Tuesday, May 19, 2015
Author: Ken Scott
MSI GT 80 Titan SLI

Hard core gamers have longed for the comfort and rigidity of a mechanical keyboard since a long time. But not anymore! MSI has started a new era of first gaming beasts with a lesser-known feature for gaming laptops like mechanical keyboard. Pack it with a powerful Intel Core i7 processor and two NVidia GeForce GPUs in SLI and the much-needed ability to upgrade your hardware later, and you’ve built yourself a perfect replacement to desktop that you always deserved.

The great features

With amazing gaming performance, upgradable chassis and fantastic mechanical keyboard, this is surely a tough opponent for every gaming rig out there. Here is what MSI GT Titan SLI has to offer:

Design

MSI understands that an imposing but graceful design is perfect for such a gaming beast. This explains the extremely elegant black aluminum lid, brushed lightly. The red MSI Gaming Series emblem at the back along with the MSI logo simply adds class to the package.

It greets you with an amazing red back lit keyboard. Buttons for power and fan speed are placed above the track pad, to the right of the keyboard. Its carriage (rear and under) is made of black aluminum alloy, and the whole system design gives you the feeling of handling a muscle machine.

Keyboard

Keyboards with mechanical switches are far more durable than the ones with membrane switches and the Titan SLI keyboard has been tested to last 50 million keystrokes. It also provides a much stronger feedback than other gaming laptops in the market.

Display

The MSI GT 80 Titan SLI sports a 18.4-inch screen which is vivid, with crisp detail and expansive viewing angles. While a 4K display would have been truly awesome, the laptop's 1920 x 1080 panel is efficient enough to deal with anything you throw at it.

MSI GT 80 Titan SLI

Graphics and gaming

MSI has equipped their new gaming beast with not one but two Nvidia GeForce GTX 890 GPUs that deliver face-melting performance. You can run nearly any game on 'Ultra' graphics settings and it'll never make you feel a single glitch.

The touchpad and numpad combo

Pressing an illuminated Num button on the top-left nook of the touchpad changes it into a digital numpad. The two discrete mouse buttons provide powerful feedback, with a pleasant audible click that absolutely complements the mechanical keyboard.

The not-so-great features

  • Even though the laptop's 1920 x 1080 panel is amazing and crisp, a 4k display would have just made this a perfect gaming masterpiece
  • The laptop has a poor battery performance, even for a gaming laptop.
  • While the pair of Dynaudio speakers does sound fine, MSI could have used more bass to power the speaker.

The verdict

MSI's GT 80 Titan SLI has it all. It delivers amazingly fast performance every time you turn it on. All this, and it also sports a mechanical keyboard that delivers both superior precision and outstanding feedback.

GT 80 Titan SLI – Starting price: $3,399

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Thursday, May 14, 2015
Author: Ken Scott
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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Thursday, May 7, 2015
Author: Ken Scott
Samsung

Samsung released the ATIV Book 9, once in 2013 and a newer model mid 2014. Both the models are quite similar, with a few changes incorporated in the 2014 model. It is a good thing that the company did not change much in the newer model, because this ultrabook is one of the best out there today. It is also competing with some other leading models in the market, like the Apple Macbook Air, Asus Zenbook Infinity and Acer Aspire S7. Although the ATIV Book 9 is priced at a premium, it is living up to the standard that you would expect at such prices. Let us take a look at what is great and not so exciting about this new ultrabook by Samsung.

Features that stand out

The Samsung ATIV Book 9 is an ultrabook with the elusive wide screen in this type of laptops. It is competing with the best in the market and it does not let you down. Its body is completely made of aluminum, which helps it to be sleek and lightweight even with its bigger size. The screen is an HD LCD display unit that stands out at a wide 15.6 inches. Some features of this ultrabook worth noting:

  • Wide LCD touch screen, a rarity in ultrabooks
  • Intel Haswell Core i5/i7 ULV processor
  • Just over half an inch at its thickest
  • Weighs in at a little under 4 pounds
  • Backlit keyboard
  • Multiple ports, including USB, HDMI and VGA
  • Battery backup for a full day

The sleek and curved body makes it look even slimmer than it already is at just over half an inch. But the all aluminum body ensures that the sleekness does not take away from its sturdiness, making it a sleek but strong and sturdy ultrabook. Its screen size and color distinguish it from most other ultrabooks that have smaller screen and are available in silver.

What this ultrabook does lack is a big storage drive, which is a smaller 128GB SSD. But the smaller storage along with its sleekness help increase its battery life phenomenally, with battery lasting up to a full day with normal usage.

Pros

  • Large 15.6 inch screen in an ultrabook
  • Very lightweight and ultraportable
  • Long battery life
  • Backlit keyboard

Cons

  • Priced very high
  • Relatively small SSD storage drive
  • Graphics not very great

All in all, if you are ready to shell out big bucks, this ultrabook is worth every penny you pay for it. Extra long battery backup, wide LCD screen along with a sleek and lightweight body make this Samsung ultrabook a great buy for the price.

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Tuesday, May 5, 2015
Author: Ken Scott
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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Thursday, April 30, 2015
Author: Ken Scott
Acer C910 Chromebook

The release of the Broadwell microarchitecture in September 2014 raised expectations of laptops and desktops getting the new fifth generation Intel i5 processors that claims to be the best silicone chip till date. Acer has not yet released any laptops with this new processor, but it has revamped an older model, the Acer C910 Chromebook with the Intel i5 Broadwell CPU. This beefed Chromebook is slated to be released in April 2015.

Has Broadwell made a big difference to performance of the Acer Chromebook?

The Acer C910 Chromebook is the only laptop with chrome OS, other than the Google Chromebook, to feature Broadwell microarchitecture as of now. This is a step up for the laptop from the earlier Core i3 and Celeron processor options that it was initially introduced with. This new processor is capable of speeds up to 2.2GHz, which is quite a jump from the earlier processors featured on this mode which clocked at about 1.6GHz. This automatically makes this laptop work faster and more seamlessly than its predecessors and, with the large display, is a sure winner.

What new to expect in the new Chromebook

The Acer C910 Chromebook is the only 15.6 inch Chromebook in the market today. And this upgrade surely makes it more desirable. Many Chromebook users were complaining that the larger size and heavier body makes it less mobile than earlier Chromebooks, but that is something that does not really affect real usage, since most use these systems only at home or office, simply moving around within the space. 

Some amazing features of this laptop that you should know about:

  • Intel i5 5200U processor
  • First Chromebook with a 15.6 Inch full HD IPS display
  • 4GB RAM
  • 32GB SSD storage
  • Body can withstand up to 132 pounds/60 kilos of force and 18 inches of drop without damage
  • Largest touchpad in any Chromebook
  • Up to 8 hours of battery life in a single charge

One big drawback of this laptop, though, is it weight. At close to 5lbs, it is not build for being carried out, if that is what you are looking for in your next laptop. 

Given the sturdy build quality, this laptop is perfect to be used in public spaces and in schools, where there is every chance of it being dropped or handled roughly on a regular basis. Acer believes that this laptop can withstand more impact than almost any other laptop in the market today.

If you are looking at a laptop to be carried around, then this is might not be your top choice. But if that is not a priority, then this Chromebook might surprise you with its speed and performance, and let you enjoy the large screen and great sound while you watch your favorite videos and movies.

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Monday, April 6, 2015
Author: Ken Scott
Acer Aspire V 15 Nitro

Gaming laptops are no longer simply desktop replacements. The latest gaming device from Acer - the Aspire V15 Nitro - is sleek enough and can be easily placed in any book bag, yet it is packed with power to enable you to enjoy your games on it.

Design review of the V 15 Nitro

The Aspire V 15 Nitro measures 0.9x15.3x10.1 inches and weighs 5.29 pounds. It has a plastic framework in black and a rough texture on the top. The hinge comes in metal and is quite sturdy. This metal also forms the internal framework of the device. You will find “Aspire V Nitro" stamped across the hinge. Overall, the quite a decent design as far as a gaming laptop is concerned.

Just as the lid, the touchpad and the palm rest have a similar matte-black finish. However, backlight of the keyboard is a bright red which lights up the key edges and the lettering. There is quite a good feeling working on the chiclet-style keyboard as you type; however even though the slightly flat keycaps work, one might miss the curved key surfaces when comparing it to the Lenovo Y50 Touch.

You will get access to all gesture controls required in Windows 8 with a huge click pad, but it is not exactly ideal as far gaming is concerned. A separate mouse is designed for gaming is recommended.

The laptop rental comes with a 15.6 inch screen display along with a 1,920x1, 080 resolution. The Aspire V 15 Nitro’s screen display allows you to save a lot of money and you don’t really sacrifice on the gaming experience. In fact the audio is surprisingly good and comes with four in-built speakers and surround sound (Dolby Digital Home Theater). The quality of the sound is also quite clear with minimum warp even at a high volume.

Features of the Aspire V 15 Nitro

The laptop is equipped with a 128GB SSD which enables quicker boosting and enhanced performance. In addition to this, there is also a 1TB storage hard drive in the device.

Boutique vendors typically customize a gaming device and avoid installing any unwanted programs and apps. But the Aspire V 15 Nitro is loaded up in the same manner as the other Acer consumer models. The start screen will have several apps including eBook, Amazon Kindle, Netflix, Flipboard, eBay, Evernote Touch and many more.

The system has the GeForce Experience backed by Nvidia that offers one single dashboard for updating and installing drivers. There are numerous baked-in features such as ShadowPlay (recording/sharing video), GameStream as well as Battery Boost.

