Friday, June 24, 2016

Best Buy Review - Experience Purchasing a New Computer

I recently purchased a new computer from Best Buy after visiting several different stores as well as doing much research online. I usually post reviews like this on Yelp, but since this experience covered several different stores and several elements of the shopping experience, I figured I would post about it here.

I started going into the first store without knowing too much about the tech specs and details of the most recent computers. I consider myself pretty tech savvy but it had been a while since I studied up on the latest processors and such so I was in need of some help. At the first store I was greeted by one of the sales staff in the computer department. I gave him an idea of what I was looking for and he was very helpful in recommending a few different models and explaining all about each one. He did a great job and did not try to pressure me into buying anything before I was ready.

I did some more research and a few days later I decided to check out another Best Buy to see if they had a different selection in stock. This one was a little different but had pretty much the same selection. Interestingly at this one I was not approached to see if I needed help. I walked around the computer department and tested out a few different models but during the time, no one came up to see if I needed help. I didn't mind, but it would have been nice in case I did have a question.

I went back home and continued to do more research. Finally I decided on a computer and found it in stock at a 3rd location. I went there and was helped by one of the sales staff. I told him which computer I was looking for and he was able to help me get it quickly. I was also able to get a price match for a lower price found online at one of the competitors. Overall the buying process was pretty easy and I was able to check out without any issues.

After trying out the computer and monitor for about a week, I decided the monitor was too big and I would need to make a return to get a smaller monitor. I wanted to order the 2nd monitor first to compare them and make sure the smaller monitor would work better. For this one, I purchased online and did a store pick up. This process was surprisingly easy and the monitor was ready to pick up earlier than expected.

After trying the new monitor, it worked great so I decided to return the original monitor. I repacked it carefully in the original box and took it back for the return. Again the process was fast and painless. The customer service was very friendly and there were no issues.

About a week into using the new computer, I noticed the price of the monitor dropped $20 on the website. Since they had a price match guarantee during this time, I gave them a call to see if they would give a credit for the difference. They were very friendly again and were able to give the refund of $20 back to my account!

Overall I was very impressed with the entire process from in store research to online purchasing, to returns and even a price match. I even got some rewards credits for making the purchase so I will be able to go back again soon to use the credits on something else! If you are in the market for a new computer or any kind of electronics, I highly recommend checking out Best Buy based on this experience.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

What to do about guns and gun violence in the US

I usually do not write about the big issues or controversial topics like gun control, but after recent events I decided it was time to discuss this issue. The amount of gun violence leading to injury and death in the US is getting out of hand. It seems every time you put on the news, the top story is about someone who was shot or about some shooting that has taken place. It happens so often, we don't even think twice about it unless it is someone we know or some place near by.

Personally I do not own any guns nor do I have any intention to purchase a gun. I know there are a lot of people who are in support of having guns and many who are against it. Maybe it is the environment I live in which is suburban but in my opinion, guns are way too dangerous for people to be owning and carrying around and most of the time lead to unnecessary violence and tragedy.

One argument those in support of guns might make, is that it is our right as Americans to bear arms. This policy was put into place about 225 years ago when the United States was a very different place. Things have changed tremendously since then. Our population alone has grown dramatically from about 4,000,000 at that time to over 323,000,000 in 2016. We are now a modernized civilized society and there is no reason for everyday people to be owning or using guns in these times.

Another argument is that people should have guns for self defense. It is a good argument but according to the statistics of last year, only about 3% of gun related injuries and deaths were because of self defense. This is a very small percentage and not enough to support this reasoning.

My first proposed solution was that all guns be recalled by the government and that citizens be offered a fair market value for their guns. The problem I found with this is that there are too many guns out there (estimated over 300,000,000) so it would be much too expensive to reimburse something like this. Maybe something like a tax credit could be offered instead of a reimbursement, but it would still cost the US a lot of money to do this.

