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Pepcom Holiday Tech Showcase 2014

Pepcom Holiday SpectacularAt CES and holidays I am always excited to head to Pepcom events to check out the new technology related products out. On the night of the World Series I braved the traffic to head to San Francisco for the Pepcom Holiday Spectacular. Because the holiday season is so busy I have not had a chance to review any of the products but here are some of the interesting ones in the family technology area.

 

 

 

 

 

2014 Pepcom Holiday Spectacular! Exhibitors:

24/7
24/7 is a medical grade sleep and activity tracking application, their new new features include giving users more insight into their sleep than ever before.

 

 

ArcSoft
ArcSoft will be showing Simplicam powered by Closeli, a home monitoring solution with facial detection. They also had information on Perfect365 – which uses Face Detection technology to scan a photo and automatically map a person’s eyes, nose, cheeks, mouth and hairline. Then photos are treated with touch-ups, using nearly 20 tweaking tools that whiten teeth, brighten eyes, remove blemishes and other editing. They can also choose from dozens of pre-set makeup templates.

 

 

Belkin
Belkin International showcased a great selection of holiday tech products from its three brands, Belkin, Linksys and WeMo.  I was especially interested in their WeMo family of products that offers home automation, such as in a remote controlled Crock Pot!

Crock-Pot® Smart Slow Cooker with WeMo  Belkin

 

I also learned about their Linksys Dual Band WiFi router and how I could possibly swap that out for the default router my home WiFi provider gave us to help power up our wireless reception (and maybe also using a WiFi extender to help rooms far away from the router).

 

Belkin Linksys

 

Belkin also had some gift guide suggestions:

 

GIFTS UNDER $50
Metallic Lightning Cables
$24.99 – $29.99
Vent Mount $24.99
Phone Accessories
$24.99 – $34.99

 

GIFTS UNDER $300
Thunderbolt™ 2 Express Dock HD
with Cable $299.99
Linksys WRT1900AC $249.99
Linksys EA9200 AC3200 Tri-Band Smart Wi-Fi Router $299.99

 

GIFTS UNDER $150
Crock-Pot® Smart Slow Cooker with WeMo® $129.99
QODE™ Ultimate Pro Keyboard Case for iPad Air $149.99
WeMo® LED Lighting Starter Set $99.99
Mr. Coffee® 10-Cup Smart Optimal Brew™ Coffeemaker with WeMo® $149.99
Linksys Dual Band Wireless AC Range Extender RE6500 $99.99

 

 

Chamberlain Group – MyQ Garage
Chamberlain Group showed MyQ Garage, the connected home device for controlling home entry. “A smart home with MyQ ensures people never forget to close the garage door and can open, close and monitor it from anywhere in the world from a smartphone. MyQ is integrated with Google’s Nest Learning Thermostat, multiple home devices through the WinkApp, and other popular connected home apps.”

 

 

Channel Master
Channel Master debuted new features and services for the DVR+ platform, as well as a new ultra-low-cost outdoor television antenna. They were also the most popular table because they had the World Series on! Channel Masters new features for its subscription-free DVR+ include YouTube access and an enhanced DVR feature to record only new episodes of a series. The company also added the new low-cost STEALTHtenna to its metro/suburban-centric Everyday Series antenna line along with a consumer-friendly Antenna Selection Guide.  Coming in November, the YouTube streaming feature will appear in the DVR+ program guide.

 

 

 

Cobra
Cobra Electronics showcased “the addition to the company’s Drive HD Dash Cams series, Cobra CDR 825, utilizing a 2.7 inch screen, the largest in the dash cam family, along with the ultra-compact Cobra JumPack, a pocket-sized, portable charger for mobile devices and vehicle jump-starter.” Cobra also displayed some Walkie Talkies that I know my boys would have loved to try.

 

 

Creative Labs
Creative Labs has home, mobile, and gaming audio products. I was especially interested to hear about their E5 product that can be used an microphone to capture audio for me when I do video. Here is more information from their press release:

Their Professional-Grade Sound Blaster® E5  is a “24-bit/192kHz 120dB High Resolution USB DAC and Portable Headphone Amplifier for Smartphones, Tablets, PCs & Macs:

 

  • Digital High-Speed USB 2.0 connectivity to PC/Mac as a powerful external Sound Blaster
  • Digital USB Host connectivity to select iOS/Android models for direct high quality, lossless audio streaming*
  • Built-in rechargeable 3200mAh lithium polymer battery provides users up to 8 hours^ of playtime while on the go
  • Features wireless Bluetooth 4.1 Low Energy connectivity and Near Field Communication (NFC) technology for one-touch Bluetooth pairing and control
  • Supports HD audio codecs such as aptX® Low Latency and AAC for a wireless connection as good as a wired connection
  • Connects to entertainment devices such as televisions and game consoles via the optical input jack
  • Features a line-in option for analog connectivity to other various audio sources
  • Dual headphone jacks allow for simultaneous audio listening

Compatible with:      

- iOS devices using Lightning connector (iPhone 5, 5S, 5C, iPad Air, iPad Mini)

- Android devices (Samsung Galaxy S4, S5, Note 2, Note 3; Google Nexus 5, Nexus 7; Sony Xperia Z Ultra; Xiaomi Redmi, Redmi Note, Mi 3; LG G2)

**Actual battery life will vary with usage scenarios, settings and environmental conditions

 

The new flagship product is an extension of Sound Blaster’s E-Series line of compact portable USB audio solutions.  Launched in May 2014, the Sound Blaster E-Series includes the Sound Blaster E1 and Sound Blaster E3.”

 

 

ecoATM
ecoATM showed their “automated e-waste recycling kiosk that accepts cell phones, tablets and MP3 players from consumers in exchange for instant cash.” Listed below is an image they shared on what you could buy for holiday gifts from what you get back from trading in specific devices. I have not tried the service but I think trading in old devices are a great way to earn money to buy new devices instead of them sitting in a cabinet collecting dust! ecoATM, the nationwide network of 1,510 automated recycling kiosks, give’s users instant cash for their phones, tablets and MP3 players.

 

ecoATM

 

 

 

Fitbug
Fitbug Orb is a fitness, sleep and activity tracker.  They unveiled Kiqplan, a library of interactive coaching programs that use activity data from almost ANY activity tracker, smartphone or watch to build actionable 12 week plans around specific wellness goals.

 

 

Fujitsu
Fujitsu showcased their ScanSnap product lineup, including the new mobile and completely wireless scanner, the ScanSnap iX100. Included in the ScanSnap family line is the ScanSnap iX500 desktop scanner.

 

 

Kensington
Kensington has USB Hubs, Adapters, USB Chargers and Universal Soft Sleeves as well as new iPad Air™ 2 Keyboard Cases. Their PresentAir Pro Bluetooth® 4.0 LE Presenter “offers three different function modes to support different types of activity presenting, controlling media, or editing and offers one of the slimmest presenter designs on the market. The free downloadable companion app, PresenterWorks, allows users to set buttons to the functions of their choice for greater flexibility and efficiency.”

 

 

Kingston
Kingston Technology showcased holiday gifts ideas including the MobileLite G2 wireless media reader, SD and Micro SD cards and a HyperX Cloud gaming headset that offers extended hours of game play.

 

 

KODAK PIXPRO
KODAK PIXPRO featured cameras and wireless devices including the new SP360 Action Cam, an HD action cam designed to capture 360-degrees of video without the need for multiple cameras.

 

 

Lenovo
Lenovo had a few tables filled with their newest devices.

 

Lenovo at Pepcom

 

 

Some of the devices I spent time looking at where the Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 and Tablet 2 Pro, B40 All in One, Y50 Touch mobile gaming and multimedia notebook. But the one I drooled over was the Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro because it has powerful features but is thin, light and so fancy!

 

Lenovo Yoga 3

 

 

LifeTrak
LifeTrak showcased their line of wearables, including the new LifeTrak BRITE R450, that features light exposure monitoring, smartphone notifications, advanced sleep monitoring and fitness tracking, is waterproof and requires no recharging. The battery used for the device is a watch battery!

 

LifeTrak

 

Logitech
Logitech will be showcasing its latest in gaming, music, tablet, Harmony and PC accessories.

 

 

muvee
The new iOS app TWINE “makes short split-screen videos. Capture opposite or parallel moments in time and TWINE automatically stitches them together“.

 

 

Otterbox
OtterBox will be showcasing protective cases for the recently released iPhone 6, GALAXY Note 4 and more.

 

 

Parallels
Parallels Access app (for iPad, iPhone, Android tablets and phones plus Kindle Fire) “lets you access everything on your PC or Mac just like it was made for your touch-based device (a way to run Windows on your Mac without rebooting).

 

 

Plantronics
Plantronics will be showcasing its new line of consumer, stereo and Bluetooth products including the new BackBeat PRO – wireless, active noise canceling stereo headphones with mic.

 

 

Plantronics Backbeat Pro

 

 

RadioShack
RadioShack has the latest in sound, toys, power and smart tech for gifting or for upgrading your own tech this holiday season.  I went to the press event to celebrate the interactive remodel of San Francisco Bay Area (and other locations) Radio Shack stores.  I was really impressed with the selection of tech in the new design. Especially their DIY section that had so many DIY tech projects that my boys could keep busy for a long time!

 

Here is information about the Radio Shack store redesign:

  • Innovative products from startups and inventors, such as mobile device-controlled robot ball Sphero, educational magnetic circuit boards from littleBits and Lively’s activity sensors that create a smart home for older adults to log daily routines
  • An interactive speaker wall where customers can shop and compare different speakers using music installed on in-store tablets
  • Experiential displays that enable shoppers to find and compare products, including headphone demo stations where they can listen to leading brands like SOL REPUBLIC, Skullcandy and Beats by Dr. Dre; in-demand devices from Apple, Samsung and HTC; a remote control (RC) toy exploration center; and a GoPro camera display demonstrating the capabilities of several models of GoPro cameras
  • Technology that makes shopping interesting and playful, like touchscreens and apps that help shoppers understand the benefits of products
  • Full mobility offerings from top mobile carriers such as AT&T, Sprint and Verizon with flexible financing plans available all under one roof
  • Helpful, informative RadioShack staff who can answer shoppers’ questions about hundreds of products and services and direct customers to the items that meet their specific needs.

 

 

ResMed
S+ by ResMed: a non-contact sleep system that monitors, analyzes and provides personalized feedback to help improve your sleep from the first night.

 

 

Ring
Ring Video Doorbell “lets you answer the door from anywhere using your smartphone. It features an HD camera with night vision, providing a clear view from your front door, day and night.”

 

 

simplehuman
simplehuman builds smart home-tech that is “simple, functional, and built to last“. I tested the sensor trashcan they had on display and it really was able to tell the different between me waving my hand to open the trashcan versus just walking by. The other brand sensor trashcan I tried kept opening up when I would just walk by it.. Next time I will try simplehuman!

 

Simple Human

 

 

Speck
As a leader in slim protective cases for mobile devices, Speck will be showing its latest bulk-free cases in smashing good looks. Their candy shell smartphone cases have been great protection in the past when I dropped my phones (just a few times…).

 

Speck

 

 

TiVo
TiVo showcased the TiVo Roamio OTA, the over-the-air DVR and TiVo Mega.

 

 

Totspot
Totspot is a mobile shopping app for moms to buy and sell gently used kids’ clothes.  I think this is a great tool for families to control clothing budgets for their kids – who grow out of clothes so quickly. And also to find great clothes for their kids!  “Totspot solves the age-old challenge every parent faces when outfitting their growing soccer stars and fashionistas – kids grow, clothes don’t. The free app has an intuitive interface designed to be simple and fast, and supports easy mom-to-mom mobile retailing, giving families a simple way to cash in their kids’ closets and keep little ones toddler-trendy and fashion-forward. Totspot (http://www.totspot.me) is currently available as a free app for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch and Android.

 

Totspot

 

Totspot

 

 

TripIt
TripIt booth is a trip planner keeps travel plans in one spot with features such as custom itineraries, sharing features, travel alerts, alternative flight info,  flight refunds and a travel dashboard.

 

 

Velvetwire
Velvetwire showcased the Powerslayer Blu – an Bluetooth-connected charger with built-in software that “reduces energy waste and promotes battery health”.

 

Velvetwire

 

 

ZAGG
ZAGG Inc highlighted their newest accessories for protecting and enhancing handheld electronics.

InvisibleSHIELD GLASS and HDX: Features HD clarity and 3X greater shatter protection for even industry-leading smartphone glass.

  • GoLite power series: A family of portable batteries will charge any device that utilizes a USB, including smartphones and tablets.
  • iFrogz InTone earbuds: Feature a smooth surface which rests comfortably on the ear while their 14mm driver delivers vibrant sound.”

 

 

Disclosure: This is coverage of a tech press event.

 

 

 

 

How To Enforce Screen Time Rules For Kids

How To Enforce Tablet Screentime Rules For Kids

 

With an overwhelming number of mobile devices available today, parents can struggle to keep their kids safe online and set rules for screen time. Even if parents don’t make mobile devices or home computer accessible to their kids, these pesky young ones will find other ways to go online, either from a friend, at school or even the library. From a cultural standpoint, technology in the hands of kids has become an essential part of modern social communication (i.e. texting to make social plans) and education, including school work and online learning. This makes it even more important to set up screen time rules and ensure kids know how to unplug.  Because devices are so enticing, even adults have trouble unplugging (speaking from personal experience) and logical consequences may be needed at times to enforce rules.

 

Like many parents, my husband and I struggle to discover what boundaries and logical consequences work best with screen time rules. If parents use a logical consequence that in the end can’t be implemented, kids won’t respect the rules. In our house, we frame tablet use as a positive reward for homework completion and we establish time limits. Our logical consequence when rules were not followed was taking away the tablets. The kids can always do homework on the family computers in public spaces such as the family room. But on the down side, when we took away their tablets our kids could not read their e-books or listen to their audio books.

 

A few days ago all the moons aligned and I finally found something that works for one of my most tech addicted sons. I have 11 year-old twin sons and one of my twins, J, just started following our family screen time rules including no screen time at bed – reading only. I even purchased both of my twins Amazon Kindle Paperwhites to do their nightly reading. The Amazon Kindle HD Fire’s parental controls are very robust. We choose the Kindle Paperwhites because they are so light, have a great screen for reading in all conditions and the charge lasts for a few weeks.

 

My tween son J was able to actually put down his tablet before bedtime when asked and read books on his Kindle Paperwhite. The ability to manage his own screen time is the goal we have worked toward since they were little. His twin brother, D, had trouble putting his tablet down to read and we tried many other strategies. We had him listen to audio books from Audible at night for bedtime reading, and he went through tons of different chapter books until he said he wanted to go back to reading the books.

 

But D could not resist the temptation to watch YouTube videos at night instead of reading (mostly STEM, minecraft, harmless cartoons and other age appropriate videos). So last night I did what years of learning emotion coaching from the fabulous TheGoToMom Kimberley Clayton Blaine inspired me to do: without emotion, I told my son D at bedtime that he has not shown me he can comply with screen time rules and I am taking his tablet away at night. I also told him that I am only returning it temporarily for his daily hour of screen time. TheGoToMom’s emotion coaching really helped me understand the next thing I did: walking  away! Before my son could resist, yell, debate or plead for his tablet back I just walked out of the room and put the tablet where he could not find it. It was the logical consequence that felt right and I decided to go with it.

 

This technique was extra difficult because my son has a hip injury and is on crutches. He actually got out of bed, grabbed his crutches and followed me from room to room begging to return his tablet. I felt so guilty inside, but TheGoToMom helped me learn that I need to not engage, just calmly say “you will get your tablet back tomorrow, now it is reading time”.. The image of him using his crutches to follow me around while I was cleaning a few different rooms made me want to give in, but I had to keep a straight face and stick to my logical consequence or else I knew it would never work.

 

What happened the next morning can only be described as magical. The night before he finally got tired of chasing me around in his crutches and went to bed – AND READ… Then he told me he work up early and READ MORE before going back to sleep.  When he got up he READ AGAIN. I gave him a big hug when he told me and I said “for now on, I will hold your tablet a night and you can get it back during the day”. D said “OK” and I felt that exhilarating feeling you get as a parent when you see your child taking responsibility and embracing something he needed to do for his own good. I know that we will go through more screen time challenges in the future, but for now – all is good.

 

HOW TO ENFORCE SCREEN TIME RULES FOR KIDS (including tablets!):

 

Step 1: Create family screen time rules. For reference check out Common Sense Media’s section on screen time.  In my experience, it is important to create rules that the whole family can follow (and parents can enforce) – so try to be realistic. For example, because we have all of the family desktops in public family areas, my kids use their personal tablets to check homework websites for school when doing homework in their bedrooms. So a regular rule that includes not tablet use at night would not work. But we do have a rule that tablets can only be used for reading or homework after 8pm in their bedrooms.  We also have a rule that our kids can have one 30 minutes of screen time after school, then they need to finish their homework to earn more recreational screen time (if time permits).

 

Another important point is to define what websites are “appropriate” for screen time. My tween sons can only play Minecraft, STEM websites such as Scratch, sports and other video games rated for their age while my 16 year old can play teen rated video games for his screen time (in a room away from his brothers!). We also have a family rule that states that exercise or sports before screen time! If my boys don’t have organized sports that day, they can play any sport such as a quick game of pickup basketball. But for one weekend morning, they can watch cartoons above and beyond the regular screen time rules.  I find it helpful to print out the family screen time rules and put them next to family desktops and in my kid’s bedrooms.

 

Step 2:  Decide on how to enforce the screen time limits/rules. Create appropriate logical consequences and positive rewards. I have found positive rewards always works better than consequences, but at times logical consequences are needed. For example, my kids “earn” their screen time for doing their homework and doing outside play/sports times each day. At the same time, they may have trouble sticking to the screen time limits so that is when we have logical consequences (like taking away their tablets for a day).

 

When my kids were younger I set up web filters to limit their access to websites. But now that our kids have access to computers at school and friends with smartphones, we have more open access at home and regular discussions about internet safety including the consequences of visiting inappropriate websites. Along with the logical consequences of losing screen time, we have regular talks with our kids about the serious dangers that exist online. Some families I know needed to put more serious logical consequences such as closing down home WiFi access only on an as needed basis. Home WiFi access can be controlled with parental control software or on the home router controls. There is also a great selection of parent control software that can be used across home devices and computers (which I will post on another time).

 

Step 3: Make a promise (to yourself) to always keep emotions in check and set up system to support that. For example, when I enforce the consequence of taking my kids tablet away I either do it when they are asleep or now that they are older I calmly explain that they have not complied with the screen time rules so I am taking their tablet away for (“x” nights or days etc).  I feel it is important now that they are older (11) they see me taking their tablet away as a logical consequence. When they were younger their reasoning was not as strong so I just took it away when they were asleep. To keep my emotions in check after I take the tablet away and to not engage in emotional debates or pleas, I always walk out of the room and then decide on a household chore to start doing. That way, if they want to follow me around I will just focus on my household chore to remain calm. Sometimes I left the house to go for a jog, giving myself a necessary exercise break.

 

 

For more information, check out Common Sense Media Screen Time section.

 

For information on choosing your kid’s first phone (which if it is a smartphone – will have access to a web browser), check out my post titled “Top Tips: Choosing First Phone for Kids“.

 

I am excited to be a volunteer as one of the Common Sense Media Learn On Ambassadors.

Common Sense Media LearnON Ambassador 2014

 

 

TechMamas.com Road Trip: Nissan Leaf Electric Car #EcoTech

Using technology that is resource and environmentally friendly (#ecotech) is important to me and one of the most prominent ecotech products is the electric car. These automobiles are run by a rechargeable battery with no gasoline engine or carbon emission pollution like their gas-powered brothers and sisters.  To learn how these cars work and how I could fit them into my busy life as a mom, I have started to review electric as well as hybrid cars for TechMamas.com.

