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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.

 

 

 

 

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.

 

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

 

 

 

Tips To #NavigateTheHolidays With Gift Offerings at GameStop

*Disclosure: Sponsored post.

 

I am a regular Gamestop customer, whether it’s pre-ordering a new kid’s video game or buying used video games and accessories.  So, I was excited to recently host with Techlicious – a Gamestop event and tour at my local GameStop store. We had a fun group of bloggers, many who were already GameStop customers and excited to learn even more with a tour by the local GameStop team. Beyond being the “world’s largest, multi-channel video game retailer“, GameStop offers:

 

***Video games for  all types of consoles (Xbox, Sony PlayStation, Nintendo Wii) along with Video game consoles,  portable gaming devices, tablets and more.

 

 

***Tech accessories including headsets, tech toys such as Skylanders and Disney Infinity and even my kid’s favorite Lego video games (that compliment nicely all the Lego building they do).

 

 

***Gift Cards and Stocking Stuffers.

 

 

Best of all GameStop has affordable “Buy-Sell-Trade programs for video game hardware, software, digital content accessories, consumer electronics (including Apple Devices) and more“. To keep within our budget, we have our kids identify games they no longer play with to help save up for new ones. I was happy to find out that “GameStop also offers more then 2,500 video games under $20″. That also helps with the budget!

 

When looking for video games at GameStop we can always first check if there are used copies available. Long ago my teen figured out that we should sign up for the GameStop Power UP Rewards (customer loyalty program) – so we did. Along with the rewards, exclusives, point earning opportunities and extras, the GameStop’s PowerUp Rewards benefits include earning points towards future purchases.

 

 

 

We also had a lunch where we discussed holiday tech shopping tips, trends, tips on choosing video games and more from Suzanne Kantra of Techlicious and the GameStop team.

 

 

 

GameStop, with research partner Brierley+Partners, asked 500 U.S. gift givers what was at the top of their purchase lists this holiday season (fielded from November, 2013). Listed below are some highlights shared from the event and a press release:

  • 42 percent of shoppers surveyed plan to purchase video game related items for their children this holiday – including video games, consoles, and accessories.” While we’re always thrilled for the holiday season, this one is especially exciting as we welcome the first new gaming consoles in nearly a decade, along with a flurry of new titles to show off the systems’ next-gen technology,” said Ashley Sheetz, chief marketing officer of GameStop. “It seems more people than ever, at almost any age, are getting into gaming, and if this survey is any indication, the number of gamers will keep on growing thanks to the holidays this year!”
  • 84 percent of ‘gifters’ are aware of store and website trade-in programs, and nearly 20 percent are planning to use them to help defer gift costs. We learned that “GameStop offers instant store credit or cash on a vast range of products, from old video games, consoles, to smartphones, tablets, and other electronics sitting in drawers and on shelves. And with special holiday trade-in bonuses, the savings can grow large very quickly!”
  • 82 percent of ‘gifters’ expect to turn to store employees when making purchasing decisions this holiday season. “We know holiday shopping is stressful and even more so when presented with the plethora of gaming choices out there,” said Jason Cochran, vice president store operations and strategic initiatives of GameStop. “Our goal is to relieve some of that stress with our trained employees armed with the latest gaming knowledge, as well as through our loyalty and trade-in programs that can make the financial strain of the holidays less stressful.”

 

When it comes to video games for my kids, I spend the time to gather information about the game by using not only sites like Common Sense Media and ERSB, but also knowledgeable GameStop salespeople. Over lunch, we had a chance to talk about screen time and tips to understand if a game is appropriate for kids/family use:

 

