With its Business Smart, Business Smart Plus, and Business Smart Professional Series families of printer, Brother was one of the first printer makers to support wide-format printing in a big way in multifunction inkjets for consumers and small businesses. Whether it’s simply printing the occasional oversize document, or delivering the ability to scan, copy, fax, and print them, a subset of these business-oriented all-in-ones (AIOs) adroitly handle tabloid, or 11×17-inch, pages at prices usually reserved for models that support paper no larger than letter- or legal-size.
The topic of this review, Brother’s $229.99-MSRP MFC-J6520DW, is one of these wide-load-capable models in the Brother line. A Professional Series model, the MFC-J6520DW does it all. It not only supports printing to tabloid-size stock, but because the scanner and the automatic document feeder (ADF) also support 11×17-inch pages, you can also scan, copy, and fax pages that big. (When you fax, of course, the document gets reduced on the receiving end if need be, since most receiving fax machines will be letter- or legal-size only.)
Unlike the other major makers of inkjet printers, which by now have all come out with a wide-format model or two of their own, nearly all of Brother’s business-centric models support tabloid printing. We’ve reviewed several of them, including the MFC-J6520DW’s higher-volume sibling, theMFC-J6920DW, a late-2013 Editors’ Choice recipient that’s still going strong on the market.
Over the past couple of years, though, we’ve seen business-centric wide-format models from both Epson and HP, such as the WorkForce WF-7610 All-in-One and Officejet 7610 Wide Format e-All-in-One, respectively. (Canon’s most recent wide-format inkjet model, the Pixma iX6820, is a very different animal, a single-function photo printer.) However, while these two machines have several features in common with our Brother machine under review, they also differ in some very significant ways.
Both the Epson and HP wide-format models, for example, additionally support a slightly larger page size, the next size up from tabloid at 13×19 inches, also known as “supertabloid” or A3+. (We say “slightly larger,” but the fact is that supertabloid pages contain 60 inches of additional surface area versus tabloid.)
While support for these even larger papers may not matter to everybody, a feature we really like about this Brother multifunction model is its low per-page operational cost—the cost per page, or CPP. As you’ll see in the Setup & Paper Handling section later on, compared to other wide-format printers, this one is relatively inexpensive in terms of ink upkeep, making it an ideal candidate for high-volume print runs of both standard letter-size andtabloid pages.
Unlike the costlier MFC-J6920DW, though, we had a few concerns about this model that left it just shy of a Computer Shopper Editors’ Choice high-five. As we discuss in the Setup & Paper Handling section later on, there are some significant, perhaps obvious, drawbacks to a wide-format printer with only one paper-input tray. In addition, the MFC-J6520DW doesn’t print photos as well as some of the other wide-format models we’ve talked about here so far.
But, then again, reconsider that this printer is part of Brother’s Business Smart Professional Series, as we mentioned earlier. Not all business printing calls for stellar photograph reproduction, and, frankly, this printer’s low CPPs, as we see it, should make stomaching the slightly subpar image rendering easier.
Overall, we liked this printer, but its somewhat limited paper-handling abilities might make it a better pick as a dedicated tabloid printer for light-to-moderate oversize output, as opposed to a general-purpose office machine. In any case, the MFC-J6520DW prints wide-format pages on the relative cheap, and that should be attractive to a wide range of small offices and workgroups.
Read the entire review at Computer Shopper
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.
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.
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.
As the maker of the longtime industry standard in business laptops, Lenovo walks a fine line between the practicality expected from loyal ThinkPad users and the pressure to deliver the sexier, thinner, and more stylish products becoming increasingly popular in the consumer-centric notebook market. As we saw with the ThinkPad T431s recently, with each update, the Chinese computer giant appears to be on a mission to make the stalwart, matte-black-brick ThinkPad more fashionable.
But then, the T431s is a member of Lenovo’s higher-end T Series. The company also offers an affordable line of ThinkPads for small business, positioned between the enterprise models and its consumer IdeaPads. Starting at only $599 (before Lenovo.com’s ever-changing “eCoupon” discounts), the ThinkPad Edge Series needs to strike a balance between style and substance while meeting aggressive price points. Doing that while offering the features businesspeople need, as we saw while reviewing last year’s 15.6-inch ThinkPad Edge E530, is, well, difficult.
While we liked the E530 overall, we found its screen, sound, and Webcam quality lacking, to the point that our recommendation was tepid at best. Here, we’re looking at a refresh of last year’s 14-inch model—the ThinkPad Edge E431 ($647 after eCoupon as tested). As with the update of the T430s to the T431s, the E431 is slightly thinner and lighter than its predecessor, as well as a bit more stylish. Better yet, most of our complaints about last year’s Edge models have been addressed, making us much more enthusiastic about this ThinkPad.
The real news here, though, is the introduction of an all-new docking solution Lenovo has dubbed OneLink Dock, which, compared to previous Edge Series docking solutions, provides increased data throughput, as well as compression-free video. As discussed a little later in this review, this new system uses a proprietary data connection between the PC and docking station that Lenovo says not only increases USB, audio, video, and Ethernet transfer rates compared to USB docking, but does so with little to no impact on the laptop’s overall performance.
Speaking of performance, the E431 scored on the low side of average on several of our tests, and slightly above average on a few others. We were, however, disappointed in the Lenovo’s poor showing in our battery-rundown benchmark. The good news is that, unlike most competing models, this laptop lets you swap out the battery, which of course lets you double or triple the time between charges, depending on how many additional batteries you’re willing to buy. Lenovo also offers an optional longer-life, higher-capacity battery for the E431 on its Web site.
Slotting between the corporate ThinkPads and the IdeaPads for consumers, the ThinkPad Edge targets small offices and value hunters.
