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What should I do with my old laptop?

Pile of Old Laptops
We receive a lot of questions regarding old computers and laptops but the most frequent is, “what should I do with my old laptop computer?”
Costs of laptops and desktops have plummeted as tablets and phones have become more powerful. We frequently see customers go out and get new laptops and computers way sooner than theyPile of Old Laptops
actually need to because of these low prices. The need for the latest and greatest technology, or impatience for slowness, and sometimes the lack of understanding of how to fix the problem, creates piles of old computer equipment that lay around the house. So customers are asking, “what should I do with my old laptop?”
Here are a few questions we normally ask to find out more about your old equipment.
  1. What is the make and model? (this can easily be found on the lcd screen bezel or even the sticker on the bottom of the laptop.)
  2. How old is the laptop?
  3. What is the current operating system?(Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8, 10?)
  4. Why did you stop using it?
  5. Can you find a purpose for it?

After hearing the answers to those questions, our response is almost always the same; “breathe new life into it!” If your old laptop is running Microsoft Vista or newer, it’s well worth the money to find a purpose for it and then refurbish it for use. If your laptop is running Windows XP, you might not want to bother with it; however, this depends on you.

What’s the Purpose?

First, find a purpose for the old laptop or desktop computer. Here are some ideas to get you started.

  1. Donate it to someone.
  2. Sell it.
  3. Let the kids use it.
  4. Use it for road trips or while working in the garage.
  5. Use it for surfing the internet and/or streaming media anywhere.
  6. Strip it for parts.
  7. Get creative and turn it into something useful.

If there is no purpose and you just want to throw it away or recycle it, then be sure to remove the hard drive first. Leaving the hard drive in the computer you are about to recycle leaves your personal data vulnerable even if you think you did a good job erasing it all. We can manage this for you. Simply drop off the computer at any of our drop off locations and we’ll securely destroy the information, and then donate/recycle/dispose of computer for you at no cost.

Moving on, let’s say you want to repurpose it, give it to a friend, or just want to start using it again. Here are the upgrades worth investing in to breathe new life into that old laptop.

Hard Drive

First, let’s talk about the hard drive. Hard drives typically last 5 years and then they start slowing down and/or failing. Replacing your old hard drive is an absolute must if you want to speed up your old laptop. Go solid state. Solid State hard drives typically range from $60-$175 depending on how much storage you actually need and want on your old laptop. Keep in mind this old laptop is being repurposed and you won’t likely need a whole lot of storage space unless you are going to turn it into a media server. Go with a Samsung Evo 850 250GB or higher. If you know you will not put any personal data on it, you might want to go even cheaper with a 120GB Solid State drive. A hard drive upgrade will be the single greatest upgrade for your old laptop. You should see a 40% – 70% increase in performance compared to when the laptop was brand new. Boot up should take a matter of seconds and you will see positive and instant results. It may even have you questioning, “did I need to buy a new laptop in the first place?”

Operating System

Many agree that Microsoft seems to release Windows operating systems in a good-then-bad-then-good again pattern. For example:

Windows 98 = Good
Windows Millennium (ME) = Bad
Windows XP = Good
Vista = Bad
Windows 7 = Good
Windows 8 = Bad
Windows 10 = Good

Now, even though we think Microsoft Vista is old and terrible, we don’t believe it is as bad as it used to be. Vista has gotten much better over the years. Vista will be just fine for web surfing, streaming, and general typing applications, etc. For a backup machine or a repurposed laptop, save money and keep Vista. Vista will do what you need it to do and it will save you a little extra money without having to buy a Windows 7 or higher. If you really want to do it right then do yourself and the world a favor and help end the life of Microsoft Vista. Order a legit copy of Windows 7 and then attempt to upgrade to Windows 10 for free. This can be done for ~$60.

Once you install Windows 7 with the new media and license key on the new solid state hard drive, be sure to run all Windows 7 updates and then try to run the Windows 10 upgrade. The upgrade process will tell you right away if your old hardware is compatible with Window 10 or not. If not, at least you are at Windows 7. If so, then great, you just upgraded to Windows 10.

