Archive for the Electronics Category

Work Hard, Play Hard With a 2 in 1 Device

Posted in Electronics, Gadgets, Hi-Tech with tags , , , on September 15, 2014 by shutterbuggeek

I’ve seen commercials and ads about 2 in 1 devices and have always been intrigued by them. Needless to say, I was excited to join the Intel 2 in 1 Smart Squad to get hands on experience with a device.

I received an Acer Aspire Switch 10, which has a Windows 8.1 operating system, powered by an Intel Atom CPU, Gorilla Glass, and included Microsoft Office Suite! I am exploring this 2 in 1 device using it as a laptop and a tablet at home, and on the go. But I wasn’t the only one who was curious about this 2 in 1. My family wanted to check out how it would hold up to power users.

Acer Aspire Switch 10 with Edjing App

I connected it to a friend’s DJ system to play music at a school picnic using the Edjing app. I am in no way a professional. However, I did get many compliments for the job. Score!

Acer Aspire Switch 10 with Canon 7D

As a photographer, I like to transfer my photos (and videos) to a device with a larger screen, not only to check for sharpness, but also to edit. So I downloaded Canon’s software to make that happen. It was as easy as working on my desktop.

Acer Aspire Switch 10 in Acura MDX

We love hearing music in the car. In addition to listening to XM & FM radio stations and CDs, we enjoy specific playlists. A simple connection to the audio jack made everyone happy!

Acer Aspire Switch 10 Showing Avengers

I’ve read the news, magazines, and part of an eBook using the Kindle app. I’ve transferred some music and listened to it with my headphones in addition to in my car, watched a couple of TV shows and a movie on Netflix, and started writing a blog post.

Acer Aspire Switch 10 on Schwinn Exercise Bike

Acer Aspire Switch 10 with OverDrive app

My family took turns streaming movies and shows, watching sports on ESPN live while working out, listening to an audio book using the OverDrive app, and playing games.

We’ve only had it for a few days, but have put it to good use. With time, we will have a chance to work on spreadsheets and presentations, connect it to a flatscreen TV with an HDMI micro to HDMI converter, and more. This 2 in 1 definitely knows how to work hard and play hard!

#spon: I’m required to disclose a relationship between our site and Intel. This could include Intel providing us w/content, product, access or other forms of payment.

Intel 2 in 1

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How Smart is Your Home?

Posted in Electronics, Hi-Tech, Lifestyles with tags , , , , on July 6, 2012 by shutterbuggeek

Smartphones and Smart TVs are both loaded with widgets and apps to make your life sweet, but did you know that homes can also be smart? A Smart Home is guided by home control, which automates the electronics. For example, a party ‘button’ can be created to control the music, lighting, and whatever else you’d like for a festive atmosphere. Now that’s what I call the sweet life!

I remember seeing celebrities on TV holding panels that looked like iPads to control their home theater systems, lower motorized shades, and adjust lighting about 10 years ago. I wanted to do this to my home, but figured if they have such systems the cost must be astronomical. However, I always kept the idea in the recesses of my mind.

Suzanne Kantra from Techlicious led a group (with yours truly) through the CEA Line Shows during CE Week in New York. We stopped at the Control4 table, and got a quick demo of how home control can be the ultimate lifestyle system for the 21st century home.

The Control4 system makes me think of the Jetsons. It’s an amazing feel to not only control everything from a convenient panel from within the house, but also with a smartphone from the next town, a different state, or even in another country.

Control4 Home Control System for a Smart Home

To be able to see if there’s flooding in the basement after a hurricane while on vacation, or check if the front door has been locked from the airport, can certainly put anyone’s mind at ease. Unlike a standard timer, lights can be switched on at different times while you’re away to give a more authentic in-home presence. The home temperature could be made comfortable, lights turned on, and music playing for a nice welcome home.

A keypad lock would allow a babysitter or neighbor access to your home with a code just for one day, or if you need another key, you can quickly replicate an existing one in minutes. The door can be programmed to lock/unlock on a schedule, or work with an alarm system. The possibilities seem endless, and just depends on your budget.

What I find most interesting is that these automated systems are more affordable than I thought. A starter kit that includes a controller and remote control costs under $1,000. If lighting, a deadbolt, licensing, and installation are added, the project would cost about $2,000. I actually thought an automated home system started at $10,000.

My group was fortunate enough to receive a smart home set-up courtesy of Control4 in order to test out the system. I’ve decided to graciously accept their gift, and start out with the smaller system they provide, and once I use it, I can always add on from there if I choose. I anticipate that I will love this system, and will soon have a really cool smart home. After all, it does add value and lots of appeal to a home. I’ll write a review once it’s been installed and I’ve tested everything out.

Below is a video that shows how home control can help with security, entertainment, childcare, elder care, energy efficiency and more.

Are You Ready for 3D TV?

Posted in Electronics, Hi-Tech with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 6, 2010 by shutterbuggeek

Ready or not, 3D TV is coming your way. Last month I predicted it would be a tech trend of 2010, and after recently attending an Electrolux sponsored blogger event hosted by MrsG’s @DebbieSchaeffer, and coordinated by Mrs Mo NJ’s @MrsMoNJ, it’s clear that this is going to be in demand by summer! The keynote speaker, Techlicious Founder and Editor-in-Chief Suzanne Kantra, Twitter handle @Techlicious, presented 3D technology in a way easy to digest, even for non-techies. This style is the essence of the website. She was the tech editor for Martha Stewart Living, and Popular Science before starting up Techlicious.com. Did I mention this event was broadcasted live on UStream TV?

Debbie Schaeffer welcoming guests

More and more movies released in theaters are using polarized 3D technology to enhance our viewing experience. Gone are the days of the paper 3D glasses with red and green/blue plastic lenses. These days, we’re given polarized glasses by Real D 3D which look more like a pair of Rayban Wayfarer sunglasses. The effects vary, based on the technology used to shoot or edit the films. I loved Techlicious Founder and CEO Josh Kirschner’s take on some differences. Movies like “Coraline” have graphics popping out of the screen, and make a bold impact. Then you have a movie like “Avatar” which is subtle, and the effects draw you into the scenes, allowing you to connect more with it because of the more natural 3D effect.

Some movies are filmed with special two lens cameras to give us a rich 3D experience, while others are shot with regular cameras, but with 3D in mind, so they make sure the scenes are bright enough, and can be enhanced by adding depth. Unfortunately, other movies are only trying to jump on the band wagon, and aren’t even worth the increased ticket price to watch in 3D. If you take the glasses off, you don’t notice much of a difference, so read the reviews before deciding to pay extra for watching that movie in 3D, or eventually buying it as a 3D Blu-Ray disc.

3D content is being filmed/edited everyday, and it seems like films are being released monthly. The next step is to get them on the “small” screen. Manufacturers are now producing Blu-Ray players capable of playing the content to be shown on 3D TVs. The discs should be available soon. All that’s needed are the 3D glasses, which unfortunately will not be as inexpensive as the polarized theater models due to a different technology needed to reproduce the effect on DLP, LCD, and plasma screens. This is the only drawback. The price range for these shutter glasses is $50 – $250 per unit. Many glasses are proprietary to the manufacturer, but this pair of 3D glasses allow you to use them on any HDTV.

The great news is, 3D content doesn’t end with Blu-Ray discs. Broadcast TV, consumer video cameras, still cameras and video games will also be sources of 3D material. Mitsubishi DLP TVs will be 3D ready, and will require an emitter to send the signal wirelessly to battery operated shutter glasses. Manufacturers of plasma and LCD TVs will have built-in emitters. Both Suzanne Kantra, and Monster Cable’s Scott Pecchia emphasized the importance of using high speed HDMI cables (v1.3) to connect your equipment to each other to properly view 3D material. Monster Cable even has a “Cable for Life” program, which allows you to upgrade your high speed HDMI cable if your current cable isn’t keeping up with current technology.

My Twitter friend @KhurtWilliams asked about the long term effects of wearing 3D glasses, in addition to eye strain. The response was, at this time there isn’t enough data to answer the question about long term effects. Personally, I say everything in moderation. I plan to provide this as a weekly treat for my family, not a daily habit. We also sit at least six feet away from the screen, which reduces the chances of eye strain. What a coincidence that I saw a link he tweeted yesterday, which was “Is 3D Bad for You?”, and it discusses eye strain. It is something everyone should read and consider. I love 3D technology, and I think if used with care, it can enhance your viewing experience. You could have similar concerns about looking at a computer screen all day. It too could cause eye strain or make you nearsighted, so it’s suggested to periodically look at distant objects for about a minute. Basically, exercise good judgment and limit 3D viewing. Stop watching the 3D content if you experience discomfort like headaches or eyestrain.

Suzanne Kantra on right

By the way, I just have to add that a delicious lunch was served. Mrs. G’s always provides a tasty, healthy meal for us, and this event was not any different. McCaffrey’s Supermaket provided the food, and prepared it on site in the Electrolux working kitchen. Steak and shrimp fajitas, with sour cream and freshly made guacamole & salsa were on the menu with salad and fresh fruit. Yum!

I’m really excited about 3D TVs, and I’m getting ready for the explosion. I wasn’t an early adopter, watching movies via a home server as this post describes, but I do want to be one of the first in the neighborhood to invite my kids’ friends over to watch a Disney or Dreamworks CG 3D movie, so they can go tell their parents to buy all the goodies, and spread the tech joy!

5 Tech Trends of 2010

Posted in Electronics, Hi-Tech with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 19, 2010 by shutterbuggeek

All of the following technologies have been around, but I predict they’ll become extremely popular this year. They’re in no particular order.

1. 3D TVs – With all the digital 3D movies coming out in the theaters, interest has piqued for the same quality at home. The problem is, you can’t just play a DVD and watch the movie in 3D on your television with Real D 3D glasses from the theaters. You need to connect an emitter to your television, install the provided software in a PC, connect the PC to your TV with an HDMI cable, and wear 3D shutter glasses. This is fine for geeks and early adopters, but not for everyone. The set up is explained in the video below. Since it’s not as user friendly for the average viewer, the masses haven’t flocked to this yet. 3d ready blu-ray players are becoming available, which will avoid that cumbersome set-up, so you should see an increased demand for these products.

2. Media Streaming on HDTV – On demand programming from Netfix, YouTube, Pandora, and Blockbuster are becoming the rage.  Use a blu-ray player, Microsoft Xbox 360, Sony Playstation 3, Tivo HD DVR, or select HDTVs to view streaming video or listen to internet radio around the clock via wi-fi.

3. Green Tech – Whether they be laptops, cell phone chargers, or external hard drives, more tech products are being made with the environment in mind. Some are eco-friendly by saving energy, streamlining packing, eliminating toxins used to in production, and/or using recyclable materials.

4. Cloud Computing –  Microsoft , Cisco and IBM are big names in cloud computing for business users. However, Google caters to the consumer market with Docs, Gmail, Blogger, Picasa, Wave, and Buzz. Social media is giving this arena a major boost!

5. Mobile Apps – These exploded when the iTunes app store opened. There has been an unbelievable growth in the number of apps available since then, especially with those based on location. I remember Loopt being one of the first social media location based apps being promoted for the iPhone. Later Brightkite, Gowalla and FourSquare were released. Now RunKeeper has a new live tracking service allowing family and friends to track your run on-line.

There will be more trends this year, so I’m hoping you’ll chime in and share your thoughts. What do you predict some of the tech trends for 2010 will be?

The Evolution of the PDA to Smartphone Has Transformed Our Lifestyles

Posted in Electronics, Gadgets, Hi-Tech, iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad with tags , , , , , , , on February 18, 2010 by shutterbuggeek

Everywhere I go, I see someone with a smartphone. A little over a decade ago, cell phones were just getting smaller in size, and working their way from boardrooms to households. PDAs were also transitioning from executives’ briefcases to housewives’ purses. Then suddenly they collided into the current “must have” device.

I’ve always been a gadget freak. I remember when I was younger seeing people carrying a Casio B.O.S.S. or an Apple Newton and thinking they were cool, but I didn’t have a need for one myself. Back in the late 1990’s the Palm Pilot was all the buzz. Palm took over the market of handheld devices. I received a monochrome m130. I used it for a while, and quickly grew bored with it. A few years later I got a Zire 71. I was captivated by it. It had a color screen, I could convert videos I recorded on my then PC to watch on it, as well as listen to music, view photos, and wait for it…slide the device to expose a still camera. My non-techie friends were amazed with all that I could do with a PDA.

When the Zire 72 came out, I was blessed with it as an upgrade. That model offered video too! But soon, manufacturers started pulling out of the PDA market and transformed to smartphones. Then things got interesting.

At this point, there were many smartphones available, but Apple shook things up with the iPhone. Many were in awe of it, but I was disappointed. Why? It didn’t have nearly as many apps as my PDA. My Palm allowed me to get the latest news via AvantGo, I had games galore, travel guides, audiobooks and more. A year later, Apple opened the App Store. I started downloading apps before I even had a device. I collected the free ones first just to see if they could match what I had on my Zire 72. Once those third party apps surpassed what I had, it was time to make a move.

Just like the Razor’s stylish appearance made it a phenomenon (was I the ONLY one who didn’t have one?), Apple made smartphones sexy. Their design, technology and user interface wowed the masses, and had other manufacturers scrambling to pick up the pace. Google stepped up with the G1, Palm has the Prē, and of course there is the mighty Blackberry. There are so many smartphones on the market representing most major providers, that there’s a choice for everyone. Many have piggybacked Apple’s design, and some have a touchscreen. PDAs combined with phones have appealed to the general population, from tweens to seniors. What was once a convenient gadget for business people and geeks, has now transformed into an everyday item like DVD players.

Today, cell phones with an operating system have more capabilities than home computers of the 1980s. Combining the internet, e-mail, (virtual) keyboard, camera, and SMS along with third party apps and a phone, has made these mobile devices a juggernaut, and has become an icon of popular culture. They’re not just toys for geeks; they become a necessity for some. The bonus is, they start up quickly as opposed to the other portable rival, the laptop. If you leave one on your night table before you go to sleep, when you wake up in the morning, you have everything you need at your fingertips, except for breakfast in bed. You can look up the weather, read breaking news, check your-mails, view closing markets on the opposite side of the world, inspire followers on Twitter, and update your Facebook status, all while listening to your favorite music. Instant gratification has been snowballing since the 1980s, and smartphones are the poster children for this concept, since they can satisfy many request in seconds. I tell my friends, it’s like waking up in the morning, and having a personal staff member (I call mine James), bring you the mail, various newspapers, and turn on music. You basically have a butler you can store in your pocket! Oh James! About breakfast… Hey, is there an app for that?

Tech Gifts 2009

Posted in Apple-Mac, Electronics, Entertainment-Movies, Gadgets, Hi-Tech, iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad, Lifestyles with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 13, 2009 by shutterbuggeek

I almost  titled this post Geek Gifts 2009, but now that technology has infiltrated the masses, does it mean that most of us are geeks, and we’ll eventually eliminate the label all together, or will geeks mutate into a higher form? Yes, I did say higher. Geeks will always be ahead of the pack, but for now just by one step. These days, 10 year olds have iPhones, and 5 year olds own laptops. Even my parents who tend to resist technology have a cell phone, PC, and DVD player. I know you’re thinking these are the bare necessities, but believe me when I say it’s a BIG thing for them to own these items. Now if I can only get my dad to buy an HDTV. He’s well overdue! Um. Was I adopted?

So now that you realize you’re a closet geek, let me tell you what I think are cool techie gifts to give (or receive) this holiday season.

It is said, once you go Mac, you’ll never go back. Either convert your PC frustrated loved one, or upgrade that special Mac mini owner in your life to a beautiful 27″ iMac. This large size is not just for photographers, filmmakers and graphic designers, the average Joe can appreciate streaming Netflix movies or podcasts on this. Even better, pop in a DVD, and watch your favorite flick on this beautiful screen. The pixel density is amazing at 1440p, yes well BEYOND the high definition of 1080p! That gives you awesome clarity in HD, tack sharp text, and brilliant details of photos. The LED backlit display gives you the uniform brightness. It also comes with a wireless keyboard and multi-touch wireless mouse. The design alone should give you heart palpitations, but what’s inside will blow you away. You didn’t just see me drooling, did you?

Sticking with Apple for a moment, it’s hard to deny the market share they have in the mp3 arena, and their phones aren’t  too shabby either. If you know someone who doesn’t want AT&T service, but loves the iPhone, the solution is to give them an iPod Touch. It was revamped in September, bumping up the gigs from 16 to 32 and 32 to 64, and the price remained the same. What? That’s sheer madness! Actually, it’s a brilliant move on Apple’s part, especially in this economy. This is a PDA on steroids! It has wi-fi & bluetooth, allowing you to retrieve e-mail from several pop & imap accounts, you can surf the web, watch videos, listen to music, and the list goes on. With the inclusion of bluetooth, you can challenge a friend  to a car race or a game of tic-tac-toe on a plane or in a car. With the proper apps, you can watch streaming video from your Mac in bed, and then remotely put it in sleep mode or it shut down for the night. Need I say more?

Chances are high that you know someone who owns an iPod/iPhone, Zune or portable DVD player. The Cinemin Swivel is a pocket size multimedia pico projector, which once connected to your device will allow you to watch a movie, YouTube, podcasts, etc. projected on a screen or wall. You can project it as close as the back of an airplane seat, or if you have a room where you have at least 8 feet distance, you can get up to a 60-inch image.  It has a rechargeable battery which lasts over 2 hours, enabling you to watch most movies in full. I have got to stop drooling.

This is a BIG ticket item, and most guys would love to receive this one. The 82″ Mitushishi 3-D ready 1080p DLP. I had a demo of this with the required shutter glasses to view a movie in 3-D and WOW, it’s just like in the theaters. You must connect a PC (Macs not compatible) with the installed software to playback the DVD. An emitter is connected to the HDTV, and the glasses pick up the infra red signal to give you accurate 3 dimensional images. Of course, DLPs are not as bright as an LCD or a plasma display, but it is a lot more energy efficient. Guys, do you have your 12-pack and nachos ready for the game? When you get this EVERY friend you know will be over to watch the game. And who said size doesn’t matter?

I’m on my second model of this next item. I love these products! Universal remotes from Logitech-Harmony. Using the software provided, you select your A/V equipment, connect the remote to your computer via a USB cable, and all the info is transferred onto the device. Sweet! The beauty of these remotes is not only do they operate one piece of equipment, like turning on your TV, if you select “choose an activity”, i.e. Watch DVD, it will turn on all devices necessary to watch a DVD, including switching the TV and amp/receiver to the appropriate settings. I do have to manually turn on my old powered subwoofer, but besides that, click 2 buttons and everything is ready. Well, you do have to put in the DVD. The new Logitech Harmony 1100 is amazing. It has a big touch screen, and a big price to match, somewhere in the $350 range. You probably need two hands to operate it, since it’s in tablet form. I bought the 880 that’s Mac compatible a couple of years ago, and is operational with one hand. This is down to $125 in the meanwhile, which makes it a great deal if you don’t mind not having a touch screen. The One and 900 models also offer touch screens, and are priced in between the 880 and 1100.

There are tons of cool tech items to add to your wish list this year. Do you like the Sonos music system, a Shiatsu full body massage chair, or the Droid cell phone. Dare to share! What’s your favorite tech toy of 2009?


Holiday Wish List 2009

Posted in Accesories, Electronics, Gadgets, Hi-Tech, Lifestyles, Photography, Travel, Watches with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 2, 2009 by shutterbuggeek

The holiday season is upon us, and you might have already started compiling your wish list. I have one ready to go. Actually, it’s quite extensive, but in order not to look too materialistic, I have shortened it to 10 items. It’s just a list, which means I won’t get everything from it, and I might not get anything. Someone told me it reminds her of Oprah’s Favorite Things list, so let’s pretend I’m on Oprah’s show, and she’s giving away gifts. Knowing what type of goodies she gives away, this is what I would hope would be on the list:

1. 3-D DLP liquid crystal shutter glasses (4) with IR emitter & software. We are about to order a 3-D ready HDTV for my husband for his birthday. In order to watch movies in 3-D, you need wear these shutter glasses, and play back the DVD on a PC running the software included with them. The glasses are synced up to the monitor via the emitter, so when a left eye view is presented, the left eye can see the image, while the right eye can’t. The result is an amazing 3-D experience, as seen in the theaters.

2. LG BD390 Blu-Ray disc player has an integrated 802.11n Wi-Fi, and streams Netflix, YouTube, and CinemaNow. It also plays music, videos, and pictures off a connected USB drive or streaming video from your networked connected PC. The player has audio outputs for Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio for playback on almost any HDMI-capable AV receiver. It also has decoding for  legacy DTS formats, i.e. DTS 96/24, ES, ES Matrix, and Neo:6. This is LG’s flagship Blu-Ray disc player, jam packed with features, blazing fast load times, and outstanding video quality. A must!

3. Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Squadra Lady Duetto in 18K pink gold with a total of 73 diamonds (front and back bezels, plus stem). The front dial shows the date and a day/night dial. The reverse shows a stunning face contrasting in black with white numerals. The Reverso is an Art-Deco classic that was created for British officers stationed in India to use in polo matches. The swivel system allowed the face to be reversed to a solid metal finish. The Duetto adds another face to the reverse side, giving you two faces per watch. Jaeger-LeCoultre are one of the few manufacturers that continue to make movements for themselves, as well as for others, including Patek Phillipe, Cartier, and Audemars Piguet.

4. Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue for Women. I know it’s been around for years, but I still love it.

5. Canon EOS 7D. Their latest camera sets a new standard! It has 18MP, dual DIGIC 4 image processors, up to ISO 12800 and speeds of up to 8 fps. It also captures full HD video at 30p, 24p and 25p with an array of manual controls that would make filmmakers drool. This is an awesome camera, just waiting for me to use it. Come to mama!

6. EF 24-70/2.8L lens would compliment my current glass, in between my 11-16/2.8 mm & 17-40/4L mm wide angle lenses and my 70-200/2.8L mm telephoto, and will work well with my new 7D (hint, hint). This would make a perfect walk around lens, which is great in low lighting.

7. Dooney & Burke Commemorative All-Weather Leather Satchel – It’s nothing fancy, but I just love a classic look for an everyday bag. Plain and simple works well for me.

8. Frescobaldi Laudemio Extra Virgin Olive Oil – A good bottle of olive oil is like a bottle of fine wine for me! I prefer Tuscan oils, and I’m not tied down to one brand, but it has to be excellent!

9. All Clad 4-Square Waffle Maker – The manufacturer says it all. This is a high quality machine built to make crisp Belgian waffles. This would make my ultimate batter, which I MIGHT share with you one day, transform into the best waffles ever! It has great features like an overflow trough to avoid countertop spillage, and a steam release system to insure crispiness on the outside while the inside remains soft.

10. An 18K rose gold chain link bracelet. It doesn’t matter if it’s from Cartier, Pomellato, Tiffany, Wempe…surprise me!

So Oprah, or anyone else who is extremely generous, if you’re reading this and feel compelled to send me an item from this list, leave a comment and I will contact you! Everyone else, list the top 5 items from your list in the comment box. I’d love to see what you’re interested in this year.

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