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Posts tagged ‘Dell’

22
Aug

The best tech for college freshmen


Starting college is expensive. In addition to, you know, the tuition, you and the parentals will probably be making a large shopping trip to buy all manner of sweaters, snacks and extra-long twin sheets to round out your dorm room. And that’s not counting all the gear you’ll need to actually get work done. In addition to a few laptop recommendations (the XPS 13 is our reigning favorite), we have suggestions on things like cloud storage, backpacks and peripherals like travel mice and backup batteries. Check out the gallery below for all our first-year picks (think of it as a college starter kit), and be sure to read the rest of Engadget’s back-to-school guide here.

Source: Engadget’s 2016 Back-to-School Guide

5
Aug

Wirecutter’s best deals: Save $250 on an LG OLED TV


This post was done in partnership with The Wirecutter, a buyer’s guide to the best technology. Read their continuously updated list of deals at TheWirecutter.com.

You may have already seen Engadget posting reviews from our friends at The Wirecutter. Now, from time to time, we’ll also be publishing their recommended deals on some of their top picks. Read on, and strike while the iron is hot — some of these sales could expire mighty soon.

LG 55EG9100 OLED TV

Street Price: $1,450; MSRP: $2,000; Deal Price: $1,200

This matches a recent deal we saw on this TV that expired shortly after it went live, which is still the best price we’ve seen on this TV. Make sure you’re registered for Ebay Bucks to get an additional 2% back.

The LG 55EG9100 is our previous upgrade pick in our best TV guide. Chris Heinonen said, “It’s the most affordable OLED display available, and it has a few strikes against it: it’s only 1080p, it’s curved, it’s only 55 inches, and it costs 50 percent more than our main pick. However, it offers perfect, pure blacks and thus produces images with contrast ratios other TVs cannot approach.”

He added, “Objects in motion look clearer, and viewing angles (how good the image looks when you’re not directly in front of the TV) are better than either the Vizio or the Samsung. The 55EG9100 won’t work as well in a brightly lit room as an LCD, but it offers far and away the best image of anything we looked at.”

Dell UltraSharp U3415W 34-inch monitor

Dell U3415W

Street Price: $725; MSRP: $1,200; Deal Price: $650

It’s been a long time since we’ve posted a deal on this monitor, great sales have been slow to pop up. This particular deal comes in $25 below the best price we’ve seen to date, and should also be eligible for 2% back in Ebay Bucks.

The Dell UltraSharp U3415W monitor is a larger monitor we like in our best 27-inch monitor guide. David Murphy wrote, “It’s a bit more expensive than our upgrade pick when it’s on sale ($900, when we researched it; $1,200 normally) and doesn’t have a Thunderbolt port, but it’s just about as accurate for colors, has more USB 3.0 ports, and uses HDMI 2.0 instead of HDMI 1.4. It’s also more adjustable than our upgrade pick—worth a little extra money if that matters to you, but not a ton.”

DJI Phantom 3 Professional Quadcopter with Additional Battery

DJI Phantom 3

Street Price: $1,100; MSRP: $1,400; Deal Price: $1,000

This sale matches the previous low that we saw a few months back, though it’s been consistently in the $1,100 range since then. While the drone itself is available for $900, that’s been going in and out of stock since that price went live, and paying $100 extra for an additional battery, one of the most useful Phantom 3 accessories, is worth it for most people.

The DJI Phantom 3 Professional is our top pick in the Best Drones guide. Mike Perlman wrote, “Our top pick combines easy flying, long range, great image quality, three-axis stabilization, and great fail-safe features. In addition to being easy to fly, the Phantom 3 Professional offers a 4K-capable camera with a low-distortion, wide-angle lens, an upgraded three-axis gimbal for effective image stabilization, and a standout wireless range that gives you the ability to see both real-time flight stats and a first-person view of what you’re shooting from up to 3.1 miles away, using a smartphone mounted to your radio controller. It also has preprogrammed flight controls with modes tailored to both beginners and advanced pilots, good battery life (23 minutes rated; 16 to 18 minutes of actual flight time while shooting in our testing), the ability to fly autonomously via Follow Me and Waypoints settings, and a fail-safe setting that prompts the drone to return to its launch site or current pilot location automatically if it loses connection with the radio transmitter.”

