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Jargon Buster

Is all the technical jargon giving you a headache?

Don’t struggle with all the technical terms associated with your IT purchase, the Misco Jargon Buster is here to help.

Our handy jargon buster helps you to make sense of the terminology so you don’t get your 'bits' confused with your 'bytes'!

 

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1080-line HD

The 1080-line system is the desired HD format. A 1080-line system has 1080 vertical pixels and 1920 horizontal pixels, with up to five times the resolution of a standard definition picture.

3G

While Wi-Fi is pretty much established in any tech-savvy household or business, the connectivity is lost when you leave the property. With 3G, you can enjoy wireless internet around the country, in cities, towns and even rural areas. 3G connections are supplied by mobile phone networks such as Vodafone, O2, Orange, T-Mobile and 3. The coverage isn’t 100% universal, and you’re usually restricted on the amount of data you can upload/download, making it not quite as flexible as a conventional broadband ISP. However, the convenience of using the internet as you travel is highly coveted. 3G connectivity is built into a lot of new laptops, and smartphones come with it as standard. Mobile phone companies tend to offer USB dongles that can add the connectivity when plugged into your computer.

720-line HD

The 720-line system was common at the launch of HD television. It’s now largely superceded by 1080-line HD, and these days is found on small screen high definition televisions.

802.11

This is a wireless networking standard. There are quite a few of these networking standards and they are differentiated with a letter. In the early Noughties, 802.11b was established in the market, capable of 11Mbit/s transfer rates. This was then superseded by 802.11g (54Mbit/s). The current standard is 802.11n, which has been well established since its introduction into the market a few years ago. With an astonishing 600Mbit/s transfer rate, stronger signal technology and a range that’s double that of the two previous protocols, 802.11n is the must-have standard for anyone serious about Wi-Fi.

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A

AC-3

Also known as ‘Dolby Digital’ this is the 5.1-channel sound system specified in the Standard for Digital HDTV, delivering CD quality digital audio from six speakers, front left, right and centre (where most of the ‘voice’ comes from), rear left and right plus a subwoofer for depth, to produce a cinematic sound! True 5.1-channel sound is only available via a home cinema system.

ADSL

Basically, this the technical term for broadband connections running on non-cable telephone lines. ADSL, an acronym for Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line, is used to transfer a regular telephone line into a high-speed Internet connection. It’s typically found on lines supplied by BT and other networks. For cable users (such as Virgin Media customers), their equivalent is simply DSL, and usually uses equipment different to ones deployed for ADSL.

AGP

Accelerated Graphics Port. Common in older desktop PCs, this is a technology providing data transfers between your PCs processor and video cards. An AGP socket is located on the motherboard - however, this technology has almost completely been superseded by PCI Express.

All In One (AIO) Printer

AIO printers combine the ability to print, copy and scan in one machine. Some models can even receive and send faxes.

AMD

AMD is a manufacturer of processors.

Android

An open-source operating system designed by Google, aimed for smartphones. Android is made to function under touch-screen control. A wide variety of programs for the platform are available from the Google Market. A lot of electronics manufacturers have taken to including the operating system on their smartphones and tablet PCs, hoping to match the success of Apple’s entries into these markets with the iPhone and iPad. Due to recent popularity, many owners of Android devices are on versions 2.2 (Froyo) and 2.3 (Gingerbread) of the system. Version 3.0 (Honeycomb) was released in 2011.

Aperture Priority

The aperture priority function on a camera fixes the camera exposure to a constant. The camera will automatically adjust the shutter speed in response to the environment in an effort to maintain this constant exposure.

Anti-Virus Software

Anti-virus software is designed to prevent your computer being damaged by harmful viruses received via the web, e-mail attachments or as part of programs.

Aspect Ratio

Aspect ratio refers to the ratio of the width of a picture relative to its height. The aspect ratio of most televisions prior to the 21st Century is 4:3, a shape which is close to being square, whereas modern televisions have an aspect ratio of 16:9 (aka Widescreen) for a more intense viewing experience. Many older programmes made in 4:3 should be viewed on modern TVs with black bars at the left and right sides to preserve the image, rather than the common view that the image should be stretched horizontally to fill all screen area. Conversely, watching widescreen content on a 4:3 TV should be viewed with black bars at the top and bottom – a viewing method known as ‘letterbox’.

ATX

Motherboards come in many sizes, and a set of standards were introduced in the 1990s, known as ATX. As technology has recognised that users prefer a smaller physical size, nearly all motherboards are in a microATX form factor (aka µATX or mATX) – 244 x 244mm. Standard ATX is 305 x 244mm, and the largest – Workstation ATX (WATX) is 356x425mm.

Audio out sockets

An audio out socket allows a computer or TV to be connected to earphones or an external speaker system.

Auto-flash

The most obvious action of the auto-flash feature is that the camera will automatically flash when the light is too dim and not flash when there is ample natural light. It will also adjust the level of flash according to the picture settings. Other flash mode features, depending on the camera’s specifications, may also include red-eye reduction, night-mode, fill-in-flash and sport or action mode.

Auto-focus

As with auto-flash and automatic exposure, auto-focus is where a camera will automatically focus in relation to the picture subject and environment.

Automatic Document Feeder (ADF)

The automatic document feeder function is available on a lot of office scanners and printers. It is designed to create an automatic paper feed to allow copies to be made without having to feed the paper manually.

Automatic Exposure

Automatic exposure features on cameras will automatically adjust the exposure settings to suit the environmental lighting conditions.

AVI

One of the most common file formats for video clips. AVI contains video and sound, and is playable on a wide variety of media streamers.

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B

Bandwidth

Bandwidth is the measurement of the speed and amount of data that can be transferred via a connection – most commonly in reference to internet connections. Bandwidth is typically measured in megabits per second (Mbps) and obviously the greater the bandwidth the faster the connection.

BIOS

The very first thing your computer goes through when you switch it on. BIOS stands for Basic Input/Output System. It’s a program built on a chip within the motherboard. A BIOS set-up utility can be accessed just after turning on the PC by hitting the appropriate key. The BIOS performs basic yet important functions to other software, such as the operating system.

Bit

The smallest amount of data possible.

Bit Rate

‘Bits per second’ or bps, expresses the rate at which data is transmitted. Generally with audio-visual streaming, better image and sound quality is achieved with high bit-rates.

BlackBerry®

‘BlackBerry®’ is a long-established brand of hand held devices which allow consumers to access the web, internet and make phone calls. Their devices have become absorbed into the smartphone market, where they compete with the Apple iPhone and smartphones running Android. The significant difference for BlackBerry devices, is an embedded keyboard.

Bleeding

When printers “bleed” during print, it is a reference to the spreading of ink onto the page. Too much bleeding will merge and distort the image; not enough bleeding will leave too much white space on the page which will also distort what is being printed.

Bluetooth™

Many phones, computers and even cameras come with Bluetooth™ support. This feature enables data to be passed between other Bluetooth™ devices wirelessly within short distances using radio frequency. Bluetooth-enabled headsets also allow convenience for providing hands-free chatting in the car via your mobile phone.

Borderless Printing

Quite simply, printing without a border. Borderless printing fills the page to the edges without leaving a frame effect. Borderless printing can add a touch of class to photo printing.

BPS/Mbps

A measure of speed - Bits Per Second - Bits per second / Megabits per second are used to measure how quickly data can be transferred. 1Mbps is equal to 1 million bits per second.

Broadband

Broadband is a high speed, permanent internet connection. The main advantage of broadband over a dial-up connection is the speed – anywhere from 10 to 100 times faster – and that it operates parallel to the phone line so that you can access the internet without tying up the capability to make voice calls.

Browser

A browser is the software application which allows the user to navigate the World Wide Web. The most popular browsers are Firefox, Google’s Chrome and Microsoft’s Internet Explorer.

Built-in LCD Screen

LCD screens are often built in to cameras and photo printers to allow images to be quickly and easily previewed.

Burn

“Burn” or “Burning” in the IT sector refers to the transfer of information onto some form of removable storage device, most commonly CD or DVD.

Byte

A byte is a collection of eight bits and is a measurement of computer storage space.

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C

Cache

For computing, this term is used in two different ways. With internal computer parts, ‘cache’ is a specification relating to how much data can be temporarily held between transfers, usually between hard drives and processors. The bigger the cache, the faster and smoother your computer experience should be! When it comes to surfing the internet, cache has a slightly different meaning, but is still a temporary store for data. Your browser has a cache memory and when you return to a page you've recently viewed, the browser usually retrieves it from the cache rather than the original server, making the process faster. The cache is typically located on your hard drive.

CardBUS/PCMCIA

CardBus/PCMCIA is a standardised form of card slot seen on old laptop computers. Peripherals designed for this card slot are predominantly storage and memory cards. A CardBus/PCMCIA compatible notebook PC is quite rare nowadays.

Car Dock

A car dock is a cradle for portable tablet PCs for when the user is on the move. Most can charge the device from the car’s battery.

Car Mount

Car mounts are designed to hold hand held equipment, such as satellite navigation devices, in position whilst the car is on the move.

Card slot

A memory card reader features a variety of card slots. Some photo printers feature a memory card slot which allows you to print directly from your digital camera’s memory card.

CCD

A component typically found in camcorders and cameras. A CCD (charge coupled device) is an integrated, light sensitive, circuit which stores and displays images and converts the image pixels into electrical charges. The intensity of each charge is representative of the colours position on the colour spectrum.

CD & DVD Drives

A common way to install software, listen to music or watch videos. It’s been a long-established standard across laptop and desktop computers, yet the era of the optical disc drive may be over. These days, most software is hosted on the internet, so a download is a typical first step to installing new programs or games. However, that doesn’t mean CD and DVD drives aren’t important. Music lovers will appreciate the ability to rip audio CDs to MP3s, and movie-lovers will feel lost without being able to watch DVDs. Of course, many computer users will have old programs, games, photos, videos and music stored on discs.

CD/DVD Printing

Some printers have the ability to print onto CDs and/or DVDs.

Chrome

Google’s own browser is Chrome, designed to be faster than rivals such as Internet Explorer, Firefox and Safari.

Clipboard

A clipboard is a temporary storage area for holding cut or copied text and images, when transferring the data to a different sentence, document or even program.

CMYK

CMYK is reference to the colour system of your printer. The CMYK system is one of the most popular and is an acronym for the colours it uses; Cyan, Magenta Yellow and Key (Black).

Compact Flash Cards

A popular memory card around the early Noughties, CompactFlash cards are these days used for recording digital video and audio in selected high-end devices. Most modern digital cameras tend to use SD cards because of the smaller size and lighter weight.

Component video

Three connectors (usually red, green and blue, in phono format) transmit and receive component video signals; the combination of these signals conveys all the picture information, usually for high definition televisions and projectors. They do not carry audio. These look similar to composite (red, yellow and red) connections, which are designed for audio-visual purposes in standard definition.

Compression

The process of compression is the reduction or compression of a file’s size or a stream’s bandwidth. Lossy compression is most commonly used on images and video.. However, the more a file is compressed the more distorted it can become. It’s a trade-off between convenience and quality. With ZIP and RAR files, data is compressed into smaller file sizes, but no quality is affected, as mathematical logical compression preserves the data.

Computer Memory

Every computer comes equipped with a certain amount of physical memory, usually referred to as RAM (Random Access Memory). Computers store running applications and data in the RAM. To find out how much memory you'll need, take into account your Operating System and the applications that you plan to use. 512MB may be adequate for Windows XP, but we’d recommend at least 1GB. Windows 7 and Vista users are better off with 2GB minimum.

Connection interface

Most printers connect via USB to your PC. Ethernet is also used in some office-based printers as this allows you to easily connect the printer to a network.

Console

Console is a generic term used to describe a computer system which is specifically designed for the purpose of gaming. Current consoles are the Sony PlayStation 3, Microsoft’s XBox 360 and the Nintendo Wii. Hand-held consoles let you play games while on the move, the most prolific being the Nintendo DS range.

Continuous Shooting Mode

The continuous shooting mode allows multiple pictures to be taken in quick succession. When a picture has been taken it needs to be stored onto some form of memory device. It can take several second for the process to be completed and this stops the next photograph being taken. However, with continuous shooting mode the image is instantaneously stored onto a temporary file before being transferred to the permanent file later, allowing the photographer to continue ‘shooting’ without the need to wait between each image. Continuous shooting mode is often used for action shots where the subject is continuously moving and changing.

Contrast

The contrast of a television screen, PC monitor or projector refers to the colouring and shade. Contrast is the ratio of dark colours to light colours. The greater the contrast level is, the more defined the picture will be.

Cookies

When navigating the web, user behaviour and details may be stored on your computer when visiting websites. The files that are created are known as cookies. Cookies can be used to speed up navigation as login details and other preferences can be recalled quickly when returning to some websites.

CPU

CPU (Central Processing Unit) is another term for processor. It is the heart of a PC or laptop which contains the logic circuitry that performs the instructions of a computer’s programs. AMD and Intel manufacture nearly all the CPUs used in today’s PCs.

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D

DAB

Digital radio in the UK has been around since the mid 1990s, via DAB. The DAB system uses the MPEG-2 codec to encode and decode audio/data. DAB is not the only way to enjoy digital radio, as it’s available through digital television on the Freeview platform, and of course, many radio stations stream online.

Data

Data is individual facts, statistics or any information which can be exchanged. When computers exchange information it is often referred to as an exchange of data. Digital video, images, sound, music and documents can all be considered as darta.

DDR

DDR (double-data-rate) is an integrated memory storage space in computers which transfers data on both the rising and falling edges of the clock-cycle. DDR speeds up the computer system allowing quicker and easier loading, navigation and storage of data.

DDR2

DDR2 is a faster version of DDR memory.

DDR3

As you’d expect, DDR3 is a faster version of DDR2 memory. It’s the current standard for memory in most PCs.

DSL

DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) is a technology used for broadband internet connections into homes and businesses. It’s commonly used by cable providers, such as Virgin Media.

Desktop PC

A desktop PC is a personal computer designed to offer greater functionality and more upgrade options than a typical laptop computer. However, desktop PCs are also designed to remain stationary. These usually remain within the office or home study rather than be mobile and, as a result, are much larger machines which can be difficult to manoeuvre.

Digital Tuner

A digital tuner is a device which allows televisions and monitors to receive digital television signals. When it comes to digital broadcasts carried terrestrially (received through an aerial), the UK has two standards - the DVB-T standard is for receiving standard definition television channels, and DVB-T2 is used for high definition. These type of transmissions are more commonly known by the Freeview and Top-Up TV brands. For satellite, DVB-S2 is the applicable standard.

Digital Zoom

A digital zoom is artificial, unlike optical zoom. It simply enlarges the existing pixels, and is not considered a true zoom.

DIMM

DIMM -Dual Inline Memory Module - Another commonly used type of memory.

Direct Printing

Direct printing refers to the ability of digital cameras to be connected directly to the printer with prints being produced without the aid of a computer. The PictBridge brand is a trademarked term that appears on many cameras and printers, establishing an agreed standard for making a USB connection for printing without the involvement of a computer.

Display resolution

The display resolution is the number of pixels which can be displayed at one time on a television or computer monitor.

DMA

Direct Memory Access is a way to transfer data to, or from, memory quickly. A DMA controller takes the workload from the CPU - leaving the processor to perform other tasks.

Docking Station

A docking station effectively gives you desktop-style usage from your laptop computer. Also known as port replicators, a docking station typically contains a mixture of ports, slots, drive bays and security features. It usually attaches to the laptop from underneath. Docking stations come in a variety of shapes and sizes and allow you to park your laptop when you return to your desk, giving you an easy connection to a monitor, a conventional keyboard, additional storage devices and the convenience of leaving cables plugged in when you remove your laptop to take it on the move.

Domain name

The domain name is the name used in the web address to relate to the name of the company or organisation. For example, Misco’s domain name is misco.co.uk as the web address is http://www.misco.co.uk

Dongle

Dongle is a generic slang term for devices which connect to a PC via a USB port, for example; Bluetooth and wireless adapters. The term is increasingly being used for establishing 3G internet access via mobile phone networks.

Download

Download is the term used to describe the process of transferring and copying of data from a source on to your computer. The most common usage of this term applies to saving a file off the internet.

DPI

DPI – Dots per inch – specifies how many dots there are per inch of image. When printing images, the printer creates the image through a series of dots. A general rule of DPI is that the greater the DPI is greater the definition of the image will appear.

Drivers

Some devices you attach to your computer, such as printers, cameras and graphics cards may require a driver. This is a program (sometimes supplied on a CD or DVD when you purchase the peripheral, although internet downloads are becoming common) that acts as the interface between your computer’s operating system and the peripheral. It is worth noting that if you have a problem with any peripheral, you can cure many issues by downloading the latest version of drivers for that product on the internet. Of course, the term ‘Plug-and-Play’ implies driver-less installation, and is practically an established expectation for modern USB devices.

Dual Core

Dual-core computers combine two processor chips into one allowing the computer to operate more quickly and run even more applications simultaneously in comparison to a single core processor.

Duplex

A duplex function on a printer allows automatic printing on both sides of a single sheet of paper. This helps save paper, improving ecological credentials and reduces paper costs.

Duty Cycle

The duty cycle is the maximum usage level per month for a printer. You should choose a printer with a duty cycle that exceeds your current production needs to ensure a longer life for your printer.

DVD

DVD - Digital Versatile Disc – is a large storage capacity disc. Most computers today have the ability to read DVDs and many computers today also have the ability to write and re-write (also known as ‘burn)’ DVDs. This simply means that computers can transfer data onto DVDs for storage.

DVI

Digital Video Interface - DVI - is a type of cable connector which provides a high-bandwidth, digital connection between a video source and a display device. It’s virtually established on all desktop computers and is fairly common on laptop computers. It can be considered the digital version of the long-established VGA connection, which is still ubiquitous.

DVI/HDMI

HDMI or High Definition Multimedia Interface provides an interface between any audio/video sources over a single cable. DVI or Digital Visual Interface is a high-bandwidth video connection that carries digitalised picture information. It can also support copy-protection methods, such as HDCP. The DVI specification allows for the presentation device and display device to agree on an optimal picture size and resolution to ensure the highest quality picture automatically. It is necessary for an HD-Ready TV to have HDMI or DVI connectivity in order for it to receive the digital signal. All TVs on the market sporting the new HD-Ready logo will be able to produce at least a true 720p image.

Dye-based Ink

Dye-based inks are water soluble and easily achieve brilliant, saturated colours.

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E

E-Commerce

E-Commerce is a common term for electronic commerce. It’s often referred to when people speak of online spending and the purchasing of goods and services via the internet.

E-mail

E-mail (electronic mail) gives the computer user the ability to communicate and exchange information with other computer users via the internet.

Encryption

The process of encryption is the scrambling of data and information in an attempt to secure it. In computing terms, the material to be protected is encrypted using a ‘key’, which is, effectively, a user-chosen password.

EPG

Electronic Programme Guide - an on-screen display of channels and programme information, usually depicted in a grid layout.

Ethernet

Computers, switches, hubs and routers, amongst other computer peripherals, can all be connected with the use of an Ethernet cable. Commonly used for wired networking, and is an established choice for wired broadband internet connections.

Exposure Compensation

Exposure compensation is a camera feature, which will under expose or over expose a subject for effect, or to compensate for an environmental flaw such as lighting issues, for example.

External Drives

External drives connect to your desktop PC or laptop via a cable (commonly USB) and are available in a variety of shapes and sizes. External drives include external floppy, CD-ROM, DVD/CD-RW combo, DVD-ROM, DVD-RW, Blu-ray drives, hard drives and many more. There are also smaller external drives, often called USB Flash Drives or USB Keys, which plug directly into your USB port without the need for a cable. These flash drives are fantastic for transferring data between computer or allowing you to carry multimedia files around easily.

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F

File

Files are collections of data and information which are generally named and stored within ‘folders’ on a computer system.

Firewall

A firewall is a security device which is designed to prevent potential viruses and bugs from corrupting a computer system. The firewall acts in a similar way to a barrier or gate, to only allowing authorised and secure data and information to be downloaded and uploaded. A firewall can be established in software form, as a program installed on your computer. A hardware-based firewall is a feature on many types of networking equipment, such as routers.

FireWire

Similar to USB, FireWire is a technology for linking peripherals to your computer to enable data to be transferred at a high-speed. Apple Mac computers are typically equipped with FireWire sockets, and some PCs also have such connections. It’s commonly used with camcorders and DV decks for video-editing. Early FireWire connections were in the FireWire 400 format, allowing for a consistent 400Mbps transfer of data. FireWire 800 is now the common standard, giving twice the bandwidth of FireWire 400.

Fixed Focal-Length Lens

If you just want to take pictures of groups of your mates then a budget camera with a fixed-focal-length lens is perfect for the snap shooter. As these are the lowest spec on the market, there’s usually no optical zoom but if you look for a version with macro and landscape modes then the lens will offer a relatively wide angle of view.

Fixed Zoom lenses

As the name suggests fixed zoom lenses have a fixed lens attached to the body, but they also allow the user to attach extra lens converters for wide-angle and close-up shooting as well as filters and flash ring units. These cameras can be a little larger than the retractable zoom types and more complicated to operate but they do offer higher resolution images.

Folder

Computer folders act in a similar way to physical office folders. Computer folders are used for organising and storing information and ‘files’ so that the user can access the correct information quickly and easily. Such folders are organised to suit the user’s needs and preferences. Folders are also known in computing terms as ‘directories’.

