Category Archives: Product News

Online storage…Is it worth it?

storage

Recently there has been a massive uproar about online storage security, with celebrities Jennifer Lawrence and Scarlet Johannson to name a couple, suffering nude photo leaks onto the web. It has spawned another debate about how much it costs to maintain your right to have that storage. What happens to the images if you just stop paying?

As some of you may already be aware, Apple’s iCloud storage system has recently changed its price plan, and allows just 5GB free storage, before you have to start paying a monthly fee.

Now for smartphone users it may be a worthy investment to pay for more cloud storage. However in the long run it would be cheaper to just buy a hard drive and store all your private photos, videos and files on.

At dabs.com we see the pros and cons to both sides of the argument. Online storage can be very convenient and easy to use without having to transfer files to physical hard drives.  But, do you fully trust the security measures the large cloud storage companies have in place to protect your data?

So we thought we would try to help and point you in the right direction to some products that may help you to solve your storage concerns.

Check these out!

http://www.dabs.com/category/components-and-storage,other-drives–optical–usb-/11268?q=encrypted

http://www.dabs.com/category/components-and-storage,hard-drives,external-hard-drives–desktop-and-portable-/11157?q=encrypted

Everything you need to know about the iPhone 6 & 6 Plus

iphone6

 

As you know smartphones need something to set them apart in order for them to do well. Well, Apple have been working on the iPhone 6 & 6 Plus which was official unveiled yesterday. So when we got all the information we started to understand why there is all this hype about the latest iPhone. Hopefully these insights will help you understand why the latest Apple smartphone will be truly awesome. (in no particular order).

 

1. Comes in 2 sizes. The standard iPhone 6 will have a 4.7 inch screen and the iPhone 6 plus will don a 5.5 inch screen.

2. Brand new operating system the iOS 8.

3. A sharper quality camera and video recording. Only having however, an 8MP rear camera. 1080p HD video recording capable of 30 fps or even 60 fps, and a nice additional feature of Slow-Mo video capture with 120 fps or 240 fps capability. As well as the 6 Plus coming with added optical image stabilisation.

4. Will have built in Health apps, which will integrate with the Nike Fitness App. Will run along the highly anticipated smart watch and wearable tech (something we are looking forward to too).

5. This new phone will feature an Ion strengthened glass screen display. Not only that but the display will be what Apple call a Retina HD display with 1334 x 750 pixels on the iPhone 6, and the iPhone 6 Plus will boast a 1920 x 1080 pixel Retina HD resolution display.

6. Built in Barometer.

7. It is on sale from the 19th September.

8. The competition that the iPhone 6 will have with  HTC One M8, Samsung Galaxy S5, LG G3 and the Sony Xperia Z3 as well as the latest Nokia series in terms of size, specs, power and performance, will affect sales.

9. The iPhone 6 will be 6.9mm thick & iPhone 6 Plus being 7.1mm thick.

10. Comes in 3 memory sizes 16GB, 64GB & 128GB.

11.  Talk time of up to 14 hours (subject to settings you have it on)

 

All in all we think this is an amazing phone and we look forward to them coming on sale in 9 days’ time. (19th September 2014) But we would like to know, what do you think of the new iPhone 6 & 6 Plus?

 

Technology from a Student’s Perspective

If you’re a first year university student right now, chances are you’ll be getting the swing of student life. Once alien concepts such as lectures, seminars, the student union and halls of residence won’t seem quite so unfamiliar to you now and you’ll be loving every bit of your new life.

As well as this, you’ll have hopefully invested in some decent tech for uni and will have a solid, reliable laptop, tablet or desktop to do your work on. If you’re still undecided on what to go for however, we’ve chosen two people living the student dream to talk a little bit ab0ut the gadgetry they use for university which will hopefully influence your decision.

Here’s a post from student blogger Kerrie McGiveron talking about the laptop and USB Drive she uses:

As a student I wouldn’t say I was gadget-obsessed, but I just like what I like. I am actually a self-confessed old school old-book lover. And by that I mean I love old second hand books, I love the smell and feel of them – I like running my fingers over the pages and breaking their spines.

However, we do live in the technological age and everything does seem to be more and more online or on screen.

