Category : Laptop

Best Laptops of 2018

The Best Laptops of 2018

The Lay of the Laptop Land

The market has undergone major changes in the past few years, and there’s likely to be more confusion in the notebook aisle now than at any other time. Today’s models encompass everything from featherweight, business-savvy ultraportables that barely tip the scales at less than 2 pounds, to lap-crushing gaming behemoths of 10 pounds or more.

Your standard laptop doesn’t look the way it once did, either, with dozens of convertible designs that rethink the standard clamshell to take advantage of touch interfaces. Some laptops double as tablets, with hinges that bend and fold, while other touch-enabled PCs are actually slate tablets that come with hardware keyboards for notebook-style use. There’s simply too much variety in the laptop space for one size or style to fit every person’s needs.

That’s where this buying guide comes in. We’ll brief you on all the latest designs and specs, and parse the current trends, helping you figure out which features you need and how to find the laptop you really want.

Picking Your Laptop By Size

Finding the Best 12- to 13-Inch Laptop

At the small end of the spectrum, 12- and 13-inch laptops, or ultraportables (more on these below), are worth considering if you plan on toting your laptop. These models are small enough to weigh 3 pounds or less, but large enough they include a full-size keyboard and a decent size-screen. The downside is that port selection tends to be minimal due to the limited amount of room available on side panels. These laptops usually serve simple needs like surfing the web or modest word processing, and they’re a good choice for business travelers who need to tote a laptop frequently. Smaller 10- and 11-inch laptops have even less room for ports, and will have smaller keyboards and space between the keys, so you’ll have to adjust your typing style to accommodate.

Sweet Spot: The Best 14- to 15-Inch Laptops

Laptops with 14- to 15.6-inch screens are the most popular, because they hit the sweet spot between portability and features that most users find desirable. Yes, they may weigh a few more pounds than their smaller-screen siblings, but in return you get easy reading on a larger screen, more room for various I/O ports, better internal components, and extra battery cells. You’re up to 3 or 4 pounds in weight at this screen size, but that’s still easy to carry around an office building or your home.

Screen Giants: The Best 17-Inch Laptops

The largest screens available typically show up in workstation-class and gaming laptops, though there are a few budget desktop-replacement options here as well. A 17-inch screen is large enough to share for presentations, or if you need the extra pixels to immerse yourself in your graphics projects or 3D games. The extra space in the chassis can be used for one or more graphics processors, desktop-class CPUs, or multiple banks of hard drives and SSDs. The larger chassis also usually means a more roomy keyboard. Weight can be over 6 pounds, and up to 20 pounds for gaming rigs. These systems aren’t meant to be portable, and typically don’t have long battery life.

Almost all offer screen resolutions of at least full HD or 1,920 by 1,080 (often abbreviated “FHD” or “1080p”), while an increasing number feature displays with the big-screen resolution of 4K (3,840 by 2,160). Between 4K and 1080p, an emerging resolution in panels this size is QHD, or 2,560 by 1,440; QHD is showing up in a few elite-level machines, such as certain high-end configurations of the Alienware 17. But 1080p is by far the most common resolution you’ll see. Touch screens are rare at this size.

Laptops by Type

Ultraportables

Walk down any laptop aisle and you’ll notice that the selection of laptops has become dramatically thinner and sleeker. Each of these wafer-thin systems represents a new vision for ultraportable computing: a no-compromises laptop light enough that you’ll forget it’s in your briefcase, with a long-lasting battery that will keep you working even when no power outlet is available. Fast storage, whether by way of a full 128GB or 256GB solid-state drive (SSD) or, more affordably, 32GB to 64GB of eMMC flash, give these ultraportables the ability to resume work in seconds after being idle or asleep for days. Intel’s marketing focus has migrated to the convertible-hybrid laptops and detachable-hybrid tablets that it refers to as 2-in-1 devices (see the next section for more information), but ultraportables are still a distinct category.

Most important, the entire category has thinned down in general. Whether you’re looking at sliver-thin ultraportables, mainstream PCs, or even gaming machines, laptops of every flavor today are thinner, lighter, and better suited to life on the go. The best of these models will still cost you a pretty penny, particularly if you’re looking for a business system that won’t weigh you down when you travel for work, but they offer remarkable performance and often come with several high-end features as well. Touch screens (with 1080p resolution), full-size HDMI ports, and 8 or more hours of battery life are commonplace, and premium laptops (with premium prices) now come with high-resolution screens, up to 3,840-by-2,160 resolution (4K) at the top end.

For more, check out The Best Ultraportables and The Best Business Laptops.

Hybrid Laptops

The parallel evolution of powerful tablets and laptops’ emphasis on touch capability haven’t just encouraged the growth of those individual categories—they’ve created a new one that combines them. Hybrid systems, aka 2-in-1s, are capable of functioning either as a laptop or a tablet, depending on what you need (or want) at any given moment. This gives you a lot more freedom when interacting with the device, and makes it more functional in more places.

There are two types of 2-in-1. The first is the convertible-hybrid, which transforms from a laptop to tablet and back again by rotating all the way around on the display’s hinge. You can also stop at various positions along the way, if you want to stand the screen up on the keyboard like a kiosk display, or if you want to balance it on its edges so you can use just the touch screen in very little space. This design is best if you’re interested in a tablet, but expect to need a good keyboard with some frequency.

If the keyboard is less important, a detachable hybrid might be the better way to go. These are primarily tablets that you can dock with an accessory keyboard for laptop-like functionality. Some of these designs offer docking keyboards with secondary batteries that provide all-day charge, while others opt for Bluetooth keyboards, forgoing the bulk of a docking hinge and connecting wirelessly.

Interested in one of these alternative types? Check out our roundups of theBest 2-in-1s or the Best Windows Tablets.

Asus Chromebook Flip (C302CA-DHM4)

Mainstream and Premium Models

While the entire laptop category has gotten slimmer, there’s still a market for larger desktop-replacement laptops that blend premium design and function. Desktop replacements aren’t quite as easy to cart around as smaller ultraportables, but these 14- and 15-inch laptops offer everything you need in a day-to-day PC. They have bigger displays, a broader selection of ports and features, and are one of the few categories that still offer optical drives. Screen resolutions run the gamut from 1,366 by 768 for budget systems to the more mainstream 1,920-by-1,080 resolution, up to the 3,840-by-2,160 resolution found on high-end multimedia laptops intended for graphics professionals.

Media and Gaming Machines

Laptop and desktop sales may have started to decline in recent years, with tablet sales expanding to fill the gap, but gaming PC sales have actually increased. For anyone who wants top-of-the-line performance for PC games, the combination of a high-end processor, a potent discrete graphics card, and a large, high-resolution display is well worth the higher prices such gaming rigs frequently command. And do those prices run high—while an entry-level gaming laptop typically starts at about $799, you can expect to pay $3,000 or more for a system with a powerful processor, lots of memory, and one or more high-end GPUs with the horsepower needed to play games with all the graphical details maxed out.

Before you drop a grand or two on a gaming laptop, you should know what you’re getting for your money. Powerful quad-core processors are par for the course, with Intel Core i7 chips pushing serious performance even for non-gaming applications. Discrete GPUs from Nvidia and AMD provide silky-smooth graphics and impressive frame rates; some high-end rigs come with two GPUs, helping justify their high prices. External GPU docks are also an option, connected to the laptop via a Thunderbolt 3 cable. Additional features to watch for include high-resolution displays and hard drives that offer 1TB or more of local storage space, so you can store your entire game library on the machine.

Not all gaming laptops are hulking beasts, however. The sleek designs of ultraportables have given rise to a new breed of machine that puts gaming-level performance into a more portable design, with the sleek build and long-lasting battery life you haven’t traditionally seen in this category. But this high-level performance doesn’t come cheap here, either—gaming ultraportables usually run in the $2,000 range.

Check out our top-rated gaming laptop picks.

Alienware 17 R4 (2017)

Chromebooks

Chromebooks are at the other end of the pricing spectrum from gaming laptops. These Chrome OS–based laptops generally run from $199 to around $500 in price, though many are in the middle of that range. The $999 Google Pixelbook is an outlier that competes with Windows-based premium ultraportables. These power-efficient systems are made primarily to surf the Internet using Chrome OS. Small in stature, tall in power, narrow of purpose, and wide of vision, Chrome OS is essentially the Google Chrome browser running on hardware specs that would be considered “tight” for a Windows PC. System memory is typically a lean 2GB to 4GB, and local storage is commonly limited to 16GB of flash memory (though you will see systems with 32GB to 64GB). But that’s certainly enough to get on to the Internet, where cloud services like Google Drive store your files.

