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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:

1. One Blog Post comment per person. One Blog Post comment is equal to one entry (so only one entry per person)  2. Winners are limited to US residents only 21 years of age or older. 3. If a valid email address is not provided in the entry, another winner will be chosen. 4. The prize is not redeemable in cash and must be accepted as awarded. 5. Approximate value of prizes may vary. 6. All decisions are final 7. By entering any giveaway on this website you release Techmamas.com from any liability whatsoever, and waive any and all causes of action. 7. Contest starts Oct 2 and ends Oct 6 2014 -10am pst. Winner will be announced by Oct 7 2014.

 

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.
 

 
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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.

 

 

 

Sponsored: CES 2014 Whirlpool Innovations

While at CES 2014, I had the opportunity to learn more about the new Whirlpool innovations. The concepts are exciting because they will not only add more functionality and control over my kitchen but also enable me to be more productive. Listed below is a summary.

 

Whirlpool Induction CooktopInteractive Cooktop:  One of the most exciting demos was of the Whirlpool interactive cooktop concept which turns a simple surface such as a cooktop into a multi-functional information, cooking and entertainment space.  For example, while I can cook anywhere on the surface I can also browse the internet to pull up a recipe to view on the same surface! While entertaining, I can cook while checking the guest list online.  Combing the functionality of a cooktop with digital connectivity will enable a busy mom like myself to be much more productive in the kitchen.  With three “always hungry” boys I spend lots of time in the kitchen so I need all the help I can get! The Interactive Cooktop concept would also allow me to have less devices in the kitchen but still have access to digital connectivity on capacitive touch surface or hands free when needed.

 

Here is a Whirlpool video about the Interactive Cooktop:

 

 

Whirlpool Wash AppConnected Appliances: Whirlpool also introduced a digitally integrated suite of appliances and smartphone app that would not only give me more control in the kitchen, but also on the go. Because my appliances would be connected via a WiFi network, they can be controlled via a smartphone. This would allow me to do things such as saving energy by using my smartphone to run my washer during the right time of day, even if I am not at home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is a video that explains more about Whirlpool Connected Appliances:

 

 

 

Whirlpool Duet Series PaisleyDesigner Duet Series:  The Whirlpool Designer Duet series goes behind the simple solid colors to allow for personalization such as paisley or chrome bubbles. This type of customization is exciting because it would enable me to bring some stylish touches into my laundry area.  The Duet series also has technology to help whoever is doing the laundry (hint, hint to my older sons who need to start doing their own laundry!).  The Adaptive Wash Technology in the Duet® washer automatically selects the cycle settings for every load and Advanced Moisture Sensing technology in the dryer prevents over-drying clothes by sensing how long the dryer should run (and also saves energy!). I could even use the Whirlpool WashSquad app to assign laundry tasks to my sons!

 

 

 

Here is a Whirlpool video on the Designer Duet series:

 

 

 

 

Whirlpool CoolVoxThe CoolVox™ sound system refrigerator concept (available Q2 2014) extends the functionality with wireless Harman Kardon Speakers built in that are not distrupted when the doors are closed! This would allow me to listen to music or podcasts from my mp3 player, tablet, smartphone or computer (Note: “Only one device can be paired to CoolVox™ at a time“). I can also use apps such as Pandora, Spotify or my playlists.

 

 

 

 

 

Here is the Whirlpool video on CoolVox:

 

 

  • Since Whirlpool 20/20 is all about a future focused on you, we, want to hear your ideas for it. Leave a comment below telling us your idea for the future for your home and be entered to win a $1,000 grand prize.

 

Sweepstakes Rules:
No duplicate comments.

You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:

  1. Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post
  2. Tweet (public message) about this promotion; including exactly the following unique term in your tweet message: “#SweepstakesEntry”; and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post
  3. Blog about this promotion, including a disclosure that you are receiving a sweepstakes entry in exchange for writing the blog post, and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post
  4. For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry.

This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older. Winner will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. You have 72 hours to get back to me, otherwise a new winner will be selected.

BlogHer will pool entries from participating blogs and select a sweepstakes winner at random and will contact the winner with details about fulfilling the prize.

The Official Rules are available here.

This sweepstakes runs from 1/2/14 – 1/18/14.

