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7 simple solutions to your daily tech problems

7 simple solutions to your daily tech problems
As the amount of tech in our homes increases, so does the complexity. Here we round up some common tech hurdles and offer solutions on how to get around them.

1. Increase Wi-Fi signal range

March 19,2015
Increase Wi-Fi signal range
Wi-Fi is not an exact science you may never be able to pinpoint why some places in your house just don't receive a signal. Furthermore, a lot depends on the antenna on a receiving device. For instance, a laptop may be able to receive a wireless signal a lot further than a smartphone. 

Some routers have a higher range than others (Wi-Fi Nac and those with two or more antennas). It is also possible to swap out the antennas of your router with ones that have a higher gain. 

Simply replacing the stock antenna with high gain ones can increase range. If you're comfortable with poking around the settings, you can also check if they allow you to increase the routers transmit power (sometimes called TX Power in settings). 

A value of 60 or 70 will be the default but you can increase it to 100 and watch for any improvements in range. The downside of this is that the router may run hotter than normal so you will need to keep it cool.

2. The three golden rules of router placement

March 19,2015
The three golden rules of router placement
Wi-Fi signals emanate in a circle, outwards from the router (omni-directionally) — therefore, for maximum Wi-Fi coverage inside the house, you need to place the router as close to the centre of the house as possible. Wi-Fi signals tend to travel down rather than up, so you can maximize coverage inside the house by placing it on a higher location like on top of a cupboard or on a ledge. 

Two things eat up wireless signals consistently: Thick walls & interference from other devices like cordless phones, microwave ovens and wireless headphones. Try and avoid thick walls between the router and your most common point of use and place the router at least 6 feet away from other equipment that could cause interference.

3. Wireless storage & printing

March 19,2015
Wireless storage & printing
A wired printer is placed in one room (usually connected to a desktop) and to print, you usually have to go to that room. If you are planning to get a new printer, spend a bit more and get one with built-in Wi-Fi. If you already have a wired printer, you can connect it with a compatible Wi-Fi router to make it available to any device on your home network. 

If you need to upgrade your router, buy one with print server support from Asus, D-Link or Belkin (Rs 2,000 onwards). You can then configure the printer to work as a network printer via the support software or by adding it as a new network printer from Control Panel > Device and Printers.

Accessing network storage works in similar way. Connect a portable hard drive to the USB port on the router and configure it as network storage. The drive will then be visible to all devices connected to Wi-Fi. It is also possible to access a particular folder on the hard drive inside a desktop computer.

Right click on a particular folder, click the Sharing tab and tap the 'Share' button. Once shared, the folder will be accessible to other devices on the same homegroup under Network places.

4. Charging multiple devices

March 19,2015
Charging multiple devices
For anything that charges with USB, the voltage is always 5volts. The Amps will determine how fast the device charges. For instance, an iPad charger is rated at 5volts and 2.1amps. If you use a charger that only pushes 1Amp, the iPad will still charge, but will take more than twice as long for a full charge. 

It's now fairly common to have multiple portable devices, but luckily most of them will work with USB charging. This way you can get something like Portronics' 6 port USB charger. This inexpensive device offers 6 USB ports that you can use to charge tablets, phones, e-book readers, smartwatches and cameras. The only catch is that you need to use your own cables. 

Each port supplies 5volts of power at 1amp. Note that computers and laptops have 'weak' USB ports. This means they only offer 500mAh (0.5amps) of power; not enough to charge a tablet and it will take longer than usual to charge a smartphone. 

Exceptions are USB 3.0 ports (identified by an 'SS' logo or the distinctive blue colour) which usually put out about 900mAh.

5. Managing multiple remotes

March 19,2015
Managing multiple remotes
The TV in your house is usually connected to multiple sources: A set-top box, DVD or Blu-Ray player, gaming console, media player and a PC. In addition, you probably have remotes for air conditioners, music systems among others. A simple way to solve this issue is to get a universal remote control. 

If you prefer something basic and inexpensive, consider options from 'One for All' (Rs 500 onwards). For more features and compatibility, we recommend Logitech Harmony remotes (Rs 2,300 onwards) — they can be programmed to work with multiple devices. If you have unlisted or unbranded devices, get a universal remote with a learning function. 

A smart way to get rid of multiple remotes is to use a smartphone with IR emitter. Certain smartphone models from Samsung, LG and HTC come with built-in IR emitters. All of these smartphones usually come with a preloaded remote control app that works with various devices.

6. Eliminate power drain

March 19,2015
Eliminate power drain
Even in standby mode, most devices continue to draw a small amount of power — this is vampire power and what most don't realize is that this small amount of power on a daily basis can increase your power bills by a substantial amount. The simplest way to keep this in check is by making sure that instead of keeping a device in standby, you switch off the mains supply. 

You can also get a power consumption monitor (Rs 1,000) that shows the energy being consumed by any connected device. These monitors have a numeric display that shows energy consumed as well as voltage readings for the connected device.

7. Cable management

March 19,2015
Cable management
As you add technology, you'll find cables snaking everywhere. To make things look a bit neater, get a basic cable cover organizer (Rs 150 onwards) — this is a flexible hollow pipe that you can use to cover and hide all wires. Alternatively, you can purchase zip ties and tie cables together. 

If you need to redecorate and repaint, get hollow pipes fitted in the walls and run cables through them — this way, no cables will be visible at all. Another way to get rid of the wire mess is to convert wired devices to wireless. For TVs and projectors, you can get a wireless HDMI kit from Latentech (Rs 36,000) that enables wireless connectivity between the screen and the source. 

For music, you can use a Bluetooth audio receiver (Rs 1,000 onwards) to convert any audio system into a Bluetooth speaker.

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