You asked: How much is enough?
“I got an offer from AT&T to upgrade to a fiber-optic connection at no cost. Promised 1000 mbps (1 gbps). I said yes and then the next day canceled. The offer includes a $10-a-month discount for a year, but then the regular rate would have been $10 more a month than at present. I asked myself if I really needed it. I don’t stream anything or download anything other than email attachments. Current speed tests with my VOIP phone say I am getting about 7 mbps download and a little under 1 mbps upload.”
This reader showed intelligence by canceling. AT&T promotions tend to be highly confusing and misleading, and, ultimately, it may have socked him for far more than $10 extra a month after a year. AT&T’s fine print requires a microscope to decipher.
For this reader, 1 gbps would be overkill since he lives alone and mostly uses the internet for email. However, most of us make far more intensive use of the internet. Generally, if you live alone, you should choose a plan that delivers at least 50 mbps down and 10 mbps up. This will deliver flawless HD movie streaming and Zoom conferencing. If you have a family, you should double those numbers. Increase that by 10 times if working and studying from home. Of course, by the time you reach those numbers, most ISPs charge only a little more for full 1 gbps service. Once connected at that speed, you never want to go back.
After Pavlov/CCG and Volo came barreling down our block with fiber this past spring, Mediacom/Xtreme awoke from its slumber to offer faster service. Rather than make the investment of fiber all the way to the house, Mediacom simply converted its trunk lines to fiber and fed the individual blocks with its traditional cable. So although it advertises “up to 1 gbps,” it rarely, if ever, equals the service provided by CCG and Volo, which trenched fiber right up to the house network panel.
AT&T and Frontier also are advertising fiber, but look for the asterisk or read the microscopic print.
Here’s feedback from a reader concerning my recent column about image-editing tools: “I’ve been using Irfanview as my primary image viewer for years now and love it. It’s also great for image compression. However, their cropping tool stinks since it doesn’t let you constrain proportions, so you end up with these weird nonstandard shapes. I wish it had that capability since I have to go an extra step and do it in Photoshop.”
Here’s another reader query: “Any idea why DVD players are so hard to come by now (the new toilet paper)? I was going to hook one up for a friend that was tired of CNN. You cannot simply find one locally (except for $29 models). I ordered one from Best Buy, who promised shipment within nine days, but it now has been ‘delayed.’ Have the plants been shut down?
“I also have been wondering, since all the talk shows are being streamed from the host home — do you think the networks are rethinking the need of large production crews?”
In answer to your first question, nearly all DVD players come from China, and you can read in this newspaper the issues with that, not to mention supply-chain disruptions from COVID-19. If you want a good Blu-ray player, visit Good Vibes near Round Barn or Glenn Poor’s Audio Video in Old Farm Shops. I bought one from Good Vibes for about $150. They are close to obsolete since you can stream almost anything via the internet.
As far as TV production crews, I’m sure networks are rethinking the expense. If people accept the dreadful Skype and Zoom quality, why spend the money returning to high quality?