Kim Komando: Avoid tech gifts on the no-buy list
BY KIM KOMANDO
Sunday, November 25, 2012
11/25/12 at 3:16 AM
With all the games and gadgets out there, it's easy to buy a tech dud. No one wants to waste money or give someone something they don't really want.
You may recall the bulletin I put out last Christmas about tech gear you shouldn't buy. It included feature phones, GPS units, netbooks, portable media players and point-and-shoot cameras.
Those are still on the no-buy list, but this year I have a whole new list of things you'll want to avoid.
Budget Android gadgets: Older and budget Android gadgets are best avoided. And when I say budget, I'm not talking about low-cost, 7-inch tablets like the Nexus 7 or Kindle Fire. I mean $100, off-brand tablets and low-powered, free smartphones.
For both phones and tablets, make sure they're running Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) or higher. A budget phone that runs Android 2.3 (Gingerbread), or a budget tablet that runs Android 3.2 (Honeycomb), will stagger when running the latest games and productivity apps.
Seventeen-inch laptops: Apple laid its 17-inch MacBook Pro to rest this year. Users just don't want to lug those behemoths around. For that matter, a 15-inch laptop makes sense only for gamers or a graphics and video pro.
Bridge cameras: Designed to fill a niche between high-end DSLRs and budget point-and-shoots, bridge cameras don't make as much sense as they used to.
Compared to point-and-shoots, bridge cameras give photographers more control over shutter speed and aperture. But they don't offer much of an improvement in sensor size or quality. You're also stuck with a permanent zoom lens that usually isn't a world-beater.
Entry-level e-readers: Not all e-readers are cutting edge. Amazon's entry-level e-reader, the Kindle ($69), uses buttons for navigation and features a standard E-Ink Pearl display. It's not a bad unit, but for a bit more you could have something much, much better.
Budget LCD TVs: TV prices continue to drop, and there are bargains everywhere you look. Unfortunately, many of these deals are bargain basement.
Sure, you can buy an off-brand 50-inch LCD TV for less than $500. But you'll be getting outdated technology and a poor viewing experience.
Budget LCDs have a refresh rate of 60 hertz, which can blur motion when you're watching the big football game. Refresh rates of 120Hz and 240Hz are standard now. Many bargain-basement TVs also have a resolution of 720p, compared to the 1080p you want.
Bargain LCD TVs are still backlit by fluorescent lights. That looked great four years ago, but it pales in comparison to LCD TVs with an LED backlight.
Kim Komando hosts the nation's largest talk radio show about consumer electronics, computers and the Internet. Listen to her show from 1-4 p.m. each Sunday on KRMG am740 or fm102.3. To receive her newsletters, go to tulsaworld.com/komandonewsletters.