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Everything You Wanted to Know About Hard Disk Drives

What does a hard drive do?
Information storage is the hard drive’s main responsibility. Think the electronic version of the old office filing cabinet. Everything you keep on your computer is on a hard drive. Not just documents, emails, contacts, favorites pictures, music and videos. Your programs, your preferences, your printers, your settings, even your operating system—they’re all stored on your computer’s hard drive.

If your hard drive is damaged or fails, you can lose it all. This is the sad truth and unfortunately we still see this 10+ times per week. Which is why most smart people have a backup system. They get another hard drive and copy all their important files onto that.

 

How big of a hard drive do you need?
Everything that can be saved on a hard drive is measured in terms of its size. Text is very small, pictures are larger, music is even bigger, and video is the biggest of them all.

A hard drive is like a scale. It doesn’t know the difference between things that are on it; it only knows their size. But instead of kilograms, a hard drive measures things in terms of megabytes (MB), gigabytes (GB) and terabytes (TB.)

Roughly speaking, a megabyte is 1 million bytes, a gigabyte is 1 billion bytes, and a terabyte is 1 trillion bytes.

What does this mean for you?

If you need to transfer files between computers or a drive to back up just some of your files, you can get by with a smaller drive (such as a 500GB External Hard Drive).

If you want to back up your entire computer, or even several computers, or if you store a lot of video and audio files, you’ll want a larger drive (such as a 1TB or larger Network Attached Storeage System - NAS for short).

 

Will your drive work with a PC or a Mac?
Most Hard Drives PC Pitstop sell works with either a PC or a Mac. Some drives are already formatted to work with one or the other. But any drive can be reformatted to work with either type of computer.

IMPORTANT: If you reformat a drive, every single file on that drive is erased. So make sure you copy your files somewhere safe before you reformat.

It’s more difficult to use the same drive on both a PC and a Mac. The short answer is, they’re not really compatible. The more detailed answer is that, in a few specific circumstances, you can do a few specific things. 

What are the different types of hard drive connections?
There are four basic ways to connect your hard drive to your computer:

USB
This is the most common connection type. There’s no set-up at all. Just plug it in. The computer recognises the drive, and you’re able to read and save files almost instantly.

FireWire
Plug-and-play like USB, Firewire 800 is significantly faster, making it popular with those transferring video files.

SATA
This is the standard connection for internal hard drives. Offers the highest file transfer speeds of any format.

eSATA
A less common, high-performance connection most commonly found in PCs. An eSATA connection performs at speeds that most closely resemble an internal drive.

 

How important is hard drive speed?
When you start your computer, open a file, listen to a song, or do just about anything else, you use your hard drive. The discs inside the drive spin. The faster they spin, the more quickly your computer can find the file you want.

So a drive rated at 7,200 rpm will be faster than one rated at 5,400 rpm. What that means for your day-to-day use will vary. With external drives, you’ll hardly notice a difference. With internal drives, the difference will be slight with smaller files and applications, but will be obvious with larger files and applications - and all of this adds up.

Should you choose internal or external?
An internal drive provides built-in storage at top speeds. An external drive gives you greater flexibility and expanded storage whenever you need it.

Each choice has its benefits and drawbacks.

Internal drives have to be physically installed and configured by a PC Pitstop Trained Technician opening up your computer. But your files and programs are stored directly on your computer; they’re always there whenever you need them.

External drives are connected to your computer via plug-in cables. This lets you take files with you, transfer them to other computers, or instantly add storage to your computer or network without too many technical hurdles.

 

How much can I store?

Here are some averages to give an idea of what you can store on which size drive.

  Digital Music (MP3) Digital Photo's (JPG) Digital Video's (MP4)
500Gb 25,000 Songs 160,000 Photo's 500 Hours
1000Gb (1Tb) 50,000 Songs 320,000 Photo's 1000 Hours
2000Gb (2Tb) 100,000 Songs 640,000 Photo's 2000 Hours

 

 

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This is such a great article from Smarter Business Ideas...had to share!

the-internet-of-things-hero

If your computers are four or more years old they’re artefacts of earlier technology eras – and they could be costing you big time.

Brought to you by Intel

The computers you bought a few years ago were designed to meet the processing demands of the day – and then some, depending on their specifications. But even the highest spec machine from four years ago can struggle to deliver the performance you need today. 

To find out how a PC refresh can make a big difference to business productivity, Smarter met with Danielle Watts, Intel’s national marketing manager for Australia/New Zealand. What we learned about tired old computers versus the new generation of machines might surprise you.

Some business owners figure that as long as their old machines keep working they can hold off upgrading a little longer. That logic might suit mechanical devices designed to perform simple tasks but even so, the more you use them, the more they suffer wear and tear. 

It also ignores the many competitive advantages and lifestyle-enhancements offered by innovative technologies. “Given they’re running their businesses on those old computers the consequences can be frightening,” ponders Watts. “What if they lost 
all that data?”

Moving business records safely 

While it’s fairly easy to calculate the costs of repairing, upgrading or replacing components in your IT set up [see below: “Maintenance costs add up”], it’s harder to put a value on the data you own.

“Businesses rely so heavily on databases, so it’s understandable you’d be worried about moving them,” Watts acknowledges, “An expert service provider can help transfer accounts, HR and customer records safely and securely – the upgrade decision could include looking at server technology or Cloud-based tools to support and manage the business.”

Adding to the woes of outdated technology are security issues: “If you’re still using Windows XP you really need to upgrade,” advises Watts. “As of April this year technical support and security updates for XP from Microsoft ended, so your laptop or PC is far more vulnerable to malicious attacks.”

SEE ALSO:

Slow machines cost time and productivity 

Older PCs not only cost more to maintain, their performance also diminishes as they age. 

Consider recording the time lost to PCs taking forever to start-up, running slow or not working at all: “That’s a lot of lost productivity,” notes Watts. “If you value your employees you want to provide them with efficient tools. Investing in new technology shows that you value their contribution – and they’ll respect that.”

Can you work three times faster?

If you like spending time making a nice cup of tea or coffee while you wait for your computer to wake up you might want to update your schedule. 

According to system performance benchmarks from Intel the latest Intel processor-based systems running Windows 8.1 Pro typically start-up within a handful of seconds – and when you’re hard at work running your business with them, they’ll run everyday computing processes more than three times faster than a four-year-old system.

Latest devices are fast and ultra-portable

“Start-up time and battery life are especially important for road warriors,” says Watts.

“You don’t want to wait so you can enter an order, start a presentation or check inventory. Devices with fourth generation Intel processors also work for up to 10 hours on battery power – a big advantage over the 2.5 hours of older PCs – and include management tools specifically for businesses.

“We’re running our personal and business lives on them, so it helps that notebooks are lighter (some less than a kilo), thinner and offer powerful multi-tasking. On average they cost $200 less than PCs four years ago, so over time the cost to replace rather than repair becomes a lot more attractive.”

Maintenance costs add up 

All machines need some maintenance but as a machine ages it can break down more often and cost more to repair.

The Techaisle May 2013 whitepaper, “Small Business PC Refresh Study”, reviewed direct and indirect costs of maintaining PCs. The research found:

  1. Direct maintenance costs (repairs and upgrades) – jump more than 33 per cent for older PCs. (Average yearly costs for a PC less than four years old: US$324 to repair and US$95 to upgrade; costs for a PC more than four years old: US$427 to repair and US$134 to upgrade.)
  2. Lost productivity costs (downtime) – double from an average of 21 hours a year of lost work time on a newer PC to 42 hours a year for an older PC.

Did you know?

36% of small businesses use PCs that are four+ years old
Source: Techaisle June 2013 whitepaper, “The Ageing PC Effect – Exposing Financial Impact for Small Business.” 

42 lost work hours on average every year due to an old PC needing repairs
Souce: Techaisle May 2013 white paper, “Small Business PC Refresh Study” 

Older PCs might handle up to 5 applications simultaneously vs newer PCs that easily run 8 applications simultaneously 
Source: Techaisle May 2013 white paper, “Small Business PC Refresh Study” 

Case study: Brightstar

After a successful stint at a big software firm, Jon Yeo set up Brightstar in 2003 to coach businesses on using technology to improve their lives. More recently his passion for ‘ideas worth sharing’ also motivated him to become the licensee and curator for TedxMelbourne.

His studies in information management and organisational behaviour serve him well to help clients embrace more rewarding and productive ways of working: “They often don’t have a technology problem – they know they need it – they have a people and process problem,” he explains. “They aren’t making the most of what is available.” 

And he’s adamant that old technology is demotivating: “Old systems are slow, inaccessible and unresponsive compared to today’s technology. If you’re not thinking about upgrading now you’re making it much harder to compete at all in the next two to three years.”

Yeo suggests that if you’ve accepted your old systems need replacing then you know you have to transfer your valuable business data somewhere. So why not make it easier and faster to access and manage?

“Think about what you really need to convert across – it might not be so complex. Cloud services, ultraportable laptops, mobile devices and integrated communications help us make greater use of our information,” he explains.

“I now have a very small laptop that weighs less than a kilogram and does everything and more that my old desktop and laptop could do combined, faster. Because I’m on the road a lot, I have seven to eight hours of battery time on my new machine versus two hours maximum on my old laptop – there is no competition. 

“I also have a stylus-based tablet so I can take client notes once and they’re stored in the Cloud. I used to have a heavy laptop, a paper compendium and my briefcase full of paperwork – I still smile when I think about hauling it all through airport security.”

Find the right devices for the job

In three simple steps find out the ideal technology mix for your business – and how much your older computers are really costing you: http://smb.intel.com.au/start

 

Call into PC Pitstop today and discuss the best upgrade option for you and your budget!

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PC Pitstop iphone and smartphone repairs

PC Pitstop iPhone Repairs    Smart Device Repairs

Dropped or damaged your

smart device - iPhone, iPad
or Samsung Device? 
Most repairs same day!

Get a quote >>   |   Learn More >>

 

PC Pitstop Computer Repairs

PC Pitstop Workshop Repairs   Workshop Repairs


We locate the issues & 

determine the best way
to fix them. Most repairs
completed within 24 hours

 Get a quote >>   |   Learn More >>

 

PC Pitstop Computer Tune-ups 

PC Pitstop Computer Tune Ups   Computer Tuneups


Over time you will notice your 

computer slowing down. Time
to book your computer for its
yearly service and tuneup.

 Get a quote >>   |   Learn More >>

 

 PC Pitstop Business Support

PC Pitstop Business Support   Business Support


PC Pitstop provide reliable

small business solutions so
you can focus on delivering
exceptional customer service!

Get a quote >>   |   Learn More >>

 PC Pitstop Virus and Spyware Removal

PC Pitstop Virus & Spyware Removal  Virus & Spyware removal


Most computers are home
to hundreds of viruses and 
information stealing bugs.
Stay protected & up to date.

Get a quote >>   |   Learn More >>

 PC Pitstop Home and Business Onsite Support

PC Pitstop onsite Home and Business Support    Onsite Support


PC Pitstop can provide you
with onsite assistance in your
home or office at time that suits
you. Most areas only $99/hour

Get a quote >>   |   Learn More >>

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Windows-XP-End

Avoid Virsues from End of XP Support :: Upgrade Now!

"On April 8 2014, almost thirteen years after it was first released, Windows  XP will finally breathe its last breath and die — officially, anyway. From that date, Microsoft will no longer support the inveterate Operating System, meaning instability bugs and security vulnerabilities will go forever unpatched.

With Windows XP’s desktop market share still around 30%, and many enterprises still months or years away from upgrading to Windows 7/8, these unsupported and insecure machines represent a serious risk to the health and security of the internet and other high-tech infrastructure. If just a single vulnerability is found after April 8, it will never be fixed. There’s no telling what damage cybercriminals might sow with such an exploit.

It’s important to note that the Windows XP EOL/EOS (end of life/end of support) has been a long time coming. We’ve known since June 2008 that Microsoft would withdraw paid assisted support, security updates, and non-security hotfixes for Windows XP on April 2014. There will also be no further updates to online technical documentation. While this is obviously an issue from a security perspective, the larger issue is compliance — if you manage personal data (which is basically every big company), there are industry and federal security regulations (PCI, Sarbanes-Oxley, HIPAA, etc.) that you need to comply with. Using a non-supported operating system, and thus dangerously exposing your client database to hackers, is a compliance no-no."
Exert from ExtremeTech Blog.

If you answer yes to any of the following questions, give us a call on 65 841 551, and as each situation has different variables we'll assess each accordingly and get your SORTED!:

Arrow-Right-iconDo you run any specialised software or hardware that only runs on XP?

Arrow-Right-iconDo you run software that needs a 32Bit operating system?

Arrow-Right-iconDo you run a business and share files or printers between any Windows XP based computers?

Arrow-Right-iconDo you run a business with new versions of Windows and Windows XP?

Arrow-Right-iconAre you confused about what operating system is best for you?

POINTS TO NOTE:

- Unfortunately, going from Windows XP to Windows 7 and above is not just a simple upgrade. There are just too many differences between the versions of Windows.

- A full migration of all your information needs to take place and you may need to purchase newer versions of software to compliment your computer (i.e Microsoft Office). All you programs and settings will be lost in the migration and will have to be setup manually again. It is a big job, but something the team here at PC Pitstop do every day. Our team are well equipped and will plan and work through with you to make the migration as smooth as possible.

- Your printer or a piece of hardware may also be too old to run the newer version of Windows and an additional investment may need to be made there too. We must assess each situation on a case-by-case basis.

- Additionally, our team can even come to your premises and spend the time to set everything up just the way you like it. We also go as far as offering one on one lessons to help you feel comfortable with your new system. ($85/hour instore, $99/hour at your premises)

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How chic is this for a gadget hideaway and charging booth?!

pcpitstop-blog-cable-management1

pcpitstop-blog-cable-management2

I love! Add to cart >>> HERE <<<

 

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Posted by on in Helpful Hints

If it's been a while since you've visited our YouTube Channel HERE'S AN UPDATE:

 

BELIEVE IN BETTER COMPUTER REPAIRS

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THE IMPORTANCE OF KEEPING SAFE PASSWORDS

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KERRIE EGGINS - 3 WAYS PC PITSTOP SUPPORTS HER BUSINESS

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3 REASONS TO CHOOSE PC PITSTOP FOR YOUR BETTER BUSINESS SUPPORT

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Posted by on in Tech News

This. From our friends at Bit.

optus-pcpitstop-australia-blog

"

Optus has announced it has switched on its 4G Plus network in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Adelaide. So what does that mean for you?

4G Plus is Optus' spin on 4G TD-LTE network technology, which is something that you will soon see other phone networks such as Telstra and Vodafone also offer sometime in the future.

The technology is designed to ease the data congestion particularly during peak mobile internet traffic times. As Optus describes 4G Plus as adding "more lanes to the Optus 4G super highway, letting more people use our 4G network at the same time". On theory, improved speeds on a more consistent basis.

4g-pcpitstop-australia-blog

So what do you need to take advantage of it?

Since 4G Plus/TD-LTE operates on a different spectrum (2300 Mhz), you will need to purchase a 4G Plus compatible phone to be able to actually use the network. The same goes for mobile broadband dongles and Wi-Fi modems.

Optus says that they have phones from Samsung (Galaxy S4 mini, new version of Galaxy S4), LG (G2 available in November) and Apple (iPhone 5s and 5c) that will be 4G Plus compatible.

The phones will fallback to the regular Optus 3G network when you step outside of 4G Plus or regular 4G zones.

In theory, regular 4G users who don't own a 4G Plus handset should also eventually experience more consistent speeds at peak periods on the Optus network as more people jump to 4G Plus.

"

What do you think? It's a can of worms!

Are you happy on 3G? Is 4G still not enough for you? And do you agree that more competition in the telecommunications industry would be a good thing for consumers?

Tell us in the comment space below.

 

*Comments moderated for spam so your comment may not appear for 24-48hrs!

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Posted by on in Repairs

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Recent comment in this post - Show all comments
  • Danson
    Danson says #
    Congratulation Ben, Your qualities speak for themselves being a compassionate businessman is not easy. I have a business similar t

[WASTING TIME AT WORK BECUASE YOUR TECHNOLOGY IS LETTING YOU DOWN?]

Improve productivity by upgarding to the PC Pitstop Business Workstation PC today!

 

WHAT's IT GOOD FOR?

PCP Bus Work Station 2

WHAT's THE SPECS?

PCP Bus Work Station 1

WHAT ELSE DO WE NEED?

PCP Bus Work Station 3

Call or call in Mon-Sat >>> Shop 13, 4 Bay St, PORT MACQUARIE

Or BUY IT ONLINE >>> www.pcpitstop.net.au

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If your computer looks anything like the one on the left we can only assume you don't use it that much...perhaps as a paperweight more than anything??

pcpitstop before after desktop

Of course, looks are certainly not everything but BEIGE is a common determination of age and performance at first glance for most IT technicians these days.

If your computer is more than 5 years old...

Arrow-Right-icon Does it run slow? Do you forget what you opened a program for because it took so long to open?

Arrow-Right-icon Do people complain that they can't open documents you send them?

Arrow-Right-icon Is the back of the computer rusty or dusty?

Arrow-Right-icon Do you use your computer daily?

If you answered YES to all of these it is time for a new computer!

Arrow-Right-icon Do you have enough USB Ports for all your peripherals and devices?

Arrow-Right-icon Do you have recent backups of everything of precious documents and pictures?

Arrow-Right-icon Do you have trouble opening programs or loading new programs?

Arrow-Right-icon Do you run a business on this computer?

If you answered YES to all of these too, then the time for a new computer is NOW!

 

Bring your old computer into PC Pitstop and your Trained Technician can help you find the right replacement computer for you, transfer your data and talk you through your new machine. Plus, our Computer Manual & Service Planner - FREE with your new computer purchase - explains a myriad of questions you might have and tables a maintenance plan to keep you on track!

Your time is valuable, dont waste it waiting on sub-standard technology. We'll help you, your family or your business become more productive TODAY!

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                 65 841 551                               This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.                    WWW.PCPITSTOP.COM.AU

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Posted by on in Shopping List

Stop before you shop and check out these 'something-for-everyone' guides to buying technology before the End of Financial Year:

1. BUY A NEW PHONE OR WAIT? >>> Read all about what's new and what's best for you HERE.

phonesfor2013


2. ARE YOUR SOFTWARE LICENSES UP TO DATE? >>>
You may be able to get a better deal for your CRM, Accounting, POS or other software licenses. HERE's some food for thought.

EOFY
 

3. KICK-START YOUR COMPUTER WITH A YEARLY TUNE-UP >>> Do it now and work more productively for the rest of the year. Why is it important? SmartCompany explains HERE.

"Another area worth looking at is maintenance. If

you have a computer or other technology that’s

playing up or overdue for a check up, now’s the

time to do it.You often find that’s money well spent

in itself in terms of improving the performance of

office equipment."

 

 System Tuneup

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Norton Internet Security
Stay safe with the very best anti-virus software. Do you bank online? Then you need Norton Internet Security!

