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05/04/2017

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Fax machines are still used by four out of ten IT users in SMBs, while 36% use laptops, 16% use smartphones, and only 1.4% use tablets.Fax machines are old technology, but it's still something that ranks very highly among SMBs, Graham Palmer, managing director of Intel UK, told PC Pro. Why are people still using fax machines? Because it still works for them.Fax machines are old technology, but it's still something that ranks very highly among SMBsFax machines are old technology, but it's still something that ranks very highly among SMBsNearly half of those asked said they don't adopt any new technology because they lack the money or staff to do so, while a third have no plans to upgrade PCs or other devices in the next year.When you're running an SMB you have a lot of different business priorities you're trying to juggle, and being an expert in IT isn't perhaps one of them, Palmer said.However, 42% of those polled said they use their own devices for work, although Intel warned that only a third of businesses were aware of legislation regarding data privacy and security.The majority of employees who do use their own kit - some seven out of ten - do so because of the attractive design of the device or because they value the increased privacy of using their own laptop.The survey also highlighted the continuing confusion over cloud computing, finding that half of people using Google Docs don't believe they use cloud services.Half of IT users and a quarter of IT decision makers said they weren't entirely sure what cloud computing is - although it's easy to see why they're confused when Intel's own report cites Amazon and eBay as examples of cloud applications.When you spoke to people who said they weren't [using cloud computing], they were in fact using services that are deployed through cloud capabilities, Palmer said. The sector is deploying these services, but they [SMBs] are not necessarily associating them with cloud services.Lenovo has unveiled two new Chromebooks, one of which can flip between tablet and laptop modes.

The ThinkPad Yoga 11e Chromebook is targeted at schools and will arrive in the US this spring, while the ThinkPad 11e Chromebook is a more standard format.Lenovo has also unveiled two counterparts running Windows 8, the ThinkPad Yoga 11e and the ThinkPad 11e.The touchscreen convertible Chromebook can switch between the four different modes seen elsewhere in Lenovo's Yoga series, as well as rugged features.As well as the standard laptop and tablet modes, users can also fold back the Chromebook's screen or stand it on its edges due to the flexible hinge.Lenovo hasn't revealed full specs, but all four devices will come with an 11.6in screen, rubber bumpers, reinforced ports and hardier hinges to prevent damage. The convertible Chromebook also features an HD LED display. Promised battery life for the Chromebook is eight hours, according to Lenovo.There's no word on UK pricing or availability yet, but the two Chromebooks will start from $349, while the Windows devices will start from $449.A couple of decades ago, your choice of computing device for business was very simple. Although laptops were available, the vast majority of employees would be doing their computing work at a desk in an office, due to the expense and bulk of portable devices. Now, however, the range of computing devices has exploded, and with it the types of work that can be performed with them. Decreasingly few business activities require anything but a screen, but the question is, which screen is best for the job? In this feature we look at the options, so you can choose the right weapon for the business battle at hand.Central to the idea of flexible mobile working is that different people work in different ways, but also that different tasks and roles require different tools. Fortunately, there is now an appropriate device for pretty much every possibility. Just for starters, notebooks are extremely affordable. The netbook trend of a couple of years ago appears to have passed, but now you can get much more powerful and feature-rich full notebooks for not much more than the price of a netbook. For example, HP's 255 G2 laptop can be had for under £400, with an AMD quad- or dual-core processor, 15.6in display, and 500GB hard disk.

These features will allow pretty much any everyday office software to run just fine, lowering or even removing the barrier to a mobile, hot-desking workforce.
Going hand-in-hand with the mobile revolution has been the advent of cloud-based services, both private and public. Not only can your documents be backed up to or even kept permanently in the cloud, but powerful software can now be delivered in this way as well, such as Office 365 or Google Docs. If your business has taken the plunge and standardised on Google's suite of services, a very cost-effective option for mobile workers could be a Chromebook, such as the HP Chromebook 14. This costs close to £300, and works seamlessly with Google's online services, including 100GB of cloud storage that can be accessed by any system with an Internet connection.Of course, the downside with relying on the cloud, or a virtual private network (VPN) connection to your corporate LAN, is that this requires a dependable Internet connection. Beefing up corporate Wi-Fi to handle a full complement of mobile workers is essential, and it's not sensible to rely solely on WLAN connections for workers outside the office environs. A tablet with mobile broadband such as HP's ElitePad 1000 will let your employees access online services wherever there is cell coverage, from a supremely portable 600g device running Windows 8. For even greater portability, a smaller Android-based phablet-style device like the HP Slate 6 and 7 VoiceTabs combine tablet and phone abilities into one.Tablets are inherently more comfortable for consuming content than they are for producing it, however. If you need to make a presentation on the move, review documentation, or deal with email correspondence, their extreme portability and supreme battery life make them the ideal companion. But if you want to type up a lengthy report, create a presentation from scratch, or juggle a complex spreadsheet, a tablet is far from ideal, even with the addition of a keyboard accessory.

This is where the new generation of hybrid devices comes in, aiming to give you the best of both worlds. Hybrids fall into two broad categories, depending on whether their physical keyboards remain attached or are completely detachable. An example of the former is the HP EliteBook Revolve 810 G2. With the Revolve, the screen rotates around a central strut as well as tilting, so it can be flipped over to face upwards when the lid is down. This protects the keyboard and turns the device into a fully-fledged tablet, albeit a bulky one. In notebook mode, the Revolve is a perfectly normal laptop, with a comfortable keyboard, a choice of Core i3, i5 and i7 processors, decent Intel HD Graphics 4400, and a full complement of ports, including full-sized DisplayPort and Ethernet. In tablet mode, there's a pen-style digitiser supplied to aid handwriting notes or drawing. Built-in 4G LTE wireless data as well 802.11ac Wi-Fi are available as options, so the Revolve will keep you connected wherever your travels take you.However, the Revolve-type device isn't quite the perfect tablet. Having the dormant keyboard stowed underneath the screen adds to the weight, even if it means there will be plenty of battery life available. The alternative is a device where the keyboard can be completely removed and the screen used on its own, for example the HP Pro x2 410 or the Spectre 13 x2 Pro PC. The keyboard is still a proper notebook version, rather than the less ergonomic membrane-based or reduced-size varieties that are generally provided as tablet keyboard accessories. It also includes a sizeable second battery to boost endurance on the road. But remove the keyboard base and you get a regular, thin tablet weighing a manageable 1kg or less. So everything you can do with a regular Windows tablet will be available. Like the Revolve, the Spectre offers 4G wireless data, and the base adds full-sized HDMI, but no Ethernet.

However, the desktop has not been entirely ruled out in the mobile revolution. This will still be the cheapest option for providing computing to your employees, even if it's the least flexible. For powerful applications, particularly intensive graphics, 3D or video work, a traditional workstation remains the optimal choice. Here again, though, there are some alternative options if space is tight. There are some very capable all-in-one models now available such as HP's EliteOne 800, which combines a capable Intel Core i5 processor with a 23in IPS widescreen display. Alongside a full range of tower-style workstations, HP also offers the highly innovative Z1, an all-in-one workstation with a professional-grade Xeon processor and capable discrete graphics, rather than the integrated graphics normally associated with this type of computer, all packed behind a 27in screen.The plethora of computing options now available can be confusing, and there is no longer one approach that will fit all your employees.

Some will be perfectly happy sticking with traditional desktops, and this might be preferable for the kinds of heavy-duty usage we have just mentioned. But most others are likely to benefit from going mobile. An employee who has to produce a lot of content will be best off with a notebook, whilst those who spend most of their time replying to emails, browsing the Web, and reviewing existing information could benefit greatly from the portability of a tablet. But for those who both produce and consume in equal measure, the hybrid notebook and tablet provides the perfect jack-of-all-trades solution.In a market dominated by Ultrabooks and stick-thin hybrids, Samsung’s Series 7 Chronos gleefully bucks the trend. With a powerful quad-core processor and high-powered AMD graphics chipset crammed into a stylish metal chassis, it’s no average desktop replacement – Samsung is gunning for the likes of Apple’s MacBook Pro.The latest Chronos is an update to last year’s machine, and although Samsung hasn’t tweaked the design, it’s still lovely to look at. It’s built almost exclusively from brushed aluminium, and the understated, elegant design is dotted with pleasing touches. The Scrabble-tile keyboard is inset slightly into the brushed metal keyboard surround; the trackpad is a featureless slab of silky smooth metal; and only a couple of unobtrusive logos and tiny status lights disturb the minimalist metal design.

ractive looks go hand-in-hand with sterling build quality. There’s hardly any give in the wrist rest or the base, and the touchscreen and lid feel reassuringly solid. To be fair, it’s what we’d expect, given the Samsung’s bulk: at 2.5kg, it’s half a kilo heavier than the latest MacBook Pro, and its 30mm girth – including rubber feet – is substantially thicker than the A-Listed Apple’s 18mm body.Sit down with the Series 7 Chronos, however, and it’s a pleasure to use from the off. The keyboard is superb: the base is solid and, while there’s not much travel in the keys, their action is comfortable and consistent. It’s backlit, too, with a light sensor beside the webcam fading the lights up and down, and there’s room for full-sized keys and a number pad. The touchpad is similarly impressive, due to its responsive surface and full support for Windows 8’s touchscreen gestures, and it depresses with a light, crisp click.
Up front, Samsung’s equipped the Series 7 Chronos with a 15.6in, Full HD touchscreen.

The touchscreen itself supports 10-point multitouch, and the smooth, glossy surface responds accurately to the lightest of touches. Thanks to the relatively wide bezels either side of the screen, Windows 8’s edge-swipe gestures work well, too.Image quality is well up to par. Unlike many touchscreens we’ve seen, there’s no hint of graininess to the panel coating, and wide viewing angles are matched with excellent colour accuracy. Put to the test with our X-Rite colorimeter, the Samsung’s panel managed an average Delta E of only 2.5 – not far off the 1.5 scored by the more expensive MacBook Pro 17in. The LED backlighting reaches a modest maximum brightness of 254cd/m[sup]2[/sup], but the contrast ratio of 806:1 makes for punchy, solid-looking images. It’s one of the better screens we’ve seen on a laptop, but if you’re hoping for Retina-beating clarity or colour accuracy, you’ll be disappointed: the MacBook Pro’s display is brighter, its colours are more accurate, and its Retina resolution of 2,880 x 1,800 makes it sharper still.The Dell Chromebook 11 proved to be a zippy, cost effective Chromebook in our recent review, but how does it measure up to last year’s equally inexpensive Acer Aspire C720? Below we’ve pitted both devices head-to-head, taking into account design, connectivity, specifications, performance and screen quality to determine which is the superior Chromebook. See also: What's the best budget laptop of 2014?

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