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Shuddle Rideshare Service For Families (Discount Code!)

Disclosure: Sponsored post. See below for special Shuddle discount code for Techmamas readers!

 

Shuddle

One of the biggest challenges for families is the minute by minute, ever-changing scheduling of driving kids to and from school, after school activities and everything in between. With a mix of minimum days, school holidays, after school activities, homework, sick days, sports and medical appointments, no two days are the same. Assembling a weekly transportation schedule is like putting together one of those 1,000 piece puzzles, and while I’m a master project planner (My Parent Plan), scheduling can be a challenge.

 

I decided several years ago to work out of the home for several reasons, including the flexibility to drive my kids around. Now that my three boys are getting older and I can keep track of their location by calling their phones, I feel the time is right to go back to working outside the home.  As I am planning this transition I realize the biggest challenge is transportation for my tween sons (twins). Several of my friends confirmed that they, too, have the same problem.

 

Shuddle

Photo credit: Shuddle

 

When Shuddle contacted me to work together on a (disclosure) sponsored post, I said, “How did you know that I have been looking into transportation options?”  The fact they contacted me happened to be a coincidence because I had independently planned to try their service. Shuddle is a rideshare service designed specifically to transport busy families with drivers that have caregiver experience. They undergo an extensive verification process (national criminal background checks, motor vehicle records check, employer reference checks,  in-person training and vehicle inspection), plus live monitoring and support for every ride.  I started my transportation hunt by looking into hiring a driver on my own, but the verification process was complicated and some information was hard to find. Shuddle’s verification process is a huge benefit.

 

The steps to start using Shuddle and scheduling a ride are straightforward.  The flexibility of having  until midnight to book a ride for the next day is helpful.  One key requirement is that riders must have a mobile phone in order for drivers to reach them. Even if your kids don’t currently have phones, there are a great selection of budget basic prepaid phones that have the ability to call and text. All of my kids started out with those types of phones anyway. Shuddle currently operates in the San Francisco Bay Area (Marin, Berkeley, Oakland, San Francisco, Burlingame, San Jose, Palo Alto, Menlo Park and Mountain View).

 

Shuddle Mobile App

Photo credit: Shuddle

 

Shuddle has an iOS and an Android app to enable managing and scheduling rides easily on the go.

 

As much as the transportation features offer great value, I also appreciate the flexible employment opportunities Shuddle is providing to women. Here are some of the interesting facts about  Shuddle:

  • “Shuddle has given thousands of rides and has a community of more than 200 female drivers, 80% of which are mothers themselves.
  • In contrast to other companies garnering praise for having 30% of their workforce composed of women (Lyft), Shuddle’s  community of all women drivers is unprecedented.
  • Shuddle is one of the only companies in which women are at the forefront of the ride sharing economy and is proud to be presenting an economic opportunity for them.
  • To make money with other rideshares, you really need to drive Friday and Saturday nights, and so there are understandably concerns about safety. That isn’t the case with Shuddle and whose value proposition speaks strongly  to women.
  • Shuddle rides can be scheduled by midnight the day before, giving drivers the opportunity to know who they are driving before they get in their car.
  • There are no late-night rides or rides with potentially threatening customers, etc.

 

***********DISCOUNT OFFER TO TECHMAMAS READERS***************************

 

If you would like to try Shuddle, use the code TECHMAMAS to have one free ride up to $20 in value

 

To sign up, CLICK HERE to load either the Shuddle iOS or Android Shuddle app.

 

To learn more about Shuddle (such as passenger requirements, driver screening and the ride experience), visit: http://shuddle.us.

 

 

Disclosure: Sponsored post. My words are my own.

 

 

 

 

On The Go With ZAGG Pocket Bluetooth Keyboard

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. See Giveaway details below.

 

Now that smartphones have features above and beyond making simple voice calls, they have become the top “on the go” device. From productivity, notes, creativity (photo’s, videos), communication, calenders, business documents, music and socializing and more – the smartphone is our own personal assistant that we have with us at all times. While phone touch keyboards are getting more sophisticated, typing is a challenge I could not seem to overcome. I typed short texts easily and quickly, but when it came to typing sentences or longer notes – I could not get my fingers to move fast enough…. Or I made all sorts of typing mistakes.. Or my hand felt cramped and uncomfortable. When ZAGG contacted me to create a video and giveaway about their new Pocket wireless Bluetooth keyboard, I was excited that to find a solution for my on the go typing challenges!

 

The ZAGG Pocket wireless Bluetooth keyboard an “easy, on-the-go solution for smartphone typing.” The keyboard is 85% of the size of a desktop keyboard so typing is more natural and it folds between the lines of keys to preserve comfortable key spacing.

 

Zagg Pocket Keyboard

Photo Credit: ZAGG

 

 

The keyboard folds into a 9” X 2.5” X .5” rectangle, which is a design I have not seen before in mobile keyboards.  Battery life is maintained automatically when you fold the keyboard, activated by magnets when closed. The built in stand holds smartphones and small tablets (around  7″). But I did use it for a regular iPad and it worked fine. The Pocket Keyboard connects via Bluetooth, which means it can connect to Apple, Android or Windows devices.

 

 

ZAGG Pocket Keyboard Side

Photo Credit: ZAGG

 

 

One of the best features is the battery life: the lithium polymer battery lasts up to two years of regular use* (*around one hour per day) between charges. That means I can charge it and then just store it in my purse without needing to recharge it for a long time! The convenience of the ZAGG Pocket keyboard is great for busy professionals – especially busy parents -because it means there is one less thing you need to remember to pack up each day.

 

ZAGG Pocket Keyboard

 

For example, I just recently attended a Women in Growth Marketing event in San Francisco. I barely got dinner on the table, kids situated with homework and the sitter set up for the night when I had to rush out the door to drive to San Francisco (one hour drive from my house). When I arrived and sat down, I panicked at first because I forgot my laptop and wanted to type notes. Then I remembered I had the ZAGG Pocket Keyboard; it was so light I forgot it was in my purse at all. The Pocket Keyboard along with my smartphone was all I needed to take notes during the meeting. Now I have an on the go typing solution that is always with me, so I can take notes whenever I need!

 

Below is a video where I show the ZAGG Pocket keyboard in action:

 

 

Even more exciting is that I have the opportunity to give one ZAGG Pocket Bluetooth keyboard away to one of my lucky readers. Here are the giveaway details (open from April 15 to April 20).  Because the giveaway starts on April 15 – maybe it can even be inspiration to start keeping tax notes on the go for next tax year.
 
*Note: Giveaway is closed. Winner was @SahmReviews
 
 
 
Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. All my opinions are my own.
 
For more information on the ZAGG Pocket keyboard check out their website, Twitter and Facebook.
 
 

 

How To: Mobile Photo Printing and MyPrintly.com Photo Crafts

I have always open about the dichotomy of being equally tech savvy and craft challenged. Even looking at the beautiful crafts on Pinterest makes me hyper ventilate..When I took the time to understand what caused my advanced state of craft issues, I realized that I just need simple steps to follow. Of course, when those steps involve technology that helps automate some steps, even better! When I was asked by MyPrintly.com (disclosure: my client) to create some videos with steps on how to use the HP Envy Printer to print from iOS and Android mobile devices, I jumped at the chance. Not only would I get the opportunity to do what I love (figuring out how to use technology) but also give myself the challenge of using the technology to do crafts..

 

Photo Crafts MyPrintly.com and Mobile Printing HP Printer

 

Well, not only did it help me start enjoying the art of crafting – but I can’t wait to create more photo crafts (I can’t believe I said that)..  

 

Below are video’s that show how to print from an iOS and Android device to an HP Printer  I used this amazing videographer and editor (my son Ben Blecherman). The videos include the steps we did to create our own version of the Photo Balloon Party Decoration craft I found on MyPrintly.com.

 

Step 1: Get Supplies:

MyPrintly.com Photo CraftsTo gather supplies I went to my local party supply store for balloons, a fun weight for the balloons (I picked a blue metallic party box style) and place card holder that I could put into the balloon weight. It does not really matter what the bottom looks like because it will be placed in the balloon weight.  I could only find heart place card holders in the wedding area of my supply shop, so I used them. Bigger party stores and online party sites may have basic place card holders that you can buy in packs of 6 or 12 at a time (to save money).  We made sure the balloon ribbons where long enough to also tape pictures onto the strings. The last supply was HP 4×6 Photo paper that we found at our local office supply store (but that can also be ordered online).

 

 

 

Step 2: Print Photos and Assemble Photo Craft:
 
I used the wireless features of my HP Envy Printer and my smartphone to send photos to the printer. Then we just placed the photos in the place card holder and taped photos the ribbons of the balloon.  Printing from my mobile phone saved time and enabled me to have more flexibility on the location of where I was printing. The video’s below show how to do the photo craft and mobile printing from an iOS or Android phone.  There is also a guest surprise appearance from our lovable Henry the Hamster.. Of course, he was the star of the show!

 

Mobile Printing with Harry the Hamster TechMamas.com

 

How To: Mobile Printing from iOS Device to HP Printer

 

 

 

How To: Mobile Printing from Android Device to HP Printer

 
 

 

What photo crafts do you want to try?

 

For more photo craft ideas check out MyPrintly.com   Here is the link to the for Photo Balloon Party Decoration craft found on MyPrintly.com.

 

Disclosure: MyPrintly sponsored the videos. Products were supplied for video production. This post is NOT sponsored, I am just sharing the crafting fun….

 

 

 

Trend Update: Are Digital Consumers Happy With Smart #Tech Devices?

What factors and usability issues need to be overcome for consumers to adopt technology?
 
 

User Experience Smart DevicesI have a simplistic attitude towards consumer technology that stems from my background in programming, database design, usability testing and technical project management: the device have a good interface and fit in the workflow of my daily life. This sounds easy but in reality has been my biggest challenge. I have experienced usability challenges on everything from smart watches that are not smart, which this BGR blog post documents very well, to smart devices, which  TechCrunch also identifies as a usability mess. As pointed out by Fast Company, Millennials are looking for personal technology to be meaningful and impactful. “This is the thing which is now scarce, because when we can easily acquire anything, the question becomes, ‘What do we do with this?’ The value now lies in the doing.”

 

With IoT (Internet of Things) being one of the top buzzwords connecting smart consumer electronics, are customers today able to fully utilize ” the ability to connect devices, systems, and services covering a variety of protocols, domains, and applications” with interfaces that are user friendly? If not, what factors and usability issues need to be overcome for consumers to adopt this technology?

 

Common Set Of Protocols?

 

 

One factor challenging personal technology adoption is the lack of a common set of protocols for new smart device infrastructure and platforms. Smart watches, for example, can communicate to apps and other connected devices such as smart phones – but via different operating systems such as iOS (Apple) and Android.

 

 

Belkin WEMO Home Automation

Photo credit: Belkin

 

Many smart systems use Bluetooth, WiFi and wireless (such as 3G, 4G) but have their own apps and connected devices. For example, Belkin WeMo Home automation has multiple home device sensors and apps including connected crock pots and coffee pots, Phillips (Hue) has a smart lighting system and Nest has smart thermostats. Examples of companies that have frameworks for communicating and controlling connected devices in the home include Control 4, and Apple with HomeKit. At CES, I learned about both the Zwave alliance, which is a wireless communication technology and Zigbee which is an wireless open standards based solution controlled by the ZigBee Alliance.

 

 

Zigbee IoT Smart Home Automation

Photo Credit: Zigbee.org

 

 

Verge reported that “Today, the A4WP and PMA have signed a preliminary agreement to each adopt the other’s technologies, effectively merging into a single wireless standard. That leaves Qi as the only other competitor.“ But the Qi Standard is being used now by many smart devices including Ikea that just announced a furniture line that utilizes Qi wireless charging. Even though Ikea earns points in my eyes by incorporating wireless charging design, the usability is a different challenge. As Wired points out, “The biggest problem is that it’s (wireless charging)  been kind of kludgy…..wireless charging is arguably less convenient at this stage than faster charging, and wireless accessories can’t match the amps or speeds of some modern wired components.”

 

Data and Diagnostics?

 

The next factor: diagnostics and data.. In an NPR article Alexis Madrigal  explained “… diagnostics are only one part of what data will do for these household objects. The other thing is that tracking data at least offers the opportunity to optimize a routine“.  Smart devices will really show their power in helping our daily lives when they can take the data they gather, diagnose to improve our situation and then make suggestions or even adjustments on the data analysis.

 

Product Design?

 

Another factor is product design.  For example, while the Apple Watch is being advertised with a 2 page spread in Vogue, a fashion expert interviewed on Fast Company said it looked like a “computer on your wrist”.  Another Fast Company article pointed out that the current reports explain that the Apple Watch could have a battery problem because the charge only lasts 2.5 hours. I tested out a smartwatch that I saw at CES 2015 that had a watch battery that lasted up to six months, but the interface did not seem user friendly. I have yet to review a smartwatch that has a good interface and battery life (but I am hopeful and will keep testing).

 

After reviewing consumer devices for years I found that very few passed my personal usability standards even though many had a great technology features. This is why I started turning down opportunities to review products where I felt I would be spending more time beta testing usability than actually taking the product for a test drive. The graveyard of failed smart devices in my office is used as props by my kids when filming homemade superhero movies.

 

The Big Secret (unveiled):

 

The big secret discussed by technology journalists every time we get together is that while we use the newest technology for our work, we have not fully implemented the newest technology in our personal lives because of problems with usability. So I wondered: Are technology journalists the only ones frustrated by consumer technology usability issues?

 

The Answer:  Consumers Reporting Problems With Smart Devices

 

The answer recently became clear to me at the opening press event of the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show where Accenture was sharing their recent research on today’s digital consumer. Their report hit the nail on the head, describing what I have been thinking for years: There is a usability problem in consumer electronics, devices and apps which is affecting consumer adoption and longevity.

 

Technology User Experience Problems

 

 

EXCERPT FROM ACCENTURE REPORT “Engaging the Digital Consumer in the New Connected World.”
 
“Most Consumers Encounter Challenges Using New Types of High Tech Devices, Accenture Survey Finds.  NEW YORK; Jan. 5, 2015 – Most consumers experience challenges using several new types of smart high tech devices, according to a new report from Accenture titled Engaging the Digital Consumer in the New Connected World.
 
Overall, 83 percent report various problems when they use new device types such as wearable fitness monitors, smart watches, smart home thermostats, in-vehicle entertainment systems, home connected surveillance cameras and security systems, and wearable health products. The biggest challenges consumers face are that the smart devices are “too complicated to use” (21 percent), “set-up did not proceed properly” (19 percent), and “did not work as advertised” (19 percent).
 
“For these new connected device categories, high tech companies need to go back to the drawing board and rethink their product development approaches to focus on the entire customer experience,” said Sami Luukkonen, managing director for Accenture’s Electronics and High Tech group. “They should make fundamental strategic changes that no longer focus on product feature differentiation but rather holistic, digital experience differentiation.”
 