 

TechMamas.com road trip: Nissan Leaf

 

The first car in my series is the Nissan Leaf.  I was happy to receive a press email offering a Nissan Leaf to evaluate for one week (disclosure). All I can say, is that it was very hard to return the car when the week ended. My minivan was still handy when driving my 3 boys and their friends around, while I enjoyed using the Nissan Leaf for two mini-vacations and trips around town. I most enjoyed going a whole week without filling up a gas tank.  I also learned all about the way the Nissan Leaf works.

 

TECHMAMAS.COM NISSAN LEAF ROAD TRIP VIDEO: Here is a video showing our road trips with the Nissan Leaf. My oldest son and cameraman filmed the footage using two GoPros synced up with the GoPro iphone app to recorded the audio. Here it is:
 


 
DETAILS:
 
2015 NISSAN LEAF®S features and specifications:

 

  • 107 Horsepower
  • 126/101 city/hwy MPGe*
  • 5 Seats / 4 Doors
  • 80 kW AC synchronous electric motor
  • Zero tailpipe emissions
  • Nissan Intelligent Key® with Push Button Start
  • Bluetooth® Hands-free Phone System
  • Heated front and rear seats
  • RearView Monitor

 

My Observations:

 

1. Ride: The ride felt comfortable and sturdy, not like smaller cars that feel as though they are going to blow over! We cozily fit all 5 of us (Mom, Dad, Teen and twin 11 year olds) for a one hour road trip to Santa Cruz.

 

Even room for three in the back seat!

 

Nissan Leaf TechMamas.com Road Trip

 

Plus a trunk area that can hold enough for a road trip.

 

Nissan Leaf TechMamas.com Road Trip

 

 

2. Controls: Getting used to the charging controls and routine was the biggest adjustment. All the basic car controls are similar to other cars so there really was not a learning curve. I was able to find the dashboard, steering and general controls I needed and using them was intuitive.

 

Nissan Leaf TechMamas.com Road Trip

 

 

3. Charging: The car’s screen displayed the amount of charge and indicated the remaining miles on the battery, which was very helpful. I was able to drive two long road trips, both around 40-45 miles, on one full charge with a little left over.

 

 

Nissan Leaf TechMamas.com Road Trip

 

 

I did notice that the calculations on mountains adjusted the amount of miles I had left down because the miles are calculated on conditions (i.e. uphill). Once I hit the top of the mountain and was coasting downhill, the vehicle recalculated the remaining mileage upward. Using the regenerative brakes also recharges the battery and increases total miles remaining. In my experience, just plugging the Leaf into a regular house charger for around 4-6 hours charged it up from 75-80%, which was fine for regular use. If I were going on a long trip, I would probably stop by one of the charging stations to make sure the car is either at 100% (the car conveniently lists the closest charging stations on the screen) or I would buy one of the Do-It-Yourself charging stations (AreoVironment is an example of one) to charge the battery more quickly. Along with not needing to buy or use gas, knowing that the Nissan Leaf is zero emissions made me feel I was also doing my part to support the environment.

 

 

Nissan Leaf TechMamas.com Road Trip

 

 

When I was just driving The Nissan Leaf on quick rides around town, the regenerative braking recharged the battery enough to avoid the need to plug in.It was a real treat to know that I did not need to visit a gas station and was not releasing any emissions.

 

I enjoyed driving the Nissan Leaf for a week and it especially made me realize (after NO visits to the gas station) how much gas I use while driving my minivan. Every visit to the gas station makes me want to buy an Electric car even more!

 
Click over to the Nissan Leaf website to find out more information, Facebook: www.facebook.com/thebetterride, @thebetterride and Instagram @thebetterride.

 

 

 

Disclosure: A Nissan Leaf was provided for a one week review. This is a review post.

 

 

 

 

 

Top Tips: Choosing First Phone For Kids

Top Tips to Help Kids Choose First PhoneOne of the most frequent requests I receive from parents is to discuss the right age to buy a child their first phone, what type of phone to buy and how to establish and enforce phone usage rules. Back to school is the perfect time for families to create family rules for existing kid phones and establish new rules for kids just starting to use cell phones.

 

Our older son received a call and text only phone for middle school and then a smartphone for high school after he proved he could not only follow our family phone use rules but also engage with us in regular “phone safety” discussions. Now that our twin boys are heading off the middle school, we decided it was time to buy them their first phone and set up new family phone use rules. Here are some of the tips from our experience of setting up our kids with their first phone. Please share your tips!

 

Tips To Buying First Kid’s Phone

 

TIP 1Buy your phone on as as needed basis:

Buy your kids their first phone on an “as needed basis”: I tell parents that the age when their kids should have a phone is dependent on when they “need” a phone.  Just because a third grader may say to their parents, “my best friend has a phone, I should get one too”, does not mean a new phone is one the way. Peer pressure is not a valid reason to get a child their first phone.  One appropriate reason is to keep in touch with your kids when they start transporting themselves to school (via bus or bike for example). But each child has different needs and different timing.

 

TIP 2 - Decide what type of plan (i.e. “emergency only”, voice, voice & text or voice, text and data phone):

 

When my kids started riding their bikes to school in 4th grade we decided to buy them inexpensive “pay by the month” phones that only had minutes for emergencies and were not for regular use. But when my twins went off to middle school this year, we agreed to get them a phone with a voice and text plan so we could communicate with them and they could communicate with their friends. A few of our friends purchased phones with a voice and text plan for their kids because they had multiple after school activities and sometimes needed a way to reach the parents where were driving.

 

Although our family phone plan has shared data, we do not allow them to use the data and can easily track this on the monthly bill.  We can also disable data from their phones if their discipline weakens or they don’t comply. The AT&T website (our phone service) has details on disabling data on phones.

 

TIP 3 – Develop family phone use rules and phone etiquette standards:

 

The most important thing to teach your kid when you give them their first phone is phone etiquette.  A cell phone can be a great communication tool or a tool that can get your kids in serious trouble (even danger). Parents should take the time to first educate themselves then create family phone rules. We started talking to our kids about cell phone etiquette a year before they had their first phone. Now we are creating rules as well as a phone “safe use” contract that they “sign” to confirm they understand. Breaking the rules means they lose use of the phone.

 

We checked online resources including the Common Sense Media Parents Guide to Kids and Cell Phones, Emily Post Top Ten Cell Phone Manners, Parents.com Teaching Kids Cell Phone Etiquette and more. We focused on different types of etiquette including appropriate cell phone voice and texting, cell phone etiquette do’s and don’ts (Common Sense Media),  email etiquette, school rules for phones (don’t use during school!) and overall phone safety rules such as not sharing personal information or location information with anyone but family and friends (and never accept “online friends” you don’t know if real life!).

 

My friend Sarah Granger just wrote a book called “Digital Mystique – How the Culture of Connectivity Can Empower Your Life – Online and Off”.  I recommend this book as a great starting point for parents to educate themselves on the online world. She interviewed me for the book and included something I always tell parents: “Internet Safety is the New Sex Talk”.  This includes cell phone etiquette because it opens kids up to a world of communication between other kids, even if it is just calling, texting, and sharing photos.

 

Most of all, I have written for years that the most important tool for proper cell phone use is active communication between parents and kids. We manage this communication by rewarding our kids for sharing their personal experiences and rewarding this open communication with freedom to use their phones. It has been hard at times, but we have a “discuss anything” policy and try not to be upset when they come to us – even with upsetting news. We want them to feel comfortable talking about their phone use and work with us to navigate the scary waters of cell phone use. When my oldest made a mistake or two in the past we discussed why it was wrong and how he can make sure it never happens again. We do not use apps such as “Ignore No More app” that limit cell phone use when kids ignore their parents calls because they do not treat the underlying issue: trust. Of course, each family needs to choose what works for them.

 

For example, the day oldest son received his first phone he attended a pool party that afternoon where he took pictures of his friends, several of whom were wearing bikinis. Some of the girls were posing in ways that could be seen as provocative and the photos were inappropriate. Luckily, our son showed us the pictures in an effort to comply with the “open communication qualification” for phone use. This gave us the chance to explain why the pictures were inappropriate and he deleted them from his phone. It was an innocent situation, which happens so often, but those are also the most dangerous because the kids don’t know that what they are doing is wrong.

 

We also explained that even if someone else takes a picture that could be perceived as inappropriate and sends it to him – he needs to delete it from his phone right away. If he shares a picture even that he did not take, he will still be held responsible and could even include being arrested.

 

TIP 4 – Choose a Phone:

 

I received an email about the Pantech Vybe phone around the same time I had just been to the AT&T store (my carrier) to look at possible first phone options for my twin 11 year olds.  Because I had already included the Pantech Vybe on my list of phones to investigate, I decided to do a review of the phone with my twins. Here is a link to the review “First Phone For Kids: Pantech Vybe Review”.

 

For my kids, we did not want to get them a “smartphone” until they were older. Because they are just 11, we decided that making calls and texting was appropriate for their age (in our family). We also felt that having access to an app store was something we wanted our tweens to do at home using our WiFi only devices.  For example, we set up home tablets to request a password sign-on before any app can be purchased. This allows us to review the app as a family before they download it.  But even then, having access to a device with an app store can have it’s challenges. Both Google and Apple faced lawsuits over in-app purchases by kids. Beyond the cost consequences of using apps, apps that “seem” family friendly can at times lead to inappropriate features. So I always recommend parents use “family friendly” rated apps together at first.

 

TIP 5 – Privacy Settings and Digital Safety Toolbox:

 

To prepare for my kids for getting their phone, I created a list of digital safety tools and phone settings which they later helped me set on their phones. This includes location, which can be a safety issue for young kids.  The tools we implemented include  LoJack for Android, and Find my iPhone to track the device plus apps to track your kids (some of which are covered in this post on Tom’s Hardware “8 Apps for Tracking Your Teens”) including Life360 (family locator, messaging tool and communication app all in one).

 

What was the first phone you chose for your kids and what apps, settings and rules did you set up that worked or did not work?

 

 

Disclosure: This is a press post. Some items were provided to me for review purposes.

 

 

 

 

Device Theft Recovery Solutions: Absolute Software

*Disclosure: Sponsored post

 

smartphone laptop theftSecurity of data and computer devices is one of the most important technology issues for families. One example that I have been exploring for some time now is technology that allows you to locate your phone after it has been lost or stolen. “Find my phone” apps are very handy to find a misplaced device in your house but not as effective a solution when it comes to theft. I read stories of people tracking down their own stolen devices, with some ambitious folks even some showing up at the thief’s house, a very dangerous plan.

 

 

Device theft continues to become more frequent, with regular stories in the news and social media of phones being stolen in public places or just grabbed out of people’s hands while they walk down the street. Thieves can now easily wipe smartphones clean and then sell them on the black market. More valuable than the phone itself is the personal data stored on our phones, especially now that many people use their devices for online payment and banking.

 

 

Smartphone Security InfoGraphic

 

 

That is why why I jumped at the chance to work with Absolute Software (disclosure *sponsored campaign*) and learn more about their device theft recovery solutions. The first step was receiving some press information about the solutions (which I shared below).  Absolute Software solutions enable device location tracking, locking it against unauthorized users and permanently erasing files from remote locations. The two product names are called Absolute Data Protect and Absolute LoJack.

 

Here’s some product information I summarized from the website and from press briefings:

 

Absolute Data Protect Product Features:

 

Locate

Locate your device (laptops, phones, and tablets) using GPS, Wi-Fi or IP geolocation giving you the tools to see the last location in the event that it goes missing.

 

Lock

Device Lock prevents anyone from accessing your personal information on laptops, phones, and tablets. You can also add a customized message to your device lock screen.

 

Delete

Activating the delete feature permanently erases files protecting your personal information and preventing identity theft.

 

Absolute LoJack product features:

 

Absolute LoJack Locates, Locks & Deletes then also offers recovery and guarantee:

Absolute LoJack

 

 

Recovery:

 

When a device is reported stolen, first to law enforcement and then on the user’s account (https://my.absolute.com/),  Absolute’s Investigation Team springs into action building a case and then presenting it to law enforcement. The Theft teams knows who to talk with in regards to Law Enforcement so it takes the pressure of of individuals trying to navigate the process on their own while also dealing with the emotions behind the loss. The website explained: “Absolute’s Investigations team is the only one of its kind in the security software industry. More than 30,000 stolen devices in 100 countries have been recovered through the efforts of the Investigations team and in conjunction with law enforcement worldwide. The team consists of former military servicemen, government intelligence personnel and law enforcement officers. They’re experts in Internet investigations, computer forensics and cyber-crime and are highly experienced in device tracking and recovery.

 

Guarantee:

 

Absolute LoJack also has a Service Guarantee to help pay for a replacement.

 

Here are some recovery stories: http://lojack.absolute.com/en/investigations-team/recovery-stories

 

Note: Theft reporting and recovery services are not available for the Absolute Data Protect product

 

 

System Requirements:

 

The Absolute LoJack website has a listing of current system PC/Mac and mobile system requirements.

 

Absolute persistence technology:

 

Devices that have Absolute persistance technology enabled get an extra level of security.  The website explained that “Absolute persistence technology is built into the BIOS or firmware of a device during the manufacturing process.” Once activated, customers who purchase these devices benefit from that extra level of security which wipes data from devices to factory settings and offers the ability to display message (this is a stolen computer). It even deletes down to file level.

