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Top 10 most must-have iPad accessories

Top 10 most recommended accessories for your iPad

Just get a new iPad and curious which are the best, most must-have accessories you need get first? Want to protect that beautiful glass display, keep that aluminum back scratch-free, or just keep your battery charged on the go? Well read on for the top 10 most recommended, most must-have iPad accessories to get your started.

Skin cases: Bodyguardz protective skin

Best iPad accessories: Bodyguardz protective skinYou can’t get much lighter than an ultra-strong, ultra-durable protective skin like Bodyguardz for your iPad. If you like the look of your iPad, don’t want the bulk of a regular case, but do want to protect it from scratches and abrasions, then this is the way to go.

Also check out:

  • Case-Mate Gelli Kaleidoscope Case for iPad for protection from minor impact and a lot of color and style.
  • Incipio SILICRYLIC Case for iPad adds shock absorbing, two piece, two color design to the mix.

Flip cases: Marware Eco-Vue

Best iPad cases: Marware Eco-VueThe Marware Eco-Vue is the executive iPad case with all the trimmings. It’s the Cadillac option. Eco-friendly leather exterior meets plush suede interior meets hand-strap and keyboard stand. This is the iPad case for those who mean business or want to look like they do.

  • DODOCase for iPad brings old world style and craftsmanship to your high tech iPad. [$59.95 – DODOCase store link]
  • Griffen Elan Passport Case for iPad adds slots for credit cards, business cards, and a place for your papers. [$47.95 – TiPb store link]

Protective cases: Otterbox Defender

Best iPad accessories: Otterbox DefenderThe Otterbox Defender case is multilayer armor for your iPad. A hard inner shell with clear plastic protection for the screen and Apple Logo is covered by a soft rubber outer shell that covers all the buttons and ports and keeps your iPad safe from impact, abrasion, and incidental weather. It even has a kickstand you can fold up and use as a faceplate for extra protection. It’s pretty only in the bulldog sense of the word but if you need to keep your iPad safe, it’s also your go-to case.

Also check out:

  • Aquapack Waterproof Case for total bath, pool, and beach protection for your iPad.
  • Otterbox Commuter Case gives a good level of protection with less bulk.

Charging cables: SPE Retractable Sync and Charge Cable

Best iPad accessories: SPE Retractable Sync and Charge CableThe SPE Retractable Sync and Charge Cable is just like the standard iPad cable — USB 2.0 on one end, 30-pin dock connector on the other — but can go from 24-inches fully extended down to just 4.5-inches to easily fit in your jacket, bag, purse, or pocket. You can plug it into your WIndows or Mac PC, or into an AC adapter to charge your iPad without worrying about excess cable getting in your way. That makes it especially useful for road warriors, students, and frequent travelers.

Also check out:

  • Apple USB AC Adapter with Sync Cable so you can plug into a wall as well into a PC.
  • Griffin PowerJolt Plus not only lets you plug into your car, but passes through power to a second car adapter.

Stands: Griffin A-Frame for iPad

Top iPad accessories: Griffin A-Frame for iPadThe Griffin A-Frame has high quality, aluminum construction that not only matches your iPad’s good looks but makes it more convenient as well. You can either set it up easel-style to watch movies, look at photos, or follow recipes, or lay it back so it props up your iPad at a more comfortable keyboard angle.

Also check out:

  • Element Case Joule Stand for high end, high polish iPad viewing in landscape or portrait.
  • Twelve South Compass Stand is a versatile, collapsable, low cost option for iPad.

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Keyboards: Freedom i-Connex Mini

Best iPad accessories: Freedom i-Connex MiniThe iPad has a good virtual, multitouch keyboard but if you want to pound out pages of prose, slave away on spreadsheets, or just get a lot of document work done, you’re going to need some hardware keys. The Freedom i-Connex Mini connects via Bluetooth and gives you that tactile feedback while staying ultra small and ultra portable on the road, in the air, or at the coffee shop.

Also check out:

  • Apple Bluetooth Keyboard is the same keyboard Apple supplies for Macs and MacBooks for those who value consistency.
  • Apple iPad Keyboard Dock is for those who want a wired connection and specialty iPad keys on their board. [$69.00 – Apple store link]

Battery Chargers: Ventev PowerCELL

Best iPad accessories: Ventev PowerCELLSince iPad doesn’t have a removable battery crafty accessory makers have made all sorts of different external battery packs for it, including Ventev PowerCELL. Rather than a case or dongle, the Ventev is a power pack with ports for not only iiPad’s dock cable but also mini and micro USB so you can charge Bluetooth headsets and even other devices. This makes it the perfect universal power solution for travelers.

  • mophie juicepack powerstation is an external battery pack that can charge iPad or just about anything.
  • Hypermac offers a wide range of colors, sizes, and price points.

