Rich Warren: Sometimes, the answers just aren't all that encouraging

Rich Warren: Sometimes, the answers just aren't all that encouraging

If I sent an email to my doctor telling her that I have a pain in my chest, she probably would advise me to head over to the emergency room sooner rather than later.

Your humble technology correspondent is no physician, but similarly, diagnosing electronic problems via email can be risky. For example, this reader query:

"The TV will not come on. No sound, no lights, no action. Doesn't matter whether or not it is dish, broadcast, or DVD, or using the remote or the TV on/off button."

This sounds like the TV equivalent of heart failure. The reader gave me a little more background, but this definitely is a job for a hands-on technician. It could be a faulty solder joint, a bad capacitor or a transistor on an IC that's failing. It could be as simple as a loose wiring harness or too much dust on a cooling fan. I truly wish I could help.

Here's another baffler:

"Why can't I access WILL on my analog TV with a digital converter box?"

A lot of people view WILL through a digital converter box, so there is something idiosyncratic to your installation. Do you have a VHF/UHF antenna connected? WILL is the only digital VHF station in our area.

Or you could be located in a difficult signal area for WILL-TV. Its tower is near Monticello and local terrain makes reception difficult in certain parts of town. Try connecting a better antenna that is capable of VHF reception, and reorienting the antenna.

New TV on display

I'm looking forward to visiting Geoff Poor at Glenn Poor's Audio Video in Champaign. Geoff recently sent this message: "We have the new LG 84-inch UHD (4K) set on display. Even with Direct TV HD programming, it is clearly superior to any of the other sets in the store so the video processor and 'scaler' are apparently very good. On Blu-ray material, it looks phenomenal. We're awaiting the 4K demo material that LG has promised as one of the few 'approved' dealers for this category of product."

I'd be there by now, but a bad cold slowed me down. Expect a full report for you in a week or two. Geoff keeps ahead of the general market when it comes to video technology.

More on charging/recharging

Not to beat a dead battery, but a bit more charging/recharging advice. Every battery-powered device treats its batteries differently. Generally "dumb" devices such as power tools only discharge batteries when in use. Smart devices such as phones, tablets, laptops and myriad others keep certain circuits powered even when off, thus very slowly discharging batteries.

Some smart devices use truly smart circuitry when charging, allowing you to keep the unit connected to the charger without damaging the batteries. Many simply overcharge the batteries, which shortens their life.

You may have to call the manufacturer's technical support line or research on the Web to learn exactly how your product treats its batteries. All batteries exhibit some degree of self-discharge, but this is fairly insignificant with modern lithium ion batteries.

I park my fully charged lithium ion battery-powered chain saw in October, and it still has about an 85 percent charge when I cut my next branch in late May.

One thing is certain: if you fully discharge a lithium ion battery, it may never take another charge. This can be a very costly mistake with any Apple product. I bought an iPod five years ago and forgot about it. I discovered it and attempted to recharge its battery to no avail. Apple will replace the battery for a third of what the iPod cost me.

One reason not to leave any device recharging is that the little converter, humorously called a "wall wart," continuously uses a trickle of electrical power, even after it fully charges the battery. Unplug this power converter when not in use. A trickle multiplied by millions becomes a flood.

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

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rsp wrote on March 14, 2013 at 10:03 am

If the tv isn't coming on no matter what you try, the first thing to check before you try a repairman is the power cord. Check at the outlet and at the tv, and this goes for all electrical appliances. My father was a refrigerator/ac repairman and anytime someone said nothing happened I learned to ask if they had checked the cord. About half the time it had somehow been dislodged. Usually they wouldn't even know how it happened but by asking we saved them money. Also, most manufacturers have information about extending battery life on their websites, including Apple. You can order the replacement battery and do it yourself.