I’ll wait to review the new Apple Watch once I get one to try, but here are some first impressions based on its introduction last week.

Needs an iPhone: The watch can be thought of as a remote control for your iPhone. It replicates many of the functions on the phone, but its value greatly diminishes if it’s not connected. While you can see who has texted or emailed you without removing the phone from your pocket or purse, reacting to those events will usually require using the phone.

Alerts are both good and bad: Expect to spend lots of time setting your alerts. While at first you might like being notified when messages and mail arrives, the interruptions will become annoying very quickly — both to yourself and others around you. I expect to see new apps that will try to automate this process.

More distracting than your iPhone: If you’ve been distracted by your phone, the watch will be much worse. A phone can be out of sight, and hence out of mind. But the watch will always be visible. It’s always been considered rude to glance at your watch while talking to others, but now that’s going to become much more common. Driving while checking your watch is equally dangerous as using your phone.

Not a health monitor: Apple has backed away from positioning the watch as a health monitor using a large number of built-in sensors. The company was smart not to go there because collecting all that information doesn’t offer much value, and you can do much of it with an app on your phone.

Instead, Apple has turned the tables and talked about how the information collected on your phone could advance health research. Brilliant marketing by making lemonade out of lemons.

Apple implied that the watch could detect a wide variety of exercise types, including biking and exercises. If this is true, they’d be the first to do that.

A fashion product? Apple is positioning the watch as a fashion statement as much as personal technology. While the cases are attractive, the watch is really the ultimate geek gadget; it’s a wrist computer, not jewelry. And every model from $349 to $17,000 is exactly the same, except for the case material.

The 18-karat gold version, which sells for up to $17,000 contains about $1000 worth of gold. Rarely has anyone been asked to pay so much to buy a version 1.0 of a new electronic product that in two years will be replaced with something new.

No killer app: There is no killer app yet available, something that alone could justify a purchase. For me, the best use might be the ability to screen my calls with a tap of the button, without removing the phone from my pocket.

Should Rolex worry? What will be the impact to the mechanical watch brands such as Rolex, Patek-Philippe, Omega, etc? As someone who’s collected watches and developed a great skill in buying high and selling low, conventional watches will continue to flourish. Based on functionality, the Apple Watch does more, but it lacks the emotion, the history, workmanship and complexities of mechanical watches. But the biggest disadvantage over conventional watches is the need to recharge the Apple Watch each night.

Big margins: The version of the watch that is likely to be the most popular, the stainless steel model with a strap, will likely cost Apple less than $125 but retail for $600, a better margin than iPhones.

Apple distortion field: Apple really goes overboard about touting every detail about their products, even the mundane. Two videos shown at the intro, narrated by Jony Ive, their VP of design, went into excruciating detail to describe why the aluminum and steel they use are each superior to ordinary aluminum and steel — so much that it seemed like a “Saturday Night Live” parody of itself. Still, the watches will scratch, particularly the aluminum version.

Ads on your watch? How long can Apple resist displaying ads on your wrist? It’s a fertile location for all sorts of commercial use. I imagine companies right now are plotting what freebies they can give us in exchange for sending an occasional ad.

In your face: In its latest software upgrade for the iPhone, a new app is installed that cannot be removed: a commercial with videos and an empty app store for the Apple Watch. Apple is taking no chances by informing all of its iPhone users about the product, but it’s bad form.

The verdict: My initial impression is that the Apple Watch is neither as great as some expected, nor as useless as its detractors make it out to be. It’s going to do many things we can’t yet imagine as developers create new apps. But, other than its slightly smaller size, its industrial design, and its user interface, it’s not all that different from the exiting Google and Pebble watches at significantly lower prices.

While the Apple Watch is the best looking and most reasonably-sized of all smart watches, ultimately it will succeed or fail based what it actually can do and how useful it is.

What it is: An electronic watch that wirelessly connects to an iPhone using Bluetooth. (Does not work with Android phones.) It’s available in two sizes (38mm and 42mm), three case materials (aluminum, stainless steel and 18k solid gold), and a choice of straps and bracelets costing $49 to $449. All models work exactly the same. Costs from $349 (aluminum) to well over $10,000. The most popular choice (stainless steel with a leather band) will cost about $600. Preorders begin April 10; on sale April 24.

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The vast majority of the public has welcomed the decision by the Federal Communications Commission last month to support net neutrality.

The decision will affect most of us, as well as millions of companies, in a very positive way. Despite some of the opponents’ claims, it is neither a government takeover nor a power-grab by our president.

The opponents — Internet service providers, which include cellular carriers and cable companies — have created many false claims to obscure the facts.

What they wanted was to be able to set up different classes of service, offer faster speeds and more data for an extra fee, and provide slower service to those that don’t or can’t pay for premium service.

The FCC’s 3-2 decision — split along party lines — simply recognizes that access to the Internet is vital to all of us and to the country. Therefore, all of us need to be treated equally.

The decision affects commerce and communication, and is critical to innovation.

Equal access to all must be assured. Its control should not be left in the hands of a few private corporations whose goals are profit and are thus not always aligned with the public good.

The idea of net neutrality is not something new. In fact, Title II of the Communications Act of 1934 describes a regulated “common carrier” such as telephone service that delivers goods to the public with no discrimination, in contrast to a private entity that can choose whom it serves and what rates it charges.

The FCC’s decision is simply classifying the Internet as a “common carrier,” which means the ISPs cannot set their own rules and rates without some oversight.

The Internet has changed the way nearly every business and individual works, and has fostered the creation of companies we never even imagined just a few years ago — from how we get a taxi to how we book a flight, how we shop and how we educate.

It’s used by more than 70 percent of the households in the country.

Today, the United States is well behind other advanced countries for Internet service. Sweden and Korea have speeds 10 times faster and pay much less for the service, partially the result of their governments’ oversight and subsidies.

For a while it looked as though the FCC might choose an approach that would have given more power to the ISPs. These companies claimed that, because of limited capacity, they should be able to charge more to customers that send more data or need higher speeds, much like an individual paying to be allowed to use an HOV lane.

They claimed that without this ability, we would all suffer from a congested Internet, and the financial incentives would not be there to invest in expanding capacity. The answer to that is clearly to build more capacity. If they choose not to do this, there are others willing to jump in, such as Google.

The public wasn’t buying this and saw through the self-interests of the ISPs. In fact, it was the public’s response — 6 million email and phone complaints — that counteracted the ISPs’ lobbying and campaign contributions to members of Congress.

The decision was also affected by the companies that opposed net neutrality: Comcast, Verizon and others in the cable and cellular industry that, for the most part, have treated their customers with disdain.

Their policies have been so shortsighted and adversarial that few people trusted them with the Internet.

For example, Verizon and most cellular carriers have nickeled-and-dimed their customers at every turn. Go over your data allowance one month? Pay a large penalty. Go under? Too bad, you can’t save it for the following month. Travel out of the country? Pay exorbitant fees, providing the carriers with 90 percent margins. Add a new device such as a tablet? Pay a connection fee and a monthly fee to have access to data you are already buying.

Comcast has some of the worst customer ratings for service of any company in America. It’s been well documented how they lie, do everything to prevent a customer from canceling and ridicule their customers.

There’s some poetic justice here in that what these companies wanted so badly was denied, in part because of their own poor treatment of their customers. If they had developed a more trusting relationship over the years, the opposition might have been less vocal and the ruling might have been different.

As one blogger noted, “Companies should have to earn profit by having satisfied customers, hard work and a decent product. Now profit seems to be earned by finding ways to separate customers from their money in the most predatory ways.”

The ISPs reaped what they sowed. And we are all better off for it.

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Each year or two there’s one new camera that stands out as special, particularly in the compact-to-pocket-size category. In 2012 it was the Sony RX100 that created a big sensation for packaging a large sensor into a tiny pocketable camera. At $699, it was considerably more expensive than other pocket cameras, but because its image quality set a new standard for pocket cameras, it became a huge success. Now there’s a new camera that’s even better.

I’ve been trying out the new Leica D-Lux 109, very similar to the Panasonic Lumix LX100. While not as small as the Sony, it’s small enough to fit in a coat pocket or small purse. It uses a much larger 13-megapixel sensor and a terrific Leica f/1.7 25mm to 75mm zoom lens, capable of shooting in the dimmest light.

The result is a camera that takes noticeably sharper images than any camera in its class and works in very low light conditions, even candlelight. That’s not only because of the sensor, but also because of the maximum aperture of f/1.7 – 2.8, the largest ever used on a compact camera.

The camera is a partnership between Panasonic, which designed the camera, and Leica, which developed the lens. The difference between each company’s version is mostly cosmetic.

Leica eliminates the built-in handgrip and textured surface of the Lumix for a smoothly finished flat black aluminum body. The Lumix costs $800 and the Leica costs $1,100. The Leica comes with a three-year warranty, instead of one, and a free copy of Lightroom software, worth about two-hundred dollars.

One of the unusual features for a camera this small is its built-in high-resolution electronic viewfinder, which works particularly well in both low-light and in bright sun, where the 3-inch LCD display becomes washed out.

In fact, I found that I much preferred using the viewfinder all the time, because I could hold the camera against my face for steadier shots. I wear glasses and was able to adjust the viewfinder for my vision and had no problem seeing the full view. The viewfinder turns on automatically and turns off the LCD when you put it up to your eye.

Like many people, I have missed the optical viewfinders on compact cameras, and found this electronic viewfinder to be even better.

While most cameras provide great results under normal lighting conditions, the more costly cameras do better under extreme conditions. This camera goes beyond other compact cameras and minimizes the need for flash. You can actually take decent images up to ISO 25,600.

That’s good because one of the compromises with this camera is that there is no built-in flash. Instead, there is an add-on flash about the size of two sugar cubes that slides onto the hot shoe.

The controls are more like those on DSLR cameras than on typical point-and-shoot models. There’s a dial on the top to select shutter speed or set to A for automatic. Similarly, around the lens is a dial with aperture settings adjustable for f-number and an A for automatic. When both dials are at A, the exposure follows an automatic programmed mode.

A second dial on the top to the right of the shutter speed dial is for adjusting exposure compensation, making it simple to override the automatic setting by up to three stops in each direction. One minor complaint is that the dial rotated inadvertently on occasion when it didn’t lock into place.

The camera includes a wealth of other features, such as multiple focus and metering options, customizable buttons, built-in Wi-Fi and shake reduction.

There is a small sliding switch on the top of the lens to set the image’s aspect ratio to 3:2, 16:9, 4:3 and square. Lumix and D-Lux cameras have had this for several generations and it comes in handy for adjusting the aspect ratio based on the scene.

What I found most impressive was the movie mode that allowed shooting up to 30 frames per second and up to 4K resolution. That’s full high definition. I shot several movies at a luau on a recent Hawaiian vacation with illumination provided only by tiki torches, and the results were excellent — very sharp, well illuminated and very smooth motion. The sharpness was helped by being able to hold the camera against my face, using the viewfinder, and thereby avoiding camera unsteadiness.

On the vacation, my wife used the Sony RX100 and I used the Leica D-Lux 109. The images from the latter were generally sharper in general and better exposed in dim lighting. Of course, some of my wife’s images were better because there’s more to good images than just the equipment.

The camera comes with a battery, plug-in battery charger, neck strap, lens cap and tether. I’d recommend the optional lens cap that automatically opens when the lens extends out and closes when the lens withdraws.

Overall, this may just be the perfect travel camera: light enough to carry everywhere, versatile enough to cover a wide range of scenes and lighting conditions, with results that rival much larger cameras.

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It’s now been 16 months since I leased my Chevy Volt. I’ve driven just less than 10,000 miles. This is the third report since I acquired a 2014 model in October 2013. Previous reviews were written in January 2014 after 60 days and in June 2014 after eight months.

Why so much coverage? Because the Volt has been considered one of the most innovative and risky undertakings from GM, a normally conservative U.S. company, and it had to endure unfounded criticism from Rep. Darrell Issa, R-San Diego, who claimed the car was unsafe and falsely attributed its tax rebates to the Obama administration. He was proven wrong on both counts.

I thought it was a really well-engineered car that reduced dependence on oil and bode well for rebuilding our domestic manufacturing. I said at the time that when it came time to turn in my BMW X3, I’d consider the Volt and I did. Now I love it like so many other owners.

The Volt continues to meet expectations and live up to its high owner ratings, still among the very best. It’s been trouble free and performs just as it did on Day One. No rattles and no mechanical or electrical trouble of any kind. I’ve taken it back to the dealer just once for its first scheduled service, an oil change, tire rotation and topping off the fluids.

I’ve encountered only one minor problem: the display that shows miles driven on electricity and gas for each trip, sometimes erroneously shows 0.2 miles driven on gas, when I start from a fully charged car. The dealer and GM attribute it to a software glitch and have been unable to fix it; I’ve learned to ignore it. No gas is consumed, according to other readings.

