Great Gadgets

There were an estimated 20,000 new gadgets on display at CES 2017 in Las Vegas. Some are the very devices we’ll fork over fistfuls when they hit store shelves later this year. Others provide an exciting glimpse of wildly futuristic new concepts to come.

And then, there’s the rest of it.

Here are some of the oddest and awesom-est gadgets I went hands-on with this year.


Toyota Yui Concept

Remember Nightrider’s Kitt car? That’s what it was like taking Toyota’s crazy new Concept-i Yui car for a virtual spin. Hands-down the coolest experience of the show for me, this ultra-futuristic auto read my emotions through camera sensors, monitored everything around us, and slammed on the breaks long before I even realized that a woman stepped off the curb in front of us. It even said “Hello!” to passersby or “Watch out!” to people tailing a little too close. When we hit an open stretch of highway, the seat reclined and small rollers built-in to the backrest gave me a massage. Toyota says Yui is what driving will be like in 2030, but I’m hoping it’s even sooner than that. A car that pampers you? Yes please!

Kino-Mo Hypervsn

Kino-mo had me hooked at first glance with its floating 3D “holographic” Pikachu. This London-based company drew some of the biggest crowds in the Eureka Park startup area, and for good reason: The incredibly colorful and realistic looking displays of everything from fast food to famous entrepreneur Mark Cuban made us all believe that holograms are finally here! While not technically an actual hologram, these 3D visuals float and move in mid-air just like the real thing, using a patented combo of high speed fans, magnets, LED’s and projectors. They’re used in advertising for now, so we can only hope to have them in our homes soon too.

Parihug Plushies

I miss my family like crazy whenever I’m away from home like I was all week for CES, and that’s where a little stuffed animal called Pari comes in. No matter where you happen to be in the world, give your Pari a squeeze and it sends a “hug” to a connected companion plushie for your loved one to receive. The hugs range from mild short vibrations to longer, stronger, more intense haptic feedback “embraces.” No two human hugs are the same, and neither are hugs from Parihug — they vary in intensity and duration just like the real deal. I’ll stick with a Facetime call for now, but Parihug is undeniably adorable.

Aluma Connect

On a more serious note, smartphones are safety gadgets for millions of us every day, but in a personal emergency they’re not always as helpful as they could be. Aluma Connect showcased a credit card-sized security device that attaches to the back of your phone and sync with a special app, creating a super-powered safety net. There’s a silent alarm button built in that sends notifications to your friends and family as well as an audible siren to deter attackers. The battery provides a full year of protection on a single charge. You can sign up on the company’s website for an alert when the price and launch date are revealed. I’m ordering one for myself, my daughter, and my mom right away!

In&motion Wearable Airbags

When In&motion strapped its wearable airbag vest on me I didn’t know what to expect. Then, with a tap of a smartphone, it instantly inflated with giant whoosh and great big bang. It scared the bejeezus out of me — and everyone on the showroom floor. But if I was taking a tumble down a snowy ski hill or getting bucked off an angry horse, it’s the exact right thing to protect my torso and keep my upper body intact! In&motion makes these for motorcyclists, horseback riders, and extreme sports enthusiasts, and it’s sending its first 500 vests to eager testers soon — for free.

Wair pollution scarf

Fashion statement or funky air filter, aw hell, why not make a gadget that’s both? That’s exactly what French company Wair did with a high-tech scarf that aims to protect you from air pollution. On a clear day, just wrap the silky accessory around your neck and shoulders and look all spiffy as you go about your business. The scarf constantly measures the quality of ambient air and sends an alert to your smartphone when it’s time to cover up. If that happens, you just pull the scarf over your nose and mouth, and let the built-in fan and air-filtration system do its thing. As weird as this sounds, I could actually see using it in big cities around the world — especially if I commite by bike.

Spartan undies

Yes, “booth babes” are still a thing. But the scantily-clad models in their skivvies at Spartan Underwear’s corner of CES looked a whole lot different than the rest of the show…because they were dudes. The guys were showing off undies that protect “down undy” from the radiation created by smartphones and wifi antennas. Spartan says its boxer-briefs have silver fibers weaved into the cotton that block nearly 100% of wireless radiation from being absorbed. Since science still hasn’t decided if those waves are harmful or not, keeping them away from the baby-making body parts could very well be a “better safe than sorry” move. Guys can pick up Spartan boxers right now, starting at $45.


Spinali Smart Shorts

The “booth babes” at fashion company Spinali’s CES showcase weren’t just there as eye candy either, they were wearing smart Daisy-Duke’that actually vibrate to give you directions. The weird wearable syncs with your phone and nudges one side of your waist or the other to tell you where and when to turn. It’s a bizarre way to find your way around a city, especially if you have your phone with you anyway. Spinali doesn’t have a launch date yet, but it’s already got full-length smart jeans for sale, so it probably won’t be long before the short-shorts also hit the shelves too.

Smartcane by Dring

Seniors have been forgotten by the “smart” tech revolution for way too long, and now they’re getting some attention with the Smartcane. But before you roll your eyes, don’t worry: this cane doesn’t play Spotify or flash like a disco ball, it’s actually a really helpful tool for caregivers to monitor the activity of their elderly clients, and it can even send alerts to family or friends if it falls over, which could signal potential problems. There’s no release date or price yet, but you can sign up for updates on the company’s website.

Roli Blocks

Every year I look at my bucket list and see “learn to play an instrument,” and every year I forget to find the time. Roli’s Blocks are the first gadget I’ve seen that lets you play music even if you have no idea how. It’s a mini modular music studio that gives beginners a huge jump start so that you can playing right away. Just connect the Roli Blocks to your iPhone via Bluetooth and customize the LED lighted touchpads with whatever combinations of sounds you want. When I tapped a few times, actual music came out — and it didn’t sound like a dying chicken. I was in awe. You can buy Roli Blocks now online or in Apple Stores, starting at $179.95.



Posted in Connected Kids, Digital Parenting, Girlfriend's Guide, Great Gadgets, In The Press, TechNow, TechStyled, Tips & Tricks, Top tech news, What The Tech

Here are some awesome apps to make the most of your Halloween!

Facebook Live’s Masks
Snapchat-like masks that turn you into a pumpkin or witch in Facebook’s Live Video feature.

It’s never been easier to turn your selfies into animated vampires — fangs, blood and all.

Halloween Clip Art on PicsArt
Why spend tons of money buying makeup you’ll never wear again, and all those hours drawing your look, only to have to start over when you mess up your eyeliner? Instead, give yourself a dozen looks without spending a dime. All you need is PicsArt’s Halloween Clipart to create jaw-dropping looks for Instagram photos that thrill.

The Walking Dead: Dead Yourself App
A must-have app for Walking Dead fans, this app turns your selfie into an incredibly realistic zombie.

The new Halloween pack of Kim Kardashian’s Kimoji’s include skulls and multiple costume options.

Posted in Great Gadgets, In The Press, TechNow, Tips & Tricks, Top tech news, Uncategorized, What The Tech

Whenever Tim Cook and the Apple gang announce a new iPhone, a whole slew of people start doing the math: Is it worth it to hang on to the model you already have or does it pay to upgrade? (The iPhone 7 starts at $649, and the 7 Plus starts at $769.)

Strictly personal preferences aside (like you must have those new dual cameras, waterproofing, and/or longer battery life) or unless you’re filthy rich, the answer to that question can be really confusing. I’ll do my best to break it all down for you.

When it pays to buy the new phone:

**If you’ve been enrolled in the Apple Upgrade Program (which starts at $32.41 per month) for at least six months, you can trade in your old phone for the new iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus. You’ll have to pay the equivalent of 12 months though, so if you’ve been enrolled for less than a year, you have to pay the difference. Also, if your phone’s damaged, you’ll pony-up for the AppleCare deductible too. Check here to see if you’re eligible for an upgrade. If you are, you can reserve your new phone when pre-orders begin on Friday, but you have to go into an Apple Store in person, with two forms of ID, plus a credit card and your Social Security number to get it. Apple will run a new credit check, and a new 24-month clock starts over again.

**If your current iPhone is a 4S model or older, now’s a good time to upgrade for several reasons too. For starters, Apple’s latest mobile operating system, iOS 10, doesn’t work on that — or previous models — any longer. Sure, the phone still “works,” but there’s a pretty big difference between it working and working well. There’s also an issue of screen size, battery life, and the new camera capabilities, which for several people alone, are worth the price of the upgrade.