Accenture’s annual consumer survey, extensively researched with responses from approximately 24,000 consumers in 24 countries covers both emerging and developing global markets. Their methodology took into account the fact that the online population starts at age 14 (sometimes younger) and demographics were  split male/female across all age groups.”
 
I had the opportunity to discuss the report with John Curran, managing director for Accenture’s Communications, Media, and Technology group. He viewed the consumer devices and the consumer Internet of Things (IOT) as a significant and central theme of CES that raises important technology adoption questions:
 

  • What are people expecting and what are companies delivering?
  • What does it takes for these new devices to be adopted and used loyally?
  • How important are in vehicle entertainment, fitness monitors, home surveillance systems, smart thermostats and smart watches to the electronics consumer?
  • What factors are most important to consumers when they are making purchase  decisions?

 

In their survey, Accenture asked users of connected consumer devices to describe their experience. The findings indicated overall ownership in the low single digits for some leading technology. Overall, these owners are early adopters, the most tech savvy of all consumers. They are also the ambassadors for mainstream product adoption, sharing their opinion with others, stating, “You need to try this”, “It is amazing” or “I have to hold off…”

 

Results from the Accenture survey demonstrate that the most important product benefit to consumers is ease of use (more than features and functionality). Consumers readily see the product’s value and potential but need help developing confidence that the product can be easily used. While the tech industry focuses on features, customers desire a seamless, easy to use set of capabilities.

 

In the survey, only 17% said they did not experience challenges in using devices. As mentioned above, this means that 83% of consumers are experiencing challenges. The encouraging news from this  Accenture survey is that even with these challenges many early adopters have future plans to buy smart devices:
 
In the next 12 months:
 

  • 12% of consumers plan to buy a wearable fitness monitor, rising to 40 percent within 5 years.
  • 12% of consumers intend to buy a smartwatch, rising to 41 percent within 5 years.
  • Other the next 5 years:
  • 41% have strong purchase interest for connected home devices including home connected surveillance cameras and security systems
  • 39% plan to purchase smart thermostats
  • 37% have interest in connected car entertainment systems
  • 35% have interest in buying home 3D printers and wearable heads-up display glasses

 
Here are some of the other findings discussed with John Curran, managing director for Accenture’s Communications, Media, and Technology group:
 

    • Even more troubling is that most of their complaints reflected on the ‘out of box” experience:  21% said the product was too complicated to use, 19% said setup did not proceed properly, 19% responded that the product did not work as advertised and 19% could not connect to internet. Right out of the box, consumers faced disappointment that jeopardized product adoption. That created a high barrier for them to promote or recommend the product to others.

 

    • With IOT (Internet of Things), the consumer’s expectation is that product, hardware, software and services will work together seamlessly across a broad intersection of devices. Companies who have been successful with one element of the solution now need to focus across multiple technology competencies. For example, it used to be good enough to produce a great TV. Now that most new TVs are connected, product manufacturers need to connect to the clouds managed by several different content providers as well as support Bluetooth connections to wireless speakers, and streaming content from various companies. Product design has become more complex in order to deliver that seamless experience desired by consumers. Companies need to go back to drawing board and create products that work in this seamless world. They need to rethink engineering, hardware, software and user interface to deliver a consumer-driven out of box experience and ongoing product usability throughout the product life cycle that encourages interaction and connection.

 

  • To do this, there are three sales factors to consider. First is “relevance”, accomplished through branding and marketing campaigns in order to create product awareness. Second is “inspiration”, resulting in the “I gotta have it” attitude. The third factor is “confidence” convincing the customer that the product is easy to use and will deliver on promises made during the sales process.

 

If 83% of early adopters are experiencing product problems then do you need to fix it? And what do you fix?  Products must work within a company’s internal parameters (product and services) as well as broader industry infrastructure (protocols, API’s, platform requirements). Companies should determine their most important qualities and out of the box experiences to “delight consumers” and what can they enhance over time.  Products should also not only work within current trends, such as wearables, but look ahead to solve complex problems (such as wearables that can save lives) and incorporate user friendly interfaces.
 
Smartwatch TechMamasI recently bought a Samsung S5 Active smartphone because it was water resistant, tough (I already dropped it multiple times and it survived) and has an accelerometer, gyroscope, barometer and heart rate monitor for fitness apps. Then I bought the connected Gear Fit to experience a smartwatch in my own busy daily schedule. While the Gear Fit was helpful to show the time and when I am getting calls and texts on my watch (except when I am driving, then it is annoying), the step and calorie tracking pedometer did not match with my other fitness apps on my phone. The fitness tracker’s step tracking features also did not work if I am riding a bike because the motion tracking is based on my wrist. I did see some exciting new smartwatches at CES 2015 that have solutions around my smartwatch issues, but then I also read that Samsung did not announce a new watch at Mobile World Congress 2015 because they are going back to the drawing board to develop the perfect “smartwatch”.
 
Maybe companies are getting the hint that product design and “re-design” with user feedback is important? What do you think?

 

 

The articles linked to in my post are curated on my Tech: User Experience Magazine on Flipboard
View my Flipboard Magazine.

 

Lenovo #CES2015 Showcase Tour

At CES 2015 this year we were excited to attend a lunch organized by Techlicious.com  and work on a sponsored project to share all of the announcements for Lenovo at CES 2015. I have been following Lenovo’s products with great interest after I saw their first Yoga Laptop come out years ago with multiple form factors ranging folded up as a tablet to a laptop with a keyboard and screen upright.  This flexibility is an important feature I look for in devices so I was excited to hear their new 2015 announcements.

 

The first announcement was that Lenovo is celebrating the milestone of 100 million ThinkPads sold.   The next announcements at the Lenovo CES 2015 showcase included the new Yoga convertibles, tablets, mobile devices and accessories. We had the opportunity for a tour that we captured on video:

To add more details of the products discussed during the Lenovo showcase tour, here are some of the key announcements from the Lenovo CES 2015 press releases:

 

 

YOGA Tablet 2 family announced in Fall 2014:

The YOGA Tablet 2 8-in has four unique modes:  Hold, Tilt, Stand and Hang, Wolfson Master Hi-Fi noise reduction, Dolby audio, long battery life of up to 15 hours and is equipped with two front facing speakers. With Windows 8.1, its 8-in FHD display and Intel® Atom™ processor, users can strike a great balance between work and play. Lenovo AnyPen Technology lets you use any ballpoint pen or graphite pencil—really any thin metal tip.   

 

Lenovo CES 2015

Photo Credit: Lenovo CES 2015

 

Lenovo YOGA 3 “features powerful up to 5th Generation Intel® Core™ i7 processors, stereo speakers, Waves audio and the classic YOGA two-hinge design allowing 360° flexibility with four special modes – Laptop, Stand, Tent and Tablet. Lenovo refined the hinge to now open and close more smoothly and also allow the screen to lay flat at 180°.

 

The Yoga 3 11-in model is just 15.8mm thin and 1.1kg (lightest convertible in the YOGA family). The new Yoga 3 14-in model has a backlit screen, envelope-thin design and measures 18.3mm thin or less. Lenovo includes Harmony intelligent software. Colors are Clementine Orange, Platinum Silver, new Chalk White or Ebony Black. Lenovo includes Harmony intelligent software which helps users discover and customize applications and includes automatic brightness adjustment when reading a book, enables motion control or optimizes audio settings in specific modes and recommends new apps.”

 

 

ThinkPad YOGA for businesses and pro-sumers:

“ThinkPad YOGA 12-in, 14-in and new 15-in convertibles with powerful up to 5th Generation Intel® Core™ i7 processors,  large storage up to 1 TB , Dolby Home Theatre v4 and new ActivePen technology in select models.  Lenovo’s SHAREit app to share files easily between devices. Lenovo’s first 3D camera in a laptop (Built-in Intel® RealSense™ 3D camera) comes optional on the 15-in model.  3D cameras are being used by businesses for more personal video conferencing and scanning small objects for 3D printing applications.

