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Better Living Through Technology

Category Archives: Entertainment Tech

“Back to School” used to mean stocking up on paper, pencils and Pee-Chee folders (for those of us old enough to remember…). Now it’s all about the electronics! Every kid is trading in their notepads for iPads, and there’s a whole new crop of back-to-school “must-haves” that are 100% digital.

Talkin' "back-to-school" with CW6 Anchor Lynda Martin

Talkin’ “back-to-school” with CW6 Anchor Lynda Martin

Here are a few of the latest trends in electronics for this year’s back to school season:

PHONES AND TABLETS THAT DON’T BREAK

  • The new AT&T-exclusive Samsung Galaxy S7 active mobile phone is shatter-, water- and dust-resistant. The kids can take it anywhere and (for once…) not break it!
  • Here’s a tablet you won’t mind lending to the kids — in fact, it’s built for them. EPIK (Empowering Parents. Inspiring Kids) Learning tablets are designed for children, from pre-K through third grade, and they come preloaded with reading, math, spelling, programming, games, languages and more. It’s a complete classroom set inside a rugged 8-inch device that’s perfect for exploring the world — and importantly, it includes cybersecurity measures and parental controls to ensure a safe online experience for all ages.

CHROME OR WINDOWS?

  • For older students: Windows is soooo 2015! What the college kids want now is a super lightweight laptop that is always on, always online, and ready to go for hours and hours between charging. ChromeBooks based on the Google Chrome browser are going mainstream — and they don’t do Windows! Check out Acer’s Chromebook 14 with 4GB of memory for only $300.CB3-431-C5FM
  • Still need Windows for the heavy-duty apps, like editing videos or writing code? The new breed of laptops — like Acer’s new R 15 Convertible Notebook, with its cool 360-degree hinge design — are anything but ordinary, and prices start at only $650.As R5 571T photogallery 03
  • How about a full-fledged PC in the palm of your hand? Smaller and lighter than a paperback novel, the Kangaroo Windows 10 Mobile Desktop is as powerful as any desktop PC — just plug in a mouse, keyboard and monitor, and when class is over, throw it in your backpack and go!InFocus Kangaroo mobile PC at work

P.E. WITH PIZZAZZ

  • If you’ve ever tried running or working out with a big set of “cans” on your head, then you’ll love these little in-ear marvels: Phiaton’s BT 220 NC earphones combine Bluetooth 4.0 and active noise-cancellation in a tiny earbud design.
  • Since you’re ready to get some exercise, get the most out of your workout with the FitBit Blaze — a new fitness watch that’s as stylish as it is smart. FitBit’s largest smartwatch to-date features PurePulse™ heart rate, connected GPS, onscreen workouts, and more.

 

 

WHAT A DIFFERENCE A DECADE (OR TWO...) MAKES

WHAT A DIFFERENCE A DECADE (OR TWO…) MAKES

October 21, 2015. It seemed like it would never arrive. As we sat mesmerized in the movie theaters, peering around the other viewers with their big 1980’s hair, it seemed perfectly plausible that we’d all be commuting in our flying DeLoreans by now. How young and naïve we were.

So the future is here now. Where are our hoverboards, our time machines, our household nuclear fusion generators? Well, Marty McFly and his friends did get a few things right:

GRAVITY-DEFYING TRANSPORTATION:

Hoverboards are here. OK, it’s not a hoverboard like Marty uses in the movie (or like the one Lexus unveiled recently as a publicity stunt — I guess getting just the right combination of superconductors, magnets and liquid nitrogen is still a little tricky for consumers…), but this has got to be the next best thing: It’s called an EOHawk hoverboard. Think of it as what would happen if a Segway and a skateboard had a baby.

ForTech Two Wheels Mini Smart Self Balancing Scooter,Black

Here’s a couple videos of it in action:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/video/sciencetech/video-1148832/IO-Hawk-Segway-meets-skateboard-revealed-CES-2015.html

http://www.digitaltrends.com/cool-tech/io-hawk-is-a-self-balancing-skateboard-in-the-vein-of-segway/

If you’re in the San Diego area, you can pick one up at the VapeKingz kiosks at Fashion Island, Mission Valley or Plaza Bonita malls. (Tell Eddie that Steve sent you.) If you’re elsewhere, check them out on Amazon.com.

ROBOTS:

One of the whiz-bang technologies shown in the Café scene in BTTF2 is a couple of robot waiters taking orders and serving food to tables. Check out this new robot created by NXT Robotics, a San Diego-area startup, that is designed as a personal assistant for use in homes, and businesses like hospitality, corporate or campus security, etc. Company founder Jeff Debrosse has posted a video of his original Nexie robot here:

https://youtu.be/4bQrn5gAyWw

 Jeff Debrosse and IRIS

Jeff Debrosse, CEO of NXT Robotics in San Diego, shows off IRIS, the company’s flagship model.

