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Real Deal 171: All-questions, phones, Google Chrome, and more

Tom and Brian take live calls and answer email questions about cell phone plans, wireless reception and Google Chrome issues.

Tom Merritt Former CNET executive editor
9 min read

Tom and Brian take live calls and answer e-mail questions about cell phone plans, wireless reception, and Google Chrome issues.

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E-mail questions

Given that Windoze 7 & new video processors are due in the fall, is it worth
waiting to buy a netbook? I’d like to check e-mail; surf the web; watch
various podcasts like Read Deal, BOL, 404, etc; & listen to various
webstreams that run from 128 to 384 kbps. (sometimes at the same time)
Orginally, I had planned to buy one for a summer road trip, but am not sure
given the upcoming changes to netbooks.

Aloha and Mahalo,

Eric N

ANSWER: No reason to wait, just make sure the netbook you buy qualifies for a free Windows 7 upgrade.


Dear Tom and Rafe,

My question might get a good topic for a whole show but here is my question:

Can you discuss the pluses and minuses of the various wifi equiped cell phones that are out there that can be used without the data plans the teleco companies try and get you to sign up for? I’m hoping to find a cell phone that works on AT&T that allows me to turn off the data plan on the phone (and account) and use the wifi features of the phone when I’m near a hot spot. I’m hoping that by disabling the 3G medianet data plan features of the phone it won’t interfer too much with the rest of the phone’s functionality. Can you recomend a good phone and/or web site the explains how to do this? Thanks, great show.


ANSWER: Brian can do it on the BlackBerry. It’s easy to do on the iPhone. But the best way is to buy the iPhone used. Tom explains how he’s done this twice with old 3G iPhones.


Hey Tom and Rafe,

I’m looking at buying a microSD card for my new HTC phone, and I just can’t decide which brand to trust.

There are Kingston, A-Data, SanDisk, Transcend, and a million other memory brands, and user reviews are generally varied.

Also, the new SDHC cards have class ratings on them (2, 4, and 6), and I know that 6 is supposed to be the fastest, but are they the most reliable as well? Also, how do manufacturers decide on the class ratings? Wouldn’t it be easier to make all of them at 6?

If you could answer these questions in your next Real Deal episode, I would appreciate it very much.



ANSWER: The SD card classes represent the minimum number of megabytes per second write speed based on the best fragmented state where no memory unit is occupied. They don’t make them all 6 because it’s more expensive. You pay more for the higher speeds. Just like with magnetic hard drives. Differences in manufacturing are almost nill these days. Just make sure the device you have can use the size of the card.


So a friend recently went abroad and in her iPhone cost investigations
discovered that Text service was considered neither Data nor Phone
service. Can you explain this? This seems to be true on many carriers.

BTW she was told it was a good idea to pay the international fee for 2
months to cover any lag on Data usage. She was pleased with the ATnT
and Orange service. She also said WiFi was everywhere. Bonus tip for
anyone traveling to London.

Sheala, ga

ANSWER: Text messages go over the voice network not the data network, but they’re handled separately from voice calls. Tom can also explain why you *might* want to leave the International roaming on longer.


I’m having a problem with Firefox 3.5 on my HP laptop (big shout out to
the tx1000!).
It occasionally drops out on start-up and complains that it cannot
restore my tabs.
To be perfectly honest: I don’t care about tab-restoration.
I would prefer it to simply bring me to my homepage every time.
And this leads me to a problem I have had with firefox from day 1:
When you first install FF it asks you if you want to restore tabs or
start a new session every time.
Unfortunately once you make a choice on that box it becomes seemingly
impossible to change to the other option.

So, how do I?

P.S. Please don’t read this email out, it is painfully long-winded and

ANSWER: In Mac. Firefox>Preferences and then under Startup you have a dropdown. In Windows Tools> Options and then under Startup you have a dropdown.


This may be a very dim-witted question compare to other questions you answer. I would really like to know about a head set that can be used in noisy environment. I make lot of phone calls and often times the surroundings have lot of background noise, such as airport, café, etc. Secondly, on same line what are your thoughts on wired headset vs. Bluetooth. Please advice if you had a minute.

Kind regards,


San Jose, CA

ANSWER: http://reviews.cnet.com/cell-phones/plantronics-voyager-pro/4505-13831_7-33628984.html Works great in wind according to Nicole Lee.
Don’t know if you want to mention it on Real Deal, but I’m currently
reviewing the Motorola Endeavor HX1, which I think is one of the first
genuine bone conduction headsets to be released here (The Jawbone is not
actually a bone conduction headset). Bone conduction promises to
translate the actual vibration of the jaw into speech without the use of
microphones, and therefore eliminating noise. Still in testing stage,
but FYI.

In a factory situation, go http://www.clearcom.com/


hey guy,

Gabriel here also known as “HONEST-GABE” in the chat,
I had a Question specifically for Brain C. seeing as he’s on the the show today.
So I’m about to finish school and my dad is going to buy me a car, and is *cough* on the financial upside, and is willing to go the extra mile.
So here’s the Question should I get a 2009 Mustang GT coupe or a 2009 Camaro V8 1SS ???
All help is appreciated.
Love the show ,Gabriel

ANSWER: Cooley say Ford Mustang until he tests Camaro.


Hey Tom,

I’ve always wanted to watch your shows on a bigger screen, my t.v.. I have an ipod which I have subscribed your videos to and was wondering how would I view it on my t.v. ( yet still keeping a halfway decent resolution)? Or should I just spend the five dollars to get opera on my wii to which I could just stream the videos off your website?

Thanks for your time

ANSWER: An apple iPod A/V cable will cost around 3 or 4 bucks. http://www.amazon.com/Apple-Generation-Photo-Classic-iPhone/dp/B001202514/ref=dp_cp_ob_e_title_0 But at that point the $5 for Opera might sound better.


Hey Tom & Brian,
I was quite happy to hear you guys having a second questions episode because I have a burning question.

Living up here in Canada, it’s not often that we get decent phones, and I honestly have no experience with smartphones, but it is time for me to jump onto the bandwagon. That being said I’m planning on buying the HTC Dream fairly soon. My question is, should I grow tired (and I know I eventually will…) of my HTC Dream, when the HTC Hero finally makes it’s way over here, would I be able to just swap out the SIM cards?

The reason I’m concerned is signing up on that painfully long contract will be even more … painful if I’m unable to swap… stupid Rogers and their three year contracts!

Hope for some insightful advice

Keep up the great work, and I love these question episodes to help fill the void that Cnet Live left in our hearts!

Tyler from Canada

ANSWER: Should work fine, but don’t forget you won’t get the subsidized price on the Hero.



Hey fellas,

on Ep 170…

So, you didn’t mention to go to “run” to type this in…and easier still…right click the computer icon on the desktop (90+% of people will have it there, but you can also do it in a file explorer window) and click on “manage” and you get the same window. Probably a lot easier for most people. And you don’t have to goto that run command-line-ish interface…

Erick, the…ummm…Product Engineer, ya, that’s it


Hey Tom-

Have you tries to use a Mac Utility like Wraparound to help with your
dual monitor on the laptop? Don’t know if it will help but you never

Sheala, ga


Hey, Tom,

With regard to episode 170 and your different sized screens, you might take a look at a small program called DisplayFusion, which does all kinds of cool things if you have multiple monitors, but I use it for one thing. When I hit Ctrl-Win-X, the active window jumps from one screen to the other. This is genius – no more dragging! But what might help you is Ctrl-Win-Z, which moves the window and sizes it proportionally. There are several other choices of hot keys that might work even better for you. And, the program seems to be very lightweight, and for me at least, trouble-free.

Love the show! Lynn from San Clemente



I got a Chumby as a “payment/birthday present” for a free job I did a few years ago… and i was really excited and played around with it for a few weeks, taking it with me traveling as an alarm clock/music player. But then it got support for pandora…. and well… it’s spent the rest of it’s life in my bathroom as my shower jam generator. Wish Pandora made a hardware player that was cheap so I could use my Chumby for some of it’s more noble purposes. That being said, i hadn’t visited the site in a long time and when I did, well.. it was about where I had left it… lots of goofy apps, rss apps, and generally useless stuff.



Hey Tom & Rafe

Thought i’d put in a note for your forthcoming Road Test Episode.

The second thing is kind of a joke-ish entry, but still valid. Its my Gateway 2000 desktop computer from a decade ago. It was the first computer i ever used, with windows 98 SE, 533Mhz Pentium 3, 128MB Ram, 10GB hard Drive space, DVD reader & CD writer (!) drives, a 17 inch CRT monitor, and one of the old style clickey keyboards. Its served well, and surprisingly, still works, i would have thought something would have gone wrong or the hard drive would have died by now, but it soldiers on, it has done what I (and then my parents) needed it to do for the last 10 years, and is only just being retired as my mom moves on to a new Dell Tower. Its a funny thought that my new iPhone out-specs this computer in every way, and helps me remember what tech was like not so long ago, what dial up was like, and how to appreciate what we have now.

Love The show, keep up the great work!


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Next time: Rafe’s back! Computer repair topic