Hardware

Laptop or desktop computers and any components within.

Should I buy a Chromebook?

Acer Chromebook 15

Episode 1525

Sherry from Los Angeles, CA

Sherry is looking for an affordable Chromebook with a budget of $350. Rich says that to be sure he doesn't get one so cheap that it's underpowered. Acer makes a good model in that price range. She should also get one that has a touch screen so that she can use Android apps. Unfortunately, Chromebooks won't let users install third party apps other than Android apps, but if she can live with that, Rich recommends going to Costco to pick up one.

Is there a video doorbell that opens the door?

Ring video doorbell

Episode 1525

Dan from New Jersey

Dan would like to get a doorbell that can not only notify his parents with video when someone is at the door, but can also unlock the door remotely. Rich says there are products that do one or the other, but not a lot that can do both. Ring is a great video doorbell, and he can view it remotely on a mobile device. Nest IQ has face detection, and could unlock the door. But he really doesn't want something fully automated.

Where can I buy parts for my MacBook Air?

Apple MacBook Air

Episode 1525

Rico from Cerritos, CA

Rico is trying to replace the cracked LCD screen on his MacBook Air. He's having issues with the LCD layers underneath the glass. Where can he buy a replacement part for that? Rich says that Rico should go to iFixIt. They not only will show him how to fix issues like that, but they also offer the parts and tools to do it.

Another option is to buy a broken MacBook Air for parts. He can check OWC at MacSales.com. They have parts as well, but mostly for upgrades.

Why won't my audio play on my other computer?

Handbrake

Episode 1525

Carl from Upland, CA

Carl transferred some podcast audio from one computer to another and it won't play on the other computer hard drive, just on the USB drive. Rich suspects a format issue. It sounds like it isn't a standard MP3 file, and as such, his Windows mp3 player is having issues playing it. Rich also says he may want to try converting the audio using VLC or Handbrake. Another possibility is that it requires some sort of "key" to play the audio. Or additional components.

Amazon Hosts Surprise Alexa Event with 14 New Products

Episode 1525

Thursday, Amazon held a surprise Alexa event, announcing 14 new Alexa centered products, with nearly 75 new features. Rich doesn't think it's trivial that Amazon chose the day before the iPhone shipped to grab all the headlines. But Rich also thinks that companies want their customers to be exclusive, and you can end up becoming deeper into their ecosystem, making it harder to use other products outside of it.

Is my laptop screen dead?

Laptop

Episode 1524

Daniel from Yucaipa, CA

Daniel turned on his laptop and the screen is dead. Rich says to look at the screen up close and see if he can barely see the image. If he can, then that indicates the backlight is bad. If there's nothing at all, then it could be a bad motherboard. Either way, it's time to get a new laptop, because repairing a laptop usually costs more than it's worth to buy a new one.

One thing he can try is to connect it to an external monitor via HDMI and see if he can see something. If he can, then the computer is OK, but the screen is dead.

Dick DeBartolo, The Giz Wiz

Dick DeBartolo

Episode 1523

This STEM Kit (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) is a great introduction to Engineering, Robotics, Circuit Building Projects for kids and teens. It's DIY science experiments use real motors, real hardware and real wood. Kids can build & rebuild endless robotic creations with a single kit. The company says it's for 8-12 year olds & teens. Dick was very impressed with the kit as you'll see in the video. There are 50+ real parts with 10 challenge cards, wood, electric motors, & hardware. You'll see a lot of the products kids built in the video.

What is Number Sharing on the Apple Watch?

Apple Watch ECG

Episode 1523

Rich from Rancho Cucamonga, CA

Rich updated to a smartphone out of necessity. He's hearing about the Apple Watch Series 4 and its heart features, but it says he needs "number share" for it. What is that? Rich says that the Apple Watch Series 4 is not only a smart watch, but an FDA approved medical device. He can actually take an ECG with it. But he'd need the higher end LTE version for $500, and number sharing, means he'd have to pay $10 a month to share his phone number with his Apple Watch.

Why is AirPlay stalling in AppleTV?

Apple TV

Episode 1522

Brian from Marina Valley, CA

Brian has two Apple TVs that stream music from his computer and iTunes, but lately it just stops after a few minutes. Apple says that it's a corrupted library, but Leo disagrees since it doesn't happen when he streams music on his computer directly. Leo has a hunch it's the router. Using AirPlay, he could be dealing with buffering issues. He also should make sure nothing else is connected to his AirPlay device. It could also be an issue with home sharing and his router configuration. It could be a blocked port issue.