Saturday, December 12, 2009

moving announcement

We have > > >>> MOVED

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Retail PCs: Intel or AMD?

Does it matter whether you buy a machine with an Intel processor or one with an AMD processor? Both companies will tell you it does: Intel would stress the better performance it claims to offer, and AMD would talk about better integrated graphics and better value. But with a new crop of machines designed for Windows 7 now on the market, I wanted to take a look for myself.

When you see a review of a PC online or in a magazine, it's typically a review of a machine, and particularly the configuration set by the manufacturers. Sometimes these are what you would get if you bought a machine at a retail outlet, but sometimes they aren't. So I decided to check out what performance would be like on two relatively inexpensive retail computers. I ended up with two Hewlett-Packard notebooks from Best Buy. I ran a variety of tests, and found notable differences in some things, but not in others.

The first machine is an HP dv4-2045dx with a 2.2-GHz AMD Turion II X2, ATI Radeon HD 4200 Graphics, a 320GB hard drive, and a 14.1-inch screen (1280 by 800); it weighs 5.4 pounds and cost $579.99. The other is an HP dv6-1355dx with a 2.2-GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, an Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 4500MHD, a 500GB drive, and a 15.6-inch screen (1366 by 768); it weighs 6.3 pounds and cost $679.99. These aren't the thinnest, lightest systems you can buy, nor are the most powerful, but both seem like great values for the money, and are the type of notebook computer most people are buying.

But both came with 4GB of memory, writable DVD drives, and a Web camera, and all sorts of ports. Obviously, the machines aren't identical—for $100 more, you get a larger display, a bigger hard drive, and an Intel processor on the dv6. The question I wanted to answer was whether that made a difference.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

PC hardware - Built your own Computer

For more write up on the steps to follow below are the step by step details on you tube - Click here

1 - Choosing a CPU

2 - More on CPU's

3 - Choosing a Motherboard

4 - More on Choosing a Motherboard

5 - Choosing RAM

6 - More on RAM

7 - Choosing the Hard Drive

8 - More Stuff About Hard Drives

9 - Choosing an Optical Drive

10 - More on Optical Drives

11 - Choosing a Case

12 - More on Cases

13 - Power Supplies

14 - The Motherboard

15 - Installing the CPU

16 - Installing CPU Fan

17 - Installing the RAM

18 - Preparing the Case

19 - Mounting the Motherboard

20 - Installing the Optical Drive

21 - Installing the Hard Drive

22 - Installing the PSU

Friday, March 20, 2009

The Power Supply

So, tell me, has your computer ever made a noise that sounds like one of your fans is dying? I'm sure you would know if it has, because it can be pretty loud and it usually just sounds awful! Well, either way, I'm willing to bet that your fan really isn't the culprit here. Nope, it could be your power supply instead. If you have a noisy fan, you smell something burning or you see smoke or flames shooting out the back of your computer, you may very well have a problem with your power supply. And I assure you, that's a whole lot worse than a dead fan if you don't catch it right away. Keep reading for more on this!

There are many different things that could cause your power supply to go bad. For instance, the fan that runs next to your power supply could get clogged up with dust and dirt and start to run much slower or the fan's bearings could start to wear off. When those things happen, your power supply is at risk of overheating and it will eventually fail. Or, it could have nothing to do with your fan. Perhaps the power supply itself was faulty from the get go and it only took a matter of time before it failed completely.

Even more so, if you're having trouble with your computer shutting down and restarting itself at random times, that could be another indicator that your power supply is going bad. And since your motherboard, CPU, disk drives, etc. all work off of the power supply, it's not a good idea to take a chance on it getting any better. If you do, you'll just have more trouble down the road. Don't worry though, replacing a power supply is rather easy to do and it's fairly cost friendly. So, if your computer is experiencing any of the symptoms I mentioned above, you'll want to check into getting a new power supply. It's a small price to pay for the safety of your computer!

~ Erin

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Choosing Computer Speakers

It used to be that choosing speakers for your computer was an easy task because there weren't really any options to choose from. Sound was typically an afterthought and most speakers made for computer use weren't exactly what you would call "ear candy".

That has all changed now. Many well-respected audio/video speaker manufacturers have gotten into the computer speaker game. It is not uncommon to see well-known names like Klipsch, Bose, Polk & JBL on either side of computer monitors now.

When it comes to picking out computer speakers, the same rules that you would use to choose speakers for your stereo or home theater system still apply. Obviously, unless you are very lucky, there will be budget constraints. While cheap, no name speakers are never a good deal; there are many inexpensive entry-level models from reputable manufacturers that will do a great job of accurate sound reproduction.

Everyone hears differently and will have a different definition of great sound, which is probably why there are so many different speaker manufacturers. Musical tastes can also have an effect on the perceived sound quality of a pair of speakers. While a good speaker is always a good speaker, rock and roll fans may have different requirements for a pair of speakers than classical fans. A gamer may also have different needs than a music listener.

When choosing speakers, there are three things that you need to listen for in your auditions. The first is tonal balance. The instruments and voices should sound natural, like they would in real life. No single part of the frequency spectrum should be exaggerated or suppressed. While speakers with an exaggerated bass or treble response might stand out at first listen, they will usually become fatiguing after an extended amount of time.

The next thing to listen for is bass response. Because of the size constraints placed on most computer speaker systems it will be necessary to have a separate subwoofer (a speaker made to solely reproduce low frequencies) that can be set off to the side or on the floor. Listen carefully to recordings with male vocalists to make sure that the subwoofer blends seamlessly with the smaller satellite speakers. The subwoofer should not call attention to itself. In fact if it is set up correctly is will seem like all of the bass is coming from the desktop satellite speakers.

