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Title: Technology Today March 2003
by  Robert Sanborn

Well, as we put this together, it is still January and that means the Consumer Electronics Show. I didn’t make it again this year having just returned from an extended Comdex and with the holidays, enough is enough on the travel front but I can’t wait to see George Harding’s report. It gets bigger every year and with a real merger taking place between computers and home entertainment, we should see some really exciting things coming up. 

The LCD Flat screen monitors are more and more becoming affordable and before you take the plunge and buy one, you need to be sure you are getting a good quality model. The good news is that many of them really look good but if you get a chance to stop at one of the superstores sometime, you can see quite a difference when you look at them side by side. A surprising name to some is the great quality that is coming out of the Samsung line and this is one you should take a close look at. Great reviews, bright, and a high quality screen to pick from.  

I was wondering when someone would come out with a laptop with a 17 inch screen and I see Apple has done it. Of course you probably won’t want to be running and lugging it through airports all that much but it shows the trend in larger screens. Most laptops today seem to come with a 15 inch screen and that was a big reason the prices for the LCD screens stayed so high for so long. Huge demand. I think that demand still hasn’t hit the high point yet as we will see when we see the big names like Viewsonic, NEC, and Sony come down in price to around $199 for a 15 inch screen and $329 for a 17 inch screen. There are a lot of real no-names out there so watch what you pick up. 

Short Takes 

One of the things I won about two years ago was the Microsoft Game, Age of Empires II. I waited until this past month before I opened it because I was terrified of how much time I would spend (read waste) playing it. I love strategy games and this is a very good one and sure enough, before I knew it, I was spending hours on it. Time to uninstall but it sure was a lot of fun playing it. When I look at the graphics, I am very pleasantly surprised as how good they are compared to simulation games I had seen in the past but you know, when I took a look at the graphics that will be coming out of nVidia at the Comdex press release, I was truly blown away. Course those kinds of graphics will require Pentium 4 systems, mega gobs of ram, and that is just to run the video cards coming out. Wait till you see the games that take advantage of them. As I said, time to uninstall the game and go back to work. 

More things to think about 


Many of you have been getting upgraded to cable modems or DSL lines for high-speed access. You need a firewall to keep your computer safe from prying computers and hackers. If you will only run one computer, then the software firewall will be ok. Get Zone Alarm at www.zonelabs.com. If you have more than one computer, then you need a Hardware Firewall Router. Not the “websafe” type of router. Best bet is the Linksys model BEFSX41. Look for true firewall capabilities which include: Stateful Packet Inspection (SPI), Intrusion Detection, Denial of Service (DoS) attack protection, and Network Address Translation (NAT) Routing 

Slow CD Burn

If you upgrade your older CDROM Drive, you may find that your drive is faster than the rated speed on the discs and you can run into problems if your drive doesn’t see that you are using slower discs. Some drives can tell but others wont so you might have problems burning those old CDs. 

Upgrade Woes

I am seeing lots of no-name components out there like memory, CD ROM Drives, and the like. The danger you have is that it very well might not be compatible with your equipment. Cheap prices often mean many headaches. Another problem is upgrading memory on an older computer with “Value RAM”. What happens is that the memory is rated at 133mhz and if your mainboard is only a 100mhz board, you can’t use this ram.  

Memory Cards and Readers

If you have a digital camera, one thing you notice quickly is you need more memory cards. It is much easier to get your pictures into your computer if you use a memory card reader. These little readers plug into a USB port on your computer and they make transferring pictures so much easier. 

Product Reviews

Want a good way to see what is good out there? Take a look at PC World magazines buying guide at: http://www.pcworld.com/reviews/article/0,aid,78056,pg,2,00.asp.  Go to this address to see a good buying guide on printers.


Robert Sanborn is an Independent Personal Computer Consultant and a contributing editor for the Indy PC News. Reach him through the net at indypcnews@indy.rr.com


Last Update:06/26/2007


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