The Real Deal 170: Road test

Brian and Tom take live calls during the recording of The Real Deal as well discuss their road testing of TVs, phones and monitors.

Tom Merritt Former CNET executive editor
7 min read

Brian and Tom take live calls during the recording of The Real Deal as well discuss their road testing of TVs, phones and monitors.

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BlackBerry Bold
Vizio 37-inch brown TV (http://www.sears.com/shc/s/p_10153_12605_05771558000P?mv=rr)
Netgear WGPS606 wireless print server/4-port switch (http://www.netgear.com/Products/PrintServers/WirelessPrintServers/WGPS606.aspx)

Second monitor with laptop at home – need wide-screen these days. A must!
Nvidia 3D Vision glasses – they are three-dimensional
Hard drive format incompatibilities drive me nuts!


Hi fellas,
I’m emailing to tell you about a gadget I’ve been living
with.it’s my iPod touch.I actually got it free.before this I was using
a zen vision m that is now my wifes.
Anyway at first I wasn’t thrilled with
my iPod touch because of iTunes.I hated at first I’m a windows user
and it just didn’t look right and all the lingo they use is so apple
centric.I thought the device itself was excellent it was so easy to
use but I still don’t think that the sound quality the best.The device
didn’t come into it’s own until I bought a 3 g router.my hsdpa modem
is the only Internet I have and it was tethered to one machine so I
didn’t have wifi. I turned on the wifi and the iPod doubled in
usefulness. I now do everything on it, facebook, Twitter, email,
download podcasts etc. My poor netbook has become obsolete. Recently I
have jailbroken it and I now run emulators and allsorts.I would
recommend this to anyone. The only problem now is that I want an iPhone
Keep up the great show
Keiran from Ireland



For the road test episode, I just thought I’d give you a contrary view of Windows 7. I installed it on a custom box and I’m having nothing but problems with the drivers. My Linksys wireless adapter needed a special patch and my SoundBlaster sound card def. doesn’t work. When I try to apply the windows driver, it crashes the computer and I have to roll back the update. Right now, the onboard sound isn’t working either. This is my 2nd install of the 64 bit version. I had to reinstall because updates were taking over 2 days to install. I also had issues with iTunes (The 64 bit version over-writes my 32 bit XP iTunes library and even in compatibility mode, it doesn’t work). I’m still tweaking it, but I don’t think I’ll be upgrading when the final version comes out.

Mike the Lobbyist


I must tell you, having a show with just answering questions isn’t
bad. Your audience asks the most interesting questions. Anyhow you
said the next show is going to be a road test so I thought I'd share
my experience with my relatively new Unibody MacBook (it’s now called
a MacBook Pro). I've had it for almost 5 weeks.

Ever since I bought this thing and I have been using it as my primary
PC. It is so much better than a windows pc (I have been using a
windows pc since windows 95, exclusively). The memory management is so
much better (so you can run much more apps simultaneously), it looks
nicer (I know windows 7 is gorgeous, but leopard is beautiful and now
I’m excited about the new OS scratchy cat I think it’s called), and
best of all DASHBOARD. How do windows people live without dashboard?
Ok so I'm a person that usually has at least 5 windows open, with
windows I would just hover over each item in the taskbar to find the
one I'm looking for. But in leopard I just go to the top left corner
of the screen (I configured it that way) and it shows me all my
windows in a heap. I LOVE THAT (plus with all the better memory
management I can even open more windows).
I go to tell ya with the 4 GB ddr3 ram on this Mac, it feels like I
have a windows pc with 8 GB of ram.

Anyways I'm a long time listener of the show, actually since the
beginning. I’m actually a long time listener of BOL.

Firas (the economist) AlThibani from Riyadh







VGA to S-Video cable



Hi Tim and Rafe-

I’ve been listening to the podcast for a while and have found it very helpful.

I hope you can give me a bit of advice on how to deal with my older laptop. It’s a 4 year old Dell Inspiron running XP Pro. The memory has been maxed since I bought it.

