A few weeks ago we mentioned how there were some pretty big things about to happen in terms of new computers. Well today at Apple’s annual WWDC conference Apple gave the MacBook Air a pretty major update, one that was well worth waiting for.
In that earlier post we mentioned the importance of Intel’s new Core processors (also known as “Haswell”) when it came to buying a new computer because of the major promises it offered for performance and battery life improvements. How big is this update? Enough for Apple to say that their new MacBook Airs will get all-day battery life. That’s right, not 5 hours or 7 hours, but 9 hours on the 11 inch Air and 12 hours on the 13 inch Air. Basically, these new MacBook Airs should easily get you through the day without having to find an outlet. In addition to all that Apple gave the Air a few “future-proof” upgrades including support for the newest version of WiFi (called “ac.” It’s faster and has better range than older WiFi networks and will be great as more people upgrade their routers to support this new standard over the next few years).
The good news doesn’t end there, Apple also doubled the storage on the base MacBook Airs with 128GB of storage now the standard on both the 11 and 13 inch models (it used to be a very weak 64GB on the cheapest 11 inch Air). For $200 more you could double that storage to 256GB. And while the Air didn’t get upgraded to a “Retina display,” it still has all the things we loved about it like that awesome, thin design and FaceTime HD camera. It also keeps the same prices as before, and starts at $999 for the base 11 inch version (or $949 with a student discount).
The MacBook Air was already one of the best laptops available before this update. With more storage, faster speeds and insane battery life it pretty much seals it. If you’re looking for a new computer anytime soon you should definitely look at this.
The new MacBook Air is available now on Apple’s online store.
More info: Apple
With the end of the spring semester, graduations and the school year in general coming to a close over the next couple of weeks you may think that now would be a good time to buy a new computer. Graduation gifts and early back-to-school deals make that idea seem even better. Well put simply, it’s just the opposite and buying a new computer now is something you should really try not to do regardless if the next computer you plan to get is a Mac or Windows. Here’s why.
The MacBook Air and the MacBook Pro with Retina Display are two of the best computers available today. They are super thin, very fast, have solid battery life, and in the case of the Pro, has an amazing Retina Display that makes everything look great. The problem with both however has been their prices, with the 13 inch Pro with Retina Display starting at a particularly steep $1,700 and the higher spec’d 13 inch Air with 256 GB of storage (the one you’re most likely gonna want because you’re going to want since this has enough storage to last you the next few years) starting at $1,500. This week however Apple gave both the 13 inch Retina Pro and the higher spec’d 13 inch Air some nice price cuts, bringing the basic, 128 GB Retina Pro down $200 to $1,500 and the top Air down $100 to $1,400. If you use Apple’s student discount the prices are even better, with the Retina Pro dropping an extra $100 to $1,400 and the higher end Air going down to $1,349.
We really love the MacBook Pro and Air, and both are great options if you’re looking for a new computer for school. Personally, the 13 inch Retina Pro is the laptop I just upgraded to because it has that excellent portability that you find on the Air but it’s combined with the power the Pro line is known for (oh, and that Retina screen is pretty great too). Both laptops though should be more than fine if you mainly plan on using them for taking notes, writing papers and going online.
One upgrade we recommend however is getting the 256 GB hard drive for either the Pro or Air, particularly if you plan to store a lot of videos, music or photos. It is very hard to upgrade the storage on MacBooks after you buy them, and you’re going to want to make sure this thing is best suited to last for the next few years (if you plan on using your next computer mainly for notes and the internet, or have a backup hard drive for your music, photos and movies the cheaper 128 GB hard drive may work fine for you). The 256 GB 13 inch Retina Pro is now $1,700 without a student discount, $1,600 with (down from nearly $2,000 before).
The new price changes are live now on Apple’s site and you can check them out here.
Windows 8 has been around since last October, and at just $40 it is a solid upgrade. We still like Windows 8, but tomorrow it’s about to see a major price jump all the way up to $200. You see, back in October when Windows 8 launched, Microsoft offered the Windows 8 Pro upgrade at a special price of just $40 for a limited time. Tomorrow, February 1st, is the day when that “limited time” officially ends. Even if you’re still on the fence about upgrading your Windows XP, Vista or 7 computer to Windows 8 it may be worth looking into buying the upgrade tonight while its $160 cheaper.
Now for students this price jump won’t be as steep as Microsoft will be offering Windows 8 Pro to any US college student or faculty with a .edu email address (so college students only) for $70. That’s still $30 more than the “limited time” pricing but it’s still much better then what you would be spending if you aren’t in college.
In other student news, Microsoft has also announced that starting on February 18th they will be doing a campus tour, visiting over 150 colleges across the US to show off the latest Windows 8 PCs and tablets. To see when they will be visiting a campus near you check out Microsoft’s site here.
To get in on the Windows 8 $40 pricing, head over to the Microsoft Store here.
More info: Microsoft
Whether you are in high school or college, PC or Mac, there is one program that pretty much everyone uses, and that is Microsoft Office. Yesterday Microsoft released the next version of Office, called Office 2013 and Office 365. Both versions of Office have the same Word, PowerPoint, OneNote and Excel at its core that we all know and love and you can still easily take notes and make documents, presentations and spreadsheets. In Office 2013, Microsoft has added some pretty useful features including the ability to edit PDFs in Word (so when someone sends you a form to fill out you don’t need to print it and fill it out by hand), and better templates and themes for PowerPoint including some new themes designed for widescreens (so your presentations look better even when shown on an HDTV). Microsoft also made some improvements to make Office look much nicer and be much easier to use on Windows 8 touchscreens and tablets.
And while these are just some of the many nice improvements to the classic Office apps, the biggest news here is the pricing. In the past you had one option when it came to getting Office and that was to buy it. You would own that version of Office and be able to put it on up to 3 computers (assuming you bought Office Home and Student). While you can still buy Office, Microsoft today also announced the availability of Office 365, a version of Office 2013 that you pay for monthly or yearly instead of just buying it outright. With an Office 365 subscription Microsoft offers some interesting benefits including 60 free Skype minutes a month for calling cell phones or landlines from Skype (Microsoft bought Skype a couple of years ago), constant software updates so your version of Office is always up to date, the ability to install on up to 5 PCs or Macs (the Macs would the most recent version of Office for Mac, in this case Office for Mac 2011), and 20 GB extra of SkyDrive storage (Microsoft’s version of Dropbox, iCloud, Google Drive etc.) so you can save all of your work online “in the cloud.” The coolest feature of all though is the ability to go online and stream your version of Office to any computer running Windows 7 or Windows 8. This means that you can go to a friend’s house or a computer in school and be able to use the latest version of Office on that computer without having to re-download the new Office. And on other computers like Macs or Windows XP computers you can do this through any browser just by going to office.com.
Pricing for the versions of Office you’ll most likely be interested is like this:
- Office 2013 Home and Student– Includes Word, OneNote, PowerPoint and Excel. $139.99 to own for one PC forever.
- Office 365 Home Premium– Includes Word, OneNote, PowerPoint, Excel, Outlook (the famous email app), Publisher (for creating things like brochures and flyers– a very under-rated Office app), Access (for creating databases). Renting for $99.99 a year or $9.99 a month. This also has all the Office 365 features mentioned above like the Skype minutes, installing on 5 PCs or Macs, streaming Office apps and extra Skydrive storage.
- Office 365 University– All the benefits of Office 365 Home Premium but for students. The pricing of Office 365 University is $79.99 a year for 4 years, though you can only install on two computers instead of 5. As of right now this looks to be for college students only, but we’ve reached out to Microsoft to see if high school students can take also advantage of this deal.
Now what version is best for you? That’s a tough question. Microsoft is pushing the Office 365 version hard, and its got a lot of great features. If your family has multiple computers or you and a couple of friends all just got new computers and all need to buy Office– and someone in either group is still in college– it may make sense to get the Office 365 University pack. Yes you don’t actually “own” it and will need to pay $79.99 a year, but when divided between multiple people it looks like a great deal. If it’s just you, then getting the Office 2013 Home and Student edition could be your best bet as you will actually be owning all the main parts of Office– Word, OneNote, Excel and PowerPoint– forever. We’ve only spent a couple of minutes with Office 2013, and while its very good and we like it, we still need to look at Office 365 to see which will be the better deal.
For those curious about to try out the new Office for themselves, Microsoft is offering a free one month trial here, though be careful to make sure that it doesn’t accidentally delete you older, purchased version of Office by mistake (it shouldn’t but better make sure you don’t see a screen saying “we need to remove older versions” just to be safe).
For all the details on whats new in Office 2013 check out Microsoft’s Office site here.
UPDATE: A Microsoft spokesperson let us know that only “full- and part-time enrolled university and college students, faculty and staff” will be able to take advantage of the Office 365 University deal. Sorry high school readers.
Pic of PowerPoint from The Verge
Still looking for a good deal on a new computer after Black Friday? Well, tomorrow is Cyber Monday, the internet’s version of Black Friday just without all of this. Like with Black Friday, most major stores– Amazon, Best Buy, Walmart, TigerDirect, Target, Staples etc.– will be having big online deals. Unlike Black Friday though a lot of these deals haven’t been announced in advance (Amazon for example won’t start unveiling their deals until midnight EST). Best Buy however has some of their deals up, including what already looks to be one of the best deals we’ll see: an $800 14 inch HP Envy ultrabook for $550.
This HP Envy 14 has pretty much everything you would want in a good Windows 8 laptop: an Intel Core i3 processor, 4 GB of RAM, 500 GB hard drive, two USB 3.0 ports (with one more USB 2.0 port. USB 3.0 means things like backing up your computer to an external hard drive or copying over pictures and videos will go much faster. All USB 3 ports will also work with all older USB cables and devices), and a battery HP says will get you around 7 hours. This also has a 14 inch HD touchscreen so you can get the most out of Windows 8 (though you can’t disconnect it or bend it all the way back to use it like a tablet). Basically, this should be more than fine for doing things like going online, watching videos, writing papers, or using apps.
We’ll keep our eyes out for more good Cyber Monday deals. In the meantime, you can check out this Best Buy deal here.
Via: PC World
With Thanksgiving winding to a close, it’s time for the next big holiday, Black Friday. Whether or not you camp out tonight there are a lot of great deals to be had at a whole bunch of stores. We’ve got a few of the tech best deals we could find listed below.
Later this week Microsoft will release Windows 8, their latest and greatest version of Windows. Unlike all earlier versions of Windows, Windows 8 is pretty much a complete re-working of the Windows we have today. It isn’t just a few speed improvements and some nicer looking graphics (though it does have those too).
Windows 8 is Microsoft’s view for the future of the computer, but before you run out and buy a new PC, or upgrade your current one, read on. We’ll explain what’s new and different here and what it means for you.
With school right around the corner and back to school shopping in full swing, it’s very tempting to go out and buy that new computer, phone or tablet. Stores such as Staples, Walmart, Amazon and Best Buy are all strongly advertising their back to school and Labor Day deals (in addition to the usual deals from Microsoft and Apple).
But while the deals may be great, we think you really might want to hold off on dropping a lot of money on those new gadgets. You see, the technology industry is right now in state of major updates. Pretty much every group of device– from Windows and Mac computers, to iPhone, Android, and Windows Phone, to the iPad and Kindle tablets– are due for major upgrades over the coming months. And when we say major upgrades we mean major upgrades. More >
Still looking for a new MacBook Air or Pro for school this year? Well then you may wanna check out Best Buy. As part of their back-to-school promotion, Best Buy is giving any current or incoming college student with a .edu email address $100 off any new MacBook. Now while that sounds a lot like what Apple is doing, it’s even better. Best Buy is doing this on top of the price you would pay for the MacBook had you bought directly from Apple with a student discount.
In other words, look at it like this. The latest, cheapest version of the 11 inch MacBook Air (with 64 GB of storage) normally costs $999, or $949 with the student discount when you buy directly from Apple. Best Buy starts the pricing for this Air at $949, and when you then add their student discount you’re down to $849. The more powerful, base model of the 13 inch MacBook Air (with 128 GB of storage) is normally priced at $1,199, or $1,149 with the student discount from Apple. Best Buy starts the pricing for this same Air at $1,139, so with this $100 student discount this Air is now only $1,039… you get the point. It’s a great deal.
To get the deal all you have to do is go to Best Buy’s Student Deals site, enter that .edu email and print the coupon. That’s it.
Now as great as this is there are a few downsides. The first is you’ll need that .edu email address, so if you’re in high school that might be hard to get (though you could ask a friend or sibling to let you use theirs). You also can’t customize the MacBooks like you could if you ordered directly from Apple’s site, and Apple also gives you an $100 iTunes Gift Card as part of their back to school deal, something Best Buy doesn’t seem to match.
Oh, and you can only use the coupon once and you have to use it in a Best Buy store and have your student ID with you. Sorry no online ordering.
But hey, $849 for the latest MacBook Air is definitely one of the best back to school deals we’ve seen this year.
More info: Best Buy Student Deals