Some Hi-Tech Money Saving Tips
As we have entered the high-tech world, most of us have encountered additional costs.
We've spent money on hi-definition televisions, digital cameras and laptop computers. We are now paying monthly fees for both Internet service and cell phone service.
Because of this, many of us are now looking for ways to save a few dollars when using these high-tech devices. Saving money is always a good idea, so here are a few money-saving tips.
The first place you can save some money is with anti-virus software. For the last few years, computer manufacturers have shipped new computers with trial versions of anti-virus software, usually Norton or McAfee. The trial version works for a few months, then you are required to pay. Many people just dish out that money and keep on paying for years. But you don't have to.
There are several free anti-virus products that do a good job of protecting your computer against viruses. My current favorite is Microsoft Security Essentials. This is available for download at www.microsoft.com/security_essentials. I have also used and recommended two other anti-virus programs: Avast (www.avast.com/free-antivirus-download) and AVG (http://free.avg.com).
Both of these are also good programs that will give you adequate protection. Just remember that you should uninstall your old anti-virus program before you install a new one.
If you have an inkjet printer, you already know that they seem to eat money when you have to constantly purchase replacement ink cartridges. There are a few ways to improve this scenario.
First, you can use kits to refill the cartridges yourself. Although I don't do this myself, I know many people who do.
Second, you can use no-name generic cartridges, which cost less than those sold by the printer manufacturer. Both of these options can be problematic. I have heard stories of people who have done this for years with no ill effects, and I have also heard from people who have ruined their printers with refill kits and/or generic cartridges.
The bottom line is that if you have an older printer or a really cheap newer printer, these may be good options for you. However, I don't advise using either of these options in an expensive new printer.
If you have a newer printer or are looking to purchase one, be sure that you check out the cost of ink before you buy. Many newer printers can use "High Yield" or XL cartridges, which hold more ink, are more cost effective and require fewer trips to the store for replacement cartridges.
If you print a lot, you might also want to consider purchasing an inexpensive black-and-white laser printer to use alongside your color inkjet. Monochrome laser printers use toner that goes farther and is cheaper than ink.
Also, when you get ready for your next printer, look for one that has an automatic duplexer. This allows you to print on both sides of the paper automatically. This can really save money on paper, not to mention saving trees.
Another way you can save money is on HDMI cables.
When you purchase a new television or DVD player, the store will often encourage you to purchase pricey HDMI cables to go with it. I have seen these priced as high as $100. You don't need them.
There is a difference in cables. Some use heavier gauge wire and better shielding. That said, these factors were much more important when we were dealing with analog television.
With analog television, there was ghosting and incomplete grabbing of the transmission that could sometimes be improved by a better cable.
In digital transmissions, for the most part, either you receive the transmission or you don't. So opt for a cheaper cable.
It will perform just as well. The only time you may need an expensive HDMI cable is if you have to run that cable more than 10 feet.
Last, but not least, you can save a lot of money by using free software. Microsoft Office, which costs hundreds of dollars, can be replaced by Open Office (www.openoffice.org), which is a free productivity suite of programs that do everything that Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Access can do.
Google also has a free set of programs called Google Docs (http://docs.google.com) that you can easily use instead of Microsoft Office. Like Open Office, Google Docs includes a word processing program, a spreadsheet, a presentation program and a drawing program.
Here are a few other free software programs that I use every day and encourage you to try:
n Picasa - a photo editing and organizing program by Google (www.picasa.google.com).
n Gmail - a free online e-mail program (www.gmail.com).
n Google Earth - a great program for exploring the earth as well as outer space (www.earth.google.com).
n Screamer Radio - a free program that lets you easily listen to and record more than 4,000 Internet radio stations (http://www.screamer-radio.com).
n Shrink Pic - a program that automatically reduces the size of photos that you e-mail or post online (www.onthegosoft.com/shrink_pic.htm).
Some of these programs, such as Picasa, Google Earth and Screamer Radio, can be really fun to use. What could be better than saving money and having fun at the same time?
Send your computer-related questions for publication in this column to Sandy Berger at Computer Living Corp., P.O. Box 5895, Pinehurst NC 28374; or by e-mail at email@example.com.
More like this story