Check out all the features of this gaming laptop by Acer at a computer rental near you!

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Monday, March 30, 2015
Author: Ken Scott
HP EliteBook Folio 1020

HP EliteBook Folio 1020 is said to be the lightest and slimmest business notebook available. The price for HP EliteBooks range from $1,199 to $1,499. It is built to be very secure inside and at the same time it is amazingly sleek externally. The highlights of the product are its 12.5-inch quad HD display, innovative touchpad and a fingerprint reader. If not for a few shortcomings, this would have been the best product in the market in its class.

The design

The laptop measures 0.63 by 12.2 by 8.27 inches and weighs only 2.68 pounds. It is evidently a little smaller than the MacBook Air, which measures 13 inches. The resemblance and similarity of design between the MacBook Air and HP EliteBook is suspiciously striking. The latter has an additional fingerprint reader and the chassis has both aluminum and magnesium alloy. Owing to the Intel Core M processor, the HP EliteBook Folio 1020 has a fanless design that is comparable to the CPU used in Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro. These are features that Apple fails to offer.

On the left, The EliteBook 1020 has a USB 2.0, microSD and a Kensington lock and HDMI. On the right side, a DC-in, a headphone jack, HP's proprietary docking connector and an extra USB 2.0 port is added.

The 720p webcam will be suited for use in office conference calls. The pictures taken with it is not of a great quality.

Durability

The EliteBook 1020 has a very strong chassis made with very rigid adherence to the MIL-STD-810G standards. This makes it more resistant to temperature extremes, dust and drops. It is just as secure on the inside. The HP Client Security app serves as a safe keeping hub for the EliteBook. You can use it to access drives, ports and store online passwords.

It also has Absolute Data Protect that lasts for four years. It will allow you to track your PC in case it goes missing. You can also remote lock and delete data. HP's Sure Start technology also makes sure that you can restore the BIOS in 30 seconds in case of a malware attack. You can also make sure that your files are secure with the fingerprint reader placed just under the right hand side of the keyboard.

Pros

  • Slim and light weight design
  • Strong and fanless chassis
  • Ultraportable design with added security features
  • MIL-Spec construction
  • Touch screen
  • The Intel Core M CPU is very energy-efficient
  • Compatible with the UltraSlim Dock

Cons

  • Short battery life as compared to the others in its class
  • The Intel Core M CPU is not of the same standards as that of Intel Core i5 processor.
  • The display is reflective and has low brightness
  • A short one year warranty
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Thursday, March 26, 2015
Author: Ken Scott
Dell Chromebook 11

For those looking for a new laptop but do not want to spend big, the Dell Chromebook 11 (Intel Core i3) might just be the right one for you. With quite a sturdy construction, superior performance and an excellent battery life Dell Chromebook 11 (Intel Core i3) is great machine that is a bit expensive, but packs in a solid performance.

Features and design

The look of the Dell Chromebook 11 (Intel Core i3) is not much different from its predecessor. With a height of eight inches and a width of 12 inches and the same plastic body and charcoal color; there haven’t been many changes to this new Chromebook as far appearance is concerned. But it’s a good thing, as the design looks good. With a weight of about 2.84 pounds it is light enough to carry around in a bag. Its 11-inch display comes with a resolution of 1366 by 768, which some users might find disappointing, but is adequate for the screen size.

One of the strengths of the new Chromebook 11 is its port selection. You get a slot for the SD card, two USB ports (3.0) and one HDMI port. It also comes with good Wi-Fi support. The keyboard is designed with Chrome in mind, but some users might find the size of the tile keyboard a bit small. But the keys have adequate spacing between them for comfortable typing.

With Chromebook 11 (Intel Core i3) you get 16 GB SSD for your documents, apps and other downloads. Along with this you also get cloud storage worth 100 GB from Google, which is free for two years.

Performance

The big update on this new Chromebook 11 is its processor. It has an Intel Core (1.7 GHz, i3-4005U) processor. This is a big upgrade from the Intel Celeron in the earlier models. The processor upgrade makes a significant improvement in the way the new Chromebook 11 performs. With Intel Core you can easily open more than 20 tabs at a time along with several streaming services and the system won’t slow down.

The earlier models of Chromebooks don’t perform that well once more than 10 tabs are open at the same time. The processor upgrade also improves the video chat functions of the new Chromebook 11 and the boot time is also better at just 5 seconds.

But it is the longer battery life that is something to rev about here. Even with many applications running and improved performance the battery of the Dell Chromebook 11 (Intel Core i3) lasts for about nine hours. The processor upgrade has certainly translated into a steeper price for the Dell Chromebook 11 (Intel Core i3), which is at $379 approximately. But the improved performance and a robust battery life are the extra benefits.

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Monday, March 23, 2015
Author: Ken Scott
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
Author: Ken Scott
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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