Headsets: v-moda vibe duo In-Ear Stereo Headset

Best iPad accessories: v-moda vibe duo In-Ear Stereo HeadsetThe v-moda vibe duo cram a huge audio punch into a tiny in-ear package. With amazing clarity, great noise-reduction, and a ton of drive they’re a great compromise for getting high-end quality at lower-end prices. They’ve also got a microphone so you can not only rock, but use them for VoIP calls, recording, and more.

Also check out:

  • Apple In-Ear Headpohones with Remote and Mic are also great quality at a good price and perfect for Apple purists.
  • maximo iMetal Isolation Stereo Headset are for those who don’t want to spend a ton of cash on their headsets but still want a ton of music for their money.

Stereo Bluetooth headset: Motorola MOTOROKR S9-HD

Best iPad accessories: Motorola MOTOROKR S9-HDMotorola’s MOTOROKR S9-HD makes a great product better with better audio quality and full 3D immersion. If you like the behind-the-head style of headset, you won’t find better — or more booming! — than the S9-HD.

Also check out:

  • Motorola MOTOROCKR S305 are a great, lower cost alternative that still sound terrific for the price.
  • Jawbone JAMBOX aren’t a headset but they are a fantastic sounding speakerphone that pounds out music like nobody’s business.

Amazing extras: Pogo Sketch Stylus

best iPad accessories: Pogo Sketch stylusSteve Jobs might not think much of the stylus but for artists or just cold climates they can let you do everything from painting fantastic works of art to staying iPad-functional with your arctic mittens on. Pogo Sketch comes in pink or silver, is light weight, and has a handy clip to keep it from getting lost.

Also check out:

  • Apple iPad Camera Kit lets you plug in an SD card from your digital camera, or your digital camera itself via USB and download your pics to your iPad.
  • HP e-All-in-One Printer is cheap and AirPrint compatible so you can take your digital iPad docs and photos and put them in ink and paper.

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Sony new Vaio SA and SB-series with docking stations and battery slices


How To Choose A Replacement Laptop Battery

laptop battery serviceWe at Smart Parts have been receiving a number of questions from our customers asking to explain how to choose, use and equip new laptop batteries. Thusly, we have decided to start the series of articles dedicated to battery buying and conditioning in order to help our clients gain maximum knowledge about this topic.

To begin with, it is important to understand that a notebook battery probably makes the most essential component of a laptop. As a matter of fact, the battery is the only thing that distinguishes a laptop from a desktop, as the latter needs to be connected to a power source constantly, while the very term “laptop” was coined to represent a portable computer, the one that could be operated by putting it on one’s lap. Many laptop owners pride themselves on the number of hours their HP elitebook 8530w battery gives per charge!

Laptops come in a wide variety, and so do their batteries. These batteries are manufactured keeping the laptop model in mind. Therefore while looking for a new battery on our website you can click Batteries on the left-hand menu and then select the battery by picking your laptop’s brand, name, series and model. The Popular Models section suggests a few top picks as with the Dell Inspiron 1545 battery. is the Australia’s quality distributor & wholesaler of Toshiba laptop battery, Dell laptop battery, HP laptop battery, Olympus camera battery, Canon camcorder battery, Makita power tools battery, Dewalt power tools battery, Canon battery charger. All our batteries, laptop adapters are Australia Stock, Manufacturer Warranty, 100% secure shopping Guarantee and 100% brand new with 1 year warranty!
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The alternative way of searching is to look for the part number written on the back of your old battery and type it in the search box in the top-right corner of the page. Or you can enter the model of your laptop.

After you have bought your brand-new battery, it is very important to learn a few tips by which you may extend the battery life, and continue to use your laptop happily for a little bit longer, before having to buy a new one.

See Also

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How to Use and Maintenance of Your Laptop Batteries

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New Battery Technology Promises 10X Charge Life of lithium-ion Batteries

Researchers at Northwestern University have developed a lithium-ion electrode that they say will allow conventional Li-ion batteries to hold a charge 10 times greater than current battery technology.

If true, that would theoretically allow electronic devices that use the technology about ten times the battery life that they use today, a key advantage for gadgets like power-hungry smartphones.

“We have found a way to extend a new lithium-ion HP 484784-001 battery‘s charge life by 10 times,” said Harold H. Kung, lead author of the paper, in a statement released by the university. “Even after 150 charges, which would be one year or more of operation, the hp probook 4510s battery is still five times more effective than lithium-ion batteries on the market today.”

Normally, lithium-ion batteries are charged by electrons moving from the electrolyte into the anode. Current batteries use anodes made of graphene, which allow one lithium atom per six carbon atoms. Silicon, which allows four lithium atoms per one silicon atom, has been been considered a superior medium for building batteries, but silicon tends to contract and expand significantly during charging, which can cause the lithium-ion hp  484784-001 laptop battery to suffer fragmentation.

