Skip to main content

Originally published November 9, 2012 at 12:00 PM | Page modified November 12, 2012 at 4:32 PM

  • Share:
  • Comments (0)
  • Print

Hard-wired still beats transmitter

Special to The Seattle Times

Most Popular Comments
Hide / Show comments
No comments have been posted to this article.
Start the conversation >


Q: My daughter lives in a condo with a large living room that has a cable-jack input on one side and, for various reasons, needs to have the TV situated on the opposite wall. With wood floors and an intervening sliding-patio door and windows, hiding or even running a cable across the breadth of the room from the input jack to the cable box is not an elegant solution.

She has an Internet-enabled TV, so I am wondering what product you would recommend to connect from the cable box that would allow her to stream an HD signal from the box to her TV and other wireless devices. — Mark Hartman, Sammamish

A: If it were me, I’d just pay to have an additional cable outlet installed.

Yes, wireless HD transmitters — which generally go for $200 to $250 — have gotten better. And, yes, you might install one and have no troubles at all.

But like any other wireless system, they are susceptible to interference from a variety of sources. I’ve had generally good results with the couple of transmitters I have tried. But there’s nothing like hard-wired connections for reliability.

Q: I currently use an older laptop on a sailboat and a motor home with navigation software. I want to buy a new laptop with a screen that can be seen in daylight (sunlight) and with a long battery life. Can you suggest a model/brand or a reference to pursue?

— James W. McFadden, Mercer Island

A: I don’t make specific recommendations unless I have recently tested the products. But I will note that several manufacturers specialize in producing laptops for outdoor use that employ extra-bright (which, unfortunately, drain batteries) and anti-reflective screens.

Alternatively, you can buy specialized displays for your sailboat or motor home and simply plug in your laptop when you want to use them. Just search for outdoor readable display and you’ll see a variety of products.

First, though, I’d recommend you consider simply buying an anti-reflective film to put over your display. You might want to check out NuShield’s DayVue product. ( The film is easy to apply and to remove, and it also serves as a screen protector.

What’s more, it doesn’t affect your battery life and it can be used with virtually any computer. For most computers, your cost will be about $20 to $25.

Q: I have a 2-year-old Lenovo laptop T410, a very nice computer, running Windows 7. It has a 250-gigabyte hard drive, of which about 231 gigabytes are recognized to exist in a 221-gigabyte partition and 10-gigabyte backup partition.

The problem is that the computer says the C: drive is nearly full, with only 14 gigabytes free out of 221. And yet, when I count up all the folders on it, including hidden folders, I can only account for 107 gigabytes. The biggest folder is the Users folder, with 41 gigabytes, including pictures and music.

Where, do you suppose, is the missing 100 gigabytes?

— Martin Paquette, Bellevue

A: The most common cause of “missing” disk space is Windows virtual memory.

The operating system uses spaces on your hard drive for a paging file to which it writes data when your computer runs low on random access memory. By default, Windows sets the initial minimum size of the paging file at the amount of random access memory (RAM) installed on your computer, plus 300 megabytes The maximum size is set at three times the amount of RAM installed on your computer.

Obviously, though, it’s unlikely that virtual memory is going to account for as much missing space as you’re facing.

The second most common cause of missing disc space is the hidden files created by applications. Some backup programs do this and they can be very large.

There is, by the way, a free utility that lets you quickly and easily scan directories and it ranks them according to the size of their contents. TreeSize makes it easy to scan for disk hogs.

You can check it out at There’s no guarantee, however, that TreeSize will recognize and display all files hidden by applications.

Questions for Patrick Marshall may be sent by email to or, or by mail at Q&A/Technology, The Seattle Times, P.O. Box 70, Seattle, WA 98111.

More columns at


News where, when and how you want it

Email Icon