Keyboard/Mouse Combo
Choose your style, shape and colour for greater comfort and flexibility.

Speakers
Enjoy music, movies and gaming on your desktop with a wide variety of speakers from simple to subwoofers.

USB Hub
4+ ports. Increase your USB ports to connect more devices and never have a lack of USB inputs.

Backing Up
Invest in back up hard drives and automated backing up software, to avoid the trauma of losing precious photos and data.

Moisture Kit
Protect your investment against component killing corrosion. Includes computer cover and damp absorber. A must for humid climates!

norton internet security 2013 laptop essential   pcpitstop keyboard mouse combo pcpitstop moisture cure  pcpitstop speakers 

Found this handy? Read last month's post 'PC Pitstop's Essential Laptop Accessories' and Follow us on Facebook!

 

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The Bit people blogged this handy guide after attending a Toshiba launch early this week. It's so damn handy we're re-blogging it for you:

   
      

Buying a laptop and tablet in 2013: handy 60-second breakdown of all the options

Buying a laptop and tablet in 2013: handy 60-second breakdown of all the options

Once upon a time, when you needed a portable computer you bought a laptop. Now….take a look at the slide in the photo.

We took this photo at a presentation by Toshiba this week at the launch of their 2013 laptop range. It's a handy little summary of the various options you now have that fall under the term "portable computer".

Ignore "TV" and ignore "AIO", which stands for all-in-one desktop computer, and take a look at what your options are when it comes to portable computing:

Notebook

The catch-all term for run-of-the-mill laptops (which we prefer to call them here at BIT). Quality, features and price vary drastically. Case in point: at the time of writing Dell was advertising a Vostro 2520, a 15.6-inch screen laptop with Core i5 chip, for $699. Near the other end of the spectrum, Apple's top of the line 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display also falls into this category and cost $3,199 at the time of writing. Examples: Dell XPS 15, Dell Inspiron 15R, Apple MacBook Air

Netbook

A tiny, light portable computer for only a few hundred dollars (less than $200 in some cases). These were the latest craze a few years ago, but less relevant now that tablets are popular and much faster laptops are available for not much more money. Running Intel Atom CPUs, they're not suitable for loading several complex applications at the same time. The screens are tiny.

Ultrabook

You'll see the "Ultrabook" sticker stuck on various high-end laptops. It's a brand name Intel came up with to help market laptops with certain features - generally, they feature thin and light design (no DVD drive) with decent levels of CPU performance (a few years back, thin and light laptops were often too slow). You'll find features like SSD for storage instead of hard disks - helping the laptop to "wake" up faster from sleep mode (in less than 7 seconds, in theory). Many Ultrabooks are built to a somewhat minimalist design aesthetic involving a sleek metallic look, rather than garish plastics and stickers (not dissimilar in approach to the Apple MacBook design, in our opinion). Examples: Toshiba Kira, Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon, Dell XPS 13 Ultrabook, Dell XPS 14 Ultrabook, Samsung Series 9.

Hybrids

 

The new kid on the block. These are laptops that convert into tablets. It's an interesting idea - why buy a separate tablet and laptop, when you can have them both in one computer? In reality, they've got some drawbacks. The tablet part is generally heavier than an iPad. As a laptop, they vary quite a bit in price and appeal - as with Windows laptops in general. Sometimes the mechanism which allows the laptop to turn into a tablet introduces some drawbacks - like the Toshiba Portege Z10t, which we like the look of, but noticed yesterday that it's not possible to push the screen right back, meaning the screen doesn't angle upwards enough for our height. Examples: Dell XPS 12, Asus Taichi 21, Lenovo ThinkPad Twist, Toshiba Portege Z10t, Lenovo ThinkPad HelixRead this article to see if a hybrid is right for you.

Windows 8 tablets

Another relatively new kid on the block. Not only are there Windows 8 tablets from the major players like Dell, ASUS, Lenovo and HP, but there are also Windows 8 tablets from Microsoft. And there are two types of Windows tablets - those that run Windows RT (which can't run your desktop Windows 7 programs) and the ones that run Windows 8 Pro (which can). Examples: Dell Latitude 10, Microsoft Surface Pro, Windows Surface RTLenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2.

Android Tablets

We know various people who have Android tablets, including one person who takes one with him on overseas holidays where he uses it to pay his staff. On the upside, they're generally a lot cheaper than Windows tablets. For example, at the time of writing, the Nexus 7 Wi-Fi model was advertised for $269 on the Dick Smith web site. There's no "desktop" mode for things like Excel like you get with a Windows 8 tablet, nor is there the option of a powerful Intel Core processor (which is the point - these tablets are not meant for running heavy workloads). Of course, you'll be using a different app store to the one available for the iPad or Windows tablets. Less suitable as a business workhorse than a Windows tablet, we would argue, but then again we would argue a laptop is the correct choice for that purpose. Screen sizes vary from smaller than an iPad, all the way up to 10.1-inch tablets. Examples: Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1, Nexus 10.

Tablet + keyboard

Instead of buying a hybrid, you could get a tablet and buy a separate keyboard for it. It can be a lot cheaper this way, although the keyboards we've seen for hybrid laptops are generally the ones we'd prefer. Examples: Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover, Belkin YourType FOLIO+KEYBOARD, Kensington KeyFolio Expert for iPad. Here is our review of 5 keyboards for tablets.

Phablets

Really, really, really big phones. Or to put it another way, tablets that you can also use to make phone calls. Examples: ASUS Fonepad.

Chromebooks

 

Cheap (less than $300 for the Acer Chromebook at the time of writing), the Chromebook is designed to be simple to use. The idea is your files are stored online and you use Google's online apps (like Google Drive) to get things done. You can't install business-type applications designed for Windows. Simplicity is the selling point. No large screen sizes available (a 14-inch HP Chromebook is the biggest we've seen). Examples: Acer Chromebook, Samsung Chromebook, HP Chromebook.

And then there's Apple, with the iPad and Macbook

We've also pulled out Apple under its own subheading - you have a choice of various iPads running iOS, or the various MacBooks running OSX. We could write an entire separate article about the pros and cons of buying a Mac, but in a nutshell, the design is arguably second-to-none and the interface is slick and "intuitive", as they like to say in the industry. In our experience they wake from a sleep state much more quickly and reliably than just about every single Windows laptop we've ever used. The touchpad is better than on any Windows laptop we've used. Above all, there's hardly any of them, compared to the dozens of Windows laptops to choose from. Windows means many more combinations of features, styles and prices to choose, but this includes cheap and nasty as well as top quality. Apple doesn't tend to do "cheap and nasty", in our opinion.

Our advice?

Despite all the varying options, narrowing down the field is not that hard. There are a few simple rules to follow.

First, think about whether you'd appreciate a laptop that's nice and light to carry around. Second, how small a screen size are you willing to use? If 13-inch screen is as small as you'll go, then that cuts out a lot of the tablets and hybrids on the market. Next, what kind of programs do you want to run - Microsoft Office, apps, just email and web browsing, specific business programs that require a specific operating system?

If you're planning on doing anything more complicated than web browsing, emails, running apps or watching movies, then we'd argue the sensible choice is a variety of laptop - the screen size is generally better, the keyboards are generally better and they are generally more comfortable for spending hours typing or browsing the Web. We tend to recommend Ultrabooks (which are thin and light laptops with decent CPUs). Hybrids are an option if you really like the idea of switching between tablet and laptop, but they tend to have some handicaps (weight, design) that regular laptops don't have.

Finally, another rule of thumb - not everyone has a reasonable budget, but if you can afford it, we'd recommend spending more on a premium model. A well-designed, well-featured laptop will save you a lot of frustration, and think of the hours you'll spend using it.

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