We use less and less paper books and sheets and spend more time using our gadgets. It saves time, money and space – so it is easy to see why we do this. I have noticed that more and more of my resources for university are online and downloadable rather than being in books and anthologies. As my degree is in history, I have a lot of primary sources such as diary excerpts and maps to download and to refer to. Printing all of this information off would just be a nightmare. I have actually just started to get my head around this, so this blog is going to be about my use of technology and gadgets. Yes, I have moved on from everything being paper-based, and I am trying to download books information and read it on-screen instead of printing reams and reams of paper off and using up ink, time and expense. So here are my three essential gadgets that I use as a student. And of course, there is always a little room left for smelly old academic texts…

#1 My Toshiba Satellite Pro L380-17T Laptop

This is my pride and joy. I pretty much use this for everything. I watch films on this, read my texts on this, catch up with the news, write my essays, write my blogs…you name it, I do it on this.

The reason that I love my Toshiba laptop is because I treat it like my ‘base.’ I have a tablet that I use when I am away from my desk, but my laptop is my little hub.

laptop

It has a 13.3″ screen with LED backlight and has a multi-touch touch-pad. I don’t use a mouse anymore, but it took me a while to make the transition from mouse to pad – oh come on, leave me alone I’m not a spring chicken any more, and you know what they say about old dogs!

The battery lasts around 2 to 4 hours for what I do with it. When it comes to essay deadline day, I do tend to move it from my desk to somewhere more private. The laptop sits on what I call ‘my desk.’ In reality this is just a small table that it sits on nicely! If I am just working for a while I will leave the adaptor in, but I do like to be mobile with it – it is lightweight and easy to carry around.

The Techy Stuff

* Windows 8

 

* Intel Core i3-2375M Processor

 

* RAM – 2GB

 

* Storage 500GB

 

* Weight 1.86kg

 

* 13.3″ Screen

 

* Integrated webcam

#2 My Kingston DataTraveler 2GB USB Flash Drive

I have to be able to download all of my resources and keep them in one place. For this I use my Kingston USB. I put all of my university online resources into this memory stick so that I am not relying on the internet constantly to download all of the information. This way, I can take my work with me – and read the information from the screen wherever I am, without the need to be online.

usb

I also use this device to keep photographs of the children on for when I need to get them printed – it’s just a really handy way to do it, and I love to use it for this.

The Techy Stuff

* Capacity – 2GB

 

* Interface Speed – USB 2.0, 480Mbps

 

* Pocket sized for convenience (as you can see from the photo I just keep mine handy on my key ring.)

I honestly don’t know where I would be without these two items. Even thinking back to when I was at college, our essays were handwritten, everything was on paper. But now all that has changed and I have changed too. Probably a little bit unwillingly, but we all have to move with the times. My laptop and USB make my life so much easier and I would be lost without them.

That’s not to say that I have stopped buying pre-loved old academic texts…

books

Here’s a link to our range of Toshiba Satellite Pro Laptops.

If you want to read more of Kerrie’s Posts, visit: www.wifemumstudentbum.com

Our second post is by University of Portsmouth Student, Kat Drury:

Going off to university is one of the next big steps in life for those who decide that is their chosen path and with this big step, comes a hell of a lot of work – let’s be honest the first year not so much. The first year is more about learning to hold your alcohol and whether you can make it through a lecture without a hangover. However, Priorities do change as the years go on… This year, my second year, it’s all about work, work, work (Kind of more what we should have expected when we signed up for this university stuff I guess…) I’m definitely not the most organised of people – although I honestly do try – so more often than not I have a list of things that need doing that’s as long as my arm, providing I don’t lose it… but to keep up with various sets of notes and to make sure I don’t then lose them, I tend to keep mine typed and then backed up online (I’ve lost them all in a great computer crash before and that was a nightmare. It definitely made revision so much harder….)