 

 

To really understand what it would be like to go without my device and valuable data, I am taking the Absolute LoJack #DigitallyDark Challenge tomorrow (6/15 from 10am to 10pm!) and go without my devices (shriek of terror!).  Then when I am back online I will talk about what it was like to be without my devices. Even though many people backup their phone and computer data in the cloud, it’s still a big disruption to have your device stolen and I anticipate a very unsettling but educational day tomorrow.

 

 

What do you think about the dangers of device theft?

 

 

 

 

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. All of my words are my own.

 

 

 

Give gift of Time and Organization with OneNote for Mother’s Day!

Disclosure: Sponsored Post

 

Mother's Day Gift Time

On Mother’s Day, the gift options for that special Mom in your life are endless. One of my favorites is the gift of time with my family, friends and myself. Both organization and automation are essential to freeing-up that valuable time and Microsoft OneNote really helps.

 

New updates to OneNote are pretty exciting and I shared several in my last blog post. It’s available across my wide variety of family devices, and the perfect way to help get better control of my time. Better yet, my family helps by organizing their lists as well on OneNote so we ALL have more time!

 

Here are some of the ways you can give the gift of time and organization to your Mom (or if you are a Mom, suggest to your family!)

 

CREATE/UPDATE FAMILY PHOTO ALBUMS: Scan and organize old family photos into a OneNote notebook to create family albums. OneNote’s integration with apps like Office Lens (for Windows Phone) and Genius Scan (for iPhone, iPad and Android) give you a OneNote scanner in your pocket, so getting your family photos into OneNote is a snap!

 

ORGANIZE WEEKLY RECIPES: Have the whole family find recipes they want to “help” cook for dinner and scan those or save the online links into a OneNote Notebook. Then save in a “special occasion” notebook some fun recipes to cook for Mother’s day or other events. You can even download this customizable OneNote recipe book!

 

MOTHER’S DAY CARD: Have your family create their own pictures as well as find special memento’s or photos to scan for a Mother’s Day OneNote Notebook.

 

GROCERY LIST: Have the family help create a weekly Grocery list on OneNote that can be shared across devices so the family can all help with shopping! Even kids can read OneNote shopping lists on their parents’ phone to help find items at the store!

 

WEEKLY SCHEDULE: Have the family create a weekly schedule in OneNote that can even include screen shots of school lunch schedules, after school activities, scanned calendars and online links. A family that plans together has MORE TIME together! The schedule can also include TODO’s for the week so no one will forget to practice guitar, baseball, tennis or coding (hint hint to my kids!)

 

VACATION LIST: Create the family vacation “wish list”: A OneNote Notebook with vacation idea pictures, links and information so the family can plan special places to visit. After you’ve decided on your destination, download this OneNote travel planning template. Once all your research and planning details are in this OneNote, it’s easy to recall a particular detail at any given moment. You can even use Instant Search in the bar on the top right to recall anything you’ve ever put in OneNote.

 

GIFTS: Have the family create a OneNote notebook recording the gifts everyone wants for special occasions. Add a section detailing ways to earn rewards by completing homework and household chores. For example, if my kids want toys outside of holiday’s or birthdays, they need to create a plan to earn them!

 

ENTERTAINING: Our family realized that we have not been entertaining family and friends as much as we would like so we decided to create a OneNote Notebook with a list of who we want to invite over and meal ideas.

 

Disclosure: This is a sponsored series. I am an Office Champion and have received sponsorship and products. All of my words are my own.

 

 

 

Sell Your Cell Phone Online With eBay (Sponsored)

Disclosure: My blog post was written as part of my collaboration with eBay.
 

 

sell an old cell phoneAfter years of buying things for myself and my family on eBay I finally decided it was time to experience the other side of eBay, selling . Cleaning up my old electronics drawer provided the needed inspiration to find new homes for some great technology in perfect working order that was just sitting around collecting dust. When I was contacted to learn about eBay Sell My Phone it was the perfect opportunity to figure out my own plan to sell an old cell phone and other electronics online.
 

 

I have been buying new and used items on eBay for years but did not realize the size of the online secondary phone market.  I learned from eBay that “on average, a cell phone is sold every 4 seconds on eBay.” All different types of phones are selling such resulting in  ”a Samsung cell phone is sold every 22 seconds, an iPhone is sold every 16 Seconds, Nokia cell phone is sold every 3 minutes, HTC phone is sold every minute and a Microsoft windows cell phone is sold every 7 minutes on eBay.”

 

 

Sell your phone

Photo Credit: eBay

 

 

I viewed the Sell My Phone eBay page and saw that the steps to sell an old cell phone were pretty straightforward: select a device, check the current value, and then list it for sale. I also saw the page of instructions detailing how to wipe my phone which I feel is important to make sure all personal information is removed prior to sale. So it is time for me to take on something I have been putting off: move my gadgets not being used from the drawer to selling them online. My first step will be to sell an old cell phone, then graduate to other gadgets, saving money along the way to use on my next purchase.
 

 

Do you have a draw,  closet or just a pile of unused tech gadgets? If so, what is in your draw?

 

 

old electronics

 

 
Disclosure: This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of eBay.
 

 
Tracking Pixel

 

Lenovo CES 2014: Tablets Still Rock

*sponsored series

 
With all the new announcements at CES 2014, it may have seemed like tablets were not top priority. But I was excited to see the quality of new tablets that are truly becoming that one unified device for both entertainment and work.   A great example is the new Lenovo ThinkPad 8 tablet that joins in with the already released Yoga Tablet 10 and 8.

 

Lenovo ThinkPad 8 Tablet

Lenovo ThinkPad 8 Tablet – Photo credit: Lenovo

 

The Lenovo ThinkPad 8 Tablet is high definition enough for entertainment while also having the features needed for a successful work device. It has an a 10 point multi-touch 8.3 inch display (1920×1200) with Windows 8.1 Pro, 2MP and 8MP cameras, latest Intel Bay Trail Quad Core processor, up to 128GB of storage and Global 3G/4G LTE support.  Accessories include a USB 3.0 dock that converts the ThinkPad 8 into a full PC experience and a keyboard base. The Quickshot Cover enables converting to Tent mode and peels back to use the 8 MP camera. There is also a microHDMI port that allows connection to a PC to view pictures or photos or use Miracast technology to transfer them wirelessly.

Lenovo Yoga Tablet

Lenovo Yoga Tablet. Photo Credit: Lenovo

 

The Yoga Tablet 10 (10 inch) and Yoga Tablet 8 (8 inch) Android tablets offer a unique multi-mode design: it has a battery cylinder on the side that makes it easy to hold, Quad core 1.2 Ghz processor, Android 4.2 Jellybean, native storage of 16GB  or 32 GB and can add up to 64GB micro-SD card storage, micro USB for charging, a pop out stand for standing up (good for watching or listening to media and video chat) and the ability to “tilt” the stand (good for typing or gaming).  To really enable mobile use, the battery has a maximum life of 18 hours, lasting throughout the day and more.

 

Both the 8 inch and 10 inch Yoga Tablet have an HD 1280 x 800 display with a 178 degree viewing angle that is wide enough to share with the whole family.  The screen is  crisp, clear and easy to ready and the chrome design is stylish to look at.  Connectivity includes integrated Bluetooth, 802.11 b/g/n WiFi and GPS. The sound is enhanced with the tablet’s Dolby Digital Plus speakers that face front. The 5.0M rear and 1.6M front cameras offer the ability to take high definition pictures.  For those that prefer using a keyboard, there is a touch keyboard with nice haptic response or an option to use Accutype keyboard Bluetooth accessory.

 

 

Lenovo Tablets

 

 

Our family had the opportunity to review the Lenovo Yoga Tablet 10 and 8. We found that the 10 inch is the perfect size for teens and adults to comfortably read content. The Yoga Tablet 8 inch is the perfect size for my 11 year old to watch ESPN and consume all types of content instead of squinting to see content on his small MP3 player. But the 8 inch would also be great for mobile adults looking for a smaller form factor. My husband has been looking for a tablet for a while now, evaluating different operating systems, form factors and performance. His latest experiment has been with the 10 inch Lenovo yoga tablet and it is proving to be very capable for both business and personal use.

 

 

He found that the set up of the Yoga Tablet was very straight-forward and similar to other Android devices. Charge it up, turn it on, establish the WiFi connection and start downloading the apps you need to be productive. The kids were very impressed with the games both familiar and unfamiliar in the Google Play store. LinkedIn loaded quickly and was easy to use, with the front and back camera on the Yoga tablet coming in handy to capture valuable information for various folders that help in home/family and business management.
One very handy feature is the built-in kickstand which enables the tablet to be used multiple ways in addition to holding it in your hands. With the kickstand down, the tablet props up like a computer screen in a landscape position. This is very handy when used in conjunction with a Bluetooth keyboard. Roasted 90 degrees, the kickstand also secures the tablet upright in portrait position, which is convenient when looking at an email inbox, photos, long documents or games. For those who like to use a tablet almost flat to the table, placing the Yoga down with the kickstand in place provides a tablet at a small angle to the table which is great for touch screen use. Our family really enjoyed these different positions, each with their own benefits allowing for customization of use according to what we were trying to do and whether we were sitting or standing.

 

The speakers provide high quality Dolby sound and are located on the front in the bottom corners, a much better design than speakers in back which can be muffled by a tablet cover. The volume controls and headset jack are conveniently located on the side and feel high quality to the touch. No loose headset connection where if you don’t press it in just right the stereo sound turns mono and the audio gets scratchy. And while it’s not usual to like the on/off button on a computer or tablet, the large button on the end of the built-in battery with a very clean motion when pushed is a welcome role model for what buttons on computers should feel like. Also impressive is the screen, with 1280X800 max resolution and a built-in graphics processor which delivers the quality needed for everything from writing documents  to watching YouTube videos and playing games.

 

Pricing as of Jan. 2014:

The ThinkPad 8 convertible tablet configure to order models start at $399 and Topseller
models start at $429.  The Yoga Tablet 8 starts at $199 and the Yoga Tablet 10 starts at $275.00.

 

 

Disclosure: This is a sponsored series for Techlicious Lenovo blogger program  I received products for review as part of the program. My words are my own.

 

 

 

 

Must Have Mobile Tech: AT&T Unite Pro

 *sponsored series

 

Must Have Mobile TechAs I checked into Treasure Island for CES (Consumer Electronics Show) 2014, I was excited to have found a reasonably priced hotel in a central location. I was sharing my room with an east-coast blogger friend and looking forward to seeing her and other tech press friends. One benefit of Treasure Island is the optional “resort fee”, an extra added to the hotel bill which covers internet, health club use, morning newspaper and other amenities. This is great for those like me taking a business trip on a budget.

 

 

However, I was interested in paying for daily in-room Internet access. When they told me it was “20 dollars PER DAY” I was so excited to say “no thank-you” because I remembered I had my new AT&T Unite Pro mobile WiFi device with me. Considering that I would be staying at the hotel for 5 days, I saved $100 on the spot.

 

 

Working with NETGEAR (disclosure) to share information about the new AT&T Unite Pro was great because mobile WiFi is an important tool for my busy lifestyle.  The more time I spend with my own mobile WiFi, the more I realize how it frees me to work on the go no matter where I am. As a busy working parent who also travels, working on the go is essential to being productive each day.

 

My CES roommate was excited to share my mobile WiFi and not pay the daily $20 internet fee! In addition to the security benefit of using our own WiFi, it was great to know we had a reliable WiFi connection to complete our work at the hotel.  I was able to take the device with me to use on the go during the conference; this is a great benefit because I store most of my documents and media in the cloud.  With the AT&T Unite Pro BatteryBoost feature, I was also able to keep my smartphone charged, enabling me to keep my social media updates flowing to my fans without the dreaded “phone dead” syndrome some of my other tech press friends experienced.

 

 

The AT&T Unite Pro is an update from the AT&T Unite which I covered in my first blog post. Here are some of the key features of the AT&T Unite Pro:

 

AT&T Unite Pro

AT&T Unite Pro

 

 

  • Up to 16 hours of battery (all day!)
  • Internet access for up to 15 devices.
  • 2.4  inch Intuitive Touchscreen with keyboard.
  • Password protection and guest WiFi.
  • Advanced  LTE support. First mobile hotspot to offer Dual-Band WiFi which lets you maximize speed and reliability of your data connection.
  • Internationally compatible.
  • BatteryBoost: BatteryBoost lets you share the AT&T Unite Pro’s powerful battery to keep your smartphone going. Just plug-in the special boosting cable provided and connect your smartphone charging cord.

 

Having mobile WiFi also enables me to share connectivity with my kids so they can do homework on the go and reach their productivity goals each day.  In fact, when my teen brought the AT&T Unite Mobile WiFi to his study group, he realized that having a mobile WiFi that offered access to his friend’s devices saved the day by enabling everyone in the group to get their online research done. This also allows me to help one of my twin sons finish a class project while the other twin is at baseball practice. This reduces the logistical difficulty when my twins participate in different sports. Who knew that a mobile WiFi device would help support my twin’s transition into independent paths in life!

 

Pricing and availability:

The AT&T Unite Pro is $49.99 with a 2 year contract and AT&T offers other Unite models from $1 to $99.  There are several flexible and affordable monthly data plans as well.  Any of the Unite products can be added to an AT&T Mobile Share plan for only $20 a month.  Or if you want a stand alone plan, there is a $50 for 5GB monthly option available.  Visit www.att.com/data  for more information.

 

Disclosure: This is a sponsored series. I received products for review as part of the program. My words are my own.

 

Check out the full line of AT&T Unite mobile hotspots from NETGEAR, including Unite Pro, Unite and Unite prepaid, at www.att.com/unitepro or connect with us on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube at WiFiFamily.

 

 

Lenovo CES 2014 : Horizon 2, 4K Monitors and Beacon

*Sponsored series

 

For my first CES 2014 covering Lenovo products I discussed the Lenovo Yoga 2 and other new laptops. But Lenovo also showcased new technology at CES 2014 that enables new types of mobility and flexibility with home devices - and ups the ante for professional desktop monitors (that can also be used at home). The Horizon 2 showcases one of the most exciting new developments in home technology, the PC that extends into A TABLE form factor (also called a table PC)! The Horizon 2 is slimmer (19.5mm) then original Horizon, with new features such as NFC that allows devices to share digital content directly.

 

Lenovo Horizon 2 Standing Position

Horizon 2 – Photo credit: Lenovo

 

The Lenovo Horizon 2 Table PC has a 10 finger touchscreen, motion control features for navigation, Windows 8.1, four hours of battery, up to 4th generation Intel® Core™ i7 processor and Dolby Home Theater.  When used in Stand mode, it can be used as an All in One Desktop. “Table” mode enables collaborative computing such as playing games for up to four people. Accessories include a joystick, striker and e-dice to enhance the digital gaming.

 

Lenovo Horizon 2 Joy stick

Horizon 2 – Photo credit: Lenovo

 

Enhancing “table” mode is the Lenovo “Aura” custom interface for media aggregation and entertainment. The press release explained enables users to “upload photos from their camera or smartphone and the Aura interface will try to recognize the faces in the photos, access media from their PC or smartphone on their home network directly on Horizon 2’s display when it lays flat in Table Mode with the Aura interface activated. They can either use the new Horizon mobile app to shake their mobile Android device, allowing the content to “fall” onto Horizon 2’s screen. Or they can place the mobile device on the screen, which signals to the Aura dial to open around it and “pull” out content onto Horizon 2’s display. Also, users can edit photos and share directly from Aura to Facebook.“ In addition, the Horizon 2 also has multi-user games including Ubisoft’s Chubby Kings, Legacy Games’ Crayola’s Songbook and education apps such as I Spy from Scholastic.

 

 

 

Lenovo Horizon 2 Aura Interface

Horizon 2 – Photo credit: Lenovo

 

Lenovo announced the Beacon personal cloud storage device which allow to store and play media from anywhere using a tablet, smartphone, PC or TV.  The Beacon stores files within the device.   Because families these days have so much media to store, it is helpful to have a specific media storage for the home. Features include storage expandable to 6 TB and an Intel Atom dual core processor. The service has no monthly fees, can load files wirelessly or via USB connection, is able to auto upload photos from a smartphone camera via WiFi or 3G, uses Lenovo custom app on an Android smartphone to remotely control or play media stored on Beacon to an internet connected TV or by HDMI, and includes security features and ability to share with multiple users.

 

Lenovo Beacon

Lenovo Beacon Photo credit: Lenovo

 

 

 

 

Here are some of the other Lenovo product announcements from CES 2014:

  • Lenovo N308 is the company’s first Android all in one desktop that is geared for those who want access to apps, entertainment and browsing.  The N308 runs the Android 4.2 Jelly Bean operating system, comes with an NVIDIA Tegra quad core processor, up to 500 GB hard drive storage, a 720p webcam and WiFi.
  • Lenovo A740: The Lenovo A740 is an aluminum styled 27 inch All in One that is only 4mm thin. It has up to 1 TB of hard drive storage, voice and motion control, a 10 finger touchscreen display, NFC for exchanging digital content, HD Display with wide 178° viewing angle (WQHD 2560×1440), NVIDIA GeForce graphics, JBL speakers and Dolby Home Theater.
  • Traditional notebooks Zline 14 and 15 inch for general computing are great for users on a budget. Starting at $399, they have quality features such as Intel Core processors, Dolby speakers, optical drives, different memory options 4GB, USB 3 port to work with USB 3 dock to hook into a keyboard. The 15 inch has a numeric keypad on the keyboard.
  • The Y40  (14 inch) and Y50 (15 inch) are laptops geared for media creation and gaming with Nvidia GTX graphics,  up to Core i7 and 16 GB RAM, backlit keyboard (modern design, red backlight), SSD option, touchscreen and has a 4K option. Both have JBL speakers with subwolfer. Price points starting from $699.
  • Two other new devices are the Thinkvision Pro2840m, a 4K (28 inch) monitor that is geared toward the engineering (CAD) or professional market with full speakers for only $799!!  Another is the Thinkvision 28 that is focused on consumer home market with a 4K monitor, adjustable stand that lays flat for gaming and has 32 GB storage. Touch and Android are additional features for $1199. The computer supports 4K is streaming on YouTube and Netflix.
  • The Lenovo Flex 20 (already out on the market) is a more portable alternative to the Horizon. It is an dual mode all-in-one PC that adjusts from standing in a “desktop” mode to laying flat in “entertainment” mode but hinge is adjustable at any angle. The 19.5’HD screen (1600 x 900) has 10 point multi-touch, built in camera and microphone for video conferencing, wide viewing angle, TV tuner and the stereo speakers have Dolby Home Theater.  Accessories such as joystick, striker and e-dice can be used with fun and educational games from a custom Lenovo Aura interface. The Aura was created to make the PC a “social device bringing users together to enjoy fun apps and multimedia.  Games can be loaded from the Windows Store and the Lenovo app shop. The up to 2 hour battery allows the PC to be moved to different parts of the house.  The USB 3.0 enables faster file transfer and copying of large media files (also backwards compatible with USB 2.0 devices).
  • In the multi-mode category there is also the Lenovo Flex in 14D (14 inch) or 15D (15 inch) notebooks.  These value convertible laptops have AMD A6 quad core processors, all day battery life, two modes (Laptop and Stand) and  Dolby Advanced Audio v2 .

 

Lenovo Flex 15D

Lenovo Flex 15 D Photo Credit: Lenovo

 

Pricing from the press release:

The Lenovo Beacon personal cloud storage device will be available beginning in April with models starting at $199. The Lenovo N308 AIO Desktop will be available beginning in February with models starting at $450. The Horizon 2 Table PC will be available beginning in June with models starting at $1,499. The Lenovo A740 AIO Desktop will be available beginning June with models starting at $1,499 via major retailers and www.lenovo.com.

 

Disclosure: This is a sponsored series for Techlicious Lenovo blogger program  I received products for review as part of the program. My words are my own.