People are always asking me for the “best” computer. I am not sure there is a “best” one but here are recommendations.
The new machines are all 64-bit processors so pick your
favorite. AND do buy the 64-bit. There are still 32-bit
computers out there and you do not want one. Many new programs
are coming fast that will only operate on a 64-bit processor.
But in the 32-bit world, Just Say NO to any computer with a Celeron
computer should have a real Pentium or an AMD Athlon
processor. If someone slips you a Celeron,
you will regret it for
the rest of your life. If you are buying the computer online, the
salesman will probably not know the difference and tell you that you
are getting a Pentium when you only are buying a Celeron. Intel
All of the major brands offer similar machines with any of the above
I had an entire page describing this catastrophe. Intel wanted
to compete with AMD and others by producing a scaled down
Pentium. The sad part is that the computer cycle times do not
have a consistent meaning and people buying Celerons by comparing cycle
cheated. But this is history now. If you still have
of these, I shall pray for you. With multiple 64-bit processors
competing for market share, bare-boned shells of processors are not in
Windows XP: You need a
minimum of 256 Megabytes of memory. 512M is
better. For most people, more than 512M is a waste of time and
Vista: 2 GB is a starting point. Unless you have the Vista Premium level or better, more than 3 GB is ignored. I have Vista Ultimate and it uses ALL of the 4 GB I have installed. HP delivered the machine with 1 GB. You would not believe how slow Vista is with insufficient memory (An hour to boot up!).
Windows 7: Its base is Vista although it claims to be more XP compatible. Until they give me back a useful "search" command and make products that worked under XP work on their new system, I stay with XP as long as I can and cry when I leave it behind. Microsoft has no motivation to makes things work between releases
I learned many years ago to never, ever write a letter to the editor
of a newspaper. Each time I did so, the editor
rewrote the letter to match his own ideas -- the exact opposite of mine
and that of my letter. When I was the editor of the home owner
association newsletter, I wrote one editorial. The managers
rewrote it to the
exact opposite again, then they published it under my name, and fired
me without bothering to inform me. Their loss except for me
to take the original to the local school to water down the wrath of
the teachers that the association (not me) generated.
So I should not be surprised when I submit a review to an online
merchant that the same editing occurs. I have submitted two
reviews this last year. One was for the Nero Photo Show
Express. The program is is really bad news. It can
hours putting little thumbs.db files all over your computer and doing
nothing useful and it refuses to let you cancel it. It
then embeds itself in various programs to maintain these files.
It pops up at the strangest times wanting to do things for/to
you. I was glad for the opportunity to write about this
pernicious product. My review was accurate, concise, and
precisely described the malevolent behaviors. The following week my review
was followed by a review that should not have been even
permitted. This second was obviously written by someone for the
company wanting to refute my review. The problem was that his
review was so generic that it could have described any product at
all. There was no
description of behavior. There was no description of the product
itself. The words were something someone might use to describe
their lover and not a software product. I was disappointed that
the review page even considered placing this product advertisement in a
But the one that really got my goat was www.buy.com. They sent me a
form to review a product I had bought. The product was a Trendnet
adapter (TEW-429UB) with a locator display. This is by far the
that I have used, and as an internet consultant I have used many of
them. I had had the previous
version of the same adapter and it had had some problems. I
thought the problems might be with my machine. So I bought the
429 -- has the same poor performance. I used it on
another computer -- same problems.
When I wrote www.buy.com my review, I took time to accurately
describe the failures of the product. Again there was a glowing
review in their file. Again it said nothing about the product
performance, again mine was dropped. Up until now, I used
www.buy.com for most of my purchases. Now I will be more
careful. I cannot trust their product reviews as they drop the
reviews they do not like. I will not submit another
review. And I will certainly cannot recommend
others -- I do not like liars.
And again www.buy.com
requested I write a review of a purchased product. AND again they
refused to publish it.
I recommend that the computer come with Microsoft Office
Installed. Oops. The new Vista computers do not come with
any software installed. I presume there are many reasons for
this. Maybe the EU lawsuits have something to do with it.
