A Few Reasons Why Desktops Are Better

Michael Menor is Vice President of Support Services for Tech Experts.

With all this talk about mobile devices like tablets, smart phones, and ultra-portable laptops, you’d begin to think that traditional desktop PCs are going to seem archaic.

Depending on your needs, that can be the case, but desktops aren’t going away anytime soon – and for good reason.

More Powerful Hardware
This has been the case from the very beginning – desktop PCs are capable of more powerful hardware.

Desktops don’t need to worry about electricity consumption the same way portable devices do and components don’t need to be shrunk down into a tiny lap-sized chassis.

This also allows better heat dispersion. All three factors give desktops the flexibility to utilize the most complex, cutting edge components that aren’t designed for mobility (yet).

In other words, computer hardware manufacturers build new components, then work on shrinking those components into mobile sizes.

This reason alone will keep the desktop alive – PC gamers, graphic artists, and multimedia buffs will always want high-end desktops.

Cost Effectiveness
Of course, you don’t need the newest, cutting edge components to have a blazing-fast PC. You can easily get by with cheaper, previous generation components.

Remember a decade ago when a desktop PC could cost thousands of dollars? It’s still possible (and easy for some) to spec out a high-end PC with that kind of price tag, but each additional dollar spent isn’t worth it unless you have VERY specific needs.

Also, comparable hardware for a PC is significantly cheaper than similar laptop hardware. If you don’t need the mobility, you can save a pretty decent chunk of money just by sticking with a desktop.

Desktops are Easier to Fix and Maintain
Let’s share a real-world tech scenario. Replacing a part on a desktop is a pretty simple task for a technician. In fact, with a little hand-holding, almost anybody could figure it out. Replacing the motherboard on a laptop, however, is an extremely cumbersome process. Depending on the model, it can involve over two dozen screws and a lot of time.

Replacement parts aren’t as affordable as they are for desktops either. For smart phones and tablets, expect to ship those out to the manufacturer.

You Probably Won’t Leave your Desktop at the Airport/Coffee Shop/Hotel
It’s true! If you are lugging around a big PC case, a monitor or two, a keyboard, mouse, and power cables, it’s pretty likely you won’t accidentally forget it when you realize how light your luggage has become.

All joking aside, because your desktop lives a pretty uneventful life without much movement, it doesn’t endure the little bumps, drops, and spills that laptops, tablets and other mobile devices take.

It’s harder to steal too, so there is a little essence of security knowing your data is locked inside a great big aluminum box tethered to your desk with a web of cables.

Have you moved on from the desktop PC completely or are you still holding on? Do you even want to go strictly mobile? Let us know and let us answer any questions you have.

Tips For Buying A New Laptop Computer

Purchasing a brand new laptop computer can be something of a challenge given the amount of options and choices which are available.

For many people the process of buying a new laptop computer can actually turn out to be quite overwhelming. Fortunately there are some simple tips which can be followed to make the purchasing process much simpler.

One tip is to try and narrow down some of the key choices and options.

Identify and focus on the requirements and features which are the most important and this will help you to narrow it down to the best laptop computer which you can buy for your budget and needs.

The first thing to determine is what you will use the laptop computer for, as this helps to clear up your needs in terms of battery life, performance, size, storage capacity and weight.

If you need to use the laptop outside of your home or office, then this makes the weight of the system and the size of the screen important.

A non-glare screen might come in handy if you will use it outdoors or in bright rooms.

If there are a large number of files you wish to store, then a bigger hard disk drive will also be needed.  Asking these questions can make the whole process much less intimidating.

Saying Goodbye To An Old Friend… Would A New Workstation Boost Your Productivity?

Many people find it hard to let go of that old workstation that seems to be “working just fine.” But, ask yourself: Is it really?

Most people recognize that, as their machine ages, it seems to get slower and slower.

A fresh install of Windows generally makes the computer speed back up to it’s “like new” speed.

But as we rely more and more on our computers, laptops, phones, and tablets to be productive in our work, does working at that original speed still make sense?

If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it?
Why is it a bad idea to have the “if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it” mentality when it comes to your computer?

