Christmas post 2010

Hi everyone!

From now and through Christmas, right up to January 5th (Epiphany – 12th Night), you will find yourselves working through a maze of advertising pressure from many retailers as they run their Christmas and post-Christmas sales.

Here, you may be pressured to make buying mistakes like buying one of those very cheap printers that costs more than you bought it for to keep full of ink and is likely to start jamming the paper very soon.

Buyers’ Guides – laptops, printers

I have been reviewing many dedicated and multifunction printers on this site and have focused on equipment that is worth using in the long term. This is compared to those  specials that discount stores and supermarkets sell at rock-bottom prices but are more costly to keep with ink or are more likely to break down within or shortly after the warranty.

From these reviews, I have noticed that the mid-range network-enabled consumer multifunction printers are a sure bet even if you don’t have a network setup because most of these printers are typically durable products that are cheaper to run even on original consumables. As well, the network-enabled small-business printers are also worth considering for home use in the long term.

I have reviewed some netbooks and low-end laptops like the <models> and these are worth considering using as a secondary computer for setups where you have a desktop, “all-in-one” or large laptop computer. This is where you want a machine that is used by other members of your household in the kitchen; or simply as a computer to use while you are travelling.

Based on this, I have written some buyers’ guides for people who are buying laptop computers or newer printers. These will come in handy whenever you, your household or the small business or other small organisation that you are involved with takes advantage of the big sales that are on between now and Epiphany (5th January).

The DLNA Home Media Network

I am not forgetting about the DLNA Home Media Network and have a series of feature articles on this topic. This is becoming more relevant as more Internet-enabled media devices have inherent support for this function and nearly all network-attached storage devices can provide media to these devices using this standard.

The first article of importance is relevant if you buy any of the new Samsung or Sony large-screen TVs or an Internet radio, whereas the second article is relevant when you purchase or consider purchasing a network-attached storage device/

Gift ideas

A good issue to think of when buying gifts is to be able to work out a strategy when it comes to buying something that is of decent quality rather than working to a budget, even if you are financially constrained. This avoids the recipient using a “use once throw away” gift or something that is ho-hum. One strategy would be for two or more individuals or families who all know what to give to “pool resources” towards buying the gift. Similarly, vouchers to a favourite merchant can go a long way towards a good-quality item.

A good pair of headphones would be a must for anyone with a laptop, netbook, smartphone or portable media player. This is because the headphones that come with most smartphones or portable media players are made to a price and don’t yield good-quality sound and can be fatiguing to use. For laptop users who use their machines for watching video material; listening to music and other audio content’; or playing games as a way of whiling away the long journey, this is a must so they can enjoy the sound much more.

Similarly, laptop users could benefit from a powered speaker system which has an integrated power amplifier. This would come in handy when a large-form laptop is used at home or the office, especially as a “jukebox”. These same speakers also come in handy as external speakers for an Internet radio, especially where you want to seek more from its sound. The speakers must have “tight” bass and must not “rattle” during the bass notes. Also, the tenor and treble sound must be clear and distinguishable. If the speaker system uses a separate powered subwoofer or bass driver, it must be feasible to adjust the bass output so you can avoid that “pub jukebox sound” which is too bass-dominant and can cause listener fatigue.

As well, look for good-quality laptop luggage, whether as a “messenger bag”, backpack or satchel. For students, I would recommend a backpack so they can carry their books and other paper-based work alongside their laptop and its accessories. Some of these backpacks can also work well as overnight / weekend bags which can house a change of clothing and some toiletries alongside the laptop and its accessories.

Always make sure that the stitching and the fasteners on the luggage is of good quality. This is more important for backpacks because the damage can be done more severely if cheap zippers come away and the bag drops open disgorging its contents without the owner knowing. A good indicator of quality stitching and fasteners is how long the manufacturer will warrant the bag for.

Let’s not forget that computer games, whether for the computer or the network-capable games consoles, are highly valued my most computer users as valued gifts. Sometimes you may have to buy more copies of a game to allow concurrent play on multiple machines over a network or the Internet. It is also worth knowing that some games titles that are written for the Windows platform may also be written to play on a recent Apple Macintosh and you may have to look for the “Mac” logo to double check this fact with some titles.

I wish you all a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year,

Simon Mackay

Send to Kindle

Leave a Reply

*