On the Phantom 3 Professional’s range, “The Phantom 3 Professional also has nearly 10 times the range of the Phantom 2 Vision+, nearly 3.1 miles. We were shocked at how far away we could fly the Phantom 3 Professional, watching it fly off from the Maine coast over a mile until it dwindled to a tiny speck far above the ocean (current FAA rulings demand that you keep your drone in sight). In our testing, the Phantom 2’s range would extend only to around 1,500 to 1,800 feet, depending on obstacles in the path of the Wi-Fi transmission and whatever local radio interference was present.”

Logitech K380 Bluetooth Keyboard

Street Price: $35; MSRP: $40; Deal Price: $20

The best price we’ve seen to date on this keyboard, and part of a 3 day Best Buy sale that went live today. While we’ve seen it for $22 at Amazon for a few weeks, it’s been going in and out of stock, and this price beats that one. Oddly enough, only the blue model ever gets discounted this much, the other models are consistently in the $32 to $40 range.

The Logitech K380 Bluetooth Keyboard is our pick for the best Bluetooth keyboard. Kimber Streams wrote, “The Logitech K380 Multi-Device Bluetooth keyboard has the best balance of comfort, features, and price.”

She went into some detail about the features, “Our pick can pair with up to three devices and switch between them with the press of a button, a useful feature that few Bluetooth keyboards have. The K380 is comfortable and responsive; it’s also solid enough for desktop or lap use, while being small and light enough to slip in a bag and use on the go. Logitech says our pick has up to two years of battery life with heavy use (defined as eight hours a day, five days a week), though the keyboard hasn’t existed long enough for us to test this claim. The K380’s unusual, round keys can take some getting used to, and the keyboard lacks backlit keys and the operating system-specific layouts you’ll find on our upgrade picks, but those amenities aren’t available in other keyboards in this price category either.”

Deals change all the time, and some of these may have expired. To see an updated list of current deals, please go to The Wirecutter.com.

1
Aug

Introducing Engadget’s 2016 back-to-school guide!


Oh yes, it’s already that time of year. Temperature are still sitting in the triple digits in some places, but many of you are just four weeks away from a new school year, heralding the end of summer. Once again, Engadget has put together a back-to-school gear guide, but this time, we did something a little different.

This year’s guide was curated with college students in mind (sorry, high schoolers), with sections for five broad archetypes: party kids, academics, jocks, freshmen and study abroad students. (What’s that you say? You’re a scholar-athlete and you’re spending the semester in Madrid? Have we got picks for you!) As always too, we endeavored to recommend things across different price points, with a few free options, some more aspirational objects and lots of stuff in between. Check out the whole guide here, and stay tuned throughout the month as we spotlight different picks for different students.

Source: Engadget’s 2016 Back-to-School Guide

29
Jul

Wirecutter’s best deals: Save $80 on a Dell Inspiron 11 laptop


This post was done in partnership with The Wirecutter, a buyer’s guide to the best technology. Read their continuously updated list of deals at TheWirecutter.com.

You may have already seen Engadget posting reviews from our friends at The Wirecutter. Now, from time to time, we’ll also be publishing their recommended deals on some of their top picks. Read on, and strike while the iron is hot—some of these sales could expire mighty soon.

QNAP TS-451 NAS

Street price: $350; MSRP: $450; deal price: $330 with code QNAPSAVE99

We rarely see sales on this particular NAS, and this is the best price to date. You’ll have to use the code QNAPSAVE99 to drop $20 off of the $350 price, bringing it down to $330.

The QNAP Turbo NAS TS-451 is our more bays pick for the best NAS. Samara Lynn wrote, “A two-bay NAS is the best option for most people, but if you need more capacity or data protection, get the QNAP TS-451. It has the same CPU and RAM specs as the TS-251, but with two more drive bays.”

Writing about the two-bay model, she said, “The TS-251 has remote access that’s easy to configure, plus mobile apps for media streaming and the most third-party apps of any NAS we tested. You can use the TS-251 as a media streamer, a home backup device, a mail server, a website hosting device, a BitTorrent box, a video surveillance recorder, a Plex Media Server—nearly anything you can do with a Linux computer. It even has an HDMI port so you can connect it directly to your home theater setup.”

