Friday, July 21, 2006

Pandora Internet Radio

Yahoo's has been a bit stale ever since Yahoo! unveiled its pay service called Yahoo! Music Unlimited, so I was naturally looking for something new. In my search, I came across a very interesting service created by the Music Genome Project. Started in 2000 and made up of tech-savvy musicians, the Project created Pandora Internet Radio, which helps you find and listen to music you like. The group's mission statement:
Together we set out to capture the essence of music at the most fundamental level. We ended up assembling literally hundreds of musical attributes or "genes" into a very large Music Genome. Taken together these genes capture the unique and magical musical identity of a song - everything from melody, harmony and rhythm, to instrumentation, orchestration, arrangement, lyrics, and of course the rich world of singing and vocal harmony. It's not about what a band looks like, or what genre they supposedly belong to, or about who buys their records - it's about what each individual song sounds like.

Over the past 6 years, we've carefully listened to the songs of over 10,000 different artists - ranging from popular to obscure - and analyzed the musical qualities of each song one attribute at a time. This work continues each and every day as we endeavor to include all the great new stuff coming out of studios, clubs and garages around the world.
Granted the whole "genome" thing is a bit hokey, the concept itself is still interesting. Although perhaps not technologically identical, it reminds me a little bit of the various audio "fingerprinting" projects started on
To use Pandora, all you have to do is enter in the name of an Artist or Song, and Pandora does the rest. I tried to enter in some songs with some very specific sounds, just to test it out. I tried: (1) Guided by Voices' song "Game of Pricks"; (2) Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Graveyard Train"; (3) Neil Youn's "Guitar Solo 5"; and (4) Hooverphonic's "2Wicky." The suggestions were dead on target and I've come across quite a few new artists and tracks that I would not have otherwise heard.
Pandora is not just a database that spits out suggestions, it's a full-fledged streaming internet radio with phenomenal sound quality. The sound is vastly superior to and other streaming sites, which usually stream at or near 64 or 96kbps. Pandora, on the other hand, streams at 128kbps. And the songs don't stream constantly; they download at full speed at the beginning of the song so that it doesn't skip out suddenly. This is what internet radio should be; it is an absolute pleasure to listen. And, best of all, there are no advertisements interrupting the music.
And by far the greatest advance over LAUNCH, when you "skip" a song, the music smoothly fades out and the next song begins almost immediately. Compare this to LAUNCH, which goes into convulsions every time you hit the next button, making that annoying IE "click" noise about fifty times before the next song loads (and you'll be lucky to get album art or any information displayed).
Pandora's interface is quite smooth. There is no separate download or program to install; the player is, like LAUNCH, embedded in a web browser. It works flawlessly on both of my computers running Maxthon (IE 6.0 based). I have not tried it with FireFox or Netscape, but feel free to comment and let me know if it does.
When you hit the "Minimize" button at the top of the player, the player dislodges itself from the main webpage. The player opens up in a smaller IE window -- a lot like LAUNCH. While this is a good feature, it seems bizarre that you need to hit the "Minimize" button to get this. The other problem is that if you unminimize the window--that is, restore the player back into the main webpage--the player completely restarts and you lose the song you were just playing. This was a shame as I was right in the middle of Creedence's "Keep on Choolgin" (amazing song, by the way).
Something missing from the interface is a time field, letting you know how much of the song you've listened to and how much is left. That's a small price to pay at this point, but it will be quite annoying if they don't take care of it soon.
Pandora lets you pause your music, adjust the volume, email a station to a friend, and skip to the next track. A limitation not readily apparent, however, is that Pandora does not let you "skip" more than 6 tracks per hour PER STATION, which is fine because you can just quickly enter in the name of a new song or artist and create a new station.
You don't need to register with the site in order to use Pandora, but registering allows you to save all your previous stations, which is quite convenient if you want to use Pandora at home or at work. Registering is painless.
Pandora apparently offers a version of its service that you must pay for, or else you have advertisements displayed. However, I have yet to really notice any obstructive advertisements. If you open up the normal webpage and are playing music through that, all you really see is a box ad that advertises Pandora itself. This is not a problem at all because I usually keep the jukebox open in the background anyway.
I urge you to give this site a try. Let me know what you think. For more information, visit

Monday, July 17, 2006

Deep Sea Fishing at Pilar Point Harbor

HP DV2000t 12 Cell Battery

As requested, I'm posting two pictures of the DV2000t's 12 cell battery and give you an impression of what it looks like. The first picture has the notebook completely upside down and shows the bottom of the notebook with the extended battery sticking up (adding thickness, not length).

The next picture is me holding the back of the notebook, so you can get an idea of how the battery is oriented.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

FolderShare Beta: A Windows Live Service

I. The Problem

I have been using a notebook and a desktop simultaneously since junior high school. There are a number of problems facing someone who uses more than one computer regularly--problems now compounded by the fact that I have a computer at work, too. The majority of the problems I've faced have to do with keeping files, settings, e-mails, IM logs, appointments, contacts, and favorites synchronized.

There have been plenty of ways to keep things synchronized. Various Windows operating systems have used "Briefcases," which is basically a file folder that you move from one computer to the next and update as you go. The problem with this solution is that you need to manually move that filing cabinet from computer to computer, and at the time Briefcase files were popular, you were basically limited to floppy disks or zip disks. This quickly proved too cumbersome.

Up until now, I have been using Advanced Directory Comparison and Synchronization, a synchronization program made by HeatSoft Corporation []. With this program, you could compare two directories on two different computers and the program did a great job of picking which files on which side to synchronize. The program has fantastic advanced features.

One of the major problems with ADCS, however, is that if there is an error, the file on the computer being overwritten completely disappears. This glitch, combined with and an inadvertent mistake upon my part, wiped out 8 years of e-mail archives. ADCS still has a lot of good uses, but the biggest limitation is that the two computers need to be on the same local area network, which means that if you're on the road or anywhere away from your house, you can't synchronize anything.

I have tried to use Microsoft's quietly introduced synchronization program called SyncToy 1.2 for Windows XP, which has a slick interface, but suffers the same limitations as ADCS. Obviously, SyncToy is free, which is better than ADCS, which costs around 30 bucks.

II. A Two Prong Solution

Solutions are always best introduced by explaining exactly what you want, and then working backwards to show how the solution fits (or does not fit) the ideal. Ideally, what I want is to have my e-mail, IM logs, contacts, appointments, documents, and settings to be synchronized in real-time upon any computer of my choosing via the internet or LAN. In trying to meet this goal, I have employed a two prong solution, which I am very happy with.

First, e-mail, contacts, and appointments need to be dealt with separately. I have begun using Microsoft's Outlook Live, which is a suped up MAPI e-mail account that synchronizes Outlook clients on as many computers as you want and also gives you decent webmail access to up to 2.0GB of information. I have used this service for about five months now, and I will be posting a review shortly.

Microsoft's new "Live" services are really catchy. Navigate to and take a look at the almost two dozen different services now offered by Microsoft. A number of them are quite innovative, including Microsoft Office Live Beta, Windows Live Mail Desktop Beta, Windows Live Mail Beta, and Windows Live Favorites. Now I will be the first to admit that Microsoft usually puts itself on the line by releasing uncooked programs, ones that have missing features or features that do not work properly. However, despite this drawback, I think it is great that I have access to these kinds of programs now, rather than later. Know why? It is because I now have a lead time, which gives me time to think over these new services and understand how they may fit into my daily life and possibly replace older technology. This is in steep contrast to the wait and see approach of Apple, which releases well crafted, well designed products -- three or four years late.

III. FolderShare Beta

Microsoft does a terrible job of introducing its products into the market. That's why I wasn't at all surprised to stumble across FolderShare Beta, available at FolderShare was acquired by Microsoft in November 2005 and it appears Microsoft has plans to integrate the program into its emerging, highly amorphous, and quite mysterious "Live" offerings.

FolderShare is completely free. Once installed on at least two computers, a small utility appears in your tasktray. When launched, you are brought in your browser to FolderShare's website, where you are asked to login. You can share folders from both of your computers, and the interface makes it quite simple to pick corresponding folders on your machines. Once chosen, the service does all of the work, automatically syncing any files that are changed.

