Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Microsoft's New Surface Pro 3 Has A New Docking Station That Makes It Indistinguishable From A Desktop

I feel that there are far too many times where we see add-ons for technology or games. Really, just about anything that has to deal with add-ons kind of makes me cringe, and here is the reason why. I just spent money on the product, but now you're telling me that there is something else I need to add to make it better? While that is all well and good, I feel like I'm getting gypped because I feel as if I'm getting an unfinished product. We see this a lot with video games and downloadable content extras. I feel as if tech companies have started to take notice of all the people who purchase things like this and now have decided to use it with their own technology to increase sales. Take for example the relatively new Microsoft Surface Pro 3. The "tablet that can replace your laptop" now is offering a nice little add-on for those hardcore enough to get it.



The Docking Station
Let's get to the meat and potatoes of it all. Microsoft has just recently introduced a new docking station for their Surface Pro 3, and for what it's worth, it's actually pretty awesome. The docking station itself comes with quite a few extra ports; 5 USB ports, a 3.5mm audio jack, a security slot, a gigabit Ethernet port, and a very handy Mini Display Port connector. The Mini Display Port can enable your tablet to add another monitor to double the screen size, definitely a really nice touch for the new docking station. Arguably the best part of the whole device is the way that it makes the new Surface Pro 3 look oddly reminiscent of a desktop computer in the way that it has been designed. The new docking station is pretty portable as well, and only adds to  fact that the device can have its versatility stretched.

The Price Tag
You may not think that the price tag of something like this is really that much to talk about, but it's more the price tag for different add-on devices that tends to grind my gears. This particular device has a relatively smaller price tag. The docking station will cost you roughly $200. This in itself isn't TOO bad, but when you think about the fact that the Surface Pro 3 is already $800 (and that doesn't even include the tablet's keyboard), those extras add up quickly. So the docking station raises the price tag of the Surface Pro 3 by quite a bit, which can only raise one question: Is it really worth it?




A Sound Investment?
These types of add-ons for devices aren't usually this intricate or this practical. It definitely makes having the Surface Pro 3 that much better if you do own/use one. Now you really can have a desktop on the go with the new docking station. The docking station does still have a few drawbacks, including the price and that fact that the only display port is a MiniDisplay port. That being said, if you can get past the price of the docking station and not really need another screen, then this honestly could be a must buy. The only thing that would really hold me back from this, again, is the price tag of this station. $200 is a lot of money to ask for when you're not really getting anything other than a power charging station and a few extra ports.

For those of us who may happen to already own, or may rent, the new Surface Pro 3, this could definitely help make working with your laptop/tablet hybrid a lot easier. The fact that you can basically have a new desktop wherever there is electricity definitely makes the new docking station all that much more appealing despite the fact that it still is $200. Who is to say that more tech companies won't follow suit and start putting out tech add-ons either? We will see in the very near future!

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Monday, August 25, 2014

Windows 9 May Be Unveiled On September 30th

It appears that we may not have to wait much longer for Windows 9 to come out. According to reports, Windows is planning a huge event scheduled for September 30th. At this event the company is expected to show off an early version of their highly anticipated Windows 9 operating system.

Many different sources that have proven to be legitimate in the past have said that Microsoft is probably going to release a developer version of Windows 9 at the same time that the press event on September 9th happens. Last week a report from Mary Jo Foley, a ZDNet Microsoft expert, said that a preview version of the new operating system would be coming some time in late September or early October. This is pretty consistent with the news that is popping up, so all the puzzle pieces are starting to come together.

The code name that they are using right now is Windows Threshold. This is likely going to be Windows 9, but either way it is expected to feature a brand new and re-worked Start menu for Desktop mode. It is also going to have a nixed Charms bar and Metro apps that you can run in a window. There have also been hints dropped that there will be a desktop version of Cortana, Microsoft's mobile voice assistant. Cortana might not be in the first build of the new operating system, but it is pretty certain that she will make her way in at some point or another.

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There has also been some talk about what else there might be at the big event on September 30th. There may be a new hybrid of Windows RT and Windows Phone. There has been a lot of talk about a unified Windows operating system for all devices, so that might make sense. There will be tons more details as we get closer to the event, so stay tuned.

Monday, July 28, 2014

The Tablet Winds Are Changing For Everyone, Including Apple And Microsoft

Tablets are the way of the future... right? Well that would be the case if you asked just about anyone who uses them. Some experts would say otherwise unfortunately. Tablets have come a long way since Apple came along and introduced the iPad back in 2010. Ever since that point, an entirely new category was opened up for other tech companies to come along and develop new products in. Over time that have been a few changes though. Certain companies can only stay on top for so long. We've known that Microsoft was the top dog tech company for years and years. The PC was good to go but again, times have changed. PC's aren't as sought after as they used to be. The tablet sales are also going downhill a little bit, even for Apple. So Microsoft and Apple have something to worry about now... don't they?

Well, yes and no.

Microsoft
Microsoft hasn't had the best luck lately. With the recent deal between IBM and Apple, the funeral for PC's has been set. Think about this. Just with the way that technology has gone more mobile, the days of stationary computing are gone. That's just the facts. Microsoft recently killed off it's attempts at a mini tablet with the death of the Surface Mini. This is a big deal for Microsoft. The small screen tablet market has been filled up with other companies' products, such as Apple's iPad Mini or Google's Nexus 7. Since these tablets are already well established on the market, Microsoft wouldn't be making the best investment should they've decided to release it. No one would've taken notice since they're 2 years late and the fact that their operating system's staple office programs don't work very well on small screen tablets.

Apple
Recently there have been reports of Apple's iPad sales going down. This has led experts to think that the iPad is on its way out. They couldn't be more wrong. The way that we deal with tablets is oddly reminiscent of the way that we deal with most other computing technology. Yes, I feel that tablets are basically smartphones without the phone part, but they aren't dealt with in the same manner. What I mean by this is that we deal with our tablets the same way we deal with our laptops and computers. We don't normally replace our laptops or computers every 2 years like we do with our phones. Because of this, this is going to cause a lull in sales over a particular amount of time. Not to mention the fact that people don't just trash their tablets after their done with them. They typically pass them down in order to save money. So the sales have slowed but people are still buying tablets, just not as much as they used to.

What Does This Mean For Both Of These Companies?
Apple doesn't really have much to worry about. Mainly because they are Apple and until another company one ups them, they will always be a fashion statement in terms of the most advanced tech. They will continue to make more tablet iterations of the iPad. I'm sure we can expect to see the iPad Air 2 some time soon. The only thing is that the sales might still fade unless they are in the holiday season to boost sales. Microsoft is a different story. People don't resort to Microsoft for their mobile technology needs like they do for Apple and Samsung. Microsoft has the Surface Pro 3 out and even though it's been getting good reviews, it's still not everyone's first choice. The Windows phones don't seem to be doing well either. Naturally, Microsoft is just a PC company and unless they are able to create something game changing for the mobile technology world, they're going to be out of luck in terms of sales.

The tablet market is going through a change right now, and only the top companies will remain in the game. Apple will be fine until someone knocks them off of their throne, but Microsoft looks to be on the ropes in comparison. Time will only tell how long Microsoft will last, and what will become of the current tablet market and it's future.

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Monday, June 30, 2014

The Surface Pro 3 Is A Nightmare For DIY Users

The Surface Pro 3 is officially available from Microsoft with the company touting the hybrid device as a true notebook replacement. However, a lot of do-it-yourself tech junkies out there are singing a different tune. DIYers in no way see the Surface Pro 3 as a notebook replacement, instead viewing the hybrid as a tablet only through and through, according to iFixit.

iFixit, which is based out of San Luis Obispo, California, is one of the most well-known electronics repair companies in the country and recently acquired the Surface Pro 3. Once in hand, iFixit decided to tear the thing apart (in a professional way) to see what Microsoft had stuffed inside it and to determine how easy or difficult it was to reach the internal components. On iFixit's repair score spectrum, which rates how easy or how difficult it is for a DIYer to get inside and replace things, iFixit rated the Surface Pro 3 the lowest possible score of 1.

Several characteristics of the hybrid were to blame for the incredibly low score, including what iFixit called a "paper-thin display glass" that actually cracked when the team tried to pry apart the device. According to an email about the device from iFixit, "The Surface Pro 3 traded the 2's 90+ screws for some seriously hideous adhesive, and consolidated even more components."

The cracked screen wasn't the only thing that went wrong with iFixit's teardown. In addition to the screen, the battery in the hybrid also became warped thanks to the thick adhesive spread throughout the device. This adhesive technique is a common thing among ultra-thin tablet makers these days. Though we shouldn't be too surprised by this as iFixit also gave the Surface Pro 2 a repair score of 1 and the original Surface Pro a 1 as well.

"We think the 3 is pretty much the same insane difficulty to repair as the 2," according to Co-Founder and CEO of iFixit Kyle Wiens. "You're more likely to break the screen than on the 2, but things are more a bit more straightforward once you get inside, it's not very modular."

It isn't just Microsoft devices that are receiving these low scores. Other popular tablets have also earned 1 point repair scores, including Apple's iPad Air. The thing for Microsoft is that it has been touting the Surface Pro 3 as a notebook replacement, not a tablet. When you compare the Surface Pro 3 to other notebooks, accessibility is simply a nightmare. Talking about repairability Wiens added, "Notebooks are usually pretty darn good. Dell, HP and Lenovo post service manuals for their laptops and believe that they are reasonably serviceable."

Some notebooks are just as impossible to get inside of as the Surface Pro 3. iFixit tried to break into a Retina Display MacBook Pro in 2012 it titled the device the "least-repairable laptop we've even taken apart", giving it a score of 1 also. However, the MacBook Air, which Microsoft has used as a direct comparison for the Surface Pro 3, earned a repair score of 4 out of 10 from iFixit last year.

"Part of the reason we emphasize repairability on tablets is that it's such a huge departure from the designs of the past," Wiens added. "People assume their electronics are repairable, and then are surprised when they learn that things have changed for the worse."

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Sunday, June 1, 2014

Apple's WWDC 2014 Is Tomorrow, And It Looks To Be The Biggest And Best One Yet!

Tomorrow is the day. Finally, the Apple WWDC for 2014 is here! This particular convention is one that you will be talked about for a while after it finishes. We all know Apple to be the top dog in terms of consumer electronics and tech devices, so we know for sure that this year's event will be a big one. You have to figure that there have already been quite a lot of rumors surrounding Apple recently. With the iWatch consistently talked about around the internet, the recent deal they made with the one and only Dr. Dre for his Beats, and the talk of a new iOS, this should be quite the conference. Since the deal isn't finalized with Dr. Dre yet, we probably shouldn't expect to see much, if anything at all, about the incorporation of the Beats into Apple's technology.

While we might not get to see anything with the Beats take the stage yet, there is still quite a bit to look forward to.

Arguably the biggest part of the conference will be the new iOS and OS X. Whenever there is a new update to be had regarding software, you can expect Apple to give it everything they've got and then some. You can also expect a slew of critics and tech experts standing by to find any and all flaws in the software that they can. All obviousness aside, the iOS 8 software is sure to get many people excited. This is the biggest update since iOS 7, and we all know how the design overhaul for that update went. Needless to say, I don't foresee Apple making the iOS 8 software changes as crazy as the iOS 7 were, but I'm sure that there will be a few different key features accompanying it. OS X 10.10 will be undergoing the same type of design overhaul that iOS saw with the iOS7 update. The new OS X update will also be seeing a name change as well. It's still not specified yet, but we will be looking at the new OS X Yosemite or OS X El Cap in the near future.

Naturally, we can all look forward to some new hardware being announced to go along with the new software. There are some out there who believe that we won't be seeing any type of hardware coming out during the event. I tend to believe otherwise, simply due to the fact that Apple always has SOME sort of new hardware being announced at the WWDC events. Whether it be an upgraded version of the Mac Pro or a new Macbook of sorts, I'm sure there will be something.

There is also disbelief that Apple will show the new iWatch at the event. I disagree here as well. The rumors have spread around enough, and Apple is already quite late to the wearable fray as it is. If they plan on keeping up with the other companies that are already pushing the wearable trend to further their respective businesses, then they need to get in the game now. Samsung unveiled the Galaxy S5, along with a few wearables, at the Upacked event this past February. It would seem unwise of Apple to NOT show the iWatch.

Whether there will be a showing of the new product, or new hardware at all, has yet to be determined, but we will all find out tomorrow at 10 AM. No matter what, this event is sure to not disappoint!

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Monday, May 5, 2014

It Seems Microsoft Still Supports Windows XP... For Now


As we all know, Microsoft officially retired Windows XP in April, and it was a really big deal to a lot of people. After the huge zero-day bug that affected every version of Internet Explorer from Windows XP to Windows 8, Microsoft actually decided to put out a patch for XP users when they put out a patch for everything else. Although this is ultimately a good thing, it may not have been the smartest move that Microsoft ever made. The whole reason they decided to abandon Windows XP was to get more people to upgrade to the newer versions of Windows. It is now very apparent that Microsoft will still continue to fix major issues with XP as long as it still has a lot of users.

The bug was found by a security firm called FireEye on April 26th, and Microsoft confirmed it the next day. It was one of the most dangerous bugs ever, and even the U.S. government was telling everyone not to use Internet Explorer. Although it was dangerous, it may have been one of the best things that could have happened to Microsoft. Companies couldn't keep using Windows XP if there was an insane, crippling security issue with it. Thousands of people would have been forced to upgrade if Microsoft would have stuck to what they said and not put out a patch for XP.

Microsoft says that the reason they put out the patch is because this incident happened so close to the end of the support for Windows XP. That makes sense, but are they going to do the same thing if something else happens next week? Don't get me wrong, I'm not one to complain about a company being nice and doing good things for its customers, I'm just talking here. But it still doesn't seem like the smartest thing ever. Now everyone is just going to assume that Microsoft will always cave in, and there is no reason to give up on Windows XP.

The worst part about all of this is that it may give some people false hope. Yes, you are safe for now as an XP user, your company might be safe, and whatever else. But the thing that everyone should realize is that this is not going to be the last time something like this happens. This isn't the last security breach of all time. Not only that, but Windows XP is going to be the biggest target of all now because Microsoft absolutely can not keep supporting such an outdated operating system. Either way, the time has come to go ahead and upgrade if you haven't already done so yet.

Tonight, you can use Windows XP and sleep well knowing that you are safe. Tomorrow, however, is another day where anything in the world could happen. It's best to look at this as a warning or just a close call. But it is actually time to upgrade now. Seriously this time.

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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

What To Do If Your Computer Becomes Infected

If you have a desktop or laptop computer that has recently been infected by a virus, spyware, or any other kind of malicious bug, getting it removed as quickly as possible is something that you should make a priority. If you do a lot of work on your computer, having such an infection can put you at risk to lose everything that you have stored on there. Even if you do not work on your computer, losing saved files is never a good thing. Thus, taking your computer to a shop offering computer repair in Simi Valley is something you should do as quickly as possible.

A computer repair shop can help you remove the offending items from your computer before they can do any more damage. Like a physical virus, computer viruses spread throughout the system and attack everything on their way through. While it is not likely that you will escape any and all damage, you can minimize the damage you experience by acting quickly.

Another reason to check out a shop for computer repair in Simi Valley is so you can have preventative programs installed, thus decreasing the risk of contracting another infection. Having safety protocols in place to help you avoid problems such as these can save you time and frustration, as well as money in the long run. Rather than paying for computer repairs every so often due to these types of issues, you can avoid them down the road by having anti-virus and other types of software installed. While it is still recommended that you exercise caution when you use your computer, having protection can give you peace-of-mind.

Having issues with your computer can be frustrating and extremely damaging. Having a reliable source for computer repair in Simi Valley can be a huge source of relief when you eventually need to take advantage of their services. If you have no such place, look into your options today.