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Top 12 Tech Gifts 2017: SanDisk Ultra Dual Drive USB Type-C

We like tech, it’s what we do. As the holiday shopping season kicks into overdrive, we are bringing you 12 of the most requested, most wanted tech gifts for 2017. Check back each business day between now and December 19th for another must-have tech item and why you should check it out.

SanDisk Ultra Dual Drive USB Type-C

This USB drive has connectors for both USB-A and USB-C, to make it simpler for transferring data between computers and even some newer Android phones with USB-C. Laptops, Android phones, Macs, and PCs are all utilizing the USB-C connection. With this, there’s no need to worry which type of flash drive you have.

The Dual Drive comes in 16GB, 32GB, 64GB, 128GB, and 256GB sizes. The 32GB can be found for less than $20, while the bigger sizes will run you a bit more money.

Happy Holidays and good luck on the tech hunt from all of us here at Paradigm Network Solutions!

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Top 12 Tech Gifts of 2017: Samsung Galaxy Tab S3

We like tech, it’s what we do. As the holiday shopping season kicks into overdrive, we are bringing you 12 of the most requested, most wanted tech gifts for 2017. Check back each business day between now and December 19th for another must-have tech item and why you should check it out.

Galaxy Smartphone

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 has an all-glass design with four speakers and a High Dynamic Range (HDR) ready display. HDR offers better contrast and a better color range than regular HD does, making this the tablet of choice for all your streaming needs. The speakers are positioned in the corners and the sound moves accordingly when the device is rotated.

The tablet also comes packaged with a revamped Samsung S-Pen stylus. If you are one who enjoys taking notes on your tablet or prefer doing a lot with a pen, this stylus writes smoothly and never has to be synced or charged. Besides writing, the S-Pen adds precision to coloring, drawing, and more. There’s also an add-on keyboard ($130) for those who want to use theirs as a word processor or for using the internet.

The Tab S3 uses a USB-C connection for fast charging, has a fingerprint sensor on the home button, and uses an all-glass design, rather than aluminum like most tablets do. Unlike your iPhone, this tablet is equipped with a standard headphone jack, so that you can use your current headphones with it.

The Tab S3 really shines when playing video. The screen is crisp and sharp, and the sound is loud and clear thanks to the four-speaker setup. It is the first and so far, the only, HDR-ready tablet on the market. If the sticker price doesn’t give you pause ($599), then the Galaxy Tab S3 is the tablet to get this Christmas.

Happy Holidays and good luck on the tech hunt from all of us here at Paradigm Network Solutions!

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Top 12 Tech Gifts of 2017: Microsoft Surface Book 2

We like tech, it’s what we do. As the holiday shopping season kicks into overdrive, we are bringing you 12 of the most requested, most wanted tech gifts for 2017. Check back each business day between now and December 19th for another must-have tech item and why you should check it out.

Microsoft Surface Book 2

Microsoft’s thin laptop/tablet hybrid two-in-one PC arrived on the market a couple of years ago and became an instant must-have item. This year’s models are no different. The 13-inch model comes in several variations of hard drive space and RAM and starts at $1499. Joining the fray is a 15-inch version with just as many memory options, but starts out at a hefty $2500.

The biggest difference between the two (aside from screen size) is the video graphics card in each one. The 15-inch is equipped with a more powerful video memory card, allowing it to act as a mobile gaming machine. Whether you’re playing Gears of War 4 or Cup Head, the machine isn’t likely to lag or slow down.

Both models come with a detachable screen, USB-C port, 17 hours of battery life, SD card reader, and offer touch screen with surface pen support. The pen allows you to sketch, write, and compose easily with virtually no lag.

Part tablet, part PC, and part gaming machine, the Surface Book 2 stands atop the laptop landscape this holiday season.

Happy Holidays and good luck on the tech hunt from all of us here at Paradigm Network Solutions!

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Microsoft Teams is Optimized & Now LIVE for Office 365

How Microsoft Teams is changing the game and giving Slack a run for its money

Microsoft Teams

News recently broke that Microsoft Teams is officially available to anyone with an Office 365 subscription. The application has been in testing since November, but it’s now fully launched as part of the Office 365 suite. This is great news for professionals because Teams is about to make communication among business teams in Office 365 much easier.

Many tech experts agree that this latest application from Microsoft will change the game for digital communication giants like Slack. While the initial version of Teams is dynamic and fully integrated, we thought it would be beneficial to explore the key differences and capabilities between Teams and Slack to see if Microsoft has really outdone the widely-used, web-based chat solution.

The Team Chat Showdown: Slack vs. Teams   

  • THE BASICS

Slack is the well-liked and long-standing web-based take on old-fashioned digital communication channels that use Internet Relay Chat (IRC) models. This allows for a long ‘relay’ of messages that can be persistently stored and accessed. This provides a constant flow of conversation between team members that can be re-examined or picked up from the most recent point at any time. The framework is line-oriented and text heavy but seeks to mimic the office water-cooler as a place for team members to chat in a conversational style.

Teams mimic Slack’s style but proudly includes a Microsoft twist. Microsoft Teams is a dynamic group messaging application organized around the use of chatrooms. Additionally, unlike Slack, Teams is not a standalone solution – it is fully integrated with all Office 365 applications, which optimizes the consolidation of data and functionality. Full integration means there’s no additional account sign ups or onboarding process. Only one login, using existing Office 365 credentials is required.

  • BUSINESS INTELLIGENCE & INTEGRATION

Furthermore, Teams relies on built-in business intelligence tools to help users better utilize and understand existing groups or teams. This makes it easier than ever to streamline the company communication platform and ensure relevant team members stay connected. This optimization is maximized even further because Teams is also integrated with Skype for Business. This means turning a Teams text conversation into a face-to-face meeting is only a click away, from within the same browser.

Like Slack, Teams can be integrated with a variety of third-party services to offer things like embedded images and videos within chat windows. Teams have even gone further than Slack in the creative department by adding a feature that allows users to choose an image and overlay text on it. Finally, thanks to Office 365 integration, file sharing capabilities are much more streamlined in Teams as opposed to Slack.

  • MESSAGE PRIVACY & LAYOUT

Teams are more private as it utilizes private group chat options instead of a ‘live-stream’ IRC channel like Slack. This means team members can have more private conversation streams that function more like personal messages as opposed to status updates.

Microsoft also changed the game when it comes to message view and organization. Slack has since copied the feature, but Teams was the first to orient toward threaded messaging. This allows users to cluster replies beneath specific messages. As mentioned, Slack has now included this feature, but many users agree that the threading option just doesn’t suit the Slack, line-by-line, IRC model. The bottom line is, many Slack users chose the solution for this ‘free-for-all’ approach to team communication.

It’s here where Teams parts ways most significantly from Slack. Some critics believe the Teams infrastructure is a little heavy and clunky. Threaded messages take up a lot of space, meaning users don’t have the option of seeing a variety of messages on screen at once. While threaded messaging may work for some companies, most organizations investing in an instant communications platform are looking for something more instantaneous and chat-style.

  • PRICING & USAGE OPTIONS

The final way that Microsoft is distancing itself from the Slack approach, is through tiered pricing models. As it stands, Teams has no free tier and no standalone pricing. Instead, Teams comes included with Office 365 Business Essentials, Business Premium as well as all three Enterprise plans (E1, E3 & E5). This means Teams is offered at no additional cost – Office 365 users pay their regular monthly subscription and have full access to the Teams app. Slack, on the other hand, a free version and a variety of basic, per-user subscription models for their stand-alone chat solution.

The Final Verdict: Microsoft Introduces a Top Contender on Their First Try

When it comes down to it, Microsoft built Teams in about 21 months and it’s already a polished and well-equipped solution. In fact, for a version 1 product, Teams is downright remarkable. So, for Office 365 business users who have been making use of Slack for communication, Teams offers a compelling alternative. Google is on the scene too, pushing Hangouts as an additional communication solution – specifically targeted at G Suite subscribers.

However, when it comes down to it, neither Slack or Hangouts offers the same integration, centralization, and customization potential that Teams offers. While Microsoft may want to rethink the visual infrastructure of Teams to reflect a more appealing and consistent flow of conversation, their solution is already changing the game when it comes to business communication. They may also be wise to consider a free, standalone subscription option to get users hooked on the features and capabilities built-in to Teams. A standalone version could also serve as an effective tool for external collaboration and cross-organizational connection.

Is teamwork in your office delayed or made difficult because of poor communication tools? Wondering about the best solutions for more instant and streamlined chat potential among team members? Reach out to our team of technology professionals any time for guidance.

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Top 12 Tech Gifts 2017: Samsung Q7F 4K TV

We like tech, it’s what we do. As the holiday shopping season kicks into overdrive, we are bringing you 12 of the most requested, most wanted tech gifts for 2017. Check back each business day between now and December 19th for another must-have tech item and why you should check it out.

Samsung Q7F 4K TV

You’ve purchased the new Xbox One X or a PS4 Pro, and now you can’t wait to get gaming. Or maybe the console purchase was for a spouse and/or child. Sure, your run-of-the-mill HDMI capable TV that adorns your living room will connect. But you didn’t get all that new and great 4K power just to force it onto a standard high definition television, did you?

Of course not. You have 4K now, so that demands a great 4K experience. The folks over at Samsung hear you and have just the screen in mind. The Samsung Q7F is the perfect TV for your 4K movies or games. It’s great for media consumption, with four HDMI ports and three USB ports. These can be used individually, or you can connect all your devices to the Samsung One Connect Box, which acts as a hub for HDMI connections and feeds into the TV via a single cable. Super convenient when you have multiple systems.

Recommended by the folks over at Xbox, this premium screen will run you minimum $2,800 for the 55” model and as high as $6,000 for the 75” version. Available at most retailers, the best deals are usually hiding on the store’s website.

Happy Holidays and good luck on the tech hunt from all of us here at Paradigm Network Solutions!

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Top Tech Gifts 2017: Nintendo Switch

We like tech, it’s what we do. As the holiday shopping season kicks into overdrive, we are bringing you 12 of the most requested, most wanted tech gifts for 2017. Check back each business day between now and December 19th for another must-have tech item and why you should check it out.

Nintendo Switch

Nintendo knows how to get people excited, and excited they are to get the newest Nintendo console, the Nintendo Switch. The biggest draw might be the ability to play on your TV at home then remove it from its docking station and continue playing on the go as a handheld system. The console seamlessly transitions from one mode to the other, allowing you to take the game with you.

Attached to your TV, the Switch docking station connects via HDMI and gives you true HD gameplay. The controller, the Joy-Con, separates into two controllers for multiplayer or the two can be attached to the sides of the console for gaming on the go. The Switch comes with a tiny 32GB of internal storage, but that can be easily upgraded to 2TB with a micro SD card.

Unlike previous Nintendo consoles, or even the Xbox and PlayStation, the Switch doesn’t use discs. Instead, it uses small cartridges, like the games on the 3DS handheld system. At only $299.99 it’s an affordable piece of hardware with a unique array of software already available for it. It doesn’t play DVDs or Blu-rays, but it makes up for it with fun and exciting games such as The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey.

Nintendo has said that they are doubling their production on the Switch, so it should be in ample supply this holiday.

Happy Holidays and good luck on the tech hunt from all of us here at Paradigm Network Solutions!

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Top Tech Gifts 2017: Nintendo Switch

We like tech, it’s what we do. As the holiday shopping season kicks into overdrive, we are bringing you 12 of the most requested, most wanted tech gifts for 2017. Check back each business day between now and December 19th for another must-have tech item and why you should check it out.

Nintendo Switch

Nintendo knows how to get people excited, and excited they are to get the newest Nintendo console, the Nintendo Switch. The biggest draw might be the ability to play on your TV at home then remove it from its docking station and continue playing on the go as a handheld system. The console seamlessly transitions from one mode to the other, allowing you to take the game with you.

Attached to your TV, the Switch docking station connects via HDMI and gives you true HD gameplay. The controller, the Joy-Con, separates into two controllers for multiplayer or the two can be attached to the sides of the console for gaming on the go. The Switch comes with a tiny 32GB of internal storage, but that can be easily upgraded to 2TB with a micro SD card.

Unlike previous Nintendo consoles, or even the Xbox and PlayStation, the Switch doesn’t use discs. Instead, it uses small cartridges, like the games on the 3DS handheld system. At only $399.99 it’s an affordable piece of hardware with a unique array of software already available for it. It doesn’t play DVDs or Blu-rays, but it makes up for it with fun and exciting games such as The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey.

Nintendo has said that they are doubling their production on the Switch, so it should be in ample supply this holiday.

Happy Holidays and good luck on the tech hunt from all of us here at Paradigm Network Solutions!

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Net Neutrality In Everyday Life

We’ve all heard the words “net neutrality” bouncing around for the past few months. Many of us have no idea what this term means, even though we benefit from them every day. Here is what you need to know about this important topic.

Net Neutrality

When you go on the internet you are first brought to your home page of your chosen search engine. For some people this home page is Bing, for others, Yahoo, for still others it is Google. From this starting point, you can go anywhere. If you are looking for a particular site, all you must do is type the address in and away you go. If you are looking for certain information, but don’t know exactly where to find it, all you must do is type in what you want to know more about and your search engine will bring you all results about that topic. Your internet service provider can’t decide which results to give you, so you end up being able to see all results available on the web. With the ending of net neutrality, this internet as we know it may come to an end.

What is Net Neutrality?

The phrase “net neutrality” basically means that all websites on the internet are treated the same by your internet service provider. They can’t discriminate against sites based on popularity, type, or any other factor. Meaning if you have CenturyLink as a provider, they are not allowed to block any sites from you or allowed to slow down services to certain sites. All websites get the same treatment across the board, regardless of their content or popularity.

For example, my internet service provider loads YouTube at the same speed that it loads Netflix. It doesn’t discriminate on the site in any way.

How does this affect me?

This is important because if internet service providers can change the way their service is provided to different sites this could mean your monthly billing would be set up similarly to a cable TV package. Certain packages could charge more for certain sites based on popularity (i.e. Facebook, Instagram, Snap Chat, YouTube).

Another possibility is packages could be set up based on the type of website. For example, one Internet service company in Portugal has packages for social media (Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, messenger, Tumblr, Pinterest, Snap Chat, and Twitter), for video (YouTube, Netflix), for music (Pandora, Sound Cloud) for email and cloud services (Gmail, google drive, Yahoo, Hotmail, Dropbox), and for messaging (Skype, kik, video messaging, and other internet-based texting services). Each of these packages costs €4.99 or about $5.91.

This means that if I, an average internet user, wanted to access all the websites that I typically do every month I would have to pay for each of these packages because I use websites from all of them on a regular basis.

Why is This Only Now Becoming an Issue?

The Federal Communications Commission are the ones responsible for pushing the vote, which is set for December 14th of this year. Thus, the media is covering more and more of the story closer to the vote. It is very possible that the media would never have covered the story if it weren’t for the huge public outcry over the issue. A group of 28 senators headed by Senator Maggie Hanssen has written the FCC a letter asking for them to delay the vote until they can properly examine the document and gain a full understanding of the vote.

Who Benefits?

The short answer is internet service providers such as Comcast, Verizon, and CenturyLink stand to gain the most because under the new rules they would be permitted to charge their customers more for different internet packages.

What Other Countries Don’t Have Net Neutrality?

Many countries lack net neutrality. One example is Portugal. Their model could be like what would happen here in the U.S., with different packages and extra data costing more. If you want social media, it would cost a fee. If you want video streaming, that would cost another fee. This could happen with every type of application or website and end up costing quite a bit if you use multiple types of sites. Other countries without net neutrality include China, Turkey, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Iran, Syria, Kazakhstan, Sudan, Egypt, Venezuela, Ukraine, Ethiopia, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam. The degree of restriction varies from country to country. Some places, like China, have government blocks on many popular websites such as YouTube, Gmail, Instagram, Pinterest, and more. China also has a very extensive government presence on what websites are not blocked to monitor public opinion current events. There are also many more countries that have partial net neutrality, or very minor regulations on their internet, Such as India.

Conclusion

The internet is hands-down humanity’s best invention. What makes it great is that all content and information is treated equally. It is the only source in the world that allows you to access any information from anywhere at any time. The ending of net neutrality would end the open internet as we know it. To mar the best invention humanity has ever created with more regulation and pay-for-services would be a great detriment to society.

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Top 12 Tech Gifts 2017: Google Home Mini

We like tech, it’s what we do. As the holiday shopping season kicks into overdrive, we are bringing you 12 of the most requested, most wanted tech gifts for 2017. Check back each business day between now and December 19th for another must-have tech item and why you should check it out.

Google Home Mini

Google has been hitting the market over the past year with their own devices to rival their competition in the tech market. One of these innovations is the Google Home Mini. The Mini is considerably smaller than their standard Google Home device ($129) and sports a smaller price tag accordingly. The Mini is built with families in mind and works in conjunction with Chromecast to control your TV, stream movies, and send music to your speakers. You can also have the Google Mini play from the device itself.

It recognizes your voice, so multiple users can access their own playlists, calendars, and more with just their voice. It also features hands-free calling for those times when too busy to hold a phone to your ear. The mini can control your lights, thermostat, and more with a voice command, but those require external devices and/or apps.

Overall, for only $49 it does a solid job of bringing your entertainment into the next generation without depleting your rainy-day fund.

Happy Holidays and good luck on the tech hunt from all of us here at Paradigm Network Solutions!

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Top 12 Tech Gifts 2017: Sony Alpha 6000

Digital photography is becoming easier to do with your smartphone, some phone cameras even rivaling some of the lower end cameras. But for those purists out there, it’s tough to beat the value you get with the Sony Alpha 6000. The camera is a mirrorless design with interchangeable lenses and takes photos at 24 megapixels, that’s double what the iPhone X offers.

Sony Digital Camera

The body design is the perfect size for the average human, not too small nor too large. It fits just right in your hand. It offers fast, continuous shooting (up to 11 frames per second) all while maintaining autofocus and auto exposure, and is sports a quicker autofocus than the leading DSLR camera. The A6000 also shoots video in 1080p and comes equipped with HDMI output.

A great camera for the price, you can snag one with a 16-50mm lens for around $550. More lenses are available but will quickly run up the price.

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