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Amazon has come up with a brand new currency of Kindle Fire App Store owned by the same. This is a virtual currency and will only be valid for the Kindle Fire App Store of Amazon. In US, the currency will be launched in May and for the Kindle Fire Crowd, it will be handed out for free in limited basis, upon the launch is done. On launch, tens of millions Dollars’ worth virtual coins will be spread out to the users. Each of these coins is of 1 cent worth. Incidentally, if you are looking to purchase an app of your wish or want to make any sort of in app purchase through Kindle Fire, these virtual coins will help you out.

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For app developers, this is definitely good news. For the app developers, these virtual coins are exactly of the same worth that of real money. As free coins will be spread out, it will be easier for you to find buyers for your apps. However, you should be able to complete your app by 25th April for taking advantage of the same and be ready for the Amazon coins, as these will be launched in May. If you are not looking for a full app development, you can come up with a paid update as well.

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For regular users, this is not that advantageous as they still have to spend real money for buying apps. However, I agree that the free bonus coins will act as an incentive for the users. You need to convert your real cash to Amazon virtual coins and you should be ready for browsing through the Kindle Fire App Store. For starting purpose, the coin usage will only be limited to US users, however, if things go well, it is expected that the same feature will be expanded for other countries as well.

The iZON Remote Room Monitor  is made by Stem Innovation and is a Wi-Fi Camera.  What that means is it allows you to see remotley what is going on in another part of your office or home- anywhere accessible by your Wi-Fi connection. This device requires the Stem: Connect iOS app and is only intended for the iPhone or the iPad. If you want, you can also set up alerts for noise or motion detection. In case either alert is triggered you will even have the option to upload the video to a YouTube account automatically.

iZON Remote Room Monitor

First I will share a few facts about this device:

It is extremely easy to use and you can easily set it up in just a few minutes.

This device is  unique in that it is only intended for mobile devices- However a Mac Book app is supposedly in the works. That being said, the camera feed still cannot be watched through a browser- which is disappointing.

This device works just fine with an 802.11n Wi-Fi router with WPA2 security, but not with WEP security.

 

Something else to note were the poor sensitivity adjustments. Too high and light changes set it off- too low and you get zero alerts.

Overall is a solid 3 stars.  At a retail price of $130 you cant go wrong- however there are better devices out there that cost more.

Interesting Uses for an Old Laptop

If you happen to have an older laptop lying around, there are plenty of productive uses for it.  Besides donating it, recycling it, or selling it; there are many productive uses for your old machine, assuming it still powers up.

Home Server or Home Theatre PC.  Depending on if the hard drive in your laptop is any good, you may still be able to use it for its hard drive.  Stream content from the internet to your TV, store movies and music, and check your email.  If you want to be able to stream HD content to your computer, you might want to consider purchasing a low-end graphics card for your old computer with HDMI output.  These cards can be surprisingly inexpensive, and are usually quite affordable.  Older computers can still usually play a HD movie, and virtually all of them can play music.  If the hard drive on your old laptop is too small, considering using a portable hard drive.  You can buy a 1TB external hard drive nowadays for under $100.

Print Server.  If you have an older printer that is not Wi-Fi ready, considering keeping an older laptop nearby.  Assuming the laptop has Wi-Fi, this will give you the capability to print from anywhere in your house.  As an added bonus you can set up a home server just for printing, scanning, emailing or faxing documents with the laptop right nearby to make changes.

Guest computer.  Most laptops, no matter how old can still browse the internet, check email, do word processing, and display pictures.  Consider setting up your old laptop in a common area in your house for anyone to use.

Music.  Nowadays with satellite radio and most radio stations on the web anyhow, consider setting up a music laptop in a common area.  This laptop can play content all day long when hooked up to a speaker.  Stream your favorite radio station, favorite playlists, or pull up YouTube to play a random song that you can’t get out of your head.

Torrent Server.  If you are into torrents, consider setting an always connected torrent server.  This server can stay continuously connected to seed and download torrents; just ensure you connect an external hard drive if you have a small one on your laptop.

