Rich Warren: On Samsung, Windows 8, more
Choose your cliche: Don't bite the hand that feeds you, or don't shoot yourself in the foot.
As a result of the recent litigation between Apple and Samsung, Apple plans to drop Samsung as a supplier for its LCD screens. LG and Sharp already supply Apple with LCDs, and Taiwanese companies are begging for its business. However, Samsung leads its competition in developing and deploying new LCD technologies, producing them in quantity and in quality control.
All of these are very important to Apple. If someone gave me a large-screen LG or Sharp TV, I'd be delighted and happy to keep it. But if I'm going out to buy a new large-screen TV with my own money, I'd choose a Samsung.
Meanwhile, on Oct. 25, LG introduced its new Ultra HD TV, the 84-inch LM9600 4K LED-illuminated display. This is the same definition you would see at a movie theater. It will set you back $17,000 with no discounts, and it's unavailable on the Internet.
You could buy/rent a lot of movies and TV series for that $17,000, not to mention there are no consumer sources for Ultra HD video.
We'd be remiss without commenting on the new Windows 8 computer/tablet operating system that's creating a blogosphere storm almost as big as the recent Hurricane Sandy.
Thus far, the majority of reviews and comments denigrate Windows 8. The key factor about this new way to make PCs and tablets do their tricks is that Windows 8 comes in two totally different flavors. They look alike but don't work alike.
The one designed for tablets won't run the software you buy for the Windows 8 designed for your desktop/laptop PC. A lot of people will be frustrated, if not downright furious, that they can't share Windows software between a PC and tablet purportedly running the same operating system.
To confuse things further, some tablets incorporating the same microprocessor as a laptop will run the desktop/laptop version of Windows 8 and therefore the same software, but not necessarily the software (apps) designed for Windows 8 tablets.
Are you thoroughly confused now? At least Apple clearly differentiates its Mac operating system and its iPhone/iPad (iOS) operating system.
If I didn't already own a few thousand dollars worth of Windows software and didn't enjoy tinkering with my computer hardware, I'd buy a Macintosh computer.
I write this after spending the better part of last week resurrecting my PC from a particularly bad Windows 7 crash. I lost no data since I regularly back up my work, but I lost two full days of productivity.
Here's a succinct question from a reader: "Did I read right when the gentleman said (in his email to you) that the Samsung TV he had purchased was upgradeable?"
You read correctly. Many current products from TVs to Bose Lifestyle systems are upgradeable/fixable through firmware/software upgrades. The manufacturer supplies either a CD/DVD or a link to a website, assuming the product contains a network port or Wi-Fi.
While this can't repair a hardware failure, it can rectify many non-hardware glitches and/or add new features, assuming the existing hardware can accept them. Within a couple of years, nearly all expensive consumer entertainment products will be remotely upgradeable.
Don't dream of major improvements. A product cannot exceed the limits of its hardware.
While generally this aids consumers, it's also a double-edged sword. New copyright restrictions or other curbs demanded by content providers can reduce the versatility of an electronic product.
I greatly appreciate the following reader email and think it speaks for many readers of this column: "Thanks for the article on cable, broadcast, free, pay. Makes me think about it a little more. It's certainly one that I, as a person with a fixed income, have been giving a lot of thought recently. I wish I understood the choices better from the technical side and how to change them."
Rich Warren, who lives in the Champaign area, is a longtime reviewer of consumer electronics. He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.