I spend my time taking notes/blogging/watching TV online on my lime green laptop (a woman’s description of a laptop right there^) and in all honestly it’s my pride and joy. I’ll admit I’m not the most techie type of person, but I do like to at least attempt to try and understand how things like my laptop work.  My laptop is a Dell Inspiron 1545 whilst quite sadly seems to be obsolete, serves me perfectly.  I understand what RAM is (mines only 3GB  – but my laptop runs fairly fast so it isn’t like I need any more at the moment) and that my 64-bit operations system means that programmes that need more power to run have the ability to do so. My processor is a Pentium (R) Dual Core CPU that runs at 2.20 GHz and I have 500GB of hard drive memory, which seems to be filling up fairly quickly on account of all the work. (So much so I’m considering buying an external hard drive….) Quite sadly I don’t have Apple Mac OS X which looks beautiful and instead have Windows 7. I have had the chance to use Windows 8 on a fellow student’s laptop and in all honesty I found it one of the hardest things to wrap my head around – think I’ll be sticking with 7 for a little while longer.

I use my laptop multiple times a day and couldn’t really ask for more to make things easier for getting through my degree… except more hours in the day maybe a slightly longer battery life. Because at the end of the day, laptops don’t always have great battery life and they can have a horrible tendency of running out of power right at the critical moment of a lecture… And when I put mine in its case so it doesn’t get damaged on the move it can get quite heavy (My laptops getting somewhat old.) and I definitely don’t have the muscles for that! They do on the other hand have the ability to go everywhere (Nothing I love more than sitting in a coffee shop to do my work, especially if they have chocolate cake….) saving me time and effort because I can then write as the lecturer talks and don’t have to wait until later when I get back to the house like I would if I were being old fashioned and using a pen and paper.

I am continually being told that the boys I live with that their desktops are way better than my little laptop. To be fair they are all computer animation/computer games technology students so need their desktops to operate with enough power to fly to the moon and back so that they can do things such as render (they just tried to explain this to me and had to use Disney as an example….) The problem is, these sort of super-desktops (as well as the standard ones) can get very expensive very quickly. Which I know that laptops and tablets can be, but desktops can be so much more.  Besides, even if my laptop isn’t perfect, at least I have the choice of working wherever I want, whenever I want rather than at the same desk looking at the same walls.

Going back to the avoiding taking notes, I have recently noticed that more and more students have begun to take tablets into lectures so that they can write up their notes as they go and never have to worry about losing then – that and they have the chance to play angry birds/candy crush when the lecture gets particularly dull. Now I think that tablets are a great plan and that they should be something that ever student should aim to have but it was recently pointed out they have several downsides… One being that writing essays is incredibly hard if you are relying on just the use of a tablet – especially when you have to write 1500 words and you’ve left it to the night before. Another, as said above, is that it is very very easy to get distracted, which means writing notes can get slightly pushed to the side if you’re stuck on a level of candy crush/having a really interesting conversation on Facebook. BUT the battery life on a tablet should exceed that of a laptop and they are a lot lot more compact and so fit into a handbag way better than either of the above. Plus they are nowhere near as heavy!

I know that different people find different things that suit them better than others but deep down I know that a laptop is the better option for me – as much as I’m desperate for a tablet of some description…

My flatmates have spoken…. It’s been decided that laptops are best for general students but computer-y type degrees need something more like the turbo-desktop although every student has access to a desktop and potentially even a laptop – even if they own neither – throughout their time at university; be it in the library, in the university buildings or occasionally through a generous flatmate computer games student (either that or you can bribe them with free drinks on the next available night out…). It’s not so much what you have, it’s how you choose to use it!

If you’re interested in our range of Dell Laptops , here’s a link!

And here’s a link to the rest of Kat’s Posts

So here’s two brilliant blog posts from two students who know what they like in terms of tech, hopefully these blogs will influence your decision if you’re still undecided on what the best tech is for you. Need further influence? Check out our Dabs Student Store for our range of student tech deals for when you’re at work, at home or on the go!

surface-tablet

The Microsoft Surface- the end of the Laptop?

Here in the Dabs office, we’re all very excited. And when I say we’re all very excited, what I really mean is I’m very excited. The tech-nerd in me has risen right to the top today as I have discovered Microsoft’s first ever tablet and answer to the iPad has been unveiled- the Microsoft Surface.

So why am I excited? Well, it’s about time we had genuine competition for the Apple iPad that the tablet world desperately needs and I think this could well be it.

