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What’s Apple got planned for the rest of 2017?

What’s Apple got planned for the rest of 2017?

At the start of the year, it looked like 2017 was set to be a big year for Apple with developments expected to many of their products. These rumours were confirmed during the recent WWDC keynote, as Apple revealed a host of new updates including iMacs, iPads and Mac notebooks. To keep you up to date with both the new releases and the gossip about what’s yet to come, we’ve rounded up the latest news to summarise what we think Apple has planned for the rest of 2017:

iPhone

In 2016 we had the launch of the iPhone 7 and 7+ which brought with it the somewhat controversial removal of the headphone jack. However the iPhone 7 actually had minimal design changes, which has led many experts to believe that Apple were holding out for some sort of big 10th anniversary launch- enter the iPhone 8. read more

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An accountant explains why computer leasing makes financial sense

An accountant explains why computer leasing makes financial sense

At Hardsoft, we have more accountancy firms among our clients than any other type of business. When it comes to the financially-savvy, accountants are a class apart, so who better than an accountant to provide an expert opinion on leasing computer equipment?

In order to shed light on what can be a potentially confusing area, we’ve spoken to chartered accountant Tony Crisp, a partner at Harlow-based accountancy firm Giess Wallis Crisptony crisp gwc LLP. With over 40 years’ experience advising small and medium-sized businesses, GWC cover the full range of general practitioner services including accounts, audits, taxation, book-keeping and payroll for corporate clients, sole traders and partnerships. read more

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The essential Mac shortcuts you need to know

The essential Mac shortcuts you need to know

If you are moving from a Windows computer to a Mac for the first time, it’s very likely you are going to come in for some difficulties knowing how to do even the most basic of things. While many people go for Mac computers as an upgrade, it can take some getting used to.

While many people instinctively know how to copy, paste, save or print using the control key on a Windows computer, when you move to a Mac you need to learn a whole new way of working. Fear not though, you’ll soon understand and realise that you’ve got yourself the intuitive and responsive computer you’ve been looking for. read more

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Four reasons to rent your new MacBook Pro

Four reasons to rent your new MacBook Pro

There’s no question about whether a MacBook Pro could benefit your business – these incredible machines are more capable than most on the market today, and they offer everything you’d expect from Apple and more. You do have options as to how you go about getting your hands on one (or more), so do you buy or lease?

It won’t be surprising to learn that we’re all for leasing, but we definitely have our reasons. Let’s take a look at some of the most prominent benefits.

1)     Affordability

The MacBook Pro is one of Apple’s high-end machines, and it’s priced accordingly. Recently Apple uplifted all their pricing by 20%.Products in the range can cost anywhere between £1,449 and £2,699 to buy outright. In fact a fully loaded 15inch MacBook Pro is £4049. So, if you’re looking to kit out a four-person design team with the best of the best, expect to pay more than £10,000. It’s a lot of cash to spend, especially if you’re just starting out. read more

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How to get the most out of your new MacBook Pro

How to get the most out of your new MacBook Pro

Apple has a knack for designing and building amazing computers, tablets and mobile phones. There are plenty to choose from, depending on what you want to achieve, but you could argue the MacBook Pro is the Californian company’s pinnacle product.

The range was first launched in 2006, and has been updated pretty regularly since. The latest models are among the most capable on the market, so it’s no surprise to us if you have one at the top of your wish list.

These machines are massively useful straight out of the box, but there are ways to maximise your experience – and really get the most out of your investment. Here are just a few ideas… read more

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How to get the most from your iPad

How to get the most from your iPad

It’s no exaggeration to say that, since being introduced in 2010, Apple’s iPad range has changed the world. Even if you don’t realise it, these sleek yet functional devices are being used to great effect in education, healthcare, retail and pretty much every other sector.

Whether you’ve leased or purchased your iPad, and however many you have, you’ll want to get the most out of your investment. Thankfully, we’re here to help.

We’ve put together a wealth of useful information on iPads recently, and below, we’ve pulled all of it together to create a convenient tips-packed guide. read more

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Why do companies lease?

Why do companies lease?

Buying new equipment is a big investment, so leasing is a great alternative to many companies, both big and small. There are lots of benefits to leasing over buying – you may be trying to conserve capital or just perhaps you prefer the flexibility that leasing offers.

Let’s take a look at why companies lease and how you too could benefit.

To control cash flow

Spreading the cost of new technology creates instant cash flow benefits. You know exactly how much you’re paying out each month, as the repayment amounts are a fixed. This allows you to keep money in the bank for when you need it most. read more

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How to avoid the hidden costs of leasing

How to avoid the hidden costs of leasing

When you consider the many benefits of leasing over buying, it’s no surprise it’s a popular option for businesses of all sizes. However, some may be put off by the possibility of being charged ‘hidden fees’ – costs and charges that aren’t openly advertised.

Not all leasing firms are guilty of this: at HardSoft, we are open and honest about all of our costs. There are a number of questions you should ask before taking out any lease, which we’ve detailed below. Follow our advice, and you should be able to avoid falling into the hidden costs trap. read more

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The evolution of animation

The evolution of animation

Talk of animation now and most people’s minds will go straight to a multi-million pound Pixar blockbuster, or at least a modern cartoon series like Family Guy or Adventure Time. In reality, though, this art form has a history stretching back more than 100 years, and it’s come a long way in that time.

From flipbooks and xerography to stop-motion clay and computer-generated imagery (CGI), the constant introduction of new technologies has always kept the animation industry moving forward, and the evolution continues today. read more

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How am I going to finance my next computer?

How am I going to finance my next computer?

It’s impossible to say exactly how the recent EU referendum will affect businesses, but there’s a lot of uncertainty in the air. Company owners across all industries are wondering whether evolving trade regulations and fluctuating exchange rates will affect their bottom lines, and many are understandably fearing the worst.

Given the situation, you’d be forgiven for tightening the company purse strings. Spending big on new equipment is likely the last thing on your priority list right now, but then you face the risk of falling behind – especially when it comes to technology. There is, however, a solution. read more

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‘Have you tried turning it off and on again?’ Five IT clichés which work

‘Have you tried turning it off and on again?’ Five IT clichés which work

When it comes to IT clichés, we’re divided into two camps: those that give the possibly barbed replies and those who receive them – probably because we asked for something totally stupid. That’s not to say that all responses supplied by tech support et al are snarky, nor are all the queries levied in their direction lazy, but it has to be said, there are a handful of answers which have earned almost legendary status, not purely because they are such dreadful clichés, but because they actually work. Here are our top five: read more

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Managing your network through leasing, without an IT geek

Managing your network through leasing, without an IT geek

Creating a network – no matter the size of your business – is advantageous as it allows you to share one internet connection, files, printers, resources and endless other peripherals. A network basically makes it easier for everyone to work, but they usually necessitate IT expertise.

As IT geeks ourselves, we feel we can freely use the title to describe our fellow technophiles, a community of people who are the backbone of any business; keeping the data flowing and everything operating as it should – seamlessly and discreetly. When it comes to networks, however, the general consensus is: let someone else take care of that while we do the good stuff. read more

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How to record corporate video on your iPhone

How to record corporate video on your iPhone

Do you remember the first camera phones? It was the early 2000s, well before Apple had entered the mobile market, and the idea of being able to capture images through the back of a mobile was enough to blow minds. Fast forward to 2016 and we have the iPhone 6S – a Swiss army knife of devices that has not one but two fully functional lenses. We’ve certainly come a long way.

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Five iPhone apps that’ll make your working life a whole lot easier

Five iPhone apps that’ll make your working life a whole lot easier

It’s no exaggeration to say that Apple sparked a tech revolution when it released the iPhone back in 2007. Back then, the flagship device had just 128MB of RAM, a 2.0-megapixel camera and 412 MHz of processing power – but it was all still enough to change the day-to-day lives of millions of people across the world.

Fast forward nine years and the latest release, the iPhone 6S, continues to help users the world over get through their hectic work days more efficiently and productively. So how do you harness the full power of this magnificent piece of tech in your own professional environment? The answer, of course, is apps – and we’re going to give you a head start by listing five of the best available right now. In no particular order… read more

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Why the ZBook is the Aston Martin of laptops

Why the ZBook is the Aston Martin of laptops

It’s not often IT equipment is likened to one of the finest cars ever manufactured, but if we were going to, then we’d have to hail the ZBook the Aston Martin of the laptop world. Not just a laptop, in fact, but a ‘mobile workstation’.

HP’s ZBook was launched in 2013 and has proved hugely popular with tech industry experts and consumers alike, receiving favourable reviews across the board. With unparalleled engine technology, good handling and smooth steering, we thought we’d take a look at the range WHILE channelling our inner Top Gear presenter. read more

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Is the Surface Pro 4 a good alternative to a laptop?

Is the Surface Pro 4 a good alternative to a laptop?

Buying a new laptop can be tricky – there are so many options out there. Do you invest more and get the best processor you can afford? Do you want a touchscreen? Maybe you just want something to work on the train with, or perhaps – just perhaps – you don’t want a laptop at all; you want a tablet.

Tablets, as you know, are no longer simply big smartphones. With detachable keyboards, high-res displays, incredible audio, fantastic drawing functionality and sooooo much more, as included in the Microsoft Surface Pro 4, you could essentially have all the all the best bits of a traditional laptop combined with the tablet’s innovations and improvements. read more

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Microsoft’s Surface Pro 4: Reviews, tips and tricks

Microsoft’s Surface Pro 4: Reviews, tips and tricks

Featured image via Andrew White for Wired.

Think of Microsoft’s Surface range and you probably immediately visualise the bright, fun design, the clip on Type Cover keyboard, and the joyful user experience. You may also have preconceptions about the price (ranging from around £400 – £2,200 depending on the model).

Since its inception, the range has earned much respect from the tech community and consumers alike; many of whom praise the hardware and display, and even say it can replace your laptop. It’s also received favourable comparisons against its Apple rival – the iPad Pro. read more

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Microsoft Surface Pro 4: Why it’s a worthy investment

Microsoft Surface Pro 4: Why it’s a worthy investment

The tablet market has exploded in recent years. We’ve gone from having a couple of top-spec devices, aimed at a pretty specific audience, to a market full of options to suit everyone.

At one end of the spectrum, you’ve got the budget machines, built for surfing the web, playing games and checking emails. At the other, there’s Microsoft’s new Surface Pro 4 – a portable PC capable of revolutionising the way you work.

A price too high?

The Surface range has never struggled to attract positive reviews from critics – the combination of power and great looks has always impressed the experts. The series’ latest instalment is no exception, either – TechRadar recently gave the Surface Pro 4 a glowing appraisal, as did Forbes and CNET. read more

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“I’m learning faster every day” – how the iPad Pro helps dyslexics

“I’m learning faster every day” – how the iPad Pro helps dyslexics

Technology has made our lives immeasurably more convenient, enabling us to communicate, work, shop, and even control our heating at the touch of a button. What’s often overlooked, however, is how significantly these innovations have actually changed people’s lives and improved their well-being.

A while ago, we asked what you thought about the iPad Pro and one of our loyal customers, Mark Fry, got in touch. He told us that, as a dyslexic, the iPad Pro had made a huge impact on his life and that he loved the device. We wanted to know how this humble tablet could make such a difference, so we asked him. This is Mark’s story. read more

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The ultimate Apple iPad Pro ‘How to…’ list

The ultimate Apple iPad Pro ‘How to…’ list

Yes! You’ve got your iPad Pro and now you want to play with it until you can no longer see straight. The last thing you want to do is faff about, searching for instructions, advice and FAQs on how to do certain tasks, right? We want you to be able to find that solution and go – so we’ve scanned the interweb to give you the ultimate iPad Pro ‘how to…’ list.

How to…get the most out of the Apple Pencil

We’ve written previously about how essential the Pencil is, and learning not only how to use it, but about everything it can do, will substantially help you to get the absolute most out of your iPad Pro. Cory Bohen’s article for TechRepublic starts at the very beginning: pairing the stylus with the tablet and goes right through to using it with third party apps – very handy. read more

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5 Ipad Pro accessories that you can’t live without

5 Ipad Pro accessories that you can’t live without

You’ve got hold of the Ipad Pro and probably love it. In fact, how did you manage without it? However, to get the very most out of this incredible device, it helps to have the right tools. To save you time searching, we’ve put together a list of accessories that you really can’t live without.

1. The Apple Pencil

We’ve lumped these in together as it goes without saying that you should have this essential piece of kit – which, annoyingly on the wallet, comes separately to the device. If you want to take advantage of the iPad Pro’s best feature: the ability to draw and design flawless images, then you’ll need to stump up £112.95 (according to Amazon) for the Apple Pencil unless you lease your iPad Pro and can therefore lease the pencil also. read more

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Most incredible images drawn on the iPad Pro

Most incredible images drawn on the iPad Pro

For a while, computer generated art was just those hidden 3D optical illusions which many revered but others loathed (I, for one, have still never been able to see any of the hidden images, despite multiple hours spent fixated and frustrated).

Naturally, they weren’t for the traditionalists, who – funnily enough – preferred traditional methods of art creation: the trusty paintbrush, a well-sharpened pencil, a photo/film camera, or simply clay and a pair of hands.

But the tides have turned. Technology continues to whizz by us so fast that the artists’ paintbrushes have yet to dry, and it does seem that more and more art is now being created on portable devices, particularly tablets like the iPad Pro. read more

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Apple iPad Pro – what do you think?

Apple iPad Pro – what do you think?

Launched in November 2015 and no doubt turning up in many people’s Christmas stockings (29 per cent of the people we polled said they’d ask Santa for one), Apple’s iPad Pro is billed as an ‘iPad that lets you be more creative and more productive’, with features that add ‘another dimension’ to that all-immersive experience.

Released under the strapline: ‘Thin. Light. Epic.’, it comprises a 12.9 inch Retina display, an A9X chip with 64-bit ‘desktop class architecture’ which far exceeds the CPU and graphics performance of the iPad Air 2, more built-in apps, enhanced multi-touch technology and a slim design. read more

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Three top tips (and one genius hack) for getting the most out of your iPad Pro

Three top tips (and one genius hack) for getting the most out of your iPad Pro

The iPad Pro is widely considered the best iPad of all time, and yet on the surface it doesn’t appear to be quite the total package. You see, it seems Apple is holding back some desired features for iPad Pro 2, such as 3D Touch controls (more on that later – make sure you read to the end).

However, like most advanced gadgets, the iPad Pro has a few tricks up its sleeve. To make sure you get the most out of your device, here are three tips (and one genius hack) to improve your iPad Pro experience. read more

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Top five Christmas gifts for creative geeks

Top five Christmas gifts for creative geeks

If you’re not one yourself, geeks can be pretty hard to buy for, so what do you get that creative type in your life this Christmas? Well, have no fear, we’re here to help. Here are the top five Christmas gifts we think any geek will love, whether they’re a designer, animator or developer.

iPad Pro

Businessman using a tablet device on his desk

Know a creative who’s been really good this year? If so, you may want to treat them to the new iPad Pro. It’s a big step up from the other iPads on the market, as the CPU performance of the Pro is almost double that of the Air 2. There are lots of other nifty features too: it can run two apps at once, it has a 12.9 inch retina display and two impressive cameras. read more

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You know you’re an illustrator when…

You know you’re an illustrator when…

Since you first added pencil to paper as a toddler, you’ve loved drawing and now you are in the envious position of having turned your passion and talent into your career. How many people wish they could say the same? You know you’re an illustrator when…

…you forget how bright the sun is because you spend so much time indoors

blinded by the sun

Whether it’s deadlines or your slight OCD, you’re probably working around the clock and barely see daylight, yes? That amount of focus makes you sometimes genuinely wonder what’s real and what isn’t. Concentrating all your energy on an imagined world, strange figures and bright colours can confuse matters… Though in reality, this hibernation (if you like) is necessary because you’re focused on the project in hand – and that focus is a vital attribute for illustrators. You can’t afford to be distracted. Literally, you can’t or you won’t get paid. read more

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Which Wacom tablet is best for your needs?

Which Wacom tablet is best for your needs?

By now, most creative arts professionals are aware of the benefits of pen tablets. Not only that, most know that these devices are becoming essential pieces of kit in order to do the job properly.

The question, then, isn’t why should you use a Wacom tablet (after all, we’ve already covered that here), but which one should you get? Certain Wacom tablets are better for some jobs than others, so it can be confusing to know which to choose without going through every specification.

Here are our recommendations: read more

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Ghosts caught on camera – how to create your own ghoulish video

Ghosts caught on camera – how to create your own ghoulish video

Halloween is approaching; soon all your social media feeds will be full of videos challenging non-believers and claiming the ghosts in them are REAL. A surprisingly big proportion of us actually do think that ghosts exist – one in three, in fact.

The rest of us, though, roll our eyes at these videos. Modern technology makes ghost sightings easy to fake; anyone can do it, even if you aren’t skilled with video editing software. Here we reveal how you can create your very own spectre-filled video. read more

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What to choose: A desktop PC or a desktop Mac?

What to choose: A desktop PC or a desktop Mac?

With so many machines available today, choosing a PC has become a far more difficult task than it ever was. Once upon a time, computers were all pretty much the same and deciding between them might have been based more on cosmetic features than technological capabilities. Not so in the 21st Century.

While the tech press has mused for ages that ‘in one/two/three years, you’ll only need a smartphone’, in actual fact, traditional PC sales have remained steady (308.6 million annual sales worldwide). What’s more, nearly half of IT professionals say they plan to replace old desktops like-for-like. As such, to consign the desktop to the recycle bin is excessively premature – especially with the likes of Apple, HP and Lenovo producing ‘all-in-one’ desktops. The big issue, then, is knowing what to go for: a desktop PC or a desktop Mac? read more

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Hardsoft – Apple rumours round-up

Hardsoft – Apple rumours round-up

It’s only a couple of days until Apple’s big press event, so everyone and their mum is trying to guess what the company’s exciting announcement will be. It’s almost certain that Apple will reveal a new iPhone, but what other surprises does it have up its sleeve?

We’ve rounded up all the rumours so you know what to expect come 9 September.

4K iMac

Several sites have reported that they believe a 4K 21.5 inch iMac will be announced this October, after the event. A piece of code inside the upcoming version of OS X seems to uphold this rumour, as it shows Apple is planning to create an iMac with a 4096 x 2304 display. read more

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