Chris Richards

marketing | branding | tech | startups

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The PlayStation 3 – Part of the Ultimate Gadget Collection

Ah, PlayStation 3, my trusty friend. You’ve been with me through thick and thin, shared joys and sorrows, ups and down, taken a bullet for me, even saved my life! Ok, I’m definitely exaggerating. But, when I stop and think about it, I realize my PlayStation 3 has been one of the most rock solid gadgets I’ve ever owned. In fact, you could call it an ultimate gadget.

PS3 Ultimate Gadget Collection Contest eBay

Seriously, when I first bought the PlayStation 3 I knew I was getting something special. Having come away from many great years with the PlayStation 2, I was already expecting an amazing and free online experience with the PS3. But, I was also chomping at the bit to get my first Blu-ray experience. The PS3 was the gadget that brought me up to speed with a new wave of technology: High definition 1080p resolution, Blue Tooth, HDMI, Blu-ray movies, and digital streaming. And four years after buying it, the PS3’s features still haven’t disappointed me. It has rarely left me asking for more. It’s the cornerstone of my living room experience, and I don’t see anything replacing it any time soon.

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Why Buy a Samsung Chromebook?

I won’t hide it. I love the Samsung Chromebook. But, now that I’ve owned one for a little while now, I want to reiterate why someone (should they be looking) would want to buy the 11.6″ Samsung Chromebook. I’ll make this easy and break it down into a few reasons for you.

Samsung Chromebook - Why You Need to Buy One

1. The Price: Too Good to Be True

When I tell people that my laptop was only $250, their jaws drop. Some iPods are more expensive. In fact, at a price this low, the Samsung Chromebook can almost be considered an “impulse buy” that’s under that expected computer price tag of at least $500.

It amazes me that students these days will spend $1,500 + on a Macbook Pro to take to college to 1.) Write papers 2.) Check email 3.) Check Facebook or 4.) Browse Reddit, when they could easily turn all that money into beer money by investing in the Samsung Chromebook.

2. It’s a Tablet, But Better

Tablets have come and gone. At first there was the iPad, then the slew of Android tablet versions came. I’ve let all of them pass me by; I’ve never been interested. Tablets don’t make sense to me. They have a lot of potential, theoretically, but are ultimately held back by the lack of keyboard in my opinion. When I want to “compute,” I want to type. Most things involve typing – checking email, Facebook, blogging, chatting, searching. Some people don’t mind not having a keyboard, so what else make this Chromebook like a tablet, but better?

  • Battery life: I typically get at least 7 hours of it. I can charge it once at the beginning of the week, and use it a little bit every day at work and be fine. The auto-dimming screen is great for extending the life, and obviously a lack of moving parts keeps battery life going strong.
  • Instant on: Okay, it’s not instant. But from fully off, to up and logged-in, the Chromebook takes less than 10 seconds. I routinely turn it off (unlike my other computers) because it’s not a hassle to open the lid and boot it up. I love it.
  • Portability: There’s no difference between carrying an 11.6″ Chromebook and carrying an iPad or another tablet. Both slip easily into a backpack, purse, or protective case. So, the real question is, would you rather like to carry around a device that can conduct business as usual in a PC-like environment, or would you like to poke around on a glamorized iPhone? (Harsh, I know.)

3. It’s Always Updated, Always Getting Better

Seriously. I just had to restart while typing this because Google released an update to Chrome, and by extension, the Chrome OS that runs Samsung’s Chromebook. Because the OS is managed by Google, you know that innovation is never far. New features are only weeks away, and you never know what improvements will be made.

In the short time that I’ve owned it, Google has added tons of slight improvements, but also some major updates such as Netflix compatibility. For $250, you get a lifetime of Google innovations and updates. Not many other operating systems (especially not Windows) offer such an attractive upgrade plan for free. Just like on Android, Google passes its value on through system updates.

4. Run Windows, Mac OS, or Linux Easily

I was shocked to learn about this functionality, but anyone that “nay-says” the Chromebook’s capability hasn’t been exposed to this feature. With Chrome Remote Desktop, I can easily access any computer I connect to, adding its capabilities directly to my Chromebook. It’s amazing. At work, I can connect to our Macs, run Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, etc. At home, I can connect to my PC and take on any of its software capabilities too. Really, it’s the best of all worlds, as remote desktop adds infinite functionality to this tiny, inexpensive device.

I could go on, but I think I’ll leave it there. The Samsung Chromebook has been a phenomenal purchase. At only $250, I cannot recommend a more full-featured and portable device. I took it around the world, and loved having it all along the way.



Vilano Single Speed Bike: Reviewing the Good and the Bad

I’ve been meaning to write a review of the Vilano Track Fixed Gear / Single Speed Road Bike for a while now. I’ve enjoyed it a lot since buying it in the fall, but honestly, it’s been tough to ride!

Vilano Track Single Speed Bike Built

Excuses, excuses, but it’s true. Literally, it’s been difficult to ride! The area of Philadelphia around me is known for its hills. It’s not in “the city” with flat ground, so truthfully, I’m now realizing that buying a single speed bike might not have been the wisest choice.

That’s where my review starts: hills. This Vilano is an awesome bike for the price, but its single speed gear makes my legs feel like exploding whenever I encounter the hills around here (and that’s often). Hills are bad news for single speed. I should have known that, having grown up riding on bikes with dozens of gear choices. As a kid, I would have never made it without those precious gears to save me.

On flat ground, though, this bike flies. The single gear seems to be set at just the right ratio for flat-land travel. I reached an open half-mile stretch along a bike path and was able to make it up to around 22 mph with some vigorous pedaling.

But, aside from the inability to ride up hills, I have very few complaints about this simple ride. Like I said, it was cheap (only a little more than $200 on Amazon!) It came in a big box, right to my door. I opened it, to find the bike in several pieces well-protected by packaging and ready to set-up. Building it was a breeze, and Vilano just included a piece of paper with a link to their instructions online (in the form of YouTube videos) in case you needed extra help assembling the parts.

Vilano Track Single Speed Bike Assembly

At first glance, the bike frame is a conversation starter. I ordered a bright orange frame, though they had a variety of choices. It definitely stands out from the other bikes I’ve owned which have more subtle coloring. This thing isn’t quite neon, but it’s close.

There are no labels on the bike. No branding. Which I hear is what the hipsters like. No branding means there’s ample room to add your own little personal touches. I’ve added a few stickers, but the bike is still mostly just nice and orange.

The tires are very thin. I’ve never ridden a bike with such thin tires and wheels. Coming off a mountain bike, this thing feels absolutely rail-like. It’s thin, fast, and the tires are meant for speed. That being said, I’ve had issues keeping the tires inflated. I think replacing the stock tires with something a little more substantial would be a good first move for anyone buying this bike.

Speaking of upgrades, I also added a few accessories after receiving the bike. The stock pedals are cheap and laughable. I ordered some Avenir Ultralight Pedals with toe-clips and those did the trick. I, personally, love toe-clips and grew up using them, so it made sense that I install them on this new Vilano too. And, not that it’s totally necessary, I bought a cheap water bottle holster to screw onto the frame.

Basically, having moved to a new city, I was looking for a fun, cheap bike to get around. Though I don’t use it as my primary means of travel, this Vilano bike has served me well so far. As long as I remember to avoid the hills, it’s all good!