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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.

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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