Thursday, 2 October 2014

How to upgrade a laptop

steampunk laptop

As sealed units, laptops aren't easily upgraded. But that doesn't mean it isn't possible.

The most convenient thing about buying a laptop is that you don't have to put any of it together yourself. The components are chosen for you, assembled, then shipped off in a nice, compact package. But this initially attractive quality can soon become a problem if you decide you want your laptop to run a little faster, sound a little quieter or use less power.

Unlike desktop systems, it’s hard for users to get inside their laptops and upgrade them. In many cases, the only way to get any significant improvement is to replace them entirely. But don't worry: there are things you can do to upgrade your laptop. That's why we've put together this simple guide to improving your laptop's hardware.

Hannspree AIO Android CT23BHOB

Hannspree AIO Android CT23BHOB

An Android PC that's not quite what it appears to be.

The Hannspree CT23BHOB Android PC is marketed as an AIO, or all-in-one, but this isn’t actually the case. The PC comes as two distinct parts - a 23in 1080p touchscreen monitor and the soap bar-sized PC itself.

Although this setup is as compact as an AIO, it requires a tangle of cables that you wouldn’t need with an all-in-one. There’s the HDMI cable to connect the PC to the monitor, power cables for both elements and a dedicated cable that runs from the PC to the monitor to enable the screen’s touch sensitivity.

The touchscreen’s adjustable stand lets you flip it back 45 degrees, making it much more comfortable to use. You can control the PC entirely via the touchscreen, but if you prefer a keyboard and mouse, then you’ll have to use wireless versions or get hold of a USB hub, because the PC only has a single USB 2.0 port.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 8in

Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 8in

Samsung's budget 8in Android tablet.

Samsung has a huge, confusing array of Galaxy-branded Android tablets on the market, usually in a variety of screen sizes. Amid this wide selection, the new Tab 4 fulfils a clear role as the company’s budget option - the 8in Tab 4 is relatively cheap at just £210 for the 16GB Wi-Fi-only model while the 4G version costs £295. The latter can even make phone calls.

The Tab 4 is noticeably thicker than Samsung’s other tablets and is made entirely of plastic. Although the rear panel has a car dashboard-style texture that’s supposed to make it easier to grip, we found it difficult to get a secure hold on the tablet due to the very thin borders on the left and right hand sides of the screen (when held horizontally). Nevertheless, it is sturdy and at just 315g reasonably lightweight. The 8in screen is exceptionally bright with good colour accuracy and wide viewing angles. Its resolution, though, is disappointingly lowf at just 1280x800 pixels, so text is noticeably fuzzy.

LittleBigPlanet 3

LittleBigPlanet 3

New-gen platforming gets back in sack – thanks to The Missing Ten.

There’s a truism in the games industry, similar to that one about canines and their owners, that developers tend to reflect the type of videogame they’re making. Visit a studio making a first-person shooter and you see straight faces and tired eyes that look like they’ve seen some stuff, man. Visit Sumo Digital, tasked with delivering Sackboy to PS4 pastures via LittleBigPlanet 3, and you’ll see warm smiles, a faint Blue Peter vibe, and – of course – beanbags.

But it goes beyond that. Design director Damian Hosen and lead designer Jonathan Christian have infectious enthusiasm for their new game, and can’t help but keep showing us new levels, new ideas, new creation tools – as if all this fresh material will overflow if they don’t find and outlet for it. “We have a high number of really creative designers who sit prototyping with the tools, and so much of what we have is unexpected,” Hosen tells us. “Our team is always making new ideas, always playing them, and only the best ideas survive. It’s an interesting creative climate, really. So many ideas are decent, but they just don’t make it.” And even if you’re not sitting on brightly-coloured, non-conventional seating as you play it, LittleBigPlanet 3 conveys the exact same imperative for creativity.