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Voice technology; 4 reasons why the future looks brighter & louder!

Voice technology; 4 reasons why the future looks brighter & louder!

What does the future of voice technology look like?

Voice technology is everywhere! Pretty soon it will be an unavoidable phenomenon, not just an app you never use.

Voice technology is continuing to change the way we communicate in all aspects of our everyday lives.

And, in recent years, an increasing number of high profile brands, including Microsoft and Apple, have recognised the many benefits that come hand in hand with voice technology. In fact, more people than ever before are embracing voice assistant devices at home and at work, increasing the worldwide demand for technology that can recognise human speech.

Firstly, what is voice technology?

From the Apple HomePod and Google Home through to the Amazon Echo, brands have been quick to respond to consumer demand for voice assistants, which have been designed to integrate seamlessly into our everyday lives, ultimately changing consumer behaviour. read more

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Apple’s iMac celebrates 20 years on the market

Apple’s iMac celebrates 20 years on the market

With iPhones, iPads, and Apple’s iMac amongst the most must-have products on the market today, it’s perhaps not surprising that they are the world’s most valuable publicly traded company.

From Humble Beginnings…

Of course, it hasn’t always been that way. Cast your mind back just 20 years to the glorious 90s and whilst N-sync were busy providing a catapult for Justin Timberlake’s solo career Apple was struggling to keep up with its competitors and gather any real traction in the home computer market. But on the 6th of May 1998, having recently returned to the company as CEO, Steve Jobs unveiled Apple’s latest product – the iMac. read more

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How much does it cost to lease a laptop?

How much does it cost to lease a laptop?

Need a new laptop? You might be weighing up the differences between buying and leasing and wondering what’s best for you.

Benefits of leasing a laptop

Leasing is a great way to get the kit you need now and spread the cost out over a period of time. It can be ideal for businesses and their cash flow as less money is initially laid out for equipment. Businesses need to ensure they’re getting the most affordable price for thir kit, so how much does it cost to lease a laptop and what are the benefits?

We have looked at some of the most popular laptops, as priced in April 2018. All of our costs exclude VAT and based on a lease over a three-year period. There are other leasing options available such as Hardsoft Flexi-Lease, which enables you to renew your kit after two years. read more

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What are the Five advantages of leasing?

What are the Five advantages of leasing?

If you are weighing up the pros and cons of leasing your computer equipment we are here to make things a little easier for you! Here are the top five advantages of renting your IT equipment.

Extended warranty and support

Renting your computer, laptop or tablet from Hardsoft gives you a free three year warranty on your product. This is substantially more cover than you get as standard with Apple’s one year warranty and saves you from having to pay for the additional ‘Apple Care’ package. In addition, if you are renting a Mac and something goes wrong we’ll loan you another one if we need to take yours in for repair. read more

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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 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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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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“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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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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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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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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