**If you have an iPhone 6S in excellent condition, and another phone to use between now and getting the iPhone 7, you can sell your 6S on eBay right now for as much $660 — and lock in that price. (This is what I’m going to do myself.) According to Vincent Payen, Head of Consumer Selling at eBay, my current 128GB iPhone 6S is going for $660. Log in to the Sell it Yourself program, list the phone, and you automatically earn the trending price — even if it ends up selling for less! If it does sell for less, you’ll get the balance in the form of an eBay coupon. It’s not cold hard cash, but it certainly softens the blow of a new device. To make the most though, jump on it now. Prices go down fast once the new phones actually go on sale.

**If you’re eligible for an upgrade through your carrier — with a serious “buyer beware” caveat. Mobile carriers used to offer upgrades every two years or so. They don’t do that anymore. Some people were grandfathered in though. Here’s how to check your eligibility for the major players:
Verizon (800.922.0204 or dial *611 from your phone)
AT&T (800.331.0500 or dial 611 from your phone)
T-Mobile (800.866.2453 or dial 611 from your phone)
Sprint (866.866.7509 or dial *3 from your phone)

Whether re-upping with the carrier’s new device “lease” program is the best bang for your buck really depends, because you’re still paying it off, plus interest (like leasing a new car). If you’re going to stick with a specific carrier for sure, paying the device off in installments might work best for you, since you’d otherwise have to pay the full price in one big chunk. Just be sure to crunch the numbers yourself and read the fine print, because either way, you’re still paying more to finance your handset than paying full price up front.

**If your current smartphone is on it’s last legs — or if you don’t have a smartphone yet at all — it might pay to buy the iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus. Nearly half of all Americans only upgrade their phone when their current one craps-out for good, according to Gallup. If the screen’s cracked and you’re getting splinters in your lips, or the battery dies *while* you’re still charging it up, or taking more than ten seconds of video fills up the memory … it’s time to get a new iPhone. (Read that last line in your best Jeff Foxworthy voice.)

When it pays to hold off:

**If you have an iPhone 6 or newer model and it’s working great, it might make more sense to wait to see what Apple unveils next year. 2017 marks the 10th anniversary of the iPhone. There’s a lot of speculation already that truly revolutionary changes might be in store then.

**If you can’t afford to shell out several hundred dollars for a smartphone, there are all kinds of really good Android devices in the $200 range that might make more sense for you. Shop around!

**You’re buying the phone for a child or teen. Unless money’s no object, I think it’s crazy to shell out major bank for a device for a youngster. Give them your old hand-me-down instead, or make them save up from chores or odd-jobs to buy one of their own.

When it doesn’t matter:

**You’re considering spending $500 – $1,000 on a consumer camera anyway. The new iPhone 7 Plus could be point-and-shoot killers. While it’s still too early to test Apple’s “camtastic” superlatives yet, the promise of dual camera’s, optical image stabilization, better shooting in low-light, four-LED flash, and Lytro-like selective focus could put it on par with many popular DSLR’s on the market today.

**You just won the lottery.

**You need the bragging rights.

Be sure to share your thoughts on the pro’s and costs of upgrading now versus waiting in the comments section below.

Posted in Girlfriend's Guide, Great Gadgets, In The Press, TechNow, Top tech news

The new High School year started today for my teenage daughter, while our neighbor’s college-bound co-ed doesn’t have to hit the books until just after Labor Day. And the Elementary school year is already well underway for my friends’ kids in Chicago.

You know what all this means, right? Parents are trying to figure out what new tech gadgets our kids really need—or in other words, what’s required versus desired—as kids everywhere gear up to go back to school.

WHAT THEY’LL NEED: Laptop/Tablet Hybrids

The main question most parents ask me is whether their kids need a tablet or a laptop. Why worry about one or the other when you can both — without breaking the bank. Lenovo’s Ideapad Miix 310 ($299) is an impressive cross between a laptop and a tablet, for a fraction of the cost of a full-fledged notebook.
With a 10-inch touchscreen display, dual cameras, and the full Windows 10 Home experience built in, it’s got solid tech chops. It’s a hybrid in the truest sense of the word. Students can use the main unit independently of the included detachable keyboard, making it a great on-the-go companion in a pinch and a serious laptop too. Couple all that with battery life that can rock 10 hours of video playback without needing to be refueled and you’ve got a computer with brains and brawn, at a budget price.

