Not only are solid state drives, or SSDs, significantly faster than traditional hard disk drives (HDDs), but, since they have no moving parts, SSDs are also more reliable. To find out just how durable the leading SSDs really are, back in August 2013 The Tech Report Web site pitted several leading SSDs, from Intel, Kingston, Samsung, and Corsair, against each other, in a runoff to the death—to see, first, how well they held up to their HDD counterparts, and second, how long they lasted compared to each other.

Now we’re nearing the end of 2014. Most (but not all) of the drives, which include Corsair’s 240GB Neutron Series GTXIntel’s 240GB 335 Series, a pair of Kingston’s 240GB HyperX 3K drives, Samsung’s 250GB 840 Series, and Samsung’s 256GB 840 Pro, have conked out, but the endurance of these six test SSDs has gone well beyond the presumed life expectancy of any high-volume PC storage.

Before looking at the test itself, though, and the results, let’s talk about why solid state drives fail.
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Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 10.1 Review and RatingsWhen it comes to elegant premium Android tablets, few companies outdo Samsung. (And only one outdoes it consistently, among tablet makers in general. We’ll leave you to guess who.) However—and this is true of most tablet makers—the South Korean electronics giant’s entry-level and midrange slates have historically been less impressive than its top-of-the-line ones. But that’s not to say that some aren’t fine tablets in their own right.

The compromises necessary to hit those lower price points can also mar the final product, making it appear cheaply constructed or lacking in high-end features. In our experience, a high screen resolution and a good sound system are usually the first victims.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 10.1Take, for example, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 10.1 we reviewed about this time last year (July 2013). Beyond its buggy software, we found its relatively low-resolution screen and slow processor disconcerting, as well as its humdrum overall appearance and build quality. At the time, granted, it was $100 to $200 cheaper than the premium ($499.99-list) Toshiba Excite Pro and Samsung’s own $499.99-list Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014 Edition), but even so, compared to the premium slates of the day, it seemed inferior.

More recently, Samsung released its $499.99-list Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1, which we reviewed a couple of months ago, in May 2014. Much like the company’s other premium slates, the Tab Pro delivered a good-looking, super-high-resolution (2,560×1,600-pixel) screen, great sound, and long battery life. And, like most other high-end Samsung Android tablets, not only did it perform well, but it also came with the useful TouchWiz interface customization, or “skinning,” that we’ve come to expect from Samsung’s higher-end Galaxy tablets. That model set the bar until the advent of the Tab S slates.

Therefore, something’s got to give to get a lower price. The real question is, of course, are these $100-to-$200-cheaper Galaxy Tabs, such as the subject of this review (the $349.99-MSRP Galaxy Tab 4 10.1), decent values compared to their higher-end siblings? Or should you just bite the bullet and lay out the full $500 for the premium model?

More often than not, the build and display quality, as well as the performance of, the premium model are better enough that recommending the budget-friendly version over it doesn’t feel right. In other words, what you give up for the savings just doesn’t balance out.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 10.1 (Front View)Still, not everybody needs an expensive-but-gorgeous powerhouse of a slate. (Indeed, many folks, we think, would prefer holding on to the savings.) The good news is that, unlike a few of Samsung’s past attempts at making step-down slates, the Galaxy Tab 4 10.1, while in no way perfect, is a pretty decent middle-of-the-road tablet.

Granted, like most budget-friendly models, this one comes with a relatively low-resolution screen for its size (just 1,280×800 pixels) and a middle-of-the-road processor—here, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400. The 400 is definitely not the fastest quad-core tablet CPU around, but during our experience with it, it performed reasonably well, if not a little sluggishly, compared to higher-end Qualcomm, Nvidia, and Samsung offerings we’ve tried in various tablets.

