Our look back at 2006. Vista. Digital Cameras.
HDTV prices and technologies. In the third quarter last year Circuit City made a profit of $10 million. This year, they lost $16 million. And sales were way up. The reason, in large part, is that the prices on flat panel TVs were so low that retailers lost money on them. Alfred spoke to someone from Best Buy - they matched all the prices of their competitors, even if they lost money on the sale.
Sony Playstation 3 vs. Nintendo Wii. Trends in notebook computers. Exploding Sony batteries.
The subject of the name "Google" came up. It's based on a very big number - a "googol" is 10 raised to the 100th power. Or, in other terms, 1 followed by 100 zeros. The mis-spelling is said to have been on purpose. An even bigger number is a "googolplex", which is 10 to the power of googol, or, 1 followed by a googol zeros. Our thanks to Chris for following up on this after the show.
There was the usual 30 minutes of listener phone calls. On the show were Joe King, Hank Kee, Alfred Poor and Michael Horowitz.
Gripes about Internet Explorer 7. Hank can't believe the number of problems with it. Joe tried to fall back to IE6 but couldn't. Steve Bass of PC World had so many problems with it, he reverted to IE6.
Google Check Out is competing heavily with PayPal. They are even offering significant discounts to get people to try it. And Google also just started selling domain names for $10. They are re-selling the services of GoDaddy and eNom, perhaps figuring they have better name recognition.
Joe likes TuneBite for moving files between different DRM systems. It's not free but the cost is moderate. Joe also liked Mozy online backup which he said offers unlimited storage space for $5/month. Their free service offers 2GB of storage space. You install their software and it runs constantly in the background uploaded changed files automatically.
For bargains the day after Christmas check out www.dealnews.com. You can even try them now.
Watch a laptop battery burn. Don't try this at home. Video from PC Ppitstop.
Hank did his first editorial at the end of the show.
Can Vista possibly be a failure in the marketplace? Alfred said yes. Many people could care less about it, especially in corporations.
Should you buy a PC now or wait for Vista? HP is giving away free coupons for Vista to anyone who buys their PCs from Oct 26,2006 to March 15, 2007. Other PC vendors are charging for the Vista upgrades. Still more critical bug fixes from Microsoft - yesterday was "patch Tuesday". Hank reported on free anti-virus software for server versions of Windows. We discussed where to get the next version of the free AVG ant-virus program.
Apple released 22 bug fixes for OS X including one of interest for all for Macs using WiFi.
The Supreme Court will examine the obviousness of patents. They will hear an appeal by E-Bay regarding the buy-it-now feature.
The legal cloud over Linux is lifting. A judge threw out many of the claims by SCO against IBM. The company may even disappear.
Epson is shutting down makers of clone printer cartridges. Joe complained that printer cartridges are programmed to shut down at a certain time, even if there is ink in the cartridge. The idea is not let you manually inject ink, that costs Epson money.
What's the best way to clean an LCD screen (used in all laptops and flat panel monitors)? Hank reviewed the cleaning instructions from Lenovo, HP and Dell - and found them all the same. Alfred wasn't surprised as these companies don't actually make the panels. They were probably given the instructions from the company that really made them all.
Hank used to use Isopropyl Alcohol, but it turns out that was a mistake. You're supposed to use a 50/50 mixture of water and Isopropyl Alcohol on a soft cloth. Joe suggested distilled water. In addition, turn off the hardware, don't spray the screen and don't close the laptop cover until everything is dry.
There was an article in the newspaper today that said Toshiba expects to ship SED Televisions in 2008. Alfred gave us the lowdown. For one, SED stands for Surface Emitter Display. The picture is great - the phrase Alfred used was "breathtakingly beautiful." In a panel even thinner than current LCD and Plasma TVs, it offers a picture with no viewing angle problems and no contrast problems.
The downside is that SED televisions may never make it to market. In the beginning there were manufacturing problems, but eventually Canon came up with a great idea that solved the problem and now they partner with Toshiba in making SED TVs. But, they were supposed to come to market in 2005. Then in 2006. Then in 2007. And, today, the date is now 2008. See a pattern? Even if they do make it to market, the delay may very well prove fatal as the cost of LCDs and Plasmas keeps falling. SED TVs may not be able to compete on price. A year ago a 42" plasma set was $2,500 and an LCD was $3,000. Now those sizes cost $1,500 to $2,000. In another year, both will be cheaper still.
On November 30th Windows Vista was released to corporate America. Will they care? SoftChoice Research did a study that found that half of machines in corporate America cant run the low end basic version of Vista at all. There are seven versions of Vista, the highest end one is called the Ultimate. A whopping 94% of the computers in businesses are not capable of running the Ultimate version of Vista.
For consumers, PCs now being sold as "Vista capable" are only guaranteed to run the low end Vista. Microsoft has a web page you can use to test if your computer has sufficient horsepower to run Vista. If you really want Vista, Joe said t wait until it comes pre-installed. Current machines may be sold with Vista upgrade coupons allowing you to get Vista later. But, some vendors are giving way these coupons for free, while others are charging for it, and the price varies.
Hank ran across a problem with Internet Explorer 7, he was getting errors that a publisher could not be verified. A little research turned up the source of the problem. It turns out that if you run a program from a network drive (a.k.a mapped drive) you'll get this problem. With all the testing IE7 underwent it's amazing that it was released with a problem like this. There is a fix for this, but it involves running the Group Policy Editor a feature of Windows XP Professional only. Users of XP Home are out of luck.
Hank felt that Vista is too expensive for what you get. It costs much more than Windows XP and the bang isn't there for the buck.
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