Want To Track Tech Deals?

Want To Track Tech Deals?

If you’re building your collection of cool devices, or if you have some specific tech you’re looking to purchase, it’s important to get the best prices. Different sites are often running their own promotions, and sometimes major manufacturers themselves will offer limited time deals.

Keeping up with all of these sales might seem tricky, but there are actually a number of sites you can use to keep track of current tech deals. Here are just a few you can bookmark and head back to every day!

Tom’s Guide Best Tech Deals

The Tom’s Guide website features many different pages with how tos and product suggestions. Their Best Tech Deals page (currently titled “Best Tech Deals of 2018”) is updated every day with a collection of great deals. They mention some of the overall best deals, then show deals based on different categories, like laptops and smart watches. Since it’s updated so regularly, you can be sure you’re not wasting your time looking over deals that have already expired.

PC Mag Best Deals Today

PC Mag is a hugely popular site that features news, how tos, and perhaps most importantly, detailed product reviews. They’re well-respected when it comes to their reviews. Their Best Deals Today page is, of course, updated daily. There are several categories, including laptops and gaming. The page is arranged in a slightly overwhelming way, with quite a lot of information, but the information is all useful and relevant, making it easier to spot which deals are the right fit for you.

CNET Deals & Promotions

CNET is another very popular site that’s well-known for its product reviews. They’re also popular for their news articles. On their Deals & Promotions page, they might offer over a thousand different suggestions for current deals. You can click the check boxes on the side of the page to narrow down what you’re looking for, including things like tablets and televisions.

Amazon Deals in Electronics

Amazon’s Deals page is not quite the same as the others. Instead of linking to various different outlets (like Walmart, Newegg, etc.), you’ll obviously only see deals for products you can purchase on Amazon. This means it’s not really an aggregator like the other sites and you might miss some good deals that aren’t available on Amazon. However, if you prefer to purchase using Amazon Prime, or if you want to find more than you might spot on the other sites, Amazon’s Deals in Electronics can offer some good buys. You can see currently available deals, and you can even see which deals are coming soon. And they show deals on Amazon devices (like the Echo Dot), so it’s a good place to check if you’re in the market for a new smart speaker or tablet.

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Editors Note

Interested in more ways to save money on Amazon and maybe even get free stuff? Check out The Babble Out and see if their program might be a good fit for you!

Tech For Your Pets

Tech For Your Pets

If you’re like me (and all the other pet owners I know), you probably care a lot about taking good care of your furry friends. You feed them well, walk them (or leave them alone, depending on the pet you have), and dote on them.

What’s great is there’s plenty of tech out there ready and waiting to make your pet’s life a little bit nicer. Here are just a few of the cool things you can get for your pets (and for your own peace of mind)!

Petcube Bites Pet Camera

This device is a fun, multipurpose bit of tech that is designed to be fun for pets while also being useful for pet owners. Using the Petcube app, you can watch a stream of the device’s camera, enabling you to check in on your pets while you’re away. It captures moments for you using its motion and sound detector, and you can even “talk” with your pets through its two-way audio. Plus you can brag about your pets by sharing video clips with others.

What makes it different is that it’s a camera and a treat dispenser. Using the Petcube app, you can have the device throw a treat to your pet whenever you want. You can use the sample treats that come with the device, then get some of your own (keeping in mind you’ll want to get a certain size of treat for the dispenser). So while you’re out, you can not only look in on your beloved pets, you can even reward them for good behavior (or just spoil them). You can find this device on Amazon.

ASPCA—Emergency Pet Safety

This app is a very useful way to make sure you and your pets are ready for an emergency. This app from the ASPCA is meant to help pet owners prepare for and recover from major storms. It shows people how to get ready for a storm, even letting you enter your pet’s health information for safekeeping in the app. It can then inform people of what to do to find a missing pet, even letting them design a lost pet flyer they can share. If you live anywhere that is prone to major storms, this app can give you peace of mind.

CleverPet Hub

There’s a lot to consider when caring for a pet. Sometimes people forget how important it is to give their pets proper exercise. The CleverPet Hub is one way to take care of that. It stimulates pets’ minds and gives them exercise. Pets are able to solve puzzles and get food rewards as they finish challenges. You can create a schedule for your pets, as well as track what your pet is up to using the connected app. And since the Hub is designed to be durable and stationary, it can withstand a lot of use (even if you have a very energetic pet). You can find this device on Amazon.

Whistle 3 GPS Pet Tracker & Activity Monitor

We like to track our own activity, so it seems only natural we’d like to track our pets’ activity, too. With this tracker, you can keep up with what your pet has been doing. You simply attach it to your pet’s collar and harness, then set it up using your WiFi. You can create a “Place” your pet is meant to be, then receive an alert if your pet leaves that location. You can also see where your pet went over the course of the day. And, of course, it tracks other aspects of their activity, like their level of activity and the amount of rest they’re getting. All of these features make it possible to keep up with your pet’s health even if you’re away from home for a large part of the day. You can find this device on Amazon.

Dog Walk

With this app, you can track your pets while you’re with them. This app lets you keep track of the walks you take with your dogs. It tracks where you are, as well as how far and how long you walked. It shows you your route on a map so you can see where you went. And if you love taking millions of pictures of your pet (I know I do), you can use the built in camera. Also, you can track where and when your dog is relieving itself by adding the information in the app as you walk. This app is available for Android and iOS.

Tech Spotlight

Tech Spotlight

Hello again! It’s time for my Tech Spotlight. In this series, I scout out great tech-related finds and share them. Each week brings three new tech products you can find on Amazon right now. This week, I’m talking about a device for cyclists, a wireless keyboard, and a wi-fi enabled Roomba vacuum.

Have a look at this week’s items before heading over to Amazon for a closer look!

Beeline – Smart Compass Navigation for Bikes

Beeline is a product meant to make routes easier and more fun for cyclists. If you ride a bicycle, Beeline can improve your experience.

This item is a GPS device that helps you find routes and get from one point to another using one of its navigation styles. Cyclists can use Beeline to get a bicycle-friendly route to their destination. They can also choose to input their destination and use the device as a compass, letting it point cyclists in the right direction and find their own unique path.

Beeline attaches easily to a bike’s handlebar. It’s made to resist water and shocks, be easy to view in sunlight, and last quite a while on one charge (up to 30 hours when being used or a month when not in use). This means you can ride in just about any elements without worrying about the device.

This device works through its accompanying app. In the app, you can track rides and distance, add places to your favorites, share your information with other people, and more.

Beeline makes it easier to navigate on a bike with its small and easy to use device. If you bike, take a closer look at the details on Amazon!

UHURU Wireless Full-size Keyboard and Cordless Mouse

This keyboard and mouse from UHURU offers a different design and an easy, wireless way to use your device.

The keyboard does not feature the typical square or rectangular keys. Instead it uses rounded keys that are clearly separated from one another, making them comfortable and easy to use. They also make the keyboard look vaguely vintage, like old typewriters with rounded keys. And there are a dozen hotkeys for you to easily navigate to things you use regularly. The mouse is designed to be soft and comfortable while also lasting a significant length of time. It can also be used just fine without a mousepad, eliminating the need for one on your desk.

This keyboard and mouse use AA and AAA batteries. Battery life is extended through the product’s power-saving design that allows a year or more of use before needing new batteries. And the keyboard and mouse work with many different devices, including Macs and PCs.

If you’re in the market for a new or better keyboard and mouse, consider this pair from UHURU!

iRobot Roomba 690 Robot Vacuum with Wi-Fi Connectivity

If you’ve heard of Roomba, you likely already know quite a bit about how these small, roving vacuums work. But you might not know you can use wi-fi to control the vacuum from anywhere at any time.

This Roomba is designed to vacuum up all kinds of different things on your floors. It doesn’t just pick up small debris, it can also pick up larger things. It can tell when an area is especially dirty, as well, and go over the area more thoroughly. It works on carpets and hard flooring, and it even has a special brush to knock debris away from walls.

This wi-fi capable vacuum also connects well with smart devices. You can use the connected app to control the Roomba whenever you’d like. If you’re away from home and need to run the vacuum, you can do it right from your phone. You can also learn more about your Roomba’s activities through the app. And if you have a smart assistant like Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant, you can start the Roomba using a voice command.

The Roomba is a well-known and popular vacuum choice. Take a look at this wi-fi connected model on Amazon!

Tech Spotlight

Tech Spotlight

It’s that time again—time for Tech Spotlight! I’m keeping my eyes open to spot technology you should check out. In the Tech Spotlight, I describe three different products you can find on Amazon right now. This week, I’m talking about a helpful little clock, a showerhead speaker, and tech for better sleep. Have a look at what I’ve found before you add them to your Amazon cart!

Clocky, The Original Runaway Alarm Clock on Wheels

If you’re ever late to work or class because you slept in too late, Clocky is the answer. This clock makes it much harder to go back to sleep once the alarm has gone off.

Clocky’s concept is pretty straightforward, but it’s also a fantastic idea. Clocky has wheels that allow it to “run away.” If you hit the snooze button, Clocky will run away while beeping loudly at you. It can drop off of nightstands and roll across the floor. This means you’ll be forced to get out of bed if you don’t want to hear Clocky beeping insistently.

If you happen to have a day where snoozing is okay, you can also turn Clocky into a normal alarm clock by disabling its wheels. You can also customize it by deciding whether to allow some snoozing or disabling the snooze.

If you’re a habitual oversleeper who loves to hit the snooze button too much, check out Clocky and see how you can make it easier to force yourself awake in the morning!

KOHLER K-9245-0 2.5 GPM Moxie Showerhead and Wireless Speaker

This device is two products in one. Looking for a new showerhead? Want a speaker so you can sing along to music in the shower? Moxie does both.

As a showerhead, Moxie is meant to provide a good showering experience. Its full spray is achieved through its “60 angled nozzles,” meaning you won’t just get an unsatisfying trickle of water. You can also choose from five different colors, keeping it simple with white or making things lively with a bright blue, red, or one of the other color options. And the showerhead is just as easy to install as a typical showerhead; there’s no added difficulty just because it’s also a speaker.

The speaker uses a lithium-ion battery that’s built in, and it can be taken out of the showerhead for charging purposes. Bluetooth devices can connect to the speaker, and KOHLER promises as many as 7 hours of playing before the speaker needs to be charged again.

If you’re interested in getting a new showerhead, and if you don’t really want to take your Bluetooth speaker into the bathroom where it’ll get all steamed up, take a look at Moxie from KOHLER!

S+ By ResMed Personal Sleep Solution

If you think you could be getting a better night’s sleep than you are, you might want to look into a device like S+ By ResMed.

With this device, you can learn more about your sleeping habits and your surroundings. S+ uses its sensor to learn about your breathing patterns and movements as you sleep. It specifically focuses on your chest moving as you breathe in and out, as well as how (and how much) you move as you sleep. You don’t need to be touching the device, and you don’t need anything special for your bed. It just uses its sensor to gather information.

It also takes note of things like sounds, light, and temperature as you sleep. After it gathers all its information, it analyzes it and provides suggestions for better sleep. It can take into consideration your environment overnight and then suggest environmental changes that will improve sleep quality.

S+ from ResMed is a straightforward and easy way to learn about how you sleep. If you’d like to get a better night of sleep, learn more about the S+ on Amazon!

Apps & Smart Devices for Visual Impairment

Apps & Smart Devices for Visual Impairment

For many in the world of technology, improving lives has been a primary goal. As technology advances, there are more opportunities for people with disabilities to gain access to helpful devices, software, and services.

Recently, The Verge reported on the development of smart glasses that could help with visual impairment. With these smart glasses, someone could look at text and have that text read out loud to them. Smart glasses that could help with visual impairment have been discussed for some time, and these glasses could be another step in the right direction. Unfortunately, they’re not yet available. However, it goes to show that some tech companies are making a point to develop products for all.

Though these smart glasses aren’t really available yet, there are other ways to use current tech. One way people with visual impairment can make their lives a little easier is with the use of certain apps. More and more apps are being developed with the sole purpose of helping people who are blind or who have other difficulties with their vision.

Another area of tech that can be helpful for people with visual impairment is one that has been rapidly growing for years—smart devices, including smart speakers and devices that can be paired with them. With a smart speaker, a person who is blind can ask their smart assistant to read them the news, tell them the weather, get answers to questions, and more. They can also connect other devices, so they can ask the assistant to do things like adjust the thermostat or turn off a fan.

There are many different levels of visual impairment. Being visually impaired doesn’t necessarily mean someone is completely blind in the way you might think. There are varying degrees of visual impairment. Because of this, some people may want or need to use different tech than others. And there are so many different apps and products out there it might be difficult to even know what’s available.

What other technology is available?

This article is focusing specifically on apps and smart devices. However, there is plenty of tech that’s typically used by people with visual impairment. Here are just a few:

  • Screen readers (including touch screen readers)
  • Magnification software
  • Braille devices (like braille printers)
  • Text-to-speech software

Because there’s such a wide range of tech, this article will focus on some of the technology that is rapidly growing and offering many different options. New apps are being developed on a regular basis, and smart devices are getting better and better. So for this article, I’ll be skipping the other options listed above.

Apps

There are many different apps available to choose from. Some apps may be familiar, as they’re wildly popular and have become staples. However, some may be new or offer even better features than an app you already have. Here are some helpful apps!

  • Accessible Editor Talkback Pro (Android): This app works with Talkback, the service built into Android phones. It lets people read and edit documents, texts, Facebook content, and more.
  • Actiview Movie Access (iOS): This app helps people with visual impairment while they’re in the movie theater. While at the movies, you can choose which movie you’re watching and get audio description, louder audio, and much more.
  • Aipoly Vision (Android & iOS): This app is meant to help people identify what’s around them. Using your camera, it can be pointed at objects which it will identify out loud. It can work on objects, animals, colors, text, and more.
  • Arianna Navigation (iOS): Arianna is an app that works by interacting with your modified surroundings. After placing different-colored paths on your floors (with paint or tape), the app can use these paths to let people move around their home easily. It also works in other settings by using its navigation service.
  • Be My Eyes (Android & iOS): This app helps people with visual impairment identify objects and get help with their surroundings. People can use their camera to connect live with a volunteer. They can show the volunteer what they need help with (like identifying something) and the volunteer can give them the help they need.
  • Eyes-Free Fitness (iOS): With this app, people can maintain good health by keeping up with their exercise. Workouts are clearly described, making them easy to follow just by listening.
  • KNFB Reader (Android & iOS): This app lets people take photos of documents and have them read out loud. It can also connect with a braille display. There is a free trial, but after the trial ends, it will need to be purchased.
  • Nearby Explorer (iOS): This is a GPS app that more clearly describes surroundings. It has a map and can give directions, but it can also read out street signs and places that are nearby.
  • Seeing AI (iOS): Seeing AI is a Microsoft app that helps describe objects and surroundings. It can read text out loud, recognize peoples’ faces, describe scenes, recognize money, and describe photos, plus more.
  • TapTapSee (Android & iOS): This app is another intended to describe objects. After taking a photo, a description of what’s in the photo will be spoken out loud (using TalkBack or VoiceOver, depending on your device).
  • Voice Dream Reader (Android & iOS): This app is a customizable way to have documents, books, and other content read out loud. It can read from many different sources, including ebooks and PDFs, and people can choose from different voices, speeds, and more.

Smart devices

Smart devices are a great way for people with visual impairment to perform daily tasks more easily. Smart speakers have many helpful features built right in, and there are even more skills (or services) that can be added. And other smart devices, like smart bulbs and smart thermostats, can also be controlled easily. Here’s a rundown of some of the options in the world of smart devices!

Smart speakers

There are many different smart speakers on the market today. The options just keep growing. Smart speakers are convenient for anyone with an internet connection, but they can be especially helpful for someone with visual impairment. Four of the most popular choices are as follows:

  • Amazon Echo (and Echo Dot)—Amazon’s smart speakers are wildly popular. They use the voice assistant Alexa. They can perform all of the basic functions you would expect, like get the weather, find answers to your questions, and read you the news.
    You can also enable many other skills, as the skills store is fairly expansive. You can customize your news (your daily briefing) by enabling skills from other news sources. You can also find skills for many smart device companies, like WeMo and Nest. And there are plenty of other useful skills, as well as skills for entertainment and fun.
    The original Echo is a larger (and more expensive) device. The Echo Dot is a smaller, more inexpensive option. The only real difference of note is that the Echo Dot’s speaker is not as nice as the original Echo. If you want better sound quality (for music purposes), the Echo performs better than the Dot. Otherwise, though, the Dot is a great choice for a smart speaker, and it can even be connected to a different speaker if you really want better sound quality.
  • Google Home (and Home Mini)—Google’s smart speakers are also strong contenders. These devices use Google Assistant, which can also be found on many phones. It can do everything you’d expect, like provide the news, weather, and answers to whatever questions you have.
    There are also many third-party services that come with the Home or Home Mini. There are services for smart device companies, like Nest and Philips Hue. You can also hail a ride with Uber and order a pizza from Domino’s. There are also plenty of games and other entertainment options.
    Like the Echo and Echo Dot, the Home and Home Mini differ in size and shape. The Home is larger than the Home Mini, and it’s closer to a tube-shape, while the Mini is a small, slightly flat circle. Also like the Echo devices, the larger and more expensive device has better sound quality than the smaller cheaper option. You can connect the Home Mini with Chromecast, so if you want better sound quality for music, that’s a possibility. One thing both speakers do have in common is the ability to recognize different voices and perform tasks based on who’s requesting them. This is a very helpful feature if multiple people will regularly use the device.

These four smart speakers are definitely not the only ones out there. For a much more comprehensive look at available smart speakers, take a look at my article from February!

Household smart devices

There are many smart devices out there that can make daily tasks easier. Here are just a few things you can buy that will allow you to control them with an app or with your voice:

  • Door locks
  • Fridges
  • Lights
  • Security systems
  • Thermostats
  • TVs
  • Wall plugs
  • Washers and dryers

Using any of these devices, someone with visual impairment can likely use their smart speaker to control the device with their voice. If they can’t pair the device with their smart speaker, they can at least control the device with just their phone. This can make things incredibly convenient. Instead of getting up and going to the thermostat, someone can change the temperature with just their voice. For some product suggestions, see my article on the Internet of Things!

As a whole, smart devices can make life much easier for people with visual impairment. There are more new products coming out on a regular basis, and they keep getting better. With a smart speaker, someone can have books read out loud or get the bus schedule. With other smart devices, someone can control their home with their voice or an app. This tech is great for people with visual impairment.

Tech Spotlight

Tech Spotlight

It’s that time again—time for another Tech Spotlight! I’m on the watch for cool, fun, and helpful technology you can buy right now. Each week, I’m writing about three of the items I’ve found.

This week, I’m shining the spotlight on a 360-degree camera, a light for indoor plants, and a stress management device. Take a closer look at each item, then add it to your cart on Amazon!

Giroptic IO2-2K iO Pop HD 360 camera

This camera from Giroptic makes it easier to take 360-degree photos and videos with your smartphone. It’s available for Android and iOS, so whether you have a Galaxy or an iPhone, you can capture in 360 degrees.

iO Pop is pretty straightforward when it comes to setting up. You use the iO360 app to manage the device, and you simply plug the device into your phone using one of the included connectors. After you plug in the device, the app will open.

Photos are in 4K, while videos are in 2K. Photos and videos are stored on your device, and using the app, it’s easy to share them all on the social media platforms you use. You can also livestream—your 360-degree video can stream straight to Facebook, YouTube, or Periscope.

