Gizmo Guy: Gizmo Guy answers the (e-)mail

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The Ecovacs robotic window cleaner at work. It seals itself to the glass, applies liquid cleaner, then wipes the glass clean. But how clean?

Hi there. Hope you've been enjoying the column as much as I've been enjoying your feedback. Don't even mind being corrected when I get details wrong (honestly, it happens) so long as the conversation stays civil. Lots responded to last week's missive on Internet service shopping, especially apartment/condo dwellers whose management/association has locked them to a single service provider. (By rights you ought to be enjoying a discounted deal.) Thought I'd feed back today on some other communiqués that build on the conversation. Please keep the cards and letters (OK, e-mail) coming! And thanks for reading.

Question: Hi, Jonathan.

My husband has just been diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's, and the doctor suggested an identification bracelet. Do you know of a wearable device that has GPS capability, so if he became lost we could see where he is?

- M.V.

Answer: Hi back. Very sorry for your situation. Have a relative going through the same thing - he's afraid to leave the apartment for fear of forgetting how to get home.

Several clunky, GPS-connected tracking bracelets have come and gone. Still available are devices such as Amber Alert GPS ($220 for a device and year of service) and the Great Call 5Star Urgent Response device ($49.99 and $14.99 a month.) Both boast location tech and a panic button that brings an agent on line to calm the user and send help. Problem one: As these gizmos are meant to be clipped on clothing or slipped into a pocket, they're easily left home or lost. Also, the battery needs recharging every couple of days.

Ironically, Gizmo Guy thinks a low-tech solution - a MedicAlert ID bracelet, offered through the Alzheimer's and Dementia Caregivers Center, at alz.org - is a better idea. It's presentable, with personal information discreetly engraved on the back. It costs $62, including postage and a year's emergency response phone support. It relies on the kindness of others to get involved and make a call for them. Gizmo Guy likes to believe most people would help.

Q: Enjoyed your article on technology in television. I just bought a Vizio M series UHD at Best Buy - a 70-inch for $1,949. Looks as if it got a good rating on CNET. Gets UHD content from Netflix, Amazon, and UltraFlix, and the price was great. But I am feeling I made a mistake since you did not even mention it.

- J.L.
A: Fear not. On a "cost-per-inch" basis, Vizio can't be beat. But you'd never see a Vizio in a high-end shootout sponsored by a specialty store (in this case, Scarsdale, N.Y.-based Value Electronics) because Vizio does volume business with big box stores and doesn't tweak to the nth degree.

That could change if it pushes out "Reference Series" sets with Dolby Vision color/contrast enhancing, recently previewed.

Gotta break one piece of bad news: Comcast also has a UHD movie app for subscribers. It plays nicely only on recent Samsung sets.

Q:Re your column on battery-powered Bluetooth speakers: Thanks for nothing. When I go outside in the park, on a trail, on my bike, at the beach, the last thing I want is being subjected to somebody else's taste in music, especially "shockingly big sound" being blasted in a "sixty-foot range" by "multiple drivers." You could at least have mentioned consideration for others when using these devices from hell.

- E.S.
A: So you'd never want to lounge in the backyard listening to music (alone or with friends)? You'd never think about having a soundtrack playing whilst washing the car, music cooing sweetly on a speaker that can take a licking and keep on ticking?

I agree, noise pollution is annoying. But call me Pollyanna (or call me a cab), I believe the astute readers of this column are sensitive to such concerns, don't need a stern finger wagging and lecture to "keep it down, bub."

Q: Jonathan: Sorry you had trouble removing tire tread marks left on your glass shower door by the Ecovacs robotic window cleaner. The manufacturer recommends you try Bar Keepers Friend.

- Chris Arechaederra
A: Thanks, Chris. The product also cleaned off hard-water stains. Brilliant.

Q: Dear Gizmo Guy: I hate your column name. I'm a woman and the name seems exclusionary.

A: Hmmmm. So you've never been a man married to a Gen X woman who addressed gal pals as "you guys." I really do try hard to be inclusive. Just don't make me review an electric nail buffer or curling iron.


takiffj@phillynews.com

215-854-5960 @JTakiff