Maybe people are pissed of at the deceptive 90-day trials. Maybe
they are tired about getting the student edition installed and then
lying when they register the product about in which school they
Now you can buy Office at prices half of the old versions.
Costco and Sam's CLub have several versions. For my needs, the
Small Office version is best. Look at the check boxes. The
latest Home version of Office does not include their mail program,
Outlook. This is OK. You can use any of other free mail
programs. The Firefox suite has a good mail program.
Microsoft software accounts for almost half of the price of many computers. To reduce this cost manufacturers often do one of two things:
The world is moving to blue-laser multi-layer DVDs. Using CDs for anything but music is now obsolete.
DVD players/recorders will read and write CDs. CD player/recorders will not read//write DVDs.
You want Nero Software installed to read/write DVDs. If Nero
is not available, Roxio is an acceptable alternative. If one of
these two is not available, you do not want the computer. The
Roxio built into WIndows is insufficient for most people's needs.
You want to have multi-layer support for writing the DVD's. Be
careful here. I bought an HP laptop. Like many
manufacturers, they go cheap in strange places. The HP came with
Vista Ultimate and 1 gigabyte of RAM. Microsoft advises that the
Ultimate version needs at least 4 GB. The HP took an hour
to power up. With 4 GB the HP powers up in 15
minutes. Sometimes it loops and I have to force reboot it.
After a few months I discovered that although the built-in DVD
player/recorder reads multi-layer DVD's, it only writes single
layer. Now I have an IOMEGA portable DVD recorder that I need to
carry around with me.
Nobody supports floppy disks any more. Do not even try – if the computer has one, the computer model is probably too old and you should look elsewhere.
Blue Ray is here. The toys already have it. I know
nothing about it except in 5 more years, DVDs will become
obsolete. I see no Blu-Ray recorders. WIndows 7 claims to
have more software to protect you from making legal backup copies of
your disks. And you are legally permitted to make backup copies
of anything. The warnings of FBI and Interpol may be
frightening but you do have your rights -- they just want you to be
afraid to exercise them. Probably Republicans.
History. Not worth commenting upon.
Serial, PS/2, and parallel ports are now obsolete. Everything now uses USB. USB comes in 2 versions: 1.x and 2.0. Insist that ALL USB ports are 2.0 and that there are at least 2 of them. 4 are better.
Blue Tooth is replacing USB. The sooner the better I
think. Think of Blue Tooth as your own personal, local
Wi-Fi. It can handle everything from a wireless earpiece for your
cell phone to the mouse or printer on your PC. The USB still has
wires and as such can power and recharge devices whereas Blue Tooth
requires the device to have its own power. The BLue Tooth device
pairs must be programmed to identify each other so there is little
privacy issue. I have noticed on my cell phone that the Blue
Tooth ICON appears when a neighboring car has a Blue Tooth phone -- but
they do not crosstalk since we would both have to put our phones into
'find me' mode at the same time and then stay within 10 meters of each
other while we talked. You will see more of it as the tangled
wire mess behind each PC becomes legacy. I have my 7 USB ports
filled on my PC and have two USB hubs. If I had a BLue Tooth
Mouse and a Blue Tooth Keyboard, That is one hub and two wires fewer.
I really like the new glass screens. Where screens are concerned, I think bigger is better. But remember weight is a concern with laptops and bigger is always heavier.
You want a screen with resolution of at least 1400x1080. This is more than you probably need -- but less than this means that they have gone cheap on you with video drivers.
Examine the latches. Two is preferable to one. Make sure that they are sturdy and unobtrusive. Often there is one and it has a plastic hook. When this breaks, there is no way to keep your computer closed.
If you are going to be very portable, make sure there is room for two batteries. You may never need them both but having two means that you can charge both or at least one while you are using the other. Batteries are expensive separately.
IBM has sold its ThinkPad Computer to someone else but ThinkPad and Panasonic computers advertise that they can be dropped.
I hate touchpads. They are either too sensitive or too slow or too something bad. The reason that you see so many of these hated devices is that they are cheap. The little eraserhead from IBM has a heavy tariff charged by its owner.
If you must get a touchpad, do not get one on a SONY. SONY makes its own devices and their software drivers are below standard.
My SONY has a video driver that makes it crash. SONY has
refused to honor its warrantee on the computer because they claim the
warrantee does not include software – even originally supplied
software. How do I know it is the video driver? I don't --
but when it crashes and the Windows XP error report gets sent to
Microsoft, the Microsoft reply is that the video driver caused the
crash. They refer me to the manufacturer web site. The web
for computer maker and model to download the latest version. For
SONY, they claim that SONY does its own drivers and to go to their
site. SONY does not acknowledge this: no video driver
updates. Additionally, program windows that work just fine on
other PCs only show outlines or other weird behavior on the SONY.
When you select a mouse, try it on for size. These new giant
mice are hard on your hand. I think the owner of Logitech must
have deformed hands as any Logitech device I ever used gave me
cramps. This includes the track balls. But then I average
over 4 hours every day at my computer.
In general I have found Logitech mice unusable. I think
their president musthave deformed hands. But the little laptop
mouse (mine is red) is the same size and shape as the Microsoft laptop
mouse. They come with little USB tabs that once inserted are so
flush to the laptop that they will not break off. On the other
hand you can break your nails attempting to remove them. There is
a slot on the mouse to hold the tab when you are not using it and do
not want it plugged in.
Here I like the Logitech. It actually turns itself off when
not used. I suspect the batteries last forever. The
Microsoft remains on but in a low power mode: you still need to replace
Several suggestions and comments here. The world is going
wireless: buy a Blue Tooth keyboard if you can find one. If not,
buy a USB keyboard. A keyboard that came with your computer is
probably not worth the plastic. If you have a laptop and you like
the keyboard, otherwise buy a new one.
I have found many of the new keyboards to be gigantic. While
everything else is shrinking, mice and keyboards are growing and
growing. I do not have enough desktop for these giant keyboards
-- and they look smaller in the box in the store than in front of you.
Windows keyboards previously had 84 keys, they now have 101 official
keys -- and some are not even real keys. For example, the Windows
Start key is really the Control-Escape combination. The new
keyboards have another row of keys, in excess of the 101, that do
Windows-specific actions. My new Microsoft keyboard has Internet
browser keys and a key to invoke the calculator program. Here is
my problem. WIth all of these keys the keyboards have become
gigantic for no obvious reason other than someplace in the world must
have an overabundance of plastic. But there is a worse problem
than just resource waste.
I know I am a dinosaur. I use words nobody ever heard of and I do
things that nobody remembers. I know this but I really have
difficulty believing that I am extinct. There must be someone out
there who still does programming using text and uses word
processors. For people with lazy fingers such as myself, UNIX
keyboards had 4 keys that I consider essential:
Windows has removed these keys. Gone. The most common
activities of text editing have been relegated to the old UNIX control
key combinations. We still have a set of DOS keys on the WIndows
keyboard. We have a set of keys that I shall never use: Mail,
Search, Back, Forward, etc. But essential keys? Not a
chance. And what is the origin of: control-c, control-x,
control-v, etc.? An old UNIX program editor.
So we know that the Microsoft people once upon a time knew about the
Copy/Cut/Paste/etc. operations: the functions still exist as key
combinations today. Some keyboards even have them marked..
But real keys? No. They are gone forever and replaced by gadget
In the old days when keyboards resembled typewriter keyboards,
common functions were implemented with control-letter
combinations. Every letter had a corresponding control key
action. Many dinosaurs still remember them. But then
dinosaurs needed to know them as they also needed to know much about
their system operation. Today we have total graphics displays and
printouts. I do not even know if printers are still capable of
printing text. These days you can get university computer science
degrees without ever knowing anything at all about a computer, just how
some applications operate.
I do not understand the mentality that replaces common operations with gadgets.
I like the Microsoft ergonomic USB keyboard with the rise in the
middle and a separator between left and right hands. My gripe
with any Microsoft Keyboard are the little tabs on the bottom for elevating the far
side. These will break off with any lateral pressure.
Mostly I live with these keyboards on one leg and something stuffed under the
other end. Other manufacturers seem to have solved this
problem. Other MS keyboards are gigantic.
This one caught me off guard. It is the first non-split
keyboard I have used in years. I bought it as an exchange for an
MS monster. My fingers still get lost on the standard, non-split
Mi layout. But the keyboard is bad: Skip Mi keyboards.
Thirty years ago I wrote hardware driver programs for many different
devices: videos, disk drives, serial ports, and keyboards. The
most difficult were the keyboards because they were what you call HIDs
-- human interface devices. It sounds easy, like a telephone:
push a '9' and get a '9'. It is far more complex than that.
You must deal with multiple key down and key up events occurring in
various combinations -- some desirable, some not. For example, any
key down with the Control key down is probably a good
combination. A key down 'r' followed by a key down 'e' followed
by a key up 'e' and then the 'r' probably wants to be sent as 'er'
although the 'r' went down first. Then you must tell a desired
key down from a key flash -- probably a rollover from one key to
another. But a key down for a longer time may be a request for a
repeated key. Separating flashes from manual repeats can drive
your program into paranoia.
This is the problem with the Mi keyboard. I dealt with these
problems 30 years ago. I thought by now there was nothing more to
learn: I was wrong. My Mi keyboard regularly skips letters
and regularly sends duplicates when I know I have pressed the keys in a
normal manner. I do not type fast -- it is not a matter of
dealing with a professional typist: I still look at the keys I
press. And my high school typing teacher would still give me a
The Mi key pressure is excessive. A manufacturer increases key
pressure for several reasons. One of them is because you want to
reduce flashes by forcing the typist to press the key down harder and
longer. The Mi still misses keys even when I know the key button
hit the bottom of its stroke. A professional typist would balk at
high pressure unless they wanted to seriously strengthen their finger
muscles -- and this is the wrong way to do that.
After 3 months of fighting the Mi keyboard, I bought a $20 Microsoft
keyboard (also at Staples) and discarded the MI keyboard. Life is
too short to let $20 stand in the way getting your work done without
fighting junk products. The new keys work. Repeat
works. It will take a while to get used to the Home/End
keys being in the right place again.
Don't waste your money -- except on a laptop -- then buy the extended
I do not want to make a brand recommendation. But I want to list some things to be aware of.
My current computer is a SONY. I hate it for many reasons. I shall never own a SONY anything ever again. The new computer was returned to the factory twice just to get it to power up. They claim the freezing and crashing that have always been there are not their problems as they fixed their problem.
The sold out to another company. Look for ThinkPad under some other name. They are OK but many are Celerons.
The original IBM PC clone. Now owned by Hewlett Packard and sold as their second line. The primary difference between a Compaq and an HP is the value of the installed software and the HP will have more expensive devices. Personally, I buy the Compaq if it comes with a full version of MS Office. If it has only 90-day copies, I buy the HP.
This is Gateways second line and has the same issues as Compaq. This makes them a good buy if they meet all of your requirements.
These as made to order.
The major problem with Dell is you are buying a pig in a poke.
Tell the salesperson what you want and he tries to match it.
Since he is trying to keep your price low, he is sneaking cheap things
into areas you
do not specify or insist upon. You will get what you ask for but
what you do not ask for may be critical.
Getting service from Dell is impossible. You can spend literally days on the phone listening to music and talking to total incompetents. After this, if you have a problem, you will either send it back for a refund or for repairs. This can take a month or more. To get a refund you must threaten the president with death or a lawsuit.
If the computer has no problems, it will probably be your favorite computer for a long time – unless they stuck you with a Celeron – and they like to do this claiming that the Celeron is just another model of Pentium. If you hear them say this, hang up and go elsewhere.
In general I shop around. If you want to say time and get a good computer, go to Costco or Sam's Club. They do sell computers with trial software and Celeron processors -- so beware.
I like the www.buy.com web
site. If you get there through www.yub.com,
you can save an extra 3%. Buy.com will ship for free and often
does not charge tax. Ignore their product reviews: they drop the
ones they do not like and you only see the 4-stars or better.
Staples relies on repeated sales to keep prices competitive.
For example, you returned ink cartridges get store credits. You
get store credits for various reasons. You may -- just may -- get
a slight discount if you use one of their cards. Bottom line:
their initial prices are too high but they have a generous selection of
products and their employees are slightly above average in the help
department. Slightly. Do not bother with ink at Staples.
Walmart beats their prices and you do even better at Sam's or Costco.
Stores with which I have had bad sales experiences are:
CompUSA: (they prefer Apple)
Fry's: You have heard of plague? Treat Fry's as infected. I may buy junk and known sale things from Fry’s computer but I shall never buy any serious investment from them again. Their return policies sound good but they are not. The quality of merchandise is poor. The sale items are on sale for a reason: there is something wrong with each of them. The ‘wrong’ may be as easy as not having enough memory or ports. It might be something like compatibility to its own devices. Why take the chance? Never buy things from Fry’s unless you recognize the brand, read the specifications well, and are prepared to stand in long Customer Service lines when you want to return it. For example, a friend bought some GQ CDs for recording. They recorded just fine. One week later, the CDs were blank.
You always want quality at a low price. Never go cheap as you will live to regret it. You can tell by handling many things the general quality. In general you will not go wrong at Costco or Sam's Club for supplies and devices.
I have had good luck with Staples but sometimes I think it is really just luck.
My experiences with Best Buy are mixed. The last guy I asked for a Wi-Fi Repeater referred me to two other people and none knew what a repeater was and they had none – but their web page has them.
Data transmission is a series of electric pulses on and off. A
single picture can be 1 million bytes. A byte is 8 data bits with
surrounding control bits. You want to see this picture within a second
or so. This means each bit is one 10 millionth of a second or less.
Today even the best of electronic devices has trouble at this speed.
"Pushing" this number of transitions down a metal wire is a nightmare.
For the old parallel world, there was one such series for each data
pin and a steady signal for each control pin. A data bit is one on and
one off. Data bits can be surrounded by control bits and timed or
random delays. But the bottom line is that you have electric pulses
going up and down a wire. To the higher the speed, the shorter the
pulse and the more of them. As you increase the speed, you decrease
the data width or duration of the bit. The timing becomes more
critical as you need to know the difference between a one signal, a
zero signal, and a space. For the speeds we are talking about, the
bits are becoming radio signal frequencies. This means many problems.
The first is that the cable must be protected from outside noise.
Metal shielding of the data lines becomes necessary. And the metal
shielding itself must not conduct signals. The second is that the line
itself could generate noise. The shielding prevents this. But
shielding is bulky and expensive. You have seen the high speed wires
for HDTV? They are not skinny. They are not cheap. They have the
Then there is the signal loss problem. We are dealing with electric
pulses traveling from one atom to the next in a metal wire. Each atom
introduces a little friction and a little delay. Obviously not much or
we would not be in the data transmission business. It is the reason
that we have gone to light transmissions instead of wire transmissions
for really high speeds. The wire transmission has sort of a ripple
effect. The signal grows weaker on longer lines. With the speeds were
are using, the time the signal travels is critical. A longer line
makes a serious difference. As the signal gets weaker on longer
lines, the signal is more available to corruption by outside sources or
line erosion. You had better believe that the people who are designing
these signal protocols, lines, and devices are what we twenty years ago
called "rocket scientists".
Talk about the good old days. Wow. I have worked on
from 5-bit Baudot code paper tape to 300 BAUD telephone receiver
attachments to all sorts of high speed (?!) modems. Hayes was a
name in modems. The 25-pin connector was reduced to 15 and then
problem was that every line connection and every software/hardware
configuration used a different set of configurable options. You
a Sherpa guide to get anything to work. There were letters from A
to Z with options and sub options. Pluses and minuses and I
forget what else. Impossible.
This is a great invention by Apple. It is a very high speed
serial line connection interface. It has a cord plug
connector that is reversible and can only be plugged in properly.
The 5-sided plug guarantees this. Hooray for Apple. No more
Hayes configurations. No more male-female adapters. No more
25-to-15 pin connectors. All gone. Now we get to the
downside. This is Apple. It is not universal. You
need an Apple computer to use Firewire. I presume license fees
are high. Maybe they need to be. Apple lives in its own
world. The other downside is that the Firewire devices need to be
daisy-chained. Every device has two pugs. One for in and
one for out. The last one in the chain has an empty hole as their
is no "in". Bu t it is fast.
I am not sure the motivation for SATA. It is a serial
interface and the only connectors I have seen are orange and about a
foot long. I have a SATA hard drive inside my desktop. The
motherboard has a couple of plugs for SATA. But the desktop
box is one of the special on-sale boxes. It is too big and
actually has bright lights on the front and side. I am not that
Mexican that I appreciate garishly lighting up my room with my
PC. But then the motherboard that came with this special may also
have a n abnormal configuration. So I cannot tell you much about the
growth of SATA in the hardware world. Personally I think it is a
waste of time and money. We have USB (with its stupid plug
configuration) and Firewire -- that should be enough for serial
The Universal Serial Bus (USB) is an industry response to the Apple
Firewire and the need to replace the RS-232 interfaces. Several companies got together and defined the USB protocol
and hardware. Unlike Firewire, USB uses a network configuration:
The PC USB port supplies power to the line. This is great
except some devices draw all of their power from the line and will
heavily load the port. Most devices only need signal-level power
and are not a problem.
I actually have an Iomega DVD player that draws so much power that the cable with two port plugs. This saves Iomega
from needing to supply a DC adapter with their drive. There is a
hole in the back for an adapter but no such adapter is available from Iomega
with the DVD player. Then you have to tell your PC that the
second plug is not a device so the PC will stop attempting to configure
Just because we have entered the electronic age does not mean that everyone just got smarter.
If you have more devices than ports, you buy a hub. A hub has
4 ports. This means you need one hub for each 3 more devices than
you have ports. You can buy a 7-plug hub but internally this is
just two 4-plug hubs chained internally. Since USB ports are
internally powered by your PC, a large number of devices will overload
the port. This means you need a self-powered hub. I like
first version lasted a couple of years. Not too fast but it works
and eliminated the Hayes modem and gave PC's the same kind of
connectivity that Apple introduced with Firewire.
general compatible to USB 1.0 but much, mush faster. Faster than
Firewire. The industry has entered the mix and match mode of
Again backward compatible at least to version 2.0. Again
faster. The world is moving on. I think, and this is
only conjecture, that 3.0 was created to compete with SATA and to give
others a target out of reach.
<>until the version 2.0 was released. >
USB is now the interface of choice
for many devices. It must be good or it would not be universal.
Commentary: If you examine
the Firewire connectors, you see that the
connector is asymmetric. This means that anyone will look at the
plug and the jack and connect them properly on the first
try. After all, not many people would try to push a square end
into a triangular slot. But the USB people
did a really stupid
thing: the A-end of the cable is indistinguishable from the
A-plug. It is exceedingly difficult to tell which end is up when
trying to connect them. Worse off, it is possible to plug in the
jack inverted. You will only do this once per connector since
this will permanently break either or both pieces. Oh yes.
There is (usually, not always)
insignia printed on one side of the plastic case. You can barely
see this insignia in the daylight let alone in the shadows of the back
of a PC. And the insignia goes "on top" -- if you can determine a
I must repeat
this: the USB plug/jack is the most stupid design error in the
history of computing. I had a customer today who said his printer stopped working. He was
correct. When he had a problem, he had pulled the USB plug and
reinserted it -- upside
down. He has broken both the cable connector and the jack in his
computer. The cable can be replaced. The jack, not so
easily. His computer now has 5 jacks where before it had 6. I
have such a broken jack on the front of my Compaq. The USB 'designers'
after they had discovered their poor design could have at least told
manufacturing to make them unbreakable. If any of you people out
there contributed to this abortion, please die before you do more harm.
The B-Side is a little better but not really better
enough. At least you will only end up frustrated as you rotate
and retry as opposed to breaking anything. Oh. the plug
looks good but when you are sitting in front of your printer and
attempting to insert the jack in a hidden recess in the back, the
little beveled edges are not enough. Take it from me: pull the
printer out and watch what you are doing. The USB "engineers"
were relentless in making your life miserable.
Someone has figured out that if you bevel the plastic piece inside
the A-Side of the cable, you reduce cable breakage. Maybe this will also reduce
computer plug breakage. Maybe the computer plugs will start
coming beveled. Making this internal plastic piece black seems to
be the ultimate in stupidity. Especially with the bevel it is
absolutely impossible to determine which side is up.
Obviously I am not the only one with this opinion of USB but in ANY
will never replace proper engineering and initial product
testing. A USB hint: make the internal plastic piece yellow
make the external marking visible, I also suggest a bright colored
emblem with the top and bottom of the plug different colors so you can
tell top from bottom with your hand hidden to the side or in back of
The B-Plug has evolved into smaller and smaller plugs. The
best of these is the connector that you see on the side of Motorola
(and other) cell phones. It has a more obvious direction but you
still need to be close enough to see what you are doing. The
super-micro USB connectors like in my camera are small enough that you
gently try both directions and see which one works.
I had really thought that the "U" in USB meant universal. That
is the intent. So when I needed a couple of new USB hubs, I just
ordered the cheapest self-powered 7-port hubs I could find. This
was the Sabrent brand at Walmart. They had another brand at the
same price but I just ordered the first on on the list. The
Sabrent is the first USB hub that I have found that is defective in
design. I tried both of my new hubs with the same results.
Some USB devices did not power up at all. Some devices came and
went. I shall make another trip to Walmart to return this
junk. I plugged in my old hubs and they worked just fine.
At least the Sabrent did not damage my PC.
I think I have bought from every Wi-Fi vendor out there. In
general, you can not go wrong with Cisco/Linksys.
Pedestrian division of Cisco. Pricey but reliable.
Cisco knockoffs. I mean even the software looks like Cisco.
Same colors even. Same problem as with most knockoffs: Unreliable
hardware and software routers and adapters both.
These guys make my blood boil. They offer a lot of rebates
(mostly through www.buy.com). Most of these get me a reply
stating why I got no rebate. Usually they say I submitted too
late. Their reply comes two months after I submitted the rebate
-- and I did submit it on time.
Their products remind you of the "Does not play well with other
children" comments from kindergarten. You will not mix modes with
Their Repeaters are worse than useless: when the repeater hangs up,
as they do frequently, they take the entire router with them.
The routers are hit and miss. I sort of like them.
Always download the latest firmware. I found the cheaper ones
work better than the more expensive ones.
The USB hubs are disasters. 4 or 7 port. Generics are
much better. The DLink hubs look nice and are hefty so that
you think you are getting something good. Every DLink hub I have
bought causes the same processor hang-up. This means that
periodically, like once every couple of hours, I need to hard reboot
the system (hold the power switch until it powers down). And they
refused my $10 rebate. Shoot -- you can buy a generic for
$15. I suspect internally the 7 port is just two 4 port
chips piggy backed. Twice the fun, twice the problem.
I like www.yub.com, www.buy.com (Their reviews are lies), and www.pricegrabber.com.
There are many others. Shop around. I also use Google a lot to find specialty items.
I hope all of this helps.