Vaio Makes A Return In Japan

vaioEarlier this year Sony sold off its Vaio PC business to an investment firm in order to concentrate more on their smartphone and tablet business. Many Vaio lovers were very upset with the news. But since then, Sony's Vaio computers have popped back up, just under new management. Japan Industrial Partners officially put out a new line of Vaio laptops. The only downside is that for right now, these laptops are only available in the Japanese market.

There might be some hope for a new U.S. release though. When Japan Industrial Partners bought the company in February, they said that they would begin selling Vaio laptops only in Japan. That means that after this release, they may start to sell laptops in other countries.

Even though Vaio has a new owner, that doesn't mean they aren't going to be the same laptops that we have all grown to love. Despite the new management, the new Vaios aren't really that different from the old ones at all. Vaio PCs are still going to continue to be sold through Sony's Japanese storefront. Sony even managed to retain 5 percent of the Vaio business as a part of the deal they made with Japan Industrial Partners. The new versions of the laptops being sold are more or less identical to the Vaio Fit and Vaio Pro laptops that Sony put out in 2013.

The computers are for sale right now on the Vaio website. Japanese customers can choose from an 11-inch or 13-inch Vaio Pro with an Intel Core i3, i5, or i7. Prices start at 120,000 yen, which is about $1181 in U.S. currency. The Vaio Pros come loaded with Windows 7 or Windows 8.1. Along with the Vaio Pro, they also have the Vaio Fit 15E for sale for 100,000 yen or $984. These also come with either Windows 7 or 8.1.

Both the Vaio Pro and the Vaio Fit models have optional touch features available as well. You can choose your own built in storage space with options ranging from a 500GB HDD on the Vaio Fit 15E to 128GB and 256GB SSDs on the Vaio pro models.

Pretty much the only difference that you can find in the new Vaio models is that Sony's name has been removed from below the display where it used to be. Now it has been replaced with just the Vaio name itself.

So far, everything is looking pretty spot on. Even so, it is going to take a little bit of time to see if Japan Industrial Partners have applied the same attention to detail that Sony did when they were producing the Vaios. It will also take a little while to see how well the new branding takes off in the Japanese market, and then we can get a feel for how likely a worldwide release would be. I know there are a lot of sad Vaio lovers out there that are dying for some good news.

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Windows 9 Public Preview May Drop This Fall

Windows_9_Logo_Metro_ConceptIn May, we learned that the new Windows 9 preview could come early Spring 2015, but word on the web says the preview version of Microsoft's, Windows 9 operating system could launch much earlier than expected. Microsoft sources told ZDNet that the newest version of Windows would arrive with a full preview this fall. The full update of Windows 9 is still expected to be released Spring 2015, but the public preview date has been moved up quite a bit. Windows 9 is said to be more desktop oriented and will have more features designed for desktop users. The new version will rely more on a mouse and keyboard, and touch will be an optional feature. Another addition is that the Windows update will feature a "mini-start menu." The menu bar will include all the usual list of applications, but users will be able to pin Metro-styled love tiles to the menu.
Other than being more desktop focused, it is rumored that Windows 9 will transform itself based on the hardware it's installed on. Laptops and PC computers will receive a SKU version of Windows that will bring the desktop to the forefront of the interface. Along with the preview of Windows 9 approaching quickly, Microsoft's Windows 8.1 update 2 is expected to arrive as part of Microsoft's security patches this coming August. This update will include the usual bug fixes and improvements for upcoming new hardware ahead of the holiday season.
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Phone Just Died? It's Ok, Just Text From Your Laptop!

137470561It's happened way too many times before, right? You're in the middle of that book-long text because you're really into the topic and Boom! your phone dies mid-text. Maybe you wanted to fire off a quick text to a business colleague regarding something that could be beneficial for the company? There are a myriad of different scenarios that could be playing out but chances are, you can relate to this story. Thankfully, whether your phone has usable charge or not (my phone tends to die at around 15%, or whenever it feels like it), you can continue your conversation. The best part is that you can do it directly from you laptop.

I'm going to go ahead and take an educated guess that many of you have an iPhone of some sort. If that is the case, then you know about iMessage whenever you're texting someone else with an iPhone. It usually shows up blue to show that you are using iMessage, the texting/messaging app that caters strictly to Apple! There is something really useful about this.. as long as you have a Mac computer that is. If you are using any type of Mac computer and your phone is dead, you can still text anyone back, as long as they have an iPhone that is. As long as you know the person's number or Apple ID, you can send them a message and keep the conversation going.

If you don't have an iPhone or a Mac computer of some sort, you can always email as well. This one may seem a bit farfetched, but hear me out. Have you ever gotten a text from an email address before? You've received a text and instead of the contact info that you have associated with that person, it's an email address. Sending a text from your email account is exactly what you could do with those  important texts that can't wait. How can you do this, you ask? All you need to do is compose your email and insert the 10-digit phone number of the person you want to text along with the domain of the phone service provider as the send to address, and Eureka! you've just sent your text via email. While it may not be beneficial to everyone, since most people receive emails to their phones directly now and sending an email might be easier, it can still come in handy if the person never checks their email. Options are key here.

There are other options as well, should these not suit your fancy. You could always continue a text conversation via a free texting website. There are tons of different sites out there that you could Google right now and use them absolutely free of charge. Just remember the old adage when doing this, you get what you pay for. The website you're using may, in fact, only allow you to see your text responses via an email address, instead of directly through the site itself. Other sites might even make you register in order to see get your responses sent to your email directly. Then there is the case of dealing with a wave of advertisements that could be coming your way. Naturally though, these are what keep the site free of charge.

Whichever you choose, it's always nice to know that you have some way that you can continue your conversation. As long as you have some sort of internet access, you'll never have to be without texting again. Just try to think of your laptop as a giant phone with a lot of buttons, and you should be fine.

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The New Asus Zenbook NX500 Looks Like A Super Macbook

zenbookAsus is putting out another installment in their super high end line of Zenbook Ultrabooks. The newest machine in the line is called the NX500, and it is packed full of awesome featured that you would expect from a high end laptop. It has dedicated graphics, advanced storage configurations and a really nice 4K display as you would expect.

One of the big things that stands out about the new Zenbook NX500 is that you can tell Asus had Apple's Macbook in mind when they were designing this. It has an aluminum construction and high end, powerful internal workings. The NX500 has a 15.6 inch 3840 x 2160 IPS panel that offers 282 pixels per inch. Not only is that just really impressive to read, but to give you a real life example, the Macbook that it is designed after only has 220 pixels per inch. The Zenbook's resolution promises life-like color reproduction and a wide color gamut. It also has factory calibrated color temperature for impressive performance without any more tweaking to be done.

Asus has said that the Zenbook NX500 will be running on Intel Core processors. They said it will run up to the i7, which probably means there will be a few less expensive models running the i3 and i5. We're not sure about the RAM yet, but there will probably be a few different option like with the processor. The laptop will also have an Nvidia GeForce GTX 850M GPU with 2 GB of GDDR5 memory and you will be able to choose between SATA 3 RAID 0 or PCIe SSD storage options.

It will also have a pretty impressive sound system for a laptop. The NX500 will have titanium film speakers with SonicMaster, ICEpower and Bang & Olufsen technology. Other features include having Broadcom 3-stream 802.11ac Wi-Fi tech.

There is no official word on when this new Ultrabook will be available or how much it will cost. But judging by the fact that its basically a super Macbook that can actually do real computer things and make all the PC users out there happy, it will probably cost a small fortune.

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The 2014 Razer Blade Laptop

razerFor gamers across the world, 2014 is the year that laptops finally became awesome in the gaming world. The Razer Blade laptop is the epitome of excellence and makes the top of the list when it comes to the most requested laptop to purchase for gaming. It features desktop-level performance, over six hours of battery life and incredible display all in a thin design that's easy to transport.

But the largest update about the new model is the vastly improved 3K monitor. The Razer Bade has a 3,200 x 1,800 pixel resolution display which is the highest possible quality compacted on any monitor double the size. The display is so gorgeous that anything looks spectacular on it.

For a 14-inch laptop, you would think it would have some imperfections on its performance levels, but the Blade is the fastest of its size. The Razer Blade supports 802.11ac Wi-Fi, which is the fastest wireless technology out there. This laptop was built for speed and every part of it gets a thumbs up. It doesn't matter if you're just browsing the internet or playing World Of Warcraft, the Razer Blade gets the job done fast and efficiently. Best part is the battery life is expected to last over 6 hours without searching for a plug to re-charge if you're just using the internet. On the other hand, hard-core gaming battery life isn't so rad, it'll last you just about a little over an hour. Just like any other laptop, the Blade gets hot while running extreme games when plugged in.