The Miix 310 is a fantastic little machine, but for high school seniors and college kids, a little more power never hurts. Microsoft’s Surface Pro 4 ($749) fits the bill as both a full-fledged portable computer and a handy tablet for on-the-go note-taking. With a big 128GB SSD and 4GB of RAM in its standard configuration, it’ll fly through any task your student can throw at it now, and for many years to come.
The 12.3-inch touchscreen is crisp and responsive, and with the built-in stand, included Surface Pen, and optional Type Cover keyboard, it pulls double duty better than any computer before it. It’s great for messaging, web surfing with Microsoft’s new Edge browser, and word processing during the school day. Then, once all the papers and presentations have been conquered, it seamlessly transitions to a high-powered media center, running Netflix and streaming music with ease. It really is the most capable all-in-one laptop replacement around, and it’s more affordable than it’s ever been.

WHAT THEY’LL NEED: Sensible Smartphones
My daughter had an inexpensive, basic cell phone until halfway through her Freshman year of high school. I guess that makes me the mean Mom because on average, children are getting their first smartphones around age 10, according to the research firm Influence Central. With the insane number of high-priced smartphones floating, it might feel impossible to find something “cool” that doesn’t also happen to cost $500 or more.
One option I recently discovered is Sony’s Xperia XA ($279). I’m a big fan of its wallet-friendly price tag, not to mention its sleek, no-nonsense aesthetic, with a borderless 5-inch HD touchscreen that oozes awesomeness.

Inside, Sony packed a 64-bit, eight-core processor, high-powered 13-megapixel rear-facing camera, 8-megapixel selfie camera on the front, and microSD storage support for up to 200GB worth of apps, videos, songs, and selfies. It comes in four colors, and it runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow, with support for all the latest and greatest games (like Pokemon Go!). Two-day battery life will keep your student in-touch even if they forget to do their nightly charging routine.

WHAT THEY’LL NEED: Portable Printer
I keep reading news stories that say students don’t need printers anymore because cloud sharing and USB thumb drives have made them obsolete. That’s malarky. My daughter still has to turn in printed papers and projects nearly every single day. For an inexpensive answer to all kinds of printer-needs, take a look at the HP DeskJet 3700 ($69.99). HP calls it the “world’s smallest all-in-one printer,” and at the size of a shoebox, it is a nice size for a dorm room or desk. It’s also wireless, comes in different colors and lets you print, scan, and copy. HP’s instant ink feature delivers refills to your door step or dorm room too.

WHAT THEY’LL WANT: Backup Storage and Power
There’s nothing worse than having a high-tech gadget fail you simply because you ran out of juice or fell victim to any number of common data bugs. Wattzup has a huge lineup of adorable battery packs ($39.99) that look amazing and perform even better. They come in cute shapes, like emoji’s, ice cream cones and pizza slices, and pack a big 2,600mAh charge to refuel whatever gadget has run low. When it comes to peace of mind for data, you can’t go wrong with Seagate’s Expansion drives (starting at $49.99). They’re compact and durable but can store huge amounts of data — enough to completely backup a computer in the event of total hardware failure. It’s super portable and with the latest USB 3.0 technology, it’s also blazingly fast.

With professors and teachers barking at them all day, you can bet that a nice pair of headphones will be right at the top of your kids’ back to school wish list. Monster’s Ghostbuster-themed on-ear headphones ($119.95) are eye-catching and built to last, and who doesn’t love that classic Ghostbusters logo? And if earbuds are more what they’re after, Skullcandy’s Smokin’ Buds (starting at $47.99) are built to last, and come in a bunch of different colors and styles — even wireless. The best part is that Skullcandy is right in the middle of its back to school sale, which means up to 20% off your order.

WHAT THEY’LL WANT: Smart Waterbottles
Moving from high-quality headphones to high-tech hydration, Gululu ($99) is part water bottle, part virtual pet. The bottle actually reminds your kids to get their recommended daily water intake by turning it into a fun, simple game. Every time your child takes a sip, the colorful virtual character displayed on the built-in display grows, kind of like those Tamagochi pets that everyone was addicted to years ago. For older kids, the Hydra Smartbottle ($59) is like the Swiss Army knife of water bottles. It’s a 20-ounce water bottle that charges gadgets – can fully recharge an iPhone about 2-and-a-half times, Bluetooth speaker and there’s also multicolor LEDs that turn it into a safety lantern or to add color-changing strobe lights for those impromptu dorm room dance-off’s.
There’s more students will want and need, and this is just the beginning out of our back to school gadget news. Next up, how to tech-out dorms on a dime.