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Kung’s team sandwiched clusters of silicon between the graphene sheets, which Kung’s team claimed would eliminate or marginalize the fragmentation. They also “drilled” 10- to 20-nm holes in the sheets to speed up the recharging process, by as much as ten times.

According to the university, the next step will be to look at improvements to the cathode and electrolyte. Kung’s team hopes to develop an electrolyte that can be shut off under high temperatures to prevent fires or explosion, then later reversed.

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Top 5 Common Problems with Laptop Batteries

laptop battery service for batteries-company.comThe laptop battery is an integral part of a notebook computer, as it provides the portable power needed to use your laptop on the go. Unfortunately, laptop batteries can experience a number of issues, and even in the best case, a laptop battery only has a limited life before it will need to be replaced. Let’s take a look at the 5 most common laptop battery problems.

1. Age or loss of capacity

Laptop batteries have a capacity, usually measured in milliampere-hours or mAh. Over time, the batteries capacity will shrink, as it loses the ability to fully charge all of its cells. Laptop computer batteries that have lost a significant amount of capacity will need to be replaced.

2. Heat or swelling of the battery

If a notebook battery becomes too hot, it can begin to swell and expand. This can be caused by poor ventilation or an overheating computer. It is important to replace a swollen Dell Vostro 1520 Laptop Battery, as it can be very dangerous, and can cause damage to the laptop or injury to the user.

3. Discharge

If a notebook battery sits unused for a long period of time, it can be difficult to recharge it. This affects older batteries more than modern batteries. If the laptop battery cannot be recharged, it will need to be replaced.

4. Memory Effect

Older laptop batteries sometimes experienced what is known as “memory effect”. Notebook Batteries that were not discharged often would sometimes become unable to use some of the cells, reducing capacity significantly. If you have an older HP Elitebook 8530w Battery, especially a Ni-Cad laptop battery, be sure to discharge it completely at least once a month, to avoid the memory effect.

5. Manufacturing defects

Many manufacturers have had to recall laptop batteries in recent years due to manufacturing defects that caused them to malfunction. Sony, Toshiba, Dell, and Apple were all affected. If you believe your notebook battery has malfunctioned, or is prematurely losing capacity, contact the manufacturer to see if a recall has been issued for your model.

What to Know Before Buying a Spare Laptop Battery Pack:

There are many laptop batteries manufacturers, and even more retailers to buy your laptop battery from. However, your biggest concern in purchasing a laptop battery will be to choose the battery that fits your computer. For this you will need to know the make and model number of your laptop; if you don’t know this offhand or don’t have the necessary paperwork, check the inside of your laptop’s battery compartment while the computer is off and unplugged. There you should find the model number, along with some other information. You may also find the part number of your laptop battery, located on the casing of the battery itself. .

How to Choose a Replacement Laptop Battery:

When buying a laptop battery pack, you will probably only have one or two choices that fit your computer. Choose the Acer as07b31 battery with the longest life available for your computer. There are several different kinds of laptop batteries; because the technologies of each are very different, a laptop must be designed specifically for the type of battery it uses. Most laptops are only designed to use one type of battery technology.

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Twicca – A Fantastic Twitter Client For Android

Twitter is an ideal mobile platform; constantly-changing bite-sized updates fit beautifully into the hectic modern lifestyle, and it’s no coincidence the maximum length for a tweet is 140 characters: it’s based on the maximum length of an SMS, minus 20 characters for the username, as the LA Times tells us. But when you’re on the go and you just want to post a quick update or check what’s going on, you really don’t need a client that gets in your way.

Making a good mobile client is a fine balancing act. You need to provide your users with the functionality that they need, but you can’t risk being too confusing. There’s no manual, and even if there was one, nobody would take the time to read it. The app also needs to be very snappy and responsive. The Twicca Android Twitter client rises to the challenge.

android twitter client

This is Twicca’s homescreen. It shows my own Twitter stream; note the ancient date for the topmost tweet — that’s a feature, not a bug: My Twicca installation is set to update manually. This conserves battery; whenever I want to get a quick fix of Twitter I can just hit the “refresh” button (bottom-right), and get a fresh bunch of tweets down the line. Also, note the work done on the buttons – just four transparent buttons, each with a very descriptive icon. The buttons are very easy to hit: you don’t have to press the icon itself. Twicca also has a light theme you can use if all of that darkness is bringing you down.

android twitter client review

Next, let’s see what it looks like when you tweet:

android twitter client review

The tweet screen has five buttons along the bottom. The left-most one (hash-tag button) is the only button I found confusing in the app. It was disabled for me, and I simply could not get it to work. I have no idea what my mistake was, but I’m sure you will enlighten me in the comments. Other than that button, there’s an “attach media” button that pops up the menu you see in the screenshot. There’s also a geolocation button that gets you into a map and lets you select your location (so you can shift it a bit if you want to). Last but not least, there’s a “shorten URL” button.

