Well, yesterday's freebie was kind of a disaster. Was anyone able to actually get one of the games? I realize the whole thing was frustrating, but keep in mind the Interwebs tend to go crazy when there's a truly sweet giveaway like this. Traffic jams and server issues are not uncommon. Have patience, and realize no one's trying to take advantage of you.
Anyway, on to today's business. Want to squeeze a couple more years out of your aging laptop? (And by "aging" I mean 3-4 years old.) I suspect a lot of people do simply because the alternative means getting a machine with Windows 8. With at least one strategic upgrade, you can keep your Windows 7 system humming along smoothly and even get a performance boost.
Yep, I'm talking SSD. A solid-state drive is a fairly simple upgrade that yields a fairly substantial performance boost. Better battery life, too, and less overall heat.
A big SSD can be pricey, but for today at least there's a (sorry) solid deal: Newegg has the Toshiba Q Series HDTS225XZSTA 256GB internal SSD for $149.99 shipped. That's $50 off the regular price. Is it the lowest price I've ever seen on a drive of this size? Not quite, but this is among the best SSDs in its class.
The Q Series is a SATA III drive that promises faster booting, less noise, and lower power consumption than a traditional HDD. I can attest to that; SSD-powered laptops I've used blow the doors off their HDD equivalents, and they run a lot longer on a charge. As for noise, my SSD-equipped Samsung Series 9 is virtually silent. (That can actually be a hassle at times, as I can't tell when the drive is actually active. I wish more laptop makers would include drive-activity indicators.)
Toshiba backs the drive with a three-year warranty, which is excellent. But what's even more telling here is the preponderance of five-star user reviews. Seems like everyone loves this super-speedy SSD.
In an ideal world, Toshiba would bundle the software and cables you need to migrate your current drive to the new one. And maybe some instructions, though CNET's Dong Ngo tells you everything you need to know in "Migrate to SSD: Get yourself a new computer without getting one."
The cable part is easy: Newegg has a Baaqii USB-to-SATA adapter for all of $6.54 shipped, so you can easily toss that in your cart while you're getting the drive. As for the software, Paragon's Migrate OS to SSD gets the job done for $19.99 (though BitsDuJour currently has it for $15.96), but as Ngo points out in his tutorial, a freebie like EaseUS Disk Copy Home Edition is a viable option as well.
It's worth noting that if you can get by with less storage, you can routinely find 128GB SSDs for around $80. Consider offloading less-important data to the cloud or an external drive and that might be a less painful way to dip your toe into the SSD waters. But whatever capacity you choose, you're in for a performance-boosting treat.
Bonus deal: If you haven't yet signed up for movie-streaming service Vudu, you can now get five free HDX-quality movies when you do so. (You can sign up via e-mail or you Facebook account.) There are nearly 30 surprisingly decent titles to choose from, all provided in full 1080p, including: "Star Trek," "There's Something About Mary," "Man on Fire," "Mission Impossible," and "Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon." But does anyone else have trouble getting the Vudu site to display properly in Chrome?
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