Letters to PC World, February 2006
Price-Comparison Sites: Readers' Picks
In "Deal Finders" [December], you missed one of the best shopping tools I know of: Activeshopper. You can download its toolbar for IE or Firefox. When you start shopping for something, it pops up and gives you sites that offer the lowest price for that item, saving a lot of time.
C. E. Ziegler, via e-mail
Your comparison of shopping search engines omitted the best of them all: Froogle. With Google's brand recognition, it's surprising you did not include it. My firm uses it to purchase industrial and commercial equipment, as well as consumer goods. It even searches eBay.
Claude Kosinski, Baton Rouge, Louisiana
David S. Bookbinder, via e-mail
Pricewatch.com is a site everyone I know uses, and it has served all of my needs for more than two years now.
Author's response: We tried to balance older and newer sites, so some popular engines had to be excluded. One important criterion in our preliminary judging was user interface, and in this regard we felt that some well-known sites, including Froogle and Pricewatch.com, fell short. --Grace Aquino
New for 2006--But Not Better?
In the December issue, "What's New for 2006" begins, "...there's a lot to look forward to in the coming year." Yes: more bugs, viruses, updates, fixes, upgrades, and so on. A new year changes nothing--the procession of updates is unending and constant. Just once I would like to see a product that has gone through some rigorous testing so that it doesn't need patches or updates right out of the box.
Joe Zinskie, Thailand
Rating Reviews and Rankings
Your tweaking of the design of PC World works well. Integrating the Top 100 and New Products provides greater context for both of these features. At first I wasn't sure it would, because I liked having all the Top 100 items in one place for easy reference. But the combined format makes sense. And the new 1-100 rating system is certainly more nuanced than the previous star ratings. I expect it to be very helpful.
Paul Pigman, via e-mail
The December 2005 Up Front editorial says that PC World now includes price as a factor in determining a product's rating. Please reconsider this decision. Your reviews should be based solely on the functionality of the product. Under the new method, readers will not be able to determine which is the best product! Let each reader decide whether to spend more money for a higher-rated unit.
Kevin O'Brien, New York
PCs vs. Music
Stephen Manes complains of music downloads crashing systems ["PCs and Music: Imperfect Together?" Full Disclosure, December]. I've been using iTunes for at least three years now, and have probably purchased nearly 1000 songs. Never has an update failed or disabled my machine, and never has a purchased song failed to download properly the first time. I can't think of any other software that has worked with such accuracy.
Paul Jay, Chicago
When you purchase music from, say, iTunes or Real Rhapsody, you're locked into using their software to play the music you've bought. Oftentimes it crashes your computer, hogs resources, or causes other programs to malfunction. This is one reason why many users prefer to get their music via peer-to-peer clients: not because it's free, but because you can play it on whatever player you're comfortable with, and because you can make backups on a CD-R or an external hard drive.
Phillip Mistretta, Brooklyn
Although I was pleased to see PC World recommending free and low-cost software alternatives to expensive programs ["Software-Giant Killers," December], I was disappointed not to see Blender 3D in the list. This wonderful three-dimensional modeling/animating tool is an open-source project and is quickly gaining the features many proprietary titles include. Perhaps it's not for everyone, but it does show the effectiveness of the open-source movement.
Janzen Brewer, Tifton, Georgia
HDTV on LCD
Regarding your "Ten HDTV Myths" [Digital World, December]: The author did a good job of debunking some myths but expressed some unfair criticism of LCD sets--saying, for instance, that all such sets have "pedestrian" response times. My LCD set has an 8-millisecond response time with no motion artifacts.
And despite a warning about power demands of future models, my 37-inch LCD draws just 120 watts, whereas my friend's 40-inch plasma TV pulls 450.
James Reeve, Waterford, Virginia
A Smooth Move to VoIP
With regard to "Moving Your Number to VoIP? Please Hold" [News and Trends, December]: My landline phone carrier was Qwest, and the number transfer to Vonage took less than a week--despite the fact that my listed name with Qwest was my nickname, "Mac," while the name appearing on my landline phone bill was my given name. One e-mail exchange with customer service at Vonage cleared up the problem. Vonage was up to speed on my 911 registration, as well: It came through in less than a week.
Mac Kornelsen, Castle Rock, Colorado
I found it refreshing to read your tip about getting up and stretching while the computer does something that makes you wait ["Don't Take a Windows Slow-Up Sitting Down," Answer Line, December]. Lincoln Spector wrote, "Sitting at a computer all day is not healthy." How true. But we don't see statements like that very often.
Gord Braun, via e-mail
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