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What’s the Best Netbook Case?

Wednesday, October 13th, 2010

How do I pick the best netbook case?

At GearZap we get a lot of people asking “What’s the best Netbook Case”? Well this is a hard question to answer, since everybody has different requirements for a Netbook Case. Some people want the maximum protection, while others want something that will hold all their stuff. Many people just want something which looks super stylish and unique.

Luckily GearZap has a huge range of Netbook Bags and Cases and there’s loads to choose from. In this post, we aim to make some recommendations based on the different requirements people may have.

Netbook Protection

ZeroShock III/ZeroShock IV Netbook Case

When it comes to protection – look no further than a ZeroShock case! There are 2 types currently available; the ZeroShock III is made from a thick layer of wave shaped memory foam which is excellent for absorbing knocks and bumps. The ZeroShock IV is made of harder materials and features shock protection from all angles.

Netbook Holdall

Targus XS Netbook Case

The Targus XS Netbook Case 10-12″ is constructed from quality materials, it features a protective padded main compartment so you can be sure that your netbook is safe. Carrying is made comfortable with a cushioned shoulder pad. The length of the shoulder strap is adjustable and the strap can be removed completely if desired. Keeping belongings organised is easy with a selection of sized pockets designed for convenience, easily accessible in front zip down section.

Netbook Style

Pat Says Now Sleeves

Pat Says Now is the first manufacturer of laptop sleeves from Switzerland. These attractive netbook sleeves definitely stand out from the crowd. Made of high-quality neoprene, they protect your computer against scratches, moisture and dirt. Robust on the outside, the sleeves are fleecy and soft within. Their smooth running zippers are easy on both the laptop and your fingernails. Witty designs and blazing colours make every bag a unique accessory for out and about.

A Buyers Guide to Netbook Cases, Sleeves & Bags

Tuesday, September 1st, 2009

At GearZap we understand that everyone has individual needs when choosing a Netbook Case or Netbook Bag. That’s why we sell the largest range of Netbook Cases on the internet. But with so many to choose from it can often be difficult deciding which to buy. This guide explains all the available options and will help you to choose the style of Netbook Case that suits your needs.

Here you will find a description of the many different styles of Netbook cases available in our shop. Simply choose the size of your netbook screen, then use the left side navigation bar to browse the style of case or bag you are looking for.

Netbook Sleeve

The netbook sleeve is the most popular type of case. They are normally slim and designed to fit your netbook perfectly, providing protection from scratches and light weight shocks. Sleeves are ideal for people who want to keep their netbook safe while it’s not in use, or to protect it while inside your favourite bag, suitcase or rucksack. Netbook Sleeves are inexpensive and available a wide range of designs and colours to suit all tastes.

Our store has a great selection of sleeves with various levels of shock protection. They range from basic neoprene pouches to shock absorbing cases with additional pockets to store smaller accessories. However if you need something that will hold your charger plus other bits and bobs you should read on.

Advantages Disadvantages
- Slim design allows for use inside other bags
– Most have good protection against knocks and scratches
– Some have extra pockets for small accessories

– Lots of designs to choose from

- Most don’t have enough room for your charger
– Not many have handles or carry straps
ZSB-IB017WH_01k

ZeroShock Netbook Case

CoolBananas Netbook Sleeve

CoolBananas Netbook Sleeve


Netbook Bag

A netbook bag is typically bigger and more practical than a sleeve, they also feature carry handles or a shoulder strap for carrying. Netbook bags are great when you need to transport your netbook from one place to another. They usually have a good amount of padding to protect your netbook from knocks and bumps. Most bags also have additional compartments for your power adapter and accessories.

Advantages Disadvantages
- Handles and shoulder straps are convenient for carrying
– Most have good protection against knocks and scratches
– Many have large pockets for your charger and accessories

– Lots of designs to choose from

- Not as compact as netbook sleeves
Hama Netbook Bag

Hama Netbook Bag

CoolBananas Netbook Bag

CoolBananas Netbook Bag



Netbook Briefcase

Briefcase style netbook bags usually have a smart appearance which is ideal for work situations where a professional image is important. Many of these bags feature additional compartments to accommodate a power adapter, accessories, stationary, mobile phones etc. If you need something for the office then look no further.

