Run Time Issues

  • How long should my new rechargeable battery last?

The life of a battery under normal use is around 500 to 900 charge-discharge cycles. This is about one and a half to three years of battery life for the average user. As the rechargeable battery begins to fail, the running time of the battery begins to decline. When a battery supplies thirty minutes of charge, it is time for a replacement.

  • How long will my fully charged battery last?
  • What should be the run time of a battery? How long will my laptop stay ‘powered’ with the battery?

Run time will vary on individual notebook computers, based on the applications being used (i.e. high graphics, games), the number of times something is saved or retrieved from the hard drive and/or CD Rom drive, the memory of notebook, and chemistry and capacity of the battery. A ‘realistic’ average run-time for a battery is 1.5 to 3 hours. Again run time will vary on applications being used and individual notebooks.

  • Does using the wireless network drain a laptop battery?

Yes, using a wireless card in a laptop drains the battery. The amount varies according to model of laptop and battery and the usage of the laptop. The operating system and the software installed with the card may have utilities for conserving battery life. See Apple’s Battery Care page.

  • Does disconnecting USB devices from my laptop, help conserve battery life?

Yes, disconnecting unused USB devices does help conserve battery life. It has also been widely reported that a flaw in Windows XP affects certain Intel based laptops to drain the battery at a faster rate than normal when a USB device is connected. More information can be found on the article, Windows USB flaw drains batteries.

LaptopBattery Not Working Issues

  • My new laptop battery is not working !! What’s wrong?

New batteries are usually shipped in a discharged condition and must be charged before use. It is recommended to charge a Li-Ion and NiCd battery overnight(approximately twelve hours), 24 hours for NiMH. Refer to your computer manual for charging instructions. Rechargeable batteries should be conditioned before normal use – fully charged and then fully discharged about 2 to 4 times. This allows the batteries to reach their full capacity.

  • The battery will run the computer but the suel gauge does not register or recognize anything. What is wrong?

Check if your battery is a smart battery, which will interface with the computer’s software. Not all batteries have a ‘SMART’ option. If it has a fuel gauge, then it is probably as mart battery. Most new notebook computer batteries are smart which means that they have internal microprocessors that will allow the battery and the computer to communicate. If you establish that your battery is a smart battery and the fuel gauge does not work properly, then the battery may be faulty.

  • Why won my computer start up (wake) with the battery inserted?

Make sure that the battery is properly inserted and has sufficient charge. If this does not work, consult your computer manual.

  • Why doesn the battery charge overnight in my notebook?

Make sure the notebook computer is receiving power. (Is the AC Adapter plugged in correctly?). When the battery is installed in the computer and it is properly plugged into an AC socket, check to see if the suel gauged is showing a charge sign. If this does not fix the problem, the battery, the power source in the notebook, or the AC Adapter may be defective.

  • The notebook shutdown automatically, What could be wrong?

Firstly plug in the AC adapter/Charger into the laptop and turn the machine on. Check the Power Management settings. It may be set to turn the laptop off when the battery reaches a certain level. Also make sure the battery has sufficient charge and the laptop shows that the battery is charging. If these steps do not help solve the problem consult your laptop manual. AMD provide technology called PowerNow! which is basically a Power Managment software.

Battery Basics

  • How do I identify my battery?

There is usually a label on the battery, and some of this information on the label will help you identify your battery. Many have part numbers printed, which are unique to your battery. The label may also include the voltage of the battery pack (note: this is not the same as the voltage on the power supply), the capacity of the battery pack and the chemical construction of the cells inside e.g.Li-Ion, NiMH or NiCd. The make and model of your laptop would help any sales person identify the correct battery. See image below:

  • What is a battery cycle?

A battery cycle is a discharge and a charge. For example, if your battery is fully charged and you use the battery and it discharges and then recharge to full capacity, this is one cycle.

  • Can I upgrade my Laptop Battery to a newer chemistry?

NiCad, NiMH and Li-Ion are all different types. These cannot be substituted unless the laptop has been pre-configured from the factory to accept more than one type of rechargeable battery. Each type requires a different charging pattern to be properly recharged. Refer to your laptop computer manual to find out which rechargeable battery types your particular device accepts.

  • What if the Milliamp-Hour (mAh) rating is different to my original battery?

