The Best Tuneup Utilities

October 31st, 2013 | Edited by | software


Remember how your PC sprinted like a cheetah when you first booted it up? Your computer can have that fresh-out-of-the-box performance once again after you run a pc tuneup utility.
What is a PC tuneup utility, you ask? It’s an application designed to fix the wear and tear that computers suffer over time by repairing hard drive fragmentation, fixing the problematic Windows registry, and deleting useless and duplicate files. While all of the tools listed below perform these basic actions, a few stand out from the pack by implementing unique features.
For example, the Editors’ Choice award-winning Iolo System Mechanic 10 ($39.95, 4.5 stars) scored high marks for its top-notch tune-up capabilities, but also for its Program Accelerator (which smartly re-aligns all of a program’s dependent files on the hard drive so that the PC finds them faster), useful desktop widget (which delivers at-a-glance system information), and Whole Home Licensing (which does away with install limitations). SlimWare Utilities’ SlimCleaner also scored an Editors’ Choice Award for its unique approach. Not only is it free and license-free, but it uses aggregated data from its user base to recommend the optimal settings for your PC; it even rewards you with badges for contributing accurate information.


This tuneup utility collection doesn’t represent the full scope of PC repair tools, but the ones included here are some of the best that you’ll find. Some are paid apps, some are free apps, but you can rest easy knowing that even the lowest scoring of these PC tune up utilities will leave your PC in better condition than they found it.

360Amigo System Speedup Pro

Starting at $19.95 per year
360Amigo System Speedup Pro can help blow the cobwebs from a neglected OS, but it needs a more thorough cleaning ability and more flexible installation abilities to contend with its best rivals.

AVG PC Tuneup 2011

Starts at $29.99 for one license
AVG PC Tuneup 2011 offers excellent system-cleaning performance and can turn back the clock on a worn machine.

Comodo System Utilities

Comodo System Utilities is a free and effective system-enhancing utility that is as potent, if not more so in certain cases, as paid apps.

Diskeeper 2011 Professional

Diskeeper 2011 may be pricey, and sports a busy interface, but it can repair the elements that negatively impact system performance and, thanks to some unique tools, slow the wear-down process.

Iolo System Mechanic 10

$40.48 at LenovoIolo System Mechanic remains one of the best PC tune-up utilities around, as it digs deep, cleans up PCs well, and offers informative, easy-to-understand help about the problems that plague computers.

Norton Utilities

$49.99 for three licenses
This PC tune-up utility can give an aged PC a new lease on life, but its lacks some of the features and performance found in competing software.

PC Tools Performance Toolkit 2011

This PC clean-up tool will make your system boot faster and run smoother, but the limited installations may not be household-friendly.

SlimWare Utilities SlimCleaner

Featuring free, effective, community-based problem solving, SlimCleaner is an excellent application for those who don’t want to pony up money for a tune-up utility or deal with licenses.

Spamfighter Full-Diskfighter

Starting at $9.95 per month
Spamfighter Full-Diskfighter will improve your PC’s performance, but there are other suites that do a better job at making your computer run like new.

Owners of Late 2013 Retina MacBook Pros Reporting Keyboard and Trackpad Freezes, Boot Camp Install Issues

October 29th, 2013 | Edited by | hardware


A growing number of Late 2013 Retina MacBook Pro owners in Apple Support Communities forum threads are reporting various problems with both the 13 and 15-inch models of the laptop, including lockups with the keyboard and trackpad on the 13-inch version, as well as difficulties installing Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 through Apple’s Boot Camp utility on both models.
According to users in a support thread spanning over 14 pages, the trackpad and the keyboard on the 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro are reportedly locking up at random during use, with a hard reset through the machine’s power button appearing to be the only present solution to the problem. Users are also reporting that a reset of the MacBook’s System Management Controller (SMC) appears to be ineffective, and a small survey of users within the thread show that the problem is affecting all three configurations of the 13-inch model. Currently, it is unknown as to whether the freezes are a hardware or software problem, as Apple has not officially commented on the errors.


Meanwhile, users in another support thread spanning over 8 pages are reporting occassional failures when trying to install Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 on both the new 13 and 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro. The errors appear to be with the partition that Boot Camp creates in order to install Windows 8, as users in the thread have reported freezes and copy errors with methods such as insallation through a USB drive and DVD installation via external SuperDrive.
However, a post in the support thread directing users to select specific options within Boot Camp Assistant has been marked as a solution to the issue, with users reporting successful installations of Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 after using the method. It is also likely that Apple may issue an official EFI update to address these Boot Camp install errors in the near future, as one for the Late 2013 iMac addressing the problem was issued shortly after its release.
Apple unveiled the new 13 and 15-inch Retina MacBook Pros at its media event last week, which were updated with Intel’s latest processors for enhanced performance and significantly improved battery life. Apple also reduced the pricing of the new Retina MacBook Pros by $200, offering the entry level 13-inch version for $1,299 and the entry level 15-inch model for $1,999. The updated MacBooks are available from Apple’s Online Store and at its various retail locations.


