Thursday, April 22, 2010

The World of Multifunction Printers

By: Daniel J Kilburn

It can be quite amazing to watch the various generations of office equipment come and go, especially since this seems to be happening at such a quick pace. For those of us who have been there since the beginning of this wild and unpredictable ride in the world of technology, we can honestly say that each generation of equipment seems to be getting more efficient, more powerful and certainly more impressive. How many of us can remember being amazed the first time we used our computers, photocopiers or printers?

Now, thanks to multifunction printers, technology has managed yet again, to get a step ahead and create one device that combines a multitude of functionalities:

- Printing

- Scanning

- Faxing

- Photocopying

- Emailing

There are a variety of multifunction printers available for both home and office. If you have a home office, you might want to consider purchasing a small desktop unit with a print engine that is based on either a home desktop inkjet printer, or a home desktop laser printer offered in black or color.

If you are looking for an office unit, you can easily find a multifunction printer that will meet your needs. multifunction printers have been created to meet the criteria for any type of office, be it a small business or a large corporation. In many medium to large sized companies, the multifunction printers are often used as the main ‘go to’ piece of equipment within the corporation. These are usually large, stand alone units that are programmed as the central printing device(s) or reprographic department device(s) and are particularly relied upon for speed and efficiency.

Thanks to the creation of multifunction printers, you no longer have to worry about purchasing, maintaining and fixing a variety of separate devices. Now, you can benefit from the ease and practicality that a multifunction printer can bring to your personal and work lives.

Maybe it is time to consider investing in a multifunction printer – especially if you are old enough to remember just how impressed you were with that first printer – the one that usually took more than 90 seconds to deliver the page that you printed – how the times have changed.

It pays to look behind the scenes before you purchase a multifunction device. The easiest way is to check on-line or magazine reviews of the printer you are looking to buy. This is because manufacturers will always ensure that their products are always seen in the best possible light – this is all down to the spin that their printer manufacturers’ marketing departments provide. Unfortunately for the end user, this means the printers’ features such as the speed of print, duty cycle and supply costs that printer manufacturers display on their website or in promotional materials will always be best-case scenarios that will rarely reflect use of the printer in the real world. Therefore, the easiest way to get another opinion on the printer you want to buy is to see what the actual product users have to say.

The Risk of Not Using Network Support

By: Derek Rogers

Ever since the introduction of e-commerce, business has changed dramatically. Existing businesses were able to communicate and trade instantly right throughout the world, and of course it allowed the blue collar workers who were previously stuck in their manual labour jobs to suddenly start working at home and do as they pleased. Things have definitely changed, and in the corporate work place, even more so.

In any given work place these days you will find that there are a few common things aside from desks and chairs. There is an intricate network, routers, hubs, and of course computers. There was a time when a business could do without these things, especially at the beginning of the computer age, but now things have changed rather drastically. A business simply cannot operate without a network, and with that in mind, it will of course need network support.

Network support can be obtained in many different ways. For one thing you could hire someone to help take care of the network. Even if you are well versed in computer networking, you probably should not be the one to take care of it. Business networks can be highly complex and if you spend all of your time working on that, then you will not be able to take care of the finer points of your business, most notably improving your bottom line and increasing profits.

You could of course just leave the network alone and pray it works, but even in a UNIX network, there is almost certainly going to be some form of issue or gremlin at some point down the line. Is this really something that you want to leave to chance? Most likely you won't, so you need to search for help. Help comes in the form of network support, and this is a service that is offered by many different companies.

A quick internet search will without a doubt pull up several dozen possibilities and you need to look through each and every one of them. See what types of features and services they offer, then narrow it down to the ones you like the most. Once you have done this, then it is time to interview them. Talk to them, find out who they are, and most importantly find out what they are capable of.

Once again you could try doing this yourself, but if you aren't an expert or simply don't have time, then you could find your entire network falling apart around you, which shouldn't be your goal in any case. When your network fails, your business is going to lose money, and depending on how long your network is down, you could find yourself going out of business. These are the risks you take when you fail to find professional network support, and that being the case it's just not something that you want to risk. So start searching for the right network support team to hire and keep your network running 100% of the time. Your business needs it, and so do you.

What You Need to Know About Document Scanners

By: Brian Offenberger

Over the years, there has been a growing need for scanning important business related documents and organizing them effectively. More companies are generating huge amounts of paperwork and are finding it more important than ever to move towards a paperless office.

Many organizations have chosen to employ document imaging experts that can scan your documents in a timely manner. This makes it much easier locating companies that offer exceptional solutions for your business. Your organization can have your files stored and captured. This would entail capturing both digital and non digital data information. There are many options for any organization because of the opportunity to choose the services needed such as installation, hardware, software, configuration and user training.

Preparing to have documents scanned can be very difficult for any company, large or small. The purpose of this service should be determined prior to making the final decision of having the company’s documents scanned. Whether the company is small, mid size or large they need to invest in a good quality document scanner that is suited to their scanning needs. The document scanner needs to be one that can fulfill the needs of the business. There are three types of scanning capabilities that are offered by most document imaging companies.