According to the website, here's what else you can do:
Synchronize all your devices - Retrieve work files at home or
access photos at work. With your devices in sync, you no longer have to be
frustrated that your information is on another computer.

Share files, photos, and home videos with your peers - Select
the content you want to share, invite members, and they will be able to access
the shared files directly from their device.

Access your computer or device remotely - FolderShare mobile
access allows you to access your computer from any web browser.
You can share files up to 2GB in size, which is amazing. And because your computers are serving files to each other, you have unlimited file transfers with no limits on quantity of files transferred. You can also sync any file type in their original format.

So, not only are my files, IM logs, and everything else synchronized automatically, I now have instant remote access to the files on my computer, which despite the clunky interface for document retrieval, can come in handy in a pinch. For remote access, I still much prefer Symantec's pcAnywhere 11.0 -- though it is a lot more finicky in terms of connecting

IV. Unanswered Questions & Conclusion

It is still unclear to me how often an "automatic" synchronization takes place. I have not been able to find any documentation about this on the site yet. However, I am quite happy with the fact that if you lose your internet connection or turn off the service, FolderShare will pick up where it left off the next time you start it up. Thus, it is truly an automatic solution.

If you would like to download the service and register, please visit

Thursday, July 06, 2006

JetBlue: Evil Empire?

I've been flying JetBlue consistently for six years. With leather seats, DirecTV, cheap tickets, and online check ins, JetBlue had fashioned itself as the cool new kid on the block with a slick image in comparison to established fat cats. But these days it seems like JetBlue has put on a few pounds.
I've been flying mostly to NYC, Boston, Oakland, and San Jose. I've noticed that JetBlue's flight prices have not only crept up, but exploded; not only are they on par with most other airlines, they are actually higher in a lot of instances. They've removed a lot of their flights to Boston from the Bay Area and reduced them to the most inconvenient times. Now I understand that gas prices and compliance with federal security regulations might have a lot to do with the price increases, but that doesn't explain JetBlue's gutted rewards program: TrueBlue.
TrueBlue was never the greatest program. Southwest offered better deals, but if you fly JetBlue a lot, it is better than nothing. With every flight you earn some points, and 100 points supposedly gave you a free round trip to any destination. A cross country one way trip gave me 12 points, and a short flight from Boston to JFK gave me 4 points.
I redeemed a flight from San Jose to JFK last summer, and thought it was a half-way decent program.But since then, JetBlue has quietly introduced some changes to its gratitude program. And what do you know? It is virtually impossible to redeem your free flights now because almost every flight to a popular destination or popular time is unavailable.
JetBlue insists that its flights have no blackout dates. I called and e-mailed JetBlue and inquired about the availability of TrueBlue tickets. The first woman I spoke said that information about how many TrueBlue seats are available on each flight is "not available to anybody at JetBlue." The second two representatives that I spoke to insisted that each and every flight has at least two seats open to TrueBlue redemption.

An email from JetBlue says the following: "TrueBlue is different in regards to other airline programs as we do not have blackout dates; however seats may not be available on all flights and some flight dates are better than others. Tuesdays through Thursdays and Saturdays tend to be the best days for securing flights and, of course, booking as far ahead as possible greatly increases the likelihood that you will get your preferred dates and flights as well."
JetBlue's own Terms and Conditions confirm the fact that "Award travel is subject to capacity controls and may not be available on all flights. JetBlue Airways reserves the right to modify, amend or revise the redemption award levels."
Can someone explain to me how not offering any flights to a certain city on a certain day is not a blackout date?
When I try to redeem my free flight in mid-August, early September, early October, mid-November, late-November, or late December--surprise surprise--JetBlue's says the following:

We can't find flights to match your request. This may be because:

The flights are full on the date you selected. Search again?

We're not selling seats yet on the date you selected. Currently, we're selling seats for all destinations through January 08, 2007. Please check back again soon for flights after that date.

You've selected a city we don't serve yet.

