December 6, 2010

Kim Komando answers your holiday electronics questions

The Oskaloosa Herald

OSKALOOSA — Q. My family is coming over for the holidays. I need to entertain my grandkids. What kind of gadget will do the trick?

A. The current entertainment in my household is Microsoft’s Kinect. This is a $140 add-on for the Xbox 360. It does away with a handheld controller. You control the games by body movement. It actually works well and it’s a lot of fun. Plus, it can be a good workout. If you have a PlayStation 3 already, check out the Move. This is a new movement-based controller similar to the Nintendo Wii’s controller. Don’t forget that the kids might have smart phones already. In that case, they won’t have any trouble entertaining themselves!

Q. I just got an iPhone 4, and I’m worried about it being stolen. I set the four-digit code to lock the phone. Will that really keep thieves out of it?

A. The four-digit code won’t keep out a determined hacker. There are ways around it, depending on your phone’s software. Make sure your phone is updated to the latest iOS version. It closes many of the security holes. The latest iPhone software also enables Find My iPhone. This lets you find and remotely wipe a stolen iPhone. Formerly, you needed a MobileMe subscription for the feature. You can also use a stronger password. On the phone’s Home screen, tap Settings. Then tap General>>Passcode Lock. Turn off Simple Passcode to make a password with letters in addition to numbers.

Q. I’m looking for a laptop for video editing. I will also use it for serious gaming. What components do I need to have? I want a Windows machine.

A. This one will definitely break the bank! Expect to spend $1,000 to $1,700 on the laptop. You will want an Intel Core i7 processor and at least 4GB of RAM. Eight gigabytes would be better. Make sure you’re running a 64-bit version of Windows 7. You’ll also need a high-end graphics card. Look for an AMD Mobility Radeon or Nvidia GeForce M. Higher numbers are better. AMD’s current high-end is the 5800; Nvidia’s is the GTX 480M. Additionally, make sure to get the biggest screen possible. You’ll need it for video editing.

Q. I’m going to upgrade to a smart phone. I will use it mostly for voice calls. But I’ll also check e-mail and surf the Web. I’m on AT&T; which phone should I get?

A. AT&T carries all the major smart phone brands. It has Android, iPhone, BlackBerry, Palm and Windows Phone 7. All are good choices. But if you’ll use the phone primarily for voice calls, go with a BlackBerry. Specifically, choose the Torch running OS6. It offers the best call quality. Also, the BlackBerry is built around e-mail. And it has a very good browser to boot. Still, I recommend heading down to an AT&T store. Try out all of the smart phones in the store. They all have different features, and the controls vary. Choose the one that has the best combination of features and ease of use.

Q. I want to watch Hulu on my TV. My current Blu-ray player has other streaming services, like Netflix and YouTube. Can it stream Hulu as well?

A. It is unlikely that Hulu is available on your player. The networks behind Hulu have been reluctant to allow streaming to televisions. Currently, the Roku player and some Sony gadgets work with Hulu. And it is slowly coming to other gadgets. However, that is Hulu Plus, which costs $8 a month. Free Hulu is blocked on almost every gadget. Check with your Blu-ray player’s manufacturer. See if a Hulu option is on the horizon. If not, you will need another gadget. Or, watch Hulu for free by connecting your computer to your TV.

Copyright 2010, WestStar TalkRadio Network. All rights reserved.

Kim Komando hosts the nation’s largest talk radio show about consumer electronics, computers and the Internet. To get the podcast or find the station nearest you, visit: http://www.komando.com/listen. To subscribe to Kim’s free e-mail newsletters, sign-up at: http://www.komando.com/newsletters.