Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

Top 10 Printers (review)

I am often asked by clients for my shopping recommendations. In the last couple of months, both for personal reasons, as well as professional, printers have been a subject of these requests. (For one thing, color lasers have come down enough in price to be a reasonable option for us consumers.) As I have mentioned here before, I start my research by looking to the lab results of product testing done at PC World magazine.

Latest PC World magazine reviews:

* Top 10 Inkjet Multifunction Printers

We test and review the latest multifunction inkjets. Models start at around $100 and combine a printer, scanner, copier and (sometimes) a fax machine.

(My current pick, the Canon MX870, ranks number 5 here.. To me, it’s the best ‘bang for my buck’. And it has fax and auto-duplexing.)

* Top 10 Color Laser Multifunction Printers

These efficient workhorses combine color laser printing, scanning, copying, and, frequently, faxing. Ratings and rankings can change due to pricing and technology changes, so check back frequently for the latest info.

Brands Technicians Love & Hate: Folks, Bryce over at Technibble conducted an informal survey of repair technicians of which brand names they prefer (and which they shun) – broken down by category. I was not terribly surprised to see the results turn out to be nearly identical with my own ‘drothers’. To see the winners and losers, click here. (Printers are down the page a bit.)

Related (sorta): Highlights of upcoming 2011 tablets (photos).

Unrelated: For those of you who would like help with relief efforts after the earthquake and waves in Japan, and want to donate to either the American Red Cross or the Salvation Army (which are two of the larger BBB accredited charities assisting in the relief efforts):

You can text “Japan” to 80888 from your cell phone to donate $10 to Salvation Army efforts.  (Visit mobilecause.com for terms and conditions) Respond “Yes” to a “Thank you” message you receive.

And/or you can text “Redcross” from your cell phones to 90999 to donate the same amount to that organization.

Larger donations can always be made online via the Red Cross website or Salvation Army website. (Source: Japan quake and tsunami puts Apple iPad in perspective.)

Attention: I need to ask my readers a favor.. I seem to have misplaced an hour. Does any one know where it went? I would like to get it back, please.

Copyright 2007-2011 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.


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March 14, 2011 Posted by | advice, printers, shopping for, tech | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Camera Shopping Guidelines

Some of you will be shopping for a digital camera this holiday gift-giving season, so today I will re-post some advice on what to look for when making your selection.

General Advice for Purchasing a New Digital Camera

I understand perfectly why people seek advice when it comes to buying a digital camera. There are literally hundreds to choose from – an overwhelming variety – and when you start shopping, it’s easy to become confused by the jargon.

A “mega” pixel is better than an ordinary, everyday “pixel”.. right? (You bet it is. It contains more vitamins and minerals.)

seasons greetingsA long, long, time ago I wrote a three-part advice series on buying a new computer, and today I am going to reiterate a bit of advice from there – when buying a digital camera, you have to hold it in your hands. The “right” camera for you will just, well, “feel right”. If you keep accidentally pushing a button, or put your thumb right on the viewer screen.. that’s not good.

Tip of the day: General advice for purchasing a new digital camera.

* Optical zoom is better than digital zoom. Make sure that the “zoom” feature of your camera is handled by a moving lens. Digital zooming is okay in very small amounts, but the way it works will cause funny-looking “pixilation” when really put to work.

* You want image stabilization. Image stabilization is in my opinion simply a “must have”; fortunately, almost every manufacturer provides it. I won’t spend time, here, describing the different types. If you’re curious, click the link.

* The Megapixel. Folks, there is a lot of confusion regarding the camera jargon word “megapixel”. A higher megapixel number does not necessarily equate with “sharper image” or “clearer picture“.. in fact, they usually have nothing to do with each other.

Megapixels refers to the image (data) size and determines how big an enlargement you can make before you start to experience distortions (think of it as being a bit like film sizes). If the largest prints you ever make are 5 x 7, a three-to-four Megapixel camera is all you need. A 10 Megapixel camera is overkill for the vast majority of uses, and it will simply fill your memory card faster, with fewer shots. (But, you could make poster-size prints.)

* LCD “viewfinder”. I think it is important to have a manual viewfinder, as well as the LCD screen.. but that is personal opinion. In terms of LCD, the factors to consider are brightness, placement, and size. It should be big enough that you can see what it is showing when you hold the camera away from your body, and, it should be positioned on the camera in such a way as to not cause you to hold your hand in a funny/odd way so that you can see it. The image should be bright enough to be seen when you are out in the sunlight.
(And I’d like to repeat, your camera should just feel right in your hand.)

* Don’t buy features you won’t use. If you are not a photography buff, and don’t want to memorize a 200-page owners manual, then you don’t want to buy a D-SLR; you want a “point-and-shoot”, and you don’t need 24 “settings” if you’re only going to use one. Right? Right.

Today’s free link: SUPERAntiSpyware Online Safe Scan, a powerful new tool in the fight against the latest and particularly difficult malware infections.

Copyright 2007-2010 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.


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December 16, 2010 Posted by | advice, digital cameras, how to, shopping for, tech | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

What’s to say about Windows 7?

I first downloaded the public beta of Microsoft’s new operating system in January, and I have now been using it on a daily basis for five months.

Quite naturally, I wrote about my observations, and tried to describe for you, Dear Reader, what you can expect, and what I thought of this “new beast” that is supposed to replace the “much maligned Vista”.
(see A Tech’s First Impression of Windows 7 Part 1 of a series.)

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Recently, it has made the headlines that Microsoft has announced October 22nd as the “official release date” for Windows 7. This is inline with what I expected — plenty of time to make the Holiday Shopping Season.

Yes, I have run the 32-bit ‘beta’, the 32-bit ‘RC’ (release candidate), and now the 64-bit RC. (see A Tech’s First Impression of Windows 7 64-bit.) You may remember from those articles (or click the links and read them) that – short version – I think there is a lot to like in Win7 and that it was the fastest, smoothest install(s) I have ever experienced… and I have done a lot of Windows installs.

So… we know when it’s coming… and we know that across the board Windows 7 is getting positive reviews. Lots of them.
So… I sit and I wonder, what’s to say about Windows 7? So I can write out an article for you to read… I have had no troubles at all to complain about. No difficulties. I’ve discovered no “bugz”…

Some of the other tech websites are writing articles trying to predict the future — will the public adopt Win7 in a big way? Or will it flop like Vista did? What about Business?
I, Dear Reader, will not try to predict the future: that is a shameless trend of modern “journalism” and it should be abolished as a practice.

Maybe people will camp out in front of the Microsoft Store to be the first to buy Win7 when they open the doors on October the 22nd, and maybe they won’t. Who cares?

So I won’t predict the future but I will say this:
* In spite of what you may hear or read somewhere, Windows 7 is essentially a zero learning curve. You needn’t fear it because it’s new.
* IMHO, from what I’ve seen, this is a speedy, stable, secure, and easy to use operating system and I believe it is Microsoft’s best effort yet. Yes it took a long time; but, yeah, they got it right.
* I will not race out and buy Win7 install DVD’s and go around upgrading my machines. My machines are now all Vista Service Pack 2, and XP is well-retired. But my next machine will be a Windows 7 machine (64-bit), and no I will not “wait for Service Pack 1 to come out”.

Have you been putting off buying a new machine because they all seem to come with Vista? Well, after October 22nd, your wait is over. After that date, go down to your local gizmo and gadget store and play with a quad-core, 6+ Gig, Win7 machine hooked to a 22″ (or bigger) monitor. My money is on that you’ll like what you see.

You can test drive Windows 7 on your current machine if you would like. I suggest creating a dual boot setup for that, and here is a video tutorial on how to make that work, Video Tutorial — How To Dual Boot Win7, and you can click here for the free download. (Please read the system requirements first.)

Copyright 2007-9 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved. post to jaanix

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June 4, 2009 Posted by | advice, computers, Microsoft, PC, performance, tech, Windows 7 | , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments