Analog To Digital TV Converter

Analog to Digital TV Converter
Zenith DDT900 Analog – Digital Converter

Analog to Digital TV Converter

Were you actually looking for a Digital to Analog TV Converter Box or a DTV box or Digital Converter Box? If you still have one or more analog televisions in your home and you wish to use them after February 17th, 2009, you will need to buy a Digital to Analog Television Converter Box. Some tend to reverse the terminology by calling these Analog to Digital Converters rather than the other way around, or you may refer to them simply as a DTV Box, or digital converter box.  Whichever way you name them, their purpose is to allow you to continue watching the new digital television transmissions on your old analog television. So, analog to digital, digital to analog … how much do these babies cost, and which DTV Box or digital converter box should I buy?

DTV.GOV has useful information and links to coupons for how to acquire these DTV boxes. Typically, they cost around $50.00 – $60.00. The good news is that every U.S household can receive two $40.00 coupons from the U.S government at the website below: DTV.GOV
Analog to Digital Website So, basically, you can expect to pay no more than $10.00 or $20.00 for each television, as long as you use them to purchase one of the listed models on their site. You can also call them at: 1-888-DTV-2009. The other way is to request one from your Cable or Satellite TV provider.

There are other, more expensive DTV Boxes with a better television menu system and other advanced features. However, after doing a little research, I’ve discovered that there are really no substantial benefits or reasons to pay more than $50.00 for a box which will be used on an older, analog television. One of the more popular ones seems to be the Zenith DTT900. It is actually a nice looking box and quite a bit better looking than the old analog one given to me by my cable provider, Comcast.

Analog televisions normally use a 4:3 viewing ratio. The DTT900 will support a wide screen views if you do happen to have a digital TV, but this box is mostly intended to make use of a 4×3 analogy TV. There are four viewing Formats that you can set:
Set By Program, Letterbox, Cropped and Squeeze.

The menu system seemed adequate and easy to use, though I would prefer larger buttons for the numbers on the remote, which is a little too small for my personal tastes. The DTT900 includes 2 RF-style F connectors. One for input and one for output. It also includes one set of standard RCA outputs.

DDT900 Remote
DDT900 Remote

Due to digital processing, there is a noticeable improvement in picture quality, even on an analog television. The important thing, however, is that the DTT900 provides an inexpensive way to continue using your favorite analog television, allowing you to wait for digital television prices to continue dropping through the floor. For the official FCC website regarding DTV Converters: DTV.GOV

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Hard Drive Backup Software

How to Back Up Data

Have you procrastinated backing up your hard disk data because there are Carbonite Online PCBackuptoo many choices? Windows XP Backup Software has never been an easy or adequate solution.  The good news is there are really only two choices: Online Backup or a Backup Drive. This review covers just two of the many products that fall under these choices. Forget about looking for the perfect Windows XP Backup Utility. You won’t find it in Vista or Windows 7 either.  Not even Windows 2003 Server Backup is as convenient and easy to use as what you’ll get with a good Online PC Backup program like Carbonite.

Online Backup

The choice is yours: $1500 hard drive recovery OR $54.95/year for unlimited backup.
For only $55 per year (that’s a little more than $4 per month),
you will have a secure way of keeping your PC, Notebook or Server data backed up at all times. Carbonite works by installing a very small software program on your computer which quietly works in the background looking for changes in your computer, and backing them up as you continue to use your computer as normal. This is the best Hard Drive Backup Software I have ever tried. There is no need to learn how to use the program, it works for you. Furthermore, Carbonite does not expose you to security risks. Your files are encrypted as they are backed-up, making it completely impossible for your data to get in the wrong hands. Carbonite claims this is the very same encryption that banks use. Why not have those same securities for your home or office computer? Carbonite sleeps while you are using your computer, so there is never any noticeable slowing of your system. Recovering any deleted or lost data is simply a matter of a few clicks of your mouse. It really is that simple. The best part of all is that Carbonite will allow you to try the program for free for 15 days, and no credit card is required. You have nothing to lose for trying, and data to risk if you don’t:

Backup Drive

Your other choice is to take advantage of the many low-cost, external backup drives on the market. If you like to be in control of your own computer and data, this is the way to go. Backup drives range from $75.00 to $300, or more, depending on capacity. The larger the better. If your Hard Drive size is say, 160GB, I’d consider a backup unit that is triple the size. For example, Seagate makes a 750GB that can be had for around $170.00:
This slick little unit, merely plugs into a USB port on your computer. You can treat it like a regular drive, and drag and drop your files to it, or you can use the backup software it comes with. The 750GB capacity will allow you to make daily backups, and rotate them. This is a good way to insure that you can always go back and retrieve data from one, two, or more than a few days back.

If you’re question is, How to Back Up Data, either an external Hard Disk or Carbonite Online, will do a great job. You might also consider using both.
It depends on what you prefer. If you would like to have someone else do it and forget about it, choose a solution like the Carbonite Online Backup. If you’re a more advanced type of computer user, and would like greater control of what you are backing up, go for one of the many available, External Hard Drives.  For over 15 years, I have experimented with different programs, but have never been happy with any of the Hard Drive Backup Software on the market.  Carbonite Online has allowed me to completely forget about any of the worries I used to have wondering if my valuable data was protected and backed-up on a minute-by-minute basis.

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What is the best Recumbent Exercise Bike for under $500? Recumbent Bike Review

It happens once in a great while that I buy a product which exceeds my expectations by so much that it feels like I stole it. This is one of those rare finds that proves what you pay for isn’t necessarily what you get. With the Stamina R360s, you get far more than you expected – and then some.

What is a Recumbent Exercise Bike?

Unlike traditional exercise bikes, recumbent bikes have a comfortable, adjustable reclining, full seat. My wife and I decided it would be useful to have an exercise bike for those days when the weather is too hot or too cold. Also, bikes are a great way to get aerobic exercise without putting stress on the knees, backs, hips, shins and other parts of the body that tend to give us problems as we get into our 30’s, 40’s and beyond. I’ve been a regular member of an exercise gym for the last several years, and have learned to know what I like in exercise equipment. I expected to pay $300 or more to get a low-end recumbent that would provide reasonable quality and features. From past experience, I prefer the comfortable seats of the recumbent bike over the traditional, upright bikes. For $300, I hoped the bike would come with some of the basic features that I use: Heart Rate monitoring, magnetic resistance and gauge for measuring speed, time and distance. I found exactly what I want, with one exception: The Stamina R360s does not cost $300 or more. It doesn’t cost $200 or more. It costs $108.67 at Walmart! You might ask, “Why would you pay $108.67 for a bike when your budget was for $300” The simple answer is that after reading numbers upon numbers of user reviews, all of them have a fair amount of negative feedback – even recumbent bikes costing $500 or more. So, recognizing that no bike under $500 is going to be perfect, why not save some money and buy the one that is the least expensive? The Stamina R360s had a large number of online opinions, and most of them were very favorable. Also, the Stamina R360s includes the most essential features required in a recumbent bike.

Stamina R360S Features

So, what exactly do you get for $108.67? A darn good recumbent exercise bike, built on a solid, thick, metal frame with comfortable, gray-colored seat and back support. There are lower handles at the back, with pulse sensors and touch controls for increasing or decreasing the resistance. In the front of the bike is an LCD screen with large, easy-to-read black numbers which indicate, time, speed, distance, calories burned, and pulse rate. Exercise data will scan and revolve from one to the next, as you continue your work out. Or you can lock-into one particular set of data by pressing the mode button while that feature is displayed. For example, if I want to view my pulse for a fixed amount of time, I press the Mode button while my pulse is displayed, and it becomes permanent until I press the mode button a second time. The pulse is measured by the sensors which are comfortably located on the handle-bars in the rear. If that isn’t convenient enough, these rear handle bars also have thumb-push buttons on the ends of them for controlling the resistance of your workout. The Stamina R360s uses magnetic resistance which is a technology you’d expect to find only on more expensive bikes. The left thumb-button makes the bike easier to peddle and the right thumb-button makes it more difficult. The manual was clear and well done, and assembly was a breeze. I am by no means a mechanical person and it required no more than an hour to have it fully assembled.

Stamina R360S Operation and Performance

While you’re thinking this bike seems very well equipped for the price, you are probably wondering if the actual operation and performance live up to the hype. Yes, they do – at least in the short-run. For starters, the operation of the R360s is extremely quiet – quieter than many of the bikes I’ve used at the gym. Though it is no where near as heavy as a commercial-grade exercise bike, it feels solid and doesn’t move when I am riding it, even at a high speed. At 170lbs, I feel very confident and stable using it, and have no doubt that it would handle at least another 50lbs. The bike will accommodate a large range of different sized children and adults through an adjustable knob on the base. One very minor annoyance is that there is no provision for adjusting the seating distance while you are riding. In fact, making adjustments, even when you’re off of the bike, proved to be a slightly difficult task. This is not much of a problem for me, because my wife and I are both comfortable using the same seating adjustment. I could see how this might be a bit of a drawback for several different-sized family members who want to share the bike. The touch buttons for operating the magnetic resistance are very easy to use and work quite well. I am also completely satisfied with the range of resistance, which makes it very easy to peddle at the very lightest setting and more than difficult enough to really tax your legs at it’s very highest. The pulse reading is extremely accurate. To verify this, I worked out using my Timex, TG971 Heart Rate monitor to compare. The two readings were identical. Also, the LCD screen is very easy to operate and includes very large numbers which are viewable from anywhere the bike seating is adjusted. Also, the LCD display has a small pocket for holding your MP3 player. The cushions on the seat and back support are adequate, but a little bit thin. Not a problem, because you can always buffer it with a pillow or extra cushion of your own. When I say quiet, I mean whisper quiet. You really can watch television while working out, without even adjusting your volume beyond your normal listening level.

Stamina R360S Conclusion

The only possible drawback I can see with this a bike at this price is the fear of the unknown. That is, wondering whether or not it will hold up and last over time and extended use. I was paying $39.95 a month for my health gym membership. The R360s includes a 90 day parts warranty and 1 year for the frame. That should at least cover 3 months of gym membership fees. Personally, I cannot see much going wrong with the frame. My concern would be with the moving parts, the electronics and magnetic resistance. Meanwhile, I hope to be getting many good aerobic workouts with this machine. I will report back in three to six months on how good the $108.67 investment is holding up in value.Stamina bike models have changed since this review.

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Timex Heart Watch Review

Best Heart Rate Monitor Under $50

Pros: Accurate pulse readings. Crisp display. Comfortable chest strap.
Attractive style in the size of a regular watch. Easy to setup and use
Affordable price.  Includes the essentials of a more expensive Exercise Heart Rate Monitor

Cons: Lacks functionality for uploading, downloading and storing exercise data

Introduction to the Timex T5G971

The T5G971 is a Timex Heart Rate Monitor. The T5G971 looks like a regular sports watch, yet in addition to keeping time, serves as a full-featured Exercise Heart Rate Monitor. The T5G971, with the use of the included Chest-Strap, will accurately display a digital reading of your pulse while you workout, jog, run, walk, or simply type on your computer, as I am doing now. Unlike other heart rate monitor watches in the entry level price range, the T5G971 includes a chest strap with built-in sensors, meaning that you do not have to place your finger on a heart-rate sensor to get a reading of your pulse. Judging by the price, the T5G971 is obviously not the best heart rate monitor you can buy. One of the more popular ones is the Polar F4 Heart Rate Monitor which costs about $20 more, but has a few more bells and whistles. As a previous owner of one of the Timex finger-sensor models, I can tell you that the chest-strap is the only way to go. My previous watch was never of much use to me, as I had a difficult time getting it to recognize my pulse through the finger sensor. What’s worse, the movement during an actual workout made it impossible to use during an exercise session without stopping first to steady my finger on the sensor. Unless it has a chest strap, I have concluded it cannot be a worthwhile exercise heart rate monitor. While I was skeptical of trying another Timex Heart Rate Monitor watch, I received this from my daughter as a Father’s Day gift, and the chest-strap has made all the difference in the world. It really works, and works quite well!


The T5G971 Timex Heart Watch feels sturdy and well-built. The wrist strap comes with several adjustment notches for fitting any-size wrist. The Chest Strap is a flexible rubber band with sensors underneath which fits comfortable underneath your sternum and fits into an adjustable-sized snap in front. There are five buttons for operating the watch: On the left hand side is a setup button for programming the watch, and a Recall button for displaying workout information. Along the right hand side, is an Indigo Light and Heart Rate Recovery button. The fifth button, on the bottom of the top bezel is for turning the pulse display On/Off, as well as toggling an audible timer.


In addition to keeping your current pulse and time, the Timex T5G971 keeps track of and records your average heart rate, maximum heart rate, calories burned, and Target Heart Rate zones. Supplemental exercise instructions are included for helping you determine your heart rate zones. Your maximum and minimum heart rate zones are easily programmed into the watch, along with your weight for determining the number of calories you burned during a workout. By far, my favorite feature is the 1-Minute Heart Rate Recovery function, which through the press of a single button, will measure how many beats your heart rate slows down when you’ve stopped exercising. This is a great way to determine the level of your cardio fitness, without having to look at a watch or clock to determine when a minute has passed by since you stopped exercising. The built-in timer does it for you and records the number of beats per minute that your heart recovers after you’ve ceased exercising. Target heart rate zones are programmed by holding onto the Set Button, while the watch is tracking your pulse, and then choosing your minimum and maximum heart-rate zones, as well as your maximum pulse. You will also be able to enter your weight for tracking calories. The watch will begin recording information about your work-out, upon the moment it first begins to track your pulse. When you have finished your work out, you can press the recall button and continue tapping on it to scroll through your fitness data; Workout-Time, AVG Heart-Beat, Recovery Rate, Time in Rate Zone, Peak Heart Rate, and calories burned. It’s really that simple.


While more expensive watches such as the Polar F11 (selling for about $90 more) have the ability to record and upload data to and from a PC, the Timex T5G971 does a great job at doing what it’s intended to do – that is, keeping accurate track of your pulse and providing you with the most vital cardio workout data. I found the watch fairly tricky to setup for the first time, but this is pretty much true of all watches which use a limited number of buttons for programming them. Also, I’ve had some trouble from time to time, getting a pulse reading when the Chest Strap is first installed. Once the pulse is detected, it never fails to continue working even under very vigorous exercise and movement. I’ve tested the watches accuracy by timing my pulse with a 2nd-hand and comparing. The results are identical, so I am confident that the Timex is always giving me data which is 100% accurate. For it’s low-price, accuracy and essential features, I highly recommend this watch to anyone who doesn’t need or care about interaction with their computer.

Other Heart Rate Watch Monitors

Check back soon for more reviews as new products become available.

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Magellan Maestro 3225

What is the Best GPS for under $200.00
Maestro 3225 GPS by Magellan

Magellan Maestro 3225 GPS Pros and Cons



Slim, light portable and attractive. Affordable. Colorful touch screen. Voice/Street Name instructions. SD Card expandability.



Compass Direction hard to read in sunlight. Small-screen difficult to read. Little or no support as far as Map and Feature upgrades to this point. Voice volume a bit too quite and shrill to listen to.


Introduction to the Magellan Maestro 3225 GPS

There’s something to be said for a slim-sized, portable GPS that takes less room in your pocket than the smallest of cell phones. The Magellan Maestro 3225 GPS is a sleek, small but fairly full-featured Auto GPS that can be easily transported from place to place or vehicle to vehicle. I have taken it along with me on trips, and have really grown to appreciate the portability. Unlike some of the larger Garmin models which are fat and chunky, this little guy is about a half-inch thick, is 3.25” by 3.65” in diameter, and weighs just a little under 5 oz. The Magellan Maestro 3225 GPS can be had at Costco for about $150. I paid $199 back in January, and that is still a pretty good deal in lieu of what you get. The Maestro 3225 GPS Unit is equipped with a 3.5” QVGA touchscreen. The display is sharp, colorful and easy to read. The unit includes a Li-ion rechargeable 1100ma battery, a 12-24 V vehicle adapter, 1ea USB Adapter and charger, and online manual and CD Software. Also included, is a mountable dashboard stand with suction cup and adhesive flat, black plastic disc for mounting the unit on the dashboard or other convenient viewing surfaces.


The 3.5” QVGA screen on the Magellan Maestro 3225 GPS is bright and colorful with a very attractive user interface on a colorful blue background, consisting of 3D Icons which allow you to navigate through the various menus by merely touching them. Out of the box, the unit includes maps of the US, Puerto Rico, Canada and a total of 1.3 million points of interest. There is a little trick for downloading and importing up to 6 million POI, which is referred to elsewhere on this website. With over 6 million Points of Interest, the GPS is better than having an entire U.S phonebook in the palm of your hand. You can search for a coffee shop or pool hall by specific address, or by your current location. The basic operation for programming your route is quite simple. After purchasing this unit, I was able to bring it back to my car, open up the box, and within 5 minutes, have it guide me to the 18 mile destination back to my office – all without the help of any manuals. The GPS picked up my position very rapidly, though I found it a bit difficult, at first, to guide me out of the parking lot. This may not be a product quirk – it could just be me being a little dyslexic about finding directions while backing up in parking lots, but I’ve always had a little bit of trouble adjusting to my route when getting in the car the first time. There are various ways you can view your screen; you can set the top of your screen as either always facing North, or the heading of your current direction. I prefer having my heading on the top of the screen. On the bottom left corner of the screen is an arrow, pointing in the direction of your next turn, as well as the distance. You can also program the GPS to show a split screen when you’re approaching your turn with a larger, more detailed arrow. The name of your current street or highway is on the top middle of the screen, and the street of your next turn is located on the bottom center. I found the contrast and brightness of the screen to be sufficiently easy to read in bright sunlight, except for the compass direction. For some reason, Magellan chose a yellowish-orange color for the compass direction, and it is nearly impossible to read in bright sunlight without taking my eyes off the road and putting my face up to the screen. Also, I quickly learned the sacrifice of the portable smaller screens is that the textual information in general; compass directions, street names, mileage indicators require some squinting on my part to read.TIP: I found that positioning the screen slightly upwards, towards the roof of the car helps with the contrast in bright sun, making the compass and other text more legible.The Maestro 3225 gives you the choice of both 2D and 3D Road views. I found the detail of the roads, and points of interest to be very good, either way. The road of your chosen destination is shown in green, and opposing roads in read. You can zoom-in to within 300FT of your map view; Parks, Gas Stations, Coffee Shops, schools, stores, etc, etc, are all Points of Interests which can be turned on or off, depending on the level of detail you require. Also, you can program the GPS to change to a dark, back-lit screen for night-driving after the sun has gone down. Any shortcomings with the small screen are greatly aided by the turn-by-street name voice instructions. The female voice is accurate for the most part, and easy to understand, though at the loudest volume, the speaker output seems a bit shrill, and not always loud enough to hear. This, I suppose, is another drawback of small-size which equates to smaller speaker and sound. For the most part, the voice directions are very accurate, and even indicate which lane you need to be in for your highway exits. Truthfully, I could rely on the voice instructions, without necessarily needing to see the screen at all. I was impressed with the built-in intelligence included for entering addresses and destinations, which makes it quick and easy to enter new routes. For instance, when you are typing in a street address, the display will limit the numbers and/or street letters according to the zip code and city you chose. All routes are automatically saved as Previous Destinations, making it a snap to go back to where you want to go at any time. Also, all of your addresses and destinations can be manually saved and recalled in the unit’s Built-in Address Book.

Expansion / Upgrades

The Maestro 3225 provides an SD slot with unlimited capacity for storing maps and backing up your data, as well as a pretty good-sized 2GB for internal storage. Unfortunately, I do not see much from Magellan in the way of supporting add-on products for this particular model. The Maestro 3225 includes Magellan’s Vantage Point, which allows you to use your computer for viewing your GPS maps, routing destinations, entering addresses, etc. Personally, I found the mapping and graphics of the software to be crude, cumbersome to use, and not very useful. Google Earth is far better for this, especially if it links to your GPS. Aside from that, the ability to enter routes and addresses on your computer using Vantage Point can definitely save you lots of time. Magellan lists that the lithium ion battery is good for 3 hours of use, and I found that to be pretty accurate on road trips.


My final impression is that the Maestro 3225 is  a GPS that is just good enough to make me wish I had bought something better. Having used this for a few months, I’ve decided I’d gladly take a slightly larger 4.3” screen for easier viewing. My latest road trip has made me appreciate the need for other features found on more expensive units such as a speed limit indicator, construction information, and the support for additional upgrades in the way of maps, and points of interest. If the internal memory and unlimited SD Card expansion are any indication of the future upgrade potential of the Maestro 3225 Magellan GPS, then there is some hope that at least some of these shortcomings can be remedied. I highly recommend this unit to anyone looking for an effective, portable and low-cost Auto GPS that’s fun to use.

Final Rating Magellan Maestro 3225 GPS

      Portability: 92
      Cost: 90
      Features: 78
      Performance: 79
      Ease of Use: 88
      Support: 75

Overall: 84

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