Sony Builds A Camera For The Smartphone

October 26th, 2013 | Edited by | hardware


The smartphone has become the camera in everyone’s pocket. It’s always there, hopefully charged, and adept at snapping a quick shot. Yet many of those shots are lacking the crisp focus and detail of a DSLR or even a point-and-shoot camera. To give that higher-quality capability to smartphones, Sony developed the QX series “Lens-Style Cameras” for iOS and Android devices.
“The devices are compatible with Android and iOS handsets and mark the creation of a new product category,”BBC News reports. It signals a growing demand for better cameras for smartphones.
The QX series was introduced with two models: the Cyber-shot DSC-QX100 and DSC-QX10. Both are able to shoot high-quality images and HD video. The lenses connect wirelessly to a smartphone and attach to the handset with an adjustable mounting device. Once connected, the lens view is revealed on the smartphone’s LCD screen with a real-time viewfinder. Using the smartphone’s touch screen, users can release the shutter, start and stop movie recordings, and adjust settings such as shooting mode, zoom, and auto focus.
Photographs and video are automatically saved directly to the phone and camera. Both lenses offer Wi-Fi connectivity so users can snap shots, and then upload them directly from the camera. This includes uploading pics to social media sites, email, and other websites.
The QX series lenses use Sony’s PlayMemories mobile app to store and organize images and video. The app can also power the ability to connect the lens with the smartphone using NFC to activate one-touch set-up for compatible devices.


“With the new QX series cameras, we are making it easier for the ever-growing population of ‘mobile photographers’ to capture far superior, higher-quality content without sacrificing the convenience and accessibility of their existing mobile network or the familiar ‘phone-style’ shooting experience that they’ve grown accustomed to,” said Patric Huang, director of the Cyber-shot business at Sony, in a corporate statement. “We feel that these new products represent not only an evolution for the digital camera business, but a revolution in terms of redefining how cameras and smartphones can cooperatively flourish in today’s market.”
The Cyber-shot DSC-QX100 camera includes a premium, high-quality 1.0-inch, 20.2 megapixel Exmor RCMOS sensor. This is the same sensor found in the Cyber-shot RX100 II camera. The lens offers ultra-low noise images in most light conditions, including dimly lit indoor and night scenes.
Sony paired the sensor with a fast, wide-aperture Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T lens with 3.6x optical zoom and a BIONZ image processor. The DSC-QX100 has a dedicated control ring for camera-like adjustment of manual focus and zoom. The lens has several different shooting modes including Program Auto, Aperture Priority, Intelligent Auto, and Superior Auto, which automatically recognizes 33 different shooting conditions and adjusts camera settings.

The DSC-QX100 will be available later in September for about $500.

The less expensive, high-zoom Cyber-shot DSC-QX10 is built with an 18.2 effective megapixel Exmor RCMOS sensor and 10x optical zoom Sony G Lens. Sony says the DSC-QX10 lets mobile photographers bring distant subjects closer without sacrificing image quality or resolution, which is a common complaint with smartphone photography. The camera also has built-in Optical SteadyShot image stabilization, which combats camera shake for video but also still photography where smartphones can often produce blurry shots because of the response time to the shutter. The DSC-QX10 has Program Auto, Intelligent Auto and Superior Auto modes for shooting. It weighs less than 4 ounces, and is available in black or white to coordinate with most smartphones.

The DSC-QX10 will also be available later in September for about $250.

Source: Enid Burns for – Your Universe Online

Apple unveils revamped iPads to beat back rivals

October 24th, 2013 | Edited by | hardware


San Francisco (AFP) – Apple has unveiled the “iPad Air”, a slimmer version of its top-selling full-size tablet, and a revamped iPad Mini, bidding to fend off rivals who have eroded its market dominance.

The new products will likely fuel the trend of mobile devices vanquishing old-school personal computers, but the launch failed to catch fire with investors, as Apple shares dipped following Tuesday’s highly-awaited event.
Some analysts, however, were upbeat after the US tech giant unveiled upgrades to its tablet devices, notebooks and desktop computers along with free software to sweeten the deal.
“It is going to be a really strong holiday for Apple,” Gartner analyst Van Baker said of the California company’s prospects of sales during America’s important holiday shopping season.
“The highlight of the day is the breadth of Apple’s announcement; this is apps, tablets, MacBooks, Mac Pro, software… It is very wide ranging,” he said, after spending some hands-on time with the latest devices.
The new iPads will be sold alongside existing versions starting November 1 in more than 40 markets around the world. For the first time, China will be among the countries getting the latest iPad models on launch day.
The new iPad Air is thinner than the version it replaces, weighs just one pound (450 grams), and is “screaming fast,” Apple vice president Phil Schiller said at the unveiling in San Francisco.
And the upgraded iPad Mini has a vividly rich retina display along with faster computing power and graphics.
Both new iPads feature the Apple-designed A7 chip with 64-bit “desktop-class architecture,” the company said.
Apple chief executive Tim Cook said he was not troubled by competition in the tablet space, despite the iPad losing share in the sector in recent times.
“Everybody seems to be making a tablet,” he told the audience. “Even some of the doubters are making them.”
But he said that notwithstanding sales figures, “iPad is used more than any of the rest, and not just a little more, a lot more.”
The iPad “is used over four times more than all of those other tablets put together, and this is what is important to us. People use it, and what is even more important to us, is people love it,” he said.
The iPad Air will start at $499 and the new Mini version at $399 for US customers. Apple will trim prices of current iPad models.
Apple announced upgrades for its MacBook line of notebooks and Mac Pro desktop computer, and its new operating system called Mavericks would be available as a free upgrade for those with existing Apple computers.
In a strategic shift, Apple also said that iWork and iLife software suites — for tasks from video editing to mixing music and making business presentations — would be free with all its devices.


