Walt Mossberg

Recent Columns by Walt Mossberg

Mossberg’s Mailbox

Improving PC Performance

Here are a few questions I’ve received recently from people like you, and my answers. I have edited and restated the questions a bit, for readability.

In your spring buyer’s guide, you wrote that adequate graphics chips will be more important than ever, but in the past you’ve advised that memory, or RAM, was key to speed and performance. Can you now get the same gains by buying or adding a better graphics chip? Or is RAM just as important as ever?

There are lots of things that can improve the performance of a PC or Mac. But adding memory still gives you more bang for the buck than any other, in my view. What I was saying last week is that the forthcoming Microsoft and Apple operating systems will be relying more on graphics chips to help take some of the load off the main processor and speed up certain tasks. Even so, a better graphics chip isn’t a substitute for more main memory. In fact, most moderately priced computers use so-called integrated graphics chips, which lack dedicated memory and share some of the computer’s main RAM. So having plenty of main memory is directly related to getting the most out of such graphics chips.

Can the iPhone be connected to desktop peripherals? I want to be able to plug my iPhone into a large monitor and printer.

There are already several apps, including one from Hewlett-Packard, that allow you to print photos wirelessly from an iPhone to a printer that’s connected to a Wi-Fi network. But, as far as I know, there is nothing on the market today that can connect an iPhone to an external monitor or keyboard, or to a printer for nonphoto printing. However, Apple has announced that the new 3.0 version of the iPhone operating system, due this summer, will enhance the ability of the iPhone to work with add-on hardware, either via cables or wirelessly. The company showed this off with medical devices, but it’s possible that some third party could make it work with monitors or printers or keyboards.

A recent article in the Journal reported that a person had installed the Mac operating system on a Windows laptop. Is this really possible and is it legal?

Apple doesn’t sell or license its Mac OS X operating system for use on non-Apple hardware. In fact, the company considers it illegal to install OS X on other brands of computers. Nor does it produce OS X drivers for non-Apple hardware features that are built into competitors’ computers. Nevertheless, some computer hobbyists have installed OS X on non-Apple hardware, and posted photos and videos online to prove it.

Even if you are willing to ignore the legal issues, this process, while not brain surgery, takes more skill than the average user possesses. And, in the end, some features of the computer may wind up disabled or require workarounds to function. For instance, on one such machine I saw, the speaker port didn’t work with the Mac OS.

  • You can find Mossberg’s Mailbox, and my other columns, online free of charge at the new All Things Digital Web site, http://walt.allthingsd.com.

Top Products in Two Decades of Tech Reviews

December 17, 2013 at 6:04 pm PT

Diabetes Data Beamed to Your Phone

December 10, 2013 at 6:16 pm PT

Two Houses, One Cable TV Bill

December 10, 2013 at 6:14 pm PT

Calling Overseas on Wi-Fi

December 03, 2013 at 6:18 pm PT

Dell Tablets at Bargain Prices

December 03, 2013 at 6:12 pm PT

Latest Video

View all videos »

Search »

Walt Mossberg’s Product Guides

Desktop PC’s and Laptops

The Laptops to Buy

Digital Cameras

Digital Cameras Improve Zooms, HD Function