Category Archives: Computer Goodies

A Windows 8 Tablet for Free? Sort of.

One of the more intriguing developments in computing today is the introduction of Windows 8 on touch-screen tablets. Unlike an iPad or an Android tablet, a Windows 8 tablet allows you to access all of your normal desktop applications and documents. But if you already have another tablet, you might not be ready to buy another one, and full Windows 8 tablets are not cheap: prices range from about $900 to $2000.

Well, here’s a way to turn your iPad or Android tablet into a Windows 8 tablet, for free.

If you happen to have a Windows 8 computer, you can tie it into your tablet. If you don’t have a Windows 8 computer, but you have a spare desktop or laptop computer sitting around, you can upgrade it to Windows 8 inexpensively. (If you need help upgrading, of course you can bring the computer to us.)

On your tablet, download an app called Splashtop. The Splashtop app allows you to remotely connect to other computers. If that computer is running Windows 8, all of the “touch” features will be available on your tablet even if the remote computer does not have a touch screen. Essentially, your iPad, or an Android device such as a Samsung Galaxy, will mimic a Microsoft Surface tablet.

The Splashtop app is free so long as you connect to the remote computer over your local network. If you want to connect across the internet, there is an annual fee of $16.99, which is awfully cheap compared to a Windows 8 tablet computer.

Two “Near New” Dell Optiplex Computers Available at Huge Discount

One of our clients recently purchased excellent, fast new Dell Optiplex business class computers. Three months later, their company was purchased and relocated, so they no longer need those computers. These computers are truly like new, barely used, and even smell like new, and our client is making them available at a huge discount – more than 25% off of the current retail price.

The computers still have over 2.5 years left on their 3 year Dell next business day warranties. These are great computers for your business or home, so if you are interested, contact us ASAP. Originally there were three available, but one of them has sold already, leaving only two.

Here are the specifications:

  • Dell Optiplex 390 with 20″ Monitor and Office 2010 Professional
  • Intel Core i5 – 3.1 GHz processor
  • Windows 7 Pro, 64-bit
  • Microsoft Office 2010 Professional Edition
  • 500 GB hard drive (upgradeable)
  • 4 GB memory  (upgradeable)
  • DVD/CD +/- RW
  • 20″ Dell flat panel video monitor
  • 2.5+ year Dell warranty
  • Cosmetic Condition: A+, as new

The “new” price which was paid by our client direct to Dell only four months ago, was $1243. Your price is only $899, a savings of over $340.

Small Package, Powerful Punch – “Ultranetbook” offers ideal solution for students and road warriors alike.

If you know a road warrior or are sending off your kids to school or college, you might be thinking about equipping them with a new laptop computer, or perhaps you are considering one of the tiny MacBook Air computers, or maybe a tablet.

We have an option for you to throw into that mix, and it’s one of the best all-around packages we’ve seen in awhile. We’ve obtained a handful of Dell ultranetbooks and have configured them to offer an ideal mix of size, weight, power, and convenience at an awesome price.

Size: These laptops are small, but not tiny. With a bright 11.6″ display, they’re smaller and lighter weight than most laptops, yet larger than netbooks which are typically 9 or 10 inches. It is the same screen size as the MacBook Air, but at a fraction of the price. It’s less than an inch thin.

Weight: At a hair over 3 lbs, they’re a bit heavier than a netbook, yet a couple of pounds lighter than ordinary laptops. This makes them easy to carry around the house, campus, and airports.

Power: Equipped with speedy Intel Core i3 processor, this Ultranetbook will run rings around an ordinary netbook, and is faster than typical entry level laptops. Ordinary netbooks use the much slower Atom processor, which has benchmark speeds about 75% slower than Intel Core i3, and entry level laptops typically use a sluggish Celeron processor or low end AMD processors which are slow and power hungry.

Convenience: With our service bundle, we not only do the initial setup, including removing “junkware” and installing the full Open Office product suite (which includes Word, Excel, and PowerPoint compatible office tools), and AVG antivirus software, we also provide a really nice carrying case, a slick wireless mouse with nano receiver, and more.

Power Bundles: We are offering amazing power upgrade options including blazing fast solid state hard drives and lots of memory. With a solid state hard drive, the computer starts up in a about a quarter the time of a conventional laptop, and loads applications in a flash. Also, solid state drives have no moving parts, so will hold up to rough handling of travelers and students.

Price: The base “Back to School” bundle is available for only $399 plus $99 setup service and includes the free carrying case, mouse, software, and configuration service. The “Performance” bundle adds a 120 GB solid state drive and 4 GB memory upgrade, and the “Road Warrior” bundle adds a 250 GB solid state drive and 8 GB memory upgrade. These bundles are priced at just $559 and $759 respectively, plus $99 setup service.

How do these packages compare to other options?  A 128 GB MacBook Air costs $1100, and a 256 GB model costs $1400, about double the price of one of our equivalent Dell ultranetbooks. iPads are closer in price ($500 – $800), and they do lots of great things, but they don’t run conventional software and are nearly impossible to use for important productivity tasks like word processing and spreadsheets. I love my iPad, but I can’t do much real work with it.

So what’s the catch? Well, we only have five of these available, so if you want one you should contact us soon to claim yours. Once those five are claimed, we may or may not be able to obtain more. We have one unit on display, so come and take a look.

Here are the specifications:

  • Manufacturer: Dell
  • Warranty: Dell direct warranty, 1 year
  • Operating System: Windows 7, 64-bit
  • Processor: Core i3-330UM
  • Memory: 2 GB – 8 GB
  • Hard Drive: 250 GB
  • Solid State Drive Options: 120 GB, 250 GB, 500 GB
  • Display: 11.6″
  • Resolution: 1366 x 768
  • Ports: 3 USB, headphone, microphone
  • Memory Cards – 7 in 1 reader
  • Video Out: VGA, HDMI
  • Battery Life: est. 5+ hours
  • Value Added Bundle Items:
  1. rooCase carry case with shoulder strap
  2. Pennix mouse with nano receiver
  3. Solid state drive and memory options
  4. Configuration / setup / junkware removal
  5. Microsoft Office 2010 Starter and Open Office suite preinstalled
  6. AVG antivirus software preinstalled

Package Prices when Bundled with $99 Setup:

  • $399 – Back to School Bundle: computer, mouse, case, setup, Microsoft Office 2010 Starter, Open Office, AVG
  • $559 – Performance Bundle: above, with 120 GB solid state drive and 4 GB RAM
  • $759 – Road Warrior Bundle: above, with 250 GB solid state drive and 8 GB RAM

Desktop, Laptop, Tablet, or Phone?

The computing landscape is constantly evolving. Today people everywhere are using mobile devices such as smart phones and tablets, in ways that were not conceivable just a few years ago. If your computer is aging you may be asking yourself if you should replace it, go to a different type of platform, or both.

We lean toward both. For typical creative work, nothing beats a conventional computer. If you need to spend time working on creating and editing documents, spreadsheets, photos, videos, reports, bookkeeping files, or other complex objects, it is very difficult or impossible to do such things on a tablet or phone. At best, mobile devices allow you to view such objects or possibly make minor changes.

On the other hand, there are all sorts of great things you can do better on a mobile device than a conventional computer. For example, the ability to read books and magazines, browse the web, check email, and other such activities is quicker, more efficient, and generally more enjoyable on a mobile device with touchscreen. For example, mobile devices are great for checking email on the go, but usually poor for organizing, sorting, or filtering email, or for typing up anything more complex than a sentence or two. An iPad is great for curling up and reading a book, even in total darkness, while this would be difficult, clumsy, or impossible with a conventional computer.

There are many similar examples of pros and cons between mobile and conventional platforms, and this is why we feel that mobile devices complement conventional ones rather than replace them.

What about desktop computers versus laptops? You still get the most bang for your buck from a desktop computer. For a given price, the desktop should give you more speed and capacity and generally will be less costly to repair, upgrade, and maintain. On the other hand desktop computers take up more space and are not at all mobile. If you are thinking of a laptop, you might consider one of the new crop of “ultrabooks” from various manufacturers, which are sleek and powerful, or possibly a Macbook if you can afford the premium price and don’t need to run Windows programs.

As an example, here in our office we use desktop computers for most work and rugged laptops for “field” work. At home, I have a Mac laptop dual booting to Windows, and I have a iPad. 90% of my computing time at home is on the iPad, but more serious work is done on the laptop. I also have an iPhone, but use that primarily for phone, text, and on-the-go email checking. For my aging eyes, it’s too small to use for general browsing, book reading, or video watching, areas where the iPad shines.

Of course, nobody needs all of these goodies. You can get by with a computer only, however in my opinion most people can’t get by with only a tablet or smart phone.

Limited Availability: Nice Laptops and Desktops from $299

Here in our Encinitas office, we have a limited supply of very nice refurbished laptop and desktop computers, ranging in price from $299 to $479, offered with a 1 year CTE warranty. If you are looking for a quality, powerful computer without spending a boatload of money, stop by and take a look at these.

For example, we currently have in stock four Dell Latitude laptop computers, all featuring fast Core2Duo processors. These are off-lease computers recertified by Dell, so they are in great shape. The Latitude is Dell’s mid-tier business-class laptop, so it’s solidly built, yet with its 14.1″ display it’s also a good choice for travelers. For these laptops we provide a one year warranty covering both parts and labor.

Our Latitudes range in price from $379 – $479 depending on features and cosmetic condition (A to B+ grades). Equivalent new Latitude laptops purchased from Dell will cost you $800 – $1200, so this is a great opportunity to own a quality Latitude rugged business-class computer, recertified by Dell technicians, at the price point of a bargain basement consumer-grade laptop or netbook.

Seven Secrets Computer Retailers Don’t Want You To Know

We’re all in the same boat, working hard to navigate the rough waters of a weak economic sea. We need to be careful to spend our money wisely, and this includes how we approach the purchase of a computer. We’re going to get a little wordy in this tutorial, but if you are thinking of buying a computer at some point, you might want to read this now or save it for future reference.

Many people purchase the cheapest computer they can find, but this can be as much of a mistake as buying the most expensive computer available. It’s far more important to focus on value rather than price. That doesn’t mean you need to spend a lot of money, but it does mean you need to be aware of what to look for and what to avoid. At the time of this writing, one local retailer is selling desktop computers ranging from $310 on the low end to $3500 at the high end, and for 99% of our clients we would advise not purchasing at either extreme, or even buying at retail at all. We’ll elaborate on the reasons why we feel this way by revealing some little-known or poorly understood secrets of the consumer computer industry.

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Santa Brings a Dell?

We all know that the holidays means, aside from mangers, red noses, and airport body checks. It also means big business for technology companies. Lots of stuff is for sale, but not all of it is good. Cheap can mean low price, but it can also mean low quality.

We suggest avoiding the trap of buying computers at retail. The fact is that computer manufacturers lose money on low end computers sold to consumers at retail. They make up for that fact in two ways:

  1. Cutting corners by using cheaper components and weak warranties. This means more trips to Computer Troubleshooters for repairs, and as much as we like to see you, we’d rather see you under better circumstances.
  2. Loading up the computer with tons of “junkware”. In effect, the computer manufacturers rent out the space inside their computers to other companies who are paying to promote their wares to you. Just because a computer comes pre-loaded with a trial edition of Norton, for example, it doesn’ t mean it’s a good deal or that the manufacturer is endorsing the product as “best in class”. It just means Norton was willing to pay more to get in front of your face. Continue reading