Help With Home Tech


Help With Home Tech

Find tips for simplifying your tech needs and products, plus pros you can put on speed dial.

Are remotes and chargers in your home multiplying -- and going missing? With a Harmony 510 Advanced Universal Remote (; $100), you can download component-specific programming to the remote via your computer for more than 225,000 devices and more than 5,000 brands. The Chargepod (; $40) will charge up to six mobile-electronic devices simultaneously using adapter tips ($10 apiece). The Chargepod V2 ($200) will simultaneously charge a laptop computer (PC or Mac) plus three small devices, and it includes a three-port USB hub for data transfer or connecting peripheral devices to your laptop.

Portable GPS devices have saved the day for many directionally challenged drivers. But you don't need another $200 gadget if your smart phone comes with an Internet-data plan. Download free mapping software from Microsoft's Live Search or Google Maps. Both will work even if your device doesn't have GPS functionality. Your cell-phone provider may also offer turn-by-turn directions, typically for a monthly fee of $10 or a one-day charge of $3.

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Computer problems and troubles with home networks are best left to the geeks. For help installing game and home-theater components or fixing most other home electronics, try the Geek Squad (; 800-433-5778). Fees for the Geek Squad, which is affiliated with Best Buy, are listed at the Web site. Or summon Geeks On Call (; 800-905-4335). Fees vary depending on where you live and the complexity of your problem. Ridding your PC of a virus could cost $170 to $325.



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