Though it is possible to create 360-degree content in less expensive ways, it can often be tricky, and the results aren’t always great. The iO Pop promises to be easy and provide good quality photos and videos. Check out more about the iO Pop on Amazon!

SimLife LED Plant Grow Light Kit

This pretty flower pot is a smart way to take care of your houseplants inside by providing them with all the “sunlight” they need.

The light kit from SimLife is an attractive white or pink basket-shaped flowerpot with an LED light. It’s meant to mimic sunlight so plants can get the light they need to survive and flourish. The light has 3 settings so you can choose what’s best for your environment. When the flowerpot is turned on, the light stays on at all times. When it’s set to auto, the sensor in the front of the flowerpot detects whether there’s enough light for the plant and turns the LED light on and off as needed. Off, of course, turns off the light.

This grow light kit is designed to be convenient. It plugs in to any USB port, even with low power. You can also use a DC adapter if you don’t want to stick with USB. You’re also able to take the soil pot out of the grow light pot, which makes it easier to remove, add to, or work with your plant. And the item even comes with a little watering pot for keeping plants hydrated.

If you like to keep indoor plants but have trouble keeping them in the sun, try out this grow light kit from SimLife!

Spire Stone: Stress Management and Activity Tracker

The Spire Stone is meant to help you stay aware of your stress and work to manage it.

This wearable device is attached to specific areas of your clothing and keeps track of your breathing and other activity. The device is always working to monitor your breathing and make sure your breathing patterns don’t suddenly change. When the Spire Stone detects stress indicated by a specific change in breathing, it gives a “gentle notification” so you can address the issue. It also keeps up with things like your steps and other activity.

Using the accompanying app, you can pause during times of stress and follow along with a guided meditation or with visual exercises. You can also look at your “breath-wave,” which shows you your breathing in real-time.

Spire Stone is designed to be as convenient as possible. Its battery can last up to 10 days, and when it needs to be charged, it’s placed on the wireless charging pad that comes included. It’s also “washer-proof,” meaning if you accidentally keep it attached to your clothing when you wash your laundry, it won’t be ruined.

If you’re dealing with stress and want to learn more about the Spire Stone, check it out on Amazon!

Tech Spotlight

Tech Spotlight

Welcome back to another installment of Tech Spotlight! Each week, I’m talking about cool and useful tech you should know about. This week, I’m putting a lifestyle tracker, soundbar, and wireless charger in the spotlight. Check them out, then make your purchases on Amazon!

Moov Now

This device is a visually pleasing and useful fitness tracker you wear on your wrist or ankle. Moov Now can help keep up with running, cycling, gym workouts, boxing, swimming—any exercise you might do.

With Moov Now, you get audio coaching as you make your way through your workout. It provides motivation and tells you the progress you’re making in real-time. It monitors activity and sleep, and it keeps track of a variety of types of exercises. It can go everywhere with you—it’s light, waterproof, and can last 6 months on its battery.

Your workouts are broken down with different statistics and pieces of information. Runners, cyclists, and swimmers can check out analytics from their workouts and learn how to improve. When running and walking, you can learn about your pace, technique, and more. When swimming, you can find out more about your lap times and turns. You can also follow along with boxing and body weight training tutorials.

There are many different fitness trackers on the market, but Moov Now looks great (especially with its various different colors), does a wide variety of things, and is incredibly affordable (at a little more than $50). Check it out on Amazon and purchase it for your exercise needs!

Anker PowerPort Wireless 5 Pad

Anker’s PowerPort wireless charger is a great choice for charging your iPhone, Galaxy, or other smartphone without plugging it in with a cord. The PowerPort Wireless 5 Pad is designed to make charging easier while maintaining safety.

This wireless charger works on a variety of phones. It’s primarily targeted at newer iPhones—like the iPhone 8 and iPhone X—but it works on other devices, like newer Galaxy models, Google Nexus 6, and others. When compared with standard chargers, this wireless charger can make charging a little bit quicker. It doesn’t compromise its safety standards when charging, either. It’s designed to meet safety standards, and it has temperature control that keeps it from overheating.

Anker’s wireless charger is also particularly nice because you can charge your phone without taking your phone case off. Unless you use a very thick (or metal) case, the charger will work fine. With some wireless chargers, you have to go through the sometimes tedious task of removing your case every time you want to charge, so this feature can save some time and hassle.

Having to plug and unplug your phone from a charging cord can be annoying. With a wireless charger, it becomes completely unnecessary. Take a closer look at Anker’s wireless charger and add it to your cart!

Samsung HW-M360 Soundbar with Wireless Subwoofer

This soundbar from Samsung is a great way to improve your home audio experience without breaking the bank. With high ratings and a comparatively low price, the Samsung HW-M360 Soundbar is a budget entertainment option.

The HW-M360 offers Dolby Digital sound with 2.1 Channel surround sound audio. It also comes with a wireless subwoofer. Many systems use wired subwoofers—being wireless means you can experience great bass after placing the subwoofer wherever works best for your home.

This soundbar also can connect to your devices and allows for easy control. If you have a Samsung TV, this soundbar can connect to it easily. It has Bluetooth, which offers a couple nice features: you can turn the soundbar on from your smartphone (or other Bluetooth-capable device), and you can stream music from those devices straight to the soundbar. You can also use Samsung’s app to control the soundbar further from a device. You can use the app to turn up the volume, customize your sound settings, and more.

Whether you have a Samsung TV or not, Samsung’s HW-M360 is a reasonably priced and well-reviewed home theater choice. If you’re in the market to improve your audio experience, learn more about the soundbar on Amazon before making your purchase!

Tech Spotlight

Tech Spotlight

Hello, and welcome to the newest Tech Spotlight! This week, I’m continuing to highlight some of the tech that’s caught my eye and raised my interest. Like every week, the items I’ve found are cool, fun, incredibly useful, or all of the above.

The items I’ve found this week are an Echo Dot accessory, a TV touchscreen projector, and a solar light. Take a look at what I’ve found, then head on over to Amazon to take a closer look and add them to your cart!

The Spot by Dot Genie

The Spot is an accessory you’ll want if you have an Echo Dot or one of more than half a dozen other small speakers. This accessory allows you to keep your speaker at the ready while mounting it out of the way.

The Spot is a speaker holder that mounts your speaker using your outlet. You place your speaker in the holder, which holds it in with small tabs, then plug it into a wall outlet through the mount’s designated spot. This allows you to have your speaker mounted on the wall instead of taking up space on the countertop or desk. They’ve also designed the mount to prevent sound from being muffled.

This accessory also helps eliminate some clutter. You use your speaker’s plug, but the Spot comes with its own shorter cord that connects to the plug and makes things less messy. This accessory can plug into vertical or horizontal plugs. It’s also designed to avoid blocking the outlet above it, so it only takes up one space.

Speakers like the Echo Dot are small and convenient, but they can be even more convenient with an accessory like the Spot. It comes in five different colors, so check it out and choose the colors you need for each room!

Touchjet WAVE Android Tablet Virtual Touchscreen TV System Projector

This is a product you’ll want if you work with others in meetings, run a classroom, or want to use a smart device with the whole family. The Touchjet WAVE can turn your flat screen TV or monitor into a giant touchscreen device.

The WAVE attaches to the top of any flat screen TV or monitor (up to 65”) and projects a touchscreen down onto it. It uses the Android operating system, and it comes preinstalled with some apps already, including some games and a Chrome browser. You can then add more apps that you want.

This device works well in many different situations. It allows people to work together—everyone can easily touch the screen, unlike using a regular tablet. Using the accompanying app, everyone can share what they’re looking at on their devices. And it can be fun for a family, because you can all play games together on the large touchscreen. It also makes it easier to stream your shows, because you can add your favorite streaming apps to the WAVE instead of having to use a separate device.

Whether it’s at home, at the office, or in a classroom, the WAVE can be a fun or incredibly useful addition. Learn more about how it works, then add it to your cart!

Sun King Pico Portable Solar Lantern

This small lamp makes it possible to stay well-lit in the outdoors or at home without any plugs or batteries. The Portable Solar Lantern is a small solar-powered lantern with a sturdy stand.

The lantern is a small, round, yellow lamp that comes with a detachable base. It’s solar-powered, with its charging area located on the back of the lamp. You can leave the lamp on the base to charge it, or you can detach the lamp and easily set it in any windowsill to let it charge while you’re not using it.

The lamp is convenient in many ways. You can get up to 70 hours of use from the lamp with a full charge. It also has three brightness settings—low, normal, and turbo. It’s light, weighing only 150 grams (which, for comparison, is just slightly heavier than a baseball). And it’s water resistant and durable, so you don’t have to worry about breaking it during a camping trip.

Even if you’re not on-the-go or in the great outdoors, this solar lantern is a small battery- and cord-free way to add some light to your home. Head over to Amazon to take a closer look!

The Battle of the Smart Speakers

The Battle of the Smart Speakers

Over the past few years, you’ve likely heard more and more about smart assistants and smart speakers. Amazon’s Echo and Echo Dot have been particularly heavily advertised. This is no surprise, since the Echo is what really launched this current boom of smart speakers.

You might be thinking the Echo is the only real contender in the smart speaker race. If that’s the case, you might be surprised to learn there are actually quite a few smart speakers on the market. If you’re interested in buying your own smart assistant-enabled speaker, keep reading for the info you need to narrow down your options.

What I mean by ‘smart speaker’

You might be wondering what a smart speaker actually is. Technically, there are many different kinds of speakers that could be considered smart speakers. There are plenty of speakers out there that do more than the typical old-school speaker.

However, when I talk about smart speakers in this article, I’m referring to a specific type of smart speaker. This is a speaker that has a built-in virtual assistant. These smart speakers can usually be controlled by voice and by app. You can ask them questions, have them perform virtual tasks, and of course, play music through them.

Who are the smart assistants?

Smart speakers come with smart assistants (or virtual assistants) ready to respond to your requests. Here are the smart assistants I’ll mention again later in this article:

  • Alexa—This assistant comes from Amazon. Alexa comes ready to do all sorts of things, including answer questions, make jokes, play music, give a weather forecast, make calls, and more. She can then be personalized by enabling additional skills that let her do a wide variety of other things.
  • Cortana—Microsoft developed this assistant. You might have heard Cortana on your Windows 10 computer or a Windows phone. Cortana can do all the basic things like answer questions (using Bing search results), create reminders, and give the current weather. She also now has third-party skills available to expand her capabilities.
  • Google Assistant—Naturally, Google offers this assistant. You can access Google Assistant through many different devices, including quite a few Google and Android phones. The Assistant can answer questions, create alarms, make purchases, change settings, and more. You can also enable third-party apps that expand your Assistant’s possibilities.
  • Siri—You likely already knew the name of Apple’s smart assistant. Siri has been available for quite some time through devices like the iPhone. Siri can do all the basics, like answer questions, set reminders, change settings, and more. She can also send messages and make calls. You can also enable some apps to work with Siri.

What options are there?

There are a few main smart speakers that are typically considered the frontrunners—the best of the best. However, some others are coming up against the competition to give consumers more options.

This is not a full, completely definitive list of smart speakers. But the 9 smart speakers listed below are some of the most popular, recent, and talked about options. Keep in mind there are many more features available on each speaker, not just the handful I mention!

Amazon Echo

Ratings: 8.1/10 CNET, 4.5/5 PC Mag
What it is: A smart speaker with Alexa—from the people who created Alexa.
Some key features:

  • Built in Alexa, a well-received and popular assistant
  • Good sound quality from the 2.5” woofer & 0.6” tweeter with Dolby
  • 7 microphones that help the Echo hear and understand from a distance and in noisy places
  • Multiple wake words to choose from (“Alexa,” “Computer,” or “Echo”)
  • Style options, with 6 colors to pick from
  • Connects to Bluetooth and has an audio output
  • 4 buttons on top: action, volume up, volume down, microphone off
  • Also works through the Alexa app (for Android & iOS)

Price: $99.99

Amazon Echo Dot

Ratings: 9.5/10 CNET, 4/5 PC Mag
What it is: The smaller version of Amazon’s Alexa-enabled smart speaker.
Some key features:

  • Built in Alexa, a well-received and popular assistant
  • Small and easy to place anywhere without taking up much space
  • 7 microphones that help the Echo hear and understand from a distance and in noisy places
  • Multiple wake words to choose from (“Alexa,” “Computer,” or “Echo”)
  • Connects to Bluetooth and has an audio output, so you can improve sound quality by connecting to another Bluetooth speaker
  • 4 buttons on top: action, volume up, volume down, microphone off
  • Also works through the Alexa app (for Android & iOS)

Price: $49.99

Apple HomePod

Ratings: 8/10 CNET, 3.5/5 PC Mag
What it is: Apple’s smart speaker with their popular voice assistant Siri integrated. This smart speaker is set up by using an iOS device like an iPhone or iPad.
Some key features:

  • Built in Siri, Apple’s well-known smart assistant
  • Good sound quality from its high-excursion woofer and 7 tweeters
  • Visually stylish, with a mesh exterior
  • Intelligent sound, with the ability to hear from across a room and through noises, as well as change its sound based on where you are at the time
  • 6 available controls on top of the device: play/pause, next track, previous track, volume up, volume down, Siri

Price: $349

Google Home

Ratings: 8.3/10 CNET, 3.5/5 PC Mag
What it is: Google’s smart speaker with their Google Assistant built in.
Some key features:

  • Built in Google Assistant
  • Connects with Chromecast
  • Uses Voice Match to recognize who’s speaking and perform tasks appropriately
  • Works like a Bluetooth speaker, so you can connect other devices
  • Multi-colored lights on top indicate what the Home is doing
  • Responds to touch: mute, wake the Assistant, play/pause, change volume

Price: $99

Google Home Mini

Ratings: 8.2/10 CNET, 3.5/5 PC Mag
What it is: The smaller version of Google’s smart speaker with Google Assistant.
Some key features:

  • Built in Google Assistant
  • Style options, with 3 different colors
  • Small and easy to place anywhere
  • Connects with Chromecast
  • Uses Voice Match to recognize who’s speaking and perform tasks appropriately
  • Works like a Bluetooth speaker, so you can connect other devices
  • Dots on top indicate what the Home Mini is doing
  • Responds to taps: change volume, start/stop, mute

Price: $39

Harman Kardon Invoke

Ratings: 7.3/10 CNET, 2/5 PC Mag
What it is: The first smart speaker with Microsoft’s Cortana built in.
Some key features:

  • Built in Cortana
  • 360° sound from its 3 woofers, 3 tweeters, and 2 passive radiators
  • Connected Skype for voice calling
  • 7 microphones and multiple technologies to hear commands from all directions and in noisy environments
  • Touchpad on top for touch controls
  • Lights indicate when Cortana is responding

Price: $99.95

JBL Link 20

Ratings: 8.2/10 CNET, 4/5 PC Mag
What it is: A Google Assistant-enabled smart speaker from speaker and electronics company JBL.
Some key features:

  • Built in Google Assistant
  • Recognizes commands from across the room with its far-field voice recognition
  • Connects with Bluetooth so you can play audio from other devices
  • Battery powered and portable—its battery can last up to 10 hours
  • Waterproof and durable
  • Built in Chromecast connection so you can cast to the Link 20

Price: $149.95

Sonos One

Ratings: 8.7/10 CNET, 4/5 PC Mag
What it is: A smart assistant from electronics company Sonos, with Alexa built in (and Google Assistant coming soon).
Some key features:

  • Built in Alexa
  • Wide variety of music services available to connect (including Amazon Music and Pandora)
  • 6 microphones that help the One hear commands from a distance and over noise
  • Built for good sound quality using Class-D amplifiers
  • Touch controls on top: volume up, volume down, skip, mute
  • Moisture resistant
  • LEDs on top to indicate the One’s status

Price: $199 or two for $349

Sony LF-S50G

Ratings: Not available on CNET or PC Mag
What it is: Sony’s smart speaker with built-in Google Assistant.
Some key features:

  • Built in Google Assistant
  • 360° sound and a speaker with a two-stage diffuser & bass reflex duct
  • Bluetooth connectivity so you can listen to music from other devices
  • Responds to touchless gestures—wave to change the volume
  • Volume adjustment that automatically changes volume based on sound in the room
  • Splash-proof
  • Digital clock on the side of the speaker
  • LEDs to display what the speaker is doing

Price: $199.99

Don’t forget…

This article gave some of the basics you need to know when choosing your smart speaker. Take a closer look at the speakers you’re most interested in to see even more about their features!

Tech Spotlight

Tech Spotlight

Welcome back to our Tech Spotlight, where you can find cool new tech! Every week I’m telling you all about my newest tech finds, from tech accessories to apps to smart devices. All of these items can be found on Amazon, so hopefully you have your Prime account ready to go. This week, I’m showcasing a Bluetooth car transmitter, cooking device, and stylus. Happy shopping!

ZOETOUCH FM Transmitter Bluetooth Car Kit

This transmitter from ZOETOUCH makes it easier to listen to your music of choice while you’re in your car. On top of that, you can take hands-free calls and even charge your devices.

The car kit offers four ways to play music through the transmitter. You can connect via Bluetooth and have your music play over the FM radio. Or you can plug a flash drive into the transmitter, plug an MP3 player in with a cable, or play music from a TF or micro SD card.

You can also use the transmitter’s LCD display and microphone to see who’s calling and answer hands-free. The device is flexible, so you can move it to point in your direction as it’s plugged into your car’s cigarette lighter. And it has two USB ports for charging your other devices, as well.

If listening to the radio just isn’t good enough anymore, or if you want an easy way to take calls in the car, give ZOETOUCH’s Car Kit a look!

ChefSteps Joule Sous Vide

The ChefSteps Joule is a cooking device for anyone, including people with smart devices. This sous vide machine is a high-tech way to cook in any home.

With Joule, you can cook sous vide in a precise and convenient way. All you need to cook is a pot, water, a Ziploc bag, your phone, and the Joule. Sous vide involves cooking food in a water bath at a particular temperature, which the Joule manages nicely. Using the app on your phone, you can maintain the proper water temperature. Just place the Joule, with its magnetic base, in the pan and control everything with the Joule app.

The Joule also makes it easy to control how you cook. You can use the app’s “Visual Doneness” feature to see what food will look like, and you can also find cooking guides in the app. Making things even easier, you can control the Joule with just your voice—if you have Alexa. Joule can be controlled through its Alexa skill, so you don’t even have to pick up your phone to cook with the machine.

If you already have a sous vide machine, the Joule is a small, durable, and smart choice for an upgrade. If you aren’t already cooking sous vide, try out the Joule for precise cooking!

Gouler Active Stylus Digital Pen

This stylus from Gouler makes the Tech Spotlight because of its great reviews, ease of use, and fine point. Many styluses are large and rounded, and they sometimes don’t pair well with every device. This stylus is the answer to those problems.

Gouler’s Digital Pen has a copper tip that won’t wear out, and its point is much smaller than the typical stylus (just 1.6mm). It works with most devices, including most iPads, iPhones, Samsung devices, and more. The Digital Pen is an active stylus, which means it is an electronic device, unlike the passive stylus, which isn’t electronic and simply works like a finger pressing on the screen.

This product comes with a USB cord for charging the pen before use. After a full charge, the Digital Pen can work for up to 10 hours. It has LEDs to show when charging is complete—during charging, the LED will be red, and once it’s fully charged, the LED will turn blue.

Gouler’s Digital Pen is a great choice to replace your passive stylus, whether you’re drawing or writing on your device. Check out their active stylus for a better writing experience!