Hardware

Laptop or desktop computers and any components within.

How can I control my HAM radio with my computer?

Ed from Tennessee

Episode 1298

Ed is blind and has trouble controlling his HAM radio with his computer. Leo says if he has software that is designed to control it, and a cable that converts USB to RS232, then it should work. The chatroom says that they haven't gotten it to work on Macs either. Macs don't work because they don't recognize COM ports. Windows, by contrast, is backwards compatible and has support for that. He'll also need drivers. If the COM port adapter came with software, then that could also be the issue.

Should I buy a laptop with a touch screen?

Episode 1298

Warren from Los Angeles, CA
Dell XPS 13

Warren is looking to buy the Dell XPS and he wants to know if he needs a touch screen. Leo says that the concept of touch screens mostly started with iPad. People are now used to touching the screen to do things, so Microsoft decided that Windows needed a touch screen option. Windows 8 worked with touch and PCs began to come with it. If Warren likes touching the screen to interact with it, then by all means get one. Windows 10 doesn't require a touch screen and works perfectly well with keyboard and mouse, though.

Should I buy a used laptop to run Linux?

Justin from Savannah, GA

Episode 1298

Justin wants to get a high end laptop that will run Linux. Leo says that Linux always works best with older hardware, but Lenovo's laptops seem to be very popular with Linux users. Another option is Dell. They sell native Linux laptops called Project Sputnik.

Should he buy a used laptop? Leo says that nowadays he can buy a brand new Lenovo for $500. If he's on a budget, he should look at Lenovo's refurbished site. He'll save some money there. He shouldn't buy refurbs from anyone but the manufacturer, though. That way he can at least get a warranty.

Why does my internet radio buffer so much?

Jim from Gaithersburg, MD

Episode 1297

Jim is legally blind and uses an internet radio. He doesn't understand how to use it, though, and it buffers a lot. Leo says that Wi-Fi has a distance issue where the greater the distance, the weaker the system, and the slower the bandwidth. That's why Leo recommends plugging it directly into his router and he won't see nearly as much buffering. Leo recommends hardwire connections for any streaming device.

Will I have to buy a new PlayStation to use PlayStation VR?

Episode 1297

JR from Los Angeles, CA
Sony PlayStation VR

JR works on the Sony PlayStation VR project. He says that the PlayStation VR will work with the original PS4 design. Leo agrees and said that Sony didn't announce a slimmer PlayStation 4.5 like rumored, and JR says that's because they wanted to focus on virtual reality. Leo says he's very excited about PlayStation VR and thinks it's going to be a huge hit. It will definitely be the most affordable way to get into VR for gaming. The word is that it will have up to 60 titles to go with it by the end of the year.

Why can't Windows read my external hard drive?

Luiz from El Monte, CA

Episode 1297

Luiz has a hard drive that Windows can't read and it wants to reformat it. Leo says chances are that it was formatted with Apple's file system, rather than Windows file system. Leo recommends copying the files off of it using a Mac and then reformat the hard drive to FAT. Then copy it back. The Windows machine will be able to read it then.

Another option is to just buy a second hard drive that is already preformatted in FAT and then just copy them over from the other hard drive with the Mac. Then he'll have two copies, one being a backup. It'll then be a simple drag and drop.

How can I connect my cell phone to a cordless base station?

Episode 1297

Keetahn from Walnut, CA
Vtech DS6522-4 4 Handset Connect to Cell Answering System

Keetahn wants to know if he can hardwire a speaker to his cell phone that will let people hear the phone ringing in another room. Leo says that a Bluetooth speaker would be ideal, but the problem is that it can lose connectivity and would need re-pairing. Leo says the best is a base station corded phone that he can pair with his cell phone service.

Should I buy a laptop with an i7 processor?

Dave from Whichita Falls, TX

Episode 1297

Dave wants to buy a new Dell XPS laptop with an i7 processor. Leo says that he won't really need an i7 processor unless he's doing something graphically intense, like video editing. It would be better to get an i5 and then add an SSD. That will increase the speed of his computer's performance because the hard drive is solid state. He can then get a spinning drive for his data and still come out spending less.

Meanwhile, on another computer, he needs to activate Windows 10 but it hasn't yet. Leo thinks it's because it has an unauthorized copy of Windows 7 on it.