Archive for June 26, 2009

Windows 7 upgrade on sale for as low as $50

Online retailers have begun selling the retail upgrade version of Windows 7 at prices far lower than Microsoft’s announced prices. At Amazon, BestBuy, and CompUSA, you can pre-order the Windows 7 Home Premium Upgrade for $49.99, while the Windows 7 Professional Upgrade runs $99.99.

Those prices are far below Microsoft’s published estimated prices for these upgrades: $119.99 and $199.99 respectively.

BestBuy says these lowball prices are available from now through July 11, while supplies last, and limits quantities to three per customer. Amazon also limits quantities to three per customer. CompUSA’s site says “Hurry, quantities are limited.”

Current owners of Windows XP and Windows Vista both qualify for the low prices. But the sites contain some warnings and conditions. For example, Amazon recommends that you install the Windows 7 upgrade on a new computer, but warns current XP users who install the Home Premium upgrade on their existing PC first back up the entire contents of their computer, then perform a “clean” installation of Windows 7 that will overwrite their entire hard drive, and then reinstall all their programs, files, and settings.

According to these sites, current Windows Vista users should have little problem running Windows 7. Still, if you’ve any doubt, they suggest checking with Microsoft’s Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor

Computer makers have also begun listing for buyers of new PCs their Windows 7 upgrade offers on their sites. I’ll report on those soon. –Jeff Fox

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Jun 26, Buy Remote Controls

Where can I buy remote controls for my converter box, VCR, TV, DVD? Replacement Converter Box Remote Controls.

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Garmin introduces new Dakota handheld hiking GPS

Garmin-Dakota-10-20-gps

Garmin expands its handheld hiking device range with the Dakota 10 and Dakota 20.

A month after Garmin introduced its range-topping Oregon 550 with a built-in digital camera,
it expands its handheld hiking device range at the entry-level with the all-new Dakota 10 ($300) and Dakota 20 ($350).

The Dakota is a shrunk-down version of the touchscreen Oregon units, with a 2.6-inch screen, compared to 3 inch. It weighs about the same, promises longer battery life, and has more internal memory. The overall size is smaller than the older, pocket-friendly eTrex models.

Dakota can store up to 1,000 waypoints and 50 routes. It comes preloaded with a worldwide basemap and is compatible with Garmin City Navigator NT for turn-by-turn directions on city streets. Other maps can be added, as well, including Blue Chart g2 for marine charting, and TOPO U.S. 24K and 100K map software.

Designed to be geocache friendly (GPS-based “treasure” hunting), the Dakota synchs easily with
Geocaching.com and can store all information needed to find caches, with a premium membership.

The Dakota 20 adds a 3-axis compass, barometric altimeter, a microSD card slot for increased mapping and memory storage, and wireless unit-to-unit connectivity for sharing your waypoints with compatible Garmin devices.

The Dakota should appeal most to those adventurous types interested in a modern handheld, though put off the price premium for a Colorado or Oregon.

See our expanded Dakota preview, handheld
hiking GPS buying advice, and Ratings
. Jeff
Bartlett

Also, see our portable
automotive GPS navigation systems
Ratings and buying advice, watch our video
guide
, and browse our GPS
First Looks
. Discuss GPS devices in the forums.

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Channel Scanning, Peaking antenna, and searching for channels

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Your digital camera: Avoid these common goofs

When it comes to caring for your camera, are you a fastidious photographer or a slipshod shutterbug? Our survey of 8,250 ConsumerReports.org subscribers by the Consumer Reports National Research Center revealed that many failed to make the best use of their newest point-and-shoot:

66% didn’t regularly clean the camera’s lens.
Clean the lens before each use, which minimizes the risk of focusing problems and blurry areas on pictures.

28% cleaned the lens with a shirtsleeve, household tissue, or canned air.
Clean your lens gently with a microfiber lens cloth and lens-cleaning fluid so that you don’t scratch or otherwise damage the surface. (You should clean your flat-panel TV the same way.)

45% left photos in the camera for at least a month.
Photo files should be copied to a backup device, such as a hard drive, soon after they are captured. That reduces the risk of theft or deletion. (It may be possible to retrieve accidentally deleted images, but don’t count on it.)

39% didn’t know whether the camera had scene modes, image stabilization, face detection, or burst mode.
Check the manual for features you might be unaware of that make shooting easier and can improve your photos. If you find some new features, play around with them.

13% disposed of a camera in the trash (of those who got rid of a camera).
If possible, sell your camera or give it away. For recycling options, contact the manufacturer or check for a program near you at www.eiae.org. Also visit Consumer Reports GreenerChoices.org for a host of information on recycling electronics. —Nick Mandle

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