Hardware

Laptop or desktop computers and any components within.

How can I test how long my charger takes to charge my phone?

Episode 1150

Amy from Maryland
P3 P4400 Kill A Watt Electricity Usage Monitor

Amy has several chargers and they all charge at different speeds. Can she run a speed test to see how long it takes to charge them? Leo says she can monitor power usage with the P3 P4400 Kill A Watt Electricity Usage Monitor. This plugs into the wall, then she can plug a charger into that. There's also this USB in-line voltage and current meter from ADAFruit.

Dick DeBartolo, The Giz Wiz

Episode 1149

Dick DeBartolo

The first gadget of 2015 was actually from Dick's "What the heck is it" game. It's called the Store-A-Cell battery caddy. It solves the problem of how to conveniently store batteries in a compact and easy to find holder. Originally designed for pilots, the Battery Caddy is also great for photography, camping, travel or home use. The price depends on the Storacell Battery Caddy you need, but they start at about $5.50. They are available for AA, AAA, and 9V batteries, and there are even versions that can take all three kinds of batteries in one caddy. And you can choose colors.

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.