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The Sony Vaio T13 Touch: A Quick Look

Earlier this year, Sony made its debut entry into the ultraportable market with the Sony Vaio T Series SVT13112FXS. While the company’s inaugural ultra was a good one, it wasn’t particularly impressive.

At $799, it had the following Sony laptop parts under its hood: A 1.7 GHz Intel Core i5-3317U processor, 4 GB of 1,333 MHz DDR3 RAM, a 500 GB 5,400 rpm hard disk drive hybrid with a 32 GB solid state drive, and an Intel HM77 chipset with integrated Intel HD 4000 graphics processor. The laptop parts are very serviceable, to be sure; but other ultras with similar specs have already come before it. Suffice it to say, nothing really separated a Vaio ultra from the crowd.

That is, until now.

While not exactly a re-release, Sony has seen fit to upgrade its ultraportable offering by adding a new feature: Touchscreen capability. The technology isn’t exactly new, of course, but most laptops of this size with this feature are usually tablet hybrids. The new Vaio T13 instead opts to make itself Windows 8-ready without having to resort to a hybrid design, thereby making it a cheaper alternative for those looking to install Microsoft’s latest operating system on a portable PC.

The Sony laptop parts powering it are largely the same as the non-touchscreen release, except for upgraded RAM (6 GB of 1,600 MHz DDR3 this time), and of course the screen itself.

Speaking of the screen, it’s still the same 13.3 inch gloss-coated display with 1,366 x 768 pixels of resolution; standard fare for laptops of this category. Its touchscreen function, though, leaves something to be desired. Swiping commands on the screen is responsive enough, but pressing on the screen makes it wobble due to the apparently weak display base. That shortcoming alone might be more than enough reason for consumers to deem the touchscreen function a flawed upgrade.

Traditional control inputs don’t help matters, either. Possibly due to a desire to make the laptop as thin as possible, Sony decided to make the keys on the keyboard quite shallow. While okay aesthetically, that palpable feeling of pressing keys takes a decidedly significant hit.

The touchpad, meanwhile, does what it can; but like most touchpads, users will be left sorely missing the feel of a mouse in their hands.

That said, users who are able to overlook these faults should find the Vaio T13 a mean enough machine. Aside from the hardware specs mentioned above, it also features VGA and HDMI video ports, two USB ports (one 2.0, one 3.0), an SD card reader, Bluetooth, and Ethernet and 802.11n Wi-Fi connectivity. Along with the laptop parts mentioned above, and at $899 SRP, the Sony Vaio T13 should be perfect for those looking for a cheaper alternative to the Sony Vaio Z and/or a laptop hybrid. Furthermore, with Windows 8 looking to revolutionize operating system interfacing, Sony’s touch-enabled 13-inch ultra is as good a computer to start on the new OS as any.

 
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Posted by on October 16, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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A Couple of Surprising Changes to Windows 8

With all the brouhaha surrounding Windows 8’s imminent arrival, consumers are torn about how to react to Microsoft’s upcoming operating system. Some are apprehensive about the whole thing and see Windows 8 as nothing more than the next clumsy transitional OS (*cough*WindowsVista*cough*). Others fancy themselves more level-headed and will opt to wait a while before considering a switch. And still others are just genuinely excited to see what Microsoft has to offer.

While a lot of information about Windows 8 has already been made known to the public via the dev kit versions of the OS released to hardware and software developers, there are still a few more things up its sleeve which may actually surprise many people (whether for better or worse is best left to another article entirely). Here are some of the most prominent.

1. Windows Update Is Less Annoying

To start things off, we have the Windows equivalent of a nagging mother: Windows Update. Though admittedly useful, it is nevertheless notorious for constantly reminding users to update their system files and to restart their computers after every patch installment.

While the program’s Windows 8 incarnation still does this, it dials back the annoyance significantly. It now only reminds users to restart once every three days, and forces a system restart once a month to coincide with the monthly security patch releases. Furthermore, it no longer pops up reminders while a user is working. Instead, it posts reminders at the login screen.

2. Windows Aero and Flip 3D Have Been Removed

Back when Windows Vista was released, Microsoft introduced yet another interface look, calling this one Windows Aero. It featured transparent window borders (among other things) that allowed users to see what other windows and programs they had opened behind the window they were currently looking at. It also had this feature called Flip 3D which, while no different in purpose to the “Alt+Tab” window-switching function, was nonetheless very cool to look at.

The interface had a pleasingly futuristic aesthetic to it on top of its usefulness. However, Microsoft decided to do away with Aero for its upcoming OS. The company’s contention is that Windows 8’s flat look – which seems like a throwback to the classic Windows layout (albeit colorful) more than anything – is a nice visual change.

However, the popular public perception is that Microsoft is doing it to save on energy consumption (Aero’s look and function required a lot of power). This is important to note because Windows 8 is designed to be uniform across all computer platforms, whether desktops or portables; retaining Aero would mean that all-too-important tablet or laptop component called the battery would be quickly drained.

And speaking of portable system streamlining…

3. DVD and Blu-ray Playback Aren’t by Default

Since tablets and most laptops nowadays aren’t equipped with an optical drive; and since Microsoft has to pay licensing fees to incorporate media playback codecs, the company saw fit to refrain from having said codecs offered to consumers by default.

That said, the codecs are available to those who buy pre-constructed Windows 8-based desktops. Computer users who prefer builing their own desktops from the ground up can also avail of them by purchasing Windows 8 Professional Edition. Finally, there is always the option of downloading the highly acclaimed VLC Player program along with its corresponding codecs.

 
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Posted by on October 2, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Getting to Know the Different Types of Malware

It used to be that computer users only had to look out for viruses when protecting their data and their desktop and laptop parts from infection. After all, those were the only kinds of malware that really got around.

Fast forward a few years, though, and malware seemingly branched out into other areas of specialization. Although viruses still take the lion’s share of software and hardware corruption, the mere fact that other types of malware exist means that computer users will have to diversify their defenses for their computer files and desktop or laptop components.

Below are the different types of malware explained and differentiated.

1.       Viruses

Let us begin with the staple malware of all no-goodniks, the virus.

Just like their biological namesake, viruses spread by replicating themselves within their host bodies (i.e. computer systems). They don’t necessarily damage computers directly. Instead, they wait until a certain event occurs before they trigger their objective. Until then, they opt to remain undetected for as long as possible; and the only way to do this successfully is to leave as little footprints as possible. This entails not damaging desktop or laptop parts until absolutely necessary.

2.       Worms

The main difference between worms and viruses is that while the latter primarily spreads within one host body, the former spread to various hosts through shared networks.

This is an important distinction because while viruses could take months or even years before they are able to spread to other hosts (and under special circumstances to boot), worms are able to do so in mere seconds.


3.       Trojans

Greek mythology tells us that in the famed Trojan War, Greeks were able to enter the city of Troy by hiding inside a giant wooden horse. Trojans, being suckers for horses, allowed the presumed “gift” to enter their city. The rest, as they say, is (allegedly fictional) history.

Trojan horses (the malware kind) work in a similar fashion. They disguise themselves as harmless programs like quick Flash games and videos of puppies playing. Once a computer user accesses these files, then other hidden malware (viruses, worms, and such) emerge from the Trojans.

On their own, Trojans really are harmless. It’s what’s inside them that causes all hell to break loose.

4.       Spyware

Like any good spy, spyware rummage through your personal files for the perusal of these malware’s authors. They don’t do any direct damage to your software, or your desktop and laptop components; but having your sensitive data brought out into the open should be more than enough cause for concern.

Spyware have no means of self-replication. Instead, they ride inside Trojans to do their dirty work.

5.       Zombies

Finally, zombies are malware that are similar to spyware in that they don’t directly infect, and that they also require Trojans to carry them around.

How they carry out their task is all theirs, though. What they do is they wait inside a computer system until a hacker commands them to do whatever it is they set out to do. Furthermore, once activated, they spread to other computers via shared networks, turning said computers into zombiefied machines too. Too much propagation and the whole network will eventually crash due to overwhelming traffic.

 
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Posted by on September 28, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Tips for Upping Your Laptop’s Mobile Security

Laptop parts are designed and arranged in very certain ways because laptops are constructed with portability as the top priority. Such design schematics carry their own pros and cons, of course; and while most people will point to laptop components upgradeability (or lack thereof) as a very major con, there is one other that is far more serious: The need for increased security.

Since desktops are generally rooted in just one place, it would require a break-in of some sort to steal them. Not so for laptops: Users can carry them around wherever they go, increasing the chances of them being stolen or otherwise hacked.

To prevent this from happening to you, here are seven essential tips for securing your laptop.

1.       Be careful about what information you have stored on your laptop.

Many people still feel that just because sensitive information has been stored inside a computer instead of on a piece of paper, it’s harder to get to. While the veracity of this claim is debatable, it should still be known that in today’s more digital age, more and more people are becoming knowledgeable about electronic information hacking.

Because your laptop often finds itself in very public places, once it gets stolen, you can consider your data as good as disclosed. Therefore, limit the amount of sensitive information on  your computer as much as possible. If you can, do away with it completely.

2.       Increase security by making it harder to access files.

If you must save sensitive files electronically, do so on servers rather than locally on your computer; and access these files using secure methods like VPN (virtual private network).

If your files have to be saved locally, make use of encryption programs to make doubly sure that only people with the right access codes can retrieve your files.

3.       Make sure to have backups of all your important files.

It doesn’t matter whether they were accessed illegally or whether a laptop part malfunctioned. Once you lose your files, chances are slim that you’ll be able to get them back. It is therefore prudent to always have backups of your most important files. Burn them onto DVDs, save them on external hard drives, or make an exact clone of your laptop’s hard drive altogether via RAID-0 mirroring technology.


4.       Perform regular program security maintenance.

Simply stated, constantly update and apply patches to your computer’s and its programs’ security settings whenever possible. Pay special attention to your operating system, browser programs, firewall, and antivirus applications.

5.       Strengthen your password security.

When creating a password, make sure that it is strong enough to baffle even the most ardent hackers. This usually entails mixing up lower-case and upper-case letters, using numbers, and/or using special characters.

You should also turn off your browser’s password autosaving functions and delete any saved login shortcuts. It would also help if you do not have your passwords written down on paper if you can help it.

It would be best if you commit all your passwords to memory. If this proves to be too daunting, you can instead use password management software which requires you to memorize only one master password to access your cache of passwords for different logins.

6.       Always keep an eye on your stuff.

Of course, the best way to prevent your stuff from being stolen and accessed is to be very vigilant in the first place.

Be extra careful when taking your laptop outside, especially in very public places like malls and bus stations. You never know who might be watching, so don’t be too showy with your (probably expensive) gadgets.

7.       Be very proactive about getting back your stolen laptop.

Finally, If your laptop does get stolen, take every measure available to get it back as soon as possible. If you have availed of services like gadget tracking and remote memory wiping, activate them immediately. Remember, the longer you delay, the longer the time frame the thief has of getting what he can.

 
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Posted by on September 19, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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How to Set Up Your New Laptop

Getting a brand new laptop is exciting and all; and while using it as is from the get-go isn’t really all that bad, it will leave your laptop more prone to debilitating malfunctions down the road. To make sure that your portable computer and its laptop parts are streamlined for optimization, below are five essential steps in setting up your new laptop.

1. Uninstall Bloatware

Manufacturers sometimes pre-install programs with their computers. These programs are often nothing more than trial versions of programs which you don’t even really want or need in the first place. Called bloatware, these applications do nothing more than take up valuable hard drive space.

