THE BEST TECHIE GADGETS AND SERVICES FOR KEEPING THINGS SIMPLE, EASY, FUN AND AFFORDABLE.
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Welcome to my Resources Page – A curated list of the tools and services I recommend for making technology simple, easy, fun and affordable.
There are so many choices out there that it can feel overwhelming. There are a lot of new “bright shiny objects” coming on the market constantly and most of them have “bells and whistles” you don’t want or need.
I sift through the options and do the research so you don’t have to.
You don’t need all of these items by any means. Just choose the ones that will help you achieve your goals.
If you have any questions or an idea for a product you’d like me to to review, please let me know.
An Important Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links. If you use the link to make your purchase, I might earn a small commission. There’s no additional cost to you. In fact, I have endeavored to save you money by choosing the products and services that are the best value. I have not been given any free products, services or anything else by these companies in exchange for mentioning them. I recommend them only because I want to help you make the best choices for your particular needs and budget. Using my affiliate links supports the blog and allows me to continue to make free content. Thank you for your support!
GOOGLE CHROME COMPUTERS
THE ULTIMATE SOLUTION FOR MOST OF US
You may have heard of Chromebooks but did you know there are desktop versions, called Chromeboxes and all-in-one’s called Chromebases? They all use the Chrome Operating System (OS) which looks just like the Google Chrome web browser. These machines are designed to be used primarily while connected to the Internet, using applications and documents living in the cloud. But you can download documents and other files to use when you’re not connected. Chrome OS devices are very inexpensive, have long battery life, are super easy to use and require no maintenance or anti-virus protection (it’s built in). They boot up in 15 seconds, load web pages fast, require no maintenance and don’t slow down with time.
Google Chrome OS Computers
The best solution for most people because they are simple and safe. You are welcome to schedule a complimentary pre-purchase consultation with me before you make a final decision.
The equivalent of a desktop computer. Just pull out your big, clunky, CPU and plug in your monitor, keyboard and mouse to your Chromebox. Login with your Gmail address and password and you’re good to go!
14″ Chromebook by Acer
This Acer 14″ laptop has a screen large enough to see well and is lightweight enough for travel. (3.42 lbs.) Attractive case, full size keyboard, 12 hr. battery life, and a super affordable price.
Chromebase by Acer
For those who like the elegant look of a Mac, a higher priced all-in-one machine with a 23.8″ screen that costs less than half the price of a Mac.
15.6″ Chromebook by Acer
Popular with many of my clients due to it’s big 15.6 inch screen and super affordable price. At this price you can have a Chromebook as a second computer if you need a Windows or Apple computer for specialized software. Use the Chromebook for everything on the internet and be totally safe.
13 inch Convertible Chromebook by Acer
Bigger than a tablet, yet has a touch screen and converts to various positions and is very portable at only 3.26 lbs. Comes at a little higher price but may be the best of all worlds.
11.6″ Convertible Chromebook/Tablet by Acer
This newest 2018 Convertible Touchscreen Chromebook is great for people who want portability and don’t mind a small screen. It can be used as a laptop or tablet, in tent mode for viewing videos or flat for viewing with a group of people.
WIFI MODEMS AND ROUTERS
There’s a lot to know about Modems and Routers. The short story is that there is a lot of competition for WiFi bandwidth. It’s best to have a separate modem and WiFi Router because a modem will work until it wears out, but WiFi Routers will need to be upgraded from time to time and there is new technology coming up that will improve WiFi. If you have a smaller space and not a lot of devices using it at the same time you can get by with a more affordable Modem/ Wifi Combo unit like #1 below. #2 and #3 would need to be used together.
#1 Modem/WiFi Combination for Smaller Spaces and Fewer Devices
NETGEAR Nighthawk AC1900 (24×8) DOCSIS 3.0 WiFi Cable Modem Router Combo (C7000) Certified for Xfinity from Comcast, Spectrum, Cox, more…
#2 Modem Only (for Larger Spaces and Multiple Devices)
NETGEAR CM500-1AZNAS (16×4) DOCSIS 3.0 Cable Modem, Max download speeds of 686Mbps, Certified for Xfinity from Comcast, Spectrum, Cox, Cablevision & more…
#3 WiFi Router Only (for Larger Spaces and Multiple Devices)
Netgear (R7000P-100NAS) Nighthawk AC2300 Dual Band Smart WiFi Router, Gigabit Ethernet, MU-MIMO, Compatible with Amazon Echo/Alexa and Circle Smart Parental Controls
If you don’t print frequently, a laser printer is a better option than an inkjet printer. (Note: I’ve had problems getting Brother laser printers to work with iPhones, iPads, and Chromebooks even though they say they work with mobile devices.)