  • Current state of kids & technology:  83% of parents set rules or have a conversation with kids about the safe use of technology, with the majority of parents setting limits starting at ages 5-8*, Overall daily screen time for kids under 8, 1 hour 55 minutes, decreased by 21 minutes per day vs 2 years ago.** More time on: mobile devices, Less time on: TV, DVD, Computers, Video Games.*From Microsoft/Comscore study 2013 .
    **From Common Sense media 2013 survey: Kids 0-8.
  •  Games are social: 40% of gamers play with friends with 17% playing with their spouse or significant other and 34% playing with other family members. Video games are a family activity: 40% of parents play video games with their children at least weekly. Most video games being sold are appropriate for kids with 73% of the 245.6 million video games sold in 2011 rated Everyone (E), Teen (T) or Everyone 10+ (E10+). Ninety-one percent of games evaluated by ERSB in 2012 were rated E, T or E10+, From Entertainment Software Association.
  • American Academy of Pediatrics Recommendations : Establish screen-free zones, turn off electronic devices during dinner.  For children and teens: limit entertainment media to no more than 2 hours per day (does not include homework). For children under 2: no TV and entertainment media.
  • Recommendations to help find the appropriate video: Common Sense Media offers the ability to search game titles for younger kids and drill down by age, content, educational benefit and more. PluggedIn.com offers the ability to sort by rating, platform and genre. ESRB rating search app (and website) flags “Interactive Elements” so you’ll know if the game shares location, personal information or user habits. ESRB recently expanded search filters for exclude/include content type (violence, language, nudity etc) or a specific rating, plus access to rating summaries for packaged games.

 

How do you choose which games are appropriate for your family? What types of family technology are on your holiday shopping list?

 

Here are some posts from other bloggers at the event:

Mom With Apps: Three Tips for Family-Friendly Gaming
ParentGrapevine: GameStop – The Place to Shop, Sell, Trade-in and Buy for the Holidays
 

 

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

 

 

 

 

Black Friday Roundup: Tips and Tricks!

Today is BlackFriday and many people are probably not reading posts but working like crazy to check off their shopping lists. I wanted to provide a roundup to save time of some of my favorite BlackFriday posts. Please share your tips!!

 

1. SHOP SMART – USE PRICE TRACKERS & AVOID SCAMS: Save money by understanding the true pricing across stores by using a price tracker. Also, take time to learn about the scams.  Here are some recommendations from Techlicious:  Price Trackers that Can Save You a Fortune  and 3 Holiday Online Shopping Scams To Watch Out.

 

 

2. MAKE A HOLIDAY SHOPPING PLAN: I shared my Holiday and social time shopping tips to recommend taking time to make a shopping plan but also a plan for spending time with family and friends. For example, instead of just shopping for gifts at stores, check out gifts for your loved ones or yourself that invest in your health or provide fun throughout the year: Health Club or Sports Club Memberships (like in San Franciso area memberships to YMCA or JCC’s, Western Athletic Clubs, Indoor Rock Climbing or more), Memberships at Art or Family museums (such as Exploratorium), Season tickets for your favorite local professional, minor league, college or sports teams (like the SF Giants or Stanford Sports – GoStanford in my area!).

 

Also look for opportunities to invest in education for yourself, kids or the whole family (cooking classes?) by purchasing online or local classes/instruction. I purchased indoor rock climbing lessons for our family as a holiday gift and will be purchasing tickets for the SF Giants and Stanford Sports.  We also want to learn how to program ( i.e Code Academy, Tynker, Girls Who Code and TED 10 places to learn to code) and to speak Spanish, so we are looking for education classes in those areas to invest in. Use the holidays to invest in a success plan for yourself and your loved ones!

 

 

 

3. SHOPPING ONLINE IS A GREAT OPTION:  Develop a shopping plan that is less stressful by doing some shopping online! First make a list of your favorite stores and check online. Then check the holiday gift guides online such as for Cool Mom Tech, Cool Mom Picks, Techlicious, Mom Trends, The Shopping Mama and more. When shopping online, check the coupon sites for coupon codes (such as Coupon.com and RetailMeNot.com). I found a 30% off code for pants for my teen from RetailMeNot!

 

4. Mind Your Budget, Walk away if needed:

 

 

What are your favorite Black Friday Shopping Tips?

 

Video: Microsoft Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 Midnight Launch

*Sponsored. See Disclosures below.

Technology product launches, when done right, can be a real celebration of software and silicon. I always enjoy fun technology events, especially when the products are more exciting than the entertainment.  On October 21, I was thrilled to cover the Midnight Launch of the Microsoft Surface 2 and Surface 2 Pro in San Francisco. Throwing on my leather jacket, I headed off to San Francisco for the 10pm to Midnight launch and capturing all the fun on video.