Imprint CumulusPro Standing Desk Mat

Street price: $80; MSRP: $100; deal price: $62

This is the best price we’ve seen on the CumulusPro and a great deal on a mat that makes a huge difference if you’ve got a standing desk. This sale beats the last previous low from May by a few extra bucks, but that sale expired within a few days, so it’s unlikely that this deal will stick around for long. This deal is only available in the color brown.

The Imprint CumulusPro Standing Desk Anti-Fatigue Mat is our top pick in the Best Standing Desk Mat guide. Nathan Edwards wrote, “If you plan to spend more than a few hours every day working at a standing desk, you should get the Imprint CumulusPro. It’s the firmest of the mats we’ve tested, but it provides the best support, won’t curl up at the edges, is easy to clean, doesn’t have a chemical-laden stink, is environmentally friendly, and has a 10-year warranty. Imprint says it’s 100 percent polyurethane with one-piece construction, so there’s no risk of it coming apart.”

On how the mat stands up over time, we added a long-term testing update: “The Imprint CumulusPro has held up well in the more than six months since I originally picked it as our winner. It hasn’t worn out or started curling up around the edges. I did go a month or so without standing at all at my desk, but I’ve been using the mat daily again recently and it’s treating me well.”

Logitech G502 Proteus Spectrum Gaming Mouse

Street price: $75; MSRP: $80; deal price: $60

This matches a recent sale we saw on the G502, which at the time, was the first time we’d seen it drop this low. It’s rare to see more than a $5 drop under street price on this mouse, so it’s a great time to pick it up.

The Logitech G502 is our more buttons pick for the best gaming mouse. David Murphy said, “The Logitech G502 Proteus Spectrum is a great alternative if you need a mouse with a lot of buttons. It has twice as many as the DeathAdder Chroma, and you can customize them to perform all sorts of actions using Logitech’s Gaming Software”

For some more detail about those extra buttons, “The extra buttons on this Logitech mouse are unobtrusive if you don’t use them and easy to access if you do. Two extra buttons sit to the left of the left-click button, two reside above the thumb, two buttons sit on top of the mouse (though one can only switch the click wheel from audible steps to silent free-spinning), and the click wheel allows nudging left or right to trigger actions. The mouse also offers a button in front of the thumb, which you can hold down to quickly toggle a specific sensitivity setting (or reassign).”

Dell Inspiron 11 3000 2-in-1 Touchscreen Laptop

Street price: $530; MSRP: $600; deal price: $450

This is a worthwhile deal on this hybrid tablet/laptop, and is pretty close to the best price we’ve seen. This laptop was on sale at the beginning of July for the same price, but the sale expired within a couple days, so if you missed it then, this is a great time to pick it up.

The Dell Inspiron 11 3000 2-in-1 Touchscreen Laptop is our versatility pick in the Best Laptops for Every Need guide. Wirecutter Staff wrote, “The Dell Inspiron 11 3000 has most of the right features for a small, $600 convertible laptop, including an Intel Core i3-6100U Skylake processor, an 11.6-inch screen (running at a resolution of 1366×768 pixels), and barely any bloatware. Though we wish it had more than 4 GB of RAM, the version we recommend comes with a 128GB solid-state drive that makes it feel fast and responsive.”

Deals change all the time, and some of these may have expired. To see an updated list of current deals, please go to The Wirecutter.com.

15
Jul

Wirecutter’s best deals: Save over $450 on a Dell XPS 13 Touch laptop


This post was done in partnership with The Wirecutter, a buyer’s guide to the best technology. Read their continuously updated list of deals at TheWirecutter.com.

You may have already seen Engadget posting reviews from our friends at The Wirecutter. Now, from time to time, we’ll also be publishing their recommended deals on some of their top picks. Read on, and strike while the iron is hot — some of these sales could expire mighty soon.

Nespresso Inissia Espresso Maker

Street price: $100; MSRP: $100; deal price: $75

Here’s a great drop on an item we rarely see on sale. This is only the second sale we’ve seen, with the first being around a week ago for $82.

