Thursday, April 28, 2011

Bing's Shopping Section Gets a Revamp from Microsoft

BingThe next couple of weeks are going to be pretty busy for most, what with Mother's Day, summer vacation and school graduations all on the horizon. Well, because of that, Microsoft has given the shopping section of its Bing search engine a little bit of a makeover which includes the ability to link it to Facebook accounts.

With this new integration into Facebook, users can be reminded of their friend's and family's birthdays and even share their shopping lists with them according to a report by Microsoft.

Other changes include a redesigned shopping home page with a new layout that is specifically designed to give more prominent placement to top search results, popular products and even related articles with the intention of making things easier and faster to scan this information.

A revamped results page now features bigger images at the top of the screen. It also offers more filters in order to fine-tune results and even let users hover over different items in order to trigger the display of additional product information.

Even though Google is the top search engine without a doubt, Microsoft keeps on chugging along, investing heavily in Bing for years now. Officials from Microsoft maintain that there are big opportunities set to radically improve the search user experience. Microsoft also stated that if it continues innovating with Bing, it could definitely make a run at Google.

However, that doesn't mean that Google is just going to sit there and take it. The search master is constantly improving algorithms in order to make sure it retains users' loyalty and defends its core market.

To improve its chances against Google, Microsoft as well as Yahoo are both implementing a search partnership. However, last week Yahoo's CEO Carol Bartz stated that Microsoft's AdCenter search ad system isn't yielding the results the companies have expected. However, both Yahoo and Microsoft have both said that they are confident that improvements to AdCenter will boost its revenue-per-search rate to the expected levels before the year is up.

Source: PCWorld - Microsoft Revamps Bing Shopping Section is news of, for and by SMBs! The Small & Medium Business Magazine!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Top Desktops Available

Desktop computers have come a very long way over the years. They used to be big, boring boxes that took up tons of space, but they have transformed into new, chic, flashy tools that can do almost anything.

The price of a desktop can range from as low as $250 to as high as $5,000. That’s a really big range, so how do you know which desktop will meet all of your needs? Well, here is a list of the top 8 desktops currently on the market. These desktops include all of the features that you could ever need and price tags that won’t break your budget.

Asus All-in-One PC ET2400IGTS-B008E
$1249.99 at Amazon

Some reviews compare this incredible desktop to Apple’s 21-inch iMac. The Asus All-in-One PCET2400IGTS-B008Eoffers a huge touch-sensitive screen, a quad-core processor, USB 3.0 ports, Blu-Ray, 1080p HD, SonicMaster Audio, HDMI, VGA-in, and wireless keyboard, mouse, networking, and IR remote. It does have a bit of bloatware and the apps are not particularly well-integrated, but those really aren’t a big deal in comparison with all of the great features that this has to offer.

Dell Inspiron i580-8139NBC
$499.98 at Staples

The Dell Inspiron i580-8139NBC is an incredible deal. It has a Core i3 processor, HDMI port, no bloatware, and expandability. The big issues are that it doesn’t have USB 3.0 or Wi-Fi. If you’re looking for a nice PC with all of the basic functionalities and a great price, this is the desktop for you.

Dell XPS x8300-5215NBK
$1099.99 at Best Buy

The Dell XPS x8300-5215NBK is considered to be a rather high-end desktop PC. It features high-end 3D graphics, a card retention bracket, HDMI DisplayPort, 8GB of memory, 1.5TB hard drive, and a Second Generation Intel Core processor. One thing that I was very disappointed not to see on this PC was a Blu-Ray player, but all of these other great features seem to make up for it.

Digital Storm Black Ops Enix Edition
Around $3,625

Obviously from the price tag, this desktop is definitely on the high-end list. Most people aren’t usually looking to spend this much money on a gaming desktop, but if you are, this chic PC is a great option. It has incredible performance, Blu-ray, USB 3.0 port, no bloatware, and a great cooling system. One of the biggest issues with this desktop though is that it is not easy to get into and there is no internal upgrade room, but if you can look past these few things and you have the money to spend, this is the gaming desktop for you.

HP Compaq 4000 Pro
Around $550

This is a great value desktop. It doesn’t necessarily have all of the bells and whistles, but it includes everything that you really need. It is compact, offers expansion room (including the space for a second hard drive), and built-in dual monitor support. It doesn’t have TPM, only two memory slots, or any eSATA or DisplayPort. For a fair price, you can get everything that you really need from a desktop.

HP TouchSmart 310-1125y
$699.99 at Best Buy

The TouchSmart 310-1125y offers some incredible features for the price tag. It has an incredibly responsive touchscreen with full touch interface, a wireless keyboard and mouse, and fantastic entertainment options. It does only offer 1,600 x 900 screen resolution and low-powered 3D graphics, but when you consider everything that it has to offer, it is a great entry level touchscreen desktop.

Lenovo IdeaCentre K330-11691AU
$599.99 at Best Buy

The Lenovo IdeaCentre K330-11691AU features up-to-date components that should keep you content with the desktop for as long as 5-7 years. It has a second generation Intel Core i-processor, no bloatware, HDMI, and an incredibly easy to upgrade tool-less interior. It offers some great, new technology that should keep it going for quite some time.

Lenovo ThinkStation C20
Around $4,600

So yes, the Lenovo ThinkStation C20 is quite possibly a bank breaker, but of course, there’s a reason for the high price tag. The desktop includes dual CPU Xeon power, ISV certification for a variety of different professional programs, card retention, and a 3-year warranty. It also is rack mountable, compact, and capable of driving two 30-inch panels simultaneously; however, it still is pricey and offers no USB 3.0 or FireWire.

These are the top desktop computers on the market today. If you're looking for a new, chic desktop PC, you should definitely look into one of the computers above.

Security Camera Solutions

Monday, April 18, 2011

Microsoft's Office 365 Goes Open Beta

Microsoft Office 365Microsoft has finally opened the door to its cloud-based Office 365 and is now offering the service as a public beta for anybody and everybody to try out. The beta is available in 38 countries as well as 17 languages. The new beta also follows several months of limited testing with a few thousand businesses that were able to take the service out for an early test drive. After this public beta, Office 365 will officially launch later this year.

Office 365, which was unveiled last October, is Microsoft's attempt at offering businesses a cloud-based alternative to some of the company's more traditional desktop and server products. Office 365 combines Office Web Apps with hosted versions of Exchange and SharePoint as well as Microsoft's Lync product. The Lync product provides the online communication and collaboration element of Office 365.

With all of this, Office 365 is designed to offer a plethora of features including document creation, document sharing, e-mail, IM, online meetings and public Web sites. Microsoft has also included protection in the form of its enterprise ForeFront security client and is also promising a 99.9% uptime for the entire service.

Once Office 365 officially launches it will be offered as two separate plans depending on the size of your company. Small businesses with around 25 employees or less can pay $6 per person per month to receive Office Web Apps and the hosted versions of Exchange and SharePoint. Larger corporations will have to chose from one of four different plans geared toward faculty, staff and students.

In addition to Office 365 being offered as a beta, Office 365 Marketplace is in beta form as well. Office 365 Marketplace is designed to supplement Office 365 and tries to help businesses find apps and services offered by different Microsoft partners. Reports from users already experiencing the beta have noted that everything is working as Microsoft has advertised it to.

Source: CNET - Microsoft opens up Office 365 as public beta

File Server rentals are ideal if your company needs an extra storage unit for company information while you are testing various types of storage solutions.

Whether you need a short-term rental or a long-term lease, we have the right kind of server for your needs.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

