Category Archives: Hardware

Hardware

UPDATE: Product recall of a device we reviewed

B&N Nook 7 Tablet
B&N Nook 7 Tablet

Last month we reviewed (and recommended as a “good buy”) the new Barnes & Noble Nook 7 Tablet. We recently received an email from Barnes & Noble informing us of a product recall on the Power Adapter included with the device. It seems that the Power Adapter can break and expose metal parts that could lead to an electrical shock hazard when the device is plugged into the wall.

B&N Nook 7 Tablet Power Adapter
B&N Nook 7 Tablet Power Adapter

If you purchased this device on-line or at a Barnes & Noble store you need to return the Power Adapter using the on-line form at the following web site Nook 7 Tablet Recall Information. Upon receipt, Barnes & Noble will send you a replacement Power Adapter and a $5.00 gift card.

I’m fairly confident that at the original selling price of $49.99 B&N was not making any serious money on the Nook 7 Tablet. This is the only current Nook Tablet device (not counting e-readers) that is NOT manufactured and co-branded with Samsung. I’m also pretty confident that the cost for a replacement Power Adapter, two way shipping and handling, plus the value of the $5.00 gift card makes the recall cost total about $40.00 per return. According to published details the company has sold approximately 140,000 of the affected Nook 7 Tablets. If every person returns the defective Power Adapter the cost to Barnes & Noble would exceed $5,000,000 dollars.

Barnes & Noble can’t seem to catch a break on selling digital devices.  For several years B&N invested many millions of dollars on R&D, custom manufacturing, marketing, special store fixtures and dedicated sales, training and support personnel.  B&N competed during those years with Apple, Samsung, Amazon and others for both the consumer, business and education markets. During that period I personally worked for B&N and helped sell and support Nooks at two retail stores. In the last two-three years B&N has co-branded Nooks that are manufactured by Samsung – a better and more successful approach.

If you purchased the new Nook 7 Tablet for $49.99 during the period of November 2016 through January 2017 you can check your devices serial number against the recall list by clicking this link Nook 7 Tablet Recall Information.  We recommend that you do so – and especially if you purchased the device for a child or grand child. 

“Say Hello to a Good Buy!” Barnes & Noble’s new Nook 7 tablet, just $49.99, Simply AMAZING!

B&N Nook 7 Tablet
B&N Nook 7 Tablet

The new Barnes & Noble Nook 7 Tablet is a great device at an astonishingly low price.

Is it the best tablet? No. Is it a good value? Yes!

Here are 21 reasons why it makes a great stocking stuffer this holiday season:

1. The Nook 7 is perfect for kids under 10 (before they get brand envy) and budget-conscious seniors who want to read books, play Solitaire, receive email, and read about their families and friends on Facebook.

2. Why buy the Nook 7 over an Amazon Fire at the same price with similar features? Two answers: (1) You get Barnes & Noble in-store setup, training, and service help, if needed. (2) The Nook 7 uses the Google Play Store for app purchases; the Amazon Fire does not without modification.

3. The Nook 7 has 8GB of storage memory and can be expanded up to 128GB if you use a type UHS-1 MicroSD card (Class 10) and format it for internal use.

4. The spoken voice feature “OK Google” works great for searching and as an everyday assistant.

5. Video: live, streaming, and downloaded videos run smoothly.

6. The device runs a modern version of Android, 6.0 Marshmallow OS. It’s similar to using an Apple IOS device in look and feel.

7. The Nook 7’s screen is a 7″ IPS display and is very sharp and crisp. It is easy to read books, play games, and watch videos.

8. The Quad-core processor is reasonably fast for day-to-day use and may be the secret behind running videos that don’t stutter.

9. 1GB of RAM is not bad for a $50 device and helps in the overall zippy experience.

10. Wi-Fi 802.1 b/g/n dual-bands are quite good, with easy setup, quick connect, and reasonable range.

11. Up-to-date Bluetooth 4.0 hardware allows you to connect wireless headphones, printers, keyboards, and more.

12. It has a standard 3.5mm audio port for wired headphones and speakers.

13. A built-in microphone for use with applications such as “OK Google” searches. With additional apps you could record notes or use wireless phone services such as Skype.