The Bare Minimum
If you only need to print words, the simplest solution is a cheap laser printer. It will cost less than $100 to buy and less than 2¢ per page to operate. Because a laser printer uses toner instead of ink, the toner cartridge won’t dry out even if you print infrequently and you can safely use cheaper, third-party toner if you want to save money.
If you need more out of your printer, consider an all-in-one inkjet printer. These are best suited for home offices that occasionally use color printing, scanning, copying, or faxing but don’t require any of these tasks on a daily basis. An all-in-one inkjet printer costs about $200 and printing costs 2¢ to 4¢ per page for black-and-white and 7¢ to 10¢ per page for color. However, unlike a laser printer, you have to use the ink regularly or the ink will dry up and ruin the print heads in spite of the automatic purges to keep their nozzles clean and ready to print.
Smart Phone Apps are Easier for Copying and Scanning
If you use a smart phone, you may find it quicker, easier, and more economical to take a picture of a document and email or text it because scanners often act up and are usually very slow.
HP OfficeJet Pro 8720 All-in-One Wireless printer with mobile printing, 2-sided printing, scan and FAX. Black and white printing costs about 1.8 cents per page and color costs about 9.7 cents.
Budget All-in-One Inkjet
HP OfficeJet Pro 8710 All-in-One Wireless printer with mobile printing, 2-sided printing, scan and FAX It has a simplified design, smaller ink tanks and scanning glass area, and slightly slower speeds than the 8720
Brother HL-L2340DW Compact Laser Printer with WiFi Connectivity and two-sided Printing. Prints black and white only, but won’t dry up with infrequent printing. It claims to work with mobile devices but it doesn’t work with iPhones, iPads or Chromebooks.
If you use an apple computer or tablet, your techie life will be much simpler if you stay in the “Apple Universe” and use an iPhone. The hardware is well-made and durable, the software is user-friendly, they offer excellent security protection, and there’s no advertising or annoying third-party apps pre-installed.
You have a choice of five generations of iPhones now — eight different phones. They all do pretty much the same things but the newer models will do things faster.
The exception is the iPhone X which is very unique and probably a precursor of future mobile devices. The main new features are face recognition to unlock it, using swipes (gestures) instead of the Home button, a unique camera system, an OLED (a type of light-emitting diode (LED) display that is very bright and colorful) and a no-bezel (no rim) frame that creates more screen area.
There’s a bit of a learning curve for all these new features and it’s a lot more expensive ($1,000 and up!) but if you want the very best iPhone, and you’re willing to pay the price, go for it. (You can a read a detailed review of it by thewirecutter.com here.
Some of its unique features may show up in other models next year. So if you have one now you may want to wait to upgrade.
Budget pick: Apple iPhone 7 32GB
The least expensive way to get most of the features of newer iPhones is with the iPhone 7. It’s almost as good as 2017’s iPhone 8. Even though the iPhone 7 was released in 2016, it has a fast processor, a great screen, and good cameras. It doesn’t offer wireless charging or automatic screen white balance but that saves you $150. It’s close enough to the iPhone 8 that most people won’t notice the difference. Just be sure you can get by with only 32 GB. (64 GB of storage is considered adequate for most people.)
Apple iPhone 8 64GB
The iPhone 8 and 8 Plus have the latest specifications, like wireless charging, and touch ID, offer more than the limited 32 GB of storage of the iPhone 7, and you won’t have to deal with the new interface and high cost of the iPhone X.
Apple iPhone 8 Plus 64GB
A step up for heavy users and photo enthusiasts
The larger iPhone 8 Plus has a second camera lens that provides a better photographic experience, a bigger screen that lets you see more easily, and the longest battery life of the iPhone lineup. However, its larger size makes it harder to use with one hand (especially if you have small hands), it’s a tighter fit for jeans pockets, and it’s more expensive. (Still considerably less than the iPhone X though.
