Editorial

By June 12, 2016 Read More →

Tales from the Acer Live Blog 2016 Conquer new worlds #AcerLiveBlog2016

Screenshot (1)Acer UK invited a number of top UK Tech Bloggers to Belfast, Northern Ireland to unveil their latest Predator gaming range, as well as the Acer Jade Primo windows 10 phone and the Android Liquid Zest 4g.

13168603

The event was hosted in Belfast’s only five start hotel, The Merchant, which has been famously used by Gillian Anderson and Jamie Dornan in the popular BBC series The Fall. After a brief lunch and introduction we were taken to The Brian Ballard room which had been darkened red room glowing with several laptops in the middle of the room and a display of monitors with desktops at the edge of the room.

Linda_Hassall_-_Head_of_UK_Marketing_-_Acer_-_May_2014Linda Hassall, Head of Retail / Channel Marketing UK & Ireland at Acer introduced herself and gave us a quick briefing on the products that were us.

In the room we had The Predator monitor range Predator Z35 £799.99, Predator X34 £899.99 Predator XB271HU £549.99,

With these new monitors Acer promises;

  • Wrap around Gaming
  • Get a panoramic view of galactic domination with a wraparound game space that pulls you deeper into new worlds.
  • New Smooth Experience a whole new smooth. NVIDIA® G-SYNCTM eliminates screen tearing and minimizes stuttering for legendary PC gaming.

These huge monitors were designed to give the consumer the ultimate gaming experience and with the G6, G3 and the compact G1 attached to them have Acer created a gamers paradise with the Predator range?

dav

The Predator Desktop range G6 £1199.99 G3 £972.95, G1 £549.99, The Predator 15 laptop £1187.97 Predator 17 £1449.79

The G6 is a huge machine that Acer have packed the latest technologies in, even though these machines are VR ready we did not have any VR content to play with at this time.

dav

G6 specs

  • Operating System: Windows 10 Home
  • CPU: 6th Gen Intel® Core™ i7-6700k processor
  • GPU: NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 980 Ti 
  • RAM: 64GB DDR4 2133MHz

You already know what’s inside. Power-up for galactic domination with the latest top-end NVIDIA® and Intel® hardware. IceTunnel Gaming is hot, so stay cool with IceTunnel cooling system. Multiple air intake zones on the front and left side of the machine create a powerful airflow that efficiently pushes out hot internal air.

G3 specs

  • Operating System: Windows 10 Home
  • CPU: Intel® Core™ i5-6400 processor Quad-core 2.70 GHz
  • GPU: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 950 with 2 GB Dedicated Memory
  • RAM: 12 GB, DDR4 SDRAM
  • HDD: 2 TB

G1 specs

  • Smaller & Deadlier
  • This desktop’s 16-liter body conceals the power of a full-sized graphics card – up to NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX Titan X1.
  • VR Ready
  • NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 9701 graphics and above, you’ll be ready for the world of virtual reality.
  • Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi MB5
  • SoundBlaster X-Fi MB5 and 7.1 channel audio will captivate you in glorious gaming audio. Amplify enemy footsteps, mask your voice, and more.
  • Dual Headset Cradles
  • Two retractable cradles on either side of the PC give you convenient places to rest your headsets.
  • Sound-Reactive Growl Lights
  • Configure these pulsing multicolor LEDs to react to your game sounds and music the way you want them to.
  • There was also the Predator Z650 projector £939.32. Specs

dav

To complete the Predator range Acer have constructed the Predator 8 tablet retailing at £199.99.

This tablet looks amazing, with four speaker grills on the front of the tablet this looks like a winner however on lifting it off the table I was disappointed in discovering the Predator 8 had a plastic feeling case which made the tablet feel flimsy. The gun metal casing could have been made out of a more solid material, there is no denying the insides of this tablet are impressive, which makes the Predator 8 a good competitor in the mid range tablet market,  this is let down by the casing. Had Acer a metal body like the cheap Archos 70 platinum they could have had made a potential record breaking tablet.

Predator specs

  • Operating System Android Lolipop 5.1
  • Display 8-inch, Full HD (1920 x 1200)
  • 16:10 aspect ratio, 380 nits,
  • Zero Air Gap & IPS technology
  • 283.02 ppi, 10-point touch
  • Processor Intel Atom x7 (2.4GHz(
  • Graphics Intel HD Graphics, Gen 8-LP 16EU 600 MHZ
  • Memory LPDDR3L 2G
  • Storage eMMC up to 64GB
  • Audio Single digital mic, 4 x 2W speakers,
  • Camera 2.0MP front, 5MP back
  • Wireless 802.11 a/b/g/n, 2 x 2 MIMO
  • Dolby Sound solution
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • Input & Output MicroSD up to 128GB, 1 x micro USB 2.0
  • GPS/Glonass, G+Gyro eCompass sensor
  • Power & Battery 10W fixed type 5V/2A adapter
  • 17.3Wh / 4550mAH

There was also Acer’s two mobile devices the Liquid Zest 4G £109, their budget Android phone  and the Jade Primo £429 without dock £475 with dock. I got to use these two devices I had more time with the Jade Primo  but  hope to get them both soon for a full unboxing and review.

