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Home Tech Buying Guide

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					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.

				
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Description: Tech for the home and sensible buying tips