The high volume scanners offer a huge selection of time saving features. High volume scanners are also very fast and efficient. The scanners that operate at mid volume are for those companies that do not need a scanner that will operate nonstop around the clock. The low volume scanners are perfect for small businesses that need to scan documents here and there.

Renting a scanner may be an option that fits your business needs. This agreement is great for a company that has needs that are high at one point and very low at others. If your company does not have the desire or the means to secure a permanent piece of equipment, then renting may be an option. With most rental programs a company can rent a table top scanner or a large scanner. It all depends on the project or job that needs to be done. This process is great for companies that may have erratic levels of paperwork. Scanner rental can be a huge cost savings but only if you do not intend to use the scanner regularly.

Some document scanning companies also give their customers the opportunity to purchase pre-owned or demo equipment. In some cases a scanner that is factory re-certified may be found for resale. This is a great way for your business to save money. You are even offered the opportunity by some document scanning companies to help you sell your own equipment.

Whatever system you choose, the benefits of going to a paperless office far outweigh the costs and can be a great boon to any business. If you’re not sure which scanner is right for you, find a trustworthy sales representative that is trained to locate exactly what you are looking for.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

How to Upgrade Your Laptop

By: Alison Brundle

Anyone into their technology has messed around with a computer at some stage. Desktop PCs, thanks to their size and design, are ideal for upgrading – new graphics boards, an upgraded motherboard or even something as simple as a flat screen rather than the traditional box. But laptops are a whole other story. Compact microcircuitry dissuades everyone but the most technologically savvy from undoing those screws and opening ‘Pandora’s Laptop’. Slotting in a new graphics or sound card into a laptop is not a simple matter of taking the case off and tricking up the insides of the computer. But there are things you can do to upgrade your laptop that don’t involve a degree in electronic engineering and a very steady hand with a soldering iron.

RAM – Giving your Laptop a Better Memory

Almost every laptop can be given a RAM upgrade, simply by opening a compartment on the bottom of the laptop and inserting a new memory stick. However, before buying a new stick of RAM, it is strongly advisable to check the manufacturer’s guidelines. Many manufacturers make RAM sticks for their own computers, but it is possible to buy ‘generic’ sticks that can fit a range of laptops. If you are unsure as to whether your memory stick is suitable for your laptop, check with the manufacturer.

Processor Power

Upgrading the processor is something that should be thought about carefully before you attempt it. Most modern laptops run dual-core processors, which have enough processing power to run almost any application, including processor-hungry ones like games and graphics programs. It is worth weighing up the cost and time involved in upgrading the processor against the net gain this would achieve. In most cases, the gain will be negligible, and as laptops use microcircuitry to cut down on weight and size, replacing the processor could be described as ‘fiddly’ at best!

Hard Disks

The internal hard disk of a computer is the beating heart of any machine, whether that’s a laptop or a desktop PC. While it is relatively easy to replace the hard disk on a PC, laptops are trickier. In laptops that do allow you to replace the hard disk, it is a relatively straightforward process, though again because of the constraints of size, a pretty fiddly job to do. A better option may be to go for an external hard drive to increase the capacity of your machine such as Firewire or USB drives. Although this might make your laptop bag bulge a little, it’s a cheaper and easier option.

That ‘b’ Word…

Batteries. The bane of all laptop owner’s lives. It is probably the one thing that everyone with a laptop will upgrade at some time, as batteries do have a finite lifespan (as in the number of times that they can be recharged and still hold enough charge to run your laptop for more than half an hour). The advice here is to ensure that any new battery you buy for your laptop is compatible with the manufacturer’s recommendations.

More of a Repair than an Upgrade

The other problem encountered by laptop owners on a regular basis is the ‘blank screen’. The laptop boots up but you’re left staring at a black screen. This usually means that the inverter has failed – one of laptops biggest generic weak spots. Inverters can be relatively easily replaced, but again, check with your manufacturer’s guidelines to ensure that you are buying the right inverter for your make and model.

Finally, consider that any upgrades you carry out on a new laptop may invalidate any manufacturer’s warranty, so check carefully before you start tricking up your laptop.

The Advantages of Using Windows 7 on New Laptops

By: Alison Brundle

Windows 7 was launched in a blaze of publicity, advertising a more ‘user-friendly’ system than its predecessor Vista. But many people found Vista and even XP more than adequate for their needs, so if you’re in the market for a new laptop, why should you think about buying one with the new Windows 7 operating system, rather than the tried and tested Vista or XP?


Future-proofing is the new buzzword in technology. One of the most frustrating things for people using older machines or operating systems is the incompatibility problems that arise with the latest software systems. Microsoft have invested a huge amount of money and time developing Windows 7, which is why there has been such a delay between the launch of Vista and this latest upgrade. Because of the ‘understanding’ that many manufacturers who use Microsoft have with the company, the launch of Windows 7 is bound to herald a flurry of upgraded laptops designed to use Windows 7 as its primary operating system. So buying a laptop that has Vista or XP rather than Windows 7 could mean that future software designed to run on Windows 7 won’t run on Vista or XP operating systems.

