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Read on to find out how to deal with the biggest pet peeves we have with portable PCs, both through quick fixes and affordable upgrades. And to make sure you never make the same mistake again, we’ll provide the shopping advice you need to get a machine that works the way you want it to right out of the box.

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  1. 1. December 5, 2011 Hate Issues for Laptops , How to Fix Them Hate Issues for Laptops , How to Fix Them Quick Tips CloudTags: Laptop , Fix , Issues , Hp pavilion dv4 The number one way to quickly conserve power is to laptop batteries , compaq pavilion dv6 battery life dim your laptop’s screen. We’ve seen time and again , Hp pavilion dv5 battery care on our tests that a notebook’s LCD can consume as much as a third of overall system power. In most It’s one thing to complain about a notebook’s short cases, adjusting the brightness is as easy as using a endurance, wimpy speakers, or finicky touchpad Function command. Plus, Windows Vista and Win- during the course of a review. But it’s a whole dif- dows 7 let you set the exact percentage of brightness ferent ball game when you need to live with that you’d like to use when you’re unplugged, and to issue after you’ve purchased a laptop. We’re here save that as a profile. to help. Read on to find out how to deal with the biggest pet peeves we have with portable PCs, both Under Power Options in Windows 7, click Change through quick fixes and affordable upgrades. And Plan Settings (in our case the plan is Maximum Bat- to make sure you never make the same mistake tery Life). You’ll see a sliding scale for Adjust Plan again, we’ll provide the shopping advice you need Brightness that you can tweak. To dig even deeper, to get a machine that works the way you want it to click Change Advanced Power Settings. Then, under right out of the box. Display > Display Brightness you can select the exact percentage of brightness you’d prefer to have on Battery Life Is Too Short when you’re running on dell latitude d630 battery power. According to Mike Trainor, Intel’s chief mobile tech- nology evangelist, extending your runtime often comes down to being more judicious about only using what you need to get the job done. “You can configure your machine and turn off some of the things you’re not using right now,” he said. These things might include disabling Bluetooth, the Ethernet adapter, and visual effects such as Clear- Type. There’s also a Visual Effects menu in Vista and Having to find that outlet after a couple hours of use XP that can be adjusted for optimal performance, is annoying. Here’s how to keep on working longer with the click of a button. Other tricks for squee- while unplugged. zing more juice out of your system include closing any programs you’re not using, and making sure you unplug any USB devices that don’t need to be connected. Love this PDF? Add it to your Reading List! 4 Page 1
  2. 2. December 5, 2011 Hate Issues for Laptops , How to Fix Them Easy Upgrades cessor from Intel (with display sizes ranging from 11 to 16 inches) offers a better balance between If you purchased a netbook or notebook with a low- screen real estate and long battery life. Plus, these capacity three-cell battery , step up to a higher-ca- ultrathin systems have better performance than pacity replacement. Lenovo, for instance, sells a Intel Atom-powered netbooks. nine-cell battery for the ThinkPad X200 . A six-cell battery for the Acer Aspire One D250 netbook costs For us, the sweet spot for a ULV notebook is the 11 about $60 F9. Keep in mind that it’s always cheaper to 13 inch screen size range. “These systems have to configure your notebook with a beefier battery phenomenal average power and idle power figures,” before you buy. said Intel’s Trainor. “And the system makers have done a great job of implementing our system level If you’ve owned your notebook for two years or power management recommendations.” For ins- more, chances are its battery can’t hold a charge as tance, the ASUS UL30A , a 13-inch ultrathin note- long as it used to. Instead of splurging on a new sys- book with a ULV processor, lasted nearly 10 hours tem, a replacement battery is the frugal and smart on our tests. choice. HP sells a six-cell primary battery that’s compatible with such systems as the HP Pavilion Takes Too Long to Boot dv4000 and Compaq Presario M2000 for $129 . Want an accessory that will work with any laptop? Check out Duracell’s