Now let’s go back to the homescreen and see what happens when you long-press a tweet:

android twitter client review

As you can see, long-pressing a tweet selects it, and you can select multiple tweets. A short tap on the screen brings up this context menu:

best twitter app for android

Set color label” is an interesting option. It lets you assign an arbitrary color to a person’s tweets. This color is then used for their username, any links they tweet out, and as a vertical bar next to their tweet. This lets you zoom in on tweets from specific people very quickly.

When you short-tap just a single tweet, you get a much more extensive menu:

best twitter app for android

The “Share this tweet” button is interesting: It pops up Android’s default “Share” action, so you could do something like “share” someone’s tweet as an SMS to one of your contacts. Weird, yet interesting. “Retweet” instantly retweets the message to all of your followers, while “Quote selected tweet” lets you add a bit of your own text and retweet a message.

best twitter app for android

Twicca also lets you create lists right from within the app.

As you might have guessed, the Twicca Android Twitter client has a daunting amount of settings. This list doesn’t even show all setting categories, and each category has oodles of options. Users are lucky the default values are quite sane, but it you’re an obsessive tweaker who likes to customize every application, you’re going to love Twicca.

android twitter client

The one feature I’m missing is being able to use multiple accounts; I constantly monitor/update four different Twitter accounts, and not being able use Twicca for this is a bit of a downer. Other than that, I just love Twicca.

What do you think? Does this look like a compelling client, or do you know of a better alternative? Let your voice be heard!

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Precautions that can help you get the most out of your laptop battery

Power Laptop Batteries Care Guide

Lithium-ion batteries (Li-ion) have several advantages over other types of chemistries, namely they don’t exhibit a memory effect, there is no need for preventive maintenance and it can keep it’s charge while not in use for a much longer time. It’s main disadvantage is aging. All Li-ion Asus A32-F3 Laptop Batteries  age with time and use, so that their is a noticeable drop in capacity after it’s first year of use and batteries typically fail before their third year of use. Similarly, a Dell Inspiron 1520 Laptop Battery will typically be only useful for at least 200 cycles.

The following precautions can help you get the most out of your laptop battery:

  • Avoid Extreme HeatLithium-ion batteries deteriorate at a faster pace when exposed to high temperatures, especially when fully charged. Avoid leaving your battery in very hot places, like a parked car, for prolonged periods.
  • Avoid Long-Term StorageLithium-ion batteries are meant to be used. Because of their internal chemistry, all Lithium-ion batteries have a protection circuit that doesn’t allow the voltage to drop below a certain level. If stored for too long (typically more than 6 months without charge) the protections circuit will not allow further charge on the Acer as07b72 battery, rendering it useless. It is recommended to charge your battery every 3 months if not actively in use. For safety, avoid leaving the battery on a charger connected to the AC outlet.
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  • Recharge as NeededLithium-ion batteries don’t need to be fully discharged to prolong their battery life, in fact, frequent recharges are better for the battery than deep discharge-charge cycles.

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Top 10 Web Apps We Love – Collect by

Top 10 Web apps we love — and why

We often get asked, what apps does your team use? To answer the question, we decided to put together this blog post laying out the Top 10 Web Apps We Love.

Take a look at our list and please let us know your own favorite apps in the comments.


Google Analytics: Still top of the analytics heap

1Google Analytics is an excellent free web analytics tool. Even if you have another analytics application, we think it’s worthwhile to add Google Analytics to your site — it’s that good. We use Google Analytics to report on the performance of the SEOmoz website and our online marketing campaigns. Our only requests? Real-time reporting, a referral report with complete URLs and the option to pay for a service level agreement.

Also recommended:
Yahoo! Web Analytics
Adobe SiteCatalyst

KISSmetrics: Good funnel reporting

2Does your website require users to go through multiple steps? If so, you need good funnel reporting; we like KISSmetrics. Simple to setup and configure, but with plenty of options for segmentation and customization, we use KISSmetrics to monitor and report on the key user experiences of our site. It even provides details on the conversion funnel performance of each of our organic keywords– a big plus for SEOs.

Also recommended:
Adobe Discover
• Google Analytics (limited funnel capability)

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Google Website Optimizer: Conversion rate optimization

3These days, Conversion Rate Optimization seems to be more popular than Harry Potter. Google Website Optimizer is a free way to do simple conversion rate optimization testing on your website. You can test varied landing pages using an A/B test or determine the ideal combination of elements using a multivariate test. Google’s tool is free, and capable enough to get you well on your way with CRO.

