Sunday, December 25, 2011

Netflix problems on your Nintendo 3DS?

For anyone who got one under a tree today for themselves or a munchkin... you may have experienced the following error code:

Error Code: 006-0803

Googling around, people are saying because of Christmas, that the servers are overloaded and that is the cause. I'm not too sure because I was able to get Netflix to work on one 3DS but got that error on another.

The only difference was I set up Parental Controls on the 2nd one. So when I removed them, guess what... I was able to start Netflix.

Initially, I just put Parental Controls on 3D image viewing so I just removed that but I got a different error code. When I removed ALL settings... it worked.

Not sure if that's a coincidence but you might want to try that to see if it helps you out... good luck and Happy Holidays.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Netbooks No More?

Has anyone noticed fewer and fewer netbooks at your local computer store?

At Best Buy, there was once an entire row dedicated to netbooks... now I can only find 3 of them tucked away in a corner. Where they used to be are not one... but FOUR rows of e-readers and tablets.

As I said in a previous article,, I think netbooks are going to be replaced by tablets or ultrabooks. With tablets trending down in prices (less than $200) and people wanting more power out of a netbook (ala an ultrabook), I just don't see that category lasting very long. I'm sure there will still be people who want a 10" notebook... but that type of product may just get absorbed into the ultrabook fold.

Even Dell has cut their consumer line of netbooks:

Oh well... it was a good... uh... 4 years (wow... it's been that long?) but you can blame Apple and Intel for your demise.

RIP Netbooks.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Unboxing the Toshiba Portege Z830/Z835 Ultrabook

Update: The Z835 is on sale at Best Buy right now for only $699 (12/11-12/17).

So I finally caved in and got an ultrabook.

I really wanted to get the Asus UX31 because of the 1600x900 resolution but there have been too many reports of issues with the first iteration of it ( It also does not have backlit keyboard and I'm not a fan of their keyboard layout.

I've always favored the Toshiba Portege Z830 series because of the two things I mentioned the Asus was lacking and also the number of ports it has:
  • Three USB ports (one 3.0) whereas most others have only two.
  • Full size network 10/100/1gb port
  • SD card slot
  • Full size HDMI
  • Full size VGA port (I believe it's the only ultrabook to have one)
At $899, which was the original MSRP, this was a good deal, but when the Z835 came out as a Best Buy exclusive, the price was $799. They raised it back up to $899 last week but dropped it again this week so I had to go get one. Only one Best Buy in my area (we have 4 in the immediate area) had it in-store to see in person (which happened to be one of the farthest away from me). The other good thing is because Best Buy no longer has their 15% stocking fee and are doing extended returns until January 24, I can really give this a try to see if it can replace my Macbook Air 13".

So here is my second unboxing video (the first was for the Sony VAIO SE):

The Best Buy Z835 is an i3 with 4gb RAM, 128gb SDD and 13.3" screen. The difference between this and the Z830 series is a lack of Bluetooth and a fingerprint reader, and the display only comes in TruBrite (which is a glossy screen). The Z830 series can also be configured with i5/i7 processors. And unlike the other ultrabooks, the memory is "user" upgradeable up to 6gb (2gb soldered on, one slot that can hold up to 4gb).

It's a really light and thin notebook and the build quality is great. It's not a unibody like the MacBook Air but it's more solid than the plastic-y notebooks you regularly see.

I didn't have a chance to prep it beforehand so that you can see the display and hear the sound (so no Justin Bieber for Mitlov from the forums... heh) but I'll do that on a follow-up video and compare it to the MacBook Air and also my Sony SE.

If you want to read more comments about the Z830/Z835 visit the forums:

Friday, October 28, 2011

The Ultrabook Hypocrisy

So now that there are few Ultrabooks for sale, the Acer Aspire S3 and the Asus UX21/UX31, there a quite a few people buying them.

What I find funny on the notebook forum I read ( is how many people compare them to MacBook Airs. Before, everyone was saying that the MBAs were overpriced, ugly and/or not worth the price. Now, they are the measuring stick to compare all the other Ultrabooks by because the MBAs have a better screen, better keyboard, better build quality, better touchpad etc. And that's fine, except for the fact that these people who said MBAs were overpriced... are paying the SAME prices for an Ultrabook!

