A friend of ours is thinking of getting a smart TV. We asked her: Isn’t your TV already smart?

A smart TV is one that can connect to the Internet, which hers can. Perhaps she is thinking of a super smart TV, the kind with voice control. These days, many Samsung and LG TVs have microphones built into their remotes. The LG “ThinQ TV,” $380 for the 43-inch model, lets you use either the Alexa or Google Home devices for voice control. Ask for games, the weather, some scenery to jog into, or your favorite photos from Budapest; ask for a sports score without interrupting the movie your daughter is watching, and it will show along the bottom of the screen. You need to pay an extra $50 for the remote control that responds to voice commands; you knew they’d get you on something.

What about movies and instructional videos? According to the Roku stick or Roku player has more channels for video and music than any smart TV on the market. We have the $30 Roku Express, the cheapest version. Besides Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu and Vimeo, it has some obscure stuff, like “Free to Choose” TV. Many cable channels, like the History Channel, Lifetime, and HBO, are available for a monthly fee ranging from $3 to $15. If you only want a couple of channels, that’s far cheaper than cable TV.

The only drawback of the cheapest Roku stick is there’s no tech support. For a while it  couldn’t find our Internet connection, which was annoying, but Bob gave it a stern talking-to and that straightened things out. We also use Google Chromecast and the Amazon Fire Stick. All seem equally good, but Roku has the largest line-up of channels. Some of these can’t be had from cable companies. Joy recently discovered they have some recent movies for  free in the “Roku Channel.”

Bottom line: If you need to buy a new TV anyway, might as well go for a smart one. The dumb ones are no longer for sale. If you don’t need one, buy a stick.

Windows on a Chromebook

A reader with a Google Chromebook, a kind of laptop that runs Google’s own operating system, says it would be absolutely perfect if it also ran Windows programs. If you’re real tech-y, you can probably do it.

Try Codeweavers’ “Crossover on Chromebook.” This is a free program still in the testing phase – what is sometimes called a beta version. However, you can download it and it claims to let you install any of 15,302 Windows programs, without needing to install Windows itself. It didn’t work for us, but it didn’t interfere with anything either. So it seems safe to try and you might have better luck.

We tried installing Microsoft Office 2010, and it looked like it installed, after a lot of hoops we had to go through first, including copying the set-up file from a CD to a thumb drive to the downloads folder of our Chromebook. But it wouldn’t launch.  The same was true of “Steam,” from, a popular program for running games. Failure to launch.

This was all for experimentation. We find we don’t need Windows programs on our Chromebook. Sure, they’re comfortable and familiar, and we use Windows computers more than we do our $193 Chromebook from Acer.  But there are so many free versions of the apps we use most that we just trundle on.

For instance, we can use the free Word Online, Excel Online or PowerPoint Online, all from Microsoft.  We can do photo editing at We can find games in the Chrome app store. Sites with free games are plentiful but sometimes they are high risk for viruses and other intrusive software, so we won’t go there.

Your Name Here

A reader said he is a bit annoyed with Google policies and is thinking of getting out of Gmail. Okay, it’s easy to set up a Yahoo, AOL or some other account instead. But what about sending off email with your own name, such as

If you have your own website, an email address may come with it. We looked at, one of the leading, easy-to-use website builders. A Wix website is free but they charge $4 a month for an associated email account, which will have “wixsite” in the name—unless you pay extra to get your own special address. gives you a personalized email address for $2 a month. You don’t need to make a website, and you get spam filtering, anti-virus protection and five gigabytes of email storage.

What name should you choose? You can’t have because is taken, but your own name probably isn’t, if it’s not common. Find out if your name is taken by Googling it. For example, is taken but isn’t.


  • Patch. com brings you short pieces of local news, including video. It began in 2007, was bought by AOL in 2009, and is back with the original owners. They turned their first profit in 2016 and have 23 million users, according to the Wall Street Journal.
  • offers landscape design online. It uses augmented reality and 3D renderings to design outdoor spaces. Once you’ve got your design, they can connect you with someone who can implement it. Or, you can do it yourself.
  •, the home of the Skin Cancer Foundation, tells you the best hats, the best sun blocks, the best sun glasses and so on. A press release we got claims that the Maui Jim glasses are the only high-end sunglasses to get their preferred rating.
  • Supercut of 300 dancing scenes.” Google that phrase to find a seven-minute video clip. The downside is you see only two or three seconds worth of some of the best dances. Don’t blink.



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