Q: I’ve heard about a new generation of
small computers called “netbooks.” What do
these machines do?
for on the go
By Marc Saltzman
■ Updating GPS maps
■ Downloading videos
A: Whether you’re looking for a more portable personal computer or watching your wallet more
closely (or a little of both), mini-notebooks, commonly referred to as “netbooks,” are one of the hottest tech toys available today.
You see them on tables in coffee shops, under
the arms of students and on the laps of travelers
waiting for a flight. These mini-notebooks are small,
lightweight and relatively affordable PCs.
But keep in mind, mini-notebooks differentiate
themselves from full-featured notebooks, or laptops,
because they’re designed for basic tasks—such as
Web surfing, e-mail and word processing—which is
just fine for some. They’re not as ideal for online
gaming or video editing.
Also, these sleek Wi-Fi-enabled computers are
usually limited in capacity in terms of hard disk
space, so you can’t store tons of photos and files on
them. And to keep costs down, some models on the
market ship with the open-source Linux operating
system instead of Windows.
That said, a low-cost option is very attractive
given the state of the economy, plus these small keyboards are also ideal for kids.
sure your maps are the latest possible,
reflecting new roads and routes.
One option for TomTom GPS
users is to download free, user-gener-ated content called Map Share. This
information is submitted by Tom-
Tom users for others to see.
Updating your maps is an easy
process. You just visit the manufacturer’s Web site, which has an “Update
Maps” section. Plug in your USB cable, and
the update is made.
Keep your eyes open in the near future for GPS
units that provide map updates as well as news,
weather and traffic reports over a wireless connection. This will be the next step in helping you get
from Point A to Point B in the safest, quickest way.
Q: Is there a way to save You Tube videos to
Q: How do I update the maps on my GPS
A: I have good news and bad news. On the positive
side, most GPS units let you connect to a computer
(via a USB cable) and download map updates—and
in many cases you can add a different region, such
as Europe. And most companies offer a program
that offers a free map update if one becomes available within a certain period after your purchase,
typically 30 to 60 days. This ensures that your new
GPS will be up to date after your purchase.
The bad news is that any further map updates
aren’t free. Most companies, such as Garmin,
Magellan and Tom Tom, charge fees for updates,
ranging from about $60 to $130. Some companies
offer lifetime map updates for a set fee.
GPS makers typically update their maps several
times a year. Updating means you can always make
A: Yes! But you’ll need to snag a third-party program to do this.
My favorite one, which is free to download and
use, is the aptly named YouTube Downloader
youtubedownload.altervista.org) from BienneSoft.
And it works like a charm.
After you install this small ( 5. 37 MB) program,
simply copy and paste the Web page address (URL)
from a You Tube video into the You Tube Downloader
window. Then, select where on your hard drive to
download the .flv video file.
The final step is simple: Choose what kind of
video file to convert it to for easy viewing, such as
.MP4 for an iPhone, H.264 for a PlayStation Portable
or AVI for a DVD. Within seconds you’ll see the file
on your hard drive, ready for sharing, burning or
copying. Please respect copyrighted content.
The latest version of the free YouTube Downloader
program also lets you download video from many
other video sites, including Yahoo!, Google Video,
MySpace Video, eBaumsworld, Dailymotion, blip.tv
and Break. C
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electronics or computers
you purchased at
Costco? Send them to:
The Costco Connection
P.O. Box 34088
Seattle, WA 98124-1088
Or fax to (425) 313-6718,
or e-mail to
in the subject line. Marc
will answer selected ques-
tions in this column. We
regret that unpublished
questions cannot be
At Online Edition, search
The Costco Connection
Costco offers a variety of mini-notebooks and
GPS systems from leading manufacturers in the
warehouses and online at Costco.com.
a leading high-tech
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author of 14 books.