As good as your PC or laptop might be, you can make it even better with accessories. A wireless keyboard, a touch-enabled mouse or a set of powerful external speakers will improve your experience without having to upgrade the computer itself. And few companies can match Logitech when it comes to computer accessories —in quality, design or sheer selection of products. I recently had the opportunity to try out a trio of Logitech’s latest: the Logitech Ultrathin Touch Mouse, TK 820 Wireless Keyboard and Z600 Bluetooth speakers. Here’s what I thought of them.
There’s a lot to like about portable computers, but Google and its hardware partners like Samsung, Acer and HP found a way to offer a light weight, lower cost alternative to the traditional Windows laptop. Chromebooks are a hot category of portable computers that run Google’s Chrome OS instead of Windows or OSX. With Chrome’s lower hardware requirements and the ability to leverage Google’s cloud services, a Chromebook can offer a full-featured PC experience in a device that’s lighter and less expensive than traditional PCs, without the limitations of netbooks. They may not be ideal for everyone, but Chromebooks are designed to cover many scenarios and are particularly useful for students, road warriors, small business and those looking for light duty home PC.
Wireless routers are the unsung heroes of the home Wi-Fi experience. We tend to buy them, set them up, then forget about them. Yet the performance of that network isn’t just a matter of the speed you get from your ISP, it has everything to do with that wireless router. If you haven’t updated yours in a few years or you’re lucky enough to have devices using the new 802.11ac Wi-Fi spec, it may be time for an upgrade. And the Linksys AC1900 Smart Wi-Fi wireless router would be a solid choice. After replacing my own wireless router with the Linksys for a week, I came away impressed with its performance and network management tools —and I don’t even have anything that takes advantage of its 802.11ac capabilities.
When it comes to cars, a convertible is one with a roof that protects occupants from the weather while offering a top-free ride in the summer sunshine. When it comes to PCs, convertible laptops mean something a little different. These are PCs that combine the best of two different experiences —the laptop and the tablet— in a single device. And like a convertible (the car), a convertible laptop accomplishes this trick through some clever hardware design. Convertible laptops aren’t for everyone, but if you’re a fan of mobile computing and you’d love to have a tablet along for the ride without the extra weight (and expense); or if you wish your tablet had a keyboard and trackpad, a convertible laptop may be the ideal device for you.
One of the cool things about PCs is that nothing ever stands still. Whether it’s new video games that redefine immersion, or the ability to edit photos at full resolution with a 4K monitor, progress often means pushing the limits of a video card. If you’ve hit a wall when it comes to your computer’s graphics capabilities, or maybe you made a New Year’s resolution to upgrade your PC so you can use that big 4K monitor to full advantage, the good news is this doesn’t need to mean shelling out for an all new system. Chances are you can get back to enjoying the best PC technology has to offer by simply upgrading your video card.
Many of us have more data than we know what to do with. Digital photos, digital movies, MP3s and old school stuff like documents and spreadsheets can start to take up a lot of space on your PC. On your smartphone or tablet, it’s even worse —a lot of those photos get snapped on a smartphone and with limited storage, it doesn’t take long to fill them up. Cloud storage is always an option, but then you’re at the mercy of the provider and there may be charges associated with the service. Western Digital offers a compelling alternative —a “personal cloud”— with its My Cloud series of network hard drives. I tested a 3TB My Cloud drive and came away convinced that this is the best thing to happen to hard drives since USB.
Sony’s Vaio series of PC laptops has always won points for style and design and the company has become a leader in producing Windows 8 hybrid machines —portables that combine Windows 8 PC and tablet capabilities. I’ve spent the past week trying out Sony’s latest take on the hybrid form factor. After putting it through its paces, I can assure you that the Vaio Fit 15A is one of the most useful variations yet on the tablet/notebook convertible hybrid, a real looker (especially in the black finish of the test unit) and an able performer. It’s held back a little by a few details —a loud and persistent fan, so-so keyboard, and not so stellar battery life among them— but offers a solid portable computer experience, along with tablet capability, in a single package that just happens to look pretty smashing.