INTRODUCING THE MINI PC: 11 November 2014
- an ultra compact computer perfect for office use or as a media player and anything in between.
Intel® has brought out the NUC (Next Unit of Computing), which is a computer with a tiny footprint of 10cm x 10cm. The NUC range starts at the Atom™ Processor and is available in Celeron®, Core™ i3, Core™ i5 and the powerful Core™ i7. When you purchase a NUC kit, you get a tiny metal and plastic chassis with a built-in motherboard and fanless processor. The motherboards have one or two notebook RAM slots which support up to 8GB DDR3 each. There is also an mSATA slot for an mSATA Solid State Drive or a SATA port for a 2.5” Drive, depending on the model you buy. The NUCs also have a built-in WiFi antenna, for an optional WiFi card if you need your PC to have wireless access. Your standard outputs include one or two display ports (which may be HDMI, VGA or miniDP), a Gigabit Ethernet port, as well as three to four USB ports. The graphics is Intel® HD Graphics, and depends on the processor installed.
Don’t be mistaken if you think that the Intel® NUC is the only mini PC out there, as Gigabyte™ has brought out the equivalent Brix, Asus® has their VivoPC and Mecer® has the NetTop, just to mention a few.
These mini PCs have bridged the gap between the newly popular All-in-One computers, where the motherboard has been built into the back of the screen, and the ThinClient PC, which has no real local storage space and requires a server to link and save data to. Now you have the local storage with the option of mounting your itsy-bitsy computer into the back of your VESA mountable monitor.
Now for the final question – what about the price? One would think a fancy gadget PC like this will cost a fortune, but surprisingly, no.
I compared the pricing of equivalent Celeron®, Core™ i3 and Core™ i5 desktop PCs and found the price of the Celeron® almost the same, while the Core™ i3 and Core™ i5 options were approximately 25% more than their Desktop counterparts. For the compact wow factor, I think it is well worth its price tag.
4th GEN VS 3rd GEN: 01 July 2014
How are the 4th Generation Intel® Core™ Processors better than their predecessors?
The Built-in graphics are better. Where the 3rd Gen processors sported the Intel HD Graphics 2500 or 4000, the new 4th Gen processors have the HD 4400 or even the HD 4600 in the middle to high-end range. According to benchmarks by PassMark® Software, the G3D scores of the built-in graphics are comparative to some mainstream dedicated graphics cards.
For example: the HD 4600 scores 672 points while an NVIDIA GeForce® GT620 scores less with 435 points, where a higher score indicates better performance.
The End-user benefits from better graphics, without the added cost of a separate graphics card.
The Built-in Security features are better: The 4th Gen processors have deeper protection and defense beyond the operating system; fighting malware and identity theft at the processor level. The security features vary according to which 4th Gen processor you have, and upon your configuration. Certain processors may require additional software, services or/and an internet connection.
The physical design is different: the 4th Gen processors are thinner and lighter, resulting in more compact mobile devices, and results in better battery life, with longer stand-by and running times.
The socket into which the 4th Gen processor is mounted in a desktop computer is the 1150, as opposed to the 3rd Gen 1155 socket, and the mounting notch has been moved a little further from the centre line - thus one cannot make the mistake of mounting the wrong processor with the wrong motherboard.
Overall, they are more powerful with a higher clock speed, a newer version of Direct Media Interface and a newer version of Advanced Vector Extensions. DMI is the point-to-point interconnection between an Intel® integrated memory controller and an Intel® I/O controller hub on the motherboard. AVE can increase performance when the same operations are performed on multiple data objects.
WHAT IS PHONE PHISHING? 13 May 2014
It is when scammers phone you and try to get your personal banking or other login details. They may either try to gain access to your PC remotely, or attempt to verbally fish out your banking, credit card or other login information from you.
Scammers, posing to be from Microsoft, phone you and try to convince you to give them access to your computer. The caller may have a foreign sounding accent and tells you that they have detected a threat on your computer, and they then offer to help you. They may use programs that were written for remote assistance, such as Ammyy Admin or Teamviewer. These programs were written to help people; however the phishers use them for theft.
One customer told me that they are very sneaky, in that they asked him for the last 6 digits of his credit card, and that he didn’t think much of divulging a partial number. Later on in the conversation when they asked for the first 6 digits, he smelled a rat and terminated the call.
These phishers are persistent too. They will phone you multiple times a day if they sense that they just might be able to convince you to give them access to your PC, or provide them with your card/banking details.
Please be weary of such scammers. If you did not call the TV repair-man, then why let a stranger into the house that claims that there is a problem?
MICROSOFT OFFICE 365 13 March 2014
The cloud: Office 365 has changed the way we work on our computers. Microsoft has adopted cloud computing and infused it into their new software. Traditionally we would save our work to the local hard drive – with the risk of losing data. Office 365, by default, allows you to save to your SkyDrive account. With your data floating around in the cloud – you can create a document, and access it again from virtually anywhere in the world. You can also synchronise all your devices and there’s no need to overwrite old files with the new – Office 365 does that for you. Sharing files is simplified too: you can work together on documents by sending a link and manage only one version of the file.
Can I still work offline? Yes, but… For the initial installation you will need access to the internet, as the Office 365 license is medialess. Thereafter, if you choose to save your files to your hard drive, you can work off-line.
How does Office 365 differ from Office 2013? At the moment the two are visually very similar, except Office 365 has additional online features and SkyDrive options. However, if Microsoft was to bring out a newer version of Office while you had a valid license of Office 365, you will automatically be able to upgrade to that version.
The licensing rights are different: instead of the perpetual, outright purchase we have grown accustomed to, it is now an annual license that you will have to re-new. Microsoft has also brought out a version of Office 365 for the student, called Office 365 University. This version license is valid of 4 years, is much more affordable, and requires a university student number to activate it.
What happens when my license expires? If you do not renew your license, you will no longer be able to edit your documents, the Office will become like a viewer program. Office 365 will however, give you fair warning with reminders that your license is going to expire. The reminders will be start at 90 days, once per month, and then at smaller time intervals.
Isn’t it cheaper/better to buy the outright license? Cheaper - yes, but only if you’re planning on not upgrading your Office software for more than 6 years, and risk using outdated software.
Better - I don’t think so. Microsoft has brought out a great product that gives the user flexibility, convenience and the safety net of automatic online saving.
L, IS FOR LOW VOLTAGE 7 February 2014
What is DDR3L RAM? It is a new type of memory module that runs on a lower voltage than the standard DDR3 RAM. Instead of running on 1.5volts, it runs on 1.35V or even lower on 1.25V.
Most manufacturers use better quality chips for their DDR3L RAM, which results in slightly more expensive modules than their DDR3 counterparts, but the modules perform better and are more stable and more reliable. Manufacturers boast that the DDR3L RAM can reduce power consumption by up to 20%. Some say the lower voltage results in an increase in the life of the module, although others may argue that the better quality chips used, are the cause.
The DDR3L RAM uses less power which generates less heat than the equivalent 1.5V modules. For servers which run multiple memory modules, it will result in lower cooling costs.
Can I mix the old with the new if my motherboard supports both? The technicians I have spoken to don’t recommend it. My opinion is; if your system supports DDR3L, then why would you want to use DDR3?
Is the hype around the new RAM worth the advantages it offers? It will improve your notebook performance and extend your battery life. As there is a growing trend of environmentally friendly power solutions, any technology that improves your battery life is welcome.
The question is; will you see the performance difference? On your memory dense server, the advantages are multiplied by the many modules, so, yes. On your notebook, that may have 1 to 4 modules, you will probably have to run diagnostic software to notice the performance difference by comparing the scores.
So why bother, you ask? The advantages are there: a little more battery life, a little faster, a little cooler. Every drop in the ocean counts. This is the way forward, and soon all computers will be running DDR3L, with some new technology at its heels.
TABLETS - THE DIGITAL TEXTBOOK? 17 January 2014
Tablets have taken the world by storm and it their wake are leaving a trail of products behind them that are fast becoming outdated.
“Why on earth would I need a tablet?” you ask. It can be used as a word processor and spreadsheet editor. The models that have Wi-Fi or an internet connection can be used to send and receive e-mails and for web browsing. Some models support both data and voice and can be used to make phone calls. Watch out cell phones! With the Wi-Fi function and correct App one could even set up the tablet to use as a remote control. The most popular uses are the media functions, like taking, editing and displaying photos. One could watch movies, listen to music or entertain oneself with a game. The function I am going to focus on is the e-reader…
Is the tablet better than the paper book? Pupils who have had to lug around a school bag, weighing the equivalent of a quarter of their own weight, will appreciate the much lighter and more compact tablet. They will now have all their books stored conveniently on one digital device. Parents will be happy to hear that most e-books are, on average cheaper than the traditional dead-tree book. Certain materials could be supplied by schools for free, like interactive learning Apps set up by the teachers. There would also no longer be the awful chore of the huge amount of book covering at the start of each school year.
With the change-over to digital format, the well known excuse of: “Ma’am, the dog ate my homework.”, just might become: ”Ma’am, my battery is flat.”!
To see the specifications and prices of the tablets we sell, please click here.