Wednesday, June 8, 2016
How to Buy a Computer

The choice of computer types and styles has exploded in recent years, making buying a new computer a completely different experience than it was even ten years ago. There are many things to consider as you research computers to find one you want at a reasonable price.

It’s no surprise then if you’re confused about what to look for in a new computer and you’re certainly not alone. Many of us are in that self-same boat. Let’s face it, technology changes so fast, it’s hard to keep up. What’s state-of-the-art today becomes old news so quickly it can be frustratingly hard to keep up.

In the end, all you really need to know is - will the computer you pick do everything you need it to do? Here’s a simple plan to help you choose a computer that fits your needs

Learning Computer Speak

In order to help you understand what you read or hear from a computer sales person, here’s a glossary of terms you’re likely to encounter when shopping for a new computer. It’s the same whether you’re buying a PC or a Mac.

Computer Router
  • A Router is a small box that allows several computers to join the same network.  Besides wired connections, most modern routers offer wireless connectivity as well.
  • The Processor is the brain of a computer, also referred to as the CPU. Processor speed is measured in gigahertz (GHZ.) The larger the number of GHZ, the faster the computer will be.
  • The RAM or Random Access Memory, is what your computer uses to store information.  Again, the higher the number, the more memory your computer will have.
  • The Optical Drive is the device that can read and write CDs and DVDs.
Wireless Network Card
  • A Wireless Network Card is able to access the Internet without the computer being physically connected to a router. They are rated by their speed. A computer store expert can advise you on the speed you’ll need for your purposes.
  • An Ethernet Port is standard on all computers. It allows your computer to connect to the Internet by physically plugging it into your router.
  • The Operating System is the software that makes your computer go.
  • The Hard Drive is where all files, whether music, movies or word documents, will be stored. Hard drives are rated by size and speed. A computer salesperson can help you decide how much storage you should have for your needs.
  • A Video Card enables you to see what you’re doing on your monitor. Different video cards allow you to do different things, such as use multiple monitors or watch HD movies on your computer.

New or Used

Whether you want a new or a refurbished computer depends a lot on your price range. You can save a lot of money by buying something that’s a year or so old. Naturally, a brand-new computer with a warranty will cost more.

Features You Need

Decide what features and abilities are most important to you. Things to think about include:

  • Do you want a laptop or desktop model?
  • What software do you need the computer to run?
  • Are there peripherals, such as a modem or printer you need to be able to connect to the computer?
  • Compatibility with software or hardware you already have.
  • Your budget.

Portable Vs. Powerful

You will need to decide whether you want a desktop or a laptop. You can also get a hybrid PC.

Today’s laptops are small, lightweight and portable and offer a variety of characteristics that will suit almost any need. Many laptops now feature detachable, convertible screens that can double as tablets.

For a more powerful system, a typical desktop is designed with more core processors and hard drives and lets you add extra devices, if needed. You can connect a desktop computer to one or more large screens, which offers greater flexibility for looking at data, files and videos.

Standard laptops and desktop machines, which are a lot cheaper than they used to be, are also still available. But these, too, start to get expensive if you opt for advanced features like touchscreens, built-in cameras, fingerprint readers and even facial recognition login software. Some of these extra features may be unnecessary. For example, a touchscreen isn’t very useful on a desktop monitor.

Bottom Line

These days it’s not unusual for homes to contain more than one computer or types of computers. Laptops are convenient devices for students and executives who are always on the move. A desktop computer is often chosen to play games or pay bills on.

A reputable computer retailer will take the time to help you understand the features and functions of each of the different computers you’re considering so you can make the best choice for your particular needs.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016
Video Editing for Your Business

In this day and age, businesses that want to make their mark online must learn how to take advantage of multimedia content. It’s what potential customers are responding to on the Internet, and nothing works better than video because it combines the power of visuals, audio, and storytelling to capture the attention of an individual.

However, producing and editing videos can be a tall order particularly for small businesses that can’t set up their own studios. There’s a free video editing software with Windows and there are freeware ones out there, but what they’ll give you are either watermarked files or severely crippled functionality. A business needs a full-fledged commercial video editing software, such as Camtasia Studio 8.

Created by TechSmith, Camtasia Studio originally started as a rudimentary video creation tool used by software demonstrators, but over the years, it has blossomed into a full-featured education/information video tool. Now at version 8, the program’s codebase has been rewritten completely from scratch and includes a whole slew of new useful features (such as multi-track video editing and hyperlinks) as well as optimizations that lessen the system requirements.

How Camtasia Studio 8 Can Help Your Business

To understand Camtasia Studio’s value as a tool for your business, you need to first understand what it was originally used for and what made it so popular in the first place. The first users of the program, or at least the first users who managed to use it for profit, are those who create video tutorials on Youtube.

When Camtasia was first created, it’s selling point is that it can capture screen activity and save it as a video. People who need to attract customers did so by creating tutorials of how to do things, whether it’s tweaking a game, installing a WordPress plugin, or even how to modify a computer’s registry – they used Camtasia to capture what they are doing and uploaded it to Youtube for everyone to see.

It highlights a couple of important things that businesses need to remember: first is that people prefer being shown what to do on a video, as opposed to reading text instructions, and second is that there is value in showing people how to do things. This means if your business has something to do with teaching people or showing them something, Camtasia Studio is the perfect tool. But what if your business relies on something else, such as conventional selling and marketing of goods? Thankfully, the new Camtasia Studio is still useful.

What Camtasia Studio 8 Can Do For Your Business

Version 8 of Camtasia Video is no longer just a desktop capturing application. It is a full-featured video editor that supports all the file formats that you would ever encounter, from MP4 to MOV, to PNG to MP3 and everything in between. You can now create and edit your own videos, for a fraction of the price of more popular video editing software used by big name studios. Additionally, Camtasia has a free trial phase so it is virtually risk-free.

So what can you do with a video editing program? Create your own Multimedia content, of course. It could be something with high production values or something that looks intentionally low-fi, designed to go viral on meme sites. Whatever kind of multimedia content you create, one new feature of Camtasia Studio 8 will be extremely useful: support for clickable hyperlinks on the video itself. This is not a simple text link either, you can turn anything on the canvas into a clickable hyperlink, whether it’s text or part of an image.

This clickable hyperlink will be a very valuable tool in bringing new customers to your fold. Just create a video designed to reach as many viewers as it can get, then stick a hyperlink in there pointing to your website or a newsletter signup and you’ll have an interactive ad that works so much better at driving traffic than a hundred dollar banner ad.

Camtasia also has the ability to include polls or interactive questionnaires straight from the video, which could be useful for gathering feedback or encouraging viewer engagement.

Is It Worth Getting?

The biggest thing that Camtasia Studio 8 has going for itself is the fact that it costs a fraction of what other video editing software demands while offering the same functionality. By virtue of being affordable, it minimizes the cost risk to businesses and makes it a smart move to at least get the trial version, just to see if you can put it to work for your business.

If you just need a simple image editing software for creating a video here and there, Camtasia Studio is still a good deal, as not only will it fill your needs, it also keeps you future proof in case you find yourself with a business that could benefit from a video campaign.

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Monday, May 9, 2016
Hard Drive Manufacturers

These days, hard drives are frequently overlooked components of a computer. It may be a combination of the fact that the price per gigabyte has fallen way down and people focusing more on the number crunching and polygon-pushing components such as the processor and video card, but hard drives are still a vital component and they do fail over time, catastrophically at that.

When a video card or CPU fails, you can pretty much resume where you left off when you get them replaced. A hard drive dying on you, on the other hand, could mean years of work, data, and software lost in an instant.

So ensuring that you get the most reliable brand is important. In order to find out which one is indeed the best (or rather, to find out which ones had the most failure rate), online cloud service conducted a 3-year study at the end of 2013. Using an equal number of hard drives from different manufacturers, they subjected all to heavy use for 3 years and then assessed which ones had the least amount of failure rates. Based on their testing, here are 4 of the best hard drive manufacturers in the industry:

Western Digital

Western Digital has been around since 1970, after being founded by a former Motorola employee under the name General Digital. Its original products were MOS test equipment, but they eventually became a specialty semiconductor maker.

They changed their name to Western Digital in 1971 and began making hard disk drive controllers in the early 80s. They managed to secure a contract with IBM as the exclusive supplier of the controllers used in the PC/AT. The controller they supplied, the WD1003, was the precursor to the ATA interface that they co-developed with Control Data Corp (which is now known as Seagate) and Compaq.

Western Digital used to be considered as second only to Seagate Technology in terms of sales, but they have since overtaken the competitor after merging with another hard drive manufacturer, Hitachi, back in 2012.

Seagate

American data storage company Seagate Technology PLC was first incorporated in 1978 under the name Shugart Technology. They are known for being responsible for the development of the first ever 5.25-inch hard disk drive, called the ST-506. The prototype had 5 megabytes of storage capacity, which was a huge amount at the time.

They became one of the biggest suppliers of storage devices in the 80s and was actually the most successful until they were overtaken by Western Digital in the last few years. Still, they are a very close second and has also acquired other companies along the way, including Conner Peripherals in 1996, Samsung’s HDD arm in 2011, and Maxtor a little earlier in 2006.

The sheer number of established storage device companies that Seagate has absorbed means that had Seagate not chosen to absorb or buy any of them, this list would be a lot longer than 4. However, they were able to acquire said companies for a reason – even if the other companies are still around, Seagate would most likely still remain on this list.

Toshiba

Toshiba is an odd 3rd placer. The name will be familiar because Toshiba is a Japanese multinational conglomerate with an extremely diversified portfolio consisting of everything from industrial electronics to medical equipment, office tools, and even consumer electronics.

The company itself is bigger than the two previous entries in this list, but their storage products are smaller due to being relatively newer, and because they are focusing more on Solid State hard drives, which is already gaining a huge market share but still relatively niche due to being more expensive per gigabyte than traditional magnetic hard drives.

Fujitsu

Fujitsu’s storage hardware brand, Eternus, may seem new and unknown compared to the other brands above, but the company itself is tenured and considered as the world’s third largest IT services provider based on revenue, after IB and Hewlett-Packard. They’re also the second oldest IT company, having been founded in 1935. In terms of their contribution to storage devices, they are known for being the leader in the research and development campaign that resulted in both the magneto-resistive head and the partial response/maximum likelihood read channel technology. While still a major provider of storage solutions all over the globe, Fujitsu has since transferred ownership of their hard drives to Toshiba.

There are many other storage companies out there, and there are new ones coming along, especially now that solid state devices are becoming viable replacements for magneto-optical drives, thereby shaking the firm grasp that the above companies have in the industry and paving the way for new players in the market. Still, these four companies are established for a good reason. If you’re looking for a new hard disk drive, you can’t go wrong with choosing any of these brands.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

When it comes to alternative PC operating systems, contrary to popular opinion, Linux is the not the sole choice in the woods. A few alternatives are coded by large companies and a few others are projects made by hobbyists.

It is recommended that you install virtual machine programs like Vmware Player or VirtualBox to test and enjoy them.

Linux and more

If there is a list of alternate operating systems, Linux will invariably find a place. It is at the pinnacle of the alternative PC OS world. It comes in a number of flavors, termed Linux distributions. Mint and Ubuntu are the most well-known and used. In case you wish to install any non-Windows OS on the PC- and use it- the sensible thing to do is to install Linux. It is like UNIX as a operating system.

Other than Linux, there is also FreeBSD. It utilizes a dissimilar kernel. However, it uses a majority of the same software you will use on general Linux distributions. Both Linux and FreeBSD provide similar user experiences.

Chrome OS

The Google coded Chrome OS is created on Linux kernel. However, it substitutes the user level software and desktop with specialized desktop which exclusively runs Chrome browser and the Chrome apps. The OS is not an all-purpose PC OS. It is purposefully designed so that it can be pre-installed on Google made specialized laptops, termed Chromebooks. The good news is that you can install the Chrome OS in your PC.

