Great Gifts for Her: Fall and Holiday

25 September, 2013 Play No comments
Great Gifts for Her: Fall and Holiday

If it sometimes seems like finding the best fall or holiday gifts for women can be difficult, realize: Technology makes a great starting point, with loads of great gadgets, gear and accessories to pick from for every budget and interest. As technology improves, so too does value continue to compound as well – expect high-tech presents to be well-received, as they’re gifts that keep on giving. A few great examples of top picks you might begin with include:

Philips Sonicare Flexcare Platinum and AirFloss – Hearing someone with a camera shout “smile!” doesn’t need to be a cause for awkward hesitation – and certainly not when you’re taking extra-good care of those pearly whites. The Sonicare Flexcare Platinum is an electric toothbrush with extra-long bristles and pressure sensors that can help keep your teeth healthy and bright. The AirFloss takes care of eliminating plaque by getting into those harder-to-reach places by using microburst technology to distribute micro-droplets of air and water between your teeth. In short, you get a great looking smile and fresh breath – still more gifts that all can enjoy.

Phiaton PS 210 BTNC Headphones – Usable with everything from the iPhone and iPod to laptops, MP3 players, CDs, and even DVD players, these headphones offer greater freedom of movement through Bluetooth 3.0, and provide noise-canceling and “MaxBass” technology, meaning that songs don’t have to be affected by ambient sounds from without or the reverb that would normally be caused within. The added microphone adds further functionality, allowing these headphones to enable phone conversations as well.

Parrot Zik Headphones – These headphones offer a degree of control unlike any other. Using touch sensor technology, you can do everything from adjust the volume to switching tracks, as well as take, end, refuse, or even set up dual phone calls with just a swipe. They even know when to play, based on whether they’re being kept around one’s neck or raised to the listening position, and can be configured to generate a concert hall-like effect, making the music sound as though it’s coming from in front of you.

Hawking HWREN2 Wireless Extender – Losing your home wireless connection is always irritating, but with this wireless extender, you can rest easy. The HWREN2 boasts not only double the normal Wi-Fi network coverage, but also a performance level that’s three times stronger than any extender or repeater on the market. This can be especially handy if you’re living in an older building with denser walls not made to allow signals to pass through.

iPhone 5S – The latest release in Apple’s seemingly unstoppable iJuggernaut is this revision of the iPhone 5. Available in three colors (gold, silver, and space gray), this iteration features an improved camera and a new sapphire crystal Home button that adds greater security by reading your fingerprint before unlocking the device, negating the need for a four-digit password. Not only do you get a stylish and handy smartphone that’s great for a variety of day-to-day uses – you also get heightened power and performance.

Nexus 7 2013 – The newer, lighter Nexus 7 is an Android tablet which features a 7-inch screen and provides up to nine hours of high definition video playback or ten hours of web browsing and reading. Play games, read books, watch TV, or listen to music, all in one half-pound portable device. Recharging is a snap, too, as this gadget allows the task to be handled wirelessly, making it easier than ever to keep your device ready at a moment’s notice.

Pikmin 3 – Get back to nature in a whole new way with this casual strategy game. Taking control of three different microscopic spacemen (well, two men and one woman), your objective is to direct groups of the eponymous plant-people to conquer challenging puzzles and predators in the oversized wilderness while retrieving enough of the giant fruit scattered about to sustain your hungry home planet. You can also challenge a friend in the two-player Bingo Battle mode, wherein you’ll each try to obtain four of the fruits on your card first for victory!

Saints Row IV – Though video games can often be seen as a boys’ club, everyone enjoys a good story and a bit of mayhem, and Saints Row IV brings both in spades. Whereas the Grand Theft Auto series has all but completely left behind the zanier part of its roots, Saints Row has come to not only embrace that brand of over the top craziness, but expand upon it as well. Create the character you want– male or female– as you prepare to take on the role of the President of the United States and fend off an alien invasion.

Targus UltraLife Thin Canvas Case –  Sometimes, having your phone or tablet around just isn’t enough; you need to have your laptop on hand. That’s where this handy case comes in: A top-loading compartment for laptop computers with screens up to 14.1 inches in size, a slim design, magnetic clasps, and storage for numerous other items mean you can have it all at your fingertips when you’re on the go. Plus, it comes in three different colors (black, gray, or white) and even features a retractable handle for when the shoulder strap won’t do.

Philips SatinPerfect Epilator – When it comes to hair removal, the SatinPerfect Epilator has you covered with an extra-wide head and textured ceramic tweezers which boast more hair removed in a single stroke. Use the built-in opti-light to reveal the tinier and finer hairs which might otherwise escape notice, and the controls allow you to set the speed you’re most comfortable with. One charge lasts for 40 minutes of epilation, and it recharges again in just one hour.

Behind the App: Top Software Tools

Behind the App: Top Software Tools

At the recent Casual Connect show in San Francisco, we were excited to see video game makers offering a variety of products with broad appeal that even the most inexperienced and casual of app users could enjoy.  Surprisingly, the way in which they attack this problem – making games more intuitive and approachable – requires some unexpectedly complex technology and tricks that most users will never get to see.

While there are more than a few services, products and apps the average smartphone, social network or tablet PC user might be familiar with on display at Casual Connect, (such as life-sized Candy Crush Saga pieces walking around to promote King’s meg-ahit app) much of what was present at the show in San Francisco are behind-the-scenes services that help track users, integrate ads and maximize revenues for game makers.  That’s great in the majority of cases if you’re a developer who’s created an app, but of considerably less interest if you’re not a professional software maker. However, there are always some fun exceptions to the rule.

