» This Story:Read +|Talk +| Comments

Personal Tech: Gadget News and Reviews

Discussion Policy
Comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. Finally, we will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or privacy policies or any other policies governing this site. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions. You are fully responsible for the content that you post.
Rob Pegoraro
Washington Post Technology Writers
Friday, June 26, 2009; 12:00 PM

The Washington Post's Rob Pegoraro was online Friday, June 26 at Noon ET to discuss recent reviews, answer your personal tech questions and provide gadget advice.

This Story

Read Rob's latest tech tips in his blog Faster Forward.


Rob Pegoraro: Good afternoon, all. It's been a gadget-centric few weeks around here, between today's review of the iPhone 3GS, last week's evaluation of the Kindle DX and my writeup of the Palm Pre two weeks ago. So we can talk about any or all of those items, the newly-announced pricing for Microsoft's Windows 7, the (will it ever really end??!!) digital-TV transition, or whatever else is on your mind, technologically speaking.

Let's go to our first chatter...


New York, N.Y.: Hi Rob Have you had a chance to look at Apple's new MacBook lineup? The basic white has been slightly beefed up, and there's a new 13" MacBook Pro. It would be helpful to have yr thoughts on their relative merits.

washingtonpost.com: Apple's Latest iPhone Has Learned New Tricks, but So Have Competitors

Rob Pegoraro: I have - in the sense of seeing these laptops in my neighborhood Apple Store. I am very interested in trying out the new 13-in. MBP, since it seems to remedy a lot of the concerns I had about the model Apple introduced last year; however, since it's almost July, I may wait until I can compare that next to a few other laptops as part of the annual back-to-school laptop roundup.

(Speaking of: When would you want to see that article run--mid-August, late July, earlier?)


Washington, D.C.: Hi there I know that based on recent events this may seem like a petty question, but when will Metro have AT&T available in the subway? I want an iPhone.

Rob Pegoraro: That's not petty at all; the lock Verizon (and, via roaming, Sprint) have had on subway cell-phone access here has been a serious distortion of the market.

That *is* changing now, though. Metro signed a deal that will bring service from all the four nationwide carriers here, starting with the 20 busiest stations by the end of this year: http://voices.washingtonpost.com/fasterforward/2009/03/metro_opening_dc_subway_to_wir.html

I talked to executives with one of those four carriers earlier this week, and they confirmed that they're keeping to that schedule and may be a little ahead of it--they said they might have service up in the first bunch of stations by October.

It will take a while longer for service to reach every station and the tunnels in between.


Arlington, Va.: I am a first generation iPhone user and I like my device and the applications, but the AT&T coverage particularly in my neighborhood in North Arlington is sketchy at best. Two questions, I want to gift my old phone and get the new 3GS, but hate having to lock-in for 2-years for a phone that won't work at my house. Will AT&T likely improve in my very- populous area and is it possible (or reported) that the new 3GS will work better than the 1st gen. iPhone? I will hang- up and listen. kidding there. thanks in advance, Rob!

Rob Pegoraro: You're welcome, caller! :)

Only AT&T can answer that one, and their answer will depend on their capital-expenditure priority: Do they want to fill in gaps in the existing network, extend its edges farther into the country, or (perhaps most likely) upgrade their current transmitters to support faster downloads. Considering that the selection of phones at other carriers has gotten better lately, you should see how Sprint/Verizon/T-Mobile do at your house (by having friends with phones on those networks stop by your house). The Palm Pre, for instance, looks pretty good to me, and T-Mobile's G1 Android phone is also a good choice. Verizon is a little behind, but it says it wants to sell a version of the Pre and an Android phone of its own.

I don't think the 3GS works any better at picking up a signal than the 3G.


Washington, DC: Rob,

I wanted to clarify something about the Palm Pre. I have a Centro now and I have a lot of useful memos on my Palm desktop. If I buy a Pre, can I transmit the data from Palm desktop to the Pre?

Rob Pegoraro: Yup. Palm provides a free "Data Transfer Assistant" download that will pipe that stuff into the Pre. But you'll need to be patient; it took at least 12 hours for all of a test transfer to percolate into the Pre.


Rockville, MD: I bought an iPhone in April (unaware that changes were coming). I'm a little annoyed that I could now have the same model for 1/2 price or a better model (3G S and 2x the storage) for the same price.

I upgraded to 3.0 and I think the phone runs slower. Have you heard about similar complaints?

Rob Pegoraro: I don't mean to say anything like "I told you so"--but I do think I said something like "well, Apple only let the first iPhone go a year in the market before upgrading it" when somebody asked me that question. But maybe that was in May.

I can't say I've heard anybody complain about the 3.0 upgrade. It's more like some of these people won't stop talking about it.


Reston, VA: The iPhone 3G-S can shoot video?! WOW!!!

I think Apple may be better served touting "innovations" that haven't been around for years.

Aside from this and being faster, is there anything in the 3G-S that would make someone opt for this version over previous editions? Should they wait for the next release?

Rob Pegoraro: The video capability alone is nothing too special--it's just 640x480 VGA, not HD. But what I haven't seen anybody else do is make it that easy to edit and upload video clips, right on the phone. (There's more on that in today's blog post.)

The voice control is neat (especially for hands-free dialing). But in general, as I wrote in the column, the 3GS isn't the kind of earth-shaking advance that the first model was.


Ijamsville: Are channels 7 & 9 going to increase power or something to improve signals? Why did they go back to VHF anyway?

Rob Pegoraro: Can I just say that I'm feeling a little cranky about these two stations? For years, they had a great digital signal--and so I pointed to them as an example of DTV's promise--and then they have all these reception issues crop up that nobody predicted beforehand. Thanks, guys. No, really; you shouldn't have.

WJLA's signal seems in better shape overall, perhaps because it's much stronger (30 kW, I believe). WUSA has a weaker broadcast (12.6 kW), so a lot of folks better versed in this than I have been speculating that WUSA will need to ask the FCC to crank up its signal. The guy I talked to there, however, said they weren't looking to do that and that, furthermore, he thought they were in OK shape overall.

No, I don't know why they switched back to their old VHF airwaves, although--in theory--that should have given them a farther-reaching signal.


From the Fringe - Alexandria, VA: Rob - I got a DTV converter box months ago. After trying rabbit ears, attic antenna and roof antenna, last Sunday I climbed the roof, took down the antenna mast, added another mast section, replaced the mast (don't look down) and antenna. With the five extra feet of mast, I'm receiving PBS and NBC now. This DTV is great! Now, if only I can wire my two other TV sets, ground the antenna, buy two more DTV boxes... Still I'm happy about the better reception.

Rob Pegoraro: Thanks for the report!

(Everybody, please be careful if you're on the roof futzing with antennas.)


Burke, VA: Rob:

I just switched from my crusty old Nokia phone and a Palm Zire to a iPhone 3G ($99 finally did it), and I'm thrilled with the smoothness of the operation on the iPhone. Did the price drop to $99 on the 3G, and the new 3GS, shoot the legs out from under the Palm Pre? I can't imagine I'm the only guy who was sucked in by the $99 iPhone.

Rob Pegoraro: There's a risk of that. OTOH, $100 is not a huge difference in price when you look at the total cost of operation of a phone. For instance, Sprint's $70 plan includes unlimited texting; AT&T's doesn't include texting at all, and paying $5/month for its cheapest texting add-on adds $120 to the two-year term of the plan.


Falls Church, Va.: "It will take a while longer for service to reach every station and the tunnels in between."

I'll just point out that Verizon never came close to achieving this ideal. Great news that other companies are moving in.

Rob Pegoraro: Fair point: When I'm on my way to a Nats game, I have to give up using my phone between L'Enfant and Navy Yard.


Behind-the-times, Oregon: I finally want to start backing up files on two household computers. Can I use a single external hard drive for two different computers? Do I have to use software or can I just copy files over to the hard drive? Are there any helpful links you'd like to give this backup noob?

Rob Pegoraro: Never too late to start--well, actually, it *can* be too late to start. But I'm glad you asked. Have a look at this comparison of backup options I wrote last year:



Washington, DC: So I was playing around with a Palm Pre in the store while I was waiting for my current phone to be repaired. Everyone raves about this phone, but I thought it felt really cheap, almost like a toy, compared to other smart phones. The iphone has a nice metallic case, and most blackberries have a substantial feel to them. The Pre felt like something that was going to break about the 50th time you go to open it. What's all the buzz about with this cheap-feeling device?

Rob Pegoraro: You need to spend some time playing with the software on it. I have never seen multitasking on a phone done better. Palm got that right in a 1.0 release; it's a lot harder to bolt that kind of feature on later, as Apple may be finding out.

I can't argue that there are some cheap-feeling aspects to the Pre, like the plastic edges exposed when you slide it open and that silly little cover for its USB port. But overall, it seems pretty solid to me.


Akron, Ohio: Any big news out of the next Windows Mobile (6.5?) release due out this fall ?

Rob Pegoraro: Windows Mobile--boy, doesn't that look like an enormous missed opportunity there?

The 6.5 release is coming sometime in the second half of this year, and it's supposed to feature some overdue improvements (like an app store to replace its current, laughably stupid app-install routine). But I don't know how many people will care by then, when we may have an AT&T version of the Pre and Android phones out on Verizon and Sprint.


NoLo, DC: "I don't think the 3GS works any better at picking up a signal than the 3G."

I suspect you're right about that, but the writer to whom you were responding said they were using a first gen iPhone. I can categorically state that reception on my 3G is better than the Edge signal my partner gets on his first gen.

Can't guarantee that the writer will get a better signal at home on 3G vs Edge, but with the way AT&T is putting up towers, it wouldn't surprise me.

Rob Pegoraro: Ah--good point, I forgot he/she said this was a first-gen iPhone. So, North Arlingtonian, please have a friend with a 3G or 3GS stop by your house too.


DC: This may be too basic a question to answer, but is there an easy way to change the default search engine in Safari from Google to Yahoo or something else? There doesn't seem to be an option in Preferences, and the only solutions I've found (via Google search, of course) seem to require downloading tools that I've never heard of (and am therefore leery of). Firefox, of course, gives you a pulldown menu that lets you create as many search tools as you want.

Rob Pegoraro: You're reading the situation correctly: The Mac version of Safari doesn't provide any simple way of changing the default search engine. Apple's done a good job of keeping up with the competition when it comes to most browser features, but it's not even trying here.


(Another) DTV Question: Rob - I have a digital ready Toshiba television that I bought last year. I currently have cable (just the basics - the four main channels and a whole bunch of public television and international stations). I really want to get rid of the cable, since I watch all my television online and just use the tv for DVDs and games.

But when I unhooked the cable this week, I got nothing. No picture. I tried to scan for channels, but it only scanned for analog channels. Do I have to have cable? What am I missing? Thanks!

Rob Pegoraro: Your DTV should include a QAM tuner that can receive a basic digital-cable signal, but you need to tell it to scan for those channels. That should be accessible via its setup menu. (Can anybody who has done a QAM setup on a Toshiba set provide more info on this?)


Lewes, DE: Rob--Thinking of buying a Zune, would you advise waiting for the Zune HD to come out?

Rob Pegoraro: It's not shipping until this fall, so you've got a wait in store. How much do you like/dislike your current MP3 player?

(My two cents' worth on the Zune HD: http://voices.washingtonpost.com/fasterforward/2009/05/microsoft_reveals_next_zune_pl.html )


Manassas, VA: Rob, I have had trouble with receiving channels 7 & 9 since the transition date of June 12. I have a non-amplified indoor antenna in my 3rd floor condo. First I moved the "rabbit ears" of the antenna around and rescanned. I then could get those channels along with the rest of the area channels. But for no apparent reason about a week ago, I could not get channels 7 & 9 anymore. After much antenna adjustment and rescanning, I got them back. I still get occasional break-up of the signals however. I am worried that those signals will disappear again. BTW, what are the signal strengths of channels 4, 5 & 26? Thanks!


Rob Pegoraro: I'd like to think that these stations are working to iron out reception glitches--and they certainly say they are. However, the other issue here is that you're using an indoor antenna at a distance that normally requires an attic or rooftop antenna.

You can look up broadcasters' signal strengths at dtv.gov - click on the reception maps link there.


Tina in Falls Church: I set up two Toshes for cable. I called customer service and found them refreshingly helpful and English speaking. I'm sure they can help

Rob Pegoraro: Thanks, Tina...


Houston, TX: Rob, How long is the exclusive Apple/AT&T iPhone relationship going to last? Is there a public expiration date to the deal or any hints from Apple?

Rob Pegoraro: We don't know. I have to think that Apple isn't so gung-ho on this deal anymore, now that AT&T is making its users wait for MMS and tethering support.


Alexandria, Va.: Rob, Read your chats and help files often. Keep up the good work!

Now, my problem: My wife's cell phone desperately needs to be replaced and we're thinking it may be time to upgrade to a smartphone or Blackberry for her. In a perfect world she would like an iPhone, but we aren't interested in leaving Verizon just for a phone.

My question to you is, assuming we stay with Verizon, what should we get her? Her main needs will be checking work email, texting, and phone calls.

That being said, I feel that if we are going to upgrade to something like this we should also get something that can surf the web, etc. Should we be looking at a Blackberry for this or are there better options on the Verizon network?

Also, has any more information come out about either a possible Verizon iPhone or an Android phone next year? In which case, are we better off just getting something low-end that can check email for now and wait until either one of those models comes out?

Rob Pegoraro: Everybody repeat after me: There isn't going to be a Verizon iPhone anytime soon. The consensus seems to be that won't happen until VzW upgrades its network to a newer technology called LTE (Long Term Evolution), which is apparently not going to be deployed until mid-2010. See this writeup at one of the smarter telecom blogs out there: http://gigaom.com/2009/05/15/verizons-lte-plans-get-real/

As for an Android phone, you've got much better odds. But you'll still be waiting until this fall, maybe later. (Never underestimate VzW's ability to hold up sales of a phone while it's putting it through its own tests.) So a BlackBerry might be your best option, especially for work e-mail access.


Arlington, Va.: All my TVs are plugged into my cable system...except the old stored Panasonic that I thought I could use for a relative recovering from surgery in a room with no cable outlet. Of course its an analog set. So I thought I'd get a converter box (I got the coupon) but have no clue which boxes work the best. I checked with various online reviews and have no consistency especially for boxes sold by local retailers. Have you or your readers had any success with a particular converter box that I could get from an area store?

Rob Pegoraro: The Zenith 901 seems to get the best word-of-mouth reviews (see this forum thread: http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=1029256 )

I'm sure all y'all know this, but I'll issue this reminder anyways: A DTV converter box will NOT work with a cable service, only an over-the-air broadcast.


Huntington Woods, Mich.: Is there a way to sync a google calendar with an IPhone without using Outlook?

Rob Pegoraro: Here you go--Google's instructions:



Portland, Ore.: How do you save screenshots in iPhone 3.0? The old procedure of holding down the home key and clicking the standby button doesn't work anymore (at least for me).

Rob Pegoraro: It does for me, PDX - just took a screengrab on the review 3GS that way, and it's in the Camera Roll album, same as usual.


Taylor, TX: Hi, Rob:

Thanks (to both you and your compadre, Brian Krebs) for all of the good advice you provide.

Two questions:

1) Do you have any experience with or opinion about the newest release of "Bothunter"? I submitted this question for Brian's last online session, but he didn't have time to get to it.

2) I am a longtime satisfied user of the Opera browser (currently v9.64), and running it on various machines (WinXP SP3, Vista SP2 or Win2000 SP4) there is an occasional hiccup that may be due to one of its internal settings or possibly a global Windows setting. My home office has wireless broadband with the line-of-sight source antenna clear of obstructions about a mile distant, but if there's a temporary glitch in the Internet service connection (particularly while some other tab is loading in the background) any attempt with the mouse wheel (to scroll up or down in the active tab's fully-loaded webpage) or a left- or right-click on a link in that page, I get no response until the connection's glitch is resolved. During that temporary freeze, I can switch between programs or do other things outside of the browser, but it can be annoying. If there is some setting within Windows or Opera which I could change that would mitigate that delay, I'd appreciate any advice you might have.

I haven't tested extensively whether this same pattern exists in other browsers (won't use IE for anything other than required OS or Office updates, and won't use Chrome at all), but I'm inclined to think it does and so the problem might lie with MS in some global OS or network setting.

Rob Pegoraro: 1) No experience at all--Brian's a much better guy to ask about that.

2) Dude, I haven't the foggiest idea. You're saying that a glitch in your wireless network causes your mouse wheel to stop working only in one program? I can't even figure out *how* that could happen.

See, this is why I'm not the biggest fan of Windows.

The only thing I can think of is that you uninstall whatever software came with the mouse; Windows should be able to recognize it and support its features without any extra help. If somebody has a better solution, you're welcome to send it my way.


Arlington, VA: Re: Alexandria, the quest for a new verizon phone The Palm centro is a great phone choice for e-mail texting and surfing and keeps your appointments as well. Just got mine despite the palm-pre/verizon rumors and love it but would likely get the pre once/if it comes out for the larger screen.

Rob Pegoraro: I own a Centro myself (stop laughing, everybody!) and I cannot second that recommendation. The Centro works reasonably well to keep your calendar and contacts, and it's a pretty good notepad--a helpful thing in my line of work--but the browser is horribly weak and the built-in mail client is an embarrassment.

(At least I got mine for free last February.)

Plus, at this point you'd be buying into software and hardware that Palm is well on its way to abandoning.


Washington, D.C.: Hi, Rob! Will closed captioning ever be available with an HDMI connection? I'm not hearing impaired, but I often like to have the TV on with the sound off, and CC lets me follow along and while I'm listening to something else. Will the two ever be compatible? I imagine there are hearing impaired people who would like to watch HD broadcasts over HDMI and use closed captioning.


Rob Pegoraro: This is news to me--HDMI is a digital connection, so I don't see why it wouldn't send over cc info that's part of a DTV bitstream.


Madison, WI: Hi Rob, there appear to be other standalone DVRs on the market besides the Dish DTVPal one. Apparently Magnavox makes a standalone DVR that doesn't require a subscription and is a DVD recorder as well. I found that at least Walmart and Target sell it. Do you plan to review this unit any time soon? Are you aware of any others?

Magnavox H2160MW9

Rob Pegoraro: I've heard of this thing but--since it doesn't provide the TV Guide On Screen (TVGOS) program grid of the DTVPal DVR, it's not nearly as useful. Wish I knew why so few manufacturers provide this free feature... there are some Sony HDTVs that use TVGOS, but I don't know of any DVD recorders to implement it.

Speaking of the DTVPal, I'm about due to ship it back to Dish's PR department. So if you've got any lingering questions about it, please send them my way soonest.


MD: Rob - Thanks for the review today. Bottom line - if my Verizon contract isn't up until January, do you think it's worth waiting for the next generation iphone to come out (on whatever carrier that may be)?

Rob Pegoraro: I would be shocked--maybe even gobsmacked--if the next iPhone arrived any sooner than next June.

For you, the more important thing is that you're mid-contract, so you're probably not eligible for any upgrade discounts for the next several months anyway. By the time you can get a new phone at the new-customer price, Verizon *should* have a better selection of smartphones. That could be a Pre, it could be some Android devices, it could be a BlackBerry without the Storm's issues and with the App World app store built in.


Fairfax, VA: Rob, Windows 7 is being offered at half price as a pre-release order. I'd like to take advantage of the price cut but make it a policy never to use a new OS until after the first SP is released at least. Should I just pre-order Windows 7 and wait for the SP or take the plunge and install it?

Rob Pegoraro: If you're sure that you *will* upgrade to Windows 7, then taking advantage of Microsoft's exploding offer makes excellent sense--you'll save $70. But if you're going to wait until the first Service Pack update to Win 7, that box may be sitting on a shelf for a year.

So, y'know, don't lose it or anything.


Fairfax, VA: Do I need an antenna to go with my DTV converter box. I don't want to climb the roof but I'll be happy to get a small internal one. Thks

Rob Pegoraro: Unless you're living right next door to a TV transmitter tower--yes, you will need an antenna. DTV is no different from analog TV in that respect.

I don't know if you can get away with an indoor antenna, since I don't know if by "Fairfax, VA" you mean Fairfax City or the easternmost edge of Fairfax County. Plug in your address at DTV.gov to see what sort of signal you're supposed to be able to get; antennaweb.org and tvfool.com can also be handy for estimating your signal strength.


Los Angeles: Why would some e-mail sent and received not arrive from/to a correspondent I exchange e- mail with a few times per week? It happens with Yahoo, AOL, and Verizon.