SteamOS

SteamOS is created by Valve and is presently in its beta stage. In pure technical terms, SteamOS is simply a Linux distribution. It includes a majority of standard Linux software. There is one small thing though: this operating system is now positioned as the new gaming operating system in PCs. Underneath the new version is older Linux. The computer, however, boots up to a distinct Steam interface purposely created for living rooms. Personal computers that are shipped with preinstalled Steam OS are termed as Steam Machines.

Android

The Linux kernel also founds its place in Android. However, everything else is extremely different from the typical Linux distributions. It was originally crafted for Smartphones, but it is now also found on Android desktops and laptops. It should not come as a surprise that a number of projects aim to run Android on standard PCs. To put in perspective, even Intel develops their own Android port to the PC hardware. All in all, Android is not the best operating system for the PC. There are reasons for it -like you cannot employ multiple apps at same time. There is no bar to installing it if you need it.

Mac OS X

The Mac OS X comes preinstalled on Mac Apple computers. The Mac is a standard PC with a standard hardware. The only barrier to installing Mac OS on a standard PC is the license agreement dished out by Apple. The company also restricts their software. If you can bypass these limitations, Mac OS X can run smoothly in any typical PC. Many individuals do exactly that- leading to the term hackintoshes.

Haiku

In 1998, BeOS was the PC operating system. It was lightweight and in 1998 ported to Intel x86 platform. However, it was not successful against the then power of Microsoft Windows.  Be Inc. then initiated a court battle against Microsoft, on charges of pressuring the likes of Compaq and Hitachi to stop BeOS hardware release. The matter was finally settled out of court, with Microsoft paying about $23.5 billion to Be without the admittance of guilt. Palm Inc. eventually acquired Be Inc. Haiku is the open source BeOS reimplementation. It is an alternative view of what would have happened if Microsoft desisted from using brutal business practices during the 1990s.

EcomStation

IBM and Microsoft were the original creators of OS/2 operating system. The latter left it, but IBM continued its development. OS/2 finally competed with MS-DOS and early stage versions of Windows. Even after Microsoft won the battle, there continued to be old PCs and ATMs along with a large number of old machines continuing to use this OS/2. IBM now no longer develops this OS, but Serenity Systems-another company- has rights of its distribution. They call this operating system eComStation. This OS is modeled on OS/2 of IBM and includes extra applications like drivers along with a number of other enhancements. Incidentally, you have to pay for this OS. If you want, you can download a demo version.

ReactOS

ReactOS

It is an open source and free reimplementation of Windows NT architecture. It is one of the many attempts to re-implement Windows as the open source operating system compatible with Windows servers and applications. ReactOS has no similarity with Linux, with coding similar to Windows NT.

You can always rent a computer with these operating systems to determine which option works the best for you, before you buy one.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Internet of Things (IOT) is a network of electronic physical devices, that are embedded with software and sensors, that has network connectivity. These devices can connect to the Internet and collect data, or exchange information with each other. A few of these physical devices or 'things' are cellphones, wearable devices, washing machines, refrigerators, headphones, and so on. To understand IOT better, consider the following example.

Your alarm clock can wake you up in the morning, then sync with your coffee maker to let it know that you have woken up. The coffee maker will then start brewing coffee. By the time you are ready, your coffee will be ready too.

Following are five of the best open source operating systems for Internet of Things.

1. Contiki

Contiki is an open source IOT operating system that is ideal for memory-constrained systems. It particularly focuses on low-power wireless IOT devices like alarm systems, street lighting systems, radiation monitoring systems, sound monitoring systems for smart cities, and so on. Most of the Contiki run devices are severely constrained in terms of power, bandwidth, and processing power as well.

Contiki is designed to have memory in kilobytes, power in milliwatts, processing speed in megahertz, and bandwidth in kilobits / second. Contiki needs only 10 kilobytes of RAM (Random Access Memory) and 30 kilobytes of ROM (Read Only Memory) to function properly on a non-GUI (Graphical User Interface) system. A full GUI system needs about 30 kilobytes of RAM. A complete version of Contiki has all the following features.

  • TCP/IP networking, including Internet Protocol v6
  • Multitasking kernel
  • Pre-emptive multithreading
  • Screensaver
  • Personal web server
  • Basic telnet client
  • An Internet browser
  • Networked remote display using VNC (Virtual Network Computing)
  • GUI and Windowing system
  • Protothreads

2. FreeRTOS

FreeRTOS is a very popular real-time operating system for IOT devices. The operating system is open-source, however, it permits a user's proprietary code to remain closed. This facilitates the use of this operating system in proprietary applications. Designed to be simple and small, FreeRTOS's kernel consists of only 3 or 4 C-language files.

The C-language helps the code to be readable, easily portable, and maintainable. The features of FreeRTOS include software timers, multiple threads or tasks, semaphores, and mutexes. For low-power application, a tick-less mode (a process in which timer interrupts are delivered only as required) is available. Thread priorities are supported as well. It has a four-schemed memory allocation also.

3. RIOT

RIOT is a microkernel-based operating system for IOT. The source model is open-source. It is known as the friendly OS for IOT. RIOT is developer friendly and resource friendly. Its key features include real-time capabilities, high energy efficiency, communication stacks for both wired and wireless networks, low memory footprint, support for C++ and C language, and support for low-power hardware. RIOT runs on 32-bit, 16-bit, and 8-bit hardware.

It can be run as a Linux or MacOS process with the help of a native port. The operating system provides multiple network stacks, including Internet Protocol V6. Developed by an international community of open-source developers, RIOT is available on GitHUB, a web-based Git (a version control system for software development) repository hosting service.

4. Tizen

Tizen is an open-source operating system for IOT, based on the Linux Kernel. The operating system targets a wide range of IOT devices like tablets, smartphones, smart TVs, smart cameras, smart home appliances, smartwatches, printers, and so on. Tizen OS is a project within Linux Foundation. The project is governed by TSG (Technical Steering Group) composed of Intel, Samsung, and other major mobile industry giants. The first consumer device based on Tizen was Samsung's NX300M smart camera.

Tizen is developed using HTML5, C and C++  language. Tizen provides app development tools based on jQuery and jQuery Mobile, two  JavaScript libraries. Since Tizen 2.0, an application framework based on C++ is also available. Tizen 2.0 alpha, also known as Magnolia, offers enhanced web-based framework with a lot of features, including better security for web apps. The SDK (Software Development Kit) platform featured allows developers to use HTML5 to develop apps that run on supported devices.

Tiny OS

5. TinyOS

TinyOS is a very popular open-source operating system for IOT. It is designed specifically for low-power wireless devices. It is an embedded OS written using nesC, a dialect of the C programming language. The operating system programs are built out of CBD (Component Based Development), some of which present hardware abstractions. Interfaces are used to connect the components with each other. TinyOS provides components and interfaces for packet communication, sensing, routing, storage and actuation.

TinyOS has only one stack. It is completely non-blocking, thus enabling it to maintain high concurrency with the only stack. However, it forces the developers to write complex codes by combining many event handlers. To support complex and larger computations, TinyOS posts tasks that can be run later. Tasks are non-preemptive and they run in FIFO (First In First Out) order. To run CPU-heavy apps, TinyOS uses a thread library called TOSThreads.

You can rent a device that runs any of these open-source operating systems, try it out first, and then download, and install it.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016
Xen Project Software

Qubes is an open-source operating system that is security-oriented. It basically provides security through isolation. It uses Xen hypervisor (a microkernel design that allows multiple operating systems to function/execute on the same computer concurrently) for the purpose of providing security isolation between different domains. The Xen hypervisor schedules the CPU, and does the memory and power management. The operating system was selected as a finalist in the 2014 Access Innovation Prize for the Endpoint Security Solution category.

Importance of security

Malware and viruses can cause serious damage to your computer, both software and hardware. They can affect your whole operating system, in which case you will have to re-install the operating system. This means spending money. You will have to pay the technician for re-installing the OS. You might also lose many important files. A malware can also work in the background, and steal important information, like your credit/debit card information, while you make online transactions.

Firewalls and antivirus programs are effective to an extent, but they can also fail occasionally. For example, a malware creator can check if an antivirus program recognizes a particular malware.  If it’s recognized, then they can rewrite the codes until the antivirus programs no longer recognize it. By the time an antivirus discovers the new threat, it might already have been too late for a lot of users. Also, the antivirus programs usually make your system slow. You also have to update the antivirus programs constantly.

