Great Gifts for Him: Fall and Holiday

25 September, 2013 Life No comments
Great Gifts for Him: Fall and Holiday

Some find fall and holiday shopping for gifts for guys to be more than a little difficult, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Provided the subject in question leans more towards technophile than rugged outdoorsman, there are a variety of staples you can come back to time and again to provide everlasting enjoyment. Following are several of the best gifts and gadgets for guys available now, all of which can help put a smile on that special someone’s face.

Beats by Dre Beats Studio – Dr. Dre is a legend in the music industry, acting as both a rapper and a producer. As a result, you can bet that he has a good idea of how music should sound when delivered to your ears. That inspired this line of headphones which allows fans of music to “feel the emotion and hear the music the way artists intended it to sound from the studio.” Read: Really loud, really crisp, and really likely to make neighbors jealous.

Dragon NaturallySpeaking Premium 12 –The future is now. While Tony “Iron Man” Stark has J.A.R.V.I.S. and Master Chief has Cortana, those of us looking for high-quality speech-to-text translations have Nuance’s Dragon NaturallySpeaking Premium 12 for PC and Mac. Designed for easy dictation and note-taking, you’re no longer limited to typing as this software allows you to dictate your needs directly so that you can modify documents and spreadsheets, send e-mail, search the web, and more. You can even relay on-the-go recordings back to it to be transcribed back on your PC. The free companion iPhone app works nicely for jotting down memos as well.

Kindle Paperwhite 3G  and Kindle Fire HDX – Reading books is fun, but reality tends to get in the way, particularly if you’re on the go a lot. The weight and space taken up by carrying numerous books is negated with this eye-catching tablet from Amazon, which works in a variety of lighting conditions. Just load it up with titles and take it wherever you go, whether it’s a hotel on a business trip, or you’re just waiting for Zs to kick in at night. The battery lasts for up to eight weeks per charge, and it even features free 3G wireless access for when you need to grab the latest hit novel while away from home. Great for both New York Times bestsellers and self-published books, also be sure to see the Kindle Fire HDX – a super-charged, color version of the device sporting a gorgeous 8.9-inch display, beefy 2.2GHz processor, and 11 hours of battery life – plus a Mayday button for free, 24/7/365 tech support between playing games, watching movies and web surfing.

Sony MDR-10RNC headphones – If dealing with ambient noise is a problem for you while listening to music, then Sony has the answer. The MDR-10RNC headphones are compatible with Android and Apple devices, and can analyze the environment around you to properly reduce up to 99 percent of ambient sound at the push of a button. With a swivel design, they travel well too, making them an especial boon to frequent commuters.

Targus 17 inch Deluxe Leather Laptop Case – One’s laptop can be a very valuable piece of equipment, and taking good care of it is always a priority. This particular case is designed to carry and protect such pieces of equipment bearing screens of up to 17 inches, and is designed for easy top-loading access. Other features include a workstation for carrying on-the-go business essentials, a removable pouch, phone section, file holder, and even a strap for attaching it to a larger rolling travel case.

Samsonite Columbian Leather Flapover Case – Made from full-grain brown or black leather, this luxury choice for transporting your laptop measurse in at 15.6 inches and features a main compartment with padded storage, a removable and adjustable padded shoulder strap, and a SmartStrap to slide over the handles of upright luggage, allowing for greater ease of mobility. Among the most stylish cases we’ve ever seen, it’s perfect for bringing along on business trips, and turning both clients’ and colleagues’ heads.

Amped Wireless REA20 802.11ac Range Extender and Router: Dealing with weak or dropped wireless Internet signals is always a pain, but Amped Wireless has the cure for what ails your WiFi network with its newest flagship product. Staking its claim as the first router model in the industry to utilize the 802.11ac standard, this device can repeat, amplify, and rebroadcast signals from any wireless router up to 10,000 square feet, and is reinforced by a variety of different security features. Trust us: When you’re trying to download games from Steam or stream videos from Netflix throughout the house, it can be a godsend.

Madden NFL 25 Are you ready for some football? EA Sports celebrates its quarter-centennial of Super Bowl winning victoies with legendary National Football League player, coach, and commentator John Madden like never before in this year’s release. Numerous new features have been added, from improved graphics and physics to new running controls and an environment which reacts to how you play within it. Designed with the next-generation PlayStation 4 and Xbox One in mind, this title is also available now on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, with some retailers allowing customers to trade up to the newer version when the new consoles hit in November.

Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Blacklist – Available for the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii U, and PC, the latest installment of Ubisoft’s hit stealth action series brings secret agent Sam Fisher back into the heat of the action with single and multiplayer modes, as well as a new “Killing in Motion” ability that allows Fisher to take care of multiple opponents in rapid succession without missing a beat. The Wii U and Xbox 360 versions feature unique elements, such as controlling Sam’s arm-mounted computer directly on the Wii U GamePad or saying things to distract enemies through the Xbox 360’s Kinect sensor before attacking.

