Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact Review and RatingsAbout six months ago, we looked at Sony’s sleek and capable Xperia Z2 Tablet, a full-size (10.1-inch) Android tablet with a wonderfully thin, light, and attractive design. It had a great-looking screen and superior battery life, too, making it a no-brainer recipient of our Editors’ Choice nod. The Xperia Z2 was in a word, a very fine tablet.

As a result, we couldn’t help but get excited when the Japanese electronics giant announced an 8-inch compact version. (We classify tablets with screens between 7 and 9 inches as “compact.”) And that excitement was well-justified: Aside from its reduced screen size and some slight changes to the port layout, the new, littler model—Sony’s Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact—is otherwise much the same super tablet, right down to the 3GB of system RAM and the Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor powering it inside.

While this new Xperia’s screen is 2.1 inches smaller—from 10.1 inches down to 8 inches—the native display resolution (1,920×1,200 pixels) has stayed the same. As we’ll discuss more in a bit, going down by 2.1 diagonal inches means a significant reduction in screen real estate. But because the screen is so much smaller physically, the actual density of pixels per inch (ppi) is significantly higher. And that increases the overall perceived detail and quality.

Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact (Vertical View)One thing that did not shrink along with the screen, though, is the price. The Z3 Tablet Compact starts at $499.99 MSRP (for a version with 16GB of onboard storage), putting it at the same starting price as the full-size Z2 Tablet. That makes the Z3 Tablet Compact the single most expensive compact slate we know of in its base version, with Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S 8.4 and Apple’s iPad Mini 3 (each starting at $399 list) being its most closely priced compact competitors.

Though we fully understand that miniaturization costs money, Sony’s pricing scheme here is puzzling, and it runs counter to competitive trends. Apple and Samsung both offer full-size and compact versions of their flagship tablets, and the latter are at least $100 cheaper than the big versions. The fact that Sony engineered the same high-performance CPU into the Z3 Compact as in the full-size Z2 Tablet is to its credit, and likely part of why the Compact’s pricing remains high.

Even so, $500 is a lot of dough for a compact Android tablet. It’s a lot, too, for any full-size tablet not named iPad. Is this Xperia worth it? It’s definitely a matter of three things: a matter of taste, a matter of how much you like Android, and a matter of how deep your pockets are. What we can say pretty firmly is that the Z3 Compact’s amazingly trim chassis makes for one elegant-feeling tablet. It’s so light and balanced that you can forget you’re holding anything at all.

In addition, the Z3 Tablet Compact, since it’s built around the same CPU and RAM configuration, performed very closely to the Xperia Z2 Tablet on several of our benchmark tests, and it actually lasted nearly an hour longer on our demanding battery-rundown test. That really surprised us, given that the Z2 performed admirably in that regard as it is. The Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact’s unplugged runtime is one of the best in the tablet business, Android or not.

Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact (Vertical)Plus, like its predecessor, the Z3 Tablet Compact is dustproof and waterproof—to the extent, that is, that Sony claims it’s safe to use your slate in the bathtub or the rain. We’ll look at this and other design features later on in this review. But our bottom line on this little Android is that it’s upscale indeed, and priced like it knows it.

For some buyers, given all the top-notch components and that gorgeous screen, it may well be worth it. But make no mistake: This is a luxury model among Android tablets, with a price to match. And realize that those who’d prefer a still-state-of-the-art, but bigger-screened, tablet can get a Samsung Tab S or Apple iPad Air 2 flagship tab for the same price, while those after maximum performance in a compact tablet can opt for the rip-roaring, albeit much less slick, Nvidia Shield Tablet at about $200 less.

Read entire review at Computer Shopper.

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Canon Pixma MG5620 Wireless Inkjet Photo All-In-One ReviewIn the same way that the sun rises and sets, and the seasons change, so go Canon’s printers. Canon has refreshed its MG and MX families of Pixma printers—its consumer and home-office bread-and-butter models—reliably each year for some years now. 2014 was no different, and here’s the last installment in our reviews of Canon’s 2014 round of photo-optimized Pixma inkjets, which included the $199.99-list Pixma MG7520 and the $149.99-list Pixma MG6620. (The latter, we reviewed a few weeks before this model.) Here, we’re looking at the least expensive of the three, the $99.99-list Pixma MG5620 Wireless Inkjet Photo All-in-One. There’s the least to say about this model, but that doesn’t mean it’s the least of the lot.

If you’re shopping the Canon Pixma line, you may notice a lot of things in common up and down the MG printers, and it’s especially true of this printer. (“MG” is Canon’s designation for its photo-centric all-in-ones.) Except for a handful of features missing from the cheaper MG5620 model, the Pixma MG6620 and the Pixma MG5620 are essentially the same printer.

That’s meant to give budget consumers a choice of a close-to-bare-bones model or a modestly featured one. For the $50 difference in list price between them (the street prices will vary, so the delta may be a bit more or less than that in practice), you give up a few things that may or may not matter much to you: a couple of pages per minute in print speed (primarily with black-and-white pages), the ability to print directly from flash-memory cards and USB thumb drives, and support for Near-Field Communication (NFC). NFC, if you’re not familiar with it, allows you to print by touching your NFC-enabled Android smartphone or tablet to a hotspot on the printer. One other difference: The LCD on the control panel is slightly smaller on the Pixma MG5620.

Canon Pixma MG5620In short, this model is the most stripped-down of the three. Also, as a five-ink photo printer, the Pixma MG5620 has the same drawback as not only most other Pixma photo printers, but photo printers in general: The ink is pricey enough on a per-page basis that, while the printer can print good-looking documents, doing so in volume is hurtfully expensive. Simply put, the cost per page (CPP) is too high.

By the same note, this is not a printer for processing large documents through its scanner or copier hardware. Like its Pixma MG siblings and its predecessors, the MG5620 lacks an automatic document feeder (ADF) for scanning and copying multipage documents. Instead, you must feed your big docs to the scanner bed one page at a time—scan them, save or copy them, then restart the process for the next page, which can be quite time-consuming.

Then again, that’s not really the point of this printer. The real question is: Is this a decent photo printer? Like we said about the other five-ink machine in this 2014 batch (the Pixma MG6620), the answer is yes. It indeed prints nice photos, almost as nice as its six-ink sibling, the Pixma MG7520. As consumer-grade photo printers go, this is a good one. And, as mentioned, it also prints fine-looking documents, though at a dear ink cost.

Canon Pixma MG5620 Wireless Inkjet Photo AIOOur recommendation for this Pixma is much the same one we gave for the other two 2014 MG models: If you need a strong photo printer with the ability to churn out the occasional business document, or make a scan or copy now and then, the Pixma MG5620 is capable on all fronts. Just know it’s not an efficient document printer, in terms of operational cost. It’s best suited for snapshots and other images, and the occasional “other” printout.

Read entire review at Computer Shopper.

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Top 100 Products of 2014: Best PrintersHere’s my contribution to Computer Shopper’s “Top 100 Products of 2014.” My beat this year is printers. Here are the best printers of 2014:

Table of Contents

  1. Printer of the Year: Epson WorkForce Pro WF-4630 All-in-One Printer
  2. Best Budget Printer: Dell B1165nfw Mono Laser Multifunction Printer
  3. Best Photo Printer: Canon Pixma iP8720 Wireless Inkjet Photo Printer
  4. Best Small-Office All-in-One Printer: Epson WorkForce Pro WF-4630 All-in-One
  5. Best Inkjet All-in-One Printer: HP Officejet Pro 8630 e-All-in-One Printer
  6. Best Color Laser/Laser-Class Printer: Dell Color Multifunction Printer C2665dnf
  7. Best Basic Monochrome Laser/Laser-Class Printer: Samsung Xpress M2020W
  8. Best Basic Monochrome Laser AIO Printer: Samsung Multifunction Xpress M2070FW
  9. Best Consumer/Small-Office Wide Format Printer: Epson WorkForce WF-7610 All-in-One Printer

Read the entire article at Computer Shopper.

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Canon Pixma MG6620 Wireless Inkjet Photo All-in-One Review and RatingsAs we pointed out the other day in our review of the Canon Pixma MG7520, Canon recently released a trio of photo-ready all-in-one printers (or AIOs—machines that can print, copy, and scan). This batch includes the $199.99-list Pixma MG7520, the $99.99-list Pixma MG5620 (we’ll be posting a review of this model soon after this one), and the subject of this review, the $149.99-list Pixma MG6620 Photo All-in-One Inkjet Printer. The MG7520 and MG5620 will replace the Pixma MG7120 and Pixma MG5520, respectively, and the MG6620 will put last year’s Pixma MG6320 out to pasture.