The Nespresso Inissia is our fully automatic pick for the best espresso maker. Cale Guthrie Weissman said, “If you want a decent espresso drink at home, but don’t have the time or patience to practice and learn the ins and outs of making espresso, try Nespresso. Machines start at just over $100 and you can pay more for features like faster preheating, and built-in milk frothing—but they all share the same brewing mechanism and produce the same decent-tasting coffee.”

In terms of the value, “The coffee pods themselves cost about 70¢ a shot (it works out to about $50/pound), which isn’t bad for a consistently decent espresso (with crema!) that tastes as good (or better than) Starbucks, yet requires almost no effort on your part.”

Dell XPS 13 Touch 256GB Laptop

Street price: $1,400; MSRP: $1,400; deal price: $920

This is the best price we’ve seen on the Dell XPS 13 Touch, $80 below the previous low, which we haven’t seen since February. We’ve noticed that the Touch model of the XPS 13 sometimes has huge discounts, while the non-Touch version rarely goes on sale at all. This deal is almost a full $500 below the usual price, and almost $200 under the non-Touch version with these specs. You take a hit on battery life, but you do get a higher-res touchscreen.

The Dell XPS 13 Touch 256GB Laptop is our upgrade pick for the best Windows ultrabook. Kimber Streams wrote, “If you need an ultra-high-resolution touchscreen, don’t mind the extra cost, and can live with a few hours less battery life, you should get the touchscreen configuration of the Dell XPS 13.”

Refurbished Samsung Galaxy S7 Verizon Smartphone

Street price: $680 (new); MSRP: $680 (new); deal price: $430

We haven’t seen many decent deals on the S7, with most of the price drops being on import models without a warranty or questionable open-box sales. This $430 refurbished deal comes with a 90-day warranty through Best Buy, and their return policies tend to be fairly liberal if you run into any issues. Keep in mind, this is a Verizon model.

The Samsung Galaxy S7 is our pick for the best Android phone. Ryan Whitwam said, “The Samsung Galaxy S7 has the best screen and camera of any Android phone we’ve tested. It includes a larger battery and a microSD card slot (which last year’s Galaxy lacked), but the UI remains somewhat cluttered.”

Vornado VH10 Heater

Street price: $80; MSRP: $80; deal price: $24

This is the best price we’ve seen on this space heater to date. The price has continued to fall steadily since mid-June but the incremental drops have started to taper off, and we can’t imagine the price getting significantly lower than where it is now. So if you know you’re going to be needing a space heater in a few months when it starts getting chilly, buy it now while it’s cheap.

The Vornado VH10 Heater is our runner-up pick for small rooms Space Heater. Seamus Bellamy wrote, “The Vornado VH10 was the fastest heater we tested this year, raising the temperature of our test area higher than any other heater could manage in the same amount of time.”

In terms of heating capabilities and features, the VH10 has, “blisteringly-fast heating capabilities, eight different temperature levels, quieter operation than our main pick, and a casing that stays surprisingly cool to the touch (considering how much heat it generates). Plus, it comes with a five-year warranty—that’s two years longer than the coverage on our main pick.”

Deals change all the time, and some of these may have expired. To see an updated list of current deals, please go to The Wirecutter.com.

12
Jul

PC shipments recover in the US


It’s not all doom and gloom in the PC world… for once. Both Gartner and IDC estimate that PC shipments actually grew in the US for the first time in over a year, climbing in the second quarter to either 4.9 percent according to Gartner (which includes Windows tablets) or 1.4 percent if you ask IDC (which doesn’t). There’s no one answer as to why the computer industry is bouncing back, regardless of who you ask. A stronger US economy is playing a part, but the analyst groups also point to strong Chromebook sales to schools as well as a possible spike in purchases from governments and other public outfits.

Just don’t look at shipments in the rest of the world, as they’re rather ugly. Both Gartner and IDC reckon that worldwide deliveries dropped between 4.5 to 5.2 percent. That’s not as bad as it could have been (IDC was predicting a 7.4-point drop), but you’ll have to forget any visions of an imminent return to the PC’s heyday. Economies are still weak outside of the US, and mobile devices like smartphones and tablets are still a higher priority for cash-strapped buyers. Lenovo may have extra reason to worry — its shipments shrank enough that it’s barely holding its market share lead over HP.

