THE APPLE WATCH COMPETITION

Apple Watch reviews have been mixed. Some functions are unnecessary, and others take too long to learn. The $349 price isn’t too appealing either, and you have to have an iPhone to go with it.  We wondered what the alternatives were, so tried out three Android watches. You have to have an Android phone. Of the three, we liked the $179 “Motorola Moto 360” best. It’s half the price of the new “LG Watch Urbane” and $20 less than the new “Asus ZenWatch.” The round-faced Urbane  gets high marks for stylishness, though, with its metal rim and a handsome band. The rectangular ZenWatch is also attractive. But for Joy, our master tester, these two lost out to the less-expensive Moto […]

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DRONE IN A BACKPACK

We’re starting to see drones in the park. Why are they looking at us? (We’re not paranoid yet, but we’re willing to start.)

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APPLE WATCH STAND

If we had a new-fangled Apple Watch, we’d get the $30 “WatchStand” from Griffin Technology. It charges and displays the Watch and an iPhone on a pedestal that makes the watch look like a jewel.

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A BETTER REMOTE

We felt like we had been dropped back to 1960 when we temporarily lost our TV’s remote control. On modern TVs, it’s difficult to find the volume control – or any controls for that matter. A gizmo called “Pronto” could have saved our bacon. (Which after all that time trying to find the controls, was burning in the oven.)

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OUR READERS LIKE REALPAD

We’ve always been skeptical of those “RealPad” ads in the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) magazine. But readers tell us this senior version of a tablet computer is really neat. RealPad simplifies the user experience. If you can put up with a shorter battery life and a less zippy performance, it could be for you.

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WASHING YOUR PHONE

In a recent survey, the manufacturer of a sanitizer called PhoneSoap, asked people which they thought was dirtier: the soles of their shoes, a toilet seat or a cellphone: Most chose the toilet seat, but it’s actually the phone. Most cellphones have 18 times more bacteria than the toilet in a public restroom, they say.

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SUPER CHEAP TABLETS

Talk about cheap: There’s a $50 tablet called the Chromo 7Ci. It started out at $38, but high demand drove up the price.

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ANOTHER WAY TO ESCAPE CABLE TV

More and more people are getting TV channels without paying a monthly cable bill, often called the movement to “cut the cord.” Now Walmart has entered the fray, with its $25 “Vudu Spark.” The Spark comes with its own remote control and plugs into the USB port on your TV or laptop. It comes pre-loaded with the Vudu movie and TV app, and that’s it. But it’s $10 less than the Google Chromecast and comes with a $25 credit for Vudu movies. The downside of these movie and TV-streaming sticks is you have to pay for most of the things you watch. You don’t have to pay much, but obviously it adds up depending on how much watching you do. […]

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A BETTER PLUG-IN

The “Power Tap” is a wall plug-in charger that looks like a faucet. Turn the tap when you want to power your gadget. We like this a lot. Joy is always hunting for the charging cable for her iPad Mini. Now she can just leave it plugged in without wasting power. We’d be even happier if it had two USB ports, one for the phone and one for the iPad. Then we’d never have to search for the right cable. The Power Tap is $27.50 from AeroPostale.com. (Clothing apparently is a sideline.) You can also find something similar by searching on the key words “Power Tap.” When we tried that, it came up for $10 on Amazon.

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SMARTY PANS

It’s not enough to have a smart phone these days, you need a smart frying pan.

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