Hackintosh Netbook, Anyone?

It seems unlikely that Apple will enter the netbook market, though Mac OS netbook rumors continue to circulate. Apple COO Tim Cook dissed the hot product category and suggested those wanting a Mac netbook should just buy an iPhone or iPod Touch instead.

But guess what? Some people aren't waiting for Apple to make a move. They're defying Apple and installing Mac OS X on netbooks from Dell and other manufacturers. (Though Apple computer owners can legitimately install Windows on their Macs, the Mac OS X is only licensed to run on Apple computers.)

Hackintosh Recipes on the Web

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Location-Based Mobile Service Helps You Remember

Location-based services that remind you about to-dos when you're on the go are exactly what busy mobile professionals need. A new service, ReQall Pro ($3/monthly or $25/yearly), gives you reminders that are tied to specific locations. Unfortunately, in its current incarnation the service doesn't go as far as I'd like, because it's hampered by some technological limitations beyond ReQall's control. Even so, it's worth a try.

The Ideal

In concept, what I'm looking for is a service that ties a specific to-do item or shopping list to a specific GPS coordinate, then gives me an audible reminder (like a buzz on my mobile phone) when I'm approaching that location.

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Reduce Your Mobile Phone Bill

I'm just taking a wild guess here, but I'll bet your monthly cell phone bill is higher than you'd like it to be. If you use a smart phone, like a RIM BlackBerry or Apple iPhone, you're particularly vulnerable to high monthly bills, what with the data and text messaging plans. Even though you're locked into a contract with your wireless provider, there are ways you can get your mobile phone bills under control.

Obviously, one way to reduce your monthly bill is to switch to a less expensive plan with fewer minutes. But you've got other options, too. Here are four.

1. Text for Free

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Netbook or Ultraportable: Which Is Best for the Job?

Netbooks are starting to look like ultraportable laptops, while some ultraportables are beginning to resemble netbooks. In a tight economy, the question arises: Should you keep costs low by buying an inexpensive netbook, or spend a few hundred dollars more to get a full-featured lightweight laptop?

Here's a quick rundown of three recent product introductions, along with some guidance on which direction to take--laptop or netbook?

But First, the Back Story

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Skype for iPhone: Free Calls on Your Mobile Phone

In the days before cell phones and applications like the new Skype for iPhone, there was this thing called the hotel room telephone.

Here's how it worked. You'd pick up the bedside phone, dial to get an outside line, dial a number, and talk. Then, when you'd check out, the front desk clerk would give your bill. And you'd wonder: How could a 10-minute call home cost more than a lobster dinner and bottle of wine from room service?

But that, as they say, was then. Now when you're traveling, you can call home and talk for hours, for free, thanks to Skype (and other Voice over IP services). This week: a look at the new Skype for iPhone app.

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Mac vs. Windows: $2000 Laptops Compared

Do you pay dearly for the Apple logo, as Microsoft's Steve Ballmer claims? Or are Apple laptops really a good value, even though they aren't the least expensive models on the market?

To find out, last week I compared the least expensive Apple MacBook, the $999 white model, to two reasonably similar Windows laptops costing about the same amount. My goal was to see what you'd get, in terms of features and specs, if you spent $1000 on a MacBook versus the same amount spent on a Windows machine.

My verdict? The white MacBook's tech specs seem a bit stale in comparison to the two Windows machines I priced online, the HP Pavilion dv3510nr and Dell's Inspiron 13. And your dollar definitely goes further with the Windows laptops.

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Mac vs. Windows: What Does $1K Get You?

Apple's been criticized a lot lately for charging premium computer prices during a recession. In its defense, though, I hasten to add that Apple generally delivers value with its computers. In my experience, with a few nits aside, Mac laptops are imaginatively designed, well built, and a pleasure to use. Macs aren't subjected to all the viruses and malware aimed at Windows computers. You can run Windows on a Mac. And though Apple laptops slipped a bit in PC World's most recent reliability and service survey, they still get high marks in those areas.

I should also mention that in July 2008, I compared the specs of Mac laptops to those of similar Windows machines and found very little price difference. In some cases, Apple laptops were less expensive than similarly configured Windows laptops.

But with the recession continuing, I took another look at how Apple's laptops compare price-wise to Windows notebooks. This time, I made a different comparison. Instead of starting by comparing specs and then comparing price tags, I flipped the equation. I asked the question: What would I get if I spent $1000 on a MacBook, and what would the same amount of money buy me in a reasonably similar Windows laptop? That's the focus this week. Next week: What will $2000 buy in a MacBook vs. a Windows laptop?

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