Hardware

Laptop or desktop computers and any components within.

What laptop should I get for listening to audio online?

Episode 1136

Stanley from Los Angeles, CA
Dell Inspiron

Stanley wants to use a computer to download talk shows and then burn them to archive them. What laptop should he get? Leo advises Dell. He can get an affordable Inspiron laptop for around $500 to 600, but he'll also need to add a CD burner because few laptops come with them now. He might also want to consider getting Dell's basic phone support as well, since that won't come with the computer.

Should he get Windows 8 or Windows 7? Leo says Microsoft doesn't allow Dell or any other manufacturer to offer Windows 7 anymore. So it'll be Windows 8.

How can I fix my laptop's trackpad?

Episode 1135

Linda from Dana Point, CA
trackpad

Linda has a Gateway laptop and her trackpad has stopped working. Can she fix it? Leo says she could pay for it, but he wouldn't advise trying to fix it herself. Another thing is to make sure she hasn't simply turned off the track pad. There is a keystroke combination that will disable it. So she should check in her settings to be sure. There may also be a trackpad icon in the system tray that could show her if it's turned off. Otherwise, she can just use a USB mouse.

How can I fix my overheating laptop?

Episode 1135

Lou from Los Angeles, CA
CPU fans

Lou bought a laptop about six months ago and now it's shutting down after overheating. He tried using a vaccum cleaner to clean out the dust and that worked for awhile, but it didn't last long. He tried a large fan and while it doesn't shut down, he gets a message that the cooling fan isn't working. Leo says that's probably been happening all along. Most laptops have a cooling fan on the CPU and one by the port. It may be that the fan on the CPU has failed. Lou will probably need to take it apart to replace it.

How can I fix my failing DVD drive?

Episode 1135

Pete from Fullerton, CA
DVD drive

Pete's DVD drive just tends to stop working at times. It tries to read the disc, and then gives up. Pete is wondering if it can be easily replaced in his laptop. Leo says that it depends on the laptop. It's easy on some, plug and play, and impossible on others. It's not worth fixing it. Leo advises getting an external drive. They're cheap.

The chatroom says to use a laser lens cleaner. But if it's failing, it's failing, and should be replaced.

Amazon Announces Cloud Connected, Always-On Cylinder Called "Echo"

Episode 1134

Amazon

The Amazon Echo is a cylinder that contains speakers and microphones that are always listening for you to address it, using the wake word "Alexa." It's designed to hear you from anywhere in the room. It responds with information about the weather, sports, news, and will start playing music when you tell it to. Amazon has a demonstration video, in which they say that it isn't listening until you say "Alexa" -- except that it does have to listen to hear when the wake word has been uttered. The real question is whether Amazon is actually listening, or can listen, to everything being said.