BUSINESSES, CYBER SECURITY FIRMS ARE COMING UP WITH CREATIVE WAYS TO FIGHT HACKERSHackers continue to play havoc with our computers and networks. Many viruses and other traps are designed primarily to damage your system in some way—by, say, corrupting your data, scrambling the operating system, or crashing the system somehow.

Then there are the more nefarious forms of hacking that entail exploitation, by either accessing his or her financial data and using it to embezzle funds, or by encrypting or removing data from the victim’s PC and then holding it hostage, refusing to restore the data until a fee is paid.

One of the most nefarious of these viruses is Cryptolocker, a nasty little piece of ransomware that, though it has been around for a while (and therefore it’s “treated” by most antivirus software), PC and computer security technicians report that they are still treating CryptoLocker-infected machines.

Read the entire review at Digital Trends.

Share

WHAT IS THE MACHINE, HP’S NEW SUPER COMPUTER?An increasing number of websites and cloud services manage huge and complex amounts of data, and that’s growing at an exponential rate. That’s a problem for some though, including computer manufacturer HP.

“Toward the end of this decade, data growth will come at us at a rate that surpasses the ability of our current infrastructure to evolve to ingest, store and analyze it,” HP says. “A step change in computing technology is required.”

In other words, HP is saying that what we’re doing now won’t suffice for much longer. We need something much faster and more capable of storing massive amounts of data in smaller spaces. To that end, HP recently announced its solution to the problem— dubbed “The Machine,” which is an all new supercomputer so efficient that, the company says, it can drastically reduce the space required by an entire data center.

Read entire review at Digital Trends.

Share

Lenovo Tab A8 Review and RatingsDuring 2013 and the first half of this year, we’ve tested and reviewed a bunch of compact Android tablets. Over that time, as a class, compact tablets have diversified in a big way; earlier, the only common screen size that small Android tablets came in was 7-inch. (Nowadays, we classify slates with 7- to 9-inch screens as “compact,” while tablets with larger screens are “full-size.”) The big growth has been in 8-to-9-inch models, likely thanks to the emergence and success of Apple’s 7.9-inch-screened iPad Mini.

Some of these, such as LG’s G Pad 8.3 (whether the standard, Google Play, or Verizon LTE versions) and Samsung’s Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4, were premium, high-performance slates ranging between $300 and $400, while others, such as Dell’s Venue 8 and Acer’s Iconia A1-830, were inexpensive, entry-level tabs under $200. Then, too, a few recent “classic compact” models with 7-inch screens, such as our Editors’ Choice favorite of last year, Google’s Nexus (2013), have persevered despite premium prices (in the case of the Nexus, $200 to $300).

Lenovo Tab A8

Without question, we’ve no shortage or lack of variety in compact Android tablets.

That brings us to the subject of this review, part of the recent wave of 8-inchers. Lenovo’s $179.99-list Tab A8 is a low-cost 8-inch model with 16GB of storage, a 1,280×800-resolution screen, and an entry-level MediaTek quad-core processor. What all this adds up to is an under-$200 slate that stacks up well against like-priced competitors, less so against higher-priced models. When compared to Google’s $229.99-list 32GB version of the Nexus 7, for example, the Tab A8 comes up short, even with its larger screen, and even more so when pitted against one of the elegantly designed LG G Pads.

You can buy the Tab A8 in only one configuration—with 16GB of onboard storage, plus the core components mentioned in the previous paragraph. However, Lenovo says it will offer the A8 in four different colors, as you can see here…

Lenovo Tab A8 (Colors)

When we wrote this in early July 2014, though, only the Midnight Blue was available.

In addition, Lenovo says it will offer a 3G version, which will connect you to the Internet via your wireless provider wherever it delivers service. Like the other three chassis colors, the 3G-ready model had not yet materialized. When and if it does, though, it will come with ostensibly upgraded audio: a pair of stereo speakers, rather than the single speaker that graced our Wi-Fi-only test unit. Plus, it’s expected to have proximity and ambient-light sensors, neither of which you’ll find on the Wi-Fi model.

Lenovo Tab A8

The Tab A8 is part of a refresh of the company’s budget-friendly A-series tablets, including the 7-inch IdeaTab A1000. The line comprises three different models—the Tab A7, Tab A8, and Tab A10—each, according to Lenovo, designed for different kinds of use. The smallest of the lot, the Tab A7, is intended primarily for reading and browsing, where the A8 is designed as an entertainment-consumption slate. The 10-inch A10, on the other hand, is meant to serve both productivity and media-playback functions.

With such a wide selection of feature sets and prices available, choosing the right compact slate is often a matter of evaluating overall value in each model—in short, what do you get for the money? In the case of the Tab A8, you get a nice-looking display, reasonably competent audio for a single-speaker tablet, and acceptable performance. We think this Lenovo slate provides good value for its $179.99 list price, but it’s not a breakaway product at that price. We’d like it much better discounted by a Hamilton, a Jackson—or maybe even one of each.

Read entire article at Computer Shopper.

Share

THE CORE I7-5960X, INTEL’S FIRST 8-CORE CPU: FAST, EXPENSIVE, AND COMING SOONAfter countless articles and much anticipation, Intel is reportedly about to release some of the first processors based on its Haswell-E specifications, which will, of course, support DDR4 memory and 8-core processors. However, of the three Haswell-E Core i7 CPUs expected, only one of them, the Core i7-5960X, will actually come with 8 cores, and it will sell for $999. The other two, the i7-5930K and i7-5820K, will contain only 6 cores, which is the same number found in the current Ivy Bridge-E generation processor.

Read the entire review at Digital Trends.

Share

Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Review and RatingsSince the emergence of ultrabooks a few years ago, designers have been making laptops slimmer and trimmer, while new CPUs and speedy solid-state drives continue to make them faster and faster. From that perspective, Dell’s Inspiron 15 7000 bucks several trends: It’s a little bigger and bulkier than today’s average 15.6-inch notebook, and its 5,400-rpm hybrid hard drive—a 1TB mechanical drive with 8GB of flash cache—makes it a bit slower to boot or wake up than a true SSD. But its fourth-generation Intel Core i7 processor and a generous complement of RAM make it a more than adequate performer.

The number 7000 indicates that our test model is at the top of the Inspiron line, between the middle-of-the-mainstream Inspiron 15 5000 and the ritzy XPS 15. As with most Dell laptops, you can buy the Inspiron 15 7000 in several different configurations, starting with a $649 model equipped with an Intel Core i5 processor, 6GB of RAM, and a 500GB hard drive.

Dell Inspiron 15 7000Our top-of-the-line review unit, priced at $1,149, flaunts a Core i7 CPU, 16GB of memory, the 1TB hybrid drive, and Nvidia GeForce GT 750M discrete graphics instead of Intel’s integrated graphics. It also comes with an impressive 1,920×1,080 touch screen instead of the minimal 1,366×768 display of the $649 system.

While this Inspiron is a good-looking, well-performing machine with an excellent display and a better-than-average sound system, it reminds us in some ways—mostly its weight and thickness—of portables we looked at three or four years ago. But again, it’s still a fine laptop.

Read the entire review at Computer Shopper.

Share

WHAT IS AMD’S PROJECT SKYBRIDGE, AND WHAT WILL IT DO FOR COMPUTING?Up until recently, the line between low-power ARM processors and x86 CPUs has been distinct: ARM-powered devices consisted primarily of tablets, 2-in-1 hybrids, and convertibles, while x86-powered machines were mostly laptops.

It wasn’t until the advent of Windows 8 and Windows RT in 2012 that we saw a lot of crossover, with Intel Core CPUs appearing in several tablets and convertibles, such as Microsoft’s Surface Pro, as well as a handful of ARM-based PCs, such as HP’s 21-inch Slate 21 k100 All-in-One Desktop PC, which is powered by Android.

Read the full article at Digital Trends.

Share

Digital TrendsCamarillo, CA – March 3, 2015: Communications Technology Watch is happy to announce that William Harrel, technology journalist and online course developer/instructor, has agreed with the popular online digital technology magazine, Digital Trends to write weekly news features. Harrel’s beat covers all aspects of upcoming computer-related news. For example, his first few articles included information about DDR4 memory, USB 3.1, Sata Express, and Nvidia G-Sync.

You can get a complete list of Harrel’s articles on Digital Trends here.

