One feature of modern televisions that often goes unused is their ability to function as an oversized computer monitor, allowing viewers to access the entire world of online music and video on the (relatively) big screen.
Computer Learning Center instructor David Shinkfield will join fellow instructor Mary Kay Podlecki in presenting “Connecting Your TV to the Internet.” The free program will take place Tuesday, January 7, at 2 p.m. in the Ewing Senior and Community Center, 999 Lower Ferry Road. It will be preceded at 1:30 p.m. by a question and answer period with the CLC faculty. 609-882-5086. www.clcewing.org.
Among the ways to connect your TV to the Internet are many small devices that plug into an HDMI port on the back of your TV: Roku, Boxee, Chromecast, Apple TV, and Logitech. They are all different, and the CLC program will describe the alternatives and their various features. They will also demonstrate Chromecast, which is made by Google, and the Apple TV. All of them allow you to watch free Web videos, such as those on Youtube, or those from paid subscription services like Netflix. Some also allow you to watch videos or play music from your computer.
After the Holidays,
#b#Some Practicalities For Those Gadgets#/b#
Now that the holidays are over, many of you are enjoying the dazzling new features of the latest high tech gadget given by the Santa Claus in your life. So now you should be thinking about portable storage drives so that you can carry along your collections of data files and playable media without needing to sync them to your devices, share your collections with others, or transfer files between different devices.
However, physical media comes in a variety of form factors and uses different connections, depending on your device — tiny microSD cards for pocket devices including smartphones and tablets (except the iPhone and iPad with no memory card slot), larger SD cards for more substantial cameras and camcorders, and USB sticks for laptops and computers. So you will need to carry three different types of storage media, which don’t transfer cleanly between different devices.
A better answer is to take advantage of the small size of the microSD card as a common storage media. For example, the Kingston microSD Mobility Kit includes a tiny microSD card (which is the actual storage), plus a SD card adapter and a USB adapter/reader for the other formats.
The range of portable media is well demonstrated by LaCie, which continues to develop storage with style. The LaCie PetiteKey is a USB “thumb” drive as a metal key, rugged enough to travel on your keychain, and providing up to 32 GB of storage for $34. The LaCie RuggedKey is a faster USB 3.0 key stored in a rubber casing for additional bulk and security, and with larger capacity, up to 64 GB for $99. It’s drop-resistant to 100 meters, heat and cold resistant, and certified for resistance to dust and water.
Or you can step up to hundreds of gigabytes, still in a ridiculously slim and light design with the LaCie Porche Design P’9223 Slim Drive in an aluminum finish (5 x 3.1 x 0.4 inches). Here you see the trade-off between traditional hard disk (with spinning platters) or solid-state storage (memory chips). LaCie offers a hard disk model that provides more capacity at a lower price, with 500 GB for $74. The SSD model delivers faster speeds (up to 400 MB/sec vs. 100 MB/s for HDD) plus additional shock resistance, but is still pricey, with 120 GB for $139.
LaCie also includes one year of its Wuala Secure Cloud Storage with its drives, so you can back up, sync, and share files online, using both desktop software and mobile apps. It also provides software for setting up password-protected areas on the drive.
Meanwhile, basic storage has never been more affordable, so there’s really no excuse for not backing up and safeguarding your files. For example, the Verbatim Store ‘n’ Go SuperSpeed USB 3.0 Portable Hard Drive is fast, compact (4.7 x 3.1 x 0.7 inches), and comes with backup software. It’s available starting at 500 GB capacity for $62, and up to 1 TB for under $100.
The more you enjoy your portable devices and accessories, however, the more you risk running out of battery power, especially on longer days when you really would like the music and books and video and Web access to ameliorate the tedium of long trips. While tiny battery packs have their place, you need something a bit more substantial to fully recharge today’s smartphones, much less power-hungry, full-size tablets.
The Verbatim Portable Power Pack can keep both your smartphone and other devices like a Bluetooth headset going for an extended period. It’s still relatively compact at 2.4 x 1.5 x 0.8 inches and 2.3 ounces, and packs a 2200 mAh battery, compared to more like 1400 mAh in a smartphone, and is available for $22.
But to power tablets you need more capacity and 2.1 amps charging rate. And the larger size can also support dual charging ports, to charge two devices simultaneously.
The TYLT PowerPlant Portable Battery is packaged into a rectangle 3 x 1 3/4 x 1 1/4 inches and 5.4 ounces. It has two charging ports: a universal USB port for any USB device, plus a second connector on a flexible arm that pulls out of the side, offering 5,200 mAh capacity and 2.1 Amps output. It’s available for $69 in three versions with different flexible charging arms: microUSB for smartphones, Apple 30-pin for older iPhones, and Apple Lightning for the iPhone 5 and other recent Apple devices.
The PowerPlant has nice features including four LEDs to indicate the battery level, load detection circuitry to automatically turn on when you plug in a device and turn off when done, and the ability to continue charging devices while it is plugged in to recharge. Plus it’s spec-ed to retain a single charge for up to a year.
In comparison the Ventev Powercell 5000 battery charger is a thinner slab design at around 4 5/8 x 2 3/4 x 1/2 inches and 5.3 ounces. It has two USB ports, one 5 Watt / 1 Amp for smartphones and a second 10 W / 2.1 A rapid charge port for tablets. It provides 15 hours of backup power for around $34. It has an interesting understated design in slate gray with orange accents, gently rounded edges, and a non-slip matte surface.