Cool Designs In Consumer Electronics

Most consumers own several electronic devices that have features that perform the same function. This is because consumer electronics are designed to blend in with the needs that consumers have and are marketed solely on one feature and the other features tend to blend into the background. A cellular telephone will include features such as calculator and calendars, but since these consumer electronics are sold individually, there is little talk about duplicated features in any magazines.

Consumer electronics like personal digital assistants are designed to perform tasks that are identical to tasks performed by larger devices but are used more because they are portable and can be enjoyed in many settings where the larger device will seem inconvenient. Many people will own personal computers and use the connectivity devices to download music to the handheld consumer electronics such as MP3 players and PDA’s, but they will enjoy the storage space found on the computer and store musical files until they are needed.

A person has the option of installing global positioning devices into the dash of their automobile or using these consumer electronics from portable devices such as PDA’s. Some computer software programs will serve the same purpose and a person will find that they can use the internet search engines to find websites that will perform exact distance calculations from one place to another. All of these consumer electronics will perform the same task but consumers are given a choice in which one they want to use and most users will consider the cost of using each method.

Some people use consumer electronics to help with mathematical calculations. A handheld calculator is very useful to a budget conscious shopper, but will prove to be an invaluable tool for someone who is performing intricate equations for algebra. Some users will need consumer electronics while at work because buying materials for a job site will require a building contractor to know the square root measurements of all building surfaces.

Computer software can be used to calculate the cost of every home remodeling project and consumer electronics like flash sticks can be used to store the files safely until they are needed. Computer technicians can use these devices to store many files that are needed for completing compute repairs, and other consumer electronics can be used to verify if electrical connections are energized or not safe to work on.

Other consumer electronics will make tasks simpler and reduce the cost of building projects. Electronic devices such as stud finders allow building contractors to find objects behind drywall that are not visible with the naked eye. A contractor might need consumer electronics such as heaters to make paint dry faster. When the building is finished, the occupant will rely on other electronic devices to maintain a comfortable temperature throughout the building.

While the design of consumer electronics is angled toward accomplishing a specific purpose, many devices can be used to accomplish a variety of tasks. Electronics are meant to simplify life and serve as forms of entertainment outside the home. Radios are one of the consumer electronics that can provide safety information if it is tuned to the right channel, or it can help keep drivers awake while driving for hours on a busy highway. Some consumer electronics are capable of putting drivers in contact with fire, police or ambulance companies in the event that an accident occurs on the roadways.

The Truth About Refurbished Electronics

We all prefer to purchase new when it comes to, well, just about everything. Unfortunately, though, the luxury of buying a brand new item is something that we are simply not afforded at all times. There are a variety of reasons why, in some instances, we are resigned to purchase “used” rather than new; money and accessibility being the most obvious points. However, there can be a positive avenue to this, which is, of course, the ability to save money by purchasing a less than new product. And, the benefits of purchasing “refurbished” items are no more prevalent than they are in the field of refurbished electronics.

It is important to note, right off the bat, which refurbished – when it comes to electronic goods – does not mean used, old or previously enjoyed. As a matter of fact, the definition of what constitutes a refurbished electronic item has a variety of meanings. A refurbished electronic item can be, for example:

•    An overstock item that is no longer being produced by the manufacturer

•    An item whose packaging has been damaged during transport, even though the item itself has not been affected at all and remains in perfect working condition

•    A product that has only featured in a store for display purposes only

•    Items that have cosmetic defects (i.e. incorrect color scheme) only, with no issues with quality

When it comes to refurbished electronic goods, such as an iPod, Xbox, Playstation or camcorder, anything that isn’t “new” is considered refurbished, and must be sold as such. Because of this, the shopper can easily save hundreds of dollars when purchasing a refurbished item versus buying a new item. In many cases, the refurbished electronic item in question is in just as good of working condition as a brand new electronic item. But, because of certain circumstances, that item is no longer identified as new.

Before some of you thumb your nose at the thought of purchasing a refurbished item, consider this scenario: you are purchasing a used Xbox 360 from a friend of yours. There are stains on the console, you’re getting the item in a plastic bag, and your friend has a reputation of not being so delicate with his belongings.

Would you purchase that Xbox 360, or one that has never been used or opened, but one whose box has a tear in it because it caught on someone’s watch during handling? Or would you purchase your friend’s coffee stained version over one whose box was opened because someone simply wanted to see what was inside, and that’s all?

And another caveat for purchasing refurbished; while your friend is a stand-up person, he probably won’t offer you a manufacturer warranty on the game. Most refurbished electronics still have their warranties intact, so, as a consumer, you are protected.

More and more people, companies and retailers are capitalizing on the value of refurbished electronics. For manufacturers and retailers, it’s a great way of moving out excess stock and items. And for consumers, refurbished electronics are a fantastic way of getting a high-quality item at an exceptionally low cost.

As with any purchase, due diligence and research is paramount to locating a respectable retailer who can give you the best deal possible when it comes to refurbished electronics. It is no different than, say, purchasing a used car or a pre-owned home. You would never think buying a used car or home is a bad idea, and you would never do it blindly either. The same principle applies to purchasing refurbished electronics. A good idea, when, combined with research, can prove to be a great benefit to the consumer.

With video game consoles becoming more and more expensive, and with more competition to choose from, there needs to be an outlet for people to get what they want without having to exceed their financial considerations. Everyone wants the hottest video game system, MP3 player or video camera out there, but not everyone can afford to purchase them either. For those who can’t, there is an option, and that is to purchase a refurbished version of the product. Again, in many cases refurbished does not mean opened, used, enjoyed, repaired or rebuilt. It just means that the item can not – by law – be defined and sold as a brand new product.

It also means that savvy customers, who don’t mind paying a little less, will end up with an exceptional electronic item at an exceptionally low cost.

It’s A Binary World – How Computers Count

Many have cursed their computer for taking things too literally! It’s easy to blame the computer when something goes wrong.

You get to the checkout at the market, and the item you bought ‘on special’ comes up at the full price. The manager has to be called to fix it up, and what does he say?
“We’ve been having problems with the computer, it gets the wrong price on some things.”

You put in a list of addressess to your Word processor, and print off party invitations for next week. Then you find that today’s date has been inserted in the signature block – by the computer!

Maybe you have heard the expression ‘Garbage in Garbage out”? Someone, at some point instructed the computer to do what it did, It didn’t decide to screw you up deliberately. Computers can only do what they are told, they are more logical than Spock and they take everything literally.

We are going to look at why they are so pedantic!

The world around us has many aspects which work in the same way as a computer. There are many examples of opposites, for instance Up and Down, Left and Right, Forwards and Backwards. A light may be On or Off, maybe it’s Night or Day. Yes or No? You can think of many others. This system of two possible states is called a Binary System, if it’s not one, it must be the other.

A computer uses the Binary System to perform all its functions, the basic unit, originally a vacuum tube, then a transistor, then a chip, is used thousands of times over to make the total unit. The light being On or Off which we mentioned above is controlled by a switch. In the computer this switch is a transistor, which is either On or Off.

Now we get to the Math! Don’t worry, it’s very simple Math! In fact it’s so simple we only count up to 1. That’s right, we can only have two states so we count from 0 to 1. (That’s another thing computers are pedantic about, they insist on starting at zero).

The Binary system is a Number System. You are familiar with the Decimal system which has 10 numerals 0 to 9 (think like a computer 0 comes first). You can make up all sorts of number systems for whatever purpose you want. You probably know about a dozen (12) and have also heard of a half dozen. If you’ve used your computer much you may have come across the Hexadecimal system. This one has 16 ‘numerals’ 0-9and A-F. Another number system used by computer people is the Octal system which has 8 numerals, 0-7.

Ok so how do we count with only 0 and 1. Simple, in exactly the same way you count in decimal. The first ten numbers are OK, 0-9, but what next? We start again but add in a 1 making 10 or “one, zero”. This gets us to “one, nine” and we go to “two, zero”, and so on up to “nine, nine” then we again add a 1 to make 100 – “one, zero, zero.”

