While there are plenty of innovative wireless pointing devices available, few are as light, compact, interesting, and mobile as Microsoft’s Arch Touch Bluetooth Mouse. It’s designed primarily as an accessory for the company’s Surface Book PCs (it’s the same light-gray color), but since it’s a standard pointing device, it also works with most laptops or tablets running a recent version of Windows (and some MacBooks) that support Bluetooth. The Arc Touch mouse is, when turned off, ultra-thin, making it easy to slip in to your pocket or some other tight spot.
The Arc Touch mouse is unique in design. Even so, just about any other small wireless “travel” pointing device, such as Logitech’s M535 Bluetooth Mouse ($39.99) or Microsoft’s own Microsoft Wireless Mobile Mouse 3500 ($29.99), is a direct competitor. You can pick up the Arc Touch mouse for about $40, which is a bit high for a small mouse like this, especially considering that you can buy the EasyGlide Wireless 3-button Travel Mouse, and several others, for as little as $20. That said, you’ll have trouble finding a mobile mouse as easy to carry around with you than the slim and petite Arc Touch Bluetooth Mouse, and like most Microsoft peripherals, it’s well-built, durable, and somewhat elegant.
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
Surely you’ve seen, either in movies or educational shows, those artificial intelligence (AI) computers that you interact with through various cables, or input leads, connected to your fingers, your hands, your head, and your feet. Depending on the sophistication of the devices and the software, nearly all parts of your body create input for the AI computer. Now, imagine interacting with, even controlling, your computer via hand and head movements, even facial expressions, without the input leads and cables.
Or maybe you want to control your computer with voice commands, like iPads and Android devices? Enter RealSense and VoiceAssist, two new interactivity enhancement features slated for the next generation of Intel CPUs.
If it all works the way Intel claims, you’ll soon be interacting with your computer via voice commands, hand, and head gestures, rather than actual physical pointing devices and keyboards. Here’s a real sense of how Intel’s new RealSense and VoiceAssist technologies work.
Read entire article at Digital Trends.
You’d think that as long as digital cameras and, more importantly, photo scanners, have been around, nearly all the photos in the World should already be digitized. Alas, apparently, we’re still not even close, or maybe new hard copy prints get generated everyday—perhaps both. In any case, the point is that, just as the need for photo printers continues, so does the need for photo scanners. However, not all photo scanners are the same, and it really depends on what you plan to scan, the required scan quality, and how often you plan to scan photographs, to determine how sophisticated a machine you need.
Read the entire article at About.com.
Recently, Intel released new drivers for its Intel HD, Iris, and Iris Pro integrated graphics chips.
To test the company’s claims of improved performance, we downloaded the new drivers, and installed them on a laptop running on a 4th-gen Intel Core i7-4500U processor, which contains Intel’s HD 4400 Graphics GPU.
To establish points of reference, we ran 3DMark Fire Strike and Cloud Gate before installing the new drivers as well. These are popular benchmarks which we use to test graphics performance regularly.
After that, we installed the new drivers, and ran the same benchmarks again. While we expected the new drivers to perform somewhat faster, we were a little surprised by the results.
Read the entire article at Digital Trends.
Back in November of 2013, we looked at an early attempt at an Android all-in-one PC, the Slate 21-k100 All-in-One Desktop from HP. Our opinion then was that running Android—a mobile operating system designed for smartphones and tablets—on a full-fledged computer was sheer folly. Not only was Android clunky on a 21-inch all-in-one (AIO), but several of HP’s hardware and design choices were baffling, too. As a result, the Slate 21 received one of the lowest scores we’ve given to a product in quite some time.
Now, venerable monitor maker AOC has tried its own hand at the same game with its mySmart All-in-One Android PC, another attempt to run Google’s open-source mobile OS on a large-screen AIO. This time, though, there are actually two such models: a $299.99 (MSRP) version with a 22-inch screen and the $399.99 (MSRP) model A2472PW4T, the 24-inch unit we’re reviewing here. Aside from the 2-inch-diagonal screen difference and the ensuing chassis-size change, these two machines are identical in almost every way.
Note, though, there’s something big the AOC AIO can do that the HP Slate 21 can’t. The mySmart can double as a high-resolution (1,920×1,080-pixel) touch screen for Windows, making it, in a sense, something of a hybrid product. Unfortunately, while it makes a fairly decent monitor for straightforward viewing, this AIO has some serious design and performance issues that affect its overall value and effectiveness as a desktop machine. The touch functionality leaves much to be desired in either mode, too.
In addition, this is the first AIO we’ve seen that comes without a keyboard or pointing device in the box. You’ll have to provide your own, or else resort to typing onscreen, which isn’t at all productive. On the other hand, this AIO has several USB ports, and it supports Bluetooth, so your options are wide open if you want to buy your own input devices. We’ll talk more about these design issues on the next page.
