Clive Redington 2011 Home Tech Buying Guide TV Hardware If you want a cheap and cheerful TV, go for an LCD. They can give good pictures. However, if you like sports, plasma TVs are still the best because they have less ‘ghosting’ (smearing with fast moving objects). If you can afford it, go for a full LED TV because the technology is better than even Plasma TVs. They also use less energy than any other types. Don’t consider a CRT television unless money is really, really tight and you don’t mind the bulky and heavy tube sticking out the back. They are also the most expensive to run but the cheapest to buy (if you can still find one as the technology is really old now). Networking For home networking, the easiest solution is to use wireless. Every laptop now has wireless built in. However it is not the fastest transmission media. A better bet, if it is practical, is Homeplug or Powerline (200Mb/s or above). This creates a network over your home electrical wiring. It is less subject to interference than wireless, which can grind to a halt when some microwave ovens are used etc.Homeplug is also more secure because the signal is not transmitted outside of your power ring, unlike wireless which is fairly easy to hack in to if you have the right tools. RJ45 cabling is the best of all but is not practical unless your house is flood-wired or you only need to network a couple of adjacent rooms for example. Broadband Go for a package that has good customer service. If you have problems, you may end up with a lot of frustration if their customer service is bad. Get a deal that gives you enough data, especially if you do a fair amount of downloads. The amount of data you get varies and you should always read the fair use policies to make sure you will not run out during the month which may incur significant charges or limit your speed significantly. You need to factor in any movie or music downloading you do, as well as the usual email, Youtube and Facebook etc. Media Streaming Some TVs have a media decoder built-in enabling you to play moves from a USB stick, SD card or network NAS etc. If you do not have one of these, you will need a media playback device that plugs in to your TV. Make sure the one you get has the sockets you need e.g. HDMI, composite, SCART etc.Bear in mind that the best quality is HDMI, followed by component, S-video, Scart and then composite. Go for the best you can afford. Some have room for hard disks inside. Others have a RJ45 network socket, while most have USB sockets or ones for SD cards. With Clive Redington 2011 an RJ45 socket you can usually stream from a PC on your network or a NAS (Network Attached Storage) device. Try to get one that is DLNA compliant. Backups Always keep two copies of any important data. These must be stored on separate media. Never store the backup on the same hard disk, because if that disk fails you will lose both copies! I have a piece of software which backs up My Documents every day on to a separate hard disk within my PC. PC Basically get a PC with as much money as you can afford. £600 should be more than enough unless you will be handling large chunks of media or need to play the latest cutting edge games. You should go for at least a dual core processor, but quad core is better. Get at least 2 GB of ram and Windows XP or Windows 7 (the latter is more modern). Go for a trusted brand, preferably with a warranty. To save eye strain go for at least a 17” monitor. A wired keyboard and mouse are fine (unless you don’t mind changing batteries or charging them every other month). A choice of an Apple computer PC is up to you. On this front you get what you pay for. Apple computers are normally more expensive but some say easier to use and are arguably more stable (and more trendy). Console Gaming consoles are brilliant. The machines worth considering are from Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo. The Sony PS3 comes with a BluRay player which plays high definition movies. However it is the most expensive console of the three, but does have free online play (unlike Microsoft’s Xbox 360 which is subscription based (around £30 per year). The Nintendo Wii is arguably the most fun console especially for young kids, but the games do not have as good graphics in general.