Jerry Seregni's Technology Tips - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

Toshiba gets the jump on Windows 8 laptops for education

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Toshiba's Satellite C55-series provides the essentials for general computing. Toshiba's Satellite C55-series provides the essentials for general computing.
The Satellite C55 features a touch-screen, a full-size keyboard, and a 10-key keypad. The Satellite C55 features a touch-screen, a full-size keyboard, and a 10-key keypad.
Toshiba's L-series is the next step up from the C-series, offering better audio and a faster processor. Toshiba's L-series is the next step up from the C-series, offering better audio and a faster processor.
Not all Core i-series processors are the same. Knowing Intel's numbering scheme reveals whether the CPU has first, second, third, or fourth generation architecture. (Graphic courtesy Intel, Inc.) Not all Core i-series processors are the same. Knowing Intel's numbering scheme reveals whether the CPU has first, second, third, or fourth generation architecture. (Graphic courtesy Intel, Inc.)
The PC market is stagnant (some reports say declining), but that's good news if you're shopping for a notebook PC for back-to-school.  Why? Because Windows 8 really screwed things up for PC manufacturers and created a buyer's market.

Price points for entry-level notebooks were dipping below $300 before Microsoft decided that the next version of Windows should be touch-centric. Making the user experience the same, whether the operating system is running on a tablet, smart phone, or PC sounds good, but adding a touch-screen to a notebook drives up the price. 

Worse, Windows 8's new user interface tends to turns-off -- if not outright scare -- most consumers. Windows 8 has largely been viewed as an upgrade to avoid, much like Windows Vista. Add a premium for a touch-screen, and it's no wonder sales of PCs have stalled. There are other reasons, of course, but the new paradigm Microsoft hoped to achieve with Windows 8 has failed to gain traction.

Microsoft now acknowledges its blunders with Windows 8 and is currently rushing to release Windows 8.1, which is expected to arrive in September. Windows 8.1 is what Microsoft should have released in the first place, but like they say hindsight is 20/20.  Computer manufacturers, meanwhile, cannot afford to sit idly while PC sales plummet.

Fortunately, with more than six months of Windows 8 under their belts, some companies are finally starting to introduce affordable, touch-screen models. Toshiba is at the forefront, which is good news for consumers, because Toshiba America recently refreshed its entire notebook line, just in time for back-to-school.

Toshiba offers a wide variety of notebooks that are equipped with processors made either by Intel or by AMD. If you are not a hardware geek, you're probably not as familiar with AMD as Intel, but there are advantages and disadvantages associated with either platform, so doing a little research is time well-spent.

Toshiba provides some guidance on its website ("Intel and AMD Processor Guide"), but like Ford-versus-Chevy or Coors-versus-Budweiser, subjective factors often play a part in whether AMD or Intel is your brand. Most gamers I know, for example, love AMD.

For detailed information, consult each chip manufacturer's website. Intel's guide to its processor numbering system About Intel Processor Numbers") is particularly informative, and so is its processor comparison matrix ("Intel® Processor Comparison"). No surprise, AMD provides equally good information about its platform ("What is APU?").

For back-to-school, budget-conscious shoppers, focusing on Toshiba's Satellite series (the C50 and L50 iterations, in particular) is a good strategy. Satellite C50-series models provide essential computing, which is more than adequate for homework, online research, social networking, and watching videos.

Satellite L50-series models are the next step up, offering faster processors, better sound, and more advanced multimedia capabilities. They are, of course, more expensive.

Regardless, current pricing reflects the state of the industry. Toshiba is aggressively discounting both touch and non-touch models. If you visit the company's online store, $100 - $300 price reductions for Satellite C50 and Satellite L50 models are fairly common. If you are looking for a notebook for a young student, good deals abound.

The models shown today on the Fox 8 News, Morning Edition are all affordable, touch-screen PCs, available at very reasonable prices:

The Toshiba Satellite Model C55t-A5296 laptop, for example, is powered by an Intel Core i3-2348M processor. The unit runs Windows 8 and comes equipped with 6GB DDR3 1333MHz memory, 15.6-in. HD TruBrite LED Backlit Touch Screen display (1366x768 max. resolution), Intel integrated graphics, 500GB 5400rpm HDD, DVD-SuperMulti drive, Wi-Fi Wireless networking (802.11b/g/n, Bluetooth V4.0, standard US keyboard with 10-key pad, touch pad pointing device with multi-touch control, a Li-Ion (48Wh, 6-cell) battery, one USB (3.0) port, and two USB (2.0) ports. The unit sells for $569.99. For more information, visit ToshibaDirect.com.

By way of comparison, the Toshiba Satellite Model C55Dt-A5244 laptop is powered by an AMD Quad Core A4-5000M APU. The unit runs Windows 8 and comes equipped with 6GB DDR3 1333MHz memory, 15.6-in. HD TruBrite LED Backlit Touch Screen display (1366x768 max. resolution), Intel integrated graphics, 500GB 5400rpm HDD, DVD-SuperMulti drive, Wi-Fi Wireless networking (802.11b/g/n, standard US keyboard with 10-key pad, touch pad pointing device with multi-touch control, a Li-Ion (48Wh, 6-cell) battery, one USB (3.0) port, and two USB (2.0) ports. The unit lacks Bluetooth but sells for only $524.99. For more information, visit ToshibaDirect.com.

The Toshiba Satellite Model L55t-A5290 notebook is powered by an Intel Core i5-3337U processor. The unit runs Windows 8 and comes equipped with Intel HD Graphics, 8GB DDR3 1600MHz memory, 750GB 5,400rpm HDD, DVD-SuperMulti drive (+/-R double layer), 5.6-in. HD TruBrite LED Backlit Touch Screen display (1366x768 max. resolution), DTS Sound, Headphone jack (stereo), Microphone jack (mono), Built-in stereo speakers, webcam and microphone, Wi-Fi Wireless networking (802.11b/g/n), 10/100/1000 wired Ethernet, and Li-Ion battery (43Wh, 4-Cell). The unit lacks Bluetooth but sells for $799.99. For more information, visit ToshibaDirect.com.

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