Footprint

The desk space taken up by a printer or desktop PC, often referred to as its footprint, is also worth considering.

FSB

Buying a new motherboard? The FSB (front side bus speed) is the speed at which your processor will communicate with the other components on a computer. The greater the FSB then the greater the speed and the quicker the machine will operate.

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G

GB (Gigabyte)

A gigabyte (GB) is a term used for the measurement of storage capacity. One (1) GB is equal to one thousand (1,000) Megabyte (MB). The greater the number of GB, then the greater the storage memory capacity will be.

GHz (Gigahertz)

GHz (gigahertz) is a term used for the measurement of transmission speed – how quickly a computer or device can exchange/transfer data. 1GHz is equal to 1,000 megahertz (MHz). The greater the number of GHz then the quicker the machines processor can operate.

GPS

GPS – Global Positioning System – is a global system for position, tracking and assessing people and places via a collection of satellites. Already established in sat-navs, the GPS feature is now becoming an essential feature for mobile phones, where in conjunction with online maps such as Google Maps, GPS can assist motorists and pedestrians.

Graphics Card

A graphics card sits within a computer’s hardware and reads, processes and displays the graphics on the monitor. Graphics cards can differ from make and model and so the quality of graphics displayed differs accordingly. Some motherboards come with on-board graphics, meaning a graphics card is not necessary. However, most of these ‘built-in graphics’ options are not quite as technically good as a dedicated graphics card.

Graphics Memory

Graphics memory is simply how much memory storage is available to the graphics card.

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H

Hard Drives (also referred to as HDD)

Hard drives provide you with space to save programs and files. You'll only need a 320GB or 500GB drive unless you’re planning on storing lots of movies or thousands of images. However, be warned that capacity alone does not make a good hard drive. Look for large cache sizes (such as 64MB) which means large amounts of data can easily be held in a ‘buffer’, ensuring smooth transfer.

HDCP

HDCP is a copyright protection system that is incorporated into many HD receivers and displays. It stands for High Definition Digital Content Protection and designed to prevent unauthorised use of content which is copyrighted. This does mean that displays without HDCP support will often show up blank or a standard definition view if the user tries to play/open HDCP content.

HDMI

HDMI (High Definition Multimedia Interface) provides an audio-visual between any audio/video sources over a single cable. It can be considered as the successor to SCART. The advantages of HDMI over SCART are objectively superior, with high definition being the key factor, and the fact it’s 100% digital ensuring a completely stable picture. It is necessary for an HD-Ready TV to have HDMI or DVI connectivity in order for it to receive the digital signal. All TVs on the market sporting the new HD-Ready logo will be able to produce at least a true 720p image.

HD-Ready TV

The HD-Ready logo indicates TV screens and projectors which are compatible with HDTV signals. HD-Ready screens must meet the following specification:

  • Minimum 720 vertical lines (the latter figure when a resolution is written out, e.g. 1280 x 720)
  • Analogue component video and either DVI or HDMI inputs
  • Support for HDCP content protection
  • Able to display 720p (1280 x 720 at 50Hz and 60Hz progressive)
  • Able to display 1080i (1920 x 1080 at 50Hz and 60Hz interlaced)

 

HSDPA

An enhanced 3G protocol for faster data transfer speeds and capacity.

Hz (Hertz)

Hz (hertz) is a term used for the measurement of transmission speed – how quickly a computer can exchange/transfer information. The greater the number of Hz then the quicker the machines processor can operate. Named in honour of the German physicist Heinrich Rudolf Hertz

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I

IEEE 1394

IEEE 1394 is another term for FireWire.

Inkjet Printers

Inkjet printers create images by shooting tiny dots of ink through tiny nozzles. Those tiny nozzles are configured in a moveable print head, which takes the journey back and forth across the page. As the print head finishes each trip to and fro, the paper moves forward so the print head can continue its work across the next few lines.

Integrated MP3 Player

Many hand-held devices on the market today, such as mobile phones, will have integrated MP3 players. This means that as well as carrying out their standard functions they can also download and play music from the Internet and personal computers.

Integrated Print Server

An integrated print server is a built-in device which allows a series of computers and/or printers to communicate within a network.

Integrated Speakers

Integrated speakers are speakers which are built in to the unit casing. All televisions and most multimedia monitors will have built-in speakers of some standard.

Intel

Intel is a manufacturer of processors.

Intranet

An Intranet is an internal computer system built around the Internet but with access and functionality focused and restricted to meet the needs of the specific organisation, business or school that it is maintained by.

ISDN

Commonly used in the 1990s, ISDN – Integrated Services Digital Network – is a network connection which uses the existing telephone network system but provides greater quality and speed of connection. An adapter is required for businesses and home users to use ISDN. History tends to view this technology as a halfway-house between dial-up and broadband.

ISP

An ISP – Internet Service Provider – provides the Internet access function for the computers of consumers and businesses alike. Some popular ISPs are TalkTalk, Sky, Virgin Media, etc.

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J

Java

Java is a language used for computer programming as it can be ‘read’ on all major computer platforms. It can be used to build small applications within webpages and on computers.

Javascript

Javascript is code that resides within webpages. It allows web pages provide greater interaction functionality, without necessarily needing any extra data to be downloaded once in operation.

JPEG

JPEG is the most common form of image format when it comes to photography. JPEG is an acronym for Joint Photographic Experts Group. A JPEG is a compressed (or reduced) image file which can be used primarily online. JPEGs discard data deemed unnecessary in order to reduce the image size. Typical filenames end in .jpg.

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K

KB (Kilobyte)

A kilobyte (KB) is a term used for the measurement of a computer’s storage capacity. 1 KB is equal to 1,000 bytes.

KHz (Kilohertz)

Kilohertz is a term used for measuring the frequency of electric vibrations per second. 1KHz is equal to 1,000 cycles/hertz per second. Named in honour of the German physicist Heinrich Rudolf Hertz.

LAN

A LAN- Local Area Network - consists of two or more computers that can communicate with each other to enable files and printers to be shared. A LAN can connect PCs either physically with wires, or wirelessly.

Laser printers

Laser printers use laser technology to create highly defined prints of text and images. Laser Printers are generally more sophisticated and higher quality in comparison to inkjet printers, and as a result are generally more expensive. As such, they’re in demand in business environments.

LCD

LCD stands for Liquid Crystal Display. This means that the screen is made up of millions of tiny liquid crystal molecules, called pixels. These function like a camera shutter, allowing light to either pass through or be blocked as voltage is individually applied so they change state to create an 'image'. The colour is added to the LCD display through three filters (red, green, and blue) that are applied to each pixel. LCD TV screens always maintain sharp, clear pictures without reflection from artificial lights or bright sunlight through windows.
LCD technology is extremely lightweight therefore products are both highly portable and versatile. With screen sizes ranging from 17” to over 40”, this means you can watch LCD TV wherever you want!
LCD TVs also produce flicker-free images for a more comfortable viewing experience with less eyestrain, even when viewing close-up. Also, since no static electricity is generated on an LCD screen it remains virtually dust free and clean for perfect viewing all the time.