TABLET COMPUTERS:

In the movie, they use thin tablet computers to get people to sign petitions, pay for cab rides, etc. Tablets today are commonplace, but I have two pretty cool ones to check out:

The first is the brand new Barnes & Noble Nook/Samsung Galaxy Tab S2. It’s one of the thinnest tablets ever produced, and in addition to all the things a normal tablet does, it lets you read the morning paper, or your favorite magazine, or hundreds of thousands of books, all on one device.

NOOK(R) by Samsung(R)

The second one is Microsoft’s Surface Pro tablet, running Windows 10. It does anything a full-fledged laptop or desktop computer can do (like allowing me to write this blog…), all with the portability of a tablet. And there’s one more cool feature Microsoft just unveiled that harks back to the movie: You can not only do video calls on it like the McFly’s do in their futuristic home, you can also use the new translating version of Skype to hold a live video conversation with someone who speaks a different language (say Mandarin, for example).

Alternate image

HOME AUTOMATION:

One of the things the movie shows in 2015 is that we all have automated houses, with lots of cool built-in gizmos. Of course, the flat-screen TVs  in the McFly home with picture-in-picture capability were mind-boggling at the time, but they are pretty ho-hum today. And while home automation (or “smart house” technology) exists, it’s too complex and  costly for most consumers.

But check out this kit that lets people start automating their homes with something that’s both ingenious and simple as pie: These new LED light bulbs from TCP screw into any lamp or light socket in your house, just like a regular bulb, but you can control them via your mobile phone from anywhere in the world. Turn on the lights before you drive home? Or dim the lights in your dining room while you eat dim sum in Shanghai? No problem.

TCP Connected Smart LED Light Bulb Starter Kit with (2) A19 LED Dimmable Light Bulb

Now, what do you think we’ll be doing on Oct. 21, 2030?

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Tips to protect your precious electronics from the elements:

WATCH THE VIDEO (CLICK ON PHOTO)

  • — Keep them away from the water (duh!)
  • — Get a waterproof case
  • — Get waterproof electronics
  • — Get a zip-lock baggie (hey, it’s better than nothing!)

Here’s how to rescue waterlogged electronics:

Once it’s wet…

  • — Don’t turn it on!
  • — Remove battery, SIM card, etc.
  • — Let it air dry completely
  • — Reinstall battery, cross your fingers, and turn it on

For REALLY wet electronics…

  • — Try “The Rice Trick”
  • — The “Rubbing Alcohol Treatment”
  • — Try a few hours in the oven at LOW heat (NOT the microwave!)

My four rules to keep you safe, sane & entertained! (Click HERE to watch the video!)

RULE #1: RELAX!

The first rule of going on vacation is to CHILL OUT! These two gadgets can help you achieve a more Zen-like state — in the car or on the course:

•  Independa Smart Reminder Service – FREE!

  • San Diego-based startup allows baby boomers answer the important question:  “How are Mom & Dad doing?”  even when you’re on vacation. Instant peace of mind!
  • Set interactive telephone reminders for your elderly loved ones – take your meds, see the doctor, feed the cat, etc. – and check in via  your smart phone, tablet or laptop. No more worrying if Mom took her heart medication…

•  SensoGlove, the World’s First Digital Golf Glove — $89

  • The first and only golf glove with built-in sensors that constantly read the pressure of your grip. Relax on the course!
  • Teaches you the correct grip pressure for a smooth, consistent swing – no more “Death Grip” – increases distance, accuracy & control

RULE #2: GO IN STYLE!

To quote Billy Crystal (as Fernando Llamas): “To look good is to feel good.” In this car, you’ll look GOOD!

• Infiniti 2011 “G” convertible$45,000 and up

  • Tech to go! 3-piece retractable hard top; adaptive climate control & Bose sound system automatically adjust to your speed, air temperature, etc.

RULE #3: ENTERTAIN YOURSELF!

There’s never a dull moment if you take your home entertainment with you!

•  The Luna Pocket Projector from Sceptre –  $ 169.99

  • Projector literally fits in the palm of your hand!

• iPad 2 ($499 & up) and  Slingbox Player ($29)

  • The new iPad2 and Slingbox Player let you watch whatever is on live TV at home (or recorded on your home DVR) — anytime, anyplace.

RULE #4: STAY CONNECTED!

Keep in contact with the world around you with the VERY latest in 4G mobile phones!

•  Verizon’s Droid Charge by Samsung$299 (w/2yr contract)

  • Verizon’s fastest phone, lets you take your broadband data connection with you (and share it with your friends as an instant WiFi hotspot, too)

•  AT&T’s Infuse 4G by Samsung$199

  • Thinnest and Brightest 4G phone yet, let’s you take your HD video with you — it even outputs it to an HDTV with an HDMI connector!

• AT&T’s ATRIX phone and LapDock by Motorola$299

  •  Comes with a laptop display and keyboard that you plug your phone right into. Lets you take your e-mail, word processing, calendar and more with you and move seamlessly from the phone to a full-size laptop display in seconds.