Cut Waste With a Universal Laptop Charger

If you’re anything like me, somewhere in your office or home is a draw full of leads and chargers. What they’re all for, you probably have no idea because they are an accumulation of tech paraphernalia that you’ve amassed over the years.

How did there get to be so many?

Well, every laptop or other techy device you’ve owned has come with its own charger. None are interchangeable, so you end up with the draw full of useless wires mentioned above.

Surely it would make sense for someone to have the bright idea to create a universal laptop charger that can be used across the board?

Well, according to an article in PCPro, the International Electro-technical Commission (IEC) has realised that billions of external chargers are shipped globally. The vast majority of these can only be used on specific laptops rather than across a range of models, leading to getting in for half a million tons of waste every year.

In response they have developed a standard laptop charger to help cut this waste. The IEC published a similar proposals for mobile phone chargers in 2011, to which most phones shipped in the EU now confirm.

Frans Vreeswijk, IEC General Secretary and CEO said: “The IEC International Standard for the universal charger for mobile phones has been widely adopted by the mobile phone industry and is already starting to help reduce e-waste. A single power supply covering a wide range of notebook computers is the next step in lowering  e-waste and its impact on our planet.”

There is no news as yet regarding how long it might take to get manufacturers on board, but the IEC did confirm that it was already working with a wide range of organisations.

MPM Computer Consultancy provides IT Services, Support and Training to sole traders and small businesses in Ipswich. Bury St Edmunds and surrounding villages.

What’s a CPU?

brain

If you said it’s the big tower unit that takes up loads of space under your desk, you’d be wrong.

The CPU (Central Processing Unit), is actually a chip inside your computer that acts like the brain of your system.

Opting of the right CPU will determine how many years use you can get out of your computer, how long it takes to do things (such as open applications), and how much power it consumes.

So, all in all, it’s a pretty important chip.

Choosing the right CPU

Finding the right CPU for your needs can be rather challenging. Different ones tend to be identified by a string of meaningless numbers (or at least they appear meaningless to the vast majority of us).

So to help you out, here are a few of the basics you need to know.

1. Frequency

This number (e.g. 2.2GHz) relates to the chip’s speed. In lay terms, the higher the number, the faster the speed – and that’s good.

2. Cores

Today, CPUs tend to have more than one core. These enable your computer to carry out multiple tasks simultaneously. So for many people, a multi-core processor is the way to go.

3. Brand

As with most things in life, there are brands out there that are perceived to be better than others. Most desktops are powered by either AMD or Intel. Although one is not inherently better than the other, it’s fair to say that Intel has the lead at the moment.

These 3 terms should not be reviewed in isolation as they will all have a bearing on what you choose.

The CPU you go for will ultimately depend on how you use your computer. But it’s always best to think ahead – just because you don’t stream films at the moment doesn’t mean you won’t in the future. So it’s best to go for the best processor you can afford.

Author: MPM Computer Consultancy provides IT Services, Support and Training to sole traders and small businesses in Ipswich. Bury St Edmunds and surrounding villages.

Understanding Laptop Processors

laptopFor those not fluent in computer-ese, working out which processor is best can be a complete nightmare. Their string of unfathomable numbers gives little clue to  the uninitiated as to which does what best.

Then, you have added problem of deciding whether to do with a laptop or a desktop? Which is likely to be the most powerful?

Well, as a general rule (there are exceptions), laptop processors or usually lower-powered than those in similar desktop machines.

This is because mobile computing usually consumes less power. Why is that important? Well, for a start you’ll want to eek out every second of battery life and you won’t want the heat from your processor to melt your laptop. Desktop’s can run larger processors because of the huge heat-sinks and fans they run. If you had all that gubbings in your laptop, your battery would be flat faster than…well, the fastest thing you can think of.

Performance characteristics of CPUs

Laptop CPUs are differentiated by several characteristics, such as:

  • Number of cores they contain
  • The Cache memory
  • Bus speed
  • Chip speed

Although you can still get single core processors, mainstream processors are now moving towards dual cores. These provide fast cache memory and bus speed (this determines how fast the processor talks to the rest of the computer). But as well as faster speeds, the different cores offer different abilities, but you’ll need to look for specialised comparison details on the laptop models to determine what they may be.