The Galaxy Tab 4 10.1 is certainly no Galaxy Tab Pro, nor a Galaxy Tab Note, for that matter. However, compared to some of the midlevel Galaxy Tab models we’ve seen over the past few years, this Galaxy Tab is a clear improvement. It’s almost as attractive as the company’s latest premium model, the Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1. And, while the CPU showed a little rust in our benchmark tests, turning in less-than-impressive scores across the board, the difference was not nearly as pronounced in our hands-on trials. In browsing Web pages, answering e-mails, watching movies, and other common tasks, we saw overall acceptable performance and little to no lag.

In addition, this midlevel model comes with most of the multitasking and other Android interface enhancements we’ve seen on the recent Galaxy Tab Pro and Galaxy Note slates, which greatly enhances this budget-friendly Galaxy Tab’s overall value.

Read the entire review at Computer Shopper.


Buying a Printer: 20 Terms You Need to Know at Computer ShopperIntroduction

You may think of printers as old timers’ tech, but they’re as varied and vibrant as ever today, with certain of the latest models packing in some amazing physics and cutting-edge connectivity technologies. And because hundreds of models crowd the market, you need to know what their features mean and how to read a printer spec sheet to avoid buying too much—or too little—printer for your needs.

You’ve probably purchased a printer or three in the past, but if it’s been some time, you’ll see that printers have changed a lot, especially in terms of how they connect to computers, networks, and—now—mobile devices. And in some cases, their core printing technologies have changed a bit.

If you’re in the market for a printer, there’s a lot you should know, or get up to date with. We’ve summarized most of the essential terms, technologies, and specifications you should have a handle on before you buy.

Read entire article at Computer Shopper.


THE LOWDOWN ON DDR4 RAM: WHEN WILL IT GET HERE, AND WHAT WILL IT DO ONCE IT ARRIVES?Over the past few years, nearly every PC component, including storage drives, graphics accelerators, motherboards, and CPUs, has seen significant performance updates—everything except the DDR (double data rate) DRAM (dynamic random access memory) chips used as system RAM in our laptops, PCs, servers, and some tablets. The current DRAM standard, DDR3, was launched in 2007, and it has been the primary memory chip used in a wide range of computing devices for most of that time.

Read the entire article at Digital Trends.


Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1 Review and RatingsTo be sure, Samsung is today’s most prolific—and creative—maker of Android tablets. Each year, the South Korean electronics giant loans us for review its latest Galaxy Notes and Galaxy Tabs in multiple screen sizes and price ranges, with each new version delivering a wealth of updated features and—sometimes—improved performance. And over the years, each new model has usually impressed us. The major exception was last year’s Galaxy Tab 3 series tablets, which were undistinguished performers, among them the full-size Galaxy Tab 3 10.1. (We consider slates with screens from 9 to 11 inches “full-size.”

Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1

Here in 2014, though, Samsung has hit the reboot button, with its early-year release of the Galaxy Tab Pro and Galaxy Note Pro series, which includes the giant Galaxy Tab Pro 12.2 (a stylus-free version of the company’s Galaxy Note Pro 12.2, which we reviewed recently), the Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 (a review’s forthcoming from us soon on that one), and the subject of this review, the $499-MSRP Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1. (Samsung announced a new-for-2014 Galaxy Tab 4 series just before we posted this review, as well.)

Unlike most of the company’s other recent Android slates, notably the Galaxy Tab 3 and the 2012 Galaxy Tab 2 series, which were positioned more as midrange products, the tablets in the Galaxy Tab Pro lineup are sleeker and premium-priced. They come with the Multi Window and multitasking features we’ve liked so well on Samsung’s latest stylus-enabled Galaxy Note slates. (To clarify: Samsung’s Galaxy Note slates make use of the company’s S Pen stylus; with the Galaxy Tabs and Tab Pros, it’s all finger input.) And the new “Pro” branding is reflected not just in the new tablets’ coolly minimalist chassis designs, but in the productivity-centric selection of apps and features.

In addition, our Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1 review unit was slightly thinner than its closest existing Galaxy Tab kinsman in Samsung’s line, the Galaxy Tab 3 10.1. Thinner and lighter is always a plus, so long as the tablet doesn’t become too pliable as a result. We’re happy to report that this new Galaxy Tab Pro felt hard-bodied and durable enough.

