Technology to Make Your Home Smarter and Life Easier

Technology to Make Your Home Smarter and Life Easier

I recently had the chance to try out some smart home products thanks to Verizon Wireless. I had a great time trying out these handy devices and loved how each one made life just a tad bit easier in its own way.

It is now time to send them back, but first I will give you a quick overview of these handy gadgets.

The Ring Doorbell This easy to install doorbell works with an app and can that notify you when there is motion at your door or when the doorbell buttons is pushed. With a built in camera and video recording service you are able to answer your door from your phone and talk to whomever my be visiting.

My favorite feature of this device was the ability to catch the video of what was happening when the doorbell was pushed. This allowed me to decide if I needed to answer the door or if it was just UPS ding dong ditching me a package.

The Nest Learning Thermostat This handy thermostat learns your habits. After adjusting the temperature consistently at certain times of the day, this thermostat learns what temperature you like and what time you want it. After a few days it will start doing it for you automatically. If you like to turn the temperature up or down before going to bed, this smart thermostat can do it for you. It also learns that when it is adjusted from heat to cool that the season has changed.

With the connected app it is easy for you to adjust the temperature from where ever you are. Energy saving features allow you to choose away options if you will be gone for sometime. When you are ready to return, just set the temperature desired from the app and the perfect temperature will welcome you home.

I travel quite a bit and will adjust the temperature before I leave to save some money. My favorite feature of this device is the ability to adjust the temperature via the app so my home is the perfect temperature the moment I walk in the door.

The Nest Protect This device detects both smoke and carbon monoxide. In addition to the different alarm signals, one for smoke and one for CO, this device also speaks and tells you what is wrong. If you have multiple Nest Protects installed throughout the house, the device can tell you which room the problem is in. This device connects to an app and will message your phone if something goes wrong. This Nest Protect uses a battery and instead of just beeping it will tell you when the battery is low or needs replaced.

Nest Protect continuously tests itself with the nightly promise feature. When you turn out the lights for the night, Nest Protect will glow green for a moment which means everything is working. If it glows yellow that can indicate the wifi is down, a battery is getting low or another issue. Just push the Nest Protect button or check the app to see what the issue is.

My favorite feature of the Nest Protect is that it tells you which alarm is having the issue or needs the battery replaced. I am ready to switch out our smoke alarms with these devices as the ones we have now are hardwired with a battery back up. When one alarm goes off they all do and it is always about 3 a.m. It gets very frustrating at times as it’s hard to tell which one is low. We had one alarm that would never stop beeping even though it had new batteries. My husband finally through it out in the street and ran over it with the truck! If only it could have told us what was wrong!

Verizon Wireless also sent me the Google Home to try out. I absolutely loved everything that handy device could do which you can read about here.

For more information on the Nest line of products or the Ring doorbell visit the Verizon Wireless website.

Disclosure: Although, I was compensated by Verizon Wireless to review these products, all opinions are my own.

Google Home Voice Activated Speaker Review

Google Home Voice Activated Speaker Review

The Google Home voice activated device has just become my best friend. I recently had the chance to spend some time with this personal assistant thanks to Verizon Wireless. They loaned this device out to me to test for a few weeks and now it is time to say goodbye and send it back.

It is definitely more sorrowful than sweet as we part as I have gotten quite used to all the amazing things this little gadget can do.

 

Below are a list of some of my favorite features of the Google Home.

The ability to play music mixes. Much like Pandora, you say, Okay Google play music by (insert favorite artist) and Google will play a radio mix of that artist along with similar ones right through the built in speaker without commercials. If the music seems to loud or to soft you can also ask it to increase or decrease the volume and when you are finished listening just tell it to turn the music off.

Built in dictionary. This became my husbands favorite feature as he is a terrible speller. As he is tapping out his emails and came across something he could not spell he would  ask, “Hey Google how do you spell ____________.”