Rob Pegoraro: Could be any number of reasons. But if it happens with that many other mail providers, you have to consider if it's something at your ISP's end. If those other companies think your provider hosts a lot of spammers, your mail could get unintentionally blacklisted.


Arlington, Va.: Any chance WUSA and WJLA will switch back to UHF?

Channels 7 and 9 occasionally drop out on me... no big deal, except I live close to their tower. I get better reception for Channel 2, the ABC affiliate in Baltimore.

Channel 22, which Comcast and Cox removed from many subscribers' lineups, is now a lot stronger than it used to be. Instead of rewarding the cable companies, it may be worth investing $40 in a good indoor antenna.

Rob Pegoraro: I really, really doubt that 7 and 9 will move back to UHF--9's old UHF slot is now occupied by Ion (channel 66). 7's UFH slot seems open, but that doesn't mean it hasn't been reserved by somebody else.

I suspect it will be easier for 7, 9 and other VHF stations with these issues to crank up their signals.

Agree about the advice with MPT. They've got a stronger signal than WETA in my home, even though they're about 15-20 miles farther away.


Rockville, MD: Your syncing of Google calendar with the iPhone is way off. Much easier.


I've got my set on Push and it is GREAT.

For those that don't know, Push is an auto-update/sync. If I change a calendar item on my iPhone, it is on the Google calendar in seconds. Same thing if I change it on Google from my desktop (or my wife changes my calendar from her office) - it's on my iPhone in seconds.

Rob Pegoraro: Thanks for the pointer...


Closed Captioning: I connect my FiOS HD DVR to my Samsung LCD via HDMI, and I can get closed captioning...assuming that the particular broadcast/commercial is sending CC info.

Rob Pegoraro: That's my understanding of how this is supposed to work.


Reston, Va: Seeking a recommendation on the best system to play old games such as PacMan, Dig Dug and such.

Would like to play on my pc, but am confused about software and game controller options.

Rob Pegoraro: A friend has a basement full of vintage arcade machines not far from you. But I don't think Rich wants me to invite my collective chattership into his home. At least not unless all y'all promise to bring beer first.

There are various arcade emulator programs out there, but I don't know a thing about them. Sorry...


Arlington, Va.: I use Yahoo as my home page. Recently it sometimes appears in a new format, with an "m" in the URL. I much prefer the old format, which also makes it simpler to type in a new URL. Is there any way to prevent the new "m" format from appearing by default? Thanks.

Rob Pegoraro: Are you saying you've got its mobile site (m.yahoo.com) up? Changing that bookmark to plain old yahoo.com ought to work.


Seattle, Wash.: Hi Rob

Reports are the battery run time in the new IPhone 3GS is a lot better, i.e. it runs a lot longer. Why?? The 3GS breakdown report I saw indicated the battery is about the same size.

Thank You........

Rob Pegoraro: I haven't seen any meaningful improvement in battery life; if anything, the growing number of location-aware apps, all of which require invoking the GPS receiver, have probably cut into the iPhone's real-world battery life.


Washington, D.C.: What brand of laptop and from which source should I buy? I've narrowed it down to a 14 or 15 inch screen; must support Microsoft Office Enterprise 2007 (which I can buy for $20 through my company); WiFi; burn CDs for music (never for movies); will have to hire a computer geek to install any programs. But I can't decide whether to buy from Dell Outlet, Overstock.com, or a Best Buy. And don't get me started over my quandaries about Comcast or Verizon (FIOS) internet. Any advice for a very technologically challenged person? Thanks.

Rob Pegoraro: Congratulations, you've just come up with a list of requirements that can be met by ANY laptop with a 14 or 15-inch screen. Sorry, they all have CD burners and WiFi, and all the Windows models are perfectly capable of running Office 2007.

FWIW, Dell has the cleanest software bundle these days if you order online.


State of Dyspepsia: Re Back to school laptops:

The time to order is now, if you buying from student bookstores.

As much as I like the Macs, they don't come with the accident protection warranty that the Dell's offer.

Clincher for this dad of a daughter who breaks things....

Rob Pegoraro: Good point. I don't know why Apple doesn't offer this option. Seems like an easy way to earn some extra revenue and give buyers some peace of mind.