Beats by Dre Pill Headphones are good when you’re keeping your music to yourself, but there are other times when you want to share the love with everyone around. For these party-time instances, the Pill portable speaker helps really bring the noise. Lightweight, wireless, and Bluetooth-enabled, it’s especially easy to swallow with a wide variety of different colors and styles to choose from.

Norelco SensoTouch 3D – One, two, three times the shaving power is what you get with this product line from Norelco. Touted as the company’s most advanced electric shaver, the three-way flexible heads boast a comfortable shaving experience, whether you prefer to go in dry or lather it up with some foam for a more refreshing wet shave.

Back to School Gadgets and Tech

Back to School Gadgets and Tech

While it’s hard to believe just how fast summer has flown by, the new school season is finally here and in full swing for students of all ages. With millions of teens, tweens, and school-aged kids returning or preparing to head back to classrooms nationwide, now’s the perfect time to consider giving your family’s learning experience a 21st century upgrade. Offering a more engaging and interactive approach to lectures, lessons and guided instruction, technology provides a great hands-on complement to traditional teaching methods, helping kids get more out of every learning exercise. Here, we’ve teamed up with some top tech companies to highlight a number of great gadgets that can enhance education both inside and out of the classroom.

Right off the bat, one tip to keep in mind when shopping for a new computer, laptop or tablet is to start by picking an operating system that offers students lots of learning tools. With Windows 8 devices, for example, you get support for programs like Office 365 University, multitasking tools like Snap, study apps like Flashcards Pro, and free online backup and sharing with SkyDrive. There’s a wide range of Windows 8 devices for every need and budget as well: The OS is available on desktop, portable and tablet PCs alike. Right now, Microsoft is currently running a “Chip-In” program where friends and family can contribute money towards the purchase of a Windows 8 PC as well: Microsoft will actually chip in a 10% discount with free shipping and no tax – a great deal, especially if you’re on a budget.

One of many great laptops that runs the operating system and comes highly recommended for college and high school students is the HP Pavilion 11 TouchSmart Notebook, which is powered by the latest AMD A-series dual-core processor. In plain English, that means that students can enjoy a super-powerful, touchscreen laptop that’s well-suited to education or entertainment purposes. Lightweight and portable, the system also happens to be surprisingly affordable, clocking in at under $400. One feature you’ll especially enjoy about the HP TouchSmart notebook is that it can also resume from sleep mode in seconds for fast access to email, social media, music and more, given built-in AMD Start Now Technology. A fun and user-friendly study tool, it’s also an unexpectedly cost-conscious solution as well.

If your student is one of many who uses their iPhone to access educational apps and study, organize and learn, then you also know that battery life can be a concern as well. Thankfully, Duracell’s Powermat iPhone 5 solutions offer a way to more than double your iPhone 5’s battery life so you’re never caught without power. Its handy AccessCase protects your device, while snap-on, snap-off battery attachments let you pack as much power as you need and a portable TravelMat allows for easy to-go wireless charging. The company also just came out with its new wireless backup battery line called Go Power which works with both micro and regular USB port devices – i.e. many popular mobile gadgets. It offers three backup battery power options, so no matter how long students are away from power sources, they can keep their devices from dying.

If you’re looking for more awesome educational apps and gadgets, you might also check out the following solutions, just a few of many high-tech learning tools now available to students.

Apps

  • Evernote – Clips and stores text, photos, web pages and more so you never lose track of your thoughts.
  • PBS Parents Play and Learn – Offers fun games and activities that teach kids about math, reading and more.
  • Graphing Calculator – Saves you from buying a standalone scientific calculator.
  • Learn With Homer – Introduces children to the magic of reading.
  • Studious – Helps with planning and organizing homework assignments.

Gadgets

  • Kindle Paperwhite – The popular eBook reader offers on-demand access to thousands of textbooks, books, and periodicals.
  • Belkin Ultimate Keyboard Case – Protects your tablet PC while adding a travel-friendly physical keyboard, great for typing longer documents.
  • Microsoft Surface Pro – Provides a powerful and versatile hands-on portable computing experience, marrying the best features of tablet PCs and traditional laptops.
  • Parrot Zik Headphones – In addition to awesome audio quality, these critically-acclaimed cans also offer noise-canceling capabilities, handy when studying in shared spaces or during late-night cram sessions.

From massively online open courses to learning apps, it’s clear that technology is quickly reshaping the face of education. The good news for kids, parents and teachers alike: You can’t find a better tool to instantly grab and engage students.

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/