If you’ve followed me so far you are ready for the Binary sequence, it’s much simpler. Starting off at zero we have 0,1 – and that’s it. We follow the same rule and add in a 1, making “one,zero”. Next come “one, one”; then “one, zero, zero”; -“one, zero, one”; etc. These are equivalent to Decimal 0,1,2,3,4,5. How does this relate to computers? That’s next.

In our computer we have transistor switches, as described above. For the math example we just looked at, we need 3 switches. These each represent a Binary Digit, or Bit. To represent a Decimal 1, these switches would be OFF,OFF,ON or 001. For a Decimal 5 we would have ON,OFF,ON, or 101. By extension you can see that with 4 switches we could go to 1111 or 15 Decimal.

Five Reasons to Love Macintosh Computers

If you’ve never owned an Apple computer, you don’t know what you’re missing. On the other hand, if you regularly use Macintosh computers, you understand that once you have a Mac, you’ll never go back. An Apple Macintosh – whether it’s a MacBook, a Mac Pro, or an iMac – takes personal computing to a whole new level. I bought my first iMac in 1998, have upgraded twice, and am still happy as a proverbial clam. Here, then are five reasons to love the Apple Macintosh.

1. Cool elegance. If there’s one thing Steve Jobs knows how to do, it’s designing electronics that are ultra-cool yet beautifully elegant. Why have a cumbersome big box desktop computer when you can have everything you need in an elegant iMac? Behind that clear, bright 16:10 aspect ratio monitor is the entire computer, including a DVD drive and a 64-bit Intel Core 2 Duo processor. There’s even a webcam built into the iMac so you can video chat or video conference whenever the whim strikes.

2. Intuitive functionality. Even though Windows copied the friendly desktop interface from Apple Macintosh, they still haven’t been able to get it right. Navigating the Mac’s interface is truly intuitive, engaging, and just downright fun. With a mobile computing product like the MacBook, you can take full computing functionality wherever you go. And, wherever you’ll go, you’ll always be connected, since the MacBook automatically finds nearby wireless networks and gives you nearly instant online access.

3. Digital living. Macintosh computers are designed to embrace the digital lifestyle. MacBooks and iMacs come with iLife, a wonderful array of applications that let you effortlessly share photo albums, record podcasts and songs, and even create and edit movies. You can even publish your creations on the Web with a single click. How cool is that?

4. Bug-free. If you’ve been wrestling with Vista the past few months (or any other Windows operating system, for that matter), you don’t know the meaning of freedom. Macintosh computers’ operating systems are bug-free, and as for upgrades, you get to choose when to receive software update notifications, and always have the choice of updating now or in the future. Mac simply isn’t intrusive; you get to control technology, instead of having technology control you.

5. Workhorse. Macintosh computers are more than a way to frolic in your spare time. They’re also workhorses. For years, graphic artists and publishers have almost exclusively used Macs for work. With the Mac Pro, you can get Adobe Creative Suite 3, a suite of tools specifically designed for creative professionals. Whether you’re a web designer, a graphic artist, an art director, or a video professional, Adobe Creative Suite 3 will make your work easier, better, and more fun.

There are those who say that Macintosh computers are limited in that much of the available software is only compatible with PCs. My experience is that my Mac can do anything a PC can do – and do it better. But for those diehards who insist that they can’t live without Windows, the next version of Mac OSX, Leopard, will allow you to install Windows XP on the Mac. Right now, you can run Windows in emulation mode…although for the life of me, I don’t understand why you would want to!

Don’t Throw Away That Laptop, Get A Replacement LCD Screen

Many people are paralyzed when their laptop computers are broken or damaged. They are willing to do almost anything or pay any price to get the offending piece or part replaced so that they can get on with their lives.

One part that is especially vulnerable on a laptop computer is the screen. An LCD screen, the type of screen that is used in most laptop computers, is very vulnerable to scratching or other damage.

Fortunately, a damaged LCD screen is not the end of your laptop. Replacement LCD screens can be very affordable and the turn around time to getting them fixed can be very quick if you know where to go and what to look for.

The first thing you will want to do when you are looking for replacement LCD screens is to not panic. Many people get too upset when their computers aren’t working and then they set themselves up to get taken advantage of.

Investing even an hour or two into finding the right price and an honest repairman could make all the difference in the quality of repair that you get.

However, that extra hour or two that you should spend shopping for replacement LCD screens usually won’t get your computer back to you any faster and may end up costing you time.

Look for local places with good reputations. Call around and ask about pricing before you show up. You may also want to call friends, family, and acquaintances for recommendations.

Actually, the ideal time to locate honest and good computer repair people is when you first get your new computer. After the warranty runs out, you will need to take care of problems yourself.

Ideally, you should do the research on where to get replacement LCD screens and other parts and repairs when you first get your computer. However, if you didn’t do that, all is not lost. You can still quickly determine where the best place to go to get replacement LCD screens with just a couple of simple tips.

There are many stores that offer great prices on the internet for replacement LCD screens. However, unless you are sending your computer back to the manufacturer for a covered repair, sending out your laptop for repairs like getting replacement LCD screens is ill-advised.

With the mail, you are only lengthening the amount of time you are without your computer. Secondly, replacement LCD screens are a common repair and don’t require sending it to some company far from where you live.

Also, you run the risk of losing or damaging your computer while it is being shipped. Lastly, what do you really know about the company where you are mailing your computer?

It could be a scam of some kind and taking action would be very difficult and expensive. Staying close to home is usually a much better and quicker policy.

Blu-ray Technology

New technology is now making it possible for viewers to record and store high definition programming onto DVDs. Blu-ray Disc is one method of recording HD content onto an optical disc. A blue-laser optical disc (MPEG-2 or MPEG-4) is used. Systems that use this technology will be able to play traditional DVDs, but the goal of Blu-ray is to create an image that’s as close to the HD format as possible. The name Blu-ray comes from the blue laser that decodes and copies information to each disk. Blu-ray technology may very well revolutionize the world of high definition programming. The Blu-ray disc format offers greater potential for storage, usually 25 gigabytes, which exceeds that of a standard DVD (15 gigabytes). One single-layer Blu-ray disk can hold about four hours of high definition content. A two-layer disk can contain eight hours of HD content. Four- and eight-layer disks are now in the works. These disks would have storage capabilities of 100 and 200 gigabytes. The Blu-ray recording system utilizes a shorter wavelength for recording information than traditional CDs and DVDs, and this is part of what allows it to hold more content on a single disk.

Blu-ray has also influenced the computer industry, specifically in terms of data storage capability. A number of major companies have come out in support of Blu-ray, including Apple, Dell, Hitachi, Pioneer, and Sony. Hewlett Packard plans to market desktop computers and laptops that utilize Blu-ray technology. Sony has announced that it will introduce a Blu-ray component in PlayStation 3, which is expected to appear in November of this year. Microsoft has also said that it may add a Blu-ray component to its Xbox 360. Currently, Blu-ray is only available in Japan, but it will appear in the United States in May, in video games and a DVD system that recreates a high definition effect on a viewer’s TV.

Many movie studios have Blu-ray films planned for future release. In 2005, Sony Pictures cornered the market on the first Blu-ray feature-length movie disk, which was none other than Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle. Studios that support the technology include Walt Disney and Twentieth Century Fox.

Competing with Blu-ray in the area of HD storage is HD DVD. HD DVD disks have less storage capability, but they’re cheaper to produce. Other big-name companies are showing their support for this option, including Microsoft, Intel and Toshiba, as well as Universal Studios. In what may be the smartest move, some companies are backing both types of technology, ensuring that their products support both Blu-ray and HD DVD. These companies include Samsung, Paramount and Warner Brothers.

Blu-ray is facing challenges from other competitors in the HD market: the Enhanced Versatile disk, the Digital Multilayer disk, and the Holographic Versatile disk are a few alternatives to Blu-ray.

Consumer Electronics

Consumer electronics have become a major part of our everyday lives, whether we think so or not. You don’t have to be a tech freak to have most of your life somewhat dependant upon electronics. This dependency seems to grow more and more with each new generation as well. If you run through a typical day, you might notice just how many consumer electronics that you use. There are also many new devices coming out all of the time to fill the void that was lacking a device to fill it.

Most of us will start our day to the tune of an electric alarm clock. Then as we get ready in the morning we will use a couple of other devices ranging from an electric shaver to an electric iron. You may then heat up some breakfast in a microwave or toaster while the electric coffee maker brews a fresh pot. The point is that you have hardly started your day and most of the morning was spent using various electronics. With a normal work week most of us do not have time to manually do everything. Consumer electronics mainly fulfill two duties. They either provide a useful function and/or they entertain us.

Most of the electronics that fulfill a function of daily life are similar to the aforementioned products that you may use in the morning. Many others include things like refrigerators and washing machines. These appliances make everyday chores take a fraction of the time. Our electronics also make us more comfortable with climate control for our homes and water heaters for our faucets. You do not need to shop the latest products to be dependant upon electronics.

Besides consumer electronics that are used for everyday functions, there are ones that are purely for our interest and entertainment. MP3 player, portable gaming devices and camcorders all provide for entertainment everyday. There are also items like computers and cell phones that provide daily functions and entertainment. Our consumer electronics improve more every year to provide functionality and consumer satisfaction. More and more each year these products also fuse the gap between entertainment and functionality which promises them a place in our shopping carts.

The Technology In A LCD Monitor

Liquid Crystal display or LCD monitor is a thin and flat device for display. It is made by large number of color or monochromatic pixels which are arrayed in way of a light source or a reflector. It uses very small amount of electric power and hence is used often in battery powered electronic devices. The technology used is very much dissimilar to CRT technology which is used by many desktop monitors. It was used only on notebook computers for a very long time. Only recently they have been offered as an alternative to CRT monitors. They take up very less desk space and are much lighter than the CRT monitors. But they are also quite expensive.

Each pixel of LCD monitor display has a layer of aligned molecules between two electrodes which are transparent and two polarizing filters. Because there is no liquid crystal between the aligned polarizing filters, light which has passed through the first filter will be blocked by the second polarizer. The surface which is in contact with the crystal is treated to align it in particular direction. The direction of alignment is defined by direction of rubbing.

Resolution, in terms of horizontal and vertical size expressed in pixels, is native supported for the best display effects. This is one of the things that sets LCD monitor apart. Dot Pitch is defined as the distance between two adjacent pixels. It is the minimum for sharper image. Each pixel is divided into three cells, or sub pixels. These are colored red, green and blue. Each sub pixel can be controlled independently for millions of combinations and hence colors. Older CRT monitors use phosphors for sub pixel structure. The analog electron beam though does not hit the exact sub pixel.

Color components can be arrayed in various geometries, depending on how the monitor is to be used. If the software being used knows the geometry, it can be used to increase the apparent number of pixels using sub pixel rendering. This kind of technique is often used in text anti-aliasing. LCDs which are used in digital watches and calculators have separate contact for each segment. Thus an external dedicated circuit charges each segment individually. This is not possible if the number of elements increases.

Small monochrome displays like the ones used in Personal Organizers or in older laptops have passive matrix like structure and employ super twisted nematic or double layer STN technology. Here, each row or each column has a single electrical circuit and the pixels are hence addressed according to rows and columns. But as the number of pixels increases, the response time decreases and the technique no longer remains feasible.

Color displays used in modern LCD monitors and televisions use active matrix structure. An array of thin film transistors (TFT) is added. Each pixel has a dedicated transistor. Active Matrix display looks brighter and sharper than passive matrix display of similar size and has better response time.

LCD technology has some critical drawbacks too. Resolution of a CRT monitor can be changed without introduction of any new artifact. But LCDs can produce only their native resolution and non native resolutions are achieved by scaling. The blacks of LCDs are actually grey because of presence of a light source. This results in lower contrast ratio when compared to CRTs. LCDs with cheaper parts cannot display as many colors plasma or CRT counterparts.

Also, LCD display has longer response time when compared to Plasma or CRT counterparts. Input lag is also present and the viewing angle is limited. In spite of these drawbacks, LCD display is quickly gaining prominence.