HST News Blog

  • How to be tech-safety-savvy

    Personal safety has been in particular focus in recent months thanks to the threat posed to human life we have been exposed too. We’ve all become far more conscious of not only who surrounds us, but also the effect we might have on others. We should, of course, always pay attention to our physical safety but also to our financial, electronic and psychological safety too.

    These areas are commonly breached via the technology we use daily and most likely take for granted. Our smartphones, tablets and computers if not properly secured open us up to all manner of abuse whether it be of our bank accounts or anything even more sinister. There are different types of breaches that can usually be grouped into categories – from hackers, from viruses and behavioural issues. So how do you ensure you, and your family, are kept safe in the tech world? Read on to find out…

    Protection from hackers

    For reasons only known to them, some people in this world take great pleasure in accessing others’ data and systems. It can be with the intention of stealing money but sometimes, it is simply to cause anarchy! By following these tips, you can help to protect yourself:

    • WiFi – be careful which networks you access and only ever use trusted ones. Free ones that are publicly available are great for hackers as the connection you make with it opens your device up for easy entry
    • Anti-malware software – there are specialist programs that you can install on your machine that will detect suspicious hacker-type behaviour and block their access to your machine. It doesn’t need to cost the earth and can be far cheaper than having to right the wrongs of an attack
    • Alerts – your email, social media or any other accounts that might house secure and personal data often have an ‘alert’ function to let you know when someone has tried to sign in from an unrecognised source. You should always have to verify sign in to certain types of accounts so ensure these alerts are turned on and if you get one that looks questionable, investigate it
    • Phishing – never click on a link from an email and enter any private information on the site you land on even if it seems legitimate. You need to be extremely vigilant as these sites can look and feel secure – if in doubt, call the company in question

     

    Anonymous hacker

    Protection from viruses

    A computer virus is typically described as “a piece of code which is capable of copying itself and typically has a detrimental effect, such as corrupting the system or destroying data”. And if one gets into your machine it can destroy everything so protect yourself with the following:

    • Anti-virus software – in much the same way as anti-malware works, anti-virus software is an affordable way to stop viruses getting into your system and wreaking havoc so invest in one to protect yourself
    • Updates – systems and programs release updates for a reason. That reason is usually improved functionality but it can sometimes be to correct errors or bugs that might be chinks in the armour, opening up exposure to viruses
    • Clickbait – don’t open anything from people you don’t know, whether it be an email, an attachment or even clicking on a link. All of these can result in a virus getting in and is known as ‘phishing’

     

    Protective behaviour

    Sometimes, you can have all the right software in place but then you can go ahead and allow emotional abuse or other such problems. Protect your loved ones with:

    • Privacy settings – make sure that social media accounts (and everything else) is as locked down as it can be by limiting profile views and what strangers can see
    • Monitoring tools – there are certain tools available particularly for social media that can bring your attention to negative posts or messages that might be made about your child or other loved one. These tools that also monitor outgoing, as well as incoming content, can give you the peace of mind that nothing untoward is being said by your child too
    • Parental controls – there are accessibility restrictions which can be placed on your web browser which will limit what your child is able to see, thus keeping them safer online
    • Locks – by ensuring that the lock function is turned on for all devices, including the auto-lock function and ensuring that passwords are in place (and ones that are not very easy to guess!), you will increase tech safety almost immeasurably
    • Education – teaching the less informed how to stay safe online is a key way to preventing any issues before they arise

     

    Child on tablet

    Staying safe on your tech

    These days, machines even have in built security settings that work to enhance whatever additional software you might install on them. For example, this HST Optimus i5 PC has hardware to give you better peace of mind for your on- and offline activities.

    HST Optimus i5

    This isn’t a preventative measure but backing up your work can prevent a lot of lost time and even money if you do suffer a security breach. So, just make sure you do what is needed and back everything up in a separate location to re-install if needed.

    The internet, and technology are wonderful things when used safely with the right protection in place. So follow our tips and you’ll have a much better chance at keeping your machines away from negative activity.

  • The Future of Computing – long live the PC

    Smart phones and tablets...the chances are you have at least one of these devices in your possession – you’re possibly even reading this article on one! This new era, whereby almost everyone in the UK has access to extremely sophisticated products, has led to a more informed, connected and advanced society than we could have predicted. And when the iPad was unveiled back in 2010, some thought it would mark the death of the PC. But whilst tablets and smart phones have absolutely grown in popularity since their launch, they haven’t replaced the traditional computers in the way some experts believed they would.

    What made matters worse, even Microsoft caused problems for the PC world. As most of us know, Windows is one of the most popular operating systems for a PC (both desktop AND laptop so Microsoft’s dominance remains. However, they nearly came a cropper with the release of Windows 8 which included touch screen functionality. Touch screens are the way the world is going, so what was the problem with that? Simply put, at the point of release, most PC users didn’t have the tech that necessitated the implementation of a touchscreen-friendly operating system. Even today, most desktop and laptop users don’t have touchscreens so it really shouldn’t form the core of a big product release in that way. Compatibility, yes. Monopoly, no.

