Hardware

Laptop or desktop computers and any components within.

How secure is home automation?

Bob from Tehachapi, CA

Episode 1190

Bob is interested in home automation, but he's concerned with security. Can it run amuck? Leo says that it's such a new thing, we don't really know all the downsides yet. Keyless entry is the challenge, especially with a car. A car uses keyless entry with the keyfob signal by proximity. You can actually buy a booster to send it out further. But that's a security flaw. Anything with a computer can have flaws and bugs in programming. So it is possible and Bob's right to pay attention to it. But we're in the very early days. Just remember that a lock is an illusion, not a security feature.

Should I buy an iMac with Retina 5K Display?

Episode 1190

Michael from Santa Monica, CA
Apple iMac with Retina 5K Display

Michael's iMac needs to be replaced and he was about to buy a refurbished Mac when he heard the price of the 5K iMac was dropped. Leo says that not everything Apple does gets a huge announcement. The 5K iMac is gorgeous, but he shouldn't consider the hard drive upgradable. Only the RAM can be boosted in that model. An iMac with 8GB of RAM is pretty good, and a 1TB fully spinning drive is good. Or he can go with a 256GB SSD and use an external hard drive for data. An SSD is the single best upgrade for most computers. It really does speed them up.

Should I buy an HP or Dell computer?

Lou from West Covina, CA

Episode 1190

Lou has to buy a new laptop. He's looking at Dell and HP, and he hears that they are second and third best. Leo says that stats can be deceiving. On paper a laptop can look great, but in reality, his experience could be different. Usability is more than specs. He'll have to dig deeper. HP looks great on paper, but some features can be annoying. Another frustration of HP is that they traditionally have been loaded up with trial or bloatware. They've gotten better, but still nowhere near for Leo to recommend. They're also about to spin off the PC division. So its future is uncertain.

When will the next Microsoft Surface Pro come out?

Episode 1190

Alan from Los Angeles, CA
Microsoft Surface Pro 3

Leo says he's pretty confident there will be a Surface Pro 4 when Windows 10 comes out, and he thinks it'll be a good choice. According to Paul Thurrott and Mary Jo Foley, Windows 10 should be out at the end of July. Alan wonders if the new Surface Pro is really going to be a big improvement over the Surface Pro 3, or if it just will lower the price of the Surface Pro 3. Leo says either way, he's golden! He'll get to choose. Leo thinks even the lower end Microsoft Surface 3 is a good choice.

How can I use my own router with FIOS?

Steve from Hermosa Beach, CA

Episode 1190

Steve has FiOS and the Wi-Fi seems to be slow. How can he speed it up? He'd like to bypass the Verizon router and use his own. Leo says that he'll have to use the Verizon device to connect to FiOS, but he can disable the router part and use his own router instead. He'll need to connect them with ethernet to make it work. The router is also built into the modem and is using network addressing. Steve should put the router part in "bridge mode" to just hand it off to the router.

How can I cancel my landline and still have emergency service?

Alison from Sherman Oaks, CA

Episode 1189

Alison wants to drop her phone line because it's getting too expensive, but she's worried about emergencies. Leo says that the benefit of keeping a landline is that the phones are powered by the phone company. But as we've shifted away from the old systems, that capability is gone. She could end up with a battery backup in her home, though, so she should check that out. The problem is, those batteries aren't maintained, so they can die after a few years. Alison will end up having no backup. She can pay for California Life Line service, which is about $10.

How can I keep my laptop from connecting over Wi-Fi when it's hardwired with ethernet?

Noah from Wyoming, MI

Episode 1189

Noah is trying to connect his laptop to his router via ethernet, but his laptop keeps connecting via Wi-Fi instead. Leo says on the Mac, he could order the connections so that the laptop would try ethernet first and then go to Wi-Fi. On a Windows Machine it's a bit more complicated. It could be a driver issue. He should update his drivers.

What laptop should I get my daughter for college?

Episode 1189

Eric from Chino Hills, CA
Apple MacBook Air

Eric's daughter has a Mac Mini and she's thinking of bringing it to school, but the monitor is so huge. So she's thinking of going with a Windows laptop. Leo says that the base model MacBook Air is $899 and that's a good choice, And the educational discount saves another 10%. Eric could also go to the Apple Refurbished site to save a few hundred dollars more.