Granted, they have "better" specs... but I remember when people would claim they would never pay more than $1000 for an ultrathin notebook and that the only reason why it cost so much was because of the "Apple Tax". The UX31 starts at around $1300, and while it has a higher resolution screen and more memory... the point is it's still OVER $1000!! Heck... it's closer to $1500 and there have been many posts where the build is not as good as an MBA.

I don't get it... if it's Apple and has great build quality, the price is too high and it's just the Apple premium. But if it is a PC and has mediocre build quality, but better specs... the price is justifiable?

And I'm not a hardcore Apple fan, I'm just pointing out something that maybe other people don't want to admit. Just like with tablets, I hope people are beginning to realize that it may not be just an Apple Tax... but a  price to pay for well engineered quality.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011 What I would do if I were a notebook maker...

I've always wanted to own my notebook company so that I can make notebooks the way I think they should be made. I really like the new Ultrabook category and feel that most of the companies should start putting more focus on those type of notebooks than their mid-range lines.

If I were to define categories for where I would concentrate on mobile computing (other than phones), I would do these 3:

1. Tablets: Less than $500
2. Ultraportables (Ultrabooks): Less than $500-$1000
3. Power Notebooks: $500 and over

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Unboxing the Sony VAIO SE 15.5" for forums

So I decided to record my first ever unboxing video of the Sony VAIO SE 15.5" notebook for the forums at It's kind of rough since I've never done one before and maybe I should have zoomed in closer to see the details.

If I have the time, I'll follow up with a video review but I think the guys at the other tech sites do a much better job (I even added a special request for Mitlov from NBR).

What I did forget to say is that it is incredibly light... much lighter than the Dell XPS 15z. You might be able to tell by the way I flip it around to show all the ports.

Recording these things are much harder than it looks.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Steve Jobs: Rest in Peace

Sadly, Apple has reported that Steve Jobs died today:

Thank you for everything "magical" you brought to our lives.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

iPhone 5 will be redesigned

Another case post on BGR seems to confirm that the new iPhone 5 will take on this new design:

We should know for sure in a few minutes.

UPDATE: Well... that was longer than a few minutes... and while this may indeed be the case for the iPhone 5... Apple didn't announce one... just an iPhone 4S. So what is CaseMate and HardCandy going to do with these?

Monday, October 3, 2011

Zune finally gone?

 (image from

Back in March, many sites were reporting the death of the Zune prematurely. Well... maybe just really prematurely. According to, Microsoft is out of the Zune business so they can focus on Windows Phone:

Think that guy can cover that tatoo with an Apple logo?

Thin is in! Sony VAIO SE 15.5" Full HD now out...

For notebooks, I'm obsessed with thin, light frames with high resolution screens and long battery life. That's why the MacBooks (both Pro and Airs) have been an envy (not the HP Envy) of mine.

With new Ultrabooks coming out... it seems I'll have more than I want... however most of these are using that really bad 720p (1366x768) resolution except for the Asus.

Luckily, some of them are still making hi-rez, fairly thin notebooks, like the Dell XPS 15z (which I owned for a while but ended up not liking) and the Samsung Series 7. One that has my attention is the Sony VAIO SE from their S family, a 15.5" notebook that weighs under 5 lbs and has a full HD (1920x1080) screen.

I was at a local electronics store last Friday and they actually had one out for display:

And... these start at $999!!! You can get it in silver or black and add options like i7, Blu-Ray and SSD drives.

I will probably end up buying one to try it out and will post my impressions here. I started a thread for it in the forum section of (awesome site):

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Attack of the Ultrabooks!

I don't know how many of you remember the old Ultraman series... but if you do... this image should bring back memories.

So "ultrabook" is the term for the new light and thin notebooks coming out that are comparable to the MacBookAir (so did Apple invent another category?). I've been waiting for these for a long time... especially since I've been drooling over the MBAs ever since they came out... and actually caved in and bought one last year (the MBA 13" which I Bootcamped Windows 7 onto).

And while it's a great machine, Windows isn't very stable (I lose the touchpad functionality after waking from sleep) and have ended up using it in OSX (which actually has better battery life). So I want a native "ultra" thin notebook that has a better keyboard (I miss my dedicated Pg/Home/End keys).