All of this is not to say that there’snothing to like about AOC’s mySmart PC—quite to the contrary. For starters, it’s built around a good-looking 23.6-inch display panel and a decent sound system for watching movies and viewing high-resolution images. Very few Android games and apps, on the other hand, can take proper advantage of the high-resolution screen (which we’ll get into in greater detail in the Features & Apps section). So the screen is really only of note if you’ll be using the display in monitor mode.
On the other hand, for a mid-2014 Android-based device, this one is full of 2013 compromises, were it even just an Android tablet. It’s using last year’s Nvidia Tegra 3 processor, and it came outfitted with a two-versions-behind installation of Android, 4.2. While we didn’t care much for HP’s Android all-in-one, at least the HP Slate 21 came out of the gate with the most modern Tegra 4 CPU and the latest version of the Android OS at the time. Both systems, however, are low on storage (just 8GB inside).
As we said about the Slate 21, this Android AIO provides neither a well-rounded Android-tablet-style experience, nor full-fledged all-in-one PC performance. If all you need is a large touch-screen device for watching videos, browsing the Internet, and managing e-mails and social media sites, this one will do. And, like we said before, it works as a touch-screen monitor—with, as you’ll see on the next page, some major caveats.
Still, realize that you can find basic Windows AIOs starting at about $350 (albeit with smaller screens), and for most users, those will be a far better alternative. Android doesn’t do big screens all that well to begin with, and when you stack on some this model’s shortcomings, it’s tough to get excited about the mySmart in light of what you can get for the same money.
Read the entire article at Computer Shopper.
Nowadays, there are several ways to “render,” or image and display, output— printers, monitors, tablets, and smartphones (and I’m sure I’ve left a few out). In one way or another, they all gauge output density with some sort of resolution measurement, such as dots per inch(dpi) or pixels per inch (ppi). Typically, though, we use dpi when referring toprinted resolution, and when we use ppi, we’re talking about image, or display, resolution.
It’s also important to point out that laser-class printers turn out entirely different size and shaped dots than do their inkjet counterparts. For example, a good, appropriately configured laser printer’s output is so clean, in terms of screen frequency and halftones, that you can (theoretically) use it as camera-ready art, i.e.color separations, for reproduction on a printing press. (However, most designers would use the laser output for proofing, and then go one step further and output the color separations to film for printing on a high-end, high-resolution imaging, or typesetting, machine.)
Read the entire article at About.com.
For some folks, the only printing they do is photographs, especially professional photographers, while others print only business documents, especially small offices and workgroups. Many consumers, though, reside somewhere in the middle, and require a printer that can churn out both documents and photos. Over the years I’ve looked at many photo printers that fit that description, ranging in price from well under $100 to well over $300, with several price points in between. Many of them print unbelievably good photos, often better than drugstore developer quality.
If you aren’t familiar with photo printers at all, you can get a crash course from this About.com “Near-Dedicated Photo Printers” article. Otherwise, for a look at some today’s better photo printers, read on.
Read the entire article at About.com.
Two applications that never seem to have quite enough processing power are high-end multimedia editing, and gaming. In Windows, one of the key components of graphics processing in gaming is DirectX technology.
Currently, about 70 percent of Windows machines are running DirectX 11. However, at its Siggraph 2014 booth, Intel recently demoed DirectX 12, and the chip-maker claims that it will significantly increase performance, power efficiency, scalability, and portability.
You may be asking yourself why Intel was running the demo, though Microsoft was also part of the show. The test bed PC consisted of the original Surface Pro 3, which ran on Intel’s Core i5 CPU with integrated Intel HD 4400 graphics.
Read entire review at Digital Trends.
Blame, or thank, the MacBook: Most of the notebooks showing up in our labs lately are coming encased in brushed- or polished-metal chassis—an understated, elegant look that catches the eye. The only problem with the big move to metal: It also makes them look very much alike.
That can’t be said of HP’s Pavilion dm4 Beats Edition, though. This stylish laptop’s all-black aluminum chassis, with a bright-red Beats Audio logo in the center of the lid, definitely distinguishes it from the pack. Its hip appearance gives it a charm all its own, and it definitely won’t be mistaken for any other laptop, HP or otherwise.
The Pavilion dm4 Beats Edition’s different-drummer design is not all it has going for it, though. Lately, you’ve probably seen the Beats Audio logo bobbing around on the sides of the heads of plenty of hipsters and regular folks; the over-ear Dr. Dre Beats headphones are phenomenally popular. The Beats Audio technology has been integrated into the sound system of this laptop, and it makes for a top-notch media-playback machine with excellent sound reproduction. Plus, the generous 1,600×900 resolution on the 14-inch display allows for more screen real estate than on several other similarly priced 14-inch laptops. And the machine has a respectable selection of ports.
In addition, compared with similarly priced and equipped notebooks (such as the $999 Dell XPS 14z), the dm4 Beats Edition performs well. All told, this laptop offers a well-rounded set of features for a very reasonable price, making it a terrific value for the student in your life.
Read the review at Computer Shopper.