14. Reset button for screen freezes, reboots, et cetera.

15. A Lithium-Ion battery powers the device for about 7 hours. It can be fully recharged in about 4 hours.

16. B&N thoughtfully included a wall power adapter and micro USB cable in the box.

17. You can project videos to your flat panel TV if you own a Google ChromeCast media streaming stick.

18. The B&N Nook reading software is mature, solid, and full of features. You can change fonts, type sizes, highlighting, notes, bookmarks, and dozens of other features.

19. Use the B&N Nook store for on-line book and magazine ordering and downloads.

20. The Nook 7 comes with a one-year warranty. For an additional $9.99 you can purchase an extended one-year (total of two years) warranty that covers accidental damage against drops, spills and other damage with no deductibles – perfect for the kids and grandkids.

21. Even with a 7” screen the Nook 7 tablet will fit in most classic-cut pant pockets, backpacks, and purses.

Here are a couple of things that are disappointing about the Nook 7:

1. Sound: the volume is way too soft out of the rear mono speaker. Although, music and video sounds great out of a Bluetooth or wired set of headphones.

2. Cameras: the device has front and rear cameras, yet they are too soft-focused and lack the contrast needed for crisp pictures and videos.

Overall, the Barnes & Noble Nook 7 is a triumph for consumers. It’s a wonderful pocket-computing device for just under fifty dollars. It may be the world’s first disposable computer; it would certainly cost more than fifty-dollars to have it repaired.

Inside the box you will find an easy-to-use Quick Start Guide booklet to help with the initial setup and configuration. Besides in-store support, you can find on-line email and chat support at nook.com, and by phone at 1-800-The-Book.

A final note: A few years ago there was a movement to bring the price of a personal computer down to $100 so that young students in third world countries could benefit from computer technology (obviously you would still need electricity to recharge the device and Wi-Fi to connect to the Internet). Now we can answer that call with a $50 B&N Nook 7 tablet. This kind of reminds me of the “I’d like to buy the world a Coke” TV commercial from the early 1970’s. (Click here:) YouTube: I’d Like To Buy The World A Coke tv spot

Happy holidays from Tom Gordon, the iTechGeezer

    Am I sitting in line at the Apple Store this year? No! Here’s why…

    Waiting in line at the Apple store
    Waiting in line at the Apple store

    No one is a more dedicated Apple Fan Boy than me.  I’ve purchased almost every Apple product offered from 1978 on.  For many years, I’ve arrived several hours early at the Apple store (in either Grand Rapids or Lansing, Michigan) in order to be the “first one on my block” to have the latest Apple Mac, iPhone, iPad, or Apple Watch. I should also mention that I am an Apple, Inc. shareholder.

    The photo above was taken of me waiting in line at the Apple store in Grand Rapids to be the first person in West Michigan to buy an iPad several years ago. I arrived at Woodland Mall at 6 AM along with the mall walkers.  I waited from 6 AM until 5 PM when the store re-opened (Apple had closed all of its stores on 3 PM that day to re-set the displays to feature the iPad.)  I was, obviously, the first in line!

    So why am I not sitting in line this year?  

    First – For the last couple of years Apple has allowed on-line pre-ordering of new devices with home delivery the same day that they are first sold in the Apple Store.  This saves me time and money since my closest Apple store is in Lansing, Michigan – about an hour away.

    Second – Apple reported yesterday that it was happy to announce that the Apple iPhone 7 pre-order was so successful that there would be no (nada, zero, none) availability of iPhone 7 Plus phones in Apple stores and only limited availability of certain colors and configurations of the standard iPhone 7.  The happiness was reflected in Wall Street’s surge in Apple stock from around $97 to over $115.  That happiness was not felt by those in line (see below)…

    It’s already Friday, the first day the iPhone 7 is to be available in certain parts of the world, Australia for example.

    People in line at Apple’s Australia stores were pretty unhappy about the lack of availability of iPhone 7’s on the first day they were offered for purchase and delivery.

    This is unprecedented.  In all of the previous releases of the Apple iPhone (since 2007) there has been limited availability of new product on the first day of sales at every Apple store.

