Archive for November 12, 2009

What’s new in iPhone navigation apps

Two items of note from our friends at the Consumer Reports Cars Blog:

TomTom has just announced improvements to their iPhone navigation app, some of which address shortcomings we have criticized in the past. The upgrade adds three key features routinely found on TomTom stand-alone navigation devices. More…

Navigon was the first major GPS maker to offer a downloadable iPhone navigation app, porting over its graphic interface and features to the popular cell phone. Today, the Navigon Mobile Navigator stands as the top-grossing application in the Apple iTunes store, though until this week it has lacked one key feature: traffic information. More…

Comments off

What’s new in iPhone navigation apps

Two items of note from our friends at the Consumer Reports Cars Blog:

TomTom has just announced improvements to their iPhone navigation app, some of which address shortcomings we have criticized in the past. The upgrade adds three key features routinely found on TomTom stand-alone navigation devices. More…

Navigon was the first major GPS maker to offer a downloadable iPhone navigation app, porting over its graphic interface and features to the popular cell phone. Today, the Navigon Mobile Navigator stands as the top-grossing application in the Apple iTunes store, though until this week it has lacked one key feature: traffic information. More…

Comments off

!Alert for Time-Warner Customers UPDATE!!

Time-Warner will move our DTV signals to a new frequency overnight on Wednesday at some other point in time. They called off the move last night and will re-schedule soon.  If you use a TWC set top box, you will not have to do anything, but if you use a QAM tuner in your TV connected directly to the cable, then you will have to re-scan the channels Thursday the next day.

This only affects QAM users using the built in QAM receivers on most newer TV sets.

As you may know, we use 8-VSB for over the air transmissions, but cable uses QAM, or Quadrature Amplitude modulation. The digital stream is the same, but the envelope it is delivered to your home is different. These special tuners allow you to receive all HD programs free offered by the cable companies, except for subscription channels like HBO and Showtime.

You need a special cable card, or set top box to get those channels.
So Thursday (at some point in time) morning, if you don’t see NBC 17 on the regular 217, 218, and 219 channels, simply enter the menus and re-scan the channels.

Comments off

Daily electronics deals from The Consumerist

Today's deals, courtesy of The Consumerist:

  • Newegg: Samsung LN52B550 52 inch LCD HDTV 1080p ToC $1169 Free Ship
  • Newegg: Auria 24-inch 1080p LCD HDTV $250 Shipped
  • Sixth Avenue : General Electric Dual Handset Cordless Phone System for $23.46 w/ Coupon BONUSBUY w/ Free Shipping
  • JR.com: Denon S102 2.1ch 145Wl Premium Home Theater w/ 1080p Upconverting DVD Player $399.99 Free Shipping
  • Beach Camera: LG 50PQ30 50 inch Plasma HDTV (720p) + Blu-Ray Player + Maintenance Kit $779 Free Shipping
  • Buy.com : Cobra 16-Mile Two-Way Radios (Refurbished) for $19.99 w/ Free Shipping
  • US Appliance : Samsung 46" LCD 1080p HDTV + Samsung Blu-Ray Player for $919 w/ Coupon LN46B550 w/ Free Shipping
  • NewEgg: Hanns·G 24.6" 1080p LCD Monitor w/ Speakers $200 + free shipping
  • Club Pogo: One month free membership, no credit card required 
  • TechBargains.com: 6PM Blu-ray Movie Sale – up to 78% Off MSRP (starting at $9.95)
  • Amazon : Free Song Download of CMA Award Nominated Artist (Over 3000 Choices) w/ Coupon CMAAWARD
  • Buy.com: HD DVD movies and TV shows from $4 + free shipping: Transformers, 300, Top Gun, more
  • Amazon: The Office on BBC Seasons 1 & 2 Complete Collection $25.49 + free shipping

Neither Consumer Reports nor The Consumerist receive anything in
exchange for featuring these deals; the posts are intended to be purely
informational. These deals are often fleeting, with prices changing or
products becoming unavailable as the day progresses.

These posts are not an endorsement of the featured products or
the Web sites that sell them—though some of the sites may be included,
and recommended, in our Ratings of retailers for computers and other major electronics (both available to subscribers). Price shouldn't be your only criterion. Be wary of lower-priced deals that seem too good to be true, and check return policies for restocking fees and other gotchas.

For general buying advice for many of the products on sale above, check out our free Buying Guides.

Comments off

Buzzword: Are "derivative" TV models a good buy?

Blog_badge_buzzword

If you’re on the hunt for a discounted TV during the holiday shopping season, you may come across some model numbers you haven’t seen in our TV Ratings (available to subscribers) or anywhere else, even from major brands. These TVs are known as "derivatives," and they generally differ from the standard models in a manufacturer's line. Because the derivative sets are lower-priced, they typically have lower specs and lack some features found on standard models.

There are several reasons why manufacturers offer these sets. One is that it allows them to hit specific retail price points during promotional shopping periods, something they couldn’t do with standard models. This lets bigger-name companies compete on price with lesser-known secondary or tertiary TV brands without disrupting pricing for their standard models. A company may also use derivative models to get their brand into a new channel of distribution—say, a mass merchant such as Walmart or a warehouse club like Costco—without upsetting their more mainstream retail partners. Since the model numbers, and usually, specifications, are different, shoppers can’t directly compare the models sold in these different types of retail outlets.

As we mentioned in a previous post, we’re already seeing some derivative LCD models from Samsung—LN-B400- and B500-series sets —and Sony (KDL-L504- and S504-series sets). Last year, Panasonic also offered a few derivative models that were sold only during the holidays.

The question, of course, is whether these TVs are good deals. We haven’t been able to review the specs on these sets yet, but last year some of the derivative had lower claimed contrast ratios, fewer inputs, and were missing some features, such as on-TV photo viewing.

Derivative models typically sell for at least a few hundred dollars less than standard models, but in this season of ultimate volatility, it's hard to pin down pricing. We can't comment specifically on the performance of derivative models because we test standard products that are available widely, and not limited to specific promotional periods or retailers. However, you can use our Ratings of LCD and plasma TVs to see how similar sets from these manufacturers have performed.

If you’re considering one of these derivative sets, one thing we’d recommend is to check the manufacturer’s warranty, and see if it differs from the standard warranty on sets this size. Also, check the retailer’s return policy for a set that’s not defective—it’s possible that it might be different on a promotional model, with fewer recourses if you simply don’t like the set and the way it performs.

We’ll continue to monitor HDTV prices and new derivative models throughout the holiday shopping season, so check back with our blog regularly until Christmas. And we’d love to hear from those of you who’ve purchased a derivative model to see how happy you are with your choice. —James K. Willcox

Comments off