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EagleTech Computer Service Newsletter
Computer Insights for November 2012 
In This Issue
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Tom Sparks

Owner/Technician

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Greetings!

In the spirit of our culture's marketing penchant for beginning to advertise for Christmas the day after Halloween...I will be commenting in this newsletter on some holiday purchase ideas for you to ponder in the world of computing, as well as other more general purpose insights too.

 

It's a pleasure serving you as your personal onsite Technician!

Tom Sparks
Announcing "iDrive Backup Service" !!!

I'm pleased to finally be able to offer you an excellent OnLine Backup Service.  If you've ever worried that your computer might crash, your hard drive lock up, or your home become burglarized or threatened by fire, with the result of you losing all your pictures, music, videos, and documents, well OnLine Backup is the surest protection I know of.  Until now I've not had sufficient confidence in any of the services to strongly recommend them but I do now.

Here is a link to my new service:

iDrive Backup Service
 
I would be more than happy to visit your home or place of business and set this new service up.  iDrive offers you an initial 5 gigabytes free and 150 gigabytes is only $4.95/month...inexpensive insurance for such peace of mind!
Tablet, Desktop, or Laptop
Windows 8 or 
Windows 7...
which way to go????

The Holidays are coming and many will be making decisions about new computing devices. What is the best way to go - Tablet, Desktop, or Laptop???  Windows 8 or Windows 7???


These are the new million dollar questions on your minds, and I hear it a few times a week now. While as a technician I can easily decipher which is best for my own needs, the clients I service don't always have the same easy ability to do so. There is a lot of hype and distortion out in the media about what tablets can do and where PCs are being phased out. Some of the information is accurate, while a good portion of it is wishful (and inaccurate) thinking.

When it comes to these issues you are looking to see if tablets can either replace your current laptops and desktops, or if they can supplement your primary PC with a tablet for mobile purposes. 

Tablets may be the flashy, sexy newcomers to the computing arena, but their best aspects are only useful to end users who have certain needs to fill. There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all solution to the tablet vs laptop vs desktop debate, and I won't make such claims in either direction.  

What I hope to do is provide the groundwork for how you can think about these issues in your device purchasing quest. 

Below are what I consider to be the most pertinent questions that need to be answered before deciding on a device. 

Are you looking to replace or compliment your existing technology? 

This is probably the most important question of all, and is the biggest influence on the direction I recommend for a client. If you are looking to merely extend your mobile capability while on the road, a tablet is a clear choice for light web browsing, light email, and some media consumption on the go. But for a heavy user, that depends on email for their work, or someone that clearly has a usage-scenario that benefits from the tactile aspects of a traditional laptop, I'd steer you clear of replacing a laptop entirely with a tablet. As they say, a microwave is a great device for the kitchen, but you'd not likely dump your stove in place of one. 

How important is size/weight of the device you are looking for? 

The laptop is a clear loser here, as even the smallest Ultrabooks out there cannot compete with a fully decked tablet in this area. But each customer's needs vary, and a requirement of simply "small and light" can be a meandering target at times. Some people require that the device weigh in at a pound or less even at the expense of functionality. But some are comfortable with the size of a 12-13? laptop and need the extra versatility. Be sure that you know you are making a sacrifice in either direction: small size for reduced capability.

How much of a concern is battery life? 

In general, tablets have the clear advantage here. An Android tablet or newer iPad can get by without a recharge for a good 8-11 hours usually, while the average 14? laptop is lucky to get past 5 hours. Sensitivity to power consumption is relative however; someone that is close to power outlets most of the day may not care that they have to recharge once or twice to keep going. Some users may need a full day of usage without thinking about a power outlet. There are extreme options for laptop users who need excellent battery life, though, that sway the field a bit. Lenovo for example has the 25hr capable Thinkpad X230 which runs on a regular plus slice battery combo (for a cost of $700+ however.)

What kind of application needs do you have? 