So on the surface of the Surface (ha ha!) it does look a little like it’s all style over substance, and as not a right lot is known about it yet in terms of spec, I do hope that this is not the case.  What we do know is that there will be two versions; a Windows RT version designed to run on ARM processors which are typically found in smartphones and other tablets, and will be the thinner and lighter of the models. The other version will be the Windows 8 Pro version running on Intel processors, more powerful and as a result will have a bigger price tag. Both versions will have a lovely sleek looking detachable keyboard, an integrated kickstand and two cameras called ‘LifeCams.’ So, by the information that we know, it seems that the Surface is more than your traditional tablet.  If it has everything you need from browsing to games to Office software, will it render the laptop obsolete?

My opinion? I’m not sure. The Windows 8 Pro version may be a strong contender as it will feature a full version of the Windows 8 operating system and Intel processors. They’ll be as dear as an average Ultrabook but perhaps the unique selling point of it being more portable and lightweight will prevail. The less powerful Windows RT version I can’t see being competent enough to be a decent alternative for a good value laptop. Similarly to the Chromebook, It may be best used for light browsing and app use and not as a laptop replacement, just on account of it not being powerful enough.

Whatever happens I don’t think this will be a failure, there’s a sense that this time round it feels a little like Microsoft are beginning a new chapter and are genuinely trying to go beyond being just a competitor and are becoming an innovator. It seems to signal a new era in computing where the boundary between laptop and tablet are becoming increasingly more blurred. Pretty soon we’ll start seeing tablets which when docked will become fully fledged laptops, laptops with two screens, laptops with flippable screens as well as laptops with slide-out keyboards.  A greater emphasis will be placed on being lighter and more portable while being more powerful and having the ability to multitask and do the job of several devices.

 What do you guys think? Is this the dawn of a new age of computing or just another tablet? We’d love to hear from you.

 

st8

Building the ultimate video editing PC: Part 3

If you’re a regular reader of our blog, you’ll have seen that talented animation designer Alex Amelines has been sharing his words of wisdom when it comes to building a PC for editing and creating videos. In his previous posts (part One and part Two) he looked at motherboards, hard drives, processors, memory and software. In his third and final post, he discusses graphics cards and peripherals, as well as those all-important components for putting the whole machine together.

Graphics card

Especially if you’re working in 3D, the graphics card will play a major role in creating these graphics, and will take some of the work of the processor, further improving the speed of the system. While gaming graphics cards are cheaper, many of the programs you’ll be using will be able to take advantage of the additional functionality provided by dedicated visual effects cards, such as the PNY Quadro 2000D.

Peripherals

If you’ve chosen the right video card, then you’ll be able to use two monitors. While it might seem a bit extravagant, a lot of video editing and visual effects programs have massive interfaces, so that extra screen real-estate will be vital. I’d suggest getting a higher-quality monitor for colour calibrating and grading and a less expensive one for the interface and other less-graphic intensive programs.

If you’re into visual effects then you might also want to shoot your own video. While there are many affordable cameras out there, Canon makes quality hardware which you can get for a relatively low investment, such as its EOS1100D.

Other peripherals are completely optional, but can make your life a lot easier. Wacom makes great graphics tablets, such as the Intuos 4, allowing you to draw freehand directly into your computer. The ShuttleXpress wheel can also make it easier to quickly move through videos, especially when editing, speeding up your workflow and productivity.

When you combine these components with a keyboard and mouse as well as a power supply and case, you can get the whole system for around £1540, excluding software. The right components will last you for a good couple of years, giving you plenty of time to work on your latest masterpiece, without having to wrestle with a slow, aging system.

If this post has inspired you to create your own video editing PC, why not drop us a line to discuss your requirements, and if you have built your own system let us know in the comments how you got on.

Alex Amelines

Building the ultimate video editing PC: Part 2

In the second of our posts looking at building the ultimate video editing PC, animation designer Alex Amelines provides additional advice on choosing the best component for building the ultimate video editing PC. This post looks at the best software to use, and discusses how much storage and memory you need to get the best experience.

Storage

As with the other components, speed is important. While size might be the only thing people think about when it comes to storage, the longer it takes to write data to a hard drive, the longer it will take to perform tasks such as graphic rendering. The key is ensuring that whatever video software you are using, it has access to dedicated storage for reading and writing data. Using an SSD for the OS and traditional HDDs for standard read/write operations means that you can take advantage of SSD speeds to boost start-up times, while using HDD for its low cost to storage space ratio. If you decide to do this, you’ve got a couple of options. You could set up two fast internal HDD drives (7200 RPM) using RAID, which would further increase the drives’ speed (although you would only be able to use half of the combined storage – you can read more on this here), or using three drives could use RAID 5, which gives you speed and protection against HDD failure (but only two thirds of the combined storage). Alternatively, you could use an external RAID storage box over FireWire or USB 3.0. A final option, which is especially good if you’re rendering graphics, is to use one drive as your main scratch disk, and another one for rendering to, as it is faster to read from one disc and write to another one. It almost goes without saying, but having a backup plan in place will ensure that you won’t lose your latest masterpiece in a freak accident. Speed is less important here, so a standard external USB drive can fulfil your needs.

Software

The type of software you need will depend entirely on the type of videos you’re making. For 2D animation, a great place to start is Adobe PhotoShop and After Effects. From there you can move to 3D, and while there are many options, the most user friendly is probably Cinema 4D. However, a more pocket-friendly alternative is Blender as it is free to download. There are also programs such as Lightwave, Modo, 3D Max and Maya, although whether you will need these depends on how much 3D you will be doing, and whether it will be VFX or character animation. However, they all have PLE versions available, allowing you to judge what’s more suitable for you. If you’re interested in editing software, Adobe Premiere is a good choice, especially as it comes in the Adobe Creative Suite, which also includes Photoshop and After Effects.

Memory

Memory is relatively cheap, and you’ll notice if you don’t have enough. To ensure smooth performance, you’ll want to go for at least 8GB, although 12GB will mean you won’t have to worry about upgrading for a while. As with the other components, speed is very important. This Corsair memory is designed to keep up with fast processors such as the Intel i7 series, so it shouldn’t cause any system slowdown.

In the first part of this series, Alex looked at motherboards and processors for a video editing PC, and in the third and final post he will look at graphics cards and peripherals. Alex will also recommend the other components you’ll need, such as cases and power supplies, to put you ultimate video editing PC together.

call-of-duty-black-ops2

Black Ops 2: are you ready for it?

If you thought the excitement couldn’t get any greater than with the original Black Ops, then you were wrong. Announced recently, Black Ops 2 is promising to deliver even more of what fans want. While it might almost be crossing over into Modern Warfare territory with its near-future setting, the chance to blow up giant walking robots and use armed quadcopter drones will be more than most fans can resist. Check out the trailer below for some of these machines in action:

With a release date of November 13th for all versions, you’ve got plenty of time to make sure you get some practice in. Of course, having a machine to match the game’s requirements will mean the experience isn’t ruined by jerky frame rates or crackly sound. While the game’s engine may look similar to the previous version, you can be assured Treyarch will have tweaked the graphics to make it look as good as possible. A new graphics card can give your system the necessary boost to make the game as smooth as possible – take a look at these cards. A bigger monitor can ensure that you don’t miss any of the action, and a first-person shooter specific mouse will stop you blaming your hardware next time you miss that all important shot.  Of course, if you don’t want to alienate your loved ones/family/roommates with the constant sound of gunfire, have a look at a gaming headset. How are you preparing for Black Ops 2? Or is there another game that you’re more excited about? Let us know!

HP TopShot FI

3D Scanning on the HP TopShot LaserJet Pro M275

Can new technology turn printing, copying and scanning from mundane to exciting?  The HP TopShot is attempting to do just that, and here’s how.

At Dabs.com we often come across new exciting technology – that’s a large part of why we do what we do here – but occasionally, there are those products that take our breath away by making the ordinary, extra ordinary Take printing for example; for the most part we use our printers to produce a hardcopy of a document. But there’s potential in the HP TopShot, for the more imaginative among us to produce personal works of contemporary art.

Let me introduce you to TopShot Scanning. As part of the LaserJet Pro M275, TopShot scanning enables easy and quick capture of high-quality images of documents; as well as 3D objects, which can then be used for printed materials or online. The LaserJet Pro M275 achieves this through a camera which is embedded into a hinged arm elevated above the scanning platform, also known as the capture stage of the device.  By combining a high-quality lens and a high-resolution sensor, any small object can be captured through a total of six images per scan or copy. Here is an example of what it can do below.

So this is where I begin gazing even deeper into future, and I ask myself, ‘how long before homes and small businesses are able to scan, print, send and project scale representation of products and objects’?  You might start small with ornaments, jewellery and handheld devices but before long you expand onto bigger objects including; computer components, games consoles, TVs and other home electronics. Let’s face it, this is a long way from the development of the flat hologram, in fact, this printer may well turn out to be the 21st century equivalent of R2D2.

So, if you were to scan 3D objects to send to someone on a printed material or online, what would you scan and who would you send it to?

http://youtu.be/gRm44FZNaso

AMD Radeon HD 7700 series fi

AMD Radeon 7700 series GPU

AMD are on a fast-paced launch schedule at the moment with a number of GPUs being launched, this week I’d like to have a quick look at the Radeon 7000 series, carrying with it the 28nm Graphics Core Next architecture first introduced in Tahiti.  If you’re not already familiar with Tahiti, it might be because there was somewhat of a soft launch towards the end of last year.

That was then, this is now, and now the focus is on Cape Verde, the 7700 series.  This series comprises of two cards, the Radeon HD 7750 and the Radeon HD 7770 GHz edition.  The tricky thing for AMD is that this series will be viewed as the successor to the popular 5700 series which never got a full update since the release back in October of 2009.  Expectations are high for this series, which is why the GCN architecture and 28nm process has been brought into play.

AMD have worked hard to reduce power consumption and as such the Radeon HD 7750 and Radeon HD 7770 are in the top bracket when comparing graphics cards by this specification. In terms of performance, the 7770 supports DX11.1, PowerTune, Fast HDMI and other features that set this graphics card up to be relevant for the foreseeable future.

The 7700 series has been priced towards the more affordable end of the market, but this has also put it in a very competitive area, not least of which is AMD’s own 6850. This level of competition is of course great and gives choice for a wide range of requirements. There will be fans of this and undoubtedly some detractors, but if you are in the market for a n new graphics card, the 7700 series really deserves due consideration.

In the next post we’ll take a look at the newly launched HD7800s.

WD TV Live Hub interface

Western Digital WDTV Live Hub: first steps to a connected home

If you hang around the Dabs team for more than about 3 minutes, you’ll undoubtedly hear the phrase ‘connected home’, in fact, you’ll probably hear a few times, the reason being is that we think it is not only the future but an imminent future in homes across Britain.

In forthcoming posts, we’ll look at the devices you may already own and how they could be brought together to form the basis of your own personal connected home.  But in this post, I’d like to consider a device that could form the cornerstone of a connected project.

The Western Digital WDTV Live Hub isn’t the newest device. Before you lose interest, this is a good thing, it has been tried and tested (and seen a price reduction) and is still a solid addition to your home entertainment system.

Western Digital have risen to the top of a bunch manufacturers and are widely considered to be one of the leaders in the industry when it comes to format support and built-in Wi-Fi.  Their devices are among the best media streamers, being simple to use and producing high quality playback for even 1080p video files.

The Live Hub provides access to YouTube and some other online video options, but sadly, unlike the US, there isn’t access to some of the bigger on-demand TV services.  We hope that at some point this will change because our ‘cousins over the water’ have access to some great content, whereas negotiating a deal with the likes of the BBC and ITV seems to have proven to be more difficult for Western Digital.

The design of the product is nice and the user interface is intuitive.  There’s very little that you’ll throw at it, that it won’t be able to handle. Actually give it a go, it might be a fun game, see what format you currently use for your multimedia and make a list of the ones the WD TV Live can’t cope with, I’ll give you 10 points for each failed format.  The bonus trick of the 1TB hard drive hub is that it doubles as a basic NAS device, all that for a very reasonable price.

I level with you all, I am writing this as one of the Dabs team, so no doubt you’ll be thinking that I’m bound to be positive about this device. But actually, there’s a multitude of devices I could suggest if that’s all I wanted to do and also, if you don’t believe me, just look at all the positive reviews there are for this thing. You’ll be hard pressed to find a bad word said about it.  So give it a go, it’s good.