 

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

 

 

 

Sponsored: CES 2014 Preview – Whirlpool Innovations

  

Whirlpool Your Future In FocusAs I prepare for CES (Consumer Electronics Show) 2014 it has been exciting to see the new innovations ahead that can help my life as a busy mom and working professional. Of course, what is more in the center of managing my family life than the kitchen. I am excited this year to be working with Whirlpool to learn more about Whirlpool’s innovations that will be highlighted at CES.

 

Whirlpool’s new products, and several still in development, are designed to help the family workflow.  As a mom of three constantly-hungry boys, saving time in the kitchen makes a big impact on my schedule. The overall concept of a connected home and a connected kitchen, where devices use WiFi and the cloud to share and report data, is a key technology enabler to help families in their home and on the go (mobile).

 

Whirlpool will be back at the MommeyTech Zone showcasing the evolution of the kitchen beyond 2014. Whirlpool’s concept is “simplify your life by designing products that sense and adapt to what you need, the way you want to cook, clean and entertain—the way you want to live”.  I received some press information in advance of CES to provide a sneak peek and here are some of the fun details:

 

Whirlpool’s concepts concentrates on three pillars:  Connection,  Innovation and Expression.

 

Whirlpool Apps

 

 

Connection: Whirlpool will be introducing “a digitally integrated suite of appliances and smartphone app, that manages the information and activities of your kitchen for you.By connecting your appliances to each other and your family, the kitchen begins to anticipate and understand your family’s needs. And access to the information you need gives you more control than ever in the kitchen”. Whirlpool views our homes in the context of this connected world, designing concepts that anticipate and understand a family’s needs while adapting to your preferences and daily habits. Examples include communicating the best times for energy consumption as well as alerts that help ensure the food is cooked properly and preserved for freshness.  These are all things that as a mom I really want to know about. Having an intelligent appliance will not only save me time but also make me more productive each day.

 

Whirlpool Induction Cooktop

 

 

Innovation: Whirlpool is using technology innovation to evolve the kitchen as a more interactive hub of the house.They are even innovating with kitchen surfaces. Their press release explained these exciting concepts:

  • Cooktops can also browse the internet:“When your cooktop can browse the Internet and connect with your social network, the kitchen becomes a hub of communication and exploration within the home and beyond.”
  • Cook Anywhere Surface: With a cook anywhere surface, serving as the kitchen island, consumers can monitor the weather, manage appointments, find favorite recipes and make a delicious dinner—all without leaving their kitchen island or using multiple devices.
  • Entertain and cook on same surface: Entertaining is revolutionized too when you can plan your dinner party (invite and monitor your guest list, search for recipes, make phone calls, and more) on the same device that cooks the meal. The concept applies technology that consumers are familiar with in their daily lives—hands-free devices and capacitive touch—to help her focus on cooking.

 

 

Whirlpool Laundry Room

 

 

Expression: The next pillar is Expression which for Whirlpool means customizing  everyday appliances with personal style. Debuting at the Consumer Electronics Show 2014 will be the new Duet® Designer Series from Whirlpool®, consisting of front load washers and dryers in a variety of colors.  The technology in the Duet® washer is called ”Adaptive Wash Technology” which automatically selects the perfect cycle settings for every load. The Duet® Dryer has Advanced Moisture Sensing technology that saves time and energy and prevents over-drying your favorite clothes.

 

Whirlpool Max Art

 

 

Also showing at CES will be a concept called MaxArt Microwaves that brings together design, art and appliances to create a functional piece of work representative of culture. Whirlpool® brand collaborated with with the Local art collective Los Contratistas to turn a set of 50 Whirlpool microwaves into a colorful, modular installation representative of Mexican culture using graffiti techniques. The final pieces work together “to create a unique take on the modern day appliance, enriched by culture, design and the arts”.

 

 

Whirlpool CoolVox

 

 

Expression + Innovation + Connection: The new CoolVox™ sound system refrigerator concept, enabled by Bluetooth® wireless technology and Harman Kardon Speakers, will allow users to play music/podcasts through the refrigerator directly from streaming through Bluetooth®-enabled devices (i.e. mp3 player, tablet, computer). This opens up new entertainment options in the kitchen including the ability to cook to music without any additional wires, cords or speakers.  Music can be played through iTunes account, a playlist on a Bluetooth®-enabled computer and Pandora/Spotify apps on device. The device (i.e.  iPhone, tablet) acts as a remote to do things such as change the volume.  Another option is listening to “How to Cook” podcasts directly through the refrigerator. I like the concept of adding more features to my kitchen devices! Note: Only one device can be paired to CoolVox™ at a time and the current iteration of CoolVox™ does not allow for speaker phone capabilities.

 

 

Whirlpool Fridge

 

Here is the link to find out more information about Whirlpool 20/20 at CES.

 

Throughout the week of CES, consumers will have the chance to win a custom laundry pair of their own with the You Be The Designer Sweepstakes!   
  

Also, since Whirlpool 20/20 is all about a future focused on you, they want to give readers of this post a chance to win a $1,000 grand prize. Leave a comment below, tell us your idea for the future for your home and you could win.

  

Sweepstakes Rules:

  

No duplicate comments.

 

You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:

  1. Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post
  2. Tweet (public message) about this promotion; including exactly the following unique term in your tweet message: “#SweepstakesEntry”; and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post
  3. Blog about this promotion, including a disclosure that you are receiving a sweepstakes entry in exchange for writing the blog post, and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post
  4. For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry.

 

This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older. Winner will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. You have 72 hours to get back to me, otherwise a new winner will be selected.

 

BlogHer will pool entries from participating blogs and select a sweepstakes winner at random and will contact the winner with details about fulfilling the prize.

 

The Official Rules are available here.

This sweepstakes runs from 1/2/14 – 1/18/14.

 

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Top Five Ways I Use Microsoft Office 365 to #GetItDone

 This is a sponsored post.

I use Microsoft Office 365 to help manage my busy life as a working mom, so I am excited to now be one of their Office Champions, sharing my favorite tips and learning new ones. My day requires flexibility and Microsoft Office helps me get work done regardless of where I am. I’m clearly not alone in my need for flexibility, A recent study conducted online by Harris Interactive on behalf of Microsoft found that “more than half of office workers (53%) would be willing to work more hours—and one in five would be willing to take a pay cut—to have more flexibility in where and when they get work done”. This Infographic shows some stats on mobile work habits.

 

 

Here are the top five ways I use Microsoft Office 365 to #GetItDone:

 

5. Get Work Done While Waiting: With Microsoft Office 365 productivity tools and Skydrive cloud storage, I can use my mobile devices and Office Mobile to work while waiting for my kids to finish baseball practice or while on the road between business meetings. I have the flexibility with Office 365 to use touch, type or a stylus while either offline (sync later) or online, later syncing online via SkyDrive.

 

4. Get Cooking Done: I use One Note to keep track of recipes, entering them in my recipe notebooks or embedding recipes I find on the web (keeping the web links so I can refer back to them). I also have One Note Notebooks for shopping lists. Because my One Note is synced to my mobile devices using SkyDrive, I always have access to that information while mobile, making grocery shopping much more efficient. The One Note search also helps me find recipes to fit what I have in the fridge for those “oh, no, what I am going to make for dinner” days!

 

3. Get Homework Done: Microsoft Office 365 Home Premium can be installed on up to 5 PCs or Macs, and 5 mobile devices. This means my whole family can take advantage of using Office. We have Office installed on our family desktop and laptops. All three of my boys has access when they need it to use Powerpoint for class presentations and Word/Excel for class projects. Our kids can organize research, take notes and even use an equation editor for math homework using One Note.

 

2. Get Household Organization Done: We use Outlook to create a shared family calendar with different colors for each person. We use Excel to track our family budget, expenses and household projects. The spreadsheets can be then be embeded, plus any online links, pictures, video or audio, into One Note notebooks. Family vacations are planned with One Note notebooks and pictures uploaded to SkyDrive albums.

 

And the Number One way I use Office 365 is to Get My Personal Dreams Done: For years I had a dream to write a book. Luckily, I had my handy Office 365 to help me reach that dream, creating research notebooks in One Note to create the outline of my book. I then used Microsoft Word to write the book, track changes with my editor and verify the book’s format using “read” mode.  Now that my book “My Parent Plan” is out, I can check off that dream and then see how I can use Office 365 to get my next dream “done“.

 

There are so many additional ways I use Office 365 that I can’t fit all of them in this post. I’ll provide more product tips in future posts.

Are you ready to get it done? Then visit www.Office.com/getitdone and share via #GetItDone how you get things done with Office and Office 365. For more information, check out the Microsoft Office 365 “Get It Done” press release.

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

 

 

Guest Post by TheGoToMom : Tips for the Post-it Note Obsessed Mom

The following is a guest post by Kimberley Clayton Blaine of TheGoToMom.TV:

 

Visualize a more productive you. Now visualize the Post-it Notes that are all over your desk and cabinets perfectly organized in your phone! The Evernote camera allows you to snap a picture of each note and organize it. Now, here’s the doozie… and don’t get too worked up, but, whatever you write on Post-it Note that’s in your Evernote app is searchable! Yowza! This app has the ability to search even your handwritten notes. And you can also tag your Post-it Notes by color. Because I’m a social media mama, I love to share everything, there’s a share option in the app too, so you can share your Post-it Notes on your platforms. Not that you want to post your grocery list on your blog, but I do post fun inspirational notes if I’ve captured them in the app!

 

 

Easy Ways to Organize with the Post-it Brand and Evernote app:

 

 

1. Keep a Post-it Note list of your main grocery staples

2. Manage expiration dates for food

3. Take notes on Post-it Notes while in meetings, at playgroups or brainstorming sessions with colleagues

4. Keep track of important times lines, dates/deadlines(i.e., blog/book chapter)

5. Keep a line of Inspirational Post-it Note messages for yourself that you can tweet out or share on FB

 

 

 

 

The Post-it Note mode in Evernote  is specially designed to enhance and transform your Post-it Notes into beautiful, digital replicas of all your Post-it Notes.

 

How to capture Post-it Notes using the Post-it Note mode

Write clearly and legibly on a Post-it Note with any type of pen or ink. Then, go through the following steps to capture your Post-it Notes into Evernote:

 

  1. Start the Evernote camera and swipe anywhere in the image capture area to select the Post-it Note mode.
  2. Position the Post-it Note, including the edges, so that it is visible inside the frame
  3. Tap the Snap icon to capture the Post-it Note. You can snap multiple notes one after the other and save it to the same Evernote note.
  4. To preview the captured note(s) first, tap the Image Gallery icon. From here you can select particular pages to keep or discard. To discard a note, tap the Discard icon.

 

 

You can get the Post-it Note Desktop Dispensers co-designed by Post-it Brand and Evernote at the Evernote Market, www.evernote.com/market, and at office supply retailers nationwide. Additionally, Post-it Super Sticky Notes and Post-it Big Pads with a limited-time subscription to Evernote Premium are available nationwide starting today at select Staples retail stores and at Staples.com, OfficeDepot.com, OfficeMax.com and Quill.com.

 

The sheer beauty of this app is it’s clean, streamlined and easy to use. I no longer have three Post-it Notes stuck to my face when I leave the house. All my notes are organized in my phone all in one app and easily accessible.  Yes, my entire home will always have new Post-it Notes reappearing each day – just waiting to be photographed. But hey, that’s what we signed up for right? Motherhood  — The ultimate keeper of the calendar.

 

Since technology will always be a part of our lives, get the free app and simplify your life. Isn’t about time you finally remember the things you like, your favorite websites, research better, organize your business or household better and plan your next relaxing trip? And you can do it all with mom’s new little helper. Evernote. Learn more about Post-it Brand and Evernote by visiting your local office supply store or by visiting Postit.com/Evernote , Post-it Brand on Twitter (@postitproducts ) or Facebook  (http://facebook.com/postit ).

 

Kimberley Clayton Blaine, MA, MFT, is the executive producer of the online parenting shows www.TheGoToMom.TV and author of The Go-To Mom’s Parents’ Guide to Emotion Coaching Young Children and The Internet Mommy. When she’s not chasing her kids, she filming them on her iPhone with ptch.com app.   Disclosure: The Go-To Mom Productions was compensated for the production of this episode/an or blog post by 3M/Post-it Brand. Kimberley Blaine will only promote, endorse and support companies she believes to have the highest standards in products and/or services that contribute to or enhance the well-being of families.