Uninstall these programs as you normally would any other program. However, just like with some software, uninstalling them will not always be completely done. That is, they may leave virtual footprints in your computer’s system registry. To combat this, use a registry cleaning program like Ccleaner. Don’t worry, these kinds of programs don’t leave footprints of their own; that would just be counter intuitive.

2. Set Up Laptop Security

Portable gadgets are more prone to being misplaced and/or stolen. Therefore, increasing your laptop’s mobile security is a must.

The first thing you should do is set up passwords for all your laptop’s user accounts. Make sure your Administrator account gets top priority.

You should also install anti-theft software that keeps track of your computer’s location should it be misplaced. Think of them as LoJack for laptops.

An encryption program couldn’t hurt as well. These are programs that keep your personal files secure in an encrypted area of your hard drive. You also have the option of encrypting your whole computer if you are so inclined.

Finally, set your computer up with antivirus and anti-malware programs, and turn on its firewall.

3. Get System Updates

Update your system files to make your laptop components run smoothly with existing and upcoming program installations.

On Windows, you can do this by going to Control Panel, choosing System and Security, and clicking on the option that installs the update. On the Mac, just go to the Apple Menu and click on Software Update.

4. Install Your Preferred Programs

Now that unwanted programs have been uninstalled, it’s time to put in programs that you actually do want.

Start with the standard necessities like Microsoft Office and media content players. Follow those up with useful programs like laptop part enhancers and Photoshop. Cap them off with stuff like your favorite video games and you’re good to go.

5. Backup Your System and Your Files

The last step is to make sure that your system and all your pertinent files are backed up.

Make use of storage media like DVDs, external hard drives, and flash drives to store copies of files that you need. You may also opt for cloud storage services if you want.

Also, set up your computer’s backup feature that rolls your hardware settings back to stable conditions. This is useful for when things like faulty installations mess up your computer’s hardware-to-software interfacing.

Finally, if your laptop has RAID-1 mirroring capabilities, you might as well use it. This is a rare (and expensive) high-end laptop feature that requires two similar hard drives. In a nutshell, whatever is in the first hard drive is also automatically copied onto the second hard drive; and every subsequent change is also reproduced.

 
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Posted by on September 5, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Power vs. Portability: Choosing a Laptop That’s Right for You

Of course, how powerful laptop components are factors a lot into the laptop buying decisions of consumers. However, the thing to remember is that laptops are characteristically portable first and foremost. Without portability, they might as well be desktops which just happen to be smaller and more expensive; not a good combination.

Indeed, portability is such an important attribute for laptops that size is the main feature that differentiates laptop categories. It’s simple, really: The smaller a laptop is, then naturally the more portable it is.

Where it gets complicated is in balancing your particular needs. Yes, a smaller laptop is easier to carry around, but it generally has less powerful laptop parts to account for the smaller space it provides its hardware. Inversely, more powerful laptop parts require more breathing room, requiring a bigger chassis, which leads to reduced laptop portability.

Evidently, laptop power is inversely proportional to laptop size (at least, for now; who knows what future technological developments will bring, eh?). That said, the four laptop categories ensure that you get just the right balance of power and portability for your particular purposes. From biggest to smallest, the categories are: Desktop replacements, thin-and-lights, ultraportables, and netbooks.

The Size

There are three physical dimensions in giving a laptop’s size: Width, depth, and height. Width is taken by measuring a laptop from left to right, while depth is taken by measuring the laptop’s frame from front to back. Depth measurement takes into account the rear hinges of a laptop; but anything beyond that (an oversized laptop battery, for instance) is not measured at all.

Finally, height (or thickness) is taken by measuring the laptop from top to bottom. Take note that this dimension is taken only when the laptop is closed. Another thing to know is that many computer companies give two height measurements to account for some modern laptops’ unique designs that often taper the computer from front to back, much like a sleek sports car. Still, some companies do give just one measurement, ideally their laptops’ thickest depth.

