Posts Tagged With: gadgets

Tech gear you shouldn’t buy this Christmas

Source: www.komando.com – by Kim Komando

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–>”You’ll shoot your eye out kid!”

One of my favorite movies is A Christmas Story. There are so many truly funny scenes.

What would Ralphie want to see under the Christmas tree in 2012 – a new smartphone loaded with a copy of Angry Birds Star Wars? Hard to say. There are so many great games and gadgets out there.

With all that gear, it’s also easy to buy a tech dud. No one wants to waste money or give someone something they don’t really want.

You may recall the bulletin I put out last Christmas about tech gear you shouldn’t buy. It included feature phones, GPS units, netbooks, portable media players and point-and-shoot cameras.

Those are still on the no-buy list, but this year I have a whole new list of things you’ll want to avoid.

Budget Android gadgets While I still prefer my iPhone and iPad, Android gadgets are now a good option for any tech buyer. Of course, not all Android gadgets are created equal.

Older and budget Android gadgets are best to be avoided. And when I say budget, I’m not talking about low-cost, 7-inch tablets like the Nexus 7 or Kindle Fire. I mean $100, off-brand tablets and low-powered, free smartphones.

For both phones and tablets, make sure they’re running Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) or higher. A budget phone that runs Android 2.3 (Gingerbread), or a budget tablet that runs Android 3.2 (Honeycomb), will stagger when running the latest games and productivity apps.

A $0 to $50 Android phone that was a $200 to $300 dazzler on contract a year ago can be a good value. But a $0 to $50 Android with an outdated processor and last-generation Android version is no bargain.

Plus, manufacturers tend to abandon support for Android duds. Less expensive or older smartphones often don’t get an operating system upgrade more than once, or even at all.

To find out what smartphones and tablets will thrill your family this year, visit my buying guides.

17-inch laptops Apple laid its 17-inch MacBook Pro to rest this year. Users just don’t want to lug those behemoths around airports and corporate campuses anymore. For that matter, a 15-inch laptop makes sense only for gamers or a graphics and video pro.

Most road warriors can work or kill time splendidly on a 10- to 13-inch Ultrabook or MacBook Air. Their solid-state drives and Intel Ivy Bridge chips make them lightning-fast tools, and their thin, lightweight form makes them a joy to use – and carry around.

Learn what goes into a killer laptop with my laptop buying guide. Then get step-by-step directions to set up your new PC or Mac in a flash.

Bridge cameras Designed to fill a niche between high-end DSLRs and budget point-and-shoots, bridge cameras don’t make as much sense as they used to.

Compared to point-and-shoots, bridge cameras give photographers more control over shutter speed and aperture. But they don’t offer much of an improvement in sensor size or quality. You’re also stuck with a permanent zoom lens that usually isn’t a world-beater.

Mirrorless hybrid cameras, on the other hand, are the fastest-growing digital category for good reason. They rival compact cameras in size and DSLRs in sensor and lens quality. They’re systems you can grow with and keep for many years.

Prices range from practical – Nikon 1 V1 ($500, with 10-30mm lens) – to painful – Fujifilm X Pro 1 ($1,700, body only).

Click here for more on buying a hybrid camera. If you’re interested in taking a larger step to a DSLR, I can help with that as well.

Once you have your camera, you need to learn how to use it. I can have you shooting like a pro in no time with my Essential Guides to Digital Photography.

Entry-level e-readers E-readers have really hit their stride this year. Display technology has improved, and so has the library of new and exciting e-books.

Not all e-readers are cutting edge, however. Amazon’s entry-level e-reader, the Kindle ($69), uses buttons for navigation and features a standard E-Ink Pearl display. It’s not a bad unit, but for a bit more you could have something much, much better.

The just-introduced Kindle Paperwhite ($119) offers a touch screen with amazing resolution and contrast. Plus, it has an innovative built-in light that makes nighttime reading very comfortable. See it in action in this video on my site.

The display on the Nook Simple Touch ($99) is touch-capable but otherwise a standard E-Ink Pearl display. Barnes & Noble’s solution to reading in the dark is the Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight ($139). The Nook Color ($149) features a nice multi-touch color LCD and runs a customized version of the Android operating system.

I go into more detail on what you need to look for when buying e-readers here.

Budget LCD TVs TV prices continue to drop, and there are bargains everywhere you look! Unfortunately, many of these deals are bargain basement.

Sure, you can buy an off-brand 50-inch LCD TV for less than $500. But you’ll be getting outdated technology and a poor viewing experience.

Budget LCDs have a refresh rate of 60 hertz, which can blur motion when you’re watching the big football game. Refresh rates of 120Hz and 240Hz are standard now. Many bargain-basement TVs also have a resolution of 720p, compared to the 1080p you want.

Bargain LCD TVs are still backlit by fluorescent lights. That looked great four years ago, but it pales in comparison to LCD TVs with an LED backlight.

LED TVs have gotten so good that they’re catching up to plasma screens for blackness level, color and contrast. That could also be a reason why sales of plasma TVs have dwindled to about 13 percent of the market.

For larger TVs, however, plasmas have the edge over LEDs on price. You’ll pay about $1,000 for Samsung’s 60-inch plasma; about $1,500 for its 60-inch LED TV.

If you’re going for a second TV, a bargain unit might be OK. But for your main home theater TV, you want something better.

I’ve got everything you need to know about buying a new HDTV in my HDTV buying guide. Click here to read it. Then learn how to set up your home theater for the best movie-watching experience.

Categories: Kim Komando, Must Read, Tech Savvy Parents, Techno Geeks | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

New uses for old smartphones

Source: www.komando.com – by Kim Komando

Q. I just bought a brand new iPhone and I love it. But this means my old iPhone is just sitting in my junk drawer. I hate to think that it’s going to waste. Is there something else I can do with it? -Sean, from Minneapolis, MN, listens to my weekly radio show on KTCN 1130 AM.

A. This is a great question, Sean. Thanks to two-year cellular contracts and tons of new phones on the market, many people are piling up older, unused smartphones.

Most of these are still perfectly usable even without a cellular connection. In fact, they’re basically portable computers.

All you need is the right apps and hardware and you can do quite a bit with them.

One of the most obvious uses for an old smartphone is a media player. Just load up some music or movies and you’re ready to go. Some phones even have expandable microSD storage so you can add more capacity.

An old smartphone makes a great portable gaming device, too. It might not have the same titles as a Nintendo DS, but new mobile games are released all the time! You can download any game in your phone’s app store over Wi-Fi.

Both of these are great options for entertaining kids on long car rides.

Speaking of the car, do you need a basic GPS unit? Some apps, like CoPilot, allow you to download maps for offline use. You won’t have turn-by-turn navigation, but you can still look up where you are.

Plus, the phone will be good in an emergency. Phones that don’t have service can still call 911 as long as the battery works.

If you have a GSM-based smartphone, you can buy a prepaid SIM card for cellular access. Then give the smartphone to a younger kid. They get a smartphone and you can control how much time they spend talking.

Closer to home, you can turn your old smartphone into a free Wi-Fi home phone. You can also use most video chat apps as long as you have a Wi-Fi connection.

Tired of mixing up home theater remotes? Turn your smartphone into a dedicated universal remote.

Many people prefer to keep an older phone as a backup. If you lose or break your new iPhone, for example, you’ll want that old iPhone hanging around.

If none of this appeals to you, you can make a few bucks selling your old phone. If you don’t find a price worth the effort, you can always recycle or donate it to charity.

Smartphones are great, but they can empty your wallet fast if you aren’t careful. Save some money with these helpful hints.

Categories: 911, Copilot, games, Media Player, New Uses, Smart Phones, video chat | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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