Hardware

Laptop or desktop computers and any components within.

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.

Is the Samsung Galaxy Gear VR a good buy?

Episode 1297

Richard from Louisiana
Samsung Galaxy Gear VR

Richard is thinking about buying a Samsung Galaxy Gear VR headset. Leo says that the Galaxy VR is powered by Oculus and it's more like a high tech Viewmaster than a verified VR device. It's a step up from Google Cardboard. It doesn't have controllers to interact with it, so he would end up just watching what's going on, rather than interacting with it. Richard will also need a Samsung Galaxy mobile phone to use it. He should be aware of the physical uneasiness that he'll experience in VR, too. Some people do get sick from vertigo.

Why can't my Mac connect to the Internet?

Betty from Madison, WI

Episode 1296

Betty can't log into the internet with her Mac. It says there are no plugins to do so. Leo says to check your router connection to see if your WiFi router is turned on. You can do that in the Apple's Network system preferences. If you can't see your access point, you're not connected to it. If it's connected, then look if the internet connection is available. If the WiFi router isn't working properly, it'll be connected, but it won't go anywhere. It'll just be a local address starting with 168. Try resetting your router.

How can I convert my headphones into bluetooth?

Bob from Las Vegas, NV

Episode 1296

Bob has a pair of headphones that he loves and and older receiver. He would like to convert them to bluetooth. Leo says it can be done with a bluetooth transceiver. They come out of China and aren't very expensive. Rocketfish makes one. OroTech. You can easily get one for under $100 or even $50. You'll want one that plugs into the optical audio out to keep it digital for the least signal degradation. You'll also want the A2DP standard.

How can I get a better Wi-Fi signal?

David from Long Beach, CA

Episode 1296

David's landlady has wifi but she doesn't want to improve the signal so he can get a better connection. Leo says you can get a WiFi antenna to improve your signal,but if you can convince your landlady to put the access point in a better location, that would be the ticket. Check out RadioLabs.com for tips on which directional antenna to buy to get a better signal. You could also offer to buy her a newer 802.11 AC router. Leo likes the Asus C3200. It goes a long way.

What virtual reality system should I buy?

Russ from Benton Harbor, MI

Episode 1296

Russ wants to know what VR system should he buy. Leo has both the RIFT and the VIBE, but he's also played with the Sony Playstation VR and he thinks that may be the winner. But it won't be out until this fall. Right now, though, Leo says that the HTC Vive has the edge because it has handheld controllers along with it. The Rift requires the XBox controller at the moment. Another advantage the Vive has is that it has two cameras that you can put in each corner with a 10 foot radius and move around. The Rift is more limited in movement.

Why does my USB headset stop working?

Alan from Louisville, KY

Episode 1296

Alan has a problem where Windows 10 doesn't see his Plantronics usb headset. Saying the driver is corrupted. Leo says that there probably isn't a dedicated Plantronics driver for it, instead relying on the standard Windows USB audio driver. But it seems unlikely that the USB audio driver is corrupted. But it is Microsoft, so it may just be a matter of reinstalling the drivers. Leo also says that booting into Linux and testing it was a brilliant troubleshooting idea. The other idea is that it could just be a Windows 10 incompatibility.

Will my laptop battery die out?

Jim from Los Angeles, CA

Episode 1296

Jim's Lenovo laptop gets a notification that his lithium ion battery is 70% depleted. Leo says that there's a lot of mythology and garbage about LiOn batteries. But what we do know is that a standard battery has a cycle life of about 500 recharge cycles. They've discovered why and are working on designs to make sure batteries never wear out. But that isn't in the current state of the art. You can do things to make sure you get the most out of your battery by 1) never completely depleting your battery and when you do store them, store them half charged.

What home automation system should I invest in?

Chris from Los Angeles, CA

Episode 1296

Chris is building a house and wants to get into home automation. Should he go with something wired or wireless, and what about the security of it? Leo says that we are still at the very beginning of home automation. There are a lot of systems and no standard has really been established. Most modern home automation systems are wireless, now. Everyone uses their home Wi-Fi networks to operate them. To future proof it, Leo would advise putting conduit into the walls as a kind of tunnel so he can put in fiber or some other wires should he decide to.

How can I make my laptop lighter?

Chad from Cedar Rapids, IA

Episode 1296

Chad has installed Cloud Ready Chrome on his old laptop to create his own Chromebook. Leo says he's tried to install it on a Mac and it hasn't worked. If he can do it on a PC laptop, then it's a great choice. Leo loves the idea, and for a lot of people, it's far better than Windows.

Chad wants to know how he can make his laptop more lightweight. He's already put in an SSD. Leo says that's a huge start, but a great deal of the weight is in the battery. Given the design of the laptop, there's not much he can do about that either.