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Angie's List Super Service Awards!
The On Button was awarded Angie's List Super Service Awards for 2013 & 2014! Thank you to our wonderful clients, it has been a pleasure helping you!
Technology problems solved...

Computer virus: "...very quick response to my call regarding a virus on my computer... professional and very knowledgable... we will be recommending TheONbutton to my friends." Lynn, Hillsborough NC

Apple Mac computer training: "Neil's prompt service and vast knowledge of computers has been a godsend. At this point I can't imagine life without him!" Margaret, Chapel Hill NC

Computer issue troubleshooting: "Excellent response to issues dealing with the home computer. All problems were solved and his explanations were easily understood." Jane, Durham NC

Laptop memory upgrade: "Punctual and very effective service! Highly recommend." Mike, Chapel Hill, NC

Computer performance tune-up: "I had the good fortune of finding TheONbutton. Neil was prompt, friendly, knowledgeable, fast, efficient, and affordable. I give him my highest recommendation!" Sean, Durham NC

Read more reviews of TheONbutton...

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Wireless Internet connection problem: "Neil got our wireless router and modem going again that Time Warner and TP Link help desks had struggled with. We will definitely use the TheONbutton again should problems arise." Jeff, Durham NC

Computer virus: "...very quick response to my call regarding a virus on my computer...professional and very knowledgable...we will be recommending TheONbutton to my friends." Lynn, Hillsborough NC

Read more reviews of TheONbutton...

What's Going ON?

We love tech and here's where you find out just how much! Our blog covers tips, tech, gadgets and other computer service related stuff in Durham and beyond! Let us know what you think by sending us a comment, we love reading them and we promise to do our best to respond!


Prepaid smartphones: Quick reviews

Prepaid smartphones. Those two words would not have gone together a couple of years ago, but times have changed.
Several people have asked me recently if they can get a smartphone with a data service without being on contract and the answer is a resounding YES. We're not talking about getting an iPhone for cheap, but there is a burgeoning market of low-cost, but competent, Android smartphones which you can run for as little as $30 per month.
These are perfect for those wanting their first smartphone, for kids or just for people who prefer to spend money on things other than expensive cellphone bills! Have I piqued your interest? Then read on for some quick reviews... 

LG Optimus V on Virgin Mobile

The phone I use mostly is the LG Optimus V on Virgin Mobile. It noirmally costs $129, but I'm hearing that it might be going down to $49 at some retailers on Black Friday. It's a well made phone with a beautifully bright screen, but it's behind the times now in terms of speed and the screen is also on the small side. It's a good bet if you want a smartphone that covers the basics without spending too much money.

Samsung Exhibit II 4G on T-Mobile No-Annual Contract

You could also look at the new Samsung Exhibit II 4G on T-Mobile's no-annual contract plans. That one costs $199 but has a larger screen and faster processor so it keeps Andoid moving along nicely. Here's is our in-depth review of the Samsung Exhibit II 4G. We did notice that the screen on the LG Optimus V is more readable in both daylight and sunlight, which is important here since the Durham and Chapel Hill area sees so much sunshine.

Samsung Transform Ultra on Boost Mobile

If you need a prepaid smartphone with a physical keyboard, the Samsung Transform Ultra offers a slide out keyboard with a 3.5 inch screen on Boost Mobile for $229. For that amount of money we would prefer to see a better camera than just three megapixels, but the rest of the specifications of the Samsung Transform Ultra are not bad.

ZTE Warp on Boost Mobile

There's also a new larger phone coming out right now for Boost called the ZTE Warp. It has a large 4.3 inch screen and a five megapixel camera. ZTE is a lesser known brand in the US but has been making big strides elsewhere in the world. The ZTE Warp is currently available on the Boost Mobile website and will hopefully be coming to our local stores in Durham soon.

Where to buy these prepaid smartphones 

These are all no-contract smartphones and the monthly costs range from around $30 to $60, normally including data service and texts, depending on how many voice minutes you need.
In terms of where to find these smartphones, a good place to start is the carrier's website if you're a mail-order fan. If you prefer to buy locally, the Durham and Chapel Hill branches of Walmart, BestBuy and Target carry most of them. Plus most of the prepaid carriers also have initial return periods so you can take the smartphone back if you don't like it.
Maybe it's finally time to give up that old flip phone!

Camera Mouse

We've seen in Apple's own ads that Siri on the iPhone 4S is a wonderfully empowering technology for those with visual impairment. Another technology to help those with disabilities just came to our attention at TheONbutton HQ: Camera Mouse.

Camera Mouse is a free application for desktop and laptops computers that uses the computer's webcam to turn face movements into mouse inputs. So if you tell Camera Mouse to track your nose, then the mouse pointer will move right when you move your head to the right. What a simple service that offers such wonderful possibilities!

This looks great for those who are unable to use a mouse, trackpad or pen input controller. I'd love to see this deployed to community computing facilities in Durham and Chapel Hill.

Camera Mouse is available here and works on Windows 7, Vista and XP. Check out the video below to see it in action. Thanks to Lawrence for the tip!


Smartphone growth highest with 55-64 year olds

Chart from NielsenI've noticed that a lot people in Durham and Chapel Hill are really switched-on, and if they're not, they want to be. It used to be the case that people in younger age brackets would carry smartphones, typically of the iPhone, Android or BlackBerry varieties. They still do, but recently I've noticed a strong trend in Durham towards those in older age groups wanting to know more about smartphones.

This is borne out in a recent Nielsen report which shows that smartphone growth is now highest in the 55-64 age group. My own parents are a testament to that having recently embraced smartphones and, soon after, Apple's iPad. Just a few years ago, the idea of having more than one computing device in a household seemed like an extravagant luxury. Now, if used right, owning multiple devices is central to saving us time, helping us stay in touch and entertaining us. 

Nowadays, most people I meet in both Durham and Chapel Hill own at least one computer and a smartphone. Families in both Durham and Chapel Hill often own multiple computers, and access to the Internet from anywhere within the home is viewed as a necessity. That's great news for kids in those households, who have an unparalleled opportunity to develop the computing and Internet research skills which will be essential for their future careers.


3 reasons why 3D might be a miss this holiday season

1. Finding 3D content

3D TV's lack of mainstream adoption means fewer 3D broadcasts than to regular ones. So owners of 3D TV sets are only getting access to a small number of 3D shows in return for their purchase. It's the chicken and egg story all over again; more 3D broadcasts will probably only follow when more consumers buy 3D TV sets...but of course consumers only want to buy into 3D when they see more 3D shows appearing in the TV guide!

Apart from 3D TV, the other significant 3D content platform is Nintendo's 3DS. This handheld games console recently received an $80 price cut, presumably for missing Nintendo's sales expectations. The 3DS has sold a lot of units however and there are plenty of 3D titles available...

2. The 3D experience

...unfortunately however many people have experienced headaches and nausea when using the Nintendo 3DS. The 3D effect on the Nintendo 3DS can actually be dialled down and completely turned off, although this obviously negates a the headline feature. It didn't help matters when Nintendo itself seemed concerned about children under 6 years of age using the 3D feature of the 3DS.

People sometimes also report experiencing headaches or nausea when watching 3D TV, and this problem has continued to hold back many from buying these sets. After all, watching TV should be about relaxing, not about needing to go for a lie down afterwards!

Some of the newer technologies are moving towards glasses-free 3D, wherein the 3D effect works as long as the viewer is standing in a specific place relative to the screen. I saw several of these sets at CES this year, but unfortunately many people around me weren't able to perceive the effect without using glasses.

However glasses-free technology definitely makes more sense from a consumer's perspective, especially if you already wear glasses. Putting 3D glasses on top of regular glasses is an inconvenience. These sets are not widely available as a mass market option just yet.

3. The cost of 3D

So with a lack of content and a sub-optimal viewing experience in many cases, one might expect stores to be selling off 3D TV sets for cheap to reel in consumers.

That's certainly been Nintendo's approach in cutting the prie of the 3DS so significantly. But sadly most 3D TVs still cost significantly more than most regular HD TVs and the glasses are expensive, often costing around $150 per pair.

The costs quickly add up for a family wanting to buy glasses for everyone, and hosting a 3D Superbowl party quickly becomes prohibitive because friends can't always bring their glasses towatch your 3D TV set. We're still waiting for a 3D glasses standard to become adopted across the industry, so glasses for one manufacturer's 3D TV would be certain to work with another manufacturer's set.


Apple iOS 5 battery drain

Following the update to iOS 5, and in response to reports of high battery drain from iPhone and iPad owners, Apple is said to be close to releasing a fix for the issue. I've started experiencing the battery drain issue on an iPad 1 and have intentionally kept my iPad 2 on iOS 4 until the fix repairs the problem.

The iPad 1 running iOS 5 is losing about 10% a day when in standby. There are no apps running in the background and its iCloud services are turned off, which should help, but the problem is still there. The iPad is a notoriously power-efficient device and it would normally lose about 1% in standby mode on a typical day. The only other time I've experienced such a high battery drain is when the iPad was tethered to enterprise systems and constant background data communications were taking place.

Hopefully the forthcoming update will help to solve the issue!

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