MICROSOFT SURFACE 3 LTE

$499 with data plan

This tablet could replace your laptop

As an iPad user, if you wonder whether it could ever take the place of a laptop, the answer is no — not yet, at least. Windows users, though, can have the best of both worlds: the small size and large touch-screen of a tablet along with a full copy of Windows and the ability to run all their favorite Windows programs. The Microsoft Surface 3 tablet is a pretty darn good Windows computer.

In this generation, the Surface LTE and the Surface Pro 3 (starting at $799) both have Intel processors, unlike in the past.

Besides Windows 8.1, the tablet comes with a one-year subscription to Office 365 with full versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and more.

The LTE could use more RAM. Windows can get a bit bogged down with just the 2 gigabytes of RAM that it has. Given the speed of this tablet running Windows 8.1, upgrading to Windows 10 should be discouraged.

To be fair, Microsoft lists 2 gigabytes of RAM as the minimum requirement for Windows 10, but if more RAM were available (even if it cost money), the upgrade would be more agreeable.

Overall, the Surface 3 LTE is a great starter computer and a really nice tablet. You will need to get set up with a data plan, but it's pretty inexpensive to add to an existing AT&T family plan.

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PARALLELS DESKTOP FOR MAC

$80

Permission to run several systems at once

Parallels Desktop for Mac's 11th version represents the program's biggest leap forward yet.

Parallels makes it possible to run Windows and other operating systems in separate windows — or in full screen — on a Mac's desktop. Among other things, you can cut or copy and paste between Windows and Mac windows — all old news to folks who have been loyal users.

Version 11 installs faster, and for the first time, will install Windows from either a Windows installation disk or from Boot Camp, the Mac's native way of installing two operating systems on the same hard drive.

Version 11 of Parallels brings some worthy Mac features to Windows — Quicklook, for example.

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