I gave up my dream of one day owning a single remote control that could replace my basket of “universal” remotes several years ago. As you can imagine I lived in extreme sadness for quite some time, constantly criticizing myself for being so naive to believe such a device existed. As time passed however, I forgave myself for setting such an unrealistic goal and eventually moved on. Then yesterday the delivery man arrived, unknowingly carrying the answer to this long forgotten dream.

Okay, to be honest, I haven’t actually gone out and bought any universal remotes until just the other day. With that said, each time I’ve replaced a component in my entertainment system I end up with another “universal” remote that just doesn’t cut it. Either it won’t even work with one or more components or, as is more often the case, you loose a ton of functionality and have to keep the original remote close by anyway. While advanced universal remotes are nothing new, in my opinion finding one within a reasonable price range (below $100) is. If you’re willing to invest $80-$100 in a universal remote that will actually replace all of your other remotes, so far I am very pleased with my Logitech Harmony Advanced Universal Remote for Xbox 360.

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Maybe it’s just me, but it seems every other week someone’s releasing a new “SmartPhone” that’s going to “change the way you do business” as a mobile professional. But in my opinion, when you peel back that slick new protective plastic and fire it up…it’s the same old thing. No new killer apps, nothing really new as far as functionality or capability, and more often than not each new “exclusive release” seems to have more bugs than your local landfill on a hot summer day.

How long have they been making “Smartphones” now anyway? Well, to be honest, that I don’t really know. I can tell you this, my first Smartphone was a Kyocera QCP6035 that I picked up in 2000 or early 2001. I can’t remember for sure, as I think I might have killed those brain cells banging my head on my desk while trying resolve the plethera of issues I’ve been having with the latest generation of Smartphones. Either way, I’m pretty sure it was one of the first available, and can remember how giddy I was to be able to toss my cell and my Palm Pilot for one device.

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Who doesn’t love free stuff? Even better, who doesn’t love free stuff that actually works? Here’s my Fab 5 list of Freeware programs, in no particular order. The quotes are from the respective Web site for each program. While I’ve found all of these programs helpful in one way or another, make sure you’ve read and understand my Web site Terms of Use before visiting any of these links.

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Improper cabling is the most common mistake made when setting up home theatre systems. Periodically I’ll get a call or email from a friend or family member who just brought home thier new HDTV, and the picture just doesn’t seem right. More often than not, the obvious difference in picture quality from when you watched it in the store to when you set it up at home is the direct result of improper cabling. So here’s the skinny, short and sweet.

ALWAYS USE COMPONENT VIDEO CONNECTIONS
Component video provides the best quality image, as it seperates the video signal into three channels (red, green, blue), subsequently providing more bandwidth per channel. Audio is carried seperately, usually via stereo RCA connections. For true HDTV you’ll need to use the component connection, and it’s obviously ideal for other video sources as well (such as DVD players/recorders).

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I swung by a national discount department store the other day, and while walking through their electronics department strolled down an entire aisle of cordless phones on display. Interestingly enough I notice this enormous sign above the aisle that read “900 MHz Good - 2.4 GHz Better - 5.8 GHz Best.”

I suppose I really shouldn’t be surprised by blatant lies in marketing messages anymore, but this one got to me for some reason. So I thought I’d poke around on the Web to see what the manufacturers themselves were saying, and to my surprise found that they’re probably the source of this marketing ploy.

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