New laptop features

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About this article

This article highlights major changes and new features introduced by the 2014 laptop and tablet models and includes links to other articles with additional information. It is intended for all participants in the e-Warrior Digital Life & Learning Program scheduled to exchange their old devices during the summer of 2014.

What's new for laptops?

All laptop models

No internal CD/DVD drive

For the first time in the history of the e-Warrior Digital Life & Learning Program, we are offering standard laptop models without an internal, optical CD/DVD drive. Laptop manufactures have been moving away from optical drives since 2008 when Apple released the MacBook Air. Shedding the optical drive allows the laptop to be thinner and lighter, increases battery life, and eliminates numerous points of mechanical failure. It's also in line with recent changes in media distribution. Music, movies, and software are no longer being distributed via CD/DVD and cloud services and large-capacity external drives are replacing CDs for file storage. If you still use your optical drive heavily, you can:

  • Purchase a portable, external optical drive and plug it into your laptop when you need it.
  • Find an alternative format for those occasions when you use CD/DVD media (e.g., the movie you show in class may be available online).
  • Borrow an external CD/DVD player when you need it. Some WSU classrooms have players installed. Employees can also borrow one from TLT.

128 GB solid state drive

In another first for the e-Warrior Digital Life & Learning Program, this year's laptops ship with a new solid state drive (SSD) instead of a standard, spinning hard drive. SSDs are roughly four times faster than traditional drives, resulting in noticeably quicker start-up, disk writing, and application performance. However, SSDs are also more expensive and the overall storage capacity of the hard drive had to be reduced to 128 GB. By comparison, last year's MacBook Pro had a 500 GB hard drive. This will only be an issue if you tend to store large amounts of data on your laptop, particularly multimedia files (e.g., music, video), and you tend to install many large applications on your laptop (e.g., Adobe Photoshop). Even then, it will probably be manageable. Take a look at how much hard drive capacity you are using now. If you can live with 128 GB, the increased performance of the SSD is definitely worth it. The time it saves loading Windows and other applications will more than compensate for the reduced storage capacity. If you still have concerns about hard drive space, contact tlt@winona.edu.

USB 3.0 ports

Both laptops come equipped with USB 3.0 ports that can transfer data up to 5 GB/sec. By comparison, the USB 2.0 ports you have on your current laptop achieve speeds up to 480 MB/sec. USB 3.0 ports are backwards compatible and will accommodate older devices using the USB 2.0 and USB 1.1 standard. What this means to you is that you may see a noticeable increase in the speed with which you can save data to your external hard drive or flash drive, particularly if that drive is designed to use USB 3.0 (Hint: You may want to buy a USB 3.0 external drive if you are in the market for one).

Thinner and lighter

Largely because the mechanical drives have been eliminated, the new laptop models are over a pound lighter than the models we distributed last summer.

HP EliteBook 840 PC

Touch-sensitive screen

The screen on the new HP EliteBook is touch-sensitive, but don't get too excited. The screen responds to your finger, but does not rotate or respond to a pen stylus like a Tablet PC. If you use a Tablet PC now and need the digital ink and a rotatable screen, stick with the Lenovo Tablet PC option.

Discrete HD video card

The EliteBook 840 ships with an AMD Radeon HD 8750M graphics card with 1 GB dedicated GDDR5 video memory. This will produce cleaner, faster video performance than your old laptop. This should be particularly noticeable when watching movies and using graphics-intensive applications.

Lenovo ? Tablet PC

  • Note that this is an option for employees only.
  • This model has not been finalized yet. Stay tuned.

Both PC laptop models

Windows 8.1 operating system

The HP EliteBook will come with the new Windows 8.1 operating system already installed. This is a major Windows upgrade that will require some time and attention to master. Designed to take advantage of Microsoft's new touch-sensitive Microsoft Surface tablet, Windows 8.1 includes a new Start screen that is a bit disorienting at first. However, there are a number of very positive changes that you should really like. To learn more about Windows 8.1, consult the following articles:

A new port replicator (i.e., docking station)

Both the HP and Lenovo laptop models will require a new docking station. To order a new one, please email Laurie Hostettler (lhostettler@winona.edu) and provide a cost center number.

Apple MacBook Air

Mavericks operating system

If you are already a MacBook user and have not upgraded to the new Mavericks version of OS X, this will be pre-installed on your new MacBook and does include a number of new features and functions:

If this is your first Mac laptop, you will need to spend some time familiarizing yourself with the Mac operating system. Consult the articles below to learn more:

  • Coming soon

2014 Tablets

We will complete the expansion of our e-Warrior program this summer by distributing tablets, in addition to laptops, to all students and employees scheduled for exchange and distribution sessions who have not received a tablet already. You will need to choose between an Apple iPad Mini 7" tablet and a Samsung Android 7" tablet to be named later (most likely the Samsung Tab3). If you are an employee and you have already received an iPad Mini, you will not need to exchange that tablet as there has been no change in the model from last year. If you have a Samsung Tab2 tablet and would like to exchange it for the new model or swtich to an iPad Mini, please contact TLT.

Apple iPad Mini

  • The iPad Mini being distributed this summer is identical to last summer's model. However, if you have never had an iPad before, it's all new to you. Consult the following articles to learn more about the capabilities of this tablet device:

Samsung ?

  • The Smasung Andriod tablet model has not been finalized yet. If you have never used an Android tablet, consult the folloing articles to learn more:

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