“These are really incredibly rich apps, and we have only just scratched the surface of what you can do with them,” Cook said.
“We are turning the industry on its ear; because we want our customers to have our latest software and access to the greatest new features.”
Baker said this was a smart move which can drive sales of hardware along with posing a threat to Microsoft’s empire, which is built on selling operating systems, productivity applications and other software.
Like Google does with its online array of Docs applications, Apple will be making available for free the productivity software that Microsoft sells to users of Windows-powered computers.
“That is Apple’s business model to a T, make software and services free and let them drive sales of the hardware,” Baker said.
“The iWork suite will be a bit of a Trojan horse, like Google Docs is, against Microsoft.”
The new iPads were unveiled on the same day Microsoft began selling an upgraded version of its Surface tablet, and as Nokia unveiled its own tablet computer.
Industry tracker Gartner on Monday forecast that global tablet shipments will reach 184 million units this year — a 53.4 percent rise from last year.
The iPad remains the largest-selling tablet, according to surveys, but its market share is being weakened by rivals using the Google Android operating system.
Apple is also under pressure to adapt to the popularity of premium tablets with high-quality screens in the seven- to eight-inch (18- to 20-centimeter) range where the Mini competes.
Jan Dawson, analyst at the research firm Ovum, said Apple’s latest innovations should “trigger good upgrade sales and get iPad shipments growing again.”
But Apple is also raising the price for the new Mini, unlike competitors, which Dawson said means Apple’s share in tablets will continue to fall as Android’s share rises over the coming years.
Apple shares fell 1.5 percent to end at $519.87 but were regaining lost ground in after-market trades.


Asus crams 4K resolution into a 31.5-inch Ultra HD monitor

October 22nd, 2013 | Edited by | hardware


Just in time for the Windows 8.1 debut and its hinted-at 4K resolution support, Asus is announcing a professional-grade (read: not cheap) Ultra HD LCD monitor.
The company showed the PQ321 Ultra HD, a 31.5-inch 4K Ultra HD monitor featuring a maximum resolution of 3840 by 2160 at Computex in Taipei. The unit has a 16:9 aspect ratio, 176-degreee wide viewing angle, DisplayPort, dual HDMI inputs, and built-in 2W stereo speakers.

More pixels (per inch)
Asus said it used Indium Gallium Zinc Oxide (IGZO) for the active layer of the PQ321’s LCD panel instead of the standard amorphous silicon for LCD displays. Because IGZO panels can work with smaller transistors, Asus could cram smaller pixels onto the screen. That’s a good thing considering this panel has four times as many pixels as a standard 1080p monitor.
The PQ321’s 140 pixels per inch may not sound great in an era when the iPad and other tablets have 264 ppi or more. But keep in mind a standard 1080p monitor with the same dimensions as the PQ321 would have exactly half the pixels per inch of Asus’ Ultra HD monitor.
Asus did not announce pricing or an official release date for the PQ321, but Hexus and Engadget both report that the monitor will debut in North America at the end of June.
Once you can buy Asus’ snazzy new monitor, however, what puts it to best use? Both the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4 will support 4K resolutions, and with the PQ321’s built-in speakers, using this monitor as a TV replacement should be a snap.
If you’re looking to do some PC gaming at 4K resolution, you’d better be prepared to shell out some serious dough—Not only for the monitor, but high end specs for your gaming box as well. A good start would be a high-powered graphics card like AMD’s $999 Radeon 7990.


Movies emerge
Gaming may be the first, best use for a 4K monitor. The next obvious choice is movies, but since 4K resolution has yet to go mainstream, finding 4K titles could be difficult. In late 2012, Sony released a hard drive containing ten 4K movies to buyers of its $25,000 84-inch 4K UHDTV. The company is also releasing classic movies remastered in 4K such as Glory, Taxi Driver, and Ghostbusters.
Sony calls them “mastered in 4K” and ships the films on standard Blu-ray discs, but they’re not really 4K technology. For starters, current Blu-ray discs max out at 1080p resolutions. So what you’re really getting are movies that were mastered at 4K in the editing suite, but play back at home at 1080p. That said, you may notice a small bump in picture quality such as color, detail, and contrast compared to standard Blu-ray discs. The labeling clarifies that they are “optimized for 4K Ultra HD TVs.”
An Ultra HD monitor sounds great, but there probably isn’t a ton of use for it yet unless you’re a serious gamer or looking to do graphics or video editing. But if Asus pushes the price low enough—which is reeeeeeeeally unlikely right now—you could pick up a PQ321 as an investment in the seemingly inevitable 4K future.


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