TheONbutton Durham Computer Services

Remote IT Support and Computer & Technology Help in Durham, Chapel Hill and Raleigh NC

TheONbutton offers computer services in Durham NC

Hello Everyone,

I’ve loved writing at TheONbutton, and the time has come to turn it into something new. With that in mind I’ve refocused TheONbutton to offer computer services in Durham NC and the Triangle.

The aim of theONbutton is to help customers as quickly, professionally and cost-effectively as possible. We help, we fix, we teach.

theONbutton is open seven days a week, and we love making customers happy! So if you live in Durham NC or the Triangle area, contact us because we’d love to help you!

All the best,

Neil Berman

Sep 25, 2011 Posted by | News | , , | Leave a comment

Preview of Sprint’s 4G service in New York City

Sprint Epic 4GSprint will be officially turning on its 4G service in New York City on November 1, and were kind enough to toss a Samsung Epic 4G our way for some pre-launch action.  Monday’s 4G launch will cover the five boroughs, as well as some nearer areas of New Jersey and parts of Long Island.  Sprint has already lit up various other cities around the country with 4G, and by the end of the year will have covered 55 markets.  The story doesn’t end there, as the carrier told me that it will continue the rollout next year which will include solidifying coverage across the New York City area.

Although the service goes live officially on Monday, it is largely available right now while the Sprint techs make their final pre-launch checks.  For newcomers, Sprint chose to base its 4G service on WiMAX which promises average download speeds of 3-6 Mbps, with peaks of 10 Mbps.  Those speeds Sprint Epic 4G 3will easily allow customers to stream HD video, do high quality video calling and download large files quickly in good coverage areas.  When I fired up the Epic 4G I saw 5 Mbps down and 1 Mbps up as you can see in the photo, which is frankly phenomenal compared to 3G speeds.

At those speeds you might expect people to start abandoning their home internet connections, especially since Sprint does not currently have data usage caps for 4G.  I asked Sprint for their views on this and they openly encourage people to use either their 4G phone’s mobile hotspot feature or the Overdrive mobile hotspot as a home internet replacement.  Sprint doesn’t offer a wired internet service so it makes good business sense for them to try to attract new customers this way.  I expect the other carriers will do the same thing when they launch their 4G services…and the traditional ISPs might wince at the prospect.

Sprint Epic 4G 2Sprint does face a couple of challenges with its 4G rollout.  Firstly the other carriers are snapping at its heels; notably Verizon has announced that its 4G LTE network will be available on some cities by the end of the year and AT&T is working to get its 4G LTE network ready during 2011.  Sprint’s head start has probably allowed it to lock in a good deal of 4G early adopters onto two year contracts though with the Samsung Epic 4G and the now iconic HTC Evo 4G.

Sprint’s second challenge is a technical one, rooted in the frequency being used to deploy WiMAX on the wireless spectrum.  As a guide, lower frequencies tend to penetrate buildings and distance better than higher frequencies which is why GSM customers often see EDGE coverage in weak signal areas – EDGE has been deployed at a lower frequency in the spectrum than GSM 3G and CDMA EVDO, so it can reach more places.  WiMAX is being deployed at 2.5GHz, which is a step above the 3G frequencies, so Sprint has had to install WiMAX transmitters more densely compared with EVDO to provide good coverage.  New York City presented its own unique challenges to the deployment due to the high density of large skyscrapers.

Over the coming weeks we’ll be giving the Epic 4G a good workout, as both a daily 4G phone and mobile WiFi hotspot, so stay tuned for our review.

Neil Berman

Oct 26, 2010 Posted by | Analysis, Hardware, Mobile, News, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Affordable Sandisk 32GB Micro SD lets you carry a backup wherever you go

32gb micro sdChances are that if you have a smartphone called something other than ‘iPhone’, it has a Micro SD card slot. This removable storage format has become an affordable way to carry music, photos and other media on your travels.

Many smartphones ship with a bundled card anywhere between 2 to 8GB in capacity, which is perfectly sufficient to turn a phone into a roving media player. 16GB Micro SDHC cards have also provided an affordable upgrade path for a while now, selling for around $30-40 at many e-tailers.

