Hardware

Laptop or desktop computers and any components within.

What's the best lightweight solar charger for my phone?

Episode 1149

Wayne from Hemmit, CA
Goal Zero Switch 8

Wayne is going to hike the Pacific Trail, which is about 2,700 miles. He has an iPhone 4 but he needs a charger for it that is both lightweight, portable, and self sustaining. Leo says that he got his son a solar charger, but Wayne needs to understand that they're not terribly efficient and an all day charge may get only get him few hours of phone time.

What is the best home automation security gear?

Episode 1149

Tom from Warren, OH
Nest

Tom is looking for Leo's suggestion about fire alarms and suppression. Leo went out to the local alarm company and had them do it. But there are some interesting choices that also offer full home automation with motion activated cameras that will tell the house to heat up and turn on the lights when he gets home. He can do it himself, but he'll lose the monitoring advantages.

Scott Wilkinson

Episode 1149

Scott Wilkinson

Steve got a new TV and he wants to integrate it into his sound system. Leo says that the centerpiece of the modern era is the TV, and we're trying to duplicate the experience with surround sound. Leo says that the existing receiver will probably not work. Steve will need an A/V receiver. He doesn't want rear speakers, though. Leo says Steve at least needs a subwoofer and a center channel. He should get the TV at eye level and have the speakers on either side of it. He could use a "phantom" center speaker. Not nearly as good, but it will do the job.

Why doesn't my Moto 360 smartwatch turn on when tilt my wrist to look at it?

Episode 1148

Carl from Riverside, CA
Motorola Moto 360

Carl has a Motorola Moto 360 watch. Leo says it's the best smartwatch out there to date. But Carl says it won't automatically turn on when he puts his watch up to read it. Leo says to turn on "ambient display" in the settings. The Moto 360 will still have enough battery life to last throughout the day.

What is a good video card for editing music?

Episode 1148

Dan from Bakersfield, CA
XFX R7-240A-CLF2

Dan has a 24" screen because he's into music recording. Should he buy a new video card? Leo says not for that screen. At 1920x1080, any video card is going to handle it. Leo says that the processor and RAM are more important for editing music than a video card. But it he requires a set manufacturer like Nvidia, a low end card will work just fine.

How can I get into BIOS on my ThinkPad?

Episode 1148

Michael from San Diego, CA
Lenovo X140e ThinkPad

Michael has a ThinkPad with Windows 7 installed and he needs to put it in XP mode to run a few programs. How can he do that? Leo says to use the F2 key to get into BIOS and it's all about timing. But the logo may be in the way, and that requires hitting the escape key.

Alex, the TWiT Windows expert says that pressing the blue ThinkVantage button on boot up will get him to a BIOS menu.

Dick DeBartolo, The Giz Wiz

Episode 1147

Dick DeBartolo

The last gadget of 2014 that the Giz Wiz brings to the Tech Guy is a preview of what we'll see at CES next month -- The Visijax Commuter Jacket. Designed for the bicyclist to ride at night, the Visijax Commuter Jacket has 23 integrated high intensity LED lights that show motion-activated, self-canceling turn indicators, brake lights, and other features. It has a USB rechargeable Lithium-ion battery, which when charged can power the jacket for up to 30 hours. Leo says this is an amazing and life saving device. Very smart. The price will be about $170.

Why does my computer fan make a noise?

Episode 1147

Gary from Long Beach, CA
Computer fan

Gary bought a computer from GoodWill that they have put together. Leo says that's a great idea, and he got a great price on it too. But he's noticed that the fan is making noise. Leo says that could be a wire that has gotten in the way, and that could be dangerous. It could short circuit the wire and cause a fire. So Gary should open up the computer and make sure there's nothing hitting the fan. If that's not the issue, then the bearing of the fan may need to "warm up." They can easily be replaced.

Why does my LCD screen flicker?

Episode 1147

Roger from Pasadena, CA
LCD monitor

Roger's LCD monitor is "flashing" after about a minute and then settles down and works again. Leo says that it may be a bad cable, which would be an easy fix. But it's more likely that the monitor is aging and the transformer or power supply is starting to fail, requiring it to "warm up" before use. It's not really worth fixing. Monitors are so cheap now, Roger should probably just get a new one.