Friday, March 27, 2015

Best all in one wireless media keyboard

- It's the perfect balance of features, size, weight, layout, and price.
- I picked it up for under $19 when it was on sale
- It's light and comfortable to use on your lap
- It has a very nice standard keyboard layout with all the keys where you would expect them like the right shift key
- The multi touchpad is pretty responsive and supports more gestures than logitech.  It's a good size without making the keyboard too large or cumbersome.
- It has a dedicated left mouse click button in the upper left corner which is handy for drag and drop operations.
- It has customization media keys and a bunch of function keys including sleep.
- Has dedicated on/off switch
- Runs on 2XAAA (I wish it were AA but oh well), and has a storage compartment for the tiny usb receiver.
- There is one annoyance that might be a deal breaker for some.  The two finger scroll gestures is reversed (more tablet like).  On windows 8.1 you can flip the scroll direction.  But if you are using with some other os like a chromebox then you are kind of stuck with it that way.

Other keyboards I've tried.
- Logitech K400:  One of the earlier keyboards I tried.  It was very cheap at the time but you kind of get what you pay for.  It's small but almost too small as the touchpad and keys are a bit cramped.  It's very light though.  The absolute worst thing for me is the location of the right shift key.  You have the arrow cluster where it should be so you end up hitting arrow up a lot when instead you want to hit shift.  This makes the keyboard one of the worst choices for touch typists.  It really sucks, and I own two.  I thought I could train myself but trust me it's not worth the trouble.  Skip it!

- Logitech TK820: I have two of these.  It's a large and heavy keyboard.  The touchpad is enormous.  It's pricey at $50-60.  It has no extra dedicated mouse button.  It runs on 4XAA batteries but has no receiver storage.  It's not a bad keyboard but it's not as nice as the Microsoft one and costs 2-3X as much.  There is also the more expensive K830 backlit one which is a crazy $92.  No thanks.

So yeah get the Microsoft one.  After all these years my search is finally over, and I've found the perfect all in one that works great with an htpc or chromebox and is super affordable to boot.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Acer Aspire E11 (ES1-111M-C7DE)

Acer E11 Pics

    Youtube video:
    • Boot comparison: acer c720 on left, E11 on the right
    • Browsing comparison
    • Minecraft
    • World of Warcraft
    • Diablo 3
    • Starcraft 2
    • Counter Strike GO
    • Fallout New Vegas
    • Skyrim (similar to the acer c720 video where I was streaming it. Here it's running local)
    So last year I went all out with chromeos with the still awesome Acer C720 chromebook and my very similar asus chromebox. Both used the excellent power/performance/price haswell based celeron 2955u. This year it seems to be the year of the sub $200 windows laptops and tablets. So again I looked to Acer since I liked the trackpad and keyboard on the c720 chromebook. The E11 line seems very similar. It's the same 11.6" screen form factor that I like. It weighs about the same too. So let's compare the hardware of the Acer Aspire ES1-111M-C7DE to the c720.

    E11 vs c720 comparison:
    • Silvermont dual core bay trail based celeron n2840 (cpumark 1109). It's cpu and gpu are quite a bit weaker than the 2955u (cpumark 1516) but it's also half the tdp at 7.5w.
    • UEFI modern bios with secure boot but you can also switch it to legacy boot if you want to install alternative OS's like linux.
    • 2gb single sodimm BUT it's upgradeable.
    • 250GB 2.5" hard drive. I actually prefer this on the C7DE variant that target carries because that means it's upgradeable with standard 2.5" SSD drives. Compare this to the one sold on amazon that has 32gb ssd included, that one is soldered onto the motherboard and NO SATA header so you can forget about upgrading the storage. So if you plan to upgrade the parts anyways go with the C7DE.
    • Lower batter life under windows 8.1 with only about 5-6 hours.
    • Built in gigabit ethernet jack!!!!
    • The rest is pretty similar: sd card slot (but only half depth so sd cards will stick out), 1 usb 3.0, 1 usb 2.0, full sized hdmi, bluetooth.
    • AC adapters are different so you can't share them between the two. Boooo!!!! Additional AC adapters are about $13 shipped off of ebay (seller: sourceswide) (UPDATE: do NOT use this seller.  Adapters don't fit property.  I'm still working with them to get the issue resolved).  UPDATE 2:  I returned the previous ones and bought another one from accesscables and it works great!
    • Trackpad is larger but doesn't feel as good as the c720. My first one had a weird vibration to it every time I touched it. So I exchanged it and the new one is fine. The added size is actually a step back in my opinion since it often engages the palm detection and then disables the trackpad for a sec. Overall, it's a worse experience than the c720 which had a surprisingly good trackpad at that price point.
    • Keyboard is pretty much identical: it feels good, a good size, and a solid layout.
    • It's completely fanless. Once you put in a ssd you can't hear a thing.
    • Octane 2.0: 7767 vs 11760

    Hardware upgrades:
    • So I got it when it was on sale along with an addition 10% off using their cartwheel app so my final price was only $138 + tax. At that price I was like why not and give it a try. My plan from the beginning was to upgrade it. I dropped in a crucial m500 240gb ssd that I picked up for only $80 and this 8gb sodimm 1.35v ddr3L 1600 ram for $68. So now we are up to $286 which isn't exactly cheap anymore. Straight out of the box without any upgrades it's a pretty horrible and frustrating experience. It's loaded with crapware making an already slow machine almost unusable especially at first boot until things settle down. It comes with windows 8.1 with bing which is just regular 8.1 but a free version offered to oems on cheap hardware. It exists to fight chromebooks basically. The default search is bing but it's easily changed.
    • Follow this video to do the upgrades (here are some additional pictures). Watch it carefully and more than once since there are a lot of connectors and each one has a different retention mechanism. They are pretty small so just be careful and take your time. Swapping the drive is easy but replacing the memory requires removing the entire motherboard. It went without a hitch.

    Windows 8.1 UEFI clean install:
    • I did a clean install of windows 8.1 enterprise with updates (msdn) under UEFI boot from a usb flash drive was a bit more challenging. You can easily burn the iso and do it off of an external optical drive but I wanted to see if I could do it off a usb 3.0 flash drive. You can and it's a bit tricky. First you have to create a UEFI bootable install on the flash drive. Follow this guide. I tried option 1 at first but for some reason it formatted to ntfs instead of fat32. I'm not sure why since I'm positive I picked the right options. Option 2 the manual way though worked for me. Then, get into the bios (F2) and add a system password. This then allows you to change between uefi and legacy boot modes and disable secure boot. What you want to do is leave it in uefi boot mode but turn off secure boot for now. After that I was able to boot from usb just fine but then I had no access to the keyboard or touchpad during the install. I think there is a bios option to put the touchpad into standard vs advanced mode to get it to work but I didn't bother. Just attach a mouse and get through the install because after the first reboot the keyboard will start to work but still no touchpad until you start installing the drivers. Get all the acer drivers from here. You will want to install all of it (make sure you identify your proper wireless/bluetooth chipset. Mine was Atheros and installing the wifi drivers also installed all the bluetooth drivers so I didn't run the stand alone bluetooth download.
    • Even with the latest windows iso I still had about 140 updates to do. Uggg…It's times like these I see the brilliance of chromeos.
    • Flashing the motherboard bios from windows happens very quickly and without much warning. To get back to the UEFI settings follow these instructions. The thing is once you go all out UEFI windows 8 assumes all control and the only way to get back to those UEFI settings is through a few windows hoops. I verified the latest bios version was flashed and secure boot was enabled again.

    Additional notes:
    • Boot times are incredibly fast thanks to uefi win 8.1 boot. It's < 10 sec to desktop. It really isn't much slower than my chromebook in developer mode which requires you to press ctrl-d.
    • Browsing is chrome isn't as good period. I ran both side by side hitting the same sites and the chromebook always won. Scrolling through complex pages was always smoother on the chromebook. The E11 was still very usable though most of the time.
    • I also have a usb 3.0 external portable hard drive so I can install even more games on to that.
    • It's nice having access to your entire games library instead of the ones with linux ports. Granted, almost everything you do is cpu/gpu constrained though so just keep your expectations in check and you might be kind of surprised what is playable.
    • VLC and Kodi both worked great and played all high bitrate 1080p mkv's just fine usually around 75% cpu utilization.
    • Office 2013 performed well. Having "REAL" onenote is awesome. This is probably the biggest thing I wish chromebook had. Even a proper linux port would be nice. Having to use the web version is meh.
    • Running full native 1password. It worked ok under crouton and wine but this of course is better.
    •! Another one of those apps I really miss on the chromebook.
    • Native windows share access!
    • Remote desktop just works better than the chrome apps.
    • It gets a little warm under heavy load but