These annual updates to the printer giant’s MG line have been going on with regularity for some years now. (The “MG” prefix is Canon’s designation for its consumer-centric photo all-in-ones.) Each year about this time, we see essentially the same machines with a few updates and new feature add-ons. As we said about this year’s MG7520, though, a few notable changes in this round of updates—especially with the MG6620 and MG7520 models—have made the 2014 updates a bit more interesting than in previous years.

Canon Pixma MG6620The midrange model of the three, the Pixma MG6620Best Price at Amazon, unlike its 2013 predecessor, uses a five-ink imaging system. Prior to this model, the MG6000-series Pixmas used, like the next models up, the MG7000 series (and the MG8000 series, now defunct), six inks. Beyond the difference in ink colors, the $50 price difference between the Pixma MG6620 and MG7520 nets you a pretty big bunch of useful features.

On the Pixma MG7520, you get twice the maximum possible print resolution (9,600×2,400 dots per inch versus 4,800×1,200dpi); Ethernet connectivity (which the MG6620 lacks); active versus passiveNFC (which we’ll define later); a larger paper tray; CD/DVD labeling; and a bigger LCD on the control panel.

If you have a use for just one or two of these options, $50 is a small premium to pay. The one trade-off here is that because the higher-priced Pixma MG7520 uses one more ink tank than the MG6620, it costs more to use, on a per-page cost-of-ink basis, with certain kinds of documents. In either case, both models’ cost per page (CPP) figures are too high for printing more than just a few business documents (say 100 or so), each month. (That’s typical of most photo printers nowadays.)

Canon Pixma MG6620 (Printing)Our experience is that, yes, that sixth cartridge does indeed enhance overall print quality. Then again, so does the fifth cartridge in this Pixma versus a four-tank printer, all else being equal. The question is—can you tell the difference without careful examination? The answer to that question can be long and involved, with all sorts of caveats based on what exactly you’re printing and what kind of stock you’re printing it on. But the short answer is that with most images…probably not.

Overall, the MG6620 is a good little photo printer, with much the same issues we have with all AIO photo printers on the market these days—their too-high CPPs make them poor choices as document printers for more than a few pages a month. With that in mind, if all you want to do is print photos, with a business document and a random scan or copy thrown in now and then, the Pixma MG6620 should serve you well.

Read the entire review at Computer Shopper.

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Canon Pixma MG7520 Photo All-in-One Review and RatingsIn Canon’s product argot, “MG” stands for photo printer, and we must be coming up on the holidays—a host of new MG printers have hit the market, and there’s no better time to use ’em.

The printer giant has released its perennial round of updates to its Pixma all-in-one (AIO) photo printers, starting with the entry-level ($99.99 MSRP) Pixma MG5620 which we’re in the process of reviewing. After that comes the midrange Pixma MG6620 ($149.99 MSRP, also on the test bench), and finally the topic of this review, the $199.99 Pixma MG7520 Photo All-in-One Inkjet Printer. These newest models replace the Pixma MG5520MG6320, and MG7120, respectively, and, like their predecessors and their predecessors’ predecessors, they’re a lot like the previous ones. In this particular printer’s case, though, we saw a few interesting feature updates and add-ons, a bit more than the usual annual spit-and-polish dressing-up.

Canon Pixma MG7520 (Angle View)As the top dog in Canon’s “MG” class of Photo All-in-One Pixmas, the Pixma MG7520 uses the same six-ink imaging system as last year’s equivalent model, the Pixma MG7120. And that’s a good thing. As we’ve maintained for a while now, when it comes to printing photos, few consumer-grade AIOs are as capable as these six-ink Pixmas. Close behind, though, are Epson’s and HP’s five- and six-ink models, such as the six-ink Expression Photo XP-950 Small-in-One and HP’s five-ink Photosmart 7520 e-All-in-One Printer.

Unsurprisingly, like its predecessors, this Pixma prints excellent photos, some of the best we’ve seen from a consumer-grade desktop printer, and, equally predictably, it does so slowly and dearly—the latter in terms of the cost per page (CPP). Alas, like many earlier photo-optimized Pixmas, the MG7520’s CPP is too high to justify using it very much for document printing, only for occasional use.

Also, technically (since it can scan and make copies) the MG7520 is an AIO printer, but it has some shortfalls there. Aside from single-function photo printers, this is one of very few AIOs in the $200-list-price range without an automatic document feeder (ADF) for feeding multipage documents to the scanner without assistance. If you’ve ever scanned or copied multipage documents without an ADF, you know how tedious and time-consuming dealing with one sheet at a time can be.

