This month, there are three twisty new products that just might jump-start your workflow. We’ll start with a keyboard that’s got a twist: It lets you concentrate on creating documents and illustrations without having to stop in your tracks to remember how to call up frequently used functions in different applications. Next, a twist on Internet security: a tiny desktop box that lets you see and control who is using your network and on what devices. And finally, a power play: a portable power outlet to charge mobile devices and even your laptop. Logitech Keyboard Lets Us Dial in Frequently Used App Functions This article is part of our premium content. Join Now.Already a paid subscriber? Click here to login.
It used to be the only data we saved on our desktop computers were Office documents and an occasional photo. Now, thanks to the rise of smartphone photos – easy to take, tough to store on a machine with only 32 GB of memory — PC hard drives have become by default overstuffed repositories for all our digital detritus. Coming to the rescue: versatile storage drives which can add up to six terabytes for an all-you-can-eat media dump, may include multiple ports and even offer the DVD read/write drive most PCs no longer include. We check out a trio of these drives. NewerTech MiniStack Max Offers Four-in-One Solution When I purchased my light, thin Windows 10 Pro laptop, I knew its smaller size meant giving up the DVD read/write drive my previous doorstop-cum-notebook included. I knew that USB peripherals were the assumed replacements most PC manufacturers were relying on. I knew I could easily get an external, USB DVD drive if I really wanted one. But I am glad I waited. NewerTech’s MiniStack Max supplies not only my coveted DVD (and Blu-ray) drive but also: a 7200RPM hard drive, an SD card port, three USB ports, and a couple of … Read More
The word “safety” can imply different kinds of judicious personal protection. Safety definitely is the obvious benefactor with these disparate devices: From an external hard drive that has a double layer of security and a USB fingerprint dongle that makes Windows log in a touch easier to computer eyeglasses which cut out the blue and a pen you can’t lose thanks to Bluetooth, these hardware picks make it clear your personal safety is designed to come first. Keeping Your Data Doubly Safe with Pin Pad Log-on and Hardware Encryption With no software or drivers required, iStorage’s diskAshur external hard or SSD drives all but scream data security. What’s not to like?. I just plugged in the integrated USB 3.1 cable into my laptop and was ready to backup my precious data. Well, almost ready. First I had to create a 7 to 15 alphanumeric PIN on the topside keypad. Without your personal PIN – just like the one you use at an automated teller machine—there is no way to read or write your data. Only after tapping in the right PIN does the drive get recognized by the computer. And that is just the first indication of how security minded the diskAshur … Read More
You might think that there is not much more you could do to improve the capabilities of computer keyboards and mice. And really, what much more do you need to type and point, right? I have been reviewing input devices since the days of Windows 3.1. Sure, there have been many technological improvements, as we might expect over the last 25 years since Windows 3.1 was launched. But what’s amazing that in just the last year alone advancements in keyboard and mouse technology tweak what I thought was already the best. Say Hello to the Mouse Master For example, just about two years ago I praised Logitech’s MX Master mouse [link] for its various, robust features that extend mouse calisthenics beyond just navigating and clicking. Back then I thought this was about as far as a pointing device could reach. But now Logitech has indeed upped its game with the MX Master2 [link]. This article is part of our premium content. Join Now.Already a paid subscriber? Click here to login.
When I mentioned to a friend that I just purchased a new Windows 10 Pro laptop, he asked how much memory did it have. I replied that it had 16GB RAM. When he retorted in shock that 16GB RAM was an awfully small hard drive, it quickly became clear that like a lot of folks he was confused between the different types of memory – the “live” Random-Access-Memory which allows data to be read or written versus the direct-access data storage such as hard disks, CDs and USB flash drives. I thought it would be a good idea to set the memory matter straight, so I wrote this backgrounder to explain the different types of memory, their use, and some of the built-in Windows features created for each of them. Unless otherwise noted, all details explained apply to all versions of Windows from Windows 7 through Windows 10. Remembering memory types won’t make you a certified geek but hopefully it will clear up the confusion of the legion of different memory types and it will help you understand the pile of sales jargon thrown at you when purchasing a new computer. Random access memory (RAM) is the workhorse of a computer, allowing … Read More
As more and more Internet connected gadgets are introduced, our need for ever-stronger Wi-Fi connections becomes essential. Whether it is for our mobile phones and computers, the latest in smart HDTVs, networked set-top boxes, Blu-ray players, or voice-activated digital assistants like Amazon’s Echo, wired connections are so yesterday. Yet there are situations where a Ethernet cabled connection is still the best choice to achieve the fastest, uninterruptible bandwidth . So here are some new devices that show off the best of wired and wireless service. Zyxel’s PLA5236 Extends Wi-Fi Both Wired and Wirelessly My new Sony Smart HDTV was occasionally dropping its Wi-Fi signal – usually at the most suspenseful moment in the movie I was watching on Netflix. But Zyxel Communications hybrid Powerline and AC900 Wireless Extender solved not only the TV connection issues but spread my router’s wireless signal to all parts of the house and even beyond. Powered by the Home Plug AV2 and 802.11ac technologies, the geeky-named PLA5236 [site] extends powerful Internet connections by using the electrical wiring in your house as if it were actual Ethernet cabling. But unlike the other, similar powerline extenders, this devices also has a built-in Wi-Fi extender that operates separately … Read More
“I hate printers, but I love what they can do!” That’s the mantra recited by just about anyone who has a printer attached to their computer. Of all the peripherals that connect to our PCs printers seem to be the number one troublemaker. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Paper jams, overpriced ink, print spooler logjams, wasted paper – these are just a few of the hassles whose remedies will be addressed here. If your love/hate relationship with your printer is more hate than love, read on as maybe, just maybe, we can switch that around with these eight printer tips and tricks. How to Print With an ‘Empty’ Inkjet Cartridge When my six page document stopped printing after page three, the reason was an empty blue ink cartridge. I was surprised since I hardly ever print in color and in fact generally print in draft mode with black ink only. So why the hell did the blue ink disappear? The answer is relatively simple and applies to almost all brands of inkjet printers. You are probably well aware of the mechanical noise the printer makes each time you turn it on or right before it processes a print … Read More
Whether you are rooted to your home office, using your kitchen table as home base, or doing your job while on the road, keeping your computer and mobile devices fully powered is like oxygen — necessary for life. And in our increasing reliance on multiple digital devices, having multiple power outlets has become essential. Here are a couple of indispensable solutions. iClever’s BoostStrip Takes on 12 Devices At Once – Wow! With its six 3-prong electrical outlets and six USB ports, iClever’s BoostStrip Series IC-BS03 provides more than enough juice to handle our various power and charging needs. Built-in surge protection for both computers, appliances, and mobile devices makes the $26 price tag a bargain compared to other power strips on the market. But this power maven has other capabilities that make it stand out for me. Compared with ordinary power strips – you know, the kind you can get for a few bucks at Home Depot, Target, and hardware stores – this one eases the concerns of anyone who’s worried about electrical fires. It has a 1875 watts maximum load, and it’s made with fire proof materials which can handle temperatures up to over 1300 degrees Fahrenheit. This article is part … Read More
Whether you’re looking for that last-minute tech gift or you just want faster PC accessories for the new year, this quartet of power-savvy devices will meet your needs handily.
The sundry gadgets, gizmos, and PC accessories reviewed below make up my personal technology wish list; but they should also appeal to almost any PC aficionado. From a high-end but lightweight notebook, to a device that adds touchscreen capabilities, to USB-C hubs and docks, these products will enhance your computing productivity. They make great gifts for friends and family — and for you.