 

The YOGA 12 continues to offer a digitizer/pen option that provides an internal garage for the pen. ThinkPad is creating an innovative hardware and software pen experience, regardless of pen technology Thin and light at just 19mm thin and less than 1.5kg on the 12-in model, these stylish convertibles come in black with an attractive backlit keyboard as well as FHD touch screen display.”

 

Lenovo LaVie Z Ultraportables (Available May 2015):

The LaVie Z HZ750 13-in convertible PC (Available May 2015) is just 2.04-lbs, has powerful up to 5th Generation Intel® Core i7™ processor, Microsoft Windows 8.1, 128 GB SSD storage and 360-degree hinge pioneered by Lenovo in its original YOGA family of convertibles.  It is just 16.9mm thin, uses a specialized magnesium-lithium (Mg-Li) body construction, which is 50% lighter than aluminum (which apple used in earlier Macbook models). New IGZO LCD display (Indium Gallium Zinc oxide) provides additional weight savings.”

 

Lenovo CES 2015

Photo Credit: Lenovo CES 2015

 


The LaVie Z HZ550 13-in laptop PC is just 1.72-lbs.

 

Among the many other innovative products announced, a few more caught my eye:

 

The Lenovo Vibe X2 Pro Mobile Phone was announced with accessories such as the VIBE Band VB10 wearable. What I found interesting about the VIBE Band VB10 was that it not only has up to 7 days’ battery life, phone–finding feature, 1.43” E Ink display, alerts (phone, SMS, and social notifications), measures fitness (steps, calories, distance, and sleep time) but that it also meets IPX7 waterproofing standard.

 

Lenovo CES 2015

Photo Credit: Lenovo CES 2015

 

But one of the most unique was the compact selfie flash listed below.

 

Compact SELFIE FLASH for the VIBE X2 PRO: “Plugs directly into the VIBE X2 Pro’s audio jack, works great in low–light conditions, Delivers natural color tones, 100% shutter sync – never miss that perfect selfie and up to 100 selfies on a single charge.

 

Lenovo CES 2015

Photo Credit: Lenovo CES 2015

 

 

 

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. All of my words are my own.

 

 

 

 

Intel Showcase of The Future Preview

*See Disclosures at the bottom of this post.
**GIVEAWAY WAS CLOSED 9/17
 

This summer I went to an Intel Future Showcase Press event in San Francisco to learn about  Intel’s current and new technology. I am always on the lookout to learn about the future and envision what exciting technology will help make my (and my family’s) life more efficient and productive.

 

Intel Edison - Showcase of the Future

Photo credit: Intel press release

 
GIVEAWAY CLOSED!
To celebrate, I am giving away an Intel-powered Dell Venue 8 Pro to a lucky commenter on this post who shares what future technology they are looking forward to using. Here are the details for the giveaway:

1. One Blog Post comment per person. One Blog Post comment is equal to one entry (so only one entry per person)

2. Winners are limited to US residents only 21 years of age or older.

3. If a valid email address is not provided in the entry, another winner will be chosen.

4. The prize is not redeemable in cash and must be accepted as awarded.

5. Approximate value of prizes may vary.

6. All decisions are final

7. By entering any giveaway on this website you release Techmamas.com from any liability whatsoever, and waive any and all causes of action.

8. Contest starts Sept. 12 and ends Sept 17. Winner will be notified by Sept 20.

 

 

INTEL FUTURE SHOWCASE – PRESS EVENT

 

At Intel Future Showcase, the press was shown some impressive form factors, technology and trends. The press release explained, “Intel is working with the technology industry to accelerate and deliver a smart, seamlessly connected and integrated digital world. Because Moore’s Law enables us to continuously shrink devices , technology is beginning to disappear into the objects and spaces that we interact with on a second nature basis even the fabric of our clothes. One day the need to remember to ‘bring your device’ may seem quaint because intelligent objects will encompass you to suit whatever you need in the moment.”

 

 

 

*Personalization is an important computer trend and this new app takes it a step further with a new 3-D mobile messaging app called Pocket Avatars. Pocket Avatars allows you to choose an avatar and then give it your “facial expressions, head movements and voice, and then maps this data onto a 3D character chosen from a library.” The Pocket Avatar app is available now for download from the Apple App Store and Google Play.

 

Intel Showcase of Future: Apps

 

 

**2 in 1 form factors are a hybrid computer/tablet that can detach, flip or slide. It also has multiple form factors and input including type, touch and stylus to write. The key advantage for the 2 in 1 form factor (highlighted at the showcase with Intel(r) 4th gen core processors) is the flexibility to use the devices for work, entertainment, gaming and more.

 

Intel Showcase of the Future: Devices

Photo credit: Intel press release

 

The whole trend of versatile devices extends from 2 in 1 devices to smartphones. Some of the key features are:
1. Screens that can be detached from the keyboard to become a lightweight tablets. Screens that can be flipped around, switching effortlessly from a traditional notebook into a tablet., Stand-alone tablets come in a range of sizes, including compact 7-inch and 8-inch devices that can be tucked into a handbag.
2. Devices that offer a dual-boot option with both Windows* 8.1 and Android. Intel processors also power mobile phones, including tablet-sized devices running Android. With cellular capability offering up to 32 hours of talk time , these devices also are ultra slim and offer a powerful, full HD display.
3. Intel is at the heart of Chromebooks*, too. Chromebooks are low-cost devices that run Google* Chrome OS and connect via the cloud to your Google services.

 

Mobile Security:


The Intel showcase also highlighted the importance of mobile security by sharing a recent McAfee Mobile Security Report which found that Android malware almost tripled from 2012 to 2013. Here is some information about Intel’s initiative: “As part of Intel’s initiative to make security an integrated part of the consumer experience, a full-featured McAfee solution is free for all Intel-based mobile devices. McAfee’s mobile security suite takes a number of steps to protect your Intel-powered device, including alerts regarding risky Wi-Fi networks you are trying to connect to and the CaptureCam feature that snaps a picture of someone who has made multiple unsuccessful attempts to unlock the device. The suite is integrated with Intel® Device Protection Technology to provide atom-level security extensions. It is high-tech peace of mind designed to protect your phone from today’s threats.”

 

Wearables and Maker Movement:


Two areas I find most interesting are the Wearable tech and Maker (#STEM) movements.  Wearing our tech devices offers a more seamless interaction than using a separate device. The wearable tech movement is just starting to offer more functionality and has a long way to go. The Maker movement is exciting because that it allows the general public to experiment and create their own devices, some of which will propel the wearable movement forward as well.

 

 

Maker Movement: “Both Intel® Galileo and Intel® Edison are designed for tinkerers and makers, taking personalization to the next level by designing creations from their own imaginations. CEO Brian Krzanich first unveiled Intel Galileo at the Maker Faire Rome in October 2013. Intel Galileo is Intel’s family of Arduino-compatible development boards featuring Intel architecture and designed for the maker and education communities. The Intel showcase includes a light installation that is controlled through Intel Galileo.”

 

Intel Showcase of the Future: Maker Movement

Photo credit: Intel press release

 

 

 

Wearables: “One technology that straddles today and tomorrow is wearables, devices that make technology truly personal. Devices can now measure running speed, heartbeat, steps, blood pressure and even gauge the quality of your sleep via wristwatches that act as a companion to – or even replace – your smartphone. Intel’s strategy is to imagine and create reference design devices and platforms ready to be used by customers in the development of wearable products. At the showcase, you will be able to see one example of Intel’s commitment to wearable devices in the form of the Basis Health Tracker, in addition to browsing some of the top entries to the Intel Make It Wearable Challenge. The Challenge celebrates creativity by inviting individuals, teams and organizations to develop ideas for wearable products.”

