electronics or computers
you purchased at
Costco? Email them to:
Or mail to:
Q&A with Marc Saltzman
The Costco Connection
P.O. Box 34088
Seattle, WA 98124-1088
or fax to (425) 313-6718.
“Marc Saltzman Q&A”
in the subject line. Marc
will answer selected ques-
tions in this column. We
regret that unpublished
questions cannot be
a leading high-tech
to more than three
on radio and TV, and is
the author of 15 books.
He’s on Twitter at
I’m shopping for a new TV during
the holidays. How do I choose the
right size for my room?
A: There’s never been a better time to buy a new
television. Not only have prices dropped considerably over the years, but today’s TVs are bigger, flatter, sharper and smarter.
But it can be difficult to know how big your TV
should be—not just for budgetary reasons, but
because you want it to look good in the room where
you’re putting it. A lot of it boils down to how far
away you’ll be when watching the television, which
is referred to as the viewing distance.
With older standard-definition televisions, the
industry-accepted formula was to sit back about
three times the diagonal length of the screen. Under
this plan, a viewer would be about 6 feet away from
a 27-inch TV for comfortable viewing. This was
because the scan lines on older TVs could be seen
if you were too close.
But with today’s much sharper high-definition
television shows, movies and video games, you can
sit closer, as you won’t notice any such imperfections. Some experts suggest sitting back 1. 5 to 2. 5
times the diagonal size—not the width or height of
the screen. Therefore, for a 50-inch television you’ll
want to sit 6 to 10 feet away.
That’s the general rule of thumb and a starting
point. You’ll also want to consider the aesthetics of
the TV in the room: Does it overwhelm the space?
Also, use the width and height of the TV when calculating wall space for the right fit. The typical
60-inch TV is about 55 inches wide.
It might be helpful to use masking tape or a cutout piece of cardboard on a wall to see how large the
TV would look in your room. In the end, you should
not be sitting so close as to see pixels on the screen.
On a related note, be careful not to inadvertently angle the television toward a big window or
lamp, or else you might get some glare that could
obstruct your view of the display somewhat (
especially with glossy screens).
What can you tell me about
Windows 8. 1?
A: On one hand, Windows 8 was a success
for Microsoft, as the company said it sold 100 mil-
lion licenses within just six
months of its launch. On the
flipside, however, the bold new
look—including the Start screen,
with its colorful “live tiles”—
proved somewhat intimidating
to a number of users.
There were other issues,
too, such as no Start button,
trouble launching the Charms
bar and a strong focus on touch
when most PCs didn’t yet have
The good news is that Windows 8. 1—which can be downloaded as a free update for existing
customers and will be bundled with
new PCs—is being released on October
17, and it addresses much of the feedback from vocal users.
For one thing, the Start button is back
in the Desktop mode, allowing you to easily
access programs and settings as you did in previous versions of Windows.
A simplified and unified Search window now
delivers results from the Web, your PC and your
apps. Results are then displayed visually, allowing
you to quickly find what you’re looking for.
A bunch of apps are bundled with Windows 8. 1,
including an easy-to-use photo editor and another
app that lets you conveniently save articles and other
content (and access it on multiple devices, too). The
Windows Store has a new look, including easier
access to downloadable apps.
Another addition is a new lock screen that
allows you to choose from a number of tile sizes,
colors and backgrounds (even animated ones).
Plus, you can now view a slide show based on your
Other new features include deeper integration
with Microsoft’s SkyDrive, its cloud service; the
faster and more touch-friendly Internet Explorer 11
browser; a desktop boot option to start your PC in
the “classic” view; an improved Snap feature for
viewing multiple applications at once; and numer-
ous bug fixes to make the overall experience better,
faster and more intuitive. C
Tablet or smartphone?
Scan or click here for
a video about tips and
tricks for Windows 8. 1
(See page 5 for scanning
The Costco Connection
Costco offers a complete line of electronics
in the warehouses and on Costco.com, including TVs and computers. Windows 8. 1 is a free
upgrade for Windows 8 users; see Costco.com
(search “Windows 8. 1”) for details.
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