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In the Zone

PCs for content creators could bring higher ASPs

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by Kevin Jacoby on 01/16/2019
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There’s money to be made in PCs for content creators.

As demand for high-def video content and immersive video games grows, so too does the need for the digital workstations used to create them.

And much like gaming rigs, computers designed for 3D animation, video editing and graphic design require high-performance components. These parts can push the average selling price (ASP) for content-creator systems to the limit.

ProArt for art pros

For example, consider the little bundle of joy ASUS announced at CES earlier this month. It’s called the Mini PC ProArt PA90, a name that makes no bones about ASUS’s intended customer.

ASUS Mini PC

ASUS Mini PC ProArt PA90: the name says it all

So far, the folks at ASUS are keeping quiet about the starting price. But they’re happy to let your customers know about some choice upgrades that are sure to raise the total cost considerably.

Among the most notable is a 3.6GHz Intel Core i9 9900K, which currently sells for $800 to $950. That price may seem high to your customers — but only until you tell them about the NVIDIA Quadro P4000 graphics processor. That will cost another $2,250.

Other available upgrades include a couple of 2TB SSDs and 64GB of DDR4 memory. Both are sure to cost a pretty penny.

If the ASUS price point gets your customer hot under the collar, tell them about the PA90’s very cool cooling system, which automatically raises the top of the chassis to increase airflow. That may take their minds off the inevitable credit-card bill.

The ultimate sticker shock

If your customer says they want the ultimate content creation system, make sure they’re sitting down when you tell them about the HP Z8 Workstation.

The Z8 starts off reasonably enough, with a base price of around $4,200. But you wouldn’t really describe the base system’s specs as “ultimate.” For that, you’ll need to add a pair of Intel Xeon Platinum 8180 28-core processors, each costing about $20,000.

HP Z8 Workstation

HP’s Z8 workstation, fully loaded

Expensive? Not compared to the RAM. Let’s face it, if you’re running 56 cores, you’re going to need 1.5TB of DDR4 ECC Load-Reduced memory. That little upgrade will cost a cool $59,000 and change.

Naturally your customer will also need a place to store all that content they create. Don’t worry, the Z8 can support up to six 2TB SSDs. They only cost around $1,300 each.

To top it off, your customer will likely want a professional-strength graphics card like the NVIDIA Quadro P6000, which packs a 24GB, GDDR5X punch. Sure, the card will cost an extra $6,100. But when you already have $40,000 worth of processors, isn’t that a mere drop in the bucket?

Add it all up, and you might ask yourself: What can my customer do with a $112,000 content-creator PC? And the answer is, anything they want!

Revenue creation PCs

That said, it’s safe to assume most customers will choose a somewhat less-insane configuration than that maxed-out Z8.

However, it’s also reasonable to assume that the average sale price of a content-creator PC will still be higher than that of any run-of-the-mill business system or mobile device. Your profit margins should be far higher, too.

Seeking out the customer who are designing tomorrow’s high-impact content could be the ultimate strategy for the modern age of PC sales. So get ready for some exciting new price tags — and exciting new margins.

 

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In the Zone

PC customers need a sound upgrade? Show them cool audio speakers

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by Kevin Jacoby on 01/11/2019
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Remember TV sets and stereo systems? With the rise of streaming services, many people are now enjoying music and movies on their PCs instead. But are their PC speakers truly up to the task? If not, it’s time for an upgrade.

In the world of audio, there are speakers and then there are speakers. The first merely reproduces sound. The second deliver a listening experience so good, it could change the way your customers hear music and movies forever.

Wired or wireless?

Any audiophile will tell you that when it comes to sound quality, there’s no substitute for wired speakers. Good, old-fashioned copper wire conducts electrical impulses particularly well.

Remember, a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. The best speakers in the world will sound good only when fed a high-integrity signal.

On the other hand, cords and cables can be messy, annoying and cumbersome. If your customer is looking for a less-cluttered solution, steer them toward Wi-Fi rather than Bluetooth. Sure, Bluetooth is convenient. But it doesn’t deliver much in the way of sound quality.

Wi-Fi, on the other hand, is capable of high-bandwidth transmission. This sends more information to the speakers, faster and more consistently than Bluetooth.

Sonos Wi-Fi speakers

Such is the case with the increasingly popular Sonos Wi-Fi speakers (pictured above). They deliver the next best thing to a wired solution. Plus, prices start at a reasonable $200.

Size matters

Don’t let your customer get fooled into thinking that bigger speakers are necessarily better. In the age of modern speaker design, it’s no longer necessary to install giant woofers just to get extra bass response.

The trick is to choose reasonably-sized speakers designed to sound bigger than they really are. Well-designed speakers usually feature multiple speaker components — most commonly a woofer and a tweeter — that handle specific frequency ranges.

A good example is the A5+ Classic Speakers from AudioEngine. A pair retails for about $400. Inside the A5+ is a crossover that sends high frequencies to the tweeter and low frequencies to the woofer. And they're less than 11 inches tall.

AudioEngine A5+ speakers

AudioEngine A5+ Speakers: a 2-way system with rear bass ports

These speakers also feature rear bass ports — oblong holes cut into the back of the speaker cabinets. It’s a simple, elegant solution that increases low-end response without increasing the size or weight of the speakers themselves.

Look to the future

What does the future hold for audio? Sony thinks it has the right answer in its upcoming 360 Reality Audio technology.

Sony believes we should no longer be satisfied with the stereo image we’ve been listening to for the better part of a century. (Modern stereophonic technology was invented back in the 1930s.)

360 Reality Audio uses Sony's object-based spatial audio technology to provide an immersive music experience. Sony says it feels just like being at a live concert.

During Sony's production phase, musical artists will have the opportunity to define how the listener perceives each aspect of the music. Theoretically, the listener could hear violins behind her, a singer directly in front, and a kettle drum that seems to be two rooms over, behind a concrete wall. The possibilities are infinite — and incredible!

Whether your customers are listening Cardi B or Vivaldi, you can help them set up a great-sounding system without spending a million bucks. If they haven't checked out the latest speakers, they ain’t heard nothin’ yet!

 

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In the Zone

5G: wanted by many, understood by few

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by Kevin Jacoby on 12/11/2018
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Do your customers understand the impact 5G could have on their businesses and lives? Do they even know what 5G is?

A recent study commissioned by Intel and conducted by Ovum finds that the number of Americans willing to pay extra for 5G service is inversely proportional to the number of those who fully understand it.

More specifically: Nearly three-quarters (74%) of the respondents said they’re willing to pay extra for 5G. Limit responses to the so-called “tech elite,” and that number goes up to 91%.

But when asked about the details of the next generation of wireless communication, about 6 in 10 (58%) admitted to either not being knowledgeable about 5G — or not even having heard of it!

Speed thrills

If your customers need a primer on 5G technology, get them started with 3 little words: It’s way faster.

The 5th generation of wireless cellular mobile communications will be so fast, it could do away completely with wired broadband in the home. Users won’t even need to plug in a modem. Instead, their high-speed internet will be broadcast from the nearest cell tower at up to 20 gigabits per second.

But we’re not talking about speed simply for speed’s sake. High-speed cell service has far-reaching implications. For instance, consider those fleets of self-driving cars many of us are hoping for. To operate safely, they’ll need 5G’s dramatically reduced latency.

Latency is the time it takes to pass a message from sender to receiver. It’s exactly the thing you don’t want when your self-driving car is deciding how to dodge a school bus and save your life at the same time.

That’s (also) entertainment

The most anticipated benefit of 5G by far is better, faster, more reliable entertainment networks. Once 5G reaches its full potential — experts say that could be sometime between 2020 and 2025 — users should be able to download huge ultra-high-definition (UHD) video files in mere seconds.

Video games will stream in and out of cellular devices at breakneck speed. And no matter where you are, you’ll be able to binge on Netflix, edit 4K cat videos, and remotely control semi-autonomous vehicles from your mobile device.

5G Tipping Point

As the figure above shows, the Intel/Ovum report estimates that entertainment experiences could account for as much as $1.3 trillion of the total $3 trillion estimated cumulative wireless revenue opportunity.

Big channel opp

The tech industry is expecting 5G to be a whirlwind, sweeping through the market in a fury of dollar signs, commas and zeroes. It stands to reason that channel partners should be able to help themselves to their fair share of the revenues.

For starters, we’re all going to need new hardware. Every desktop, laptop, convertible, and mobile device will need to be 5G-compatible to take advantage of this new wireless wonder.

Vertical markets like education, healthcare, and manufacturing will have to spend widely and wisely to empower their internal and mobile workforces for 5G, too.

But it’s the gear we haven’t imagined yet that should be the most exciting.

Having access to a never-before-seen level of mobile bandwidth will spawn new products, perhaps even new industries. 5G will forever change the way we think about technology and what it can do for us. The only limit will be our imaginations.

 

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In the Zone

4 holiday gift ideas for the techies in your life

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by Kevin Jacoby on 12/06/2018
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Sure, it’s better to give than to receive, but it’s also harder. That’s especially true when you’re shopping for the techie who has everything.

That gift-giving time of year is here again. In the interest of smoothing out your holiday shopping to-do list, we’re here to help.

Feast your eyes on these 4 high-tech toys. Any of them should bring joy to your gadget-obsessed giftees.

JUNE OVEN

> Perfect for: The high-tech chef

> Price: $599

Full disclosure: You can buy June Oven now, but it won’t ship until February. Will it be worth the wait? It sure looks that way.

As soon as June Oven connects to a Wi-Fi network, the iPhone or Android app lets you start cooking with the click of a button. June will simply grab the pertinent time and temperature info from your recipe.

No recipe? No problem. The oven offers more than 100 one-tap cooking programs. Just tap on a category — vegetables, seafood, meat, etc. — and then select a dish.

June Oven

June Oven: one smart cooker

The oven also has a camera inside, which it can use to figure out what you’re cooking and how much of it there is. Using that information, the oven adjusts its own temperature and cooking time.

But wait, there’s more: The June Oven operates in any of 7 modes: convection oven, air fryer, dehydrator, slow cooker, broiler, toaster and warming drawer. It can even send you a text message when your freshly cooked meal is ready!

AMAZON ECHO DOT

> Perfect for: Everyone

> Price: $49

Amazon has brought out the 3rd generation of its increasingly ubiquitous Echo Dot smart speaker just in time for the holidays.

And it’s priced to move. Dot starts at $49, which is cheap enough. But the device spends much of its time on sale for half that price, especially for Amazon Prime members.

Amazon Echo Dot

Amazon Echo Dot: louder — and priced to move

Music lovers will be glad to know Amazon finally fixed the worst thing about the diminutive device: low volume. Dot now delivers 70% more sound than its previous versions. That makes it a suitable standalone instead of an add-on for the bigger Amazon Echo Plus.

BOSE NOISE-MASKING SLEEPBUDS

> Perfect for: Light sleepers

> Price: $249

Does the person who sleeps next to you make sounds like a chainsaw? Are you plagued by midnight fire engines, barking dogs, and/or crying babies? If so, Bose might have made the perfect sleep companion.

The company’s new SleepBuds are designed to fit snugly in your ear. There, they’ll cover up external noises while they sing you softly to sleep with the dulcet tones of pre-loaded white noise (or anything else).

Bose Sleepbuds

Bose Sleepbuds: the sweet sound of sleep

The wireless device includes a smartphone app that lets the user select any of 10 pre-loaded sounds, volume level, playback time, even set wake-up alarms.

While these earbuds are keeping the soothing sounds in, Bose’s famous noise-cancelling tech is keeping the not-so-soothing sounds out. Zzzzzz….

THE BEATLES YELLOW SUBMARINE COLLECTOR’S EDITION TURNTABLE BY PRO-JECT

> Perfect for: Audiophiles over the age of 40

> Price: $499

Oh, Ringo, you saucy minx! Decades on, your beloved anti-pop anthem, "Yellow Submarine," still lives on.

We all laugh. But Ringo’s laughing all the way to the bank.

And the bank is just where you’ll be headed if you decide to drop $500 on Pro-Ject Audio Systems’ submarine-shaped deck featuring anti-skate technology and carbon-fiber tone arm. But think of the look on your giftee’s face when the wrapping paper comes off!

Yellow Submarine turntable by Pro-Ject

Yellow Submarine turntable: Fab, baby!

If you’re going there, make sure to include a 180-gram vinyl copy of The Beatles’ tenth studio record. How wonderfully meta will that be?!

Got a techie on your holiday list? Check out these 4 ideas to give them a gift they’ll love to receive.

 

The indispensable source for professionals who create, implement and service technology solutions for entrepreneurs to enterprise.

In the Zone

Gaming PCs: are your customers ready for an $8K desktop?

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by Kevin Jacoby on 11/15/2018
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How much can your customers spend on a gaming computer? How much have they got?

PC users in general are moving to thinner, lighter and cheaper devices. But not the gaming crowd. They’re still mad about desktops and laptops that are bigger, faster and stronger.

This demand for high-end hardware pushed gaming-computer revenue last year past the $23 billion mark, and sales show no sign of slowing, according to WePC. That makes gaming one bright spot in an otherwise sluggish PC market.

Game developers are helping drive this market, too. Each of their new games demands more from the hardware it’s running on. To keep up, hardware suppliers are creating bigger, better and faster systems — with higher price tags to match.

Prices add up quickly

In the world of hardcore gaming, success or failure depends largely on 2 main components: the CPU and GPU. So it should come as no surprise that most of the money spent on a gaming rig goes to the latest Intel processors and NVIDIA or AMD graphics cards.

Take Dell’s popular Alienware Area-51 gaming desktop. The starting price is an ever-so-humble $1,800, which includes a reasonably fast Intel Core i7 running 6 cores at up to 4 GHz each.

Alienware Area-51 gaming desktop

Alienware Area-51: from $1,800 to $8,000 in under six seconds

But hardcore gamers are the go-big-or-go-home type. When bragging rights and/or six-figure prize money is hanging in the balance, they want to stack the odds in their favor.

For them, Area-51 offers an Intel Core i9 18-core processor with a 24.75 MB cache. The price for this upgrade is a cool $2,100. That brings the system’s total price to $3,900.

But wait, there’s more! Any gamer worth his or her salt knows that an 18-core processor needs a GPU to match.

Yeah, we’re going to need to drop in a pair of liquid-cooled NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080s. That’s another $1,400, bringing the total to a whopping $5,300. And we haven’t even talked about drives, RAM or peripherals yet.

So let’s talk about them. Add 64GB of DDR4 memory: another $1,500. Two 2TB solid state drives (SSD): $1,500 more. Before you know it, you’re over $8,000, not including your ultra-high-def 4K widescreen display (or two).

Laptops, too

To be this expensive, a gaming computer doesn’t have to be a desktop. Your customers can spend a ton on a laptop, too!

To begin, simply configure a Digital Storm Harker 17-inch gaming laptop with an Intel Core i9 8-core mobile processor running at 3.6 GHz. It already comes with GeForce GTX 1080 graphics, so no up-charge there.

Digital Storm Harker

Digital Storm Harker: fully loaded at nearly $325 an inch

But don’t worry: It’s easy to push the price up to more than $5,500. Just add 64GB of memory and a second SSD.

Now, if your customers are looking for a more recognizable name tag, you can also show them the latest Lenovo Legion laptop series.

Lenovo Legion gaming laptop

Lenovo Legion: well-known name, modest price

Starting at around $1,250, Lenovo’s price point is comparatively modest. But it does have discrete graphics, Intel’s 8th Gen processors, and an ever-so-cool multicolor light-up keyboard.

Channel partners, rejoice

These super-high PC prices might be troubling to whoever opens the credit-card bill at the end of the month. Ouch.

But channel partners selling $7,000 desktops shouldn’t be troubled at all. High-performance gaming rigs could be the perfect antidote to a PC market otherwise stuck in neutral.

Success requires being in the right place at the right time. In the PC market, the right place is gaming. And the right time? Right now.

 

The indispensable source for professionals who create, implement and service technology solutions for entrepreneurs to enterprise.

In the Zone

Why Intel/VW/Champion are partnering on electric, self-driving cars

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by Kevin Jacoby on 11/07/2018
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The robots are coming! Well, they’re coming to Israel. That’s where Intel, Volkswagen and Champion Motors will roll out the first example of autonomous ride-sharing. Get ready. This could be truly amazing.

If it works, users will be able to hail an empty EV (electric vehicle) built by Volkswagen and powered by Intel. Theoretically, the car will navigate from point A to point B, fully aware of traffic, weather conditions and road hazards, not to mention other cars and people. Wow, that’s a lot to ask of a robot.

The work is set to begin next year. Full-scale commercialization is set for 2022.

Intel hits fast-forward

Intel is starting from the right place. With its recent $15.3 billion acquisition of Israeli tech firm Mobileye, the chip-maker took a huge leap forward in the development of technology required to safely operate a driverless car. This includes advanced mapping, sensors, camera tech and the decision-making mechanisms cars will use to keep their passengers safe.

The folks at Intel are also pushing for an industry-wide standard similar to the one currently in use by the aviation industry. (Good idea!)

The consummate corporate cocktail

Intel sure knows how to create digital systems. But if the rubber’s going to meet the road, they’ll need a great set of tires, too. Enter Volkswagen, one of the world’s biggest, most prolific automakers.

VW driverless EV

Volkswagen’s driverless electric vehicle (EV): safer, cleaner, less traffic?

However, VW is still recovering from the multi-billion-dollar fiasco in which company officers lied to the whole world about their emissions-testing evasion software. Even now, two tabs at the top of the company’s U.S. website are “TDI Settlement” and “Recalls.”

So VW is jumping at the chance to earn back some good will. By putting cutting-edge driverless EVs on the road, VW hopes to not only replace the negative headlines, but also make a real investment in the future.

The partnership of Intel/Mobileye, Volkswagen and Champion Motors is called New Mobility. For now, it exists only in Israel. But that could change quickly. If so, it may turn out to be the first commercially viable example of autonomous MaaS (Mobility as a Service).

Good for the channel?

It’s going to take a while for this tech to reach the channel. But when it does, it should create one heck of a platform.

Channel providers will be called on to assist customers with a huge array of software solutions and hardware systems. Those could include cameras, sensors, screens and software.

Yep, the robots are coming alright. And they’re bringing revenue and opportunities with them. Stay tuned.

 

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In the Zone

Meet 3 cool smartwatches that aren’t Apple Watch

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by Kevin Jacoby on 10/12/2018
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Apple Watch is widely regarded as the undisputed heavy-weight of wearables. But as a recent report from ABI Research shows, the competition has grown serious. Apple Watch recently suffered a 14% drop in its market share.

Is Apple’s reign coming to an end? In a word, no. But the competition sure is getting better. A serious battle is on.

One front in that battle is price. All Apple products are comparatively expensive, and the company’s watches are no exception. Retail prices for Apple Watches start at $400 to $800, depending on model and features.

The stakes are high. ABI predicts that over 67 million smartwatches will ship worldwide this year. Your customers may be among those millions of buyers. Here’s your update on some tough Apple competition from Fitbit, Samsung and LG.

Fitbit Versa

If you see someone wearing a smart watch not made by Apple, chances are it’s a Fitbit. The company’s latest, the Fitbit Versa, is the most Apple Watch-like wearable on the market. From a distance, you might not even be able to tell the two apart.

But when it’s time to get out the credit card, your customers will certainly know the difference. The Versa retails for around $200 — just half the price of an entry-level Apple Watch.

Fitbit Versa                                               

Fitbit Versa: half the price of an Apple

Despite the low price, Versa deftly delivers some of the wearable market’s greatest hits. That includes heart-rate and fitness tracking, multi-day battery life, and cross-platform compatibility with both iOS and Android.

However, some Versa users have complained about the device’s clunky music playing and transfer, lack of on-watch messages or calls, and a payment system that has so far attracted only a fraction of Apple Pay’s participating merchants.

Samsung Galaxy Watch

Samsung’s new Galaxy Watch has a huge built-in crowd: Android users. If your customers value features over fitness, Galaxy Watch should be part of your conversation.

Retailing for around $350, Samsung’s latest wrist candy is much closer in price to Apple Watch. Then again, it’s also much closer in functionality. Like they say, you get what you pay for.

Samsung Galaxy Watch

Samsung Galaxy Watch: cool, but where’s Android?

However, it’s a little ironic that the best watch for Android doesn’t run Google’s Wear operating system (Android for watches). Samsung opted instead for its own in-house OS, Tizen, to make the Galaxy Watch’s unique bezel control work.

It’s a bittersweet trade-off. That bezel dial is something many Apple Watch users would like to have. But the Tizen OS has almost no third-party apps. For feature-hungry users, that’s likely to be frustrating.

LG Watch W7

If your customer says yes to Android but no to Samsung, tell them about the LG Watch W7.

While you’re at it, you can also tell them how nice it is to wear a smartwatch without looking like you’re wearing a smartwatch (the word “dork” comes to mind). Watch W7 is the world’s only viable hybrid smartwatch. And it’s got hands — actual hands!

LG Watch W7

LG Watch W7: Look, ma — hands!

Said hands sit just slightly above a 1.2-inch screen running Wear OS by Google. That means Google Play, which means tons of apps and reliable, timely updates.

Is it expensive? You betcha. But not more expensive than Apple, right? Actually, yes, it is. If your customers want to go hybrid, it’ll cost them around $450 for the base model.

But they’ll look damn good doing it. Who can put a price on that?

 

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In the Zone

New high-end 2-in-1s: What do your customers get for the money?

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by Kevin Jacoby on 10/04/2018
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Wait, are high-end 2-in-1 devices now a thing? According to HP and Microsoft, they certainly are.

Both companies this week introduced luxury 2-in-1 offerings. And they’re hoping your customers will sit up and take notice.

Two new 2-in-1s

Let’s meet our contestants. In this corner, weighing in at 3.28 pounds, the leather-clad Lothario of laptops, the HP Spectre Folio!

HP Spectre Folio 2-in-1

HP Spectre Folio: a 2-in-1 bound in leather

HP’s new luxury offering is a magnesium skeleton wrapped in chrome-tanned, full-grain leather. Coming in 2 colors — cognac brown and Bordeaux burgundy — it’s pretty, it’s pretty fast, and its starting retail price is pretty high: around $1,300, or roughly the same as a new MacBook Pro laptop.

And in this corner, weighing a scant 1.7 pounds, Microsoft’s miraculous mighty morphing mainstay, the new Surface Pro 6!

Microsoft Surface Pro 6

Microsoft Surface Pro 6: starting well under $1K

What Microsoft’s Surface Pro 6 lacks in bovine hide, it makes up with 4 color options: platinum, burgundy, cobalt blue and the new black. It also happens to be a less-expensive option for your customers. Starting at around $900, the Surface Pro 6 costs $400 less than the HP Spectre Folio, but is just as speedy.

Speaking of speed…

So what do the extra bucks buy for your customers? For one thing, processing power. Both the HP Spectre Folio and Microsoft Surface Pro 6 are powered by recently released 8th Gen Intel Core i5 and i7 processors.

Both these new 2-in-1s also come standard with 8GB of memory, expandable up to 16GB total. Both also offer various solid state drive (SSD) storage options. The Surface Pro 6 starts at a paltry 128GB, but then offers configurations up to 1TB. The Spectre Folio starts out with 256GB, then offers drives as big as 2TB.

Svelte and shapely

The ability to switch form factors on the fly is what qualifies these devices as 2-in-1s. Both models flow seamlessly from laptop to tablet and back again.

But wait, don’t even cheaper 2-in-1 devices do that?

Yes. The difference is how they do it.

The hinge on the HP Spectre Folio is made of leather, so it’s naturally flexible. Embedded in this leather is an array of magnets expertly placed to hold the screen and keyboard in a few perfect positions.

Microsoft’s new Surface Pro, by comparison, employs a “full-friction” hinge that stays exactly where you want it. In fact, Microsoft considers the Surface Pro 6 to be more of a 3-in-1 than 2-in-1, because the device can be used in 3 modes: laptop, tablet and studio. The latter mode bends Surface into a shape most conducive to creative work with Microsoft’s Surface Pen and Surface Dial.

Nice looks, looks nice

In addition, the extra ducats your customers will need to pay for these devices will also get them nice-looking screens and nice-looking computers in general. Sure, your customers could buy the same old boring black rectangle as everyone else. But if they want a little more, both these devices have it.

For one, both the Surface and Folio offer an 8th Gen Intel UHD Graphics 615 processor. On the HP Folio, this GPU pushes a lush, 13.3-inch FHD IPS micro-edge WLED-backlit touch screen. HP says a 4K option will be available soon, too.

The Surface’s display is a little smaller at 12.3 inches. Designed for daytime viewing, it boasts 5 million pixels.

Ultimately, your customers will have to decide whether these features are worth the premium. If they’re looking for nothing but bare specs, they may want to keep looking; these same components can be bought for less. But if fit and finish top your customers' list, the new 2-in-1s from HP and Microsoft could be just the thing.

 

The indispensable source for professionals who create, implement and service technology solutions for entrepreneurs to enterprise.

In the Zone

PC refresh: 7 reasons why now’s the time

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by Kevin Jacoby on 09/13/2018
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The end of Windows 7 is coming.

According to Microsoft, the big day will be Jan. 14, 2020. That’s when Microsoft plans to pull the plug on this now 9-year-old operating system, ending all its security patches, updates and support.

If you have customers running PCs on Windows 7, you’re far from alone. Net MarketShare reports that Win7 still accounts for 42% of Windows installations, substantially higher than Windows 10’s share of 34%.

Windows 10 laptop

Windows 10 laptop: faster to run, cheaper to own

For SMBs with just a few aging workstations, 2020 is still far off, and there’s no great rush. But if your customers have an enterprise-sized installation of older Win7 PCs, there’s no time to lose.

That’s because refitting an entire company’s worth of software and hardware can be a long and arduous process. The sooner your customers start, the better.

All the reasons in the world

It’s one thing to suggest an undertaking of this physical and financial magnitude. But it’s quite another to persuade a customer to pull the Win10 trigger. A big part of the game is framing the argument just right.

To help you do that, here are 7 reasons why your SMB customers should consider refreshing their older PCs now:

1. Sooner is better: Don’t wait until you have a gun to your head. Take the time to research and carefully consider your next move. Then roll out the upgrade in an orderly fashion.

2. Take advantage of software upgrades: Software developers, at some point, will stop developing apps for older versions of Windows. Don’t get hung up at a dead end. New versions of your most-used software are vital in terms of workflow, security and feature sets.

3. Hardware + software = greater than the sum of their parts: Modern iterations of Windows are designed to take advantage of “hardware hooks” built into the processor. A matched set of OS + CPU can enable features like enhanced biometric security and seamless access to virtual assistants such as Cortana and Alexa.

4. Consider compact form factors: There’s no need for your staff to be tied to a big, black boat anchor of a PC. A move to Windows 10 opens up the possibility of shifting to a high-performance laptop, 2-in-1 or other mobile form factor.