Alexandria, Virginia: For the chat question from Arlington, Va. with a question on DTV converter box recommendations: CNET on the Web had some box comparisons and that site gave me ideas to consider for comparing boxes, ie look at the remote control/remot functions; look at the EPG electronic program guide - they are different with different boxes. Also, Arlington would have more choices buying thru the Web than he will have in local stores (he can still use the DTV coupon on the Web).

Rob Pegoraro: Thanks, Alex.!


For the Toshiba owner: I think the poster was trying to switch from cable (QAM) to over-the-air. I wonder if they don't have their TV hooked up to an antenna.

A lot of old analog TVs could pick up a good signal even without an antenna plugged in, and that's no longer the case now.

Rob Pegoraro: FWIW, I often couldn't pick up a good analog signal with an antenna. I'm serious: The last time I had good, reliable analog reception was in the house I grew up in, out in the boonies in New Jersey, where we used a huge attic antenna to tune in the NYC stations. (Why? Because we couldn't get cable. Yes, I was that far in the sticks.)


Does It Exist?: Hi,

Thanks for taking my question.

Is there a program out there that allows me to view my old Microsoft Outlook (ver 2002) emails on Vista. I know I can't use Outlook on Vista because of the changes Microsoft made and I'm ok with using their new Windows Mail. But I would still like to view the old emails I sent, contact info, etc, but don't know how to access the .pst file to allow me to do so.


Rob Pegoraro: You *can* use Outlook in Vista, you just may need to upgrade to a newer version. Or you'd just need to export those messages from that .pst file on a different machine. Or you could install Mozilla Thunderbird, which should be able to import those messages and your old address book.


New York, N.Y.: Hi Rob,

Two questions about Sprint: 1) I've noticed that on their service you can't access the web while you're on a phone call (i.e. can't look up a phone number on the web for someone while talking to them). Is this a limitation of the CDMA network? Will this go away if I was on an EV DO Rev A phone? 2) What are you hearing about the release of an Android phone on Sprint? I saw the HTC Hero may come out later this year (and it looks sweet), but nothing official. Do you have any scoop?

Thanks, Rob!

Rob Pegoraro: About the first question, I don't know. I can tell you that when I tried to pull up a Web page on the review iPhone 3GS during a call just now, the call promptly failed.

About Sprint Android phones: The company has said it plans to bring some out later this year. It's also one of the founding companies in the Open Handset Alliance, the group Google set up to help develop Android.


Rob Pegoraro: FWIW, I just got an e-mail from a guy who lives in the Mt. Vernon area of Fairfax County, explaining how he got WJLA and WUSA to come in. He sent along a diagram that I can't post here, but I'll try to summarize it:

* Before, he had a wire going from his antenna to a signal preamp, with another wire going from the preamp to the converter box.

* This preamp had both VHF/UHF and VHF-only terminals. He put a splitter between the antenna and the preamp, which itself had separate VHF and UHF terminals. That let him run separate wires, from the splitter's UHF terminal to the preamp's VHF/UHF terminal and from the splitter's VHF terminal to the preamp's VHF-only terminal.

He writes: "I now get 7--9--24 and Baltimore 2,11, and 13."

(Note to the reader Hope I summarized your diagram correctly, Bob!)

(Note to self: I *really* need to bill WJLA and WUSA for the tech support I've been providing.)


Bethesda, MD: Are you sure that the Palm Pre's transfer-assistant transfers memos? My reading suggests that there's no native memo App in the Pre. Perhaps that assistant transfers contacts well, but are you are about the memos?

- BTW, I'm a Centro owner, hoping that Sprint's contract terms for the Pre will improve in the next few months ]

Rob Pegoraro: No, there's a memo app there. I would have dinged the phone in the review if it didn't include one.


Rob Pegoraro: That's gotta wrap things up for today, folks. Thanks for all the questions; I'll see you here in a couple of weeks.

- R


Editor's Note: washingtonpost.com moderators retain editorial control over Discussions and choose the most relevant questions for guests and hosts; guests and hosts can decline to answer questions. washingtonpost.com is not responsible for any content posted by third parties.

» This Story:Read +|Talk +| Comments
© 2009 Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive