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Holiday #Gift Ideas At @MicrosoftStore #Sponsored

Microsoft Store Holiday Gift GuideAfter countless experiences of giving my kids gifts they were asking for (even begging for), that they then abandoned after a short time – I pledged to try to buy gifts that last. During the holidays some of my favorite gift ideas (that last throughout the year) are technology devices and accessories. I was excited when SocialMoms and Microsoft asked me to participate in a sponsored blogging program to discuss holiday gift ideas at the Microsoft Store because they have such a wide range of technology devices and accessories gift ideas under one roof!

 
 
 

Here is a video that shows my fun adventure at the Microsoft Store checking out gifts that satisfies everyone from tech beginners to tech savvy, gamers, fashionistas, busy professionals, students and technology for the whole family.
 
 

 
 
Some of the great gifts I checked out at the store you can also check out online first, then head to the Microsoft Store to have your gift in hand for the holidays. If you don’t know exactly what they want, you can get gift cards for the Microsoft Store, XBox  or Skype. But there are also a range of phones, unique family touch enabled All-in-One desktops like the Sprout by HP, laptops like the Lenovo Yoga 2 in 1, tablets like the Surface Pro 3 Bundle or HP Stream 7 tablet (currently only $99!).

 
 

Microsoft Surface 3 Pro Bundle

 

 

All types of cases like  Brenthaven Collins Vertical Messenger Bag , Greene & Gray Device Purse  or the Knomo Foley Device Cross Body Sleeve.

 

Knomo Foley  Cross Body Device Sleeve

 

 

Wearables are another hot gift idea such as FitBit and stylish Misfit Shine that monitor activity, calories and sleep. But there are also many other app-enabled accessories to choose from!

 

Misfit Shine and Sport Band

 

Entertainment gifts such as the Jawbone Mini wireless speaker, XBox One Plus Kinect  and maybe a stocking stuffer of a new XBox Wireless controller.  “Makers” may want the gift of MakerBot-Replicator Mini Compact 3D Printer that can inspire all types of creative projects or the Go Pro HERO3 to unleash video creativity on the go.  I know that my kids are asking for some new video games but I also have some on my list including the Nike + Kinect Training and Just Dance 2014!

 

Xbox 360 Chrome Series Wireless Controller

 

Don’t forget tech toys such as the remote controlled aircraft like the Parrot AR Drone2.0 that performs smartphone-controlled acrobatic tricks.

 

Parrot MiniDrones Rolling Spide

 

 

 

What are you shopping for this holiday?

 

 

Disclosure: This blog post is part of a paid SocialMoms and Microsoft blogging program #MSFTHoliday . The opinions and ideas expressed here are my own.

 

 

 

 

Tech To Prepare For Severe Weather Like #BayAreaStorm

Growing up in the East Coast helped me prepare for extreme weather. As a kid the school closing for a snow day was so exciting because it meant a day of sledding with my friends. But as an adult I have seen how dangerous extreme weather can be. In California we have had droughts the last few years which was dangerous in it’s own way. But it almost made me forget the steps to prepare for Winter weather.

 

Tech For Extreme Weather #BayAreaStorm

 

The good news is that today is big rainstorm (#BayAreaStorm) in a state that has been suffering a terrible drought.  The bad news is that rainstorms in my area of Northern California can lead to flooding, dangerous driving conditions, power outages, trees falling down and more. The current #BayAreaStorm has heavy rain and wind gusts. We dropped our kids to school this morning but there was flash flooding and road closures I had to watch out for on the way home. We started preparing last night for the storm and all the research inspired me to create a post to share some of my steps we did to prepare for our storm.

 

Step 1: Setup Up Websites, Apps and Alerts To Automate Monitoring Weather Conditions:  We find it important to always monitor weather conditions and with all of the websites, apps and alerts there are many ways to do that.  Websites such as the National Weather Service are used as basis for apps like the WeatherSphere Weather Alerts and other products and Simple Weather Alerts. States also have Emergency Services pages with sections for Floods and other weather emergencies. Weather.com and Accuweather have weather updates and alerts on their websites and apps. I like to sign up for alerts so I get updates for emergencies such as flash floods. There are alerts that appear on apps but also text alerts.  Luckily there are local emergency services that also automatically send out alerts because I received a text on my phone this morning about a flash flood that was not something I had signed up for. There are also websites such as Nixle that gather information from “over 7,000 public safety and government agencies at the local, county, and state level”.  Many phones or tablets enable you to load a weather widget on your home screen which automatically shows the weather each day.

 

 

NOAA Weather Alerts - Severe Weather Push Notifications & Warnings

NOAA Weather Alerts – Severe Weather Push Notifications &Warnings

 

 

Step 2: Charge Up Smartphones, backup batteries and gather charging supplies: As soon as we heard about the Bay Area Storm, we set up a plan to get ready. First we made sure we had enough flashlights, batteries for flashlights, candles & matches, backup batteries for the phones and emergency supplies up to date.  The day before we charged up all of our phones and computers but also multiple back up batteries to use if power was out for an extended time.

 

Today (day of the storm) we are keeping our phones plugged while at home to keep the charge going.  We also made sure we had extra backup phone chargers and a full tank of gas just in case we did need to leave the house for an extended time. The type of extreme weather we prepared for is just power outages and minor flooding. I know friends in locations all over the world that have different steps and supplies for their weather emergencies. So it important for everyone to check with their local emergency services website or office to get the right list for their area.

 

 

 

Step 3:  Organize alternative WiFi and Devices:  Because extreme weather can effect home WiFi, I like to have another backup WiFi source.. For example, I use the AT&T Unite Pro as my alternative WiFi device that I can also take on the go which is important especially for emergencies.  Radio Shack has a great supply of weather radios that are important to have if all WiFi and cell coverage is down.

 

 

Eton weather radio

 

 

PLEASE SHARE YOUR TIPS IN PREPARING FOR EXTREME WEATHER! Every area has unique weather conditions to prepare for.

 

 

 

 

 

Holiday 2014 Tech and Shopping Deals

Holiday Shopping Deals

This weekend starts what shoppers have been waiting for: Black Friday, Cyber Monday and December sales (also called “Cyber Month”). As I explained in my last post, “best time for holiday shopping deals“, deals are not only happening across the weekend and into Cyber Monday – but throughout the season. For those who enjoy shopping during the Thanksgiving weekend, then go for it and enjoy! For those who feel stressed, my advice is to pick a list of items you are looking for and then shop online over the next few weeks to find the best price. For some bigger priced items you can even wait for the “New Years clear inventory” sales that happen around the New Year. I purchased a TV for our garage/boy cave during a New Years sale and got a price better then I would have during the holiday sales.

 

For those braving the sales this weekend and want to shop online, a good place to start is your email inbox newsletters. If you signed up for any newsletters for the stores or brands, they have already probably sent out their Black Friday, Cyber Monday or holiday sales email newsletters.  For example, I shop at Athleta for fitness wear and when I checked my inbox I saw an email from them sharing their 20% Black Friday shopping code FIT20. Some of the other email newsletters, such as the one I received from Sur Le Table, talked about their in store discounts.  Many of the big retailers have in store sales that are not listed online so if you don’t mind shopping in crowds and have a big shopping list, it is a good time to stop by your favorite retailers.

 

I would also suggest supporting small businesses in your area by stopping by their stores or shopping online. Saturday (November 29) is a great day to celebrate small business owners by shopping on “Small Business Saturday #shopsmall“.  Etsy and Great.ly are sites with stores for small businesses. Huffington Post even has a post sharing “36 Black-Owned Etsy Stores For Black Friday“.  I also like to support women founded businesses such as Epiphanie and many others.  For example, a great local Silicon Valley designer of comfortable & versatile work clothes for women is Camilla Olsen. She has some of her designs on sale including the Maverick Dress.

 

Camilla Olsen Work Clothes For Women

 

 

There are websites such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday that aggregate deals.  When it comes to shopping blogs, my go-to website is Cool Mom Picks. The Cool Mom Picks Black Friday post listed a discount code for Epiphanie bags.  Cool Mom Picks and Cool Mom Tech also lists Cyber Monday deals. The teal Epiphanie tech/camera bag I had been coveting for some time was on clearance + 15% using the code in the Cool Mom Picks post!  What I like about the Epiphanie bags is that they are stylish and can hold tech gadgets securely. While my tech is getting lighter and lighter, I still need a secure bag to carry devices in so I am excited to try it out. Cool Mom Picks also has gift guides along with a site called Maker Mom which covers STEM gifts. Radio Shack has a great DIY section of the store for STEM holiday gifts and they have great holiday sales.

 

Epiphanie Tech Bag

 

For tech deals, I still suggest making your list first then looking at the deals. For example, I am interested in purchasing the Canon EOS 70D DSLR to capture high quality pictures and video on travel blogging trips. For now, the price is out of my budget even with the Black Friday sale prices of $200 off.  I did find budget friendly tech devices and accessories on sale as holiday bundles. For example, Costco, Amazon and other retailers has a great list of camera’s on sale for the holidays that come bundled with lenses and accessories that really make it a deal. But there are many categories of tech on sale so if you are looking check tech blogs such as CNET, The Verge, Tom’s Guide, Ubergmizo for Apple – Samsung & Lenovo, Chip Chick, Cool Mom Tech and more for Black Friday, Cyber Monday and holiday tech deals. The Rather Be Shopping blog has great tips for Cyber Monday including using the Black Friday sales as a benchmark. Gizmodo has a post with The Best Cyber Monday (tech) Deals“. Fashion and shopping bloggers also have curated Cyber Monday and holiday summaries like this one from my friends at Lunchpails & Lipstick.

 

Calvin Klein Women's Long Packable Metallic Down  Coat While on the Amazon website looking for tech deals I also saw a jacket I was coveting in their fashion section on sale (Calvin Klein Women’s Long Packable Metallic Blue Down Coat – great for my business trips because it fits in a bag). During NYFW 2014 I remember Sarah Jessica Parker wearing a metallic blue Calvin Klein trench coat. While designer collection jackets are not in my budget, this jacket was with a sale price $100 off the regular price. I purchased that as well as finding a great selection of sales clothes for my kids online. This is a good time to find clothes and shoe sales for the whole family. On my post from a recent tech show called Pepcom, I also listed some of the new cool technology that would be good to look out for holiday sales. That post also listed a new app called Totspot that offer the ability to sell gently used kid’s clothes (that your kids grew out of) if you want to fund new purchases or find a fun assortment of kid’s used clothes for the holidays.

 

Another category to keep an eye on during holiday sales is home improvement. Do you need a new appliances, rugs or home electronics? Do you want to automate home processes with some smart home tech? The Nest Thermostat that is $50 off and now works with Life 360 to allow you to turn on the heat when the kids come home! Belkin has sales throughout the holiday season and their WEMO Home automation works with appliances like a crockpot and a coffee maker!

 

Another type of gift either for yourself or a loved one is the gift of learning. Curious.com has online video lessons include a range of subjects from tech to how-to DIY projects and an active community.  Their current holiday sale ends Cyber Monday.

 

Here are some of the other tech deals:

 

 

Along with your regular shopping, Amazon devices are also on sale via their press release. Giving the gift of reading devices is a gift that keeps on giving!:

  • Kindle (deal running 11/27-11/29): All-new Kindle – featuring a touchscreen display, a 20% faster processor, and twice the storage. Kindle e-readers are lightweight and easy to hold, measure battery life in weeks, not hours, and allow for reading with no glare even in bright sunlight. 
  • Kindle Paperwhite (deal running 11/27-11/29) : Kindle Paperwhite is one of Amazon’s most popular Kindles, with a touchscreen that has no screen glare in bright sunlight, a battery that lasts for weeks, not hours, and a built-in light that allows you to read without eyestrain.
  • Kindle Unlimited/Kindle Bundle (deal running 11/27-11/29): Better together: Get the $79 Kindle and 6-months of Kindle Unlimited for just $79 or Kindle Paperwhite and 6-months of Kindle Unlimited for just $129. Kindle Unlimited offers unlimited reading from over 700,000 books, including best sellers like The Lord of the Rings trilogy, the Harry Potter series, Diary of a Wimpy Kid books and 2001: A Space Odyssey. Landing page:
  • Fire HD (Fire HD 6 deal running 11/27-11/29; Fire HD 7 deal running 11/27-12/1): The new Fire HD tablets are available in both 6” and 7” and five color choices – black, white, cobalt, magenta, and citron. The new Fire HD, features a quad-core processor, front and rear-facing cameras, an HD display and a world-class ecosystem of exclusive features, services, and content.
  • Fire phone (deal running 11/25-12/1): The Fire phone is now available unlocked.  The unlocked Fire phone works with GSM carriers like AT&T, T-Mobile, Metro PCS and Cricket and for a limited time only is only $199. Fire phone includes a full year of Amazon Prime membership for access to Amazon’s vast digital ecosystem and unlimited photo cloud storage as well as exclusive features like Mayday, Second Screen and X-Ray.

These deals are available while supplies last. For additional information and a full list of Amazon Black Friday deals, visit www.amazon.com/blackfriday.”

 

Dyson:

 

Dyson Black Friday

 

 

 

Target:

Target black friday

 

 

Microsoft:

  • $100 off Surface Pro 3 i5: Available through Microsoft retail stores, Microsoftstore.com, Best Buy and other select retailers.
  • $150 off Surface Pro 3 i7 or Surface 2: Available through Microsoft retail stores, Microsoftstore.com, Best Buy and other select retailers.
  •  $99 Lumia 830 Fitbit bundle: The new Nokia Lumia 830 is available in the U.S. at www.att.com and in AT&T retail stores, and at MicrosoftStore.com and Microsoft Store retail locations. For a limited time, while supplies last, customers who purchase a Lumia 830 also receive a free Fitbit Flex ($99.99 value).
  • Xbox One available starting at $349: This offer is available nationwide at participating retailers. For more details on this promotion, visit Xbox Wire or contact your local retailer.
  •  $99 ASUS EeeBook X205TA: Available at Staples.

 

The press updated shared that the Fire Hose Blog has information holiday season’s deals and to check back for more details on Cyber Monday offerings.

 

The  YouGov holiday survey commissioned by Microsoft had some interesting information about electronic etiquette:

 

Electronic Etiquette

  • 41% of Americans confess to secretly checking their phone under the table during a holiday gathering
  • 33% of American parents try to limit their kids’ technology use during the holidays. However, 75% of American parents are likely to post to social media during a holiday gathering.
  • 42% of Americans say thank you for a gift they received via text or social media instead of mail or email.

 

My last tip involves not only setting up time for the important shopping but also setting up time to relax, enjoy friends/family and unplug during the holidays.  Turn off notifications for all smart devices and leave smartphones in your wallet, bag or pockets when socializing. Unplugging from shopping and tech is important to make sure we are spending uninterrupted time with family and friends or just spending time being mindful to do events in real life that cause you joy. As a parent I realize that I am a role model for my kids so I need to help them adjust to their connected world by teaching them the art of unplugging as well.

 

 

Happy shopping and but also happy “unplugging” this holiday weekend. We are off to do family exercise and then working on building some new wood chairs for our back yard. Yesterday we had all three boys helping cook Thanksgiving dinner from scratch (cooking is a great family activity to unplug).

 

*I will add more information about holiday sales below as I find them! Please share your favorite deals!

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

Dolby Atmos Audio Tech

10am Oct 6 update: Giveaway is closed.

 

Dolby Atmos There are so many different technologies that need to come together for a movie to be immersive. While many of us first think of the visual aspects (3D for example) the sound plays a very big role in a movie experience. I first realized this when I went to a Dolby press event in San Francisco last year. Dolby creates audio, visual, and voice technologies for cinemas, home theaters, PCs, mobile devices, and games. The press were given the opportunity to sit in the Dolby Theatre and watch one of the 2013 Dolby Atmos Movie Releases: Monster’s University.  When the movie started I wondered if I would really experience the sounds in the movie as if they were above, next and behind me. Well I can tell you that it was an audio delight to experience Monster’s University with Dolby Atmos because the sound was completely immersive adding another dimension to the movie experience.

 

 

 

When Dolby contacted me about one of the new movies out with Dolby Atmos, I could not resist taking some extra time to also learn more about how Dolby Atmos works. But first I got the opportunity to give away 3 copies of Transformers: Age of Extinction (one of the 2013 Dolby Atmos Movie Releases).

 

 

Transformers: Age of Extinction with Dolby Atmos

 

TO ENTER:

Leave a comment on this post talking about how you like to experience movies at home to an “immersive” experience. For example, we have a sound bar but I never thought about installing speakers at home to make our movie night more immersive!

PRIZE:

3 commenters will each win one Transformers: Age of Extinction DVD.

TIMING:

Contest starts Oct 2 and ends Oct 6 2014 -10am pst. Winner will be announced by Oct 7 2014

RULES:

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Dolby also provided me some fun facts in their press release about Transformers: Age of Extinction:

●     “Besides the fact that it’s a Transformers movie, what makes this release so great? It’s the first Blu-ray released with Dolby Atmos technology.

●     Transformers: Age of Extinction, released Sept. 30, is the first movie mixed in Dolby Atmos for home theaters. This fall will see more Dolby Atmos titles for home theater on both Blu-ray Disc and from streaming video providers like Vudu.

●     Dolby Atmos makes it easy for filmmakers to place or move specific sounds anywhere in the movie theatre, including overhead. As a result of this multi-dimensional sound, audiences feel as if they are inside the film, not merely watching it. Major Hollywood studios are partnering with Dolby to create Dolby Atmos home video versions of current box office releases and previously released favorites. Dolby Atmos debuted in 2012 in the hit film Brave. Since then, it’s been used for more than 180 theatrical releases, including hits like Godzilla, Guardians of the Galaxy, Gravity, and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. In addition to global studio partnerships, Dolby is partnering with game, music, and broadcast content creators to take advantage of Dolby Atmos technology for future home theater use.

●     Even if you don’t have a Dolby Atmos home theater, content mixed in Dolby Atmos sounds better. This format gives filmmakers the tools and freedom to bring more sound off the screen and into your living room creating a more enveloping experience – it’s as if you’re actually in the movie.”

 

I also received a press document that covered more details about the Dolby Atmos technology.  I was happy to know that even in my house I could create an immersive experience with Dolby Atmos enabled speakers in our own living room.

“Dolby Atmos enabled speakers can produce an incredibly accurate Dolby Atmos experience in many types of rooms. You’ll get the best sound if your ceiling is flat (not vaulted or angled) and made of an acoustically reflective material, such as drywall, plaster, concrete, or wood. Dolby designed the technology for rooms with ceiling heights of 8 to 9 feet (2.4 to 2.7 meters ), but testing indicates that you can still hear incredible Dolby Atmos sound in rooms with ceilings as high as 14 feet (4.3 meters), though the effect may become more diffuse in rooms with higher ceilings. There are some rooms in which we don’t recommend using ceiling speakers…”

 

 

 

Dolby Atmos Speaker Placement

 

 

The press document also had information about how the Dolby Atmos technology works:

“Dolby Atmos is based on the concept of sound objects. In the cinema, Dolby Atmos relies on a combination of 9.1 “bed” channels and up to 118 simultaneous sound objects to deliver an enveloping sound scene. Every sound in a scene—a child yelling, a helicopter taking off, a car horn blaring—can be a separate sound object. Each of those sounds comes from a specific location in the scene, and in some cases, they move. The car careens from left to right, while the yelling child runs up a set of stairs. Using sophisticated content creation tools that represent the sound objects in a three- dimensional space, filmmakers can isolate each of the sound objects in a scene and decide exactly where they want them to be and how they want them to move. In the final sound mix, the sound objects are combined with metadata—additional data that describes a number of parameters about the sound object, including its location and movement, if any.”…

 

 

Dolby Atmos Speaker Placement

 

 

The Dolby website also has speaker recommendations and information on how to set them up. The press release explained some of that information and I learned that one of the main things you need to start is an AVR – which is an “AV receiver – which magnifies sound from multiple sources” and if I already have have conventional speakers you like, you can simply buy Dolby Atmos enabled add-on speaker modules:

“Although Dolby Atmos is a revolutionary new home theater format, it doesn’t require that you start from scratch. Although you will need a new AVR, in most cases, you’ll be able to keep most, if not all, of your existing speakers. But if you already have conventional speakers you like, you can simply buy Dolby Atmos enabled add-on speaker modules. These include only the upward-firing speakers. You can place these add-on modules on top of your current speakers or on another nearby surface.

 

Dolby recommends that you use four Dolby Atmos enabled speakers when possible. Use of four speakers will make the placement of overhead sounds more accurate, and you’ll get more precise, realistic sounds as an object—such as a helicopter—passes overhead in a video..  Two of the speakers (whether they are integrated speakers or add-on modules) should be in the front left and front right speaker locations of your system. The other two should be positioned in the surround sound speaker locations, ideally the rear surround speakers, if you have them…. Some home theater enthusiasts will also be able to install speakers in or on their ceilings, but you don’t have to. If you use ceiling speakers, Dolby recommends that you use four or more speakers when possible, though two speakers will still provide a great experience. If you use four ceiling speakers, you should place the front pair of ceiling speakers in front of the position where you’ll be listening and the second pair of ceiling speakers behind you when you’re seated. If you use two ceiling speakers, mount them slightly in front of where you’ll be listening.

 

 

There is one important consideration in expanding your system: new speakers must be added to your Dolby Atmos system in pairs. A new speaker on the right side of the room must be matched by a similar speaker on the left side of the room. This is true for speakers located on the floor as well as in the ceiling. This pairing ensures a balanced soundstage. The exceptions to this rule are when you add speakers in the center or center surround locations.”

 

 

Home theater manufacturers started announcing Dolby Atmos enabled equipment in June. The first Dolby Atmos receivers and speakers are starting to appear in stores now. More information about Dolby Atmos can be found on the You can get more information about Dolby Atmos on the Dolby website and Dolby blog or follow updates on Facebook and Twitter. on our website and on our blog.

 

 

Disclosure:  This is a press post. One copy of Transformers: Age of Extinction was given to me for review purposes. The giveaway is being offered as value to my readers – this is NOT a paid post.  All of my opinions are my own.

 

 

 

 

Facebook Family Tech Chalkboard: Tips and New Features

Facebook Family Tech ChalkboardWhen Facebook reached out to me and other parenting journalists to attend a “Facebook Family Tech Chalkboard” meeting at their campus, I was excited attend a press briefing on their new features.  As parents we have the dual role of using Facebook to communicate with our own friends (and family) as well as advising our teens on topics such as privacy and social media etiquette. Those of us with businesses or websites also use Facebook Pages to engage with our customers or readers.   Listed below is a summary of the topics discussed.

 

 

  • Facebook Groups Updates:
    • Facebook groups is a great way to have separate discussions with different “groups” of friends. I wrote a post (Tips For Moms on Using Facebook Groups) that discussed the different types of groups and details for setting up Facebook Groups. At the meeting we shared stories on how we use Facebook groups.
    • Facebook Groups for Schools: We learned about Facebook feature called “Groups for Schools” which allows people with an active school email address to join groups at their college or university. I am happy that Facebook still has this feature to allow only people in the college (that have the college “email” address) to join the college Facebook group.

     

    Facebook groups for schools

    Facebook groups for schools Photo credit: Facebook

     

  • New Facebook Feature “Save for later” The new Facebook “Save” feature enables you to save items (links, places, movies, TV and music) you find on Facebook for later. From a privacy standpoint we learned that only you can see the items you save unless you choose to share them with friends. This is a feature that is especially important to me  lately because while I find the most interesting articles on my timeline, I rarely have time to read the full article. Now I can “save” it and come back to it! Sometimes I flip back and forth in my Facebook timeline between top stories and most recent to see what articles people are sharing. But I always seem to go back to “top stories” because that is where some of the most talked about articles seem to show up.  My next step will be to create my own Facebook “friends lists” of my tech friends, parenting friends and more to help curate updates on my timeline (which I can now share!).

 

Facebook Save

New Facebook Save Feature. Photo credit: Facebook

 

 

 

  • Facebook Privacy Checkup:  The new Facebook feature called “Privacy Checkup“  offers a guided approach to setting up privacy controls. It will take users through steps to “review things like who they’re posting to, which apps they use, and the privacy of key pieces of information on their profile“. While I already went through the Facebook privacy settings with my teen when he first set up Facebook (and for myself), the privacy checkup is also a good way to have a guided review of settings.

 

 

 

 

 

  • Facebook Login & Anonymous Login: New Facebook login features, announced at the last Facebook Developer’s conference, offers “a brand new way to log into apps without sharing any personal information from Facebook, along with a new version of Facebook Login with even better privacy controls.” The  announcement explained the three new features as:

1. Anonymous Login:An easy way for people to try an app without sharing any of their personal information from Facebook.”

2. Facebook Login:A new version that gives people the option to pick and choose what information apps get.
3. Redesigned App Control Panel:A central place for people to see and manage the apps they use.

 

Facebook Anonymous Login

Facebook Anonymous Login. Photo credit: Facebook

 

 

The ability to signup for new apps without having to share all of my personal information is an option I have been looking for some time. App developers have a year to utilize this new feature so we will see this rolling out soon.

 

 

The last topic we discussed was Facebook Pages. I not only have a Facebook page for TechMamas but also manage some Facebook pages (and ad campaigns)  for clients so this is an area of great interest to me. At the same time, there is so much information to cover on this topic that I decided to split it up to be covered in my next post on Facebook Pages (so keep an eye out for that post coming out soon!).

 

At the end of the event we had a tour of the Facebook Campus and could not help but have some fun in the Facebook store with fellow parenting journalists – including Jessica Rosenberg who helped me model some fun tee shirts!

 

Facebook Family Tech Chalkboard Tour

 

 

Disclosure: The Facebook Family Tech Chalkboard was a press event. This post is a press update.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

TechMama Talks: Work, Family, Education and Mobile Tech

TechMamas talkIt may have been a month since I last posted, but that gave me some time to think. During that time I decided to channel my dear Grandmother in my writing, who as she got older decided to share her authentic voice. Of course, that involved some embarrassing moments such as when she met a new boyfriend of mine for the first time and asked “I look forward to seeing you walk down the isle together”. I joked and said “you mean at the grocery store?”. But my Grandmother must of been reading our body language because we did end up walking down the isle and are a happily married couple running after our adorable but energetic three boys. I feel privileged to have met an amazing community of bloggers online and share my insights on technology. Now I want to go back to sharing my musings on life and important initiatives.

 

Parents and Work: I am excited to see women developing initiatives to empower and promote career advancement for women at work.  But from what I experienced as a parent, the job market is very tricky these days so finding work that offers a salary to cover the costs of childcare and extra incidental costs is a challenge. Many parents also need some sort of offer flexible work environments, which can add to the challenge. The job market has changed, there are new job skills required including technology and social media. In addition, while online networking has created multiple channels for career advancement, choosing the right channels to create real business opportunities is an important consideration.

 

The childcare challenge is not just a mom problem – it is a “parenting” challenge. I started a lively discussion on Facebook about this topic and I was thrilled to see responses of parents that are overcoming all types of challenges to work and also parents making the choice to stay home. I made a comment that we all value time with our children, that their happiness is the most important goal of whatever arrangements are made. I look forward to share stories on my blog of women that have found creative solutions to adapt to the modern workplace. Including women that have taken time off for kids then not only ramped back up to work years later – they BLASTED OFF!

 

Family Technology: We are at a time where you can stream, automate, use voice, consume content and entertainment in many ways and multiple devices. But families are struggling with helping their kids set screen time limits, stay safe online, learn social networking etiquette, decide what devices they really NEED and HOW TO use them. To make matters more complicated, kids now grow up surrounded with technology so it is second nature. For example, I have an Internet connected TV and my kids are the ones that signed up and are power users of Netflix compared to me. I feel so old school watching shows on TV networks. I know how to stream everything on my PC’s but at night I still like to turn on the TV and watch a show. My kids hardly watch traditional TV networks anymore.

 

Luckily because of my business, I also consume information and social network online which allows me to talk my kids’ language. At the same time I realize the online world is a dangerous place for kids that require a new type of education. I have been writing online for years about the concept I describe as “Internet safety is the new sex talk”. I remember years ago when I first said that at a social media conference in New York there was silence (shock) then lots of tweeting to share. Now that mostly all devices have a web browsers, it is hard to lock our kids away from the online world.

 

My perspective is that parents need to first educate themselves, then their kids, then create regular conversations and family rules about Internet Safety (and logical consequences if they are not followed). For example, sitting down with teens “together” to look at the privacy controls for all the platforms they are on and “discuss” which should be set to remain safe. But open conversations are key, and it should include cyber etiquette and consequences for inappropriate cyber etiquette (including going to jail!). In our family discussions, I also share age appropriate news stories as examples.  I want to spend more time covering all the online platforms kid spend time on. Of course, I find new platforms cropping up it seems like every day! Automated internet safety controls such as web filters, monitoring apps and privacy control settings are also an effective supplement, but they won’t keep kids safe everywhere they go because as I said web browsers are everywhere! So parents need to do the balancing act of setting “relevant” automated controls, communication and education. That balance is not easy!

 

No matter what strategy parents have, new challenges come up. Like how I tell a bunch of 10 year olds during baseball practice last year that they “HAVE NO REASON TO BE ON INSTAGRAM.. SERIOUSLY!”. Or how do I tell a lovely teen girl (family friend) that the number of LIKES she receives on her Facebook photo does NOT reflect her TRUE BEAUTY. Or how smartphones have become a tool that can get kids arrested if they take the wrong picture or participate in the wrong social media exchange. Or how dangerous the online world is, so much so that I need to have a SCARED STRAIGHT strategy constantly updating the teens I know of the mistakes I read about hoping that they can learn from them. At the same time, I am regularly amazed at some of the positive ways teens are creating support online. When our beloved hamster died recently my son said he received comfort from a Reddit Hamster sub directory (created to memorialize Hamsters that had passed away).  My son received sympathies from around the world when he posted a picture of our Hamster.

 

Education Tech: One of the challenges of our education system is that while more and more kids relate to visual, interactive and experiential learning, many curriculum’s are still based on inflexible models filled with worksheets. The shining stars are the Teachers and Schools trying to transition to experiential learning. Luckily, now there are so many ways to learn online that I could spend weeks covering all the websites and programs. After speaking at a few education tech events and meeting the edtech company founders, I decided that sharing the exciting opportunities that exist in digital learning is a passion of mine. I want to highlight the education tech innovators on my blog as a way to help support their important contributions they are making to the future of education.

 

Family Schedule Tech:  One of the main reasons I wrote the book “My Parent Plan” was to help families learn project planning skills. After years of professional project planning I know the concepts but at times still struggle with how to balance it all. With three boys now going THREE completely different directions, I decided to dive deeper into tech solutions to help me manage. Or at least keep my head above water..

 

Health Tech: Feeding my family a healthy diet is one of the biggest challenges I have each week. While I like the concept of eating plant based foods I am also balancing understanding what is best for my family that has different nutritional needs. I will be covering some of online websites and apps that can help parents struggling with healthy eating solutions. I will also be covering my comic adventures trying to convince my sons why healthy eating is important. Including how my teen is “dreaming” of going to a local burger restaurant someday again as a reward. And how at times he sneaks out with his friends to get junk food for dinner after looking in the fridge filled with “green” foods.

 

So while I am far away from being a Grandmom myself, I honor her voice by speaking my own. Whats on your mind?

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

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.