Also recommended:
Visual Website Optimizer
Adobe Test&Target


MailChimp: Email campaign manager

4MailChimp, oh how we love thee. MailChimp is one of the most intuitive and simple email marketing packages around. And yet, it remains incredibly powerful with detailed analytics, great social media integration and an adorable chimp, Freddie. MailChimp offers both free and affordable plans that work well for low-volume and high-volume email campaigns. Stay awesome, MailChimp.

Also recommended:

HasOffers: Affiliate program management

5SEOmoz relaunched our affiliate program a few months ago and we chose HasOffers as our new platform. Our marketing team has collectively used several other platforms in the past and none are as capable and intuitive as HasOffers. Based in the cloud, HasOffers has plenty of capabilities and is designed to enable you to self-manage your own affiliate program or even your own affiliate network.


Wistia: Video hosting

6Wistia is video hosting on steroids. Not only does this video hosting platform support HTML5, which makes your videos viewable on a slew of non-Flash enabled devices, but the platform is inherently designed for SEO. Try searching Google for “Top 10 Web Apps We Love” and you’ll likely see the above Wistia-hosted video that’s included with this blog post. Their tracking and analytics are also the best we’ve seen in video hosting. See a sample report here.

Also recommended:
Delve Networks
Vimeo (not recommended for commercial videos)

Google Webmaster Tools: SEO insight

7Google Webmaster Tools is SEO insight straight from the horse’s mouth and a must-have for any website. Get information on how Googlebot sees your site, view (some) links to your site and edit preferences for how your listing appears in the Google search results. While not as comprehensive as we’d like, it’s still a welcome set of capabilities.

Also recommended:
Yahoo Site Explorer
Bing Webmaster Tools


SEOmoz PRO: SEO Campaign Management

8We may well deserve criticism for adding our own app to this list, but we really are proud parents. The SEOmoz website is large enough that the crawl diagnostics help us find issues we haven’t fixed, the rankings report manages our large list of keywords, and Open Site Explorer provides invaluable data on backlinks. These features just scratch the surface of what you get with SEOmoz PRO. It’s a toolset our marketing team uses every day.

CoTweet: Twitter account management

9CoTweet provides an excellent interface for managing your Twitter account, especially if you need multiple people to manage it. CoTweet makes it easy to access multiple Twitter accounts and keep an eye on your mentions. Even better, CoTweet integrates with our #10 App, Pro.

Also recommended:


Bitly Pro: URL sharing and analytics

10While most people only use a URL-shortening service for tweets, we like to use URLs wherever possible. Pro permits you to use a custom domain (we use and provides useful analytics for each URL you create. SEOmoz uses the data from Pro to determine which tweets generate the most clicks. Pro tip: add a + to the end of any URL to see a detailed report, like so:

That’s not all: Other apps we love

Below are more of the apps we use and love.  While they all can’t be in our Top 10, they’re definitely worth mentioning:

What are your favorite apps? Are we missing a must-have app for your site?  Please let us know in the comments! We’d love to know what you’re using to make your work easier, more productive and fun.

See also:

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How to Make Your Android Phone Look Like Windows Phone 7

Android wp7 150x150Inspired by today’s news about Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7‘s latest release, “Mango,” but can’t let go of your beloved Android device? Now you can at least simulate the experience of using Windows Phone thanks to a new Android app, over half a year in development, which brings a Windows Phone-like launcher to Android users.

The new app called WP7 Launcher Lite began as a project featured in – where else? – the XDA Developer forums. Created by forum member TheRedDrake, the goal was to produce something that would provide “the freedom of Android and the grace and elegance of Windows Phone 7.” Now a Lite (free) version of that application is available on the Android Market for you to try. And there are other plenty of other apps that bring you a similar experience, too. We’ve listed a few of these below.

Now Available: WP7 Launcher


The free version of WP7 Launcher, which was just released to the Android Market, allows you to get a taste of the Windows Phone user interface, so you can decide if you want to dive in and pay for the full experience. It also lets you to test the app in advance to make sure it works on your particular Android handset.

This Lite edition has several limitations, including a maximum of 6 Tiles which can be pinned to the homescreen, no ability to change Tile themes or customize fonts, only one “Live Folder” limited to just 3 Tiles,  no integration between the Launcher and the Contacts app (a separate app from the developer called “WP7 Contacts”) and more.

The full version is just 3 Euros ($4.23 US) and is available only from the developer’s website. To get it, you’ll have to adjust the setting on your smartphone that allows you to install off-Market applications if you want to purchase the paid version.

