One of the most dangerous things about shopping online is the fact that you have to enter your credit card information. This is when malicious software like Keylogger can steal your private data without you even knowing it.
Even if your computer is safe, entering all that info can be tedious. Luckily, there's now a way to eliminate the hassle of payment entry and ensure the safety of your computer, too.
The catch is, it costs $99.95.
Seven online merchants operating more than 40 Web sites have agreed to pay a $765,000 settlement following an investigation by the New York State Attorney General's office, the AG's office said.
"These companies engaged in the worst kinds of consumer fraud, from classic bait-and-switch schemes to blatant lies and bullying sales tactics," New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo said in a news release that went out Thursday. "Let this be a message to online merchants everywhere: such abuse of consumers and violation of the law will not be tolerated."
All of the companies were based in Brooklyn, and while their names invoke digital photography, many also sell gear ranging from projectors to HDTVs and computers.
Five of the companies--Best Price Camera, Foto Connection, 1 Way Photo, 86th Street Photo, and Broadway Photo--agreed to change their business practices, according to the release, while the other two--Camera Wiz and Sonic Photo--will close. A full list (PDF) of the companies and Web sites involved in the settlement is available at HDGuru.com.… Read more
I had a fairly good shop program in high school (what's up, Tumwater T-Birds!). Instead of making rickety chairs for our mothers to injure themselves on, or fire-prone wooden ashtrays, our class concentrated on technology. That's where I got to play with my first industrial laser, built my first robotic arm, and designed my first circuit board. It was pretty great.
But not as great as the work of this kid, who, as a side project, built a six-round, bolt-action, high-powered coil gun. For those who don't play video games, a coil gun is an electronic weapon … Read more
Shopping for a budget printer doesn't have to be an exercise in anger-management and self-abasement. Contrary to the stigma, many printers can produce great quality photos and documents without breaking the bank or eating up expensive consumables. Now release your fingers from your hair, put down that club, and check out these tips for getting the best deal for your money.
Before you even start shopping, decide whether you want a laser printer or an inkjet printer. Laser printers use bulky toner cartridges and are typically reserved for home offices that print monochrome text documents and presentations. Businesses also … Read more
Many of you already know how to get a great deal on software, but for those who could use a reminder, we've compiled a list of tips that take freeware, Webware, and boxed software into account.
Ditch the features
Ask yourself how many features of that $30, $60, or $200 program you're really going to use. If the answer is less than half, you can probably make do with freeware or with a less expensive shareware application. If you're already comfortable finding, downloading, and using freeware alternatives to pricey, branded software, then congratulations.
If you're not, there are a few ground rules to know. The programs may not always be as flashy or as feature-rich as the reigning app you're familiar with, and they may require you spend some time with the ReadMe file or Help Manual if they operate differently than you're used to. Yet on the whole, the freeware category is growing ever-more sophisticated in everything from interface design to customer support. If you hate the app, it costs you nothing but trial time, and you can always buy the full-priced software to replace it.
For a real-life example, take an image editor. Unless you're an advanced or frequent user, you may not actually need a program as fully caffeinated as Adobe Photoshop, especially if Paint.NET or GIMP's core features are what you'll actually use the majority of the time. With a little research, you can even find two or more freeware programs that cover the feature spectrum in a suite of pro-grade software. In fact, that's how we cobbled together our own Adobe Creative Suite.
How do you find freeware? We recommend CNET Download.com, of course, as your go-to source for discovering and downloading Mac and Windows freeware (also Mobile and Webware.) It's especially useful if you narrow your search results by free licenses (see the illustration at left).
You can also find Windows, Mac, and Linux alternatives from similar download catalogs. SourceForge.net is another good source for the more adventurous and savvy users who are unafraid of choosing from a list of active builds and downloading through mirrors. Forums run by the open-source community may also reveal worthy freeware for those with time to investigate. While search engines are another path to freeware titles, some sites--especially those advertising cracks and serial numbers--are notorious for delivering malware. We recommend for Windows users to at the very least install an application to rate your search engine results as safe or suspicious, such as McAfee Site Advisor for Internet Explorer or Firefox.
Start off with these top freeware security apps and all-around apps for Windows. Mac users will find freeware in this Mac Starter Kit, plus less expensive alternatives to popular programs that are worth the asking price.… Read more
Home audio is one of those gadget categories where prices can range anywhere from $250 to $25,000. It also has a range of subcategories and mind-boggling terminology. So we thought we'd provide a quick and easy overview for shoppers who are just interested in getting the most for their money--especially at the lower end of the price scale.
First off, identify your audio and video needs. If you've already got a video source you're happy with--a Blu-ray player, game console, or DVD player--then you'll want to go with a component-based home theater package (a receiver/amp plus speakers) or you'll want to put together your own home theater system (an AV receiver plus speaker system). However, if you're starting from scratch--you're ready to start fresh with Blu-ray or a new DVD player--you'll want to consider a Blu-ray home theater system. For 2009, such all-in-one systems start at $500.
Secondly, stick to 5.1 or less. For true surround, you'll need at least a 5.1-channel system (five speakers plus a subwoofer). There are also 6.1 and 7.1 configurations, but they're overkill for anybody but purists. Of course, all those speakers means a lot of cables and placement questions (speaker stands, commandeering bookshelf space, going for wallmounts, and so forth). For a lot of people, it's more trouble than it's worth. There's nothing wrong with opting for a stereo or "virtual surround" speaker configuration. There are several options--everything from a single speakerbar that mounts under the TV to 2.1 or 3.1 configurations. You'll lose the true surround effect, but you'll also ditch the front-to-back wiring. Bottom line: spending your money for two good stereo speakers instead of a so-so surround package is a worthwhile trade-off.
Remember, don't overpay for sound quality you can't hear. Prices for speakers, receivers, and home theater systems can easily spiral into four figures or more. What's the difference between a $500 audio system and one that costs $3,500? For the so-called "golden eared" set, the sonic improvement they'd get from the latter configuration is well worth the premium. For many others, that difference may well be negligible.… Read more
There are plenty of devices for capturing video these days, including cell phones, laptops, and digital cameras. But, for the time being at least, you'll get the best results from a dedicated camcorder. Of course, those aren't all created equal either.
The biggest decision you'll have to make before starting your search is whether to go standard definition or high definition. Standard-def camcorders are a cost-effective way to get good video for Web-sharing sites and for viewing on standard-definition TVs, and it's less demanding for playback and editing on computers.
However, you can get a good HD camcorder at a price only $100-$200 more than some SD camcorders. Obviously you may not have that extra cash, but if you're looking toward integrating your movies into a future high-def home theater experience, you'll want to think long and hard before buying a standard-definition camcorder.
Not sure where you fall? Visit our camcorder buying guide so you know what features you'll need to avoid making a disappointing purchase. If you already know what you want from a camcorder, here are some tips for further refining your choices to get the best possible deal. … Read more
Blu-ray started out as a pricey, enthusiasts-only, niche format, but prices have fallen enough that even mainstream home theater fans can enjoy high-def movies at home. If you're on a tight budget, but still want to go Blu, here are some tips to keep the costs down.
Profile 1.1 players for dirt cheap If you're only looking to spend less than $200 on a Blu-ray player, you'll probably have to settle for an Profile 1.1 unit. You'll be giving up the ability to watch Internet-enabled BD-Live content available on some Blu-ray movies, but that'… Read more
Owning a portable powerhouse of a lap-dwelling machine may be a bit economically out-of-reach for some, but there's never been a better time to get a decently-performing laptop for a great value. Just follow these tips:
Try a Netbook. If your computing needs are low, or even basic (web browsing, office doc work, and not too much need for heavy-duty graphics or HD video), Netbooks offer a great package for very little money. Mainly equipped with Intel Atom processors and running Windows XP, they're not so great a multitasking, but they'll do the work that most computers handled five years ago with ease. Low-end Netbooks are where the best value's at, with some coming in at under $300, like Dell's Mini 10v. Some are on sale online for even less, or are subsidized by cell carriers (the HP Mini 1151nr costs $199). You will, however, need to sign up for a wireless 3G data plan for a subsidized Netbook, which will cost more in the long run than simply looking for free Wi-Fi hotspots.
Thin-and-light laptops are getting cheaper. It was just a year and a half ago when the MacBook Air cost an arm and a leg for super-light computing power. While the Air is more affordable now, there are a variety of similarly-powered machines running lower-cost CULV processors just hitting the market that cost even less. MSI's X340 is practically a Windows version of the MacBook Air, with an equally good form factor (but made of plastic instead of aluminum), but costs $800.
Leave off the extras. Go for the bare-bones configuration unless you really need more RAM or a larger hard drive -- those can sometimes be added later, usually for less money.… Read more