Posted in Connected Kids, Digital Parenting, Girlfriend's Guide, Great Gadgets, In The Press, TechNow, Top tech news

If there’s one universal truth when it comes to gift-giving, it’s this: Dads are the hardest people on the planet to shop for. They usually just buy whatever they want, when they want it, leaving precious little to surprise them with. But as good as they are lavishing themselves with tech toys, there are undoubtedly a few that they haven’t even considered, and that’s where I come in.

Here are the drop-dead awesome 2016 Father’s Day gifts that your pops never even knew he wanted.


LG’s 55-inch 4K Ultra HD Smart TV (55UH7700)

LG’s 55-inch 4K Ultra HD Smart TV

Big screens and dads go together like peanut butter and jelly, but if your pa is still stuck in the 1080p era, it’s time to give him an upgrade he’ll truly appreciate. LG’s 55-inch 4K Ultra HD Smart TV (55UH7700) ($849) is an absurdly gorgeous piece of living room eye candy. It plays all the latest, sharpest 4K content with ease and has a built-in 4K upscaling feature to make standard HD content as detailed as possible. Deep blacks, eye-popping clarity, and a super-thin bezel will make it the jewel of his man cave, and at a price that won’t break your bank account. But if you do want to go even bigger, LG also has a premium line of OLED TVs offering what’s been hailed as “the best TV picture quality ever,” starting at $2,000.


Microsoft Surface Pro 4

Microsoft Surface Pro 4

For the gadget hound, Microsoft’s Surface Pro 4 ($899) is a huge score. It’s a do-everything device that pulls double duty as both a desktop-class notebook and a fully capable tablet, with gaming, social media, and streaming sports capabilities that will likely put his current PC to shame. The Surface Pen is a serious convenience bonus, and if dad likes jotting down notes with one hand rather than hunting-and-pecking on his keyboard, it’s a perfect match.


Parrot Bebop Drone 2 w/Skycontroller

Parrot Bebop Drone 2 w/Skycontroller

I’ve yet to meet a dad — or anyone, for that matter — who isn’t mesmerized by the sight of a drone taking to the skies. Luckily, one of the first and best drone brands, Parrot, is rolling out some pretty big discounts that last through Father’s Day. If the sky’s the limit, go for the top-of-the-line Bebop 2 ($699.99), which features a front-mounted 1080p camera and the Skycontroller tablet, for up to 25 minutes of flight time and a top speed of nearly 40 miles per hour. For aerial fun on a budget, the Airborne Cargo drone ($69.99) weighs less than two ounces but is impressively stable and speedy, with a built-in camera for grabbing some in-air snapshots.


Sony’s Extra Bass Bluetooth Headphones

Sony’s Extra Bass Bluetooth Headphones

Whether your dad likes to rock out to the latest Top 40 tracks or wants to revisit his youth and crank up some Def Leppard or Metallica, Sony’s Extra Bass Bluetooth Headphones ($128) are going to put him in music heaven. These high-end earphones connect to a smartphone or laptop in seconds with zero wires, and can keep the tunes flowing for up to 30 hours without needing a recharge. Big, beefy 30mm drivers in each earpiece provide deep, booming bass, and still keep the highs clear, for the perfect listening experience.


Mevo Live Streaming Video Camera

Mevo Live Streaming Video Camera

Remember the school play, where dad sat with his massive camcorder and recorded your totally-awesome-for-a-6th-grader performance? Today, giant video recording rigs are a thing of the past; all dad needs to capture a fantastic family moment is a Mevo ($299). This tiny — and I mean seriously small — gadget packs a powerful 4K camera with a 12.4-megapixel sensor and built-in microphone. That means ultra-sharp video with crisp audio to match, and with expandable memory and a smartphone companion app to tweak the myriad of settings, it puts even the best iPhone camera to shame. Pre-order it now to save $100 and the company says Dad will have it in hand later this summer.


iBobber Bluetooth Fishfinder

iBobber Bluetooth Fishfinder

One way to really blow dad’s mind on Father’s Day is to combine two things he loves: gadgets and fishing. The iBobber ($89.99) — I know, cliche name, but stick with me — is a high-tech marriage that combines sonar fish-finding technology with an easy-to-use smartphone app. The result is a super accurate underwater mapper that floats on the surface and paints a picture of what lies below. It can draw the contour of the terrain below and identify any fish that happen to be waiting for a well-placed lure. The app, which is available on both iOS and Android, can communicate with the device up to 100 feet away via Bluetooth, which means no fish will be safe from Dad’s watchful eye.