Early reviews of the app on the Market aren’t as favorable as those on the XDA forums site, it should be noted. That’s probably because this app is still in development, and may be buggy. As always, when it comes to Android apps, your mileage may vary, depending on your device. This isn’t a blanket recommendation for the app and we won’t be held accountable if it just crashes and burns on you. (It didn’t for us, though.)

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A Great Alternative: Launcher7

However, there’s an alternative to this new app, if you do run into trouble: Launcher7, which some claim is better. The app is available in both free and donate versions. The free version is ad-supported, but it lets you modify your Start screen by dragging the tiles around.

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It is also a work in progress, with several more features still planned, including Facebook integration and more animated tiles, among other things.


A Windows Phone-Style Music Player

While you’re at it, there’s yet another app that can help you complete your Android to Windows Phone transformation: a Windows Phone 7 style music app, available in alpha, from Federico Carnales, the creator of the popular Android app, Launcher Pro. He tweeted the download link just the other day for those brave enough to try it. tested it for you, and recorded video of that here.

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Lenovo ThinkPad T520 Review and Battery Life Test

In the business notebook category, Lenovo continues to be the company to beat, and it looks to continue its dominance with the ThinkPad T520. Thanks to a Core i5 processor and Nvidia graphics, this 15-inch $1,299 system can handle just about any task. A sturdy chassis, excellent keyboard, and built-in fingerprint reader further sweeten the pot, but is it enough to keep the T520 at the top of the business heap?


Lenovo ThinkPad T520Click to EnlargeAs with other ThinkPads, the T520 is as buttoned-down as they come. Its black matte rubberized lid is highly resistant to fingerprints and smudges, and is only accented by a chrome Lenovo emblem and a ThinkPad logo. Following the ThinkPad aesthetic, the deck features the traditional all-black interior with the keyboard nestled between two speakers. The telltale blue Enter key and the bright red TrackPoint located between the G and H keys are also on board. A raised panel above the function keys houses buttons for mute, volume, microphone mute, the ThinkVantage toolbox and Power.

A black latch along the right front lip of the notebook releases the lid, which is held up by two rock-solid metal hinges. An internal magnesium alloy frame, backed up by strong ABS plastic on the outside, means this notebook should stand up to a fair amount of abuse and resist flexing. The extended battery felt slightly loose, though.

Lenovo ThinkPad T520 Back ViewClick to EnlargeEven though 15-inch systems aren’t meant to be carried around extensively, the 6.2-pound, 14.7-by-9.7-by-1.3-1.4-inch T520 is on the chunky side compared to other machines we’ve recently reviewed with this size display. For example, the HP Envy 15 weighs 5.8 pounds and measures 14.9-by-9.6-by-1.1 inches, while the 5-pound Samsung Series 7 Chronos has a 0.9-inch profile.

Keyboard and Touchpad

Lenovo ThinkPad T520 KeyboardClick to EnlargeThe T520’s classic, spill-resistant keyboard has large keys with firm, springy feedback. Similar to other ThinkPads, the T520’s keyboard features oversized ESC and Delete keys. We scored 55 words per minute with a 1 percent error rate on the Ten Thumbs Typing Test, higher than our usual 50 wpm/1 percent error rate.

Lenovo’s comfortable, textured TrackPoint pointing stick continues to be the gold standard, delivering accurate navigation. There’s also a 2.8-by-1.6-inch touchpad for users accustomed to using the pointing stick. Rubbing our fingers against the textured surface felt good. However, the limited surface area made activating some multitouch gestures such as pinch-to-zoom tricky.

Lenovo ThinkPad T520 TouchpadClick to EnlargeBoth sets of discrete mouse buttons offered strong feedback, as did the center trackpoint scroll button.

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After streaming a full-screen video on Hulu on 15 minutes, the touchpad, space between the G and H keys and the notebook’s underside measured 82, 85 and 88 degrees Fahrenheit respectively. The middle of the notebook’s bottom measured 98 degrees, which is 3 degrees above what we consider to be comfortable, but then this is not a machine that will see a lot of time on your lap.

Ports and Webcam

Lenovo ThinkPad T520 PortsClick to EnlargeAn ExpressCard/34 reader, a 4-in-1 card reader, a combination headphone/microphone, Gigabit Ethernet, and a tray-loading DVD burner sit on the right side of the T520. Two USB 2.0 ports, a USB/eSATA port, DisplayPort, VGA, Firewire 400 and a wireless switch sit along the left side. A single USB 2.0 port can be found on the notebook’s rear right corner. At this point, we wish the notebook came with USB 3.0, too.

The 720p camera delivered sharp clear images, even in low light settings. During our Skype call, our caller reported a clear image with distinct detail. However, the color appeared to be slightly washed out. Audio came through loud and clear. We experienced some problems with lag on our end, but for the most part, saw a clear image with vivid color and loud audio.