Directly booting your computer from a CD or a USB stick while performing sensitive activities can make your personal computer secure to a certain extent, but the fact is, you are still running the same software stored / installed on your computer. That means, if your session is compromised, then all the activities and data performed during the session are also compromised.

Qubes approach to provide security

As stated earlier, the Qubes implements enhanced security by its Security-by-Isolation method. In a normal operating system, there are millions of lines of codes, and billions of hardware and software interactions. A bug in any of these interactions will allow a malicious program to infect, and take control over a machine. To counter this, Qubes isolates various environments. By doing this, if a virus infects a machine, it will affect only one environment. The other environments will be safe.

Qubes compartmentalizes the various sections of digital environments into securely isolated VMs (Virtual Machines). A virtual machine is a simulated system with its own operating system. It runs as a program/software on your computer. A virtual machine is basically a computer within a computer. The advantage of this is that you can keep your data in different VMs. This means, in the event of a virus affecting a system, it will be able to do harm only to the files stored in one VM. All the other VMs will be secure. For example, you can keep a VM specifically for opening files or emails that you suspect has malicious contents.

Now, not every VM software are equally effective when it comes to security. For example, Type 2 VMs or Hosted VMs like VMware Workstation or VirtualBox. They are popular because they can be run under Windows operating systems. However, these VMs will be compromised if their host operating system (like Windows) is compromised.

Qubes uses Type 1 or Bare Metal VM called Xen. Xen runs on the hardware instead of running inside an operating system. This means, Xen will not be compromised in case the operating system gets affected. In all reality, compromising Xen is not impossible, but it is extremely difficult.

Qubes makes it in such a way that two or more VMs running under a Bare Metal or Type 1 hypervisor can be used as an integrated operating system, securely. For example, the operating system puts all the application windows on the desktop with unique colored borders showing the trust level of their respective Virtual Machines.

It helps to securely perform copy/paste operations, and file transfers, between different VMs. It also helps for secure networking between Internet and VMs.

How is Qubes security different from using separate physical machines?

Using separate physical computers with conventional operating systems to store your data can certainly be more secure. For example, storing your important files in one computer and using a different computer to go online. However, even that approach has its own risks.

  • Physical separation can be expensive and cumbersome, because you have to buy and setup separate computers for each security levels needed.
  • There is no secure way to transfer files between computers running conventional operating systems.
  •  Individual systems are still vulnerable to attacks. Opening a harmless looking file can still put the system at risk.
  • Malware that can bridge air-gaps are real, and they are becoming very common.

You can rent a computer that runs Qubes, try it out and then decide to buy it.

Thursday, May 14, 2015
OS X Yosemite

When it comes to computerizing your workplace, there are a lot of complex and confusing decisions to be made. One of those decisions is to choose the right kind of operating system for your workstations. Each operating system comes with its own set of strengths and weaknesses.

You will have to find one that would suit your operations and overall business better. In this scenario, it would be ideal to look at all your options and test them against your requirements. Here are the top OS options available in the market for you to take a look at.

The Big 2

Though there are more OS options available, the 2 most popular and widely used options include Windows and OSX and therefore, our comparisons will be limited to these options. To start off, we will take a look at Windows first.

Windows: Microsoft's Windows is the staple operating system for more than half the organizations around the world because it is highly flexible and compatible with multiple programs and software. This high level of flexibility and compatibility comes in handy, especially, if your organization has to constantly collaborate on work or share files with clients or other businesses.

Windows is also quite user friendly, which means you won't have to spend considerable amounts of money or time trying to train employees. In fact, windows is so common that most of your employees probably know their way around it.  Speaking of the flexibility mentioned earlier, Windows can be used with multiple hardware options giving you the freedom to pick and choose only the components that you would require.

Coming to the drawbacks, the truth is that windows has many. One of the main issues with windows is security. This OS has a wide list of viruses and other computer infections that it falls victim to on a regular basis. The other issue is that of hardware and software maintenance. Owing to the large number of software and hardware options available for Windows, not every configuration can be tested officially. This results in a lot of configuration problems and eventually leads to instability.

Nevertheless, Windows makes a good option if you aren't too concerned about security or regular maintenance.

OSX: Though not as common as the Windows OS, it is, nevertheless, considered to be far superior by its patrons. Apple's OSX is the dream operating system for those involved in content creation. It's built on the Unix platform, which gives it a wide range of advantageous features.

It also hosts applications that are optimized for the purpose of content creation, be it textual or visual. It is also extremely easy to operate and users constantly praise it for its brilliant interface. Work processes become smoother and problem free with OSX. It is also very secure compared to windows since there aren't too many viruses or malware designed for OSX.

However, there are drawbacks even to OSX. To begin with, OSX is an expensive program and would not be feasible unless your work involves continuous content creation. Even the annual updates tend to burn a hole in company budgets. The other issue is that it isn't compatible with multiple hardware or software options like Windows. OSX runs only on Apple hardware, which means you will have to buy the complete Apple system, which isn't cost-friendly at all. So, unless you are an organization whose service involves constant content creation, OSX isn't for you.

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Tuesday, May 5, 2015
Gtel

Gtel, the Zimbabwean company, has become known for its mobile phones and customized Original Design Manufacturer (ODM) hardware. The company has now ventured into tablets with its first one called the T9000 tab. They have chosen to go with a Windows OS for their first tablet, moving away from the trend of Android tabs that have been flooding the market. How does this tablet fare and is it worth buying?

Features and specs in the Gtel T9000 Windows Tab

The Gtel T9000 Windows Tab features a roomy 8.9 inch screen that works really well for watching videos, although the in-built speakers are not that great unless you are in a very quiet place. Windows has made its OS free for devices that are smaller than 9 inches, which is helping Gtel price their tab much lower than would have been otherwise possible for a Windows OS tablet.

Some basic specs of the Gtel T9000 Windows Tab:

  • 8.9’ 1920x1200 multi touch touchscreen display that works at 254ppi for the tab
  • Intel Atom z3735F Quad Core 1.83GHz processor
  • 2GB DDR3 RAM
  • 32GB TF cards storage
  • 5 megapixel primary back and 2 megapixel secondary front camera
  • 8000mAh battery
  • Windows 8.1 OS, but also optimized for Android KitKat Intel HD Graphics card

Gtel provides a wireless keyboard as part of the package for this tab, which is very convenient especially if you intend to use it for extended periods for typing and writing.

The body has a glass front and back with an aluminium finish in gray and black, making the tab look and feel very premium. However, the body plus the TF card storage make the tablet quite heavy and bulky. The bulkiness makes it less portable, so if that is something you are looking at, then consider your options carefully.

Being a Windows tab automatically reduces the choice of apps on this tablet. However, most apps that can be used for a Windows desktop can be used on this tab. Some of these apps are not optimized for tablets and touchscreens, so using the keyboard more often might be a good idea.

Pros

  • Comes with a wireless keyboard
  • Software updates directly by Microsoft
  • Battery good for daily use, lasts up to a day with a single charge
  • Wireless keyboard shipped with tablet

Cons

  • Heavy bodyweight
  • Camera gives poor quality photos and does not have an in-built flash
  • Files cannot be directly copied from PC to tablet
  • No choice between Windows and Android, although box mentions it to be so

Overall the tablet seems to be built sturdily, performs well for most day to day activities and has a good battery backup. Downside is its heavy body, a not-so-great camera and the fact that it is only usable with Windows 8.1.

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Monday, March 23, 2015
Google Chromebook Pixel

The latest version of the Chromebook Pixel was launched by Google. Similar to the latest MacBook, it accepts USB-C standard. However while the new Apple laptop has a single USB-C port, Chromebook Pixel features two of them because the company wanted to deliver display and also charge simultaneously, said Google. It has a solid drive card reader and two 3.0 USB ports in addition to a headphone or mic jack.

Features

The latest Chromebook Pixel has the ability to give out almost 100 watts of power. This is greater than what is typically needed by even the biggest laptops, said the company. When a user plugs in a compatible USB Type-c device, the charger is able to adjust the correct amount of power for the device. This allows tablets, laptops and phones to be powered using one single charger.

