Digiland DL718M tablet: a review

The Digiland DL718M tablet is an inexpensive (sub-$40) tablet sold at consumer electronics stores like Best Buy. Make no mistake, it’s a basic tablet for basic needs. But given reasonable expectations you can buy one of these and be happy with it.

This isn’t a new market by any stretch. But it seems like tablets in this price range are usually Black Friday specials, or only available on online marketplaces far abroad. The Digiland DL718M is one you can get today if you want.

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A DD-WRT USB print server

If your router has a USB port and is running DD-WRT, you can turn it into a DD-WRT USB print server. It can still do wireless duty while it allows your computers to print to your wired USB printer over your wired or wireless network. It’s not very intuitive or user friendly, but it works. Here’s how to set it up with Windows 7. Other Windows versions will be about the same.

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Lenovo and Best Buy team up for a $149 laptop this year

Cheap laptops are nothing new this time of year–they’ve been practically a holiday tradition since 2002 when Sotec released a decent laptop for $900, which was jaw-droppingly low for the time–but this year, Best Buy is selling a Lenovo Ideapad 100s for $149.99, which, while not jaw-droppingly low given the number of $199 laptops that were available last year, is still the cheapest name-brand laptop I’ve seen. Note: Best Buy has since raised the price to $199, but Ebay has limited stock of the same item for $129.

I’ve seen some reviews, but there is one thing I haven’t seen anyone bring up yet: This is a netbook in every way, except I think we’re supposed to call them cloudbooks now. So keep that in mind. The machine is probably worth $149.99, but it made some compromises to reach that price point.

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You might need a new router

Do you need a new router? If your Internet is slow after upgrading to a faster service, and if your wifi range and reception is poor, or your Internet connection just generally misbehaves a lot, you might need a new router.

Even the New York Times, of all places, has published articles extolling the virtues of new routers. If your wi-fi at home is bad, they say, think about picking up a TP-Link Archer C7 router. I like the Asus RT-AC66U myself,  but in my experience, and the experience of my colleagues, a new router makes a huge difference.

When one longtime friend upgraded to a TP-Link Archer, he told me his wi-fi improved so much his wired network was suddenly struggling to keep up with it.

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A simple fix for an Asus Memopad 7 that wouldn’t charge

I’ve written enough about the Asus Memopad HD 7 that you can probably surmise I’ve had a few issues with them. Fortunately the fix is usually simple, and in the case of a Memopad that won’t charge even after you did my battery fix, that’s true as well.

It started with my observation that the USB cable fit rather loosely into my sons’ tablets. I cleaned out the mini-USB port with a wooden toothpick, which is a common fix, but it didn’t help–the cable still fit very loosely and the device wouldn’t charge.

Then I tried other cables. I found most of them didn’t work either. If I set something heavy on top, they would charge for a while, but doing that caused the cables to wear out in a matter of weeks. Finally I figured out the tablets are just picky–or at least they are once they get some age to them. The charger for the Moto E, which has a hardwired cable, works fine. So does some other random cable I had that I never used for anything else because it happens to be so short it’s not useful for anything else. I bought some new Monoprice cables, and while they’re fine for data transfer, these Memo Pad 7s don’t like them for charging.

I really hate to say try every USB cable in the house, but… your best first step is to try every USB cable in the house. And if you have to buy a cable, buy something locally, ideally in a store that will try it out with you before purchase. If you don’t have a store with that kind of service near you anymore, then buy a cable and try it out in the parking lot in your car right away before driving home. That way you can exchange the cable right away, or get a refund, if it doesn’t work any better than what you already had.

What to look for in a wireless access point

A good way to eliminate dead zones in your house where wifi doesn’t work is to add one or two wireless access points to your setup.

Access points, thankfully, are no longer stupid expensive–they used to cost twice as much as a router in spite of being nothing more than a cut-down router–but almost every access point I’ve looked at has one or more compromises built in. That said, if you want something you can plug in and configure by filling out three or four things, you might be willing to live with those compromises.

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The Fujitsu Scansnap iX500 deserves its reputation

I don’t buy a lot of hardware anymore, but we purchased a Fujitsu Scansnap ix500 document scanner this month. It has a fantastic reputation, and it only took an hour to live up to it for me.

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Fixing an Asus Memopad 7 that wouldn’t power on

One night my son ran down the battery on his Memopad 7 and put it away, but didn’t put it on the charger or tell me about it. The next time he went to use it, it was dead.

I tried several different tricks I found online, including plugging it in overnight to the AC adapter, plugging it in overnight to a computer’s USB port, and holding down the power button for a full minute or even a full five minutes. None of it worked–the unit just wouldn’t power on or show any signs of life whatsoever.

Finally I resigned myself to the possibility I would have to send it in for service. Read more