Picture Frame.  Set up a slide loop of pictures for your laptop constantly display.  Any computer procured for any of the above reasons can also do double duty as an electronic picture frame; just set it up as a screen saver.

How to Choose a Hard Drive

April 17th, 2012 | Posted by admin in Buying New Stuff - (0 Comments)

How to Choose a Hard Drive

Hard drives come in many shapes and sizes.  When contemplating the correct hard drive for an upgrade or a replacement, you have some important choices to consider.  Should you go with a larger hard drive or a faster hard drive?  Should you pick a Solid State Drive, or a cheaper conventional hard drive?  Maximum performance at high-power consumption, or perhaps a more energy efficient drive instead?

The criteria you will need to establish before deciding on a drive is the ultimate role of the disk.  Will it be going in a laptop, or a desktop?  Laptops require a more minimalistic approach to storage- and power consumption.  Desktops don’t have the same space or power limitations.

Laptops have power constraints, so the norm is typically a 4200 RPM of a 5400 RPM drive.  The slower the hard drive, the less power it consumes; simple physics.  You can’t get something for free; the same is true of speed.  A faster hard drive will directly translate to a lower battery life; hard drives consume a lot of power.  Every time you move or access a file, or run a program, your hard drive is spinning.

Desktops have more power to spare, and are therefore capable of having faster hard drives.  7200 RPM or faster is the norm for desktops; in fact some people even have 10000 RPM or 15000 RPM drives.  These drives consume a lot more power obviously, however have slightly faster read and write, i.e. access times.  A faster drive doesn’t translate directly into programs running faster; once a program is loaded into RAM and it is run directly from memory, the hard drive is no longer the limiting factor for speed.  Graphics, the processor, or RAM will then become the limiting factor.  You can run the Windows Experience Index if you are interested in which component is the limiting factor in your computer.

A faster hard drive will however directly translate into faster file recall, programs opening faster, files copying quicker, and ultimately faster file transfer speeds.  Some people need these; most people don’t and can get by just fine on a 7200 RPM hard drive.  It’s up to you to determine if the extra cost is worth it.

If money isn’t really a problem, you might want to look into Solid State Drives, also known as SSDs.  In fact, if you are building a new computer, my recommendation is to use at least a SSD for the operating system.  Solid State Drives offer significant speed improvements over conventional spinning hard drives, and since they have no moving parts, they consume a lot less power.  However, SSDs are expensive.  The price of a SSD scales higher directly with the size of the drive.  Since large drives (500 GB +) can be cost prohibitive, it is common to buy a smaller drive (100 GB or less) and install just the operating system and all necessary OS files on it.  Then you can use a larger drive to store all of your files.  This method gives you the best of both worlds; the OS installed on a SSD making it lighting fast, and a larger more cost effective drive to store all of your files.  You can also buy hybrid SSD/HDD drives also called H-HDDs.  Hybrid drives are less expensive than a large SSD, and are divided into two main partitions, one smaller to run the OS, and the other larger side for your actual media files.

Replacements

Hard drives are usually almost always getting cheaper with time.  Assuming there isn’t a natural disaster in Thailand, the price per GB is usually dropping with time for conventional hard drives.  SSDs are still newer; therefore they are not subject to the same economics.  Demand can sometimes outstrip supply and vice versa, causing temporary price fluctuations.

Just keep in mind what you need, and what your budget is.  Hard drives can last many years, so it is common not to replace your hard drive until is starts experiencing the warning signs of impending failure.  See article: “Hard Drive Warning Signs” filed under Easy Tips.

Windows XP vs. Windows 7: Which Should You Choose?

There is no doubt that Windows Vista is a joke.  Even Microsoft won’t deny this.  Your only options for a real operating system are Windows XP or Windows 7.  Windows XP is one of the fastest and most efficient operating systems in computing history.  Highly praised in its time for its achievements and features, it is still used by many businesses today.

Windows 7 is the newest mainstream OS from Microsoft; featuring increased security, plug and play driver support, and a number of other added features.  Unfortunately, since Windows 7 is built on the premise of increased “Aero Graphics” and contains basic drivers for nearly every peripheral, it is a much larger install and it consumes many times more system resources.  You’re not going to be able to install Windows 7 on your old laptop and see any performance gain; in fact- you will likely see a performance decrease.  Windows XP is still the operating system of choice for lower power notebooks and older computers.  So the question is; which is better for you?

  • Speed-

Windows XP was originally designed to run well on a 300MHz Pentium processor.  XP only needed 128 MB of RAM Memory when it was originally released in 2001.  Windows 7 requires at least 1 GB of RAM to run.  You are certainly going to see a speed improvement on any older device if you choose XP over 7.  Most net-books will run Windows XP much quicker than Windows 7, due to their lower overall specs and processor limitations.  In fact, even if you exceed the minimum specifications for Windows 7 by a wide margin, you are still unlikely to achieve a faster speed than Windows XP- Some gamers have even reported higher FPS on window XP vs.  Windows 7 on identical hardware and all the correct drivers installed.  Due to its larger size and increased capability, it is difficult for Windows 7 to compete with XP in a sprint.  Windows 7 does have one main advantage here however- Windows 7 remains snappy and responsive when operating at its RAM limits, Windows XP has been known to bog down when excess resources are scarce.  Windows 7 isn’t quite as fast as Windows XP in a straight line; however it is probably fast enough for most applications.

  • Security-

There is no doubt that Windows 7 is the more secure operating system, hands down.  Virtual threats are simply more sophisticated nowadays than they were 10 years ago; extra built security is a necessity.  Windows 7 employs an active security management role, prompting you if any unfamiliar program wishes to run, something that wasn’t necessary in Windows XPs time.  This doesn’t mean Windows XP is unsecure however; the operating system will continue to be officially supported until August 4th 2014 (Microsoft Support Lifecycle).  This means necessary patches and security holes will continue to be applied and fixed respectively, until this time.

  • Networking-

Microsoft claims file transfer speed on Windows 7 is faster, although I haven’t noticed this.  If anything the speed increase might be attributed to the fact Windows 7 is more likely running on newer hardware (USB 3.0 and faster hard drives).  At the very least it’s not slower, but don’t expect a several-fold increase in file transfer speed.  Since Windows 7 is more security conscious, there is also a possibility of slightly slower networking speed as a trade-off for security.  I have also noticed it actually takes slightly longer to set up a network on 7 vs. XP.  However for those of you interested in the knock-down drag out comparison of networking speed on both OS’s- In my test (same computer, same networking setup) I noticed a file transfer of 6gb took about 6 seconds longer on Windows 7 vs XP.

So Should I Upgrade?

When it comes to smaller devices such as sub-notebooks and net-books; Windows XP shines with a more minimalist OS.  If resources are scarce, XP is the obvious choice, at least for the next two years; you will have a much faster computer with XP.  If the latest and greatest is your thing and you plan to buy a new computer anyway, consider Windows 7.  Each OS has its strengths and weaknesses; however Windows 7 is quickly gaining momentum vs its older sibling.  Windows XP is unlikely to go away anytime soon however; there are still many businesses using it and upgrading an entire network can be expensive and cost prohibitive- so don’t be afraid of it getting discarded anytime soon.

Should you buy a Desktop Computer or a Laptop?

If you need a new computer, you might be wondering whether you would be better off with a desktop or a laptop.  Since there is no easy answer to this, and it boils down to individual preference and needs, let’s quickly compare the two.

Desktops are heavier, louder, and take up a lot of space.  They are also cheap and don’t mind being left on for weeks at a time.  Desktops can take more abuse, and generally last slightly longer than a laptop.  They are also more secure since you can generally confine them to a controlled space, and link them to a central server so no sensitive data is lost if the individual computer itself is taken.  In one word: workhorse.