    Watch for an apology from Apples CEO Tim Cook.  I suspect he will apologize but spin the story as to how wonderful -and successful,- it was; that people loved the new iPhone 7 so much that it sold out worldwide before it was even able to appear in Apple Stores.

    Tim, this is called inventory control.  There should have been iPhone 7 inventory in stock and held back for the first day of sales in Apple stores on September 16.

    I’m Glad that I didn’t wait in line to purchase my new iPhone 7 Plus this year.  If you read my earlier post a few days ago then you read that after only 7 seconds past the start time of ordering on-line, my iPhone 7 Plus delivery date slipped from September 16 to September 23 or September 30.

    Oh well, it’s not like I’m sitting here without something to make a phone call on.

    Late by 7 Seconds.  Shame on me!

    Late by 7 seconds

    Late by 7 seconds

    To follow-up on yesterday’s blog in reference to the iPhone 7 I did order one.  

    As you can see by the confirmation email above I ordered a new Apple iPhone 7 Plus exactly 7 seconds (is that a coincidence?) after ordering began at 3:00 AM EDT this morning.

    Apple said that they will begin shipping on September 16th (next Friday).  As you can also see by the second blue circle above, my order – 7 seconds into the ordering process – will not ship until sometime between September 23 and September 30.  Sigh… I guess that happens if you are 7 seconds late.

    I ordered through the AT&T app.  Perhaps I would have made the “cut” if I would have ordered using the Apple app.

    Maybe mine is delayed because I ordered one of the new colors.  I ordered “Black” (like a matt black), not the “Jet Black” (like a piano black) color.

    Oh well, being a senior geezer I’ve learned to be patient, and I’m far too old to stand in line at the Apple store next Friday to pick one up.  My luck I would be 7 seconds late standing in line and they would all be gone.

    After I get the thing, and have a few days to play with it (I’m really looking forward to the new dual lens camera), I’ll post a review here on itechgeezer.com

    Missing headphone jack? much ado about nothing!

    Apple iPhone 7
    Apple iPhone 7

    Much ado has already been made about the “missing” iPhone 7 3.5mm audio (headphone) jack when Apple introduced the two new iPhone 7’s yesterday.

    Apple claimed that the reason they removed the jack was to make room for new technology in future iPhones.  I also suppose that the jack will be missing when Apple introduces new iPads in late 2016 or early 2017.

    Sure, Apple saved a few pennies and gained a bit more room by removing the jack, but they spent more than they saved by including a set of earbud headphones with a lightning connector – and also included a little device that lets you continue to use your analog headphones by connecting them to the convertor and then onto your lightning connector.

    Most folks would say that a digital headphone sounds crisper and clearer than an analog headphone.  So where is the harm or foul?  You can enjoy your new iPhone 7 with the included digital earbuds – or connect your existing Beats, Sennheiser, Sony, Motorola or other studio headphones to the phone with the included adapter. In addition Apple and Beats (owned by Apple) introduced new wireless headphones that can be used with the iPhone 7’s.  And finally there are dozens of Bluetooth wireless headphones already on the market that will work with the iPhone 7’s.  

    Tell me again why you are unhappy?

    Early on Friday morning (3 AM EDT) I’ll be placing my order for a new iPhone 7 Plus.  Am I disappointed that it won’t have a 3.5mm headphone jack. Nope!

    Computer “Buggy Whips” are getting harder to find each day…

    Computer Buggy Whips
    Computer Buggy Whips

    The Good Old Days

    In 1957 I was 11 years old and my dad (who loved gadgets as much as I do) ordered a “crystal” radio kit from the Allied Electronics catalog for me to assemble for a Boy Scout project.  I waited not-so-patiently for our postman to deliver the “box” from Allied Electronics in Chicago. After the “box” arrived I spent a couple of days pouring over the schematics and step-by-step instructions and then wiring and soldering the device.  A day later dad and I strung the dipole antenna from one large maple tree to another and than ran the antenna cable to my bedroom window.  I put my headphones on, and messed with the “whisker” wire over the “crystal” until I finally (and faintly) heard WOOD-AM radio in Grand Rapids.  Over the next week I listened to music, Jack Benny, The Lone Ranger and other cool stuff.

    In the 1960’s I spent every dime of my allowance, birthday gift money and my forty-five cent an hour soda-jerk job at the Caleldonia Rexall Drug Store on electronic kits from Allied Electronics, Layfayette Radio and Heathkit Electronics in Benton Harbor, MI.  I built Ham radios, CB radios, short-wave radios and on and on.

    Over the last forty years, thanks to Radio Shack I’ve been able to find almost any electronic gadget and widget I’ve ever needed for computers, TV’s, music systems and more.

    But… like horse “Buggy Whips” Allied Electronics, Layfayette Radio, Heathkit and now Radio Shack have all disappeared from our American highways and byways.

    Finding “Stuff” Today

    It’s not impossible to find cables, connectors, circuit boards, and other electronic parts today.  One can walk into Meijer, Walmart, and Best Buy and find the basic parts that you need.  Some of you may have a “Joe’s Electronics” (or Bob’s or Al’s) that was once a proud Radio Shack franchise.  Others on the West Coast may be close by to a Fry’s Electronics store which is similiar to a Best Buy but also carries lots of computer and electronic parts.

    And of course we can’t forget that we can use Google to search for anything our hearts desire.  Then go directly to Amazon to buy it at the lowest possible price with free shipping (if we are an Amazon Prime member), and perhaps no state sales tax if you are in one of the few states left that haven’t forced Amazon to collect it.

    I won’t get on my soapbox in regards to Amazon killing off local electronic merchants and other Internet merchants – I’ll save that blog for another time.

    But How About Tomorrow?

    Steve Jobs, one of the co-founders of Apple once remarked that digital devices should be like toasters.  Plug ’em in and push down the bread.  Steve never liked DIY (Do-It-Youself) electronics and is well known to have hated computer “ports”, switches, buttons and the like.  His minimalistic view on electronics shunned almost everything except for the machine itself.

    We would not be where we are today digital electronics wise without the DIY pioneers that depended on third-party parts and supplies.  That was then, and like “Buggy Whips” – parts are still parts – but they are a lot harder to find then they used to be. Sigh…

    Thanks for reading, and feel free to leave a message, or ask a question – Tom Gordon, the iTechGeezer

    For Seniors: Should I buy a new computer? NO!!! Here’s what to do…

    Just Say No
    Just Say No

    As an adult child of a technology challenged parent, grandparent, senior uncle or aunt this was a question I was asked more times than I can count.

    THE “GOOD OLD DAYS”

    In the “good old days” (prior to 2010) of personal computing the Senior was asking if they should they buy a new desktop or laptop. The standard answer in those days was to recommend what we used (Windows or Mac) and brand (probably HP, Dell, Gateway or Apple.) After all if you were happy with what you were using then they should be happy – right? Plus you KNEW that you were going to have to provide tech support for whatever you recommended – right?

    THE “BETTER NEW DAYS”

    Today (2016) we have many more options than ever.  Smartphones, e-Readers, tablets, smart watches – and of course old style “iron” like desktops and laptops are still available, but are catching dust at your local Best Buy store.  Certainly devices like smartphones and tablets are more portable (mobile) then moving around a desktop computer and monitor or a 4 to 6 pound laptop (yes I know you can buy under 2 pound laptops.)

    DISCLAIMER: WHY TRUST MY OPINION?

    I’m a little unique as a computer consultant – first I’ll be 70 years “young” in just a few months.  Second, I’ve been messing with PC’s and mobile devices since 1978 (perhaps before you were born.) I’ve spend thousands on PC’s, Mac’s – plus Newtons, Palm Pilots, iPods, and dozens of other mobile devices.  I’ve taught mobile computing classes during my corporate life, community Ed, consulting, and as a “Nook” trainer at two Barnes & Noble stores.

    For the last few years I’ve become an Apple “fanboy.”  The deeper I’ve jumped into the Apple “pond” the more sense it’s made to me.  Yes, Apple products are probably more expensive but … the quality design, construction, store service and depth of support from the Apple ecosystem is IMHO superior to PC’s and Droid’s.

    SO BACK ON POINT: WHAT SHOULD I BUY?

     If you want to make your mom, dad, Grandma, Grandpa, Aunt Betty or Uncle Fred happy; and quite frankly off your back for support? Here are my recommendations:

    • Device: An Apple iPad Air 2 (click here: Apple iPad Air 2) or later. The iPad mini (the Baby Bear) is too small for most Seniors to use and read comfortably on. The iPad Pro (the Father Bear) is too large to hold comfortably on a couch or in bed (not “huggable”).  The “standard” iPad Air 2 (the Mother Bear) is JUST right in terms of size (like holding a book or magazine) and weight (less than one pound.) It’s “very huggable” just the right size to read on the couch, the plane, and in-bed. The ultra-high resolution Retina screen is extremely sharp and clear.  Very easy for Senior eyes to read articles, books, magazines on.  DON’T be tempted to buy the 16GB model – both of you will be unhappy when your favorite Senior calls you late one evening and states… “My iPad says I don’t have any more room to store my photos?”  Buy the 64GB WiFi or WiFi/Cellular model.  It is well worth the difference in price. Also pay for the Apple Care Plus warranty program that even covers breakage (stuff happens!)
    • System Software:  There simply is no better mobile operating system available today than Apple’s IOS.  It is secure, fast, reliable, mature, robust and very easy-to-use.  Annual upgrades and frequent minor upgrades (both FREE) provide a device that is trouble free and also provides a few years of “future proofing.”
    • App’s: The Apple App Store provides millions of low cost or free software apps.  If you look at what most Seniors want to use a “computer” for it is the following: eMail, photos, web surfing, games, Facebook, reading books/magazines, and listening to music or watching a movie – all can be found on included software or on the App Store.
    • Additional Hardware: Your Senior is going to want a keyboard and a cover/case for that new iPad Air 2.  After trying many different brands the one that I would recommend is the Logictech Type+ keyboard case (click here: Logictech Type+). This keyboard is very sturdy, easy-to-type on, and gives good protection to the iPad Air 2. If your Senior needs a new printer then most any HP “e-print” ink-jet printer will work well.  This printer will work with Apple’s “Air Print” feature on the iPad Air 2 for truly wireless, no configuration printing. A good place to start is the HP Deskjet 2540 All-In-One which provides printing, scanning, and copying for a street price of around $75-$80 (click here: HP Deskjet 2540 AIO)
    • Family Sharing: One of the best reasons for buying an Apple device is Family Sharing.  This allows your extended family member to legally share movies, books, music and apps with the rest of your Family at little or no additional cost for almost everything. Learn more here: (click here: Apple Family Sharing) Just remember that all charges for media come to your credit card! (They will pay you back I’m sure!).
    • Combine with an iPhone: Plus, if your Senior is in the market for a new cell phone, then almost everything above also works with a new iPhone.  Thanks to Apple’s iCloud service calendars, emails, to-do reminders, photos, music, backups just works and “syncs” to one another.  No double entry!
    • Training:  There are dozens of options for Seniors to learn how to use their new iPad Air 2.  Apple Stores provide one on one and small group classes.  Many community Adult Ed and Senior Centers provides classes. There are MANY 3rd party “How To” books available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other retailers.  Pick paper books (not electronic books) and look for ones with lots of pictures (not lots of text) and may be titled “iPad Air 2 for Seniors” or one of the “Dummies” series books.  Check the published date (inside a few pages) and make sure it is less than two years old.

    Finally: Who is going to provide support?

    The natural and normal response is YOU.  I mean they ARE your parents, grandparents and aunt and uncle – correct? Well yes, and you probably should.  But the best thing about buying an Apple product is that it comes with Apple Support.  USA based, and FREE – two magic words for Seniors.  They can go into any Apple Store (regardless of where you bought the iPad Air 2) and get help.  They can also call, “chat” or e-mail with Apple hardware and software support. For more information (click here: Apple Support).

    Wrapping it up

    Save yourself hours of time, effort, grief, anxiety and more!  NO they don’t need a new desktop or laptop!  They need YOU and a new iPad Air 2 that becomes their new “laptop.”  Good luck and happy Senior computing.

    Comments, and questions are always welcome.  We appreciate you sharing this blog post with others.  Print it out and give it to your “Senior” family members.

    Tom Gordon – the iTechGeezer