Hardware

Laptop or desktop computers and any components within.

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.

What size MacBook Air should I get?

Episode 1133

Neal from Phoenix AZ
Apple MacBook Air

Neal would like to get a new computer, but he doesn't know what size MacBook he should get. Leo says that the 13" MacBook Air with 4GB of RAM is more than adequate for what Neal needs it for, and with 13 hours of battery life, it's a great deal. The only limitation is that it has a smaller 128GB hard drive. But that's big enough for basic work. He can get an external drive to store all of his data and move it over from the old computer.

Why is my computer not seeing my USB 3.0 hard drive after waking from sleep?

Episode 1132

Mark from Chatsworth, CA
USB hard drive

Mark bought a Dell Desktop with Windows 8 and downgraded to Windows 7. But his USB 3 hard drive isn't working right when waking from sleep, even after he's re-installed the drivers. He has to reboot the computer to get it to read the hard drive.

Leo says to check out the USB Root Hub. He should make sure that the checkbox "wake from sleep" is enabled (checked). Otherwise it won't wake up.

What camera should I get to take videos of the kids playing sports?

Episode 1132

Kevin from Orange County, CA
Olympus Stylus SP-100

Kevin is looking for a camera/camcorder option that can record video and take stills at the same time. Leo says that most cameras can do that today. He's also wondering about taking photos at distances over 50 feet. Leo says he likes Olympus. They have the Stylus Sp-100 with the Eagle Eye 50x optical zoom.