And IFA, 3 were previewed (after the jump):

Thursday, August 25, 2011

TouchPad: RIP... one down... how many more will go?

I hope webOS lives on... but this just goes to show that if you can't beat Apple significantly in price or features.. it's going to be an uphill battle.

I think it's funny that TouchPads are so hard to find now that HP slashed their prices... but they probably could have got away with $199 and $249 (half off).

If someone can port a fully working, stable Android/Honeycomb to the TouchPad or make an Android emulator for webOS (ala QNX), there might be some life left.

In other news, I like my Asus Transformer more each day. The latest update now adds Netflix capability (although you have to find the APK yourself) and ad-hoc WiFi access (go tether go!).

Still waiting for the "summer" release of the Galaxy Tab 8.... or even the redesigned Galaxy Tab 7. The smaller form factor is the market where other tablet makers can compete because it's going to be very hard to go against a 10" tablet with 2048x1536 resolution (iPad3). Although, Tim Cook could go back on Jobs and throw Apple into the 7" tablet arena.

Steve Jobs Leaves Job

If you have not heard... then you probably don't have electricity and so it doesn't matter.

Sadly, this may indicate a problem with his health and I wish him the best. I think Apple will be fine under Tim Cook because if you think about it, Cook has been at the reigns several times since Jobs has been having health problems dating back to 2004.

And I'm sure the rest of the management team is as key to Apple's success as much as Jobs. 2014 is where we'll see how Apple can evolve without its top guy. Although... if he can stay healthy, being Chairman of the Board is probably just as effective.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Tablet Wars: Lost before it's begun...

So I've posted this same sentiment on various blog/tech sites... why don't the competitors price their tablets LOWER than the iPad 2?

Do they really think they can charge the same (or in the Xoom's case... more) than Apple and actually get customers to try out their product? Let's see, you are fighting against great marketing, brand recognition, fan loyalty, a huge app market, a consumer-friendly UI and widespread retail ubiquity (both for product and accessories) and you think you can price your product the same?

No wonder most of the "better" tablets have continued to fail to gain the market share to be called a true iPad alternative. Let's look at the list:

Samsung Galaxy Tab 7": Ran phone UI, was priced the same or more to begin with and did not come out with a WiFi only version until a few months ago.

Xoom 10": More like Boom. I don't think I need to detail the problems other than (1) Priced MORE than the iPad 2 and (2) The WiFi version also came out later.

ViewSonic G-Tablet 10": Virtually no retail presence, does not ship with Honeycomb, priced $100 less but hardware isn't exactly "quality".

RIM Playbook 7": Nice quality tablet, but no native email/calendar hampers it. And priced the same as iPad for a smaller form factor... huh?

Acer Iconia A500 10": $50 less than iPad 2, good hardware and design but less battery life, bigger and heavier.

Asus EEE Pad Transformer 10": $100 less than iPad 2, good hardware (although build is a bit plastic-y), great battery life, bigger and heavier. This is one of the few tablets that were very hard to find in the initial release due to its price and ability to become a netbook (with $150 add-on keyboard dock). The problem here is retail presence, while the techies are aware of it, the average consumer is not.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1" (version 2.0): So upon seeing the new iPad 2, Sammy went back and re-did the Tab 10.1 to be thinner and lighter... which was a good move... but... there were some sacrifices. One of the things the Android tablets like to emphasize is the ability to have external memory (via SD or micro-SD) and external ports (HDMI/USB)... the new Tab has neither. Boo. AND... they priced it the same as the iPad 2. Yeah... they learned to make the hardware better (which by the reviews is excellent) but they forgot about making the price cheaper. And... only available in one store in NY on their release date, will be in other stores by June 17. An 8.9" version will be out but pricing has not been specified (it better be cheaper).

HP Touchpad 10": There is an overall agreement that webOS (formerly from Palm) is an excellent OS with a very friendly UI. The big knock is could HP be too little too late? While they have a better retail presence than the other companies... can they effectively market the Touchpad better than Apple? And without the app market of Android or iOS... they are already behind. So what do they price it at? Yeah... you guessed it... the SAME as the iPad. Bleh. Out on July 1st but I'm not expecting a big rush for this one.