Least Expensive: SE 32GB
Apple iPhone SE 32 GB is the least expensive iPhone that Apple has ever sold. The iPhone SE has the speed, the cameras, and most of the features of the 2015 iPhone 6s in a smaller body and the 4-inch screen of the 2013 iPhone 5s. If you find the iPhone 7 and 8 to be too large, the SE is a good alternative, but it makes some compromises in performance and features because it is a few years old. It only has 32 GB of storage, and I wouldn’t spend 30 percent more for 128 GB (the only other option) because of the age of the SE. It’s a good choice if you prefer the smaller size of the older iPhones but still want good, somewhat recent hardware.
If you live in mostly in “the Google Universe,” (use a Chromebook), or you prefer google apps and services, or you want lower-priced phone options you will like Android smartphones.
You can get a good Android phone for quite a bit less than the most inexpensive iPhone which is $350.
The main issue with Android phones is that the Android operating system is “open source.” That means it’s available to everyone to modify. Where as Apple has complete control of the iPhone hardware and the iOS (operating system), Android hardware is made by many different companies and some of the phones aren’t kept up to date with the latest versions of the Android operating system.
Some companies modify the operating system so the displays and menus don’t all look exactly the same.
Be sure that your phone will be eligible for security updates for the whole time you have your phone or be prepared to buy a new phone at some point. A lot of times the availability of updates depends on the carrier. (Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, T-mobile.)
Recommendations for Android Smartphones
The 5” Google Pixel 2
The 5” Google Pixel 2 is the top of the line phone for those who want the latest and greatest
The Pixel 2 (made by HTC) is the fastest Android phone, has the best camera (better than the Samsung Galaxy S9), offers the newest version of Android with guaranteed updates until October 2020, and the battery lasts for more than a day even with heavy use. It’s water resistant and has a good screen. It doesn’t have a micro SD card (Android users have come to expect this. It’s never been available on iPhones.) The headphone jack has disappeared on this phone too.
There is also a 6-inch Pixel 2 XL which is made by LG, but there have been some issues with the screen.
Samsung Galaxy S9
The Samsung Galaxy S9 is a beautiful design and a bigger screen. It has the best display of any phone, an elegant glass and aluminum body and a camera almost as good as the Pixel’s. It’s also a little more expensive.
The Galaxy S9 and S9+ have a microSD card slot and a headphone jack. They have the latest curved OLED screens from Samsung, and the bezel surrounding the screen is tiny thanks to the taller aspect ratio. They are water resistant to 1.5 meters compared to the 1 meter of the Pixel.
The Galaxy S9’s camera has an adjustable aperture so it can take brighter low light shots and sharper photos in brighter light. It comes with Android version 8.0 (Oreo) but it’s cluttered with unnecessary features, and it’s slower than the Pixel’s Version of the operating system.
Samsung Galaxy S9+
Samsung Galaxy S9+ has the same beautiful design as the Galaxy S9 with a bigger screen and dual rear-facing cameras.
Best Budget Android Phones
Motorola Moto G5 Plus
The Motorola Moto G5 Plus offers the best combination of features for the price.
It performs better than most other budget Android devices, works on every major US carrier, and has easy-to-use software.
The interface is uncluttered and it doesn’t have a lot of apps you won’t need or want. (bloatware)
It has a 5.2-inch 1920×1080 LCD screen, 2GB of RAM, 32 GB of storage, a microSD card slot, and a fast, accurate fingerprint sensor.
According to thewirecutter.com, It’s faster than most other budget phones because of its Snapdragon 625 processor and Motorola’s software optimization. The software is better than on many phones that cost two or three times more.
Unlike many cheap phones, the G5 Plus is unlocked and can be used with all US carriers. If you need more than 32GB of storage you can upgrade to 64GB with 4GB of RAM for about $70 more.
Budget pick: Motorola Moto E4
Moto E4 is the cheapest acceptable option (without ads). It doesn’t have as many features as more expensive phones, but it does have an excellent fingerprint scanner, which is unique a cheaper phone.
The Moto E4 runs a clean, fast version of Android Nougat. It has a light-but-durable plastic frame, with grippy back panel that covers a removable battery. It’s rare these days to see removable batteries in phones at any price.
The phone’s display and performance are both good enough, but, of course, not as great as you’d get with a flagship phone or even the Moto G5 Plus.
The 8-megapixel camera is a bit slow and performs poorly in low light, but it’s better than what you get with other phones in this price range.
Before You Upgrade
Some carriers have trade-in programs that give you credit toward a new model. In most cases, you’ll do better by selling your phone, either privately (on Craigslist or eBay) or through an online service that buys devices.