Monday, March 7, 2011

iPad 2 Release at Best Buy

The iPad 2 is scheduled to be released at 5pm Friday March 11th at the Apple Store. But I've also seen that Best Buy may also have the ipad 2 available at launch on Friday March 11th. No details are available on the time of the Best Buy launch but I would assume that its also 5pm.

If I had plenty of free time, no job and unlimited funds, it might be fun to camp out at my local Apple store. However, I have none of those so I plan on pre-ordering the iPad 2 on Friday as soon as it becomes available online. 

Thursday, March 3, 2011

How to Sync your Google email, Contacts and Calendar on Iphone


Google has a great service called google sync that allows you to instantly sync your gmail email account, google contacts, and calendar on your iphone. Its easy to set-up and keeps all of your information in-sync with the cloud. It even has push support available so that you can receive emails on your iphone as soon as they hit your inbox (although this does tend to drain the battery faster).

I especially enjoy the contacts feature. If I update a contact in gmail it instantly gets update on my iphone an vice versa. I never have to worry about losing contacts again.








    

iPad 2 available starting March 11

Apple announced the new iPad 2 yesterday with a release date of March 11. The new model is thinner, lighter, faster, and adds a gyroscope and 2 cameras. The cameras allow you to use apples Facetime video call service which allows you to freely call any compatible iphone, ipod touch, and mac computer.

I've waited a year and I will commit to purchasing the iPad 2. I typically avoid 1st designs to give the company an opportunity to work out any kinks and improve the product.

Once I receive the iPad 2 I will do a series of how-to articles for settting up and using the ipad.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Slow computer? How to get it running like new again.

Computers tend to slow down after a while for a variety of reasons. There are a lot of products out there that will attempt to speed up your system. However, the best way o get your computer running like new again is to format your hard drive and reinstall windows. Your computer will feel as fast as the day you bought it.

You will need:

Portable hard drive to back up all of your files.

Windows installation disc

Installation discs for any software that you have on your computer such as Microsoft office.

The key to this is to back up all of your files. You will lose everything after you format your hard drive so anything not backed up will be permanently lost. A portable hard drive should allow you to easy back-up all of your photos, music, videos and documents onto a single hard drive.


Once all of your files are backed up, reboot and press f8 until the boot menu appears. Insert your windows installation disc and select boot from disc. You will want to format your main partition then reinstall windows.

Follow these instructions from microsoft to format your partition: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows-vista/Create-and-format-a-hard-disk-partition

Next, install a new version of windows. You will need a valid license key to proceed. 


Finally, reinstall all software on your system and put your backed up files back in place.

Your system will be good as new.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

How to cut the cord: Getting all of your tv shows online is easier than ever.

I have been toying with the idea of cancelling my cable/satellite service for a while now. Cutting the cord and streaming all or your shows over the Internet is easier than ever. It can save you money, and you don't even need a computer. Fantastic new set-top boxes from apple and roku connect directly to your tv and give you access to huge amounts of content at low prices. Best of all, these boxes cost less than $100.

Cutting the cord essentials:
Apple TV or Roku Box or Xbox 360
Netflix Subscription
Fast broadband Internet connection

The faster your internet connection, the better quality video you will get when streaming. In my area, Roadrunner has up to 15mbps for around $50 a month. This should get you HD video.

A netflix subscription is a must. Netflix offers a huge library of movies and television shows that you can stream for as low as $7.99 a month (way cheaper than cable). The selected is a little dated, but the quality and sheer size of the library is fantastic. Netflix can be streamed on apple tv, roku, and xbox.

If you want newer movies and TV shows, both apple tv and roku have you covered. Apple allows you to rent movies and tv shows directly from the box and pay via your apple account. The TV selection is limited compared to roku, but the price is nice at $.99. Furthermore, if you have a laptop, you can purchase or rent any movie in itunes and stream it to your apple tv. This allows you to have access to a much larger selection of content.

Roku has teamed with Amazon to offer purchase and rental of TV and Movies. The selection is good and HD is available as well. Furthermore, Amazon has recently released its instant watch for prime subscribers for $79 a year. Its a good deal compared to Netflix but the service is new and the selection is limited so far. Roku also gives you access to Hulu via subscription ($7.99 a month), which allows you to watch brand new tv shows.

Xbox 360 has the excellent Zune video service for TV show and movie rental and purchase. The selection is very good and HD movies begin streaming instantly with a good connection. Plus, xbox 360 also gives you the option of playing games, although the price is $100 higher than apple tv. Xbox 360 also has espn3 sports streaming for those of you who are eligible (eligibility is determined by your internet service provider and not everyone will have access to this service).

For myself, the biggest detriment to cutting the cord is live sports. If you are not a huge sports fan, you should be able to cut your cable tv and still have access to your favorite shows at a much lower cost.

For sports fans, I would recommend Roku because you will have access to sports channels to stream live sports from the NBA, NHL, MLB, and UFC. There are restrictions though. MLB blacks out all local games so you will only see road games for your favorite baseball team. Also, the services run around $100 each for the entire season. Its an enticing option but still not a complete sports package. Plus, the NFL currently doesn't have any Internet streaming options that work for these boxes.

For now, I am keeping Directv for the sports, but I will be closely watching as things continue to develop. For some, you can cancel your cable or satellite and have a great experience for a much lower price. For others, you may find that cutting the cord leaves you without access to some of your favorite sports programming.

Friday, February 25, 2011

SonicWall TZ 100 Network Security Appliance Overview

The Sonic Wall TZ 100 with wireless-n is a great product for those looking for a secure firewall/router with great protection and an excellent content filtering service. 

SonicWalls are easy to use and basically outsource the firewall, content filtering, and anti-virus functions to sonic wall. Your unit updates automatically with virtually no maintenance on your part. 

Basic set-up is easy. Sonic wall has an easy to use set-up wizard for setting up your wireless network as well as DHCP server settings. 

Advanced users will be able to take advantage of other features such as setting up a secure VPN. 

The TZ 100 also offers much greater speed than the previous generation TZ 180 and allows you to take full advantage of todays faster broadband speeds up to 25MBPS. Those needing faster connections still may want to jump up to the TZ 200. 

Logging into the sonicwalls default address of 192.168.168.168 begins the set-up process. You can either go through the wizard or skip directly to the main interface. I would recommend starting with the wizard then tweaking later from the main interface. 

Once you are logged in you will see a series of menu items on the left side of the page. Within each menu you will find submenus that allow you to change various settings. Get familiar with this because any time you need to make changes you will log-in here. 


Thursday, February 24, 2011

Amazon Instant Video First Impression

Amazon introduced its new Instant Video service this week which is free to all Amazon Prime members. Its a great added value if you already have Amazon Prime (which gives you free 2-day shipping on most items that Amazon sells). If you don't have prime, its another great reason to sign-up.

Amazon is competing directly with Netflix in the streaming video space. Netflix has become nearly ubiquitous with its streaming video service and has built up a huge libary. Amazon has launched with around 5,000 videos but still has a long way to go to catch up to Netflix in terms of the number of titles.

I've tried out the service on my laptop and it works really well. Quality is good and playback is quick. Amazon seems to have a lot of video from the PBS library which I look forward to exploring.

Clicker.com has a great chart comparing multiple online VOD services.

I'll follow up later with impressions of this service using my Roku box.