LED

A technology used in the manufacture of modern television displays. Contrary to misconception, LED isn't a 'rival' to LCD. It's actually part of the LCD family. Both are based on a liquid crystal diode (LCD) system, using "twisting crystals". The technical difference is that LED televisions use LED lights for backlighting, whereas a conventional LCD television uses flourescent CFL lighting. The backlighting in LED TVs feature edge lighting and local dimming. Edge lighting makes it possible for the TV to be placed within a very thin design. Local dimming is based on a collection of LED lights behind the panel. These lights can be controlled to lower the amount of back lighting in dark areas of the picture, and raise it in bright areas. The end result is a much better contrast, giving you deeper blacks and a richer brightness.

Li-ion

Li-ion – Lithium ion batteries – are a lightweight, rechargeable, high-power battery. It is these features which lend to such batteries being widely used in the digital camera and camcorder markets.

Like

The term ‘like’ takes on a new dimension in the age of social media. It’s used by Facebook to encourage users to follow brands and causes. A Facebook user clicks the ‘like’ button and he or she will receive updates from the brand or cause. Should the user tire of the updates, there’s always the ‘unlike’ link to click on.

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M

Macro Mode

Macro mode allows a digital camera to take pictures extremely close-up to the subject. On some cameras this function will allow photos to be taken from less than 10cm to subject. Ideal for shooting small objects and detail.

Manual Exposure

Manual exposure allows the exposure settings of a camera to be manually adjusted by the user to suit the environmental lighting conditions.

Manual Focus

As with manual-flash and manual exposure, manual focus is where a camera can be manually focused in relation to the picture subject and environment.

Manual ISO Overrides

Many cameras come with pre-determined ISO (International Standards Organisation) settings. So, for example, in well lit environments a cameras functions and settings will automatically adjust to meet a particular ISO standard but in poorly lit environments the settings will adjust to meet another particular ISO standard. The user, however, may choose to use a manual ISO override function so that they have complete manual control over the camera’s settings.

MB (Megabyte)

A byte is a collection of eight bits and is a measurement of computer storage space. One Megabyte is worth one million bytes. A thousand megabytes make up a Gigabyte (GB).

Mbps / BPS

Megabits per second / Bits per second are used to measure how quickly data can be transferred. 1 Mbps is equal to 1 million bits per second.

Media PC

A media PC, unlike a standard desktop PC, is a PC which has been developed with a focus on entertainment features. Gaming, watching and recording DVDs and TV, along with music functionality for example will all be prominent applications.

Media Streamer

Those videos you’ve got on your hard drive, wouldn’t it be great to have them playing on your TV screen? A media streamer is the device to do just that. It takes digital video from your hard drive, USB key and/or network, and plays them on your television. A typical media streamer has at least one USB port. Advanced models may have an Ethernet socket or even Wi-Fi compatibility for playing video and audio files from your home network. Commonly supported formats are .AVI, .MKV, .MOV, .MP4 and .MPG. DVD images (a copy of the files and folders from a DVD) are also widely supported. With HDMI connections, media streamers are fast becoming an option for those with a high definition television.

Megapixel (MP)

Obviously, a digital camera doesn’t store images on film, instead when you take a picture, light is captured by the Charge Coupled Device (CCD) and stored as a matrix of red, blue and green coloured squares. These squares are known as pixels with one mega pixel referring to 1 million pixels. Therefore the more pixels there are, the better the image. Technology has evolved, mobile phones now include 6 or even 7 MP capabilities and so generally the 8 megapixel camera is typically the lowest spec on the market.

Memory Type DDR

DDR is an integrated memory storage space in computers which transfers data on both the rising and falling edges of the clock-cycle. The DDR speeds up the computer system allowing quicker and easier loading, navigation and storage of data.

Memory - RAM

Every computer comes equipped with a certain amount of physical memory, usually referred to as RAM (Random Access Memory). Computers store running applications and data using the RAM. To find out how much memory you'll need, take into account your operating system and the applications that you plan to use. You'll need at least 512MB for Windows XP and 2GB for Windows 7.

MHz (Megahertz)

Hz (hertz) and Megahertz (MHz) are terms used for the measurement of transmission speed – how quickly a computer can exchange/transfer information. The greater the number of MHz then the quicker the machines processor can operate. Named in honour of the German physicist Heinrich Rudolf Hertz

Micro-ATX

A common motherboard size. Smaller than Mini-ATX and developed to support latest PC technologies.

Microsoft Windows

The most popular operating system across desktop and laptop computers. It’s heavily associated with PC usage.

Microsoft Windows XP

Microsoft Windows XP was launched in 2005 with improved functionality and security features to replace Windows 2000. There are two major versions of XP – Home and Professional. As the name suggests, Home is targeted at home users, with Professional aimed at business users. XP was superseded by Vista, although XP usage still eclipsed that of Vista. When Windows 7 was released, it superseded Vista and XP, eventually becoming the most popular operating system for personal computing.

Microsoft Windows Vista

Microsoft Windows Vista took over from XP in the Microsoft Windows series. Vista was launched through licensing in November 2006 and publicly in January 2007. Like XP, two major versions were made for home and business markets, named Home Premium and Business respectively. Another version – Ultimate – aimed to bring all the functionality of both Home Premium and Business. Vista has now been superseded by Windows 7.

Microsoft Windows 7

Windows 7 is the latest version of Microsoft’s operating systems for desktops and laptops. It now has the largest share of users in this market. It has inherited a lot of the look-and-feel from Windows Vista, yet has improved on efficiency. Following Vista’s pattern of versions aimed at different user types, there are three major versions – Home Premium (for home users), Professional (for office use) and Ultimate (designed to have the combined functionality of the other versions, plus encryption security in the form of the Bitlocker function).

MIMO

MIMO – Multiple Input Multiple Output – is technology devised to increase the presence of wireless range. The increased bandwidth and range is achieved by using multiple antennae at both the transmitter and receiver. It’s a key factor in 802.11n connectivity.

Mini-ATX

Same as standard ATX but smaller motherboard size: 11.2" x 8.2"

Modem

A modem is a device used to transfer data between two sources via a telephone connection. A modem can be used to access the internet; however, the use of a dial-up modem is incredibly slow in comparison to modern broadband connections

Monitor

In today’s marketplace, displays are dominated by flat panel LCD monitors. Some years back, the ‘boxy’ CRT monitors were a common sight. The light weight and slim designs of LCD models allow for easy positioning and grants you more space on your desktop.

Motherboard

A motherboard is the heart of your PC. It is the main circuit board in the computer and connects all devices and components together.

MOV

The video file format produced by QuickTime.

MPEG2

MPEG2 is a compression format for transferring standard definition digital video onto DVD and for broadcasting digital television.

MP3

MP3s are the compressed format of audio files used on computers and portable devices. MP3s and MP3 players rose to prominence with the launch of Apple’s iPod; a portable, hand-held device which could store hundreds of CDs onto one pocket-sized device, once they were compressed into MP3 files.

MP4

MP4s are a compressed format. It’s commonly used for video. This compression of multimedia files allows improved transfer and storage capacity over MPEG2. A lot of high definition digital camcorders record in MP4 format.

Multifunction Printers (MFPs)

All-in-one, or multifunction printers combine a printer with a scanner, which allows the machine to copy. Some MFPs also come with a fax facility. With an all-in-one printer you can scan documents and either store them in your PC or print them out immediately.You can also scan documents and send them to your PC for faxing, or fax them directly from the multifunction.