Following are six behind-the-scenes app services which quietly work hard to make players’ lives more fun and enjoyable. You may not recognize their names, but you can be glad these products are around, because they make the everyday experieneces we enjoy playing our favorite applications that much better.

Playphone – There’s probably an 83% chance that you’ve used PlayPhone’s service, and you may not even realize it.  That’s because the company now provides mobile app download solution for that percentage of the North American carriers’ mobile and smartphone products. Playphone designs app stores and the delivery platform for you to search and receive recommendations directly from your phone carriers.  With partnerships with AT&T, Verizon and the newly announced Sprint, the service they provide unwittingly touches the vast majority of app downloaders by providing the method for accessing content.

http://www.playphone.com/

Arkadium – Every month, millions of Americans play crosswords on newspaper websites, AARP.com, cable network pages and more.  But the LA Times, Discovery Network and dozens of more of these websites aren’t creating these games themselves.  A company named Arkadium creates, curates and manages the “Games” page of many of the country’s most popular site, and does so behind the scenes.  They’ve got hundreds of titles they rotate on these pages, but Sudoku and Crossword Puzzles are two of their most popular. 

http://www.arkadium.com/

Lootsie – While many are familiar with the concept of virtual achievements to help engage player interest in games, platforms like Lootsie are emerging which are translating in-app activities into real-life rewards.  Instead of working hard to earn virtual currency that is realistically worthless, Lootsie negotiaties with major brands to provide real-life benefits, such as Starbucks or Best Buy, and works across a number of different games.

https://www.lootsie.com/

PaeDae – Pronounced “PAY-day,” this service takes offering real-life rewards even further by allowing users to enter sweepstakes and giveaways without detracting from the in-game experience.  They work with advertising agencies and game developers to make any advertising fun, instead of obtrusive, and only collect users e-mail addresses instead of pages of “lead-generating” personal information. For example, in the wildly popular “Car Town” Facebook game, PaeDae integrates a giveaway with Jack in the Box that to the user seems just like another fun part of the game, with real world benefits.

http://paedae.com/

Tango – While many may be familiar with a business who provided face-to-face chat functionality before FaceTime stole its thunder, the company still has hundreds of millions of users of their chat client and has begun expanding their reach into the app market.  In addition to simple-to-play games that are contained within their chat client, they’re seamlessly integrating with other app publishers the ability to track, challenge and interact with your Tango friends in games like Candy Block Breaker and Jetpack Jinx.

http://www.tango.me/

FreeMyApps – If you download a lot of apps, you may want to consider getting them through FreeMyApps.  The company provides “points” for getting these through their service, and these points can be redeemed for iTunes credits.  The service is especially useful for kids who may have an iPod touch or an old iPhone who don’t have any money in their iTunes account as a way to earn credits that can be used to purchase a handful of paid apps. WEBSITE

http://www.freemyapps.com/

10 Tips for Taking Care of Your Cell Phone

10 Tips for Taking Care of Your Cell Phone

Family Tech

Technology for parents & kids: Hints, tips, online safety strategies & more.

Chances are that you and your cell phone are seldom separated.  Statistics from Pew Research have shown that 2/3 of Americans who own a phone either sleep with their phone or keep it right next to their bed.

So what can you do to make sure nothing happens to your precious window to the outside world?  Here are 10 tips to take better care of your cell phone or smartphone to help it last at least the full two years of your contract.

Buy a Case to Protect It – This may seem like a no-brainer, but even the simplest of protective cases will help protect against the inevitable accidental falls that your phone is going to take.  Invest at least $25 in one to help protect your phone.

Improve Battery Life – Constant connections and multiple apps can drain your battery, so make sure you’re closed out fully of any apps you’re not losing, and if possible keep location-sharing services to a minimum. You should also disable any push notifications, and at least turn the phone to airplane mode if you’ll be traveling in and out of signals a lot.

Install Anti-Virus Software – Spotting viruses and malware has become second nature on personal computers, but it’s a lot trickier on mobile devices – and potentially more harmful considering the ease with which you use your phone to connect with others.  Check out software from companies like Lookout Mobile Security or Webroot to keep your phone safe.

Managing Memory – To keep your phone running quickly and smoothly, don’t push the limits of its storage capacity.  Keep some free space available, and remove photos and videos quickly after you’ve downloaded them.  Cloud storage makes it easy to keep much of this information off your device’s physical memory.

Password Protect – Use a password to protect your cell phone when not in use.  Many apps keep users signed in, so if your phone falls into the wrong hands it’s easy to access social networks as well as sensitive information like bank accounts or cell phone accounts.  Using a password is an easy step to take to prevent harmless pranks, but can be a life-saver if your device is ever stolen.

Protect Payment Options – Cell phones are used for much more than just phone calls these days, and many store payment options with your account.  Keep your accounts clear of personal information when possible, and never store credit card information on your phone.

Keep it Clean – Give your phone a good cleaning every couple of weeks, and consider using compressed air to blow dust or dirt particle out of crevices, especially if your phone still has physical buttons.

Install Anti-Theft Software – Tracking apps can be extremely useful if your phone is stolen, but also in helping locate family and colleagues.  You can use anti-theft software to see your phone’s location on a Google Map, provided the phone is connected to a network.

Think About Temperature – Phones don’t like being too hot or too cold, so don’t leave it in the bathing sun next to you when sunbathing, or exposed to the wintry air on cold December days.  Try and keep your phone the same temperature you like to be, and it will work better for longer.

Give it a Safe Home – There’s a place for everything, and everything in its place, and your cell phone should be no difference.  Create a safe, peaceful haven at home with a charging station.  Getting in the habit of leaving your phone in the same place will also help prevent you from losing it.