As powerful as this laptop is, it cannot handle 4K/UltraHD gaming. If you think 3K has performance limitations, 4K is just a mess of pixel problems and lagging. Of course, the 3K display produces fantastic picture quality and is also very bright, but it's more than the laptop can physically handle (you probably won't even need the 3K resolution). And of course all this power comes at a high price around $2,200. With this price, it's just for 128GB of memory, barely enough for a few games. To make your money's worth, you would need at least 256GB, which would cost around $2,400, and 512GB which sells for $2,700. The cost is totally up to you, the Razer Blade won't disappoint and will stay powerful for many years. When it comes to making a decision on buying a new laptop the Razer Blade is the thinnest, lighting gaming laptop on the market as of today and provides top of the line gaming experiences.

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Can Tablet-Laptop Hybrids Really Replace A Good, Old Fashioned Laptop Computer?

surfacepro3I'm the type of techie who is hard to impress at times. Sure, I find innovation just as interesting as the next guy. The only problem is that I'm a stickler for practicality. If I feel that a new device isn't exactly practical or useful, I won't waste my time or money on it. Recently I've been seeing a lot of people resorting to tablets as their main mobile computing source. Now call me old fashioned, but I love my MacBook Pro. I'm a laptop kind of guy. All the power of a computer with the added mobility. Companies like Microsoft have taken notice of the battle going on between laptops and tablets, and have since decided to make a compromise between the two.

We've all seen the Microsoft Surface Pro. It's the tablet-laptop hybrid that seems to keep laptop users in mind while moving on with the tablet generation. The goal is to give you the best of both worlds. This is something that I can accept.

The most recent iteration is Microsoft's Surface Pro 3 has come out less than a year after the Surface Pro 2. The Surface Pro 2 made its way out of the gate with some positive reception. The only drawback of the device itself was that it didn't really gain too much headway on the market.

The concept of this design is actually quite ingenious. You have your tablet, and should you want to have a bit more accuracy with your typing, or want more screen space and responsiveness, you have the attachable keyboard. All you need do is fold down the tablet against the keyboard attachment and eureka! You essentially have a laptop. It's a really smart concept I feel. The only problem is that so many people still choose Apple products over Microsoft products. That is not to say that Microsoft is struggling, because they most certainly aren't. Having said that, so many more people own iPads over Microsoft tablets. Now whether this be a popularity contest or not (I feel that it is), it still puts a damper on Microsoft's product sales. Even though more people own iPads, over 95% of those people who own iPads own laptops as well. That would suggest that the tablet either isn't powerful enough to perform some of the functions that consumers need, or they may feel that they don't get the same type of responsiveness from a tablet as they would from a regular laptop.

One Panos Panay, the corporate VP of Microsoft, was quoted saying that "Tablets are designed for you to sit back, watch movies, browse the web, and snack on apps. Laptops are designed for you to do something." To be completely honest, I couldn't agree with him more. The simple fact is this; tablets have less room for the inner workings of a computer than a laptop does. The screen is completely separate from the "computer" part of the laptop, where as the tablet is one whole device. Since there is more room in a laptop, my bet is on the laptop for more power and productivity.

Even with these types of facts laid out, I don't think that the idea of having a laptop-tablet is necessarily a bad idea. I just feel that we won't be seeing that particular technology pushing through the ranks anytime soon. I think it's gonna be a while before the laptop steps down, especially for a hybrid.

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Apple, Hewlett Packard, And Life After Beats

WhitesolobeatsbydreheadphonesApple recently purchased Beats Audio for a whopping $3 billion. This was unbelievable news to lots of people, being that it was an absolutely staggering amount of money to invest into a headphone company.

If you think about it though, it is one of the best moves Apple has ever made. They created the iPod, which turned into the iPhone. They created iTunes, which is the biggest music store in the entire universe and is also 100% to blame for the long and slow death of the CD, the CD player, and the home entertainment system as we used to know it. They pretty much changed everything about the music industry and have found a way to make money off of every single artist and every single record label of all time. Why not buy the most successful headphone company out there, and end up owning the best music subscription service in the world while they are at it? Seems completely logical to me. Apple owns music. Apple is music.

What does this mean for HP?

Since 2010, HP has been using Beats technology in most of their higher end devices. It all started with the HP Envy, which was kind of marketed as an audio workstation. Since then it has been a huge selling point for the company. They put it in a lot of laptops and more expensive tablet models, and users could plug their headphones in and have a way better listening experience than with any other computer. All of the music was equalized perfectly to bump hard, suck you in, and make you feel like you were at your favorite artist's concert.

Now, that is being stripped away from HP. They have until the end of this year to put out any new products that they may create using the Beat Audio technology. Then, they have until the end of 2015 to sell the products that they created the previous year. After that, they must pull every piece of equipment with the Beats name off of every shelf and never sell it again. This is a bad day for HP. They are losing one of their most hyped up selling points.

What is HP going to do about it? Well, considering that the Beats software is nothing more than a software that equalizes all of the audio, they will probably sit down for about 20 minutes and create something that is exactly the same, call it something different, claim that it is way better than before and get on with their lives. It shouldn't be that hard, realistically, but it still isn't the ideal situation.

As far as Apple goes, no one has really talked about it, but I'm thinking that future Macbooks will probably have the same Beats technology that was sold with HP products for a long time, along with a few new cool upgrades to it.

Will HP lose tons of business because their main competitor bought Beats? Will the next generation of Macbooks be the most overrated audio workstations that an over privileged college student's parents could ever buy? Tune in next time to find out.

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Google Extends End Of Life Policy To 5 Years For Chromebooks

chrome osGoogle completely re-imagined the internet browsing market when it released Google Chrome. Google Chrome went into direct competition with the other big web browsers of the time Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox. Since then, Chrome has become one of the most widely used internet browsers and one of the more favorable for users. Due to the success of Chrome, Google started developing small laptops completely designed around a new Chrome operating system, calling them Chromebooks.

While Chromebooks have seen moderate success, Google has announced continuing support for the operating system. According to a recent report from the company, Google has extended guaranteed support for Chrome OS on vendors' Chromebooks for the next five years, which adds almost an extra year of support for nearly every device.

This new guarantee is similar to Microsoft's more well-known 10-year support life cycle that it has for Windows. Under this new plan, Google promises to provide things like security patches, bug fixes and feature changes to owners of Chromebooks. Google is calling the plan the Chrome OS End of Life Policy.

The previous policy from the company promised general support for a specific Chromebook for four years from its sales debut. Google added the extra year last week. According to a statement from Google on its policy page, "EOL dates may be pushed later than the initial date published, but will never be sooner than listed, which will be at least a minimum of five years from launch of the hardware."

Before Google implemented this change, the company's Chromebook 11 was to be supported until January 2018. The revised policy guarantees support until January 2019. After a device reaches its EOL Google will not guarantee to automatically deliver software updates to Chrome OS on that device. This is a subtle difference form Microsoft's policy. Microsoft's policy states that when a product reaches its EOL no more patches will be delivered, at all.

Google's policy is a tad bit more flexible in the fact that there's the possibility that the company may still continue publishing updates to "obsolete" Chromebooks. Google felt that this new policy change was necessary due to the fact that Chromebook sales have been strongest to enterprise and educational organizations. These organizations needed a guarantee that their investments would be protected and that Google would not suddenly pull support from the devices in a moment's notice. The good news is that the new policy applies to all Chromebooks, consumer-purchased ones included.

The first Chromebook to be retired by the policy is Google's own Cr-48. The Cr-48 is a reference design that was created by Google to show OEMs that a Chrome OS, a cloud-based PC was a possibility. Support for the Cr-48 will discontinue December 2015, five years after its initial release back in 2010. The high-end Chromebook Pixel, also from Google, which sells for $1,299 to $1,499, will reach its declared EOL in April 2018.

However, not all Chromebooks are getting this extension. One such Chromebook is the Series 5 XE500C21 from Samsung. Google is sticking with this Chromebook's January 2016 EOL for this device as Google had already announced previously that this date was the official EOL for the Chromebook. If you head on over to Google's website here you will be able to find a comprehensive list of all the EOL dates for Chromebooks. Google also promises to update the list should the company decide to extend support for anymore devices even further or if a new device comes into the market.

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Apple's Macbook Air May Experience Some Speed Issues For Reasons You Wouldn't Expect

pig with lipstickI feel that it's safe to say that we get way too caught up in the excitement of next generation technology. We tend to see that it is the new model and immediately go crazy for it. Normally this isn't that big of a deal, but what happens when you have new tech that performs a lot like the last generation model you have at your house? This type of issue doesn't normally arise for big name tech companies, as they are usually on top of their game. As fate would have it however, our friends over at Apple may need to check on their new Macbook Air. Sources are saying that it may not be as fast as its preceding model.There are reasons for slight variations in the performance power of your particular Mac. Reasons being, due to the fact that Apple tends to go to different suppliers for their SSDs, or solid-state drives. Naturally, since each manufacturer will create a different drive, the performance of a Mac could vary based off of which brand drive was placed inside the Mac.

To be a bit more specific in terms of performance speed, I'm talking about the read and write speeds of the Macbook. The current 2014 model, utilizing a 128 GB SanDisk SSD, is clocking in at 705 MBps and 315MBps for the read and write times, respectively. Comparatively, the last gen 2013 Macbook Air using a 128 GB SanDisk SSD came up with almost identical read and write times of 711MBps and 316MBps respectively. Now mind you, these are only the speeds of the Macbook Air models using a specific gigabyte capacity and a specific brand, so times could easily change depending on the variables of the driver and its capacity.

Apple has been supposedly doing this for years now, and some buyers are aware of the SSD manufacturer differences. They've gone through competitor companies that some may not expect however. They've bought drives from companies like Toshiba, and their biggest competition arguably, Samsung. Here is the big kicker for purchasing a new Macbook Air; you won't be able to tell what SSD you have until you purchase it, boot it up, and look at your specs through the laptop itself. There is also no way to tell which laptop will be receiving what brand of solid-state driver. You pick your laptop, buy it, and whatever you get is whatever you get, unfortunately.

It's generally hard to comparatively test out the speed between different models because of the random SSDs that will be inside the machine. Macworld did a test of a few different Macbook Airs from 2013 and 2014, but was unable to come up with any solid finding because of the difference in the drives and capacities of the drives that came with each laptop.

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Needless to say, it feels as if Apple is either not caring about what type of drive goes into their machines, or that they are basically rehashing old tech and selling it with a fresh name and fresh coat of paint. If you put lipstick on a pig, it's still a pig (see picture). Hopefully this isn't the case with the new Macbook Air. Hopefully that are some differences between the new model and old model that will justify the new model's $899 price tag.


Acer's New Colorful Line Of Laptops And Tablets

1_IMG_5170_1200Yesterday at Acer's Worldwide Global Press conference, CEO Jason Chen showed off a new series of tablets and laptops that sported a colorful new design. Acer also showed a glimpse of the first Chromebooks to sport an Intel Core i3 processor.

Acer first showed off their new Switch 10 System. It's a hybrid 10-inch Windows 8.1 PC. The keyboard detaches with a special magnetic hinge and snaps back into place quickly, easily, and securely. It is made of aluminum, has two front facing speakers and operates in four modes: laptop mode, tablet mode, display mode, and tent mode.

There were also two different 7-inch Android tablets. The Acer Iconia One 7, which has a dual-core 1.6GHz Intel Atom Z2560 processor, a 1280 x 800 display, and Android 4.2 operating system. It also comes in 10 different vibrant colors and will ship out in June for about $130.

The second tablet, the Acer Iconia Tab 7 is a slick looking all silver tablet that runs on a quad-core MediaTek processor. It has an IPS display with zero air gap, Android 4.4 and has 3G connectivity for making calls and transferring data. Both of the new tablets come with front facing 3 megapixel cameras, but this one has a better camera on the back. It is a 5 megapixel camera, and the Iconia One 7 has a 3 megapixel camera on the back. There is no word on when this will be released in the U.S., but it will be shipping to Asia and Europe in June.

The next item they showed gives users the best of both worlds. The Acer Aspire U5-620 is a 23-inch all-in-one desktop, but it also lays flat like a giant tablet for table-top computing. It features a 1080p display, a full HD webcam, and dual microphones. It also comes with a 4th generation Intel Core Series processor and the option of adding Nvidia graphics. This will, like the other new items, be shipping in June for $999.

One of the most exciting things Acer showed off was the new E Series Laptops. The Acer Aspire E15 and E14 both come with either Intel or AMD processors, touch screens or standard screens, and the choice of standard screen resolution or full HD resolution. They both offer up to 7 hours of battery life and a new touchpad that they promise will have better accuracy for multitouch gestures. They will both be available in multiple different colors and will ship in June starting at $299.

The last device to be shown was the Aspire E11. This 11-inch Windows notebook uses a fanless design and is extremely thin because of it. It has a very nice "rounded" design and comes in 11 different colors. The Acer Aspire V11 is the same as the E11 but comes with a touch screen. Both have a 1366 x 768 resolution, Pentium or Celeron CPUs and up to 1TB of internal storage. These will both be available in June as well. It looks like June is going to be a big month for Acer fans.

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