Canon Pixma MG7520As we’ve said about numerous Canon six-ink photo printers, without question, in terms of print quality, this is one great photo printer, and its document pages stand out, too. Granted, it’s a little slower than some of its competitors, and, like we said, the CPP is too high. (But, then, so are the CPPs of most other photo printers.)

Above all else, know that this is a niche, or hobbyist, machine. We like it a lot as a photo printer, but caution you again that it’s not an efficient document printer, either in terms of speed or per-page cost. Though the documents that it does print look darn good.

Read the entire review at Computer Shopper.

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Epson Expression Premium XP-820 Small-in-One Review and RatingsOver the years, Canon’s five- and six-ink printers, such as the Pixma MG7120 and Pixma MG6320 (or this year’s Pixma MG7520 and MG6620, which we’re in the process of reviewing), have acquired a well-earned reputation for high-quality output—especially for printing photos. Perhaps not as well-known for their photo output, but arguably as good at printing images and documents, are Epson’s midrange and top-of-the line Small-in-One models. Two that excel are the six-ink Expression Photo XP-950 Small-in-One, and the subject of this review, the five-ink, $199.99-MSRP Expression Premium XP-820 Small-in-One All-in-One Printer. (Now there’sa mouthful.)

The Expression Premium XP-820 is the third in its lineage, after the Expression Premium XP-800 we reviewed back in November 2012, and the XP-810 we looked at late last year. Apart from some feature updates and add-ons, primarily in the areas of mobile and cloud printing, the XP-810 was much like the XP-800, and in turn, this year’s XP-820 looks and prints much like its predecessors. To our eyes, the biggest difference from year to year has been pricing.

Epson Expression Premium XP-820 Small-in-OneWith an MSRP of $229.99, the XP-810, for instance, was about $50 cheaper than the XP-800, and this year’s XP-820, at $199.99 list, is $30 lower still. On top of that, it was selling, on average, for much less—$130 to $150 street price—from several resellers when we wrote this. Typically, price reductions like these suggest that the printer might not have been selling well enough at the earlier pricing. If that’s true, that’s a shame, because all three are (or were) very good printers.

It’s probably not just the purchase price holding this printer back, though. Like the XP-800 and XP-810 before it, as well as most of Epson’s other Small-in-One models, the XP-820 is expensive to maintain, in terms of its cost per page (CPP). Most other photo printers are, too. Canon’s closest equivalent printer, the $149.99-list, five-ink Pixma MG6620, delivers a slightly lower CPP when printing in color. But the XP-820 excels in certain other areas, such as by providing an auto-duplexing automatic document feeder (ADF) for scanning, copying, and faxing double-sided originals.

While the Pixma MG6620 does have a scanner for making copies (or for straight-up scanning to your computer or to a memory device), it has no ADF, which makes processing multipage documents, especially dual-sided multipage documents, much more tedious and time-consuming. In that regard (as well as for its support for a wider range of flash-memory cards and devices), the XP-820 is a better choice.

Epson Expression Premium XP-820 Small-in-One (Front)As we said about 2013’s Expression Premium XP-810, the XP-820 is compact and attractive; it prints well (especially for photographs); and it comes loaded with deep features for PC-free, cloud, and mobile printing. Together, that makes it a great match for light-printing small and home offices that need to print often from smartphones, tablets, and laptops. It works for us as a photo printer, too, but despite all of the office-friendly features, its CPPs are too high for office environments that print or copy more than a couple of hundred pages each month.

Read the entire review at Computer Shopper.

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Dell Venue 7 3000 Series Review and RatingsThe update cycle on most Android tablets has been around 12 to 18 months—it’s not often that one of these products gets refreshed in just six or seven. But that’s what happened with Dell’s original Venue 7 tablet, as well as its sibling, the Venue 8, both released in late 2013. Dell showed the first versions of these Venue tablets to the door rather quickly after they debuted.

The strongest impression we had of these 2013 Venues is that they were commonplace, with very little inside and out to differentiate them from most other compact Android slates. Especially so the 7-incher: Like most recent budget tablets, nearly everything about it was adequate but unexciting. It was the kind of tablet that would do in a pinch, but it didn’t inspire much in the way of enthusiasm or enmity.

The good news is that their replacements are thinner and lighter tablets with faster, more efficient Intel Atom processors. Our review of the $199.99-MSRP Venue 8 3000 Series revealed that, aside from a few minor flaws (a one-speaker sound system; shorter-than-average battery life), it was a much better tablet. A new full-HD display and a peppy 64-bit Atom CPU saw to that.

Dell Venue 7 (2014) (Front and Back)The Venue 7 3000 Series isn’t quite the same success story. Dell didn’t equip this smaller, $159.99-MSRP 7-inch model with a higher-resolution screen, nor, as you’ll see in the Performance section later on in this review, does it come with quite the same CPU as its 8-inch sibling (though it’s close). That doesn’t make the Venue 7 3000 Series a bad tablet, by any means. But the differences are significant enough that we found the Venue 8 an all-around better value, and a better tablet period, price regardless.

Still, this second Venue 7 is a decent slate in its own right. This one is a little thinner and lighter than last year’s, and, as mentioned, the different processor inside makes it a little faster. Dell’s problem here, as we see it, is that the Venue 7 3000 Series isn’t any more attractive, feature-wise, than several competing models, including Asus’ recent $149.99-list MeMO Pad 7. Plus, the popularity of smaller 7-inch slates appears to be waning in favor of 8-inch screens. An 8-inch display is larger by about 30 percent, making 8-inch tablets easier to use. And all else being equal, the price difference between 7- and 8-inchers is narrowing. Good budget 7-inchers hover around $150; budget 8-inchers start around $180 to $200.

Yet another reason the Venue 8 3000 Series is more attractive is that to get the same super-high resolution (1,920×1,200 pixels) on a 7-inch screen, you must step up (or down, depending on your perspective) to Google’s Nexus 7, the patriarch of high-res 7-inch tablets. Now, the Nexus 7 may be nearing the end of its long run (Google had just removed it from the Google Play Store when we wrote this, though it was still available from resellers), but it’s around the same price as the Venue 8 3000 Series. And the Nexus 7 doesn’t come with a way to expand the onboard storage, which, as we’ll discuss on the next page, both the Venue 7 and the Venue 8 do. And, of course, the screen is an inch smaller than the Venue 8′s.

Dell Venue 7 (2014)Our bottom line? If you can afford it, spend the extra $40 or so for the larger, higher-resolution Venue 8 3000 Series. You’ll be glad you did. If your budget limits you strictly to $150 or so, though, the Venue 7 3000 Series is a good tablet, but then so is Asus’ $149.99-MSRP MeMO Pad 7, as well as a few others—and some of those cost even less.

As we wrote this, Dell was offering a $10 “instant savings” incentive on its Web site, thereby lowering the price on the Venue 7 3000 Series to $149.99, the same as the Asus tab. But assuming the prices stay parallel, we’d still opt for the Asus 7-incher.

Read the entire review at Computer Shopper.

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Brother MFC-J5620DW Review and RatingsSeveral of the top printer makers—Canon, Epson, and HP—have come out with, taken together, a profusion of budget-minded wide-format printers here in 2014. But if the number of different wide-format models is any measure, Brother’s commitment to this trend is the biggest of all.

In one way or another, each of the machines in Brother’s Business Smart line, such as the ever-popular MFC-J4610DW, as well as the Business Smart Pro series, including the MFC-J6920DW, all print tabloid-size (11×17-inch) pages.

While most of the Brother Business Smart models support printing just one tabloid-size page at a time (through a rear override slot), most of the Business Smart Pro all-in-ones (AIOs), such as the MFC-J6920DW, ship with two paper drawers, and at least one of them holds wide-format paper.

In between these two product lines, though, is Brother’s Business Smart Plus family of printers, and the subject of this review, the $199.99-list MFC-J5620DW. This model, and the line, is an average of the ones above and below. In the case of the MFC-J5620DW, it comes with only one paper drawer, but as we’ll discuss in some detail later on, this AIO lets you print tabloid pages through both that main paper drawer and a rear input slot.

Brother MFC-J5620DW (Angle View)Aside from the tabloid-size printing, the MFC-J5620DW’s feature set is about what you’d expect from a $200 business printer. We appreciated the 35-sheet automatic document feeder (ADF), though we’d have liked it even more had it been an auto-duplexing mechanism, for scanning multipage, two-sided originals without our help. And, as we’ll get into in the last section of this review, occasionally the graphics output looked a little less than perfect, but the rest of the print quality was on the whole excellent.

The imperfections we saw were the kind you really have to really look for, though, and most people probably wouldn’t notice them. And balancing that out, this AIO stands out in another key area, besides tabloid printing: cost per page (CPP). The MFC-J5620DW delivers the very lowest CPPs we’ve seen from an under-$200 multifunction printer. We’re pretty sure it has the lowest CPPs we’ve seen from a wide-format-capable model, too. (If it isn’t, it’s very close, on both accounts.)

In fact, aside from Brother’s recent Business Smart Pro series models, we don’t often see high-volume inkjets with CPPs this low—not unless the AIO costs at least $300 to $400. (Epson’s recently released $299.99-MSRP WorkForce Pro WF-4630 All-in-One comes to mind, but, alas, it doesn’t support wide-format printing.)

Brother MFC-J5620DW (Left View)When you’re evaluating an inkjet meant for business, remember that it will probably have to churn out more pages than most home printers will. So a realistic ongoing operational cost weighs heavily in our overall assessment, and it should in yours, too. But a low CPP is not all that the MFC-J5620DW has going for it. For what it does (as you’ll see on the next page), it’s not a hulking, beastly printer—it’s relatively small and light.

On the whole, if high-volume inkjet output at a decent cost per page (with respectable speed, and in overall good quality) sounds good to you—well, here’s your AIO. Just proceed with caution if graphics-heavy output is what you’re after.

Read the entire review at Computer Shopper.

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Dell Venue 8 (2014)If the appeal of a product is all in the name, nobody told Dell’s tablet team.

It wasn’t all that long before we wrote this—about six or seven months ago—that we looked at Dell’s first entry-level Android slate with an 8-inch screen, the Venue 8. (That’s not to be confused with the company’s Venue 8 Pro, which is a Windows 8 tablet.) We found it competent but, as compact Android slates go, rather ordinary. In most ways, it reminded us of umpteen other compact (7-to-9-inch) Android tablets we had looked at around the same time. But what that Venue 8 model did have going for it was a relatively low price, given the screen size and when the tablet debuted: $179.99 MSRP, with the street price ringing up a little lower on occasion.

So, here we are just a few months down the road, and Dell has revamped that same 8-inch Android, keeping the name but hiking the list price to…$199.99. What gives?

Surprising in a market where Android-tablet prices are driving down, down, down, this price rise is a justifiable one. Sure, the Venue 8 is named the same, and the exterior is nearly indistinguishable from its predecessor’s. But this version, thanks primarily to its 1,920×1,200-pixel, high-resolution screen, is an overall better value. (At the same time as the new Venue 8, Dell rolled out a Bay Trail-enhanced Venue 7, as well.)

Not only does this new Venue 8 outshine the last one, but the higher screen resolution also brings this newer Venue into direct competition with certain higher-end compact tabs, such as Google’s2013 Nexus 7 (a 7-incher) and 2014’s LG G Pad 8.3 (an 8.3-incher). The G Pad comes in three flavors: a G Pad 8.3 LTE/Verizon version, the G Pad 8.3 Google Play Edition, and a standard G Pad 8.3. Each version of the G Pad 8.3, as well as the Nexus 7, has a 1,920×1,200-pixel display, like our Dell Venue 8 review unit’s.

Dell Venue 8 (2014) (Vertical)This 1,920×1,200 resolution generates a very tight pixel depth on a screen this size (283 pixels per inch, or ppi, versus 180ppi on a standard 1,200×800 display). This pixel depth makes images, videos, some games, and certain other content more detailed and attractive than on the standard 1,200×800-pixel displays found on most of today’s compact tablets. (We’ll look more closely at the Venue 8’s display panel in the Features & Apps section later in this review.)

In fact, this Venue 8’s high-resolution screen puts it on par with the 8.3-inch G Pad. The various versions of the LG G Pad 8.3 may have slightly larger screens, but they also sell for at least $50 more than this Dell, depending on the promotions of the day. Furthermore, while the G Pad 8.3 deploys Qualcomm’s speedy Snapdragon 600 CPU, the Intel “Bay Trail” Atom processor in this Dell slate helped the Venue 8 perform better on many of our tests. (We’ll look more closely at how this Venue 8 did on our benchmark tests in the Performance section later on.)

On the outside of this tablet, things are just as strong. This Venue 8 is slim, solid-feeling, and light—a pleasure to use in almost every sense. It’s thinner and lighter than its predecessor, too.

As you read on, you’ll note a couple of things, such as its sole audio speaker, that we thought could use improvement. But our bottom line? The Atom-based Dell Venue 8 is one nice compact tablet for the money, even if it’s a little more money than before. We’re just surprised that Dell hid this tablet’s backlight under a bushel by not naming it the “Venue 8 HD” or the “Venue 8 Premium.”

Read the entire article at Computer Shopper.

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Epson WorkForce WF-3640 All-in-One Printer Review and RatingsWhen we see a fast printer that has three input sources, and two of those are big, roomy paper drawers, we assume: Business Printer. Our first impression is that we’re dealing with a high-volume machine designed to churn out hundreds, even thousands, of pages each month. However, you can’t forget the big intangible when talking about printers for small or medium businesses: CPP.

“CPP” stands for cost per page. And one of our biggest criteria for high-volume printers, in addition to being fast and having a lot of paper capacity, is that they deliver excellent-looking documents at a decent CPP.

In fact, to our eyes, a high-volume printer’s CPP is usually the most important figure to focus on. Depending on the printer itself (and sometimes a few other factors), a difference in CPPs of a few pennies between printers can cost you plenty if you print a lot. And printing a lot is, after all, the reason you purchase a high-volume model to begin with.

It was that shortcoming—an exorbitant ongoing cost of operation—that pained us most about last year’s WorkForce WF-3540 All-in-One Printer. Alas, as you’ll see a little later on in this review, the successor model we’re reviewing here, Epson’s WorkForce WF-3640 All-in-One Printer, also costs a bit too much, in terms of CPP, to use. (As for the printer itself, it lists for $199.99, though you may be able to find it $50 cheaper when you read this; more on that later.)

Epson WorkForce WF-3640Alongside the WorkForce WF-3640, Epson also introduced a broadly similar model, the WorkForce WF-3630. The WF-3630 doesn’t merit a separate review; the main differences are that it has only one drawer-style paper tray (in addition to the same single-sheet override tray on the back), and, unlike the WF-3640, it can’t fax.

Often, with inkjet all-in-one (AIO) printers, not much changes from generation to generation. And at first blush, it might look like the WorkForce WF-3640 is merely an incremental upgrade over last year’s WorkForce WF-3540. They do look much alike, so just tack on a couple of features, and call it “new and improved,” yes? But that wasn’t the case here at all.

The WorkForce Pro WF-3640 is one of 11 models in Epson’s dramatically refreshed WorkForce line of business printers, released in a big surge in June 2014. The reason for the major rollout? All 11 models were built around Epson’s new, speed-enhancing PrecisonCore printhead technology. The first of these PrecisionCore-based models we reviewed, the wide-format WorkForce WF-7610, won an Editors’ Choice award, as did the next one, a WorkForce Pro model, the WorkForce Pro WF-4630, we looked at back in mid-August. (That Pro-model printer was, incidentally, the first 5-star printer we’ve tested in quite some years.)

The WorkForce WF-3640 is also quite a good printer, but it falls into the same CPP habits that some of its predecessors did. Despite its superior speed and feature set, it’s too expensive to use for much output beyond light-to-medium-duty printing and copying. That’s too bad, because the output of all kinds is very good. In addition to turning out decent-looking document prints in our hands-on testing, it produced great-looking, highly accurate scans. (At least the scans don’t cost you ink.) Copies looked good, too, as did the test photos we printed.

Epson WorkForce WF-3640 (Three Quarters)As we said about the WorkForce WF-3540 model before it, the per-page cost of ink nicks this AIO’s overall value, relegating it to an occasional-use machine—to the point where we couldn’t justify an Editors’ Choice nod for this model, despite all else that it can do so well. Still, this is a fine printer that gave us plenty of reasons to recommend it, among them exceptional print speeds and output quality.

If you need to print a lot, you should consider a more-expensive model with a consumables scheme that’s truly built for high-volume output. You don’t have to look far from this model, either, just up: Epson’s own WorkForce Pro WF-4630. That PrecisionCore model has a more efficient and much cheaper-to-use imaging and inking system, and that put it over the top. It lists for $299.99. For light to moderate use, though, the cheaper WorkForce WF-3640 is a fine printer, if you can manage the cost of upkeep.

Read the entire article at Computer Shopper.

 

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