2011 Sees a Slip in Worldwide PC Shipments

computer shipmentsBad news for the computer industry has just recently been released. Thanks to weak demand for consumer PCs, growth for worldwide PC shipments showed a 1.1% decline from the first quarter of 2010 according to a Gartner's PC Quarterly Statistics Worldwide by Region program. Weak demand for consumer PCs was the primary inhibitor. However, despite the weakening of sales around the globe, the Asia Pacific region showed encouraging growth as PC shipments surpassed 28.2 million in the first quarter of 2011. This is interesting due to the fact that, statistically speaking, sales of consumer PCs usually do not show this much popularity or growth in the beginning of the year. The first quarter of most years is stereotypically slow for PC sales. Gartner also noted, however, that these shipment results indicate potential sluggishness and not a typical seasonal slowdown. Gartner pointed out that these figures are well below earlier predictions for a 3% growth in the first quarter of 2011. In response to different markets in Asia, Gartner said that consumer PC sales were also slow both in China and also in Taiwan and that they failed to attract customers during the celebration of Chinese New Year. Consumers in India were occupied by the Cricket World Cup and preferred to upgrade their personal PCs or buy a new TV rather than home electronics. In addition to that, PC shipments in Japan hit a decline of 13.1% in 2011's first quarter. According to Principle Analyst for Gartner Mikako Kitagawa, "Weak demand for consumer PCs was the biggest inhibitor of growth. Low prices for consumer PCs, which had long stimulated growth, no longer attracted buyers. Instead, consumers turned their attention to media tablets and other consumer electronics. With the launch of the iPad 2 in February, more consumers either switched to buying an alternative device, or simply held back from buying PCs. We're investigating whether this trend is likely to have a long-term effect on the PC market." Computer company HP accounted for 17.6% of worldwide PC shipments in the first quarter of 2011. HP also maintained the number one spot. Acer saw declining shipments of 12.2% and Dell reported a shipment decline year-over-year for the first time in six quarters. Lenovo continued to price products competitively in the consumer market as well as the professional market and enjoyed the strongest growth among the top vendors as a result. Source: PCWorld - Worldwide PC Shipments Slip in 2011

Projector Rentals Are Great for Business Meetings

Most business class projectors will do a good job displaying your PowerPoint presentation. If you have a small presentation group, a 2000 lumen LCD projector will be able to produce a nice and clear picture. For larger audiences you should consider a 5000 lumen LCD projector.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Steve Wozniak Says the iPad is for Normal People

Steve WozniakHere's something interesting for you. While speaking at an event in Santa Clara, California, co-founder of Apple Steve Wozniak stated that the "iPad is for the normal people of the world." Wozniak was speaking at the Storage Network World conference and made a clear distinction between his "technological audience" and the average consumer. According to Mr. Wozniak, it has always been the dream of Steve Jobs, current CEO of Apple, to create a computer that was simple enough for anyone to pick up and use "but it was hard to get there, because we had to go through a lot of steps where you connected to things." If you were one of the few that tried diligently to set up a wireless network about 5 to 10 years ago, then you can most likely attest to this. The iPad is one of the few computer-like devices members of an older generation enjoy using and a device that a lot of people primarily use instead of a laptop or desktop computer. There is also the incredible story of the 100-year old woman who was absolutely tickled with her first ever computer purchase, a first-generation iPad. What is interesting is that a lot of the numbers for the iPad go against users like the ones mentioned above. A survey conducted in November 2010 found that only 28.9% of respondents indicated that the iPad was their primary computing device. While that is a nice number, it still suggests that the majority of iPad owners use the device as a secondary piece of technology. Another study conducted in December of 2010 found that the average iPad owner is a college-educated male, 48-years old, with an earning of more than $100,000 per year. You cannot say that this is the normal picture of an American with 75% of the population earning less than $50,000 per year and women make up little more than half of the population. Then again, the iPad has only been around for a little more than a year. Global adoption, especially among demographics that are traditionally slow-moving in terms of picking up new technologies, will take some time. That is why it makes a little sense that the owner statistics of the iPad are more indicative of what constitutes an early adopter as opposed to what constitutes the iPad's actual target market. Sure, Mr. Wozniak may be over-generalizing when he says that the iPad is for the quote "normal" people of the world, but it still represents the closest attempt yet to make computing easy enough for those who do not have extensive experience with using computers. The price of entry for ownership is also on the low side for not only tablets but also for computing devices in general. We can probably expect Mr. Wozniak's view of the iPad user to become more true as Apple continues to make computing easier for everybody. Source: Gigaom - Apple Co-Creator Says iPad is a Computer for "Normal People"

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