An HD display output for a TV/monitor is also possible with the USB-C via HDMI accessories and DisplayPort. The USB-C was created for transferring high speed data (20Gbs), said Google. The present USB devices are only able to go up to a maximum of 5Gbs, so there is scope to grow.

The Chromebook Pixel (12.85 inches) has a touch-screen display of 2,560x1, 700 and weighs around 3.3 pounds. Buyers have the option to choose an Intel Core i5 processor (2.2GHz) along with 8GB memory. They could also opt for an Intel Core i7 processor (2.4GHz) with 16 GB memory. Flash storage of 32GB and 62GB is also available.

Performance

The incorporated Intel HD 5500 Graphics permits 4K of video output using HDMI or DisplayPort. There is also the option of a video adapter line (USB-C). Bluetooth 4.0 and 802.11ac are both supported by the Chromebook Pixel.

The Chromebook also has a backlit keyboard that comes with an engraved, clickable trackpad and wide-angled camera (720P HD). A twelve hour battery life is promised by Google. You will find the updated Pixel on the Google website with a starting price of $999 (Intel Core i5 version).  It comes equipped with a 32GB solid state drive and a memory of 8GB RAM. You will have to shell out $1,299 for the Intel Core i7 processor which comes with 16GB RAM along with a 64GB solid state drive.

The buyers get cloud storage (1TB Google Drive) for 3 years. However, you get only 180 days to claim it when you log into the Chromebook. The first Chromebook Pixel with a touch feature came in the year 2013. If you’re looking to try the new Chromebook Pixel by Google, check out a tablet pc rental near you. As a company, Google is all about experimentation and is guaranteed to live up to the expectations of the user.

Thursday, March 19, 2015
Trendy Mini PCs

It was long time back that smaller desktop computers became extremely popular. That was the time of media center PCs and home-theater fans would connect the TV to small computers for streaming videos or recording on-air programs. Today, there has been a dramatic transition towards game consoles, smart TVs and Apple’s Mac Mini is perhaps the only small-sized desktop in the picture.

HP’s new range

HP believes that the market can still do with a small desktop powered by Windows, whether on an office desk or the living room. The latest collection of products launched by HP includes the HP Stream notebook (11.6 inches), two tablets - HP Slate6 VoiceTab II, HP Stream 8 and the HP Pavilion Mini Desktop. The HP Stream has an 11.6 inches High Definition display and 32GB flash memory (eMMC). It is equipped with the Intel Celeron processor and comes in a slim design with a Horizon blue color palette.

The HP Stream is a tablet that is powered by Intel and is cloud-connected. It has Office 365 (one year) installed in it along with Microsoft OneDrive storage (1 TB for 1 year) in addition to the Windows 8.1 operating system. The HP Pavilion Mini Desktop stands 2.06 inches tall and weighs just about 630 gram. It is literally palm sized!

Even Intel i3 core processors can be supported by this system. The starting price of the HP Pavilion Mini Desktop is Rs. 26,990 which includes 4GB RAM, Intel Pentium 3558U and an HDD of 500 GB. The HP Stream (without keyboard, monitor mouse) has a starting price of Rs. 19,990. The starting price of the HP Stream 8 Tablet is Rs. 16,990 and that of HP Slate 6 VoiceTab II is Rs. 15,990.

Big storage for HP's new Pavilion Mini desktop

The latest Pavilion Mini by HP is less expensive than the Mac Mini with a smaller footprint. It also has one distinct feature which is missing in the Mac Mini-It can access the internal elements in case additional RAM is required.

The HP Pavilion Mini is decent enough for necessary office tasks and everyday surfing. It has an Intel Pentium processor; however an Intel Core i3 CPU can also be installed for better speed. There is 4GB RAM in both of them and they can offer support to up to 16GB (if added later).

You might find some glitches or slowdowns in the working of the Pavilion, especially when compared to the Mac Mini. But it is still value for money and comes with a mouse and wireless keyboard, not available in Apple. Check out a laptop rental to experience working on the latest range of HP mini PCs.

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