Archive for December, 2008

Which bigscreen tv is right for you?

Some of you lined up at 4am to get your hands on a new big screen tv. You saw the words “boxing day doorcrasher” and you poured yourself a thermos of coffee and lawn chair and went to the nearest store. You’re probably already enjoying your big tv and has watched a few sporting events during the past few days. However if you’ve shown some restraint you have a few options to consider. Let’s be honest, not all big tvs are made equal, and many of you have a tv that A: won’t meet your needs or B: will exceed your needs. Picking a tv should not be left to big words in a boxing day flyer, nor should be a result of an impulse buy. Let’s break down some key figures.

Size. If you currently have a 32″ tube tv you’ll want a bigger LCD or plasma tv. That whole “widescreen” effect actually makes your viewing area smaller when watching regular 4:3 tv (which is going to be most of the time). You need to keep in mind that not all tv stations are broadcasting in wide screen format. If you’re happy with your 32″ tube tv then go shopping for a 37″ flat panel tv as the upgrade.

Contrast, brightness, resolution. As a rule of thumb, the bigger number is better. If you’re stuck between 2 tvs, pick the one that has the bigger numbers.

Refresh rate. This only applies to LCD tvs. Most of the tvs on sale will have a 60hz refresh rate. This is pretty standard. If you can get a tv at that price point with a 120hz refresh rate, that’s a deal. Higher refresh rate is better. Again if you’re stuck deciding between 2 tvs pick the one that has a lower response time (ie. 5ms is better than 6ms).

Connections. Make sure it has at least 2 HDMI inputs. Everything else just depends on what video/audio equipment you own and the connections they use. S-video, component, RCA. Having a built in tv tuner (or even digital) is just a bonus feature if the tv has it.

Display capabilities 480/720/1080?? 720p is the standard which pretty much every single tv is going to have. Pretty much everything of what you will watch from a HD cable feed will be of this quality. Even watching regular DVDs (non blu-ray) is fine with 720p. 1080 is a must if you have a blu-ray dvd player. AND if you buy tvs once every 10 years. It comes down to a value thing. It’s definitely worth it to spend an extra $100 to get the 1080p. However, if you like to buy stuff and hope to fill up every room in your house with a flat panel tv and need an excuse … well I’ll leave that up to you.

Also, in general, placing a tv higher will fool your senses into thinking you have a bigger tv. If you can wall mount it or even get a tall stand go for it. Don’t go higher than sitting eye level or standing eye level. (ie. try putting your tv on the floor and watching tv, then put it up on a stand and watch, it really does make a difference).

Enjoy your tv!

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Not all USB flash drives created equal

Over the holidays I’m sure you’ll come across bargains when shopping for electronics. On your way out you might be tempted to pick up that $10 USB flash drive but you might want to take a closer look. Not all USB flash drives perform the same. If you mostly transfer small Microsoft Office files then the cheap flash drive is fine for you, however, if you frequently transfer large files then pick a better drive. If the read/write data transfer rates are not indicated on the packaging do a bit of research by visiting the company’s web site. The product specs should always be available.

By far in my experience Kingston branded USB flash drives have always performed the worst. I’ve found Lexar and SanDisk to be in the middle of the road. Apacer and OCZ were the fastest (although the Apacer only lasted a year). If you’re shopping and think you spot a deal on a USB flash drive maybe you should take a quick peek at this list before you pick up that “bargain”.

Are you switching to SSD in the new year?

SSD’s have been all the rage this year. First popping up in UMPC’s and quietly splashing on to the data storage scene. Despite high prices the demand has kept steadily growing. Die hard traditionalists have dug in and remained loyal to hard drives but that may soon change in the new year. Capacities have grown larger and affordable. Enterprise level storage is still on the horizon. Making the switch to SSD technology would have vast financial repercussions for many companies. Perhaps the when the economy gets back on track you will notice corporations making the switch.

Performance wise SSD is the hands down winner. Some may argue the price versus performance for the home user but consumers have proven they are willing to pay for convenience, especially when it comes to technology. Tie that together with a hard drive crash in the new year and you will have droves of home users abandoning their Seagate’s and Western Digitals. Bow to the new technology king of data storage. Solid State Drives.

Must-Have Games for your console

XBox 360
Gears of War 2, Left 4 Dead, Fable 2.

PS3
Fallout 3, Resistance 2, Little Big Planet, Resident Evil (this game is just better on the PS3).

Wii
Guitar Hero (any), Rock Band 2, Rayman’s Raving Rabbids (1 or 2 but not both).

If you don’t have these you’re not doing your console justice.

Gadget: Toshiba 512GB SSD

I’m sure the engineers at Toshiba are yelling ‘ FIRST!’ To be showcased at the 2009 CES in Nevada next year Toshiba’s 512GB SSD is sure to make a splash. Seated within a 2.5″ case and utilizing 43 nanometer NAND technology to ensure speed, performance, and efficiency. No price has been announced but expect it be expensive. Are these drives the best idea during these trying economic times? Someone must be buying them if SSD development is still going full throttle. Smaller drives, larger capacities and demand are driving research into SSD technology. However still strangely silent have been Seagate and Western Digital. Still no drives expected from them. Perhaps SSD is just a fad? We’ll just have to see who’s lining up to buy these drives when the are mass produced next year.

Western Digital cutting jobs

Hard drive maker, Western Digital, is planning on cutting 2,500 jobs and executive pay based on the current economic forecast. They expect next year’s sales to be lower due to weakening demand. Western Digital is planning on closing it’s hard drive factory in Thailand and has plans to sell 2 factories in Malaysia.

Perhaps we will see a stabilization of storage prices next year. $60 for a 500GB drive is dirt cheap but current ‘sale’ prices may be short lived. With a few million less hard drives in production, relative supply will shrink and prices may even go up. Hmm, maybe I will pick up that 1.5TB drive for Christmas.

Steve Jobs not expected at keynote … panic!

Recently Apple has announced that Steve Jobs would not be delivering upcoming the keynote speech. Panic across the board. Stock drops, fanboys (and girls) predicting gloom, bloggers have stuff to write about. The speculation over Steve’s health comes up, yet again. Perhaps it really is an issue or maybe he’s just tired of giving keynote speeches? As well we should consider that nobody likes giving bad news. Fewer new product launches, gloomy economic outlook, definitely not topics you can glamorize, even if you’re Steve Jobs. Everybody likes the guy who gives out the bonuses but hate the guy who does the firing. No news is good news.


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