Let's face it: tablets are nice, but their usage of Android and iOS limits compatibility of traditional LOB (Line of Business) apps. This is becoming less of a problem these days as much of what we took for granted on the desktop is now being thrown into the cloud. But applications like Photoshop, Quickbooks, Peachtree, ACT, and other important business suites are only fully functional on a Windows-based system. The advent of the sleek Microsoft Surface tablet this holiday season may blend these two realms together, but for now, application needs are fairly split across OS lines. And, when it comes to thinking about a new PC at all it is important to remember that Microsoft is just now coming out with a brand new OS (operating system) called Windows 8 and this is a guaranteed game changer and a huge leap in user learning curve to get used to.

How important is GPS functionality and mobile (4G/LTE) access? 

Tablets come out stronger in this area by far. A clear majority of them have integrated LTE or 4G chips for mobile broadband access and are supplemented by nearly-standard GPS chips for excellent location awareness functionality. This may be key for some customers' line of work or personal needs and should be accounted for.

While laptops can add such functionality pretty easily, it's another added expense, item of upkeep, and device that needs to be worried about (some laptops can integrate these items internally, but not many.) 

How important is a traditional keyboard (tactile input) for you? 

This is probably one of the gotcha questions that catches most customers of mine off guard. It seems many believe that tablets either come with keyboards in the box or can have them installed relatively easily. While I won't say it "can't be done," it's not a pretty setup to have one of the myriad of keyboard devices attached to a tablet via a USB cable. And anyway - doesn't this defeat the purpose of the size/mobility aspects of a tablet device?  

The best hybrid to this dilemma is likely the forthcoming Microsoft Surface, but likely at the price of a well equipped laptop anyway.  

And let me add some comments here about the new line of laptops that will come equipped with the new Windows 8 operating system. They are going to be much more expensive devices than you have become used to with the standard laptop models. Most of them are going to have a removable tablet-type screen attached to a fairly standard-type keyboard, or they will have some form of flip around feature for ease of converting it to a tablet feel, and they are starting to show up around 2 to 3 times more expensive than the current standard laptops.  

Be sure you are aware of the touch-only nature of tablets and that your typing needs will be a big factor into what device suits you best. It is a very different typing experience to type on a smooth shiny, non tactile pad service compared to a tactile keyboard which we've all grown used to. If you type a lot this issue becomes even more pronounced as many folks indicate they don't like the typing experience of the pads. It's one thing to jot off a quick email and quite another to type a long document for school or work. 

What peripherals/accessories do you rely on? 

This factor could also have a large bearing on a decision either way. Tablets by nature don't have a lot of traditional ports, don't have CD/DVD drives, and worse, have even slimmer driver support.  

Printing, one of the biggest complaints with tablets, has been mildly appeased through Google Cloud Print-enabled and AirPrint-ready printers, but the number of models available is relatively slim. Furthermore, other various devices may be compatible (especially on the Android front) but usually require special add-on adapters for most items that don't run on USB. If you don't have external peripheral needs, this point is moot. But it's best not to be surprised about a lack of compatibility after a purchase. 

What kind of comfort will you have with the potential new OS? 

Even a small child can pick up and learn to use an iPad in short order. It's not a question of how usable an OS is. The biggest issue at hand is the comfort level of someone learning a new platform, and likewise, how willing are you to make this transition. If a longtime Windows laptop user (who travels for business) asks me whether they should dump their laptop for an Android tablet, I'd put up the red flags right away. Not only do new platforms present a learning curve for end users, but this translates directly into downtime and potential reduced productivity. While all new products present some sort of first time experience issues, jumping OS (operating system) platforms is much more risky for some users as opposed to others. Be sure you understand what you are getting into before you purchase.

If you do go with a Windows 8 computer and then find you don't like the feel of Windows 8 I have software that can easily convert the environment to a Windows 7 look and feel.  I suspect many will want me to come out and perform this for them on their new Windows 8 PCs.

Options are aplenty - and I'm trying to be your trusted adviser... 

As you can see from the above, this decision is not as straightforward as the hype may make it. Personally, I don't use a tablet on a regular basis as I have no needs to fill with such a device. The only thing close to a tablet which I love is my smart phone. That's about it. My Lenovo Ideapad handles everything else I need in a computing device: email, research, writing, music, and web browsing.

As a consultant to my customers, I'm attempting to be sure that I am not the one making the decision for you. I'm laying out here the questions that you will likely want to answer; I'm giving some general thought guidelines but you are the decision makers in the end. Besides, I won't be the one using the proposed device - you will!
 
New Laptops to Consider... 
If you do decide to purchase a new Windows 8 laptop, because you've decided to jump head-long into everything Windows 8, then as of right now I really like the Lenovo Yoga Ultrabook and the Dell XPS 12 Ultrabook. You might look over their specifications and pricings.  Just click on the links below:

Lenovo Yoga Ultrabook

And the Dell XPS 12 Convertible Ultrabook:

Dell XPS 12 Ultrabook

They're not cheap but if you want the fullness of the touch environment with both the feel of a tablet and a laptop with a tactile keyboard then I think you might really like the Yoga or the Dell XPS 12. See what you think... 
Delayed Payment Option.
If you are planning on purchasing some computer electronics during this upcoming holiday season I can now offer to you, via PayPal "Bill Me Later," the option of having me purchase a computer for you through Paypal's "Bill Me Later" program and you will be able to purchase the system with a monthly payment approach. The interest rate from PayPal is 19.9% so it would be nice if you could pay it off fairly quickly, but it might be an approach to help you make those purchases without having to pay everything up front. Along with this we can discuss the type of system you are interested in and I will assist you in the purchase and setup of your new system.

Let me know if this appeals to you and I will help you bring it about.
Microsoft Office 2013 is the newest office suite
If you have been wondering whether the new Microsoft Office 2013 was going to be worth the purchase here is an article that might provide you with some helpful information:

Office 2012
New Internet Safety Option
I have been researching some new techniques to both boost your internet speeds and to increase your protection while surfing the internet and opening emails. The fruit of this research is that I can now offer to connect to your computer remotely and within 30 minutes make some significant changes to the way your computer works with the Internet. Because I should be able to accomplish this within 30 minutes it would only cost 1/2 of my usual fee of $30/hr, so just $15. The beauty of the approach I will use is that it will not require you to learn anything new in the use of your computer nor will it require any monitoring or update decisions for your system. I make the changes, you are protected, and it's all done. Sweet!

If you'd like me to perform this service just give me a call and we'll find the best time for me to remotely connect to your computer and set things up. 
Check out our Refurbished Computers!
On my website I have several nice refurbished computers for you to consider.  They aren't powerhouses but if you have a small child, a grandchild, or you just need a simple PC for your personal use these are a great way to get an inexpensive computer that is fully optimized and ready to go.

Here is a link to the web page on my site where I describe the offerings I have right now.  They are always changing so feel free to check back often.

Here's the link: Refurbished Computers 
Constant Contact... for the Small or Home Business
If you have a small business and you are wanting an excellent way to stay in contact with your clients and easily create good looking newsletters I highly recommend the service I'm now using - Constant Contact. Here's a quick link to take you to their website: Constant Contact  Your clicking this link and signing up for their service will provide me with a free month of Constant Contact and if you do decide to use Constant Contact and you refer your friends they'll give you a free month of service too for each individual who signs up for Constant Contact. I think you will really enjoy Constant Contact! 

Best of success to you in all your computing.

 

I'm here to assist you when you need it.  As just a reminder... My onsite residential fee is $30 per hour and for the commercial setting it is $40 per hour.  Once again...for any clients you send my way, who use my services for an hour or more, I'd be happy to credit you with $7 of free computer service at your next call.  Do let me know if you send folks my way and I'll keep notes on that as a credit for my next visit to you.  If you think I've forgotten to credit you don't be embarrassed to request your credit, I want to honor you for your gracious referral.

 

Thanks so much!

Your Computer Technician

Tom Sparks
503-577-4201

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