Advantages Disadvantages
- Professional appearance is ideal for work or business use

– Handles and shoulder straps make them easy to carry

– Most have excellent protection against knocks and scratches
– Many have additional compartments for charger and accessories

- Not as slim as a netbook sleeve
– Less choice
Targus XS Briefcase

Targus XS Briefcase

Solo Netbook Case

Solo Netbook Case



Netbook Messenger Bag

The netbook messenger bag is much smaller than your typical messenger bag – which is great if you don’t want to carry something bigger than you need. One big difference between the two types of messengers is that netbooks are small enough to allow vertical shaped messenger bags. Messengers normally have plenty of room for your accessories and all the extra bits you need to carry. They usually have padded compartments to prevent damage to your netbook.

Advantages Disadvantages
- Comfortable shoulder straps make the messenger best for carrying
– Most have good protection against knocks and scratches
– Many have large pockets for your charger and accessories
- Not as compact as netbook sleeves
LEmini Messenger Bag

LEmini Messenger Bag

CoolBananas Messenger Bag

CoolBananas Messenger Bag



Netbook Rucksack

A netbook backpack is a no brainer for high school and college students – the netbook is about the same size as most books (although they are much thinner) so a good sized backpack for a netbook should give you plenty of space for your books and other gadgets as well. If you spend a lot of time traveling light, this would also be a good idea, although not quite as good as a specific travel bag made for the netbook.

There are relatively few rucksacks currently available for netbooks, however this one from Targus should suit most peoples needs.

Targus Netbook Rucksack

Targus Netbook Rucksack



Netbook Hard Case

If you’re looking for a case that provides the ultimate protection for your netbook, you should definitely consider a hard shell case. Unsurprisingly these are made from sturdy shock-resistant materials that absorb knocks and bumps. They are ideal for people who use their netbook in demanding situations, or if you’re just a wee bit clumsy. Despite being one of the toughest cases for your netbook, they are also one of the slimmest, so ideal for putting inside something else like a rucksack.

Advantages Disadvantages
- Slim design allows for use inside other bags
– The ultimate protection against knocks and scratches
- Most don’t have enough room for your charger
CoolBananas Hard Case

CoolBananas Hard Case - Pink

CoolBananas Hard Case

CoolBananas Hard Case - Black




Netbook Sock or Glove

The netbook sock or glove is essentially a type of sleeve or pouch, however we think they are different enough to justify their own category. Socks are basically the same kind of thing you would expect for your feet. They are designed to slip over the top of your netbook, providing a tight fit and protecting it from getting dirty or scratched.

Advantages Disadvantages
- Ultra-slim design adds little to the size of a netbook
– Perfect for keeping netbook safe inside another bag
– Excellent protection against scratches
– Easy to slip netbook in and out of sock
– Folds away neatly
- Not enough room for charger or accessories
– No handles or carry straps
Cellularline Netbook Sock

Cellularline Netbook Sock

    Cellularline Netbook Sock

    Cellularline Netbook Sock



Netbook Skin

While skins cannot be described as a type of case, they’re still a funky way to protect your netbook lid from getting scratched. Skins are basically an adhesive sticker type material with a printed design on the upper side. They’re a great way to personalize your netbook, setting it apart from the rest.

Netbook Skins

Gelaskin Netbook Skins up to 10.2"



We hope this guide has been helpful and that you now know all the options available for protecting your precious netbook from the outside world. If you have any further questions or requests, don’t hesitate to comment here or use our contact form to send us an email.

How to Improve your 3G Mobile Broadband Signal

Thursday, August 27th, 2009

18962One of the great things about Mobile Broadband is that you can go online anywhere you like – but you can almost guarantee that the place you need it the most is the place where signal is at its weakest.

While 3G coverage is getting stronger with all networks, there will still be blackspots where it drops out, or you can only pick up a 2G signal. Thankfully, a couple of solutions are now available to try and get round these signal issues.


If you don’t have a dongle yet and are looking for the network with the strongest 3G signal, then the OFCOM website has just published updated coverage maps (as of 31/12/08) that allow you to view the 3G coverage by network.

