Can You Put a Smart Display On Top of Your Microwave?

Smart displays are wonderful kitchen companions: you can easily follow along with a recipe, video call someone while you meal prep, or keep yourself entertained while you clean things up. But depending on where you put your smart display or other electronics, you could be in for some trouble.

Microwave Shielding, Explained

Microwave ovens work by heating your food with short radio waves. These radio waves travel through a small channel, known as a “waveguide,” towards the food compartment. The turntable spins your food around so it can get cooked as evenly as possible, and the metal that your microwave is made of makes the radio signals bounce around the inside of the food compartment. The molecules inside your food start vibrating quickly, which is what heats your meal.

The metal chassis also acts as an electromagnetic shield. The microwave blasts out radio waves and the shielding keeps most of this inside the food compartment, but shielding degrades over time. If you’ve ever had your wireless network act up when you heat some snacks, it’s most likely because you have an older microwave and the shielding has become less effective.

RELATED: Why Does Wi-Fi Use the Same Frequency as Microwaves?

How to Test Microwave Shielding

The best way to test your microwave’s shielding is by downloading a Wi-Fi analyzer app. Here’s what you need:

  • A Windows 10 desktop or laptop, set to connect over the 2.4 GHz frequency
  • WiFi Analyzer from the Microsoft Store

Step One: Force Windows to Connect on 2.4 GHz

Forcing your device to connect to Wi-Fi over 2.4 GHz is important for the test since that’s the frequency on which microwave ovens also operate. Most modern devices and networks automatically switch between 2.4Ghz and the faster 5Ghz frequency. Microwaves don’t cause interference with the 5 GHz spectrum, so we need to get rid of that option if we’re going to test the shielding.

To force your Windows device to use the 2.4 GHz frequency, start by clicking the Windows logo in the lower left. Type “device” and then select “Device Manager.”

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Do You Need a Projector Screen In Your Home Theater?

Before buying your first projector, you should have a general idea of where it’ll go. You’ll need to have ample space on your wall, as well as easy access to a power outlet. With that settled, you’ll also need to decide if you want to get a screen. Projector screens don’t have to be super expensive, but before spending any amount of money, it’s worth deciding if you need one.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Using a Projector Screen

The biggest advantage of buying a projector screen is that it gives you more control than you’d get with a bare wall. A perfectly smooth wall is great, but any minor imperfections could harm your projected image.

The color of your wall will be the biggest factor. If you own your home, this is less of an issue, but renters may be stuck with a wall color that would make a projected image look too dark or too bright.

Even if you have a perfectly smooth, white wall, you still might want to get a projector screen. Most screens have a black border around them, which helps frame your movies and TV shows. A screen also gives you a bit more control over how much light gets reflected: a screen with a matte coating will have a much easier time of keeping ambient light from ruining your image.

But a screen is at least somewhat permanent. A couple of months ago, I moved some stuff around so my projected image could be a bit larger than it was. Because I project onto a bare wall, I was able to realign my projector and be on my merry way. If I used a screen, I’d have to purchase a larger screen, take down the smaller screen to mount the larger one, and then find a home for the smaller one. Those aren’t impossible tasks, and I’m not going to move my projector to a new spot super often. But it’s nice to know I have more flexibility to try different arrangements since I don’t have to worry about moving a giant frame around.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Projecting Onto a Bare Wall

The main appeal of just projecting on a bare wall is that you don’t have to shell out any money for a screen. Basic projector screens aren’t too pricey—especially compared to the price of the projector itself. But you’ll want to get a more expensive screen to make sure your image is color corrected and have some of the ambient light absorbed. And a good quality screen can add a few hundred dollars to your home theater project.  

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How Much Space Do You Need for a Home Theater Projector?

Watching movies and playing games on a projector are great. Once you get used to the giant display, it’s much harder to watch on even the largest TVs. But before you buy a projector, you’ll need to make sure you have the space for it.

The projector itself won’t need too much leeway, but you’ll need to make sure you have enough room between it and your screen to get to your desired screen size. With a little math, it’s easy to figure out just how deep your living room needs to be.

Throwing It Out There

You’ll see a few specs and industry jargon when you start researching projectors. The main one to pay attention to is the “throw ratio,” also known as “throw distance.” You’ll use this to calculate just how far from your screen the projector needs to sit. If the throw distance is “1” then you’ll need to place the projector one foot from the screen to display a one-foot diagonal image. If the throw ratio is less than one, you can place the projector less than one foot from the screen to make a one-foot diagonal image. Following that, if the throw ratio is more than one, you’ll need to place the projector more than one foot from the screen to produce a one-foot image.

You’ll often see projectors with more than one throw ratio listed. This means that the projector has a zoom wheel, so you can change the size of the image. Having multiple throw ratios doesn’t change our math; you just have to calculate it again.

Here’s the calculation to determine how far your projector needs to from the screen:

Throw Ratio X Desired screen size (Inches or Centimeters) = Distance from screen (Inches or Centimeters)

As an example, we can look at the BenQ HT2150ST. Let’s say we wanted a screen size of 150″ and need to know how far away to place the projector. This model has a throw ratio between 0.69 and 0.83, so our math looks like this:

0.69 (throw ratio) X 150 (desired screen size) = 103.5 (distance from screen)
0.83 (throw ratio) X 150 (desired screen size) = 124.5 (distance from screen)

Another way to gauge how much space you need is to look at the marketing or model name for the projector. You’ll see projectors advertised as “short throw,” “ultra-short throw,” or maybe without any throw distinction.

What Is an Ultra-Short Throw Projector?

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How to Use Google Assistant With Your Roku

As more of our devices connect to each other, it’s always nice to know that different products from different companies work together. A Chromecast isn’t expensive, but being able to use your TV directly with Google Assistant is better.

Roku has long supported Google services like YouTube and Play Movies, but a recent update took it one step further: you can now use your Roku with Google Assistant voice commands. This feature is limited to the United States for now, and Netflix support isn’t available.

Make Sure Your Roku’s Software is Up To Date

Your Roku will need to be running Roku OS 8.1 or newer to use Google Assistant. Start by turning on your Roku smart TV, streaming stick, or streaming box. Select “Settings” on the left.

Next, select “System” and then “System Update.”

Select “Check Now.”

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How To Redeem an Xbox One, PlayStation 4, or Nintendo Switch Gift Card

If you’re an avid gamer, there’s a good chance you got a gift card for your console for the holidays or as a gift. Being able to use that gift card doesn’t take much work, regardless of your platform.

Gift cards give your family something to wrap up or stick inside a hilarious card. The gift cards are available for specific games, downloadable content, online multiplayer, or just as cash for each of the digital stores. Then, you’ll be able to use those gift card funds to buy games and other content at any time.

How To Redeem an Xbox One Gift Card

Grab a coin, paperclip, or another piece of metal to scratch the coating off the back of the gift card. Next, go to your Xbox One, and open the Microsoft Store.

Next, navigate down with the left stick of the controller and select “Redeem a code.”

Enter the 25-digit code from the gift card, then select “Next.”

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