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The 12 biggest technology myths

Find out the truth behind tech's tallest tales

The internet is a breeding ground for lies, half-truths, and misinformation, especially when it comes to technology. We've dug up some of the web's most notorious nuggets of conventional wisdom to see which hold up to scrutiny and which are merely urban legends.

LCDs are better than plasma screens

Don't believe the hype: your local HDTV salespeople may be trying to upsell you on a spiffy new LCD, but there are plenty of reasons to pick a plasma instead. Plasmas still handle darker scenes better, have a wider range of viewing angles, and are generally cheaper than LCDs (especially at larger sizes). Panasonic and Samsung continue to manufacture plenty of plasma sets (including a line of home 3D TVs and a gigantic, super-expensive 152in 3D display).

LCDs are catching up in a few respects, however. LCD sets with LED backlighting and higher refresh rates can compensate for some of the traditional problems of LCDs, and they suck up significantly less power than plasma sets do, so the higher price may be offset over time in your electricity bill.

Despite the remaining advantages of plasma, it's worth noting that some manufacturers are dropping out of the plasma display market (Pioneer, most notably, and Vizio), so the writing is undeniably on the wall: Plasma isn't dead yet, but it may be finished in a few years.

Warning: 3, Dubious

More mobile phone bars means better service

The signal bars on your mobile phone display indicate the strength of your cellular signal to the nearest tower. But if you're connected to a tower that lots of other people are connected to, you could have a strong signal and still have poor service, since everyone's calls are competing for scarce network resources. Once your information arrives at the cellular tower from your phone, it has to travel through your service provider's network (which connects the tower to the internet). And if your provider's network isn't up to scratch, you could have a flawless connection to an empty cell tower, and yet still encounter poor speeds and dropped calls.

When PC Advisor's sister title, PC World, tested 3G service in 2009, they found signal bars were poor indicators of service quality in 12 of the 13 cities they tested. In San Francisco, for one, signal bars correlated with service quality in only 13 percent of test results. Additionally, if you use an iPhone, you might just be seeing inaccurate readings. Apple recently announced (in connection with the iPhone 4 antenna issue) that the formula it had been using in all iPhones to display signal strength was "totally wrong" and often reported the signal as two bars higher than it should have. Oops.

Warning: 3, Dubious

NEXT PAGE: Are inkjets more expensive than laser printers?

  1. The truth behind tech's tallest tales
  2. The smartphone grip of death
  3. Expensive HDMI cables
  4. LCDs are better than plasmas?
  5. Are inkjets more expensive than laser printers?
  6. Refilled ink cartridges will ruin your printer
  7. Is IE less secure?
  8. You're safe if you visit only family sites
  9. You probably know this, but...

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