Must Have Tech For 2015

Must Have Tech Gadgets

VZW Disclosure

As 2014 comes to an end and the gift giving events make way for talk about the big game or getting fit for summer, there’s still gift cards to spend and deals to be made. Regardless of whether you unwrapped one or a pile, chance are you may not have received some things you really wanted. Or maybe you got gift cards because you’re “hard to buy for” or “it’s easier to send you money”. So now you’re faced with how to spend that loot and what better way than to make sure you have the must have tech gear to make the most of your smartphone or tablet. You may have some ideas of what you want but I thought I’d share a few of my favorite tech gadgets to jump start 2015.

bluetooth headphones1. A good pair of headphones. Whether you like the over-ear, in-ear, or on-ear models, there are so many options. Quality headphones are a must these days, but which one you choose will depend a lot on your lifestyle and how you use them. For active lifestyles you might like the Plantronics Backbeat Fit bluetooth in-ear headphones. The Jawbone ERA is a great low-profile bluetooth headset, especially if you want something a little more discreet and professional-looking. The ERA is the one CycleGuy uses mostly for business. For gaming or watching movies, there are great options from Beats by Dre and Sol Republic. I have different headphones for different uses, so it’s not uncommon to have several pairs of headphones.

portable mini speaker2. A wireless portable speaker. As a child of the 80s, portable speakers have been a very important part of my life. Now, though, they’re not the size of a small TV. Gone are the “boombox” days of lugging around 20-pound stereo systems. We’ve got an entire music library in our purse or pocket. The problem is that sometimes you want to share it and your only options are putting your device in a bowl and cranking up the volume with the hopes it will broadcast. With tiny portable speakers that easily fit in a purse, backpack, carry-on luggage, or in the glove box of a car the mobile DJ in you can come out wherever you are. The Mini Jambox from Jawbone (I really do love their products!) comes in a variety of fun colors and can be used in both casual and professional settings. I’ve heard of them being used at business events and parties when people need big sound in a compact space.

3. Apps to improve your productivity. And by productivity I don’t mean just business-type stuff. With apps to help stimulate your brain and wellness apps, or even must-have apps that aren’t on every “top apps” list you have the ability to customize each device so that you’re getting the most out of it when you’re on it. Sometimes the best productivity app is Spotify or Pandora because you just need some good music to help you get motivated. Other times, maybe you need a great list app or top news and media apps. There are tens of thousands of apps out there in iOS, Android, and Windows that you’re likely to find just the right apps to help you get more out of your smartphone or tablet so you can be more productive.

4. A fitness tracker. I was able to check out the Microsoft Band the day it came out and it was quite impressive with its many features that integrated into smartphones. CycleGuy has the JawboneUP 24 and likes how it integrates with his cycling and food-tracking apps. I have a JawboneUP and even though it’s very basic it gives me a lot of helpful information. Even though it would be cool to have one of the high-end models, there are quality fitness trackers for every budget.

Mophie portable charger5. A portable charger. This should probably be #1 on the list of must have tech gear. I carry the Mophie Powerstation with me. It’s compact and lightweight so it doesn’t add bulk to my purse. And since I have both iOS and Android devices I usually keep cables for several different devices in the car so if I’m out and a friend is running low on power I can lend them my charger. When my daughter went on an out-of-town school field trip, I sent my New Trent Power Pack and iSound Power Max so the chaperones would have power on the 10+ hour drive should there be an emergency. We’re on our phones so much, especially on long trips where you don’t always have access to a plug, that draining our devices is not just a possibility. We’ve all be out and had our phone die with no real options to power it up. Now, you carry the power with you! And for under $100 it’s a great way to be prepared when the power goes out.

If you have these, then you’re good to go! If you have friend or family that don’t have these, then consider them as gifts because they’d probably be happy to get these. I know that many of the apps are free, but consider buying the paid version of an app you love and if you need to give someone a gift they’d probably love the “pro” version too.

What are your “go to” or “must have” tech items that you can’t live without?

Disclosure: I am a member of the Verizon Lifestyle Influencer team and share information about technology. This post was not required or edited by a third-party. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


The ONE Must Have Tech Accessory for Kids

Best Kid Tech Accessory

Kid tech is becoming as common as it is for adults. From MP3 players, handheld games, and even phones, kids as young as 2 years old are using tech products. It’s not uncommon to see kids in restaurants, doctor waiting rooms or on planes with some sort of audio/video technology in their hands. And with these, the kids are often attached to the product by some type of headphones or earbuds. Often they’re the white-wired earbuds that came with the product, which were designed for adult ears.

As a tech-having family, BabyGirl has had access to a variety of technology since she was very young. One thing I’ve been very concerned with is how she uses it. When she was younger, I didn’t mind her using her tech without headphones. I am keenly aware that the development of her hearing needs to be nurtured, not compromised. And using headphones specifically designed for kids is one way to do that.

Ety Kids earphones in use by child - all rights reserved

Recently we spent over 10 hours either in airports or on planes, and much of that time was spent listening to or watching something on an iPad, Kindle Fire or iPhone. For months I’ve been waiting for the Ety-Kids headphones to come out. These are headphones made just for kids by the world-leader in hearing research and assistive products, Etymotic.

As a parent (or auntie/uncle, grandparent, caregiver), you too are likely fussing with kids to wear headphones. Younger kids, especially, have a difficult time. Their heads are too small for standard over-the-ear type headphones so they keep falling off or getting out of position. That often defeats the point you’re trying to achieve – a few moments to yourself while your child is engaged. So, you pull out the earbuds that came with the item, or whatever pair you have around, and try to stuff them into their little ears. All the while you’re empathizing with them about how uncomfortable they are.

Shortly before heading to Disney World, I received a pair of Ety-Kids 5 earphones for BabyGirl to try. I was excited, because these were not only specifically designed to protect kids’ hearing but to fit their little ears too. As owners of noise-isolation headphones, which we mainly use on planes, both CycleGuy and I were glad to see that these under $50 earphones incorporated the same technology as much more expensive products. Rather than encouraging kids to crank up the volume, the Ety-Kids earphones actually block out the background noise that is what causes them to raise the volume.

The earphones came with 3 in-ear tip sizes. The shape is conical so the earpiece fits more snugly and further into the ear. This means they fit better. Added to this is that the tips are flexible and soft making them much more comfortable. That was one of the first comments BabyGirl had. She liked that they didn’t hurt her ears.

Once on the plane, she was able to put them in – which requires a bit of a twist – and listen to her programs and music. When she had to get up she kept the earphone in, just unplugging them from her device. But when she had to take them out for landing, that was the true test. That’s when she realized how much quieter it was with them in.

I call these the ONE must-have tech accessory for kids for several reasons:

1. They are made just for kids

2. They protect hearing

3. They are comfortable

4. They are more than just headphones because they have noise cancellation technology

5. They’re from a company that is the leader in hearing research

6. They’re from a company sought out by musicians for the best hearing-related products

7. They’re under $50!!

So how do you get some? Glad you asked! Here is a link to buy directly from Etymotic:

Buy Ety-Kids safe listening headphones NOW

Ety Kids Headphones

Disclosure: I was provided a complimentary Ety-Kids 5 headset. I was not required to write about them, nor was this post reviewed by a third-party. If you click the link to purchase, you will be taken to the Etymotic website. I did not receive any compensation for this post, nor will I if you choose to purchase. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.