Latest Tech Stuff
by Bob Seidel
* In last week's column I did discuss getting ready for Blu-Ray, but didn't spend much time discussing the actual TV requirements for high definition (HD). I might do a column on this later on, but for now: Full Blu-Ray HD requires a 1080p capable TV. When you shop, check the specifications or ask the salesperson. 1080i is acceptable for HD and OK for upconvert standard definition (SD) DVD players or current cable boxes. Just FYI, my current plasma TV is a 1080i.
* I have talked in the past about where I usually buy my computer goodies - Cyberguys.com. These guys just seem to come up with the latest (and strangest) new gear, and the latest catalog I received continued this trend. You have to ask "Where do these guys think of this stuff and where do they get it?"
Perusing the new stuff part of the catalog (in no particular order):
- a 6-way surge suppressor that plugs into a standard duplex wall outlet and features six AC sockets that can be swiveled for front or side access - this looks very handy;
- notebooks are now starting to ship with a new version of the venerable PC card slots called Express card; Cyberguys features a number of adapters such as USB ports, external SATA ports, or adapters for older PC Cards (PCMCIA);
- a tiny GPS receiver for use with Bluetooth smart cell phones or PDAs - I have GPS built into my new cell phone and do use it;
- a Bluetooth USB adapter that allows your notebook or desktop PC to support Bluetooth devices;
- a cable checker for coaxial (TV) cables - handy for those times that you want to check your in-house TV cables for problems;
- an iPhone headphone adapter with built-in microphone - iPhone users need these as most headphones do not properly plug into it;
- if like me and have more than one USB hub on your desktop because you have so many devices, you can now get a single hub with 13 USB sockets - five on one side, five on the other, one end has two and the other end has one;
- if you don't want a USB hub on your desktop visible at all, you can get a USB hub built into a round adapter that fits in a standard desktop grommet hole - for the executive with everything;
- wireless USB adapters so you can run your USB devices further away from your PC;
- a wireless-G adapter that looks like a small satellite dish and claims to yield extended Wi-Fi range;
- a multi-function mouse pad that includes speakers and microphone - I guess we all need one of these;
- a "pull apart" adapter for headphone plugs to prevent damage to MP3 players if the cable is jerked to the side;
- an insulating pad for your hot laptop so you can actually use it in your lap again;
- a tool for cutting electrical boxes in wallboard - it had built-in horizontal and vertical levels so you can trace the outline of the box perfectly for cutting;
- and a drill bit that allows you to enlarge a hole in a wall or stud with an existing wire without removing the wire.
Some of this stuff isn't cheap, and you can find better buys in standard parts elsewhere. But if you want the exotic, Cyberguys is the way to go!
(Bob Seidel is a local computer consultant in the Southport - Oak Island area. You can visit his Website at www.bobseidel.com or e-mail questions or column ideas to him at firstname.lastname@example.org. For specific inquiries, please call Bob Seidel Consulting, LLC at 278-1007.)