 

 

Intel Showcase of Future: Wearables

Photo credit: Intel press release

 

 

 

What’s in store for the FUTURE?

 

 

The Intel Technology Showcase highlighted some very interesting future technology. I was first exposed to some of Intel’s future vision back in January at CES, when Intel demonstrated the Mimo Baby Smart Onesie that interacts with devices to let parents know when the baby is sleeping and can also help predict when the child is hungry (and in the future WARM the bottle to prepare)! The Mimo Baby used the Intel Edison system on a chip. As a mom of twins, it just would of been great to have that technology out years ago when the kids were babies!

 

Listed below is the press information provided about some of Intel’s future technology:

 

Llama Mountain: “An Intel concept design fresh from its debut at Computex, Llama Mountain captures the future of 2 in 1 devices while remaining feather light, super sleek and staying cool without a fan. The concept 2 in 1 detaches from its keyboard to function like a tablet, features a 12.5-inch screen and measures just 7.2mm thick. The Intel® Core™ M processor makes the sleek design possible with 14-nanometer Backgrounder transistors, which are smaller than today’s 22-nanometer transistors of 4th generation Intel Core processors.”

 

Wireless Charging:How many times have you had to hunt around for a charger and cable for your device? Families can often find that every plug in the house seems to have sprouted a charger with a mobile or tablet umbilical cord connected to the wall. And what if you have a device that doesn’t use a standard charger? If you’re running out of juice at someone else’s home or office and they don’t have the right connector for you to borrow, you’re in trouble.

Intel’s wireless charging bowl is a concept shown that is an example of how  meant to put an end to the ‘spaghetti junction’ of wires and endless hunt for a charging station. It’s a smart and smart-looking bowl that can charge a number of devices at the same time. Using smart charging coil technology, the wireless bowl is a consumer-friendly product that shows how powering up several different devices can be a no-brainer – even ones that use different connectors. And, as the icing on the cake, the bowl will look equally appealing in a chic corporate environment or in a home.”

 

Intel® RealSense™ Technology:Last year Intel made a foray into perceptual computing, which promises to bid farewell to the old way of interacting with technology: farewell to the mouse and hello to gesture-controlled devices. Since then, the technology has matured by getting smaller and neater. Intel RealSense frees you from clipping a chunky camera onto your monitor. The camera has been made smaller and moved into all-in-one systems and the lids of laptops. At the heart of the system is an integrated 3-D camera and 2-D camera model, which means devices can ‘see’ depth in the same way as humans.

As well as being able to control devices with gestures, Intel RealSense will be able to create 3-D objects on the computer that the user will be able to mold using natural gestures, and ultimately share those objects with others and print them out using 3-D printers. This will bring a whole new level of realism and interactivity to work and play: from gaming to calling grandma, from videoconferencing to designing product. Without the added distraction of bulky 3-D glasses, RealSense is the most natural way to interact with technology – and with distant people.

 

Intel Edison: “Honey, I shrunk the computer! Just when you thought they couldn’t get any smaller, Intel introduced Intel Edison a system-on-a-chip that isn’t much bigger than a stamp. The Intel Edison development board is a product-ready, wirelessly enabled general purpose compute environment. It is designed for inventors, entrepreneurs, consumer product designers and industrial IOT solutions providers that create wearable or small form factor devices to be sold through commercial channels to consumers. Intel Edison is slated for release in summer of this year. “

 

Intel Showcase of the Future: Edison

Photo credit: Intel press release

 

Make Your Own Robot:Meet Jimmy the Robot. Jimmy, who was shown off at the Maker Faire in New York at the end of last year, was created by Intel Futurist Brian David Johnson to demonstrate how anyone will be able to use open-source files to create their own robot and print it out on a 3-D printer.

 

Intel Showcase of the Future: Jimmy The Robot

Photo credit: Intel press release

 

Jimmy himself will soon be available for you to download and print for an affordable price, thanks to Johnson’s sharing of the “Jimmy template” with 10 teams at various universities. Once you’ve printed out and assembled Jimmy, the idea is that you’ll be able to program him and install apps to add to his capabilities in the same, simple way we now install apps on mobile devices.
Jimmy is a glimpse of a future when we will all be able to create and print our own robots – and their possibilities are endless. It’s up to you to come up with innovative applications for Jimmy; the only limit is your imagination.”

 

Future In-Car Experience:While there’s significant talk about self-driving cars, Intel’s vision of cars includes one where you’re still in control of the vehicle – although the car will be an intelligent device. You’ll be able to talk to your car and tell it where to go by talking to it – and the car will detect if you’ve got the kids on board and will automatically fire up their favorite movie to entertain them during the journey.”

 

At the Intel Future Showcase, a demonstration in the automotive space highlights how modern vehicles are now computerized. Many deeply embedded computers are responsible for monitoring and control of vehicle systems, such as telematics, infotainment, connectivity and advanced driver assistance systems. While such features enhance usability and convenience, they also widen the threat landscape significantly, increasing the potential for malicious activity. In the demonstration, there is a lightweight, trusted execution scheme optimized for the vehicle, which will demonstrate how malicious software manipulation can be successfully intercepted.

 

Intel Showcase of the Future: Car

 

 

Smart Solar Controller:Solar power is already ubiquitous, but Intel has envisioned a 500cm solar panel that uses the variable DC current output directly rather than converting the sun’s energy into AC. The aim is to use this device in developing world locations where there is no existing electricity to charge devices, such as the Intel® Classmate PC made for children. 

 

Intel Showcase of the Future: Solar charging devices

 

 

Embedded Security for the Internet of Things: One of the hot trends getting a lot of attention right now is the “Internet of Things,” where connected devices reach out to the cloud, sharing analytics and insights (e.g. data from local sensors) to add to and inform their functionality. Anything from cars to wearable devices and home appliances may be connected, but we have now given hackers a brand new, vulnerable entry point. Intel’s latest security research aims to identify these ports and ensure devices and information remain as safe as possible from cyber threats.”

 

 

This week was the Intel Developer’s Conference (IDF) where more future tech announcements were made: What’s New at IDF14.

 

 

One of the new projects it the connected Intel Connected Wheelchair Project explained in this video with Stephen Hawking:

 

 

 

 

What types of technology are you looking forward to in the future?

 

 

Disclosure: The information was obtained (in Italics) from a press event. This is press post. Products were given in the past for review purposes. All of the words are my own.

 

 

 

Pantech Vybe Review: First Phone For Kids

Pantech vybe first phone kidsBack to school is a busy time for parents, preparing their kids for the classroom, fall sports and other activities. Choosing a new phone and managing cell phone use is also at the top of many parents’ list. Kids nowadays use phones as one of their main forms of communication with other kids as well as pesky parents who pick them up and drop them off places. I covered the topic of deciding on the right age to buy a phone and tips on setting up your kid’s first phone in a recent back to school post.  I drove to the AT&T store myself to try to figure out which phone I was going to buy for my twin boys who are starting middle school. After receiving an email about the Pantech Vybe, I decided to do a review of the phone with my twins.

 

As I mentioned in my “tips for buying your kids a phone” post, I believe phones should be given to kids on an as-needed basis. My kids are taking the bus, riding their bike or walking to school and activities on their own now we decided it was time for them to have their own phones. Because they are just starting middle school, I just wanted to have the ability to call, text and use phone tools while not using any social network or the mobile web. The Pantech Vybe is a great first phone because in addition to making calls it has a slide out keyboard that’s perfect for texting and has its own operating system so kids can’t use app stores to load up on apps and games. We also found it helpful to have the option to disable data on the phones if necessary.

 

Of course at first we the kids pushed back. They wanted an iPhone or another fancy smartphone like some of their other 11-year old friends. Beyond being RIDICULOUS that 11 year olds have full featured smartphones in the first place, tweens especially may not understand the consequences of all of their actions – so why give them mobile tools to do so?  We do believe as a family that all kids should be educated and make informed decisions about Internet safety but temptations and peer pressure can be hard for tweens/teens to resist. Already one of their peers is posting things on Instagram that are pretty alarming for their age group.  While many kids have full access to browsers and apps on tablets, desktops and laptops at home – at least those devices are being used at home and not being taken with them every day and used without supervision.

 

PANTECH VYBE SPECIFICATIONS AND FEATURES
FEATURES:
Here are the features of the Pantech Vybe:

  • Slide-out QWERTY Keyboard
  • 3.2” Touchscreen Display and 3 Customizable Homescreens
  • Hands free one-touch “Say-A-Command button”

 

The user manual has information on setting up and also found the Pantech support section of the AT&T website useful because of the setup videos.
pantech vybe home screen

 

Touchscreen Display, Navigation and Customizable Home screens:

The touchscreen display is 3.2 inches and can be customized with favorite apps such as notepad, calculator, contacts and more.  There is even a hands free one-touch “Say-A-Command” button. Pantech included a proprietary dual-user mode: “Easy Mode has one home screen and a simplified menu for a truly intuitive user experience. Advanced Mode is customizable and offers more options and flexibility. You can safely switch back and forth between modes without losing your contacts or favorites. ”

 

What I found useful to understand is that there are two types of “menus” in advanced mode. The main menu is called the home screen (starting point for using applications on your phone) . The home screen can be customized with a picture or standard backgrounds (customizable from “display” section of tools). One of the home screens can be customized to display shortcuts for favorite apps (Max 9 icons can be added) and another for web addresses. Once the main screen is set up it is simple to use the phone (unlock, tap and go).
The second menu is listed on the home screen in the navigation at the bottom as “Menu”. This has access to load lots of different tools (more than the 9 max on the home screen). In the tools area we loaded shortcuts for pre-loaded apps such as sketch pad, notepad, calculator, alarm clock voice memo, pictures, address book, video player, and camera.

 

Entertainment:
The “My stuff” folder has applications, games, audio (alert tones and ring tones), music, pictures, video, other files and info on memory. Available games include brain challenge and UNO (we bought the full version of Uno). You can insert a memory card if you wanted. For kids who do have data plans there is a video player and for those who want to load music there is a music player. The help section of the website has instructions on how to transfer music to the Pantech Vybe.

 

What I like about the Pantech Vybe is that it does not have access to an app store so kids are limited to what is loaded on the phone. As I said in my “getting your kid their first phone tip post”, having access to app stores can be expensive and give access to inappropriate apps for kids.  While the Pantech Vybe does have Facebook, Twitter and mobile web apps – I explained to my kids that we blocked the data plan so they can’t use those apps anyway.

 

AT&T Services:
Along with the other apps, the Pantech Vybe has AT&T services apps preloaded such as like AT&T Navigator, AT&T Address Book, AT&T Family Map, AT&T Drive Mode and myAT&T so I can help them see their account information.

 

Specifications:

The specifications have the phone at just 4.94 ounces so it is light for the kids to either carry in their pocket, bags or backpack pockets. It is also slim at just 2.32 inches width and 4.49 inches height (depth is only .51). The 3.2″ TFT Touchscreen Display has nice resolution (240 x 400) for a first phone and the touchscreen makes it more intuitive to use. Calls made to my sons on the phone sound great. I am able to hear them clearly and they have been able to hear me (even if they don’t want to!).

 

The proprietary operating system (Pantech Proprietary J2ME)  gives me comfort that they can only use the apps pre-loaded on the phone.  The Pantech Vybe has cellular technology to meet my kids need (2G – Quad Band (GSM/GPRS/EDGE) – (850/900/1800/1900 MHz) 3G – Tri Band (UMTS/HSDPA) – (850/1900/ 2100 MHz) and Bluetooth if they want to use it with wireless accessories.

 

Overall my kids are very happy with the phone and were able to start using it without any instruction from me. But we did of course spend the time to go over the family phone use rules, multiple times to make sure they understand (even though I had to hear “I KNOW Mom!!” multiple times).   With the Pantech Vybe I have the comfort of knowing they can call and text with a phone that has all the features they need right now (as a middle schooler) without having too much access to the wide range of apps available on other smartphones and in other app stores. When my twin boys turn 13, maybe we will allow them to use the Pantech Facebook app

 

Pantech Vybe Overview from press release:

Purchasing your child’s first mobile phone has become a rite of passage for tweens and young teens, and parents too. The big question looms: Is your tween ready for a cell phone?  The Pantech Vybe is a great compromise, offering your child plenty of must-have features like messaging, easy camera access and social media without unrestricted access to apps and a high data plan. The Pantech Vybe is your solution.

The Pantech Vybe is an affordable, easy to use quick messaging phone, with access to the features and apps kids want at a price parents love. With a low-cost monthly plan for talk and text, the Pantech Vybe is an attractive option to add to a family plan at an affordable price.

In addition to being budget-friendly, the Pantech Vybe is tween and teen-approved with a slide-out keyboard for quick and easy texting, social media shortcuts, quick camera button, multiple customizable home screens and music and video players.

 

The Pantech Vybe is $29.99 with a two-year contract and can be purchased exclusively at AT&T. For more information on the Pantech Vybe, visit MyFirstPhone.com”.

 

 

Here is a video I received with the press release:

 

 

 

Disclosure: I have received products for review purposes.

 

 

 

Lenovo CES 2014: Tablets Still Rock

*sponsored series

 
With all the new announcements at CES 2014, it may have seemed like tablets were not top priority. But I was excited to see the quality of new tablets that are truly becoming that one unified device for both entertainment and work.   A great example is the new Lenovo ThinkPad 8 tablet that joins in with the already released Yoga Tablet 10 and 8.

 

Lenovo ThinkPad 8 Tablet

Lenovo ThinkPad 8 Tablet – Photo credit: Lenovo

 

The Lenovo ThinkPad 8 Tablet is high definition enough for entertainment while also having the features needed for a successful work device. It has an a 10 point multi-touch 8.3 inch display (1920×1200) with Windows 8.1 Pro, 2MP and 8MP cameras, latest Intel Bay Trail Quad Core processor, up to 128GB of storage and Global 3G/4G LTE support.  Accessories include a USB 3.0 dock that converts the ThinkPad 8 into a full PC experience and a keyboard base. The Quickshot Cover enables converting to Tent mode and peels back to use the 8 MP camera. There is also a microHDMI port that allows connection to a PC to view pictures or photos or use Miracast technology to transfer them wirelessly.

Lenovo Yoga Tablet

Lenovo Yoga Tablet. Photo Credit: Lenovo

 

The Yoga Tablet 10 (10 inch) and Yoga Tablet 8 (8 inch) Android tablets offer a unique multi-mode design: it has a battery cylinder on the side that makes it easy to hold, Quad core 1.2 Ghz processor, Android 4.2 Jellybean, native storage of 16GB  or 32 GB and can add up to 64GB micro-SD card storage, micro USB for charging, a pop out stand for standing up (good for watching or listening to media and video chat) and the ability to “tilt” the stand (good for typing or gaming).  To really enable mobile use, the battery has a maximum life of 18 hours, lasting throughout the day and more.

 

Both the 8 inch and 10 inch Yoga Tablet have an HD 1280 x 800 display with a 178 degree viewing angle that is wide enough to share with the whole family.  The screen is  crisp, clear and easy to ready and the chrome design is stylish to look at.  Connectivity includes integrated Bluetooth, 802.11 b/g/n WiFi and GPS. The sound is enhanced with the tablet’s Dolby Digital Plus speakers that face front. The 5.0M rear and 1.6M front cameras offer the ability to take high definition pictures.  For those that prefer using a keyboard, there is a touch keyboard with nice haptic response or an option to use Accutype keyboard Bluetooth accessory.

 

 

Lenovo Tablets

 

 

Our family had the opportunity to review the Lenovo Yoga Tablet 10 and 8. We found that the 10 inch is the perfect size for teens and adults to comfortably read content. The Yoga Tablet 8 inch is the perfect size for my 11 year old to watch ESPN and consume all types of content instead of squinting to see content on his small MP3 player. But the 8 inch would also be great for mobile adults looking for a smaller form factor. My husband has been looking for a tablet for a while now, evaluating different operating systems, form factors and performance. His latest experiment has been with the 10 inch Lenovo yoga tablet and it is proving to be very capable for both business and personal use.

 

 

He found that the set up of the Yoga Tablet was very straight-forward and similar to other Android devices. Charge it up, turn it on, establish the WiFi connection and start downloading the apps you need to be productive. The kids were very impressed with the games both familiar and unfamiliar in the Google Play store. LinkedIn loaded quickly and was easy to use, with the front and back camera on the Yoga tablet coming in handy to capture valuable information for various folders that help in home/family and business management.
One very handy feature is the built-in kickstand which enables the tablet to be used multiple ways in addition to holding it in your hands. With the kickstand down, the tablet props up like a computer screen in a landscape position. This is very handy when used in conjunction with a Bluetooth keyboard. Roasted 90 degrees, the kickstand also secures the tablet upright in portrait position, which is convenient when looking at an email inbox, photos, long documents or games. For those who like to use a tablet almost flat to the table, placing the Yoga down with the kickstand in place provides a tablet at a small angle to the table which is great for touch screen use. Our family really enjoyed these different positions, each with their own benefits allowing for customization of use according to what we were trying to do and whether we were sitting or standing.

 

The speakers provide high quality Dolby sound and are located on the front in the bottom corners, a much better design than speakers in back which can be muffled by a tablet cover. The volume controls and headset jack are conveniently located on the side and feel high quality to the touch. No loose headset connection where if you don’t press it in just right the stereo sound turns mono and the audio gets scratchy. And while it’s not usual to like the on/off button on a computer or tablet, the large button on the end of the built-in battery with a very clean motion when pushed is a welcome role model for what buttons on computers should feel like. Also impressive is the screen, with 1280X800 max resolution and a built-in graphics processor which delivers the quality needed for everything from writing documents  to watching YouTube videos and playing games.

 

Pricing as of Jan. 2014:

The ThinkPad 8 convertible tablet configure to order models start at $399 and Topseller
models start at $429.  The Yoga Tablet 8 starts at $199 and the Yoga Tablet 10 starts at $275.00.

 

 

Disclosure: This is a sponsored series for Techlicious Lenovo blogger program  I received products for review as part of the program. My words are my own.

 

 

 

 

Must Have Mobile Tech: AT&T Unite Pro

 *sponsored series

 

Must Have Mobile TechAs I checked into Treasure Island for CES (Consumer Electronics Show) 2014, I was excited to have found a reasonably priced hotel in a central location. I was sharing my room with an east-coast blogger friend and looking forward to seeing her and other tech press friends. One benefit of Treasure Island is the optional “resort fee”, an extra added to the hotel bill which covers internet, health club use, morning newspaper and other amenities. This is great for those like me taking a business trip on a budget.

 

 

However, I was interested in paying for daily in-room Internet access. When they told me it was “20 dollars PER DAY” I was so excited to say “no thank-you” because I remembered I had my new AT&T Unite Pro mobile WiFi device with me. Considering that I would be staying at the hotel for 5 days, I saved $100 on the spot.

 

 

Working with NETGEAR (disclosure) to share information about the new AT&T Unite Pro was great because mobile WiFi is an important tool for my busy lifestyle.  The more time I spend with my own mobile WiFi, the more I realize how it frees me to work on the go no matter where I am. As a busy working parent who also travels, working on the go is essential to being productive each day.

 

My CES roommate was excited to share my mobile WiFi and not pay the daily $20 internet fee! In addition to the security benefit of using our own WiFi, it was great to know we had a reliable WiFi connection to complete our work at the hotel.  I was able to take the device with me to use on the go during the conference; this is a great benefit because I store most of my documents and media in the cloud.  With the AT&T Unite Pro BatteryBoost feature, I was also able to keep my smartphone charged, enabling me to keep my social media updates flowing to my fans without the dreaded “phone dead” syndrome some of my other tech press friends experienced.

 

 

The AT&T Unite Pro is an update from the AT&T Unite which I covered in my first blog post. Here are some of the key features of the AT&T Unite Pro:

 

AT&T Unite Pro

AT&T Unite Pro

 

 

  • Up to 16 hours of battery (all day!)
  • Internet access for up to 15 devices.
  • 2.4  inch Intuitive Touchscreen with keyboard.
  • Password protection and guest WiFi.
  • Advanced  LTE support. First mobile hotspot to offer Dual-Band WiFi which lets you maximize speed and reliability of your data connection.
  • Internationally compatible.
  • BatteryBoost: BatteryBoost lets you share the AT&T Unite Pro’s powerful battery to keep your smartphone going. Just plug-in the special boosting cable provided and connect your smartphone charging cord.

 

Having mobile WiFi also enables me to share connectivity with my kids so they can do homework on the go and reach their productivity goals each day.  In fact, when my teen brought the AT&T Unite Mobile WiFi to his study group, he realized that having a mobile WiFi that offered access to his friend’s devices saved the day by enabling everyone in the group to get their online research done. This also allows me to help one of my twin sons finish a class project while the other twin is at baseball practice. This reduces the logistical difficulty when my twins participate in different sports. Who knew that a mobile WiFi device would help support my twin’s transition into independent paths in life!

 

Pricing and availability:

The AT&T Unite Pro is $49.99 with a 2 year contract and AT&T offers other Unite models from $1 to $99.  There are several flexible and affordable monthly data plans as well.  Any of the Unite products can be added to an AT&T Mobile Share plan for only $20 a month.  Or if you want a stand alone plan, there is a $50 for 5GB monthly option available.  Visit www.att.com/data  for more information.

 

Disclosure: This is a sponsored series. I received products for review as part of the program. My words are my own.

 

Check out the full line of AT&T Unite mobile hotspots from NETGEAR, including Unite Pro, Unite and Unite prepaid, at www.att.com/unitepro or connect with us on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube at WiFiFamily.

 

 

New Lenovo Laptops in Multiple Form Factors: Yoga 2 Miix 2 & Carbon X1

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When it comes to finding technology for my work and my family, versatility is key. At CES 2014, Lenovo announced new versatile devices for the mobile professional and family.  I had the fun opportunity to meet with Lenovo to find out details about the new devices. The new Miix 2 (10 and 11 inch) premiered with a 3-in-1 detachable laptop design (laptop, stand and tablet). The popular Lenovo Yoga (my current Ultrabook) that first was updated with with the Yoga 2 Pro, now has new versions called the YOGA 2 (in 11 and 13 inch models). The Yoga 2 has my favorite selection form factors: Laptop, tablet, tent and stand modes. For those looking for a super powerful thin laptop for work and for entertainment, the Thinkpad Carbon X1 is only 2.83 pounds and 17.7MM thin with adaptive keyboard and rapid charge technology. So many choices!

 

Lenovo Miix 2

Lenovo Miix 2. Photo credit: Lenovo

 

 

The Miix 2 10 inch weighs only 1.3lbs, runs the new 64-bit enabled quad-core Intel Atom processor, up to Windows 8.1,  battery life of up to 8 hours, 720p high resolution 2 MP front and 5 MP rear cameras , full HD (1920×1200) 10-finger touchscreen display, WiFi and optional 3G, JBL surround speakers, up to 128 GB of eMMC storage along with a micro SD slot for adding up to 32 GB. The Miix 2 (11 inch) is 1.76 pounds has upgraded performance with its up to 4th generation Intel® Core™ i5 processor, greater storage up to 256GB of fast solid state drive storage and a Full HD 1920×1200 IPS wide-view display. The press release also shared that “Both models of the Silver Grey MIIX 2 make connecting, storing and moving content easy with their mini HDMI port to display content on larger screens, an SD card reader, micro USB port and micro SD cards along with USB 2.0 support on the keyboard”.

 

 

 Lenovo Yoga 2 13 inch 4 modes

Lenovo Yoga 2. Photo credit: Lenovo

 

 

At CES 2014 the Lenovo Yoga 2 (11″ and 13″ inch) was announced with the popular 4 multi-mode form factors (laptop, tablet, tent and stand modes). The Lenovo Yoga 2  (11.6 inch) is a light 2.9lbs and has HD (1366 x 768) 10 point touch display, up to 4 GB RAM, up to Windows 8.1, Bluetooth 4.0 and WiFi connectivity,  battery of up to 6 hours and features up to the brand new quad- core Intel Pentium processors for snappy performance.  The larger Lenovo Yoga 2 (13.3  inch), called “workhorse”, has many of the same features with added battery life of up to 8 hours,  weighs 3.5lbs, up to 8 GB RAM, backlit AccuType keyboard, Full HD (1920×1080) display, rubber bumpers around the screen that gives more stability in tent mode and and features more processing power with up to 4th generation Intel Core i5 processor.

 

Lenovo YOGA 2 13inch

Lenovo YOGA 2. Photo credit: Lenovo

 

 

Both sizes offer 1 MP 720p camera, integrated speakers that suppport Dolby Home Theatre v4 and  lots of storage for important data, photos, music, movies and games with its up to 500 GB hard drive (the Lenovo Yoga 2 13′ also offers up to 500GB SSHD storage). The features also allow input/output flexibility with 1 USB 3.0, 1 USB 2.0, Micro HDMI-out, 3-in-1 card reader. For personalization, the current colors available are orange, silver and black.

 

Lenovo YOGA 2 13inch Yoga Chef

Lenovo YOGA 2. Photo credit: Lenovo

 

YOGA 2 also has more apps that utilize YOGA Picks, Lenovo’s unique service that recommends apps based on the mode (i.e. Standing, tablet, etc). Yoga Pix software will recommend different apps depending on the mode.  App developers, such as Yoga Chef,  partnered with Lenovo to incorporate use of gestures for motions control. One example in Yoga Chef is the ability to advance pages of a recipe without getting “egg” all over the screen!  The camera software has been updated to recognize motion control which can be used to advance applications such as photo slideshows, e-books and Powerpoint slides.  Pop ups within the app can notify users that the app is motion controlled enabled.  Out of the box, the Lenovo Yoga 2 also has Yoga Photo Touch for photo editing that enables use of touch to remove objects, use skin tools and change frames. The Lenovo voice control enables users to execute simple commands such as opening an app utilitzing Nuance’s Dragon Assistant. Lenovo uses Nuance Dragon Assistant Software in Lenovo 2-in-1, tablet, Ultrabook, notebook, and AIO devices

 

The press release also shared quotes that summarized:  “With our detachable MIIX 2 and convertible YOGA 2 and Flex devices, people no longer have to choose between a laptop or tablet. Our multimode products give them the best of both laptop and tablet worlds plus even new modes that make it better and easier to interact and watch their personal digital content,” said David Roman, chief marketing officer, Lenovo. “Now the only decision they have to make is choosing which Lenovo multimode product they prefer – one that flips and folds or one that detaches.”

 

Lenovo’s elegant next generation of 2 in 1 devices open up entirely new ways for people to connect, share, work and play,” said Navin Shenoy, vice president and general manager of the Mobile Client Platform Division at Intel Corporation. “With powerful Intel processors, products like the MIIX 2 deliver the right balance of long battery life and amazing performance so people can stay productive whether they’re using it as a tablet or laptop.”

 

 

While  these next two Lenovo models may be geared towards professionals, they are also great choice for multi-tasking families that balance work and home.

 

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon. Photo Credit: Lenovo

 

 

The Thinkpad X1 carbon Ultrabook is currently the thinnest and lightest  14 inch around at 2.83 pounds and 17.7MM thin. The press release explained “Born from the same stock as aircrafts and racing cars, the X1 Carbon is forged from Carbon Fiber, which weighs less than magnesium and aluminum but is stronger than both“. The up to 9 hour battery life is powered up by Rapid Charge technology which provides an 80% charge in under an hour.

 

Additional features are optional built-in 4G, up to Windows 8.1 PRO, 8GB Ram, up to 512SSD, either i5 or i7 4th generation are 2 panel options (HD + 1600 x 900 and WQHD – 2560 x 1440). The adaptive keyboard is unique because it dynamically adjusts based on the software or application being used to highlight the most relevant keys as well as the advanced voice and gesture controls. To assist in taming the “cable clutter monster”, the new X1 Carbon utilizes the OneLink connector that the press release explained allows users “to get power, Gigabit Ethernet, and dual display support through a single cable via ThinkPad OneLink docking solutions. The ThinkPad OneLink Pro Dock includes multiple USB ports, audio and Ethernet connections and driver-free dual video support through DisplayPort and DVI on selected models. The integrated 90W AC adapter also provides power for the notebook, supports rapid charge and can also charge other devices such as a smartphone.”

 

The 13.3 inch Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro, a multimode Ultrabook out on the market already, is light at 3.1 lbs, has up to 9 hour battery life, Windows 8.1 PRO, QHD+ (3200 x 1800) 10 point multi-touch display, up to 512 fast SSD hard drive and up to a 4th generation Intel Core i7 processors. Starting at $999, this makes the Yoga 2 Pro another great option for professionals or for families that need professional features.

 

 

The Jan. 2014*press release shared the following pricing and availability:

Pricing and Availability2 Models of the Lenovo MIIX 2 convertible laptop start at $499 for the 10-in model and $699 for the 11- in model. The 10-in model will be available beginning in March. The 11-in model will be available starting in April. They will be sold via major retailers and www.lenovo.com.  Models of the YOGA 2 13-in start at $999 and are available beginning in February at Best Buy, Best Buy Canada, Future Shop and www.lenovo.com. Models of the YOGA 2 11-in start at $529 and are available beginning in late January at Best Buy, Best Buy Canada, Future Shop, and www.lenovo.com. Models of the ThinkPad X1 Carbon start at $1299 and availability will begin late January. The OneLink Dock Pro is available now at $179.

 

 

Disclosure: This is a sponsored series for Techlicious Lenovo blogger program  I received products for review as part of the program. My words are my own.

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