Blog

March 20th, 2014

Hardware_Mar17_BConsidering how people are into the whole digital and cloud technology set up, many business owners are slowly forgetting the value of printers. Their thoughts are often completely shifted from actual paper documents, to different file extensions and online platforms. Which makes you wonder, what are the most common printer types in the offices nowadays? Which ones are mostly used?

These three printers below are the most common printers found in offices these days.

Multi Function Printers (MFP)

Multi Function Printers are also commonly known as all-in-one printers. With this type of device, your printing, scanning, faxing and photocopying needs are covered! These printers usually come in a variety of sizes with many being small enough to fit onto a small desk.

Aside from the multi function features that MFPs have, these are the common benefits that business owners can gain from this type of printer.

  • They take up less room.
  • They are usually lower in cost. Though it may seem expensive compared to the other types of printers, if you consider buying a fax machine, scanner, photocopier and a printer, you’ll find that buying an MFP is actually a lot more affordable.

Inkjet Printers

Inkjets print documents by spraying ink onto paper, and can usually produce prints with a resolution of 300dpi (dots per inch) with some actually able to print documents as high as 600dpi. This makes them ideal for printing saller images and reports.

What most business owners like about inkjet printers is the fact that they are usually affordable, making them an ideal device for businesses that just want printers. Since most offices (if not all) have computers, you’ll most likely see inkjet printers in the majority of offices. Here are some more benefits that people like about inkjet printers.

  • Fast printing speeds.
  • Can produce really high quality print.
  • Easy to use.
  • They can produce vivid colors.

Laser Printers

If there’s one very notable feature that you’ll love about laser printers, it would be the printer's capability of producing very high quality documents. In fact, laser printers can produce copies with a resolution of 600 dpi - 1200 dpi.

One of the main differences that laser printers have is the fact that they use toner (colored or black powder) instead of the inks that are used in most other printers.

Laser printers offer users many enticing benefits including:

  • Very high resolution.
  • Fast results.
  • High volume printing.
  • No smears at all.

What type of printer should my business get?

If you are looking for a new printer, it can be a little confusing as to which you should get. If you don't have a scanner or fax machine, it would be a good idea to look into a Multi Function Printer. Looking to print smaller or shorter documents or only occasionally? An Inkjet would probably be a better choice. If you need to print on a regular basis, or print in mass quantities a laser printer could be the best choice.

With all the types of printers available in the market, choosing a specific printer to use in your office can be quite confusing. If you need help in choosing which printer to go for, then give us a call and we’ll give you our expert advice on the matter.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Hardware
February 20th, 2014

Hardware_Feb17_BThere’s no doubt that a lot of business owners and managers are now using laptops. You see them everywhere, in coffee shops, the malls, and even in the office. But the question is, do they even know enough about their laptops? If you’re hoping to get to know your laptop even more for example, its parts and what these parts can do, then this guide is exactly what you’re looking for.

Let's take a quick look at the five most important parts of every laptop you will hear techies talk about on a regular basis and what they do.

1. Hardware

The hardware is the tangible/physical parts of the equipment. Think about your touchpad, keyboard or basically the body of your laptop and everything contained within. Essentially, every computer part you can touch, or see, is hardware. This includes the device itself and all the physical components that make it up.

2. The motherboard

A motherboard is where you usually find chips, power connectors, and memory slots (among many others). This board contains the components that make the computer work and is usually located in the center of your laptop with all other parts connected to it. It is also sometimes called the system board or MoBo for short.

If you take your laptop apart - something we don't advise doing because it will likely void any and all warranties - you should be able to see the outer components of a motherboard, with the memory and hard drive usually visible. The board will be below these components and you will usually have to dismantle other components to access it. All components, or parts, connected to the board are delicate, so it is best to let a trained professional deal with the board and any repairs.

3. The case

The case or the computer tower is where the laptops/computers inner components are housed. Many retailers will refer to this as the shell or body.

These days most laptop cases are made with a strong plastic or some form of aluminum and the size is usually dependent on the motherboard’s components and the screen. While many manufacturers say that their cases are made of strong aluminium or some other material, many are there to simply house the hardware or take damage, protecting the delicate inner components.

4. The processor

The processor is the laptop’s brain. It works together with the OS (operating system) to control the laptop. An important thing to note about processors is that it produces a lot of heat. This is why fans and cooling devices are in place and usually located at the back or bottom of the laptop.

The processor is among the most important parts of the laptop because it allows the computer to function. It can read the code stored in the memory of the computer and tell the other parts to do what the code states.

5. Memory

The memory in laptop is where data is stored. The data can be stored in either a chip with a short term memory or a drive.

There are two types of memories. The first is RAM - Rapid Access Memory which is where instructions the processor may need in the near future are stored. RAM relies on electricity to store this information and quickly loses any data stored on it without power.

The second type of memory is the Hard Disk. This device, or drive, is where all data is stored including your files and the code for all the programs installed. When in operation, code the processor needs will be copied from the hard disk to the RAM. Hard disks usually have a high amount of storage - averaging at least 500 GB or Gigabytes, while RAM usually has a small amount - averaging 4 to 8 GB.

When looking at the specs, or specifications, of a computer many manufacturers and stores will list a number under memory and another under storage. Memory is RAM, while storage is usually related to the hard disk. That being said, some stores will group both together, so it is a good idea to pay attention to the specs.

You’re time to share!

If you need help with your laptop, be it upgrades, maintenance or perhaps you just need some expert advice, then call us now. We’ll be more than happy to help you.
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Hardware
January 23rd, 2014

Hardware_Jan20_BMobile devices are a popular tool for many employees, most of whom will at some point use their device for a work-oriented task. In an effort to allow or address this many companies are adopting a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policy. There is another similar trend that is also gaining popularity, which is CYOD or Choose Your Own Device.

Below is a brief overview of BYOD and CYOD and the main differences between the two concepts.

BYOD

This is a policy companies adopt that allows employees to bring their own devices to the office and use them for work purposes. While the majority of these plans focus on mobile devices, there are some companies that even allow users to bring their own computers to work on in the office too.

The biggest benefit of adopting this policy is that it can save companies money, because the purchase and maintenance of devices is at the expense of the owner of the device, not the company. This can also lead to higher productivity as employees are using their own device which they are comfortable using.

On the other hand, the biggest drawback of this policy is that it does pose a potential security risk. Because users are accessing company networks and the sensitive data stored within them from their own devices, businesses may see an increase in security breaches. The other downside of BYOD is that it can be tough to control devices and restrict access to data. Companies adopting this policy need to ensure that they have a solid system in place that deals not only with security but how the devices are to be used.

CYOD

Where BYOD is a policy that allows users to bring their own devices to the office, CYOD is a policy that allows users to choose from a number of approved devices. Usually, the company provides these devices and keeps them if the employee leaves or resigns.

The biggest benefit of this type of policy is that you get to pick what devices to offer and also manage them. This means you can limit access to apps, information, and even certain functions. There is also a knock-on effect with this system too, in that your organization will generally be more secure because you manage the devices. You can install virus scanners and other programs that help ensure your networks and the info stored within are secure.

As with most things, there are downsides to this policy too. The biggest is that you likely won't save any money on hardware, largely because you will have to purchase and maintain this yourself. Another potential disadvantage is that your employees may not be happy with the choices on offer and may want to choose to use their own devices. While this isn't the biggest negative, it could lead to a decrease in productivity, or if employees use their own devices anyway it could create a potential security issue.

Which policy should companies adopt?

If you are choosing between the two policies you need to pick what suits your company and employees the best. If you are operating on a narrow budget and have older hardware it may be a good idea to look into a BYOD policy. On the other hand, if you are worried about security and ensuring that only approved apps are used a CYOD policy will be a better idea.

If you are looking to adopt a new policy, contact us today to see how we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Hardware
December 26th, 2013

Hardware_Dec23_B2013 was a great year for mobile devices, with many powerful models being released really pushing the envelope of what we can do with a phone. Take for example, the Nexus 5, which has a 2.26 GHz processor. At first glance, the processor speed puts it in competition with most mid-range laptops. But how does it really compare?

Let's take a quick comparison between mobile and desktop processors.

How are processors measured?

The processor, or Central Processing Unit (CPU), is the brain of your device. Its job is to carry out instructions that are located in the program, or app. All processors are measured in Hertz (Hz), which is how many operations can be carried out by the processor in one second. Because they have become so fast, almost all processors are measured in GigaHertz (GHz). A phone or computer with a 2.6 GHz processor should be able to complete 2.6 billion operations in one second.

What's the difference between mobile and desktop processors?

Both computers and smartphones are marketed heavily by their processor, and while the function is the same - both allow the individual devices to work - there are two major differences:

When processors run they generate heat. Lots of heat. Because mobile devices are considerably smaller than computers, the heat generated by a running mobile processor is often amplified and can seriously harm components, or even melt them. Therefore, the developers and designers of the devices limit, or throttle, the speed at which a mobile processor can run. This means that if a processor is getting hot, it will limit its speed, which equates to slower performance.

Because of this throttling, the processor on many phones will actually run slower than the advertised speed. In fact, the advertised speed of mobile processors is normally the maximum. Compare this to most computer processors, where the advertised speed is usually the average running speed, and you begin to see why computers are more powerful.

The second big difference is connected with performance. If you take a computer and compare it to a mobile device with the same speed of processor, the computer will usually be able to do more. This is because the processor is limited in what it can do by the other hardware components, like the RAM, Graphics Processing Unit, etc. Computers have more space, so they can fit more advanced components, and are consequently able to do more.

That being said, processor and other mobile technology is advancing at a blistering pace and it is highly likely that mobile hardware will continue to increase in overall power, and eventually be able to compete more effectively with larger computers.

If you are looking to learn more about the hardware you use on a daily basis, we have the information you need at the ready.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Hardware
November 29th, 2013

Hardware_Nov25_CThe holiday season is approaching and many people are starting to get their festive shopping started. This year, as with previous years, laptops will undoubtedly be a popular gift. However, with so many different types of laptops out there, it can be tough to find the perfect one to give as a gift, whether you are treating yourself, a loved one or an employee.

To pick a laptop that will be not only be reliable but also make a great gift, follow our four great tips.

1. Think: What will this laptop be used for?

Because there are so many different laptops available you can guarantee that there will be a laptop that meets the needs of any user. Before you get buying a laptop for someone else, pause and make a list as to how the laptop will be used.

If you are buying a laptop for someone who will be using it for work, and works on a daily basis with intensive software like Photoshop, then look for one with higher-end hardware. If the laptop is going to be used for everyday work, like word processing, email and spreadsheets, you likely don't need one with high level hardware.

When considering different laptops, it is a good idea to actually try the laptop out in the store to see if it can handle what it will be used for.

2. Go with a company offering great tech support

Support is a factor many people who buy laptops don't consider. The truth is, there is a good chance that the laptop's hardware may at some point fail. If this happens, the majority of users will contact the manufacturer's customer service department looking for help.

Now, we all know that many companies don't have the best customer service but there are a number of laptop manufacturers with good to even great customer support. Pick a laptop that is made by the manufacturers offering good support so that should something go wrong, there is a better chance of reaching someone who will be able to effectively help.

How do you know which companies have the best tech support though? The easiest way to find out is to do a search on the Internet. You will come up with a large number of results and rankings, most of which seem to agree that in 2013 the top four brands for tech and customer support are:

  • Apple
  • Samsung
  • Sony
  • Lenovo
Of course, where these companies show up on the results varies according to individual reviewers, but the majority of articles put Apple and Samsung at the top.

3. Know the statistics

When considering laptops, you also should take into account general statistics. The most important statistic to look at is how long older versions and models from manufacturers have lasted. This can be tough to track down, as many manufacturers don't readily report this information.

What you want to look at is the failure rate of laptops over time. There was an interesting study conducted by SquareTrade last year looking at the failure rate of popular laptop manufacturers over three years. Firstly, it found that one in three laptops will fail or experience hardware failure and need to be repaired within three years.

The study found that Asus laptops actually failed the least - with slightly over 15% of laptops failing within three years. Apple fared in the middle of the pack, with 17.4% of laptops failing within three years. The bottom of the pack was HP, with 26.6%, of laptops failing within three years.

What this study suggests is that the extended warranty plans offered by many companies are likely a good idea, especially if the intended use of the laptop is for business purposes.

4. Look at what other products the manufacturer makes

The laptop industry is an interesting one, with manufacturers often releasing products of varying reliability and quality. It is because of this that ratings that focus on the company as a whole can often miss the full picture. One company that has marginal tech and customer support may actually have high quality business laptops that will last years.

The Internet can provide a good source of answers for you. If you take the information about what the laptop will be used for you can use this to look at the various reviews on sites like Amazon, The Wirecutter or Laptop Mag - which is arguably the best site out there for laptop reviews.

