GOOD STUFF FOR LESS

You don’t have to buy a new tablet or computer to get a good one, any more than you have to buy a brand new car. “Refurbished” machines are items returned to the store or the manufacturer, but they’re not lemons.

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THE CHROMEBOOK LIVES AND GROWS

Laptops with Google’s Chrome operating system, an alternative to Windows or Mac, are Chromebooks, and they are selling big. Sales are expected to reach 5.2 million units this year, up 79 percent over last year.

We first wrote about these laptops …

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THE NEW CALIFORNIA CHROME

Chromebook, designed by Google, is as close as you can get to a trouble-free computer. Nearly all of its software exists in a Google cloud on the web and every time you connect it looks for and fixes any problems that might have come up when last used.

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COMING UP AT THE CONSUMER ELECTRONICS SHOW

At the International Computer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this month, LG manufacturing will show off an all-in-one desktop with the Google Chrome operating system. It’s called “Chromebase.” All-in-ones have all their innards stuffed into the case that holds the screen. More importantly, the big advantage of the Google operating system is that it updates your computer every time you start it up. It corrects any problems that are slowing down your system and eliminates viruses. Poof, it’s magic!

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FLATTENED

Tabletop computers are the latest thing this season. They’re flat enough to mount into a coffee table. The ones getting the best reviews are full-fledged Windows 8 computers and cost $900 to $1800. They have stands – like a kickstand – if you prefer it that way.

The 27-inch Lenovo IdeaCentre Horizon is the jazziest and

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A NEW KIND OF COMPUTER

Interesting new android tablet from a company we never heard of: Astak. It’s called a Neos, costs a bit under $500 and is permanently mounted on an inclined stand. The whole thing is much heavier than a tablet alone, and you wouldn’t want to hold it in your lap. In fact, our initial reaction was negative. Like: who needs this? Now we love it. It’s like having a small TV in the kitchen. Listen to music, watch news and lectures, display recipes as you work, play games. It seems to be waterproof, though we don’t want to try dunking it in the sink. Many apps are available offline, others require the Internet, cabled or wireless. It also takes camera cards […]

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GIVING UP ON WINDOWS

A friend of ours, a lifelong Windows user, switched to the Mac after a bad experience with Windows 8. This causes us to rethink our latest Windows recommendations.

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COMING SOON

If you thought a $300 computer was cheap, just wait for the next one. Dell is working on a $100 Android computer the size of a USB thumb drive. Testers are now trying it out.

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THE READER’S DILEMMA

A reader presented us the following dilemma: He is retiring soon and will need a phone and a computer, or maybe just a tablet. What should he get? We suggested he get all three, which if bought at current discounted prices, cost no more than just getting an iPad. Buying older versions of each of these, the total cost could come in as low as $400 and $530 at the maximum. Getting a new iPad by itself would cost $500. Here’s how it works: The iPhone Most people say that the iPhone is easier to use than an Android phone. We have to agree. We got an Android phone because we wanted to be able to test Android apps for […]

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NEED MORE STORAGE SPACE?

Windows “Ultrabooks” are thin, fast competitors to the Macbook Air. They usually come with relatively small solid-state drives (SSD) that use the same technology as so-called thumb or flash drives. Typically they hold around 128 gigabytes. That’s not half as much as a typical Windows laptop, but there’s a way to extend it.

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