Laptops are lighter, quieter, and take up much less space.  They are more expensive.  Notebooks range from reasonable in price to downright expensive and offer a similar range of features.  Laptops are more fragile and don’t enjoy being left plugged in and on for weeks at a time; this can add an extra strain on the laptop since it is constantly checking the battery level and “topping it off” if necessary; which can cause the battery to get hot.  Laptops are hardly secure, and are often stolen.  Sensitive materials are often compromised when laptops are taken, sometimes confidential records.  In a word: convenient.

The Working Environment

There is no doubt that the working environment has changed over the last decade, in fact many new hires at large corporations are given a laptop when they start; not assigned a desktop computer.  As dynamic as the working world is, it still mandates deadlines be met.  Laptops mean more working time, and down time can be converted to work time.  Productivity is higher if people enjoy their workstations.

Laptops have gotten faster, and many rival desktops in graphics and processing power.  It is no longer necessary to sacrifice space for power.  Power can now be had in small packages.  Laptops are part for part more expensive, since everything is much more compact.

Is Space a Concern?

Obviously if space is any concern at all you should rule out the desktop, especially if you will be working away from an outlet.

What will the computer primarily be used for?

Nowadays a laptop can perform most computing tasks easily, like word processing and email; however if you need more power, it can be had cheaper with a desktop.  Encoding graphics or editing video will most likely require a higher end desktop computer anyway.  Most gamers buy desktop computers simply because of cost-benefit analysis anyway.  You can buy a gaming laptop, however you will probably spend 2x-3x what a comparable desktop computer costs.  Simple economics.

How much are you willing to spend?

If price is a factor, and you don’t require portability then a desktop is the logical choice.  If price is a factor; however you need a laptop, there are very basic laptops that can be had for only slightly more than a desktop.  Laptops only get substantially more expensive than desktops on the higher end of the market.  At the bottom of the spectrum, the difference is smaller.

Ultimately the choice is yours.  If you need a computer just to get by, however not for any specific use in general, I recommend a laptop.  You can always use it as a backup after is obsolete, or to just watch movies on it or play music.  Once a desktop computer is obsolete, it usually gets kicked to the curb; it just takes up too much space if it’s not serving a purpose.  Evaluate your needs and want and comparison shop.  Consumer electronics stores sometimes have great sales around the holidays.

Why You Should Buy a Laptop Online

Laptops are great.  Seems like everyone uses one nowadays, and is always looking for a good deal on them.  We love technology improvements, and laptops are one aspect of technology that is constantly improving.  Faster, quieter, and more power efficient models are released each year; often at the same prices as last year.

Odds are you have probably bought stuff online before; just about everyone has.  Maybe you are weary of making such a large investment online, without testing the computer first.  Lots of people like to see something before they buy it, and there are plenty of stores for this.  However the reality of the situation remains; online retailers are more competitive, both in price and their product lineups.

Online retailers have less overhead, and connect directly with their consumers; i.e. lower prices.

If you know exactly what you want, then great, you are miles ahead of everyone else.  Head over to some sites, and compare prices.

If you don’t know what you want, you first need to determine what you will be using the computer for.  Generally speaking, there are five main types of laptop users; gamers, home users, business users, students, and casual users.

Gamers are a demanding bunch, usually requiring a very powerful pc, with 1 GB of dedicated graphics, plenty of ram, and decent speakers.  Fortunately they usually don’t need much battery life, as they aren’t far from an outlet, and weight isn’t terribly important.

Home users usually need the ability to play HD movies, music, browse the internet, perform word processing and of course pay bills.  Battery life is important as well, so you don’t want the most powerful battery eating processor out there.  Something a little more modest will do fine.

Business users require all of the requirements of a home computer, but with portability also being paramount.  This is the trickiest segment to design computers for, and most manufacturers usually settle on something slightly heavier or with a protruding battery, to accommodate both adequate power and battery life.

For students, battery life is paramount.  The ability to take notes, and work on projects on the go is crucial, sometimes for many hours at a time.  Many students will also need their computers for entertainment, since it is not likely they will have another computer for this.  A net book or subnotebook would be ideal as they are light and compact, with great battery life, and can still handle music and movies.

Casual users will sometimes use their laptop at home, or will decide to pack it up and head outside.  Battery life is less important here; a few hours should be plenty.  A second generation processor should be more than adequate for casual computing needs, and often these users get the best deals on laptops because they are much more flexible.

Buying a laptop online can save you a lot of time and money if you know what you are looking for.

How to Buy an Inexpensive Computer

Nowadays, most people have a home computer, or a laptop.  The information age necessitates the importance of staying connected, and many of us have jobs where we need access to a computer daily.  Needless to say, having a computer is absolutely essential.

The reality is that most of us don’t need the latest and greatest technology for just word processing, surfing the internet, checking email, and listening to music.  Any cheap computer will be able to do those tasks no problem, and often at a fraction of the price of a brand new decked out computer.  Unless you are editing graphics, encoding video, or playing the latest games, you can get away with a very basic computer, often a significantly cheaper model.  Also don’t buy an expensive computer or laptop just to watch videos and be able to play DVDs, any computer made after 2005 should be able to play HD videos no problem.  If you computer has gotten slower over time, perhaps doing some periodic maintenance is the solution.

If something were to happen to your laptop, or home desktop computer, how would you do these basic tasks?  Dust off the old typewriter?  I don’t think so; which is ok, because a good computer can be bought for much less than you think.  There is absolutely no need to drop thousands of dollars just to perform simple computing tasks.

Since computer technology is constantly improving, over spending now may leave you unable to buy a new computer when you actually need one.  Computers have a relatively short lifespan compared to most major consumer goods, and the likelihood of owning the same computer for more than 5 years is pretty slim.  Why spend all of your money on just one now?  You will most likely want an upgrade at some point in the future, so why spend thousands now?

The price for computers, unlike most goods and services, tends to drop over time.  Competition is part of the reason; rapidly increasing demands for new technology and profits for the companies that deliver is the other.  Look at some of the great technology brands you know and love.  I bet you wouldn’t log onto the Apple© homepage and expect to find a laptop for under a hundred dollars advertised, would you?  Of course not.  Why not?  Because Apple© is a premium brand in consumer electronics.  They deliver above and beyond what most people need at a substantial premium.  Why do people buy these computers if they are so expensive?  Some people need that specific device for their job, and it is worth the extra cost to them.

Just as there are premium brands, there are also basic brands.  My personal favorite computer brands are HP© and Dell©.  HP has lots of corporate contracts, and often offer bulk discounts to companies that purchase several computers at once.  Dell does the same, and you can often find used computers from these two brands, with yesterday’s technology, off corporate lease.  Off lease computers are great, and they often will continue to work beautifully for many additional years after you buy them.  Large corporations know that after a certain time period, the failure rate per unit goes up.  To avoid this hassle, they upgrade after a few years.  This is great for the average person looking for an inexpensive computer, and these can often be found online for fewer than a hundred dollars.

Having a cheap computer around can be great, especially if two or more people want to use a computer at the same time in your house.

If you don’t like the idea of buying a used computer, not all is lost; you can still buy a new computer at a great price. How you might ask?  Computer manufacturers and retailers know that you often will look at brands you know and trust when purchasing new consumer items – so, they often sell inexpensive base models at minimal profit.  They do this to stay competitive and so when you go to buy a new top of the line computer, you think of them.  Also, they know the real money in retail computers isn’t made on a per unit basis; it’s made at the corporate level in bulk purchases of custom computers.  Significant profits in selling computers are only really made at the custom level; so if you want to save money don’t buy custom.

It can be easy to buy an inexpensive computer on a budget; hopefully this article saves you money on your next computer purchase.

Why Build a Custom Computer?

April 2nd, 2012 | Posted by admin in Buying New Stuff - (0 Comments)

Why Build a Custom Computer?

Building a custom computer doesn’t have to be expensive.  In fact, you can often build a great computer for less than you can buy one from a major manufacturer.  You get exactly what you want and need, and at a more competitive price.