Absolute shite.
Is the flight full? Well, try to search for the same flight without entering in your TrueBlue information. And guess what, if you want to pay full price, those same seats are magically available.
JetBlue isn't selling seats on the day I selected? Sure you are, see above.
I've selected a city JetBlue doesn't serve? Last I checked, JFK was your hub city.
I think JetBlue forgot to mention the real reason why no flights show up: "We are throttling back on our free flights. We've decided to not allow you to redeem your rewards on any good flights that we choose and limit them so that you have to pay full price on all of our best flights. Oh and by the way, even though we black out particular flights and particiular days -- we're not going to call that blackout dates."
So what do we have here? We have a major airline running a program that blacks out dates and says they aren't. There is simply no accountability; nobody can tell how much JetBlue is throttling back on flights, or how many flights are actually available, or how many were actually redeemed.
Evil empire? Not necessarily. Officially one of the fat cats? Indeed.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Updates: HP DV2000t Review

I've gotten quite a few hits because of my review of the HP notebook. A number of other forums have mentioned it, and a few people have brought up a few corrections (also addressed in the comments to the original post) that are worth mentioning separately:
  1. The notebook can and does read Sony's MemoryStick Pro, which is very convenient. Although inserting the memory into a slot that is twice its size is a bit nerve racking b/c you have no idea whether you are putting it in correctly or damaging anything important.
  2. The media remote controller does not slide into the PCMCIA slot, as there is no PCMCIA slot on this notebook (which is sort of surprising).

Sunday, July 02, 2006

HP DV2000t Notebook Review

My famed road warrior, the Sony VAIO R505 GC, is finally getting a long deserved rest. After four years of intense use, I've decided to purchase HP's brand-spanking new notebook, the DV2000t. This notebook replaces HP's DV1000 series, which is a fantastic notebook in its own right. I recommended the DV1000 to three people who all loved it.
I think HP is really raising itself in quality and service. In comparison, Dell, once known for good prices and good service, is not known for cheap parts and technicians who don't speak English. Sony, stylish and sophisticated, is getting a bit too pricey. Other notebooks I was thinking of purchasing instead included Fujitsu's LifeBook, Apple's MacBook Pro, and Lenovo's ThinkPad.
I. Aesthetics and Functionality
HP has really pushed the envelope with this new model. In terms of aesthetics, HP boasts the unique "imprint finish" with a polished piano-black coating featuring a subtle wave pattern. The sturdy exterior is "designed to survive rough handling," but isn't necessarily scratch resistant and it is definitely not smudge resistant. A number of my Mac-head friends insisted that HP stole the idea from Apple, though I don't quite see how Apple, who just released their first ever black notebook, can really have invented the idea of using "shiny material." All in all, I like the piano black finish. Thumbs up.
HP has also made a relatively bold move by adding in a new style hinge for the LCD screen. It is very similar to some VAIO's, where the body of the notebook curves downward as it approaches the LCD screen. The bottom of the screen then, is also curved, giving the closed notebook a kind of snubb nose look to it. This, while aesthetically pleasing, was not well thought out by HP. The problem is that HP designed it improperly; the LCD only swings back a maximum of approximately 125 degrees! Almost all notebooks will swing back a full 180 degrees, so that it is essentially parallel with the keyboard. So what's the drawback, you ask? Well, if you're only at a desk, you're fine. But what if you are tall and have it on your lap or what if you are in bed and your legs are up and your notebook is resting at an angle on your legs? You're suck, you can't move the screen any further back! This is a complete design debacle. Thumbs way down on this.

The notebook also boasts latch-free closure. What's that, latch-free closure? Is that a good feature to have? Are latches on notebooks something we've found bothersome for decades? Not really. I have no idea why HP thinks that this is a good feature. It's not impressive at all; in fact, I think latches come in handy -- they keep your notebook closed! Sure the notebook sort of closes on its own and takes a little bit of pressure to open up. And sure it's not going to swing open on its own, but we all know how sturdy and stiff notebook screens are when you first buy them. Then they all suffer what I refer to as "the old Dell notebook syndrome," which is basically when you open up a notebook screen and it basically swings for about five seconds. So, until I see some wear and tear, a marginal thumbs down on the latch-free closure.

The notebook has several media launch buttons accented with a popular deep indigo backlight. These add a really nice aesthetic quality to the notebook, though I don't really watch too many moves on my notebook, so they might not be all that useful to me personally. In terms of layout and usability, there is one drawback. They are not really buttons, but touch sensors (sort of like the butttons on the second and third generation iPods. So you put your finger on a button and it doesn't click or move down or give you any reason to think that you've pushed it. You also have to look where you're pushing, so there's no ergonomic-memory. This is very similar to these new universal remotes, which are basically touch LCD screens, which means you always need to stare at the remote to find your button instead of feeling where it is. But apart from this minor issue, the media buttons are a welcome feature.

The glide point touchpad is visually pleasing, but made of a metallic/plastic material similar (if not identical) to the chassis. The problem is that it doesn't glide all that well. If its hot out or your hands are clammy, it doesn't glide. And even as I type in warm, humid New York weather, my palms are sticking to the chassis of the computer. The left and right click buttons on the trackpad are also cheap looking with a plastic-y click to them that is hollow and insubstantial. And if you just sort of graze the keys, they don't keep quiet, but wiggle like an old keyboard at a library. In contrast, Sony's mice buttons are refined, sturdy, and tight. When you click it, it actually clicks with elegance, giving you firm feedback. The trackpad does have a small button on it that can turn it on or off, which is nice for people who plug in external mice. But the button is hard to push. In terms of size, the trackpad area is well proportioned. It is wide enough to accomodate a scroll wheel section on the right side, which is elegantly laid out on the trackpad itself. But overall, thumbs down on the trackpad.

The keyboard, however, is fantastic. The keys are quiet, but responsive and they are full sized, so your hands are not cramped. Also welcome are arrow keys on the extreme corner, so you don't have to look where they are, full size left and right shift keys, and a full size backspace key. The function keys (F1-F12) are a little too small, but its not a real drawback. A great idea also was putting Home, Page up, Page down, and End all along the right edge of the keyboard so that you can quickly and instinctively go there without having to look.

And, as a nod to Apple, HP's AC power port lights up when you're charging the battery. It's all about eye candy right? The AC power adapter, however, doesn't have a velcro or rubber strap to help you keep your cord wound. Why ignore a featue that costs 4 cents to manufacture and install?

II. Processors and OS

The DV2000 comes in two models, the Z and the T series. The T series, which I purchased, offers Intel's single or duo core processors. I purchased a Core Duo processor @ 2.16ghz. I was curious about the Z series, however, which offers AMD chips, including Mobile AMD Sempron chips and the 64 bit AMD Turion processor. I will admit, though, that I was intimidated about venturing over to 64 bit land. I was under the impression that I would need a 64 bit version of Windows XP to take full advantage of it, but 64 bit OSs and software seem a bit uncooked for me still. My notebook comes with Windows XP Professional, which is a relatively stable operating system -- and yes yes, I can agree that Mac's OS is much better all around.

Without any real benchmarking done, I can say that the notebook is quick and responsive, powering through Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Designer tasks. Microsoft Office applications open up instantly and have very little lag. I do, however, notice a consistent lag when my computer is restored from hibernate mode. On my VAIO, returning from hibernation would not have any lag at all; the computer would just start up and you could use your programs. But with the HP, it takes a good fifteen seconds or so for the taskbar to show up or for any windows to be responsive at all. It is very odd.

III. LCD and Graphics

My notebook comes with a 14.1" WXGA BrightView Widescreen @ 1280x800 dpi. I was a little worried about the BrightView screen when I made the purchase because the screen is very shiny and, therefore, reflective. It makes it difficult to use in sunlight or in rooms with windows behind you. But when not in sunlight, the screen is absolutely razor sharp with vibrant colors and good brightness. It is also the first LCD I have ever seen that actually looks great using Microsoft's ClearType technology. Usually ClearType makes everything look fuzzy and gives you a headache, but it comes to life on this screen. Thumbs very high up on this LCD (though thumbs down to Microsoft for making a technology that only works properly on a few computers).

