joe Robinson, Baillie & the Boys, Sean Della Croce and others are coming together to lend their extraordinary talents to FOR PETE’S SAKE: YOU’VE GOTTA HAVE HEART – A Benefit for Pete Huttlinger on Tuesday, July 26 at Mercy Lounge (1 Cannery Row) at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased via TicketWeb and at the door.
All proceeds raised as a result of this amazing night of music – sure to include once-in-a-lifetime collaborations and jams –will help diffuse costs associated with Huttlinger’s surgeries and treatment. The widely respected guitarist and Nashville studio artist is recovering from surgery and awaiting a heart transplant.
Huttlinger has a congenitally defective heart. His heart has slowly deteriorated over his lifetime, and in March, he went into extreme heart failure. Too sick to wait for a heart transplant, Huttlinger was life-flighted on April 29 to St. Luke’s Texas Heart Institute in Houston and underwent surgery (May 4) to have a heart pump installed. This cutting edge device is a mechanical pump that is implanted in his heart and is powered by a battery pack which Huttlinger carries with him. This undertaking is referred to as a “bridge to transplant.” When Huttlinger recovers from this surgery, he will return to Nashville and await a heart transplant which will take place at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Huttlinger suffered a massive stroke in November, but had recovered completely.

To make an online donation go to

To See Photos from this event you can view them here:

Pete Huttlinger is recovering from a recent life-threatening stroke. One of the most talented fingerstyle artists I have ever seen or met Pete is a genuinely nice person who is a fantastic performer and great guy who has helped many aspiring guitarists learn how to play fingerstyle guitar through his instructional DVDs and books. We are all praying for a full recovery Pete. Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

Pete Huttlinger playing Josie at the Guitar Player
Live Event held in Livermore CA in September 2009

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Samsung Series 3 Princeton Notebook 11.6" NP300U1A Review

Watch your back Sony! Samsung is entering the sub-notebook market big time!

12/18/2012 UPDATE
The Staples Ad for the week of 12/18-12/24/2011 just went live on their web site and sure enough, the Samsung  Series 3 11.6" Princeton Notebook with the Intel Core i3 Processor, 4 GB of memory and the 320GB Hard Drive is on sale for $349.99 WHILE SUPPLIES LAST!!!!!!


Pssst...Want to buy one of these notebooks brand new from Staples for $349.00 ($249.00) with trade in notebook? Follw the instructions here:

Looks like Staples is blowing out the Samsung Series 3 11.6" Princeton Core i3 Notebook again and the alert is for next week (Dec 19-23rd, 2011).. If you trade-in a qualifying used notebook you can get the price down to an incredible $249.00 by way of a $100.00 Visa Gift Card. The normal price at Staples is $599.00.

Thanks to TTRAN88 for posting this tip:

Here is the link to the tip:

BLOG UPDATE 11/02/2011
To see a side by side comparison chart stacking the Samsung Princeton 11.6" NP300U1A notebook agains the latest Apple MacBook Air 11.6" SSD model click here: 

Samsung Series 3 Princeton 11.6 NP300U1A VS Apple MacBook Air 11.6"

Why Samsung is Rocking the PC and Tablet US Markets!

I just received a Samsung Series 3 Princeton 11.6" Notebook Model NP300U1A Core i3 in for review and so far we have a winner. Priced at $599.99 on sale at Staples, Samsung is aggressively pursuing the college and university market touting it as ' 2.75 pound 11.6" LED notebook measuring a little more than an inch thick with 6-8 hour battery life and a genuine Intel Core i3 processor with a 320 GB 5400 rpm hard drive. This notebook also has built in Bluetooth and 3 USB ports and an HDMI output jack. Will be posting a detailed hands on review with photos shortly but initial un-boxing impressions are very positive. This notebook will. also be snapped up by businesses as the build quality is excellent and it is powerful enough to run most windows business applications. it is very light and the LED screen is very bright and sharp. It also has wide viewing angles and the hinges are very smooth and strong. The keyboard is very easy to touch type on and has the chiclet style keys first found on Apple notebooks.

