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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BUGGY CHROME

We recently switched from Google’s “Chrome” web browser to “Opera” because Chrome started giving us problems. Now there’s a solution from Google called “Software Removal Tool.” Get it at google.com/chrome/srt. What it does is scan your browser for anything that slows it down. This includes extensions; these are small programs like “AdBlock” or “Gmail Offline.” Extensions slow your browsing. If there’s one you have to have, you can always put it back on. Chrome seemed to work slightly faster after we tried this. (We get so impatient sometimes.)

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FREE STORAGE FOR CHROMEBOOKS

We’ve written about Google Chromebooks, a laptop for surfing the web and answering email. They cost around $200 and now they throw in a terabyte of free storage for two years.

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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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HOW DO YOU FIND ANYTHING?

A common reader question is how do they find something we have mentioned in a column, and sometimes they ask how to find things we’ve never mentioned. Either way, the answer is the same: Google it, or Yahoo it, or Bing it.

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CHROMEBOOK SALES UP

Sales of Google “Chromebooks,” computers that run the Chrome operating system instead of Windows, Mac or Linux, were up 67 percent in the third quarter of 2014, according to market research firm ABI Research. ABI predicts this year’s Chromebook tally to be double last year’s.

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FREEBIES FROM GOOGLE

MadeWithCode.com, a Google-operated site, let anyone design a small custom bracelet that they made and mailed out for free. Honest! – We got one. Ours is green and says “Bob and Joy.” It took a couple of months to arrive. Now they have other projects, such as animated “Yeti” figures. Click “Projects” to choose. Many are free, like the animated greeting cards.

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DO-IT-YOURSELF GOOGLE MAPS

Joy just created a map of the best vegetarian restaurants around town. Now she can put that map into the Google Maps Gallery. Previously, the Google Maps Gallery only showcased maps from heavy hitters like the National Geographic, NASA, or the World Bank. Now you can do one too.

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APP HAPPY

Google the phrase “Chrome Web Store” to find lots of apps that will run right on your desktop. Here are a few nice freebies:

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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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