However the sweet spot starts to come into play at around 32GB, which is the capacity that would allow many people to carry their entire music and photo collection in their smartphone. This serves a dual purpose. Firstly it means less frequent sync’ing at home to change media content stored on the mobile device. Secondly, and arguably more importantly, carrying a copy of your entire media collection on the smartphone means you always have a backup in a separate location to the source. So if something happens at home that takes out your computer and your backup drives (you do have at least one backup drive with regular data sync’ing, right?), the copy on the Micro SD card in your smartphone will hopefully still be intact.

32GB Micro SDHC cards have historically cost well over $100. However the recent arrival Class 4 cards has pushed the Class 2 ones down to around $89 on Amazon at the time of writing. Class 2 means the card has a minimum transfer speed of at least 2MB per second, but that’s still fine for listening to music or viewing photos.

Sure it’s still not pocket change, but think about it this way – most backup drives just sit around unused waiting for a disaster to hopefully never happen. This backup on the other hand is usable in your smartphone every day.

If you plan to buy one of these make sure your smartphone supports Micro SDHC cards up to 32GB, and of course continue to sync your backup devices regularly to your data sources.

Neil Berman

Oct 9, 2010 Posted by | Hardware, News | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Are your free video calls too cheap?

cisco umiThe last time you enjoyed a free Skype video call, perhaps basking in front of an HD webcam, did you think “wow that was too free…I must remember to pay more for my video calls in future!”  Well fear not, because the Cisco Umi (pronounced ‘you me’) is here to help lighten your wallet.  Priced perfectly for small to medium sized businesses, but marketed towards your living room, the Umi offers HD video conferencing in the home for just $599 with a $25 monthly subscription.  It sure is true that tchnology makes the world seem smaller every day, but with video calling this cheap expensive, it’s likely to start feeling a bit bigger from now on.

Neil Berman

Oct 7, 2010 Posted by | Hardware, Home Theater, Photo & Video, News | Leave a comment

Oyster offers a traveler-friendly approach to online bookings

Oyster Venetian Hotel PhotosTravel websites have come along leaps and bounds since the early days of online booking services. Sparkling hotel-supplied photos of destinations abound, as do lay person reviews of accommodation. That’s all useful, but marketing images tend to make everything look more heavenly than when you arrive in person.  It can also be difficult to assess the quality of the all those non-professional reviews.

An innovative new site called Oyster has sprung up which seems to do a address these two problems. Offering visitors the opportunity to “See the Hotel Truth”, Oyster actually sends its own employees to hotels to snap real life shots and write professional reviews. Oyster claims to have more than 200,000 undoctored photos of  hotels, most of which are in the US or nearby. Some of the photos are flattering while others are, let’s just say, useful to see before you book.  So it’s a must-use resource for travelers wanting to get an honest opinion before they buy.  In gadget-speak it’s kind of like the CNET of travel websites, and visitors can actually book hotels after sorting through the reviews and photos.

With all the product review websites out there, it’s amazing that the concept of online professional mass reviews of hotel ‘product’ has taken so long to appear. We’ve always had travel guides which give brief comments about hotels, but the consistent depth and no holds barred approach of Oyster really make it shine. Even if you never book a room, just perusing some of their real life shots makes for a great staycation.

Neil Berman

Jun 4, 2010 Posted by | News | , , | Leave a comment

4G WiMAX: It’s nice on the outside

Clearwire is apparently installing 4G repeaters into Radio Shack stores ahead of the launch of the Evo 4G. While this sounds like a nice idea, allowing potential customers to experience the best of WiMAX, it is also troubling.

I’m really looking forward to WiMAX arriving in New York, but the idea that a repeater is required to deliver good service within a retail store sets off alarm bells in my mind about quality of service. Many early adopters have noted that WiMAX works great outside near to a repeater and rapidly deteriorates compared to 3G when the receiving device moves indoors. This is due to WiMAX operating at a higher frequency than 3G, making it harder for the signal to penetrate buildings.

With New York being the city full of skyscrapers that it is, I’m starting to fear for the success of WiMAX here unless there repeaters all over the place. We’ll just have to wait and see what the quality of service is like when it goes live. I really hope it works out though, as it would be a shame if 3G ends up being faster than 4G in many real-life usage scenarios.

Neil Berman

May 22, 2010 Posted by | Analysis, Mobile, News | , , , , | Leave a comment

Another hot product from Apple

The Apple MacBook is a hot product.  Literally.  While MacBooks have always looked pretty, many models have been plagued by heat management problems.  My MacBook (known in Apple circles as ‘The Oven’) refuses to start when hot, the MacBook Air is famous for shutting down one CPU core out of self preservation when playing video, but PC Authority’s report on the latest MacBook Pro Core i7 heats the problem up to volcanic proportions.

The magazine found that during their testing on athe new MacBook Pro Core i7, the laptop became so hot that they could no longer keep it positioned normally on a desk.  Instead they had to turn it up on its end, which might make Final Cut Pro editing a bit of a challenge.  How hot is hot you ask?  101 degrees Celcius.  That’s a mighty hot product.  It surely flames a previous MacBook which could allegedly cook an egg.  By way of comparison PC Authority ran the same tests on a Fujitsu Lifebook SH 760 with the same Core i7 processor and it peaked at a comparatively frigid 81 degrees Celcius.

So although the new MacBook Pro Core i7 might reduce your winter heating bill, we don’t recommend this approach.  In fact quite seriously based upon the PC Authority experience, we’d advise observing a a sensible amount of caution when using this laptop if you own one.  If you notice it getting hot, put it somewhere safe and away from your lap to cool down.  It’s nice to have a pretty laptop, but it’s not worth burning your lap for one.  Hopefully Apple will work some magic into the design of this particular model to improve its heat dissipation.

Neil Berman

Apr 26, 2010 Posted by | Apple, Guides, Hardware, News | , , , , | Leave a comment

MacBook Pro refresh leaves Apple fans wanting more

MacBook ProThose long awaited MacBook Pro refreshes finally arrived today, and the news was a mixed bag.

The 13″ models are still saddled with Core 2 Duo processors, while the 15″ and 17″ models have finally made the jump to Core i5 and i7. The astute geek readers among you will recall that Dell and HP hit the market way back in 2009 with Core i7 laptops. That means Mac releases are now in danger of falling significantly behind Intel’s roadmap if newer processors come out this Fall.

The base price of the 15″ model has gone up by $100, the base 17″ is down and the base 13″ is holding steady.

GPUs have been upgraded across the board to the Nvidia GeForce 320 and 330, missing out on the top of the range GeForce 340.  There’s intelligent switching between integrated and discrete graphics and inertial scrolling is now built into the trackpads.  4GB RAM is also standard on all models.

While today’s updates are probably disappointing for Mac fans hoping for more market leading hardware, theONbutton readers shouldn’t be too surprised. These updates really fall in line with my post last month about how Apple seems to be focusing away from Mac in favor of iPhone OS devices.

Expect more of this to come as I expect Apple to continue developing its strategy in this direction.

Neil Berman

Apr 13, 2010 Posted by | Apple, News | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Opera Mini approved for iPhone, “kicks safari out of the water”

Well how about that! Apple has actually approved Opera Mini for the iPhone, a revolutionary step in the right direction for choice in the App Store.   Until now Safari has been pretty much it as far as web browsing on the iPhone goes, and you know what they say about monopolies; they’re bad for innovation.   Engadget has managed a hands-on with Opera Mini on the iPhone, claiming it “…totally kicks safari [sic] out of the water.”  High praise indeed.   Now what are the chances of Google Chrome on the iPad…?

Neil Berman

Apr 12, 2010 Posted by | Apple, News | , , , | Leave a comment

theFREEbutton: Verizon Palm Pre Plus & Pixi Plus hotspot now free

Mobile phone tethering is such a wonderful thing, but oh so naughty unless you’re laying out cash monthly for a tethering plan.  The idea is that your smartphone gets a fast data connection and the civil thing to do with all that juicy data is to feed your laptop with it in, say, Central Park on a sunny afternoon.  That privilege typically comes at a monthly premium of $40-60, and in the case of Verizon’s Palm Pre Plus or Pixi Plus allows owners to turn their phone into a mobile WiFi hotspot for a limited number of nearby devices.

What I’m about to say is not an April Fool, honest!  The hotspot feature on the Palm Pre Plus and Pixi Plus on Verizon is now free to existing and new subscribers.  Free tethering!  For multiple devices!  Low data users (or cheapskates) could probably get away with cancelling their home Internet connection and just use this to provide their data.  Just don’t expect to stream YouTube and Hulu using the Pre or Pixi as a hotspot, they might be on Verizon’s quality network but it’s still only 3G speeds.

So as the storm clouds gather over Palm HQ, will this convince you to become a switcher?

Neil Berman

Apr 1, 2010 Posted by | Mobile, News | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Teknica episode 6: “The Glory Days” – Palm, iPad secrecy and Mac vs PC security

The latest episode of Teknica delves into the secrecy surrounding iPads given to developers, the fall of Palm and Mac vs PC security.

Neil Berman

Mar 21, 2010 Posted by | Analysis, News, Teknica, Video Features | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Follow theONbutton on Facebook from today!

We now have a Facebook page so you can follow us with ease thanks to the glory of the interwebs, write a gadget-related proclamation on our wall or simply add another Facebook page to your ever-growing collection.  Click the link below to find us on Facebook:

theONbutton on Facebook

Neil Berman

Mar 16, 2010 Posted by | News | , | Leave a comment

Google goes green and adds bicycle directions to Google Maps

Google Maps Biking DirectionsTo our cyclist readers, have you ever been frustrated by mapping software which directs you to major routes so you can get to your destination as quickly as possible?  Well I would imagine the problem with cycling major routes happens when the quickest way to the destination ends up being in the back of an ambulance.  Cyclists like cycle routes and Google is going to try to help them out.  Google Maps now features bicycle directions for several major US cities including New York and San Francisco, so give it a whirl and see if it can help you find a safer route home.

Neil Berman

Mar 10, 2010 Posted by | News | , , , | Leave a comment

ThinkFlood RedEye Mini might be the coolest universal remote control ever

If you’ve been toying with the idea of universal remote control to replace the growing mass of blasters on your coffee table, your days of procrastinating may be coming to an end.  ThinkFlood has announced its RedEye Mini, which is a scaled down affordable version of its RedEye WiFi remote control for the iPod Touch and iPhone.  Instead of relying on WiFi like its more expensive older brother, the RedEye Mini opts for a traditional infrared connected directly to the iPod/iPhone, making it more portable and easier to instantly setup.

We think the RedEye Mini might just do to high-end universal remote controllers what free navigation on Android 2.0 did to the GPS market, i.e. set them on a path towards extinction.  After all, if you’re in the market for a $150 universal remote, I’d say there’s a decent chance you have an iPod Touch or iPhone.  So at less than $50, the RedEye Mini is an exciting proposition.  Heck it might even be worth buying a dedicated iPod Touch for this, just so you can tell your pals all about your new remote control which just happens to surf the web, store your music collection and get you email.  The RedEye Mini will be available later in the Spring.

Now just imagine the delicious irony of using this on an iPod Touch to control Windows Media Center…

Neil Berman

Mar 2, 2010 Posted by | Apple, Home Theater, Photo & Video, News | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Today is Windows 7 RC shutdown day

Windows 7 RC shutdown dateIf you’re one of those smart people running Windows 7 RC then take note; today is the day your PC will start shutting down every two hours.  On June 1 that install will become completely unusable, so do what you need to do now to get your all-important files off that computer and buy a upgrade full version/new PC/new Mac/whatevs.  Perhaps you’ve been so impressed by Windows 7 RC that it’s reignited your love for the PC, perhaps you got a free flight to Tokyo because Windows 7 was your idea (link is to my personal fave), or maybe you were just in it for the free ride and you’re now reading this on your new MacBook.  Hey we don’t care what you choose, we’re not platform snobs, we just love good technology.  Whatever you do though, do it soon; the clock is a’tickin, your files are a’fearin and the economy is a’beggin for your hard-earned money…

Correction: there is no upgrade path from RC to retail, it’s a full version clean install or nothing.