The key here is to not pay full attention to the ratings - stars, %, etc. - instead, look at the reviews offered by users. If you are going to buy a laptop for someone who will be away from the office and power sources for a longer period of time, look for reviews from users that mention poor battery life. If you see more than a few reviews that mention this weakness you should probably steer clear of this particular device.

For the vast majority of business users, you will likely want to look for a laptop which reviewers and users call a workhorse. These are usually devices that are not only reliable, but will be able to handle most business related tasks and are available at an affordable price.

If you are looking to purchase a laptop this holiday season, please contact us today so that you get the best gift possible.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Hardware
October 31st, 2013

Hardware_Oct30_BThere are many essential components to the computer. One of the more important is the hard drive, which is where data and programs are stored. Without a hard drive, most computers would be more or less useless to the majority of users. Because they focus on storage, hard drives have limited space and in order to add more, some users turn to external hard drives.

Hard drives are separate drives that you can connect to almost every computer. The vast majority of drives use a USB cable, while some are Apple specific and use the Thunderbolt cable. Because computers, by default, don't rely on these drives in order to operate, they can usually be connected to other devices as long as they have the correct formatting.

There are numerous ways these hard drives can be used in the office. The most obvious is to back up data. Because many of these drives now come with a large amount of storage, you can easily fit computer backups and even systems onto a drive. Add in the fact that they are relatively cheap to purchase, and you can see how they can be a useful tool, especially when combined with other backup solutions.

Four benefits of using an external hard drive in your business The majority of external hard drives are used as some form of backup solution e.g., to actually back up systems, or to keep a copy of files, which afford several benefits:

  1. Portability - Most external devices are small enough to move easily. This makes it easier to move copies or backups off site for safe keeping. And, due to their smaller size, these drives can be used to easily move data from one system to another, without the need for an Internet connection or cables.
  2. Security - While cloud-based backup and storage solutions are useful, there are occasional security issues or concerns. In order to ensure that your data is completely secure, having a redundant and equally secure solution is important. External hard drives are secure, largely because you are in control of them. Of course, these drives could be stolen so taking measures to ensure they are secure is important e.g., they don't leave the office, or are signed out and in.
  3. Accessibility - When you don't have an Internet connection or are away from your office, trying to access data that is online or in the office can be tough. Because these drives don't need an Internet connection, the data stored in them is readily available as long as you have the hard drive with you.
  4. Reliability - There are times when other systems are down, rendering the data stored on them unreachable. As long as you have data on an external drive, you can easily access it. This makes the drives reliable, not to mention that many have cases around them to protect the device from physical harm.
A question many ask is whether they should use external drives exclusively. The best answer we can give is to use them as part of your whole data strategy. For example, back up your files on both an external drive and another source like cloud backup. What you are looking to do is basically implement a redundancy - if one fails, the other can step in. This will help ensure your data is always accessible, regardless of the issue.

Two different types of external hard drives

  1. Portable - Portable devices can range from USB thumb-drives to devices about the size of a passport. They are usually powered by USB cable and are meant to be highly portable. Despite their portable size, you can find units with over 1TB of storage space.
  2. Desktop - These devices require a power connection and are designed to sit on your desktop. Despite the name, this type of device is usually smaller, around the size of a novel, and can come with up to 4TB (Terabytes) of storage space.
There is another type of external storage that is used in businesses, but isn't as popular - NAS. Network Attached Storage (NAS) devices are essentially large hard drives that are connected to a network, with the storage space shared among the users. The easiest way to think of NAS devices is as a platform that allows you to attach multiple hard drives to, which are then shared with computers on the network. These devices tend to be about half the size of most normal desktop PCs and can offer as much as 32TB of space.

If you are looking to learn more about how you can leverage external hard drives in your business, please contact us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Hardware
October 3rd, 2013

Hardware_Sep30_BMost people use the Internet at least once a day, while many of us are constantly connected. As the availability of Internet increases, we will see a continued increase in the time we spend online. As a business owner, you may eventually have to upgrade your Internet connection, or pick a new type. This can be a daunting task if you don’t know what is out there.

Below is a brief overview of the three major types of Internet connection available to many businesses.

Dial-up
Dial-up uses a modem that is usually in your computer and connected to a phone line which in turn is connected to other modems. When you connect, your modem dials the other modems, which are usually owned by the phone provider, and establishes a connection, allowing you to access the Internet.

