Several entry-level single-function monochrome laser printers have debuted recently, including the Canon imageClass LBP151dw and the Brother HL-L5200DW, both Editors’ Choice winners. The Dell Smart Printer S2830dn ($279.99) is similar to the Canon LBP151dw in that it quickly churns out good-looking black-and-white pages, but it does so at a significantly lower cost per page. Although its running costs are slightly higher than those of the Brother HL-L5200DW, the S2830dn delivers better graphics quality. In fact, it brings enough to the table to make it our new Editors’ Choice mono laser printer for a micro or home office.
Read the entire S2830dn review at PC Magazine
As we took the 2.7-pound, $699.99-MSRP ZenBook UX305CA from its box, we experienced two sensations: one, that it was exceptionally thin, light, and balanced; and, two, that we had seen this 13.3-inch-screened laptop before. Our first observation we’ll discuss over the course of this review. The second, that we had seen this laptop before, is true—the identically priced ZenBook UX305FA we reviewed back in July 2015 was, in many ways (but especially appearance) much alike.
Apart from the version of Windows (Win 10 here, versus 8.1 on the UX305FA) and a different generation of Intel Core M processor, these laptops differ little. The ZenBook UX305CA’s processor is a second-generation version of the Core M. (We tested a 900MHz dual-core Intel Core m3-6Y30 in today’s review unit; the Core M-5Y10 in the earlier ZenBook was a 800MHz dual-core.)
Unlike the first round of Core M chips, which were classed simply as “Core M” and seen in only two variants, this next generation comes in the familiar “3”, “5,” and “7” stepping that Intel uses with its higher-end Core processors. (It’s a parallel scheme; instead of Core i3, i5, and i7, Intel has stacked the new Core M chips into Core m3, m5, and m7 classes.) Core M is all about power efficiency and keeping heat in check in small spaces, and by providing finer slices of its Core M silicon than before, Intel has enabled makers of laptops and 2-in-1s more flexibility in these thin, thermally challenging designs. Just as entry-level and mainstream portables typically run on Core i3 and i5 CPUs, and models meant for resource-intensive games and media editing/processing are home to more powerful i7 processors, we should see similar stratification with these new CPUs.
Of course, with Core M designed for work in tighter confines than Core i, we can’t help but wonder whether even Core m7 chips, without cooling fans, will be powerful enough to act as media crunchers for high-res photos in Photoshop or as effective mobile video workhorses. [Jury’s still out on that, as we we’ve tested just one example; see our review of the Core m7-based HP Spectre x2 2-in-1 detachable for more. —Ed.]
We’ll see as more Core M comes to market, but if clock speed is any indication, Core M will be more about base productivity work than CPU-heavy load crunching. Early on, it looks like the primary differences within this new-gen Core M line circle around clock speed. The Core m3 CPU in our ZenBook review unit, for example, runs at 900MHz, while the two Core m5 processors in the wild when we wrote this in mid-January 2016 (the Core m5-6Y54 and Core m5-6Y57) run at 1.1GHz, and the Core m7-6Y75 in the Spectre x2 runs at 1.2GHz. All of the other base specs in the new line are the same.
While the Core M CPUs emphasize low wattage and other power-sipping options, one of their more attractive features is that they’re designed to be “fanless,” allowing laptop and tablet manufacturers to build near-noiseless laptops and convertibles. (Noise, then, becomes a factor of the storage drive, but for the thin portables that Core M makes sense for, the drive is almost always a silent solid-state model.) It’s also the reason that this ZenBook and its predecessor are so thin. Although the marketing moniker “ultrabook” is falling into lesser use, if not disuse, these days, plenty of laptops still fit the profile, and being thin and light has always been one of the primary attributes. Whatever these machines end up being called, Core M CPUs should help keep them that way.
Which brings us back to our review unit. Like with its ZenBook UX305FA predecessor, given the UX305CA’s $699 list price, you get a respectable set of components. The top-line ones: That Core m3 processor, 8GB of RAM, a 256GB solid state drive (SSD), and an attractive 1080p HD display panel. On the whole, this is a respectable midrange ultrabook with an excellent mix of components that skillfully balances the perception of just-enough speed for productivity work without ever spilling into overkill. And like with the ZenBook UX305FA, we found very little to quibble with on this ultrabook’s design, assuming the level of performance matches the way you work.
Read the entire review at Computer Shopper
I have to admit that prior to this gig; I honestly didn’t know that there were so many document scanners in the world—proof, of sorts, that the human race is still printing at an impressive rate. All of the major scanner manufacturers—Canon, Brother, Epson, and HP make several document scanners, ranging in different volumes and prices from a few hundred dollars to upwards of a thousand and beyond.
The good news is that most of them do a decent job, and most come with impressive bundles of optical character recognition (OCR) and document management software. Many Canon models, such as theimageFORMULA DR-M160II Office Document Scanner reviewed here last week, come with the company’s CaptureOnTouch software, as well as several third-party titles from Kofax and document management software from Nuance. Here, though, we are looking at a slightly lower-end machine, Canon’s $799 MSRP imageFORMULA DR-C240 Office Document Scanner.
The DR-C240 is a little slower DR-M160II mentioned above, and it lacks a document management program, per se (though it does come with PDF Pro Office for creating searchable PDFs), even so, it’ll get all butthe most demanding scan jobs done.
Read the entire review at About.com
Beneath the hype leading up to the imminent release of Windows 10, other teams at Microsoft are busy readying the 16th full-version upgrade of the company’s highly successful office productivity software, Microsoft Office, officially dubbed “Office 2016.” The number of Office users has, when including the current 9.2 million Office 365 Personal and Home users and more than 50 million Office Online users, surged recently to an estimated total of 1.2 billion users overall.
