10 steps to finding the best smartphone for you
(BPT) - Quality smartphones come in all configurations and price points these days. Here are some of the key things you’ll want to look for to make sure you find one that works best for your needs. Happy shopping!
1) Operating system (OS): There are two different operating systems to choose from. iOS works with iPhones, while Android operates with a wider variety of smartphones, like those from Samsung or Motorola. In general, iOS is considered easier to use, but you need to have an Apple device. Android gives you more options, plus the ability to customize it with third-party software and widgets.
2) Camera: Most people now use their phones as their primary camera, so the right selection here will be an especially important one. More and more smartphones boast cameras with at least 12 megapixels, so don't go by only that stat. Instead, focus on individual camera specs and special features like dual lenses or the ability to edit and enhance photos.
3) Screen size: Get the right size screen for the things you’ll want to do. Buy a phone with a screen smaller than 5.5 inches if one-hand use is important to you or if you have smaller hands. Get a bigger-screen phone if you like to watch a lot of videos or play games, or simply want to have an easier time navigating on your touchscreen.
4) Display: You’re going to spend many hours gazing at the screen, so make sure it offers the viewing experience you’re after. If you plan to watch a lot of videos, look for a minimum of full HD (high definition), which is 1920 x 1080 pixels. You’ll also want to familiarize yourself with some of the underlying technologies: LCD, OLED, and AMOLED are all terms you’ll see used, and each offers a different range of advantages.
5) Design: Determining good smartphone design is purely subjective. Many people prefer a metal or glass design; others, plastic. If you’re concerned about durability, look for a phone that is water-resistant. A handful of phones also now feature a shatterproof glass display, and many include a Gorilla Glass display to protect it against short drops (a protective case will help with that, too).
6) Processor: Even midrange phones now offer satisfactory performance for nearly any user level or basic task. A good processor inside a phone will translate to faster open times for apps, smoother navigation and quicker photo editing.
7) Battery: Many factors, including the screen size, processor and operating system, determine how long a smartphone lasts on a charge. A decent benchmark is to look for a smartphone with a battery capacity of at least 3,000 mAh. Any phone that lasts longer than 9 hours of straight 4G LTE use is considered very good.
8) Storage: Go for as much internal storage as possible. Some apps and games can easily take up more than 1GB of storage, and most smartphone owners capture and store large numbers of high-res photos and videos. While some models offer just 8GB or 16GB, the minimum on premium handsets these days is usually anywhere from 32GB to 64GB. Adding a microSD card will also help expand your storage. It's available on many Android phones, some of which can accommodate 1TB or more.
9) Price: Don’t pay for more than you need. The latest iPhone and premium Android phones start around $800, and can easily run $1,000 or more. But there are great options below $500, and even some solid choices for well under $200.
10) Carrier: A smartphone requires a wireless plan. Choose a service provider that offers what you’ll really use, and at a price that suits your budget. Consumer Cellular, for example, offers a wide variety of smartphone choices from entry level to top of the line, along with talk, text and data plans, with no contract.
Let today’s top technology work for you. It’s a very competitive marketplace, so by shopping wisely, you’re sure to find a smartphone that keeps you connected at a great price.
What you need to know to make the best tech decisions for your small business.
(BPT) - The PCs you choose to power your small business can dramatically impact your company's productivity and competitiveness. However, many small businesses fall for common myths about computers, leading to poor purchasing decisions.
Here are four myths about PCs — and realities to help you make smarter technology decisions for your business.
Myth 1: Consumer PCs are interchangeable with business PCs
Reality: Because they're built for activities like watching videos, checking email and surfing the web, PCs for the consumer market will not always have the computing power or security features sophisticated business applications demand. If a family laptop reluctantly boots up or crashes, it's annoying, but not serious.
For a business, however, computers are mission-critical. Employees are more likely to run multiple applications simultaneously, use resource-heavy applications or use software as a service (SaaS). PCs built for consumers often lack the computing power to handle these tasks — resulting in lost productivity.
