Tip of the week...
When to buy refurbished—and not
Laptops: Desktop computers and laptops sold as refurbished undergo thorough inspections, and any needed repair renders them as good as new or close to it. And remember: Most “refurbished” products are simply customer returns, and only 5 percent of returns are due to defects.
iPhones: Apple’s own refurbished phones and other products are so reliable, there’s virtually no reason to buy new.
Other phones: The worry with most refurbished phones is that they might come with an old battery. The bigger batteries in tablets suffer slightly less from age.
Hard drives: Don’t take the risk: “There is no reconditioning process that can restore a hard drive to a factory-new condition.”
TVs: Again, no—because warranties on refurbs typically last 90 days, and “TVs these days are too unreliable for that short a protection plan.”
And for those who have everything...
Have you ever wanted to feel the force of an explosion? The sting of a pirate’s cutlass? An elf’s gentle caress? If you’re already spending a lot of free time in virtual reality goggles, you’ll love the Hardlight VR Suit, whose 16 haptic feedback zones direct vibrations to individual muscle groups. Due to ship in September, the suit connects to VR goggles and a PC. Though it isn’t the first haptic suit, it’s an advance, and “it’s cool to know soon we’ll all be encased in what looks like dirt bike armor as we flail around our living rooms dodging war hammers and drone fire.”
GrowSquared is a planning tool that lets you set the dimensions of a virtual garden bed, then drag and drop different plants into it. The app also helps with scheduling planting and harvesting. (Free, iOS only)
Garden Plan Pro is another garden design app, and it “does a little bit of everything.” One useful feature: lessons on how to rotate crops. ($8, iOS only)
GrowIt! offers information on thousands of species. There’s also a social-networking aspect, letting you show off your garden and rate others’. (Free, iOS and Android)
ePlant helps you track everything happening in a garden: plant sizes, costs, the fertilizers you’ve used, and more. (Free, iOS only)
Landscaper’s Companion resembles a coffee table book, with 21,000 pictures of trees, shrubs, perennials, and more. Its library of information offers more than you’ll ever need. ($10, iPad)