With all the buzz happening in the room it was no surprise that #acerliveblog2016 was the no.1 trending hashtag on Twitter that evening

2016-05-13

What I first noticed was the robust and bulky design of the Predator range that evoked  nostalgic eighties memories with its bold red on black colour scheme.  This design carried over all the Acer Predator products from the Monitors, Desktops, Laptops to the Predator 8 tablet.  Acer based their design on galactic battleships, hence their tagline of ‘Conquering new worlds’  However this chunky, bulky design is very much an eighties view of what future technologies would have looked like, would this style suit the age we are living in where consumers want sleek and slimline tech? In any case I was hopelessly lost in their design with the backlit keyboards and mouse imagining my younger self being in a gamer’s ultimate fantasy.  I can recall the last time I was a serious PC gamer was the end of my schoolboy days, I last bought a PC gamer magazine at the beginning of the new millennium when I was still a young free and single man. As friends around me got hooked on the first wave of new age consoles I was adamant that PC gaming was still the frontrunner, so much so I built my own PC and kept it up to date with the latest graphics, sound cards etc. however this was short lived as when I graduated I had to get a job and the spare change for PC gaming was needed for living.

Fast Forward a few years and with a wife and kids I found my gaming time limited and opted for the easy option of having a games console rather than trying to keep up with the forever changing tech advancements. That being said within 20 minutes of playing Metal Gear solid 5 on the Predator 17 laptop my fire for PC gaming was reignited. I forgot how great it is using a keyboard and mouse combination rather than relying on a controller and hoping the charge lasts as long as you are in the zone. I then excitedly moved to the Predator Z35 Which is a beautiful 35 inch curved LED monitor with the huge G6 desktop to test out some more of the games available. The large screen was amazing and if I had the room and spare cash I would definitely have this type of set up in my home and would recommend it to any serious gamer, for the advanced gamer they had a three monitor display which I was lost in as I could only focus on the screen in front and found this setup more annoying than fun. The G1 was a condensed version of the G6 packing almost identical specs but with a rather cool, programmable LED casing, but for my needs I found the gaming experience on the Predator 17 to be just as good and with the added bonus of it being portable my gaming station can be tidied away easily.

dav

The Predator 17 specs

  • Operating system: Windows 10 (64 bit)
  • CPU: Intel® Core™ i7-6700HQ
  • GPU: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970M (3 GB GDDR5)
  • RAM:16 GB DDR4
  • SSD: 256 GB
  • HDD: 1 TB 5400rpm

With these specifications you would expect this machine to be heavy and it is weighing in at 3950g this powerhouse of technology has a custom made Predator back pack which can be bought with as a bundle pack from….

From turn on to playing a game it took about 55 seconds on the Predator 17 which I was most impressed with, on my console it takes a lot longer, with constant updates needed to be downloaded.

A very strong marketing image however this may not be to everyone’s taste, would a more sleek metallic slimline range have more appeal to a wider market? Even so the power packed into these laptops and desktops is not only a gamer’s desire but also for  consumers who need that extra power to work on projects or edit hd video.

We had been allocated teams for some challenges that were to be completed throughout the weekend and we were given an acer rucksack containing the liquid zest 4g, Jade Primo, a Predator 8 tablet.

dav

The phone I was most interested in reviewing was the Jade Primo. I had taken some time to quickly do a live periscope unboxing which proved difficult with no tripod to hold the camera, check out the unboxing here. The phone felt premium with the Super AMOLEDscreen. The camera was a bit slow on response although we were told this was a prototype I hope to do a full review and let Gareth do a proper unboxing. Below are a few video tests and images taken with the Jade Primo. The Windows 10 operating system was just standard I didn’t have enough time to investigate to see if Acer have incorporated some of their own style into it.

Our first day came to an end with cocktails in the famous merchant cocktail bar, followed by a quick drink in Belfast pub and then on to the strip joint, a restaurant.

I woke to yet another sunny day, the gods of old and new were making sure the good folks of Acer and fellow bloggers were going to have an amazing time at Castle ward co. Down with @clearskyni Game of Thrones experience.

Being a huge fan of the show I was so excited and caught up in the atmosphere that I forgot to periscope and document my time here. Castle ward was the setting for Winterfell in Game of thrones season one and two, a lot of CGI was used to build on top of the existing castle as we were shown a brief clip of the making of Game of thrones there.  We of course got dressed in official HBO endorsed Winterfell clothing for the occasion and accessorised with our swords we set off for our first challenge.