There are two solutions to increase your Mobile Broadband Signal:

Clip Aerial

  • This Aerial is designed to be a portable solution that clips onto the screen on your laptop or sits on your desk. It is omni-directional, which means that it will pick up signals from all directions.

High Gain 3G Directional Aerial

  • This is a much more powerful signal booster than the clip aerial and is ideal for people who have real problems with 3G reception. They are directional, which means that you will need to point this towards your network’s transmitter in order for it to improve the signal. The High Gain antenna when positioned correctly will make a significant difference to the signal you receive and can be wall mounted as a permanent fixture.

Both aerials can make a big difference to the signal you receive. Simply clip on to the top of your laptop screen, and then either plug into, or wrap around your or and depending on the Dongle or Data Card that you’re using, the connection method will vary. Some will have an ariel connection that will plug straight into the dongle, and others will take a Universal “strap on” connection. Aerials are available for Dongles and Data Cards from all major networks including: O2, Orange, 3, Vodafone, T-Mobile, Virgin.

To help you find the right antenna for your dongle, you can now check the 3G Antenna Compatibility chart or view all our available antennas in the Mobile Broadband category of our site.

Identifying your Dongle

Set up is quick and simple:

Clip 3G Antenna to screen The Clip Antenna easily clips onto the screen of your laptop or can be mounted in the desk stand (if included).
The High Gain Directional Antenna needs to be mounted on the deskstand, or fixed to the wall (bracket included)

3G Antenna InstallationNext you’ll need to connect the antenna to the adapter cable. If your dongle has an antenna connection, carefully connect the end of the cable to your dongle.

The Clip Antenna includes a 50cm cable, the High Gain Directional Antenna comes with a 1.2m cable. Longer 3m cables and 5m cables are available.

Clip 3G Antenna to screenIf your dongle doesn’t have an antenna connection, wrap the universal adapter round your dongle and make sure that it doesn’t stop it from going in to your pc/laptop.

The High Gain 3G Directional Antenna will need to be positioned so that it is facing your nearest mobile phone transmitter. To help you out, you can use the Ofcom Sitefinder. This will show you where the nearest transmitters are, but it won’t say which networks they belong to, so finding the right one will be a case of trial and error!

That’s it! All done. Use your Dongle or Data card as normal and you should see an increase in signal strength straight away.

Which Mobile Broadband Aerial do I need?

Thursday, August 27th, 2009

Mobile Broadband Aerials and signal boosters are perfect for getting better connection strength in areas of limited 3G signal. By connecting an Aerial to your Mobile Broadband Dongle and pointing it at the nearest mobile phone mast can significantly improve both connection speeds and stability.

To find your dongle quickly, press “ctrl” and “f” on your keyboard, and then type in the model number of your dongle (eg: E160G) to search this page. If your dongle is not listed here, don’t worry, this is only a snapshot of the most popular dongles.

(more…)

Top Netbook Downloads

Tuesday, August 4th, 2009

With limited hardware resources, netbooks are designed to do lightweight tasks like surfing the internet and word processing. However, many ‘big name’ programs havn’t been designed with netbooks in mind. Here we have a list of useful lightweight programs that will work brilliantly with your netbook.

OpenOffice

One of the best free downloads you can get is this suite of open-source productivity applications. OpenOffice includes lightweight but robust applications that compete with the expensive Microsoft Office alternatives: Writer (word processing), Calc (spreadsheet), Impress (presentations), Base (database), Draw (diagram creator) and Math (editor for math formulas). Downloads are available for both Windows and Linux.

Google Chrome

Firefox is often favoured for surfing the net on high-end computers, but for netbooks, Google’s open source Chrome browser is an extremely lightweight browser that is winning lots of speed competitions. It’s only available for Windows at the moment, but will be out in a Linux version early next year.

VLC Media Player

Depending what hardware resources you have on your netbook and the media player you currently use, you may occasionally run into problems running video and audio content. VLC Media Player is a lightweight, free and open source media player that will work on either a Windows or Linux netbook. It supports nearly every popular file format and is specifically designed for portability.

RocketDock

RocketDock is an animated application launcher which is similar to the one used on Mac OSX. It’s much faster and more flexible than the object docks on most netbooks and has an easy drag-and-drop interface. Click here to see a video.

TinyResMeter

TinyResMeter is a lightweight application for tracking system resources in use. Netbooks, of course, often have stripped down hardware resources, so this is a good way to get on-the-fly information on memory usage, CPU usage and much more.

KDE

The K Desktop Environment (KDE) Project is a very good choice for Linux-based netbooks. It includes slick desktop applications, including the Kontact personal information manager, Dragon Player for multimedia applications, and the Konqueror web browser.

PortableApps

For Windows-based netbooks, this is a great collection of pre-selected free and primarily open source applications that you can stick on a netbook — or even a USB drive — in one quick download. It includes the portable editions of ClamWin (antivirus), Mozilla Firefox (web browser), Gaim (instant messaging), OpenOffice (office suite), Sudoku (puzzle game), Mozilla Sunbird (calendar/task manager) and Mozilla Thunderbird (email client), among other applications. You can cherry-pick the applications you want, or run the whole suite in under 512MB.

Online Hosted Apps.

One of the fundamental concepts behind netbooks is that you can use them with applications that are hosted online. If you don’t already use these, there are excellent, free choices from Zoho and Google Apps. Ulteo gives you 1GB of free online storage, and access to all of the OpenOffice productivity apps online.

Finally, don’t forget that USB flash drives can be an excellent adjunct to your netbook. You can get lots of capacity for very little money, and one simple download such as the PortableApps download above can put countless free applications in your pocket for use on your netbook whenever you want.

With thanks to: giga OM

Netbook Tips: How to optimise your browser window for more viewing space

Monday, July 27th, 2009

If you want to increase your screen space for surfing the web, we have a few simple tips that will help you to see more of the web in your internet browser.

1. Toolbar Shrinking

Consider an add-on that shrinks the amount of space a program’s toolbar takes up. Firefox, for example, has at least two toolbar-squishing add-ons available: Littlefox (snipurl.com/hkshp) and Classic Compact (snipurl.com/hksj5). Both will reduce the size of your toolbar.

2. Full Screen Mode

If you find that videos and images are too big for the browser window. This one is easily dealt with by pressing the F11 button on your keyboard which takes your browser into full screen mode – your toolbar and taskbar will be hidden. Just hit F11 – Try it now!

3. Zoom Out

It’s relatively uncommon to find a website that’s optimised for a screen resolution wider than 1024 pixels, but when it happens it can make life a real pain. Not only do you have to scroll horizontally to see the whole page, but that extra scroll bar takes up another chunk of valuable vertical screen real estate. Fortunately, Firefox’s Zoom function allows you to deal with sites like this quickly and painlessly.

Hitting Control and – (minus key) decreases the size of the page, while Control and + (plus key) increases it. Control and 0 (zero key) resets to the original size. By default, the behavior will scale all elements of the page, and doesn’t seem to break any layouts, so it’s just like zooming in or out while viewing a digital photograph.

How to Upgrade Your Netbook Memory

Monday, June 8th, 2009

Installing more memory in your netbook can significantly boost its performance, reducing the time it takes to load Windows and other programs. This is the cheapest and easiest way to get more from your netbook. Here we outline how to upgrade your netbook memory (aka RAM) in 6 simple steps.

STEP 1: Get out the tools you’ll need.

* Memory module
* Non-magnetic-tip screwdriver (for removing cover only)
* Your computer manual

STEP 2: Turn off and unplug your notebook.

* Turn your notebook power off.
* Unplug the power cord.
* Remove the battery.
* Discharge residual power by pressing the power button.

STEP 3: Open your case and ground yourself.

Every notebook case is a little different, so consult your manual to find out where your SODIMM slots are located and how to open that part of your notebook case. Some of the most common places for SODIMM slots are:

* Behind a back access panel
* Under the keyboard

Tip: Static electricity can damage your module and other computer parts. When your case is open, you need to ground yourself to avoid “shocking” your computer. To do this, simply touch an unpainted metal surface. Plant your feet and don’t walk around. If you do need to walk around, ground yourself again.

STEP 4: Remove the memory you are replacing.

* Press down on the retaining clips on either side of the module.
* Remove the module from the slot.
* Do not use any tools in the removal or installation of memory modules.

STEP 5: Install your new module.

* Take your module out of its anti-static bag and hold it by the edges.
* Line up the notch in the row of metal pins at the bottom of your module with the key in the SODIMM slot on your motherboard. (If the notch doesn’t line up right away, flip your module around and try it the other way. It doesn’t matter which side of your module has the black chips or the stickers on it. The important thing is to line up the notch.)
* Hold the module at a 45-degree angle to the slot and slide it into place. No more than 1/16″ of the gold contacts should be showing when the module is properly seated in the slot.
* Press the top of the module down until it is lying flat against the motherboard and you hear it snap into place.

Tip: Try to avoid touching the metal pins at the bottom of your module. You probably won’t harm them if you do touch them, but it’s better to avoid it if possible.

STEP 6: Test it.

Before you close your case, turn your computer back on. You should see the new amount of memory displayed on your startup screens or in the properties for “My Computer” (if you use a Windows operating system). If everything works correctly, you are done and you can close your case.

2 Finger Scroll on your NC10

Friday, June 5th, 2009

Anyone who had a MacBook would know what a 2 finger scroll is.

Basically it’s a quick and efficient way to scroll up and down webpages and documents using the  track pad.

And guess what?  You can now get this functionality completely free on your Samsung Nc10.  Simply use the link and download.

What is a Smartbook?

Sunday, May 31st, 2009

Combining the words smartphone and netbook together, Qualcomm is launching an ARM-based netbook.
Smartbook

The smartbook is powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon chip, which has a more powerful phone processor that runs at 1GHz and includes a variety of radio connectivity such as Wi-Fi. Qualcomm has put their chips into devices with a screen measuring some 10-12 inches that have a full keyboard. The pricing will be similar to that of a netbook.

Apparently 15 device manufacturers are using the chip in over 30 devices, including smartbooks. Mobile companies such as LG and HTC are building the devices, as are computing companies such as Asus, Acer and Toshiba. Qualcomm say the first smartbooks will be out by the end of the year.

Via Gigaom

Guide for pairing Bluetooth Headset with your PC for use with Skype or VOIP

Thursday, May 28th, 2009

Would you like to use your mobile bluetooth headset with a PC, laptop or netbook? Then look no further, this guide explains how.

To use your Bluetooth headset with VOIP programs such as Skype, you will need to pair your headset with your PC, Laptop or Netbook, authorise it to access Skype, and then configure Skype to use Bluetooth audio devices. The process is fairly straight forward, but varies slightly depending on the dongle and driver that you are using.

The steps below assume that you have installed the software that came on the CD with your Bluetooth Dongle, not the generic Windows drivers, and that Skype is already installed on your PC, Laptop or Netbook running Windows XP SP2.

To determine which Bluetooth drivers you are using, you will need to access Device Manager. To do this, press the “Windows” and “Pause Break” keys on the keypad simultaneously. This will then open System Properties. Click on the Hardware tab, and then you will see a button to launch Device Manager – click it. This will then open a new window listing all devices connected to your computer. Towards the top of this list you will see Bluetooth Devices, click the plus sign to expand the list. The top line should say Bluetooth Enumerator, the second line will tell you which driver you are using and will be either Broadcom/Widcomm, Toshiba, or BlueSoleil. Make a note of your driver manufacturer and close all windows. If you see Microsoft listed, it means you have the generic Windows drivers installed, and probably won’t work with Skype unless you update the drivers. For information on how to do this, read our post on updating your Bluetooth drivers.

Please note that drivers are specific to the dongle you are using, and you can only use the driver manufacturer that is supplied with your dongle. You cannot, for example, use a Toshiba driver with a BlueSoleil supported dongle.

Broadcom / Widcomm – Skype Compatibility Rating 5/5

– If you have already paired your headset with your PC, delete the pairing.

– Right click the Bluetooth icon by the clock and select add a bluetooth device. This will then launch a wizard to guide you through the pairing process.

– The wizard will search for available devices, select the headset you want to use and click on next.

– The next screen will ask you to confirm the services you want to use. Mono Bluetooth Headsets will list only Hands-Free Unit, Stereo Bluetooth Headsets will also list Stereo Audio.

– Ensure all boxes are ticked and then click next.