Dial-up is by far the slowest Internet connection, and is pretty rare in most population centers. It can still be found in some rural or remote areas, as it only requires existing telephone lines, but many Internet Service Providers (ISP) and telephone companies have stopped offering this service as technology has simply moved on.

Broadband
Broadband refers to any high-speed Internet connection. There are a number of different types of broadband connections, the most popular being:

  • Cable - A broadband connection that is provided mainly to homes through a coaxial cable, which is the same cable that delivers cable television. With a cable connection, users are continuously connected and can see connection speeds as high as 400Mbit/s. While this is a generally stable and fast connection, fewer businesses use it because they lack the coaxial connections in their office.
  • DSL - Digital Subscriber Lines (DSL) are high speed Internet connections that are provided over telephone lines. As with cable connections, DSL users are continuously connected and can see connection speeds higher than 100Mbit/s in some areas, though the average speed is usually around 20-20Mbit/s. DSL is typically the connection of choice for smaller businesses, largely because their telephone lines are usually already in place in the building making it easier to wire and connect.
  • Leased lines - A leased line is a high speed Internet connection used by businesses and even ISPs. Leased lines are typically direct connections between two points, e.g., a business and Internet provider, where the end-user pays a monthly rental fee. Because these lines are not shared with any other users, connection speeds can be extremely high, but will vary depending on the type of line leased. Many of these lines are stable, offering over 99% uptime.
  • Fiber - Fiber connections are becoming increasingly popular in densely populated centers. These connections use optical fiber lines which transmit data using light. While many ISPs have been using fiber backbones, switching over to other connection types (DSL or Cable) for delivery to the customer, this type of broadband is now entering homes and businesses. Many Fiber Connection Providers offer connection speeds of 1Gbit/s, which is nearly 100 times faster than the average DSL line.

Wireless
Wireless connections are broadband, high speed Internet connections that are delivered to the customer largely without wires. The best example of this are the mobile broadband or data connections like 3G that are offered by mobile phone companies.

Other examples of wireless broadband include satellite broadband which is delivered to users by bouncing the connection off of geostationary satellites in orbit above Earth. Connection speeds can be as high as 1Gbit, but because of the distance the transmission has to travel, there is usually a delay of at least .5 seconds, or longer. If you are in a remote location, this is likely the best Internet connection available.

Looking to learn more about the different types of Internet connection available to your business? Why not contact us today to see if we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Hardware
September 5th, 2013

Hardware_Sep02_BOne of the more important features of most portable electronic devices is the memory. Many of these devices have very little internal storage space, instead relying on a memory card that can be plugged into your phone for extra storage. The problem with these cards is that there are numerous types and it can be hard to actually figure out what the differences between them are.

This article is an overview of the two most popular types of removable memory cards that most electronics use: SD and CF.

SD
Secure Digital cards, more commonly known as SD cards, are the most popular storage medium for smaller devices like smartphones and most digital cameras. There are three main types of SD card:

  1. SD
  2. SD Mini
  3. SD Micro

Regular SD cards are the biggest, at 32mm length and 24mm wide. SD Micro cards are the smallest at 11 mm length and 15mm wide. If you have a device that can support SD cards, it’s important to know what size of card you need. You can usually find this out in the tech specs of the device.

Each size of SD card usually comes in three different types. This designation actually dictates the maximum storage capacity of the card:

  1. SDSC - SD Standard Capacity – can store up to 2GB of data. Some cards can go as high as 4GB.
  2. SDHC - SD High Capacity – can store up to 32GB of data.
  3. SDXC - SD eXtended Capacity – can store up to 2TB (Terabytes) of data, although the highest you will likely see at this time is 128GB.

You can usually tell what type of SD card and the storage capacity by looking at the packaging it comes in. Some cards even have the size printed on the card itself. The key issue to be aware of here is that devices can only support a limited amount of memory. For example, older phones can only support cards up to 32GB. If you buy a card with a 128GB it may not work, or you will only be able to use 32GB of space, depending on the device. So, when buying a card it is recommended that you know what type of card is supported. This can usually be found in the device’s tech specifications.

Another important point to be aware of with SD cards is the write speed – how fast data can be written, or saved, on the card. Manufacturers designate their SD cards in classes. Most manufacturers will use one of five class designations:

  1. Class 2 - These cards write at 2MB per second.
  2. Class 4 - These cards write at 4MB per second.
  3. Class 6 - These cards write at 6MB per second.
  4. Class 10 - These cards write at 10MB per second.
  5. UHS (Ultra High Speed) Class 1 - These cards write at 10MB per second and faster.

As a rule of thumb: The higher the class, the faster the read speed and the faster images or data can be saved. Most modern devices require at least a class 6 card, especially if you plan on capturing high definition images and video.

CF
CF, or Compact Flash cards, are traditionally found in higher-end cameras like DSLRs. These cards tend to be much larger than SD cards, measuring 36mm length by 43mm wide. They are generally more robust – able to work harsher conditions – than their smaller SD counterparts.

Currently, CF cards are available with up to 128GB of storage capacity. While this is seemingly lower than SD cards, CF can write data a heck of a lot quicker. Take a look at most CF cards, and you will see the words UDMA – Ultra Direct Memory Access. This technology allows for faster data transfer between the memory card and the device.

There are eight different UDMA numbers which indicate how fast data can be written.

  1. UDMA - can write at speeds up to 16.7MB per second.
  2. UDMA 1 - can write at speeds up to 25MB per second.
  3. UDMA 2 - can write at speeds up to 33.3MB per second.
  4. UDMA 3 - can write at speeds up to 44.4MB per second.
  5. UDMA 4 - can write at speeds up to 66.7MB per second.
  6. UDMA 5 - can write at speeds up to 100MB per second.
  7. UDMA 6 - can write at speeds up to 133MB per second.
  8. UDMA 7 - can write at speeds up to 167MB per second.

Currently, most Compact Flash cards are UDMA 7. To figure out how fast the write speed is when looking at a card look at the packaging. It should say UDMA on it, and have the write speed beside it, or on the back.

If you are looking for a new memory card, it’s important to pay attention to what your device’s manufacturer recommends, largely because these cards – both SD and CF – can be expensive.

Looking to learn more about memory? Why not give us a shout, we’d be happy to sit down with you.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Hardware
August 8th, 2013

Hardware_Aug05_BOne of the more popular home media trends of the past three years is the integration of devices that allow users to stream content like movies from Netflix on their TV. Some of these devices include capabilities such as the ability to share content on a mobile device or computer and are starting to gain the interest of businesses. Have you seen these devices and wondered if they could fit into your business?

These devices, often referred to as dongles, come in a variety of different sizes, with a variety of functionality. However, they serve one main purpose, to allow you to stream content on your TV. Here is an overview of three of the more popular devices that enable this capability and some examples of how businesses are using it.

Apple AirPlay
This little black box allows Apple users to stream content from their Apple computers or iDevice onto any monitor with an HD connection – most users connect the AirPlay to their TV, but if you have a projector with HDMI in, or a VGA adapter, you should be able to hook up AirPlay to bigger screens and even projectors.

The strength of this device is that it allows you to share what you see on your iPhone or iPad. If you have a presentation on your iPad, you can simply connect to AirPlay and share it on a big screen – no more having to carry around a bulky laptop.

AirPlay also supports mirroring. If you have a newer Mac laptop, you can connect to AirPlay and share your laptop’s screen, and essentially turning any HD enabled monitor into another monitor. Again, this is ideal for users who need to give presentations or live demonstrations.

The main downside to the AirPlay is that to be able to share your screen, you need to have Apple devices.

Google Chromecast
This recently announced dongle was created by Google as a way to stream content like Netflix on your TV. While it is brand new, and the capability is yet to really be seen, the device does allow you to share what is on your browser with the screen/TV it is plugged into. The caveat here is that you have to use Chrome. If you have Chromecast and the latest version of Chrome, you can simply hit a button on Chrome and it will be mirrored to the TV or a display the dongle is plugged into.

There are two reasons this device could attract businesses. The first being the price – at under USD$40, it is the cheapest of any similar device. The second being it is easy to set up. You plug it into a free HDMI slot on the monitor you want to use, plug in the USB cable to a free port or wall mount, turn on the device and connect it to Wi-Fi using a tablet or phone app. This is especially useful for companies that use Google Apps like Drive, as you will be able to give presentations on the big screen easily.

The downside here is that this is new technology, so the features and streaming are limited for the time being. However, this should change fairly rapidly, especially because Google has made the software code that enables streaming to the device available to everyone; more apps and streaming should be coming soon.

Dell’s Project Ophelia
This may be a project you haven’t heard of yet, but it holds some interesting promise. Project Ophelia is a small network enabled device (about the size of a thumb drive) that you plug into any device with an HDMI port. It then connects to a cloud service and displays the content on the screen.

An example of this is connecting to a virtualized desktop, whereby you are able to access your work computer from nearly anywhere. Think, no more carrying a laptop. Just plug it into a TV screen and attach a keyboard and mouse and away you go, connecting to your office over Wi-Fi.

If/when Dell launches this device, it could be a viable virtualization alternative, and especially useful for employees who move around to say different offices or locations on a regular basis. Not much else is known about the device at this time, but it should be coming soon; within the next year or so. Check out Dell’s Project Ophelia page here to learn more about it.

Should I get one of these devices for the office?
This is a tough question to answer. If you give presentations or use a TV for group meetings or teamwork, these devices could be a useful and inexpensive way to enable streaming. This could be especially useful for employees who are on the road and don’t want to carry heavy laptops or worry about systems being compatible.

If you don’t give regular presentations, or if you don’t use Chrome, Android or Apple devices, these devices are not the best solution. After all, most newer laptops have HDMI ports and can broadcast/share their screen when they are plugged in (some may need an adapter). Our best advice would be to get into contact with us if you are curious about these devices. We may even have a better alternative that will work with your systems.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Hardware
June 13th, 2013

Hardware_June12_BComputers are made up of numerous complex components that are all necessary in order for us to be able to use them. One vital component is the processor which functions as each machine’s brain. The most popular computer processors are created by Intel. At a recent press event, Intel released the latest version, or generation, of their popular Core processors.

While the new processors are not out just yet, many business owners and managers are wondering what exactly this new version will bring and whether upgrading is worth it when it’s released?

Overview of Intel’s processors
If you have looked at buying a computer in the past three years you have likely heard or seen computers being advertised as having an Intel Core i3, i5 or i7. These processors are Intel’s current line or models, used in laptops and desktops.

  • Core i3 processors offer the lowest amount of processing power and are generally found in low-end laptops or desktops. These are best for users who only need computers to check email or browse the Internet.
  • Core i5 processors are the mid-range and can usually be found in mid-range laptops and desktops. These are best suited to most personal users and can handle most computing needs.
  • Core i7 processors are top of the line and are the most powerful processors Intel makes. These are really suited to businesses and high-end consumers who need powerful processors.

Introduced in 2010, these processors have seen updated versions released almost every year. Intel calls each update a ‘generation’ and the latest, introduced in May 2013, is the 4th generation. You can tell which generation of processor your computer has by looking at the model number e.g., Intel Core i7 3xxx is a third generation processor.

This year’s generation is called Haswell by Intel, but many computer manufacturers will not use this name when presenting technical specifications to users. They will instead use the model name e.g., Intel Core i7 4xxx.

Changes made with Haswell
There are numerous changes that Haswell processors bring and here are three that businesses will benefit from:

  • Faster performance - Because the new processor uses a slightly different layout, more processing power has been added. This means computers using this processor will be faster. This chip is also smaller than the previous versions, so you should see smaller laptops introduced with more computing power.
  • Power savings - Intel has said that when they develop new generations of chips, they aim to always reduce the power consumption. This leads to longer battery life in laptops, without having to sacrifice computing power. How much power saving this new generation of processors will bring remains to be seen, but you can be sure that newer laptops will have a longer battery life.
  • Enhanced graphics - With the introduction of the first Core i3, i5 and i7′s, Intel included an integrated video card. Graphics performance is important to a number of different types of users, including gamers, graphics designers and to some extent, businesses. If you use graphics-heavy programs, like Photoshop, on a daily basis, you need a powerful graphics processor. The new update brings an increase to the integrated card performance which should be more than powerful enough for most users’ needs.

A question being asked by many is whether the new processors will bring a price increase. At this time, prices have not been released,but there is rumor that they are going to be higher. Past releases have not generally affected the overall price of laptops and desktops though and if anything has made them less expensive.

Should I upgrade my systems?
From what we can see about Haswell it will be worth the upgrade for businesses with aging systems, or users needing a boost to the processing power of their systems. If you updated last year, or even the year before that, you will likely be better off waiting a while yet.

Another option could be to wait until computers with Haswell processors enter the market, which should be by mid summer. You will probably be able to get computers with a third generation processor for a lot less. Meanwhile, a third generation processor should be more than able to meet all of your computing needs, especially if you have or invest in a Core i7.

If you are thinking of upgrading or would like to learn more, please contact us.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Hardware