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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CHROME CASTING

When we wrote about Roku and Amazon Fire Stick for bringing in extra movie channels, games, and apps on your TV, we neglected to talk about Google’s Chromecast, which is cheaper: $35 online or $30 at Walmart. The $49 Roku stick easily won our test against the $39 Amazon Fire Stick. But we didn‘t have a “Chromecast.” So last week we went out and bought one and tested it thoroughly. The results were disappointing. Chromecast sounds great in theory: just about anything you see on your phone can theoretically be mirrored on your big TV. They call it “casting.” In our tests, however, it didn’t always work and was highly frustrating to handle. Now we’re sorry we gave two Chromecasts […]

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BEYOND THE LANDLINE

We just read that landline phones will be phased out – meaning “cutoff” — in about five years. We’re ready, now that our cell phone is connected to a speaker that takes calls and plays music.

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DESK LIGHTS

Okay we’re caving in – a little bit — to the desire for gift suggestions:

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ROACH AND RESCUE

Search and rescue dogs are fine for finding trapped victims but cockroaches can go anywhere – unfortunately.

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IT’S A BLAST

Fitness tracking has hit basketball. Now you can measure the height of your jump and how long you hang in the air before dunking that shot. Users say cheers are in order if you can climb air for .7 of a second; one user claimed doing 1.2 seconds. Sign that kid up.

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A PHONE ON YOUR BIKE

There are several makers of cellphone holders for bicycles and motorcycles. We got one from Satechi, $30, because it was beautifully engineered and we couldn’t res

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