QUICK TIP: Five ways to survive Christmas tech disasters
If you’re the resident home tech expert at your place, then you’ll know that there’s one aspect of Christmas you won’t be looking forward to – tech servicing. Whether it’s getting new gear to start, stop, power up, run or whatever, you pretty much know you’ll be in the firing line.
So here are five simple things to remember to stock up on or have on hand for the day.
1. NiMH batteries – AA and AAA.
If the kids are getting motorised toys, remote helicopters, or similar, make sure you have NiMH batteries on hand. There’s not much point going with use-once alkalines – they’re as bad for the environment as they are for your wallet.
So go for Nickel-Metal-Hydride (NiMH) batteries instead – and don’t forget AA and AAA size. Plenty of gear these days use AAA-size cells. And don’t forget the charger too. Ideally, you should think of getting two sets of batteries for each device – one set to use and another to charge. It might add up to $80 or $90 initially but you’ll be ahead after the first 15 recharges and you should get around 1000 or so before you ever need to think of buying more batteries.
If you don’t want to have to worry about charging batteries beforehand, go for Sanyo Eneloops – these are precharged and will hold 80% of the charge for up to a year, unlike normal NiMH batteries that will lose there charge in as little as a few weeks.
2. Get your flash storage now
Storage is the other big thing to think about. Whether it’s a digital camera, smartphone, video camera, make sure you have the right flash storage options on hand. Typically, this will be SecureDigital (SD) cards for digital still and video cameras and MicroSD cards for smartphones. You’ll generally find an 8GB SD card will cost around $30, a 4GB MicroSD card about the same price.
If you’re buying an SD card for a video camera, make sure it’s a Class-4 type at the very least. The Class number tells you the speed in megabytes per second so a Class-4 card has a write speed of 4MB/second. Class-6 would be better for high-definition (HD) cameras.
3. Get a brick
While NiMH batteries are good, a suitable power brick, if it’s possbile, is even better. Battery-operated gear that chews through batteries at a rate of knots should also offer the option of a power brick input. This would be the ideal option so check to see if the device has one. If not, check it’s voltage and current requirements and then look online at Dick Smith (www.dicksmith.com.au), Jaycar Electronics (www.jaycar.com.au) or Altronics (www.altronics.com.au) stores for suitable options.
4. Get the cables
Few technology devices work in isolation these days so make sure you have the necessary connection cables – whether they’re audio/video or digital data cables. Generally, this will mean either having an HDMI cable if it’s a Blu-ray player, PS3 or Xbox360 games console or possibly just a composite video cable for a video camera or portable video device.
If we’re talking digital data, that typically means a USB cable. Here, make sure you’ve got the right type to fit your device and the gadget it’s connecting to.
Unfortunately, you can guarantee that even devices that won’t work without these cables will actually include them so to avoid disappointment, check to see what cables you need to have on hand, now.
5. Read The Flammin’ Manual
Most disasters can be avoided by simply reading the manual. However, depending on where the gadget came from, that might be easier said than done. For countries where English is not the national language, it’s quite easy for some manuals to be pretty difficult to understand. In that situation, you can try to decipher the meaning through any diagrams (if you’re lucky), or you can head online and check to see if there are any forums relating to your device.
Taking even just a few minutes to read the manual can save you hours of frustration and will ensure you avoid disasters before they occur.
And if you lose the manual, again, check the manufacturer’s website – most big-name brands keep PDF files of manuals on their websites. Downloading it now, before you need it, is a good idea.
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