Despite its enormous popularity, office productivity software is changing—rapidly and drastically, moving online and to the cloud. Microsoft itself has recently said that the new Office experience will be in recognition of this new mobile and cloud-first world (which was supposed to be the focus all along, we thought). In other words, if all goes as Redmond expects, Office 2016 will be important not as stand-alone software, but as part of the Office 365 subscription service.
Read the entire review at Digital Trends.
For the longest time, we called the non-operating system executables running on our Windows desktops “programs” or “applications.” Since the inception of Windows, 8, though, a new breed of program, one that runs only in the Windows 8 environment (or the Win 8 UI overlay), has emerged. In just a few short years, this new program type has gone by many names, including: Metro apps, Metro-style apps, Windows 8-style apps, Modern apps, Windows Store apps, Universal apps, and now, according to a recent announcement from Microsoft, “Windows apps.”
Obviously short for “application,” the abbreviation apps originated, or at least became prevalent, with the original iPhone (and a little later the iPad) and Apple’s App Store. From there, the term “app” spread from the mobile world to include programs, or applications, that run on all platforms. Somewhere along the line Microsoft Office suite programs, such as Word or Excel, became “apps,” and the distinction between those big, expansive Windows desktop programs and small smartphone apps was lost, or at least blurred.
Microsoft to the rescue! Just as we were getting used to “Universal apps,” Redmond up and announces yet another name change. If you’re paying attention to all this, it probably all seems confusing, maybe even silly. Even so, let’s see if we can make sense of it.
Read the entire article at Digital Trends
The recent introduction of Windows 10 Technical Preview has made many pundits wonder about the future of Microsoft’s Windows RT, an inexpensive, low-power version of Windows 8 designed to run on the ARM processors often used to power tablets and smartphones. Much of the speculation is that Windows RT is dead. Then again, was it ever really alive?
Nobody was ever enthusiastic about Windows RT. Microsoft promised, negotiated, bribed, and cajoled, but still the response to RT was poor, at best. The financial loses, especially Microsoft’s, were immense (and still climbing). Within a year or so of its 2012 release a list of PC manufactures including Asus, Dell, Samsung, and Lenovo gave up trying to sell RT devices.
Read the entire article at Digital Trends.
Recent coverage of Windows 10 has left many a computer geek ruminating about the shortfalls of the current Windows operating system. Not only did the Windows 8 OS upgrade leave us wanting but (even though it wasn’t technically part of the update) so did mobile versions of Office. Those of us looking forward to manipulating Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Outlook, and OneNote across computers, tablets and smartphones were left disappointed.
A lot of hoopla was made over the “metro style” flat and less-cluttered interfaces, and yes the new apps were attractive; their design matched the new Windows 8 touch overlay, for the most part. However, as was the case with the latest Windows itself, while the mobile Office app’s interfaces looked good, the apps weren’t all that robust on mobile devices, and their touch capabilities were lacking. You can’t even swipe your finger to select a group of cells or a block of text in Excel or Word!
This time, though, the new mobile Office apps will be “universal,” in that the code will work across multiple devices, and they will be available for free on smartphones and small tablets. What does that mean for Windows and Office users?
Read the entire article at Digital Trends.
Several $400 multifunction inkjet printers, such as Epson’s WorkForce Pro WF-5690 Multifunction Color Printer, have hit the streets over the past couple years, and most of them are pretty darn good high-volume business printers capable of print speeds and per-page operational costs far surpassing laser (or laser-class, LED) machines. Here’s one, though, that has been around for about a year-and-a-half now: HP’s Officejet Pro 276dw Multifunction Printer.
The good news is that as a result, many of last year’s machines (even though they do often support most of the most modern features) are deeply discounted—in this case (when I wrote this in mid-January 2015), by about 25%, or $100.
Read entire review at About.com.
Year after year brings reports of increased malware attacks, and predictions that the future is destined to see more than ever. Such forecasts aren’t just doom and gloom, but instead based in reality. Over the past two years security experts have witnessed an unprecedented spikes in attacks.
According to AV-Test, an independent security software review group, more than 143 million malware detections were reported in 2014. That’s 72 percent more, according to a recent report, than 2013. Worse, more malware was detected during 2013-2014 than in the previous 10 years altogether. Will this storm of cyber-attacks ever cease?
Read the entire article at Digital Trends.
Despite ever-plunging per-gigabyte prices, storage device manufacturers are reporting banner profits each year. A huge part of the success comes from, of course, the storage device industry’s continual (and successful) adaptation of the hard disk drive (HDD) to our computing devices over the past 40 years or so. As our laptops, PCs, and servers have evolved over the years, becoming much faster, capable, and reliable, so have our HDDs.
Industry leaders, such as storage giant Western Digital, have not only reported record years recently, but they’re also predicting significant growth over the next five or six years. Western Digital, for instance, has estimated a two billion dollar surge, from $36 billion in 2013 to $38 billion by the end of 2014, in global, industry-wide storage-device sales. That is projected to grow by another four billion, to $42 billion, in 2015.
And this growth is in spite of a tremendous drop in the average cost per gigabyte. According to statisticbrain.com, over the past 33 years (from 1980 to 2013), the per-gigabyte cost dropped from $437,500 per GB to five cents per GB, respectively. That’s encouraging a rapid expansion in storage consumption, but technology must advance to keep pace.
Read the entire article at Digital Trends.