T Minus 2 to Black Friday: Today’s Recommendation

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If you are thinking of cutting the cord, your options have never been so plentiful.  From Smart TV’s to streaming media devices, it may actually be possible to cut the cord this year.

One of my favorite streaming devices is the Amazon Fire TV.  It’s a small HDMI dongleFireTV that plugs in to the HDMI port on your TV.  Amazon sells three versions, the Fire TV Stick at $39.99 is the smallest and portable.  The current version does not yet support 4K video, but still delivers impressive quality, at 1080p, on any TV.  The Fire TV is $69.99 and does support 4K and HDR video.  There is also a bundle that includes an HD antenna to pick up local digital broadcast networks.

If you are an Amazon Prime member, you have access to an incredible library of content and apps to really make the Fire TV and impressive media device.  Each version also includes the Alexa enabled voice remote, which lets you search and control playback with your voice.

With live TV services like Hulu Plus with Live TV and YouTube TV, you now have access to more services than ever.  Most concerns with cutting the cord are around access to local broadcast networks, including syndicated sports broadcasts.  Amazon Fire TV and many of the other streaming services now have options to satisfy just about every viewing desire you may have.

If your cable bill is really starting to bother you, this may be the year to explore cutting the cord once and for all.  Even if you are not yet ready to cut the cord, these devices make a great gift that will allow the recipient to explore the world of entertainment beyond what the cable company delivers.

Today’s Recommendation: Accessories for Safety

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I’ve blogged about Scosche before.  They are, without question, my favorite manufacturer for mobile accessories.MagicMount

Especially here in New Hampshire where we have a tough hands-free law, if someone on your gift list is still taking their and others safety in their own hands, you will want to give them the gift of safety.  Get them a Magic Mount and tell them it’s time to be hands-free!

Scosche’s Black Friday Sale is underway and I encourage you to check it out.  From the wide array of mounts for your car and home, to portable batteries, cables, speakers and more, there is a gift for everyone available on their site.  Happy Shopping and most importantly, Happy Hands-Free Safety!

5 Days to Black Friday: Today’s Recommendation

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If you lose things, like your keys, etc., a Bluetooth tracker could be just the answer you are looking for, or rather for that person on your gift list who is constantly misplacing things.

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There are two great products to choose from, Tile and Trackr.  Both are very similar, so you may with to read some of the in-depth reviews of the devices to decide which one may be best for you.  The main differentiator between the two is how they address the battery.  Tile is a self contained plastic device that you cannot replace the battery in.  When the batterytrackr is no longer working, you have to trade in your Tile and purchase a new one, at a discount.  Trackr uses a standard coin cell battery, so you are able to replace the battery when you need to.  Another difference is that Tile is waterproof and Trackr requires a 3rd party case to be.

Both have apps for your smartphone to help you locate lost items.  I even have a client who has used one of these to prevent things from going missing, just by having it attached to the device that somehow kept disappearing around the office.  Now that one of these trackers is attached to the device, it seems to always be right where it is supposed to be.  Pretty smart if you ask me.

Here are a few of the comparison reviews I think you will find helpful in deciding which one of these trackers may be right for you or a person on your gift list:

  1. Tile vs Trackr: What’s the Best Tracker for Finding Your Lost Stuff?
  2. TrackR vs. Tile: The Lost-and-Found Face-Off
  3. TrackR vs. Tile – The Great Debate
  4. TILE vs.TRACKR – ULTIMATE SHOWDOWN (Bluetooth LOST & FOUND Trackers) (Video)

Bluetooth Headphone Recommendation: Apple AirPods

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There are so many Bluetooth headphones on the market today, it is really hard to know which is the best, or which would be the best gift to give.  To be sure, almost any pair will be a welcome gift, but one pair does stand apart from the crowd and that is Apple’s AirPods.

airpods-610x340If you are an Apple device user, pairing your AirPods with your Mac, iPhone or iPad is just super simple.  The good news is, you can also pair your AirPods to any Bluetooth device, like a Windows PC, so while most Apple products only work with other Apple products, AirPods cross platforms nicely thanks to complying with the Bluetooth standard.

What makes the AirPods the Bluetooth headphones to beat are their size, weight, sound quality and compact charging case.  As far as untethered Bluetooth headphones go, the sounds quality is tough to beat.  What I mean by this is that there is no cable connecting AirPod Coverthe two AirPods, each is independent, so you won’t have to content with a cable running behind your neck.  AirPods are light and fit nicely in most ears.  I will admit that the fit of my own is not as snug as I might like, but they stay in place and deliver nice sound quality and also work seamlessly for phone calls as well.  When I am active, working out and wearing them, I slip them into a pair of covers with hooks, to hold them snugly in place, especially while running.

AirPods have been hard to get ahold of, but Apple seems to have caught up with demand and they are once again readily available.  That said, I expect they will be a very popular item this holiday season, so I would not procrastinate if you have these on your gift list.  Grab them as soon as you see them.

557954-bose-soundsport-free-inlineI will also mention one other pair of similar headphones that I think are an excellent alternative to AirPods and those are the Bose SoundSport Free.  They are larger than AirPods and relatively new to the market, but build on the success of their tethered version, so I suspect these are an excellent choice as well.

Whatever you decide, you will have one very lucky recipient to receive a pair of Bluetooth headphones this holiday season.

Another Great Gadget to Give

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Sorry not to have posted yesterday.  Wound up being a very busy day, which is always a good thing, so I will get caught up with my daily recommendations today.

Keeping with the theme of portable charging, if you have an Apple Watch and find AppleWatchChargeryourself running low on power during your day, here’s a handy and inexpensive portable Apple Watch charger that is not much larger than most car key fobs.

This little unit has a built in battery that will fully charge an Apple Watch in under 3 hours.  If you just need a quick top-off, to get you through the day, it does so efficiently and quickly.  The charger is re-charged with a standard Micro-USB cable, so if you have the myCharge Hub that I posted yesterday, you can re-charge this with that.  You’ll have everything you need to stay powered up on the go or during a power outage.

Anyone with an Apple Watch should appreciate this little gift, which costs less than $40 and can be found on Amazon.  The link will take you to one of the models that I recommend.

For The Power Hungry on Your List

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In my post on techy gift ideas for this holiday season, I said I would post more recommendations here on my blog, through Black Friday.

To start, here is a gadget I have had for years.  I’m on my second generation of the myCharge HubPlus, which is a 6700mAh portable lithium ion battery.  What I love about this device is that it is a totally self-contained charge hub that will charge an iPhone up to four times!

What I like best about this portable battery is that the AC plug is integrating, meaning MyChargeyou just fold down the prongs and plug it into a standard AC outlet to recharge the batter.  Also built-in are both a Lightning connector and a Micro-USB connector.  This means I can recharge any of my battery powered devices from this device.  My iPhone, iPad, Plantronics Bluetooth headset, Apple AirPods, etc.  There is also a USB port built-in so any USB cable can be connected to the battery to recharge a device.  This means even proprietary cables will work.

If you have a gadget person on your list, who is always looking for that nearby power or USB outlet, the myCharge Hub series of portable chargers will be an absolutely perfect gift for them.  There are higher and lower capacity versions as well as one for USB-C.

“i” to “A ?” iPhone Bug

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iphonebug18Is your iPhone suddenly driving you crazy, replacing the letter “i” with “A ?” when you compose or reply to a message?  You’re not alone.  Apple has confirmed this is a bug.  Fortunately, the fix is out.

On your iPhone, go to Settings, General, Software Update and download and install iOS 11.1.1.  You’ll be glad to once again actually get the letter “i” when you type it!