Then there is gamut of cheaper Android products at all different form factors and more coming out... Vizio is supposed to be coming out with a $349 10" tablet.... we'll see what the specs look like.

Personally, I bought an Asus Transformer because it was $100 cheaper, I used that savings to buy the keyboard dock which not only adds netbook capability to my tablet but also increases battery life over 60% (so it can last longer than the iPad 2). The ability to load all my own files onto it either through connecting directly to my laptop or to an external drive makes it more functional for me. In addition, the tweaks that Asus added (keyboard with number row) and peripheral apps (MyCloud/Splashtop to control other PCs remotely) were part of my decision. My only knocks are it does not run Netflix (yet), no AdHoc WiFi and the build quality isn't the greatest (the plastic creaks in certain areas) but the IPS screen is nice and the docking/netbook solution solved multiple needs for me.

So what is my take? Well... if they are not going to beat Apple's price at the 10" size... they shouldn't even try. They should give up on the 10" market, concentrate on 7-8" tablets at lower price points (especially since Steve Jobs said Apple won't go there) and once Honeycomb is mature enough (probably at Ice Cream) and they can seriously undercut the iPad... then re-address the 10" market. Although by then, the iPad 3 will probably be even thinner and lighter and cost $100 less (rumor is Apple could have cut prices on the iPad 2 by $100 but didn't because no one else was really beating them on price).

The saying is "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em"... in this case if you can't beat them, you can't even think of standing next to them. Come out with a quality 10" tablet at $350, and you *might" be able to run in this race.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Transformers... tablets hard to find?!?


I can never get bored of that song.

Seems like Asus has their own iPadesque shortage going on as it's very hard to find their new Android/Honeycomb Tranformer tablet not only in stores but online. What's all the hubbub about? Well, for one, this is one of the few Honeycomb tablets with hardware that is better or as good as the iPad, matches it in battery life and beats it in price.

In addition, as you can see by the picture above, it has a keyboard docking station that not only gives it netbook functionality but also 6 more hours of battery life. Reviews have been positive (search Youtube for all the hands-on videos) and reports are that Asus cannot keep up with demand. XDA developers even has a thread that has been tracking where to buy the Transformer and is currently over 7500 posts long:

It even has a page that tracks availability and history:

The interesting thing is that the national chains never actually had them on the shelves... at least the ones I checked. None at BestBuy (sold out online and internal inventory doesn't even have the SKU), Target (the online supplier for Amazon) or some local electronics stores. Some regional stores seem to get small shipments (American TV, HHGregg) but are sold out quickly. I've actually been trying to hunt one down for the last week since the launch date on 4/26.

Others sites have reported that inventory levels should be better by end of June... but by then, there will be more tablets out by Samsung (the new slim 10.1" Galaxy Tab) and HP (the WebOS tablets).

It's good to see high demand for an Android tablet, with disappointing sales (relatively) of the XOOM (although to be fair, the Wifi-only version wasn't release until just last month), this shows that people are willing to buy something without an 'i' in it if the features and price are right.

If you can't find a Transformer either, you can always settle for the Acer Iconia for $50 more (but it doesn't have that cool keyboard dock) or just wait for summer to hit with an onslaught of more tablets to come. Even Engadget is reporting that Asus is working on an even more powerful Tegra-3 quad-core tablet to be released this year:

Have you been able to find a Transformer? Hopefully I'll have one before the Transformer 3 movie comes out... heh.

Friday, April 22, 2011

The iPhone 5??

I was lucky enough to stumble upon Joshua Topolsky and Co.'s temporary site (they used to be Engadget editors) and their mock-up of what the next iPhone will look like is more convincing than the majority of the blogosphere who feel it's just going to be like the iPhone 4 with updated innards:


In the article, he explains why they mocked it up as so and even went into why a 4" screen would not be possible with the current screen resolution because that would take it out Retina Display territory which is a big part of Apple's branding (and still a resolution that has not been matched by the competition).

I think it makes sense, it looks like the iPad 2 and the iPhone 4 looked like the original iPad. Plus... thin is in!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Tablets... thinner but too late?

