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

Out With the Old, In With the New

If you have recently become the proud possessor of a new computer, sooner or later you’ll have to figure out something to do with your old computer. You did remember to copy all the useful information from that old computer, didn’t you? Did you also remember to withdraw that same computer from limited installation programs or online services – like Adobe Photoshop Elements, iTunes, Office 365 and others?

By this time, we’ve all learned that older doesn’t mean useless. If the aging computer is less than 5 years old, it may make sense to repurpose rather than recycle it. If you are one of the owners of the remaining 650,000,000 Windows XP computers, please note that your PC is at least 6 years old! XP was first sold in 2001. Refurbishers will usually reject computers more than 5 years old.

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Windows 10 – Free to Windows 7 and 8 Users

Microsoft has announced that Windows 10 will be a free upgrade to current users of Windows 7 and 8.1. This offer will be extended for one year after Windows 10 launches. Once you’ve taken advantage of this free upgrade, you will continue to get free upgrades for the lifetime of the device on which Windows 10 is installed.

So, if you are one of those XP holdouts, this may be the greatest incentive yet to upgrade to Windows 8.1, guaranteeing you’ll get Windows 10 when it comes out. There is no free upgrade for Windows XP users.

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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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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Vizio Enters PC Business

Vizio, noted for its flat screen TV line, has entered the computer business with new laptops and all-in-one desktop models.

These computer will enter an already very competitive market, going head-to-head with established names like HP, Dell, and Acer, not to mention Apple. But they’ve been successful in the TV marketplace, where they are know for attractive but affordable products. If that image carries over to their new PCs, I predict that they will do well.

They are going after it aggressively. Their new products sport Intel’s latest Ivy Bridge processor and start at a competitive price of $898. Vizio computers will be sold at Walmart, Amazon, Costco, Sam’s Club, and other retail outlets, as well as their own Website at

Get Ready for Windows 8 Tablets

The dawning of tablets that are “real” computers that are able to run “real” computer programs (as opposed to primarily content consumption devices) has advanced well beyond the rumor stage. They are real, and they are coming this fall.

The details of who is going to offer what is still rumor. There have been substantial and credible leaks, but for the most part, companies are remaining mum on details.

One of the more exciting rumors is about the HP “Slate 8.” This is supposed to have a state-of-the-art Intel processor running Windows 8 Professional. This means that you will be able to truly install and run desktop software, as well as Windows 8 apps, on the device. The Slate 8 is believed to have a 10.1-inch display, is 0.36 inches thin, and has a 10 hour battery life.

Dell is also expected to enter the fray with its own Windows 8 tablet. Recently leaked specs on the first Dell offering rumor that it will also have a 10.1-inch display and a similar thickness (or “thinness”) as the HP Slate 8, an Intel Clover Trail Atom dual-core processor (Intel’s low power-consumption processor due out soon), 2 GB of RAM and a 128 GB solid state drive.

The HP and the Dell are just the first two of what promises to be a whole slew of Windows 8 tablet options that we will undoubtedly see this fall. Many of these will probably be variations on the versatile tablet-laptop hybrid design, which gives the user the option of using as a stand-alone tablet or docking a keyboard to the device.

This fall is guaranteed to be an exciting time in this new tablet computing market.