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GreenCine Tech Talk
Hardware, Software, Tech.
The nuts and bolts of movie making, home theater, and DVD.
76

Hardware changes often but we buy new hardware infrequently
Topic by: janeskid
Posted: October 19, 2008 - 12:00 PM PDT
Last Reply: October 22, 2008 - 4:05 AM PDT

author topic: Hardware changes often but we buy new hardware infrequently
janeskid
post #1  on October 19, 2008 - 12:00 PM PDT  
Hardware changes often but we buy new hardware infrequently, so how or where does one learn what one wants or needs when it is time to buy new hardware?

Many of us don't even know what questions to ask. Products must exist we have never heard about. Are there forums or magazine sites where the retail purchaser can keep informed?
underdog
post #2  on October 19, 2008 - 2:38 PM PDT  
Just to confirm, by hardware, you're talking about computers, or about DVD players?

There are a ton of good web sites, forums and even magazines to recommend, but first need more specifics as to what you're seeking...

If computer hardware, then are you more comfortable with Macs or with Windows/PCs?
janeskid
post #3  on October 20, 2008 - 6:54 AM PDT  
> On October 19, 2008 - 2:38 PM PDT underdog wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> Just to confirm, by hardware, you're talking about computers, or about DVD players?
>
Many TVs and computers come with DVD players so I'm thinking one has to a least consider all combination and permutations of DVD players and recorders, computers and TVs.

I've no experience with Macs and the whole household has hearing problems so I've no interest in sound quality.
Catullus
post #4  on October 20, 2008 - 11:23 AM PDT  
you need to be a whole helluva a lot clearer if you are expecting any help on this...

you have not described what you want to do or need at all.
no one is going to be able to guess wth you are talking about.

doozer
post #5  on October 20, 2008 - 12:39 PM PDT  
If you're just interested in reading about what's out there, and what's upcoming, there's several websites that you can check out continually. I'm personally a fan of Wired, Gizmodo, and Techopolis. Depending on how interested you are, Popular Science is fun too.

As far as what to buy, I just google the bejeesus out of everything, read forums, ask friends, and end up getting what will least likely be destroyed completely when I have it in my head that I can tinker with it myself to make it better.
Battie
post #6  on October 20, 2008 - 9:15 PM PDT  
I found out about hardware by asking friends and using various informative websites. I think I ended up stalking NewEgg for weeks to figure out what was out there, then used search engines to figure out what various terms meant (SLI? SATA vs. IDE?). I also used my own computer's capabilities as a measuring stick.

As for other types of hardware (dvd, etc), most technological advances come with trumpets and heralds.

If you're wanting to figure out what kind of hardware you should get, you first need to figure out what you'll be using it for. For instance, you wouldn't need a computer with a video card if you only intended to use it for basic duty (ie, no video editing, computer game playing, etc).
kaream
post #7  on October 20, 2008 - 10:02 PM PDT  
> On October 20, 2008 - 6:54 AM PDT janeskid wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> > On October 19, 2008 - 2:38 PM PDT underdog wrote:
> > ---------------------------------
> > Just to confirm, by hardware, you're talking about computers, or about DVD players?
> >
> Many TVs and computers come with DVD players so I'm thinking one has to a least consider all combination and permutations of DVD players and recorders, computers and TVs.
>
> I've no experience with Macs and the whole household has hearing problems so I've no interest in sound quality.
>
> ---------------------------------

The first general rule is, never buy anything at all unless what you already have is broken, or can't handle media or software, etc, that you definitely need. For instance if your TV isn't set up for digital broadcasting, then you'll have to get something for next year.

The second general rule is, unless you're a gizmo geek and have lots of spare change, stick with mature technology. (And wait for prices to go down on new stuff.)

The third general rule is, never get suckered into buying combo things like a combo TV/DVD player. They're never as good as separate components, and they're notorious for one function or another breaking. An obvious exception to this is an internal DVD drive mounted inside your computer rather than messing with an external drive that plugs into a port, but in this case the drive is actually a separate component that can be easily swapped out.

The fourth general rule is, buy good sturdy high-performance stuff, but avoid fancy bells and whistles that you don't and won't need. As an example of performance, some cheaper computers will come with a crappy DVD drive; make sure you get a top-rated one. I ended up tossing out a Lite-On brand drive that came installed.

Probably the first and biggest question you have to ask yourself is whether you'll plan on watching movies or shows on your computer via downloads, or whether you expect to stick with DVDs exclusively for the foreseeable future. The answer to this will affect everything you might want to buy -- speed, power, memory, and monitor size and type; plus you'll need to consider what kind of internet connection you'll have.

---------------------------------------
Battie mentions NewEgg -- I've been happy with them, but be sure you understand their warranties. And beware of buying anything from Amazon that might ever break. I once bought a small electronic doohickey from them that carried a one-year manufacturer's warranty, but when it stopped working 10 months out, Amazon stood on their one-month return policy and told me tough luck. A brick-and-mortar store will usually treat you better.
kaream
post #8  on October 21, 2008 - 1:57 AM PDT  
> On October 20, 2008 - 10:02 PM PDT kaream wrote:
> ---------------------------------
And beware of buying anything from Amazon that might ever break. I once bought a small electronic doohickey from them that carried a one-year manufacturer's warranty, but when it stopped working 10 months out, Amazon stood on their one-month return policy and told me tough luck. A brick-and-mortar store will usually treat you better.
> ---------------------------------

If there's a Costco in your area, check out whether they have any equipment you might be looking for. They'll take back anything, right there at the store, no hassle and no questions asked, whether it's broken or you just were less than satisfied with it. Most electronics have a no-questions 90-day return, plus a very generous warranty. The stores carry a much wider selection than is shown on their website, so you need to go over and look at their stock. Their prices are very competitive, and the returns desk is almost never clogged with ladies returning a gazillion children's outfits and miscellaneous bric-a-brac as at WalMart. (And if it makes any difference to you, unlike WalMart or Sam's Club which make huge political contributions almost exclusively to Republicans, Costco gives the great bulk of its contributions to Democrats. They also pay decent wages and take care of their employees instead of screwing them over like WalMart.)
hamano
post #9  on October 21, 2008 - 8:57 AM PDT  
I read MacLife and Macworld magazines. Staying with one computer company makes life simpler....

You know, I consider myself fairly up-to-date on gadgets and electronics (my friends use me for tech advice all the time) but how DO I find out about these things? I'm really not sure. Maybe I dream about them or something. I don't regularly read any of the magazines doozer mentioned, although I've browsed them at the book store.

kaream's advice is pretty much spot on, IMHO, but some combo devices from solid reliable companies have gotten so cheap that I would consider them now. For years I advised friends against getting VCR/DVD combos and Printer/FAX/Scanner/Copiers, but nowadays they cost much less than what I paid for, as an example, my single-purpose thermal paper fax machine 15 years ago. So just to save space, I think I would consider a printer/fax/scanner/copier now, maybe a laser one (I already have an inkjet printer).

I think there's a technology shift right now that makes combo devices more attractive and sensible, so I would definitely consider them.
doozer
post #10  on October 21, 2008 - 9:31 AM PDT  
When I get bored I'll read anything, and that mostly consists of science and technology news and websites.

It also helps that I moderate a forum full of debate happy programmers and engineers. There are always ongoing discussions about the next new product, then its competition, then comparisons, etc.
kaream
post #11  on October 21, 2008 - 12:54 PM PDT  
> On October 21, 2008 - 8:57 AM PDT hamano wrote:
> ---------------------------------
For years I advised friends against getting VCR/DVD combos and Printer/FAX/Scanner/Copiers, but nowadays they cost much less than what I paid for, as an example, my single-purpose thermal paper fax machine 15 years ago. So just to save space, I think I would consider a printer/fax/scanner/copier now, maybe a laser one (I already have an inkjet printer).
>
> I think there's a technology shift right now that makes combo devices more attractive and sensible, so I would definitely consider them.
> ---------------------------------

HP is practically giving away 'All-in-One' printer-scanner-copier combos. The gotcha is the replacement ink cartridges, which cost nearly as much as the original machine. The second gotcha is that with luck, your printer may last as long as going through two or three ink cartridge changes without something going kablooey on it. The third gotcha is, it will always go kablooey right after you stocked up on a few extra cartridges; then when you go back to buy a new give-away printer that's seemingly identical to your old one, you find that it takes ink cartridges with different numbers, so you might as well use all the ones you just bought as Christmas ornaments.
hamano
post #12  on October 21, 2008 - 3:48 PM PDT  
Yeah, but it's gotten to the point where they know if they screw customers too much they'll just switch to another company's printers. Prices have come down THAT far.

I think the big problem is unreliable parts from no-name Chinese manufacturers. Apple's taken a bit of a hit from parts like batteries and LCD screens that konk out the day after the warranty expires. Over the years the big criticism of Apple products was that they were too expensive, but when they went and matched prices they had to use the same cheap parts from the same kinds of mom'n'pop factories in China, and quality has suffered.
Catullus
post #13  on October 21, 2008 - 4:12 PM PDT  
well I think the easiest way to learn about tech stuff is to go to the store... look at products... write down some product names / model numbers. Go home and look them up on the internet... read reviews... google search for any features / specifications you dont understand and then learn from that.

It is a lot of work to be knowledgeable... but honestly most tech gadgets are complete gimmicks... besides the normal things you probably dont need all the gimmicky items.

ie once you get past the cellphone, laptop/pc, tv\dvr\dvd\bluray\game consoles there really isn't much out there that is actually useful.

I mean sure its useful for someone like me to have a usb flash drive... but for someone who doesn't even know they exist? probably not going to get much use out of it lol.
doozer
post #14  on October 21, 2008 - 4:16 PM PDT  
> On October 21, 2008 - 4:12 PM PDT Catullus wrote:
> ---------------------------------
>
> I mean sure its useful for someone like me to have a usb flash drive... but for someone who doesn't even know they exist? probably not going to get much use out of it lol.
> ---------------------------------

I have a bazillion, and I still buy one if I happen to see one that's at least 2gb and on sale for a good price while I'm out. They are my worst impulse buy.

However I do manage to fill them almost immmediately.
Battie
post #15  on October 21, 2008 - 5:46 PM PDT  
> On October 21, 2008 - 4:12 PM PDT Catullus wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> well I think the easiest way to learn about tech stuff is to go to the store... look at products... write down some product names / model numbers. Go home and look them up on the internet... read reviews... google search for any features / specifications you dont understand and then learn from that.
>
> It is a lot of work to be knowledgeable... but honestly most tech gadgets are complete gimmicks... besides the normal things you probably dont need all the gimmicky items.
>
> ie once you get past the cellphone, laptop/pc, tv\dvr\dvd\bluray\game consoles there really isn't much out there that is actually useful.
>
> I mean sure its useful for someone like me to have a usb flash drive... but for someone who doesn't even know they exist? probably not going to get much use out of it lol.
> ---------------------------------

I like my old Dell PDA. :) Sadly, the back-up battery has died and the main is suffering from a lack of full-charge. ;_; No replacement parts either. They stopped making them. D:
kaream
post #16  on October 21, 2008 - 11:16 PM PDT  
> On October 21, 2008 - 4:12 PM PDT Catullus wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> well I think the easiest way to learn about tech stuff is to go to the store... look at products... write down some product names / model numbers. Go home and look them up on the internet... read reviews... google search for any features / specifications you dont understand and then learn from that.
> ---------------------------------

This is all very good advice, but be prepared for a certain amount of frustration. One problem is that model numbers can be nearly impossible to compare, because many manufacturers assign unique model numbers for different sales outlets. This allows stores to advertise meeting anyone else's price for the same model when no one else has that same model number. The other thing they'll do is change the model numbers more frequently than once a year. They really do not want you to be able to make rational comparisons.

I tend to think that if you're pretty unfamiliar with the capabilities of new equipment, before you begin to compare specific features you ought to wander by a store and just ask a helpful sales clerk (if you can find one) to explain what kinds of things the various items can be used for. Then come back home, read up on these capabilities, think and talk about them with your family, and try to imagine whether some new functionality sounds like it would be useful or fun to work with and explore. Only at this point can you start to make good decisions about what specifically to look for. The more thought and research you put into it before you buy anything you don't fully understand, the less likely you'll be disappointed with your purchase.
kaream
post #17  on October 22, 2008 - 4:05 AM PDT  
Just as a for-instance, here's KKelleman at the 'Netfl*x is going to charge ...' thread:

During the third quarter Netflix continued to develop its digital entertainment delivery business model. Netflix added another deal to the instant-watching content if offers, saying its subscribers would be able to stream to their computers some 2,500 movies, concerts and TV shows from the premium TV channel Starz Entertainment LLC.

So, how interested might you be in this kind of streaming?

Or, skim through Battie's entire thread on 'How Sony and Suddenlink Ruined My Day' -- more issues for you to consider.

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