Tuesday, January 09, 2007


Have you ever noticed how technological change can be really really annoying?

I just bought a new computer at home. The old one packed it in, think it was a disk head crash. Most computers you could just swap out the disk, but I’d bought an eancy little computer, smaller than a paperback, and it was hardwired in. Hence, annoyance number one. Something that should be fixable, isn’t.

Fine, it gave me the chance to go computer shopping, which is a good thing. As it was just the main unit I need replacing all I was looking for was just that. I had a good monitor, keyboard, mouse, the lot. I did my usual, scanned the web, found some good options, then went shopping. I found a fine deal in the January sales. An HP Slimline Media PC, small form factor, but replaceable bits. I do try not to make the same mistakes twice. A stonking deal too, a high end AMD 64bit monster of a chip (don’t be fooled by Intel propaganda, AMD chips are superb and half the price), a gig ram, nice big hard disk, great graphics card for £300. Given this one would be used by the kids a fine all rounder. Plus a built in upgrade to Vista when it comes out (if you’re shopping right now, make sure that’s wrapped into the price, DON'T buy without it).

Quite pleased with myself I take it home. LL is happy I’ve found something small, the kids are just happy. I unbox it, put it on the table and start to connect the leads. Except… there’s no VGA plug for the monitor. There’s a latest and greatest DVI plug, but no VGA plug.

The technology has changed. Usually I embrace this. The old VGA standard is analogue. That means the computer figures out where all the pixels go, then converts it into wave form, like old style TV broadcasts. It shoots this down the VGA cable, then the monitor converts it from the analogue wave back into digital format to drive the LCD screen. The new DVI standard means the transmission stays digital. This means a cleaner signal, faster driving of the screen and better resolution. You can also drive audio down a DVI-A connection (which this is) All in all, a good thing, you reduce the number of cables and get a better signal. Right?

Except, the monitor I have doesn’t take a DVI feed, it only take an old analogue VGA feed. So now I’m shopping again. I have to buy a new monitor that takes a DVI signal. Change, which is good, means in this case waste, which is bad. What a useless palaver.

It does mean I can get a VGA high def wide screen though...


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