Mobile Efficiency: Laptop Versus Tablet

Jason Cooley is Support Services Manager for Tech Experts.

We are an increasingly mobile society. Whether for work or personal, you’d be hard-pressed to find too many people without an Internet-connected device somewhere nearby. Smart phones are everywhere and basic Internet usage is at your fingertips.

When you need to work on the go or work while actually moving, there are device options that can help you really increase your productivity.

There are obviously many factors that can come into play when talking about meeting your mobile and professional needs.

What kind of tasks do you need to perform? What sort of software do you need access to? Are you going to be switching between applications and run multiple tasks at once? How frequently and how far are you moving?

I know, so many questions! So where can we even begin?

Just like any other job in the world, having the right tools can make things so much easier. If you work at a restaurant as a server for instance, using a laptop is very impractical. Carrying it around typing orders on a keyboard would prove to be difficult, just as writing a novel on a tablet touchscreen keyboard would be. These are some clear-cut scenarios, but most of us fall somewhere in the middle.

So let’s talk about some of those questions.

What kind of tasks do you need to run? If you are just replying to email, stick to your smart phone. That is where you’ll end up anyway.

For everyone else? What kind of programs and applications are you using? The first thing you should check, if you don’t already know, is if there are mobile versions of the programs you use. Some programs may not be user friendly on a touchscreen if you use the standard version.

Use your smartphone to see if these applications are user friendly in a new setting. The app may not perform as well as it would on a tablet, but maybe you can decide if it’s something you can work with. If the programs are available and you are comfortable using them with a touchscreen interface, you may be ready to use a tablet for work.

When it comes to laptops specifically, the first thing I would consider is how much you’ll be moving around. If you travel from place to place, but typically sit to work at different locations, a laptop is always going to be an option.

The difference is the limitations of the device. A laptop has more capability when compared to a tablet. After all, it is a computer.

If you are switching between many programs and applications frequently and use multiple programs at one time, then a laptop will have more capable processing power to allow you to work unbothered by slow system response time.

The best summary I can give is, if you move around while working, get a tablet. If you sit, just in different locations, you’ll be happier with a laptop.

If you can’t find yourself leaning one way or another, the third option would be a Surface type of machine. With the processing power and speed of a laptop but the mobility of a tablet, you will spend more money for the ultimate solution in mobile versatility and efficiency, but won’t feel the constraints of either other option.

It’s all about you and how you want to get your work done.

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.

Summer Travel Laptop Tips

Beach umbrellas on a deserted beachIf you’re traveling with your laptop, you may need to carry a few accessories. These include adapters, surge protectors, converters, wireless Internet cards, Ethernet cables and a high-quality carrying case.

Power supply
If you’re traveling overseas, you need to consider possible international voltage differences and plug sizes and shapes. While the United State and Canada both use 110-volt electricity, the rest of the world runs on 220-240 volts.

Fortunately, most laptops can comfortably run on both voltages; however, check your computer label or owner’s manual to be on the safe side. If it runs on 110 only, you will need a converter.

You will also likely need an adapter so your plug can fit into the local outlets. Most countries have one or more adapters that are unique or that they share with a few close neighbors.

Surge protection is critical while traveling, particularly if you are traveling to a country where electricity is not reliable. You will need a surge protection electrical strip for whichever voltage you will be using, bearing in mind that surge protectors for 110 and 220-volt currents cannot be interchanged.

Internet connection
Most hotels offer either wireless or high-speed Internet. You may want to call ahead and find out what is available.

Many hotels will provide a Wi-Fi connection, which is helpful, since your laptop has its own built-in wireless network adapter that can search out the nearest wireless signal. Remember to ask for the hotel’s signal password at the front desk. You can also buy a wireless notebook card, if your laptop does not have an internal wireless network adapter. This would also be helpful for connecting to the Internet in WiFi hotspots in airports, libraries and coffee shops.

Some hotels will require that you plug into their Internet connection using an Ethernet cable. You should bring your own cable just in case one is not supplied to you by the hotel.

Your computer will more than likely take a few hits while you move around, so a sturdy padded carrying case could save you a lot of frustration and money.

You might also want to bring along a device onto which you can back up your work, just in case the hard drive crashes. An extra laptop battery might also come in handy, along with screen cleaners.

(Image Source: iCLIPART)

Is A Tablet The Right Choice? Pros And Cons

Scott Blake is a Senior Network Engineer with Tech Experts.

With so many gadget choices on the market these days, it can be very difficult for people to decide what they need and where to spend their money.

Tablets are currently the top of mobile technology. They are compact, very lightweight and extremely easy to carry. However, they do not possess the processing power of a laptop.

Their functionality as a computing device is very limited, although sufficient for some people’s uses. Tablets can be ideal for those who browse the Web casually, such as read the news or popular websites, and those who play “lightweight” games, or want to watch TV or films while traveling.

Despite advances in some niche professions, tablets are often not suitable for hardcore gamers, presentation arrangement and creation or heavy researching.

Pros of a Tablet Computer

Tablets are smaller in size compared to even the smallest types of laptops and this travel-sized gadget is definitely a plus to those who don’t want to lug a laptop around but still want to bring along a computer.

They are also lighter than laptops, putting less stress on the body and can be handled easily with one hand, unlike laptops.?

Longer Battery Life
The best models of tablets can hold power for up to eight hours or more of typical use, which is significantly longer than any laptop. They can even be on standby for days.

Touch Input
Some people actually enjoy using the touch input as opposed to a keyboard input. Touch input is especially useful for drawing digital images, playing certain games and manipulating certain programs.

c817296_mCons of a Tablet Computer

Lower Performance Ability
Tablets do not have the same processing power as laptops and can easily become overloaded if a lot is done on them. They are only suitable for simple computer usage that doesn’t involve heavy multitasking, like solataire.

Uncomfortable Usage
Most users still prefer the comfort of using a keyboard to type, as using a touch input is much more time consuming and can result in many errors if the user isn’t accustomed to that kind of input.

Using a tablet and its touch input can also be stressful to the wrists and arms of the user since there is no place for the user to rest his or her wrists and he or she has to use the arms to hold up and use the tablet as long as needed. However, some tablets do come with full keyboards as an add-on accessory.

Higher Fragility
The touch-sensitive display of tablets are also a weakness, as this renders them fragile and in need of proper care. Otherwise, the screen can easily be damaged and once the screen is damaged the tablet is unusable.

While tablets are the newer devices, they are slowly improving but they generally still have a lot to catch up with in terms of performance.

However, for the user who uses computers for simple things like checking email, playing games, going on social networks, and other tasks that don’t require the computer to process heavily, tablets have a convenince factor that makes them attractive.

If you have any questions whether a tablet is the right choice for you, give the Tech Experts team a call and we will help you make the right choice.

(Image Source: iCLIPART)

Ghosts, Goblins And Failed Backups… Oh, My!

Thomas Fox is president of Tech Experts, southeast Michigan’s leading small business computer support company.

Welcome to October, fourth quarter, and Halloween!

The season of ghosts, ghouls and other scary creatures is the perfect time to talk about another frightening subject: The state of your backups!

First, the facts:

  • 6 percent of all PCs will suffer some sort of data loss each year.
  • Every week, 140,000 hard drives crash.
  • Simple drive recovery can cost more than $7,500.
  • More than 600,000 laptops are lost or stolen each year.

Scary Statistics
These are pretty scary numbers, particularly if you use your laptop for business. My experience has been that, while most business owners understand the importance of backing up their server, many forget about the data stored in email, on local PCs or laptops and flash drives.
The cost to replace a laptop pales in comparison to the effects the lost data can have on your business.

Whether it’s theft, a natural disaster, fire, flood, theft, or human error, any loss of important business data can be debilitating to your business if you’re not prepared for them.

Fortunately, there are three easy steps you can take to protect your business from the downtime and data loss that can result from a disastrous event.

Choose the right backup provider
Make sure that your backup system can provide you with both offsite and onsite backup, with an option to be back up and running within 24-48 hours. This is what our Experts Total Backup service is designed to do.

Keep in mind that many low-cost solutions require days or even weeks for full recovery of your files, due to the slowness of the Internet.

Your backup solution should not only protect your data, but should also give you a backup of your programs and network settings so your business operations can return to normal as quickly as possible.

Conduct a “fire drill”
You also want to be sure that you conduct a periodic “fire-drill” with your backup. Too many times, we see clients who religiously change tapes, but never check their content. When disaster strikes, we discover the tapes are blank. That’s why we’ve gotten rid of tape based backups.

Keep your backup current
Finally, whenever you add computers, new software, or new services to your network, be sure your backup solution reflects those changes. This will ensure that you are backing up everything you need.

Free Report
Business backups are complex, and require a professional solution. I’ve put together a free, 12 page report that covers all of these items – and more – that is your’s free for the asking. Just give me a call!

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.

Security Risks Of Employee Owned Devices

Employees using their own mobile devices for work may seem like a good idea at first – it’s less expense for you, the employer, and they can also make employees more productive.

However, it also means that you are allowing potentially unsecure devices to access your company’s data. The solution? An effective IT security policy that balances personal freedom to use these devices and your need to secure important business information.

As technology continues to become more affordable and accessible to consumers, it’s an inevitable fact that employers will see more and more of their employees using  their own personal devices such as laptops and mobile phones to access the company’s IT system.

This can be a dangerous thing. Since these devices aren’t company owned and regulated, you have limited access and control over how they are used. Employees could download all sorts of malware and viruses on their devices and pass the infection along to your IT system when they access it.

The solution: a comprehensive IT security policy. It’s important that you find a compromise between the freedom of the employee to use the device as desired and your need to keep your IT system safe from viruses and other threats to your data’s security.

Steps such as having employees run mobile device management (MDM) software on their devices is one of many actions you can take to lessen the risk of security breaches. You may also want to implement applications and software that check and screen for malware, both for laptops and mobile devices. And don’t forget that while Android seems to have a bigger problem with malicious software, Apple isn’t exactly virus-free, either.

Employees have a right to use their personal devices as they see fit, but not at the expense of important company information stored in your IT system. Running a tight ship in terms of security is an effective way to protect your business interests and your sensitive company data.

If you are interested in knowing more about developing a concrete and effective IT security policy for personal device use as well as general system access, please don’t hesitate to give us a call so we can sit down with you and discuss a custom security blueprint tailored for your company’s network.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.