Have a gadget that frustrates, confuses, or just plain confounds you? Wondering what all the social media fuss is about? Are you worried you spend too much time online? This is the time and place to ask Jenn anything!
Q: Valerie: What’s the best smart phone that isn’t an iPhone?
A: Right now, I’m loving the Motorola Droid Razr Maxx, Samsung Galaxy S3, Nokia Lumina 920, HTC Droid DNA. Take a peak at the column and video I recently did on this topic; how to pick the best smartphone for your personality.
Q: Teresa M.: My New Year’s resolution for 2012 is to become more organized with my finances, but so far I haven’t done anything in the way of organizing or keeping track of my accounts.
Are there any inexpensive tech tools out there that might make it easier for me?
A: Hi Teresa – I really like Lemon
Pageonce: Financial peace of mind that fits in your pocket
This mobile app is like having a stress-free babysitter for your budget. All you have to do is sign up, download the free app, and link it to any and all accounts you want it to manage. It automatically organizes and tracks your money — bank accounts, bills, credit cards, investments, travel rewards, student loans — and there’s even a calendar that shows when your next round of bills is due.
Expensify: Tracking expenses made easy and fun
Download: Expensify Lite for iPhone or Android
If you’ve ever wondered where all your money is going or had to create Excel spreadsheets of travel expenses for work, Expensify will change your life. You just sign up for free, link it to your credit card or bank account, and then check the boxes next to the expenses you want to tally. For work or business expenses, it generates perfect expense reports with automatically attached receipts that you can just email to whomever needs them.
With the smartphone app, you can also just snap a picture of your receipts on the go, and Expensify keeps them as digital records online that you can attach and email. So far this year, this service alone has saved me about $200, 12 hours of time, and countless new gray hairs just by helping me create expense reports from all my travel receipts. You could use this to keep track of any kind of spending you do, from groceries to medical bills to figuring out how much money you really spend on shoes
Q:Marci G: Can you tell us the pros and cons of Google TV vs Apple TV vs. ROKU? What costs more? Where can you have full internet browsing?
A: Here are a few simple ways to decide between them:
*Can surf the web via integrated Chrome browser
*Can watch live TV, stream via Netflix, HBO Go, or youtube
*Con: It has fewer options/streaming channels compared to Roku
-Apple TV set top box
*Great option if you’re using iPhone and iPad because of Airplay that lets you wirelessly stream images and videos from your mobile devices straight to your TV.
*You can access the TV show episodes you bought from iTunes. Can also acces Netflix and other streaming channels
*Downside: You can’t access Hulu Plus and other big streaming services
*costs only $50
*There’s a LOT of content. You can access Netflix, Hulu Plus, and a lot more. It also has a lot of apps made especially for it.
*Downside: You can’t surf the web. But among the three, Roku has the most content, and if content is what matters to you, Roku is the best option.
Q: Harriet: what are the most popular boomer apps on iPads/iPhones?
A: Hi Harriet – there are a great many apps to help with memory, tech-instruction, and even connecting you with friends and family. Here are a few off of the top of my head:
1. Vision: This app will test and preserve eyesight.
2. 911 Help: Use your iPhone as a safety device.
3. Brain Fit: Addicting puzzles that stimulate the mind
4. aSleep: Designed to help you get better sleep.
5. iPharmacy: Locate the nearest pharmacy using the integrated GPS feature of the iPhone. It also helps with drug information like side effects and other interactions.
6. Retirement savings calculator: http://www.apple.com/webapps/calculate/retirementsavingscalculator_mycashforecastcom.html
7. Magnifier/flashlight app: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/over-40-magnifier-flashlight/id381663967?mt=8
8. MyFitnessPal.com – Based on WeightWatcher Point system except FREE. Apps for iPhone, iPad and Blackberry. Keep track of calories, exercise and more.
2. Dierdre: What’s the solution for a post-50 who is sick of the cable bills and wants to just get the programs they like?
Price: $7.99 a month
Get movies, TV shows, and even original programming: www.tecca.com/news/2012/01/04/netflix-original-series-trailer/
Netflix is geared more toward movies, however, and it’s very slow in updating TV shows, hence you may also want to try…
-Hulu: Hulu keeps TV series available in its library up to date. It also offers original content:
Its paid service, Hulu Plus (Price: $7.99 a month) offers more content like full seasons of TV shows. But then there’s also…
-Amazon Prime Instant Videos
Price: $79 a year
unlimited commercial free streaming. But its still kinda newish so Netflix has a larger catalogue
-Is the show you want not in any of those streaming services? You can subscribe to a show on iTunes, where you can pay for a bundle of episodes.
Q: Kate: What are some good tech tips for dad? I want to get my dad something for Father’s Day.
A: Does your dad love coffee? Get your dad a coffee maker…maybe a Keurig. But if you want to go fancy, you can get the Swedish Ferrari-inspired Brunopasso. http://www.tecca.com/pictures/7-interesting-weird-inspiring-coffee-machines/3/ It makes coffee, and it’s as shiny as a car. But it also costs $850. Is your dad always on the go? Get him a Jawbone Bluetooth Earbud. Does he live an active lifestyle? Get him a Jawbone Up wristband health tracker. Does your dad like watching TV? Get him a Roku Box or an Apple TV if he uses an iPhone or an iPad and buys/rents content from iTunes so he can stream content straight to his TV. Does your dad like reading? Get him a Kindle or a Nook e-reader.
Q: Gretchen: What’s the best e-reader?
A: Different strokes for different folks.
-Amazon Kindle: Great if you buy your ebooks mainly via Amazon. You have many options to choose from with Kindle.
*Kindle Keyboard: If you like physical keyboards, this is for you
*Kindle DX: Is a large screen version of the Kindle. Screen measures 9.7 inches rather the 6 inches found on other Kindles
*Kindle: The basic version without a full keyboard.
*Kindle Touch: The touchscreen version
(Don’t forget that some versions offer 3G connection so you can download a new book anywhere!)
-Barnes & Noble Nook: If you get your books mostly from Barnes & Noble, the Nook may be the better choice.
*Nook Simple Touch: The most basic version with a touchscreen display
*Nook Color: Colored version of the Nook, comes with apps
*Nook Simple Touch Glowlight: This newest version of the Nook has a backlit E-ink display so you can read in the dark without the need for an external light source. (Price is $139 compared to the ordinary Nook’s $99 price point)
-You can also try the Amazon Kindle Fire and the Nook Tablet, both of which are full-fledged tablets if you want more of a multi-purpose device.
-Apps: If you have a smartphone or a tablet already, download the Amazon Kindle app or the Nook Reading App so you can read your books in those devices, as well.
5. Hope: Paying for apps – which ones are worth it? And will they will be free eventually?
There are many apps worth paying for based on your needs, your lifestyles, your interests… and your platform.
*Example for security: PhoneLocator Pro for Android that tracks your device remotely; Lookout Security & Antivirus Premium for Android for safe browsing and remote locking and wiping of data from your phone, just in case your device gets lost or stolen/
*Documents to Go for iOS and Android if you need to read and edit your documents on your mobile device.
-Some paid apps *may* be free eventually, with in-app purchases as their main source of income, but so long as you believe there’s no free alternative that can serve your needs better, then they might be worth paying for.
Q:Michelle: What are some good apps for my commute or for my downtime?
*if you want time-killers, get physics games like Apparatus and everyone’s favorite, Angry Birds. I recently got hooked on LetterPress – awesome new word game that you play with friends or against strangers. Also good for playing with friends, Draw Something or Words With Friends. Scrabble is a great time-killer. You can also get other games like Temple Run, Infinity Blade (RPG), and Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective (point and click detective game). Get streaming apps like Netflix if you want to watch TV shows or movies on the go.