Asus MeMO Pad 7 (ME176C) Review and Ratings Every now and then we come across a tablet that demands we sit up and take notice—not because it’s glamorous, fashionable, or made of nifty materials, but because of its quiet competence. That was the case with the release of last year’s Asus MeMO Pad HD 7, a Computer Shopper Editors’ Choice in July of 2013.

Like most compact (7- and 8-inch-class) tablets we’ve seen over the past year or so, the MeMO Pad HD 7 was primarily an entry-level slate. At first glance, you might wonder why it was an Editors’ Choice at all, or even noteworthy. Compared to some competing compact models (such as Google’s highly desirable 2013 version of the Nexus 7), it offered little that was ground-breaking in terms of technology.

What that modest 7-inch slate diddo, though, was bring to reality a well-built, attractive tablet for under $150, complete with a decent sound system and a quite serviceable display. And that’s what the subject of this review—the MeMO Pad HD 7’s replacement—does here in 2014, as well: It redefines what a budget tablet can and should be.

Yes, the name is almost the same, to the point of confusion. The MeMO Pad 7 (no “HD”) is one of a group of three entry-level tablets that Asus rolled out in summer 2014. The others were the $299-list, 10.1-inch Transformer Pad TF103C and the $199-list MeMO Pad 8, both of which we reviewed just before this one. (Hit the links for the deep dives on those models.) The Transformer Pad TF103C, we found, was a pretty reasonable deal. It has a much larger display than our MeMO 7 review unit, and for the additional $150, you get a full-size tablet along with a fully integrated Android keyboard dock that turns it into a workable Android laptop.

Asus MeMO Pad 7 (Yellow)Still, that’s double the price of the MeMO Pad 7, and these are two very different tablets, for two different crowds. A closer match is the MeMO Pad 8. For the additional $50 that it costs versus the MeMO Pad 7, you get, well, another diagonal inch of display (which translates, if you do the math, to 30 percent more screen area).

For some buyers, that extra 30 percent is well worth another half a C-note. It does make things larger and easier to see, especially for those of us advanced enough in years to start experiencing declining eyesight. Plus, the 8-incher can be easier to read for another, less obvious reason: Despite its smaller screen, the MeMO Pad 7 has the same native resolution as the MeMO Pad 8. That means that (as we’ll discuss later on) the 7-incher has the more “detailed-looking” screen of the two, due to the necessarily smaller, tighter dots, but the 8-incher renders icons and other elements a bit larger. Even so, it’s a difference only noticeable if you really look for it, and a matter of personal preference between the two.

Otherwise, the MeMO Pad 7 and its 8-inch sibling look, feel, and smell a lot alike, right down to their controls and internal connectivity, which are nearly the same. Unlike last year’s 32-bit MeMO Pad HD 7 model, though, all three of Asus’ new slates run on a fairly new quad-core, 64-bit Intel Atom CPU, which, as we’ve seen in both the Transformer Pad TF103C and the 8-inch MeMO Pad, is an able performer. It delivered respectable scores on our battery of benchmark tests, and it contributed to a good, long runtime on our demanding battery-rundown trial. And it felt snappy in practice.

Asus MeMO Pad 7 (Angle View)Those truths, combined with the solid hardware, are what make this new MeMO Pad 7 much parallel to last year’s winner: It balances a lot of things that tend to be mutually exclusive. In addition to performing well, the MeMO Pad 7 is light, thin, and easy to hold on to. While the screen might be a little small for some buyers’ tastes in the current market, given the fast rise in popularity here in 2014 of tablets with 8-inch screens, it’s a good one, as 7-inchers go. If compact, economical, and Android are what you’re after in a tablet, it’s hard to beat the MeMO Pad 7 for the money, given the field.

Read the entire article at Computer Shopper.

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AOC mySmart All-in-One Android PC (A2472PW4T) Review and RatingsBack 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.

AOC mySmart All-in-One Android PC (A2472PW4T)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).

AOC mySmart All-in-One Android PC (Front View)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.

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About Printer ResolutionNowadays, there are several ways to “render,” or image and display, output— printers, monitors, tablets, and smartphones (and I’m sure I’ve left a few out). In one way or another, they all gauge output density with some sort of resolution measurement, such as dots per inch(dpi) or pixels per inch (ppi). Typically, though, we use dpi when referring toprinted resolution, and when we use ppi, we’re talking about image, or display, resolution.

It’s also important to point out that laser-class printers turn out entirely different size and shaped dots than do their inkjet counterparts. For example, a good, appropriately configured laser printer’s output is so clean, in terms of screen frequency and halftones, that you can (theoretically) use it as camera-ready art, i.e.color separations, for reproduction on a printing press. (However, most designers would use the laser output for proofing, and then go one step further and output the color separations to film for printing on a high-end, high-resolution imaging, or typesetting, machine.)

Read the entire article at About.com.

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Laser-Class LED PrintersIn case you’re wondering why I refer to certain types of laser-like printers as “laser-class” devices, rather than simply laser printers, there’s a sound technical reason, I assure you. “True” laser printers use a laser mechanism inside to draw the page image to be printed onto the printer’s drum (which then picks up and transfers toner to the page). This is quite similar to what LED printers do, but they don’t do it with lasers.

Light-Emitting Diodes

LED-based machines, on the other hand, charge the page image onto the print drum with an array of light-emitting diodes. (Mind you, this isn’t a ploy by manufacturers to make knock-off laser printers; substituting LEDs for lasers simply allows printer manufacturers to make smaller and lighter printers with fewer moving parts.) All else being equal, LED models tend to cost less to manufacture than do their laser counterparts. Aside from the economics involved, though, LED-based printers function much the same as laser devices do, and they act identically from the outside; hence, I call them “laser-class” printers—though there is nothing laser about them.

Read the entire article at About.com.

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Bitmap Graphics – Digital Rubber StampsRaster graphics (also called “bitmapped,” or “bitmap,” graphics) are created in bitmap editors, or paint programs, such as Adobe Photoshop. Nowadays, however, most paint-type programs are referred to as image-editing, photograph touch-up, or digital darkroom software. Granted, most of them have become much more adept at photograph enhancement, but no matter what you call them, they’re still bitmap editors.

Vector graphics have several advantages over bitmap graphics. Bitmapped graphics consist of grids of dots in fixed patterns and print in blobs, much like a rubber stamp. Each dot is programmed into a computer file. If a graphic contains a lot of grayscale or color information, the file can be gigantic and take a while to print. It takes a lot of data to recreate a large color photo. Depending on the image itself, bitmapped graphics can also lack some of the aesthetically valuable features offered by vector formats. They do not. for example, reproduce curved and fine lines or text nearly as well. Nor are they as flexible in  creating intricate shadings and certain special effects.

Read the entire article at About.com.

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Scalable Resolutions with Vector GraphicsDrawing programs—such as Adobe Illustrator—are used to create vector graphics, often sometimes called vectordrawings. Vector graphics are drawn mathematically, using lines and curves, rather than the fixed dots used in bitmaps. The Immediate advantage of this format is that the files are generally much smaller than bitmap images, and therefore don’t take as long to print. But the advantages are much greater than that…

First, though, let’s talk a little more about what vector graphics are. At one time there were several vector “draw” programs, but the only real survivor on the professional graphics software side is Adobe Illustrator. Illustrator’s AI file format is essentially Encapsulated PostScript (EPS), a very versatile printer language used primarily in laser proofing machines, imagesetters, and printing presses.

Unlike bitmap images, such as BMP, GIF, JPEG, and PNG, vector graphics don’t consist of groups of dots. Instead, vector graphics are made up of Bézier paths. Paths are defined by a start and end point, along with several other points (also known as Bézier curves), and angles along the way. Paths can be lines, squares, triangles, or…well, squiggly shapes. Paths can be used to create the simplest of drawings or the most complex of diagrams. Paths can also be used to define the characters of particular typefaces.

Read the entire review at About.com.

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About Printer ResolutionNowadays, there are several ways to “render,” or image and display, output— printers, monitors, tablets, and smartphones (and I’m sure I’ve left a few out). In one way or another, they all gauge output density with some sort of resolution measurement, such as dots per inch (dpi) or pixels per inch (ppi). Typically, though, we use dpi when referring to printed resolution, and when we use ppi, we’re talking about image, or display, resolution.

It’s also important to point out that laser-class printers turn out entirely different size and shaped dots than do their inkjet counterparts. For example, a good, appropriately configured laser printer’s output is so clean, in terms of screen frequency and halftones, that you can (theoretically) use it as camera-ready art, i.e.color separations, for reproduction on a printing press. (However, most designers would use the laser output for proofing, and then go one step further and output the color separations to film for printing on a high-end, high-resolution imaging, or typesetting, machine.)

Read the entire article at About.com.

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WhatWeDo1In network parlance, to make another piece of equipment, such as a printer or sever, or even a file, available to other users on the network is to “share” that resource. If you’ve visited many social networking sites, such as Facebook or Twitter, you may have noticed that making images and other files available is often referred to as “sharing” on the Internet, too, which is, of course, essentially just one big network.

Due primarily to the latest Windows’ “metro” style touch overlay, sharing a printer in Windows 8.1 is somewhat different from in previous versions. That said, this procedure assumes that the printer has already been installed on the network and that the drivers and other software utilities have been installed on at least one Windows machine on that network.

The following procedure works with Windows 8.1 and Windows RT. If you don’t know how to install a printer in Windows, check out this About.com “Installing a Printer in Windows 8.1” article.

Setting up the Share

Once the printer has been installed on the network, and the drivers and utilities have been installed on one of your networked PCs, you’re ready to begin. Begin at the computer on which you installed the printer drivers.

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Installing a Printer in Windows 8.1OK. You’ve brought your printer home from the store and you want to install it. Typically, everything (or, depending on how you install the printer, almosteverything) you need is in the box. Usually, since most folks these days connect their printer wirelessly, all you really need are decent instructions for unpacking and setting up the printer itself, and the necessary software drivers and supporting utilities.

In fact, these materials are reliable enough and easy enough to use that they’re nearly foolproof; you probably don’t need a page from me describing how to use the installation materials, right?. Still, over the 30 years or so I’ve been involved with computers, I can think of several instances when I’ve had to start from scratch—without instructions or the installation CD.

Read the entire review at About.com.

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Top Near-Dedicated Photo PrintersFor some folks, the only printing they do is photographs, especially professional photographers, while others print only business documents, especially small offices and workgroups. Many consumers, though, reside somewhere in the middle, and require a printer that can churn out both documents and photos. Over the years I’ve looked at many photo printers that fit that description, ranging in price from well under $100 to well over $300, with several price points in between. Many of them print unbelievably good photos, often better than drugstore developer quality.

If you aren’t familiar with photo printers at all, you can get a crash course from this About.com “Near-Dedicated Photo Printers” article. Otherwise, for a look at some today’s better photo printers, read on.

Read the entire article at About.com.

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