The 14.1” screen is also fantastic. I think it’s the perfect size for a notebook screen. My VAIO was a 12.1” ultraslim notebook. The 12.1" screen is functional, but not ideal with all of the task panes and extra toolbars built into today’s software. For me, anything above 14.1” just gets a bit too bulky. 14.1" gives you screen real estate, but leaves behind the bulk and lower battery life.

One of the drawbacks of choosing the Intel processor was that I missed out on getting a NVIDIA GeForce Go 6150 video card. Instead, I am stuck with the integrated Intel piece-of-crap card that comes with the notebook. However, it really is not that much of a tradeoff because I'm not doing any gaming on the notebook--not that that NVIDIA card would really run most games very well anyway. The integrated graphics card is functional and has marginally better battery life. No real complaints there.

IV. RAM, Storage and Optical Media

Apart from upgrading the processor, upgrading to more RAM was very expensive. Like most notebooks, there are only two slots for RAM (DIMMS). But curiously, HP gave only the following options: 2x256MB, 2x512MB, and 2x1024MB. I obviously got the 2GB RAM configuration, but I thought it was kind of shitty to even give a 2x256MB option because it is really not that much RAM and it also leaves no room for expansion. Also missing are 1x1024MB or 1x512MB options, which would make it easier to swap in more RAM later on without paying such an exorbitant premium on it; I suppose that's exactly why they don't offer it. Thumbs down to HP for being shitty people.

With respect to hard drives, HP has the standard sizes, though I didn't feel compelled to buy the 100GB drive because I'll never use that much space on my notebook. With all of my software installed on my Sony, I'm only using about 11GB of a 40GB drive. So for this HP, I went for the 80GB drive. However, HP notebooks come pre-partitioned with a "recovery" drive, which takes up 10GB of space! What the hell is taking up so much space? Is it backing up all of my programs? Thumbs down for not giving me the choice to allocate space on my partitions.

In the optical media department, I chose the LightScribe Super Multi 8X DVD+/-RW w/Double Layer. LightScribe lets you label discs by burning silkscreen-quality graphics on them. Granted I hardly ever burn CDs or DVDs anymore, it was worth the modest increase in price. My brother got an HP desktop awhile back and said the LightScribe drive died after three weeks. This makes me a little nervous about using this feature too often. But I can say that the drive is extremely fast at reading data. When installing software, there was very little lag and very quick read speeds. A provisional thumbs up.

On a side note, I wish that HP and other manufacturers sold notebooks that did not have any optical drives in them at all. I understand that many people want to watch movies or use optical media on the road or at work, but would it be that hard to make a much thinner model that uses less power for someone that wants a true notebook for the road? Or, why not make the CD-drive removable so that you could swap in an auxilary battery there for even more battery life?But this is a overall industry issue, and at 1” thin and at around 5 lbs., this notebook won’t break my back.

V. Connectivity and Ports

Network connectivity is straightforward with an Intel(R) PRO/Wireless 3945ABG card, though I did go for the integrated Bluetooth connection. I’m not the biggest fan of Bluetooth, but I’m curious to see if I can hook my Motorola RAZR v3 to the computer as a modem. I am also wondering whether I can hook up my Bluetooth headset to the notebook to make calls over the internet. HP makes it easy to turn the bluetooth on and off, so you can conserve battery life.

The integrated wifi card is extremely fast and picks up connections with ease. HP also includes a backlighted button on the front of the notebook to turn the wireless card on or off, which can save you a lot of battery life. Great feature and tastefully implemented.

I am pleased to see three USB 2.0 ports, especially considering that Sony still insists on putting only two USB ports on its notebooks. A powered firewire port would have been nice, but the 4-pin is standard; powered firewire ports are seldom seen on non-Mac notebooks. One slight problem is that the single USB port on the left side of the notebook is not pushed towards the back of the notebook, but close to the front of it. This sucks becuase if someone is left handed (I use a right-handed mouse personally), the USB cable is going to stick out exactly where you want open space. Move the frequently used USB port to the back end.

There is a monitor port, though its VGA and not DVI, but that's not standard on any non-Mac notebooks either. There is, however, an S-Video output, though I'm not sure if I'll ever really use it. An IR port is also included, though I thought IR was obsolete. It is actually used by the media remote controller (see later). I would like to see an easy way to turn the IR port on and off to conserver power.

