DRIVING APP HAPPY

The engine warning light went on in our 14 year old minivan, and the dealer said we should add some goop to the gas and that might make the light go off. We’re giving you the short take. Somewhere deep in there, the automatic sensors in the car’s computer didn’t like the engine exhaust, or the carburetor setting or something like that. This incited Bob to a fit of high dudgeon (which is common for him) because back in the old days when he drove a 1962 Morgan, he could tune the engine himself. Everything was accessible to the owner back then, but now you need a computer analysis. Well we have one. It turns out that every car made […]

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MEANWHILE… DEEP IN THE JUNGLE

If you’re deep in the Amazon jungle, in a hurricane, or traveling too far from a cell phone tower, your text message won’t go through. (Good luck dealing with the giant Anaconda.) A new device called “goTenna” fixes that by using radio signals.

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LIGHTNING FAST

We’re going to need a Thunderbolt connection just to share all those photos. Thunderbolt is lightning fast connection developed for Apple. Some new PCs from HP and Asus will have it too, and fairly soon there will be Thunderbolt cards you can plug into the motherboard of older PCs.

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COMPARING GADGETS

Engadget.com/compare lists every gadget category you might think of, such as printers, computers, fitness devices, game machines, phones, speakers, you name it. When you click on a category, you get a list of the brands with the best reviews, and comparisons between them, as well as user comments. Here we learned that “Jambox” speakers get the same high rating as “Sonos,” but are cheaper, at $132 to $220, compared to $200 to $300.

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GOOGLE GLASS COMPETITOR

Google Glass enthusiasts make it sound like everyone will soon be wearing a glasses frame able to project a tiny display. None of this is breakthrough technology; it’s dependent on massive storage capacity and ultra-fast processing by somebody’s data service somewhere, like Google, or the NSA.

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THE XBOX ONE

A number of critics have been saying the Xbox One isn’t worth getting because some of the most popular games won’t play on it. That’s not the only reason. We got one because our favorite game, Peggle, is out in a new version that only plays on Xbox One. The other reason was just to keep up to date on what’s happening out there. It’s a good thing we’re having a blast playing that game, because everything else about the Xbox One feels overpriced and underwhelming. Want to use Skype for phone calls? Or Amazon Instant Video? Or Internet Explorer? Or even the popular Netflix and Hulu networks? Fuggedaboutit. Nearly everything you want to do except free games, requires an […]

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TRACKING YOUR STEPS

We’ve tried several of the new watches that count your steps and measure your fitness , but the one we stuck with turned out to be the least difficult to use and the least expensive. It’s the “Omron Digital Pocket Pedometer,” which was $22 at Amazon. (Amazon’s prices fluctuate, so while you’d think they were always the best deal, often they’re not. Check other discount stores as well.)

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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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WINDOWS AND 3D PRINTING

Here’s the future calling: Windows 8.1 is already set up for the day when we will all have 3D printers sitting on our desk. You know, those devices that will make almost any object you select or design. Some of these printers are around $1,300 now, only a fraction of what laser printers cost back when they were new. Make your own bobble-head. You’ll still need 3D software to design your object but the software won’t care what kind of printer you have. As explained in TomsGuide.com, it will be just like when you get a new ink jet printer: Microsoft Word doesn’t need to know about the new device. It still uses the print command. Here’s the rub, as Bill Shakespeare might say: your 3D printer […]

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