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N

NAT

NAT – Network Address Translation – is a technique used on many network systems to allow multiple computers to access the Internet via one address. NAT temporarily re-writes each computer’s address so that all the computers on the network appear to have the same address (in essence all the computers on the network will appear to be the same machine to the Internet).

Netbook

Simply put, a netbook is a compact notebook PC. It may not be as advanced or powerful as a standard laptop, but the increased portability and smaller size makes it incredibly convenient. A netbook is considered to be any laptop that has a screen size 10 inches or smaller.

Nettop

As you may expect, a nettop PC is inspired by the way netbooks are compact versions of notebook PCs. It’s a less powerful desktop PC, yet offering convenience due to light weight and decreased size.

Network

A network is a system of connecting several independent computers and/or printers through a central function, which allows information and functionality to be shared.

Network printer

A network printer is a printer which has the capability to be used by more than one computer connected via a network.

NIC

NIC, or Network Interface Card is an expansion card that plugs into a PC to give it the capability to connect to a network.

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O

OLED Display

OLED – Organic light emitting diode- displays use substances which emit blue, red, green and white light to display images. These substances are the only source of illumination for the display yet still achieve extremely bright and clear images.

On-screen display

An on-screen display is an image which is super-imposed onto the screen generally for the purpose of displaying technical information. For example, an on-screen display will allow the user to view and often alter settings such as volume, contrast, time etc.

Operating System

The Operating System is the software which manages the computer. It usually comes with a collection of internal programs and allows all additional software to operate. For PCs, the most common operating system is the Microsoft Windows series, whereas the open-source Linux is available in a variety of versions from different companies/individuals, known as ‘distros’. Over on the Apple Mac, it’s Apple Mac OS X that takes care of things.

Optical Disc Drives

 

  • CD-ROM drive: Only reads CDs.
  • DVD-ROM drive: Plays DVDs and CDs.
  • CD-RW drive: Plays CDs. Records (once only) to CD-Rs and CD-RWs. Can rewrite to CD-RWs.
  • DVD±RW drive: Plays DVDs and CDs. Can record (once only) to DVD-Rs, DVD+Rs, DVD-RWs, DVD+RWs, CD-Rs and CD-RWs. Can rewrite to DVD-RWs, DVD+RWs and CD-RWs.
  • DVD dual layer recording: Records roughly double the amount of storage compared to a standard (single layer) DVD - 8.5GB versus 4.7GB. Your blank media will of course need to be dual-layer to support this. These drives are backwards compatible with single layer discs.
  • Blu-ray: A standard Blu-ray drive will allow you to play Blu-ray discs, as well as offering capabilities for playing DVDs and CDs. As Blu-ray is known for high definition content, we advise that your computer can display high definition visuals so you get the best out of this format.
  • Blu-ray writer drive: Does everything a standard Blu-ray drive can, usually combined with the recording and rewriting abilities of DVD±RW drives. Of course, the key factor here is the capability to record to Blu-ray media. It will allow you to record (once only) to BD-R (Blu-ray Disc Recordable), a format that’s Blu-ray’s equivalent to DVD-R or DVD+R. Superior models of Blu-ray drives offer rewriting abilities, using the BD-RE format (Blu-ray Disc Recordable/Erasable), an equivalent to DVD-RW or DVD+RW. The single layer Blu-ray format can store 50GB of data/video.
  • LightScribe: A way of ‘printing’ a label on your discs without sticky labels or even an actual printer. The LightScribe technology inside a drive can ‘etch’ graphics and text onto the ‘label’ side of a disc. This gives a professional touch. LightScribe compatible discs have to be used, ordinary ones won’t work.

 

Optical Zoom

Optical zoom is the adjustment and focusing of a lens to zoom in and out of a subject. Optical zoom does not sacrifice picture resolution in a way in which digital zoom does.

Overclocking

Overclocking involves increasing the clock speed of the components to more than was originally intended by the manufacturers of the components, which forces the components to work harder and faster to speed up the machine.

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P

PAL

PAL – phase-altering line – is a television signal system for the broadcast of standard definition television images. PAL is the system operated in the UK, throughout much of continental Europe, South-East Asia and Australasia. In analogue, it is 625 horizontal lines of resolution. Digitally, it’s usually transmitted as 720 (width) x 576 (height) pixels. The frame rate is 25 frames a second. There are different systems around the world, such as NTSC (widely used in North America) and SECAM (used for France and some other countries).

Paper tray capacity

The paper tray capacity is the maximum amount of sheets of paper that the printer can store in its tray at any time.

Parental Lock

Parental lock features are often available on internet browsers, digital television, satellite/cable receivers and games consoles. It’s a system feature which simply allows parents to control and block their children from viewing particular programmes or websites.

PC

PC is quite simply an acronym for Personal Computer. It’s likely that a typical PC will be running Windows, and it’s such a heavy association that many people use “PC” and “Windows” as interchangeable terms, despite the Linux operating system being available for PCs. Technically, the term can even apply to an Apple Mac computer. Of late, the term “PC” is becoming used as an abbreviation of Desktop PC. It is usually used to differentiate from a laptop.

PCI

PCI – Peripheral Component Interconnect – is a slot on a motherboard which allows additional functionality devices to be added to the computer, such as sound and graphics cards.

PCMCIA

The PCMCIA standard - Personal Computer Memory Card International Association – has been common on laptop computers in the 1990s and early Noughties. Small, credit-card sized devices can be used in a PCMCIA slot for networking, modem connections, additional memory and more. The prevalence of USB connections and Wi-Fi have made PCMCIA rather obsolete in later years.

PDF

PDF – Portable Document Format – is the capturing of a document in an image and text representation. By standardising the document in a PDF it will appear as intended regardless of which computer it is viewed on. It’s useful for delivering a page to be printed exactly as intended.

Photo Printer

A photo printer is similar to a standard printer however is specifically designed for the printing of photos and high quality images onto photo paper.

Picolitre

Ink droplet size is measured in picolitres, so for printing the smaller the picolitre volume, the more defined the image will be.

PictBridge

PictBridge is an industry standard term for printing directly from camera (with/without the use of USB) without the need for connecting to a computer.

Pixel

A pixel is literally a single dot on the screen. Pixels form the image on your display. Therefore the more pixels there are, better the picture. With HDTV there are many more pixels (typically 1920 x 1080) than with Standard Definition TV (720 x 576), giving a crisper, clearer and sharper picture.

Pixel resolution

The pixel resolution indicates the number of pixels displayed on a monitor or screen. The greater the number of pixels the sharper and the higher the resolution will appear.

Plasma screens

Plasmas produce natural, vibrant colours while also maintaining a high level of detail. This is because the pixels on a Plasma screen are ‘lit’ at once. This is great for regular room lighting and can be watched from most distances and angles without affecting your viewing experience. Even as you get closer to the screen, you will not be affected by changes in picture or colour quality. They are only a few inches thin which provides a lot of options when it comes to installation.
In addition to stand mounting, they can be hung on a wall or from a ceiling. All plasma TVs are designed in widescreen.

Plug and Play

Plug and Play is a term which refers to devices that can simply be plugged in to be functional, without a need for additional software installation.

Port Replicator

A 'port replicator' is a smaller, stripped-down version of a docking station that mainly features ports, such as USB or parallel. A port replicator can range from the size of a tube of toothpaste to that of a docking station. A port replicator is a more convenient way to increase your connectivity whilst on the go as it’s smaller and lighter.

PPM

PPM – pages per minute – indicates the number of pages a printer can print within a minute. The PPM capacity will often alter from black and white printing to colour. Similarly, CPM stands for copies per minute.

Processor

Processor, sometimes referred to as the CPU (Central Processing Unit), is the brain of the PC/ laptop. It's the most important chip in a computer. There are a variety of processor types available depending on their application.

Processor speed

Processor speed indicates how quickly the CPU (central processing unit) operates- the CPU is in effect the “engine.” Similar to cars, the faster the engine can run usually indicates the better machine. And like cars, the quicker the processor speed the more the processor will cost. Processor speed is measured in MHz.

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Q

QR Code

You’ll be familiar with the long-established ‘1D barcodes’ which are a series of black and white stripes that represent a 12-digit number , usually scanned by supermarket checkouts. QR Codes are 2D barcodes and they can carry a lot more characters, around 70 on average. They look like a black and white mosaic, with the top-left, top-right and bottom-left corners being outlined squares. QR Codes are becoming frequently seen in advertising aimed at consumers, with the expectation that smartphone users will use a barcode-reader app and aim their embedded cameras at the code to read it. It usually contains a URL to the advertiser’s website, and almost all barcode-reader apps will allow the user to be taken to the URL in the smartphone’s browser.

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R

RAID

Redundant Array of Independent Disks is a collection of methods where multiple hard drives can store data. These methods are known as ‘levels’.

RAID 0

This allows for two or more hard drives to be recognised by a computer as one – (eg: two 320GB drives in a RAID 0 configuration will appear as a 720GB drive). It’s not recommended for highly valued data, because if just one of the drives suffers a failure, then the data stored in this set-up is gone forever. Also, the ‘complete’ capacity of the set up is only multipliable by the size of the smallest disk, eg: a 250GB drive and a 320GB drive will only be viewable as a 500GB drive under this system.

RAID 1

Recommended for preserving highly-valued data. It’s a system of ‘mirroring’. You need two (or more) hard drives for the set-up. Anything stored on the first disk is automatically stored on the second. Unlike RAID 0, there’s no capacity increase whatsoever, but RAID 1 is used for keeping data safe, as if one drive fails, the data is still retrievable from another. In a lot of circumstances, RAID 1 configurations give a higher read speed, although lower write speeds are a possible downside.

RAID 5

A way of getting the best out of RAID 0’s mirroring and RAID 1’s data preservation. It’s an attractive method due to being cost effective. A minimum of three disks is required for a full RAID 5 set-up, and the maximum is theoretically unlimited. It is possible to have your computer ‘see’ a single drive which is actually the combined capacity and content of all but one of your drives. The remaining drive is intended for parity, containing data to bring back data should there be a drive failure in the array.

RAM - Memory

Every computer comes equipped with a certain amount of physical memory, usually referred to as RAM (Random Access Memory). Computers store running applications and data using the RAM. To find out how much memory you'll need, take into account your operating system and the applications that you plan to use. You'll need at least 512MB for Windows XP and 2GB is recommended for Windows 7.

Rear Projection

Rear projection is a term used for the process in which images are displayed on a television. The picture is projected against a mirror in the rear of the television onto the viewing screen.

Rechargeable Battery

Rechargeable batteries are more and more common in modern digital portable devices such as digital cameras, camcorders and MP3 players. Using rechargeable batteries cuts down on the cost of replacing standard disposable batteries

Resolution (print)

Resolution refers to the number of dots per inch (dpi) that appear on the page - usually represented as a horizontal and vertical measurement (e.g.: 600 x 1200 dpi). This is crucial to determining the quality of image a printer can produce. 600 dpi is perfectly adequate for most home applications.

Router

A router is a device which routes the flow of data around a network. In recent years, the router has been combined with broadband modems. A modem-router can provide multiple internet connections to computers and smartphones in a residence or small business.

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S

SATA

SATA (Serial ATA) hard drives and optical drives offer a technology that’s evolved from the older Parallel ATA standard (aka IDE). SATA connections have slimmer cables and a greater performance, plus a hot-swappable power connector.

Sat Nav (Satellite Navigation)

A Satellite Navigation system (Sat Nav) is a small device which uses satellite signals to determine the unit’s current location and plot its course according to the information being received from the satellite. The popularity of Sat Nav is down to their user friendliness for motorists. Sat Nav systems today can be small dashboard mounted device which will allow a user to select and be directed along a particular route. Ideal for when a user is unfamiliar with their destination.

SCART cables

SCART cables provide an audio/visual connection an so that external sources such as DVD players, can be viewed on a television. They can only carry standard definition pictures. Image stability is often very high, making it a more reliable connection than aerial (RF) or phono (composite/RCA). However, for the high definition era, HDMI offers a digital connection that supports up to 1080p signals.

SD cards

SD cards – Secure Digital cards – are portable memory cards, around the size which are used for storing data from digital devices such as digital cameras and camcorders. The SD card is highly compatible between numerous devices which boosted its popularity. It has become the most common format of memory card on the market today. It’s also been made available in two smaller sizes. MiniSD was brought out a few years ago, aimed at mobile phones and other portable devices. MicroSD has arrived, even smaller, and is already prevalent in smartphones. There are various ‘classes’ available, denoting the speed/performance. Class 2 is the lowest, suitable for taking photos and recording standard definition video. Class 4 and Class 6 are can tackle high definition video. Class 10 is more than capable of full HD video recording.

SDRAM

Synchronous dynamic random access memory delivers bursts of data at high speeds using a synchronous interface. Its is actually SDR SDRAM (single data rate SDRAM) but is usually to referred to as just "SDRAM." This standard was introduced in the late 1990's originally available with a bus speed of 66MHz.

Self Timer

Self timer is a basic function on cameras which allows the user to position and set-up a shot but delay the shutter function. This is most commonly used to allow the photographer to appear in the shot.

Shockproof

Shockproof devices, such as MP3, can withstand knocks or blows without interrupting their functionality.

Shuffle Function

The shuffle function is quite a widely available feature on audio devices such as MP3 players, CD players etc. The shuffle function will randomly select which songs/tracks to play.

Shutter Priority

Shutter priority is a camera function by which the user selects the shutter speed and the camera will automatically adjust the aperture exposure to suit the light. This technique is useful for preventing motion blur.

SLRs (Single Lens Reflex)

A Single Lens Reflex camera (or SLRs, as they are more commonly known) is for those wanting professional results. The major difference from a typical ‘point-and-shoot’ camera is that an SLR allows the user to completely detach the lens from the body of the camera and exchange it using interchangeable lenses. These cameras are the most expensive on the market.

Sleep Timer

Sleep timer allows a user to set a time at which a television or radio, for example, will automatically turn-off.

Smartphone

While we’re familiar with mobile phones, the smartphone is a much more advanced beast. The smartphone market grew out of the introduction of Apple’s iPhone, which has a very consumer-friendly design, ditching the stylus and the business-minded attitude of the PDAs which preceded smartphones. It’s common for smartphones to feature a touch-screen display with on-screen keyboard, an embedded camera, internal sat-nav GPS for online maps, utilise 3G connectivity and allow the user to install programs in the form of ‘apps’. A number of manufacturers have brought out similar devices using Google’s Android operating system as a platform. One such manufacturer doesn’t follow this trend - the BlackBerry range devices have remained popular with professionals and business users. A typical BlackBerry smartphone comes with a compact keyboard built into the design, usually in a slide-out format. The main platforms in the smartphone market are Apple’s iOs (for iPhone), Google’s Android, and BlackBerry’s own OS. Microsoft have entered the arena with Windows offerings.