For starters, you’re wasting your money doing so. If a computer is past its normal lifecycle then it really doesn’t make any sense spending the money to continuously bring it back to a like new state as far as the software goes because the hardware is still very outdated.

In general a desktop computer’s useful life span is roughly three to five years providing you purchased a mid-range computer and not the bottom of the line model.

For laptops you get slightly less useful life span out of them due to the fact that a mid-range laptop is generally not as good of hardware as a mid-range desktop.

The other reason a laptop doesn’t tend to last as long is the fact that it is constantly being moved around.

This constant movement, shaking, vibrating, dropping, etc. causes a lot more stress on the hardware in comparison to a desktop.

Due to the different factors involved in a laptop’s life cycle, a laptop’s useful life is roughly two to three years – perhaps slightly longer if it is well cared for.

Software updates may require PC upgrades
Another reason to think about workstation replacement has to do with the software you run on your machine.

Many different software companies offer updates to their software.

Some updates offer fixes to problems or security issues, but many updates also offer new features or updates to old features.

These updates sometimes include a better graphical interface that makes a program easier to use.

Generally, these types of updates have higher computing and speed requirements. Many industry specific software companies put out these types of updates, and they’re great!

Who wouldn’t want a more attractive user interface that functions better and offers more options?

The problem: Updating/upgrading software requires more system resources almost one hundred percent of the time.

If you’re the kind of person that likes to hold on to your workstation forever and never update it, but wants those nice software updates, you might see performance problems.

While your software is updating it needs more RAM, more CPU power, and in some cases, more graphical capacity to run to the new software properly. A lot of times, users don’t realize that with new features come new requirements.

In short, if your computer is over five years old, consider replacing it, particularly if it’s a laptop. A faster workstation will help you with updated software, and keep up with your busy workload.

Feature article written by: Tech Experts

5 Things You Need To Know If You Buy A New PC

Great Tips To Keep In Mind When Shopping For Your Next Computer

When you are ready to buy a new computer, one of the first questions you may ask yourself is, “Where can I get the best deal?”

Obviously you don’t want to pay more than you have to, price shouldn’t be the only thing you consider before making your decision.

If you shop the local electronics superstores for weekly specials, you can easily get a standard machine at an ok price. This option would work best for you if you’re not too picky or if you don’t have any special requirements for gaming, graphics, or your special business software.

If you buy over the Internet from a major manufacturer, you’ll get more choice and customization on the components, chip speed, RAM, hard drive size, and video components, but you’ll pay a slightly higher price. But, the biggest downside to buying online is that you’ll have a hard time getting technical support if something goes wrong.

Not a week goes by where we don’t get a client who wants to pay us to fix a warranty-covered machine simply because the manufacturer is making it next to impossible to get the problem taken care of. In many cases, these companies have help desks located outside of the US, which means you might have a hard time communicating with them.

Sometimes only a component (like the hard drive) will go bad. When this happens, you’ll have to ship the entire machine back wait a couple of weeks for them to repair it and ship it back. You also run the risk of losing all your data and configurations.

If you have special requirements, need help in selecting a machine, or if service before, during, and AFTER the sale is important, then you’ll want to buy from a local shop like Tech Experts.

Here Are 5 Big Reasons To Buy Your Next PC From Tech Experts:
1. You’ll get a senior technician who will take time to explain your options, answer your questions, and help you make a good buying decision based on what YOU need, not what we have to clear off the store shelves. At an electronics superstore, there’s a good chance you’ll end up talking to a teenager working on commission who doesn’t have any real technical expertise.

If you buy online, you’ll get very little or no help in selecting the right combination of components and options, so this works best ONLY for those individuals who really know what they are buying.

2. Superior technical support and service after the sale. If you’ve ever dealt with a manufacturer’s technical support in the past, you know how frustrating it can be. After waiting on hold for days, you’ll end up speaking with a “technician” who doesn’t have a clue. Most ofthe time they’re just reading from a script and taking you through a series of system checks that won’t help.

Whenever you have a problem with a machine that you purchased from us, we’ll troubleshoot it for free. Plus, you won’t have to wait on hold when you call, which brings me to another point…

3. If you need technical support on a computer that you bought from us, you won’t go through voice mail jail or be transferred to another country. You actually get to speak to a friendly, local technician.

4. We’ll set up your e-mail account, Internet access, check your virus protection, set up your firewall, and upother preferences and settings. When you buy from a superstore or online, it’s up to you to configure your new machine.

5. We’ll custom build or upgrade your PC here in our office. Maybe you just need more memory and a video card added. If you simply want to “upgrade” your PC to save a few dollars, we will gladly do it for you.

The bottom line is this: if you are shopping solely on price and aren’t too picky, then watch the weekend papers for sales at your local electronic superstore. They can offer a great price on a standard machine. Usually you can save anywhere from $100—$200 this way.

For semi-customization at a decent price, check the Internet. There are hundreds of online resellers offering PCs at competitive prices.

For the best customization, service, and support after the sale, buy from Tech Experts. You’ll pay a little bit more but we’ll make sure you get exactly what you need without any hassle or problems. Give us a call today at (734) 457-5000.

 

Desktop or Laptop? What To Consider When Choosing

Are you out shopping for a new computer, but are unsure of what to buy as far as a laptop or a desktop? If so, here are some simple factors to keep in mind to make that decision.

Price
Because of the higher cost of computer components and assembling them, a laptop computer will be more expensive than a desktop model with the same specifications.

If you are only going to be using the computer for basic tasks such as word processing and surfing the Internet, a laptop would be perfect for you.

If you are more into playing video games or running video editing software, a desktop computer would be suited more towards your needs.

It will have the memory to run those programs and the hard drive space to store everything.

Space
It may seem like a contradiction, but while desktop computers are getting smaller, laptops are going in the other direction because of the greater number of functions they are being asked to perform.

A laptop is still more easily stored out of the way than a desktop. The laptop is the obvious choice if space is an issue.

The real question to ask is whether the space which the computer will be occupied can be permanently sacrificed for housing information.

Portability
If you are looking for portability then there is only one obvious winner here. However, it should be asked whether a computer is likely to get the most use out of it being placed in one spot or when it is moved around for use in different rooms.

If you are going to use your PC at home, at work, and on business trips, then a laptop would definitely be the better value.

Ergonomics
The most important thing is being comfortable while using your computer; especially if you are going to be using it for long periods at a time.

So a big question that you must ask yourself is “Can the existing area where my laptop will be used be made comfortable if I’m going to be using it for long periods of time?”

This can be a vital consideration in the choice between a laptop and desktop model. Their very lightness and portability work against people adopting a suitable posture when using a laptop.

The name suggests they are more suited to being used sitting anywhere other than at a desk, which is not true.

A bad case of hand, wrist, back, neck, or eye strain is too high a price to pay for portability and style.

Upgrade/Repair Cost
Laptops are less robust and more difficult to upgrade than their desktop equivalents. In general, your upgrade options for a laptop are limited to increasing the memory or replacing the hard drive for more storage.

Desktop computers, on the other hand, offer almost unlimited upgrade options.

An important thing to remember is damage to a laptop keyboard or screen will be much more serious than to a desktop because the vital working and moving parts have far less protection.

Tips to Optimize Your Laptop’s Battery Life

Laptop batteries… Ugh! Need I say more? We all know how annoying and unpleasant your laptop experience becomes when you find yourself rushing around for the nearest power source to keep those precious emails and spreadsheets alive.

It seems like the battery life on laptops lasts for only a couple hours, and if you’re doing some heavy work that time can drastically decrease.

So I’m going to share some tips and tricks to keeping the life of your laptop batteries as strong, and long lasting as possible.

Defragment your hard drive
Believe it or not, keeping your computer’s hard drive defragged on a regular basis is one of the key things you can do to improve your battery life.

The more efficient your hard drive works, the less power and time it needs to do its processing, which ultimately decreases the amount of power required to process.

Minimize multitasking
Keep the number of programs you have open and running down to a minimum.

