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Holiday Shopping Tips!

With the Holidays around the corner lots of people are asking about what device they should get for themselves or loved ones. Here are the basics to keep in mind.

It all depends on two things, your needs and your budget. If you are only going to read e-books and minimal web browsing then the Kindle Fire is a good option. Kindle has a decent amount of apps, but you will hit a function limit past just fun simple stuff.

Android tablets, like the Nexus 7, open up more options as they use the Android App Store. You will have more apps and more functionality. These devices are like big cell phones because they are app based. Even the iPad falls into this group, the Apple apps are very similar. The main difference when looking at Apple is that you gain iTunes integration and device quality is higher. But that is at a price, Apple devices are not cheap.

Past that looking at Windows based machines you will see the Surface. They sell for about $300 (or less on sale). The catch to the Surface is it has Windows RT. Google “Windows RT vs Windows 8” for all the differences, mainly it is a stripped down version of Windows. You cannot use Firefox or Google Chrome in RT. Also any third party programs will not work. Lots of other normal windows functions are not available. But most Windows RT devices will be at a better price point and come with a limited version of Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, etc). That gets you into the next grouping of tablets.

Full Windows tablets: The Surface Pro ($900 range) and the HP Elitepad (about $700), but the market is not limited to these. Both have a full function version of Windows 8. Both have keyboards that can be attached, and other options. The HP Elitepad is tested to military standards and is a business class tablet. Microsoft Office can be loaded on these also. The current price of Office 365 is $99/year. It is subscription based and has more options than traditional Office. These also can have optional USB, HDMI and other ports. But tablets can be hard for some to use due to the smaller touch screen.

After that you are looking at Laptops or Desktops. In that world most people know what they are looking at, but remember you get what you pay for. Cheaper laptops might only last a year or so. If you go for a business class device you can get better customer service, better constructed devices and better internal parts. The difference between “Walmart” or “Staples” computers and what we sell at iNet Technology Group is astounding. We suggest HP or Lenovo (IBM) to anyone looking at computers. But still the cheaper ones have less quality parts. That is where budget comes in. We can sell a laptop knowing that 3-5 years is the lifespan and they will have little to no problems with the hardware. But that is a laptop in the $800 or more range. Microsoft Office would need purchased in addition to the computer.
What are the pros to windows? Different user accounts, can track and restrict children’s Internet access (minor configuration), full office suite available for reports and projects, updatable and many programs are available.

These are just some of the things to consider when looking at a new device. The options are almost unlimited out there. But make sure you do your homework on the device before you spend money on something that is not what you expected or wanted. Sales are great, but there is a reason the prices are so low. Have a safe and happy holiday!

Windows 8.1 and Apple iOS 7 are Coming!

This year will be a very exciting year for upgrades in software. There are two Operating System (OS) platforms getting updated before the end of the year. Windows is releasing Windows 8.1 as significant update to Windows 8. Also, Apple is introducing iOS 7 for many of the devices currently in your hands. Sorry Android users, nothing new is pending that we know of. If you have not upgraded to Jelly Bean 4.2 you are missing out on better usability, better camera function and many more improvements.

First the new Windows 8.1 will be launched, yes, already. They made some changes that were being requested by users. This is a pretty fast response from Microsoft, but they are historically known for launching a new OS (Ex: XP, Vista, Windows 7 and now 8) and shortly after releasing service packs to fix or improve the OS. It just seems that this time they have decided to take more of an “Apple” or “Android” approach and call it “8.1” verses a “Service Pack”. This release is still in a Project or Beta phase and will be fully released once all bugs are worked out. If you have a windows 8 machine you can upgrade now and see how you like it before it is fully released. Keep in mind it is still in Beta testing and might have a couple things that are not finalized. NOTE: With it being a Beta release there is a chance a wipe and reload may be needed once the final version is out. Also some devices such as ones running the new Intel Atom 32bit Processors will not be able to get the update YET. I am personally hoping the next version of the Beta will be able to work with these processors and I can update my ElitePad with it. ;) Check out this link for information on the update:  http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-8/preview

iPhone users will be experiencing a drastic (but good, in my opinion) update also by the end of the year. Apple will be releasing iOS 7! This is the largest change to the iPhone iOS in a long time. Siri will be getting much wanted abilities like being able to turn on and off Wi-Fi and other phone settings. Also the User Interface (UI) will be much “softer” with new icons. The setting will be easier to get to by just swiping up from the bottom, instead of having to find the “Settings” icon. The search is improved and now is opened using a swipe from near the top of the screen down. There will be improvements to the multitasking, notifications, Safari, iTunes Radio and MORE! As of now only the Beta is available to Apple Developers ONLY, keep an eye out for the upgrade to be available on the iPhone’s 4, 4S and 5. iOS 7 will also be available on iPad 2 and later, iPad Mini and the iPod Touch 5 only. Check the link below for more information on iOS 7: http://www.apple.com/ios/ios7/features/

Tablet Decision Guide

The first step to purchasing a tablet device is knowing what you want to do with it. Price is what most people will think of first, but would you rather pay less for something that does not do what you want or pay for features you will never use? That’s why we are here to help you get just what you need to make the most of your money. Knowing what you will be using the Tablet for is key.

Tablets come in all levels from the basic Kindle thru the Kindle HD Fire, then through all different kind of Android based devices, the iPad family and then into Tablet PC’s running Windows RT and FULL Windows 8. And that is just being general. 

So what do you want to do with it?!? Are you looking to just read E-books, maybe some news? Then the basic Kindle might fill your needs. Or maybe you want to play games. In that case the Kindle Fire with a color screen will get you more ability at a reasonable price. 

Is that not powerful enough? Then you may want to look at the Android tablets. These are similar to the Operating System (OS) on a cell phone. They can be an E-reader, but can run more in depth applications (apps) and games too. Even performing some functions you may need for work. These come in all shapes, sizes, and brands, including the Google Nexus line, Samsung Galaxy Note, Asus Transformer Pads and many more! 

Apple iPad’s are also great for games, picture taking and App based programs. They have a couple different sizes and most apps will cross over to your iPhone. In recent years Apple is starting to lose out to Android, but they still offer lots advantages depending on what you want. 

Want more? OK, you must be an on the go worker or just don’t want to be limited by your tablet. Maybe taking a laptop is just not always feasible. The tablet you might want is one running Windows RT or a Full Version of Windows 8! 

Tablet PC’s are becoming very popular. They do not have the limitations that Kindle, Android or iOS have. They do not need connected to a computer… Because they are a computer!!! This type of device can do anything from word processing, pictures, email, and anything else you can do with a computer. Tablets such as the Microsoft Surface, HP ElitePad, HP Envy, Acer Iconia, Lenovo ThinkPad, and more are some to look at. 

Next week we will have a comparison of the different Operating Systems and Applications for these devices.

Windows 8 tips: Getting started

Windows 8 is coming; it’s very different compared to any previous Windows versions.

There is no Start menu, in comes the new touch-oriented Metro Start screen, new applications, new interfaces.

We’ve been looking into every part of Windows 8; and coming up with a list of important tips and tricks.

1. How to find Applications

The Win+X menu is useful, but no substitute for the old Start menu as it doesn’t provide access to your applications. To find this, hold down the Windows key and press Q (or right-click an empty part of the Start screen and select All Apps) to reveal a scrolling list of all your installed applications. Browse the various tiles to find what you need and click the relevant app to launch it.

2. Organizing Applications

The Start screen apps are initially displayed in a fairly random order, but if you’d prefer a more organized life then it’s easy to sort them into custom groups.

You might drag People, Mail, Messaging and Calendar over to the left-hand side, for instance, to form a separate “People” group. Click the magnifying glass icon in the bottom right corner of the screen to carry out a “semantic zoom”, and you’ll now find you can drag and drop the new group (or any of the others) around as a block.

Right-click within the block (while still in the semantic zoom view) and you’ll also be able to give the group a name, which – if you go on to add another 20 or 30 apps to your Start screen – will make it much easier to find the tools you need.

3. Navigation

Windows 8 launches with its new Metro interface, all colorful tiles and touch-friendly apps. And if you’re using a tablet then it’ll all be very straightforward: just swipe left or right to scroll the screen, and tap any tile of interest.

On a regular desktop, though, you might alternatively spin the mouse wheel to scroll backwards and forwards.

And you can also use the keyboard. Press the Home or End keys to jump from one end of your Start screen to the other, for instance, and then use the cursor keys to select a particular tile, tapping Enter to select it. Press the Windows key to return to the Metro screen; right-click (or swipe down on) apps you don’t need and select Unpin to remove them; and drag and drop the other tiles around to organize them as you like.

4. Start Menu

Windows 8 had a very basic Start menu which you could access by swiping from the right side of a touch screen, or moving the mouse cursor to the bottom left corner of the screen. This has changed a little; now you need to right-click in the bottom left corner (or hold down the Windows key and press X) for a text-based menu which provides easy access to lots of useful applets and features: Device Manager, Control Panel, Explorer, the Search dialog and more.

5. Windows 8 Lock Screen

Windows 8 opens on its lock screen, which looks nice but unfortunately displays no clues about what to do next.

It’s all very straightforward, though. Just tap the space bar, spin the mouse wheel or swipe upwards on a touch screen to reveal a regular login screen with the user name you created during installation. Enter your password to begin.

6. Shutdown, Restart

Move the mouse cursor to the bottom right corner of the screen, click the Settings icon – or just hold down the Windows key and press I – and you’ll see a power button. Click this and choose “Shut down” or “Restart”.

Some of the tricks available in previous versions of Windows still apply. Press Ctrl+Alt+Del, for instance, click the power button in the bottom right-hand corner and you’ll be presented with the same “Shut down” and “Restart” options.

And if you’re on the desktop, press Alt+F4 and you’ll be able to choose Shut Down, Restart, Sign Out or Switch User options.