Lastly, you will want to listen to how set of speakers image. Imaging is the most magical quality that speakers can possess. It is the ability of a pair of speakers to throw a sound stage. This is not only left to right information, but also depth and height. Having a huge monitor between your speakers can make good imaging harder to achieve, but with a properly set up pair of speakers, playing a good recording, you should be able to close your eyes and see where everything is positioned in the mix. The first time you hear this it will blow your mind!

This is a very basic guide, but if you spend a little time and follow the advice above you should have no problems at all picking out computer speakers that are satisfying for whatever application you need them for.

courtesy ~ Bruce Neher 

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

USB Speeds

If you've gotten a new computer in the last few years, it more than likely came with USB ports. If you're not sure, USB ports are the little slots on either the front or back of your computer that you can use to plug in certain devices, such as a flash drive or digital camera. USB ports come in two different speeds: 2.0 and 1.0, with 2.0 being faster. Most newer PCs have the 2.0 speed, but if you purchased yours quite awhile ago, you may have the 1.0 speed. So, if you've ever wondered which speed you have, keep reading to learn how you can find out!

To get to your computer's USB area, you need to right click on the My Computer icon on your desktop and choose Properties. Next, click on the Hardware tab and then hit the Device Manager button. When the new window opens, scroll down to the very bottom where it says Universal Serial Bus controllers. Click on the plus sign (+) next to that and all of your USB information will come up. You may have quite a few listings or you may only have a few. It just depends on how many ports came with your computer and if you've added any yourself.

If you see one that says something like "USB Enhanced Host Controller," that means you have the 2.0 speed. The "Enhanced" part is what sets the 2.0 apart from the slower speed. On my computer, that entry was the very last one, so make sure you look through your whole list before you make any assumptions. Also, just for your information, if one of your USB ports is 2.0, it's likely that all of your ports will be the same. That goes for the 1.0 speed as well. Most computers don't come with two different port speeds. So, tell me, how does it feel to know what kind of USB speed your PC is running? Pretty darn good, huh? Check yours out today!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Time For a New Computer?

Another reader asks: I have had my computer for quite some time now and my grandkids are always telling me I need to get a new one. They say mine is too slow and it just doesn't work right. As for me, I'm not convinced. Do you have any guidelines I can follow to see if I really should get a new one or not?

Good question! Isn't it funny how everyone's views on the same exact topic can be so different? I mean, it's obvious the person who asked today's question is being bombarded by their grandchildren to get a new computer. And why do you think they want a new one? Well, so they can have all the perks they're used to when they go visit grandma and grandpa, of course! Then on the other hand, grandma and grandpa don't agree and they think their computer works just fine.

Well, it's hard to tell who is right here. Children these days are very much into computers and they know a lot more about them than some of us would like to admit. But then again, if our computers are working good enough to do what we want on them, why bother buying a whole new one? That debate could go on and on, so I think I'll end it by giving you some pointers you can follow to see if you really should buy a new computer or not. Let's check them out!

First of all, as you all know, technology is changing everyday. There's always something new coming out and there's always something different to try. It's not always pertinent that you go along with those changes, but here are some reasons why you may want to. You need a new computer if:

1.) Your processor speed is less than 1.0 GHz (gigahertz). (On another note, if your computer is still running on megahertz, you'll definitely want to make an upgrade soon!) See, most programs and other applications that you may put on your computer require a lot more power than 1 GHz can give them. If you don't have a fast enough processing speed, your computer will run very slow and you won't be able to browse the Internet, play games, etc. with the ease you should have. You can check your processor speed by going to Start, Control Panel, Performance and Maintenance, System.

2.) Your computer has less than 256 MB of memory. (Again, go to Start, Control Panel, Performance and Maintenance, System to check on that information). If you don't have at least 512 MB or 1 GB of RAM memory, your computer will not run smoothly or to the best of its ability.

3.) You're using a Windows version that starts with a 3 or a 9 (for example, Windows 3.1, 95 and 98). Those older operating systems lack a lot of the features every computer should have these days, including security features and other updates that are required to keep your computer running properly and protected. The same thing applies if you're using a Mac version that is older than OS X.

4.) Your monitor is a 14 inch or smaller. If you don't have at least a 17 inch monitor, you're not going to be able to see full Web sites, which really is a shame!

5.) You're always getting an error message of "Operating system not supported" when you try to install new programs onto your PC. Or, when you're trying to upgrade to a new operating system and you get an error message of "Hardware not supported."

6.) Your computer has no USB ports. Nowadays, most external devices (such as keyboards, mice, printers, etc.) run via USB. Therefore, if you don't have any ports, you're going to have trouble keeping up with the newer computer devices.

7.) Your PC has a 5.25 inch disk drive or even a 3.5 inch floppy drive. Floppy drives are still around, but they're being phased out as well. Software has just outgrown those two drives and they won't be of much use in the near future. Flash and thumb drives are definitely taking over.

So, those are just a few things you should look into if you're wondering about buying a new computer or not. They are all good reasons why you should fork out the money and invest in a new PC. And I'm not just saying that to make your grandchildren happy either! With a brand new computer, everyone who uses it (including you) will benefit. Now, I realize you may use your computer on a very limited basis (maybe just for checking your e-mail and playing a game here and there), but if you fall into any of the categories listed above, you should still look into getting a new computer.

Yes, I know change is hard to take, but I think once you get your new computer up and running, you will agree with me on everything I said today. On the other hand, if you answered "no" to almost all of the specifications above, you should be fine with the computer you have. And if your grandchildren still complain, just tell them once they give you enough money for a new PC, you'll go right out and buy one. That should do the trick!

courtesy ~ Erin