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March 7, 2011

Kim Komando answers your electronics questions

OSKALOOSA — Q. I’m looking at buying an HDTV. I’ve seen a few with a 2,000:1 contrast ratio. But other TVs have 1,000,000:1 or even “infinite” contrast ratios. Why is there such a difference?

A. Contrast ratio is the difference between a display’s blackest black and brightest white. Those are both relative measurements. So the number changes based on how the black and white are measured. The 2,000:1 figure is actually good. Anything higher than that is often a dynamic contrast ratio. This measures the TV’s black level with the screen in standby mode. In that mode there is no backlight. That doesn’t accurately reflect contrast ratio during actual use. Don’t weigh contrast ratio numbers very heavily in your buying decision. 

Q. I own a Sony Reader e-book reader. But I’m confused about where to buy e-books. There are too many formats.

A. Your first stop should be Sony’s Reader Store. You’ll find many titles that are compatible with your reader. Fortunately, Sony’s e-readers support the ePub format. So, you’ll find compatible e-books at other stores, too. The major exception is Amazon. Amazon sells e-books in its proprietary AZW format. However, Barnes & Noble, Borders, Apple and most other stores offer ePub books. You can also find free e-books in the ePub format online. Visit Komando.com/news for thousands of titles. Incidentally, Sony’s Readers also support PDF and TXT files. These are also available in many online stores.

Q. My husband recently died. He had a subscription with an identity protection service. Should I cancel it?

A. Unfortunately, canceling the protection right away wouldn’t be wise. Identity thieves tend to come out of the woodwork after a death. First, you need to contact the three credit-reporting agencies: Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. They can freeze your husband’s credit. Notify your bank and medical insurance provider. And make sure the funeral home talked to the Social Security Administration. Once all of those organizations are informed, the theft risk is minimized. At that point, you can stop paying for the identity theft protection. 

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