So at CTIA, Samsung announced not only the anticipated 8.9" Galaxy Tab, but also a totally redesigned 10.1" Galaxy Tab (which was just announced a month earlier). Spurred by the thinness of the new iPad 2, both of these tablets are 8.6mm thin, .2 mm thinner than the iPad 2.

When there was a report about a Samsung VP reconsidering their 10.1" product based on what Apple released, I thought he was just talking out loud... but I guess not considering the new mock-up of the 10.1".

The only problem is these won't be out until the summer (the 10.1" has a specific release date of June 8). If anyone remembers, the HP Touchpad also has a summer release and the HTC EVO View (or Flyer) was just announced with a summer date too.

Who has time to wait 3 to 5 months while the iPad 2 is sucking up everyone's money? At least RIM's Playbook will be out on April 19.

And by summer... the iPhone 5 will be in full hype mode and these new tablets will have to compete with those headlines.

While everyone can hate on Apple for their closed systems, design etc... you have to give it up to them in the marketing sales strategy, when they announce a new product, it's out either same day or shortly thereafter. At this rate, by the time any of these companies get it right with their 2nd revision (ie Xoom 2, Galaxy Tab(s) 2, Playbook 2 and Touchpad 2), Apple could be on their iPad 3 or 4.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

iPad 2 Sold Out?

For an "incremental update", the iPad 2 sure is popular.

I have 4 Apple Stores within driving distance of me and 3 of the 4 report no iPad 2s to sell today. I'm sure the 4th is the same. All the local Targets and Best Buys are also sold out (within minutes of yesterday's 5pm start time).

And if you order online, shipping has been delayed 2 to 3 weeks.

I don't get it. I'm sure Apple knew how popular this would be but once again demand seems to outstrip supply.

I would imagine they could break weekend sales records for a consumer device if they had enough to sell so why not have more available on opening weekend? It's not like any leftover inventory isn't going to sell for the next 3 months.

While some say they may be artificially limiting supply to raise the hype... from a business standpoint, that wouldn't be sound strategy. I can understand not allowing pre-orders to increase the number of first day buyers, but there should be enough inventory at the stores to satisfy the demand.

Why not make enough? Apple is only going to anger the people who line up and end up not getting one and anyone else like myself who is looking to buy one this weekend. Sure... I ordered one online (which the original 3-5 day shipping time) but there should be no reason why I can't go out and buy one at a store. This is a known product with a known customer base... just like iPods, there should be enough to go around... Apply is only hurting itself and its consumers (well... not really hurting itself considering people will still keep coming back regardless of the NBE... Negative Buying Experience).

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Don't believe the haters... Apple will win the Pad Wars this year.

First off, let me put this out there... I am a PC. I've only recently purchased my first Mac (a 13" MacBook Air) which I have BootCamped and loaded Win7 on.

But, I do recognize the success of Apple (I've avoided purchasing an iPod) and their ability to define and lead markets. While I also do not like closed systems, there are pros to that and it is impossible to not recognize what this has done to the smartphone market and now the tablet market.

I just want to address many comments going on in the blogosphere about how the iPad2 is only an incremental update and that it will not do well because of that.

I don't agree.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

2011: Year of the iPad 2?

So it's finally out, Apple just announced their iPad 2:

Engadget did live blog coverage (best one out there in my opinion):

And a follow-up article:

While Apple will have more competition this year:

- Samsung's 7" Galaxy Tab and 10" Tab 2 (and a rumored 8.9" Tab)
- Motorola's 10.1" Xoom (w/ Android 3.0 aka Honeycomb)
- HP's WebOs 10" TouchPad
- RIM's 7" PlayBook
- Windows 7 tablets

I still think the iPad 2 will outsell them all (maybe even combined). They have an established consumer base, a huge headstart (90% of tablet market), more apps and a great distribution channel (Apple stores and all other retailers).

While it's not a big jump from the original iPad, there are updates (the dual-core processor and cameras), along with the aesthetic improvements (thinner and lighter) that are enough despite the lack of some wants (Retina Display, SD card or USB ports).

I expect lines outside the doors on March 11 again (and a shortage of the white ones)... and whether you like Apple or not, you can't argue against their ability to define and lead a market category.


More on why I think the iPad2 will outsell the original iPad and all the competitors: