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Tech the Halls with 12 Gadgets for Each Day of the Holidays

Do You Hear What I Hear?

Listen to your favorite carols on A-Audio Legacy Headphones, with the first-ever three-stage listening technology, which allows for selection between base enhancer, active noise cancellation and audio modes – putting listeners in the driver’s seat to choose the sound that best suits them in the moment. Comes with a detachable phone cord with remote and mic for connecting to mobile devices and dual jacks for sharing music with friends. $299.headphones800

Upload the Photos Click Click Click

If the unthinkable happens and you lose your smartphone or it crashes beyond recovery, all those great shots of holiday parties, kids opening the presents and other holiday pics could be lost forever.  Back it up quickly and easily with the SanDisk Ultra Dual USB Drive.  The thumb-drive-sized device lets you offload your content from your micro-USB enabled device onto the drive memory, and then connect to a compatible device or USB 2.0-enabled device to transfer and back up that content.  Available at retailers worldwide and on www.sandisk.com in 16GB to 64GB capacities, $19.99 to $49.99.

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I’ll Have a Blue-tooth Christmas without Wires

 

Fill the house with Christmas music, streamed on the beautifully designed Vers Q aptX Bluetooth sound system, with each Q speaker housed in a cabinet carved from a unique solid block of sustainably harvested natural wood that resonates as only real wood can. Its amazing design aside, the 1Q system ($129) delivers incredible 6.5W stereo sound powered by Bluetooth® v4.0, aptX technology that connects with almost any mobile device (smart phones, tablets, laptops) with a range of 30 feet and nine hours of battery life. Also available in a 2Q system ($199) featuring 13W stereo.  Available at www.versaudio.com and Apple Online Store and select Apple Retail Stores.

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Jingle Ball Rocks

 

Kids will gather round the Sphero 2.0 ($99) for hours of play as the remote controlled programmable round robot, Bluetooth operated with iOS, Android and Windows mobile devices, rolls at speeds of up to seven feet per second (4.5 mph) and carries out orders from more than 50 feet away. With over 30 apps, this smart sphere can run circles around a room, dodge through obstacle courses, act as a controller for games like Exile and Nyan Cat Space Party, and be the center of attention for tabletop games like Colorgrab and Pass the Sphero. Charges cordlessly through induction.  Recommended for ages 8 and up.  Available at Radio Shack.

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Grandma Got Emojis of a Reindeer

Now there’s no excuse for grandma and gramps to not get digital.  AARP has designed a powerful yet accessible tablet for the ages with RealPad, an out-of-the-box ready-to-go tablet with all the bells and whistles made easy enough for those more mature folks who might be intimated by a little too much tech.  It’s preloaded with all the apps a basic user needs, ready to connect to Wi-Fi for browsing online, getting email, video chatting, sharing photos and playing games.  For those who need a bit of help getting up and running, there are how-to videos and 24/7 tech support on call.  Available at aarp.org for $189.

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We Won’t Go Until We Get In

Whether your holiday houseguests arrive early or the nanny or handyman needs to get in the house, now you can let them in with a swipe on your smartphone, from wherever you are, using Kwikset’s Kevo Bluetooth-enabled smart deadbolt. The Kevo mobile app turns a smartphone into an electronic key to control the deadbolt remotely, and the app tracks activity for 30 days, so you know when the deadbolt was locked and unlocked.  Users can give unlimited guest eKeys to allow authorized guests to enter — for a 24-hour period or on a schedule – such as residents might need for dogwalkers and maids — instead of the old-fashioned and risky “key-under-the-mat” arrangement.  Kevo is compatible with Bluetooth Smart Ready/Bluetooth 4.0 supported smartphones, including iPhone 4S, 5, 5c and 5s, 6 and 6 Plus.

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Focus Upon a Midnight Clear

 

Love the convenience of a camera built into your smartphone or tablet but wish the quality was better?   Now you can have the best of both worlds and capture clear, crisp, wide-angle and up-close photos and 1080p HD video on your mobile device in a snap, with the Kodak PIXPRO SL10 Smart Lens Camera ($199), with a 1SMP BSi CMOS senor and 10x optical zoom.  Using a free app, you can use your device’s screen as a viewfinder to zoom in and out.  Then save images or video on a microSD card or transfer then to your device for instant sharing. Available at RadioShack.

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Let There Be Peace En Route

 

While heading to grandma’s for the holidays keep the kids content (and quiet) on the trip with the Vivitar Camelio tablet, featuring Android 4.1 (JellyBean) and a 7” screen, perfect for children to play games, listen to music and watch videos on long rides on planes, trains and automobiles.  Up to five users can create their own profiles on the tablet and customize their account with Camelio “Personality Packs” with cool wallpaper, widgets, and a themed bumper case with characters like Hello Kitty, Monster High, Barbie, My Little Pony, WFF and Hot Wheels.  Features included wi-fi, camera, HD video and preloaded apps ideal for kids.  $99 at Walmart.comAmazon.comTarget.com.

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Holiday Cheer Check

 

Had one too many egg nogs?  Check your alcohol level before you hit the road with the BACtrack Mobile Breathalyzer, ($99) a smartphone breathalyzer that uses police-grade sensors to track your BAC level so you know, for sure, the impact alcohol consumption has on your body and brain. Make sure you are unimpaired and safe to drive so that the only flashing lights you see this holiday season are on the Christmas tree.

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Yule Logs Should Crackle, Not Your Smartphone Screen

 

Snowflake patterns look beautiful on a window pane but not the screen of your smartphone.  Wrap your phone in the protective armor of a NuguardKX Kenetic Energy X-Orbing case ($29)  for iPhone 5/5S, 4/4S and Galaxy 4. The KX case is constructed of US-made X-Orbing gel that has been military drop tested – which apparently means dropped from incredible heights just as if soldiers put them to the test. The cases have access to all ports and buttons and are easy to install.  Enhanced with th4e KX NuGuard ($14.99) hammer-resistant screen protector, your smartphone will be nearly indestructible.  Both products carry a lifetime warranty.  Available at AT&T Stores and other retailers listed at www.newertech.com/kx

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The Mouse (Pad) King

 

Son of a nutcracker, who would have thought a mouse pad could have such style!  The computer user on your gift list who has everything probably does not have a NuPad Leather Mouse Pad, made of luxurious Brazilian leather, handcrafted in the US.  The closed-cell sponge rubber underside keeps the pad from slipping, and the fine leather surface makes for accurate tracking for optical, laser or rollerball mice. Available starting at $19.99 from newertech.com.

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Four Devices a Powering …

There may be 12 days of Christmas, but who wants to wait that long to charge up all the new tech gadgets you get under the tree?  With the Power2U – AC/USB Wall Outlet ($29.99) you can charge multiple devices at once conveniently and energy-efficiently.  The in-wall outlet eliminates cable clutter, and it uses smart technology to determine if a device is a phone, tablet or other devices and provides the appropriate power.  When a device is fully charged it cuts off power to avoid overcharging your battery and wasting power. Compatible with all models of Apple iPads, iPhones, USB chargeable iPod models, Android tablets and phones, gaming systems and other devices that charge via standard USB plug.  Designed for standard 15A circuits in homes and can be installed in 20 minutes.  Find a local retailer at Newertech.com.

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Tags: Kodak ProPix, Sphero 2.0, tech gifts,

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PlayMG Lets the Kids Have It

PlayMG, a smartphone-ish Wi-Fi Android app gaming system for kids, is just the ticket for parents whose children always ask if they can play on Mom or Dad’s phone.  The sleek design, feel and weight of this handheld device is similar to leading smartphones, so kids won’t know the difference, except this device does not have a phone feature.

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For sophisticated very early adopters, i.e., kids as soon as they are able to hold a cell phone, those silly mock smartphones are no match.  These savvy tech toddlers know by the kiddie colors and light-weight plasticy feel that those made-for-children devices are toys.   PlayMG on the other hand, with its 4” touchscreen, front-facing camera, and stereo headset jack would pass as the real deal even to an adult; in fact, its styling is superior to many authentic smartphones out there.

The obvious main advantage of the PlayMG over a true smartphone is that there are no data charges and kids can’t rack up high phone bills; but that does not mean a child can not incur charges.  As with all Android devices, some downloads are free and other apps and media cost money, which can be paid with a few taps on the device.  To help prevent this, PlayMG created the MG Family Collaboration System which includes a $10 offer when you by the system from SpendSmartTM prepaid MasterCard®.  Other features include the “Digital Wallet” and “Remote Trust” notification functions so that parents can oversee what kids are spending.

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Because the ICS 4.0 system operates on Wi-Fi, there are not data charges, but you do need to connect to a network to access certain games and media.  While you do have to either find a free hot spot or otherwise get a subscribe to a carrier to get Wi-Fi service, with PlayMG there are no monthly charges or expensive cartridge games to buy.

As a bonus, several top games come pre-loaded on the device, including $10 worth of top EA Mobile games ‘Need for Speed Hot Pursuit’ and ‘NBA JAM’ preloade, eight Com2uS popular game titles, Slice It, Swing Shot, Homerun Battle2, Tiny Farm, Tower, Defense, 9 Innings Baseball, Super Action Hero and Derby Days.

The only stand-out odd detail of PlayMG is its egg-like shape.  It has two rounded handles at either end, with cut-outs presumably to thread with a lanyard or wrist strap.  The disadvantage of this peculiar profile is that the device does not fit any existing cases on the market.  The concern of course is that the device may break if dropped; and because of its slippery, smooth design, this is a real concern, especially in the hands of children.

Besides the awkward shape, the PlayMG is a welcome alternative to turning over a fully functional smartphone to a child; so next visit to a restaurant, long car ride, wait in the bank line, or wherever else bored kids nag to play a handheld video game, PlayMG is a great answer.

PlayMG is available at Target, Amazon and Toys R US.  PlayMG Product (8GB) $159.99;
PlayMG Bundle w/ Charger (24GB) $149.99; PlayMG Bundle with Charger & Case (40GB)
$169.99.

Power Trip – iWALK’s Chameleon and Chameleon Easy

iWalk's Chameleon for iPhone 4/4S

iWalk’s Chameleon for iPhone 4/4S

For those who don’t have time to recharge their iPhone 4/4S on the go, iWALK’s Chameleon high capacity power case is a convenient solution to extending battery time.  The Chameleon utilizes a 2,000mAh lithium polymer high capacity battery that lasts up to 500 full charges.  The case features an LED battery level indicator that displays the battery life, an on/off switch to preserve power, and a special design that does not interfere with the iPhone’s photo functions, including a coating around the camera lens designed to eliminate “flashback” while taking pictures.

The Chameleon comes in five different interchangeable face plates in white, black, pink, lime and yellow – hence the name, and it charges with an included micro USB cable.  Available at select Sprint stores and select retailers nationwide or at www.iWALKUSA.com for $59.99.  For the Galaxy S3, the Chameleon Easy, available for $64.99, provides the same portable power functions and stylings.  Both come with a one-year warranty.

The Tech Geek Gift Guide 2012

Give the electronics lover and gadget guru on your holiday gift list a plug-and-play present that will keep them turned on all season and into the New Year.

Hi-Fi Wi-Fi at its Finest

For audiophiles, Sonos is the ultimate gift of music.  The Sonos wireless music system allows you to stream music from your iTunes library, Pandora , SiriusXM talk or whatever is your listening pleasure on an expandable receiver speaker system that you can place in your home, office, or anywhere there is a an electrical outlet.  You control what you stream from your computer, iPhone, iPad, or Android device.  The Sonos PLAY3 ($299) is a great starter kit, which includes a compact player that can operate alone, or pair it with an optional Sonos Bridge ($49) to boost your wireless signal to reach faraway places in your home, office, or wherever you like to listen.  For a limited time, PLAY3 and Bridge are packaged together for the price of $299.  Available at Target, Best Buy, Amazon and Sonos.com.

 

The Sonos wireless music system allows you to stream music anywhere in your home or office.

The Sonos wireless music system allows you to stream music anywhere in your home or office.

Game On … the Wall

 

Gamers will love the portable Optoma GT750E ($799) projector, compact enough to carry in in its own backpack yet packing a big picture that can turn any video game into a full-emersion experience.  Even just five feet away from a wall or screen, the short-throw projector creates a huge 99’ diagonal image, and as the projector moves farther the image grows bigger.  Perfect for gamers who to be close up to the image without blocking a projector, and with Optoma’s 3D RF glasses ($99) gamers will truly feel like they are in the middle of the action.  The GT750E boasts a native widescreen display and bright 3000 ANSI lumens picture, DPL Link 120Hz#D-capable display technology options and 1080p signal inputs. Find dealers at OptomaUSA.com.

The Optoma GT750E  projector can turn any video game into a full-emersion experience.

The Optoma GT750E projector can turn any video game into a full-emersion experience.

A Century of Memories

You can’t guarantee any gift will last forever, but 100 years isn’t bad.  That’s how long you can preserve priceless photos on the SanDisk Memory Vault which can safely store data for at least a century.  The cell-phone sized vault uses Chronolock technology that protects against degradation, and its durable hard-shell design is built to endure.  The vault comes with a USB 2.0 transfer cable, writable labels and a storage pouch.  16GB, $89.99.  Available at SanDisk.com.

The SanDisk Memory Vault which can safely store data for at least a century.

The SanDisk Memory Vault which can safely store data for at least a century.

Square Plug in a Round Strip

So many electronics, so little space on power strips.  The cleverly designed Pivot Power flexible power strip bends to accommodate any plug, and it can wrap around furniture legs or form a right angle for a corner.  Available in black, white and green.  ($29.99) at quircky.com.

The cleverly designed Pivot Power flexible power strip bends to accommodate any plug, and it can wrap around furniture legs or form a right angle for a corner.

The cleverly designed Pivot Power flexible power strip bends to accommodate any plug, and it can wrap around furniture legs or form a right angle for a corner.

Hark, Can You Hear Me Now?

Give a boost to the phonephile on your list with the Wilson Electronics’ Sleek all-in-one cell phone signal booster. The magnetic antenna mounts on a car roof, and the handset cradle mounts inside the car and plugs into a car cigarette lighter for handsfree use with a headset or Bluetooth connection.  The booster amplifies weak signals for fewer disconnects, dropped calls and faster data transfer rates on 3G networks  $129.99  Available at WilsonElectronics.com.

 

The Wilson Electronics’ Sleek all-in-one cell phone signal booster helps eliminate dropped calls.

The Wilson Electronics’ Sleek all-in-one cell phone signal booster helps eliminate dropped calls.

 

Raising the Bar on Cell Phone Reception

Boosters Solve Weak Signals and Dropped Calls

Zombies may be all the rage, but being in a dead zone is no fun when it comes to your cell phone.

In a phone culture like Los Angeles, dropped calls can mean lost opportunity.  No matter how fancy your smartphone, if you don’t get a strong enough signal, you are not connected.  For Angelenos who depend on their cell phone, Robert Galeano is the answer man.  His Canoga Park-based company, Cellular Outlet, has found a niche in raising the bar on signal strength — by installing booster antennas.

Robert Galeano of Cellular Outlet installs a cell signal booster on a duplex in South Carthay, a neighborhood in Los Angeles plagued by frequent dropped cell calls

“A dead cell zone can occur right in the middle of an urban area. Most of my customers use their cell phones as their only phone. They rely on their cell phones to do business, so connectivity is a must for them and dead zones can seriously impact their productivity and quality of life,” said Galeano.

Dead zones can occur due to buildings, hills, and even dense foliage.  There are also many surprising causes of poor reception, such as tinted glass windows made with metal oxide, and heavy concrete walls – and even the commonplace lath-and-plaster and stucco walls of many Los Angeles dwellings – that signals can’t penetrate.

Of course, the distance between a cell phone and the nearest cell signal repeater also affects a signal, which is why Galeano’s business is especially robust in neighborhoods like Beverly Hills, were civic groups have opposed installation of cell towers due aesthetic and safety issues.

Galeano says he is aware of the concerns people have regarding the presence of towers and dangers of radio frequency, which is why he explains to customers that boosters do not increase radio frequency radiation any more than normal use of the cell phone, when it’s resting against your ear. He stresses that, “Boosters are a safe, legal, and cost effective way to eliminate dead zones.”

Unlike the eyesore of a cell tower in a tony neighborhood, the booster antenna is discreet.  The booster has three main components:  An external antenna, which mounts on a roof; a small signal amplifier, which is placed inside the house in a closet, garage or equipment room; and an internal antenna, which can be mounted unobtrusively on a wall.  In the case of a very large house, more than one internal antenna may be needed.  The three components are connected by coax cable.

Unobtrusive cell booster antennas are favored by homeowners who reject the aesthetics of a nearby cell tower

The booster only serves one household.  The external antenna receives the weak signal and sends it through the cable to the amplifier inside the house.  The signal is amplifies and sent through the cable to the internal antenna, which sends the signal around the house.  The booster can improve signal strength by as much as 20 times.  Galeano also installs boosters made for cars that work in a similar manner.

Booster don’t require a telephone line or Internet connection, and users do not need to register their phones to the booster, so even guests in a building with a booster benefit from improved cell reception. A booster can be used by multiple people who are using multiple types of cellular devices and accessing service from multiple cell carriers – all at the same time. The boosters are usually carrier agnostic, but with the new 4G services there are some differences, so an installer will need to know who your cell provider is.

The initial investment for the booster system – such as the popular Wilson Adjustable Gain Signal Booster — is around $2,600 for a large home with three antennas. The installation should be done by a professional and takes about three hours. There are no subscription or maintenance fees.  Professional installers like Galeano generally include at least a year’s service agreement in case there are any problems, which are rare since the system needs little to no upkeep, similar to a telephone or cable installation.

Boosters can be installed in just about any building – apartments, multifamily dwellings, hotels, hospitals and businesses. All antennas, splitters, cable and boosters can be concealed inside an attic or basement, except for the approximate 6” by 4” outside antenna that goes on roof.  If there is no basement or attic, cable can be run on the side of a building and penetrate a side wall.  A booster works best if the outside antenna is on the roof, but if needed an antenna can be installed on a terrace or a ledge or even on the side of the building as long as the antenna is pointed in the direction of the strongest signal, which the installer can determine.

The compact command center of the booster is usually installed in a basement or attic but can be placed on the side of a building if needed

The booster’s performance is unaffected by weather, unless the weather actually causes a power outage or interferes with the cell tower’s ability to transmit and receive signals.

While Galeano serves an A-list of clients whose names he keeps confidential, he says you don’t have to be rich and famous to have a cell booster.

“Anyone who has a weak cell phone signal and suffers through a lot of dropped calls can benefit. We have many clients who are parents who stay at home with their children and want to make sure their cell phones work in case there is an emergency,” said Galeano.

Galeano, who is ranked as Los Angeles’ top installer of the Wilson cell signal booster, says his business has expanded exponentially over the past few years.  As he spends more time on the road traveling to perform installations, he finds himself more and more reliant on his own cell phone in his car, in which of course he has installed a booster.

Must-Haves for the Modern Mom

Conveniences, Contraptions and Cool Stuff for Busy Moms

 

It’s a Laptop Bag, It’s a Purse, It’s an Overnight Bag

When a girl on the go needs a bag that can go anywhere with her, The Grow Expandable Messenger Bag from Brigg’s-Riley’s Verb line is a sleek and stylish solution.  It multi-tasks as a work bag that holds your laptop – up to 17 inches – in a padded inner sleeve with plenty of pockets for peripherals, and it converts to a travel bag with a roomy expandable main compartment and can be worn cross-body or over the shoulder.  Best of all, it’s tough enough for daily use and comes with the Briggs-Riley legendary lifetime warranty.  Available at www.briggs-riley.com, $229.

Suck it Up

The lightweight Dyson City Vac is small enough to fit on a letter-size sheet of paper, but this little powerhouse can pick up dust and dirt to leave every type of floor spic and span.  Its patented Root Cyclone technology doesn’t lose suction, and it’s engineered to trap particles so exhaust air is clean. Like all Dyson products, the DC26 is a wonder to behold and fun to unpack and assemble because it’s just so darn well designed. Available at Best Buy and www.Dyson.com, $399.99.

 

Save Your Smartphone and Maybe a Life

If your purse is like a black hole in space that crews up and swallows cell phones, The Otterbox Commuter Series is a light at the end of the tunnel.  The durable customized casing fits sleekly around just about any smartphone to protect it from bumps and scratches, and the bright-colored Strength is Pink case makes it easy to see and find.  Plus, 10 percent of the purchase goes to Avon Breast Cancer Crusade. Available at www.otterbox.com, $34.95.

Listen Up

For busy moms who don’t have time for The Talk or to chew the fat with the ladies of the View, SiriusXM Radio offers 24/7 news, views and musings with more than 140 channels of exclusive commercial-free programming.  Tune in at work on the Internet or in the car or at home to catch up on all the latest, from life advice on Oprah Radio to tips from Martha Stewart Living or sex talk with Dr. Laura Berman.  Plans start at $12.95 per month. www.siriusxm.com.

Pie Tonight

Home baking is easy as pie with the Sunbeam Mini Pie Maker. This one-of-a-kind, multi-tasking pie maker creates four miniature pies simultaneously, each with a different filling if desired, from desserts to pot pies. The nonstick cooking plates make pie removal and clean up easy.  Available at retailers nationwide, Available at Target, $29.99.

 

Shred it Good

 

The Fellowes P-12C shredder is an identity fraud perp’s worst nightmare.  This document devouring machine cross-cuts paper into 399 particles in seconds, and it can even shred staples, paper clips and credit cards.  It’s SafeSense sensor that shuts it down when hands come too close makes it great for households with kids around, and its slim profile makes it perfect for home offices, kitchens and other rooms where spaces is minimum.  $84.99 at Target stores nationwide.

 

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