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Consumer Electronics and Computers



Modern day living depends on many forms of electronic gadgets. The value of these devices is greatly enhanced by the marriage of consumer electronics and computers.

What are Consumer Electronics

Consumer electronics are all the electronic devices that are used by everyday people as an aid and enhancement of their normal living. The term is meant to exclude electronics that are used for specialized purposes such as MRI or CAT scan machines, military radar systems and space exploration control and command electronics to name a few.

Consumer electronics includes;

  • audio: digital recorders, MP3 players, ipods, and home sound systems
  • video: home theater, TV, DVD players
  • digital imaging: cameras, video recorders
  • phones: cell phones, portable phones
  • pda's: Palm or Windows based, phone add on
  • gaming: game consoles, game controllers
  • computers: computer systems, home networks
  • auto: GPS systems, security, sound systems
  • other emerging technology: assorted systems of various kinds

All of the various consumer systems interface with computers in one way or another and they all benefit from the relationship.

Computer and Consumer Electronics

Audio

Consumer audio devices such as iPod and other digital music players depend on the computer for getting the media that they play. The user needs to download music, games and movies from the computer to have the media on the go.

Modern audio devices can get music from various sources such as iTunes directly into the device using a wireless connection. However, the computer is still needed to get many forms of material that may not be available otherwise. Additionally, having the files on the computer provides an extra layer of backup in case the information on the portable audio device gets wiped out or the device is lost or stolen.

The cassette tape player is going the way of the dodo. There currently is no similar device which is portable and has some sort of cartridge, tape or storage device to keep recorded sound and offload the player. Transferring files to and from the computer is the main way of maintaining prior recordings. Some devices have memory sticks or cards which can be used to store music. However, this method of maintaining collections of music and the like doesn't seem to have a wide following. Additionally, different cards and sticks are not interchangeable between different recording devices.

Copying files to the computer and burning a DVD or CD of the files provides for a method of generating portable media that anyone can use in their CD or DVD players. However, some digital recorders capture the sound in file format that is not suitable for burning onto a cd and special procedures or programs are needed to convert the music or other media to a format that can be used to create an audio CD. If this is an issue for you, you should check what kind of files your digital recording device creates and if they can be directly burned to DVD.

Video

An audio and video setup that recreates a cinema quality experience in your home is known as a home theater. In order to accomplish this, the user needs a large screen, surround sound and some source of video such as a DVD player. The addition of a computer to the mix allows for storage and playback of movies as well as enhanced 3D game playing on the wide screen.

In order to support this, the user needs to get a video card with DVI outputs that can connect to large flat screen or projection TV. More information about video cards is available at Video Cards.

Just a note of caution. There is a program called PCShowBuzz that claims to play TV on your computer. Reviews indicate that it only plays obscure channels and there are virus concerns also.

DVDs can be played directly on one's computer with either Windows Media player or some other third party program such as PowerDVD.

People can create their own video productions from video clips. The clips can come from different sources on the web or users can download their own videos from their video cameras or digital video recorders. Programs such as Windows Movie Maker or Nero PhotoShow Deluxe enable the users to put together the clips with all sorts of bells and whistles such as menus, video transition effects and special effects. These programs guide the user through every step of the process and make creating entertaining and professional looking home videos easy.

Digital Imaging

Digital cameras depend on computers for a number of things. Digital camera software allows the pictures and videos produced on the camera of digital video recorder to be transferred from portable device to the computer. Different software programs allow pictures to be reviewed and displayed so that bad pictures can be discarded and good ones kept and organized into albums or other sorts of collection if so desired.

Pictures can be doctored and blemishes removed with video editing software such as Photoshop Elements or other free video editing software programs. Red eye can be removed as can other undesirable items. Videos can also be edited and improved.

The images can be published to the web to various sites. Flickr is a free web site that allows you to publish your pictures so that anyone you want to can view them.

Downloaded pictures can be printed on photo printers using special photo paper.

Phones

Many people use VOIP (Voice Over IP) phones that use the broadband connection that connects you to the internet to provide them with phone service. Since this phone capability is not viewed as an official phone service, the government doesn't tax it like it does regular phone services so that it comes out quite a bit cheaper than standard landline service.

Things to consider in switching to this kind of service include the question of 911 availability, sound quality and the ability to keep your original phone number.

These services also offer enhanced features that are not offered on landline phones such as free automatic redial of a busy number, not requiring the entry of 1 before long distance numbers and online access to call and billing history as well as control of features.

There is more detailed information in my Voip Communications article

PDAs

PDAs or personal digital assistants such as a palm pilot contain provide portable useful information to the user such as calendars with appointments and time based tasks, contact lists with information about phone numbers, email addresses etc, notes for various and sundry purposes, task lists, portable browsing, music and more. Many such devices support email as well.

Most people maintain email and all the other features on their computer in a single program such as Microsoft Outlook or a combination of programs. Synchronizing the data between the PDA (the PDA can be integrated into a phone) and the computer allows a person to have their information up to date in both places. Chapura provides software to synchronize data between PDAs and Outlook or Outlook Express.

Music and PDA programs such as portable Office compatible word processing or spreadsheets can be downloaded. Documents to Go is one such program. Various programs of other kinds including games are also available Handango is one source of these programs.

Auto

Many auto onboard systems are controlled by computers.

Home computers relate to GPS systems such as Garmin, Magellan, Tom Tom and others by downloading new maps to them and also providing for software upgrades and fixes via a USB connection.

Summary

The world of consumer electronics is huge and we've covered a small fraction of it. The potential for synergy between consumer electronics and computers will only continue to grow and provide great benefits to all.



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5/21/2009



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