I think the solution has to be more of a social change within the citizens of the country to make the effort to either get rid of their guns or use them more responsibly. There is not much that can be done about the guns that are already out there, but changes can be made to restrict the future purchases of guns so they do not end up in the wrong hands. This as well as education on gun safety may be the way to start making a change on this issue.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Strawberry Cheerios Review

While shopping recently I saw a special stand that had a new flavor of Cheerios. It was a strawberry flavor which looked interesting but I decided to hold off on buying it. It was still on my mind later that week when I was at a couple other stores but they did not have this flavor in stock. Luckily the next week I returned to the original store and they still had them available so I picked up a box.

Turns out they are a limited edition flavor that is only expected to be available during Spring and Summer. So I got them home and tried them out. Overall they have a familiar and sweet flavor. I found them to be pretty good especially if you like the original Cheerios but are looking for something with a more sweet flavor. Nutrition wise, they do have corn syrup added which may be giving most of this sweetness but it also has strawberry puree for flavor.

I wouldn't rush back to buy them again, but if they were on sale for a good deal, I would probably get another box if I was looking for a sweet cereal to add to the lineup. Definitely worth a try if you are a fan of Cheerios!

Friday, June 10, 2016

Using Reusable Bags vs Plastic Bags

For years, when I would go to the grocery store, I would always get the usual plastic bags at checkout. I knew the reusable bags were better for the environment, but I tend to find good use for the plastic bags so I like to get them. Also I recycle the plastic bags at the store when I collect too many.

Recently I started to take an interest in reusable bags. I saw they had some available at the store so I decided to try them out. They cost about $1 each but they are durable and it makes it easier to carry groceries. They can hold a lot more compared to the usual plastic bags.

Also a big plus, I found that stores automatically give you a discount when you bring the reusable bags. I didn't even know this until I checked the receipt after shopping at a few stores and saw the discount of $.10 for using reusable bags. It is not much, but for someone who goes shopping several times a week, this can add up over time!

It is a little bit of an adjustment to remember to bring the reusable bags with you to the store, but I figure this is something that will develop a habit pretty quick. I have only been using these new bags for a short time but already I like them better than plastic. Even walking out of a store, it makes you feel kind of special when you have your own bags instead of the regular plastic bags.

If I am ever running low on plastic bags, I might check out with the plastic bag option once in a while, but for now, I will be using the reusable bags! I recommend trying it out especially considering they give you a discount!

Monday, June 6, 2016

ViewSonic VX2270SMH LED IPS Monitor Review

Recently I was looking for a new computer monitor to go with my Lenovo H50 desktop. Originally I wanted a monitor that would be big enough for dual screen without having to use a 2nd monitor. After comparing many different monitors in store, I first decided on a 27inch AOC. The AOC was huge, but the problem was the resolution was still 1920 X 1080. This is full HD resolution but spread out over 27 inches it really just makes everything bigger and does not actually give you more room. I found it was too large for single screen and too small for dual screen so I ended up returning the AOC.

While searching for a replacement, I decided I would go with the same resolution but with a smaller monitor. The ViewSonic VX2270SMH caught my eye. It is a 22inch (21.5 viewable) IPS monitor with built in speakers. I really liked the design of this monitor and the fact that it was HDMI compatible and even came with the HDMI cable included. It can also be hooked up by the included VGA cable or by DVI connection.

I was not able to find any local stores that had it in stock so I took a chance and ordered it online without having seen it in person. As soon as it arrived, I was excited! Upon opening it, I could already tell I loved it even before turning it on. Attaching the base was very easy and does not require any tools. It has a sturdy base and a tilt feature that makes it easy to adjust the angle. 

I hooked it up to my computer with the HDMI cable and turned it on. As soon as the background image came up, all I could say was “Wow!” It looked so clear and realistic. Compared to the 27in AOC, the ViewSonic picture seemed a lot more crisp and had a better color balance. Video playback was smooth and clear as well.

I tried out the built in image adjustments and made a few tweaks to the brightness but overall the picture looked great right from the start. The adjustment buttons are on the base of the monitor and are touch sensitive. They can be kind of hard to reach because they are down low so you kind of have to duck down to see them.

The sound did not work right away, but I installed the drivers that came with and selected the right audio output and then they were good to go. The sound is pretty good for monitor speakers. It has SRS software which helps optimize the sound for best performance. It also has audio in out ports to plug in headphones or speakers. I tested it with headphones and found there to be a little white noise present, so I ended up plugging the headphone directly to the computer for best sound quality.

So far I have been using the monitor for a couple weeks now and have been very pleased with it. It is stable, has a great picture, and has an attractive design. I would definitely recommend it if you are looking for a full HD IPS monitor that does not take up too much room and has built in speakers and is HDMI compatible.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Lenovo H50 - 90BG003JUS Desktop Computer Review

I recently purchased a new desktop to replace an older laptop that was beginning to have some issues. I was looking for a good mid-range desktop for work and everyday tasks like web browsing and word processing. In the past I have had Dell and HP computers but this time I decided to try a new brand. After doing a lot of research, I ended up going with the Lenovo H50. It is available at stores like Amazon, Best Buy, and Newegg.

The H50 has an AMD A10 processor, 12GB of RAM, and a 2TB hard drive. It comes with a keyboard and mouse, but monitor must be purchased separately. Unpacking and setting up the computer was pretty straight forward. It does come with extra pre-installed apps and programs that you may not need. I spent some time going through the programs to get rid of unnecessary things and also went through the settings to help speed up the performance.

After getting used to it and working with it for a few weeks, overall it has been pretty good. It is not the fastest computer out there but it gets the job done and so far I have not run into any significant issues.

It comes with Windows 10 which did take a little time to learn coming from Windows 7 but overall it is not too much of a change. I actually find Windows 10 to work surprisingly well. For example when you plug things in, they just work right away without having to install drivers or anything like that. It does seem to be pushing the whole “apps” thing which I am not a fan of, but I can see they are trying to gear it towards the tablets and phones with the touch screen. I use it with a regular screen and it still works well.

The keyboard and mouse that come with it are just average. I do a lot of typing and found the keyboard was difficult to type on, so I ended up replacing it with the Apple keyboard. I may upgrade the mouse also but for now it is working ok.

It is still early to weigh in on the long term performance, but so far I have been happy with the computer. If you are looking for a solid desktop computer that is good for work and everyday tasks, I recommend the Lenovo H50.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

How to Use an Apple Keyboard on PC

I recently picked up a new desktop computer to replace an old laptop and while the computer itself it good, the keyboard it came with was very cheap and not easy to type on. Since I do a lot of typing, it is important to have a good keyboard that is easy to use. I tried out a few keyboards in store which were ok, but then I remembered how much I liked the Apple keyboard I had used at work in the past.

I knew that keyboards for Mac have different buttons so I was not sure if it would work. After doing some research, it turns out that Apple keyboards will work with a PC computers but some of the buttons may not function correctly. I decided to give it a try anyway. The new Apple USB keyboards sell for about $50 but I was able to get one in like new condition on ebay for about $30.

When the keyboard arrived, I plugged it into my computer with Windows 10. Surprisingly, it worked right away! All the basic keys like letters, numbers, and common keys worked without having to do anything. Even combinations like CTRL+C and CTRL+V for copy and paste worked which is something I use often so I was glad it still worked with the Apple keyboard.

Next I tested out some of the specialty keys. Many of the function keys work differently on a PC. For example, the media keys like volume up and volume down did not work. Also certain keys will perform different operations for example the Command key will work like the Windows key and the Clear key will work like the Number Lock key. For these specialty style keys, it takes a little trial and error to figure out what does what.

Ok, so how do we fix the specialty keys like the volume buttons? I did a little research and found a free program called SharpKeys. It lets you choose any key on the keyboard and program it to a specific letter or function. So for example, you can choose any of the extra keys that never get used and assign a task or another key to them. I used this to add the volume buttons, print screen, button and even one to launch the calculator.

SharpKeys is very easy to use and works remarkably well! The layout is simple and it is easy to remap the keys on the keyboard. It is so useful, I wonder how something like this is not a standard feature on Windows computers? It will even let you disable select keys, so if you find yourself accidentally hitting a certain key over and over, you can disable it so it won't happen again.

So overall it is very easy to use an Apple keyboard on a PC. In most cases, it will work with the basic keys as soon as you plug it in, and for the extra keys, they can be programmed very easily using the SharpKeys program. Hope this helps! Happy typing!