    So in the face of all the adversity, with the world always in our hands at the touch of a screen, how has the humble PC survived?

    Technological advancements

    PC’s caught up. They didn’t rest on their laurels and soon the selling points of tablets were being implemented, particularly in laptops. Thinner models, lighter weight ones which could be easily transported and used for browsing whilst watching TV were released. Their battery power was improved, as were the power and the speed users needed. Touchscreens were developed and added so they had dual control where a keyboard and mouse/trackpad could still be used when preferred. Laptops were even created to have detachable screens or ones that could flip back on themselves, giving them the properties of a tablet too. But mostly, PCs in the desktop arena got better whilst remaining very reasonably priced!

    Here is our favourite: Dell OptiPlex 7010 PC Intel Core i5

    Dell OptiPlex 7010 PC Intel Core i5

    The health factor

    If you work at home even just occasionally, a desktop might be a better option. Firstly, keeping it in a set place will enable you to walk away from it when the working day is done. That mental mindset of finishing work is harder to achieve when you work at home so being able to shut the door on your ‘office’ can help you clock off. Furthermore, when setting up your working area at home, it is easier to achieve a more ergonomic set up than if you were to have a laptop on your knee, for example. The right chair, additional screens all at the right height, plus a mouse and keyboard with supports will all help to ensure your health whilst you work for hours.

    Advanced applications

    Tablets and even laptops still struggle with much more powerful requests such as video editing, graphic design and so on. Not only would the machines need to be a lot larger to house all the hardware required to power them, they would need huge batteries to support them and cooling fans too. Until technology advances much, much further, certain jobs will still need to be completed on a desktop.

    Here is our favourite workstation: Dell Precision T1700 Workstation Intel Core i7

    dell-precision-t1700

    Gaming

    In much the same way as the advanced applications section, real gaming still needs to take place on a desktop computer. The graphics, the video, the sheer size of the universes you enter, the length of time spent gaming, all of it requires so much power that a tablet or laptop can’t compete. In fact, most games aren’t even developed to be played on devices because they just can’t support them.

    So, whilst the technological landscape has changed dramatically, the PC is certainly NOT dead and isn’t likely to be in the near future. PCs have adapted and changed to stay up to date with our changing needs as users and currently are the only way to undertake certain tasks, without running into huge problems.

  • How to work from home like a boss

    We’ve all had to adapt to a very different world recently, and we have had to do it quickly. The fundamental changes we have made have been across all areas of our lives from children switching to a ‘home school’ environment, all leisure and social activities suspended and most shopping shifted to online. Most notably perhaps is the fact that many workplaces, and certainly office/computer-based roles, have had to move to the home too.

    Whilst the change took some getting used to for some, for others, the transition was relatively straightforward. Indeed, many workers and businesses themselves have seen huge benefits of people working from home. There have been improvements in work-life balance and the subsequent positive impact on mental health, cost reductions of both commuting expenses as well as for businesses and the environment has started to recover from the reduced volume of pollution.

    With all this in mind, it is no wonder that many companies are considering whether to welcome the whole workforce back to a communal office space full-time, even when it is completely safe to do so. So if you’re going to be working in a more modern way and will be spending at least part of your week working from home perhaps permanently, you need to ensure you have the right set up. Temporary measures might have been fine in the short-term, but is it time to look at things more seriously?

    Let’s take a look at what you need to ensure you’ll be as productive as possible in your home office…

    Power and performance

    There was a time when your average computer could handle an average work load. Nowadays, with so many different types of task to complete, varying complexities of systems and software and a huge range of different computers on the market, you could easily end up with the wrong one. So you need to really think about the amount of power you need.

    A standard desktop PC will handle a lot of admin tasks – internet browsing, word processing, spreadsheets, emails etc, so if that’s all you do on a day to day basis, that’s what you should buy. This is one of our most popular PCs at the moment: Lenovo ThinkCentre M92 Tiny PC i3-2120T 2.60GHz 4GB RAM 250GB HDD.

    Lenovo ThinkCentre Tiny PC

    If you do a little more in your role, while a PC might just be able to handle it, you don’t want to find yourself in the position of waiting for things to load, requests timing out or even worse, your machine crashing and you losing work. So if you handle larger amounts of data, or download multiple items, if you do any video or picture editing or if you use systems which are quite labour intensive on your processors, you might need a workstation as opposed to a PC. Find out more about them in our blog ‘The perfect computer for your needs’. But our favourite workstation is the Dell Precision Tower 3620 Workstation Intel Core i7-6700 CPU 3.40GHz 16GB RAM 250GB Hard Drive.

    Dell Precision Tower 3620 Workstation

    Flexibility

    Another key thing to think about is what you actually want from your machine. The obvious answer to this is for it to complete your work without issue, but what else do you need from it? For example, will you need to take it with you to meetings or to the office? If so, your best bet is a laptop rather than a desktop – unless you want to get both!

    The key benefit of laptops is their portability so they make for a great piece of kit if you need to be out and about. They are even useful for you to work or browse in different areas of your home if you want a change of scenery throughout the day. Just make sure you choose one that can handle what you need it to so your productivity isn’t compromised. Here’s one of our best performers and as it’s refurbished, it’s cost effective too: HP EliteBook 840 G2 Ultrabook Laptop i5-5300U 2.30GHz 4GB RAM 250GB HDD. It’s customisable so you can upgrade it to handle as much as you should need to.

    Refurbished Laptop - HP Elitebook

    It might also be the case that you want to have a little play-time after the working day is done by way of gaming. A standard PC won’t be great with modern games so make sure you get one that is set up to handle the sophisticated ones which are now released. If you want any more advice, see our blog ‘PCs and gaming PCs – what’s the difference?

    Commercial awareness

    We’ve briefly mentioned refurbished machines but it’s worth making the point – if you want more bang for your buck, a refurbished machine is probably the route you want to go down. They are all expertly tested and checked by technicians and can often be almost brand new (ex-display, for example) so you get great tech for a lower cost. They’re covered by a warranty too.

    Set up for success

    It is all well and good having the right machine, but your work environment also needs to be right or else you’ll end up with bigger problems than a slow system! Make sure you have an area which is conducive to working – quiet, with few distractions, preferably in a room with a door you can shut. At the very least you need some kind of desk-like space and you need a proper chair which seats you in the right position to avoid back issues.

    You’ll need at least one screen or monitor, maybe even two so investing in a bundle might be the right option – take a look at this one for example Dell Optiplex 7020 Intel I5-4570 3.20GHZ SFF PC Monitor Bundle and you won’t need to worry about eye strain as much!

    Dell Office Bundle

    You can even get accessories to help your wrists and hands such as ergonomic mice and keyboards. By investing just a little more, you could avoid the aches and pains you might otherwise get.

    If you need any help setting up your home office, get in touch with us at HST and we’ll be happy to advise you.

     

  • The perfect computer for your needs

    In the recent climate, there have been fewer distractions to our daily lives than ever before. Confined to our homes without the ability to socialise, shop, exercise and even go to our places of work like before has put more emphasis on what we have in our homes. Whether it’s the tech we use to communicate, to entertain ourselves or to even do our job at home, we need it to function to the best of its ability.

    Buying the right desktop computer can seem a daunting task if you don’t know much about it. Even if you do know a lot, there is so much choice out there than it can be difficult to select the right one. If you’ve read our blog ‘Desktop vs laptop – you decide’, you’ll already have made your choice on that particular matter. If you’ve chosen a desktop, do you know what type you want? For example, did you know there is the choice of a PC and a workstation? Let’s take a look at that in more depth…

    What is the difference between a desktop PC and a workstation?

    First of all, both of these machines look similar. They will literally sit on the top of your desk and will need wiring to your monitor, keyboard and mouse, connecting to your internet and of course being plugged into the mains power supply.

    But there are some intricacies of them that should not be overlooked when you are seeking a new piece of tech. The key points are:

    Cost – on the surface, it appears very much that PCs are better value for money. Whilst they are indeed lower priced (for the most part), that doesn’t necessarily make them better value. Find out why in the points below…

    Durability – a workstation actually has a higher standard of internal parts than those of a PC. The CPU, RAM, motherboard, drives, graphics card etc are all expected to have to work harder than those in a PC so they are more robust from the outset.

    Performance – a standard PC will be able to complete tasks such as browsing the internet, emails and word processing. Some can even do multiple functions at the same time but a workstation will do so much more. From data analysis to video editing and even CAD, workstations are far more powerful than PCs. In today’s demanding workplaces where we might need to access complex systems and handled large files, you might find a PC is less able to handle the demands you place on it.

    So what’s the best workstation?

    Our personal favourites are the Dell Precision Towers – we have two in stock. They are:

    1. Dell Precision Tower 3620 Workstation Intel Core i7-6700 CPU 3.40GHz 16GB RAM 250GB Hard Drive

    This impressive machine benefits from an Intel Core i7 processor which has Intel Hyper-Threading Technology which delivers two processing threads per physical core. Your tasks will therefore get completed sooner thanks to more work being done at the same time in the highly threaded application.

    It also has Enhanced Intel SpeedStep Technology to enable high performance whilst also ensuring the power-conservation needs of mobile systems are met.

    Data transfer has been speeded up thanks to the ADATA Premier DDR4 2400 unbuffered U-DIMM memory upgrade. The 288-pin design has an operating voltage of just 1.2 reducing power consumption by 20% too. This in addition to the multiple idle states which work to save power when the processor is not in use mean it is an environmentally friendly machine too.

