Hardware

Laptop or desktop computers and any components within.

Why won't my monitors work when I turn on my printer?

Episode 1105

Fred from Redding, PA
APC BE550G Back-UPS ES 8 Outlet 550VA 120V

Fred has a monitor that suddenly went out. So he replaced it with a TV and now it's gone out as well. Leo says that the original monitor may not be bad, it could be the cable. It could be a bad cable or the refresh rate settings in his computer may be incorrect. But since it happened when he turned on his printer, his power connections could be to blame and putting in an AV power supply could be helpful. They have surge suppression that will filter the power and keep it consistent.

Should I buy a Surface Pro 3 tablet?

Episode 1105

Tim from Chino Hills, CA
Microsoft Surface Pro 3

Tim wants to know if the Microsoft Surface Pro 3 tablet is worth the money. Leo says he's not a fan of Windows 8.1, but if he needs a lightweight Windows laptop that can become a tablet, the Surface Pro 3 is a nice alternative with a gorgeous screen. It's very light and portable. The keyboard is nominal, not great. But all in all, it's a good choice if you need a Windows option.

How can I solve the scaling issue on my laptop?

Episode 1105

Mackenzie from Grand Rapids, MI
Lenovo Carbon X1

Mackenzie took Leo's advice and got a Lenovo Carbon X1. But the native resolution on a hi-def display doesn't scale properly and text is extremely small. Leo says that Apple's retina display has solved it by using half resolution that will double when doing photo and video. But since Mackenzie is using a Windows laptop, he'll have to deal with the lower 1080p resolution.

How can I extend the range of my Wi-Fi?

Pat from Corona, CA

Episode 1105

Pat would like to extend his Wi-Fi signal out to his huge back yard, up to 800 to 1000 feet. Leo says that's a long way. Wi-Fi usually goes about 150 feet, maybe 600 feet if it's line of sight. Leo says it'll be a lot easier to string a wire. Pat could buy bridges and boosters, but there's limits to the power drive it. RadioLabs.com has directional Wi-Fi Antennas and Pat will need them on both sides.

What is a used computer worth?

Episode 1104

Jay from Riverside, CA
used computers

Jay wants to know if there's a Kelly Blue Book for computers? Leo says no. Computer values disappear rapidly because there's no real resale market. There are so many different PCs, that it would be a very large book if there were one.

One way to determine what a computer is worth is to search eBay's listings. That's a good way to see how much people are paying for it. Jay shouldn't buy a used computer, though. It's a false economy to get a used one. He's just buying someone else's problems. If he wants to save some money, he should get a factory direct refurbished computer.

How can I reinstall OS X on a used MacBook Pro?

Ryan from Maui, HI

Episode 1103

Ryan got a used MacBook Pro, and he'd like to start over by erasing the disc. Leo says the good news is that with Apple, there's a recovery partition that will allow him to format the drive and reinstall the OS. He should reboot, and hold down the CMD-OPT-R. That'll do a clean install just like it came from the factory. Then he'll have to update it from there. Since Apple no longer charges for upgrades, it'll be easy to do it.

The Giz Wiz and Gyrobot

Episode 1103

With this Gyrobot kit, children can explore the astonishing powers of the gyroscope by building seven motorized models, including a robot that can balance on two linear wheels and move along a tightrope! At the press demo I held one end of a string while I watched the Gyrobot walk perfectly balanced, from one end to the other. Pretty neat! With this kit kids can learn about the physical science principles that keep the robot balanced, making it appear to defy gravity.

Why is my Bluetooth headset telling me one of my contacts are calling, when it's a telemarketer?

Larry from Burbank, CA

Episode 1103

Larry gets calls from telemarketers all the time over his bluetooth headset. It's very annoying. The device announces he's getting a call from one of his contacts, and when he answers it, it's a "Google specialist." Leo says that it's really easy to spoof a caller ID to prevent him from knowing who's really calling. And it's unlikely they have access to Larry's contact list in order to do that. It's more likely that his Bluetooth headset is simply misassociating the incoming call with a person in his contact list because the number is close. Carrier forwarding may also be the problem.