Different batteries have varied mAh ratings. This represents the capacity of the battery. If the rating is higher than the original battery, then the replacement battery will run for a longer time and if the rating is lower then the replacement battery will run for a shorter time.

  • How Are Batteries Rated?

There are two ratings on a battery, Voltage (V) and Milliamp-hours (mAh). Voltage is the rate at which energy is drawn from a battery. Milliamp-hours represents the capacity of the battery.

  • Can I use a battery which has a different voltage rating than my original battery?

No, the voltage rating has to match that of the original battery or as recommended by the computer manual. Using a battery with a different voltage setting can damage the laptop.

  • What is a “smart” Battery?

Smart batteries have internal circuit boards with smart chips which allow them to communicate with the notebook and monitor battery performance, output voltage and temperature. Smart batteries will generally run 15% longer due to their increased efficiency and also give the computer much more accurate “fuel gauge” capabilities to determine how much battery running time is left before the next recharge is required. For more technical information on Smart Battery System, see the Smart Battery System Implementers Forum page.

  • I have lost my battery, How do I identify which battery I need?

Check your notebook computer’s manual. If you cannot find this, most suppliers would be able to find the battery from make and model of your notebook computer. Also, the manufacturer’s part number from the base plate on the underside of the notebook computer can help identify which battery you will need.

  • What do the LED lights on the battery do?

The little LED lights on the laptop battery is the fuel gauge of that battery. It tells the relative amount of capacity in the battery. The images below are an example. One LED light would mean that the battery is nearly empty and if all the LEDs are lit then it would mean the battery has full capacity.

Battery Types and Chemistries

What is a Lithium Ion Battery (Li-Ion)?

Lithium Ion batteries use Lithium Oxide and a Carbon compound, usually Graphite as the electrodes. These are separated by a microporous film containing an organic solvent as the electrolyte. Compared to NiCd and NiMH batteries, Li-Ion batteries provide the same capacity inspite of being smaller and lighter. Li-Ion batteries have a higher power to weight ratio. These batteries do not suffer from the dreaded “memory effect”, that affects NiCd batteries. Li-Ion also has a much lower levels of self-discharging. These tend to be comparatively more expensive due to higher production costs. The Department of Chemistry at Oregon State University has an informative and technical page on battery chemistries and how these work.

What is a Nickel Metal Hydride Battery (NiMH)?

This battery uses Nickel and other rare earth metals as its electrodes and Potassium Hydroxide as the electrolyte. These are constructed from non-toxic metals making it environmentally friendly. These batteries do not suffer from the memory effect and has a higher capacity than NiCd batteries. However, the NiMH battery has a much shorter life span than NiCd and Li-Ion batteries.

What is a Nickel Cadmium / Ni-Cad Battery (NiCd)?

This battery uses Nickel and Cadmium as its electrodes and aqueous Potassium Hydroxide as the electrolyte. It is an older type of battery, but is quick to charge and can handle higher loads. These batteries suffer from the “memory effect”. Also due to the presence of heavy metals, they are environmentally unsafe and hazardous.

What is a Lithium-Ion Polymer Battery?

This has similar characteristics to Lithium Ion but uses a plastic like film, a polymer as the electrolyte. The dry polymer design allows the fabrication of this type of battery to be cheaper and smaller.

What is a battery cell?

The cells produce the electricity, a specific amount. A laptop battery comprises of a number of these cells connected together to produce the correct amount of electricity. The most reliable cells are manufactured in Japan, Korea and Hong Kong.

Best Android phones 2017: What should you buy?

Choosing a new Android phone isn’t easy. The Android universe is teeming with options, from super-expensive flagship phones, to affordable models that make a few calculated compromises, to models expressly designed for, say, great photography.

Chances are that whichever phone you buy, you’ll keep it for at least two years. So choosing the best Android phone for you isn’t a decision you should take lightly. But we can make things easier. Everyone has different priorities and needs, so we’ve made some picks for the best Android phone in several categories. Samsung’s flagship phones are usually quite good, but the Galaxy S8 and S8+ really pull out all the stops and deliver a phone that is more polished, usable, and technically impressive than ever before. Inside and out, this phone is a masterpiece.

The gorgeous design is built around a big, tall 18.5:9 aspect ratio AMOLED display that delivers the best brightness, contrast, and color we’ve ever seen. The new form factor isn’t just good looking, it’s more comfortable and usable, too.

Inside you’ll find the first phone with a 10nm Snapdragon 835 chip, which gives it top-tier performance and excellent power efficiency. In fact, these phones performed just great in our battery benchmarks (roughly 9 hours), with real-world use easily taking us through a busy day.

There are so many features it’s hard to list them all. Bluetooth 5, support for future gigabit LTE, wireless charging (Qi and PMA), iris scanner, Samsung Pay and Android Pay support, USB-C, headphone jack, IP68 water proofing, microSD card support… for such a smooth, slim, attractive phone, it sure packs in a ton of “stuff.”

Samsung’s software is better than ever, too.

You still have to contend with far too much bloatware and from Samsung and carriers, and the fingerprint sensor is placed in a terrible location. But these sore spots are relatively minor distractions from a phone that does more, looks better, and is more delightful to use than anything else on the market.

How we test Android phones

First and foremost, we spend at least several days with the phone under review, treating it as if it were our one and only. No number of lab tests or benchmarks will tell you as much about a phone as living with it for awhile. We’re concerned with real-world performance, stability, interface usability, camera quality, and whether proprietary features are useful or cumbersome. We use social media, check email, play games, take photos and videos in a variety of conditions, navigate around town, and do all the things most people do with their phones.

Of course, we also run extensive benchmarks: 3DMark (both Ice Storm Unlimited and Sling Shot), PCMark, GFXBench, AnTuTu, Geekbench, and Vellamo. We run all our tests with the phone set up the way it would be out of the box, without disabling any pre-installed apps or services. We do, however, make efforts to make sure benchmarks are not interrupted by notifications and that background downloads aren’t taking place. We may not report results from all of these tests (real-world everyday performance is far more important than benchmarks), but we do share the most interesting results.

Before running each benchmark, we make sure the phone is charged to 100 percent, plugged in, and left to cool off. Phones can sometimes run slower as their batteries get low, and charging the phone can make it hot and cause the SoC to slow down. So we do our best to make sure every test starts with the phone topped off and at room temperature.

When we run battery benchmarks (PCMark and Geekbench), we calibrate the display to 200 nits and disable all auto-brightness and screen-dimming features. Display brightness plays a major role in draining your battery, and we want to create a level playing field. Of course, we also keep a close eye on how long the battery lasts in our everyday use, including screen-on time, standby time, and even how fast the battery charges with the included charger.

What to look for in a phone

Smartphones are very personal. Everyone has different needs, a unique budget, and personal preferences. You might need to access secure corporate email and documents with a phone that works on lots of networks around the world. Or you might spend all your time chronicling your life on Snapchat.

That said, there are major features of all smartphones that you should compare before making a purchase decision.

Display: A good display has a high resolution (1920×1080 for smaller phones, 2650×1440 for larger phones), so that you can read fine text without it becoming blurry or illegible. A high-resolution display is especially important for VR. You want a display that accurately displays colors when looking at it from any angle, and a high contrast ratio and maximum brightness will make it easier to see in bright sunlight.

Camera: Smartphone vendors like to tout camera specs like megapixels and aperture, but a high resolution and wide aperture (low f-stop number like f/1.8) only get you so far. The particulars of the sensor, image processing chip, and camera software have a huge impact on the photo- and video-taking experience.

You want a camera that launches quickly, focuses in an instant, and has no lag between when you hit the shutter button and the photo is taken. A great phone camera produces shots with accurate colors and little noise in lots of different environments. If you take selfies, pay particular attention to the quality of the front-facing camera. Finally, we love manual camera controls, and reward phones that deliver manual fine tuning.

Processor and memory: Most modern phones are “fast enough” for common tasks like web browsing and social media. You don’t always need a super high-end processor and tons of RAM unless you plan to use your phone for more taxing activities like 3D gaming, VR, or video editing. Still, don’t settle for less than 2GB of RAM and a Qualcomm Snapdragon 600-series processor or better.

Battery: Every time they poll users about what they want out of their next smartphone, “better battery life” is at the top of the list. The capacity of a smartphone battery is measured in milliamp-hours (mAh), and ranges from just under 2,000 mAh to over 4,000 mAh. Phones with bigger, brighter displays and more powerful processors drain the battery more quickly, though, so a smaller and less-expensive phone with a 2,500 mAh battery might actually last longer than a big high-end phone with a 2,800 mAh battery. Still, as a rule of thumb, more mAh is better.

Size and weight: Some people love big phones. Some love smaller phones. Some want a lightweight phone that disappears in the pocket, while others need to feel some heft. It’s a matter of personal preference. Don’t assume that you won’t like large phones if you have small hands, however. There seems to be no real correlation between hand size and preferred phone size.

Software and Bloatware: If you want a phone that runs pure Android with no embellishments, you need to buy a Nexus model. Anything else you buy is going to have a custom build of Android; and that could be good or bad (or both at once).

Phone makers change the Android interface and icons to varying degree, and add features and software of their own. Sometimes this stuff is useful, sometimes it isn’t. Pre-installed apps that can’t be removed (usually called “bloatware”) can slow down your phone or, at the very least, take up valuable storage space. And if you buy a phone from a carrier instead of an unlocked carrier-neutral model, you’ll probably find a bunch of carrier apps you may not want. Know what you’re getting into before you buy.

Surface Laptop vs. Surface Pro 4: We compare prices, features and more

Microsoft’s Surface Laptop is aimed at supplanting the MacBook Air as a college-student favorite. The svelte, stylish clamshell also fills a middle ground between its cousins, the Surface Pro 4 tablet and Surface Book powerhouse 2-in-1, providing a third option that could appeal to many regular consumers.

We got a good first impression of the Surface Laptop after going hands-on in advance of its June launch. Now that we’ve reviewed it, we can help you decide whether it’s a better choice than the Surface Pro 4, with its promise of a tablet that can be a full-fledged computer. Let’s dig in!

Price: Beyond many students’ budgets

Neither the Surface Pro 4 nor the Surface Laptop is especially cheap, as the prices above indicate. Selecting the right Surface Laptop comes with a caveat: It’s aimed at education, where you’ll be subject to the whims of professors who dictate what software to buy. The entry-level models with 4GB of RAM may struggle if burdened with demanding applications. The models with 8GB of RAM or more will have better staying power.

Buying a Surface Pro 4 is a bit more straightforward. Note that these prices do not include a Type Cover attachable keyboard, which costs an additional $130 to $160 depending on the model. While you could theoretically do without one, you’ll make your life a lot easier if you add a Type Cover to your shopping list.

While asking college students to pay north of $1,500 for a higher-end Surface Laptop seems unrealistic, even if the alternative is an equally pricey MacBook Air, the most viable comparison is between the Surface Laptop with Core i7/8GB RAM/256GB SSD ($1,599) and the near-identically configured $1,349 Surface Pro 4 plus Type Cover (for a total of $1,479-$1,509). Note that the Surface Laptop offers a more advanced 7th-generation (Kaby Lake) Intel Core processor, while the Surface Pro 4 is stuck with the 6th-generation (Skylake) chip.

Case material, dimensions, and weight

To compare weights fairly, we’ve taken the liberty of adding a regular Type Cover (0.68 pound) to the Surface Pro 4’s equation. (Note the Type Cover is also a tiny bit larger than the SP4’s dimensions stated above, to protect the Surface Pro 4’s screen.) Though very light at 2.76 pounds, the Surface Laptop is still larger and heavier than the Surface Pro 4.

While the older Surface Pro 4 is manufactured out of magnesium, Microsoft returned to aluminum with the Surface Laptop. In one regard, though, both devices are nearly identical: The Surface Pro 4’s Signature Type Cover is made of Alcantara fabric over a plastic base, while the Surface Laptop’s Alcantara keyboard cover is joined to the aluminum chassis with a nearly invisible seam. The Surface Pro 4 ships in just one color, but a variety of Type Covers allow you to customize it (more on that below.) The Surface Laptop, meanwhile, allows you to select one of four colored Alcantara fabrics: cobalt blue, platinum, burgundy, and graphite gold.

The hinge and display mechanisms

Because the Surface Pro 4 is a traditional 2-in-1, it lacks a traditional hinge. Instead, a magnetic strip runs the length of the Type Cover, folding back over itself to allow the keyboard to lie at a slight angle. A pop-out kickstand panel supports the tablet from the rear, allowing it to recline from 90 degrees to about 15 degrees.

Don’t think for a second, though, of holding the Surface Pro 4 by the Type Cover. If you do so, or forget to support the tablet with the kickstand, it will flop over and rip free of its magnetic restraints.

The Surface Laptop has enough structural integrity that you can wave the Laptop around by the base, and it will recline to about 60 degrees without the need for external kickstand support.

Unlike convertible laptops, though, the Surface Laptop lacks a 360-degree hinge. While Microsoft made the hinge an important design element of the chunkier Surface Book, the Laptop’s hinge is virtually invisible unless you open the device and squint.

Of course, there’s one advantage the Laptop boasts, and that’s “lapability:” it feels natural and comfortable while on your lap. You can use the Surface Pro 4 on your lap in a pinch, though it’s just not in the same league as a traditional notebook like the Laptop.

Operating system: The Windows 10 S question

The most confusing aspect of the Surface Laptop for most people is its operating system. While the Surface Pro 4 ships with Windows 10 Pro, the Surface Laptop is the first Microsoft device to come with Windows 10 S, a version of Windows 10 designed for educational institutions. To ensure greater manageability for school IT administrators, Windows 10 S machine can run only apps—both UWP and Win32—that are sold via the Windows Store. You’re also restricted to Bing for search, and Edge for web browsing.

Windows 10 S does allow you to upgrade to Windows 10 Pro, however, right from the Windows Store. From now until the end of 2017, that upgrade is free; after that, Microsoft may charge you $49 for the privilege.

CPU and memory

The Laptop uses a more modern 7th-generation (Kaby Lake) Intel Core chip, specifically the 2.5-GHz Core i5-7200U, versus the 6th-generation (Skylake) 2.4-GHz Core i5-6300U found inside the Surface Pro 4. Based on our CPU tests, Kaby Lake gives a small advantage—but still a plus.

If you want to save some money, consider the Surface Pro 4 and its Core m options. Intel’s Core m may be slower than a full-fledged Core chip, but it provides sufficient performance for mainstream tasks.

Do keep in mind, though, that the lower-end offerings of both the Surface Laptop and Surface Pro 4 ship with 4GB of memory, which can be a bit painful to use with demanding applications or stacks of browser tabs.


Like the CPU, the Surface Laptop’s updated components simply give it an advantage. I was honestly a little amazed that I could play some decently graphics-intensive games on the Surface Pro 4. The Surface Laptop’s HD 620 and HD Iris Plus 640 chips are the next iteration above the Intel HD 520 and Iris integrated graphics found in the Surface Pro 4.

Neither machine offers a discrete graphics option, though, so your performance will be somewhat limited compared to, say, the Surface Book.

Display: The proof’s in the pixels

Both the Surface Laptop ad Surface Pro 4 use Microsoft’s PixelSense IPS technology, offering 10-point multitouch displays. Both screens have the same 3:2 aspect ratio, too. Beyond that, they head in different directions.

The Surface Pro 4’s 12.3-inch display is small, but its 2,736×1,824 resolution looks very sharp. If you favor larger displays and can tolerate some compromise in resolution, choose the Surface Laptop. Its 13.5-inch screen has a resolution of 2,256×1,504 (201 PPI)—somewhat fewer pixels than the Surface Pro 4’s, spread across a wider field.

Keyboard, touchpad, and pen

One of my strongest first impressions of the Surface Laptop was that its keyboard was a stiffened, rigid version of the Surface Pro 4’s Signature Type Cover: same touchpad, same keys, same Alcantara fabric. They’re both very good, though not quite as good as a traditional laptop’s keyboard, or the Surface Book’s.

Nevertheless, the keyboard is where buyers of each device will be able to express their personality. When you buy a particular color of Surface Laptop, you’re choosing the particular Alcantara fabric on the keyboard. Likewise, Surface Pro 4 buyers have a choice of the traditional $130 Type Cover (in bright blue, blue, black, red, and teal); a $160 black Type Cover with an integrated fingerprint reader for additional Windows Hello functionality; the Alcantara-covered $160 Signature Type Cover; and finally, a line of $160 NFL Type Covers emblazoned with the logo of your favorite team.

Both devices support the Surface Pen as well as the Surface Dial peripheral (though not the Dial directly onscreen). But only the Surface Pro 4 ships with the Surface Pen; it’s a $60 option with the Surface Laptop. The Surface Pen offers 1,024 levels of pressure and is available with a Pen Tip Kit ($20) that offers a few tip options. Inside is a AAAA battery, good for about a year’s worth of use.

Camera and audio

The Surface Laptop’s single 720p front-facing camera was designed for students who don’t especially care how they look while chatting with one another. The Surface Pro 4’s front-facing 1080p 5MP camera places a bit more emphasis on professional Skype calls. The Surface Pro 4 also includes an 8MP rear camera to compete with the hordes of iPad owners who inexplicably choose to take digital pictures with a tablet.

While the Surface Pro 4’s speakers are behind the tablet display (after frequent use, the right speaker on my unit is inoperable) the Surface Laptop puts its “omnisonic” speakers directly under the keyboard’s Alcantara fabric. They offer a decided volume advantage over the Surface Pro 4, with a richer audio experience. I tend to use tablets and laptops on a keyboard drawer, and the Laptop’s omnisonic speakers delivered a pleasing, slight reverb effect while playing back tracks with a strong bass line. While audiophiles will probably turn up their noses at both machines, the Laptop has a clear advantage here.


I always thought that the Surface Pro 4’s choice of a single USB 3.0 Type A port on the side of the display was sufficient, especially when connected to the $200 Surface Dock, which adds an additional four connectors. But two years on, the Surface Pro 4’s port contingent (1 USB 3.0, microSD slot, miniDisplayPort, 3.5-mm headset jack, and Surface Connector) looks a little slim. The world’s moving on to USB-C.

Unfortunately, that same argument can be leveled at the Surface Laptop, which also has but a single USB 3.0 Type A port, along with miniDP, 3.5mm headset jack. and Surface Connector. It ditched the SD card slot for cost savings. Both devices use 802.11ac for wireless connectivity, as well as Bluetooth. The Laptop uses the slightly more advanced Bluetooth 4.0 LE.


Microsoft’s promise of 14.5 hours (in video playback) for the Surface Laptop’s battery life far exceeds the 9 hours of the Surface Pro 4. That longevity is thanks, in part, to the additional battery cells mounted behind the Surface Laptop’s display. Here are the results for each product based on our own video rundown tests. If battery life is a factor in your decision—and it should be—than the Surface Laptop clearly wins. Performance

If you’re looking for a clear indicator of which device to buy, our performance benchmarks should provide it. The Surface Pro 4 simply can’t keep up with the Laptop in nearly all areas.

Consider the PCMark benchmarks, which measure everything from general office-suite performance (Work) to light browsing and photo editing (Home) to more intensive photo and video editing, plus more intensive gaming (Creative). Here, the Surface Laptop has the clear edge.

If you move on to the Cinebench benchmark, which stresses all of the processor cores and threads by rendering a 2D, computer-generated image, the Laptop comes out on top again, but by a narrower margin, showing how close the Skylake and Kaby Lake chips are in terms of performance.

Ditto for the Handbrake benchmark, which takes an open-source video transcoding tool and applies it to a top-tier Hollywood movie that we convert for use with an Android tablet. Again, there’s hardly any difference—less than a minute.

Normally, if you were to look at graphics capabilities, you’d want to buy something like the Surface Book versus either the Surface Laptop or the Surface Pro 4. Both the Surface Laptop and the Surface Pro 4 use integrated graphics, though, leaving both capable of playing some older games, though not AAA titles at high settings.

As we noted above, the real differentiator is battery lifel You may opt for the svelte thinness of a tablet, but the Surface Laptop provides truly all-day battery life. The Surface Pro 4 is nowhere close.

Surface Laptop shines

It depends on how you slice it, but the Surface Laptop weights just six ounces more, and (with the Core i5/4GB/128GB model) costs an additional $150 in price. If you’re not a heavy tablet user, that helps justify the price of the newer Surface Laptop and its vast improvements in battery life.

In the meantime, Microsoft has launched the revamped Surface Pro, an updated version of the Surface Pro 4. We’ll run down the differences between the new Pro and the Surface Laptop soon. As it is, the Surface Pro 4 is still a quality machine, with few obvious flaws. Assuming you take advantage of the free upgrade to Windows 10 Pro, however, the Surface Laptop starts to look more appealing. A more modern processor and additional battery life start to justify the cost.

Between the Surface Laptop and the Surface Pro 4, choose the Laptop. It’s the better bet. Bang for buck isn’t Microsoft’s priority with these flagships, however, so value-seekers should cast a wider net. A comparison of the Surface Laptop against the Dell XPS 13 and HP Spectre x360 shows you some very competitive options.

Windows 10 Creators Update FAQ: Everything you need to know

More than five months after its grand unveiling last October, the Windows 10 Creators Update is finally here—and the wait was worth it.

Following in the footsteps of last August’s sweeping Windows 10 Anniversary Update, the Creators Update tweaks and tunes the core Windows 10 experience while heaping on a pile of handy all-new features. While PCWorld’s comprehensive Windows 10 Creators Update review contains detailed impressions of Microsoft’s refreshed operating system, here’s a higher-level look at what you need to know about the Creators Update. How do I get it.

Just sit tight! The Windows 10 Creators Update starts rolling out to the general public on April 11 via the standard Windows Update process, just like every other Windows 10 update. There’s no way for home users to opt out of the upgrade.

That doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll receive it today, however; the Anniversary Update took about four months to propagate to 80 percent of Windows 10 users. Microsoft prioritizes newer PCs with optimal specs for Windows 10 first. If you’re the impatient type, you can manually kick off the Creators Update installation by using Microsoft’s Update Assistant. (Warning: Clicking that link will download an executable file for the Update Assistant to your PC.)

So what’s the big deal?

Microsoft releases two major Windows 10 updates each year, and the Creators Update is the first of those. It includes some helpful quality-of-life changes, such as a high-level privacy dashboard, an easier setup process, and usability tweaks to various settings and features throughout the operating system. The Creators Update also packs in new goodies, the most notable being the Paint 3D app, native video game-streaming, a Game Mode that improves gaming performance, and Edge support for native ebooks and 4K Netflix streams. And, oh yeah! Themes are back and better than ever.

Seriously, there’s a lot of stuff in the new-look Windows 10. Check out PCWorld’s roundup of the Creators Update’s best new features for much, much more.

Sweet! So it’s still free, right?

Yep, free-as-in-beer free—at least if you’re already on Windows 10.

Microsoft’s free upgrade offer for Windows 10 expired long ago, so if you’re still on Windows XP, Vista, 7, or 8, you’ll need to buy a fresh copy of Windows 10 before you can get the Creators Update. It’ll set you back $120 for Windows 10 Home or $190 for the more capable Windows 10 Pro, or more if you want it on a flash drive

Any catches?

Not really, though the Windows 10 Creators Update is missing many of the highlight features Microsoft promised at its October reveal.

Virtual reality and 3D creation were two of the major cornerstones of the Creators Update vision—the reason for its name!—but beyond the new Paint 3D app those features are largely AWOL. The ballyhooed My People app was quietly scuttled for this release. We haven’t had success getting Cortana’s teased handoff feature to actually pass work from one device to another. There’s no release date for any of those hyped-up $300 Windows VR headsets.

It’s a bit of a bummer, sure. But if you ignore what’s not there and focus on what is in the Creators Update, you’ll find a lot to like.

I’m getting a “Windows 10 is no longer supported on this PC” error. What does that mean?

It means that the Creators Update isn’t compatible with your system’s hardware—specifically, your PC’s Intel “Clover Trail” Atom processor. You won’t be able to install the Creators Update unless Microsoft and its hardware partners manage to fix the issue. Check out PCWorld’s guide to the “Windows 10 is no longer supported on this PC” error for all the information you need to know.

Tell me more!

I’ll defer to my buddy Mark Hachman for that. Mark’s spent the weeks poking and prodding the final Creators Update release to discover all of its highlights, lowlights, and secrets. Head over to PCWorld’s comprehensive Windows 10 Creators Update review for the full rundown and extensive hands-on impressions, or our round-up of the Creators Update’s best new features. And if you really want to go down the rabbit hole, our collection of the Creators Update’s 17 best hidden features can reveal secretive additions lurking in the operating system’s darkest corners.