Consumer-level PCs may also lack built-in security features of computers designed for businesses, which could make your business — and sensitive customer data — vulnerable to cyberattacks.
Myth 2: RAM is the top factor in computer performance
Reality: Adding more random access memory (RAM) usually allows a computer to manage more data. But RAM alone won't improve a computer's performance — unless the PC has sufficient processing power. To make a PC faster and more efficient, you need a powerful central processing unit (CPU) to optimize the RAM. While RAM is the memory, the CPU (or processor) is the computer's "brain," receiving instructions, performing calculations and processing information.
To run today's resource-intensive business software efficiently, look for computers with plenty of RAM plus processing power, such as PCs combining an 8th Gen Intel(R) Core(TM) i5 processor with Intel Optane memory — delivering up to 2.5 times more responsive handling of everyday tasks and up to 66% faster web performance compared to 5-year-old PCs.
Myth 3: You can wait until PCs fail before replacing them
Reality: Long before a PC fails, its performance may suffer, costing your business time and money. Waiting for an older PC to start up every day can waste up to 11 hours a year. Crashing, freezing or slow computers can keep your employees from working efficiently, and may appear unprofessional to customers or clients. Sluggish, malfunctioning PCs can reduce employee satisfaction, as workers become frustrated with outdated technology.
Don't wait until your business PCs slow to a crawl before upgrading. Be proactive. Look for hardware that exceeds your software vendor's recommended system requirements. This will help ensure your PCs can handle future software upgrades. Then set a regular schedule for upgrading your hardware.
Myth 4: You're saving money by repairing old PCs
Reality: Repairing or adding RAM to squeeze more life out of older computers may seem economical. But the cost of keeping older PCs running quickly adds up. According to Intel(R)-commissioned research from J.Gold Associates, repairing breakdowns of a five-year-old computer costs an average of $662 per year. The same research found 43% of the small businesses surveyed had PCs that were over five years old — and malfunctioned each year. At that rate, you'd soon be spending more on repairs than on a brand-new, more powerful computer.
Besides losing productivity during breakdowns and repairs, older computers are also slower. Using five-year-old PCs can make your employees up to 29% less productive, potentially costing your business up to $17,000 per year, per worker.
Older PCs can also put your business at risk of cyberattacks. Per the J.Gold Associates survey, small businesses estimated that 34.47% of their computers over five years old had been hacked. With the average cost of a single data breach worldwide estimated at $35,745 per employee, an older PC rapidly becomes an expensive liability.
In the same survey, small businesses reported that just 5.92% of their PCs newer than one year old had experienced cyberattacks. Newer computers frequently offer built-in security features to reduce risk of cyberattacks. If you've updated to Windows 10, upgrading to a PC with the 8th Generation Intel(R) Core(TM) processor can help you focus on growing your business instead of worrying about cybersecurity.
Blindly accepting myths about PCs can be expensive for your small business. Upgrading to more powerful computers can optimize the performance of your business software, enhance your cybersecurity and boost employee productivity. The next time you're making decisions about computer purchases, be sure you base your actions on reality. Then choose the right PCs to make your business more competitive.
Learn more at Intel.com/smallbusiness.
 Performance results based on testing as of March 2, 2018, and may not reflect all publicly available security updates. See configuration disclosure for details. No product can be absolutely secure. Software and workloads used in performance tests may have been optimized for performance only on Intel microprocessors. Performance tests, such as SYSmark and MobileMark, are measured using specific computer systems, components, software, operations and functions. Any change to any of those factors may cause results to vary. You should consult other information and performance tests to assist you in fully evaluating your contemplated purchases, including performance of that product when combined with other products. For more information about performance and benchmark results, visit Intel.com/benchmarks. As measured by SYSmark 2014 SE Responsiveness Subscore comparing 8th Gen Intel(R) Core(TM) i5 8400 (16GB Intel(R) Optane(TM) memory module) vs. Intel(R) Core(TM) i5-3330 (HDD Only).
