Ask Rick Maybury 2012



Ask Rick 204 12/05/12


Angle Wrangle

For several years I have had a Sony LCD 32-inch TV without any problems. For Christmas my daughter

bought me a Sony 32-inch LED type TV. We have had nothing but problems with the picture quality. The picture seems to be darker than the LCD type and when viewed from an angle (45deg.) the picture quality deteriorates to a marked degree. My question therefore is do LED type TV's have an inherent disadvantage

when viewed at an angle?

Graham Colman, Brixham, Devon


You have to read the small print on TVs billed as having an LED displays. Most are, in fact, LCD screens, but with LED backlights instead of less efficient and shorter-lived Cold Cathode Fluorescent (CCFL) tubes. The only true LED screens are relatively new Organic Light Emitting Diode (OLED) displays, which are made up of millions of individual LEDs. These can be made incredibly thin, have a similar viewing angles to CRTs and plasma screens and consume less power but at the moment they are significantly more expensive to manufacture.


In theory using LEDs instead of CCFLs to backlight an LCD panel shouldn’t adversely affect the viewing angle, but newer isn’t always better. Manufacturers like Sony are now using a variety of clever techniques to reduce the thickness of their displays and improve colour accuracy, contrast and uniformity of illumination by manipulating the brightness of the individual LEDs. It’s possible that this is what makes the viewing angle appear narrower. All LCDs are at their best when viewed head-on, but compared with CCFL lit screens the so-called sweet spot can be smaller and as you move away from it the progressive reduction in picture quality becomes more apparent.



On The Money

I have been using Microsoft Money for about 15 years and it has been very useful over that time, however Microsoft stopped selling and supporting it since the beginning of last year and I am becoming increasing concerned that if anything goes wrong I will lose all my financial records. I am not super rich or anything like it but I am constantly moving money from one account to another to get the best deals and Money has been very good in helping me keep track of things. Do you know of any program thing that I can use to replace Money? I have tried a free program called Gnu Cash but it’s a double entry system and appears too complex for my needs.

John Ballinger, by email


The withdrawal of Money and Quicken from the UK market has been a big problem for many users, and there does seem to be a dearth of alternatives. For what it’s worth I’m still using Quicken 2000 for my relatively modest bookkeeping needs, and it runs on Windows 7 in Compatibility mode, though some of the more advanced features no longer work. The problem is that once you have got used to an application like Money and Quicken, transferring your accounts and learning to use new software can be an uphill struggle, moreover none of them have all of the features of the older programs, or the same kind of support for UK banks and investments. I can’t make specific recommendations, everyone’s needs are different, but there is a useful article on CNET ( reviewing the leading contenders. I would also add a recent arrival to the list, called Bank Genie (, which looks quite promising, and Money Manager EX (, which is another free home accounts manager.  



The Generation Game

When the much talked about 4G mobile networks become available will our current 3G smartphones be able to utilise the new faster service? If not, will the network providers continue with 3G so our old phones don't become useless pieces of junk? 

Graham Davey, by email


4G uses a different set of frequencies and transmission protocols to 3G so existing smartphone phones will not be able to access the signal. I wouldn’t worry too much about your existing phone becoming redundant, though. There are still plenty of issues to be resolved, including the much-delayed auction by Ofcom of the frequencies for the 4G networks and it could be several years before a full national service is up and running. Given that some people change their phones almost as often as their underwear and the average length of ownership is less than 3 years it’s likely your present smartphone will be nothing more than a distant memory by the 3G service is eventually wound up.



Top Of The Forms

Is any way that I can turn a Word document into a questionnaire so that I it can be sent by email for someone to fill in, without them being able to alter the original text and layout? I am using Office 2003.

David Mountford, by email


Yes you can and Word has a number of options for creating protected documents with check boxes, drop-down menus and text boxes, for recipients to fill in. In Word 2003 these can be found on the Forms Toolbar on the View menu. However, rather than diving in I suggest that you have a look at an on-line tutorial (downloadable Word document), prepared by the University of Reading at:



iPad in the Slow Lane

I am toying with the idea of buying an iPad. However, I live in a remote Peak District village, which has hardly any mobile phone signal and the broadband is slow. I am told that my broadband comes with Wi-Fi, but I've never used it.  Would the Wi-Fi on an iPad be the same speed as my broadband? I am told there are no plans to upgrade the local exchange.

John Cooper, by email


Wi-Fi is simply a wireless link that connects your iPad or laptop to your broadband router/modem. Depending on the system used data transfer rates are typically between 6 and 150Mbits/sec, which will be significantly faster than your broadband connection, so this remains the bottleneck. Unfortunately there is little that you can do to improve it at your end, apart from switching to a faster service, if and when one becomes available, or consider alternatives, like satellite broadband.




© R. Maybury 2012 2304


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