The best laptops of 2017: Ultrabooks, budget PCs, 2-in-1s, and more

Choosing the best laptop can be difficult these days. With companies like Dell, HP, Acer, and Asus continually launching updates of popular notebooks and expansions of product lines, we’re all but swimming in options right now.

Summer has pushed even more convertibles, 2-in-1s, and traditional notebooks onto store shelves. The most interesting ones poke holes in existing assumptions about certain categories. Microsoft’s Surface Laptop, for example, is an attempt to revive the company’s battle with Chromebooks, while Dell’s Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming—our “Best budget gaming laptop” pick—offers 1080p gaming for just $850. Vendors also are serious about squeezing AMD’s new CPUs into their lineups, with Asus recently debuting the first Ryzen laptop at Computex.

HP brings Android to laptops with SlateBook PC.

Customers have been telling Hewlett-Packard that they want laptops that run Android, so the company is rolling out the SlateBook PC to meet that demand.

The laptop will start at $399 and be available in August.

It has a 14-inch touchscreen and combines the familiar interface of Android on mobile devices “with the productivity of a notebook … in a breakthrough design,” said Mike Nash, vice president at HP.

“It’s in a very new category. Customers told us they spend a lot of time on mobile applications.” Nash said, adding that he received many questions like “why can’t I access the Android ecosystem from the clamshell form factor?”

The SlateBook PC weighs about 1.7 kilograms, is 16 millimeters thick, has 64GB of storage, 2GB of memory, and a fully charged battery can run for nine hours. The touchscreen displays images at 1920 x 1080 pixel resolution. The laptop runs on an Nvidia Tegra 4 processor, which is used in HP’s SlateBook tablets. The Nvidia chip has 72 graphics cores and can handle 4K video playback.

HP has added tools so Android apps will stretch out to the full 14-inch screen size.

Both Chromebooks and the SlateBook PC are meant for those who do most of their computing on the Internet, but there are differences, Nash said. Using a browser on the Android laptop isn’t as good as on Chromebooks, which are more like desktops in that regard. But Android is used by millions of people and some want it on laptops, Nash said.

Beyond the user interface, the Android laptop will run applications such as Skype that are not yet supported on Chromebooks. Android also boasts better printer support than the Chrome OS.

HP has had to make choices in the past on whether to use the Chrome OS or Android in PCs. HP chose Android over Chrome for its Slate 21 Pro all-in-one, partly because Android was heavily customizable as an open-source OS, while features in Chrome OS were controlled by Google. HP also said that Android was cheaper to implement than Chrome OS, which had to comply with specific hardware requirements.

The laptop is expected to be shown at Computex this week in Taipei.

Tuff Phones launches rugged T1 smartphone in UK

It retails for £375 online and is available now from the Tuff Phones official website

UK manufacturer Tuff Phones has launched its latest rugged smartphone the Tuff T1.

It retails for £375 prepay and is available now from the Tuff official website.

The T1 features a five inch Gorilla Glass 4 display housed in an aluminium-titanium frame. The unique selling point of the device is its military graded rugged rating (MIL-STD 810G) qualifying it for drops from 1.5 metres.

Powering the device is a 1.5GHz quad-core processor (MediaTek 6737T) with 3GB of RAM. Running out of the box is Android 6.0 which introduced Doze Mode, a battery saving feature of the operating system.

Main camera is 13 megapixels with a Sony CMOS sensor, the same sensors in Apple’s flagship iPhone range.  The camera also features phase detection autofocus and LED flash. The front facing snapper is five megapixels.

Other features include a dual-SIM tray, and a 3,000mAh battery charged via microUSB port.

Tuff spokesman James Booker said: “There’s a huge contingent of construction workers out there who would rather put up with a cracked screen on their sleek smartphone than be seen with a chunky tough device. Up to now, tough devices have been built with bulkier, hardened rubber casings whose size make them look anything but sleek.

“Thanks to an internal aluminium-titanium alloy frame, we‘ve been able to strip away the bulky body of the traditional tough phone and replace it with the slender design of a modern smartphone.

“The T1 can cope with pretty much anything you throw at it. It certainly won’t be bothered by being dropped in a bit of mud, water or sand.”