 

 

I have been using Windows devices for many years, and the new Surface 2 and Surface 2 Pro computers are making me itch to switch away from my laptop to these new devices. The Surface 2 Pro is not only the perfect size (and weight) for my handbag, but is also has powerful, pre-installed productivity features including productivity, with touch optimized versions of Outlook, Word, Excel, Powerpoint and OneNote. Also included is 1 year of unlimited4 free voice calling to landlines in over 60 countries as well as free Wi-Fi at Skype hotspots. The Surface 2 also includes multiple storage options, long battery life, cover options and entertainment features

 

Below is my video of the Surface 2 Midnight Launch in San Francisco. The celebration started with a line outside the store and continued with a DJ to set the upbeat tone with music, food, beverages and giveaways (hats, tees, gift cards, etc.). Three-time Super Bowl Champion Roger Craig, provided autographs, and the Microsoft team was giving away games and offering test drives of the Surface 2 and Surface 2 Pro. I was in the market for a new laptop, so after taking a test drive of the new Surface 2, I decided to start saving up for the Surface 2 Pro with a Type Cover 2 and a docking station.  That will enable me to have a “fit in my bag” powerful and productive device for mobile use as well as a laptop experience for home use.

 

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

Check out the Microsoft Surface 2 and Surface 2 Pro at http://www.microsoft.com/surface/en-ca/.


 

 

 

CES 2013: 5 Tech Trends That Will Simply & Automate Busy Life of Any Mom


Attending this year’s 2013 CES helped me conclude that there is hope for my house and my exercise routine to become even more efficient and enjoyable. In the past, companies would showcase their products with a general message of “here’s this new high tech thingy”. This year the messages focused more on value, communicating “here is how you can simplify your life by using this new technology”.  I have been waiting to hear the word simplify for years. If new tech adds any additional steps to my daily routine, then it does not fit into my busy life as a mom. But if it helps streamline and automate any of the processes I do each day – then that is technology I will embrace in a heartbeat. I will be covering my picks for CES 2013 top trends over the next few weeks. Here are some of the top tech trends from CES that will simplify (and automate) the life of any mom.

 

 

1. Mobile Health Tech:   Fitbit, Fitbug, iBitz and Withings (to name a few) offer activity, sleep, medical and weight management information automation as well as environmental feedback (i.e. The Withings scale also measures indoor air quality). Utilizing mobile health tech will help me get the information I need for weight and health management from mobile devices so I can just incorporate it into my day.

 

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2. Home Monitoring (from your smartphone!): Dropcam is a HD Wi-Fi monitoring video camera that not only remotely captures and monitors activities in a whole room, but also can send alerts for movement or loud noises.

 

 

 

3. Mobile Home Lighting Control:  The Belkin WeMo line has a new internet connected  Light Switch that remotely controls household lighting from the internet via a WiFi router and an iOS device (v5 or higher). Android 4.0 device (or higher) compatibility will be enabled “shortly after launch”.

 

 

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4. Streamlined and Connected Kitchen:  Smart Appliances were a top trend at CES 2013. At the Whirlpool booth I saw kitchen concepts that could help me automate some of my key daily challenges. Fresh Connect from Whirlpool would allow me to reorganize the way I store and shop for food by grouping foods that need to be stored in similar temperatures together and automating my shopping with mobile apps and home delivery to my front door.
freshconnect_small

 

 

Whirlpool Appliances with 6th Sense Live will allow me to manage my appliances remotely (such as a refrigerator’s temperature or when a wash cycle is done) and because it would be connected to the Smart Grid I could save energy costs by tracking my usage and remotely running wash cycles at “off peak” times.
washer_small

 

Two concepts adding new functions to appliances would be the Whirlpool Cool Vox that streams music or podcasts through the refrigerator directly from a Bluetooth-enabled device and The Fireplace concept that could turn the family kitchen table into a social “Fireplace” that also warms food or keeps it cool.

 

 

Whirlpool CoolVox small

Whirlpool Fireplace Concept small

 

 

5. Home Information AutomationAbout One is an online tool/app that utilizes the existing calender and contacts to not only organize household information (inventory management, school info, medical info etc) but also offers “ reporting, alerts and private sharing”. New announcements at CES 2013 include partnerships with Swagbucks for gamification real world rewards and Working Mother  to “gather product feedback from Working Mother readers, who will then be alerted when their requested product updates have been implemented”.

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

CES2013: Whirlpool Kitchen of the Future Concepts


On my last post I discussed how our family kitchen is the activity hub of our house. So of course one of the top tech categories I planned to look into at CES 2013 (Consumer Electronics Show) was new kitchen concepts. Now that I am here are CES, I was excited to find some fantastic new kitchen concepts that will not only simplify, add more style, save energy, add new options to listen to music but also change the process of buying and storing food in the home.

