Many people who are new to the Mac may run into some confusion when trying to apply file selection techniques in OS X. For the most part, icon selection in OS X is straightforward and designed to be intuitive, but there are some situations where the selection behaviors change, notably between icon and the various list views.… Read more
Paying retail price is for people with poor impulse control. If you can delay your gratification for the shiny new toy you want and maybe do a little research first, you can almost always get what you're looking for at a price much lower than what you see either on store shelves or at the first online retailer you go to.
This should not be news to you, of course. If you're a savvy CNET reader, you're already accustomed to researching before you buy. Perhaps you scour Rick Broida's Cheapskate blog to stay abreast of good tech deals. But when you're looking for a price on a particular item, there are dozens of sites and services that can save you money. You just have to remember to use one of them. Here are my picks.
The necessary reminder InvisibleHand isn't always the best deal-finding site, but I highly recommend installing this browser add-on since it reminds you when there are better deals online than the one you're looking at. Unlike the other sites I recommend, you don't even have to remember to use it.
The InvisibleHand extension stays out of your way (invisible) until it sees a product on a site it's familiar with (like Google or Amazon). Then it pops down a little advice bar telling you if you're looking at the best real-time online price for the product that it knows of, or if there are less expensive offers online elsewhere. Very nice.
It has limitations: it doesn't calculate shipping costs, or taxes, or coupon discounts (yet). But it's still very valuable. Even if you don't use its recommendations, the fact that waves at you when you could be saving money makes it worth the download.
The old standards Nextag has been around for years, and I still use it as my go-to-site for comparison shopping. It pulls data from a healthy selection of sites (including, competitors claim, some gray-market resellers), and calculates price as delivered including tax and shipping. Nextag is far from the only player in this space. Google Products is not a bad solution either. It works like Nextag but with a different selection of sources, so it will sometimes find different prices. Also be sure to check out Microsoft's Bing Shopping, which will show you cash-back offers on some products, which sometimes will save you money over other product search engines.
For commodity products (cables, hard drives, and so on), check out Pricewatch, which gives you an extremely basic but fast and useful list of prices for popular parts from many vendors. Unfortunately it doesn't scan Monoprice, which has the best prices outside of eBay for cables and other tech infrastructure products.
The mobile tools When you see something you like in a real, physical store, stop. Whip out your iPhone and fire up the RedLaser app (99 cents). It's one of several available consumer-goods barcode scanner apps, in my opinion the best. It'll find the item you're looking for and what it's selling for online, as well as try to find it in other brick-and-mortar stores nearby (with mixed results). Bonuses: when you scan a book, it'll find it in a library; when you scan food items, it'll list allergens in it. It's also got the best UPC entry keypad for when the barcode scanner doesn't work, which is often if you're using an iPhone model other than the 3GS.
The coupon site The Web is awash in coupon deals on various products. And like the price-checking tools, there are several good sites that will help you find these deals. I currently recommend RetailMeNot. It has a healthy collection of coupon codes from around the Web and a good community of users that rate each code as usable or not.
When installing the latest version of OS X, Apple has made it quite seamless to boot from an installation DVD and upgrade the existing operating system without having to format and lose settings, application installations, or important data. This works great for the most part; however, there may be times when the OS X installer will present an error and prevent you from upgrading your current OS installation.… Read more
Apple's new iPad has legions of eager fans who attribute chameleonlike qualities to it, promoting the tablet as an ideal media player, e-book reader, gaming console, and even a Netbook replacement for basic computing chores.
Most often cited is the iPad's speed, and it indeed feels very quick and responsive, and generally comes off as a powerful tool compared with a standard Netbook, which can feel sluggish even when performing the most basic tasks.
Yet under the hood, it's obvious that a typical $299 Netbook has much more powerful hardware. It's Atom N450 CPU runs at … Read more
To all you iPad owners out there (or potential owners), I have some good news and some bad news. The good news is that the iPad is a fun, elegant, do-everything gadget that's easy to love. The bad news: you're going to baby this thing like nothing before.
Whether its a protective case, a Bluetooth keyboard, or an in-car charger for that summer road trip, there are dozens of accessories for the iPad that warrant consideration. Fortunately, we've thought of everything, and created a handy slideshow that runs through every conceivable iPad accessory on the market--from the … Read more
For many purposes you may need to create documents in applications that will then be used as templates. Sometimes applications such as Pages will provide options to save templates in a library of sorts that can be accessed when creating a new document, but many applications do not have this feature. One of the long-standing features of the Mac OS has been support for Stationery Pads, which is a way to create templates out of practically any document using the Finder.… Read more
CNET TV Has a few new How-To videos that pertain to the iPad, where editors discuss and demonstrate some of the desired features for the iPad and iPhone OS, including adding cameras and, yes, even "using" Flash.… Read more
When you bring home your first iPad and open up the box, everything is so pristine and pretty--so Apple. Eventually, as you warm up to the device, you're going to want to make it a little less "factory fresh" and a little more you.
Loading up your own media, photos, and apps is a good start, but there are also a handful of quick things you can do to really put your unique stamp on the iPad.
Whether it's slapping on your own home screen wallpaper or new ways to organize bookmarks in Safari, I've … Read more
I suppose the "place the sub wherever" myth is based on the fact that low frequencies (80 Hertz or lower) are nondirectional, so it's hard to tell where in the room the deep bass is coming from. That's true, but that's not the same thing as disregarding subwoofer placement concerns altogether.
Some experts recommend always sticking the sub in the room's corner. I rarely do that, but corner placement will produce more bass at a given subwoofer volume setting. The corner's two walls and floor reflections "reinforce" bass output, so sure, the sub would have to work harder to generate the same amount of bass when it's not in a corner. But in my experience the bass is smoother (flatter) and better integrated with the speakers when the sub's placed next to a wall.
If your speakers are small, fewer than 10 inches high, with a 4-inch or smaller woofer, I recommend keeping the sub within 3 or 4 feet of the front left or right speaker. The logic here is that if the sub is much farther away it's easy to tell the bass is coming from the sub. The goal is to make the bass sound like it's coming from the speakers, not the sub.
Larger speakers, with 6-inch or larger woofers, make more bass on their own, so the sub is only responsible for delivering the deepest (nondirectional) bass. Sub placement options are greater for that reason, but the best possible bass sound still requires a little work on your part.
Some placement experimentation may be useful; play a CD with lots of deep bass and keep repeating the track as you move the sub to all of the visually acceptable locations in your listening room. Wireless subs simplify the task somewhat, but they always have at least some wires and need to be plugged into an AC power outlet. You'll be amazed just how different the bass will sound in different locations; some will be muddy, some will sound louder, and some will reduce the bass volume. The goal is to get the best balance of deep bass and still have mid and upper bass in equal proportions. … Read more
Many people are hoping the iPad can replace their traditional laptop for many productivity applications. One such group is students. If you need to copy text from one of your eBooks on your iPad, you may be disappointed to find out that the DRM management in iBooks does not allow this directly. Use this tip to copy and paste content from your downloaded eBooks.… Read more