– Click OK on the pop up and then click finish on the confirmation screen. You may then see a further pop up confirmation message. Click ok.

– The next screen will ask you to confirm the type of headset. Regardless of your headset, select personal handsfree device with no display.

– You will then be asked to confirm what applications the headset will primarily be used for. Make sure Skype is ticked, then click next.

– Now switch over to Skype, you should see a pop up alert by the clock asking you to allow a program to access Skype, you need to allow this add on.

– Once you’ve allowed it you’ll see a message at top of the Skype window.

– Click on the BTSTAC~1.exe file name, then on the pop up screen make sure that the check box next to “allow this program to access Skype” is ticked.

– In Skype, go to Tools, Options and select Audio Settings. For each of the 3 drop down boxes select “Bluetooth”.

– Check the “Ring PC Speaker” box if you want incoming calls to ring through the PC speakers as well as ring in the Bluetooth Headset then click on save.

– Make a test call. There may be a brief delay when it connects initially, but you should then be able to hear and talk through your Bluetooth headset.

Toshiba Drivers – Skype Compatibility Rating 4/5

– If you have already paired your headset with your PC, delete the pairing. You can do this through the Toshiba Bluetooth Control panel.

– You’ll see the name of your Bluetooth headset, and three buttons underneath – new connection, detail and delete. Make sure the headset is disconnected and then click delete.

– Launch Skype.

– Go back to your Bluetooth control panel and click on new connection.
On the wizard that appears, you need to select CUSTOM mode.

– Turn your headset on and put it into pairing mode then press next. Your PC will then search for Bluetooth devices in range, if it doesn’t find your headset on the first scan, click refresh to do another search.

– Select your headset from the list of discovered devices and click next.

– On the next screen you may be prompted to select the type of device you wish to connect. You should see two or three options – Audio Sink, Handsfree, Headset. (Audio Sink may only show up if you are using a stereo headset) You need to select Handsfree on this screen and click next.

– You will now be prompted to enter Pin or Passkey, this can be found in your user guide.

– The next screen you see should ask you if you want to use this in cooperation with a VOIP application. You need to make sure that this box is ticked. If its not, you won’t be able to use it with Skype.

– On the final screen you will be given the option to rename your headset and place a shortcut to the connection on the desktop.

– Click finish.

– Now switch over to Skype, you should see a pop up alert by the clock asking you to allow a program to access Skype, you need to allow this add on.

– Once you’ve confirmed it you’ll see a brief confirmation message in the main Skype window.

– Click on this message and make sure that the check box next to “allow this program to access Skype” is ticked.

– In Skype, go to Tools, Options and select Audio Settings. For each of the 3 drop down boxes select “Bluetooth wave”, then click on save.

– Make a test call. There may be a brief delay when it connects initially, but you should then be able to hear and talk through your Bluetooth headset.

BlueSoleil – Skype Compatibility Rating 2/5

BlueSoleil drivers aren’t the best for working with Skype. The latest version of the drivers, 5.0.5, doesn’t support VOIP services such as Skype unless you pay for an upgrade. You can download version 3.2.2.8 from the BlueSoleil website which does support VOIP at no extra cost, but I found it to be more difficult to use than Toshiba and Broadcom. The following guide is based on Software version 3.2.2.8.

– Pair your Bluetooth Headset to your PC as normal and then launch Skype.

– To begin setting up Skype, click on Start -> All Programs -> IVT BlueSoleil -> BlueSoleil VOIP Plug In.

– After a few seconds you should see a pop up notification by the clock asking to allow access to Skype, you need to allow this add on.

– Once you’ve clicked on it you’ll see a message at top of the Skype window.

– Click on the .exe file name.

– On the pop up screen make sure that the check box next to “allow this program to access Skype” is ticked.

– Connect to headset, (either by pressing call button on headset, or by right clicking on the headset icon in the bluetooth control panel and selecting connect)

– In Skype, go to Tools, Options and select Audio Settings. For each of the 3 drop down boxes select “Bluetooth SCO” – Click on save.

– In some cases, “Bluetooth SCO” may not work, in which case set these to Bluetooth AV.

– Make a test call. BlueSoleil is a little slow, and you will find that your call initially is played through your PC, but will be transferred to the headset after a few seconds.