Neil Berman

Mar 1, 2010 Posted by | Microsoft, News, Software | , | 1 Comment

Flash 10.1 Beta 3 brings GPU acceleration to GMA500 netbooks

MSI X320

The MSI X320 will benefit from the GMA500 support

There’s a funny dynamic going on in the world of Flash which, let’s remember is used by almost the whole world.  On the one hand the likes of Apple are trying to encourage the world away from Flash because it is a processor hog and towards HTML5 instead.  While on the other hand Adobe is demonstrably working to make Flash HD video run better on lesser hardware by enabling …continue reading

Feb 24, 2010 Posted by | Analysis, News | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

PMA 2010 News

Sony DSC-TX5

PMA means new cameras

In our ongoing quest for perfection in photography we look towards PMA 2010 this week, which is the annual industry show for photo and video professionals. This is traditionally the time of year for news, product announcements and Samsung TL500new releases in the phot and video market. Our PMA picks so far are Sony’s presentation of its new waterproof DSC-TX5 in a block of ice, the new Samsung TL500 with its f/1.8 lens and the first hands-on look at the Fujifilm HS10 which sports a 30x optical zoom with manual focus.

PMA means making a wish list

On our PMA wish list is a compact digital camera with DSLR photo quality, 1080p video and an external microphone input. Something like the Fuji F200EXR meeting the Kodak Zi8 with an added helping of the Panasonic LX3 for maximum tweakability.   Perhaps an impossible device a few years ago but hopefully a real one either this year or next.

PMA mean bargains on outgoing cameras

It’s also a good time for consumers to seek out good deals on outgoing models such as our favorite compact superzoom, the Panasonic ZS3. We recently spotted the ZS3 for as low as $220, which is way down from Panasonic’s MSRP of $399. So go out there and find a bargain, the economy still needs your help!

Neil Berman

Feb 22, 2010 Posted by | Home Theater, Photo & Video, News | , , , | Leave a comment

Android gets Flash

The Apple Flash issue came to the fore recently when  Steve Jobs announced the iPad and today Google dropped a flash bomb on Cupertino by adding Flash to Android.

As we and much of the world noted recently, the iPhone and subsequent Apple devices running its OS such as the iPod Touch and iPad do not support Flash.  This means that they need special apps to access certain internet media content like YouTube videos and many websites just don’t work on those devices.  Windows Phone 7, announced on Monday, will also initially ship without Flash support.  Today however Google announced that Flash 10.1 will be available for Android, setting up the platform to offer a unique feature set in the smartphone market.

We know that Flash can be a resource hog on full power computers, sometimes causing Macs to crash, so I was curious to see how fluid the experience would be.  So I was pleasantly surprised to find this demo of a Motorola Droid running Flash videos on YouTube in a browser perfectly, and even managing to switch from portrait to landscape without missing a beat.  Can iPhone and Windows Phone 7 really afford to sit this one out?

Neil Berman

Feb 17, 2010 Posted by | Mobile, News, Software | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Teknica episode 4: Windows 8 is going to be mind blowing

In this week’s Teknica we catch up on Mobile World Congress, get a glimpse into the energy around Windows 8 and find out how to check up on your internet speed with YouTube Speed Dashboard.  Plus, we reveal the ultimate Apple fanboy accessory.

Neil Berman

Feb 14, 2010 Posted by | Computing, Gaming, Hardware, Microsoft, Mobile, News, Software, Teknica, Video Features | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

YouTube Speed Dashboard tells you if you’re getting what you’re paying for

Google has been aiming to get us going full speed on the Internet and its latest initiative on YouTube is another part of that effort.  YouTube Speed Dashboard analyzes your download speed over time and shows comparatives to other users of your ISP as well as cohabitants of your city, state, country and planet.  It’s certainly interesting to see how download speed can fluctuate between different days, although we don’t know too much about how the analysis is being constructed.  For example what happens if you don’t watch any YouTube videos on a given day; is that day recorded as zero MB/s or hopefully just discounted from the analysis?  Judging by the chart above we clearly have no such worries as it looks like we watch plenty of content!  So do our readers in fact, who just hit 40,000 views of our videos.

In any case it’s really cool to see how you’re doing, and gives you some firepower to use in a phone call to your ISP if you believe you’re being shortchanged.  Check out your own results at YouTube Speed Dashboard.

Neil Berman

Feb 13, 2010 Posted by | Computing, News, Software | , , , | Leave a comment

%d bloggers like this: