So - it really is amazing. Under my normal usage it lasts between 9 - 10 hours. Now - I can't really tell for sure since I don't sit in front of the laptop for 9 hours non-stop, and there is no way to track it otherwise. But the point is that it realistically lasts all day - so I no longer have to carry the power adapter with me, just make sure to charge overnight (like a phone). It also has a faster processor (meh - only thing I really use that needs power is Lightroom). But also nice to have 8GB ram and 256GB HD - 128 was a bit limiting for me (photos pile up on trips)
2. Since it also has USB3 I got this drive (recommended by Wirecutter) - http://thewirecutter.com/reviews/the-best-usb-3-0-thumb-drive/. Its speed is outstanding - takes a few seconds to copy about a gig of data. I am blown away.
3. Unfortunately my old Samsung S2 portable 500GB drive just died - sitting on the shelf. So to replace it I got the Samsung M3 USB3 drive - will see how fast it is compared to the flash drive.