    As a refurbished workstation, you can customise it with all the elements you need. You can also rest assured you’re getting great value for money and it has been fully tested and verified for quality too. Read more about it here.

    Dell Precision Tower 3620 Workstation

    1. Dell Precision Tower 3620 Workstation Intel Xeon E3-1240 V5 CPU 3.40GHz 16GB RAM 250GB Hard Drive

    The Intel Xeon processor E3-1200 v5 product family-based platforms that are found in this machine offers access to data that is incredibly fast whilst never compromising its integrity. Data is king in today’s business environment so if you invest in this machine, you will have the peace of mind that yours will be handled appropriately.

    As with the machine above, it also benefits from the ADATA Premier DDR4 2400 unbuffered U-DIMM memory upgrade with 288-pin design and is just as power-conscious too!

    Again, refurbished, you can trust this machine will handle all the data you need it to so it’s the perfect machine for heavy loads. Customise it to your tastes too! Read more about it here.

  • Technology – the world’s saviour

    As the world continues on its odd trajectory, it’s time to take stock of a few things. The changes we have undergone have been huge and it is by no mean feat that individuals and businesses alike have adapted to them with apparent ease. There has never been such a need to innovate as there has been throughout this global pandemic and innovate we have, most of it centred around technology and its use.

    We have been fortunate enough to have so much at our fingertips that we are navigating extremely difficult times much more easily than we otherwise would have. In fact, technology helps businesses and consumers even more than you might realise and will continue to do so in the future. Read on to find out how…

    Communication

    In a previous blog, we talked about ‘The importance of connectivity in today’s world’ and that has been one of our most critical coping mechanisms. We’ve been able to not only talk to our loved ones, but physically see them too thanks to video calling. We’ve been able to interact with businesses to get the supplies we need, even mental health professionals, nutrition experts, and physical trainers are offering services online, all through the power of tech.

    But beyond that, colleagues have been able to interact with one another on a daily basis. This means the needs of businesses are being met, as are the needs of employees and not to mention their customers too. Communication is absolutely vital for mental well-being but also for business success and much more besides. It will be our ability to communicate better that will help bring us out of this very difficult situation in the months and years to come.

    Not only is our software assisting this but our hardware too – having the right equipment enables you to see the person you are talking to. If you need to upgrade your kit, browse our bundles which come with a top-quality monitor too. This Dell Optiplex 7020 Intel comes with not one but two monitors and is reduced from £329 to £314.99!

    Dell Office Bundle

    Marketing

    With smartphones, tablets, laptops and desktops all around us all the time, we are constantly being sold to. There are adverts on the social media channels we use, our contacts try to sell us products from their personal ventures, we have ads popping up on the games we play and on the videos we watch, sidebars on the websites we visit. And they are clever too – they know what our interests are, what we have browsed online and what we are likely to need and when. All this means the marketing we are subjected to is highly personalised and relevant, meaning we are far more likely to buy from it. To not have an online marketing presence is commercial suicide for many companies and this only looks set to become more important in the years to come.

    Research

    With said devices always being on hand, it is now easier than ever to research anything at all. Whether it’s the answer to a question we want to know or looking into our next purchase, we’ve never had access to such a huge amount of information so readily. Finding trusted sources on the other hand can be difficult, and that’s where an extra level of investigation is required. But being informed is what has changed us as consumers so again, this trend only looks set to continue growing as no one would ever choose to return to a less-informed state, especially not when it comes to buying products.

    If you request multiple pieces of information from your machine at the same time, or want to do a lot of things at once, you’ll need a fast processor such as an i7 which can be found in this refurbished Dell OptiPlex 990 PC.

    Customer relationships

    We’ve already discussed the importance of communication and how companies can better target customers with the information our systems hold. But further to that, consumers now demand even more personalisation in terms of the contact companies make with them. For example, a vegan who regularly shops at a major supermarket would not want to see special offers for meat. They are much more likely to engage with a piece of marketing about a new plant-based product launch. Technology allows businesses to hold information about consumer behaviour and certain personal details to better target them with what they might want to buy, reminders that a product they use should be about to run out, notifications of when things are on sale or even a free glass of fizz to celebrate a birthday if you visit an establishment for a meal. All of this builds better relationships and is likely to result in repeat custom.

    Technology has changed the face of consumerism as well as many other industries too. It has enabled us to get through the most recent difficult time in a more connected and more serviced way than we could have imagined 10 years ago. It will be hard to predict what future advancements we will see but the reality is that they should only continue to improve our lives and streamline businesses for the better. The future seems bright because it will be even more tech-based.

  • PCs and gaming PCs – what’s the difference?

    We’re stuck at home with much less to entertain us than ever before. We can’t go out anywhere (the supermarket doesn’t count), we can’t go on holiday, we can’t have friends and family to visit. All in all, it’s more challenging than ever to fill our days, particularly if you can’t work too.

    But whilst it’s harder than ever to be occupied, it’s actually easier than ever too, thanks to the plethora of tech we have at our disposal. From smartphones laden with social media and video calling apps, to tablets for online shopping, to our computers whether they be laptops or desktops (or both). Like many, you’re probably finding that you are using your IT more than usual and possibly more than it can handle, with gremlins regularly revealing themselves. Or perhaps you’re trying to use it in ways it hasn’t been designed for – hardcore gaming on a low-end desktop, for example.

    If you’ve tried this, you’ll no doubt have realised that it does not work as you believe it should. In fact, it might be a painful experience not to be repeated. But what is the difference between a regular PC and a gaming PC? And can their utilities be crossed over?

    The internal hardware

    Ultimately, PCs and gaming PCs have the same components. They both have a CPU (Central Processing Unit), a permanent storage space (hard drive, SSD or even cloud storage), temporary storage space (RAM or Random Access Memory) and input/output devices such as a mouse, keyboard, monitor, headset etc.

    The key difference between a PC and a gaming PC

    The main difference is that the gaming PC will have a much more powerful CPU, more RAM and permanent storage space. PLUS it will have a much more advanced video or graphics card. The reason for this is very simple – the games produced nowadays (and the ones gamers want to play) make huge demands on the internal resources of a machine.

    Have you ever noticed how lifelike the characters on, from the way they look to the way they move? Have you ever seen how involved players can get in a game with countless options available to them and an almost limitless number of scenarios to explore? Have you seen the speed at which things change and need to load? All of this would place too much strain on standard hardware elements thus necessitating the better kit of a gaming PC.

    Desktop PCs

    Brand new or refurbished, these will be great for your everyday use. From browsing the web to answering emails, using spreadsheets etc for work, newer ones can handle multiple functions even at the same time. If that’s what you’re after, choose a machine such as this HP ProDesk 600 G1 Intel Core i7-4770 CPU. It’s customisable so you can upgrade your RAM and hard drive too.

    HP ProDesk 600

    Gaming PCs

    These can also be refurbished to get more bang for your buck and there is a great range available. One of our most popular is the HST Horizon Ryzen with an AMD Ryzen 7 2700 8C/16T 3.2Ghz CPU, Corsair Vengeance LPX 8GB DDR4 3000Mhz RAM and Toshiba P300 1TB 7200rpm HDD.

    HST Horizon Ryzen

    All our gaming PCs in general have been so popular that we’ve actually sold out but don’t worry – plenty more are on their way!

    Conclusion

    Gaming PCs can be used for pretty much anything you would want a standard computer to do. They have excellent capability to process a whole load of programmes and as such will not only be capable, it will be efficient too.

    If you do want to use your machine for gaming, you will need to fork out for some upgraded pieces of kit as the more basic components won’t be able to handle what modern games throw at them. Games these days are so advanced, that the processing of them needs to match up in order to get the right gaming experience.

  • The importance of connectivity in today’s world

    Isolation is an odd concept these days. It means separated from others which is true in physical terms, but in virtual terms, nothing could be further from it. Since lockdown began on 23rd March, we have seen huge changes in behaviour from both individuals and organisations and one of the key ones has been around communication and connectivity. Whether that be connecting with family, vulnerable individuals or customers, the world has changed in many ways and a lot of them are extremely positive. In what could be an otherwise dark and bleak time, communication is what is keeping us all engaged - connectivity in today's world has never been more important.

    How technology helps connect us

    It isn’t an exaggeration to say that technology has been nothing short of a global saviour in these challenging times. From being able to order your fruit and veg from the local market via social media, to playing group games with elderly relatives on hand held devices, to seeing public service announcements advising how to stay safe from the government everywhere you turn, it really has opened up the world even more than it already was.

    Technology has allowed companies to innovate quickly and ultimately survive this challenging time when historically they would have had to simply shut up shop. It has meant otherwise lonely people can speak with loved ones and even complete strangers who volunteer just to bring some joy to their day. It has allowed messages of hope and positivity to be spread. It has allowed us to be entertained with online games, social interactions that otherwise wouldn’t exist and TV series’ binges to ward off the boredom. We can educate ourselves on any topics we choose as tutorials and classes shift online. We can even get free personal training sessions from the best in the business without leaving our lounges. And perhaps most importantly, it has allowed instructions on how best to behave safely and protect yourself and others from a deadly disease, ultimately saving lives, to be shared efficiently and broadly.

    Long live technology

    We couldn’t achieve any of this if it wasn’t for the technology we have access to in our homes and our daily lives. It’s thanks to laptops we’ve been given by work and the smart phones that seemed obscenely expensive at the time of purchase but are now a lifeline to mental well-being. It’s thanks to the equipment we have bought ourselves and use each day and the WiFi networks servicing our homes.
    Investing in technology can seem like an expensive affair and is something we don’t necessarily want to do regularly. But think about your life without it, especially right now? How truly isolated would you feel? How out of touch? How bored? How lonely? And imagine how you would feel if your tech was top of the range, with the capability to do even more than yours does currently? What if connection never dropped, or you didn’t have to wait ages for the web pages to load? What if you could perform multiple tasks at any one time with no delay?

    We often save up for tech, or use it as a gift because of the price tag associated. But when you think about how much you use it, is it really that expensive? If your phone is £1,000 brand new, you keep it for 2.5 years and use it 4 hours a day (not exactly high usage these days) works out at a cost of 27p per hour. Well worth it when you think what you can do with your phone – banking, socialising, shopping, working. And even just talking too!

    How to get the best out of your equipment

    Investing in the best possible quality of equipment is the most effective way of getting more out of it. That doesn’t mean spending more than you can afford of course, but just ensuring you buy the best you can. One of the easiest ways to do this is by buying a refurbished PC. These machines are tested and checked by professionals and even have a 1-year warranty to give you peace of mind. Our favourite is this Dell Precision 3620 Tower, thanks to its superior processing speed meaning you can complete more tasks, quicker.

    Dell Precision 3620

    If you’re questioning whether it’s a desktop or laptop you need, read our earlier blog ‘Desktop vs laptop – you decide’ to help you choose.

    Since we do spend so much time online, ensuring the damage to your health is as minimal as possible, consider which monitor to buy. Spending a little more can give your eyes a break with flicker free technology, found in this AOC widescreen monitor.

    AOC 32" Monitor

    Taking some advice as to what equipment best suits your needs is one of the most important ways to make sure you get what you need and make the most out of it too. At HST, we are passionate about getting tech right for our customers so chat with us today and we will be happy to help.

  • Screen time – the pros and cons

    Screen time is a hot topic in many people’s lives, from experts to parents, from partners to ‘influencers’. It’s generally portrayed in a negative light, something we should try to avoid an excess amount of due to the damaging effects it can have on the user. But currently, we find ourselves in very strange and unprecedented times. There is no ‘normal’ anymore and our behaviours have had to change almost unrecognisably.

    No longer are we going out to work, or the children to school. No longer can we go out for meals or to the park. Most of us are more confined to home than ever before and it’s forced us to do things we might not ordinarily do. Frankly, the usual ‘screen time’ limitations are likely to have gone out the window as we all try to keep ourselves entertained in this somewhat challenging time.

    But is that really a problem? How much do we need to worry about screen time as an activity? What exactly are the negatives and are there any positives to be had?

    What are the problems caused by excess screen time?

    Mental health problems – excess periods spent on social media channels, for example, could open some people up to online abuse. Cyber bullying is a real threat and can mentally harm the victim. Too much time online looking at the wrong content can also cause behavioural issues in individuals, particularly children. Violence can be normalised and attention spans can be diminished thanks to the constant over stimulation of the brain.

    Physical health problems – being online is often a sedentary activity, resulting in long periods of time just sat down being still. This can not only result in excess weight gain, it can also cause spinal issues due to sitting in positions that aren’t good for the posture. It can also cause repetitive strain injury in the wrist and shoulders from conducting the same action over and over again (shop for ergonomic accessories here). Eye strain can also be a side effect of excess time spent on tech, but this can be eased with functions such as Flicker Free Technology found in monitors like this.

    AOC 32" Monitor

    Sleep problems – our bodies have a natural sleep rhythm which works off the light we are exposed to. If screens are used too close to bedtime, the blue backlight they emit can cause the body to feel like it is daytime and therefore the user will struggle to sleep immediately afterwards. Monitors such as this one reduce blue light for a healthier online experience. Over stimulation of the brain can also be an issue and hinder quality of sleep which is why extended periods spent online can have negative effects.

    Samsung SD330 Monitor

    What are the benefits of screen time?

    Whilst there are known problems of over-using devices, particularly in children, in the current circumstances, it might be better to change the way we look at the issue. For example, there are benefits of using tech in any application and there are certain ways to use devices that will be of huge benefit:

    Interactivity – when you’re isolated from friends, family and work, it can be a lonely time. But fortunately, we are blessed with the sort of technology that can remove that isolation almost entirely. There are apps to video call, even apps to watch films ‘together’ remotely that allow you to talk with friends during the screening. Gaming can be a convivial affair by joining friends in a shared quest. Dating online, working out together, blogging personal experiences – never has tech enabled us to be so connected before.

    Activity – there are so many ways to use your tech to move these days. There are online classes with PE teachers. There are games with controllers that require you to physically move them about with dancing or sports. There are even apps now which allow you to compete online with others in cycling on an indoor watt bike. Screen time doesn’t have to mean inactivity and don’t forget, activities such as gaming can improve physical aspects such as hand-eye coordination too.

    Development – if there is anything you want to be good at, you can guarantee you’ll be able to educate yourself online about it. There are tutorials teaching craft projects, how to learn a language, how to write a novel. You can literally learn how to be a chef with cooking tutorials from chefs or others in the culinary world. If you struggle with anxiety then you can use apps or podcasts to cope. If you want to be the next great entrepreneur, there are motivational tools everywhere online too. In short, you can use your screen time to develop skills you might otherwise struggle to.

    If you look at it negatively, excess screen time certainly can be an issue. But if you change the way you see it and use it, it can enrich your life in a time when we might struggle to cope. Make sure any youngsters’ activity is monitored to keep them safe and make sure you follow your own rules to stay well-balanced, and really your tech and devices might be a blessing in these unusual times. If you want to ensure you get the most out of your screen time, it might be time to invest in a new machine. With some financial concerns lingering currently, take a look at our refurbished desktops which offer incredible value for money. Then give us a call when you’re ready to chat.

     

  • Desktop vs Laptop – you decide!

    It’s time for some new tech and you’re going through the decision-making process. The type of machine you choose should be one of the first questions you answer and whilst we may have our heart set on a certain type, how much do you REALLY know? Do you know enough to have made a convincing argument to yourself?

    We all think we know the differences between desktops and laptops but although the key difference of portability is clear, what are the other intricacies? We’ve taken a closer look below to help you decide which is right for you.

    Portability

    This one is pretty easy – a laptop is small, light, unpluggable and can be easily popped in a bag and taken wherever you need it. A desktop on the other hand is installed for the long haul. Much larger and heavier, with a separate monitor, they require more wires and as such simply will not be moved as easily. If you require the ability to work from multiple locations there’s really only one option – a new laptop.

    Affordability

    Dependent on the use of the machine, the costs can be a little deceptive. For example, if you want it for normal use (i.e. standard work stuff, nothing too involved graphics-wise), a PC can seem more expensive to start off with. However, once you have bought all the hardware you can upgrade the software regularly to ensure it is fully up to date. A laptop can seem cheaper in the first instance but it is harder to upgrade so would potentially need replacing. This can actually make a PC more cost effective in some cases. If it’s unlikely you’ll not want to upgrade for many years then a laptop might be better thanks to its cheaper initial outlay.

    However, if you are looking to enter the gaming world, gaming laptops can be a lot more expensive. Laptops have fewer component options so will cost more to get the better speed, more power and graphics cards. Power often comes cheaper in a desktop.

    Gaming

    As previously mentioned, it’s easier to get more power in a PC and this is even more apparent when using high-powered video cards. You can even use two at a time in a desktop and the machine will be able to power them with enough wattage simultaneously whereas a laptop won’t. The physical space is limited in a laptop so it is harder to get the same capability in terms of graphics cards and they don’t have the same ability to dissipate the heat which is generated by playing games which require the extra power.

    Assembly

    If you are adept at setting up your own tech, this may not be a consideration. But for those who aren’t, it could be a key factor. Laptops are usually pre-built and are good to plug and go. Desktops require a bit more set up so bear this in mind when you are choosing yours.

    Repair

    Desktops can be easier to repair as they can be easily opened up and parts or new software ordered online. A specific engineer would most likely be required to fix a laptop and parts would need to come from the manufacturer itself which drives the cost up.

    Screen size

    As a desktop remains in situ, you can utilise whatever screen size you choose! You can even hook it up to a TV if you so desire. Laptops are more limited in this area with the average screen size between 10 and 14 inches. You can, of course, hook a laptop up to a second screen which not only gives you a much bigger one, it means you have two but this ultimately reduces its portability which is one of the key features of buying a laptop in the first place.

    There are positives for both types of machine so it really is a case of finding what’s right for you. It’s also worth considering whether you wish to buy a brand-new machine or whether reconditioned would be more suitable. It is often the case that you can get a higher spec piece of tech for a better price when you buy refurbished, making it more cost effective. For more information on why to choose refurbished, read our blog. It focuses on laptops but it’s still relevant!

    We have a huge range of refurbished laptops and desktops which have been added to our collection. Take a look at the full list below:

    LAPTOPS

    HP Elitebook 820 G1 Ultrabook Laptop i5-4300U 1.90GHz 4GB RAM 250GB HDD

    HP Elitebook 820 G2 Ultrabook Laptop i5-5300U 2.30GHz 4GB RAM 250GB HDD

    HP Elitebook 840 G1 Ultrabook Laptop i5-4300U 1.90GHz 4GB RAM 250GB HDD

    HP Elitebook 840 G2 Ultrabook Laptop i5-5300U 2.30GHz 4GB RAM 250GB HDD

    Dell Latitude E7470 Laptop i5-6300U 2.40GHz 4GB RAM 250GB HDD 

    Lenovo ThinkPad T460 Laptop i5-6300U 2.40GHz 4GB RAM 250GB HDD

    DESKTOPS

    HP ProDesk 600 G1 TWR Intel Core i3-4130 CPU 3.40GHz 4GB RAM 250GB Hard Drive

    HP ProDesk 600 G1 TWR Intel Core i5-4570 CPU 3.20GHz 4GB RAM 250GB Hard Drive

    HP EliteDesk 800 G2 Intel Core i5-6500 CPU 3.20GHz 4GB RAM 250GB Hard Drive

    Dell OptiPlex 9010 MT PC Intel Core i5-3470 CPU 3.20GHz 4GB RAM 250GB Hard Drive

    Dell OptiPlex 9020 MT PC Intel Core i5-4570 CPU 3.20GHz 4GB RAM 250GB Hard Drive

    Dell OptiPlex 990 PC Intel Core i7-2600 CPU 3.40GHz 4GB RAM 250GB Hard Drive 

    Dell OptiPlex 3010 PC Intel Core i3-3220 CPU 3.30GHz 4GB RAM 250GB Hard Drive

    Dell OptiPlex 3020 PC Intel Core i3-4130 CPU 3.20GHz 4GB RAM 250GB Hard Drive

    Dell Precision T1700 Workstation Intel Xeon E3-1220 V3 CPU 4GB RAM 250GB Hard Drive

    Dell Precision T1700 Workstation Intel Core i7-4770 CPU 3.40GHz 4GB RAM 250GB Hard Drive

    Dell Precision Tower 3620 Workstation Intel Core i7-6700 CPU 3.40GHz 16GB RAM 250GB Hard Drive

    Dell Precision Tower 3620 Workstation Intel Xeon E3-1240 V5 CPU 3.40GHz 16GB RAM 250GB Hard Drive

  • Why choose a refurbished laptop?

    At HST, we pride ourselves on our knowledge, experience and the service we give to our customers. That’s why we only stock products we have confidence in and trust will do the tasks for which they are purchased.

    As you may know, we have a broad range of computers available including desktop PCs for both home and office environments and we have plenty of gaming PCs too. We also have a collection of laptops on offer, all of which are refurbished rather than new.

    We’ve chosen to invest in these for several reasons. Here’s why you should consider new-to-you instead of brand new:

    1. Almost new

    Refurbished doesn’t actually always mean refurbished. In fact, manufacturers often end up with products returned to them in an unused state which means they cannot be sold as brand new. They have simply been out of the box, maybe even turned on, but returned without any other usage or trauma. And then they are sold to you at a fraction of the RRP – what’s not to love about that?

    1. Fully functional

    Regardless of how well-used they are, a refurbished laptop (from a reputable retailer) would be fully checked and tested (and fixed, if necessary) before being resold. This also means they are sold with a warranty of up to a year to give you peace of mind that they won’t encounter problems within a couple of months of purchase.

    1. Superior spec

    If you know your stuff and desire a particular brand or spec which happens to be out of your budget, a refurbished one could be the route to getting what you want. Alternatively, you might end up getting something far better than you thought you could afford when you made the decision to get a new machine. As they are sold at a much lower price than a brand new item, you can get a lot more bang for your buck when buying a refurbished model.

    Refurbished Laptop - HP Elitebook

    Refurbished HP EliteBook

    We have carefully selected a range of machines to add to our refurbished collection. These laptops are all fully customisable and come with a 1-year manufacturer’s warranty too. Take a look below:

    HP Elitebook 820 G1 Ultrabook Laptop i5-4300U 1.90GHz 4GB RAM 250GB HDD

    HP Elitebook 820 G2 Ultrabook Laptop i5-5300U 2.30GHz 4GB RAM 250GB HDD

    HP Elitebook 840 G1 Ultrabook Laptop i5-4300U 1.90GHz 4GB RAM 250GB HDD

    HP Elitebook 840 G2 Ultrabook Laptop i5-5300U 2.30GHz 4GB RAM 250GB HDD

    Dell Latitude E7470 Laptop i5-6300U 2.40GHz 4GB RAM 250GB HDD 

    Lenovo ThinkPad T460 Laptop i5-6300U 2.40GHz 4GB RAM 250GB HDD

    Refurbished laptop - Lenovo ThinkPad

    Refurbished Lenovo ThinkPad

    Regardless of whether you are buying brand new or refurbished, there are certain things you should always ensure. Firstly, make sure you purchase what you really need rather than something just because it’s a bargain. Secondly, it is imperative you buy anything refurbished from a reputable company or you risk buying a machine that will have problems down the line.  Thirdly, make sure it is covered by some form of protection such as a warranty or insurance cover so that you aren’t without a solution in the event of a tech fail.

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