Why Buy Amazon Prime Membership

I’ve used Amazon Prime in its many forms over the past 5 years – both free trials, and paid membership.

Currently I’m using a Amazon Prime Free Trial for 1 month.

This is a trial that Amazon had previously said I was ineligible for because of previous Amazon Prime membership including: Amazon Mom (Free 3 month membership that is extended for up to 1 year if you buy items through Amazon Mom during the time you are a member), and Amazon Student (Free Prime 6 month and then discounted membership – with edu addresses and enrollment in colleges and tech schools).

Amazon Prime Membership is $79 a year, but you can give it a try for FREE.

Amazon Mom & Amazon Student: Special Prime Memberships

FREE – Amazon Mom 3 Month ‘Try It Out’ Offer

New Amazon Mom members are eligible for a free 3-month period of Prime shipping benefits.  You are eligible if you are a parent (Mom or Dad) or caretaker of small children.

Including:

20% off diapers and wipes subscriptions with Subscribe & Save.

FREE Two-Day Shipping on millions of items with Amazon Prime shipping (not available on Subscribe & Save orders).  

Exclusive discounts and deals for Amazon Mom members: coupons and promotions.

NOTE:  Customers who receive free Prime shipping benefits through their Amazon Mom membership do not have access to all of the benefits that the paid Prime membership provides, including access to Prime instant videos and the ability to share your membership with up to 4 invitees.

FREE Amazon Student 6 Month Offer

As an Amazon Student member you’ll also get six months of FREE Two-Day Shipping with Amazon Prime on eligible purchases, and will automatically continue receiving Amazon Prime benefits at a cost of $39 a year for up to four years with automatic renewal.

After you graduate or at the end of your fourth year of Amazon Student $39 Prime benefits, whichever comes first, your subscription will automatically upgrade on its anniversary date into a full paid subscription for Amazon Prime at $79 a year.

Why Buy Amazon Prime Membership?

1. If you buy a lot of items from Amazon throughout the year which are sold by Amazon, and not Amazon Marketplace sellers (although some are included in Prime shipping…), it’s worth it.   Items purchased seem to ship more quickly, and once shipped it’s only a 2 day wait to have your items in hand.

2. If you have a Kindle, it’s worth it to be able to borrow (1) bestselling book a month from the Amazon Lending Library.

3. Amazon Prime’s Instant Video, streaming movies, documentaries and TV programs, is ever-growing and filled with favorites! If you’re considering cutting cable and satellite services to save money, this is a great investment in addition to Netfix, HuluPlus and Vudu.  It works well and many items are in HD!

Amazon Prime Membership – Questions & Answers

Amazon Prime FREE Trial Membership Details

Is $79 a Year Too Much for Prime Membership?

Only you know the answer to that question, but for me the answer is ‘no’.

When I look at my last year of Amazon use, I think it’s worth the $79 to me to keep Amazon Prime.

I factor in that I purchase between 2 and 10 items from Amazon each month, own a Kindle  and tablets where I can view both Kindle books and video content, and have previously rented Amazon Instant Videos (2-8 a month for $1.99-$3.99 per rental),  and realize that yearly cost goes a long way in adding enjoyment and convenience to my life.

Great Upgrade: Belkin N750 Wireless WiFi Router

Instantly watch from thousands of TV episodes & movies streaming from Netflix. Try Netflix for FREE!

It’s been a busy month at my house, and tough to keep up with savvy sleuthing, when you’re cursing your cable company and getting spotty Internet service!

In an attempt to upgrade my home network,  and eventually cut the cord with cable TV and go exclusively to Internet based programming and over the air HD channels with the Mohu MH-004092 Amplified Indoor HDTV Antenna ,  I ended up buying a really great product: Belkin N750 Dual Band Wireless N Gigabyte Router (Latest Generation) .

There are other great brands of routers available, but I continue to go with Belkin products because I’ve had great luck with their longevity and they are super easy to install, no matter what your tech abilities happen to be.

Not often on sale,  it’s still a deal because it has tons of  useful features, offers super-fast wifi,  is easy to install and use, all for under $100.

If you’re looking to upgrade your home network to enjoy fast, stable  streaming HuluPlus, and other web-based programming, put this router at the top of your list.

I had the Belkin N750 router installed in minutes using the simple in-box instructions.

After entering the network password on all my wifi devices, everyone was playing nicely – and VERY quickly together.

Video streaming booted more quickly and remained stable, as well as wifi on my iPad, smartphone and PCs became lightening fast!

The router has a ‘self healing’ setting that allows you to set-up a time when you’ll not be online to have it power down, reset and reaquire its signals, making it stable and fast when you need to use it.

FYI…

Unless you have a hug house, don’t overspend on the Belkin N900, as it’s essentially the same router with one more antenna (extending its range).  

Don’t purchase the other N750 priced at about thirty more – it’s the older version.

I had no idea what I was missing until I upgraded to the Belkin N750 Dual Band Wireless N Gigabyte Router (Latest Generation),
and because it can stream speeds on dual channels, up to 450 megs… there’s room to grow.

Why Upgrade to the Belkin N750  DB Router?

1. Dual Band Speed: Simultaneous dual-band speeds up to 300Mbps (2.4GHz) + 450Mbps (5GHz). Wired Ethernet speeds, 10/100/1000 Mbps

2. It provides you with a way to set up a guest channel with a separate password.

3. You can set up Parental Controls  by Norton to automatically filter and eliminate sites you don’t want popping up on your computer from your family’s network.

4. MultiBeam Technology helps send the wifi signal through homes with basements and second floors, extending its range.

5. You can stream video, play online games, download music and have multiple wifi devices going at one time, without a loss in speed or stability with this one!

6. Acts as a Media Server with TWONKY – 2 USB ports on back of router so you can share media throughout your network.

7.  Superior Performance: 900 Mbps Wi-Fi + routing speeds combined!  Perfect for Netflix, HuluPlus, Vudu and Amazon Instant Video.

8.  (4) ports plus (2) USB on N750

9. Works with Windows and Mac systems (including Windows 8), and ideal for use with Smart TVs, mobile devices, mutiple computers and multi-player gaming.

10. Easy to install, with lots of personalized settings and self-healing feature.

11. Supports wireless printing via USB port – making ANY printer wireless!

12. Video Mover App – works with media attached to router via USB to stream movies throughout your network.

vudu.com

How To Find the Perfect Budget Windows Laptop PC

How To Find the Perfect Budget Windows Laptop PC


budget-laptop

If you’re looking to buy the perfect budget laptop PC,  computer specs is where you need to start your search.  Then consider how and where it will be used most often.

More quesitons to ponder…

How long do you want to keep this PC?

Will be at home on your desk or thrown into a backpack repeatedly over its lifetime?

Do you want it for entertainment, basics like email and surfing, or will it need to do it all?

Let’s start with budget Windows laptop PC specifications – the parts that make up the whole of the laptop purchase.


Savvy Thoughts on Laptop Specs

 

  •  Size of screen: 17″ for desktop replacement laptops, 15-14″ for portables, 14-13″ screens for ultra-portable notebooks, and under 12″ are generally considered netbooks.  Note: The size of the laptop PC will generally determine it’s weight with larger screens adding to the overall weight of the computer.
  • Processor: AMD brand processors tend to be less expensive than Intel brand ones.  This doesn’t mean they are of lesser quality however, as many have long lives and offer excellent performance with the right system.
  • Memory: The amount of memory is important as it helps the operating system to move smoothly from one task to another, as well as giving your system the ability to multi-task without freezing.  I recommend at least 8GB in a Windows 7 PC and at least 4GB in a Windows 8 laptop.  Windows 8 is easier on system resources, thus the drop in memory, but ideally – you’d max out the PC’s available memory for the best performance.  That’s one upgrade you’ll never regret.  Inexpensive and it’s easy to do yourself.
  • Hard Drive : A minimum of 320 GB is standard in the budget laptops, which if you’re storing music and photos will fill up fast.  No need to look for a laptop PC with a larger hard drive though as size isn’t that big of a  deal.  Exernal hard drives are getting cheaper all the time, with a 1 TB external drive being less than $90.  One like this: WD My Passport 1TB Portable External Hard Drive Storage USB 3.0 Black
    You want one to back-up your computer and store big files, and you can easily add more if needed.
  • Ports: USB (2.0, 3.0), HDMI, VGA, etc… more connectivity options are always better. Look for the newest USB 3.0 and HDMI if you intend to share or store contents the fastest way possible.  VGA is an old standard for monitors that some may still find useful, although this is being phased out.
  • Media Card Reader: important for fast transfers of information to and from SD and other media cards from digital cameras, video cams, smartphones and tablets.
  • Battery Life:  If you’re not unplugging the laptop and taking it with you, this is a non-issue.  However, if you plan on using it with battery only power, you will want at least a 3 hour up-time.  Some budget Windows laptop PCs come with batteries large enough for up to 6 hours of runtime,  but most do not.  You can upgrade to a larger battery capacity for about $100.
  • Webcam: Important for Skype and fun for instant messaging, but not essential if you do not do those things.  Most budget Windows laptop PCs do come with webcams installed, but you an also buy a USB powered webcam  for about $30 if you purchase a laptop without one and decide later you really want one.  Some webcames are 1080p HD quality when purchased separately, but you’ll never find that high resolution in a budget Windows laptop PC’s webcam.
  • Audio: Beats Audio and Dolby Digital are the two biggies in upgraded sound, but you probably won’t find those in a budget PC.  A great addition for boosting your laptop’s sound from its speakers is a satellite speaker.  Some plug into the headphone jack on your laptop, while others are USB or Bluetooth controlled.  All of them offer a tiny speaker with great sound.  An excellent, inexpensive addition  that means no need to upgrade your audio if ordering a laptop PC.
  • Video: This tends to be sufficient  in most budget notebooks, so unless you’re into gaming or have a Blu-ray disc drive installed, no need to even worry about it being shared with other system resources. If you are a ‘gamer’ or plan on editing a lot of video or photos, you will want to get a laptop with a separate video card.
  • Disc Drive (DVD-RW, Blu-ray, CD):  DVD drives are pretty much the standard, except on netbooks and ultrabook laptops which don’t have drives in them.   If you’ll be watching movies on your PC other than streaming via Netflix, HuluPlus or Amazon, you may want to consider a Blu-ray drive as an add-on.
  • Weight: Bigger screens mean heavier laptops.  The lightest laptops will be 13-14″ screen ultrabooks, which don’t have disc drives in them.  The average laptops will weigh between 4 and 7 pounds.
  • Keyboard:  Full-size, with or without numeric keypad, and backlighting are some of the things to think about.  The feel of the keyboard is a big issue for many, so try out different ones at a local store before ordering online to make sure you like the feel before ordering if you can.
  • Bluetooth: Somewhat rare in budget Windows laptop PCs, and handy if you can find it installed, but again, you can order a USB Bluetooth adapter for about $15 if you buy a laptop without one installed.   Like this one I use:   Kinivo BTD-300 Bluetooth 3.0 USB adapter – For Windows XP/ Windows 7 / Vista, Mac OS 10.3.9 or Later .  This addition means you can easily upload photos and music  from iPods, iPhones, iPads, smartphones, tablets, etc… which are Bluetooth enabled, to your laptop.  That works in the reverse too!
  • Network Connection:  Wifi has become standard and most still have a physical network port for hardwiring a connection to the Internet.
  • Warranty:  Most new laptops come with a standard limited warranty of 1 year.  You can generally extend them and add coverage for accidental drops and spills.  Prices vary, but expect each additional year to cost approximately $80-$125 for this coverage.