I did in fact weigh this notebook on a digital scale and it actually weights 2 Pounds 11 1/2 Ounces with the battery installed. We're in MacBook Air territory on weight and about the same dimensions and weight as the old Sony VGN-TZ Series of notebooks that are currently discontinued. Samsung is really playing hardball when it comes to price-performance and will give Sony buyers pause before they sign on the dotted line for their next Sony ultra small notebook.

I just posted exterior and internal photos of this notebook as I was in the middle of upgrading the hard drive. Although the motherboard is capable of supporting 8 GB of RAM in 2 physical DDR3 SIMM Memory Slots as confirmed by the Crucial memory Scanner tool, There is only one physical slot on the motherboard and there is an ADATA DDR3 4GB memory SIMM installed. An OEM 5400RPM 320 GB Hitachi 2.5" 9MM hard disk is standard on this machine. I swapped this drive for a 500GB Toshiba 2.5" Notebook Hard Drive.

You can see from the photos that this notebook has nice design elements and the compnent packaging and accessibility is very good for such a small notebook. The left side of the notebook has two USB 2.0 Ports and there is a third USB Port on the right side of the notebook.  It also has an SD-HC-XC memory Card Slot and and HDMI Output connector.

The 64 Bit Version of Windows 7 Home Premium comes pre-installed on this notebook. This is a wise choice by Samsung to make this notebook perform well right out of the box.

August 9, 2011 Update.
Since posting this first look hands on review, I received some emails inquiring about system performance and how this notebook compares to an HP DM1Z or Lenovo X120e with the AMD Fusion E-350 microprocessor.

I ran the Windows Experience Assessment Tool and found that the Samsung Series 3 Princeton Intel Core i3 posted impressive system performance numbers. On the Intel scale of 1.0 to 7.9. These assessment results speak for themselves. This notebook is no slouch and it does not generate a lot of heat when running productivity applications like Word and Excel. It also handles multiple programs running at the same time with no perceivable lag time or CPU slowdown. I also found the LED screen to be of very high quality and stacks up very favorably to any of the LED screens you will find in Apple or Sony notebooks. For not much more than you would pay for the latest Netbook, Tablet or entry level notebook with an AMD Fusion or Athlon processor, you can buy this little hot-rod that has the goods to power through your school or business day with some very nice A-List components courtesy of the Samsung Notebook design engineering team.

Damn the bean counters and give the notebook buying public what they want. Bleeding edge fully equipped notebooks at bargain basement prices. I hope this trend spreads to other notebook computer manufacturers as we will all benefit.

Thank you Samsung for delivering the goods and shaking up the price performance curve in favor of the consumer!!!!!!

Base Score is 4.6
Processor is 4.9
Memory (RAM) is 5.9
Graphics is 4.6
Gaming graphics is 6.0
Primary Hard Disk is 5.7

August 11, 2011 Update
To test out the built-in Bluetooth radio, I set up a Microsoft Bluetooth 5000 wireless mouse and paired it with the Samsung Series 3 Princeton in seconds. This feature allows me to have access to all three USB ports so I can have a usb scanner, am external hard drive and a free usb port for maximum flexibility on the go. I could even plug in an external DVD/ROM drive and still have my scanner and external hard drive attached. There is also a standard RGB port so I can plug into an external projector when making presentations on the road or if I want to make use of a large screen lcd or led display that has a standard RGB port in an office setting..

The wireless performance for this Samsung is above average for a notebook. It received a strong WiFi signal both indoors and outdoors and being on the second floor at the far end of the house did no affect WiFi performance significantly. Streaming Youtube videos and MP3s was a piece of cake. It was tested using a Cisco Linksys 1200 Wireless N Router.

This notebook awakes from the sleep state instantly and goes into the sleep state in a few seconds. Backing up to a hard drive is easy and I was also able to test a few USB drives and SD HC SD memory cards. File copy performance was impressive and I noticed no performance slow down even with multiple windows and applications open when backing up or copying a large number of files form external hard drives, USB drives and SD memory cards.