 

While at the Whirlpool CES Booth, I had the opportunity to learn about exciting new concepts. The first is something I would call “Fireplace 2.0! The Whirlpool website explained that “The Fireplace concept which seeks to center people around a new central heart of the home with a common area for relaxing and sharing real experiences around food and fire“. I find this concept the most fascinating of all because it takes the experience of socializing around a fireplace or campfire to the kitchen table. The surface could keep food warm or cold, as well as an air circulation system in the hood. Because the kitchen table is the one place many families gather each day, adding new features to it adds value to home design and enhances family time. The new technology would also enable new social eating experiences, such as fondue to smores, right from your kitchen table.

 

Here is a picture of the Whirlpool “Fireplace” Concept.

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Kimberley Clayton Blaine  (TheGoToMom) and I could already see how the fun it would be to socialize around the Fireplace concept table.

 

fireplace

 

I had the opportunity to join in Fireside chats in the Fireplace concept area of the Whirlpool booth with other social media moms and Tanu Grewal, Senior Brand Manager from Whirlpool. We were all so comfortable, we did not want to leave even after the chat was over!

 

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When I saw the Fresh Connect from Whirlpool section of the CES2013 Whirlpool booth, I realized it could not only help families keep food fresher but also change food storage as a whole. What if you could have separate units to store food, each paired with other food that requires the same temperatures (no more frozen lettuce)? We can already order food from our mobile devices, but what if we had a system at home that let us order food that would be delivered in bags that would keep it fresh until we got home? The Fresh Connect concept would help create “a seamless shopping experience from the palm of your hand to the foot of your door.. and streamlined access to a select network of food suppliers“.
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Here is picture of the Whirlpool Fresh Connect concept flow:

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Food is not only organized by the temperature needs, but also in a modern style that could take food storage out of the kitchen into any room in the house. My sons would love to have food storage of their snacks in the family room!

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This concept could also create spaces to grow herbs from inside the house. This would enable us to finally grow herbs without the little critters that live outside from eating it!

 

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Containers would store fruit in a temperature that would let it ripen but keep it fresh. This concept would enable me to buy more fruit without worrying about it going bad (and my boys eat lots of fruit!).

 

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Apps could be used from any mobile device to order and manage the food in your house. This would enable a process for me to schedule food delivery and plan meals.

 

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Another concept that enables families to manage their home from anywhere is the Whirlpool® Appliances with 6th Sense Live™ technology. Families can manage things such as “refrigerator temperature, locking your dishwasher control console, knowing when your cycle is done and managing energy costs“. When my kids leave the refrigerator door open (like they do daily), I will get an alert even if I am not at home. This would enable a future where I don’t have to worry about coming into my kitchen and noticing that the freezer door is open and ice cream is now in liquid form!  And  I would be able to save energy costs by using the mobile app to run the appliances during off peak times even if I was not at home. The Whirlpool CES press info explained “by connecting to the Smart Grid used by select utility companies, these appliances optimize energy usage and track how much energy is being used.”

 

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Anyone looking to create add beautiful art and modern, streamlined style to their kitchen will want to take a look at the Whirlpool Art Gallery Collection (stove) Hoods. There is a selection of 12 hood panels with original graphics themes that are easy to install. I especially appreciate incorporating art into appliances because I have a small kitchen.

 

 

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My favorite design:

 

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Another new concept that helps streamline kitchens by adding new features to appliances is the CoolVox refrigerator concept. Now, families can stream music or podcasts through the refrigerator directly from a Bluetooth-enabled device, so this means I could even listen to recipe podcasts while cooking.  Or my 10 year old son who loves to cook can rock out to his favorite tunes. When we are entertaining and everyone ends up in the kitchen as usual, at least we can play some music to enhance the event.

 

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What do you see in the kitchen of the future? I see new features and appliances that will help me save time, simplify household processes and have more flexibility around how I manage my home. I can also see a future where mufti-function appliances allow me to save space,  add style to my kitchen and create new social environments to enjoy my family time.

 

Learn more about Whirlpool #2020 at their Tumblr, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook  and Pinterest pages.

 

 

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

 

 

 

HP Envy 23 Touchsmart AiO – Fun With Apps

In my last HP Envy 23 TouchSmart All in One post I did the unboxing showing how easy it was to set up. As we started using it over the next few weeks, our family fell in love with having such an amazing touch screen computer in the family room. Of course I could not wait to take a look at the Windows 8 store to personalize my start up screen with Windows 8 apps.  Luckily the HP Envy 23 TouchSmart AiO comes with some basic Windows 8 apps loaded but there are many you can add depending on what your interests are. Some of the apps I installed are music apps including I heart Radio and Slacker Radio (rocking out thanks to the HP Beats Audio), games including Angry Birds Space, puzzles and even archery , watching movies on apps such as Netflix, search such as Bing, Educational apps such as Kahn Academy, news apps such as News Bento,  Reading books with apps such as Kindle. recipe apps such as Foodily and many apps to create content and communication.

 

 

In the video below I discussed some of the Windows 8 apps I was able to use because of the HP Envy 23 TouchSmart’s high resolution screen, 10 point touch, Beats Audio speakers and processing power that makes those Angry Birds fly. Or at least I would like to think that it is my Angry Birds skill that makes them fly!

 

 

My next fun projects to test out will be the camera app to make videos, photo apps to edit photos and using the Skype app with the HP TrueVision HD Webcam to video chat with the grandparents.  I was having so much fun I forgot about loading my social networking apps to take advantage of the people hub and calender apps.

 

Have you tried Windows 8 apps on a touchscreen yet? If so – which ones do you like? I am looking for new apps to play with on my HP Envy 23 Touchsmart All in One!

 

 

***Disclosure: I wrote this review while participating in a program on behalf of HP and received an ENVY 23 TouchSmart AiO as a thank you for participation. All my words are my own.

 

 

 

The Best Tech Gift Shopping Advice: Decide Their Needs First

As the last few days of holiday shopping is upon us, then the post holiday “finding a deal” shopping in the near future, I wanted to offer a simple piece of advice for everyone to keep in mind. In my book “My Parent Plan” I discuss how parents can use the concepts of professional project planning to plan their family schedule. Those planning concepts can also be used for tech shopping. But they key concept is “defining needs”. In these tough economic times, we should take a step back when buying a gift to define what the needs to the gift recipient are. Holidays are a great time to get a gift that can make an impact in their life by solving a need.

 

There are many holiday guides available to share gift recommendations. I created the “TechMamas Holiday Tech Shopping Guide on SkinnyScoop with lists of holiday gift guides. But I am also working on shopping notebooks on Springpad. One of my notebooks was items I found on WayFair.com for home organization(I will also be doing notebooks on other websites with my recommendations). So also consider organization products for gifts that solve a need – but are also fun to use. Cool Mom Tech also listed “3 Springpad Notebooks that you’re going to love” . Infact, Cool Mom Tech also listed the very best apps and websites for gift organization for those looking for more ways to organize their gifts and best sites to get online coupon codes.  When I asked around for recommendations on teacher gifts, the feedback I received from friends that are also teachers are: handmade gifts are always special, but if someone is going to purchase a teacher gift – gift cards are highly appreciated. Mashable has lots of posts with recommendations on gift cards.

 

With technology, gift givers should take a step back from all the hype and decide what technology will make a real impact in recipients lives. Then decide which products have the features to fit that need. We are at a time where multiple devices have advanced features to fit technology needs. Don’t just buy the smartphone, computer or tablet that everyone has, take a step back and find one that has the right features for the right price. Then realize that many devices may fit your needs – so the next step is to find one that is well made and that fits easily in the gift recipients life/workflow. Another key thing to remember when shopping for technology is that “cheap” may also mean that the device may not have all the features needed or may not last. At the same time, there are many deals on technology across the web and at stores that everyone should try to take advantage of.

 

Myself and many of my friends use Microsoft Office products (and have kids that use XBox Live) so a Windows 8 device would enable us to easily adapt the device to what we are already using. On the other hand, I know other friends that already use Google or Apple centric products that would be a good fit for Android or iOS devices. There are even many of us that use devices with different operating systems because some of the features of the device fit with our daily workflow.

 

Another need to evaluate when buy a tech gift is if the device can be used for multiple purposes. The gift of a Bluetooth speaker has the benefit of connecting to multiple devicees to stream music either at home or on the go. Or how about high quality earphones with noise canceling that are not only great for listening to music or watching movies -but they can also be used to talk on a cellphone. Some eReaders are also tablets that can be used for apps, while some tablets also make good eReaders. But with eReaders it is important to understand the needs of the gift recipient. Do they read outside most of the time and need  a device that is light and has a long battery life? If so, an eReader will be a better fit for them then a tablet. But if they don’t have a tablet and read mostly at home – then a tablet with a comfortable screen to read is a better fit. Better yet, if you have a child, family member or friend that can benefit from assistive technology, holidays is a great time to gift them the gift that can help them in their daily lives. For example, the Livescribe Sky Pen has cloud and WiFi integration as well as syncing with Evernote.

 

How about friends or family that share not so great quality pictures from their phone and have digital cameras but never upload the pictures? If so, consider one of the new cameras that has WiFi so pictures can be uploaded directly from the camera (or use a WiFi flash storage card). Or how the gift of a real video camera to allow that special someone not only to take quality video of their family/friends – but also produce some of their own videos.

 

What tech are you shopping for this holiday season (or already purchased)? What tech will you be shopping for during the after holiday sales?

 

Happy Shopping To All!

 

 

 

Disclosure: This post is just my holiday tech shopping recommendations.

 

AT&T Wish-a-Day Tech Granted to Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital

In November I went to a conference called Camp Mighty which was a wonderful weekend event offering inspiration on creating life lists. Part of Camp Mighty’s mission is charity, and more involvement in charity happens to be one of the top items on my life list. Lucky as it was, I had the opportunity to work on my charity life list item by participating in a program Camp Mighty partnered with AT&T on  called Wish-A-Day. AT&T worked with the Make-A-Wish foundation to grant one wish a day for a month to underprivileged children suffering from life-threatening medical conditions. To learn more about how you can make a wish come true, visit this link: Wish-A-Day Sweepstakes from AT&T. But I had the chance to make one local organization’s wish come true.

 

My task was choosing a charity to donate a generous amount of AT&T devices to. I was more then thrilled to pick an organization that is near and dear to my heart: Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital and the pediatric programs at the Stanford University School of Medicine.  I had my three boys at the hospital and received great care. Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Child Life team of specialists work with the children throughout the hospital.  They do everything from preparing kids for procedures, helping them understand their disease, to creating play opportunities in the Forever Young Zone playroom. Pictured left to right is Debbie Burkholder,  Assistant Director – Children’s Fund, Colette Case, Director – Child and Family Life Services who met me at the AT&T store to pick up their devices and Beth Blecherman, TechMamas.com.

 

 

 

 

Their wish was for tablets (such as the iPad) to help children staying in the hospital and (pay as you go) AT&T Go Phones to help parents of children.  Here is information on how their tech “wish” devices will be used and the video of the fun event:

 

The Department within Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital that will be using iPads for the Child and Family Life Services Department.  Certified Child Life Specialists use the IPads to prepare children, at their developmental level for procedures and surgeries, using photo albums, sounds (like MRI), miniature medical equipment, dolls, etc.

They explained” An example would be preparing a child for an MRI scan.  We would show them the photo album that explains about  their MRI, let them listen to the sound of the MRI, have them practice staying still and then deciding on a coping mechanism such as watching a movie, or thinking of a favorite place while they have the scan.  If the child understands the procedure and can stay still, we do not have to give them anesthesia which then reduces the risk to the patient and costs less money to do the test.  The child also feels a sense of accomplishment which can carry over to other tests, etc. they may have.  We also use the IPads for distraction, so if a patient was getting stiches in their foot, we might have them play a game on the Ipad with them while the stitches are being put in.”

 

The AT&T Go Phones will be used by the Social Services Department within Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital.  They  will let parents who need to stay in touch with Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital and their doctors but do not have a phones.

 

 

 

 

More information on the Wish-A-Day Sweepstakes (ends Dec. 20)  from AT&T can be found by clicking here.  The Camp Mighty website link is here for those wanting to work on their life list. The Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital’s website is LPCH.org. Philanthropic support to the Lucile Packard Children’s Fund can be found at (www.supportlpch.org). The children’s fund provides care for all children who come to Packard in need of medical treatment regardless of a family’s ability to pay. It also provides services to children and families not covered by insurance, like child life services, the chaplaincy program, and medical interpreters.  Additionally it supports innovation pediatric research to find new discoveries for advanced treatments and cures for pediatric illnesses.

 

Disclosure: This is a volunteer project I did to give back to my community.