Microsoft Delivers Surface Pro Firmware Updates

All three versions of Surface Pro hardware got updates this morning…

pro2_type_purple_cam8_pos-01I’m an update nut. Every time I turn on either my Mac or Windows machines, I always, always, always check for both system and app updates. Call it anal retentivity if you must, but with so many different vulnerabilities and exploits going around, computing on any connected devices can be dangerous without the proper OS and critical application updates. That’s why I check so often. I’m really online all the time, every day, out loud; and I don’t have time to deal with the aftermath of getting hacked.

I also just like making sure I have the latest version of everything.

As I said… anal retentive…

As a converted Mac user, you see app updates more often than you see OS updates. As a veteran Windows user, I’m used to running Windows Update at least 2-3 times a week to make certain I’ve got everything; and when you do run it, you run it over and over again until the service tells you there’s nothing left to update.

So imagine my surprise this morning when I got to the office and jumped over to SuperSite for Windows to read what will likely be Paul Thurrott’s last post there, when I saw this – an article on firmware updates for ALL three Surface Pro versions.

Microsoft missed a December update for the devices, and I honestly thought nothing of it. They should be pretty much done updating firmware for Surface Pro and Surface Pro 2, anyway. They’ve been replaced by Surface Pro 3, and I’d expect Microsoft to really be concentrating on this one. The updates here have some legs; and I’m really hoping they get up and walk around a bit… There are a couple things here, like the Wi-Fi and other wireless changes as well as the update to Surface Hub. Both of these should correct errors that have been hounding people around the world with Surface Pro 3 for some time.

Without further ado, here is the full list of updates, for all three devices.

Surface Pro 3:

Surface Pro UEFI update (v3.11.450.0) adds support for updated HD Graphics Family driver.
HD Graphics Family driver update (v10.18.14.4029) enhances display stability and performance, improves user experience when using Miracast adapters. Improves compatibility with DisplayPort monitors and daisy chaining.
Wireless Network Controller and Bluetooth driver update (v15.68.3073.151) addresses connectivity issues while Hyper-V is enabled. Adds an advanced feature to control the 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz band preference.
Surface Home Button driver update (v2.0.1179.0) ensures compatibility with the Surface Hub app.
Microsoft Docking Station Audio Device driver update (v1.31.35.7) improves the user experience while using the Surface Pro 3 Docking Station so that sound is available when a speaker is not connected to the docking station.

Surface Pro 2:
Surface Pro UEFI update (v2.05.0150) improves the PXE boot experience with the 1 gigabit Surface Ethernet Adapter and further enhances the system security.
HD Graphics Family driver update (v10.18.14.4029) enhances display stability and performance, improves user experience when using Miracast adapters. Improves compatibility with DisplayPort monitors and daisy chaining.

Surface Pro:
Surface Pro UEFI update (v1.7.50) further enhances the system security.
These updates for the Surfaces will be listed as “System Firmware Update – 1/15/2015” once installed and viewed in update history.

As a reminder, when delivered via Windows Update, the Surface firmware updates are pushed out on a staggered basis. Instructions for manually installing the Surface firmware updates are available on the individual Surface Update History sites.

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View your video where you want

hd_video_converter_factory_proWith HD Video Converter Factory Pro!

Putting multimedia on the device that you want to view it on isn’t always easy. Depending on the device that you’re using, and depending on the sync tools you have, getting specific video and other content there can be a challenge. I like having options; and this is why I like applications like HD Video Converter Factory Pro. This cool conversion app for Windows can help you get your video where you want it.

HD Video Converter Factory Pro is an advanced High-Definition (HD) video conversion app. It can help you convert videos from Standard-Definition (SD) to High-Definition (HD), and can reverse the process (HD to SD) if space and size are an issue. With support for over 100 different video formats, you can convert to and from any format for which you might have a need. The app also supports converting content from HD Camcorders to formats that can be viewed on your iDevice, PSP, Android or any other popular mobile device.

HDVCFP-01

Once you get your video taken or identified, the app really starts to shine. HD Video Converter Factory Pro supports Multi-CPU and Hyper Threading, so it offers up to 50X real time conversion speeds. Moving from one format to another is really fast, and you’ll really like that, especially if you have a large HD video you’ve taken on an HD camcorder that you want to post to Facebook, for example. Getting a large video from your computer to a social network can take a lot of time. With HD Video Converter Factory Pro, you can shrink that time thanks to its HD to SD conversion capabilities.

HDVCFP-03

HD Video Converter Factory Pro is one of those apps that you really need to have if you take, share, or watch a lot of video. On top of its conversion capabilities, it allows has a built-in, online video downloader. You can easily download online video files and then transfer them to any of your portable devices.

The app is a bit pricey, but if you can catch Wonderfox’s promotion, you may be able to get it at a highly discounted rate. They also have discount packs that provide you a couple different options at discounted prices.

download HD Video Converter Factory Pro

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Watch your favorite movies on your PC with Leawo Blu-Ray Player

leawoIf there’s one thing that I like to do on my computer, it’s watching movies. I do it quite a bit, for that matter. Having the right app on your PC for watching movies is important. Finding the right app to use on your Windows 8 tablet or PC is also not easy. I think I’ve found a good one, though. I gave Leawo Blu-Ray Player a try and I think you should too. It’s a multimedia player for Windows and it’s kinda cool.

Leawo Blu-ray Player can play Blu-ray/DVD disc, audio discs and files, videos and up to 1080P HD videos smoothly on just about any Windows PC, including Windows 8 tablets and PC’s. The software can also play discs from varying regions, so it doesn’t really matter what country the disc is purchased in. Leawo Blu-Ray Player can handle it.

LBRP-03

The app offers a number if different playback modes, including windowed and full screen.  It’s also easy to adjust subtitles and audio. One of the things that I like about it most is that the software is free for playing most any media you have. However, if you want to play Blu-ray media, you’ll have to purchase a license after the end of your 30-day trial.

Leawo Blu-Ray Player is a decent application.  The one problem I had with it, however, was the inability to get it to eject a disc prior to playback. The DVD’s menu appeared, and the app didn’t give me a way to eject the disc. It should have been fairly easy to figure that out. Perhaps I missed it, but either way, it represented a small concern.

The app is very Windows 8 oriented, sporting tiles of its own, within its program window. It fits in very well with Windows 8, as you’ll see in the app’s screen shots. For a free DVD player, this is a decent choice. As a Blu-ray player, it’s a bit on the pricey side, but as of this writing, Leawo is having a 50% off sale, so please check the website for an awesome deal on a great app.

download Leawo Blu-Ray Player

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View DVD’s on your computer with this must have Windows-based DVD player

Back in the day, I remember that playing DVD’s on your Windows based PC wasn’t always cut and dry. While Windows media player could actually display the content, it didn’t by default, as it didn’t have the appropriate video codecs installed for it by default.  In order to do that on Windows XP and any version of Vista other than Vista Ultimate, you needed a third party DVD player installed.  That’s when I found and fell in love with WinDVD Pro. It’s one of the best soft DVD players available for your Windows PC.


WinDVD Pro is advanced 2D, 3D, AVCHD and Blu-ray player software. The newest version supports not only 3D playback technology, but 2D to 3D conversion, and HD upscaling. If you’re into the 3D experience, its conversion capabilities allow you to convert and enjoy your movies in full 3D definition.

2D to 3D conversion is supported for DVD-Video and standard and high-definition video files. WinDVD Pro provides you not only with support for Blu-ray 3D, NVIDIA 3D Vision Shutter Glasses and XpanD Polarized Glasses, it also includes anaglyph 3D glasses the box version of the software.


You can use WinDVD Pro to quickly search online video sites and find your favourite movies at the best prices with the new Corel FlixFinder. With it, you can browse videos by category, compare prices, and bookmark and select your favorites, all from its convenient search screen.

read full review | download WinDVD Pro 11

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Capture, burn, convert, copy and share digital media with Toast Titanium

Having a Mac usually means having a lot of multimedia on your PC. Having a lot of multimedia on your PC usually means you’re going to need a tool to help you capture and preserve it. That’s one of the reasons why I really like Toast Titanium. It’s one of the premier multimedia tools available for your Mac.

Toast is the fastest way to capture video from your AVCHD camcorder, with no lengthy imports. You can use just about any HD video source. With it, you can create stunning Blu-ray video or HD DVD discs for playback on compatible set top players as well as your PC.

Toast allows you to edit video clips. You can trim start and end points, remove unwanted segments in the middle of video clips before export, or even apply audio effects. You can capture any streaming Internet audio on your Mac, without interference from other apps or system sounds. Toast’s MusicID automatically adds artist and title tags to captured music for easy syncing to your iTunes library.

Capturing streaming web video is just as easy with Toast. You can save streaming video from your favorite web sites and then burn the content to DVD for viewing on your big-screen TV. Toast can even send it automatically to iTunes for syncing with your favorite iDevice.

You can digitize and restore your LP’s and tapes, without the pops, clicks and hisses. Toast’s audio filters and tools help you clean up your audio and then burn it to CD or DVD, or send to iTunes for syncing with your iDevice. Ripping audiobook CDs to iTunes, with chapters, pause/resume support and variable playback speeds is also easy with Toast. You can convert for enjoyment on iPad, iPhone, or your favorite on-the-go-device with just a few clicks.

Toast Titanium is THE audio and video editing and capture application for your PC or Mac. There are very few apps out there, in my opinion that are better at these tasks than Toast. It’s that good. The biggest problem, however with this app, is its price. At $79.99 as of this writing, it’s a bit on the pricey side unless you do a lot of audio-video editing on a regular basis or have a large project ahead of you, like converting your VHS-based home movies to DVD.

Download Toast Titanium for Mac

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iPad 3 Rumors & Thoughts – Part 1: Hardware

With Steve Jobs gone and his legacy not completely publically known or understood, the iPad 3 is almost a complete unknown as well, though the rumor mill has been churning lately. Let’s take a look at some of the rumors and see what’s what.

I’ve been reading the authorized Steve Jobs biography, and quite honestly, I’ve been learning a great deal. Apple very much *IS* Steve Jobs, and vice-versa. It’s been an interesting read. Much of the design and thoughts for the iPad itself came before the iPhone. It was put on hold to address and release the need for the iPhone. However, the magic that is the iPhone will forever be beholden to the iPad. This was probably one of the most interesting revelations I’ve encountered in the book so far. But the iPad… that was Steve’s baby. He really wanted to do a tablet to counter the netbook surge and push, which is pretty much OVER at this point.

Apple has the tablet market pretty much sewn up. At this point, Android can try all it wants, but without the walled garden that Apple has cultivated and nurtured, it’s going to be hard for Google, any of their hardware partners, or ANYONE really, to catch up to them any time soon.

That being the case, rumors of an updated iPad have been circulating for quite some time. Many sites have been saying that the next generation iPad is already in production, and is readying for a March or April release. While I won’t say too much about that just yet, I do want to touch on some of the other rumors related to specific hardware feature sets that many are speculating will differentiate it from the iPad 2.

Better Screen – HD Resolution?
There’s been a great deal of speculation about this particular, potential feature upgrade. A Retina Display from Samsung, a Sharp IGZO display… No one really knows for certain what is going to happen here. However, I think it’s safe to say that Apple’s next generation iPad will have a much better screen than both the iPad 1 and iPad 2. Regardless of what type or which manufacturer really got the contract, Digitimes is reporting some (also unconfirmed) specifics on the screen:

  • A QXGA (1,536×2,048 pixels) display
  • Longer battery life
  • Although its other hardware specs may not be as exciting

The A6 Processor
Apple’s next system on a chip should have nearly twice as much punch as its previous iOS devices. The A5 chip is dual core. The A6 is rumored to be a quad core powerhouse. The tablet should be able to crunch through some major data at that point. Unfortunately, I haven’t heard how fast the chip is rumored to be, though I would assume 1.2-1.5gHz would not be unreasonable.

The Graphics Processor
Given that mobile gaming is on an uptick, and that iOS gaming is in no small part responsible for most of that uptick, it’s almost a certainty that an enhanced graphics processor will be part of Apple’s new iPad. There’s been very little about which processor…but with gaming becoming more important, and iLife apps like GarageBand and iMovie likely to be improved as well, the next edition iPad will need the additional punch of an improved graphics processor. This is probably more important than the implementation of the A6 processor.

HD Camera
The implementation of an HD quality screen begs the implementation of an HD camera. The implementation of a front and rear facing camera in the iPad 2, and the introduction of iMovie for the iPad really kicked this off. I would say that a 720p/8MP rear and 2-3MP front cameras are a safe bet as well.

4G-LTE
Apple clearly stated that it wouldn’t support LTE in the iPhone 4S. While speculation is ripe, no one is willing to make a FIRM say-so on the implementation of LTE. However, it is widely anticipated that Apple will support LTE in both the iPad 3 as well as iPhone 5. So as long as you’re in an LTE equipped market, you should be good to go.

Thunderbolt
This is probably my most favorite and most underused feature in my Early 2011 MacBook Pro. With the implementation of this high speed connectivity solution in its desktops, it seems logical that Apple will move to Thunderbolt and improve the throughput of local synchronization for all its iDevices. However, that would retether the devices it unleashed with the implementation of iCloud in iOS 5.

It would also totally hose about a gazillion iDevice accessories currently on the market today. Apple has been using their 30 pin dock connector forever, and while there have been a few changes to it, generally speaking they’ve stuck with it since the iPod was introduced many years ago.

This would be an interesting development; and one that I actually hope doesn’t come about. However, we’ll have to wait and see.

Come back next time, and I’ll dive into this a bit more with some speculation about iOS 6 and what it’s going to bring to the table.

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Play all of your movies with ArcSoft TotalMedia Theatre 5

There are a number of different kinds of media available today with a number of different formats – Blu-ray, DVD, different 3D formats, HD and SD video – the list goes on.  The biggest problem with all of this is that not every media player is created equally; and you may need more than one player app to handle all of the formats, until now.  If you’re a video junkie like me, then you need to check out ArcSoft TotalMedia Theatre 5. It’s a complete video player for Windows.

With ArcSoft TotalMedia Theatre 5, you get everything for a splendid graphical experience.  You can play Blu-ray 3D movies, DVDs, and native stereo 3D video.  With its Advanced SimHD module, DVDs and low-resolution videos, even YouTube videos, are played at near high-resolution quality, with dynamic lighting, denoising and smoothness.

ArcSoft TotalMedia Theatre 5’s Parental Controls simplifies your ability to apply parental controls to your movie collections. You can restrict specific movie content by rating or choose to set a password.  You can also change Region Code.  However, you are only allowed to change the region code up to five times. After the maximum allowed limit has been reached, the region code locks.

read full review | download ArcSoft TotalMedia Theatre 5

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Pinnacle Studio HD the Homemade Hollywood

Choice is a good thing.  With the 2011 Holiday Season fast approaching, I know that many are going to be taking a lot of video and digital pictures, and are going to be struggling with the best way to share the memories.  Yes, online services like Facebook, Flickr, Picasa Web Albums, are nice; but not everyone has or wants to create an online media account. This is why I like applications like Pinnacle Studio HD. It’s a media editing and sharing application for Windows.

Pinnacle Studio HD makes it easy to edit your movies and digital photos like a pro. With it, you can quickly import videos and photos from a wide range of devices, and then edit scenes and create professional-looking HD movies with over 1,800 included effects, titles, and other content. When you’re done, you can export complete projects to today’s most popular formats or burn them to DVD, and share them with the world. If you make a mistake or your PC crashes, don’t worry. Pinnacle studio HD has a unique new Archive and Restore tool that conveniently backs up projects to preserve your work.

After you have your video and pictures imported and have created a project, you can access over 1,000 unique, professional-level transitions and effects with themes from Pinnacle’s Hollywood FX Volumes 1–3. The app also includes HFX Editor for creating custom effects.  Best of all, the app includes the ability to edit HD video on your computer-with ultra-fast performance when using AVCHD and H.264-based formats.

read full review | download Pinnacle Studio HD

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