    I tried the following games at lowest settings unless otherwise noted. I used fraps (which also takes a pretty big hit on fps) with overlay updates set to once per second. I took into considering not only the framerate but the type of game to make my determination if it would be playable or not. I only played the start of each game for a minute or so.  Some games were run off the ssd and others were on an external usb 3.0 portable hard drive.  Load times were fine on the external drive.
    clip_image001  = unplayable
    clip_image002 = might be playable
    • Starcraft 2 - runs great at low settings, 40 fps, long load times.
    • Diablo 3 - playable at 18 fps.
    • Hearthstone
    • World of Warcraft (starter edition, human starting area. 20-30 fps)
    • Counter Strike GO: 22-30 fps
    • One finger death punch
    • Defense Grid 2 - 20 fps
    • Torchlight II - runs pretty smooth. 22-24 fps
    • Space Run - 40 fps,, shadows on, runs significantly better than the linux version on chromebook crouton.
    • Minecraft: 50 fps avg but stutters sometimes dropping into the 20's. (low everything, draw distance 4 blocks, playable but still not entirely smooth)
    • Fallout New Vegas - Very playable at low - medium settings at around 20-25 fps.
    • clip_image001[1] Borderlands 2 - Not playable. About 15 fps at 640X480
    • Bioshock 2 - stays above 20's at low settings and 1280X600
    • Skyrim - around 20fps. It's sort of playable
    • clip_image001[2] Hard reset - 17 fps. Not really playable
    • clip_image001[3] Alan Wake's American Nightmare - 8 - 11 fps. Not playable.
    • clip_image001[4] The Darkness II - 10 fps
    • clip_image001[5] Far cry 3 blood dragon - 800X600 - 10 fps
    • clip_image001[6] Painkiller Hell & Damnation - 10 fps
    • clip_image001[7] Sleeping dogs - 10 fps
    • clip_image001[8] Typing of the dead - graphic corruption
    • The Witcher - add command option: -dontForceMinReqs. Low settings, 1366X768. 25-30 fps. Very playable.
    • Brutal legend - 21 fps at 800X600
    • Call of Duty Modern Warfare - 35-50 fps, 1280X720
    • clip_image001[9] Darksiders - 13 fps, 1280x720
    • clip_image001[10] Deus Ex Human Revolution - 1280X720, 13-20fps, not really playable
    • Doom 3 BFG - 35-60 fps, 1366x768
    • Euro truck simulator 2: 20 fps
    • Full spectrum warrior: ten hammers - 30-33 fps
    • Gauntlet - 15-17 fps, 1280X720
    • Geometry wars - 60 fps
    • Bully - 20-25, 1280x720
    • Bulletstorm: 20-25 fps, 1280x720, install latest gfwl
    • clip_image001[11] How to survive: 13-15 fps
    • Indigo prophecy: 78 fps, 1024X768, medium
    • Infested planet - max settings, 1366x768, 41 fps
    • Jagged alliance back in action: 23 fps
    • clip_image001[12] Lunar Flight: 16fps
    • Mark of the ninja: 30 fps, 1280x720
    • Nidhogg: 57 fps
    • Orcs must die 2: 40 fps, low
    • Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones: 40-60 fps, 1366x768, medium
    • clip_image001[13] Sniper Elite V2: 12 fps, 800x600
    • System shock 2: avg 45 fps, ,35-55 fps.
    • Terraria: 38 fps
    • Tron 2.0: 60 fps, 1024x768
    • clip_image002[1] Valkyria chronicles: 15 fps
    • Southpark: The Stick of Truth: 30 fps.
    • Wasteland 2: 18 fps
    • Kingdoms of Amalur: 18 fps (800X600)
    • League of Legends: 30 fps on medium at 1366X768
    • Path of Exile: Mostly stays near 30 fps, can dip to 15fps at times but playable. 1366X768 all settings set to lowest.
    • Homeworld Remastered: 25-50 fps.  Typically stays over 37 fps.  Very playable.  1366X768 default settings.

    It depends on your expectations and what you want to use it for. If you want hands down the best browsing experience, comfortable with linux, and do only light/indie gaming, all day battery life, and want a no fuss hassle free os then go with the chromebook. It's still better in those regards. If you need to run some windows apps, can live with a slightly compromised browsing experience, and spend some money to upgrade the stock hardware it's not a bad value. I wouldn't use a stock E11. I would find it too frustrating. The sub $300 11.6" windows laptop market isn't all that big. The options open up if you want a bigger screen size but I really like the portability of the 11.6". There is the hp stream 11 but it can't be upgraded. These devices are still all about compromises but they are getting better. My ideal sub $200 11.6" laptop would be take the c270 hardware and touchpad, 8 hr battery life, add ethernet, add full UEFI and legacy bios, allow a full size upgradeable 2.5" HDD, sodimm socket for upgradeable ram, full depth sd card slot, and setup a dual boot between chromeos and windows 8.1. Oh and maybe throw in a backlit keyboard while we are at it. So yeah basically I just want to merge the two laptops.  
    Also, I composed this post entirely on the acer e11.  I used the sd card slot to pull in the media, onenote to do initial writing, copy and pasted it to live writer to upload to the blog, to edit photos, and avidemux to join the videos.  It all worked very well.
    UPDATE: (3/4/2015)
    I just got a 512GB crucial M4 SSD refurb for $99.  So I went ahead and imaged the 240GB M500 to the new drive and expanded the partition using macrium reflect free.  Everything went smoothly.  The M4 benchmarks around 270MB/s read/write so it's plenty fast and hitting the sata II ceiling even for an older generation drive.
    UPDATE: (3/30/2015)
    Just a shout out to the folks at TekThing which is really a great show.  Go check it out and the reference to this review on Episode 8 at the 18:45 mark.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Amazon Fire TV Stick

Amazon Fire TV Stick

- Pretty darn amazing for $20 when they were on sale (now $40).  The setup experience is pretty excellent with my amazon account already setup for me.  After setting up wifi and a firmware update I was up and running.
- I really like the UI.  This is my first fire product, and I like it.  Everything feels fast and responsive.
- Having an actual remote and local storage for android apps is nice.  There was a bit over 5.5gb left for apps.  There was even a setting to allow side loading which I'll dig deeper later.  It seems like you push apk's from your pc over the lan.
- Prime video looked great and output dolby digital 5.1 plus.
- The other apps I briefly tried all performed well: netflix, youtube, plex (change the default bitrate to max and it looks a lot better), twitch, tunein.  Everything was responsive and looked good.
- fire tv remote control app is only on android for now.  The iOS version isn't out yet.  I tested it with my nexus 7 2013 and it worked fine.
- Sonic games won't work without a controller.  It doesn't work with the remote.  I tried pairing my dualshock 4 (hold down share then ps button until it flashes to put into pairing mode).  The fire tv would discover the controller but pairing would fail every time.  I tried some other game called unpossible with the remote and it worked fine.
- Mirroring with my nexus 7 worked ok but was just an overall pretty crappy experience like pretty much every time I tried mirroring under android.  Minecraft: mirroring fails.  Facebook: worked fine.  Chrome: failed after a while.  Sky Force: worked ok but serious performance issues on the tablet made it pretty unplayable.

For $20 I'm super impressed.  Even at $40 it's probably not that bad of a deal.  The hardware feels snappy and you have quite a good selection of apps.  With the addition of side loading that opens up a lot more possibilities (maybe xbmc).  At $20 I would have picked up a couple of more at that price if I knew these little sticks were this nice.


-Wow that took all of 5 min to side load the latest firefox and kodi beta xbmc apks. I enabled both developer options.  Apps that you side load show up in settings | Applications | Manage all installed.

Installed 1.3 ADB:

kodi arm beta xbmc (update: final release is out now):


More info in the wiki:

add kodi to the home screen:

- Streaming 1080p mkv dts play just fine.  Looks really smooth.  Upped the audio output to 5.1 and my receiver shows multichannel so I guess xbmc is doing the decoding.

So ummm yeah $20 for xbmc, browsing (used the nexus 7 as the keyboard), and android apps.  Wow, best $20 spent ever.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Mechanical Keyboards

- So for the past few years I keep reading about the advantages of a mechanical keyboard but mostly thought people were nuts to spend $100+ on a keyboard.  Well, I understand completely now.  The real tangible improvements to the typing experience can't be overstated enough.  You just have to try one (and longer than just at a store) to fully appreciate the improvement.
- I'm not the fastest typist out there but I do ok with around 85 wpm on  I love this site.  It's like my new favorite game since getting the keyboards.  Yes, that is plural.
- is a good place to purchase but they tend to sell out quite often.  Just make sure you check the Incoming and Just Arrived links on the front page to get an idea what's available and when.
- Below are my posts from QT3 as I journeyed deeper into the never ending money pit that is mechanical keyboards.  I ended up with 3 keyboards all with cherry mx browns and the red o-rings:
CM Storm Quickfire Rapid-i TKL ($135).  I have this on my gamer box.
Ducky Zero TKL (DK2087) ($91).  Computer in the study.
Ducky Zero DK2108 ($92).  Taking this one to work.
- For more information check out: (especially the wiki)

Logitech G710+ (returned it)

- So My first taste was the Logitech g710+
- Tried a few different ones and liked Cherry mx brown the best.
- o-rings make it nice and quiet which I prefer. Though it does feel a bit mushier I guess.
- Man this thing is heavy.
- Cheaper and locally available. Only $105 at best buy so if I don't like it back it goes. I was eyeing the corsair rgb k70 but those aren't even out in brown yet (just red).
- It actually works just fine with my usb linkskey 4 port kvm. I was really surprised by this. Macros work too on the gamer machine with the logitech software installed.
- Works fine with my macbook pro too through the KVM.

I hope the keys don't break or the LED lights burn out but other than that I'm really happy with it. At least it has a 3 yr warranty. Hard to believe I've been using a membrane for the past 20+ years. I had no idea what I was missing out on.

- Still really enjoying the g710+ but mostly coding this week.
- I looked at the code keyboard but was hesitant on using clear vs brown. I've never felt a clear so I'm not entirely sure I would like it.
- Ordered the Cooler Master QuickFire Rapid-i TKL from newegg since I have free shoprunner (american express deal) which gives me not only free 2 day shipping but free return shipping too. This should arrive tomorrow. It was kind of pricey at $130 (after $10 MIR). I don't really need all the fancy lights but all the cheaper ducky TKL ones were pretty much out of stock in the brown. The older cheaper CM was also out of stock.
- Ordered the Ducky Zero DK2108 Mechanical Keyboard (Brown Cherry MX) from for $92 shipped. Now that I'm spoiled I can't stand typing on a membrane at work so yeah this will be my work keyboard. I went with full size since I mouse left handed at work but right handed at home. Yes it's odd but I do that to stop some RSI issues I was having. It only took me a year to train my left hand to mouse. So the 10 key pad isn't really an issue at work.

So I'll use the CM and the g710+ for a week and decide if I prefer TKL or full size and return one of them. I'm thinking for home I'll probably prefer the TKL.

So my advice to everyone is if you don't have like $200+ to blow on freakin keyboards just don't ever try a mechanical....EVER!

UPDATE 2 (CM Storm Quickfire Rapid-i TKL):

Got my CM Quickfire Rapid-i TKL. It's so much smaller than the g710+. Without the o rings it's quite a bit louder and the longer travel distance is going to take a bit getting use to. Maybe I'll buy some o rings if I don't get use to it. I have so much deskspace now. It is nice to have my mouse closer and the keyboard centered directly in front of me.

One thing though I couldn't power this keyboard + my logitech gaming mouse at the same time through my usb kvm. It worked fine with the g710+ though. Once I swapped in my logitech m510 on the kvm it worked fine. I moved my gaming mouse to be hooked directly up to my gaming rig so all is good. I'll try and put in some time in with this TKL over the weekend and see how I like it.

WTF: o-rings are $18?????? Are these people high? Man the g710+ really is a bargain.

Early impressions. I'm really digging the TKL form factor. It's so much more comfortable to have the keyboard centered in front of me and the mouse still close. The CM is definitely quite a bit louder especially the space bar. But since this is my home keyboard I don't mind so much. I might have to get o-rings for the ducky that I'm bringing to work just so I don't drive the co-workers crazy. The lights are kind of neat to mess around with. The key caps pick up finger oils easily so it looks shiny and feels a bit slippery. I actually like the more matte finish of the g710+ which I think looks and feels better. As far as how the typing feels I think I slightly prefer the o-rings though it really doesn't make that big of a difference to me. I tend to bottom out so it's a bit harsher on the CM without the o rings.

So what I want is a TKL version of the g710+ without the macro keys. Decisions decisions....

UPDATE 4 (Ducky Zero DK2108):

Ducky Zero DK2108 in the house! I like it!!!! You can toggle 6 key or nkro which is nice for compatibility, and it plays nice with my KVM. You can also disable the windows key if you want. I like the key caps better than the CM. It has a slight texture to it and doesn't feel as slippery. Also, the spacebar is quieter so I guess the stabilizers are different? Actually, overall the ducky is quite a bit quieter than the CM. I'm not sure why since they both have cherry mx brown. I guess it's the sound made when I bottom out. 

So after a few more rounds of it seems I actually type faster on the CM (about 5 wpm on average). Not sure why. The two keyboards do feel different in subtle ways.

I'm going to give these o-rings a try:
I also considered these at half the price:

but in the end I went with the red ones which are a bit softer (40A vs 50A) and thinner (.2mm vs ??? but reviews say they seem thicker than .2mm) to preserve the feel as much as possible.

Also, I like wrist rests so I have one of these for the ducky:

and I just ordered this shorter one designed for TKL:

The thickness is just right.

And to get rid of the rattle in the CM spacebar I'm going to follow this guide:
and this grease:

Nice keycap puller:

OK, I'm DONE spending money on this. Well, until I pick up another keyboard sometime in the future for the study. But that is lower priority. I must really stop now.

Oh and the g710+ is boxed and ready to be returned. I really do like the TKL length a LOT. 

UPDATE 5 (o-rings):
I have a fun evening ahead. It's like quality bonding time with my keyboard.

UPDATE: Took a bit less than an hour but I'm loving the o-rings. So much more quiet, I like the little bit of spring I get, and my wpm went up about 5. Oh and my spacebar doesn't rattle nearly as much anymore.

Update 2: finished the ducky in about 30 min and that was with more keys so yeah I got faster.

UPDATE 6 (Ducky Zero TKL):

My ducky zero TKL finally arrived. I've already put the o-rings on this time I carefully seated each one with tweezers. I went back and spot checked the other 2 keyboards that I already put o-rings on and they seemed fine with the put it on and mash the keys to seat the ring method. 

Anyways, I really think the ducky is a great value. For $91 it has all the critical features I look for including win key disable and NKRO/6KRO toggle. It has LEDs on all the keys that toggle. It works great with my KVM too. Granted, I think the cm storm feels a bit nicer, has a nicer finish, and is heavier to boot. I also like how it feels to type on better. It's subtle but different from ducky even though both use cherry mx brown and have the same o-rings. But is it $40 better? IMO, no.

UPDATE: 1/24/2015

Das Keyboard 4 Profession (cherry mx brown) refurb from woot for $120.  Installed the usual wsad red o-rings.  The stabilizers were a bit tricky to work with but this youtube video helped. 

It's really pretty.  It feels nice too.  The only thing I'm not too crazy about is the plastic ruler used as feet.  It seems a bit gimmicky and is pretty slippery.

Early valentines day present to the wife.  I think she likes it.  OK, now I'm done.  Every single computer in the house and work has a mech now:

ducky zero 
ducky zero TKL
cm storm quickfire rapid-i
das keyboard 4 pro
2 X Logitech g710+ (yes, even after I returned mine the kids really liked it so I bought them back at a really good price ($80) for Christmas as part of their new pc builds)

Hmmm that's $600+ in keyboards alone not counting o-rings, wrist pads, etc. in like 4 months.

iPad Air 2 (128GB, WiFi)

- My youngest is still on an iPad 2, and it is REALLY slow on iOS 8.  My old iPad 3 actually felt ok. So this upgrade was as much for me as it is for him.
- Super light and thin.  It's so thin it's getting a tad hard to hold.
- It's really fast.  Unlike the mini refresh this one got a new CPU, and man can I feel the difference.
- TouchID FTW.  I LOVE touchID.
- I've ordered the the iCarbons back only Titanium color this time.  I also picked up an apple smart cover.  I find this combination gives me some nice scratch protection with minimum weight added.
- I picked up this tempered glass screen protector from ebay for around $11.  I hope it has good adhesive.  I should have tomorrow.

Highly recommended.  It's a really nice iPad but it's more of the same.  If you need some product refreshing around the house like I did I say go for it.  I wish they would come out with an iPad Plus since I use the iPad for all my sheet music.  A little larger model would be nice.