Introspection: What type of computer user are you? Are you a creator or are you a consumer? Creators of content are going to require very different hardware than a consumer of content.

If you are a consumer of content  you aren’t going to need the fastest or most powerful laptop. Your needs are going to be fulfilled by a high-quality screen and easy usability.

Consumers:

If you are in this category, you might be best suited for a tablet/laptop hybrid. Most manufacturers have at least one 2-in-1 option available and reputable manufacturers like Dell, HP, ASUS or Lenovo are the best places to look for purchasing such a device.

Amazon and other online retailers are excellent sources for user reviews of products. Research each option thoroughly to find which one is most highly rated by users.

Specifications to look out for include: high-resolution screen (1080p or better), hybrid design (detachable keyboard for example), touch based interface, Solid-State-Drive (SSD).

*NOTE: Most laptops/netbooks/2-in-1 devices do not have an optical drive anymore. If you plan on watching DVDs or installing software from a disk, make sure to purchase a laptop with an optical drive or plan on purchasing an external optical drive.

Creators:

‘Creator’ is a broad category with a variety of different types of needs but as a baseline: people in this category should look at ultrabooks and laptops. As of February 2015, you should look for machines that have a minimum of 8GB of RAM (16 is better), a SSD, and at least a 2.4 Ghz i5 CPU with an i7 being a better long term investment.

Depending on the content you intend to create, you might have more specific needs. Graphics intensive work will necessitate a dedicated Graphics Card (GPU) with at least 2GB of VRAM. Graphics work also tends to require more disk space, which would mean a larger SSD. Alternatively, you could get an external drive*.

Peripherals:

Useful additions to any laptop include:

Mini-Display Port, Thunderbolt Port, HDMI Port, USB 3.0 Support, SD Card reader.

 

Decision time:

An Average Consumer laptop should look something like this:

  • Intel i3 2.0Ghz CPU
  • 128 GB SSD
  • 8GB 1600 Mhz DDR3 SDRAM
  • 13-15.6″ 1080P Screen

An Average Creator laptop should look something like this:

  • Intel i5 2.6Ghz CPU
  • Nvidia 730M w/ 2GBs VRAM
  • Intel 256 GB SSD
  • 8GB 1600Mhz DDR3 SDRAM
  • 15.6″ 1080p Screen

A Powerful Creator laptop should look something like this:

  • Intel i7 3.4Ghz CPU
  • Nvidia 760M w/ 2Gbs VRAM
  • Intel 512GB SSD
  • 16GB 1600Mhz DDR3 SDRAM
  • 17.1″ 1080P Screen.

 

Of course it goes without saying that netEffx technicians would be happy to answer any of your questions (no question is a bad question) and are ready and able to build your specific computer.

 

*If you purchase a laptop with a small SSD and have a Thunderbolt or USB 3.0 port, you can effectively use an external drive to increase your computer’s storage capacity.

When Apple released the iPad in 2010, they were ridiculed. No one expected there to be any need for a giant iPhone without any calling ability. Since then, the tablet market has exploded. Every major tech manufacturer from ASUS to Dell are manufacturing tablets modeled after the iPad.

Rewind 5-10 years and you will see a market of mobile computing that is emerging called ‘netbooks’. Designed to be low profile, lightweight laptops for highly mobile individuals (not unlike tablets). These devices were, and to some extent, still are, extremely low power, tiny form-form factor computers. The netbook market struggled for traction 5 years ago, and it continues to struggle today.

netbook

Tablets overtook the netbook world due to their attractive, simple design, touch screen interface and portability.
If you ask anyone in the mobile tech industry what their thoughts on tablets are, they will likely give you one of two responses; enthusiastically negative or enthusiastically positive. There is a pretty big gap between these two camps. Some see tablets as simple, powerful computers that fulfill their (minimal) computing needs. Others see them as redundant, larger versions of their phones that lack the functionality of a full computer.

As an owner of an Apple iPad and a previous owner of a Google Nexus 7 I find myself in the latter camp. I use my iPad for less and less every day. It simply doesn’t have the customizability or functionality of a computer; nor does it have the convenience of a phone. It sits awkwardly between the two, unsure of what its role should be.
That said, I don’t think this is a problem with tablets as a class; I think that this entire problem revolves around our mentality that a tablet should have a mobile OS, like iOS. In keeping with the Apple ‘ecosystem’, one cannot install OSX apps on an iPad. You can’t save documents to your desktop, there are no folders. You are locked into this ethereal state of app-jumping.

If only there was a middle ground. Something that took the small form factor, touch screen and low profile of a tablet, but the power and functionality of a mobile computer.

Enter the Microsoft Surface Pro 2 and 3.

Surface Pro 3

The Surface is incredible. It is a lightweight, touchscreen device in the shape of a tablet but it packs the hardware of a midrange desktop computer AND has a fully featured Windows 8.1 (soon to be Windows 10) installation on it.
Not only do you have a full Windows OS loaded where you can install any Windows program, you get to use Windows 8.1 as it was meant to be used—with your hands. If that wasn’t enough for you, it also comes with a USB port, a MicroSD expansion port and a connector to hook up a very well designed and fully qualified keyboard.
I firmly believe that the Surface is the future of mobile computing. Computing power is going to always be increasing, we have to match that power with user ability. That cannot be achieved through a mobile OS. A simplified OS has its place in small devices like phones or media players. But a mobile computing device like a tablet, deserves a qualified OS like Windows 8.1(10).

We at netEffx will be acquiring a Surface Pro 3 to conduct more extensive trials in the coming week. Stay tuned for more information on them and other new Microsoft Tech!