On one other occasion, the Bluetooth lost connection with my phone, and the phone function in the car froze, preventing it from entering the pairing process again. I had to reset the function by turning off the engine and opening the driver’s door for five minutes.

The occasional freezing of the console display that I encountered over the first several months has not reoccurred, likely fixed by a software upgrade I had last year at the dealer’s.

In my update eight months ago, I noted I was averaging 144 miles per gallon. In recent months I’ve made about a half-dozen trips to Los Angeles, so the proportion of the number of miles driven on gasoline has risen significantly, resulting in the overall mileage now being 116 mpg. I’ve bought 88 gallons of gas since I’ve owned the car.

The Volt’s first 40 miles for the 200-mile round trip is battery powered, but 160 miles is gasoline powered at 37 mpg. The saving grace is being able to use the carpool lanes most of the way, which typically shaves a half hour off the more than 2½-hour trip during rush hour. If I put more battery miles on it and have fewer long trips, the number will go up

My range per charge continues to hold steady between 37 and 41 miles all year round. San Diego has been a good location for owning a Volt because we don’t have low temperatures that can reduce the battery’s efficiency.

I’ve never used public charging stations away from home, because I’ve just not encountered them at a time or location when I could leave the car for a long enough time. A one-hour charge would provide about 10 miles of range, and 3½ hours a full charge. I have charged the car while visiting various companies during meetings, using their chargers. I find many private businesses have added chargers for their employees.

On one occasion I parked my car at Wally Park at LAX, while traveling to China. They offered to charge the car while I was away. Surprisingly, they charged $10, which provided a full charge of 40 miles. I found this service overpriced, when $10 of gas provides 100 miles.

While I’ve encountered no issues with the car, I did have to replace my 240-volt wall charger due to a damaged cord in which the strain relief pulled out the nozzle. It was a model that GM had developed and sold through Bosch, a major manufacturer of car chargers.

The one-year warranty had expired several months previously, but with a little persuasion, Bosch was accommodating and replaced the entire charger. I paid $75 for re-installation, which was covered by the American Express Card’s extended warranty benefit.

I continue to be pleased with the Volt and love the fact that there’s never an issue of range anxiety, where I need to be concerned with running out of battery without finding a charger. Ultimately I’d prefer an electric car with a range of several hundred miles when they become more affordable and charging becomes more accessible. Tesla is making great strides on range and the availability of fast chargers, but its cost of more than $80,000 is way out of my range.

One of the other advantages of owning an electric or electric/gas car such as the Volt is that SDG&E provides lower rates for all my electricity. In my case, the rates have dropped by about $100 per month, more than offsetting the cost of electricity for charging the car.

In the next year or two, we can expect to see more and improved electric and electric/gasoline cars, including a newly designed Volt that’s more contemporary looking and has about a 50-mile range. Many of the new cars are also adding a built-in cellular wireless connection. The Volt has OnStar that connects to their service for assistance or emergencies. The service has been excellent; I often ask them to enter a destination into my GPS instead of typing it in.

A 2015 Volt fully equipped with forward-collision alert, rear camera, navigation, leather seats, lane-departure warning, cruise control, back-up camera, keyless entry, etc. costs about $39,000. Federal and state rebates of up to $9,000 are available.

Among all of the cars I’ve owned — including BMWs, Lexuses and Acuras — the Volt continues to be at the top of my list.

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I’ve been poring over some of the new products I saw last month at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Here’s a selection among those that stand out and add to the use of your cellphone.

Reach79: I’ve been trying out a new phone case from Antenna79 for the iPhone 6 that’s designed to improve cellular performance. The case has a built-in antenna that works with the one in the phone to improve signal strength and transmission speeds. The intent is to reduce dropped calls and improve data speeds. The case in the antenna works passively, meaning there is no electrical connection with the phone.

The case works with the iPhone 6 version for AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile, but not Sprint. The case is a matte black, hard-plastic shell that snaps onto the phone. It adds little bulk to the phone and is similar in size to most standard cases.

The gold-colored antenna element is sandwiched in the back of the case with a portion of it visible through a decorative grill on the back.

The name of the product, Reach79, refers to the number for gold in the periodic table. The company, originally called Pong Research, was founded in San Diego and makes cases designed to reduce radiation from the phone. Catterton, a private consumer-focused equity group from Greenwich, Conn., is the company’s major investor.

Reach79 case for iPhone 6. Courtesy photo

The case is designed to work best when the phone is held in your hand or against your head. CEO David Vigil, a 20-year veteran of Qualcomm, says it works best in areas of marginal signal strength.

I tried it using an iPhone 6 with Verizon service in about a half-dozen locations around San Diego. I used the free Ookla app (www.ookla.com) to test download and upload speeds with the case on and off, and with the phone up to my ear and in my hand, positioned to view the screen.

I was unable to draw any conclusive conclusions from this test. That’s likely because there are many other variables, including tower congestion, Internet traffic, environmental conditions and lack of repeatability. In fact, when I measured speeds several times in a row, first with the case on and then with the case off, I’d get differences in upload and download speeds that were often larger than the differences with the case on and off.

Anytime you tamper with the radiation patterns of a phone, it’s important that you don’t create new problems. The company has conducted extensive tests and says the phone meets all of the standards of the iPhone alone for the important measurement of SAR, the Specific Absorption Rate of RF energy in the body. In fact, they say it’s likely one of the most tested cases ever.

The company plans to offer optimized models tailored to particular carriers as well as models for other phones and other colors. The product costs $60 for the iPhone 6 and $70 for the iPhone 6 Plus.

Although my tests were inconclusive, this does not necessarily mean that the case does not work as designed. If you experience frequent dropped calls and slow Internet connections, it’s certainly worth a try to see if this helps.

Other cases and mounts: Over the past few months I’ve received a wide variety of sample cases, for the new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. Among them all, I prefer those with a front cover that protects the display, especially from scratches and damage to the coatings. Displays have coatings designed to reduce glare and smudges.

• The Tech21 Classic Shell with Cover case for iPhone 6 offers a combination of protection, lightness and minimal bulk. Cases from this British company use a patented material as a liner to absorb impact to the phone when dropped.

This new case is much like the hugely popular Frame case that’s been one of the Apple Stores’ best sellers. The difference is that it adds a thin hinged cover to protect the display, adding minimal bulk; calls can be made with the cover closed. $35 for the iPhone 6 and $45 for the iPhone 6 Plus. (www.tech21.com).

• Another great case is the BookBook for iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. It looks like a vintage leather book that can also be used as a stand. The phone snaps into a plastic case within the book and can be removed and used separately. $60, www.twelvesouth.com.

• When I’ve tried using my phone as a GPS, I’ve had trouble finding a way to mount it to the car, particularly when traveling and driving a rental car. I didn’t like the designs with a long arms and suction cup that sticks on the window: They’re too large to carry and not legal unless they’re attached to the corner of the windshield.

The best solution I’ve found is the Airframe, a small U-shaped device that’s tiny enough to fit in your pocket. It pushes onto an air-conditioner vent with a rubber nub that works with varying thickness vents oriented both vertically and horizontally. The frame expands to fit all brands of phones with displays of up to 6-inches (including the iPhone 6 Plus). Some phones even fit while in their case. $25, www.kenu.com and at Apple Stores.

• For a small, discreet mount that’s more permanent, Nite-Ize introduced at CES a mounting system called Steelie. It consists of a small steel ball that mounts to your dashboard using non-marring adhesive. A small magnetic disc sticks onto the back of your phone or case. The two connect with a firm click and allow a wide range of movement of the phone to position it just right. The disc is thin enough so as not to add much bulk to your phone.

There are several elements that can be added, such as a stand for your desk, a ball mount for your vent and a case with the magnetic disk built in. About $30 from www.niteize.com.

Are you torn between your old Blackberry and an iPhone? Typo offers a solution, the Typo keyboard and case. The keyboard looks much like a Blackberry thumb keyboard. (The original version looked so much like one that it was sued and had to recall their product). Typo adds ¾ inch to length and provides a very satisfactory type experience, almost as good as a Blackberry, although it doesn’t have all of the special Blackberry function keys and shortcuts, and the balance in the hand is not quite as good.

The Typo is backlit, runs off of a rechargeable battery, and connects to the phone using Bluetooth. It replaces the home button with a substitute key, but it frees up a lot more of the display. To get around the patent, the company modified the shape of their keys. $99 at typokeyboards.com.

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