For example, time and time again I see users that have a dozen or more programs running at the same time, when they are only using one or two of them.

Keeping programs that are not needed running increases the load on the CPU and wears the battery down. Try to keep only programs you are working with up, and eliminate anything extra.

Clean the battery
Keeping the battery contacts clean is another key point, and I’m amazed as to how many laptop owners have told me they’ve never once cleaned the terminal posts that connect the battery to the laptop, nor even thought about doing so.

Just like any other electronic device, or piece of equipment, laptops needs regular cleaning and maintenance. Every couple of months or so, you can take a damp cloth with rubbing alcohol and wipe down the posts on the laptop, as well as the battery to keep a clean connection and keep the power transfer more efficient.

Make sure the power is off to the laptop, and that it isn’t plugged into the AC power before you start cleaning.

Add more RAM
This may sound misleading, but having more RAM can actually help reduce the power consumption of the laptop by reducing the amount of virtual memory you are using.

Virtual memory writes to the hard drive, which does require more power than writing to the RAM. If you see your hard drive blinking constantly, you could benefit from more memory in your laptop.

Use Windows Power Options
Utilize the features of Windows Power Options. Simply go into Windows Control Panel, choose Power Options, and set your laptop to use the predefined power plan of “max battery.”

This will ensure your laptop is getting the maximum optimization of power usage, while the computer is on or idle.

Turn off unneeded devices
Lastly, you can cut down on the use of external devices with your laptop. For example, if you’re simply doing some photo editing, word processing, or just working in a program that requires no Internet connectivity, shut off the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth adapters. If your laptop screen has a backlight, you can turn the brightness down to save power. These types of adapters and devices consume a lot of power, even if you’re not using them.

Another biggie is the fact that people love to charge all their gizmos and gadgets with their USB ports (iPods, phones, etc.) and this greatly affects the battery, and often can drain it in less than an hour.

These tips, along with a regular charging schedule will do wonders for the life of your battery. Remember, it is a best practice to keep your batteries on a regular charging schedule, and you should routinely completely charge and discharge your laptop batteries.

Consider A Spare Or Second Battery

One option you may not have considered when you bought your laptop was getting a spare  battery. This item is a must for someone who is seriously on the road or in a remote location, where a long time is spent away from the power socket. Before you use a spare battery, ensure that it’s fully charged.

If your laptop has some type of quick-swapping ability, when the power gets low, you can just eject your laptop’s original, spent battery and quickly insert the spare battery.  But be sure that your laptop can survive such a transplant before you attempt it! Perform a test swap in a noncritical situation, just to be sure.

If your laptop doesn’t have the ability to hot-swap batteries, just turn off (or hibernate) the laptop when the original battery is nearly spent. Remove the old battery, insert the fresh one, and then turn the laptop on again. Keep the following points in mind:

• Label the batteries so that you don’t get the two (or more) batteries confused and accidentally insert a dead battery.

• You can buy a spare battery from Tech Experts, or from online stores that sell extra batteries, such as iGo or Batteries.com.

Be wary of generic batteries! Always try to get a manufacturer’s (or manufacturer-approved) battery for your laptop. Get anything less, and you run the risk of setting your laptop ablaze!

Laptop Or Desktop? It Depends On Your Application

I have noticed an interesting trend lately in our service department at Tech Experts.

We have been seeing an increase in the number of laptop or notebook style computers in for service. While this may be due to the holiday season and students returning home from school to visit family, I also feel that the falling prices have lead to laptops being much more affordable then in the past.

This got me to thinking about the comparison of laptops versus desktop and the advantages and disadvantages of both.

Many times I have been asked “Which one is better laptop or desktop?” The short answer is “It depends.” It basically boils down to what you plan to do with the unit.

Laptops are obviously an advantage for students who must travel not only back home and to school, but they also travel between classes and dorm rooms and restaurants. This portability is also an advantage for business travelers and mobile offices. It is hard to carry a desktop with you in your travels.

And with the popularity of wireless “hotspots” in almost every public place, laptops will continue to grow in popularity.

