Back to School
With school fully back in session and the leaves already changing (where does the time go!!) I wanted to suggest a few "We’re fully back to school gadgets." I’ve found these to be fun and STEM resourceful for my friends, who are parents, as well as my own school-aged nieces and nephews.
With the football and soccer games well underway it’s important to stay warm and dry on those rainy days when you are cheering on your kids. These ingenious all-weather pods come in a variety of colors and sizes including a doubled-up version that can even house both ‘rents. They fold up easily into lightweight portable bags that are easy to carry and then stash in the trunk.
If your child is old enough to have a smart phone this is an app can provide some piece-of-mind on their whereabouts. Through satellite tracking Find Friends shares an individual’s location (with their permission) by dropping a pin on a map, showing you exactly where they are. Note this app is specific to the Apple iPhone.
After School Creativity
Waging that ongoing battle to cut down on the screen time after school? Magformers are a great option that take traditional brick building blocks into the 21st century. These colorful, sturdy blocks engage kids and allow them to create advanced structures with magnets, motors and sensors. Challenge your child to build a log cabin, a walking robot or even a circular UFO!
Every child loves play-doh! This creative spin on the legendary craft enables your child to bring their masterpiece to life. First, kids make unique characters with the included doh, tools and stampers. Next, mom or dad downloads the app, scans their creation and then Voila, the child proudly watches as it magically comes to life on the screen. My nieces and nephew played with this one for hours.
Sleep Shepherd, starting at $29.95
Created by a father whose daughter (then in high school) had sleep issues, the Sleep Shepherd is an all-natural approach to helping child (or adult!) get the restful sleep that they need. Sleep Shepherd Blue can help your child fall asleep using soothing binaural tones. Then once their asleep it helps to track and analyze their sleep in real-time with brainwave sensors and biometric feedback, so you can work together to improve sleep habits and set healthy goals.
Fore more of my favorite tech and gadgets, check out my Gadget Page!
It’s always feels like a bit of a tech golden ticket be one of the first to get my hands on the new iPhone, before it hits the shelves. And every go round has been unique with worthwhile surprises. In this post I explain my quick thoughts and favorite features on the latest roll out.
As you probably already know three phones were recently unveiled: the iPhone Xs (pronounced TEN S) and the iPhone Xs Max (TEN S MAX) and the most affordable of the new Apple lineup the XR (TEN R).
In this quick take review I have tested the iPhone Xs and Xs Max. Not too much confusion here though only thing different is the size.
One could say this unveil is bigger than ever, literally. The iPhone Xs Max touts a 6.5” screen – the largest specs ever for an iPhone. Almost like a little jab to Samsung’s Galaxy Note 9, with a 6.4” screen, Apple goes just a wee bit bigger. It’s no doubt that screen size is a big deal. I, for one, can attest that once you get that generous expanse of real estate size it’s unlikely you’ll ever want to go back to a smaller screen.
Better Speed and Efficiency
With a new iPhone comes the expected upgrades and improvements. We’ve got the need for speed and the new operating system behind the scenes touts itself to be 15% faster at its basic performance cores, while simultaneously running more efficiently with 50% less power usage. There’s also more happening behind the scenes that you as a user don’t even have to think about. This upgrade is thanks to the new A12 “bionic” chip with Neural Engine. I could get all fancy tech here, but just know that it’s using real time machine learning to deliver serious performance when it comes to photography, gaming and things like augmented reality.
One big concern with the iPhone that I hear a lot from friends and family is their worry about water damage, scratches or cracking from the impact of a fall.Been there – sadly more than once. Structurally the new phone is stronger and less prone to accidents. It has a more durable glass (Apple touts strongest glass front and back on any smartphone) and is made of a stronger surgical grade stainless steel alloy. Apple has also upgraded the level of water resistance so there’s less danger of damage from that coffee or water bottle spill. Even with improved durability, the phone still retains its aesthetics with a sleek design in three color options including silver, space grey and gold (which is rose gold). The XR has comes in a handful of colors including blue, yellow, coral and red, black and white.
Have you ever watched an older film or TV show and been struck how fuzzy the image appears? Over time we have grown so accustomed to high definition. The new iPhone contains a “Super Retina Display” with custom OLED panels that provide high definition color, contrast and lighting. It’s like having a mini HD theater screen right on your phone. Shadows and details are so fine-tuned… we are getting spoiled with the super crisp looking, detailed visuals right before our eyes.
One of the best features from this roll out and really what I think is the cornerstone success of the iPhone, is the amazing camera capability. Its’ no surprise the camera specs are better than ever, and I really think we take this for granted!
It was once said “The best camera is the one you have on you.” It’s a true statement, but perhaps for modern times we should upgraded this phrase to say, “The best camera is the one you have on you AND have the easiest access to.” I say this because in my travels “Around the World in Katie Days” I’m always carrying a ton of gear. When I am on the road filming for a network, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve relied just on my iPhone to capture a scene right in the moment. It’s a fantastic camera – that just keeps improving and getting more powerful.