PowerSource Mobile 100. This Editors’ Choice-winning power supply carries its own charge, thanks to an integrated lithium-ion power pack. It can charge your notebook via its three-prong AC outlet while charging two other devices via USB. Shopping Advice Assuming you want to be highly mobile, always opt for the largest capacity battery available at the time of purchase. “It all comes down to system design and Hp 510 batteries design,” said Chris Casper, Yes, Windows 7’s boot times are slightly improved group manager of product marketing for Toshiba. compared to Windows Vista, but there are ways “If you put in a six-cell with the maximum amount you can start playing, surfing, and working faster. of Li-ion material, you can get up toward the eight- hour range.” In fact, on our tests we’ve seen some Quick Tips six-cell netbooks and notebooks exceed nine hours of endurance. Shave seconds off your boot time by telling your BIOS who’s boss. In other words, tell your laptop Although netbooks offer plenty of battery life, not what should take priority when powering up. To everyone is keen on their small, 10-inch displays. enter your notebook’s BIOS you have to hold down A laptop equipped with an Ultra-Low Voltage pro- a key (sometimes F1, F10, or Delete, depending on Love this PDF? Add it to your Reading List! 4 Page 2
  3. 3. December 5, 2011 Hate Issues for Laptops , How to Fix Them your system). Once in the BIOS, enable the Quick open applications. Our favorite SSDs are the 128GB Boot option if your laptop has it; this turns off the va- Patriot Torqx and the 120GB OCZ Vertex. rious hardware device and system memory checks that slow your PC down. Then, go to the Boot Menu Shopping Advice to make sure the hard drive is the first item listed in the priority order . You do this by moving it up the A lot of notebooks you buy at retail have similar list, and should exclude every other item. boot times, depending on how much trial software is loaded. In general, the less of this software (or Another tried-and-true way of shortening your boot crapware) the better. There are also a number of lap- time is to disable programs from loading at star- tops that offer so-called instant-on capabilities. You tup. In XP machines, click Start > Run > and type can opt to boot into a Linux environment (usually msconfig. On Vista and Windows 7 machines, you powered by Splashtop) in less than 10 seconds, and can type msconfig in the search box after you click start surfing the Web, checking e-mail, making Skype Start. After that you’ll see a box with several tabs. calls and more without waiting for Windows to load. Click the Startup tab to see a list of Startup items, and Different notebook manufacturers brand this tech- then uncheck any programs you don’t necessarily nology with proprietary names. For example, Leno- need to load when you turn on your machine. Some vo’s IdeaPad S12 instant-on environment is called examples of what you might not need include Adobe QuickStart, and on the ASUS K50 it’s ExpressGate. Acrobat, Google Talk, and QuickTime. Other Splashtop partners include Acer, HP, and Sony. Easy Upgrades If you’d like a little help in telling Windows what not to load when booting, check out TuneUp Utilities 2009, our Editors’ Choice–winning utilities suite. In addition to one-click PC maintenance, this smart software includes a StartUp Manager that uses a friendly interface to help identify and remove hid- den programs in your Startup folder. Another relatively affordable upgrade is a faster hard drive. With most 5,400-rpm hard drives, you can expect a boot time of 60 seconds or more. For about $80 you can pick up a 7,200-rpm, 320GB drive from the likes of Hitachi, Seagate, or Western Digital that can give you back as much as eight seconds. Those willing to spend more money to speed up their boot time—and supercharge the rest of their PC—should consider investing in a solid state drive. A good SSD will start Windows in 50 seconds or less, and will dramatically decrease the time it takes to Love this PDF? Add it to your Reading List! 4 Page 3