A primary benefit of Chrome OS is that it is relatively immune to the malware plaguing Windows systems, because you’re not running Windows programs at all. Chrome OS updates also take seconds, rather than the minutes and hours you’ll wait on macOS and Windows. If you spend more than 90 percent of your computer time in a Web browser, you should have no trouble using a chromebook as your primary PC.

A recent development is the ability to run Android apps from the Google Play Store on Chromebooks. This perk lets you use the laptop, even when you’re not connected to the Internet. These are the same apps you run on your phone, including games, productivity apps, and streaming video services. Productivity apps like Word and Excel extend the Chromebooks’ usefulness offline.

In the market for a Chrome OS laptop? We’ve rounded up the Best Chromebooks available. If you’re simply on a strict budget, our list of the Best Cheap Laptops is worth a look.

Laptop Shopping by Spec

Connectivity is key for a modern laptop. Almost every model on the market today offers Bluetooth for connecting wireless peripherals, and Internet connectivity via 802.11ac Wi-Fi. Mobile broadband options, for when there’s no Wi-Fi hotspot handy, include 3G, 4G HSPA+, and 4G LTE, but these are increasingly rare, as users opt for personal mobile hotspots that work with several devices or tether their smartphone to use its broadband connection.

Ultraportables and desktop replacements alike depend upon USB connectivity to work with a broad range of accessories and peripherals. USB 3.0, which offers much greater bandwidth and faster data transfer than USB 2.0, can be found in all but the oldest and lowest-priced designs; it’s usually identifiable by a port colored in blue or labeled with the letters SS (for Super Speed). Some USB ports can charge handheld devices even when the laptop is powered down. Look for a lightning bolt icon next to the USB logo for these charging ports.

What is USB-C?

Although for a while manufacturers like Apple, HP, and Lenovo implemented Thunderbolt and Thunderbolt 2 interfaces as a faster alternative to USB 3.0 for hooking up monitors, storage devices, and docking stations, for the most part they did not gain widespread adoption. That’s unlikely to be true with USB-C and Thunderbolt 3, however. In addition to allowing for huge amounts of throughput as well as power delivery, the USB-C interface is much smaller than the older (Type-A) USB port. (You also don’t have to worry about flipping the orientation of the plug.) This makes it ideal for the svelte laptops (half an inch or less) that are popular today. The downside is that you’ll also have to give up larger, useful ports like Ethernet and HDMI, unless you’re willing to carry around dongles for each, which can be inconvenient.

Thunderbolt 3 rides in on USB-C’s coattails, using the same plug and socket, with extra circuitry to boost throughput to 40Gbps for humungous data transfers. That’s eight times as fast as USB 3.0, and four times as fast as USB 3.1/USB-C. USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 are showing up in a lot of new laptops, from $229 budget models to $5,000 mobile workstations; Apple MacBooks and MacBook Pros that use it exclusively are among the highest-profile adoptees to date. Because of the general necessity of having thinner, more extensible ports in computer hardware of all types, expect these two interfaces to be pretty much everywhere in the coming months (even if they won’t overtake USB 3.0 in popularity for a while yet).

The venerable VGA interface is rapidly disappearing, due in part to space constraints in ultraportables that preclude the bulky connector, and newer monitors and projectors that work better with DisplayPort, HDMI, USB-C or Thunderbolt 3. HDMI is especially popular lately, thanks to the demand for connecting laptops to TVs. Alternately, you can use an Apple TV or Google Chromecast device to beam video and audio to your TV wirelessly.

Also becoming scarce is the optical drive. With so many software and game purchases occurring online, and cloud services taking over for many local applications, the optical drive has been dropped from most model lines, with new systems touting slimmer, lighter form factors. For those who still need to install software from a disc or want to enjoy movies on DVD or Blu-ray, you can still find them (particularly on gaming laptops), but it takes some hunting. For those without, external USB DVD and Blu-ray drives are as easy to use as built-in drives.

While premium ultraportables rely solely upon SSDs for the performance boost offered by solid-state storage, most mainstream systems use a combination of an SSD and a traditional spinning hard drive. This lets you run programs quickly and still have lots of (slower) storage for your photos, videos, and other files. SSD-only laptops frequently top out at 256GB or 512GB, though you may occasionally see some premium systems with 1TB and larger drives. If you need more hard drive space, a USB 3.0 or USB-C external hard drive should do the trick.