I’ll admit that I’ve gone into some big-time shoots with a whole gear bag of expensive DSLR cameras, lenses and tripods, but guess what I ended up using? You guessed it, an iPhone. It’s often the most reliable and accessible camera that I have on me --with reliable quality, the easiest ability to quickly shoot, tweak and then share the photos on social medial.
The new camera boasts several improved features. Dual cameras (both wide and telephoto lens) combined with a new sensor working behind the scenes capture the finest highlights, details and shadows. And don’t just read the verbiage – you’ll see from my images the camera is legit. Improved quad LED lets you get better shots in low light settings and improved video stabilization has me excited especially for those videos that I like to shoot from the car window.
Time to chat my favorite feature: depth control. This is one camera feature that is a true stand out and is unique to the trifecta lineup of TENs thanks to the new A12 chip. This function allows you to adjust the aperture without effecting the exposure. This simply means that after taking a portrait shot you can control how blurry the background is without damaging the primary focus of the shot. I’ve gone to photography workshops and literally spent days learning how to set up the camera and adjust the depth of field settings. It is something that I love to toy around with in my DSLR and is a big differentiator in taking a professional photograph. But, let’s face it, in the real world it’s difficult to have the time for this kind of set-up.
The new iPhone camera allows you to take the photo right in the moment and then and then easily adjust the background blur in post-production, without any extra software. Example: You’ll see in the pictures below, when I was at my nephew’s first soccer game. I had a quick moment, before he ran over to his teammates to get the shot.There was definitely no time to set up the tripod with the DSLR! I took my two seconds and was unfortunately photobombed, but with the new software, I just changed the background depth of field (blurriness) to create an amazing shot!
I say we mix the Xs with a little Os and by Os I mean “OHHHHs!” I say that because of the price tag. The latest technology does not come cheap. Without sales tax here’s the breakdown:
$999 for 64GB
$1149 for 256GB
$1,349 for 512GB
$1,099 for 64GB
$1,249 for 256GB
$1449 for 512GB
Check out my review of iOS12’s new Memoji feature here!
In my work as a tech expert, I have found that many families are interested in integrating smart lighting into their homes, but feel overwhelmed by the many options and complexity. I am always wary of “tech just for tech’s sake.” In other words, if a family invests in smart lighting, it should be easy to install, functional and practical. That is why I am so excited to partner with GE. After so many years in the lighting business, I’ve seen that GE really understands their customer and practical ways to integrate the new lighting technology.
Austin’s such a great place to explore the latest trends and innovations – and that was definitely true at the Capital One House @ Antone’s in the heart of SXSW where I spent a day immersed in learning about some of the latest digital, tech and design innovations in banking. I left the House to get some additional equipment twice and had a hard time getting back in – the true sign of a successful event! If you weren’t able to make it to Austin, I’ve put together a roundup of some of the best financial innovation highlights that were announced on location as another year of SXSW wraps up!
I’m not ashamed to admit that I take my loyalty programs very seriously. From Starbucks® to CVS®, I love finding digital tools to help me save money. Being conscious about money is smart and the way that I was raised. I remember sitting with my mom on Sunday mornings where we combed through the newspaper, cut out coupons and then arranged them in an accordion folder. Somehow my mom would manage to take me and my three older sisters to the grocery store and save us money at the same time!
I remember when I was little and my mom needed to deposit a check at the bank. My three sisters and I piled into the car and drove to the center of town. Once we got into the bank we all stood around the counter as my mom filled out the deposit slip. Then we lingered in the long line that wound around the lobby to wait for our turn at the window. If we were lucky we got a free sucker from the lady at the counter. It is amazing to think, in a different era how much time and effort it took my mom to complete just one banking transaction!
As technology becomes increasingly integrated into our everyday lives, it has helped us achieve greater connectivity and productivity – giving us more time to focus on what we love. It is not only reshaping how we relate to the world, but is also making significant advancements in a number of industries.
If it wasn’t for tech, my New Year’s resolutions may already be toast. According to U.S. News & World Report, nearly 80 percent of resolutions are usually broken by mid-February. But as my Google calendar turns in that direction, I’m still going strong, and I credit apps and gadgets for making the whole “new year new you” thing easier than ever.
It's my favorite time of year, where I play Santa's Little Helper! Find out how I personally and professionally stay organized over the crazy holiday season. :)
Hello from the Winter Wonderland Technology Showcase in the heart of New York City! This morning I had the pleasure to host a media tour coast to coast alongside some of the biggest go-to names in technology all powered by Intel. If you couldn't t get to this exclusive event or perhaps you saw it and now are looking for some additional details -- I’ve put together some of my favorite gift suggestions and upcoming deals!
Sponsored by Philips
There are so many incredible tech products on the market that can help us in ways that we previously would never have thought imaginable. As a technology expert, I test countless tech products from the ordinary to the sublime. These include virtual reality to a pancake making robot. What a vast range!
Sponsored by Capital One
You don't need to be a tech expert to use these popular financial hacks to help save you time and money. In this video I will share some offbeat ways you can employ modern technology to aide your bottom line.
Had a chance to test these units out a few times before taking them on the TODAY Show for one of my gadget segments. So fun!