Display and Audio

Lenovo ThinkPad T520 DisplayClick to EnlargeThe T520’s matte 15.6-inch display provided sharp and vivid images thanks to its 1600 x 900p resolution. While watching the 1080p YouTube trailer of “The Hunger Games,” we marveled at how the display rendered Katniss’ brilliant red dress as well as her piercing blue eyes. However, at 155 lux, the T520 isn’t quite as bright as the Series 7 Chronos (167 lux).

Despite the two wide speaker grilles on either side of the keyboard, the T520 doesn’t offer the greatest sound. At full volume, the notebook barely filled a small room, even after tweaking settings in the Smart Audio control panel. Still, Robin Thicke’s soulful tenor were nicely balanced on “Love After War” as were the strings, piano, and crisp snare drums.


The Lenovo ThinkPad T520 comes equipped with a 2.6-GHz Intel Core i5-2540M processor, 4GB of RAM, 500GB 7,200-rpm hard drive and switchable graphics (Intel HD Graphics 3000, Nvidia NVS 4200M GPU with 1GB of VRAM). The machine took just about everything we threw at it, including playing video, performing productivity tasks and some light gaming.

On the PCMark07 benchmark, which measures overall performance, the T520 scored 2,177, slightly less than the 2,278 mainstream category average. The HP Envy 15 and its 2.4-GHz Intel Core i5-2450M and 6GB of RAM notched 2,385 while the Samsung Series 7 Chronos’ 2.2-GHz Intel Core i7-2675QM CPU and 8GB of RAM delivered 2,447.

The T520’s 500GB 7,200-rpm hard drive booted the 64-bit version of Windows 7 Professional in 49 seconds. That’s 10 seconds faster than the 0:59 category average. During the LAPTOP File Transfer Test, the ThinkPad T520 duplicated 4.97GB of mixed media files in 3 minutes and 1 second, a transfer rate of 28.1MBps. That’s slightly slower than the 31 MBps mainstream average.

On the OpenOffice Spreadsheet test, the T520 took 4 minutes and 54 seconds to match 20,000 names to their corresponding addresses, 1:32 seconds ahead of the 6:26 average. The Series 7 Chronos was a close second with 4:56 while the Envy 15 lagged with a time of 6:31.

Graphics Performance

The Lenovo ThinkPad T520 comes equipped with Nvidia’s Optimus technology, allowing it to automatically switch between its integrated Intel HD Graphics 3000 and its discrete Nvidia NVS 4200M GPU with 1GB of VRAM for optimal performance and battery life.

On 3DMark06, which measures graphics performance, the T520 scored 5,627. That’s 678 points above the 4,949 mainstream category average. During the “World of Warcraft” benchmark, the T520 delivered a frame rate of 38 fps on autodetect at 1600 x 900. While that fails to match the 58 fps mainstream category average, most notebooks in this category sport lower resolutions. When we cranked the settings to maximum, the T520’s frame rate dropped slightly to a still-playable 33 fps. That’s enough to defeat the category average and the Envy 15 (28 fps).

Battery Life

Lenovo ThinkPad T520 BatteryClick to EnlargeLenovo sent us a big 9-cell battery with the ThinkPad T520, and it didn’t disappoint. During the LAPTOP Battery Test (continuous Web surfing over Wi-Fi) the business laptop lasted a whopping 9 hours and 4 minutes. That’s 4 hours and 8 minutes longer than the 4:56 mainstream category average. If you’re constantly dashing from one meeting to the next, you’ll appreciate the 9-cell battery’s endurance; if you do most of your work at your desk, the smaller 6-cell battery will probably suffice.

Security and Software

Lenovo ThinkPad T520 Fingerprint ReaderClick to EnlargeLenovo keeps things pretty light on the software front, choosing to outfit the T520 with not much more than the standard ThinkVantage utilities. We found the powered fingerprint reader to be the most helpful utility. In addition to adding a layer of security, we also could use it to turn on the T520 by simply swiping our finger.

We especially liked the Power Manager, which gave us the ability to schedule when the notebook went to sleep and check remaining battery power. Our favorite feature is Instant Resume, which keeps the Wi-Fi active for up to 99 minutes after the notebook is in sleep, eliminating the need to wait to reconnect.

Also included is Rescue and Recovery to make backups of important system information, Password Manager and Access Connections to manage wireless connections.

Third-party applications include Skype, Adobe Reader 9, Microsoft Office Starter, Windows Live, a 30-day free trial of Norton Internet Security 2011 and a basic version of Business-in-a-Box, a business document template software.