In fact, aside from lacking Samsung’s slick S Pen stylus, the Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1 shares a lot of traits with the company’s Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014 Edition). It has the same leather-esque coating on the back, with the same faux stitching around the edges, and its buttons, ports, and speaker locations are similar. And, like the Galaxy Note 10.1, the Tab Pro 10.1 comes in either white or black…

Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1 (Colors)

You’re also looking at similar screens between these two prime-time tabs. The Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1 comes with a gorgeous 2,560×1,600-pixel (WQXGA) display panel, the same higher-than-1080p native resolution as on the Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014 Edition). Also, its relatively new Samsung Exynos 5 Octa processor performs well, right up there with the snappy Nvidia Tegra 4 and Qualcomm Snapdragon CPUs we’ve tested in some other recent slates. (We’ve got more on that Exynos chip in the Performance section later on.)

Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1 (Three Quarters View)

Then there’s the battery life. High performance often comes hand-in-hand with a battery-life penalty, but not so much here: We were especially impressed with the Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1’s 12-hour-plus battery runtime in our video-rundown test. That was about an hour longer than the Galaxy Note 10.1’s unplugged runtime, and well over four hours more than what we got from the Galaxy Tab 3 10.1.

Pricing is the only key concern we had about this slate. The Tab Pro 10.1, which comes in just one storage-capacity flavor (16GB), lists for $100 more than last year’s 16GB version of the Galaxy Tab 3 10.1, and about $50 less than the 32GB Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014 Edition). Without question, the Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1 is an elegant, well-performing tablet with very little to dislike. But we think that the Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014 Edition), with twice the onboard storage capacity and the impressive S Pen stylus for sketching and taking notes, is a better buy at just $50 more.

Of course, price adjustments happen, which could change the relative lay of the land. For instance, we saw the 16GB Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1 selling from some resellers for $429.99 at this writing, although how long that lower pricing will hold is uncertain. We really like this slate, but, given the pricing of the 2014 version of the Galaxy Note 10.1, the Tab Pro 10.1 is a wee bit overpriced at its list price. Other than that concern, though, we’re confident that buyers of this classy tablet won’t be disappointed.

Read entire review at Computer Shopper.


Epson Expression Premium XP-810 Small-in-One Printer Review and RatingsIt’s been almost a year now since we reviewed and raved about Epson’s flagship all-in-one inkjet printer, the Expression Premium XP-800 Small-in-One. It was fast; it had a remarkable feature set for so small a device; and it printed stunning-looking images and business documents. It was, as we noted at the time, a remarkable piece of engineering with just one flaw (albeit, a significant one): It cost too much to use.

Here in October 2013, Epson sent us the XP-800’s replacement to evaluate, the $229-list Expression Premium XP-810 Small-in-One Printer. On the whole, the XP-810 is the XP-800 reheated, with a few cosmetic changes and a $50-lower suggested retail price. However, this new Small-in-One has the same ink-inflation issue as its predecessor, which kept it from winning our Editors’ Choice nod. It uses the same ink cartridges as the XP-800, with the same projected yields. That means it also rings up the same high cost per page (CPP).

Epson Expression Premium XP-810 Small-in-One PrinterThat really is too bad, because otherwise, like the XP-800 before it, we really liked this highly attractive little dynamo. As mentioned, it’s loaded with features, among them an auto-duplexing document feeder (ADF) for scanning, copying, and faxing two-sided documents unassisted, as well as the ability to print labels on appropriately surfaced recordable CD and DVD discs. When it comes right down to it, there’s not much this little all-in-one can’t do—and what it does do, it does well.

Don’t mistake this for a business printer, however, or a model meant for reams of text-document output. Like the XP-800, the XP-810 is above all a photo printer, and like most photo-centric models, its per-page cost of ink is higher than that of many business-oriented AIOs. That said, as we also noted about last year’s model, the cost per page (CPP) is even higher than most other photo printers, too. That issue—the soaring per-page cost of ink—is our only real complaint about this AIO.

But it’s a really big one that, unfortunately, relegates this otherwise impressive piece of hardware to our long list of good “occasional-use” AIOs. In other words, it’s a great printer as long as you don’t print a lot. Compared to several somewhat pricier, higher-volume inkjet AIOs, such as HP’s $399-list OfficeJet Pro 276dw Multifunction Printer, the more you use this machine, the more it will cost you. (We’ll talk more about this model’s CPP in the Setup & Paper Handling section, later on.)

Still, there’s a lot to like about the XP-810: It’s attractive and compact, it prints well (especially photos), and it comes loaded with connectivity options, making it a great match for light-printing small and home offices that need to print often from mobile devices. It works, too, for offices that need immaculate photo and document output, as long as the cost of printing them is not a primary—or even secondary—concern.

Read full review at Computer Shopper.


Samsung ATIV Tab 7 Review and RatingsWe’ve seen so many twists in the convertible tablet market lately—literally and figuratively speaking, thanks to machines that bend, twist, and fold in every direction—that we find it a little refreshing when something a bit more straightforward and conventional, such as Samsung’s ATIV Tab 7, comes along. Then again, who would have believed just a couple of years ago that we’d be calling the ability to snap a laptop-grade tablet onto a keyboard docking station, essentially converting it to a fully functional laptop, “conventional?”

By “conventional,” we mean that this slate/keyboard hybrid device doesn’t break-dance, do screen backflips, or turn itself into a pretzel, like the Lenovo Yoga 11 or Dell XPS 12. Instead, when attached, its two parts mimic a laptop, and, when separated, you can use the screen portion as a tablet. The ATIV Tab 7 we tested is Samsung’s $1,199-list challenger to Microsoft’s comparably priced and closely configured Windows 8 tablet, the Surface Pro. (The screen on the Surface Pro is an inch smaller on the diagonal, at 10.6 inches.) Almost identical on the outside to its 11.6-inch, Atom-powered Samsung sibling (the $799-list ATIV Smart PC that the Korean electronics giant released earlier this year), this new ATIV tablet is quite different inside and is priced as a premium slate. Like its Atom brother, though, it just doesn’t look all that premium on the outside. It’s a bit too plasticky-feeling for our liking. But once we got past that, we discovered a lot more to this slate than initially meets the eye.

Samsung ATIV Tab 7 Clamshell ModeOn the internal-component side of things, the ATIV Tab 7 runs on the same Intel Core i5 processor found not only in the Surface Pro but in several other competing hybrids, such as Lenovo’s IdeaPad Yoga  and Toshiba’s Satellite U925T-S2120. Because of that, it performed nearly identically to the Surface Pro and many of its competitors.

In addition, also like on the Surface Pro, Samsung has thrown in a stylus—but not just any stylus. The ATIV Tab 7 takes advantage of the company’s highly successful Galaxy Note Android devices’ S Pen technology, which, as you’ll see in the next section, provides several helpful ways to increase productivity. S Pen just may be the best stylus technology available for tablets; we find it well surpasses the implementation of the pen on the Surface Pro.

Samsung ATIV Tab 7 and KeyboardDespite its somewhat ho-hum appearance, we liked this slate once we got it under the tips of our fingers and stylus. Though the high-resolution (1,920×1,080) screen, at 11.6 inches, was somewhat tight for manipulating some aspects of Windows with our fingers, the S Pen picked up the slack there. And the screen displayed our test videos and photographs gorgeously, while a pair of great-sounding front-facing speakers played our music and movie soundtracks better than most other tablets or even laptops. We’ll take all-around performance over sexy-looking any day.

Read entire review at Computer Shopper.


Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 Review and RatingsIn late August of 2012, Samsung brought some of the biggest news to the tablet market not named “iPad” with the debut of the Galaxy Note 10.1. It was the first Android slate we’d seen with a truly workable stylus-pen input scheme. At the time, we here at Computer Shopper were impressed enough to award it our Editors’ Choice nod. Not only did we find the implementation of the stylus (which Samsung has dubbed the “S Pen”) an effective input innovation—even a somewhat elegant one—but the tablet itself also introduced several impressive multitasking innovations, including the ability to display (as well as work in) multiple apps simultaneously. No longer were users of Android slates relegated to using only one app at a time.

