Best Kitchen Gadgets and Accessories

1 November, 2012 Life No comments
Best Kitchen Gadgets and Accessories

Although most days start and end in the bedroom, chances are you spend more time in the kitchen while you’re awake than anywhere else in the house.  According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, Americans spend more time eating, drinking and preparing food than any other activity besides sleeping.

There are any number of gadgets which make this kitchen time more productive, efficient, or just plain cool. Here are the best kitchen gadgets and accessories for a technology-savvy household.

Keurig Coffee Makers

Whether at your desk or in your kitchen, Keurig’s focus is on making perfect coffee – one cup at a time.  With models designed for serious and casual coffee drinkers, these systems are among the best (and most convenient) home coffeemakers.  No longer do you need to worry about grinding beans, buying filters or anything else except enjoying your gourmet java. Special coffee packages are required for brewing, but can easily be found at most major retailers and grocery stores, with the widest selection available at Bed, Bath & Beyond. The Platinum Plus Brewing System and Vue V700 come especially recommended for home or office use.

Vitamix Blender

The acme of blenders is the Vitamix, with self-cleaning offerings that are hailed as the most versatile and durable on the market.  They may cost a little more than other blenders, but they’re powerful, reliable and come with a lifetime guarantee. It’s no wonder that Vitamix blenders are coveted by restaurants and professional chefs worldwide.

Cuisinart Food Processor

Whether it’s restaurant-sized, kitchen-sized or a mini one, Cuisinart is the gold standard in food processors.  With simple to assemble and safety-proofed parts that only fit together one way (the right way), Cuisinart food processers make everything from grating cheese to chopping vegetables simple, easy, and even sort of fun.

Induction Burner

Here’s the cool thing about induction burners – they don’t get hot.  The secret is magnets, which generate heat – provided you are using a pan that accepts magnetism.  Touted by pros as a way to accurately control temperatures while providing a safe cooking environment, induction burners are a seemingly magical way to boil water, and can be purchased as a separate, standalone portable burner.

Sodastream

Although soda may one day be viewed as the late 20th centuries version of the cigarette, there’s no disputing its popularity and carbonated deliciousness.  With the Sodastream, you can create your own sodas at home with proprietary CO2 cartridges and flavor packets that are available at most major local retailers.

Nostalgia Electrics Ice Cream Maker

Although it looks like a classic old-time barrel, this electric ice maker features a convenient motor that churns all the ingredients for you.  Simply add some ice and all the ingredients before dinner time, and delicious home made ice cream is churned and blended for you while you eat.

FoodSaver Vacuum Sealer

Seal left overs and bulk food items for longer with a FoodSaver Vacuum Sealer, which removes all the air and creates compact, freezer friendly food and dishes for storage. Sure, you need to buy the proprietary wrap, but by saving food up to five times longer, it’s definitely worth it.

Holiday Tech 2012: Best New Gadgets & Gear

Holiday Tech 2012: Best New Gadgets & Gear

Shopping for the best new high-tech holiday gear has never been easier, thanks to endless online bargains and deals. Just one problem: With hundreds of awesome HDTVs, smartphones, tablet PCs and other cutting-edge electronics suddenly competing for attention, choosing the perfect gift for gadget lovers isn’t always an easy task. Credit a bounty of new stocking stuffers – 2012’s must-have electronics and accessories include great gift-giving options for every interest and budget. Luckily, our team of technology experts have culled through hundreds of the best new tech toys and put together a handy cheat sheet to seven of the season’s hottest picks.

Looking to get your wish-list started? Among the year’s top selections are digital cameras, next-generation video game systems, connected television sets, eReaders, portable computing solutions, and media players of every shape and size. The following list – just a small preview of the coolest new gear available in coming weeks – can help you get a leg up on your holiday shopping. The best part: Sweet as these gadgets are, they’re just the tip of the virtual iceberg.

Apple iPhone 5

Many smartphones such as the Motorola Droid Razr Maxx (notable for its ultra-long battery life) and Samsung Galaxy S3 (recommended for its oversized screen) deserve shoppers’ attention this holiday. But Apple’s latest model, the iPhone 5, is among the very first you should keep on speed dial. Compatible with over 500,000 apps and building on its predecessors’ highlights – videoconferencing, an ultra-crisp display, cloud music streaming, etc. – with all-new features, the best just keeps on getting better.

Roughly 18% thinner, 20% lighter and considerably faster than the iPhone 4S, the iPhone 5 also adds high-speed 4G LTE broadband connectivity for brisk downloads, a larger 4-inch screen, and a brawny A6 processor. Letting you wirelessly stream movies, music, television and games down on-demand, the handset doesn’t just load websites, apps and media faster than ever. It also delivers better graphics and computing performance, and comes with enhanced front- and rear-facing cameras for sharper photos, slicker video recording and stutter-free teleconferencing.

The iPhone 5’s multitude of features – including a touchscreen, motion-sensing gyroscope and support for voice commands through its Siri virtual assistant – make it a supercomputer that fits in your pocket. Using the device, you can enjoy a portable media powerhouse to go, or connect with friends and family from nearly anywhere your holiday travels take you.

Wii U Video Game System

Nintendo’s motion-sensing Wii console redefined gaming for a generation. Featuring a unique tablet Game Pad controller with a dedicated 6.2-inch LCD touchscreen (offering a second view on the action, or allowing for video viewing separate from TV), successor the Wii U hopes to provide a repeat performance.

Available in two models – Basic (includes 8GB internal storage) or Deluxe (offers 32GB internal storage + Nintendo Land video game, console stand and a cradle/stand for your GamePad) – it’s a prospective game changer. Credit the ability to play groundbreaking titles such as New Super Mario Bros. Wii U, Pikmin 3, and Madden NFL 13, which allow for solo or multiplayer action across multiple screens. Better yet, awesome options are available for all ages including kids (Skylanders Giants, Just Dance 4), adults (FIFA Soccer 13, Assassin’s Creed 3) and everyone in-between (Disney’s Epic Mickey 2).

Upsides include the ability to view gameplay on both your TV and GamePad, control your television with the tablet’s touschscreen, and link up to four Wii remotes for frantic head-to-head excitement. Backwards compatible with games from the original Wii, it doesn’t skimp on forward-thinking technology either. Bonuses include Internet access for multiplayer match-ups and downloading movies, music and games; video chat capabilities; second-screen viewing experiences; and wireless connectivity that lets you interact with real-world objects.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-LS7

Fans of digital photography can give images a boost with this speedy and high-performing compact camera whose lens captures bright, top-quality snapshots even under low-light conditions. Whether using it to fire off bursts of pictures in rapid succession, or tape 1080 high-definition (HD) video, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the device’s premium capabilities and intuitive user interface.

Designed to work in a variety of shooting conditions, including nighttime or outdoor scenes, the device also offers a wide-angle Leica lens with 3.8X zoom functions, so you can take stunning shots from a distance. Built-in noise reduction features are simply icing on the cake, helping ensure your holiday memories look gorgeous when printed or viewed on the DMC-LX7’s 3-inch LCD screen.

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite 3G

Literally dozens of great eReaders are available from companies like Sony (Reader), Barnes & Noble (Nook HD+) and Kobo (Arc, Glo, etc.). But don’t miss out on Amazon’s Kindle Paperwhite, the latest in the bestselling line of eReaders, which adds a higher-resolution and -contrast screen, and a built-in light offering 8 weeks of battery life when charged.

Avid readers will especially love the ability to download thousands of books, newspapers, magazines and more anywhere in the world using free 3G wireless or WiFi capability, all visible on its 6-inch screen even in direct sunlight. Browsing options include over 180,000 exclusives and self-published volumes, so you can catch up on everything from the latest Twilight novel to definitive works on nearly any topic. From children’s books to action-packed thrillers, you’ll be surprised at the selection – and how just akin to real-life reading the experience feels.

Want to catch up on your reading while visiting the in-laws or hitting the beach? Spare yourself the indignity (and hernia) of having to haul along a bunch of hardbacks – able to hold hundreds of volumes, it’s basically a portable library to go.

LG Intuition

Is it a smartphone or tablet – you decide. Following in the footsteps of Samsung’s popular Galaxy Note, this powerful cellular handset with oversized 5-inch screen allows for full-fledged computing performance without sacrificing pocket-ready convenience. Ideal for video viewing, Web surfing or reading, its bright colors, ample visual real estate and high-def resolution should prove a hit with road warriors.

Perfect for jotting down notes with the included stylus, the Intuition also offers lightning-quick wireless 4G LTE connectivity, WiFi support and an 8MP with LED flash. As such, it should also strike a chord with professionals hoping to boost productivity, or avid social media enthusiasts. You know what they say about all work and no play, though – running on the Android 4.0 operating system, tens of thousands of compatible apps are available. That way, whether you’re killing time waiting for a connection or happily cruising along at 10,000 feet, you’ll always have the power to summon up endless sources of entertainment on-demand.

Panasonic Viera TC-P55ST50 TV

Critics have praised this 55-inch plasma HDTV and 3D TV for its arresting picture quality, brilliant contrast and suave aesthetic. But what will really turn heads is its price – think premiere features for a fraction of the cost. Capable of displaying 1080p HD video, you’ll be able to enjoy TV shows and films at staggering levels of detail, with characters and objects that pop right out of the scenes. Of course, ultra-crisp color and 3D viewing support only enhances this effect: Don a pair of active shutter 3D glasses, and high-def images will literally burst from the screen.

Extras are plentiful too – Smart TV (a.k.a. Internet-ready) features being among the most prominent. Via Panasonic’s Viera Cast options, you can access Pandora for streaming music, enjoy video-on-demand from services like CinemaNow, and enjoy MLB, MLS and NHL news and info whenever the mood strikes. Online video won’t blur while playing either, thanks to enhanced image reproduction. But perhaps most engaging is the availability of 2D to 3D upconversion, which lets you take standard everyday content – e.g. your favorite TV shows, Blu-ray movies and online media – and screen them in 3D. Consider it a gift that keeps on giving: Put the set in your living room, and every time neighbors come to visit for holiday gatherings, their jaws will drop.

Asus Transformer Pad Infinity TF700

Many portable computing enthusiasts now own an iPad (and with good reason). But if you’ve been holding out on buying a tablet PC, especially if you’re torn over the decision between purchasing a more fully-featured laptop, this is the model that will make you reconsider. Among the best Android selections, The Asus Transformer Pad Infinity TF700 packs full HD resolution, a dedicated NVIDIA Tegra 3 quad-core CPU and serious processing muscle. Translated into plain English, that means sick 3D graphics, speedy load times and apps so powerful you’d think you were sitting in front of a desktop system.

Capable of delivering jaw-dropping 3D visuals for a fraction of the price, the tablet PC is also compatible with an optional QWERTY keyboard dock with touchpad, SD card reader and USB port that extends battery life to 14 hours. Pair the two, and you can effectively enjoy the best of both worlds, letting the Transformer Pad Infinity TF700 double as a notebook PC. Bonuses include an 8MP camera for snapping natty-looking photos, cloud storage solutions for archiving files online, and a full suite of office and productivity software. Compatible with thousands of apps, it’s a nicely portable and expandable alternative to traditional laptop systems that lets you enjoy two computing options for the price of one.

This post is part of eBay Finders, a new partnership that presents collections of items curated by a carefully selected group of electronics experts. Meet more of the Finders at ebayelectronics.tumblr.com. #eBayFinders


Essential Free Software Downloads

6 September, 2012 Life No comments
Essential Free Software Downloads

If you use the Internet in any capacity, then you’ve probably noticed  by now that it has a lot of cool stuff. And some of that cool stuff is easily accessible, even though you’re technically supposed to pay money for it. Wow! What’ll they think of next? Of course, you really shouldn’t download stuff without paying for it, because 1) Stealing is wrong, and  2) The sites that let you download said content for free can be kind of skeevy and might do bad things to your computer. There’s good news, though: there are tons of useful programs on the Internet that can be downloaded freely and safely. 

Here are five of the best free software downloads that should be on your PC. 

Avast! Anti-VirusArr. If ye be surfin’ the web, ye need a shipworthy anti-virus. Avast! is one of the most popular free anti-viruses on the Internet, and its fame is well-earned. The program is easy to use, it downloads updates automatically, and even makes surfing the web safer by letting you know about suspicious sites before you even click on them. It’s all yours for zero dollars. 

OpenOffice – If your PC doesn’t have a legitimate version of Microsoft Office installed on it, you should definitely consider OpenOffice, an opensource alternative. It’s extremely lightweight, and it can do almost anything that Office can—for free. If you’re familiar with Word, you shouldn’t have a problem making the switch to OpenOffice’s word processor. 

Nuke Anything – No, Nuke Anything will not let you download a functional “Big Red Button.” It’s actually a FireFox extension that allows you to be very specific about the text and images you want to print from a webpage. Given how much ink and paper gets wasted even when you want to print a simple text email, Nuke Anything is a must-have for the environmentally-conscious PC owner. 

AudacityAudacity is a simple but extremely useful sound editing program. If you like to record podcasts, or if you just like to mess around with sound files, you’ll get a lot of use out of this little guy. 

GimpPhotoshop is the gold standard for image editors, and a legitimate copy can cost hundreds of dollars. If that’s out your range, consider Gimp. It’s free to download, and many of its functions are on par with Adobe’s series. Whether you need to do some professional editing or a simple resize, Gimp is a good program to have on-hand. 

Looking for more great free stuff (who isn’t)? Visit: 

112 Best Free Downloads at PCWorld

Nine Sources for Free Downloads at About.com

30 Best Free Mac Programs to Download at TechRadar