Software

Software is a term to represents programs on your computer to enable the user to carry out different tasks. The types of software available are wide ranging from basic production activity software such as word processing and spreadsheet to more complex gaming software.

SOHO

Small Office/Home Office. Commonly used for products aimed at small businesses or those working from home.

Sound Card

A sound card is a small device which allows music and sound effects to be played through either internal or external speakers by the computer. Most computers have built-in sound cards; however sound cards can be added externally.

Spam

Spam is the email equivalent of junk mail. Unsolicited, commercial e-mails are sent to the user with the intention of getting the user to part with their money. Anti-spam software and devices are available which can greatly reduce the level of spam a user is receiving.

Speakers

User requirements for speakers will differ depending on their function needs. A basic computer user, who uses their computer mainly for basic tasks such as word processing and spreadsheet creation, will find the standard built-in speakers for their PC more than adequate. However, surround sound speakers and sub-woofers will appeal to a consumer looking to purchase a new plasma TV, for example, or a computer user with a keen interest in multimedia functions such as creating and editing their own movies.

SSD (Solid State Drive)

Not strictly a hard drive, although offering the same functionality. An SSD is centred on solid state storage, which means there are no moving parts inside. It’s based on flash memory, and offers increased longevity than traditional hard disk drives and often provides better transfer rates. However, SSDs can’t match the highest capacities of hard drives currently on the market, and they are often more expensive than their hard drive equivalents.

SSID

SSID – Service set identifier- is the name of a wireless local area network. The name is set by the controller of the network, usually stored in a router’s settings.

Standard Definition (SDTV)

This is the traditional definition television system, currently used. Digitally, a standard definition picture is typically 720 x 576 pixels.

S-Video (Separated Video)

An S-Video connection – separate video – will separate the colour and brightness data entering into a television from an external receiver such as a DVD player, to create a clearer picture.

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T

Tablet PC

A tablet PC is a slim portable computer, similar to a notebook but without a traditional keyboard. The Apple iPad has revolutionised this genre of computing equipment, with many manufacturers producing rivals, typically running the Android operating system. A tablet PC will function via an on-screen keyboard that can be used via touch-screen access.

TIFF file

TIFF – Tagged Image File Format – is a file format for photos and other images. It’s commonly used for professional printing.

Toner

Toner is a dry ink powder used in laser printer printing. For colour laser printing, four colours are required – black, yellow, cyan and magenta.

Transparency Adapter

A transparency adapter is a feature added to scanners to allow the scanning of transparent documentation such as picture negatives and slides.

Trojan

Corrupt files, programs and viruses can often attach themselves or be deliberately attached to seemingly legitimate e-mails. These viruses and files, unbeknownst to the user, will then go on to cause serious corruptions to the PCs files and programs. Viruses and corrupt files which operate in this way are referred to as Trojans. A lot of anti-virus software suites can tackle Trojans.

TV Out

The TV out function allows a television to be attached to your computer to function as a monitor, or simply so you can allow the computer’s output to be recorded directly to video.

TV Tuner

A TV Tuner is there for the reception of television channels. TV Tuner cards for computers allow for television to be viewed and even recorded.

Tweet

Twitter is a social network that comprises of ‘tweets’ – messages that are up to 140 characters in length. It’s become popular with celebrities, politicians, brands and ordinary users. You can reply to tweets, even if you’re not following the author. A tweet can contain other Twitter usernames as long as they’re preceded with the @ symbol, eg: @Misco_UK. Hashtags can be made up on the spot, simply by writing a word or phrase (without spaces) preceded with the # symbol, eg: #miscobargains. You can ‘forward’ on a tweet you like by using the ‘retweet’ button, which will ‘echo’ the tweet to your followers.

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U

Ultra Mobile

Ultra mobile is a term which refers to portable PCs and notebooks which weigh less than 2kg.

Upload

When files are transferred from one computer to another (usually a server, via internet or a network), the transfer of this data from the first machine is referred to as an upload. It’s a term typically used by a user who is transferring files from their computer to the internet.

URL

URL – Uniform Resource Locator – is the unique address given to each page of HTML or resource available on the Internet. The Misco website’s home URL is http://www.misco.co.uk

USB Connection

USB is the standard technology for connecting devices to computers in order that they can exchange data. Printers, digital cameras and scanners all typically connect via USB cables. Most modern PCs provide at least USB ports to plug in the peripherals. More USB ports can be provided by using hubs.

USB 2.0

Practically established on all modern computers and many portable devices, USB 2.0 gives a theoretical peak data transfer rate of 480Mbps. It’s taken over from USB 1.1, which was much slower. 2010 saw the introduction of USB 3.0, which is even more advanced.

USB 3.0

Around ten times as fast as USB 2.0, the speed of USB 3.0 makes it an advantage over the older technology. It’s specified as 5.0Gbit/s, though it usually achieves 3.2Gbit/s in practice. Many new motherboards carry these connections, along with compatibility for USB 2.0 and 1.1 connections.

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V

Virtual Memory

Virtual Memory is simulated or temporary memory. When the computer’s RAM memory is full then the PC or notebook will juggle data, usually using the internal hard drive, so that it can function as if there was memory space still available.

Voice Guidance

An option found on the majority of GPS/Sat Nav systems. With this option enabled, directions will be ‘spoken’ to the user rather than the user having to read the direction from a screen.

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W

Wall Mountable

Wall mountable, quite simply means a display, such as a television or commercial monitor, can be mounted to a wall, due to the slim line nature of such televisions. The brackets which allow the televisions to be mounted in a similar way to pictures on walls are generally sold separately.

WAVFile

WAV – waveform – is an audio format, where sound data is stored uncompressed.

Webcam

Webcams are small video cameras attached to computers which allow video footage to be recorded or transferred live via the internet. On some computers, such as some modern laptops, the Apple iMac or MacBook, a webcam is embedded into the design.

WEP/WPA Encryption

The process of encryption is the scrambling of data and information in an attempt to secure it. This is achieved as only a sender or receiver has the ability to unscramble, or unlock, the data.

Widescreen

Widescreen is a form of presentation on monitors and televisions. The most common type of ratio for widescreen is 16:9. This image ratio is wider than conventional 4:3 format. Widescreen is preferable to 4:3, as it roughly fits the shape of natural viewing through your eyes.

Wi-Fi/Wireless Networking

Many laptops include a connectivity for wireless networking (802.11 - Wi-Fi). If your computer doesn’t have wireless built-in then you can simply add this functionality. A simple wireless USB dongle can bring wireless networking to most computers. Include a wireless PC Card if you have a desktop, as these tend to be faster than USB dongles. This Wi-Fi ability allows the user to connect to the Internet when in proximity to an access point – commonly known as Wi-Fi hotspots.

WMA

WMA – Windows Media Audio – is a file format for compressed audio, very similar to MP3 but pioneered and controlled solely by Microsoft.

WMV

Windows Media Video. It’s the default video file format for Windows users.

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