VI. Miscellaneous Features

There is a 5 in 1 media card reader as well, which may come in handy if I ever get rid of my Sony digital camera (not likely). Nevertheless, most other notebook companies would just remove this feature to save money, so I think its a value-add feature that I can appreciate the next time I want pictures of my friend's digital camera (and I won't need to go fumbling around looking for drivers or a USB cable).

The notebook features an integrated 1.3 megapixel camera for web/video conferencing. Again, this isn't a blockbuster feature, but I'm not really opposed to the feature if it's included for free. At the same time, I am dissatisfied at how the placement of the camera and dual integrated microphones makes the bezel of the LCD monitor thicker on top. I find the same problem with the new MacBook Pro and the MacBook. Especially when you look at a MackBook, the thick white (or black) bezel makes the notebook look clunky and outdated before its time. Forutnately, the border is not too bad on the HP, but I'd prefer to get rid of the camera so that I can have a cleaner looking monitor.

VII. Longevity

Battery power is something really important to me even though most of the classrooms at Boalt Hall have electricity. But the battery options offered by HP are also a little weird. You can get: (1) a standard 6 cell battery; (2) an extended 12 cell battery; (3) two standard 6 cell batteries; and (4) two extended 12 cell batteries. Well, this is obvious to me, but why not allow people to purchase one of each, which would be a great idea especially because the extended battery sticks out of the bottom of the notebook. In the end, I picked one 12 cell extended battery. I like having more than 6 hours battery life, and with the majority of what I do being word processing and checking e-mail, I should be able to get a lot of juice out of each charge. My guess, however, is that this battery is cheaper in quality than Sony's battery, which lasted a long time.

One drawback about the 12 cell battery is that it sticks out on the bottom of the notebook, which is odd because most batteries stick out from the back of the notebook. This creates a bump on the bottom of the notebook which is convenient when on a desk because the keyboard is slanted. However, since the battery sticks out only on the right side of the notebook, placing it on your lap means it is lopsided! My right knee has a battery on it and my left knee touches the bottom of the notebook. What the hell is HP thinking -- it is a LAP-top right? Why not design it so that you can actually place it on your lap?? Maybe I am asking too much here.

VIII. Other Features

HP offers a few pages of extraneous and useless accessories, only one of which I bought. For $15.00, HP sells a media remote control, which slides into the notebooks PCMCIA slot and recharges. Granted the remote alone would be a poor attempt at creating a "media" notebook, but HP has really thought their concept through. Similar to Apple's Front Row interface, HP's QuickPlay 2.1 allows you to play DVDs and MP3s without booting up the notebook. My guess, however, is that HP's interface is not as slick as Apple's.

Combined with a very nice screen and two headphone jacks, this is a fantastic media notebook -- though curiously Media Center XP is not offered for it. An integrated TV tuner would have been stunning, though someone wishing to use an aftermarket USB 2.0 tuner would be well served on this screen.

Interestingly, HP was offering an all-in-one printer, scanner, copier for free (with $80.00 rebate), but because of the employee discount, I actually get $8.00 back from HP just for taking the printer off their hands. Depending on whether I want the thing, I may just sell the printer for like $50.00 because all a printer really is is a bill for expensie printer cartridges. I’ve weaned myself off of the urge to print pictures or print anything in color. Thus, my basic $85.00 Samsung laser printer gets the job done.

IX. Conclusion

It may seem like there are a lot of thumbs down, but all in all I'm very happy with this purchase. This notebook doesn't feel flimsy and it is definitely up to my standards in terms of performance, aesthetics, weight, and battery life.

This is a great all around notebook. The DV2000t represents a major leap forward for HP, which has been known to make cheaper, run-of-the-mill notebooks with little attention to design or flare. HP now enters a new echelon of fashionable notebooks that are packed with features. It may, however, take some time for them to blend function and style properly. I can forgive the non-palm friendly chassis and trackpad, but the limited swivel on the LCD monitor is a real nightmare.

This notebook scores an 8.5 out of 10. For more information, visit