Knowing exactly what you want; you can select components that will work synergistically with each other achieving optimal performance.  A custom computer will also probably significantly outlast a cheap name brand computer, if only because of superior build quality.  Most of the name brand manufactured computers nowadays are manufactured in bulk in China, and are designed to last a couple years at best.  Many custom built computers last much longer, which translates directly to a lower operating cost per year compared to a brand name computer.

There are many free how-to guides on the internet, and many websites that compare computer components, so you can read up on reviews and know exactly what you are getting with minimal effort.

Custom Built, Custom Use

Many people build their own computers, because nothing equitable is offered at a fair price.  Let’s say you want a computer for gaming.  Well you can spend several thousand dollars on a brand new gaming computer, or you can build your own.  If you build your own you can build it cheaper than you can buy it for, and at the same time upgrade it a later point in time if you desire.  You can easily build a top of the line gaming computer for under a thousand dollars that will last you for years to come and is of superior build quality.

Many people build computers for custom uses, such as trading, drafting, graphics editing, encoding video and of course; home entertainment.  Each of these computers will have specific needs that differ from each other, so proper planning is key.  It is best to determine what exactly you will be using the computer for ahead of time, before you spend any money, so you can be assured of individual component compatibility.

Budget

Competition is a beautiful thing.  Nowadays, with as many computer manufacturers as there currently are, getting quality components at fair prices is easy.  You will first need to pick a quality case, and a quality motherboard.  Then pick a compatible CPU, compatible RAM modules, a good quality hard drive, and any other drives you will need such an optical drive, or Blu-Ray Drive.  Once you have selected these, you will then need to select a quality power supply that will adequately handle all of your components with ease.  There are many free guides that go into great detail about building custom computers, and you will find the most difficult part in building the computer is often the selection of parts.  Everything fits together nicely once you actually start putting it together; just make sure you take reasonable precautions to prevent static electricity buildup.

A good solid, well-rounded computer will probably set you back around 800 – 1000 Dollars depending upon your needs.  Once you have assembled the computer, you will need to select an operating system.   Windows© is by far the most popular choice, and should suit your needs just fine.  If you are more experienced with computers, you might choose a free version of Linux for your needs.

The trick with building a custom computer is to map out everything in advance, so there are no surprises.  You should know exactly what it will cost beforehand, and also be certain that your chosen parts are compatible with each other.  People are often surprised how simple it is once they begin, and wish they had started sooner.  You might just find that custom computers are the solution to cheap brand name computers.

How to Save Hundreds on a New Computer

Computer technology is always improving, and a few years from now, your new computer you bought yesterday will be obsolete.  Obsolesce; however is not necessarily a terrible thing.

If you have been thinking about replacing your older computer and buying a new one, you have a large number of options at your disposal.  Nowadays people want the latest and greatest, so as long as you don’t need the newest tablet, you can usually save a bunch of money on a new computer; here’s how:

Keep in mind, most people when they buy a new computer, get something really expensive that they didn’t need in the first place.  We won’t be doing that; we’re going to only buy exactly what we need, shop around, and we won’t be buying any extended warranties.

Search Online

The best deals are usually online.  Not always, but when it comes to technology, the most competitive retailers are usually online.  When you walk into your local computer store, you are paying more for service.  This is ok usually, as I am a normally a big fan of paying people what they are worth; however we’re on a strict budget.

No Additional Software

When you buy a new computer, sometimes there is additional productivity and security software bundled with it.  We won’t need any of that.  You can save hundreds on your new computer if you just make sure that you aren’t paying for any additional software you don’t need.  You can always add these later if the need arises.  My personal favorite is to use the free security application; Microsoft Security Essentials, instead of paying for anti-virus programs.  If you have a legal copy of windows, you are eligible to download this great security program for free.

No Extended Warranty

Extended warranties usually seem like a good idea.  However; when you actually take a look at what the factory warranty covers and how long it lasts, you will realize that by the time it runs out, you will probably want a new computer anyway.

The factory warranty timeframe is usually around 24 or 36 months; so instead of getting an extended warranty, just save the money for a new pc in a couple of years.

Following the tips above can easily save you hundreds on your new computer without sacrificing performance.