Rich Warren: Some questions and answers

Rich Warren: Some questions and answers

Questions. We have questions:

"We have a lot of VHS tapes (like the Johnny Carson's The Tonight Show). Is there any way to copy these tapes onto a DVD? They don't make a VCR any more that plays them. I have one now but when it goes south we can't watch them any more."

You have two options. One is inexpensive but requires some learning and dedication on your part. The other is easy as can be but can be expensive.

"You can purchase an inexpensive video capture card for your PC or Mac that will convert the analog output from your VCR to digital files that can be burned to a DVD. Most computers include software to do this, and it's likely the video capture card also would come with similar software.

Or you can simply bring a stack of tapes to DVD Memories Preserved, 701 Devonshire Drive, C (800-798-2383;

I have not done business with this company and cannot verify the quality of its work. You also can use a search engine to find similar operations on the Internet. Except with those you have to mail away your precious tapes and while many of the companies that remotely transfer VHS to DVD are reputable, you never know what can happen in the mail.

"We have Comcast TV, the minimal/cheapest service. I have a couple of questions.

"1. Why does Create TV sometimes have no sound, especially in the mornings? The picture is present. I left a phone message at WILL but no one replied.

"2. We used to get WGN news at 9 p.m. on WGN Channel 18, but this has been replaced by "America's Funniest Videos." Is this Comcast programming? I liked your comment about Comcast either increasing fees or dropping service. Last year, Channel 17 was dropped, and recently Channel 19 disappeared. Is Channel 18 next?"

As to your first question about Create TV, it would behoove WILL to respond to your query. My guess is sloppy engineering at the station, but it also could be problems at the Comcast end. Generally, stations don't pay much attention to their secondary and tertiary digital channels, so technical gremlins can sneak in without being caught.

As to your second question, most likely this is a Comcast decision. Check with WGN that it still broadcasts its 9 p.m. newscast in Chicago, which it most likely does. Comcast alters its channel lineup depending upon channel costs and viewership. If WGN demands too much money for retransmission, Comcast could substitute the Algae Channel or Desert Tortoise Racing.

"I run a 3-D-based design software for home design. We also design additions, baths and kitchens. Is it possible to use a 60-inch 1080p TV as a monitor? I can see the benefit of looking at and talking with a client while working at my desktop monitor with the client looking over my shoulder at a 60 TV (monitor) watching the design process. Will the lines of resolution for the 1080p be sufficient to provide a quality image?"

An HDTV works as a monitor and will provide a sufficient overview for your clients, but will be inadequate for fine detail. While 1080p works superbly for video, it's not ideal for other computer tasks.

If you want to use a 60-inch monitor to impress clients, then buy one of the new 4K Ultra-High Definition TVs with a computer video card supporting that resolution. This combination should be ideal for dazzling clients with 3-D views of their home design and remodeling.

The prices of 4K TVs already are rapidly falling. If you use it for business, it's most likely tax deductible. You might sneak into the office to watch the occasional movie. Several companies now market 4K 30-inch desktop computer monitors at a much more affordable price than the 60-inch 4K TVs. With a 30-inch monitor, your clients won't have to look over your shoulder.

Rich Warren, who lives in the Champaign area, is a longtime reviewer of consumer electronics. He can be emailed at

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Kathy Reiser wrote on February 27, 2014 at 1:02 pm

About the 9:00 news on WGN America ... that was a decision made at WGN. Find details on Robert Feder's blog.

The good news - if you have reliable Internet service - is that all of WGN's newscasts are now streamed live. I seem to get a lot of "buffering...buffering..." interruptions during the 9pm 'cast, though.