A NEW SMART SPEAKER

After accidentally dumping a load of cinnamon on our Echo Dot, Alexa wouldn’t talk to us any more. No matter. We decided to get a better smart speaker: the Sonos One. The Sonos One (Gen 2), for $200, lets you talk to either Alexa or Google Assistant when you want music or answers to questions. The sound is great but it didn’t exactly blow us away. Unless we’re talking literally. Joy upped the volume on George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” during the quiet part, then forgot about it. When we asked Alexa for the time the next morning, we were blasted out of bed. Before buying the Sonos One, we looked at comparisons between it, the Amazon Echo Studio  and […]

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PICKING UP A TABLET

We bought the newest iPad model because we couldn’t stand getting iPad or iPhone questions from readers without being able to try out the solutions ourselves. We’re happy with the current model but a newer version is coming out sometime this year. The next iPad is rumored to have an anti-reflective coating on the surface. That’s what’s used in telescopes and microscopes. It improves the contrast of the image by eliminating stray light. A triple-rear camera is also expected, for extra wide photos and videos like the iPhone 11 Pro can take. But we’re happy with the current model. It sells for $249 at Amazon, down from $329 at Apple.  What we like best about our iPad is the sound […]

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FREE TV

“Locast” brings TV over the Internet. Locast is low-cost. How low? How about free?  The TV people, namely CBS, ABC, Fox and NBC, are upset and are suing. They want to keep collecting the fees they get from cable companies. This follows an old business practice: If things aren’t going your way, sue somebody. It reassures the shareholders that you’re on the job and who knows, it might even work. The fees collected by the big networks amounted to $10.1 billion last year.   Locast brings you TV through an internet connection. So far, it’s available in 13 markets, such as Boston, Chicago and New York,  but it will be coming your way. It worked great on our TV, and we […]

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AT THE OPERA

A reader told us she’s tired of being tracked. We suggest using the new Opera web browser. It’s free and you can get it from Opera.com. Once on board you will have a built-in “Virtual Private Network,” or VPN, as the techies call it. It automatically encrypts all your data so hackers can’t get to it, which makes it safe (at least until the counter-attack) when you’re using free Wi-Fi at the airport or a coffee shop. For your phone, there’s “Opera Free VPN,” from the iPhone or Android app stores. Besides safeguarding your data, it lets you into places you might otherwise not be able to go.  For instance, some videos are restricted to certain countries. We’re looking at […]

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NO CAT CALLS PLEASE

Half a century ago Andy Warhol predicted that someday everyone would be famous for 15 minutes. He forgot to mention pets. Now there are websites devoted to making your pet stand out from the crowd. Bowser or Fluffy can even star in their own story book. And of course you can post videos — with background music and sound effects. Don’t worry that people will think you’re some kind of nut, a recent report says 65 percent of pet owners post news of their pets twice a week. Where do they post? On pet social networks, of course. If you search on the phrase “How to Make Your Pet a Star in Social Media,” you’ll get lots of advice. ABC […]

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WORLD’S EASIEST TABLET

A reader asked us for our recommendation on the easiest tablet to use – the iPad, the Kindle Fire or something else? The easiest tablet is nearly always the one your friend has, because they’ll help you out. We always regretted getting an iPad for our aunt, because she never learned to use it. All her friends had computers, but they were thumb-dumb when it came to the iPad. If we’d thought of it, we would have told her to watch YouTube videos. There are good ones on every kind of tablet. So, go to YouTube.com and search on “how to use an iPad” or “how to use the Kindle Fire.” What could go wrong? Basically, all tablets are similar: […]

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AMAZON FIRE

Joy lost her iPad Mini at the gym and has been using an old Amazon Fire tablet. The new $50 Fire is better than the old one in many ways. One of the best changes they made was moving the power button.

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READING IN BRIGHT SUNLIGHT

A reader wrote to say his wife has a Kindle and loves reading outdoors. His iPad costs hundreds of dollars more but he can’t read it in sunlight. “Not fair!” he said. “My wife grins at me as I struggle.”

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ORGANIZING MAIL ON THE IPAD

Joy’s friend Frieda asked her how to put mail into folders on the iPad. We find computers more practical for email, so we scratched our heads for a minute before coming up with these simple steps.

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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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