Want to gift your father something that could quite literally save his life? If he spends lots of time on the beach, the Sharkbanz band ($65.00) will give both of you some peace of mind when he’s out conquering the waves. This sleek little wearable straps to dad’s ankle or wrist when he’s out swimming, surfing, or snorkeling, and emits magnetic waves to deter underwater predators. The patented technology requires no battery or charging, and has a whole lot of proven research to back it up. It’s like a big “this isn’t food” sign for sharks, and dad will appreciate your thoughtfulness.


Bluesmart Black Edition

Bluesmart Black Edition

I’ve been a huge fan of the Bluesmart luggage line for a long time, and with the launch of the new Bluesmart Black Edition ($549), it’s a great time to invite dad to join the smart luggage revolution. The Bluesmart suitcase is much more feature-packed than your average carry-on; the case has built-in location tracking via a global SIM card, a backup battery pack to charge your gadgets on the go, and even a remote locking feature that auto-secures itself if you leave it anywhere. On top of that, it acts as its own digital scale, so you always know exactly how much it weighs, which will help your dad avoid weight fees and other airport hassles.


IfOnly - Bucketlist Experience Gifts

IfOnly – Bucketlist Experience Gifts

Speaking of travel, if you’d rather give dad an experience, rather than a thing, If/Only should be the first place you look. If/Only is kind of like Etsy, but for local attractions and lessons. In San Francisco someone will teach your father how to feed actual sharks at the aquarium; in New York, an award-winning bartender will help make dad’s home bar a thing of beauty; and in Boston, dad’s beard will get royal treatment as he crafts his own custom shave oil with shaving experts. No matter where you live, there’s bound to be an awesome experience for dad hiding nearby.



If you absolutely are out of ideas, you can always just let someone else pick dad’s gift for him, and then take all the credit yourself with a Man Crate (starting at $19.99). Man Crates are pre-selected collections of awesome gifts organized by your dad’s specific interests. Whether he loves golf, fishing, camping, grilling, drinking, or any of the dozens of other Man Crate options, the box he’ll receive will be absolutely packed with the best products. You can even send him an entire box full of bacon jerky, if that’s his thing. The Dive Bar Shirt Club ($22 per month) is a similar option and a great Father’s Day go-to, sending out monthly t-shirt packages from bars in the United States.

Happy Father’s Day!

Posted in Connected Kids, Digital Parenting, Girlfriend's Guide, Great Gadgets, In The Press, TechNow, Top tech news, Uncategorized

Jennifer Jolly reviews the best of the best Mother's Day gadget gifts of 2016

(As seen in USA Today) Columnist Jennifer Jolly reviews the best of the best Mother’s Day gadget gifts of 2016

Mother’s Day is coming up fast and that special gift that makes her feel all warm and fuzzy inside? Well it isn’t just going to make, or buy, itself. Here are 10 of this year’s most-wanted mom gadgets sure to show her how much you appreciate her, all year long.

Make Mom’s Life Easier

No idea what she really wants? Hmm… As a busy mom myself — most days what I really need —  is a clone. Sure, that’s still just sci-fantasy for now, but Amazon’s Echo($180) can feel pretty darn close at times. Echo is a hands-free speaker and personal assistant designed around your voice. Just say the word “Alexa,” the device wake-up word, and then ask a question, play music, have Alexa read the news, set timers and alarms, recite your calendar, and even to control lights around your home. And you can do all this from across the room, without lifting a finger.

Preserve Those Family Memories


Tweed Wolf: Gorgeous custom photo books with someone else taking care of the customizing. (Photo: Tweed Wolf)

If your mom is anything like me, she takes a lot of photos — then leaves them on her phone or piled up in boxes collecting dust. Buy a Tweed Wolf gift card for mom, and let its “do-everything-for-you” ($295) photo album service come to the rescue. Just sign up, upload all your photos and Tweed Wolf designers do the rest. They go through every image, select the best ones, edit everything so it prints perfectly and then send you a link to an online proof. You can ask for any edits, and once you approve, Tweed Wolf prints, binds, and ships your high-quality, hardcover album.

Replace Her Clunky Laptop

Now, time to bring moms digital life up to date. I admit it’s a splurge, but Mom will definitely appreciate the stylish new HP Spectre laptop ($1170). Despite its thin profile — it’s only as thick as a AAA battery — and striking black and copper design, the Spectre isn’t just eye-candy. This laptop is powerful enough to run any apps with top-tier Intel Core i5 and i7 processors and has nine and a half hours of battery life to keep going all day.

Upgrade Her Smartphone

We modern moms are always on the go, and need a speedy smartphone with all-day battery life to keep up with our busy lives. Enter the recently announced HTC 10($700), the newest Android smartphone hitting the market (available for pre-order now, ships in May). It has a vibrant 5″ display, great 12MP camera for catching all those family photos, and a super impressive two days of battery life.

Help Her Capture It All

A smartphone is fantastic for digital photos, but there’s still a certain nostalgic joy to having printed pictures. You can print out your photos at home, of course, but the Polaroid Snap camera ($100) makes getting prints fast and simple by instantly printing 2×3, full-color images to share or scrapbook. (Be sure to order the Zinc paper along with it, it does not come it!)

Let Her Know the Whole Family’s Thinking about Her

Flatterbox ($50 and up) is a new twist on the classic card — instead of sending a flurry of cards from across the country, Flatterbox lets you invite family members to submit thoughts, wishes, and anything else through its website. When the whole family’s chimed in, the company prints the sentiments on brightly colored cards and packages them in a gift box. It’s a great way to tell Mom everyone cares.

Stay Fit and Stylish

The new Fitbit Alta ($130) combines the basic features of a fitness tracker and a smartwatch, tracking activity as well as showing simple smartphone notifications. The sleek Alta won’t scream “gadget” when on Mom’s wrist: there isn’t a single button and interchangeable wristbands come in rubber, leather and stainless steel for a variety of looks.

Give the Latest High Tech Bling

Even though the Alta is a fairly sleek way to stay on top of smartphone notifications, it’s still a noticeable wrist-worn gadget and may not suit her style — but that doesn’t mean staying out of touch. Ringly ($260) is one of my favorite wearables because it doesn’t look like a wearable at all. This chunky ring vibrates and subtly lights up to let you know about smartphone notifications, and it’s likely no one else will even notice. The latest design features an emerald in an 18k gold-plated setting, but there are plenty of styles and colors to suit her taste.

Relax without Leaving the House

InstaShiatsu+ Neck and Back Massager with Heat: gets in there and works the knots out! (Photo: TruMedic)

InstaShiatsu+ Neck and Back Massager with Heat: gets in there and works the knots out! (Photo: TruMedic)

Being a mom is a high-stress, full-time job and taking the afternoon off to hit the spa isn’t always — or even usually — an option. Thank goodness truMedic’s InstaShiatsu heated massager ($140) can give a great massage from anywhere. This cordless “kneading” massager actually gets in and works the knots out of my tired muscles. Ahhh-mazing!

Combine All Her Must-Have Gadgets

I love iHome’s high-tech take on a good ole vanity mirror ($150), which we moms know is a must. This 9″ distortion-free mirror has 7x magnification plus a built-in Bluetooth speaker and speakerphone. Now Mom can easily listen to music, take calls and even charge her phone all while getting ready to go in the morning.

Okay, hopefully this gives you a great place to start and lots of ideas to make her day magical. What’s your favorite Mother’s Day gift – that you’ve either given or received? Be sure to share your thoughts in the comments section below. Happy Mother’s Day!

Posted in Digital Parenting, Girlfriend's Guide, Great Gadgets, In The Press, TechNow, TechStyled, Top tech news

Some of the best gadgets for back-to-school and beyond these days come with some surprising hidden talents. Here are a few of my top picks for new round of superhero tech tools that can totally the save the day (or at least a little time, money, or sanity).

443246-lenovo-yoga-13Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 Pro comes with built-in pico projector.

The Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 Pro ($449) is a solid slate for all things coed connected. Powered by Intel’s Atom processor, it’s a sleek, versatile mid-price digital hub for web browsing, streaming video, online research, digital textbooks, and all the music your son or daughter could ever need. Powered by Intel’s Atom processor, the Yoga Tablet 2 Pro is astonishingly light, won’t break the seams on a backpack, and the battery lasts a whopping 15 hours before needing a recharge. What’s really cool though, is that it’s the first tablet to come with a built-in pico projector. With one touch of a button, it transforms into a projector, casting a giant 4.5 foot image, picture, presentation, or video on any wall or ceiling. Pretty darn cool.

91JOSYFKAEL._SL1500_iHome Kineta K2 Bluetooth Alarm Clock has a removable battery charger.

Being late for class is a total motivation killer, not to mention it probably won’t make an instructor very happy either. The iHome iKN105 Bluetooth stereo alarm clock ($99) is the perfect bedside companion for a college or high school student who has been up all night …ermstudying. It syncs with smartphones via Bluetooth, so it can blast some tunes with no cords required, and it has a whole bunch of built-in alarm tones so there’s no chance of accidental, grade-killing snooze button slamming. But that’s not what makes this a superhero tech tool. This alarm clock has a convenient removable gadget charger. Pop it out in the morning, tuck it in a backpack, purse, or pocket, and it can give mobile devices a quick boost of energy in a pinch. Now your kids have no more excuses not to call you back right away.

SanDisk-Wireless-Connect-Stick-with-bags-and-headphonesThe SanDisk Connect Wireless Stick lets you backup and share files wirelessly.

Flash drives are already super convenient, but SanDisk found a way to make them even more of a painless accessory by eliminating the need to actually plug them in for file storage. The SanDisk Connect Wireless Stick (starts at $29) has its’ own Wi-Fi built in so students can access it wirelessly from across the room, like when it’s inside a backpack or desk drawer. It lets you double, triple or quadruple the storage of your smartphone, tablet or laptop — even if it doesn’t have a USB port — and lets up to 8 people stream/share at once. This little gadget might not actually save your life, but it sure feels like it can when your laptop crashes and you just happened to have everything backed-up on this little lipstick-sized drive.

feature-hero-v2Amazon Fire TV Stick works with web authentication.

Another tiny gadget loaded with magic is the Amazon Fire TV Stick ($39). It’s the only streaming media device that can connect to a College or University WiFi that requires web authentication — which is just about all of them these days. The Fire TV Stick lets students can watch all their favorite movies, TV shows, games, and more without any hassle of paying cable fees.

hyperxcloudii12 The HyperX Cloud II Gaming Headset has surround sound.

Not to go all geek here, but holy headphones batman! The HyperX Cloud II Gaming Headset ($99) has 7.1 virtual surround sound—so it’s like having seven positional speakers around your head—like you’re in a movie theater. They are amazing for gaming, listening to music, or for dealing with paper-thin dorm room walls. They are super lightweight and comfortable to wear for hours.


The Rocketbook One ($19) is like no other notebook you’ve ever seen. It’s cloud-connected and works hand-in-hand with the Rocketbook app on your kids’ smartphone to digitize everything written within it, keeping notes safe and shareable across multiple platforms. A seven category system archives everything organized, and the app lets you recall notes in an instant. Oh, and if you really want to take your students’ note taking to the next level, pick up on of the classic Rocketbook notebooks ($39) that are endlessly reusable thanks to heat-sensitive ink that disappears after a short jump in the microwave. It’s like magic.

modal-welcome_tcm_245_1682809HP Instant Ink can save you 50%-70% on ink costs.

It’s 11PM, a paper is due on the teacher’s desk by 9AM, and the only thing standing between your student and an A+ is a printer with an ink cartridge as dry as the Sahara desert. Running to the 24-hour department store is going to leave you with an absurd bill, but you have no other choice — or do you? HP make several printers, like the HP Envy 4520 and the Officejet 4630, that know when they’re running low and can order your ink refills all by themselves. HP’s Instant Ink subscription costs as little as $2.99 per month, which covers the cost of the ink plus shipping and handling. That can save you as much as 50%-70% of the cost of a normal year’s worth of ink, plus you’ll never run dry again.

What are some of the hidden talents you’ve discovered in your favorite gadgets? Be sure to let us know in the comments section below.

Posted in Connected Kids, Digital Parenting, Great Gadgets, In The Press, TechNow, Top tech news