Some of the disadvantages I have seen with laptops are the ease at which the power jack on the unit can become loose and the power adapter cannot charge the battery, because the connector is broken and separates from the board – meaning no power is getting to the computer.

This is typically caused by applying some type of force to the plug when it is plugged into the jack. Tipping the laptop so the weight of the unit rests on the plug will cause this problem and care should always be taken not to do this.

While I am on the subject of power adapters, this is another disadvantage of a laptop. We had a call just the other day from a couple travelling from their home in Louisiana that forgot to pack their power adapter.

No power adapter means you cannot charge the battery which means a useless laptop after a few hours of operation. In this case the couple purchased a couple of extra adapters from EBay and discovered it still did not work. After coming into our service department it was quickly discovered that their power jack in the laptop had broken.

Another disadvantage to laptops is the ease at which careless operators can spill liquid onto the keyboard. If you do this on your desktop computer it is really not that big of a deal to purchase a new keyboard at the local computer shop, plug it in and off you go.

Laptop keyboard replacement is much more difficult and can be a costly repair. You can’t just rinse the liquid out. Often the liquid that is still in the keyboard will dry and cause the keys to stick. Care should always be taken to keep all liquids away from laptops.

Desktop computers, although they are not so portable seem to have longer lifespan then laptops. This is mainly due to the fact that they do not get moved very often. If you are going to move your desktop take extra care to treat it very gently as they do not take jolting and jarring well.

I have had people mention to me they don’t like to type on a laptop. I prefer the feel of a laptop keyboard to a traditional keyboard, and all laptops can accept USB keyboards if you prefer.

So it “depends” on your situation and requirements for your computing needs. Call us at Tech Experts and we can provide you with the expert guidance needed to make the right decision.

How To Keep Your Laptop Safe and Secure

You can’t beat the convenience of checking e-mail and hopping on the Internet at (Wi-Fi) hotspots found in airports, coffee shops, and bookstores. For the uninitiated, hotspots are areas where you can use your wireless laptop to surf the Web.

But the question you have to ask yourself is, just how safe are hotspots? With the proliferation of hackers, viruses and identity theft at an all time high, you’re smart to be concerned. Wi-Fi spots are very attractive to hackers because they can use what’s called an “evil twin” connection to access your laptop.

An evil twin is a hotspot set up by a hacker to lure people from a nearby, legitimate hotspot. For example, when you log in at your favorite coffee shop, you might actually be logging onto the evil twin Internet connection set up by the innocent-looking person working on a laptop at the next table. The most dangerous evil twins remain invisible and allow you to do business as usual. But in the background, they record everything you are typing. Buy something online and they are recording your credit card information. Log on to your bank account, and they can grab your password.

So what can you do to make sure you are not giving an evil twin access to your laptop?

First, know the name of the hotspot you’re going to use by asking someone who works there. Some businesses will give you printed instructions that include the hotspot name. But be careful. Hackers will name their evil twin network by a very similar name as the real hotspot, and may even show up as a stronger signal.

The best protection you can have is connecting via your company’s VPN (virtual private network). A VPN will protect your online information by encrypting your data and activity even if you’re connected through an evil twin.

If you don’t have a company VPN, you should assume that someone is looking over your shoulder and recording everything you type in. Therefore, the BEST protection without a VPN is to never type in information such as credit cards, passwords, or social security numbers when connected to a public Wi-Fi hotspot.

Make Sure You Condition Your Laptop Battery

When you purchase a new laptop, make sure you condition the battery or you’ll end up buying a replacement in the very near future.

The conditioning process varies among laptop manufacturers, so make sure you read the instructions that came with your new laptop. Some manufacturers recommend that you completely drain the battery before allowing it to fully charge, and then repeating that process two or three times before you do a partial charge.

Others have different instructions so, again, be sure to ask your Tech Experts team member, or follow the directions that came with your new laptop.

After you’ve conditioned your battery, we recommend that you allow your laptop battery to completely drain once every 3 to 4 months, and then fully recharge it to refresh all cells.

A well-maintained battery should accept hundreds of recharges and last for a long time.