  4. 4. December 5, 2011 Hate Issues for Laptops , How to Fix Them Rechargeble Laptop Battery of Asus Easy Upgrades a32-f3 | 7800mAh on Store only £ 50.58 A good external mouse should be highly accurate 133 Watt-Hour Universal Laptop Battery and comfortable enough for extended use. The | Brand New 133.00 Watt/Hours only £ Targus Wireless Comfort Laser Mouse delivers on both counts. It boasts a 1,200 DPI laser sensor, and 95.79 soft, flexible side grips. Its tiny USB receiver is small enough to keep in your USB port, or you can store My Touchpad Sucks it in the mouse itself. Shopping Advice In an effort to stand out, some notebook vendors emphasize aesthetics over usability. “There are ma- nufacturers that opt for a mirrored design that some users find issues with,” said Mark Vena, vice presi- dent of Synaptics’ PC business. “It may attract too much dirt, or create sort of a grimy experience.” In general, we recommend avoiding these touchpads. Also pay attention to touchpad location. Get a no- tebook whose touchpad is directly underneath the G, B, and H keys, even on systems with separate numeric keypads. Touchpad buttons are equally important, and we prefer two discrete buttons to a single bar, especially one that’s flush with the surface and directly beneath the touchpad. All of the above recommendations explain why it’s There’s nothing more frustrating than not being so important to try a notebook out before you buy, able to control the cursor the way you want to. It even if you wind up making the purchase online. may move too fast, but more often the cursor may And that goes double for netbooks, because they’re feel like it can’t keep up with your finger. smaller by definition. “With a netbook, kicking the tires is especially important,” said Toshiba’s Casper. Quick Fixes “Get a feel for the touchpad, and get a feel for the keyboard in a retail store, if you can.” In Windows, Open Mouse Properties under the Control Panel, and click Pointer options. Here, you’ll Lastly, anyone purchasing a Windows 7 notebook find a slider control for adjusting the pointer speed should consider making a multitouch-enabled tou- (from Slow to Fast). Try sliding closer to Fast, and chpad a check-off item. Synaptics is working to map click Apply. all the touchscreen features of the new OS to the touchpad. “You’re going to see a lot more application support that takes advantage of pinch, rotate, and other features,” predicted Vena. Love this PDF? Add it to your Reading List! 4 Page 4
  5. 5. December 5, 2011 Hate Issues for Laptops , How to Fix Them Notebook Runs Too Hot Easy Upgrades If you’re willing to spend a little money to make your notebook run cooler, you could spring for an accessory such as the Logitech Portable Lapdesk N315 , which is designed to protect your lap from notebook heat, and comes with a retractable mouse pad. It uses USB power to activate its adjustable fans, and raises the notebook slightly for improved ergonomic comfort. Shopping Advice You obviously can’t tell by looking at a laptop whether it will run hot, so if you’re in the store we suggest surfing over to Hulu or YouTube and Even though the latest processors are designed to streaming a video for a few minutes. Put your hands run cooler than their predecessors, there are plenty on the deck, the touchpad, and the keyboard itself. of notebooks that can get hot to the touch. Most of- Then feel the bottom of the notebook, especially near ten you’ll feel the excessive heat on the underside the battery. We use a temperature gun on our tests, of a system. but you should be able to tell easily if that machine will be cool enough for you. Quick Fixes When it comes to technology, notebooks that are The environment in which you use your laptop powered by Intel’s ultra-low voltage processors tend can play a major role in the external temperature. to use less power on average, but equally impor- “The most important thing is air flow,” said Ray tant is how these systems are designed to dissipate Sawall, Acer America’s senior product manager. “So heat. For example, Acer’s Timeline Series uses In- if the user has the notebook on a blanket or pillow, tel’s Laminar Wall Jet technology—inspired by jet lift it up.” Simply adding feet on the bottom of the engines—to move heat away from the laptop’s skin. notebook can make a difference; sometimes even furniture bumpers will work. Related Articles: Another free option you can try is Notebook Hard- ware Control 2.0, an easy-to-use utility that lets you monitor your system’s processor temperature in real time. If your laptop is running hot, you can reduce the system temperature and reduce power Did you enjoy this post? Why not leave a comment consumption by selecting theMax Battery Power below and continue the conversation, or subscribe profile. to my feed and get articles like this delivered auto- matically to your feed reader. Love this PDF? Add it to your Reading List! 4 Page 5