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Tag Archives: Home Gadgets

What is TiVo and How Can it Connect to Your Home Network?

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TiVo is a digital device that connects to the TV and lets users digitally record television programs onto a hard disk. It is a device that very much plays a similar role to the traditional VCR only it is digital and it has many more useful features. TiVo is modern and takes full advantage of today’s digital technology.

When you use the TiVo device and service, the beginning of actually using the service is searching through scheduled TV programs that are displayed on the main screen. TiVo gives you a full and complete listing of all scheduled television programming. From there, you are able to select the program/s that you are interested in recording. TiVo is controlled by remote control only and the actual TiVo unit/device has no buttons on it. TiVo comes with huge amounts of storage and it allows you to set TiVo to record a whole series from beginning to end in just one setting.

How to Connect TiVo to your Home Network
Historically, TiVo was actually developed by accident when developers were working on creating a new type of home network. As development progressed, the project became what we now know as TiVo rather than a home network. TiVo does however still contains some of its original great home networking features, and so TiVo users are able to very easily connect their TiVo devices to their home networks.

TiVo DVRs comes with USB ports which are used to connect with Ethernet and WiFi adapters. This also allows TiVo to be connected to home networks for file transfers and other shared resources between the two. Even more features are available when you use the Internet and specifically the TiVo Central Online web site. Users can go to this web site when they are not at home and schedule the TiVo unit to record programs while they are not home. So, if they are not at home or unexpected plans come up, they won’t miss their favorite programs.

TiVo’s compatibility with home networks means that file sharing and transfer of audio/visual can be done quite easily. If you have several TiVo units in your home, programs that you have recorded can be transferred easily between units. Furthermore, if you want to move a file from TiVo to your home computer or photos from your computer to be viewed via TiVo it can all be done via your usual home network.

TiVo was first made available in the United States. Next it became available in Canada and it has now reached Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. It is not long before this service is available throughout the world.


Home NAS devices

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Network-Attached Storage (NAS) provides a way to store files remotely and to back up files on your computer, protecting you from loss of data due to a damaged hard drive among other things. A NAS is a computer that is attached to a network with the sole purpose of providing storage to other devise that might be attached to the network.

A NAS is usually dedicated and set aside only for use as a storage device even though it can often potentially be used as a normal computer and perform other tasks. NAS devices are usually controlled through the network using remote access or they can usually have a keyboard attached to them. When fully utilized, they ensure that you will not lose data even if your computer breaks down beyond repair.

The concept of NAS was originally developed for the business/work environment, however increasingly people are making more use of the technology in their homes as part of their home networks. There are all types of reasons that a person might want to use a NAS device as a part of their home network set up. Home movies, films, music and family photographs that are in electronic/digital format can all take up a huge amount of space on personal hard drives. When your files are placed on a NAS, you have the option of accessing any of these files from any computer on your home network. This can provide you with a huge amount of convenience and entertainment at your fingertips.

NETGEAR currently offers the ReadyNAS N+ series of storage devices. Each of these offers continuous monitoring of your computers and they are capable of backing up your files on a regular schedule. NETGEAR describes this technology as providing home users with enterprise level technology in their own homes. Your NAS can connect to several computers on your home network simultaneously, and devices like digital cameras can be plugged directly into a NAS for the quick download and storage of photos.

A NAS works perfectly for the increasingly popular netbook computers that are more popular than ever. Netbooks contain very little storage space because they are designed to connect with the Internet and other WANs rather than store data. Connecting a netbook to a NAS enables you to make full use of any resources stored on the NAS using your netbook as the interface (keyboard and monitor) to the stored files.


Crazy USB devices

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The invention of USB technology has enabled the development and the widespread usage of peripheral devices on today’s computers. These devices can include tools that are very useful yet simple such as a plug-n-play mouse. They can be the speakers that provide the sound for your computer or they can charge, synchronize and connect your PDA devices.

The popularity of USB protocol means that computers are manufactured with more and more USB ports. USB hubs have also become more prevalent. These allow more USB devices to be added to a computer that has fewer USB ports. The prevalence of USB technology opens the door for the average computer user to sit down to work with several USB devices plugged in with all functioning at the same time. This convenience has led to the development of a lot of advanced business tools that use USB technology. It has also led to the development of many novelty USB gadgets, some of which serve a purpose and others that solely entertain us. Below is just a short list of the some of fun, crazy and interesting USB devices that I have come across recently:

Barbie USB Flash Drive
The Barbie USB Flash Drive is a miniature version of Barbie that has a pop off head. To use it, simply pull her head off and stick her neck into the USB port to make use of her storage memory. Similarly Solid Alliance offers the iDuck which is a flash drive in the shape of a duck.

USB Hand warmers
USB Hand warmers are a novelty pair of gloves that are made with heating pads attached. Simply plug the gloves into your USB port and enjoy the heat. The gloves are fingerless so they still allow you to type on your computer keyboard.

USB Mood Lamp and Speaker
This nifty device allows you to play music from your computer through your USB port. In addition to being speakers, the device is a mood lamp. Once plugged in, it begins to change color according to mood.

Mini Aquarium
The mini aquarium is a fun gadget that when filled with water and attached to your USB port will light up and come alive. The fish will swim and just like a real aquarium will help reduce your stress levels and provide you with hours of entertainment.

USB Electric Toothbrush
For those of you that never actually leave your computer, you can now freshen up and brush your teeth at your computer, using the USB electronic toothbrush set.

As you can see, if you are stumped for what gifts to buy your computer crazy kids or husband for Christmas, novelty USB items such as those mentioned above should make choosing a gift for them that bit easier.


Blu-Ray Vs HD DVD

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The goal to improve upon DVD technology brought about a surprisingly fierce battle to produce “the product” that would replace DVD technology. This race was run primarily between HD DVD technology which was being developed by Toshiba and Blu-ray technology which was being developed by a conglomerate of contributors known as the Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA).

What is Blu-Ray?
Blu-ray technology was developed by a group of developers and contributing companies so as to improve, and ultimately replace DVD technology. A major feature of Blu-Ray technology is that it uses an optical disc and so is not starkly different in appearance to a DVD. It also uses a blue laser to read the data on the disc. This blue ray allows for greater accuracy in accessing data and therefore allows data to packed much closer and tighter together. This means that Blu-ray discs can potentially hold more data than the original DVD.

What is HD DVD?
HD DVD or High-Definition/Density DVD is a technology that is no longer being developed. Like Blu-ray and DVD, it uses an optical disc which is capable of storing very large amounts of data. HD DVD technology made use of a blue laser as opposed to the red laser used in original DVD technology. Although HD DVD was a promising format, over time, it did not manage to gain popular support. This was true especially among manufacturers and retailers, the place where it needed it most. When the majority of the market chose to work with Blu-ray, the development of HD DVD was discontinued.

Blu-ray technology continues to increase in popularity and it is now positioned to be the technology that ultimately replaces the popular DVD format that we have become used to. Other benefits of Blu-ray technology are that it is backward compatible with DVD and CDs. This is excellent because users will be able to avoid having to re-format or re-record their entire CD and DVD collections. It also means that recording older discs over to the new technology will be much easier than has been with previous replacement technologies.


Image Scanners

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If you are like most people, you have a collection of photographs that you have accumulated over the years. Photos provide us with hours of memories and entertainment. One of he ways that you can preserve the memories and ensure that they are around for many years to come is to scan them and turn them into a digital format.

A scanner is a device that can be attached to a computer and used to scan photographs. People choose to scan photos for all types of reasons. Scanning a photo with a scanner takes it from being a physical photo and instead creates a digital version of it (of course the physical photo still exists). Once a photo has been scanned it can be saved in a variety of formats and edited and adjusted without limits, in the same way that a digital photo taken with a digital camera can be.

Once a photo has been converted into digital format it can be adjusted using image editing software just like an image that was created using a digital camera, it can be emailed and used as a screensaver and for other purposes. Most scanners come with software included in the box. This software usually includes a driver for the scanner (a very small program that helps your computer to recognize and know how to read information from the scanner), they have the scanner program and they often have image editing software installed as well.

Over the years, all kinds of scanners have been developed. The most popular photo scanner is the flatbed scanner. It is easy to use and doesn’t take up too much space. With a flatbed scanner, a photo is placed down on the scanner glass to be scanned. It is very much like using a photocopy machine.

If you like to buy integrated and bundled devices, then you might want to consider buying a multi-use scanner. There are many scanners on the market that come bundled with other devices. Popular at the moment are scanners that not only have a photo scanner but also a printer and a photocopier as well all in one. These integrated scanners offer a lot of convenience. They can save you space in a small office and they can definitely save you a lot of money. Buying a mixture of devices will save you more than buying each device individually. In addition to all of that, they also offer simplicity for the user.

Some of the most popular scanners on the market are made by Canon, Epsom, HP and a few other large brands. Scanners can vary significantly in price depending on the features that the scanner you are buying is bundled with. Resolution capabilities and bundling with other hardware will also affect the price of the photo scanner that you buy.


PC sound systems …setting up great sound for your PC

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Our desktop and laptop computers are used for such a variety of purposes these days that it is very easy to spend hours upon hours seated at your computer. Information that is passed to us through the Internet comes not only with text and images but also with sound, video and ***. Long gone are the days when a computer was simply an office tool.

More and more, our computers are used as channels for multimedia. DVDs can be watched on our computers, streamed movies can be watched through the Internet not to mention online music that gets more and more popular by the day. With all of these options for entertainment via the computer, it is important that you have the right sound set up. The only way to really enjoy the PC multimedia experience is with the right equipment.

If you have a computer that is very old, there is a big chance that you might need to install a sound card and a video card. This is highly unlikely though as most of today’s computers are sold with these components already installed. With your PC sound set up, you do not necessarily have to go the expensive route. You can get a great sound from your computer with a simple set of speakers that sit on your computer desk. However, if you want a sound that is very powerful and that fully conveys the beat of the music, you at least want to listen to sound with desktop speakers and a subwoofer.

A subwoofer plays deep sounding notes in a powerful way. So, expect the bass notes of a song to be stronger and louder with a subwoofer. The desktop speaker provides great stereo and play the higher notes of a song. To compliment your hardware, software that usually comes installed on your computer or with your soundcard, will have sound equalization options to help you further adjust the sound to your liking.

Any desktop computer or laptop that already has a soundcard installed will have a speaker jack either at the back or the front of the computer. Plug your speakers in there. A standard that you will come across often is that the jack for your speakers has a green cover or is indicated in some way by green. Usually directly beside your speaker jack is your microphone jack which is often indicated by pink.

Once you have plugged your new speakers in place your subwoofer on the floor or on another stable surface, and your desktop speakers on top of your desk or in another location of your preference. This way, you can comfortably enjoy any multimedia experience on your computer at any time.


Choosing a Digital Camera

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Digital cameras have changed the way that we take photos! The obvious convenience of taking photos with a digital camera is that you can view the photo immediately, and if there is any problem with it, you can delete it and re-take it instantly. No more frowns or bunny ears going down on record in your family history!

What are the things that you look out for when buying a camera? I can only assume that you will want to buy the best camera possible for the amount of money you have to spend. How do you know which is the best camera to buy? There are some buzz words that you will hear often when you are shopping for a digital camera: Megapixels, resolution, memory, RAM… what do they all mean?

The first important thing to know when buying a camera is its resolution. Camera resolution gets better and better with each passing year. It is not a stagnant technology. Still, find out what should be standard resolution at the time that you buy your camera. Resolution is measured by megapixels. Your aim is to buy the camera with the best resolution for your budget.

Another characteristic that you should look for in a digital camera is the lens. Try to buy a camera with a glass lens, as opposed to a plastic lens. This will have a huge impact on the quality of the images it produces.

Memory is another important thing to consider for your digital camera. Most digital cameras allow for an unlimited amount of storage memory to be used through memory cards. Never buy a camera that only has built-in memory and does not allow you to extend storage through memory cards as this will be a huge limitation.

One of the features that you are likely to experiment with the most when taking digital images is zoom. Zoom technology is another one that gets better with time. Still, ask around at the time that you are buying to find out what is a reasonable zoom capacity to expect.

The best place to research a digital camera before you invest in one is on the Internet as you can read reviews, find out the technical specifications and compare prices.

Lastly, I always recommend that you ask around when you are going to make any kind of purchase. What are other people saying about the camera you want to buy? What are they saying about the cameras they own? If the camera you want to buy is a dud and someone you know has bought it, they can save you a lot of frustration and wasted money. If you want to be doubly sure, check what other consumers are saying about the camera you want. Check the reviews on web sites. This is a place where you can get the real deal on all types of consumer products.


The Benefits of a Wireless Network in your Home

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These days, most families have some form of Internet access in the homes. A decade ago, there may have been just one member of the average family that spent time online… if anyone at all. In today’s average family, every family member wants to have access to the Internet. This is true not only for the adults but for the youngest child as well. Social networking web sites and gaming sites have peaked the interest of children.

For most people, the current trend is to watch TV and to browse the Internet at the same time interactively, visiting the web sites that are promoted during television programs. A lot of TV programs now refer viewers to their web sites during programming. These web sites are filled with promotions, resources and more information on what they have been watching on television. To add to this, children’s television now also promotes the games that they provide. They even have an element of social networking on these sites for their young viewers.

With such a strong need for every family member to have access to the Internet, it is a good idea to set up a wireless network within your home. Without a network, whether wired or wireless, your only option is to share a single outlet for access to the Internet. This will quickly lead to arguments as family members struggle to prioritize their important work on the Internet over another’s entertainment on the Internet.

If you have a wired network in your home, you will have to run cables throughout the house to give family members access. There are many limitations with this type of set up and Internet access can start to become very complicated for everyone in the house. When a household has a wireless network, all family members can be online at the same time anywhere in the house. This solves a whole host of potential problems.

The great thing about a wireless network is that the signal is usually strong enough for the Internet to be available to everyone in the house regardless as to what room they are in. In general, a wireless signal will cover the complete area of an average-sized house. Users in rooms further away from where the router is located will have a weaker signal than those closer. This will result in slower download times but they will still be able to access the Internet.

If you need assistance setting up a network in your home, call Geeks2U on 1300 433 572 and one of our friendly and reliable technicians will help you.


What to Look for When Buying a Printer for your PC

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Computer and Internet technology provide us with the prospect of very soon conducting work and business using electronic and digital documents only; in essence, a paperless environment. However, there will always be a need to print documents every once in a while.

The cost of a printer is usually very low. Printer manufacturers know that they will make enough of a profit on ink cartridges to risk taking a small loss selling the printer. Therefore, many consumers find themselves in the position where they have a fantastic printer but over time, can not afford to buy ink for it.

A printer can usually only be used with unique ink cartridges made specifically by the manufacturer for that printer. This is something to bear in mind when you are making a decision about which printer to buy. Before committing to a specific printer, find out how much it will cost you to keep the printer supplied with ink cartridges.

Even though printers are sold cheaply, it is still important to make sure that you are buying a quality printer. You don’t want to have to shop for a new printer in a few months no matter how little you paid for it. Find out what people are saying about the printer you have your eye on. Review web sites are a great place to hear directly from other consumers.

Whether you are a student and will use your printer at home or if you are buying a printer for business purposes, you will probably want a printer with a few extra features. A variety of good features come packaged with today’s printers. A scanner, fax and copier are common built-in add-ons and ones that are recommended for home office use.

Printers come quite cheaply these days. If you take the time to do a little bit of research before buying, you can prevent yourself overspending on ink and from suffering with a printer that functions as cheaply as the price you paid for it.


What to Look for in a Good Laptop

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Laptop computers are becoming more and more popular these days as the computer of choice. This is not only true among business people but also among college students, travellers, and young people in general. In many ways, the thinking is, why be weighted down by a clunky desktop when I can have a laptop and take my computer wherever I go?

Laptops were originally designed for, and used by, business people. They gave people the ability to walk around with their electronic files and to easily make presentations away from their offices. Laptops are still used for business purposes, however many non-business people use them as well.

Students use laptops increasingly. They bring them to lectures and study sessions and many non-students and non-business people use them as their main, standard computer. Laptops are convenient to carry around and they take up little space, and fold up nicely.

When you are buying a laptop, you should check all of the usual specifications such as processor speed, RAM and memory. If your laptop will be your main, personal computer, then you will need it to be just as quick as a desktop pc. If not, you will get very frustrated very fast.

There are certain things that pose a challenge for manufacturers of laptops. Some companies have mastered these challenges and others have not yet. So be sure to check that the laptop you are buying is lightweight. Modern, slimline components mean that laptops don’t have to weigh a ton anymore. Check that the power adaptor is small and not large and clunky. Check that the working life of the battery is at a minimum two hours – you will appreciate this every time you have to work off the battery.

If you already have your eye on a particular laptop, do your homework. Go online and find some reviews written by everyday consumers like yourself. The durability of your laptop is of key importance. Laptops are more subject to wear and tear than desktops, mostly due to the fact that they are moved and carried around more. It is a good idea to also check the warranty and perhaps get some extra coverage if it is available in the store where you purchase it.

Lastly, be sure that you like your laptop screen. You will be looking at it for a long time. There are a variety of screens that are popular these days. The clarity of laptop screens gets better and better with every passing year which makes laptops a great tool also for watching DVDs and not just for serious work.

Geeks2U can always help with your laptop problems and our excellent technicians are always ready to help. You can contact us on 1300 443 572 to book a technician in your home or office.


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