I can visualize this notebook as being perfect for the Pro Photographer or Field Journalist/Blogger who wants decent Intel Core i3 performance, a battery sipping system, and a form factor that is smaller than an average Apple Mac Book Air. With the built-in Bluetooth, 3 qty Built in USB ports, and the built in SDHC-XC memory card reader, you will be able to tackle any computing job. I don't foresee a problem getting this notebook repaired or obtaining spare batteries or parts as Samsung has an international Service program and organization for servicing all consumer and business notebooks in and out of the standard 1 year warranty period.

August 13, 2011 Update
For those who have emailed me with questions on how to safely remove the cover of the Samsung Series 3 Princeton 11.6" Notebook, I have posted below detailed instructions on how to do this procedure without damaging your notebook. This is also a call out to BASSAM to thank him for his informative comments on the real world battery life he is getting with this notebook and also alerting us to the fact that Samsung does not have this notebook spooled up yet in their accessories and parts database. Also wanted to let BASSAM know that he is free to pick any standard 2.5" 9.5MM height SSD drive and install it as an upgrade replacing the factory 320 GB hard disk very easily by following the hard drive upgrade instructions I posted below.

Please keep those comments and emails coming. I will do my best to provide useful technically accurate information to enhance your user experience with this notebook. I want this to be the best one-stop go to information source for this nifty little notebook. Hopefully Samsung will catch-up and introduce accessories tailored for this notebook in the near future.

October 14, 2011 Update
For those who are interested in getting educated on the other Samsung Notebook product lines here is a link to a Samsung notebook market analysis I just posted called:

Holy Smokes! If it were any smaller, you'd have to call it a Tablet.
Yes Virginia, you can touch type on this comfortable keyboard .
A masterpiece of miniaturization, Samsung is one of the top notebook component manufacturers.


If you want to remove the back cover, it is a relatively easy process. DO NOT attempt to do this unless you are comfortable with memory upgrades and have replaced a notebook hard drive in the past. I recommend a grounding strap and removing the battery before starting. Also you will void your warranty if you replace the hard drive unless you save the old one and re-install it if you send it back to Samsung for warranty service.

Step One- Remove all 6 screws that are used to secure the back cover.You need to pry the 2 rubber feet at the lower left and right hand corners of the notebook to access 2 of the screws. One is located just north of the SD card slot and the other is next to the Microsoft Windows 7 Product Key Label.

Step Two -Once you have removed all 6 screws, then gently and I mean GENTLY pry the case from the upper shell holding the motherboard and chassis components. It should come loose without any interference. The Hard Drive is in a rubber shock sleeve and the SATA cable easily comes off. You can replace the hard disk with any size 9.5MM height notebook hard drive and that includes SSD drives too. You can purchase one from IBM Hitachi, Western Digital, Seagate, Samsung, OCZ, PNY,  etc. They all must be 2.5" form factors, have the standard SATA connector and cannot exceed 9.5 MM in height, otherwise they will not fit and will not work.

To put everything back together again, just follow the dis-assembly procedure instruction in reverse.

The outer bottom plastic shell is light in weight but very sturdy and flex resistant.
There is only one DDR3 SIMM slot so memory is limited to 4 GB of RAM.
You may consider buying  an 8 GB Memory SIMM  if you are running  Photoshop
They are now available from Newegg and Crucial Technology,
The right side has 2 USB ports and a standard VGA port.
Sorry, USB 3.0 didn't make it into this design
The left side has the AC adapter port, Ethernet port, 3rd USB Port HDMI output jack and mini-headphones port.
The cooling vent is pretty efficient and the notebook runs relatively cool
It has a genuine Intel Core i3 Microprocessor and the 64 Bit Version of Windows 7 Home Premium
The Chiclet Style Keyboard is easy to type on and the keyboard layout is pretty standard
Core i3 mean more computing power, less power usage (theoretically)
3 Cell Lithium Ion rechargeable battery offers up 6 continuous hours of run-time.
Most users are getting 2.5 to 3 hours. Room for improvement here as an extended life battery would be highly desirable but not offered by Samsung yet as an optional accessory.