Using the Acer Liquid Zest 4g we had to take some action shots using the Acer liquid while doing Archery.  Learning to shoot a bow and arrow in the same spot from the series was an amazing experience and after a few shots and some good coaching i actually impressed myself and hope if their is a post apocalyptic world i may be able to survive.  The liquid zest’s 8 megapixel camera was sharp and fast responding, unfortunately the shots taken with the camera were not extracted from it to include in the review.

We had to use the Predator 8 to recreate a number of scenes from Game of Thrones armed with our swords and wigs our team was willing and prepared to take this task and win.  Unfortunately we discovered that it was quite hard to become actors and directors in an instant and our determination to create a HBO worthy clip turned into more of a ‘You’ve been framed’ blooper reel.  The Predator 8 was very capable in shooting the clips in 1080 hd however we paused the video while shooting our scenes which left us with very large files, which in turn made editing the clips on the tablet sluggish.  The sound on the clips was

To end our time at Winterfell we had a medieval banquet of ale, chicken, beef casserole, bread and more beer.  

To end our time on Acer’s Liveblog weekend we visited Belfast’s St George’s market, winner of UK’s Best Large Indoor Market 2014 by the National Association of British Market Authorities.  We had to search for a blitz memorial, and look differ something acer green, being colour blind I had to let Matthew and Katherine seek out this as I would have taken a picture of something orange or yellow.


2000px-Acer_2011.svg
I had a fantastic weekend and look forward to receiving some of the products mentioned for  a full review for the site soon.  I think this weekend although was aimed at ‘Conquering New Worlds’ for me it was rediscovering old worlds and igniting my passion for PC gaming all over again. All I need now is Quake and Command and Conquer Red Alert.

By May 13, 2016 Read More →

Hands on with the Predator 17 laptop #Acerliveblog2016

Photogallery_Predator_17_front-rightSun, Blue Skies and Acer Products Galore, It’s a rare day in Belfast that the sun shines continuously but with it being the infamous Friday the 13th today luckily is one of those days! With the added bonus of Belfast hosting this years #Acerliveblog2016 this weekend will definitely be one to remember.

With bloggers from all over the UK attending Acer’s annual event, we met up at the luxurious 5 star Merchant Hotel and entered the ‘room’  to which could only be described as an undercover communications room you would see in a blockbuster films. Forget the red room of pain Acer have created a red room for playing with Acer;s iconic Predator logos glowing on the back of the laptops and the rooms red back lighting this would be a gamers dream come true.

  • The Predator monitor range Predator Z35 £799.99, Predator X34 £899.99 Predator XB271HU £549.99
  • The Predator Desktop range G6 £1199.99 G3 £972.95, G1 £549.99
  • The Predator 15 laptop £1187.97 Predator 17 £1449.79
  • Predator Z650 projector £939.32
  • Predator 8 tablet £199.99
  • Liquid Zest 4G £109 available June
  • Jade Primo £429 without dock £475 with doc

Hands on with the Predator 17 laptop

This laptop looks and feels premium. With the back lit keyboard and sleek matt rubberised casing you know Acer have not spare any expense in creating this laptop range.

Specs:

  • Intel core i7
  • Nvidia Geforce GTX 980m
  • Blu ray Disc
  • Full HD 1080
  • Preloaded was metal gear solid V The Phantom, I was  PC gamer in my younger days however moved to popular consoles as  the desktop I had could not sustain the constant spec needed for games. This laptop could reignite my love for PC gaming.
  • Subwooofer speakers – powerful sound
  • Thunderbolt 3 8x faster than usb 3.0
  • Acer also have the Predator gaming headset
  • Curved Gaming at Full Throttle: Predator Z35 Monitor

The Predator Z35 is the first 35-inch product of Acer’s Predator Z Series curved gaming monitors with NVIDIA® G-SYNC™. Its 35-inch 21:9 UltraWide Full HD (2560×1080) panel features a curvature of 2000R for an immersive, wraparound gaming experience. The Predator Z35 gaming monitor incorporates NVIDIA® ULMB™ (Ultra Low Motion Blur) technology , reducing motion blur by delivering sharp edges in fast-paced gaming environments, and supports overclocking to a lightning-fast 200Hz refresh rate, so gamers can find their enemies before they spot them and enjoy crystal clear turns on the racetrack.

Pixel-Perfect for a Competitive Edge: Predator XB1 Monitor The Predator XB1 Series gaming monitors feature the latest NVIDIA® G-SYNC™ technology, giving gamers a competitive edge with pixel-perfect images and smooth visuals. The 27-inch models (XB271HK / XB271HU) all feature a ZeroFrame edge-to-edge design, with 4K UHD (3840 x 2160) or WQHD (2560 x 1440) IPS panels that support 100% of the sRGB color gamut, while the XB271HU support NVIDIA® ULMB™ and refresh rates of up to 144Hz. The 28-inch model (XB281HK) features a 4K UHD panel that has a fast  GTG (Gray to Gray) response time of 1ms, rendering fast-moving actions or dramatic transitions smoothly without smearing or ghosting.

In-Game Advantage with GameView The new Predator gaming monitors feature Acer’s GameView technology, which allow gamers to swiftly toggle between three customizable display profiles, tweaking settings such as Dark Boost, Overclock, and aim-point assistance for different types of games. This allows quick display adjustment while in- game, without the need to navigate through layers of OSD menus, especially when every split second counts.

Pricing and Availability

The Predator Z35 gaming monitor will be available in EMEA in November with prices starting at €1,099.

The Predator XB1 Series gaming monitors will be available in EMEA in October with prices starting at €699.

Exact specifications, prices, and availability will vary by region. To find out about availability, product specifications and prices in specific markets, please contact your nearest Acer office or retailer via www.acer.com.

The new products were unveiled today at the next@acer press event at IFA Berlin in Germany, where the company announced its latest devices and solutions for gamers and consumers for the holiday season. Visit Acer’s booth at IFA 2015 in Messe Berlin (Hall 12/101) or learn about the new product range on acer.com/nextatacer.

See the fun as it happens:

Posted in: Editorial, gaming, Laptops, News
By April 25, 2016 Read More →

Without a doubt, eSports are a GLOBAL market

In the last decade or so, the rise of eSports has been impressive to say the least. While video and social media platforms such as Youtube and Facebook have both helped to spread the word of eSports and competitive gaming, the ‘sport’ in general is booming thanks to key personalities who have left their mark on the world of online gaming.

The likes of Syndicate, KSIOlajidebt and Felix Kjellberg have helped to enhance the appeal of online gaming – largely down to their publicity and likeable personalities. Nowadays, there are plenty of vloggers who attempt to follow in their footsteps and commentate over their gameplay whilst playing FIFA, Call of Duty and more.

But behind the scenes, eSports have been growing and it’s now much more than a few famous faces on the internet. ESports ARE a global brand. They are huge. There are hundreds of thousands of dollars at stake in their daily tournaments and the best players in the world are making an absolute fortune on a weekly basis.

In fact, you can now place bets on eSports – THAT’S how big they are. Betway have a growing market dedicated specifically to eSports and punters can place bets on tournaments, individual games and team competitions. And best of all, eSports are only going to get bigger in the future as more money is invested.

The latest partnership deal with both Yahoo and Twitch, which will see major competitions broadcast all over the world, is just the next step for what is perhaps the fastest growing market on the planet. Most people believe that Youtube is a gold mine but eSports is much more impressive – the scale of money involved is frightening.

Earlier this year, the 2016 FIFA Interactive World Cup was held in New York City – with the top 32 players in the world travelling to the United States’ East Coast for the competition. On that occasion, Denmark’s Mohamad Al Bacha came up trumps as he defeated England’s Sean Allen in the final of the competition.

For that, Al Bacha emerged with £20,000, the trophy presented by Franck Ribery and a ticket to the next FIFA Ballon d’Or ceremony. And while the cash incentives are much greater for other competitions, it’s quickly becoming more about the perks of the job and the potential achievements for being one of the top players in the world.

As eSports continue to grow, the global audience and market will also increase. This year, the FIWC final was broadcast live on Sky Sports and it’s only a matter of time before a dedicated eSports television channel springs up. Then, and only then, will people start to accept it for what it is: a corporate, money-making machine.

Posted in: Editorial
By April 15, 2016 Read More →

6 Reasons Your Solar Batteries Aren’t Working as They Should

Screen Shot 2016-04-15 at 08.35.17With the clocks going forward, and the days getting longer, spring has begun! It’s time to get those fingers green in your garden and get it prepared for all those BBQ’s and chilled out evenings in the garden.

It’s not long until the days will be long enough to bring your solar lights to life; now is the time to test them out and make sure they are in tip top shape in time for the return of spring and summer days. If you get them out and they are not performing as they should or aren’t working at all, here are a few reasons and how you can resolve any issues:

 

1.      Solar Panel Needs Cleaning

Solar lights need four working components to function; this includes, battery, solar panel, light sensor and a bulb/LED, if the solar panel is covered by dirt or dust this negatively impact the amount of charge received from light, which will then lead to a decreased performance of the light. To clean the panel, simply use a dry or damp cloth and wipe it down removing any dirt or dust that may have collected. You can also use window or glass cleaner to give it a deeper clean.

 

2.      Is it positioned correctly?

Often, people don’t realise that their solar lights simply need their position changing slightly; if they are positioned in the wrong way it will not be receiving the necessary amount of light each day to charge the battery up. Try and notice where light hits your garden most throughout the day to guarantee your solar light gets enough daylight!

 

3.      Batteries Self Discharged

After a while, the batteries that came with the solar lights will discharge themselves; therefore, it is necessary to ensure they receive a full charge every three months at least to give them the longevity required.

 

4.      Remove The Batteries When Storing

We’re coming out of winter now, and if you didn’t remove the batteries from your solar lights before putting them into storage you may notice a decrease in performance from your solar lights or they may not be working at all. It’s always key to remember to remove the batteries before you place them into storage.

 

5.      Allow Batteries to Fully Charge

Give the batteries at least 24 hours’ worth of full charge before placing them back in your garden and into darkness, this will allow you to see if there are any issues with any of the other components or whether it is the battery that either needs charging or replacing.

 

6.      Batteries Run Their Life Cycle

Rechargeable solar light batteries are often included when you purchase your solar lights; however, a lot of people don’t realise that these will need attention to ensure they last as long as they can. Typically, you may start to see a decrease in their performance after 1-2 years, but often this can happen sooner.

 

If the batteries have run their life cycle and need replacing, it is easy to find and purchase new rechargeable batteries to fit your solar lights. It’s important to remember to get the right size battery and the correct voltage, consider your purchase carefully and if you are unsure discuss with a professional who will advise on which battery is the right one for you.

Purchasing new rechargeable batteries for your solar light from Buy a Battery couldn’t be easier; they offer upgraded NiMH rechargeable batteries, to replace older NiCd batteries, these are longer lasting and more environmentally friendly too, meaning you can get more out of your solar lights!

 

Posted in: Editorial, Gadgets
By April 10, 2016 Read More →

Setting up a Home Security Camera on a budget Part 1: Perch

IMG_20160409_121743Installing an IP camera on your house is one of the cheapest and best solutions to using an old smartphone and keeping track of your house when home and when not home. There are many articles on net about how simple it is to convert an old phone into a  security camera and truth is this probably the best utilisation of an older phone, and it certainly beats the expensive of a Foscam set-up any day of the week. Of course this kind of IP camera set-up is not going to be 100% reliable and will suffer moments of downtime, set-up annoyances and tricky methods to store the data.

I have been using a set-up with Android phones, IP Webcam Pro application alongside the tinyCam Monitor PRO application to view, there are free versions with Ads available too. Including a couple of cheap phone stands/cradles from Amazon or Ebay this set-up costs roughly £10 not including the price of the phones. Primarily I have been using some budget phones I had lying around taking up space from ZTE and Acer running Android 4.3 Jellybean.  Using all phone holders with suction cups for cars to attached the devices to windows is a little spark of ingenuity I was quite proud with. Running power to the phone’s made for some creative decisions rather than having walls lined with USB cables and extension cables running across the floor. There is no one solution for all here.

Once installed an IP camera becomes easily one of the most useful tools in day-to-day life. The obvious one is monitoring your house when you were not there on holiday perhaps or just at work. Other applications allow you to view who is calling at the front door, keep an eye on a car in the front garden, watch animals or your children play in the garden. Many many more other applications will be found and more applications will present themselves once the person gets to grips with the setup.

Right now, I would recommend one of two options.

The first would be the best way to dip your toe in the water. Download an application called Perch to your phone. Perch might be in Beta however it is a great start. It is also free for the time being however I would imagine that there will be a paid model once the application comes out of Beta.

download

 

 

 

Perch gives you a simple stream from the camera on a phone and presents it on their website or through the app on another device for the user to view. There isn’t too much in the way of options and whilst this could be seen as a good thing for the newbie a seasoned vet of IP cameras may find Perch annoyingly limited.

As a beta Perch is rather well laid out, the stream is quite reliable and footage is quite good. There are some basic features like motion detection with notifications, the ability to record sound from the camera and recording at scheduled times. There isn’t much more than that and the features have not been expanded in the year since I last used their service. They have, however, become more reliable and solid. So work is being done to stabilise the platform before launch. One might suggest that it is pretty much rock solid right now.

Perch

Unfortunately there is no way to export the videos from Perch and this is a really off putting for the user. You can check your timeline to see something that happened and this goes back seven days. If a crime has been committed then you might have to go to Perch. Currently there is no information on their website about export the videos.

One problem I have encountered is the motion detection is incredibly sensitive. Some days it looks like the camera has been recording non stop for over 6 hours. Whilst I cannot be certain I believe a shadow of a bush moving on the area I am watching is triggering the record function. This makes Perch more of an indoor camera than outdoor for most.

2016-03-11
However, what if you really need more in the way of features and are prepared to make the effort to set up a more robust system? Next week we will be taking a look at a home made camera setup that does not only secure your home, but doesn’t open things up to anyone to potentially hack very easily.

By March 29, 2016 Read More →

Top 10 Must Have Apps for Career Women

14365668676_082f54ecb4_cWhen you’re a busy career woman, you’re on the go a lot of the time. Sometimes it feels like there are just not enough hours in the day! Enter the trusty mobile phone with a range of apps you can install to make working life much easier. Here are 10 apps that every career woman should have on their phone.

Trello

Trello is a project management app and is available on the iPhone and Android. The app works like an absolute dream for working in teams. The app is particularly good for brainstorming ideas, allowing people to discuss projects; delegating tasks; and for monitoring checklists and the progress being made on a project.