The Weight

Size measurement is important and all, but what directly affects a laptop’s portability is still its weight. The former can only tell you how big a bag you’ll be needing; the latter lets you know just how heavy a load you’ll be carrying.

Logic will dictate that the lighter a laptop is, the more convenient it is to carry around; however, and as previously stated, more often than not that convenience comes at the expense of computer functionality.

For instance, although small, ultraportables are best suited to running basic programs like word processors, spreadsheet makers, task schedulers, and the like. This makes them ideal for businessmen who find themselves travelling a lot. On the flipside, desktop replacements are heavy as all heck, but they do give performances comparable to desktops, making them ideal for hardcore gamers who attend the occasional LAN party or two.

When looking at a laptop’s weight, you should be doubly careful as most companies only give you the weight of the laptop itself; batteries and power cords aren’t accounted for. However, some do list the “total travel weight,” which is what you should be looking for.

Conclusion

Laptop category measurements are as follows:

  • Netbooks: <10.5” x <1.5” x <1.3”; <3.5 lbs.
  • Ultraportables: 9-13” x 8-9” x <1.5”; 2-5 lbs.
  • Thin-and-lights: 11-15” x <11” x 1-1.7”; 4-7 lbs.
  • Desktop replacements: >15” x >11” x >1.5”; >6 lbs.

When purchasing a laptop, make sure that you give laptop part specs, size and weight equal consideration. As with most everything, the choice boils down to a delicate balancing act, and hitting that personal sweet spot is what everyone should go for.

 
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Posted by on August 30, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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How to Restore Your Laptop to Its Original Factory Settings

When faced with laptop part malfunctions or severe virus attacks, many users will inevitably arrive at the last-resort option of restoring their machine to its default factory settings. Unlike desktops, though, most laptops nowadays aren’t sold with recovery discs (more often than not, their operating systems come pre-installed), making operating system resets a bit different than usual. With laptops, a preset recovery partition file needs to be activated, the steps of which I will give below.

A caveat before I proceed: Since you will be resetting your laptop to its original factory state, make sure that all your important files are backed up beforehand. Also, to ensure a higher chance of uninterrupted power, make sure that your laptop is plugged into a wall socket via AC adapter lest your laptop battery unexpectedly run low and/or malfunction.

I will be detailing the recovery processes for an HP laptop, though a lot of these steps are more or less the same for most laptops. Barring the occasional menu and function naming differences, these steps should be helpful, whatever make of portable computer you may have.

No HP laptop parts will be drastically altered or compromised function-wise. This is basically just a system-wide hard reset, restoring every laptop component to how they were upon initial factory floor rollout.

With that out of the way, let us begin.

How to Activate Recovery Manager on HP Laptops

1. Right after turning on your laptop, press the F8 key when the computer company logo (HP, in this case) appears. This will bring up the Advanced Boot Options menu, which gives you alternative booting options as well as other functions.




2. From the available options, choose “Repair Your Computer” and press Enter. This option should be the very first one.




3. You will be taken to a window labeled System Recovery Options. Put in the appropriate responses for the Language and Keyboard Layout fields (by default, “English (United States)” and “US,” respectively) then press the Next button.

4. This will take you to another System Recovery Options window, this one with fields asking for your username and password. Fill in each field (needless to say, it must be login details with administrative rights) and then proceed by clicking on the OK button.

5. You will then encounter yet another System Recovery Options box, but this one gives you various action options instead. Click on the one labeled HP Recovery Manager.




6. You will end up on the HP Recovery manager window. There are many options available here, including a system checkup, a files backup function, and of course a system recovery one. Click on the System Recovery option.




7. And this is where the actual recovery process starts. Simply follow the onscreen instructions in case you are prompted to. Don’t worry; everything from here on in should be pretty straightforward.


And there you have it: Steps on how to restore your laptop to its original factory settings. Again, while the steps given above were done with an HP laptop, the general procedure should work for all laptop makes.

Happy tinkering!

 
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Posted by on August 2, 2012 in Uncategorized