Hidden CES gems: Self-service tech support

Being on-call IT support for family and friends just got a little easier, thanks to self-service tools unveiled at this year's CES

This year's CES was a wild time and foreshadowed what looks to be a fascinating year. We aren't quite getting the flying cars of science fiction, but we're coming closer. GM's concept car, the En-V, looked worth a spin, but like all things at CES, the line wore me out before I had a chance. I also saw so many Android and Windows 7 tablets that I can't begin to decide which one I want.

Among the new Intel processors, smart TVs, 3D games, electric cars, and in-garage charging stations, I found a few items of interest to those of you who are overwhelmed with help requests from people who got new gear for Christmas. Maybe the best helping hand you can offer is to point them toward a packaged service so that you can get on with your job?

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The folks at Wiley have taken the Dummies series of books to new heights by offering a tech support service. For $14.95 a month, the service will help set up, use, or troubleshoot a vast array of high-tech gear, from computers to mobile phones to routers to software to cameras to tablets. It doesn't insist the consumer know anything about the technology causing the problem; it just promises to solve the problem. You can sign up online or pick up a box in stores (retailers are being added as I write). For a limited time to go with the holidays and the launch, you can sign up for three months of service at $19.99. Use the code "holiday cheer" when you order online.

CyberDefender has also launched LiveTech, a remote tech support service that offers to help get new gear set up using remote help and Los Angeles-based technicians. It is a yearly subscription of $239.97 for one PC or $299.96 for five PCs (family plan). The team is available to help with any electronic device issues -- they aren't just limited to PCs.

Microsoft announced the launch of an updated Fix It Solution Center. It's an automated online tool that aims to help consumers identify problems with Microsoft products and find the corresponding fix. It's free but more of a DIY solution than the services above. Still, it's a lot slicker than searching around in forums. Instead of trying to phrase the problem you are having so that a search engine finds appropriate results, you pick the product or symptom from a dashboard. Each click narrows the results till you find what you want.

Don't forget, today (Jan. 11) is HP's Meet the Experts day. If you have question about HP products, this is your chance to talk to the people who designed the products or wrote the manual for it.

Got gripes or questions? Send them to christina_tynan-wood@infoworld.com.

This story, "Hidden CES gems: Self-service tech support," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read more of Christina Tynan-Wood's Gripe Line blog at InfoWorld.com.

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