There is an episode of “The Simpsons” wherein Homer Simpson shoves a crayon up all the way up his nose until he involuntarily gasps, “Extended warranty? How can I lose?” We won’t bore you with the story details except to mention that Homer was undergoing a crude surgery to become as stupid as possible, and his exclamation about extended warranties don’t shine a flattering light on the contracts. As far as the real world is concerned, though, are there any benefits? Should you buy extended warranties to protect your electronics?
The most generalized answer is “It’s not worth it.” Think about it: electronic retailers are quite aggressive about getting you to buy an extended warranty. Why would they bother if they weren’t on the winning side of the deal?
There are certainly reasons to get more specific, though, and there are exceptions to every rule. For instance:
Most items come with a manufacturer’s warranty that lasts a year – Most manufacturers will cover the cost of fixing or replacing your item if it breaks for a reason that isn’t your fault. These warranties typically last around a year, and according to Consumer Reports (which has done extensive research on extended warranties, and how much use we get out of them), it’s not all that common for electronics to fall apart after the manufacturer’s warranty expires.
Modern electronics are engineered to be replaced in a three-to-five year period, anyway – Ours is a product-driven culture, and today’s top-notch smartphone or tablet will be ready for the trash heap within three years, easy (cue hands linked behind back, guilty scuffing of shoe on pavement). The money that you’d use on an extended warranty is often better saved for the next generation of technology.
LCD and plasma TVs rarely need repairs within the first three years following purchase – Of course, televisions usually last a little longer than three to five years, especially HD LCD and plasma sets. Polls done by Consumer Reports indicate that televisions are actually hardy pieces of tech, and very few need to be replaced or repaired within the first three years off the shelf.
The cost of repair is often the same as the cost of the warranty – Extended warranties aren’t cheap, and oftentimes, the cost of an item’s repair matches the price of the warranty.
There are exceptions, particularly for PCs – Ultimately, only you can determine if an extended warranty is worth your money. If you’re accident prone, clumsy, or just have a talent for losing things, you may find that an extended warranty is money well-spent. Moreover, Consumer Reports’ polls point out that unlike many electronics, new PCs are actually likely to require repairs within three years—and manufacturer’s warranties for computers are gradually becoming less generous.
If you need more help researching the benefits and drawbacks of extended warranties, visit:
Should You Buy an Extended Warranty? at Yahoo
Should I Buy a TV Extended Warranty? at About.com
Even when you try to do your research before buying a piece of electronics, often you end up learning more about what you should have been looking for well after the purchase has been made. In this digital camera and video camera buying guide, we’ll attempt to walk you through some of the key functionality you should be looking for when deciding which device is right for you. Keep it in mind when shopping to ensure you get the best price, product and features for the money.
A pixel is but one dot in an image file, and a megapixel represents a million of them. So while even a camera that has offers pictures of 1 megapixel or 2 megapixels may seem like a lot, the truth is they are so tiny that you need to get above 5 megapixels to even have a snapshot that is a decent resolution.
The amount of megapixels a camera claims to have is the maximum – it doesn’t mean you have to take pictures that use all of them. The more megapixels in your picture, the higher the resolution, and the higher the resolution, the bigger the file. While cheap memory and large memory cards are making this less and less of a concern, large files are still difficult to share online as they take longer to upload and download.
So if you’re looking to make physical prints of photos at all, or simply want to be able to be some detail while zooming in, we recommend a camera that has at least 8 MP, and if you have a need for larger prints, then go for something bigger than that.
A camera’s magnification capabilities are represented by a number followed by an X. This essentially means that from the starting point to the zoomed-in endpoint, that is how many times more magnification you are getting. For example, a camera with a 20mm to 200mm range has a 10x zoom because 200mm is 10x 20. Although it’s tempting to get caught up in the “X range” of a camera’s zoom, it’s actually not even one of the two most important things to consider when looking at zoom.
The most important you should note when looking at zoom is to look at the low end of the camera’s zoom range. If a camera has a zoom range from 24mm to 240mm, it means that at its most zoomed out setting, it will take a picture at 24mm. Other cameras that can shoot at 18mm or 15mm will be able to provide a wider view of the setting, and thus contain more information.
The other important thing to note about zoom is the Optical Zoom setting vs. Digital Zoom setting. The Optical Zoom is the key indicator – it’s what is actually being done by the camera’s lenses. Digital Zoom is all done electronically, and doesn’t offer any enhanced picture quality or focus.
Perhaps the most common question many camera-buyers wonder about is whether they are ready for a SLR camera. SLR stands for single lens reflex, and it means that your camera only has one lens that it has to worry about, so you can quickly and easily alter your shooting angel. One of the other great advantages that digital SLR cameras (dSLR) offer is nearly instantaneous digital photos to be taken and your camera is quickly ready for another shot.
SLRs will cost additional money over standard point-and-click cameras, but if you take a lot of pictures of sporting events or nature, you may covet the versatility and speed that SLRs offer.
3D and HD Cameras
While even most camera and many phones now shoot in HD, you’ll want to check the specs of your video recorder to see what kind of HD video you’ll be shooting. You’ll be looking at not only the resolution (higher numbers offer more detail), but also the type of HD, either 720p, 1080i or 1080p. 1080p. The “p” and “I” in these numbers stand for progressive and interlocking, and it indicates whether each line of refresh from a TV image (or recording) is renewed from every scan on top to bottom, or whether every line is refreshed at a time. Progressive scanning is preferred as it means that for every frame of video you have a new line of data for every part of the image, and since 1080 is higher than 720, it means more lines of info. So 1080p is the preferred HD format for most video aficionados.
You’ll also need to decide whether or not to invest in a camera that does 3D videos. It’s a feature that will cost extra money and may not provide much extra bank other than the novelty effect which will wear off. Plus, you’ll need to make sure you’re playing any 3D recordings back on a 3D enabled device.
If you’ve ever wanted to share a funny cat video with friends or family, then you already know what a hassle it can be to gather everyone around a single tiny PC monitor. You think to yourself, “There has got to be an easier way to share hilarious internet cat antics with my kin.” As it turns out, you’re absolutely right. There are many ways to stream content from your PC or Mac computer to your TV set.
Note that the methods mentioned below require, at the very least, an HDTV or 3D TV, a PC (which usually needs to be running Windows 7 or XP), and, in most cases, a broadband connection. If you can muster that much, here’s how to stream video from your desktop or laptop to your television.
Use Windows Media Player – The Windows Media Player application, bundled with Windows 7, lets you stream videos, pictures, music, and more from your PC to your HDTV. If you’re interested in learning how to set up Windows Media Player for your television, visit Microsoft’s website for specific instructions.
Consider using Netflix, Hulu Plus, and other paid streaming services – Streaming services like Netflix and Hulu Plus are simple to use, and are a great way to keep up with television shows, movies, and more. You typically need to pay a monthly fee to use them, but their ease of use and picture quality are unsurpassed as far as streaming technology goes.
Plug your computer into your HDTV – Most HDTVs have connectors specifically for a computer. Of course, it’s much easier to plug in a laptop, if you have one! Once your computer is hooked up, watching PC-based videos on your TV is a breeze. This YouTube video has easy-to-follow instructions for hooking up your PC directly to your TV.
Wi-Fi connections are an option – If you’re not big into the idea of wires criss-crossing your living room, keep in mind that there are ways to stream the contents of your PC to your television wirelessly. This can be a little tricky, though, so PC World has a write-up explaining how to engineer a wireless connection for your video streams.
Use your PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360 – Your Xbox 360 is more than a game console: it’s a veritable media hub. You can use the system to play content from your PC on your television. Microsoft’s Xbox website has detailed setup instructions if you need them. Note that Sony’s PlayStation 3 offers similar solutions as well.
Looking for more advice on how to stream content from your PC onto your TV? Visit:
From PC to TV at Microsoft