Short battery life aside, we liked this notebook. True to the ThinkPad brand, it came through where a business-centric laptop should in terms of build quality and security options. Then too, it comes with Lenovo’s AccuType keyboard, one of the best laptop keyboards available, as well as a highly accurate and easy-to-use touch pad. Granted, the Edge is not futuristic, sexy, or stylish, but as sturdy, business-ready laptops go, it provides excellent value.
Read complete review at Computer Shopper.
(Camarillo, CA – January 19, 2013) Journalist, author, and online course instructor William Harrel and Education to Go (ed2go.com) have teamed up once again to announce a new online course. This time, the subject of the class will be Adobe’s new WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) Website design app, Muse.
Harrel teaches Website design and animation at over 3,000 colleges, universities, and other online outlets, and ed2go.com is one of the world’s largest and most successful online course publishers.
What is Adobe Muse?
Adobe® Muse™ software enables designers to create HTML websites for desktop and mobile devices, without writing code. Design web-standard sites, like you design print layouts. Use familiar features, hundreds of web fonts, and built-in tools to add interactivity. Then, publish with the Adobe Business Catalyst® service and redeem site hosting support, or publish with any hosting provider. (Source: Adobe.com)
This new course, which is under development now, will be entitled: Websites without Coding with Adobe Muse, and will consist of six-week sessions (two lessons per week) covering the following material:
Lesson 1: Getting Started with Muse
- Overview: Designing Websites in Muse
- Plan Mode – Starting a Website in Muse
- Design Mode – The Page Design Interface
Lesson 2 : Creating a Basic Site in Muse
- Mastering Master Pages
- Working with Boxes
- Typography: Working with Text
Lesson 3: Using External Content with Muse
- Using and Formatting Word Processor Text
- External Graphics and Images
- Digital Sound, Video, and other Media
Lesson 4: Working with Widgets
- Creating Compositions
- Web Forms
- Making Menus
Lesson 5: More Widgets and Templates
- Creating Expanding Panels
- Slick Slideshows
- Using Templates with Muse
Lesson 6: Using other CS6 Programs with Muse
- Using Photoshop and Fireworks with Muse
- Using Photoshop Buttons with Muse
- Using Edge Animate with Muse
Lesson 7: Interactivity: Triggers and Targets
- Making Mouse States
- Interactivity Triggers
- Page Navigation with Targets
Lesson 8: Creating Sites for Mobile Devices
- Repurposing Existing Content
- Formatting Content for Smartphones
- Formatting Content for Tablets
Lesson 9: Stylizing Type with Typekit and Web Fonts
- Decorative Type with Typekit
- 3D Type and other Special Effects
- Working with Web Fonts
Lesson 10: Advanced Web Design Techniques
- Accommodating Flexible Browser Widths
- Embedding Google Maps
- Embedding HTML Code
Lesson 11: Working More Efficiently in Muse
- Getting the Most from Master Pages
- Sharing Content between Pages and Sites
- Sharing Muse Content between Media Types
Lesson 12: Publishing Your Muse Websites
- Publishing to Adobe Business Catalyst
- CMS Integration on Adobe Business Catalyst
- Publishing with FTP
Check back with us for updates and projected course release dates.
Every now and then, an all-in-one (AIO) inkjet printer arrives at our labs that makes us scratch our head shortly after unboxing it. No, it’s not a hygiene thing; it’s because the printer blurs the line between a color laser and an inkjet.
The $299 HP OfficeJet Pro 8600 we looked at in early 2012, a Editors’ Choice winner, is a classic example. Like any multifunction color laser worth its salt (or rather, toner), the OfficeJet Pro 8600 is fast, it’s designed for high-volume printing, and its per-page ink cost is low. But…it’s an inkjet. And furthermore, since, like most of today’s inkjets, the OfficeJet Pro 8600 prints excellent photos, you get the best traits of the inkjet- and laser-printing worlds for a relatively low price.
We consider this trend—that is, high-volume inkjet AIOs with low ink costs and tons of productivity features—an excellent one, providing great value for one-person and small offices alike. Hence, we were excited to receive Epson’s $399.99 WorkForce Pro WP-4540 and put it through its paces. It promised to be another category-bending multifunction printer.
Like the OfficeJet Pro 8600, the WorkForce Pro WP-4540 is serviced by two huge paper trays (though the second tray on the HP model is an added-cost option), and it uses inexpensive, high-volume ink cartridges. Both models have just about every feature any color-printing small office would need, and each of them churns out excellent prints at impressive speeds.
Read the review at Computer Shopper.
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.
It doesn’t take a relationship counselor to see it: In our reviews and others’, Windows and touch-screen tablets don’t have the best reputation for getting along. As we saw with Fujitsu’s admirable attempt—the $849 Stylistic Q550 Slate PC—at massaging Windows 7 to run on tablet hardware, Windows itself is the problem, not the hardware. While Windows does run well enough, with ample speed and performance, once you start to evaluate touch and multi-touch gesture interpretation, you quickly see that Windows is something of a graceless clod. Hence, manufacturers that have ventured into the Windows-slate market have found it necessary to include a digital pen or stylus to help make touch navigation less frustrating.
Leave it to Samsung, a company that has mastered the Android-based tablet with three outstanding models (the Galaxy Tab, Galaxy Tab 8.9, and Galaxy Tab 10.1) to take the most impressive stab at the Windows-slate market so far. Enter the Samsung Series 7 11.6″ Slate. Instead of trying to squeeze Windows 7 onto a slate running tablet-grade hardware, such as the 1.5GHz Intel Atom Z670 processor found in the Fujitsu Stylistic Q550, the Series 7 uses Intel’s second-generation “Sandy Bridge” 1.6GHz Core i5-2467M mobile processor, which is much more suitable for running Windows 7.
See the review at Computer Shopper.