However, if you only intend to use a laptop for web surfing, downloading media, emails and office documents such as Word or Excel, an older operating system could be just as effective as Windows 7. But with the wealth of new features available on Windows 7, it might be worth considering future-proofing yourself from the outset.

Upgrading – not Exactly Easy…

One of the biggest problems with upgrading is the limit imposed by the operating systems on just how easily you can upgrade to Windows 7 without having to do a clean install. That means wiping your hard drive and basically starting again. For Netbook users this presents a huge problem, as many Netbooks do not have CD ROMS, and to do a fresh install you need to be able to slot that operating system CD ROM into the computer.

To avoid all the hassle of clean installs, wiping your hard drive and future-proofing yourself against future upgrades, it’s wiser to start with Windows 7 as your standard operating system.

Security – a New Level

One of the biggest worries for laptop users is the security aspect. Because of their portability, laptops are an easy target for unscrupulous hackers, opportunist thieves or even industrial espionage. One of the primary new features on Windows 7 is an improved level of security, something that’ll make any laptop owner sleep a little better at night.

Windows 7 also offers better taskbar features, an improved version of Windows Explorer to make surfing the ‘Net easier and quicker and interface shortcuts that make it possible to run two applications side by side. For laptop owners with the advantage of dual core processing power, Windows 7 is tailor-made for laptop use. Microsoft have played it clever – they know full well that the market for laptops is a growing one, and Windows 7 is designed to grow with that market in tandem. By incorporating ideas that users actually want in an operating system, it may be some time before we see W8. So if you are thinking about buying a new laptop, it makes sense to get one with Windows 7 rather than the now considerably dated and troublesome Vista operating system.

Wireless Computing on the Go

By: Alison Brundle

Wi-Fi was probably one of the most revolutionary transitions in modern times. Before the advent of Wi-Fi or wireless computing technology, users were tethered to their desks, routing everything through a LAN line and restricted in where they used their faster and more powerful computing technology by how long their cables were. Wi-Fi changed all that. Suddenly, you had a mobile network that allowed people the freedom to roam and still connect to the Internet and their emails.

A Sociological Transformation

It is easy to underestimate the impact of wireless computing. It has become a common sight to see cafés full of people all connected up to a server, yet not a cable in sight. An entire business has grown up around wireless computing – the Internet café – that lets anyone, for a small charge, piggyback the establishment’s Wi-Fi connection and surf to their hearts content. It is even possible to connect wirelessly using a mobile phone – a situation that would have been unthinkable 25 years ago when you were lucky if you could connect to another phone number using the first mobile 'bricks’, let along the fledgling Internet.

It has released the constraints of an old system of doing business. But how does wireless computing actually work?

There are two types of what has become known as ‘wireless’ Internet – either connection through a router (your standard Wi-Fi) or through the mobile phone network. Wireless routers are the most common form of land based system, and are fundamentally a small connection box that allows a signal to be shared between several computers. Basically, computers ‘tap in’ to the signal, which can be made even easier by adding a wireless interface card. These usually come as standard with most new laptops, but can be bought as a separate add-on. USB routers and dongles also give anyone the power to be able to tap into any wireless signal, creating their own ‘access points’ through which the computer can send and receive network data.

Another key component of wireless computing is the actual hardware itself, namely the laptop. There is some contention as to who actually invented the concept of the laptop, but most cite Adam Osborne as the originator of the modern day laptop in 1981, although the ‘clam-shell’ design was attributed to William Moggridge and developed for GRiD Systems Corporation in 1979. It is difficult now to imagine life without laptops, yet it has only been a little over 30 years since their original conception. But probably the biggest influence on wireless computing was the development of WAP for mobile phones, allowing anyone to connect to the Internet using their mobile phone technology. Today, we feel short-changed if our mobile phone can’t connect to the Internet on demand, 24/7.
What future for wireless computing?

The question of wireless computing’s future is uncertain. Many believe that wireless computing has reached its full potential – we now have almost universal coverage thanks to a global satellite system creating a web across the world with very few ‘blind spots’. Smart phones are feature-rich and future-proofed to a certain extent, and laptops are smaller, lighter and more processor powerful than ever. The only area that can really see any form of development to enhance wireless computing is in the field of battery-life. The most up to date laptops and Netbooks can achieve up to nine hours on one battery, but after that you are still forced to tether up to a power source to keep your laptop running – hardly a ‘wireless’ situation by any stretch of the imagination. So for wireless computing to move to a new level and give us true autonomy and control about where and when we use our computers, manufacturers have to address the knotty problem of that infuriating ‘low battery’ symbol. Perhaps then we’ll have truly wireless computing on the go