Computer or Tablet?

Our world is changing fast. Computing and business experts tell us that by 2028, the cloud will be a necessity. AI (artificial intelligence) will have us using so much data that only the cloud will handle the workload. We’ll need more computing power, but at the same time, we’re demanding the ability to access that data quickly and from anywhere – even while traveling. Tablets are looking more and more like replacements for laptops.

We’ve seen a steady switch to smaller devices with greater portability. From being tied to desktop computers that were impossible to move, we increased our mobility when we found ways to access our stationary laptops with an internet connection. Using a laptop, we could essentially access our apps and files and modify them – or even create new files – and find everything up to date when we returned to our desks. The penalty was speed, but it wasn’t a prohibitive penalty.

The next step in the progression was to hook our laptops into docking stations, a step that still works for many who work in the office and remotely. You could have your big monitor and a regular keyboard in the office, but you could use the same computer – with all the same apps and files – working at home or in a hotel room.

The power of tablets and cell phones combined with the expansion of the cloud has made it possible to work on the road without a computer. A vast number of business applications have versions for computers and mobile devices, and you actually can access and edit files with a lightweight device that’s easy to carry outside the office. The newest tablets and phones actually have more powerful processors than many laptops still in use because the mobile devices contain NPUs, Neural Processing Units, that give you faster processing and better photo/video capabilities.

So, as you decide what platform to use as your main computing device, you have a lot of options. Your choice will depend on how you work, and it’s a personal decision for every user.

Computers, on one hand, give you better multitasking capability. You can keep multiple files and web browsing windows open at one time on multiple screens and monitors. It’s a lot easier to move among all those apps and views on multiple screens than it is on a single mobile device screen.

Mobile devices, on the other hand, can process data, including photo and video files, faster, and if you need to work on an Excel, Word, or PowerPoint file, you can tie your device to a portable keyboard. But you can’t use multiple screens. That may be outweighed by the ability to carry a cell phone in your pocket or pocketbook or carry a tablet (and keyboard) in a small backpack. Road warriors, field workers and anyone who needs to access data away from a desk will appreciate this.

If you need to work in public places, you should use a tablet that can work on a cellular network just like your phone. I will never tell you unequivocally that a cellular connection is hack-proof, but it is far more secure than a Wi-Fi network. With the availability of unlimited-data cellular plans, it doesn’t make sense to rely on Wi-Fi in the US.

If your PC has an eSIM, you might be able to add your device to your current mobile account by using the Mobile Plans app in Windows 10 (not available in all computers) and 11. The app connects you to your mobile operator’s website so you can get a data plan for your device and connect to their cellular network.

Whatever devices you use, make sure your operating system (OS) software and apps are up to date. If your device can’t accommodate the latest OS and app software, we urge you to replace the device. Keep in mind the realities of today’s technology environment and how it will change in the near future:

  • We will be making more use of the cloud. By 2028, the vast amounts of data needed to work with AI will require cloud storage because it will be the way to meet your capacity needs.
  • Your device must be capable of processing more data faster to work with AI.
  • Your device must be capable of using the latest security technology. Cybercriminals are spending big money to find a hole in your system – in hopes it will lead them to holes in bigger systems.
  • Remember the number 244. That’s how many days it takes on average to detect a security breach. You can best protect your system by being well-prepared and vigilant.

We can help you choose and configure the devices that best fit the individual needs and corporate needs of everyone in your organization to maximize performance and security. Call us – 973-433-6676 – or email us to set up an appointment to discuss your needs and available options and costs.

iPad Pro and the Tech Transformation

Our new iPad Pro is a great device. We love it for what it does – and maybe for the technology transformation that it and other tablets are ushering in.

We can see the iPad Pro and other large tablets edging closer to replacing laptop and notebook computers for some people. If your primary use is to surf the web and take care of email, simply hook up a keyboard, and you’re up and running. If you want to watch videos, the screen on the iPad Pro is amazing for its clarity and speed.

Yes there are some downsides. For one thing, as much as I love it, the tablet is not a full computer. It’s a mobile device, and Apple gives every indication it will not merge its iOS (mobile) and OSX (computer) operating systems. However, with Apple and Microsoft fighting for market share, don’t bet against a tablet replacing your computer. You can get Microsoft Office for tablets – and mobile phones – and as more people get comfortable with storing documents in the cloud, they’re likely to demand more computing capability.

As far as tablets go, iPad Pro is bigger and heavier than previous generations of tablets, but I personally don’t find that to be a problem. In 2005, screens on cell phones started to get bigger, and as we advanced to smart phones with Internet capability, it was only a matter of time that users would demand even bigger screens to watch videos.

By 2010, recalling a once-every-five-years family reunion, the iPad was new to the market, and many family members wondered about the need for it. Well, the iPad and other tablets are here to stay, even though sales have slumped lately. They have a variety of sizes and uses professionally, ranging from healthcare professionals in offices and hospitals who need to maintain patient records as they move through an office or hospital – to IT specialists and sales reps who can do a lot of work without being tethered to a computer.

So, don’t sell tablets short. If the history of mobile devices holds true, enough users will try to push the technology a little farther than its capabilities so that Apple, Microsoft, Samsung and others will notice. Their teams will respond to market demand, and the cycle will start again.

iPad Pro, I love you – until the next better device hits the market.

Have questions about tablets? Call us – 973-433-6676 – or email us and tell us what you’re looking for and how much you’d like to spend. There’s a tablet that’s right for you today – and maybe for the next 18 months.

Tech Help for the Holidays

We’re available to help make sure all of your technology gifts are fully up and running. Nothing is more frustrating than technology presents that don’t work as they should, and sometimes only an IT specialist can orchestrate the solution.

That was the situation last year, when one of clients bought some new cell phones and wanted to pass down the older phones to children. We went there on Christmas Eve day to do what the carriers’ retail stores can’t or won’t do: Complete all the data transfers and phone number activations necessary to make Christmas Day merry.

We looked at all the contacts, apps and other data that needed to be transferred to the new phones. In some cases, data can hide in places where most retail techs don’t know to look. In other cases, for example, contacts can be in different places on different phones or not match exactly. The danger in not knowing where to look is that a technician can erase data from the old phone. Once that happens, it’s gone.

We also took the time to understand how each family member planned to use his or her device so that we could set up each one properly. We also made sure they all knew how to access all the features.

We had to program five phones, and that took the better part of a half-day. But the next day, when the stores were closed, everyone enjoyed their new phones.

Whether you are buying new technology for your home or business, you can maximize performance and by making sure your infrastructure has the capability to handle increased traffic.

For homes, this means having the pipeline to handle streaming to new, large flat-screen TVs and/or multiple devices that play streaming content. For businesses, this means being able to handle the newer, faster systems that help you process more business faster – along with a twist.

Some of those Christmas gifts, namely phones and tablets, will likely wind up coming into your office. Whether they’re for business or personal use, they will tap into your office’s network.

So, tap into our service. We can make everyone’s holiday gifts are running properly. Drop us an email to schedule an appointment, but make sure you call us if you need us (973-433-6676) – especially on Christmas Day.

This article was published in Technology Update, the monthly newsletter from Sterling Rose LLC.

Windows 8 ‘Issues Report’

We’ve tested Windows 8 and talked with a number of clients about the OS from Microsoft. Some of them have returned Windows 8-loaded computers because it’s too much of a change. We’re still concerned about hardware interfaces. Here’s what we’ve found so far.

Humans are creatures of habit, especially when using their computers. Pressured to be productive, we really don’t like being moved away from processes we know and follow as second nature. Sure, some of us like the “latest and greatest” in technology, but Windows 8 isn’t great for a lot of users.

The key issue is the look and feel. The new OS looks and feels like a tablet, and Microsoft’s strategy is to “tabletize” desktop and laptop computers to be like tablets and smartphones. That should make it easier for users to operate Windows-based computers and devices. It may happen over time, but not now.

Long-time Windows users have grown accustomed to trays along the bottom of their desktop that allow them to launch commonly used programs or applications. They can also click on the Start button to see and launch all programs, reboot (or restart or shutdown) their computer, open the control panel and access any function.

All of this functionality is not so easy to find with Windows 8. You need to press the “flag” key – the key between the Ctrl and Alt keys – to access the Start menu. The functionality is there but not in the place most users expect to find it. It’s just not the way most people want to work.

Hardware compatibility is another issue. Using the full version of Windows 8 requires a touchscreen monitor. That’s OK if you’re getting all new systems. But if you have a fairly new monitor that’s not a touchscreen, are you willing to spend money now to replace a perfectly serviceable peripheral? We doubt it.

We believe Windows 7 still has a lot of life. If you are in the market for a new Windows-based computer, we can help you get the Windows 7 OS and support it for you. We also support Windows XP. Microsoft will end its support of XP in 2014, but we’ll be able to help you with work-arounds and other steps to keep you going. By the time XP’s useful life ends for you, we’re betting Microsoft will have its next operating system on the market, resolving those Windows 8 issues.

Need help? We do Windows. Just call us at 973-433-6676 or email us with your questions or problems. We’ll clean them up – streak-free.

This article was published in Technology Update, the monthly newsletter from Sterling Rose LLC.