Archive of ‘Technology’ category

FitBit Alta Review

Trying to get Daisy to pose with the FitBit Alta

Trying to get Daisy to pose with the FitBit Alta

Hey everyone! I had a birthday this month and received a FitBit Alta as a gift. The FitBit Alta is one of the latest FitBit models, along with the new FitBit Blaze. It comes in four basic colors, but I had the black one (there were customizations you could purchase for it later if you wanted). At first, I loved it! It was slim, unlike other FitBits I had seen before. I was also excited to get reminders to move throughout the day, during my sedentary desk job, and to see how many calories I burned. However, the usefulness of the fitness wristband stopped there for me.

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I Made a Snapchat!

  
Last weekend I made an account on Snapchat! I saw plenty of people using it, but I hadn’t wanted to sign up. It seemed like another social media account that I would have to check or contribute to, and I’m on my phone enough using Twitter and Facebook.

However, after seeing my cousins howling in laughter at the face-swap filter at our family BBQ, I decided I wanted to have fun with it also and made the account. It took me a little bit to figure out how to use filters and how to get to certain screens on the app, but I think I understand the basic gist now.

If you want to follow me, my username on Snapchat is heatherpls. I can’t promise that I’ll post much, look at your stories, or even respond to people on there, but maybe I’ll end up using it more over time. Currently, I’m much more active on Twitter and Instagram (@Heather_PLS)!

Do you use Snapchat? What do you like about it? Let me know in the comments! You could even send me (heatherpls) a message on Snapchat and eventually I’d probably see it, haha.

I Bought the 2015 Dell XPS 13!

2015 5th Gen Dell XPS 13

I purchased the new 5th Generation Dell XPS 13 that was announced at CES here in Las Vegas last week (and won a CES Innovation Award), and I am so excited about it, that I delayed a blog post about another one of my passions (jewelry) to post this one! Here’s a link to a great article about the laptop, but I would like to tell you about my short journey of purchasing the laptop myself.

I’ve recently been looking for a laptop to use for school and for traveling (I’m not blogging about another SWTOR Community Cantina or PAX on my iPhone). I was doing quite a bit of research, but since there are so many options and so many different levels of computer specs, I wasn’t sure what to get. My main priorities for the laptop were:

What I Needed From a Laptop

  • Portability (thin and light)
    • I wanted to be able to carry it easily in my purse.
  • Battery life
    • My iPhone uses a lot of battery. I want a device that will last for hours without worrying about charging.
  • Word processing/keyboard
    • I’m a blogger. I want something on which I can easily use Microsoft Word with a sturdy keyboard.
  • Webcam
    • In the off-chance I ever want to make videos or video-chat with friends on Skype/Google Hangouts.

Not complicated, right? I didn’t want to get a gaming laptop because they are pretty heavy, and the more portable ones are very expensive. Additionally, I have a pretty nice custom PC desktop, and I won’t be doing hardcore gameplay while I’m out and about.

I asked for some suggestions on Twitter, and one of my followers, @awesmdiver, mentioned the new, 2015 Dell XPS 13. I clicked the link, and I was ready to buy! It cost slightly more than I was wanting to spend, but at 2.6 pounds, 13-inches, 15 hours of battery life, and a beautiful “infinity” screen, I absolutely loved it. It was also priced fairly at $799 for the base model using an i3 processor, which was more than sufficient for what I needed it for. Unfortunately, it wasn’t shipping online until the beginning of February, and I wanted a laptop sooner than that for classes and traveling in two weeks.

My Microsoft Store Experience

Microsoft Store image

I decided after a few people recommended the Microsoft Surface Pro 3, I would go check it out in person to see how I really feel about it. I didn’t like it because it was a tablet. I was uninterested in a touchscreen, and I wanted a keyboard that I didn’t have to worry about taking off and on. I also didn’t like the kickstand because it seemed less convenient and comfortable to have in my lap. However, I went to the Microsoft Store here in Las Vegas located at the Fashion Show Mall to try it out in person and to see if I still didn’t like it. The weight and thinness of the Surface Pro 3 were attractive enough for me to give it a chance.

When I got to the Microsoft Store, I saw the shiny new 5th Generation Dell XPS 13 (which was just announced at CES here in Las Vegas on Wednesday) sitting on an adjacent table from the Surface Pro 3! I beelined for the petite laptop, picked it up, and marveled at the size, shape, weight, and screen. Also, it had a sturdy keyboard, which is exactly what I wanted.

But, I was there to see the Surface Pro 3. I went to the other table, picked up the device and immediately tested to see how easy it was for me to take the attachable keyboard off. It was way too floppy and flimsy and unattractive (weird, colorful plastic not in-line with the device) for my taste. On top of my dislike of the hardware, the Surface Pro 3 if purchased with the keyboard was more costly ($799.99 + 129.99 = $929.99) than the Dell XPS 13, which had better specs anyway. The XPS 13 at the store was $899.99 with an upgraded i5 processor (the i3 was unavailable), which was more powerful than the Surface Pro 3 that cost more.

I like getting good deals, and this was definitely one of them. I asked about junkware (of which the laptop has none) and the return policy (30 days), and after I was satisfied with the sales associate’s answers, I swiftly purchased the laptop. It was probably the quickest commission he made in his life, but I like to shop prepared and with a mission. I knew what I was buying. Because I also purchased the item at the Microsoft Store, I was able to utilize a student discount of 10%, which made the deal even sweeter!

What I Thought about Windows 8.1 Without a Touchscreen

IMG_6961

When I got home and tried out the laptop myself, I was very impressed. It doesn’t make any noise! After hearing so many bad things about Windows 8.1, I thought that I would hate it and think it was cumbersome. I have only tried the new OS briefly, so I didn’t have a lot of experience with it. However, when I tried it, I thought it was totally easy to use, even without a touchscreen or mouse, and completely customizable. I spent yesterday afternoon pinning apps to the Start menu and organizing them to be aesthetically pleasing. I thought the Health & Fitness app was fantastic, and added a few more free apps from the store, including calendar, news, social media, and entertainment apps.

The Dell XPS 13 is lighter and cheaper than the similarly sized MacBook Air, and it runs Windows. It has a sturdy keyboard and isn’t a pesky touchscreen (they get dirty and I don’t like it), unlike the Surface Pro 3. I don’t anticipate playing or even need it to play SWTOR because that was not the reason I purchased it, but I have no doubt I would be able to run the game if I really needed to.

I also like that while the hard drive space is “small,” I can automatically set it to save documents on my One Drive, which I can access also from my desktop PC .This will be great for blogging and transferring photos and files from one device to another.

While others may have different tastes and needs, this was absolutely a perfect purchase for me and I’m excited to put it to some good use!

My Dell XPS 13 Specs

Processor: 5th Generation Intel Core ™ i5-5200U CPU @ 2.20 GHz (Broadwell-U)

Operating System: Windows 8.1 64-bit

RAM: 4.00 GB

Hard Drive: 128 GB Solid State Drive

Video Card: Intel ® HD Graphics 550

Display: 13.3 inch FHD (1920×1080) Infinity display

See more on Dell’s page about the laptop here.