Hardware

Laptop or desktop computers and any components within.

What's the best government subsidized phone?

Episode 1472

Marla from La Crescenta, CA
Woman on cell phone

Marla wants to know which free government phone has the best reception. The idea behind the so-called "Obama phone" is that everyone needs a mobile phone and the government subsidizes phones for those who can't afford it. But unfortunately, nobody really tests for reception anymore because there's so much congestion out there.

Verizon is the ideal choice for cell coverage in Los Angeles. It will give Marla the best coverage. And Verizon offers Universal LifeLine service here.

Is a stuck pixel covered under my laptop warranty?

Episode 1472

Kip from Colorado
Dell XPS 15

Kip bought a Dell XPS 15 laptop and the screen is gorgeous, but he has a burned out pixel on it and it's very annoying. Is that something covered under the Dell warranty? Leo says it depends. Sometimes it takes more than just one, and they need to be connected. There's no standard, so he'll just need to talk to Dell and ask. Rattle some cages and see if they'll replace it. Kip shouldn't hesitate to write Michael Dell for satisfaction as well.

Why doesn't my USB 3 video card work?

Episode 1472

Robert from La Crescenta, CA
Gigabyte Motherboard

Robert built his own computer with a nice Gigabyte motherboard, but his USB 3 video card isn't working with it. Leo says that's likely because his third-party card doesn't want to use the USB 3 chip on the motherboard. It has it's own. When he plugs the card into his PCI-Express slot, he should make sure it's properly seated and is a 4 lane slot. If Windows doesn't recognize it, then he should make sure the PCI-Express slot is enabled. He can refer to his motherboard manual on how. Also, he should check in the Windows 10 device manager to see if there's an "X" on the USB hub.

Dick DeBartolo, The Giz Wiz

Episode 1471

If you like waffles, then the Giz Wiz has a gadget for you. The Kalorik Easy Pour Waffle Maker is very easy to use and cooks your waffles at a 45 degree angle! Simply use the included measuring cup to pour batter into the spout of the closed waffle maker that sits at a 45 degree angle. It looks like that would be a disaster, but a rugged gasket holds the batter firmly in place and the angle makes it possible to distribute the batter evenly. Indicator lights plus five browning levels for custom cooked waffles 7" in diameter about an 1" thick.

Do I have malware?

Episode 1471

Sarah from Prescott, AZ
Malware Bytes

Sarah is worried she may have malware on her system. She ran malware bytes and it says she has 170 possible malware issues. Leo says that probably isn't the case. Malware Bytes will give false positives, or overreact to things in the browser it doesn't like. Malware Bytes can also slow the computer down. What really probably happened is that her browser simply crashed. Leo suspects that Sarah's hard drive is getting flaky, and is starting to fail. The good news is her computer is only a few months old and she can have it repaired under warranty.

Leo Got the Samsung Galaxy S9 and HP Envy X2

Episode 1471

Samsung Galaxy S9+

This week, Leo got the Samsung Galaxy S9. Not only does it have one of the best cameras ever, DxOMark says the screen is practically perfect in every way. Leo also says he's pleased that the fingerprint reader was finally put in the right place. But what's strange for him is that there's not much difference between the Galaxy S9 and the Note 8. It may have a faster processor and is slightly smaller, but they're practically the same.

Why doesn't my Echo work in the garage?

Episode 1470

Stan from Victorville, CA
Amazon Echo

Stan has a bunch of Amazon Echo devices all over his house, but he's having issues with the one in his garage. Leo says that the garage may be too far from his router. He should try bringing it into the house and using it. If it works there, then that means he just doesn't have a good signal in the garage. If it doesn't, then the software may be damaged, and he can just reset it back to defaults to reload the software.

How can I digitize my old albums?

Episode 1470

Steven from Ashville, NC
BEHRINGER U-PHONO UFO202

Steven has a large vinyl record collection and he wants to digitize it. He bought a Behringer U-Phono USB interface to connect to his turntable so he can do it. What software should he use? Audacity? Leo says it's popular because it's free, but it's not the easiest app to use when digitizing a lot of records. Leo recommends a more automated option. DBPowerAmp is a good option, but there's also RipVinyl for $10.

How can I make my SSD faster and more secure?

Episode 1470

Jake from Dallas, TX
Intel SSD

Jake swapped out his smaller SSD with a larger one on his computer. Leo says that Jake could just keep that drive as his software only drive and then use the larger drive for data. He could even combine multiple drives into a RAID for redundancy. He should keep in mind that using RAID 0 may be fast, but it's also less reliable because if one drive fails, it all fails. RAID 1 would give him data security by making multiple copies of the same data. RAID 5 is what is common now, and that offers the best of both worlds.

Why is my Mac running so slow?

Episode 1470

Timothy from Fresno, CA
Mac Pro

Timothy started a new job and he's using a 5-year-old Mac Pro. Leo says that's not that old, actually. Leo prefers them to the recent models. Tim says that there's not a lot of RAM — only 4GB. Leo says that 4GB is OK for most things he'll do online and for documents. But he recommends running the activity monitor to make sure all the RAM is functioning. Sometimes, though, a program doesn't release the RAM when it no longer needs it, and it may be that is what's happening here. The hard drive may be slowing things down as well.