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This review is from: Targus ACP71USZ USB 3.0 SuperSpeed Dual Video Docking Station with Power
Pros: It does as advertised. More USB ports than you can shake a stick at, and plenty of video outputs for multimon expansion of an Ultrabook.
Cons: Using with my Dell XPS 12 Ultrabook running Windows 8.0. I spent over a week tweaking drivers and such with support to get the latest version of everything from Intel. I finally got the system stable, but it was a nightmare experience with one thing or another not working properly (wired network, video unstable/crashing, etc.) At least 5 times I had to completely reinstall the dock software because some part of it wasn't working right. Common issue from drivers in the 1990s, but you don't really expect that these days.
Now everything finally works, but the video still stutters frequently and there's also some odd blocky-ness like the video is overly compressed. I find frequent rebooting and unpowering of the Targus does help. I think some of it is that USB 3.0 just doesn't have the bandwidth necessary to pump 2 screens at >1600 pixels plus Gig-E plus all my other accessories. And the slow Intel HD 4000 video in the Dell isn't exactly great either -- although I hear other people with the same chip not having the same issues with the Targus.
But the real reason I remove all the stars is the support experience. Targus was all too happy to help when it was easy for them to show that my drivers weren't all updated. But once they were all updated and the obvious stuff done, they were less helpful. One guy asked me for a screenshot of my problem -- when I was having blue screen issues and driver crashes and pixilation. Taking a screenshot doesn't capture any bit of that. Now maybe he meant I should use my phone to take pictures of my computer screen, which is what I offered, but that's not what he asked. I felt like I was just being put through the paces rather than someone genuinely caring about my problem.
At my office, we have hundreds of these and the experience is all the same -- either it works (or maybe the user's eyes simply don't notice the lag and pixilation), or it doesn't. When it doesn't, forget getting help or getting the dock replaced as a troubleshooting step, and good luck figuring out the various driver combinations.
Other Thoughts: Don't know who's fault it is. Intel, maybe. Dell, possibly. Targus, perhaps. Regardless, these are not ready for primetime. It's nice having a light ultrabook, but for docking situations, I'm going back to my older laptop with real docking station.READ FULL REVIEW
Pros: Photoshop Elements is pretty good I think. It helps those who aren't familiar with Photoshop do things in a couple quick steps that take longer in Photoshop. I like it a lot because for home use, it's really almost a cross between some basic Lightroom features and 80-90% of what most people need with Photoshop.
Cons: Premier Elements still stinks. It is horrible. It is slow when editing HD, the disc authoring is pretty terrible, and the built in templates are bad. Granted I've tried the simple version of Sony Vegas and it's pretty bad too (more usable, but crashes frequently... at least Adobe is stable even if it's barely usable). But in this case, I'm tempted to say Microsoft's free Movie Maker is better for most home movies and (if you have Windows 7's built-in DVD maker), that is better too. Maybe one day I'll find a decent basic video editing software... not today.READ FULL REVIEW
This review is from: APC BR700G 700 VA 450 Watts 6 Outlets Back UPS RS LCD 700 Master Control
Pros: Works as advertised. Display is neat but can be turned off so it's not bright at night. Haven't configured the software or anything. Plenty of capacity for both my Homeserver and Desktop PC. APC is the gold standard.
Cons: Can't think of any. Batteries will eventually need to be replaced, but that's expected for any UPS.READ FULL REVIEW