Outside of making sure to install updates, checking for viruses/malware, and semi-regular backups, I really haven’t done much upkeep on this machine. Lately it has significantly slowed down and gotten a little glitchy (freezing up, some minor hardware issues).

In a few weeks, I have to use this computer to take the bar exam using a special software that I’ve already installed on the machine. The exam rules don’t allow me to reinstall the software.

My thinking is that I should have reinstalled windows before I installed the exam software, but that horse has left the barn. What should I do to try to make the computer as stable as possible for the exam?

Thanks for any suggestions,

Jerry Rahll
Alexandria, VA

A: First off, back that sucker up. Now. Second, Uninstall everything you don’t need. Next, run a registry cleaner like CCleaner. Finally, run a defrag. Also make sure you have current antivirus an antispyware running too. Another place to look is at what all is starting up with the computer. The fewer things that start up automatically the more memory you’ll have to work with.


Hello Tom and Brian,

I am a recent grad and a friend gave me a new laptop (Dell Vostro 1520) w/ Vista Business on it during July 4th weekend. I don’t know if the order was placed before or after June 26th. Does it matter when the order was placed, or when the unit was received by the gift-giver, or when the unit was received by me – the recipient?

So, I don’t know if I can upgrade to Windows 7 since this was a gift _ I don’t have a purchase slip or other documentation.

Or, for that matter, if I can downgrade to XP?

Thanks mucho,

ANSWER: First, the good news: “available for eligible PCs purchased between June 26, 2009, and January 31, 2010″ Now the bad: The Vostro line isn’t listed as eligible. See: https://win7.dell.com/


Hey guys, I am a student filmmaker and was wondering if you had any ideas as to which camera I should get. Say around $1,000? And i would like it to have an internal hard drive.


ANSWER: Gotta like the Canon Vixia HG20 for $600 – $900 “The Bottom Line: Like its cousin, the flash-based HF11, Canon’s Vixia HG20 delivers excellent HD video quality and performance albeit in a slightly larger, heavier package. However, you do get more storage space and a lower price.”

Also consider the Sony Sony Handycam HDR-XR520V (As low as $959.) Reviewed on 07/02/2009

The Bottom Line: Though their geotagging capabilities are mostly novelty and their interfaces could use a complete overhaul, the top-notch video quality, performance, and consumer-friendly feature sets of the Sony Handycam HDR-XR500V and HDR-XR520V make them worthy camcorder options. Both are overpriced, but since 14 hours of recording time is plenty–especially if supplemented with flash media–the HDR-XR500V is the better deal of the two.



Hi Tom, Rafe and Brian,

You said to just get a plug adapter and not worry about voltages when
traveling abroad. You’re right that nearly all modern power supplies
can take the voltages in use around the world, but you REALLY want to
check and make sure. The supported voltages are always printed on the
power supply so it’s no trouble.

In Europe we used to have 220 volts and 240 in Britain and Ireland.
But some years ago, we split the difference and now it’s officially
230 volts. The amount of variation allowed was tightened so it never
gets to high for 220 volt equipment or too low for 240 volt equipment.

Also see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mains_power_systems

For Apple users, as an alternative for the expensive travel kit: take
one or two spare plugs for your power adapter with you when you travel
(if you have them) and trade with the locals.



I work at TSA at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport. Some tips I want to share
is if you plan to take your laptop/s, please place some stickers or
tape your business card on your laptop. Few times a week I witness
passengers getting their laptops mixed. They weren’t sure who owns
what because they looked alike. Regarding laptop friendly bags, each
TSA screener has the right to search property coming through the x-ray
tunnel, even laptop friendly bags. Lastly laptop friendly bags does
not mean game console friendly bags. Game consoles are constructed
differently than laptops. PS3 and 360 are super thick and the x-ray
has difficultly penetrating the metal struts. Laptops on the other
hand I can see all your hardware components.

Love the show.
You guys rock.


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