Share

Printers & Scanners at About.comCamarillo, CA – March 2014: Communications Technology Watch (CommTechWatch.com) is pleased to announce that William Harrel has signed with New York Times-owned About.com to become one of the site’s “Experts”. As About.com’s new Printers & Scanners Expert, Harrel will (as he already does as Contributing Editor for Computer Shopper) cover all aspects of printer and scanner technologies, including product reviews, buying advice, new technologies, and how-tos.

With nearly 25 years as a technology journalist, Harrel has written 20 “computer” books and hundreds articles covering software and hardware for such publications as PC World, Computer Shopper, Compute!, Publish!, Windows Magazine, MacWorld, and several other computer technology sites and magazines.

Averaging over 40 million page views per month, About.com is rated as one of the top 50 visited sites in the United States, and one of the top 100 worldwide.

“The Printers & Scanners section has been neglected for a while and needs considerable updating,” Harrel commented. “I’ll hit the ground running, but it may take a few months to whip it back into shape with current and relevant content. Can’t wait to get started.”

Share
Brother HL-3075CW

Brother HL-3075CW Review and Ratings

As we’ve noted in a few printer reviews of late, 2012 has seen the line between sharp-printing color lasers and color inkjets get mighty blurry. Some inkjet models claiming “laser-quality output,” such as the $399.99 Epson WorkForce 520 and $199.99 HP LaserJet Pro 8600 Plus, really do print business documents on par with high-volume laser models, in terms of quality and speed. In addition, these new high-volume inkjets perform their magic at very reasonable per-page costs.

Historically, small and home offices have chosen laser printers because they print faster and cost less to use over the long haul, despite their somewhat hefty upfront purchase price. Nowadays, though—due to the trend of high-volume, low-cost-per-page inkjet models—you typically have to buy a relatively high-volume (and high-priced) color laser printer to see much speed or per-page cost benefit. Many lower-volume (and lower-cost) color lasers no longer have the speed and operational-cost advantages over their inkjet counterparts. The case in point is Brother’s $299.99 HL-3075CW, a color LED printer.

Although technically an LED printer is not a laser printer, it looks and acts just like one. The difference between LED-based devices and laser printers centers on the basic print technology. Instead of lasers, LED-based machines use an LED array (an array of light-emitting devices) that charges the page image onto the print drum. Printer makers substitute LEDs for lasers because they have fewer moving parts, are smaller and lighter, and cost less to manufacture. Otherwise, LED models are much the same as laser printers, including their use of toner.

Overall, we liked the HL-3075CW. It printed great-looking business documents and images at respectable speeds for an entry-level LED printer. However, it has a relatively low recommended monthly print volume, and the high cost of its toner cartridges make for, compared to its inkjet counterparts, a high cost per page for both monochrome and color prints. We wouldn’t recommend it as a serious pound-’em-out workhorse printer; it’s best for occasional and light-duty color printing.

Read this review at Computer Shopper

Share
Toshiba Thrive (7-Inch)

Toshiba Thrive (7-Inch) - Comfort and Power in a Small Package.

Full-size tablets with 9- or 10-inch screens are great for using around your home or office, but when it comes to walking around with a slate, nothing beats a 7-incher. These small, light tablets are easy to transport, comfortable to type on when held in wide (landscape) orientation, and better for one-handed gripping for long periods.

Only a few manufacturers, such as Samsung and Acer, offer 7-inch versions of their larger tablets, and we’ve seen a few recent 7-inch hybrid e-readers/tablets, notably from Amazon (the Kindle Fire) and Barnes & Noble (the Nook Tablet). Unlike the abundance of full-size slates available, the selection of these handy littler ones is still quite limited. Hence, we’re always delighted to see a well-built, full-featured contender.

Enter Toshiba’s newest little powerhouse, the $379 Thrive. In many ways—primarily appearance and design—the 7-inch-screened Thrive mimics its larger, 10-inch-screen sibling. However, unlike that $479.99 version of the Thrive, this one doesn’t have a removable battery (a rare feature, which the larger Thrive has), nor does it offer full-size USB and HDMI ports.

See the review at Computer ShopperToshiba Thrive (7-Inch)

Toshiba Thrive (7-Inch), Review By William Harrel, reviewed December 14, 2011

Share