HELP YOU SPRING CLEAN YOUR GADGETS

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Nothing makes one question our dedication to gadgets more than seeing six remote controls lined up on the edge of the couch. While it may be mildly amusing to pretend you’re Indiana Jones conquering the tangle of cables to wrestle out your iPod charger, it’s really more annoying than anything else. Spring heralds a desire to get rid of the clutter, and we’ve found some great gizmos to clean up your most unruly tech toys.
If you have had to resort to labeling your remote controls, or if you have a shelf dedicated to them in your entertainment center, allow NERDS to introduce you to your new best friends.
• Harmony at last: We know, we know, you’ve heard plenty of promises about universal remotes. The one that came with your new TV claimed to be an all-in-one, but only a rocket scientist could remember the combination of buttons to press to get a DVD to play successfully. Trust us when we say, the Harmony Remote from Logitech is a remote control like no other. With many versions to choose from depending on the number of devices you want to control, whether or not you want it to be rechargeable (highly recommended if you don’t want to have to establish a battery savings plan), and the size of touch screen, there’s a model for everyone. The best part is that to set it up you just connect it to your computer, enter the make and model numbers of your devices, and it does the rest. Once configured, you need only press one button, easily labeled “Watch TV” or “Watch Movie”, etc… and the remote magically turns on all the devices and sets them to the right inputs. If you are one of the many home theater victims relegated to calling your spouse into the room to get your MP3 player to work on your stereo, this remote will change the way you look at your TV.

• Lounge away: With all the gadgets and techno toys in the house, we are always at a shortage of outlets. When we break down and add a power strip, it creates an unsightly mess of cords that we try (unsuccessfully) to hide under the bed or desk. Allow us to introduce you to the “Bluelounge Mini Cablebox”: a nifty box designed to house, and hide, your power strip and tangle of cables and comes in lots of colors. For less than $30 you can compartmentalize like a pro. www.bluelounge.com/products/cableboxmini
• Get a Valet: Almost as frustrating is the inability to fit all the chargers for handheld devices on one power strip. One great alternative is the Belkin Conserve Valet that is about the size of a paperback book. The Conserve Valet will charge up to four USB powered devices with only one AC adapter, leaving your outlets free for…hmmm… lighting? Heck, you may be able to ditch the bedside power strip all together. One of the best parts is that you’ll never again waste thirty minutes scouring the house for your cell phone or your MP3 player if they are all at one handy charging station. www.belkin.com/conserve/valet/
• Take control: Finally, when it comes to controlling the mass of wires that seem to mysteriously multiply, there are many options. Our favorite is blissfully simple and low-tech: Velcro cable ties. For about $8 at any number of retailers (we got ours through Amazon), you can get 100 reusable Velcro strips to bundle the cables of your home theater, office, bedside, even replace the frayed or missing one for your laptop power cord. More versatile than plastic zip ties, you can easily adjust or remove them over and over, no scissors required. If you are looking for a more colorful option to keep your cable exactly where you want it, Blue Lounge also has “cable drops” Simply expose the adhesive to attach the colorful dot, about the size of a quarter, to your desk, wall, or bedside table, and say goodbye to wayward cables. Who says getting organized has to happen in black and white? www.bluelounge.com/products/cabledrop/

About The Author: Andrea Andrea Eldridge is CEO and co-founder of Nerds On Call, a computer repair company that specializes in on-site and online service for homes and businesses. Andrea is the writer of a weekly column, Nerd Chick Adventures in The Record Searchlight. She prepares TV segments for and appears regularly on CBS, CW and FOX on shows such as Good Day Sacramento, More Good Day Portland, and CBS 13 News, offering viewers technology and lifestyle tips. See Andrea in action at callnerds.com/andrea/.
About Nerds On Call: Established in a spare room in Redding, Calif., in March 2004, Nerds On Call offers on-site computer and laptop repair services to consumers and businesses. Nerds On Call provides trouble-shooting for PCs and Macs, home and office networks, printers, iPods® and MP3 players, handheld devices and cell phones, home theaters and game systems, and virtually every other form of digital entertainment. In 2009, 2010, & 2011 the company was named to Inc. magazine’s list of 5000 fastest growing private companies. With 7 locations across California and Oregon, Nerds On Call serves more than 40,000 satisfied customers per year. For more information, visit callnerds.com or call 1-800-919-NERD.