5. Make new memories: Windows 7 was written long before the advent of DDR4 memory. Even if subsequent upgrades of your favorite software did support 32GB, 64GB or even 128GB of high-speed memory, Windows 7 would never be able to address it.

6. Efficiency is key: You may think you’re getting the most out of your IT and human resources, but you’re not. Workers can’t achieve maximum productivity while waiting an ice age for devices to wake up, files to transfer, pages to load, and graphics to render. Newer PCs with the combo of 8th Gen Intel Core CPUs and Windows 10 are a whole lot faster, empowering workers to get more done.

7. New hardware saves money: Replacing PCs altogether is a good way to kick Windows 7 to the curb. And it can cost less than you might think — especially if you consider total cost of ownership (TCO).

Money-saving

How can a PC refresh save your customers money? Let me count the ways:

> High-efficiency hardware produces less heat. This means less wear & tear, a longer PC life cycle, and lower electric bills.

> Hardware capable of next-gen video conferencing reduces the need for long commutes (say, to China), enables employees to work from home or on the road, and helps eliminate errors due to miscommunication.

> Enhanced biometric and proximity security features in Win10 help keep you one step ahead of costly hacks and corporate espionage.

> Opening an upgrade path to new components such as memory, SSDs and processors can enable subsequent hardware refreshes without replacing PCs.

There’s still time for your customers to plan and execute an orderly upgrade path from Win7 to Win10. And who better to help them than you? Plus, in the process, you can increase your own revenue.

Talk about a win-win! The time for your customers' PC refresh is now.

 

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In the Zone

Intel intros 8th gen U-Series and Y-Series laptop processors

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by Kevin Jacoby on 09/07/2018
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Intel has taken the wraps off two new Core processor types designed to boost power and battery life in laptops and 2-in-1 devices.

The new U-Series and Y-Series processors — formerly known as Whiskey Lake and Amber Lake, respectively — are part of Intel’s 8th Gen release. That means they operate on the same 14nm lithography as Intel’s most recent desktop and high-performance laptop Core i3, i5 and i7 chips.

Intel U-Series and Y-Series processors

The new Intel U-Series & Y-Series mobile processors

That’s all fine and well, you may be thinking, but what’s in it for my customers? After all, with iteration after iteration tumbling out of Intel’s factories, you could be forgiven for thinking that this is just another set of slightly faster chips.

Only, you’d be wrong.

Consider the following 3 specs:

> 4.6 GHz quad-core with Hyper Threading

> 16-hour battery life

> 15W TDP (thermal design power)

Take any 1 of those specs by itself, and it’s hardly worth mentioning. But combine all 3 in a U-series laptop or 2-in-1 mobile device, and all of a sudden it’s a technological revolution.

It’s a good bet that your customers are looking for a solution like this, whether they know it yet or not. Systems that are thin and light, with heavy-duty computing power, and an all-day battery? Rejoice, mobile workforce, salvation lies within.

A quicker connection

Both of Intel’s new processor sets brings Gigabit WiFi and Gigabit LTE to thin and light devices. Thanks to Intel Wireless AC, users can download files, access virtual software, and conduct high-speed video conferences no matter where they are.

As 802.11ac routers and 5G wireless services proliferate, your customers will be able to jump on to the fastest signal possible. Any sales person who has ever pulled out most of his or her hair waiting for 12GB worth of advertising materials to drip through a mobile wireless modem will understand the value of this feature.

A word about virtual assistants

That word is “Alexa.”

As in, “Alexa, how great is it that Intel’s new processors come with integrated hardware to enable virtual assistants on my customers’ new thin and light laptops and 2-in-1 devices?”

Alexa: “Pretty great.”

Intel’s new U-series and Y-series processors will start showing up in mobile devices this fall. It will come as no surprise that Intel’s marquee launch partners include ASUS, Dell, HP and Lenovo.

Thin and light productivity is the new name of the game. Are your customers ready to play?

Learn more: View the 8th Gen Intel Core U-Series and Y-Series product brief

 

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