A Word About Windows and Touch Input

Microsoft’s Windows 8 was supposed to make computing more touch-centric, but general dissatisfaction with its interface meant that Microsoft made the next version of its operating system easier to use with a keyboard and touchpad. These days, Windows 10 is likely to be the OS on your new laptop. It combines elements from the Windows 8 touch-based UI with more traditional features that don’t rely on a touch screen. There’s more to Windows 10 than can be addressed here, but the bottom line is that it has brought the touch interface to the forefront. As a result, most new laptops feature touch screens, and those that don’t will have features in place to provide similar functionality.

If you’re in the market for a Windows laptop and want a touch screen, don’t think you’ll have to pay a lot to get one: Even entry-level models in the $200-to-$350 price range may have them these days, and the Windows touch experience now is much better than it used to be. Chances are you won’t need it or want it on a gaming machine, however, as touch input could potentially interfere with the precision control schemes you need to master today’s game titles.

What’s Under the Hood?

The most dominant processor chips come from Intel, which in mid-2017 launched its 8th-Generation Core (code-named “Kaby Lake R”) processors. Made with ultraportables and hybrid designs in mind, these new CPUs (identifiable by model numbers in the 8000s as opposed to the 7000s and 6000s used in previous-generation “Kaby Lake” and “Skylake” parts) not only stretch battery life, they also boast improved graphics processing. 8th-gen processors also feature more cores than predecessors, so you will find a true quad-core CPU in your Core i5 laptop, with more power than an older dual-core. Core M is another extension of Kaby Lake that trades some performance gains for even better battery life. AMD’s own line of processors also offer enhanced performance at low prices, but can’t match the efficiency gains of Intel’s latest chips.

Whether you go with the Kaby Lake/Kaby Lake R or Skylake chips from Intel (the latest Coffee Lake generation is currently working its way into desktop PCs but has yet to come to laptops), or AMD’s APUs, you should find an integrated graphics subsystem adequate for graphics tasks, unless you’re a part-time gamer or a CAD user. High-end discrete graphics processing units are terrific for 3D games, transcoding 1080p video, or watching 4K movies, but like fast processors, they also feast on laptop batteries.

Many laptop designs now incorporate non-removable batteries that can’t be swapped out. While the move toward sealing batteries into the chassis does allow for thinner designs, it removes the possibility of swapping out batteries on the go for longer use between charging. On the other hand, the efficiency gains of Intel’s newest processors mean that most laptops will still last for the better part of a day.

Apple MacBook Pro 15-Inch

Beyond Plastic

As designs get sleeker and slimmer, manufacturers are using an array of materials in their construction. Plastic (or polycarbonate) is the least expensive and most commonly used material in laptop frames, but manufacturers have shown great ingenuity in making plastic not look cheap. The most common technique is in-mold decoration or in-mold rolling, a process made popular by Acer, HP, and Toshiba, in which decorative patterns are infused between plastic layers. This process has evolved into etched imprints and textures, commonly seen on laptop lids.

In the end, though, plastics are often associated with low-priced laptops, while higher-end models rely on metals. Common premium choices include aluminum, which has a more luxurious look, and can be fashioned into a thinner chassis than plastic. Unibody construction, where the entire chassis is made from a single piece of metal, has become the gold standard, as seen on Apple’s MacBook and MacBook Pro lines. Other all-metal designs mimic this same look and feel, securely sandwiching two separate layers together.

Other common chassis materials include magnesium alloy and carbon fiber, both of which add strength while keeping overall weight low. Glass has long been found covering displays, but with ultra-strong variants like Gorilla Glass, you’ll find the material being used in everything from the lid to the touchpad.

Should You Buy an Extended Warranty?

Most laptops are backed by a one-year warranty on parts and labor. The standard warranty is limited, so it won’t cover accidents that stem from, say, spilling a drink on the keyboard or dropping the system to a hard surface.

Most laptop manufacturers also sell accidental coverage as a separate plan on top of optional extended warranties, so you might end up spending close to $300 for three years of comprehensive coverage. Apple offers a maximum three-year extended warranty ($249-379), while most Windows-based laptop manufacturers offer up to four years.

Our rule of thumb is that if the warranty costs more than 15 percent of the laptop’s purchase price, you’re better off spending the money on backup drives or services that minimize downtime. Of course, you can’t put a price tag on peace of mind. There are instances when the logic board or the display—the most expensive parts of a laptop—fail, and while rare, such a catastrophe can cost you half of what the laptop is worth. Defective components usually break down during the first year; anything after that is typically attributed to wear and tear. If the breakdown can be attributed to a design flaw, laptop manufacturers will sometimes extend free warranties to cover these flaws, but only for certain models built during limited time periods.

The Top Laptops We’ve Tested (for Now)

The systems below, some of the best we’ve recently tested, span the spectrum of features, performance, and price to provide top choices for each type of user. We refresh the list monthly to include the newest products, but because of the large number of laptops we review every year, not every top-rated product makes the cut. For the latest reviews, and to search for more top-rated products, check out the Laptop Product Guide.

 

 

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PC MAG

What Blue Light May Be Doing To Your Sleep Cycle

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What Is “Blue Light” and Why Is It Harmful? 

By now, most of you have probably heard that blue light from your devices may be affecting your sleep. If you are like most people, you fall asleep reading your tablet or articles on your phone, streaming TV apps or simply browsing the internet. The blue light that your device’s screen emits, stimulates your brain and fools it into thinking that it is daytime. Researchers have discovered that this is eating away at your sleep. In an article from Business Insider, “Studies have shown that being exposed to the blue-and-white light given off by phones, laptops, and other electronic gadgets at night prevents our brains from releasing melatonin, a hormone that tells our bodies it’s nighttime.” Thus, prolonging the time it takes to fall asleep. Researchers believe that after several years of exposure to blue light, your body’s internal clock may suffer.

Studies suggest that you do not use any devices for roughly an hour before bedtime to prevent this. There are also options available on your devices under the display settings to adjust the screen’s temperature to a warmer color and filtering out blue light. Please see link below for device specific instructions. How to stop blue light on your gadget

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Steal of a Deal- Latitude 13 7000 Series 2-in-1

 

latitude

 

At $599, this 2-in-1 combines a laptop and tablet in perfect harmony. Whether it be business needs, student work, or basic computing, a 2-in-1 is the ultimate solution. Be free to switch between typing on a keyboard, and writing with a tablet, without the need for multiple devices. Superior performance makes way for easy to navigate user-friendly features. And it’s a Dell, which means a 3 year hardware service warranty and onsite service with remote diagnostics.

The Latitude comes fully loaded with 4 GB of memory and a 128 GB Mobility solid state drive, sure to handle any and all computing needs with superior performance. The battery life isn’t too shabby either, with 10.5 of promised battery life to get you through your work or school day without having to travel with the charger. If you opt for a 2-in-1 device, most likely you are an avid multitasker with an eye for streamline technology. The Latitude is equipped with a powerful Intel Core M processor with the multitasker in mind. The 13.3 inch HD touchscreen display implements the 10 point  touch technology for pinpoint accuracy.

latitude 3

This is not the average 2-in-1 device. No need to feel like you are working on half a machine, with the capabilities of a tablet but the lacking of laptop power. The Latitude is built with laptop standards in mind, so the ease of switching between tablet and laptop doesn’t feel like a compromise for efficiency.

Encryption protects you data across all endpoints, including external media and in public cloud storage, and if you have been keeping up with basically any tech news these days, this is huge. Advanced malware attacks are prevented with Dell Data Protection security tools.

Make sure to add the Dell Active Stylus to optimize the Latitude’s versatility.

latitude2

 

$599 is a pretty good deal for all the benefits of a tablet and a laptop rolled into one vamped up device!

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you would like to educate yourself in more detail about the information presented in this blog post please visit : www.dell.com 

Best 2-in-1 Laptops of 2016

These are some of our top picks for 2-in-1 laptops on the market. Ranging in price from $300 to $2,000, you can find a machine that is sure to fit your needs and your budget.

Lenovo Yoga 900

CPU: 2.5 GHz Intel Core i7-6500U Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 520 RAM: 16GB Screen: 13.3 inch QHD+ 3,200 x 1,800 IPS display Storage: 256GB SSD

Full package for $1,000, powerful processor, larger battery, a little heavy, but superb design. lenovo-yoga-900-12

Microsoft Surface Book

CPU: 2.4 GHz Intel Core i5-65300U Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 520 RAM: 8GB Screen: 13.5 inch 3,000 x 2,000 Pixel Sense display Storage: 128 GB PCle3.0

For $1350 out the door, you get amazing graphics, a 13.5 inch screen, and one of the thinnest and mos powerful combinations currently available. The battery life is not what it should be for a machine of this caliber, but other than that it is a great design.

HP Spectre x360

CPU: 2.2GHz Intel Core i5-5200 Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 5500 RAM: 4GB Screen: 13.3 inch 1,920 x 1,080 FHD Radiance LED-backlit touchscreen Storage: 128GB SSD

This is one of the best buys on the list, with excellent 1080p screen, great performance, solid battery life, and affordable for $720. The wide trackpad is the top complaint for users. If you can get over the trackpad and the slightly heavy design, this is a great buy for performance.

Toshiba Satellite Radius 12

CPU: 2.3 GHz Intel Core i7-6200U Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 520 RAM: 8GB Screen: 12.5 inch 1,920 x 1,080 TruBrite LED backlit touchscreen Storage: 256GB SSD

This machine was designed to support both tablet and laptop functions without a hitch. It is lightweight and easy to maneuver, with a sharp color display. The design is nice but the battery is weaker than most. At $680 this 2-in-1 is a steal!

HP Pavillion x2 

CPU: 1.44GHz Intel Atom x5-Z8300 | Graphics: Intel HD graphics | RAM: 2GB|Screen: 10.1-inch, 1,280 x 800 WXGA WLED IPS touchscreen display | Storage:32GB eMMC

This is the most affordable Windows 10 convertible selling for $300 from hp. Smaller in size with a 10 inch screen but with long battery life. Best for simple work, streaming and editing.

hp-pavilion-x2-2015-008

Dell Inspiron 13 7000 

CPU: 2.1GHz Intel Core i7-5500 | Graphics: Intel Core i3-5010U processor | RAM:4GB DDR3L (1,600MHz) | Screen: 13.3-inch HD (1366 x 768) Truelife LED-backlit touchscreen | Storage: 500GB HDD

Looks like a conventional laptop at a glance, but easily bends into a flexible tablet design. Steal for $429 !

HP Elite x2 1012 G1 

CPU: 1.1GHz Intel Core m5-6Y54 (dual-core, 4MB cache, up to 2.7GHz with Turbo Boost) | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 515 | RAM: 8GB LPDDR3-1866 SDRAM |Screen: 12-inch, 1,920 x 1,280 FHD UWVA eDP ultra-slim LED-backlit touchscreen | Storage: 256GB M.2 SATA TLC SSD

Great usability. Short battery life. Can endure drops, bumps, temperature shifts, making the $1,349 price tag at least durable.

HP Spectre x360 15 

CPU: 2.3GHz Intel Core i5-6200U | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 520 | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 15.6-inch, 1,920 x 1,080 Full HD, IPS touchscreen | Storage: 256GB Flash SSD

Contrast rich screen and long battery life for it’s size. $1150 for great graphics and touchscreen.

Asus Transformer Book T300 Chi 

CPU: 1.2GHz Intel Core M 5Y71 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 5300 | RAM: 4GB |Screen: 12.5-inch, 1,920 x 1,080 capacitive multi-touch IPS display | Storage:128GB SSD

Among the thinnest, at $570 this machine packs enough punch to to drive a 4k display. The battery life is a little short but the machine itself is a great combination of laptop and tablet.

The verdict is in…2-in-1 vs. tablet

Just the other day I tried relentlessly to convince my mother than a PC with tablet capabilities would significantly improve her work flow. She brought up the usual restrictions associated with tablet use, “does it have enough power to accomplish what I need?”. Most iPads and tablets just can’t compare to the power behind a PC or laptop. Doing research can be a pain, as it isn’t always easy to switch between applications on a tablet device. Multitasking for the work day is exponentially better on a machine that can allow multiple applications to be open and running so that the user can easily shift gears without creating a giant mess. However, tablets have their perks, the machine is much lighter and easier to carry and the hands on capabilities are great. The riddle here is finding a machine that can take from both a PC and a tablet and combine efforts to create a better machine.

Windows 2-in-1 systems combine power, ease, and the Windows operating system, to create better raw usability. Apple iOS and Android can’t compare to the usability of Microsoft Windows even with continuous improvement. With a 2-in-1 system you can run full applications, several of them, side-by-side, switching without problem. The Windows platform was designed for this. I love Apple products and I own quite a few myself, but I know needs and Apple products cannot match the needs of the consumer that wishes to work from a tablet. I know this from experience as I tried to brave my first year of college on only an iPad. I lost a lot of sleep that year.

A Windows 10 powered 2-in-1 PC is not only less expensive, but easier to use for ‘real’ work. Here are a few guidelines to help you make a 2-in-1 purchase.

Choose your Size – 2-in-1 devices range in size from 10 inch models that are ideal for those that are always on the go and need something light that travels well, to 11 and 13 inch models such as the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 and the Lenovo Yoga 900. If you are simply not impressed with 13 inches, the HP 15 inch Spectre x360 should do the trick.

Detachable or Rotating Hinge? – Typically you can opt for bendable or detachable. If you prefer the touch-based experience similar to using a tablet but again with better power and management, choose a detachable model. The Microsoft Surface Pro 4, HP Spectre x2 and the Dell XPS 12 are all great detachable models with tablet bodies and magnetic keyboards. In comparison, if you write a significant amount for your job then a bendable 2-in-1 is a better match for you. The Lenovo Yoga 900 and HP Spectre x360 have hinges that bend 360 degrees, and also offer tent and presentation positions.

Processor Specs – The highest power systems will feature an Intel Core i7 or m7 chip. Midrange models will have Core i3, i5 and m5 CPUs, which will support productivity as a good middle range between price and performance. Those on a budget are going to find Intel Celeron and Atom CPUs in their hybrids. If you want a device for browsing the web, answering emails, and watching Netflix a lower budget spec should work just fine.

Storage– The standard for 2-in-1 machines is 4GB of RAM, but 8GB is better if you can afford the increase. I would not advise 16GB of RAM unless you are going to be answering some serious work demands. For most people the extra memory and performance is not needed, not to mention it is more expensive.

Screen Resolution– Screen resolution is very important! A higher resolution screen makes a huge difference throughout the day. Affordable 2-in-1 models have 13366 x 768 pixel displays, but if you can you should look for a sharper 1920 x 1080 full-HD screen. Better image quality and side by side window viewing. The higher end resolutions are so beautiful it is hard not to pay the price for higher resolution. But these can suck up a lot of power, so be mindful of what is really important.

Budget – You can spend anywhere from $150 to $3,000 on a 2-in-1 device. Prices escalate as you increase size, specs, storage, and resolution. Look to our next post to find the perfect 2-in-1 for you!

Three Unbelievably Tiny Computers

The market for a device that can easily replace the standard PC has taken a new approach to size. Don’t be fooled, you may be surprised when you find out what is hiding inside these small machines.

Zotac Zbox Sphere

This computer not only breaks the mold in terms of size, but shape. The Zbox is in fact, not a box, but a sphere. Simply twist the circular top and feast your eyes on the interior powerhouse of the computer. The top half of this tiny PC houses an Intel Core i5-42WP 300U motherboard and 4GB of memory. The back panel provides six USB ports, as well as an HDMI and DisplayPort. In addition, the Zbox includes a 802.11ac WiFi module and a spot for an Ethernet cable if preferred. This almost bowling ball like computer packs a serious punch in terms of creativity and power. WP 4

 

 

 

 

Intel Compute Stick

This tiny PC resembles a USB thumb drive, and has stirred massive attention since its release in early 2015. The Intel Compute Stick plugs into any monitWP 5or’s HDMI port, an added bonus for anyone working in tight spaces. Concerned about over heating? Fear not, this tiny machine has a fittingly tiny fan inside, ensuring fast performance without
overheating. Unfortunately the stick does not have an internal battery and thWP 6erefore must run off micro USB power at all times in order to function. What the Intel Compute Stick lacks in battery capabilities it makes up for with a quad-core 1.3GHz processor and 2GB of RAM, with micro SD support for up to 128GB of storage. That’s a lot of power crammed into 4.5 inches.

 

 

 

 

 

Mouse Box

The tiniest computer of the three is cleverly disguised as a computer mouse. The Mouse Box device contains a quad-core 1.4GHz ARM processor, a 128GB solid-state drive, and built-in b/g/n WiFi. The wireless image transfer module allows for easy visual transmitting in addition to the convenient micro HDMI port. The coolest part? Sticking with the mouse motif, the Mouse Box doesn’t need to be plugged in. The inductive charging mat doubles as a mousepad. Although the Mouse Box is not up for public release quite yet, they most certainly have our attention.  WP 8

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If you would like to educate yourself in more detail about material presented in this blog post please visit:

http://www.geek.com/chips/the-11-tiniest-most-powerful-computers-your-money-can-buy-1627324/

Surface Book Owners Reporting GPU and Display-Related Issues

Although Microsoft’s Surface book has introduced plenty of new features and capabilities, a couple complaints have been made online. Here are a list of some of the reported problems:

  1. Dell 34” U-Wide cannot be used with the dock. Screen goes black every 2-3 minutes for 10 seconds or so
  2. Cannot boot with the dock. Monitor never comes on and my Kef X300 speakers just click over and over. Have to boot with the dock, then plug the dock in.
  3. Strangest problem with color temp changes on web pages as you scroll. Goes from a light white screen to a purple or yellow hue once you hit a certain point in the page, happens consistently on long pages and easy repeatable. Happens on both the external monitor and the laptop screen.
  4. Playing MPEG files on the laptop works fine, playing the connected to the dock will give an unable to decode error sometimes, program closes other times, and plays. After it errors out 2-3 times it refuses to play until reboot.
  5. Going to a web page where there are a lot of animations or movement causes a black screen, won’t come back until you undock /redock.
  6. Cannot detach dock, says I have to close SearchUI but its not a running service that I can find, have to reboot again.
  7. After using for a while cannot run any program getting a Run32DLL.

 

Videos regarding the temperature problem have been posted on youtube. Visually, you can see the hue change on the page as you scroll.  Other problems include driver issues, greenish hues, and battery drains when utilizing Connected Standby. Another problem reported is the electric grip mechanism, with one side gripping hard and the other releasing easily.

Most of these problems sound like issues that can be fixed in software.

Microsoft Releases its Own Hybrid Laptop, the Surface Book

 

 

microsoft-surface-bookMicrosoft has unveiled the first laptop it has ever released on its own, the Surface Book. Described by Microsoft’s Panos Panay as the “Ultimate laptop,” the Surface Book specs seem to live up to his words. The Surfaces Book is a 13.5-inch, magnesium alloy laptop with high powered internals that also has the ability to detach from its keyboard to become a surface tablet. The laptop is just .51-.90 inches thin and weighs 1.6 lbs.

The laptop’s unique ability to become a tablet is possible because the battery and the Intel Core processor are built into the screen half of the laptop, while the GPU is in the keyboard base.  The concept is to use the device in laptop mode for heavier tasks such as typing, playing games, or editing vSurface-Book-image-1-e1444134958401ideos and detaching from the powerful GPU base for lighter tasks.

In laptop mode, the Surface Book’s keyboard has a back-lit chiclet-style keyboard and a multi-touch glass track pad. Microsoft says that the battery life will last up to 12 hours in laptop mode and 3 hours in tablet mode; however, it all depends on your usage.

Microsoft’s Pinay boasts that it is the “thinnest and most powerful PC ever created.” Topping out at 1TB storage and 16GB of RAM, the Surface Book will cost you.  128GB of storage and 8GB of RAM starts at $1,500, while the fully loaded laptop will costs over $3,000.

New Small Business PC Lineup Released by HP

New all-in-ones, desktops, and laptops will be launching soon from HP’s small business lineup. The HP ProOne 400 G2 is a slim, 20 inch PC that includes a new adaptable easel stand that is height adjustable. It bears a 10-point capacitive touch panel and can be configured with the 6th Generation Intel Core processors. The all-in-one also encompasses BIOS-level security features, allowing automatic detection and recovery from BIOS corruption or attacks.  The ProOne 400 G2 will be available in October starting at $649.

As for desktop space, the new ProDesk 400 series was unveiled, featuring desktops of assorted sizes including the 400 G2 Mini, the 400 G3 Small Form Factor (SFF), and the 400 G2 Microtower, all of which can also be configured with the 6th Generation Intel Core processors and DDR4 RAM. They will all feature BIOS-level security too as well as a new standard serial port, a VGA port, and DisplayPort. The ProDesk 400 Mini and Microtower will be available in October starting at $479. The SFF will be released later in 2015 starting at $549.

Lastly, the Probook 400 G3 series of business laptops focus on an airy design with 13-, 14-, 15-, and 17- inch laptops that are thinner and lighter than the previous generation.  Configuration options range from the Intel Corimagese i3 to Intel i7 processors, up to 16 GB of memory, and as much as 1 TB of storage space.  No pricing information has been released thus far, but the Probook 430 G3, 440 G3, 450 G3, and the 455 G3 are expected to launch this month. Premium features include touch displays, an aluminum reinforced, spill resistant keyboard, and soft touch Gravity Black Finish.

Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro Laptop

Screen Shot 2014-07-18 at 9.11.43 AMBVA looks at several notebooks and Ultrabooks in the technology market and there is a new one that I felt we should take note of.  The Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro Laptop is light weight, comes in different colors, and come with many different options of resources and disk space.  All come with the 4th generation Intel chip with I5 and I7 as options.  All come with Microsoft Windows 8.1 with a 13 inch display and solid state drives from 256GB to 512GB.

 

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