 “Just waiting for an older PC to start up every day, an employee can waste up to 11 hours a year” is based on a 2018 web-based survey commissioned by Intel and conducted by J.Gold Associates, LLC., of 3,297 respondents from small business in 16 countries (Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Spain, Turkey, UAE, UK, USA) to assess challenges and costs associated with deploying older PCs. Assuming one start-up per day and using an average start-up time calculated by taking the midpoint of the time that survey respondents estimated it takes to start up a PC over 5 years old, employees were estimated to spend up to 11 hours a year starting up a 5-year-old PC (4.07 minutes X 5 days per week X 52 weeks per year divided by 60 (to get to hours) X utilization rate of .67 so 4.07 X 5 X 52 / 60 X .67 = 11.8). Full report available at Intel.com/content/www/us/en/business/small-business/sme-pc-study.html.
 The J.Gold study is based on a 2018 web-based survey, commissioned by Intel and conducted by J.Gold Associates, LLC., of 3,297 respondents from small business in 16 countries (Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Spain, Turkey, UAE, UK, USA) to assess the challenges and costs associated with deploying older PCs. J.Gold research indicated that the failure of a PC under warranty cost a company $1,070 for each failure, and the cost of failure for a machine out of warranty was $1,525. We can allocate a cost per user per year based on the above calculated costs of failure (assuming an in-warranty failure cost for year one and a non-warranty failure cost for all other years) where: Cost = 43.42% (average failure rate) X $1,525 (cost of failure outside of a warranty) 1 (usage from Q2). Full report available at Intel.com/content/www/us/en/business/small-business/sme-pc-study.html.
 Ibid. “Using five-year-old PCs can make your employees up to 29% less productive” is based on the productivity impairment respondents estimated was attributed to using a five-year-old PC multiplied by the average amount of time respondents estimated was spent on a PC.
 Ibid. “Potentially costing your business up to U.S. $17,000 per year per worker” is based on survey respondents’ estimates that for PCs more than five years old, employees would be up to 29% less productive. Based on an average assumed employee’s salary of $60,000, the lost productivity cost will amount to $17,000.
 Ibid. Allocating the cost of a malware attack or data breach by employee can be calculated by the following formula: $35,745 (Cost per employee) = 34.47% (average percentage that have had a breach) X $103,705 (the average cost of the breach).
 Ibid. “Small businesses had reported that just 5.92% of their computers had experienced cyberattacks” is based on the responses to a question in the J.Gold 2018 web-based survey.
(BPT) - Smart home products made major strides in 2018. More people than ever now use connected devices in their homes, and smart home hubs are constantly adding new integrations and capabilities. Research from Statista predicts that by the end of 2018, more than 45 million smart home devices will be installed in U.S. homes, fueling an exciting new phase for the smart home industry, offering consumers new and improved smart technologies and giving rise to a totally interconnected, easy-to-control environment termed the “smart home.”
This innovation looks to continue in the new year with increasingly intuitive products that make life more enjoyable and interconnected. Here are the new smart home products ready to change the way we live in the new year, coming out of the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show (CES).
Laundry made easy
The calendar might have changed, but your laundry needs haven’t gone anywhere. Thankfully, smart home technology is making the chore a little easier with LG’s Ultimate Laundry Room.
The LG Styler is a first-of-its-kind steam clothing care system certified as asthma and allergy friendly(R) by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA). The Wi-Fi enabled smart LG Styler reduces wrinkles and odor and refreshes garments with the fastest cycle on the market today — as little as 20 minutes — thanks to the gentle power of pure steam technology. Furthermore, LG TWINWash(TM) with SideKick(TM) pedestal washer, an industry-first innovation for laundry, allows users to tackle small loads that are a big deal and can’t wait or wash two loads at the same time.
With LG Styler for daily refreshes, the innovative LG SideKick(TM) mini washer for small loads that can't wait, and LG's award-winning top and front load washers and dryers, the LG Ultimate Laundry Room suite of products can be started, stopped or monitored from anywhere using LG’s SmartThinQ(R) app. Users will receive notifications when a cycle has finished, or they can download new cycles, check energy usage and quickly troubleshoot minor issues using Smart Diagnosis. For added convenience, these home solutions can also be controlled with simple voice commands using the Google Assistant.
Smarter home with smart displays
Laundry is just one example of how smart home technology is making life easier. By adding other connected appliances and devices, you can develop a true smart home ecosystem in which seamless integrations produce valuable efficiency. One of the best ways to anchor your ecosystem is with a smart display like the new LG XBOOM AI ThinQ WK9 Smart Display. The advanced smart display builds on the capabilities of a Google Assistant speaker with the added convenience of a touchscreen display and, in partnership with Meridian Audio, delivers high-fidelity sound, precise vocal definition and accurate bass, despite its compact size.
In addition to its audio and video capabilities, the WK9 enables control of other LG ThinQ products such as LG TVs and home appliances, plus more than 10,000 smart devices from over 1,000 brands that work with Google Assistant. By establishing a go-to hub for all your smart home devices, you can increase connectivity and create a fully integrated smart home environment.
Stay connected on-the-go
As innovation continues, smart home technology is branching outside of the home itself. With new products, you can receive notifications regarding your home from anywhere, making sure you never lose touch with the most important things in your life. The first full-screen smartwatch with mechanical hands, the LG Watch W7 allows you to connect and control your smart devices. With two mechanical hands and a micro gearbox, users can enjoy the full WearOS smartwatch experience with the essence and mechanism of a true timepiece. With mobile connectivity, your life becomes easier no matter where you are.
Smart home technology is all about making our lives easier and more comfortable. Whether you’re just doing laundry, looking to power your whole home, or even taking that control on the road, new smart home products provide a level of convenience that’s changing the way we live.
(BPT) - What drives you in the search for the perfect PC? Is it premium design and the high-end components? Or are you a performance person where nothing but the best specs will do? And what about price? Do you worry that you'll have to sacrifice some of the things you want simply because they are too expensive?
There are many things to consider when looking for the perfect PC but price and performance are not mutually exclusive. With today's modern devices, you can have both. So start your search by focusing on the parameters below and you'll find the perfect PC that fits your needs, and your budget, in no time.
This is where your tech really shines, thanks to the latest advancements that separate the newest devices from their predecessors. Crafted from 100 percent aluminum, the Acer Swift 3 packs the power of a 7th Generation Intel Core processor into an ultra-slim .7” frame with full high-definition capabilities and 12 hours of battery life.
Meanwhile, the versatile Dell Inspiron 13 5000 Series 2-in-1 can transition from a laptop to a tent to a tablet with ease, and has a full high-definition wide-viewing angle display to play media powered by its Intel Core processor.
Finally, the HP Pavilion x360 allows you to work, write and play naturally on the touchscreen. It's a convertible 2-in-1 with an optional active pen, the enhanced experience of FHD IPS display and audio tuned by the experts at Bang & Olufsen. It also allows you to store millions of documents or hundreds of movies with up to 1 terabyte of HDD storage.
Powerful and portable
The size of your new device plays a huge role in how you use it. If you plan to travel with your device, then you’ll want a more compact model like the slim, lightweight, ultraportable 2-in-1 ASUS Transformer Mini. This powerful tablet features a comfortable, angled keyboard and a handy kickstand delivering 140-degree views no matter where you take it. Plus, channel your inner creator with Windows 10 Creators Update and Active Pen, which creates the feeling of writing with a pen on paper.
Whether you plan to carry your PC into that next business meeting or out with friends, appearance matters, and nothing tops sleek and stylish. The Samsung Galaxy Book 10 is a 2-in-1 with a gorgeous display and a brushed metal finish that’s sure to get noticed. And with the included Samsung S Pen, 10 hours of battery life and the ability to sync up with your Samsung phone, its functionality can't be topped.
Safe and secure
The more time you invest in your PC, the more important it is to protect it. The Lenovo Yoga 510 (Flex 4) keeps your content uniquely yours with a simple, secure log-in fingerprint reader and Windows Hello. It’s the perfect gatekeeper for a device with plenty of storage for all your most cherished keepsakes.
Personalized for you
Each of the devices mentioned above is available at an affordable price allowing you to find the perfect PC to meet your needs and your budget. Once you narrow in on the features and functionalities that are a must have for you to help you tackle your personal and professional to-do's, you'll find that there is a PC out there to fit your needs.
So don't delay. Start your search for your next device today, and put the power of state-of-the-art technology on your table, your lap or in the palm of your hand. Stop by your nearest Microsoft Store, microsoftstore.com, or your local retailer to find the one that's right for you.
(BPT) - The technology in our TV sets has changed a lot in the past decade. When it comes time to buy one, it's easy to lose track of which features matter for a good TV-watching experience.
You might find a TV at a tempting price, but you don't want to end up wasting money on a picture that blurs at the height of the action, looks distorted from side angles or doesn't support the latest technology.
At the same time, does the expensive model and its alphabet soup of features really give you a better picture for the price?
"With all the new TVs hitting the market in the next few months, it can be tough to know what to buy and what the numbers mean," says Katie Linendoll, tech expert, TODAY Show contributor and Emmy Award winner.
Since your TV set is a major source of entertainment for you and your family, it's important to know what to look for before you start shopping. With Linendoll's guidance on the latest TV features and technology, you'll be sure to choose a TV set with the brightness, sharp images and vibrant colors you're looking for. Because the last thing you want is to get stuck with a TV you'll regret.
Screen type: OLED or LCD?
For starters, there are only two kinds of TV panel technologies available right now: OLED (pronounced "oh-led") and LCD.
"OLED technology creates its own light, which means each pixel can be individually controlled and turned on or completely off," says Linendoll. Plus, OLED delivers over one billion different shades of color - about 64 times the amount of a conventional TV.
Many experts who have performed detailed technical reviews have deemed OLED the best TV tech ever made. Combined with rave reviews and its super-slim design, this tech is worth paying a bit more in price.
Currently, OLED is available in various screen sizes from LG, who led the introduction of the category a few years ago, and Sony announced they will also release several OLED sets later this year.
Unlike OLED, LCD (liquid crystal display) requires a backlight to make the picture. Most of today's LCD sets use LED lighting. LCD can create a bright, colorful picture but black levels will not be as dark as OLED, and some details can be lost in the shadows.
"This category of TV can still deliver very impressive picture quality, and it's often very attractively priced," says Linendoll.
While shopping for an LCD set, it's important to know major manufacturers have different names for their premium LCD models. You might hear of Q-LED (an LCD TV that uses quantum dot technology) - not to be confused with OLED - as well as Super UHD or XBR.
Brighter, more colorful picture
One big improvement in recent years has been the expansion of color capabilities in TVs. Nano cell and quantum dot technology, for example, are designed primarily to deliver a bigger spectrum of color than conventional LCD sets, creating more realistic-looking pictures.
How does it work? Nano cell, which is only found in LG's Super UHD TVs, uses extremely small particles (one nanometer in size), which provide more refined and accurate shades of color.
Viewing angles are important
Research shows that only about 10 percent of TV viewers sit directly in front of the TV, so viewing angle is extremely important. Moving even by as little as 10-15 degrees can make colors look washed out and black levels will start to degrade.
OLED TVs have the best performance at wide viewing angles; however, some LCDs, such as LG's Super UHD sets, use a special LCD type for a wider viewing angle.
The more pixels you have, the better the image quality. If you picked up on the buzz about 4K "Ultra HD," you know these TVs have more than 8 million pixels and display sharper, more lifelike images.
"Most new bigger-screen TVs you'd be considering, including OLED and LCD TVs, are 4K," says Linendoll. A newer enhancement to 4K is called HDR or high dynamic range, giving you more shadow detail and natural bright highlights.
Be sure the set you're looking at has 4K resolution and supports HDR; otherwise you will be missing out on what's quickly becoming the gold standard in TV features.
Interested in Publishing on The Tech Idea?
Send your query to the Publisher today!