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, Star Tribune

Gadgets: A touch-screen remote

  • October 13, 2012 - 5:31 PM

A TOUCH-SCREEN REMOTE

THAT COULD USE BUTTONS

Harmony Touch, $250, www.logitech.com

Logitech has long made it possible to reduce the collection of remotes on your coffee table by combining them into a single Harmony device. The newest entry, the $250 Harmony Touch, adds a 2.4-inch touch screen. But the screen in many cases is more work to use than a clicker covered with buttons.

That's because to use the buttons, you have to go through multiple screens. On an old remote, to scroll through the on-screen TV listings a page at a time, you toggle the Page Up button. To do the same thing with the Touch, you have to wade through up to three screens, one of which is the "gestures screen," where you slide a finger up or down to advance the listings.

Also, instead of having to toggle around a grid of letters to spell the title of a show, the Touch offers a virtual alphanumeric pad. But it's like the ones on rudimentary mobile phones. To type a C, you go to the number screen, then press the number 2 three times. Frankly, Harmony's button-covered remotes are still its best.

VACUUM TOOL PROMISES

AN END TO TANGLES

Tangle-free Turbine, $70, www.dyson.com

Dyson, the design company known for its bagless cyclonic vacuum cleaners, shared an Achilles' heel with even the most plebeian vacuums -- the nuisance of tangling hair.

The problem is the cleaner head's brush bar, which spins on a horizontal axis to loosen debris on floors so that the vacuum can suck it up. Hair tends to wind itself into the spinning mechanism, and must be cut away.

The Dyson Tangle-free Turbine tool replaces the horizontal spinning brush bar with a pair of disks that spin horizontally.

Susan Roupe, a professional housekeeper for 28 years who was asked to give the tool a test run, gave it high marks after using it on a bedspread covered with cat hair. "It picks up better" than the brush tool, she said. And it didn't tangle after extensive use.

The tool is available for $70 and is compatible with many of the company's vacuums. It is included on the most recent Dyson vacuum, the DC41 Animal Complete, priced at $650.

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