Tools Toys and Technology

About the Tools You Use and the Toys That Make Life Interesting

Tools Toys and Technology - About the Tools You Use and the Toys That Make Life Interesting

Surface Pro 2 / Now Surface Pro 3

  • Is it a tablet?
  • Is it a notebook?
  • Is it a desktop?

I’ve been intending to write about the Surface Pro 2 for so long but never quite got around to it. Now, my procrastination has resulted in me being scooped by the next generation Surface Pro from Microsoft, the Surface Pro 3. Finally, putting fingers to keyboard, I’ll review them both here.

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The New Face of On-The-Go Computing

In my last article, The New Face of Computers,” I discussed the emergence of the All-In-One desktop style. This article is dedicated to the portable side of computing, an area that has been dominated by the laptop/notebook design for many years.

For the last couple of years, the “Ultrabook” has been taking over the high end of this market. Ultrabooks, in general, are notebooks that are sleeker, lighter and have longer battery life. ( See “Ultrabooks and Windows 8 Tablets” June, 2012).

The Ultrabook/Tablet Hybrid

The latest thing are notebooks/ultrabooks that can be used with a keyboard in the traditional clam shell fashion or converted to a tablet form factor with screens that can be removed, hinged, swiveled, rotated, folded, or otherwise maneuvered to deliver a tablet experience.  It’s these hybrid variations I want to review today.

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The New Face of Computers

Once Upon a Time…

There used to be two types of PCs: desktops and laptops.

Desktops consisted of a hefty case that housed the electronic brains of the machine. To that you added a monitor, keyboard, mouse, speakers, and possibly other things. This collection of hardware took up a major portion of your desk, and the thing wasn’t particularly stylish.

Laptops combined all the components into one clam shell-like package, in the name of portability. But even that was a pretty utilitarian and kind of clunky device.

Those were the good old days when computer buying decisions were relatively easy to make. You just decided on a desktop or laptop, picked your favorite components and brand, and pulled out your credit card.

That was Then … This is Now …

Now you have:

  1. Classical desktops
  2. All-in-one desktops
  3. All-in-one/tablet hybrids
  4. Laptops
  5. Ultrabooks
  6. Ultrabook/tablet hybrids that swivel, slide, fold, dock, whatever…

And I’m not sure I covered everything. The evaluation process has become far more complicated.

In this and a followup article, I’m going to try to clarify the increasingly confusing PC landscape. I’ll have more to say about the portable computing options later. Today, I’m concentrating on the latest desktop developments.

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CES 2013

Copyright © 2013, Richard Beaty

CES 2013

The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is the ultimate fantasyland for techies. It happens every January in that other ultimate fantasyland, Las Vegas.

CES features the latest and greatest “stuff” … things that were recently introduced … will be introduced in the near future … may be introduced sometime but not anytime soon … and some stuff that may never, ever see the light of day.

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TTT Anniversary Issue

Copyright © 2012 Richard Beaty

Boy, this year has gone fast for me. The first issue of TTT appeared in the January 2011 issue of Two’s News. That makes this the anniversary issue.

I just re-read the first issue and took note of this comment I made:

I’m not totally sure where we’re headed with this series, but things are happening so fast in this area, that I’m sure we’ll have no problem coming up with topics that will interest you.

I hope the “interest you” part of that statement was true. The “things happening so fast” and “have no problem coming up with topics” parts were definitely true.

Looking back, we started off January 2012 discussing Streaming TV, covering in a four-part series everything from hardware and equipment to sources of programming. Then came a discussion of tablets, the introduction of Microsoft Surface, password security, and the “cloud.” Finally, the release of the long anticipated (or dreaded, depending on your point of view) release of Windows 8 topped off the year.

In every case, there have been additional developments in the areas we covered, so it seems appropriate on this 1-year anniversary to revisit the issues and bring you up to date.

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Windows 8 is Here

Copyright © 2012 Richard Beaty

Last month’s big thing was the formal introduction of Windows 8. It’s been around awhile now in Consumer Preview form, so quite a few people have gotten their hands on it and formed opinions. And there seems to be no middle ground in those opinions. Some people love it; some hate it. Personally, I am kind of in that lonely middle ground. In this issue of T3, I’ll tell you why.

What’s Different?

Well, how about EVERYTHING. That’s part of why everyone is so emotional about Windows 8. It is a complete departure from everything that has characterized the operating system since the introduction of Windows 95.

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Cloud Application #2: Your Hard Drive in the Sky

Copyright © 2012 Richard Beaty

Last month I began a new series on consumer applications of the “cloud” … aka, programs and utilities that make use the Internet for specific functions. We started out with: “Cloud Application #1: Online Backup.” This month I’ll talk about cloud solutions for data storage, sharing and file syncing.

Your Hard Drive in the Sky

When you think of computer data storage, you think of a hard drive. The hard drive in your computer makes your data conveniently available to programs that run on that computer. If you want to move data from one computer to another, you can store your data on an external hard drive, a little black box that you can easily move between multiple computers. But for real data portability, nothing beats storing your data on the cloud.

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Cloud Application #1: Online Backups

Copyright © 2012 Richard Beaty

The Internet has brought us many things: ways to communicate, new forms of entertainment, new ways to waste time. Today I’m going to start a new series on something that can be both a tool and a toy … the “cloud.” In this series, I’ll limit the discussion to consumer oriented things, from backing up your computer, to online photo albums, to just plain old “hard drives in the sky.”

The Cloud

I like the term, “the cloud,” as it refers to something that is just “out there” somewhere, kind of amorphous and undefined. In fact, it is just another word for the Internet, in particular as it applies to certain forms of computing and data storage.

Cloud Application #1: Online Backup

In this article, I’ll cover a very handy (and important) cloud service: online backups. Other applications will follow in later articles.

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