On the bright side? While researchers are cautious, they do see ways the industry could climb out of its hole. As upgrading to Windows 10 will soon cost you $119, there’s the chance that people will decide to replace their PCs rather than fork over cash to update existing machines. You could also see the corporate crowd take a serious look at buying Windows 10 computers instead of clinging to aging systems for dear life. Although that amounts to a lot of “ifs” and “maybes” that could easily change, it’s the best hope yet for a PC business that has been declining for years.

Gartner's worldwide PC market share estimate for Q2 2016

Gartner's US PC market share estimate for Q2 2016

Source: Gartner, IDC

1
Jul

Dell discontinues its Android tablets in favor of Windows 2-in-1s


Another Android tablet maker bites the dust. Dell has decided to end distribution of its Android tabs and will instead focus on Windows 2-in-1 devices. This means several things: One, the company will no longer offer its Venue brand of Android tablets or the Android-based Wyse Cloud Connect, which can be used to turn displays into viable PCs. The reason isn’t so complicated, either. Dell simply believes that the slate-style tablet market has become oversaturated. Customers aren’t demanding these types of products as often, which lead to this decision. What is in demand, Dell notes, is the 2-in-1 computer line.

“We are seeing 2-in-1s rising in popularity since they provide a more optimal blend of PC capabilities with tablet mobility,” a Dell spokesperson explained in an email to PC World. It’s definitely a business decision that makes sense, but it may frustrate those who have already invested in Dell’s Android products, as the company will no longer be offering OS upgrades to its Venue tablets.

“For customers who own Android-based Venue products, Dell will continue to support currently active warranty and service contracts until they expire, but we will not be pushing out future OS upgrades,” Dell explained. While it’s easy to understand why Dell is moving away from its tablet line in the first place, this is an important point to keep in mind if you might be deciding on a new tablet in the future to sate that Android habit.

Via: PCWorld

28
Jun

Dell made a 70-inch touchscreen for schools


Forget chalkboards and whiteboards in the classroom — Dell thinks tech is the answer. It’s launching a 70-inch touchscreen, the C7017T, that’s designed to replace interactive whiteboards in schools and boardrooms. You probably wouldn’t want this at home given the 1080p resolution, but it can handle 10-finger touch and includes two pens for collaborative sessions. More importantly, it’s downright frugal compared to Microsoft’s 84-inch Surface Hub. Dell’s $5,000 price doesn’t include a computer, but it’s still going to take a much smaller bite out of the school budget.

Source: Dell (1), (2)

24
Jun

The best tech and apps for your home office


By The Wirecutter Staff

This post was done in partnership with The Wirecutter, a buyer’s guide to the best technology. Read the full article here.

You don’t need the thinnest, lightest, or most elegantly designed items for your home office. You want reliable, comfortable, efficient tools—but it doesn’t hurt if they look nice, too. That’s why a team of three experienced remote workers spent more than 150 hours researching and testing new gear and apps, and picking the most office-friendly items from The Wirecutter’s guides, to give you a selection of tools that we’re sure will earn a place in your workspace.

Home-office laptop

The 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display offers the best balance of power and portability. Photo: Kevin Purdy

For most home-office users, we recommend the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display. It offers the best balance of power and portability for a range of work, plus it has a fantastic screen, keyboard, and trackpad. We like the 13-inch model with an Intel Core i5 processor and 8 GB of RAM for most people, but if you regularly work with complex spreadsheets, compile large blocks of code, or edit photos and video, you may want to step up to 16 GB of RAM.

Its superior specs will keep the Pro relevant and working well for longer than the more portable MacBook Air; it also offers a higher-resolution screen and a Force Touch trackpad. Because the Pro has an HDMI port and two Thunderbolt ports, you can connect an external display and still have another left for connecting a Thunderbolt dock, storage devices, or other peripherals. At 3½ pounds, the Pro is still portable enough for occasional business trips.

In addition to its fantastic hardware, the MacBook Pro with Retina Display runs Apple’s stable, easy-to-use, bloat-free OS X. And if you ever have a problem, AppleCare plans and Apple’s Genius Bar Support are peerless in their quality.

Business laptop

Lenovo ThinkPad laptops are the quintessential business notebooks, thanks to their rock-solid construction, easy serviceability, and excellent, deep-throw keyboards. Photo: Marshall Troy

Most people, even actual businesspeople, don’t need a “business laptop” anymore—any ultrabook (such as the MacBook Air or Dell XPS 13) will do just fine for most office work. But if you need a laptop that will still be kicking in five years despite knocks, bumps, and spills, and you’re willing to pay a little extra, you should get the Lenovo ThinkPad T460, specifically the configuration with a 1080p screen, a backlit keyboard, 16 GB of RAM, and a 512GB solid-state drive.

After more than 30 hours of research and testing, we found that the ThinkPad T460 is fast and durable (with a military-specification certification for ruggedness) and still reasonably light, thanks to its magnesium-alloy body. It has dedicated buttons for the TrackPoint and one of the best keyboards of any laptop, period. It even has batteries you can swap in and out while the system remains running. It’s the best option for anyone who needs more ruggedness and more ports than an ultrabook can offer.

27-inch monitor

The Dell UltraSharp U2715H has a fantastic high-resolution display and a great combination of connections, adjustability, and USB 3.0 support. Photo: Kevin Purdy

The Dell UltraSharp U2715H is the best large monitor for your home office. It has a beautiful 27-inch IPS display and ultrathin side bezels that make the screen look even larger. Its stand is among the most adjustable we’ve found, which is crucial for a monitor you’re going to spend hundreds (or even thousands) of hours looking at every year. It can tilt, swivel, and easily rotate from landscape to panel mode.

The 2560×1440 display is large enough to put two windows side by side, but not so high-resolution that you run into weird scaling issues. Its factory-calibrated display is near-perfect, as we discovered when we tested it with a $1,200 X-Rite i1Pro 2 spectrophotometer and a $170 Spyder4 Pro colorimeter. No other 27-inch monitor we tested looked as good.

The U2715H has two HDMI 1.4 connections, one Mini DisplayPort 1.2 connection, and two standard DisplayPort 1.2 connections—one for going from your PC to your monitor, and the other for hooking up a second monitor to the first. Many monitors have the DisplayPort input; not as many have the output. You also get an audio jack for connecting your own set of speakers or headphones to the monitor (if your computer can pass audio signals over HDMI or DisplayPort), as well as five USB 3.0 ports—including one specialized for quick-charging devices (up to 1.5 amps).

Wireless mouse and Bluetooth keyboard

The Logitech MX Master and the Bluetooth Easy-Switch Keyboard are pricey, but the investment is worthwhile for people who spend all day using these devices. Photo: Kevin Purdy

After spending more than 100 hours testing 28 mice and 21 Bluetooth keyboards over the past year, we found that the Logitech MX Master is the best wireless mouse for home office professionals, and that Logitech’s Bluetooth Easy-Switch Keyboard (for Mac or Windows) is the best Bluetooth keyboard. The MX Master has five programmable buttons, a second (programmable) scroll wheel for your thumb, and a rechargeable battery, plus it can pair with up to three Bluetooth devices at the same time. It’s comfortable, too.

Logitech’s Bluetooth Easy-Switch Keyboards have long been the gold standard for Bluetooth keyboards because of their smooth, well-spaced keys, their adjustable key backlighting, their platform-specific layouts for Mac and Windows, and their ability to switch instantly between multiple paired devices. Both the Logitech MX Master and the Bluetooth Easy-Switch Keyboard are more expensive than the other mice and Bluetooth keyboards we recommend, but we think the investment is worthwhile for people who spend all day using these devices.

Portable document scanner

The Fujitsu is speedy, accurate, and portable, with easy-to-use software. Photo: Amadou Diallo

Don’t let the “portable” label fool you: The Fujitsu ScanSnap S1300i is the best tool for getting a large amount of scanning done at your desk, keeping your space tidy and your documents organized. After more than 70 hours of research and hands-on testing, the S1300i delivered the best combination of accuracy, speed, and portability, and it came with the easiest-to-use software of any we tested. It can load as many as 20 sheets of regular laser paper and scan them, duplexing if needed. And it’s small and capable of drawing power from a single USB port, so it’s great for carrying on business trips or simply moving to another room.