Capitalizing on the Galaxy Note 10.1’s favorable reception, Samsung followed up with a downsized version, the $399.99-list Galaxy Note 8.0, which it first showed off at Mobile World Congress 2013. Aside from its name, though, this smaller Galaxy Note bears little physical resemblance to its larger sibling.

Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 Angle ViewFor starters, the Galaxy Note 8.0’s cameras, the Samsung logo, and the controls (the Menu, Home, and Back buttons) are all positioned along the slate’s narrower edges, indicating that it’s designed to be held in portrait (tall) orientation. The Galaxy Note 10.1, on the other hand, comes with its cameras and logo positioned along the longer edges, signalling that it should be held in landscape (wide) orientation.

The Galaxy Note 10.1 doesn’t have buttons on any of its bezels, which, in contrast to the placement of the controls and ports on the Galaxy Note 8.0, is yet another significant difference between these two slates. (We’ll look at the Galaxy Note 8.0’s external configuration in detail in the Design section, the next page.) In addition to being an all-new slate on the outside, this smaller Galaxy Note’s user interface (UI) and apps are quite different from what we saw on the original Galaxy Note tablet, too. Many of these differences are due to the progressive development of the S Pen’s functionality, but, as you’ll see in the Features & Apps section a little later in this review, Samsung has given Android 4.1 (a.k.a. “Jelly Bean”) a rather extensive makeover—both a radical UI-level face-lift and changes under the hood.

Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 Comparison

Performance-wise, this newer Galaxy Note runs a bit faster than last year’s full-size model. In fact, the Galaxy Note 8.0 proved to be one of the fastest Android slates we’ve tested, rivaled by the Google Nexus 10 and few others. That said, it turned in a disappointing score on our demanding battery-rundown trial, delivering far less unplugged runtime than its full-size sibling.

And that—battery life—is our only real quibble about this otherwise peppy, well-performing little slate. (Assuming, however, that you’re not terribly price-sensitive; the $400 price tag is a bit high for a compact tablet like this, surpassing even the base price of the slightly smaller-screened.) Still, the Galaxy Note 8.0 is thin, light, elegant-looking, and pleasant to hold. The much-improved implementation of the S Pen and Samsung’s enhancements to the multitasking features make it a unique productivity tool that we liked a lot. As you read on, you’ll see that, like its full-size predecessor, it’s well-deserving of our Editors’ Choice award.

See full review at Computer Shopper.


Google Nexus 10 Review and Ratings


When you’ve got a success on your hands, it’s time to go big. That’s clearly the strategy Google has chosen to follow with its branded Android tablets. Hot on the heels of the immensely popular Google Nexus 7 by Asus, a team effort between Google and the electronics giant Asus, the tech giant has released another Nexus model, the bigger-screened Google Nexus 10.

We looked at the 32GB version of the Nexus 10, which lists for $499.99. (Google also hawks a 16GB version that goes for $399.99.) In this case, Google’s partner for the hardware was Samsung, the same folks it collaborated with on a few recent Chromebook laptops.

Our first impression of the Nexus 10, after taking it out of the box and giving it a once-over, was that—no matter what you name it—a tablet gets its design and physical characteristics from the hardware manufacturer. Because the Nexus 7 and this new Nexus came from different family trees, they don’t bear much of a family resemblance.

The Nexus 10 looks like a cross between Samsung’s Galaxy Note 10.1 and Galaxy Tab 2 (10.1). (We’ll talk more about its design in the Design section on the next page.) However, both of those Samsung slates come with MicroSD card slots for expanding storage capacity, while the Nexus 10 does not—which we consider a serious drawback for an Android tablet. (One of Android tablets’ biggest advantages over Apple’s juggernaut iPads is that, in most models, you can upgrade the internal storage via a cheap flash card.)Google Nexus 10

Apart from lacking a way to expand its storage, the Nexus 10 otherwise has many design aspects and features to its credit, starting with the highest-resolution screen in the 10-inch-tablet marketplace. (See more on the screen in the Features section of this review.) Also, the Nexus 10 plays its audio loud, proud, and with respectable clarity, and it has both micro-USB and micro-HDMI ports, for connecting to USB peripherals and HD monitors.