Quality Equals Reliability

You’ll also want to consider brands and their reliability.  In recent years HP, Lenovo (formerly IBM), and Asus are the top 3 brands  in terms of reliability.
Samsung, is the middle of the road and is producing solid laptops even at the budget end of the spectrum.
 Acer, Toshiba and Dell are (in order) are struggling to keep up their build quality and customer service, and satisfaction with these companies is diminishing, but so are their high prices.

 How Will You Use Your Laptop?

How you will be using your laptop determines your needs, and once you know what those needs are, you can figure out what you want in your PC.

Are you a student?

Is this laptop for your whole family?

Ask yourself these questions and then narrow down what specs will be your must-haves and which ones are simply ‘that would be nice to have’ in your perfect budget Windows laptop PC.

For example if you can’t imagine ever needing a PC with a hard drive that’s bigger than 320GB, don’t get one.  It adds to the price!

Or if you think Bluetooth would be a wasted perk, forget about it.  There are a lot more laptop PCs in the budget end of the spectrum without Bluetooth than there are with it, and it’s easy to add if you change your mind.

You can get a lot of Windows computer for $350-$450 these days.

Use this guide to narrow down your needs and determine your wants, and then have fun shopping for your perfect budget Windows laptop PC deal.

If you need help finding it, just drop me a note or leave a comment and I’ll see what I can do for you.

Photo credit: Ciccio Pizzettaro / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

Review The North Face Women’s Khumbu Jacket


The North Face Women’s Khumbu Jacket  is one of the coziest, most versatile jacket’s a woman can have in her wardrobe.

I own several of them and wear them often  through all four seasons, as stand alone jacket,  a zip-in undearneath my The North Face Gore-Tex jacket, and occasionally as sleepwear because it’s so comfortable I don’t want to take it off!

My favorite thing about this jacket style is the soft texture of the non-pilling fleece.

 It’s just the right weight too.  Not too bulky, and yet warm and cuts the wind if it’s out to get me.

I also enjoy the collar which just naturally stands up, but not in a stiff way, more like it’s just trying to peek around my neck to see where we’re going.

Deep pockets both as side slits with zippers, and interior ones that are big enough to carry snacks, make me very happy.   The cord in the hem of this standard-fit jacket can be left slack or snugged up close to my hips to keep out the chill.

I often wear this jacket back and forth to the gym as it’s warm, yet still breathable enough to be comfortable after a sweaty workout and durable for repeated washings.

My chest is 40″ and I have broad shoulders, so I often have to buy jackets that are bigger than size charts would indicate.  This one seems to be on par with The North Face sizing charts.  I buy a women’s size Large in this jacket, unless I’m going to be layering and then I size up to the XLG size.

Right now you can get the regularly $90 The North Face Women’s Khumbu Jacket in several discontinued colors for Up to 50% Off – Only $63 to $45 at Getzs.

You may also want to consider this Clearance deal for over the top of your Khumbu jacket:

The North Face Women’s Plasma Thermal Jacket – 50% Off at Getzs

Getzs has lots of discontinued deals on The North Face for men, women and kids.

They also carry Carhartt, Under Armor, Dansko, UGG, and Columbia, among other top brands, and have a Daily Deal which can be found on the Savvy Sleuth’s Daily Deals page.

Free Shipping over $75 and FREE Returns at Getzs.com! Click here for details.