Printer

Because the Brother Hl-L2340DW is a laser printer, it’s low-drama compared with any inkjet.

We’ve spent more than 200 hours researching and testing printers over the past few years, and of the 100 cheap printers we’ve come across, the Brother HL-L2340DW (or—if it’s cheaper—the HL-L2360DW, which adds an Ethernet port but is otherwise nearly identical) is the safest bet for most home offices.

For home offices where printing is mostly limited to mailing labels, packing slips, and the occasional document, the dirt-cheap cost of ownership is the best thing about the HL-L2340DW. Each page costs just 2.7 cents’ worth of toner and drum wear, less than with any other printer out there. The HL-L2340DW also provides automatic two-sided printing, and supports mobile printing standards like AirPrint and Google Cloud Print, as well as printing over Wi-Fi (though in a small office connecting to the printer via USB is probably easier).

Because it’s a laser printer, the Brother is relatively low-drama. Toner cartridges have a high capacity, which reduces the chance that you’ll find yourself out of toner when you really, really need to print. Laser printers don’t need to run lengthy cleaning cycles, either. You give up color printing with a cheap laser printer, but that’s more trouble than it’s worth at this price.

Webcam and Web-meeting app

The Logitech HD Pro Webcam C920 has the best call quality for frequent video meetings. Photo: Kimber Streams

If you need a webcam, we recommend the Logitech HD Pro Webcam C920, our choice after we researched 15 different webcams and tested two head-to-head in Skype calls, Google Hangouts, and Zoom meetings. It has great image quality and helpful software, and reviewers universally love it. The C920 sits on top of your laptop screen or monitor and braces itself against the back of the screen, or you can mount it on a tripod.

The best Web-meeting software for people who work from home and get to select their own is Zoom, which works on Windows, Mac, iPhone, iPad, Android, and BlackBerry. Zoom’s free Basic plan contains enough features and free connection time to cover most teams’ meeting needs, and it works across the vast majority of devices. Among the 20 services and plans we considered, it’s the fastest, most painless route between “We need to have a meeting” and being in that meeting.

Time-tracking and invoicing apps

Harvest conveniently tracks time, and FreshBooks provides robust, multiplatform tools for billing, payment tracking, and expenses.

If you don’t have a good time-tracking or invoice-generating service already set up, the easiest services to try out are Harvest and FreshBooks. If you’re a one-person shop and need time tracking, project management, and simple create-and-send invoices, we recommend Harvest. If you generate trickier invoices, have many expenses, and need to closely track payments from different clients, FreshBooks will help you get paid. Both are easier to set up for most people than the 40 other invoicing and tracking services our experienced freelancers considered.

USB 3.0 docking station

Anker’s Dual Display Universal Docking Station offers the best selection of ports plus fast-charging USB. Photo: Kimber Streams

We researched 30 docking station models, tested six top contenders for more than five hours, and found that Anker’s Dual Display Universal Docking Station is the best for most home offices. In a field of very similar products, Anker’s dock offers the best combination of high-speed drive transfer, fast-charging USB ports, and 4K video support at the lowest price.

Anker’s dock has two USB 3.0 ports and an additional four USB 2.0 ports. In our tests, the USB 3.0 ports put out 0.5 A (enough for some small accessories such as Bluetooth headsets), and the USB 2.0 ports were more impressive at 1.5 A. That’s still a slower rate than what many smartphones and tablets support, but it isn’t bad. And 4K video support from both the HDMI and DVI connectors worked without issue.

Router and modem

The AC1750 Netgear R6400 is faster than the TP-Link Archer C7, and the ARRIS SurfBoard SB6141 supports most of the fastest Internet packages. Photo: Kevin Purdy

The router and modem we recommend for home office users are the the Netgear AC1750 R6400 and the Arris SURFboard SB6141 DOCSIS 3.0, respectively. The Netgear AC1750 R6400 was faster at most tests than the router we recommend for most people—40 percent faster at longer distances under ideal conditions—and it offers power features usually found in much more expensive routers, such as a built-in VPN server to provide a secure connection to your network while you’re on the road, and a QoS feature to prioritize certain apps’ traffic. Meanwhile, the Arris SURFboard SB6141 is more than fast enough for the Internet plans most people have. Though it’s compatible with most of the fastest Internet packages from seven of the eight major ISPs, you should confirm that it works with your Internet plan before you buy it; if it doesn’t, you’ll want to buy one of the cable modems your provider recommends instead.

This guide may have been updated by The Wirecutter. To see the current recommendation, please go here.

14
Jun

Alienware banks on VR with the new Aurora desktop


Alienware’s last Aurora, the R4, is most (in)famous for the “ALX” option, which adds fins that flip open when the machine gets hot. Dell has just relaunched the Alienware Aurora desktop that sadly lacks that geeky option. In exchange, you do get a smaller, tool-less mid-tower that retains the minimalist gaming design flare that the original was known for. It also packs a punch with powerful CPU options and optional dual graphics cards, including NVIDIA’s latest GeForce GTX 1080.

Folks that build their own PCs may poo-poo such a machine, but many gamers and multimedia artists are more comfortable letting someone else do the assembly. Dell is also targeting the new, unknown VR market with the machine, and those folks — who may suddenly realize they need a powerful PC — likely want something ready-to-go. With the GTX 1080 option, it’ll support up to three 4K displays, making it more than capable of handling the HTC Vive or Oculus Rift headsets.

You can order it with any sixth-gen Core Intel chip (including the insane $1,723 Core i7 Extreme Edition), up to 64GB of DDR4 RAM and a 1TB M.2 PCIe SSD with 2GB of RAID HDD storage. If you think all that might get a bit hot in a mid-tower case, Alienware has a liquid-cooled option. The Aurora desktop starts at $799, though it’ll be several times more if you load it up with top-spec parts.

If you just want the best and hang the cost, Alienware has refreshed its Area-51 desktop model. It retains the frankly insane triangular design of the original, which is supposed to cycle air from front to back in order to keep components cool. The main update is support for Intel’s quasi-sixth-generation Broadwell-E Core processors, including the 10-core, i7-6950X Extreme Edition, which, as we mentioned, costs a cool $1,723.

That machine also supports 64GB of DDR4 RAM and high-end M.2 SSD disk options, but lets you install three graphics cards, including NVIDIA’s GeForce GTX1080. So, if you want 10 CPU cores and three insane graphics cards (but don’t want to build a PC yourself), the Area-51 is an option — just give your credit card company a heads-up, because you’ll be spending north of $5,000.

Another new Alienware offering is the Alpha R2, the successor to the Alpha that was originally pitched as the world’s first Steam Machine. As such, it’s more like a supercharged console than a PC, but is in fact “smaller than an Xbox One,” (at least for now) according to Dell. With support for the latest Intel Core CPUs, an NVIDIA GTX 960 with 4GB of DDR5 (or AMD Radeon equivalent) and an optional M.2 SSD and 16GB of RAM, it should solve the power problems of the original.

It’s still not quite enough spec to power a VR headset (you need an NVIDIA GTX 970 or higher), but no worries — you can now equip it with the Alienware Graphics Amplifier. That box lets you add any graphics card you want, including the GeForce GTX1080, to multiply the power. The Alpha starts at $599, but again, for any kind of an enthusiast configuration, you’ll need to pay a lot more. The Graphics Amplifier alone, for instance, runs $300, not including the card.

Rounding out the new E3 lineup is another formidable-sounding model, the Alienware 13 OLED notebook. Dell first teased the laptop at CES in January, but is now launching it officially starting at $1,299. The most striking part is the screen, a 2,560 x 1,440 OLED with a 1 millisecond response time, the company’s fastest ever. A close second is the angular carbon-fiber, anodized aluminum and copper case. Other parts are equally suited for gamers, including the Intel Core i7-6500U CPU, optional NVIDIA GTX 965M graphics card, M.2 512GB (max) SSD storage and Klipsch certified and tuned speakers.

Each of these interesting devices has its own niche, so we’ll try to get our hand on them at E3 over the next week. They’re all available starting June 14th at Alienware’s online site or Best Buy.

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