Got a question? Google has the answer. I am currently following a fitness and nutrition program which you can read about here. One of the suggestions on this is to try and drink a gallon of water a day. Since my water bottle is marked in ounces I had to ask, “Hey Google, How many ounces are in a gallon?” Within seconds I get the response that one U.S. gallon equals 128 ounces.

We are fairly new to the city we live in and Google home was able to answer my questions about the closest library branch location, closest pharmacy, grocery store etc…  It will even tell you the hours of business. If you know the address where you are going or even the name of the business and city, it will tell you how long it will take you to get there or how many miles away the location is.

If you are headed out of town, Google can find hotel accommodations located in the area you will be traveling, tell you what the weather will be like and how long it will take to get there.

To keep track of my daily activities, Google can set timers and create shopping lists, If you set up a payment method and delivery address, Google can order items for you and have them shipped right to your door. Just say, Hey Google, order me some paper towels or whatever you may be needing.

The Google Home device is super smart and quite handy to have around. The device is quick to get you the answers you need and would be an amazing partner to have on your Trivial Pursuit team, if anyone even plays that anymore.  Maybe now with Google Home device the game will make a comeback since with the help it can provide people can actually answer those darn questions.

I wish to thank Verizon Wireless for loaning me out the Google Home device, but am disappointed I have to send it back. It will surely be missed.

For more information on the Google Home device visit the Verizon Wireless website.

Top Tech Gadgets for the Avid Traveler

Top Tech Gadgets for the Avid Traveler

I am an avid traveler and Verizon Wireless recently loaned me some tech gadgets to demo a few weeks. All of these items are great. It is now time to return the items and I am reluctantly sending them back as they were way too handy. I especially loved the Bose headphones. Below is some top tech gadgets to make your travels run smoothly.

Smart Phone It is pretty much a given these days that most everyone has a smart phone and is a must for travel. Not only does the phone work with all of these top gadgets, it is necessary to have that form of communication to get information on flights, transportation and keep in touch with those who matter most.

iphone
Milk and Honey Leather Pocket Case This case fits snugly around your iPhone to protect it from the wear and tear from travel. The built in leather pocket makes a great holder for credit cards, id, a few bucks or any other items you may need handy until you reach your final destination.

Milk and Honey Case
Mophie Powerstation XL  With dual USB charge ports this quick charge external battery can juice up multiple devices at once. This powerstation gives 10+ hours to a large tablet, 14+ hours to smaller tablets and 48+ hours to your smartphone. This compact powerstation will make sure you never get stuck with a dead battery again!

Mophie Powerstation
Bose Quite Comfort 35 Headphones These wireless, bluetooth, acoustic noise canceling headphones will make you feel as if you are the only one around. They are adjustable to fit just about one and the deep bass gives you a surround sound experience.

Bose Headphones

Nest Smoke and Carbon Dioxide Alarm – This unit thinks, speaks and alerts your phone if it detects smoke or carbon dioxide. Having the security of this device protecting your home and family while traveling is priceless and the perfect addition to other smart home products and alarm systems you may have paired with your smart phone.

Nest Carbon Dioxide Alarm

All of these Items can be purchased at the Verizon Wireless website and make great gifts this time of year for the avid traveler in your life.

My Summer with the Nokia Lumina 2520 Part Three

My Summer with the Nokia Lumina 2520 Part Three

With summer coming to an end, I have one more post to share with you about some of the features of the Nokia Lumina 2520 which Verizon Wireless loaned out to me in June.

Nokia Lumina

Nokia Lumina

I am not one to watch a lot of news, so having the MSN news app on the start screen has really helped keep up with current events and news.

Another start page app I liked was the Reading List.  The handy features allows you to add content you find on the web to read at another time. I always feel like I am finding myself reading an article and then having something come up where I cannot finish it, or wanting to keep it for a reference and this app does the trick.

If my blog was more video based, the Video Director app on this tablet would be sweet! This app allows you take content from your videos and photos and select clips from them and then add music, titles and customize to create cool videos.

With What You’re Missing KC! being mostly about food, it is no surprise that I am loving all of the foodie apps available to download via the Windows Store.

The most recent one I encountered is Smoothier.  I am addicted to my Vita-Mix and one thing we do a lot of around here are protein shakes and smoothies.  Since a lot of my shakes are usually made up with what I have on hand, the Smoothier app is handy for calculating all the calories I am blending up. You just select the ingredients you have and it will calculate the calories.

Today on hand I had non-fat plain yogurt, frozen strawberries and a peach, which were all ingredients I found in the app. I guess my only complaint would be is that the app needs a broader range of common smoothie ingredients as added some honey and almond milk to the smoothie so it would have been nice to know the additional calorie count in those.

Strawberry Peach Smoothie

Strawberry Peach Smoothie

August was a busy month for the me as I emptied my nest sending both kiddos to college. I am sorry to say that this tablet has no way of drying those tears unless, someone has created some kind of tissue holding tablet case this device will fit in. However, having the Skype app on the start screen makes it easy to keep in touch, at the touch of the screen.

Kids leaving the nest

Kids leaving the nest

 

Last but not least, and which I have already mentioned before, you know this tablet makes a great travel buddy.  My most recent trip was riding the coattails of my hubby business trip to Napa Valley, where we tacked on a couple days to play. I love the entertainment features of being able to play games and watch shows while waiting on flights and in the air. It is also handy for looking up fun things to do and of course finding yummy places to eat like Cookhouse at the Oxbow market, which have some pretty amazing biscuits!

Beef Sausage and Egg Biscuit

Beef Sausage and Egg Biscuit from Cookhouse

It is now time to send back the tablet and I wish to thank Verizon Wireless for loaning it out to me. For more information on features about this tablet check out my posts on months one and two. To get tablet specifications, pricing or ordering information visit Verizon Wireless.

 

 

 

 

My Summer with the Nokia Lumina 2520 Part Two

My Summer with the Nokia Lumina 2520 Part Two

This is a three part series on the Nokia Lumina 2520. Verizon Wireless has graciously loaned me this tablet for the summer and in return, I will be sharing monthly posts on all the cool features. Read part one here.

Nokia Lumina

Nokia Lumina

July was a busy month with the Nokia Lumina 2520 and I. For starters I took it with me on National Social Media Day to an event held in Wichita. The guest speaker was Social Media Expert Mark Schafer and with Microsoft Word already installed on this tablet, it was handy dandy for taking notes on all of the great information he had to share. I could literally write a whole blog post just about that.

After the event we headed out for vacation where the tablet help pass time in the airport.  I was able to hook up to the wifi and watch some Netflix while waiting on a delayed flight.  I also downloaded various games and apps from the Google Play store to keep me occupied while in the air.

While exploring all of the features of the tablet I came across what looked to be an Xbox controller on the touch screen. I was intrigued by this as my son is an avid Xbox fan. Once home I opened the app and had my son log into his Xbox account, which opened up another level of features to this tablet.

In the app we are able to download apps and games from the Windows store, play a select number of Xbox games, look up Xbox friends, find achievements and more. Did you know my son has played 150 Xbox games? Neither did I but the achievement section tells you that. I am not sure I really wanted to know that! No wonder he had so much trouble with that math class in college, I am thinking he should have beed studying instead of playing.

Well I am sure that is more information than you wanted to know about my sons Xbox playing habits but none the less it is a fun feature of the tablet for the avid Xbox fan out there.

Lastly, I paired the Bluetooth keyboard with the tablet and it works like a dream. I love how it becomes a mini laptop. The keyboard is easy to use and makes easy to take on the go.

I have one more month with this Nokia Lumina 2520 so stay tuned for next months post on what else I can discover about this tablet.

In the meantime if you are interested in additional information about this tablet including specifications, pricing or more check out Verizon Wireless.com.