Recommendations

If all this talk about processors, dual cores and bus speeds has left you even more confused, those lovely people at Geek. com have put together some recommendations to help clear the fog.

Intel is still the ruler of the roost at the moment with its Core 2 Duo processors (far superior to AMD).

In the case of choosing a laptop, performance isn’t often a top concern, but that doesn’t make the CPU choice any easier. If you will be using it infrequently, get what you can afford. But if your laptop is to be your main machine (plus you’re planning on doing some multi media tasks and gaming), it’s best to stick with Intel’s Core 2 Duo T7xxx series.

At the end of the day, if in doubt, ask your local IT specialist. Tell them what you will want to do with the machine and whether it will be your primary computer or not and they’ll point you in the right direction.

Author: MPM Computer Consultancy provides IT Services, Support and Training to sole traders and small businesses in Ipswich. Bury St Edmunds and surrounding villages.

How to Make Sure You Buy The Right Laptop

laptopThere are so many laptops on the market today, how on earth do you make sure you get the right one for you?

After all, someone who’s looking for a laptop to surf the web, send emails, create a PowerPoint presentation, edit spread sheets or create Word documents will need a different machine from someone looking to create complex multimedia files and digital films. You also have to consider whether you need to plug in peripherals, how portable it needs to be, how long a battery life you need…

Of course, it’s worth chucking in the disclaimer that there is no single laptop perfect for every situation. So, here’s a few things you might want to consider before getting completely confused and simply plumping for the one that’s the nicest colour.

Portability

If you need to lug your laptop about, its size and weight will be crucial factors.

It is worth remembering that if you want something light and portable, you’ll probably have to compromise on screen size. A laptop with a 15 inch screen is easier to work with, but it will be heavier. A good compromise is a 13.3 inch screen.

Battery longevity

As a rule, go for the best battery life you can afford. If you are a heavy user, you might manage 3 hours tops from a battery (varies model to model). But light users might be able to extend that to anything up to 9 hours (again, this is dependent on model).

For students, battery life is critical as there is nothing more annoying than running out of juice halfway  through a lecture. Plus, it’s always worth remembering that after a year or so use, your battery life will shorten.

Number of ports

If you need to connect a number of peripherals to your laptop, make sure you buy a model with a sufficient number of USB ports. Most now come equipped with built-in memory card readers, so look out for laptops that offer xD compatibility as well as the usual SD and Memory Stick support.

Hands off

You might think no one is going to want to pinch your laptop, but it happens. Therefore, you would be wise to find one with a Kensington-type device. You can also use services such as SmartWater and Selectamark to make your laptop less attractive to light-fingered types.

Specification

This is where most people get confused.

As a rule of thumb, if you are going to be using your laptop mainly for Word, surfing and email, 2GB RAM will suffice. But if you’re going to be doing more intensive tasks, 4GB of RAM will be needed.

When it comes to processors, get the fastest one you can afford. The Intel Core i5 and i7 will offer sufficient power for video editing and CAD applications. For basic tasks, the Intel Core i3 and most AMD Athlon processors are fine.

Most laptops come with an integrated graphics chip that are normally fine for school and general use.

When it comes to storage, again buy as much as your budget will allow. But this isn’t too much of an issue as it is easy to buy an external hard disk later if you find you need extra storage.

Screen size

Generally, the bigger the screen the easier it will be to use. The last thing you want is to be peering at a tiny screen all day. A 13.3 inch screen is OK for general usage, but a 15 inch screen is better for desktop publishing and video editing.

Again, this will come down to personal preference and desired portability of the laptop.

Support and warranty

Everything else we’ve mentioned so far concerns the usability of the laptop. This one, however, is possibly the most important aspect.

The cost of repairing a laptop can be quite high, so if it is for a student (who, let’s face it, tend to be quite hard wearing on machines) it might be worth going for a 3 year warranty.

When deciding what support option to go for, just think about how inconvenient it would be for you if you had to be without your laptop for a week or more while it was being fixed.

When it comes down to choosing your laptop, your final decision will have to be based on all these factors. You must always consider what is right for you now, and how you might use it in the future.

Although they are constantly coming down in price, buying a laptop is quite an investment for most people so it’s important to make sure you get it right.

Author: MPM Computer Consultancy provides IT Services, Support and Training to sole traders and small businesses in Ipswich. Bury St Edmunds and surrounding villages.