As for its performance, the Nexus 10 kept up with or surpassed most of the Nvidia Tegra 3-based, quad-core slates we’ve reviewed—surprising, seeing as the Nexus 10 doesn’t run on a quad-core CPU itself. Instead, it’s built around Samsung’s new 1.7GHz Exynos 5250 dual-core ARM Cortex-A15. (We look more closely at this processor in the Performance section.) The only test it didn’t fare well on was our demanding battery-rundown trial, which is likely due, at least in part, to the exceptionally high-resolution screen.

Somewhat brief battery life and a lack of storage expansion: Those are the two biggest concerns we have about this slate, which is why it fell a bit shy of earning our Editors’ Choice award. Still, the Nexus 10’s strong points almost outweigh its stumbles, making it an attractive Android option for the money—especially at the 16GB capacity, if you don’t need lots of local storage. We really liked the gorgeous 2,560×1,600-resolution screen and connectivity options, too. It’s an all-around good tablet that’s just a few tweaks short of being a perfect 10—or close to it.

Read the full review at Computer Shopper.


Samsung CLX-6260FW Color Multifunction Printer Review and Ratings


When it comes to midsize business printers that are fast, inexpensive to use (in terms of the per-page cost of toner, that is), and sharp in their output, few manufacturers build consistently better multifunction color laser printers than Samsung. Case in point is the fast, capable, and budget-efficient CLP-775ND—a small-business/workgroup machine we reviewed about a year ago, back in November 2011.

We liked so many things about the CLP-775ND that we gave it our Editors’ Choice nod. In our tests, it excelled at printing, copying, and scanning; it was very fast; and it was inexpensive to use, delivering one of the lowest per-page costs we had seen in 2011. The last item was especially important. Cost per page (CPP), especially on high-volume color lasers designed to churn out thousands of pages each month, influences our ratings significantly.

Accordingly, we expected similar excellence from Samsung’s newest high-volume color laser, the $999.99-list CLX-6260FW Color Multifunction Printer. Overall, compared to the CLP-775ND, the CLX-6260FW is a little bigger. It’s also markedly more physically attractive, with a much sleeker, high-tech look.

Despite the $250 list-price difference between them, though, the more expensive CLX-6260FW printed some of our test documents slower than the CLP-775ND. In addition, this newer color laser’s per-page cost of ownership is significantly higher than that of last year’s model. Typically, the more expensive the printer, the more economical its consumables are to use, in terms of the per-page cost of toner.Samsung CLX-6260FW Color Multifunction Printer Review

Still, the CLX-6260FW is a reasonably fast color laser printer, and, as mentioned, output quality is excellent. Our primary quibble is with the operational cost—when printing monochrome and color pages alike. Even when you use Samsung’s high-yield toner cartridges for this model, the per-page cost of consumables comes closer to what we typically see from a midrange all-in-one inkjet, not a high-end, hefty-volume color laser.

If you don’t mind the somewhat high per-page printing costs, though, the CLX-6260FW is a quite capable multifunction color laser. However, the CPP, compared to some other models, such as Dell’s $649-list C3760dn at Dell, a single-function machine, prevents us from giving this new Samsung printer an Editors’ Choice award. That’s because if you print a lot, the per-page cost difference between this model and several competitors, as described in the Setup & Paper Handling section a little later on, can cost you plenty over time. (After all, no person or business would buy a printer like this to print just a handful of pages per month.)

Still, the dear toner aside, we like this printer. Keep in mind, though, that to realize decent CPPs from this Samsung color laser, you should be prepared to shop around for the best deals on those cartridges.

Read the entire review at Computer Shopper.