The New “New iPad” and the iPad Mini 

This article was written by Parts2PCs Owner Fred Varano and originally appeared in the Wakefield Daily Item on November 15th, 2012.

It’s March, 2012 and the “New iPad”, also known as the iPad 3 has just been released.  People jump at the chance to get Apple’s latest tablet that features the new Retina display for the crispest images ever seen on an iPad.  Most buyers thought that like past iPads, they would have about a year before the next model was announced.  Fast forward to the iPad Mini announcement on October 23rd.  Most people were expecting the announcement of the Mini, but what caught almost everyone by surprise was the unveiling of another new full sized iPad, simply known as iPad with Retina display.  Since the iPad 3 also had a Retina display and to avoid confusion, I will refer to the newest iPad as the iPad 4 in this column. 

The iPad 4 has a few improvements over the previous version with the biggest being a faster processor which Apple describes as up to twice as fast as its predecessor.  The other major improvement is the faster wireless receiver built in.  The iPad is now capable of taking advantage of Wireless-N routers which is the fastest Wi-Fi available.  The cellular models also feature 4G LTE, which is a vast improvement over previous models.  Apple changed the charging port to the Lightning adapter that is currently on the iPhone 5 and the new iPod Touch.  Apple kept the pricing the same for the 4th Generation iPads as they did for the iPad 3.  The Wi-Fi models are available in 16GB, 32GB and 64GB sizes and are priced at $499, $599 and $699 respectively.  Wi-Fi + Cellular models are available at slightly higher prices.

The star of the show during the iPad event was the announcement of the iPad Mini.  Like its name implies, the Mini is a smaller iPad that has a 7.9” screen opposed to the 9.7” screen on the full sized version.  Apple has compared the thickness of the Mini to the thickness of a pencil, and it has a weight of just over a half of a pound.  The Mini has most of the same features found on a full size iPad including front and rear facing cameras, however it does not have the high definition Retina display of the larger versions.  During the announcement, Apple described the ability to hold and use the Mini with one hand as one of the reasons it introduced the smaller line.  The mini is also more affordable with memory sizes that match the iPad 4 and prices are $329, $429 and $529.  The Mini is also available in Wi-Fi + Cellular models. 


Answers to Your Questions about the New iPhone 

This article was written by Parts2PCs Owner Fred Varano and originally appeared in the Wakefield Daily Item on October 26th, 2012.

The iPhone 5 has been available to the public for about a month and I have received some questions in my store from Wakefield residents that I would like to share in this month’s column. 

Apple has released new software for the iPhone, can I use it in my older iPhone?

Most likely, the new operating system called iOS 6 can be installed on the iPhone 4S, 4 and 3GS.  If you have an iPhone older than the 3GS, iOS 6 will not be compatible with it.

Does the iPhone 5’s camera really have an issue with a purple ring appearing in pictures?

There is a chance that a purple halo could appear in some pictures taken with the new iPhone, and Apple has responded to the reports with a simple answer; reposition your phone when taking a picture.  Apparently, if the camera is pointed directly at a strong source of light, the ring may be visible on your phone’s screen as well as in the final picture.  Many reports show that this is not just an issue with the iPhone 5, these purple artifacts can happen with previous model iPhone’s as well as other smartphones if their cameras are pointed directly at a light source. 

Is the new iPhone connector going to be used on all new Apple devices?

I do not know the answer to this for sure, but my best guess is it will.  The new connector is called the Lightning connector and in addition to it being used on the new iPhone, it is also being used on the newest generation of the iPod Touch.  A new version of the iPad, possibly an iPad mini, will probably be the next Apple mobile device announced.  If that has the Lightning connector on it, it is a safe bet that Apple will be sticking with this connector for the near future.

How is the data speed on the new iPhone?

The iPhone 5 uses 4G LTE technology to achieve the fastest wireless data speeds seen on an iPhone to date.  Apple claims that the 4G LTE speeds in many areas will be faster than many in home wireless networks that the phone can also connect to for data.  Of course, your wireless carrier as well as your location will ultimately determine your wireless speeds.  Personally, I have seen very fast data speeds in Wakefield using AT&T Wireless, and there have been similar reports from Verizon Wireless users.

If you own the new iPhone, what do you think of it?  What are some of the new features you like and have you experienced any negatives while using the phone?


The iPhone 5, In a Nutshell 

This article was written by Parts2PCs Owner Fred Varano and originally appeared in the Wakefield Daily Item on September 18th, 2012.

It has been about a year since the current iPhone, the 4S was released, but come Friday, the newest edition to Apple’s family of smartphones, the iPhone 5, will be here.  Apple is promoting the 5 as “the biggest thing to happen to iPhone since iPhone”.  Time will tell if that statement is accurate.  What we do know, even before the device is in any of our hands, are the major details of the device, including some improvements.

The first difference many people will notice as soon as they see the iPhone 5 is the larger screen.  For the first time since the original iPhone was released in 2007, the screen will increase from a size of 3.5” to 4”.  The larger screen will allow a fifth row of icons on the home screen, as well as a true 16:9 widescreen format, in addition to some other tweaks which led Apple to say the iPhone 5 will have the best looking movie playback versus any other iPhone.  The new iPhone is also 18% thinner and 20% lighter than the previous model, and now features a more durable metal back opposed to the glass backs on the 4 and 4S models. 

On the performance side, the iPhone 5 will be able to take advantage of 4G LTE networks from the major cell phone carriers, allowing faster data connection speeds versus 3G networks.  A large improvement in overall processing power was also given to the new model with the new A6 chip that Apple touts as running 2 times faster than its previous processing chip but is 22% smaller in size and more energy efficient.

Two areas where there was not too much improvement pertained to the battery and camera.  Battery performance sees only a slight performance increase over the 4S, and the camera, though completely redesigned for the 4S, only sees an improvement in low light situations, but does now include the ability to take panoramic shots by stitching multiple photos together to create a larger one.

One modification that is drawing some criticism is Apple’s decision to change the 30-pin charging/syncing connector that we’ve all been accustomed to, to a much smaller 8 pin connector that is called a lightning connector.  No one seems to have an issue with the theory of the change, but complaints are mainly due to people investing in charging accessories like alarm clocks, car chargers, etc. that will not be compatible with the iPhone 5, unless an adapter is purchased.

The iPhone 5 is scheduled to be released on Friday, September 21st and will be available through Apple, as well as cell phone carriers including AT&T, Sprint and Verizon.  The iPhone is once again not available through T-Mobile.  iPhone 5 pricing is the same as the previous model at $199, $299 and $399 for the 16GB, 32GB and 64GB memory sizes respectively.

Will you be upgrading to the 5?  I’d like to hear your thoughts on the new model and if you think Apple made enough improvements on it to justify upgrading to the iPhone 5.


Why to Secure Your Home Wireless Network 

This article was written by Parts2PCs Owner Fred Varano and originally appeared in the Wakefield Daily Item on August 30th, 2012.

Wireless internet, or Wi-Fi has become very common in homes in America over the last decade.  It allows us to connect our laptops, tablets, phones, printers and even some home thermostats and security systems to the internet without any wires.  It provides the ultimate convenience for users who want to stay connected, but if not set up and secured properly, it can be an invitation for unwanted guests to gain access to your home internet connection.

There are many reasons to secure your home wireless router, but the most basic reason is you are paying for it.  Whether it is in a house, or an apartment building, today’s wireless routers are broadcasting stronger signals than ever before, crossing into many of your neighbor’s homes.  While it may be very convenient and cost efficient for your neighbor to log in to your network, you wouldn’t give them free access to your phone service, so why do it for your internet service which can cost just as much? 

Another reason to secure your router would be for performance.  When we pay for internet service each month, we pay for access to a certain tier of speed from the service provider.  If your signal is can reach multiple nearby residences, and one or two of them tap into your service, they can significantly slow your speed down based on what they are using your connection to do online. 

Aside from cost and performance, the most important reason to secure your router is for you and your family’s online safety.  Chances are you don’t have to worry about your neighbors in this sense, but if a hacker is in range of your network, they can do many things that can be detrimental to you by using your internet connection.  Keep in mind that your connection is identified to authorities by an IP address, which is a set of numbers similar to a phone number that only you have, so if a hacker decides to perform illegal activity while on your network and it gets reported, it will look like someone in your home was the culprit. 

Securing your home network takes only a few minutes to accomplish. Visit www.Parts2PCs.com/TTLinks for more details on how to safeguard your network.  As a side note, if you are a Verizon FiOS Internet customer, they already provide you with a secured router when your equipment is installed.  


Free Apps for the Summer, a Prepaid iPhone & a New iPad 

This article was written by Parts2PCs Owner Fred Varano and originally appeared in the Wakefield Daily Item on July 12th, 2012.

It’s summertime and most of us are spending more time outdoors, but now more than ever, we’re still connected to our electronic devices even on the go.  Here are some useful apps for your smartphone that will enhance your outdoor experience:

Music apps: Pandora Radio, Radio.com, TuneIn Radio.

Pandora is an app that allows the user to program artists and build stations around those artists as well as similar performers.  Radio.com and TuneIn Radio allow you to listen to existing radio stations from across the country and around the world. 

Movie Apps: Netflix, Crackle. 

If you’re looking to check out a movie while relaxing by the pool, these two apps will give you many choices.  Netflix does require the $7.99 per month subscription, but the app is free.  Crackle is completely free and offers an adequate selection for a free service.  Both of these apps perform best when connected to Wi-Fi.

Social Media: Facebook, Twitter.

Most people are already familiar with these two websites, but they also provide an easy way to communicate with friends and family from your mobile device while you’re out and about. 

Video Chat: Skype, Apple FaceTime

If you’re looking to communicate with people by using video, these apps are all you need.  Skype works on any device with a camera or webcam, however, FaceTime is strictly for certain Apple devices including the iPhone 4 and newer, the iPad 2 and newer and the newest iPod Touch.  Both apps require your device to be connected to Wi-Fi to work function properly.

Weather:  The Weather Channel

This app has you covered for all aspects of weather.  It can automatically detect your location and provide hour by hour and 10-day forecasts for you.  Wondering if those clouds will bring rain?  The app also features an up to the minute animated radar map so you can see exactly what is heading your way.

Most of these apps are available across multiple platforms including Apple and Android devices.  Check with your device’s app store for availability.

In Apple news, the iPhone 4S (the newest iPhone) was recently made available in a prepaid format through Virgin Mobile, a division of Sprint.  The 16GB version of the phone will be sold at a price of $649, which is much higher than the 2-year contract version that is priced at $199, but if you’re a person that does not want to be in a contract, then this may be worth it.  Data, messaging and voice minutes are available at an additional cost. 

Reports surfaced during the first week of July of a new iPad.  I know, you’re thinking not another one so soon!  No need to worry, the “new” new iPad is rumored to be an iPad Mini.  Early reports show that the Mini will have a 7.85 inch screen opposed to the 9.7 inch screen on the current and previous models of the iPad.  The Mini will not have the high resolution retina display of the newest iPad which will allow it to be priced lower than any previous iPad.  The Mini is rumored to not do anything extra in comparison to the current iPad, other than being made in a smaller form factor.  Many news outlets are reporting that the iPad Mini will be available for the 2012 holiday season.