Category Archives: Technology News

The new iPhone 4S is here. What do you plan to do with your Used iPhone?

The iPhone 4S is here now, and there will be better models in the future. The problem with buying technology of course is that it isn’t merely functional. It’s about aspiring to the latest and coolest. If you want to upgrade to the latest model, what do you do with your old used iPhone?

Funny how an iPhone that’s felt like the latest and the greatest all along can suddenly seem old and unattractive one day later the new model has been announced. You have to realize though that even if you’re all about keeping a phone for its utility value and not for the style statement it allows you, that even the iPhone doesn’t last forever. After a point, it does begin to show its age.

That’s why your cell phone carrier will always offer you a free or discounted upgrade to the latest model after a couple of years. But this will leave your old iPhone without a purpose in life. And you can sell it.

If you want to sell your used iPhone, selling it as soon as possible makes a lot of sense. Every additional day that it has on it, your used iPhone loses more value. The best time to sell your iPhone is usually shortly before a new model is released. Keep searching regularly for announcements to do with a new iPhone, and sell it shortly before when it’s due. Selling just before the new iPhone hits the market, your phone will still retain a good bit of value among buyers who haven’t kept up with news.

You can have it easy if you go to one of the iPhone brokers. Consider great online brokers like BuyBackWorld, SellYourMac and Amazon Electronics Trade-In.

Of course, when you go with one of these specialized dealers, you do pay for the convenience with a lower price received. You could instead just go sell directly on Craigslist or eBay or even Facebook Marketplace. With no middleman broker there to take a bite of your profit margin, you’ll come out on top.

For the best possible profit trying to sell your iPhone, get it jail-broken first. That increases its value. Try to aim your advertisement at the overseas buyers. You’ll get a much better price there.

Before you actually send your old iPhone off to its new life, you do want to make sure that it doesn’t carry any remnants of your personal information. Wiping your iPhone of all kinds of personal stuff – pictures, web browser history and so on – would be a great idea. After you back up everything you have there, set off the restore function on it. It’ll make your phone safe to ship.

Should you Wait? Will Tablet Prices Fall?

The tablet market is in tumult. HP just quit the market altogether, Motorola Mobility has been bought by Google, and apart from Samsung, no one – not Asus, not Acer, certainly not BlackBerry – seems even positioned to challenge the iPad. Not even after they cut prices. There are some who say that there is no tablet market out there the way there is a smartphone market or a laptop market. As far as the tablet market is concerned, it’s all iPad. If you’ve been sitting on your hands waiting for the next iPad to show up to see what it will do to tablet prices, you have to wait some time. Apple is in such control of the tablet market that they probably have no incentive to cut tablet prices at all.

Still, Apple is known to really try to put pressure on its competitors when they are already in bad shape. The company on the newest 2011 iPad could begin to slash its current prices. But no one really knows what they’ll do. It’ll depend on how component prices are and what other rival products like the Samsung Galaxy Tab do. Amazon is coming to market with its Kindle tablet soon; and one doesn’t know what Google plans with its Motorola unit. Which way tablet prices head at Apple will depend in large part on what these companies do.

Usually, it takes a company about three years from the moment it starts marketing new product to really get component prices lined up exactly the way they like them. That’s when they are able to really begin lowering prices. By that reasoning, Apple should be ready to begin lowering prices this year. However, there is the fact that the company keeps bringing out new and improved versions every year that have to cost more. The only way that Apple has managed to slash prices on the iPad in the past has been by introducing an iPad 2 to make the iPad 1 somewhat less desirable.

Samsung and other tablet makers have been really acting aggressive with their pricing. Motorola cut the price of its Wi-Fi Xoom by $100, the BlackBerry Playbook is priced at a $150 discount from time to time, and so on. These will certainly have an effect on what Apple does with its tablet prices.

Right now the only way tablet prices can go any lower is if manufacturers sacrifice on performance or quality or features. They say that Amazon’s tablet will have a 7-inch screen and will sell for $250. But it only has a 7-inch screen. In the near future, you even might expect to get lucky and have prices dip under $400. For now, that’s the best that anyone guesses will happen.

Getting a Cell phone for Kids isn’t the same Thing as getting One for Grown-Ups

Choosing a cell phone service for yourself, you’re pretty sure which way you have to go. You know how much you need to talk, how much messaging you need and what kind of data plan will serve your needs. Choose a cell phone for kids though, and it’s somewhat different. Of course, you have to think about how much it will end up costing; but you need to think about whether you should go prepaid or if you just add another line to your own account. Also important is what you think about cost control. Prepaid phones offer plenty of control. But you don’t want a situation where if she has used up all of her talk time minutes, she’ll have to top up her phone up before she can accept a call from you. When it’s a cell phone for kids, it’s best to get a plan that will allow you to contact them no matter what.

There are other worries too – how do you know that your child isn’t looking at something inappropriate on her phone? Or that she isn’t getting addicted to needless texting all hours of the day and night? If you get a second line on your account, you can set up parental controls for all of these – something you can’t do going prepaid. Let’s look at how desirable going with a second line on your own account is.

It can be awfully tempting when you get cell phone for kids in the house, to just go prepaid. This way, you can keep strict control over how much is spent on their chats with their friends. But if you can get your child to use her phone responsibly, you’ll find that getting a second line your account can be far cheaper.

Let’s say that your child has a habit of using up all of her minutes us quickly as possible. You could go with an AT&T 550 Family plan. You get 100 min. a month for $10, and an extra $10 lets you add the second line. If you want unlimited calls to all phones on your carrier, and neither you nor your child are known to use the phone all that much, get the AT&T $1 Mobile to Mobile plan. It costs one dollar every day that you actually use the phone and nothing over the $10 rental on the days that you don’t.

When it comes to parental controls online, the add-on line is the way to go to get a cell phone for kids. You typically see these services come in at a cost of five dollars a month. If you need location tracking, that’ll be extra. The parental controls provided can be pretty useful – you can block people from calling, make sure that your child doesn’t surf her way to anything inappropriate, and you can always keep track of where exactly your child is.

As you can see, choosing a cell phone for kids isn’t quite the same thing as choosing one for adults. Basically, a second line is completely worth it for a child.

There are Special Models of Cellphone for Kids

It never fails to happen every year right around the time the back-to-school
season starts. In the middle of totaling up how much will be spent on
stationery, clothes, shoes and bags, parents begin to wonder if they should
give up and get a cell phone for kids in the family going back to school.

If you’re like one out of two Americans, you’re likely to put electronic items like a cell phone for kids on your back-to-school list. That’s just the beginning. The list grows to include MP3 players, tablets and so on.
Actually, no parent is completely comfortable getting a cell phone for
kids. If you are vaguely uncomfortable about handing your kid a phone,
here’s a short list of the important things you need to keep in mind.

We’ve been reading about the possible health hazards present in cell phone radiation for the longest time. While it hasn’t ever been conclusively proven the harm that is caused, researchers certainly have proven that there can be all kinds of disturbing things that happen. Keeping a cell phone glued to your ear, you can heat brain tissue up, it can influence brain activity and so on. As far as experts are concerned, children turn out to be the worst-affected by these kinds of effects – as their brains are like sponges, absorbing twice as much radiation as the brain of an adult.

There should actually be a law for this – that anyone who gets a cell phone for kids should choose a low radiation phone. It may be hard to get your child to accept such a phone when he probably has his heart set on an iPhone or something. But your concern for your child’s health has to prevail, right? If your child wants a smartphone, the Samsung Galaxy S and the LG Quantum should make good choices, low radiation phones that they are. If your child is okay with a normal feature phone, the Samsung Contour or the Motorola i890 should be great.

When you hear of how the phone companies give you parental control facilities, how does it strike you that these facilities could be useful? Perhaps they could be useful keeping your child from falling into bad habits? Well, how about using them to keep your child safe from radiation dangers? You can for instance, use the parental controls given to you to limit the times at which your child can make calls. This way, you can limit how your child is on the phone all the time and getting into radiation trouble.

And then of course, there’s the whole matter of how agreeing to a cellphone for kids in the family can possibly give them the freedom to misbehave – bullying someone, sending racy pictures and so on. If your child’s school does allow cellphones, make sure that whatever phone you get your child, he certainly is aware of the risks involved in making poor decisions.

Being Vigilant against Cell Phone Bill Cramming

It isn’t easy finding unfair and unauthorized charges on your cell phone bill. It can be a particularly unhappy game to play trying to look for those charges. If you miss something, you could lose a great deal of money.

How much money, you ask? All over America, people pay $2 billion in unfair cell phone bill charges. There is even a name for this – they call it phone bill cramming. It’s difficult to catch phone bill cramming. It isn’t as if they add on charges for things you would never use. Usually, the unfair charges accumulate on things that you normally would use – long distance calls or ring tones. It’s just that they add on ring tones or long-distance phone calls that you never made. For many of these kinds of charges, the FCC reckons that 99 out of a 100 times, the charges are illegal. It can be so hard for these providers to get people to buy these services for money. Since these companies have your credit card number anyway, they just tack on services on their own. They can always claim that you did ask for those services.

Thankfully, the government isn’t sitting on its hands on this one. The FCC has new rules coming into effect. Any time there is a third-party charge that your cell phone bill includes sums of money for, the phone company has to list it separately on your cell phone bill. This way, you should be clearly able to see what the unscrupulous people you do business with are up to. Still, this only makes it somewhat easier for you to spot mysterious unauthorized charges. It still is up to you to sit down and look at them and make sure that you aren’t being billed for something you never used. It can be a real bore.

In most cases, when you do catch them out, the cell phone company will quickly reverse the charges in question. In some cases though, they’ll give you another number for a third-party service provider so that you can take it up directly with them. Still, you can consider yourself lucky with what you go through with a cell phone. This kind of thing happens to landline subscribers about four times as often as cell phone subscribers.

Most often, these unauthorized charges occur when you read an advertisement for some special offer from a company that asks you to sign up through a text message. These text messages usually sign you up for some kind of monthly subscription with some third-party phone service provider. With some carriers, you could just completely block your phone’s ability to make these kinds of purchases altogether.

Car Electronics Buying Guide

If you are getting set to go shopping for a GPS unit or any kind of car electronics for that matter, there were a few things you need to keep in mind to make sure you get something that’s just right for you and your car. Here’s what you need to keep in mind as you head into the store.

When it comes to buying technology for your car, you really need to understand that not every off-the-shelf unit is going to work successfully in every car. GPS units, car entertainment stuff — all of these work well in a car only when they come with a proper installation kit. Without a proper installation kit for your specific model of car, you’ll find that you need to cut into the car’s factory-installed wiring and struggle without the right wiring harnesses. Without a specific installation kit for your model of car, you’ll also find that installing the head unit itself can be quite hard. For instance, where exactly do you put a GPS unit in your car that it’ll be easy to take a look at it while you’re driving? It would be great if you got a cradle for your specific model of car. That way, you wouldn’t have to look long and hard to find a place in your car where a generic holder would go that would be convenient.

When buying accessories for your car electronics, buying universal one-size-fits-all models rarely works well. Try to see if the unit you’re buying is popular enough that third-party accessory manufacturers actually build installation kits for your specific model of car. Sometimes, going third-party will net you a cheaper and more thoughtfully-designed accessory for your accessory.

When it comes to buying a GPS unit your car, you do know that the top brands are Garmin, Tom Tom, Motorola and Magellan; but you want to think long and hard about whether you want to buy a dedicated unit or go with one that’s built to offer a combination of features. For instance, when you go with one of the major car stereo brands – Pioneer, Alpine, Sony, JVC and so on – you will often find that they come ready-built with a touchscreen GPS. Taking this route, you will be struck by how you don’t really need to worry about installation kits at all.

Still, some of the top features in standalone units you find today really could make the installation hassle worth it. For instance, some standalone units from the likes of Garmin these days will offer you street-name directions. This is where the voice won’t just announce that there’s a left turn coming up; it will flesh it out with an exact street name. It helps to learn more about the place you’re going to. Going in to buy car electronics, you basically want to research the kind of features you want and go into the store looking for the features. When the buying field is as complex as this, you don’t want to limit yourself looking for a specific brand or model.

The Cheapest and Best Headphones for Noise Reduction Purposes

You don’t need to wear headphones when you drive the car; why, if you did, you’d probably get arrested for endangering your fellow motorists. Why on earth do airplane pilots where those huge cans then? What could they want with headphone cups that size – are there subwoofers in there for hip-hop they are listen to? Well, while it does sound like a persuasive explanation for those monster headphones, the headphones don’t take that form to allow a pilot to listen to high fidelity music; they kind of seal the noise of the outside world out – so that pilots can actually concentrate on what they’re doing. Those are the best headphones for the purpose when you really need to concentrate on what you’re doing.

Noise canceling headphones have been a top-selling item for audio manufacturers for at least 10 years now. Those bulky examples like the well-received Bose QuietComfort models achieve their noise canceling by using inbuilt microphones to sense what the ambient noise is like and then producing anti-noise to cancel it out.

You don’t have to put up with the bulk and expense of those noise canceling headphones though if you have a smartphone in your pocket. There are all kinds of manufacturers of headsets who offer in-ear models that do a surprisingly good job of shutting out the noise of the outside world and allowing you to speak to anyone over the phone as well. These could be the best headphones you ever buy for noise canceling purposes. But you need to make sure that whatever you buy fits your ears well. Because if they don’t, they can get painful and stop working properly.

Get a model that fits you correctly, and not only do you shut out all the noise, you do it with far less bother than you would with traditional noise canceling headphones.

Consider the NuForce NE-700M sells for a mere $75. One look at the lovingly crafted exterior of this product and you know that you’re onto something special. You normally don’t get to see tiny headphones constructed out of aluminum with the drivers made of titanium and the microphone finished in beautiful. Even so, the sound is anything but metallic. These are easily the best headphones you’ve ever come across in the in-ear section of the market.

Do you remember ever having come across products by Spider International ever? They make midrange A/V cables. But whoever knew they could make some excellent in-ear headsets? Their RealVoice model, that sells for $80 is the star of the in-ear market right now. You can plug these into your iPhone and you quickly get a remarkable amount of isolation from ambient noise. The sound quality is almost first rate too.

Learning how to choose among all the different Kinds of Yamaha Portable Keyboards

Step into Best Buy or perhaps a music store, and to look at all those shiny, beautiful keyboards waiting to put out great music, it wouldn’t be unusual for even the most tone deaf non-musician to wonder if it wouldn’t look really great in his living room. Most people, when they look at your typical in-store display of great keyboards, never guess that they aren’t all more or less the same. Keyboards come in great variety for different kinds of uses. It’s pretty simple narrowing the choices available down to the keyboard you really want to buy. Let’s take a look at Yamaha portable keyboards and all the different kinds of categories they come for.

Let’s look at your basic range of Yamaha portable keyboards first. To begin with, it really doesn’t make sense to call them portable keyboards at all – as if the ones that aren’t labeled this way are somehow not portable. Even large 88-key monsters these days are not that heavy.

Nevertheless, they tend to call the YPT and PSR ranges “portable” somehow. These are your real entry-level keyboards that are priced not far above the $100 price point. Typically, these come with 61 full-sized (or nearly so keys), a light touch, velocity sensitivity, a bunch of kick-ass sounds, and built-in speakers. Usually these days, Yamaha throws in a keyboard stand, a piano pedal and a pair headphones as well.

If you’re kind of mystified by the thing about “velocity sensitivity” in that description, that’s really just music-tech speak for a keyboard that allows you to play in a natural way by putting out louder sounds when you press the keys faster or with more force. This isn’t a given in keyboards, you know. Buy one of those really cheap $30 keyboards, and those keys work like they were buttons. You wouldn’t press a light switch really hard and expect the light to brighten up, would you?

Up next for learners, Yamaha has the EZ keyboard series. These are great when you’re just setting out to play for the first time. The keyboard comes built-in with a bunch of songs that it is able to train you for. Start a song, and the keys light up in the right sequence to tell you which keys to depress. Well, what do you do if you have needs that are just a bit more complex than this?

That’s what arranger keyboards for. Yamaha usually sells these under the Tyros brand name. So what is an arranger keyboard?

Yyou know how those regular keyboards are, don’t you? Well, what if you could take that kind of keyboard, and give it the high-end quality and feel of a real professional keyboard?

For instance, professional keyboards have all those great sounds; they have a great onboard recorder and they have great keyboard action. But usually, they don’t come with inbuilt speakers or even rhythms and accompaniment. If you want all of that usability-enhancing stuff, you then need to buy a regular home keyboard. For those with like the two together in one place, they can always choose an arranger keyboard. These can be quite expensive – around the $1000 mark. But these are a once-in-a-lifetime buy. Buy one of these, and you’ll probably never leave the stool before it.

Learn Your Way around the Yamaha Acoustic Piano before You Make your Purchase

Read any of those personal-finance columns they like to publish in any standard magazine, and you often find them talking about how there are two or three huge investments that people take up to make in life – the purchase of a house, a car, college education for the children. Perhaps they should add a piano purchase to that list. In families where there is a tradition in love of music learning, a real baby grand is a major purchase that can run to nearly as much as a car costs. Let’s look at some of the things you should keep in mind buying one of the most popular choices in this area – the Yamaha acoustic piano.

In a book aimed at young violin players that the Israeli virtuoso Yehudi Menuhin has written, he devotes a full page to how beautiful the violin is to look at. He says you shouldn’t even touch the finish of the panels or your fingerprints will mar the polish. Which is to say that even people who have the greatest respect for an instrument of wonderful music often find themselves admiring it more for how it looks. Your first step buying a Yamaha acoustic piano would be to go around the piano dealerships, taking a good look at all the finishes available at every price level.

For instance, the GB1 Yamaha acoustic piano, which at about $9000 is the lowest-priced grand in their entire range, comes with a special option in a special ebony finish. And it’s a popular option too. If you’re buying a real piano, pay a lot of attention to the finish. Even if the finish doesn’t really have anything to do with the real purpose you’re buying a piano for, you’ll find that the right kind of finish makes you a lot happier.

If you’re thinking of saving a little on your purchase by going the used and refurbished route, you might find yourself thinking longingly about the individual owner option where you generally find lower prices.

If you can take the trouble to hire a Registered Piano Technician to look your potential purchases over, the lack of a warrantee might be something you could live with. Go with the retail option in a used or refurbished instrument, and you’ll get that warrantee, a proper professional reconditioning, and you can expect your purchase to be delivered to your door and set up too. If you’re willing to put up with the hassle, and if you hire a professional to give you the green flag, buying used from a private owner can be a great way to go.

If you’re not willing to put up the money for a registered technician, with a little preparation and learning, you can usually tell that an instrument isn’t in the best condition possible.

In your Yamaha acoustic piano purchase, look for notes that are out of tune, look for keys that don’t play or are not smooth, open the piano and look for any new hammers that have been put in and try to see if they seem to be the same kind of material in general as the other parts. And check for any extraneous sounds – buzzes or rattles.

Choosing Video Games for Kids

What are good video games for kids? If you ask kids, they’ll probably tell you that the funnest games are the best games for them. If you ask parents, they might want the least violent and most educational games for their children. If you ask the ESRB board, they might agree with the violent part. And if you ask hardcore gamers, they might not agree with the rating system, seeing it as too strict and arbitrary. In the same way that movie ratings can be controversial, video game ratings can be a polarizing issue as well, especially in the wake of the debate over the correlation between violent video gaming and criminal activity. The issue of video games for kids isn’t just about kids, it sucks the rest of the gaming (and non-gaming) population, prompting people of all ages to weigh in on what is kid friendly appropriate and what is crossing the line.

Again, perhaps the biggest topic of hot contention surrounding video games for kids is the violence factor. Do violent video games influence children to act out accordingly? Yes, several parents and political figures have been heard to say. Violent video games have been publicly and popularly linked to crimes such as the Columbine shootings. Many studies have suggested that violent video games and real-life violence are linked, but at the same time the methodology of many of these studies has been criticized and the results have not replicated. Some studies even suggest that the link is false, or that rather than violence in itself, “kid-friendly” competition can lead to more violent behavior.

It’s possible to see this issue from both points of view. On one hand, it looks like people just need a scapegoat to blame for the violence in our society. Rather than blaming economic crises, the education system or domestic problems, it’s easier to point the finger at video games: “If that guy weren’t playing Grand Theft Auto, he wouldn’t have robbed that store” is much easier to say than “If he had been able to get a job, gone to a good school or had two supportive parents at home, he wouldn’t have robbed that store.” On the other hand, gratuitously violent video games do exist on the market, and playing them to an excessive degree probably isn’t good for the psyche, especially at a young age. So when choosing video games for kids, it’s best for parents to be open-minded, as well as mindful about what their kids are playing. Violent video games don’t necessarily turn out violent kids, but it would be wise to practice caution when exposing our kids to violent media.