Evernote

The Evernote app works well for business or for pleasure, since you can write notes, store pictures, take photos and record voice memos (handy if you have to quickly note something down). Essentially, this app takes some of the hassle out of ‘life admin’ so that it doesn’t complicate your working day.

Expensify

There’s no doubt that if you have a company expense account, your employers will be keeping a close eye on how you use. Of course, in the hustle and bustle or working life, it’s easy to lose a receipt. Don’t worry. You can take a picture of receipts and then load them from your phone into the app. The app picks out important data like dates and prices. You can also create expense reports.

Time Master

The Time Master app is invaluable for time tracking, especially if you’re billing by the hour. On this business app you can track time by job or project, record expenses and there’s also an optional billing application. Unfortunately, this iOS app isn’t free, but a minor investment in it can save you more money in the long run as you organise your billing more efficiently.

Dropbox

Unfortunately, you can’t take a whole load of files and folders on the plane with you, if you have to travel. At least, it’s not practical. That’s where Dropbox comes in handy. Through Dropbox you’ll have access to the documents you need, whether that’s a contract, a resume, a meeting schedule or other item.

Sidekick

Nothing can cause problems in business like not receiving crucial pieces of information. It sets projects back, causes breakdowns in communication and ultimately costs you money. The Sidekick app gives you piece of mind by informing you whether a recipient has received and opened that all-important business email or document, so that if you haven’t then you know to follow it up with the appropriate measures.

14565350736_0c1456e0f8_z

Coffitivity

Do you want to be more productive in your work? Of course you do! According to science, ambient background noise ups your productivity. Coffitivity recreates the sounds of a coffee shop, providing an atmosphere while you type up that performance review or business plan. Give it a try, it’s on the iOS and the Android.

SignEasy

Available on the iOS and the Android, SignEasy makes signing contracts easy. Instead of searching far and wide for the nearest printer — not a convenient thing to have to do when you’re on the move — to sign docs, you’ll be able to cross the ‘t’s and dot the ‘i’s on Word documents and PDFs by using this app.

Contacts Journal

Networking is a major part of being in business or working in many industries. You’re sure to bump into someone and then later on forget what their name was, what sector they worked in or even what you talked about on the whole. Jog your memory with the relationship management app Contacts Journal, which helps you to keep track of the different people you meet in your working life.

15203451642_835b20a357_c

Remember that your phone is a vital tool, so you should make sure you have the best technology and the best value for money. Use a comparison checker to seek out the best SIM only deals so that you’re saving on your own expenses as you go about doing smart business with others.

Images by citirecruitmentNguyen Vu Hung (vuhung), and Ignite New Zealand, used under Creative Commons licence

Posted in: Editorial
By February 24, 2016 Read More →

A look at energy labels, green packaging and energy saving monitors

aocCreating a sustainable workplace is becoming increasingly important for both professional and home users alike. Today, opting for energy-efficient, sustainably-produced technology is not only understood as being good for the planet, but also of benefit to users who can, for example, save ongoing electricity costs by choosing a monitor with low energy consumption. But considering the diverse certifications and eco-saving functions that currently exist in the various displays on the market, users often have trouble distinguishing the specific differences in eco-friendliness. To help make this task a little bit easier, AOC will this year present an overview of selected environmental certificates and eco-friendly monitor functions to assist users in their decision to make their workstation more sustainable.

EnergyStar 6.0 – Lower energy consumption
While there are several international and regional environmental certificates, users interested in exploring the sustainability of their current or future monitor will most likely come across the EnergyStar, TCO and EPEAT labels. The EnergyStar 6.0 certification mark hereby primarily provides information on the energy consumption and efficiency levels of a monitor. For example, it requires the display to automatically go into standby mode after a set period of non-usage. The label, which all current AOC monitors have been certified with, also specifies low energy consumption levels of less than 0.5 W for displays during standby. Purchasing a monitor that is certified with the most recent version, EnergyStar 6.0, thereby ensures a reduction in overall user energy needs and can potentially generate long-term cost savings.

TCO 6.0 and EPEAT – Ensuring sustainability throughout the lifecycle
Monitors labelled with TCO 6.0 and EPEAT fulfil a range of criteria that go beyond mere energy consumption levels. Both certificates require displays to be manufactured in a socially responsible manner using environmentally sound materials. Displays labelled with both certificates can be expected to enjoy a long lifetime. As such, they not only contribute to a reduction in electronic waste but also comprise a durable investment for their users. The TCO 6.0 label also ensures that displays numerous other requirements, such as high image quality standards as well as a diverse range of ergonomic adjustment options, which can promote user health benefits. Likewise, the EPEAT certificate requires monitors to be assessed in terms of their sustainability throughout their entire lifecycle, which is defined using a variety of both obligatory and optional criteria: e.g. is at least 90% recyclable packaging used. Depending on how many of these criteria a display meets, determines its Bronze, Silver or Gold rating.

Energy-saving functions
Most AOC monitors are not only fully certified with important labels but also incorporate additional features that help users work even more sustainably. In addition, some models boast an integrated zero power switch to allow users to shut down the monitor completely to save energy while away from the screen. All AOC displays include an Eco mode, which allows users to optimise energy consumption by adjusting the screen settings to different types of use, such as reading text or playing games. In terms of their power consumption, selected models of the Pro line use less than 0.1 W in standby mode. Moreover, the AOC e-Saver power management software enables users to set up a time period after which the monitor is shut down automatically to save energy.

By February 18, 2016 Read More →

4 Interesting Facts about Video Conferencing

There’s been a lot of talk about video conferencing. For many companies, it’s moving beyond talk right into application. Plenty of industries are already taking advantage of the benefits video conferencing solutions bring to the table. Here are some interesting facts about video conferencing that might prove helpful to you while you decide on how to upgrade your communication infrastructure:

 

No More Need to Travel

Powwownow says 56 percent of CFOs over the planet choose to do their meetings via video conferencing. It’s a great deal more convenient than traveling to wherever the meeting is set. Travel takes a lot out of your time and commuting presents unique challenges to employees. From driving to work through traffic or catching the train, and elbowing people aside for a chance to sit for a 2-hour trip commute, this can have a negative effect on how employees start their day.

For some employees, though, travel can be a constant and time-consuming part of their daily work schedule. Take lawyers, for instance. Some clients might request for legal assistance and ask the lawyers to come to their homes for a long and lengthy discussion. If it’s a long drive, lawyers stand to lose a lot in terms of gaining enough billable hours if they have to drive to where all their clients are. 

In either case, travel is a notorious productivity-killer. With video conferencing though, lawyers can consult with as many clients as they can whether they’re at the office or on the road. With less time dedicated to travel, they can also devote more hours to consulting sessions with their clients.

 

A Lot of Cost Savings

Companies who used video conferencing to cut down on their travel enjoyed a 30 percent drop in their travel costs. That’s a lot of savings for a company’s bottom line. And the good news doesn’t stop there. With less travel came other cost-savings as well. On-site training sessions that used to last for an entire month were now carried out in a week or two, with the rest of the training being implemented over video. That means less accommodation and food expenses. Annual seminars that used to take a week can now be done in a day, supplemented by a wealth of webinars and online conferences. Companies could now pay less for venue charges and enjoy greater profit. What’s more, businesses no longer had to rely on complicated hardware to set up their communication platforms. By relying on cloud-based solutions, companies can save a lot on hardware costs. Well-known industry players like Blue Jeans offer video conferencing equipment that cover room to remote capabilities. This means online conferences can be carried out, whether you’re in conference room equipped with a ton of equipment, at home with your laptop or halfway across the world with your tablet or mobile phone. That’s a whole lot of savings when you add them all up.

 

Greater Adoption of the Technology

71 percent of global companies are putting their money in the technology in a bid to slash travel expenses, IMMCA reports. As the number of users grow and the frequency with which they use the technology is a good reason to start migrating to cloud-based tools and solutions. That’s because shifting to the technology ensures compatibility. Compatible systems mean less to zero problems between you and your partner companies, users or customers. Another is to take advantage of the tech-dependent perks. As users multiply, more companies come out of the woodwork to play. Just take a look at the many online apps out there today. As technology evolves, you can expect to see more improvements and enhancements to come, which is good news for all. The better the technology, the more efficient it’ll be for everyone. And the more efficient it is, the greater competitive advantage it gives against your competitors. 

 

A Bigger Market and Talent Pool

Video conferencing collapses boundaries, in more ways than one. It doesn’t just let provide you with opportunities for face to face interviews with potential talents or consultations with clients, it also lets you reach out to those talents or clients—regardless of wherever they are in the world. No need to board a plane and head over to Japan for a business consult. No need to fly out candidates for an interview, until not until you’ve whittled down the applicant list to two to three promising talents. And even then, video conferencing can provide you with the means to conduct the final interview right from your office, sans travel. So if you’ve been having problems finding the right people on your team, maybe expanding your search to global talents will get the job done. And if local prospects aren’t looking up, putting out feelers in the global market can net you the kind of customers your business needs.

By February 10, 2016 Read More →

How to Implement Website Security without Compromising Website Performance

Back in 2013 we discussed some ways of making your website more accessible, which included a simpler web design and a responsive design for mobile. However, as time goes on, more and more criteria pops up that needs to be implemented. One of which that has had an increased significance over the past few years is website security.

A Brief Overview

With the increase of spamming sites and those that fall into other categories of abuse, Google wanted to be able to place authority and higher ranking on legitimate sites – essentially rewarding the good and syphoning out the bad. Not to mention that encouraging sites to become secure just makes the online world a safer place for everyone. In order to reward secure sites, in 2014 Google announced that the secure setting or the HTTPS domain extension is now being considered as a ranking signal. This meant that all professional sites, if they wanted to maintain a good SERP ranking, needed to include an SSL certificate – which can be found here – ensuring not only that their websites were secure, but that they wouldn’t lose search engine ranking. It seemed like a win-win-win scenario.

The Benefits of SSL

Ultimately, the advantages of having an HTTPS secured domain is that it does just that – secures your site. HTTPS verifies that the correct connection is being made between the website and the server and prevents other sites intercepting this connection or tampering with this connection process. The HTTPS also encrypts communication and ensures that browsing history, account passwords, or credit card numbers are all protected from being intercepted as well. In the end this ensures that your site is prevented from being hacked and that your website visitors are safe.

How to Implement SSL Security without Losing Site Speed

Of course everything has both a pros and cons list, and one of the major cons of an SSL domain designation, due to its extra portals of communication between servers, is that it presents speed issues. Since website loading speed is also a crucial component of the SEO ranking, and is in itself a ranking signal, therein lies the problem! So the challenge was to find a way to ensure that both ranking signals were satisfied without website performance being compromised. This requires reducing the number of connections or “handshakes” that need to be made to authenticate the HTTPS domain, which can be achieved through implementing:

    1. HSTS

This stands for HTTP Strict Transport Security. What is does is communicate that the browser should only connect using HTTPS and automatically redirects HTTP requests to HTTPS so that the server doesn’t have to perform the redirect.

    1. SPDY

Just like it sounds, this is a Google speed up module (meant to make your site speedy). It speeds up TLS connections by processing multiple requests through a singular connection.

    1. OCSP

This stands for Online Certificate Status Protocol and verifies the standing of the SSL certificate (if it has been revoked or is still in the clear). The goal is to relieve the browser from having to cross reference this information to verify the certificate.

    1. HTTPS Keep Alives

By keeping it alive, it means to keep the connection open, eliminating additional “handshakes” or the need for the browser and server to communicate and authenticate. These can have a significant impact on website speed.

    1. Resumption and Session Tickets

These are basically requests that allows the browsers and servers to communicate faster by overall reducing the communication time. Essentially, it does this by assigning a session ticket to a site that a browser has already visited, that way when it is visited again, the ticket informs the server that the SSL certificate or encryption has already been verified, and the request to view the page resumes without the need for another authentication process.

In the end it is better to have a secure site, which protects your company or business and your customers. Optimising your server to quickly process the SSL so that your site can remain fast as well as secure, is the best method for safeguarding your ranking and website performance.

Posted in: Editorial
By January 27, 2016 Read More →

5 of the best sat navs to get you from A to B

It’s incredible to think that we are now in 2016 and sat-navs are yet to be an as-standard feature in most new cars. It means that you’ll still have a lot of thinking to do when you come to purchase such a system.

Taking into account the broadest range of factors – from the comprehensiveness and relevance of their feature set to their ease of use and price – we have listed five of our favourite sat navs presently on the market.

1. TomTom GO 6000

This already highly-rated sat nav has benefitted from a comprehensive software overhaul that has put it back among the very best in the industry. From sharp lifetime traffic services to highly accurate navigation and effortless usability, this contender ticks almost all of the obvious boxes. If budget is a problem for you, sign up to camelcamelcamel to keep a track of the price changes and once you see a price point that matches your budget, use a voucher code to save even more money on this great sat nav.

2. Garmin nuvi 2599LMT-D

Although this, Garmin’s current range-topper is certainly a strong all-round sat nav – thanks to its highly competitive price and lifetime traffic that prevents you having to fork out for a subscription fee – it isn’t as intelligent as the GO 6000 at coming up with ways to beat hold-ups. Still, there are new models apparently on the way soon.

3. Snooper Pro SC5700 DVR

The SC5700 distinguishes itself by apparently being the first single device to combine sat nav functionality with safety camera detection and a DVR dash cam-style recorder. The individual features work pretty well, and although we found trying to control several of them simultaneously a bit confusing, we consider this model a good option if you presently lack a nav, dash cam or safety cam locator.

4. TomTom Start 50

 If you don’t have much experience of using sat navs but don’t want to choose a model that only boasts the most basic functions, the Start 50 could make a lot of sense. Its concise, easy-to-understand routing will certainly make your journeys easier and the lifetime maps are also more than welcome. This sat nav’s biggest strengths of all, however, are its ease of use and sheer good value. Downsides? You don’t get jam updates, but we can forgive that at this price point.

5. Binatone U605

The U605 is hardly the most complicated of sat navs, but if you really do just want something that you will you from A to B with little fuss, there aren’t many better options around.  We liked the standard of this model’s routing, while its maps come with lifetime updates. However, there are arguably better entry-level five-inch systems available from the likes of Garmin and TomTom.

Are you unsure what you need to look for in a sat nav? Read Argos’ comprehensive satellite navigation buying guide and don’t be afraid to comment below on the best and worst sat navs that you have used.

Posted in: Editorial, GPS/Sat Nav