Our $1,299 review unit of the T520 came equipped with a 2.6-GHz Intel Core i5-2540M CPU with 4GB of RAM, 500GB 7,200-rpm hard drive, switchable graphics (Intel HD Graphics 3000, Nvidia NVS 4200M GPU with 1GB of VRAM) and a 15.6-inch 1600 x 900 display. The $899 base model features a 2.3-GHz Intel Core i3-2350M processor, 4GB of RAM, a 320GB 5,400-rpm hard drive, an Intel HD Graphics 3000 GPU and a 15.6-inch 1366 x 768 display.

The $1,319 top-of-the-line model includes an Intel Core i5-2520M CPU with 4GB of RAM, a 160GB SSD, switchable graphics (Intel HD Graphics 3000, Nvidia NVS 4200M GPU with 1GB of VRAM) and a 15.6-inch 1600 x 900 display. For an additional $200, shoppers can upgrade to a 1920 x 1080 display.


Lenovo T520 VerdictClick to EnlargeWhile it’s a bit thick and heavy for a 15-inch laptop, the $1,299 Lenovo ThinkPad T520 offers business users everything they need: good performance, durability, and security. Of course, you also get Lenovo’s trademark fantastic keyboard and accurate pointing stick. Add in wide viewing angles for the matte screen and extra-long battery life and you have a sound investment.

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How to revive a dying laptop battery

Laptop battery wearing down? In this week’s episode of Upgrade Your Life, and shows us how to help batteries last longer … and what to do when they run out!

First, the basics

Most laptops use batteries that can last for 3-5 years, or about 1000 charges. (A premium laptop’s battery might last longer.) Every time you charge your battery, the total capacity of the battery is diminished. Originally it may have had a run time of 3.5 hours, but after a year it’ll run out of juice at 3 hours, even on a full charge.

If your battery capacity has diminished, there are a few things you can do about it. First, you have to correctly gauge how much capacity has been lost. There are free downloads to do this job, like Battery Bar (for Windows PCs) or Coconut Battery (for Macs). These will compare your battery’s current maximum capacity to how long it lasted when it was new.
(UPDATE- we originally recommended Battery Eater and while the program works great, their download site has been compromised and we are recommending an alternate program, Battery Bar downloadable from CNET.)

Calibrating your Laptop Battery

You can’t miraculously reconstitute your battery’s capacity. It loses power over time due to chemical reactions taking place in the battery, as it chugs along powering your laptop. You can’t undo those changes, but there is one common HP Pavilion DV2000 Battery issue you can fix: In many laptops, the operating system’s battery meter gets out of sync with how much juice the battery actually has.

Imagine if the gas gauge on your car dashboard was misreading how much gas you actually had in the tank. You’d either run out of gas when you thought you had a quarter of a tank left, or you’d be filling up too frequently. In your laptop, this can mean your laptop shuts down abruptly when the meter says you have 30 minutes left. Or else the meter might warn that you only have five minutes of battery life left and shut your laptop down, when it really has another 20 minutes remaining.

Recalibrating gets the battery meter to correctly read the current state of the battery, so you and the operating system know where you stand with existing laptop battery life.

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How to recalibrate

First, charge your laptop’s battery to full, and leave it that way for at least two hours. Then unplug your laptop, and set its power management settings to never turn off or lower the monitor brightness. (HP has instructions for how do to this on Windows 7 and Vista, as well as Windows XP, while Apple has instructions for Mac laptops on their site.)

You want to drain the battery completely, then let your laptop sit for at least five hours this way — like, say, overnight. (Just be careful and mute the volume, since some laptops make a warning sound when they’re about to run out.) Afterwards, charge it up again, and you should notice a more accurate portrayal of your Toshiba PA3356U-3BAS Battery capacity. In some cases, you may even get more life out of it.

Best practices to maintain battery life

You’d think that the best way to keep your laptop’s battery from wearing out is to not use it. Right?

As it turns out, notebook batteries are like muscles; they need to be worked out regularly to stay healthy. Ideally, you’d use your laptop unplugged at least once a day, like on a train or bus commute or on the couch in front of the TV. If you’re not going to use it, constantly charging your battery is a bad idea; HP recommends on their website that if you’re going to leave your laptop plugged in or put up in storage for more than two weeks, you should take the battery out of your laptop.

Past the expiration date

So when is it time to throw out that old battery? The answer, surprisingly, is “never.” Laptop batteries contain lots of toxic chemicals, and should never end up in landfills. Fortunately, has a list of environmentally responsible recyclers that will take your old battery with no fuss.

When is it time to replace your battery, then? Use the free utility apps Becky mentioned, and when they say that your battery can only hold around 25% of its original capacity it’s probably time for a new one. You can buy a replacement laptop battery from the original laptop manufacturer, and there are plenty of places online that sell discount laptop batteries, like aussiebattery and Owners of newer Mac laptops can get their laptop’s non-removable battery swapped out at any Apple store, with a scheduled appointment.

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