Keep in mind, all operating systems have an end of life date assigned. End of life means Microsoft will no longer support your operating system by releasing security hole patches. See chart below, Vista is supported until April 2017; however, it is possible they could extend a year or 2. My guess is Microsoft won’t extend because they know how terrible Vista was and not many businesses adopted it.

Inline image 1

Memory & Misc

If you have less than 4GB of RAM, then we recommend upgrading your memory to a minimum of 4GB. Try to order and install the max amount of RAM your motherboard will handle for the best experience. If you have 2GB of RAM, don’t let it stop you from refurbishing the laptop; your hard drive will make the most difference and 2GB of memory will be fine.

Laptop batteries typically last 2-3 years and are ~$20. Why not order and replace this if your current battery is not keeping a good charge?
What will you do with your old laptop?
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Computer Hardware Repair

Computer Hardware Repair

Computer Hardware RepairOver 75% of our time goes into computer hardware repair. Out of the last nine computers, we repaired recently, seven experienced hardware issues and all nine had spyware and viruses that needed to be cleaned up. Computer hardware repair is easy but unfortunately requires a little extra time and money. We charge $120 flat rate for our service time. Our flat rate means we charge you the same amount for 1 hour or 10. We charge at our costs for hardware repairs so our customers get the most economical but professional repairs.

LCD / LED Screen Replacements

We are seeing an increase in cracked or damaged LCD / LED computer screens.  Unfortunately, we do not have a way to repair the displays so we buy brand new panels to replace with. Recently, a sweet grandmother battling health issues dropped her grandson’s Lenovo G50-45 laptop off. The laptop had a cracked screen and a few viruses. The grandmother brought it to us and left it for two days for the repair. We were able to remove the bezel and broken panel to replace the screen with the brand new one that came in that same day. We get the best prices for replacement panels and the swap can typically take less than one hour.

Hard Drive Repairs

Two out of the last nine systems repaired experienced hard drive failures. We worked on a Lenovo Ideapad U530 touchscreen laptop that would boot into a menu that gave options to boot from other media. Because the hard drive failed completely, there was no operating system to boot from. We took the old 1TB 5400 RPM drive (slow) out and put in a new Samsung EVO 850 250GB solid state drive which is extremely fast and affordable and plenty of room for their growth needs. We also had to order a new copy of Windows 10 because the license key was not retrievable from the failed drive and the sticker on the bottom was completely worn off and unreadable. We rebuilt the operating system and installed all the applications that he had previously. Our customer was sad to hear that he lost all the data so we sent the drive out for recovery quotes that came back at approximately $2,000-$2,500. This shows the value of keeping good backups with USB thumb drives, external hard drives, and/or online backups. The Lenovo U530 was not the only make and model we worked on with hard drive issues. Normally, hard drives last about 5 years on average.

We worked on an HP DV7 that experienced slowness, freezing, and applications not opening. Typically this happens because of spyware, viruses, page file corruption, or registry issues. We cleaned all those things up and performance appeared normal. Even though our scans did not find any issues with the hard drive, the bootup process was still taking several minutes. We decided to upgrade the hard drive to a new solid-state drive. During the cloning process, from old to new, it became very apparent that the old hard drive was in the midst of failing. After we cloned the old hard drive to the new, everything was performing perfectly and the bootup process was down to 12 seconds as expected. We upgraded the operating system from Windows 7 to Windows 10 but the AMD video card was having issues with Windows 10. Resolutions would not stick, the drivers would not start, and sometimes boot process would only display a black screen and increase the boot time. After some research we found our new friends at http://leshcatlabs.net/ they develop custom video drivers for older cards that are not yet Windows 10 compatible; this fixed all the video issues and now the system is running perfectly.

DC Jack Repairs

We repaired two DC jacks recently. One in a Samsung 7 Series NP700Z3C and another in a Dell Latitude 1525. Both appeared that drops onto the charge cable cracked the dc jack off the motherboard. We simply ordered new DC jacks to replace. DC jacks are normally less than $15 and some plug right into the motherboard after pulling apart the laptop but some must be soldered on. Either way, it’s the same price for our customers. Normally, DC jacks don’t need to be replaced until they encountered some kind of physical damage like the laptop being dropped or someone stepping on the power cable while it’s plugged into the jack.

CPU / GPU fan Repairs

At first, our customer took their Toshiba Satellite E45T-A4200 laptop to the “Geeks” for diagnostics and was told, “it could be the hard drive or the CPU fan.” This kind of service frustrates customers…” or”?! Clearly, they didn’t diagnose it correctly or they would know which one it was for sure. She brought the laptop to us and while she was here, we pulled the bottom case off and booted it up to show her that the fan was causing the grinding noise. The laptop booted fine and wasn’t experiencing any issues. We ordered a new CPU fan for a couple of bucks and it arrived the next day. The laptop’s CPU fan was swapped out, the OS was cleaned up, and the metal cased laptop is now running perfectly. Since fan failure is not all that common in newer laptops, we did a little digging and found the root cause of death. We found that the BIOS version installed had a bug which caused the fan to run at 100% all of the time. This was fixed by upgrading the BIOS to the latest version. We don’t expect the fan to fail again anytime soon.

Motherboard Repairs

Normally, it’s easier to just replace the motherboard but sometimes there is a chance to swap out the bad capacitors. A customer brought in an HP Pavilion Slimline 400-034 with a failed motherboard. Typically, dust or time kills the components on the board but this motherboard was as clean as new. This motherboard happened to be ~$250 bucks for the replacement and no signs of failed capacitors. The motherboard experienced a failed BIOS upgrade and recovery attempts are not completing. At this point, our recommendation was to buy a different computer and we will transfer the data.

The older your computer is, the more likely a computer hardware repair will be required; much like automobiles and people! 🙂

 

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Virus Removal Service

Virus attack concept. Control panel with red light and warning. Conceptual image symbol of computer infection.

Computer viruses are programs that are installed unknowingly and will corrupt data or impede computer performance. More than likely if you have ever encountered a virus you have done so through downloading files, opening email attachments, or clicking on a questionable web links or pop-ups. Malware can be nasty, recently we dealt with a laptop that was infected with an encryptor variant. The encryptor virus locked all personal files including music, movies, documents, and pictures. The unfortunate part about this experience was that the customer did not have any recent backups and there was no known fix to get access to the files again with this specific lock. Our virus removal service is top notch but in this case there was nothing to do besides save what we could and rebuild the system from scratch. We moved the saved files back once we confirmed no traces of the virus remained. Always keep backups and even backups of backups.

Virus Removal Service Phoenix Arizona

This week has been insanely busy for virus removal service with no repeat customers thankfully. One Dell Inspiron 1525 and also a Dell Inspiron 1545, we also worked on a couple of white box (custom home builds) systems; we do not see many of these anymore. Each of the systems were running Windows 7, 8, and 10.  that we were able to use our tools on to effectively remove all the viruses and deliver the computer back in hand running better than ever.  We left our virus removal assault tools on these systems so our users can fire them up later if needed. Tim also brought us a Lenovo with a massive number of viruses that needed to be removed because the system was running so slow.

Our virus removal service is guaranteed, so don’t wait around to get those bugs cleaned up. Start enjoying your computer again!

 

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Asus G72Gx Gaming Laptop Repair

Asus G72Gx Gaming Laptop Repair

Hey iNFLUX PC Repair friends! Looking for a repair on your laptop? Let us know what you need and we’ll take care of it for you.

Oldie but Goodie – Asus G72Gx Gaming Laptop Repair

A couple weeks ago we received a gaming laptop that definitely had seen better days and needed multiple repairs. The Asus G72Gx originally came with a 17″ in LCD screen, 1GB of dedicated graphic memory, 500GB hard drive, and 6GB of RAM. This was clearly designed for gaming use and is still a decent laptop today. Why not repair it, right?!

Asus G72Gx Gaming Laptop Repair

Our friend Daniel, brought us the laptop after it accidentally dropped out of a parked vehicle. Fortunately, he had insurance on it. We worked with the insurance company to justify the time and materials required for the repair and it was at very little cost to him. This laptop had so many things wrong with it, probably more than we have ever seen on a single device within the last 10+ years  that we’ve been in business.

It’s easier to ask, “What is working?!”

  1. The LCD screen was only showing black and gray; however, the attached external monitors worked fine.
  2. The laptop would not completely boot and sometimes froze at the windows boot logo.
  3. The Keyboard back-light was intermittent and sometimes wouldn’t register that keys were being pressed.
  4. The exterior had cracks in the plastic, mainly the bottom case and screen bezel. This was strictly cosmetics though.
  5. WiFi was not working. The laptop knew the card was attached but the radio would not enable.
  6. DVD burner was not working. Again, Windows knew the drive was there; however, CD’s and DVD media could not be read or written.
  7. The battery would not keep a charge.

The repairs.

We ordered the parts needed to get the laptop back up and running. The first problem was the screen. If a laptop doesn’t have a working screen, what is the point of having a laptop? So, we ordered the following parts right away:

  1. LCD panel and bezel
  2. Bottom case/cover.
  3. Battery
  4. DVD Burner.
  5. 500GB Solid State Hard Drive.

Once we swapped the LCD panel and bezel we could then see what was going on with the boot up process without having to use an external monitor. The bottom case swap fixed the gaps in between palm rest and bottom case. The battery swap kept the device mobile since it would now keep a charge. We put in a 500GB Solid State Hard Drive in addition to his 500GB spindle drive; now he had 1TB of hard drive space to work with.

Asus G72Gx Gaming Laptop Repair Woes…

Once booted, we determined that it was best to go ahead and do a clean install of Windows 8.1. Everything was going fine until we updated the BIOS using Asus’s update tool in Windows. The bios is a a set of computer instructions in a firmware that control input and output and if it goes wrong the laptop becomes a brick. This is the first time in 10+ years of updating BIOS’s that we actually witnessed a no boot failure after an updating. Short version of the story, we ended up ordered a new motherboard for him. The BIOS update on the new motherboard went perfectly, phew! Asus G72Gx Motherboard

Once the new motherboard was in, we were back in business. We finished up all the Windows 8.1 update and a couple days later, Windows 10 was released. The Windows 10 update was simple and quick and fixed some other weird operating system issues.

Upgrades

We upgraded a few things to bring the laptop up to date. First, a brand new SSD. The solid state hard drive (SSD), is the best upgrade anyone can pay for. We’ve been turning 5-7 year old laptop into scream machines. This laptop allows two internal drives so we installed the Samsung 850 Evo SSD as his primary drive that has the operating system (Windows 10), his applications, and primary data on it. The 500GB spindle drive was installed in the secondary slot and can now be used for data that is not frequently accessed or even as a backup drive. This is the best setup for high performance. We also upgraded him to Windows 10 from Windows 8.1. I guarantee this laptop is at least 30% faster than the first day he got it.

It’s was great to see this shamble of a system go through repairs to become such a great computer again.

Now then, what could be so wrong with your laptop? Our laptop repair is $120 flat rate + at cost parts; love your laptop again!

 

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Dell Inspiron 3541 Virus Removal

Virus Removal Needed

We had a patient this week, a Dell Inspiron 3541 laptop that needed our virus removal service. The notebook was brought in by an ASU student that desperately needed to get the machine back up and running to complete her homework assignments. Her mom, who lives in California, found us on Google by typing in “Avondale az pc repair” and found our impressive customer satisfaction rating at 4.9 of 5 stars! She also loved our 5-day guarantee and $120 flat rate. She mentioned that our $120 flat rate service was much better than Office Max’s $165, non-flat-rate and referred us to her daughter.

The laptop was actually in great physical condition and was brand new to the customer. There were only 3 problems that she wanted to be resolved; 1. Viruses, 2. Windows 8 Tiles, and 3. Cannot watch DVD’s

Antivirus Cloud GraphicViruses

The viruses were self-inflicted from clicking questionable links on the internet and in an email. The virus attacked her antivirus software and took it out of commission. We removed the no longer functioning Antivirus software and put on a Free program that auto-updates and scans and is much better than what she was using. We also used our bag of tricks to remove everything from the system. In fact, we left some tools on her desktop in case she runs into another issue in the future.

Windows 8

Windows 8 really isn’t a problem. Sure she didn’t like the tiled start screen and start button hiding underneath it, but Windows 8 is actually a great operating system. Tomorrow Windows 10 will be released (hopefully). She qualifies for the free upgrade but will likely hold off until she has us upgrade it for her. In the meantime, we installed a program called ClassicStart that automatically skips the tiled start screen and changes the Start button back to the Windows 7 style functionality. Yay for Windows 10 going back to a classic start button style.

Can’t Watch DVD’s

While Netflix, Amazon Prime, Google Play, Pandora, and all other streaming multimedia source are gaining popularity but there are still some that want to play their DVD’s or CD’s on the computer. This is fine, except that Microsoft doesn’t include DVD player software that will do this for you. We installed a free player for her and trained her how to use it.

Recommendations

We recommend a SSD hard drive and an online backup solution be put on all systems; however, they were not entirely necessary for what she uses her computer for. Other than that the repair was quite easy and she had the laptop back in ~24 hours. Now that is service!

What’s wrong with your PC? How can we help?

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Dell Inspiron E1705 Issues

Dell Inspiron E1705 Fan Replacement

Dell Inspiron E1705 with Multiple Issues

Dell Inspiron E1705 Fan ReplacementThis Dell Inspiron E1705 had so many issues when it came to us. The customer knows the laptop is old and he should probably just replace it with a new laptop. We think the sentimental value is more than the value of the laptop itself.

The laptop was overheating and shutting down to protect itself. We found that the CPU fan failed and was no longer spinning. We decided to replace the CPU and GPU at the same time as well as the BIOS battery. The parts were less than $10 total.

After we replaced the parts we dealt with the operating system and software updates.

The customer purchased Windows 7 from Discount Mountain Software and had a legitimate license key. Unfortunately, the company sent the wrong media download link and the wrong version of Windows 7 was installed by the customer and the would not activate. The company is ranked “F” at the BBB and were completely unresponsive to any requests we made via email and phone.

Fortunately, we had the correct media that matched his purchased license key. We were able to reinstall the OS and get it activated with Microsoft to get all the security updates available.

The computer is in “as-good-as-new” condition and the customer is very happy with it. A solid state hard drive would be the next step to restoring this laptop to faster than new conditions.

What old laptops do you have sitting around that are ready to be revived?

 

 

 

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HP Pavilion 500 Virus Removal

HP Pavilion 500 Virus Removal

HP Pavilion 500 Virus Removal

HP Pavilion 500 Virus Removal

This week we worked on an HP Pavilion 500 with a massive amount of viruses and spyware, 504 to be precise. The system desperately needed virus removal services. The customer didn’t have time to drop it off with us; we offered our remote services instead. We used our tools to remote control the computer without him even having to leave the house. We used our remote control tool to connect over the internet to repair the PC. We also used our various tools and expertise for the virus removal and optimization of his PC. We corrected registry issues, removed viruses, removed spyware, optimized the PC, and installed protection tools for prevention.

Our customer mentioned that the issue has been going on for months. We found the reason; his antivirus had been expired since 2014.  He computer is running very quickly now and is malware free. He is one happy customer and wishes he would have come to us sooner.

The only thing that would make this system faster is a Solid State Hard Drive. He already has plenty of RAM with a decent processor; the bottleneck here is his hard drive.

Every computer that comes through our doors comes with Virus Removal and Optimization. We don’t just fix the problem, we do much more than what you ask us to do.

Is your AntiVirus solutions and up to date? Ask us if are unsure and we’ll help get you protected.

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Kindle Fire Screen Repair

Kindle Fire Screen Repair – Lighter and Smaller

Devices are constantly getting lighter and smaller. This creates a problem, people drop them, step on them, or set heavy items on them, which leads to shattered screens and other damages. What is the natural response to broken tablets, phones, or 2-in-1’s with shattered screens?! Consumers go out and spend big bucks on protective gear such as screen protectors, cases, and other accessories to ensure the safety of their beloved device. The Kindle Fire shown below was stepped on so the protective case didn’t help one bit.

 

Is the device worth the repair?

Consider if the device is worth repairing. Is it cheaper to buy a new device? Is it cheaper to buy and “new-to-you” (used) device? Is it worth the money to repair if there are cheaper alternatives? With technology changing and improving every day, sometimes it’s worth it to just upgrade. This is especially the case for devices that fall under $100 brand new. If you are repairing flagship handhelds such as iPads, Galaxy Tabs, and Asus Transformers, those are well worth the investment to repair. $50 Kindle Fire’s, not so much. The screen digitizer (the glass layer of the screen that detects the touch) can be half the cost of a new device. This doesn’t include a new LCD screen panel which just adds to the expense.

Do it yourself?

Screen repair is not easy; however, if you have the right parts, tools, access to YouTube, and a whole lot of patience, you can probably do it yourself. This saves you money!.. Many times it’s easier to replace the digitizer, screen, and bezel all in one.

Summary

For the scenario pictured below, we repaired the shattered screen on the Amazon Kindle Fire HD 7. Fortunately, the LCD panel was still good. Only the first layer glass (digitizer) was cracked but the screen below appear just fine. We ordered the parts 2 day air and got it swapped out the same day the parts arrived. We’ll admit it was a tough job. We had to use our heat gun to soften the glue between the digitizer and the bezel! All the components tested working and the customer was super happy to get it back in one piece without having to buy a new one and reload all their apps and data on it.

How many times have you broken a screen on any device?

 

Kindle Fire Screen Repair

 

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Toshiba Satellite L305-S5958 Laptop Repair

This week a customer dropped off a Toshiba Satellite L305-S5958 laptop that has truly seen better days! The laptop wasn’t charging because of a broken DC jack. The jack was shattered into 4 or 5 pieces and even severed from the harness and bottom shell. My guess is that someone dropped the laptop perfectly onto the charging cable while plugged into the jack or they stepped on it; who knows?! You can see the DC wire harness here with the severed positive and ground cables that are supposed to connect to the jack itself.

20150329_091240

After pulling apart the laptop, we noticed that it desperately needed a new bottom shell. The bottom shell that we ordered came with the wire harness and DC jack for ($10); score! DC jack repairs are much easier when a harness is in the mix. These jacks simply plug into the motherboard with a 4-pin connector as opposed to unsoldering and resoldering a new jack directly to the motherboard. The old bottom shell had cracked plastic all over and was missing the rubber feet too so it was well worth the replace.

We did a few other repairs to it at well. Some of the keys were missing or stuck down. We decided it was best to just order a brand new keyboard for $10.

The laptop could still use a new battery for $15 and a new screen bezel that has a hairline crack in it but other than that it is ready to go! As usual we removed 30+ viruses and optimized the system for best performance.

Our customer watched YouTube videos on how to perform Toshiba Satellite L305-S5958 laptop repairs but admitted it was more difficult that it looked and decided on us.

 

 

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800 million Android smartphones, 300 million iPhones in active use by December 2013, study says

etsy-android-poptop

February 6, 2013 9:26 AM

By the end of this current year, 1.4 billion smartphones will be in use: 798 million of them will run Android, 294 million will run Apple’s iOS, and 45 million will run Windows Phone, according to a new study by ABI Research.

The ABI study factors in an annual smartphone growth rate of 44 percent for 2013, which is just ever-so-slightly down from 2012′s 45 percent but is still a torrid pace. ABI also predicts that 20 million BlackBerry 10 phones will be in active use at year-end.

The result of that growth — and a push for share by Windows Phone and BlackBerry 10 — is a global customer market share of 57 percent for Android, 21 percent of iOS, and 3 percent for Windows Phone. Which sounds big for Android, but is actually significantly down from its third-quarter 2012 performance, in which Android captured almost 70 percent global market share.

It’s also a significant divergence in the global numbers from U.S-specific sales, which show Apple leading the market with over 50 percent share in the last quarter thanks largely to both new users and older models of iPhones.

But perhaps the most startling prediction? The bit players will start to become serious contenders again, ABI says.

“2013 should be seen as relative success for both Microsoft and BlackBerry,” analyst Aapo Markkanen said in a statement. “For the end of the year, we expect there to be 45 million Windows Phone handsets in use, with BlackBerry 10 holding an installed base of close to 20 million. Microsoft will also have 5.5 million Windows-powered tablets to show for it.”

For tablets, Markkanen is predicting continued hyper-growth: 125 percent, which will result in 268 million tablets in use. Sixty-two percent will iOS, he says, and 28 percent will run Android.

Image credit: Etsy

Read more at http://venturebeat.com/2013/02/06/800-million-android-smartphones-300-million-iphones-in-active-use-by-december-2013-study-says/#d4I3AB1fqalHJktx.99