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
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
If you’re looking for a new iPad, iPod or MacBook this holiday season you’re gonna want to listen up, as Apple just revealed their Black Friday deals. As expected there aren’t any major “doorbuster” deals to be found here, but there still are some solid discounts.
The iPad 4 has been given a $41 discount and now starts at $458 for the 16 GB WiFi model (with $51 and $61 discounts for the 32 GB and 64 GB WiFi only versions). The iPad 2 16 GB WiFi model got a $31 discount to $368, though if you want one of these we’d still recommend going with Walmart or Target’s deals instead. The new 5th generation iPod Touch (the one with the color back and 4 inch screen) has also been given a $31 discount and now starts at $268 for the 32 GB version. The older iPod Touch and new iPod Nano were each given their own small discounts, bringing their prices to $178 and $111 respectively.
The MacBook line is where the big discounts happen. Apple has taken $101 off of each of their MacBook lines– the MacBook Air, Pro and Pro with Retina Display. Of course this brings them to the same prices you could get the rest of the year if you use a student discount, with the exception being the base 11 inch MacBook Air which is now $898 (it’s usually $950 with a student discount).
Apple also dropped the prices on their iPad Smart Covers and Smart Cases, as well as for their headphones , routers and wireless mice and keyboards. And no, unfortunately there doesn’t look to be any deals for the iPad Mini or iPhone 5.
You can check out the full list over at Apple’s site here.
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.
Looking for a new Windows PC for school and want to take advantage of Microsoft’s buy a Windows PC and get a free Xbox 360 back to school deal? Then we recommend you hurry as the deal ends this Saturday, September 3rd.
For those who’ve never heard of this deal, it basically works like this. If you’re a student and you buy a new Windows PC at $699 or more Microsoft will throw in a free 4 GB Xbox 360 to go with it. The deal is open to both high school and college students and all you have to do to get it is show your Student ID if your buying in a store or a enter your .edu email address if you’re buying online at sites like the Microsoft Store, Dell.com or HP.com (this is the email address your college gives you once you enroll). If you’re a high school student and don’t have that .edu email address, try chatting with an online sales rep or calling the company’s sales line (their phone numbers are usually listed at the top of their sites). And remember, the deal also isn’t necessarily done by all stores (Staples and Best Buy, for example, don’t offer it), so you’re probably better off buying online or calling your preferred store before you go to make sure you get the deal.
So yeah, if you want that new PC and free Xbox you better hurry before the deal ends.
Sure it’s no free Xbox 360, but if you were looking for a PS3 for your dorm room now is probably the best time to get one. Sony this week has announced that they have dropped the PS3’s price $50, with the 160 GB version now starting at $249 and the 320 GB version coming in at $299. Sure it’s not a huge price drop, but we’ll gladly take it and it’s a pretty solid deal particularly if you don’t plan on buying a new laptop for school (or aren’t buying one at the minimum $690 to get the Xbox 360 deal).
And it’s even better when you think of everything else a PS3 can do beyond gaming, like watch Blu-ray movies, stream videos from Netflix/Hulu Plus/YouTube, go online from your TV, or even watch games with the MLB.TV or new NFL Sunday Ticket apps (which is also coming to the PS3 this season and you don’t need to have DirecTV to use it. The NFL Sunday Ticket app does need you to pay a pretty expensive $339.95 for the season— or $5 more than what DirecTV subscribers pay– but you do get access to 14 out-of-market games per weekend and the Red Zone Channel, all in HD).
If you’re going off to college and want TV but don’t want to pay the crazy cable/satellite fees (or are just looking to save serious money by ditching cable/satellite entirely), the PS3 and its new price look to be perfect for you.
As important as it is to have a good laptop for school, it’s almost as important to have a good phone. We need them to text, check Facebook, go online, set alarms and reminders– heck, most of us could probably take better notes on our phones than on a laptop (if we were allowed)!
So in this issue of our back-to-school series we’re gonna take a look at some of the best cell phones available now on AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint and Verizon that you should definitely consider when you’re looking for a new phone for this upcoming school year.
We know, we know– it feels like summer is only just beginning why are we starting to think about the next school year? Unfortunately as we all know all good things like summer must eventually come to an end and we have to return back to our regular ways of life and school– which we all know comes back way too quickly. As the back-to-school sales really begin over the next few weeks we want to help make sure you go back fully prepared, well, gadgets wise at least.
One of the toughest things today in back-to-school shopping is finding a new computer/tablet/phone that isn’t just cheap or good, but right for you and what you want and need it to do. We want to try to make this easier for you, and over the course of the rest of the summer we plan to have a whole bunch of posts and guides on good deals we see, some of our recommendations for a new computer, tablet or phone etc. In short, we’re here to help.
So with all that in mind we’re gonna kick off this back-to-school “series” with some tips on what you should look for when your out shopping for a new laptop for school and what are the basic specs that any 2011 computer you buy should have.
Looking to take advantage of Microsoft’s awesome back-to-school deal of a free Xbox 360 when you buy a new PC for $699 or more? Well, if you are then we recommend not picking up that new computer from Best Buy as they have pulled out of this back-to-school deal earlier this month. And while we couldn’t find out the reason that Best Buy isn’t offering this free 360 deal anymore, they have confirmed to us that they have stopped offering the deal.
HP, Dell, Amazon and the Microsoft Store are all still offering this deal (which runs until September 3rd and works as long as you have a high school or college student ID)– so if you were looking for a new computer at $699 or more and wanted that free 360 we recommend you look at one of them.
Apple today finally took the wraps off its annual, highly anticipated back to school deal with a major new twist: the traditional free iPod Touch has been replaced with the new deal being the usual discounts on all Macs and a free $100 iTunes gift card that can be used in any of Apple’s iTunes stores (iTunes, App Store for iPhone/iPad, Mac App Store and iBookstore).
While we don’t know why Apple decided not to do free iPod Touches again this year (or even better, some discount on an iPad with the purchase of a new Mac) the deal, which runs from today, June 16th, through September 20th, is still pretty good in our opinion. Think about it, most of us have iPods– or are using our phones as our iPods– now anyway so unless you really needed a new one, getting $100 to spend in iTunes and getting apps for your new Mac can be very valuable (as Apple puts it: “so you can get Pages, Numbers and Keynote for your studies. And still have plenty left for your study breaks.”). Oh, and the brand new, upcoming OS X Lion will be free to anyone who buys a new Mac now and before whenever the official launch date is, so you don’t have to worry about buying that for $30 next month either.
Now a lot of you want to know what’s different between this new 2011 Apple back-to-school deal and Microsoft’s offer of a free Xbox 360 with any new PC $699 or higher. There actually is a lot. Beyond the fact that Microsoft’s deal is cheaper (you can buy a PC for $699 and get the free 360 whereas the cheapest MacBook– the one from last year and not the new MacBook Pros— is $899 even after the $100 discount), Microsoft’s deal is also open for any current high school or college student unlike Apple’s which looks to be only college (the official language is “college students or students accepted to college” so incoming college freshmen you’re still good. Parents of college students and teachers of any grade are also eligible so if you’ve got a sibling in college or a nice teacher you can still get in on this deal). Microsoft is also giving away more in terms of the free add-on (an Xbox 360 4 GB is $200 whereas even if you include Lion in the Apple deal you’re still at $130).
I guess what it really comes down to which would you rather game on: Xbox 360 or Mac/iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch? Let us know your pick of which deal you think is better in the comments.
Info from Apple