At Last, a Netbook Worth Buying: Samsung's N120

It's been nearly two years since the first netbook, the Asus Eee PC 4G, became available to U.S. consumers. Even so, I just bought my first netbook, the Samsung N120. Why did I wait so long? (Several reasons.) And was it worth the wait? (Absolutely.)

Why I Waited

I don't buy first-generation hardware, as a rule. Why pay money to be a beta tester? So I waited while Asus, along with other computer makers such as Acer, Dell, HP, and Lenovo, pushed out their first-generation netbooks.

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Mobile Social Networking Tips

In the past few months, I've reconnected with friends from kindergarten through college and beyond. I've discovered thought-provoking online articles and videos I probably wouldn't have found on my own. I've also read meaningless updates from friends, such as "I'm getting in the hot tub," or "just received a special gift from a special friend." And I've done it all through Facebook--the social networking phenomenon where Top Five lists reign, long-lost friends are reunited, and, inevitably, countless hours are consumed.

Don't misunderstand. I love Facebook, Twitter (you can follow my tweets), LinkedIn, and other social networking tools. And it's cool that you can post updates, pictures, and even videos to your social media networks from your mobile phone or smart phone.

Still, this whole social networking thing can get unruly if you're not careful. Here, then, are three tips for managing your social networking, and getting the most from social media tools--especially when you're on the go.

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Oprah Calling: Skype Video Chat on a Plane?

By now, you probably know that Oprah Winfrey loves Skype (not to mention Twitter). A few weeks ago, in fact, Oprah did a Skype video chat on her TV show with Virgin America's Mandalay Roberts, while Roberts was airborne on a Virgin America plane.

Out of curiosity, I watched the Skype-on-a-plane segment--and I shivered. Air travel is noisy and stressful enough. The thought of sitting next to someone screaming into their laptop's Webcam, "Can you see me now?," is enough to have me reaching for the Xanax.

Oprah and Roberts made it clear that Skype video chat at 37,000 feet is not something regular passengers are allowed to do. Though Virgin America has become the first--and thus far only--U.S. carrier to offer fleet-wide Wi-Fi, Voice over IP calls are disabled (and cell phone calls aren't currently allowed, either).

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Navigating Return Policies for Netbooks and Mobile Gear

Retailers' return policies for electronics can be all over the map. Some give you 14 weeks to return a GPS, laptop, netbook, or other piece of hardware if you don't like it or if it's defective. A few give you up to 90 days. Many charge you a restocking fee, usually 15 percent, if you return something that's not defective. All told, in this age of instant buyer's remorse, it's important to pay attention to a retailer's return policy.

This week, I'll guide you toward some online retailers' return policies, plus offer tips for how to avoid, or minimize, buyer's remorse.

Restocking Fees: Who Charges, and Who Doesn't

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Netbooks, Kindles, GPS: Avoiding Instant Buyer's Remorse

Have you bought a netbook, an Amazon Kindle 2, a portable GPS device, or another mobile electronic gadget lately? If so, let me ask you another question: How long was it before you wish you'd waited for something cheaper-faster-better?

My guess is: not too long. Given the fast pace of tech product introductions these days, a post-purchase twinge of regret is practically unavoidable. In fact, I believe we've entered the era of instant buyer's remorse.

Other than the unpleasant emotions such a state invokes, just the fear of buyer's remorse makes it harder to decide on the right product at the right time, and to buy it with confidence.

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Three iPhone Apps You Can't Live Without

Today I read about a free iPhone app called Email 'n Walk. There are tons of iPhone apps out there, of course, many of them for free or super cheap. But this one caught my eye, in an oh-no-they-didn't kind of way. The app's goal is to make it possible for you to see the ground you're walking on (via the iPhone's camera) as you type an e-mail on your iPhone and walk at the same time.

No word yet when this app will automatically cause the iPhone to ring as you approach an open manhole cover. While we wait for that functionality to be added, let's move on to three iPhone apps I actually find useful, especially for mobile professionals and other frequent travelers.

1. Jott

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