Do They Really Work?
The world is full of stuff that sounds too good to be true, and the tech world has its own share of these dubious products. They run the gamut, from software products that make enticing claims, to gadgets that promise a bounty of free services. Some of them are outright scams, shams or ripoffs. And surprisingly, some of them actually work. Read on to get the low-down on six tech tools, and my verdict on each one...
Scams, Ripoffs, and a Few Surprising Tech Gems
Android Anti-Malware Apps - As more and more people buy smartphones, the concern over mobile malware grows. If you have an iPhone, the prevailing wisdom still says you don't need any anti-malware protection. But if you have an Android-based smartphone, you may want to add an extra layer of protection. The problem is, many of these apps (even some from well-known security vendors) simply don't work very well.
AV-Test.org, the respected anti-malware testing organization, put 41 Android anti-malware programs through their paces. It found that only seven apps correctly detected more than 90 percent of 618 Android-specific malware; those reasonably-good apps come from Avast, F-Secure, Lookout, Kaspersky, Ikarus, Dr. Web and Zoner.
On the other hand, products from BullGuard, Comodo, McAfee, NQ, Total Defense and G Data detected only 40 to 65 percent of the malware tested. Read AV-Test’s full report to see how well (or poorly) each of the Android anti-malware apps did.
VERDICT: MAYBE (if you do your homework)
Gold-Plated Audio/Video Cables - When you're looking for cables to connect audio or video gear, you'll see two options. Regular HDMI cables and expensive gold plated cables. The salesperson may tell you to go with gold-plated cables to get superior performance. But do they really work any better? Actually no.
Premium-priced HDMI cables with gold-plated connectors, Kevlar shielding, etc., do not deliver better sound or video quality than inexpensive generic cables. In fact, one audiophile found that his friends couldn’t tell the difference between Monster Cables and coat hanger wire in a test that involved playing the same music files over the otherwise same equipment. But some retailers have scammed shoppers by setting up two TVs side-by-side to illustrate “the Monster difference.” Problem is, the Monster cable was plugged into one TV set’s HDMI port while the “inferior” cable was plugged into the second TV’s composite port. The latter, of course, provides about the poorest signal you can get.
One review I found said that if your cables are exposed to harsh elements such as sea water, the gold-plating will not corrode. But if you're not setting up a home theater system on your yacht, then you'll be just fine with the standard copper-coated HDMI cables.
VERDICT: NO (don't waste your money)
"Speed Up Your PC!" - Ads on TV and the Internet promise one-click software that will "Double the speed of your PC" or "Restore your computer to like new condition." Typically, you'll download a free program that scans your computer for problems, then tries to scare you into plunking down $49 for a solution that will clean up the mess and speed up your computer. Are these programs worth the electrons they're floating around on?
As I said in my article Do Those 'Speed Up Your PC' Programs Really Work?, the ones you see endlessly hyped might actually do some of what they promise, but there's no need to pay for them. Some of those cleanup and speedup functions are built into Windows, and free software is available to do the rest of the job.
VERDICT: MAYBE (but you can get the same results for free)
Magic Jack - Magic Jack is another gadget that's advertised in classic informercial style, plugs into your computer, and promises to give you something for free. In the case of Magic Jack, it's free or really cheap phone service. And this one is for real. If you're looking for an internet calling solution that can replace your landline and eliminate the expensive monthly bills that come along with it, Magic Jack is worth a look. See Magic Jack Phone Service to learn more about how it works.
VERDICT: YES (significant savings are possible)
PretonSaver Inkjet Saver - This software promises to "save you up to 70%" in inkjet printing costs. PretonSaver claims that their advanced ink saving technologies will yield high quality printing results that are "virtually the same as regular printing." They further claim that their algorithm will beat the pants off your printer's draft or economy mode. But does it really work?
I tested PretonSaver with my trusty HP OfficeJet Pro, and found that it works surprisingly well. After installing PretonSaver, a dialog pops up each time you print from a Windows application, prompting you to choose your level of ink savings, from zero to 70 percent. At the default of 35% optimization, the printout looked only slightly lighter than my test sheet with no optimization. I might not have noticed the difference if I wasn't comparing the two sheets with a careful eye. At 70% optimization, the print was noticeably lighter, but still quite readable. One feature I especially liked was the little window that pops up after you print, telling you how much each printed page costs.
If you often print out draft documents or emails because you prefer to read them on paper, or you just don't need high-quality for a particular print job, this software is very simple to use, and will definitely help you save money. The Home version of PretonSaver offers a free 30-day trial, after which you can pay $29 for a lifetime license.
VERDICT: YES (if you don't always need high-quality print)
Have you tried any of these tech gadgets or software products? Feel free to comment on these and other related products. Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 3 Dec 2012
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Do They Really Work? (Posted: 3 Dec 2012)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved