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Samsung AA-PB2NC6 Battery

In response to the growing popularity of Chromebooks, various laptop makers have started churning out $200ish Windows machines that run on similarly modest specs. Now, because they use the same full-on OS available on $1,000 notebooks, these devices aren’t nearly as responsive as their Google-bred alternatives. They usually have to cut corners on hardware to hit their price point, too. At the same time, they do run a full-on OS, so they have access to desktop apps like Word, Excel, or anything else you’d use outside of a web browser. (Just don’t expect to get heavy Photoshop editing out of their entry-level processors.) The idea is to sacrifice some speed and build quality in exchange for greater offline capability. In the best cases, all of this makes for a decent secondary or travel-centric device. They’re like modern netbooks.As of this writing, the Lenovo Ideapad 100s is the best of those best cases. Like any other ultra-budget notebook, it’s not strong — its modest Intel Atom chip and 2GB of RAM can’t handle too many open apps or tabs at once, and gaming is just about impossible. It only has 32GB of storage, its keyboard flexes, and it doesn’t support 802.11ac WiFi. Its trackpad is strangely devoid of all multi-touch support, too. It’s a $180 laptop, in other words.

Still, when used in moderation, the Ideapad is surprisingly fluid next to its peers. Word and the like are perfectly agreeable, and there’s never too much lag once everything’s up and loaded. The keyboard is well-sized and comfortable outside of that flexing problem, and the 11.6-inch 1366x768 TN display is accurate enough for the money. It’s all good enough to get lighter stuff done. It also comes pre-packaged with a free year of Office 365 and 1TB of Microsoft OneDrive storage. What really sells the Ideapad is its build and battery life. It’s plastic, but it’s colorful, smooth, and sturdy, with a flexible hinge that helps mitigate the display’s iffy viewing angles. It doesn’t explicitly look cheap. The battery, meanwhile, lasts an excellent 10-11 hours per charge. Don’t expect this — or the HP Stream 11, or the Acer Aspire One Cloudbook — to act as your primary device, but if you’re frequently on the move or you only have $200 to spend, the Ideapad 100s should serve you well. It’s worth noting that there’s a 14-inch model, too, but we don’t think it’s worth sacrificing portability for something this underpowered.


The first round of reviews for Apple’s new MacBook, the super-thin model with a high-resolution display, are out.The consensus is pretty much unanimous: The new MacBooks are a marvel of engineering and very pretty to look at, but not something you should buy right now. The reviews largely echo concerns I had when Apple first announced the new MacBook last month:First, there’s the price. You’re paying a premium because Apple pulled off some engineering magic and created a beautiful computer that is not much thicker than an iPhone yet powerful enough to run a full desktop operating system. In fact, it is $300 more expensive than the cheapest MacBook Pro but has weaker specs. (The Retina MacBook Pro starts at the same price as the new MacBook). It is not the best deal on paper unless you value design and portability over everything else.Then there are the ports. Or, rather, the lack of ports. The MacBook has only one: a special USB C port that is designed for charging the computer, connecting video cables, and plugging in accessories. That means you will not be able to transfer files using a traditional USB stick, and you will have to get a special adapter for a lot of other things.macbook usb c portApple

Finally, I’m not a fan of the fact Apple did away with the MagSafe charger in favor of USB C. If you’re like me, you have a habit of tripping over your laptop’s cables. Apple’s MagSafe charger is a brilliant solution: It holds the charging connector firmly in the laptop but will not do any damage if you yank it out. When I was in college I did some major damage to my old PowerBook when I tripped over its charging cord. I have a feeling there will be more than a few damaged USB C chargers from new MacBook owners. USB C charging feels like a step backward.But let’s rewind a bit. The new MacBook reminds me a lot of the first MacBook Air that launched in 2008. That computer was underpowered, had very little storage, and had minimal ports. It was light, thin, and beautiful, unlike any laptop anyone had seen at the time, but it was also way too expensive for what you got. As with the new MacBook, the original MacBook Air was a marvelous feat of engineering that most people probably didn’t need to buy.


Two and a half years later, the MacBook Air was the best laptop in the world. Apple improved everything from the processing power to design to battery life. Today’s MacBook Air is even better.I bet we’ll be having a similar discussion about the new MacBook in two or three years. It’s ahead of its time now, but eliminating ports and going fully wireless in favor of an ultra-portable design will be the new norm. Eventually you will not need to plug a zillion accessories and projectors into your computer. Everything will be wireless.Plus, traditional computers don’t need to be as powerful for the stuff most people need to do, hence the exploding popularity of Chromebooks. The new MacBook is Apple’s answer to that burgeoning trend. People use their laptops to email, check Facebook, do some word processing, and maybe stream some movies. You don’t need a beast of machine to do all that. And if you can get one with a high-resolution display and knockout design, something like the new MacBook is really appealing.


For now, the MacBook Air will remain the best laptop you can buy, just as the old plastic MacBook was when the Air originally launched in 2008. The new MacBook is a glimpse at the future, but you’ll probably want to wait until the rest of the world catches up.It’s hard to stand out in the overcrowded world of cheap Bluetooth speakers, but the G-Project G-Tube manages to distinguish itself. It’s tiny, as $40 speakers are wont to be, but inside that ultra-portable frame lies a surprisingly powerful and clear sound. It stays articulate throughout, with crisp highs and especially clear mids. Most pop and rock tracks come off sounding particularly detailed, lively, and natural. It can’t pump out a ton of bass, of course, but that it even gets some is an achievement, and the lows that are here aren’t overly sloppy or boomy.It also gets a good amount of volume for its size, but since it’s the size of a thin can of soda, don’t expect it to drive a party or fill up a larger room.

Instead, it’s ideal for personal use. Pair it with your tablet or laptop while you’re lounging around and you’ll enjoy your streams a bit more.The G-Tube’s black cylindrical body isn’t exactly exciting, but it’s pragmatic. It’s water-resistant, so you can safely play it near the shower, and all its controls are easy to find and navigate. It pairs easily, too. There’s even a line-out port, just in case you ever want to throw in a pair of headphones while you’re streaming. If there’s a downside — outside of the inherent performance limitations of a speaker this small — it’s battery life. The G-Tube averages about 5 or 6 hours per charge, which isn’t awful, but certainly could be better. Beyond that, this is a superb choice among mini Bluetooth speakers. No, G-Project isn’t the biggest name in the audio world, but trust us here: For $40, the G-Tube is easy to recommend. Traffic jams happen, trains get delayed, and the weather can be unpredictable some days. A few handy commuter essentials, an umbrella for sudden rain showers or headphones to drown out distracting conversations, will make all the difference when you’re en route to the office though.


As it stands, your workbag’s got your laptop, wallet, and smartphone neatly tucked in there, and below are 13 additional things that will prepare you for just about anything. Because, it’s always better to have what you need when you need it.If you still need to buy a briefcase or messenger bag to hold your stuff, we’ve got you covered on that front, too.You can certainly spring for a luxe pair of Master & Dynamics, but a cheap pair of in-ears will drown out most noise on the subway, bus, or train just fine. For a step up from the ones that came with your smartphone, we recommend Sony’s MDR-XB50s.Sony MDRXB50AP Extra Bass Earbud Headset (Black), $36.05.You’ll be glad to have that an extra charging cable stowed in your laptop bag when your phone’s battery life is less than 10% (see #7 for more on that) or you need to quickly connect it to a PC. Be prepared for the season’s unpredictable weather — rain, snow, sleet, and then some — with an umbrella that’s compact and strong enough to handle sudden gusts of wind. Stick with neutral colors like black and gray, as they’re the most professional-looking. Since nobody’s perfect, it’s best to assume you’ll probably spill something on your dress shirt from time to time. Keep a stain-removing pen in your bag so you can erase signs of your lunch quickly and effectively.


You should know by now that reusable water bottles are a cheaper and greener alternative to disposable plastic ones. They’re also an easy way to cut superfluous costs.Cold weather and chapped lips tend to go hand in hand. Keep a tube of lip balm within reach for instant moisture relief. (If you have a particularly dry spot on your face — maybe around your nose when you have a cold, say — you can apply it there, too, if you don’t have moisturizer readily accessible.)RavPower’s 6,700mAh pack has enough juice to get you through emergency situations, charges quickly, and is as short as a credit card. For $16, it’s an affordable way to ensure your phone stays alive while you’re on the go. You can check out more options here.Jot down some quick bullet points during business lunches or your thoughts on the subway ride home from work in something with more substance to it than the “Notes” app on your phone. Tissues are just plain convenient to have on you — never more so than when you feel a sneeze coming on. While you’re at it, it can’t hurt to have a package or two of Emergen-C at the ready during flu season. A miniature bottle of Advil is another thing you may want to consider packing.

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