Week One: Apple Watch… and Amazon Echo

For the last few days I’ve been walking around the house talking to the walls expecting things to happen. This is what one does when they own devices that “listen” for commands.

The Apple Watch has been fun, and definitely a keeper. I’ve set timers, reminders, replied to texts with dictation, sent calls to voicemail, all without looking for my phone. It has added a level of simplicity to my high-tech life. Only two complaints:

  • The Milanese band continues to catch my long hair. Considering it’s a feminine design, the likelihood of it bothering more users is high. If your hair is short (say two inches past your shoulders or shorter), you will be fine. But long hair will get caught throughout the day.
  • You will notice notifications more often than you do without the watch. Makes no sense? Think of it this way: One rarely holds on to their phone all day long. You put in down, pop it into a purse or onto a table, leave it in another room… all these moments give you wee bits of quiet that the watch will not. A great example is when Simon and I went to the new Avengers movie. I put my phone on vibrate and kept it in my purse. Normally I wouldn’t know what was going on until after the movie. But with the watch, I’d still get notifications (like texts and calls) that lit up my wrist. I turned on Do Not Disturb mode to fix it during the movie, but throughout the day I see more of what I normally wait to check at purposeful times. It’s more distracting that you think. Again… for must-need quiet times use the Do Not Disturb mode.

The Amazon Echo is placed between our kitchen and family room. Perfect location really. We’ve used it to hear the news, weather, wikipedia information, and listen to various Amazon Prime Music Playlists. Regarding the music, it’s actually quiet fun. We were joking about our dog and I said “Amazon, play Who Let The Dog Out”… and within a few seconds the song was playing on the Echo. Echo can use your Amazon Prime account, as well as many other music accounts (like Pandora). Very cool. Shopping lists are also a fun feature, and they recently released an upgrade to work with IFTTT. I haven’t tried that yet, but will. I can see Echo fitting in nicely with home automation.

From a quality perspective, the Echo needs better error handling. If it doesn’t have a program to support your question/request the response it too generic. Simon asked for a stock price and Echo doesn’t support that. Odd, considering it’s been a stock application on all smartphones for five-plus years. Better testing would have both determined a needed feature, and a better UI response that addressed the lack of functionality. Quality is more than not having software defects, it’s also meeting and managing user expectations of said quality. Echo has failed here.

Nonetheless, these are two fun and somewhat useful purchases. If you are either a tech-geek, or have some disposable income, I recommend them. I’ll follow up in another few weeks on what living with these devices for a month are like.

Questions? Experiences? Comment below…

Elle’s View On What Your Xmas List Should Have On It

Last year I wrote a post on a few of my favorite gadgets. This is the updated version for your Christmas and holiday shopping pleasure!

  • iPhone 5S or Samsung Galaxy S IV: depending on your preferred smartphone OS, these are your choices. Fast, gorgeous and truly innovative. High security, as well as gadget-worthy fluff make these your top contenders. This year both of these come with contract-bound major carriers and contract-free companies. Virgin Mobile and TMobile have some amazing offers for those who like the “pay as you go” model. Phones off contract often cost $400-$500 more, but in the end you pay less. You can always buy a used model. All used models are “off contract” and considered “unlocked”. Call your carrier for more information.
  • iPad. Wait a wee bit longer to move forward on this if you’re planning on buying one new. The new iPad Air will come out on Friday (November 1st). It’s super light (one pound) and blazing fast. The new iPad Mini with Retina display is due out “late November”. It has the updated gorgeous display, a much faster chipset, and a few other small goodies. Both models now come with 128G storage. If you plan on buying used, the market is hot. Buy now to avoid not finding stock come holiday season.
  • Macbook Air (2013). OMG this thing is fast, and with over twelve (yes, that’s 12!) hours of battery life you will not believe this is a laptop. One disappointment is the lack of a retina display. Really Apple… any time now. It’s not like the Air is new!
  • iMac 27″. When I said the Air was fast… I was not thinking of the iMac. Configured to its fullest, the new iMac is blistering fast. Amazing application support, web support and graphics. The huge display is gorgeous. Compared to the Thunderbolt display I have for the laptop it is equal in every way. True, a fully configured iMac is expensive… but the technology will last you years without feeling old and slow.
  • Canon PowerShot SX260 HS. Need a camera besides your smartphone, but still want lightweight and small? Canon has you covered. It has filters built in like Smooth Skin, Soft Focus, Discreet, etc. There’s a little threaded hole for tripod use too! Video is HD and it takes rechargeable batteries.
  • BioCube (small aquarium). For those who love the idea of having an aquarium but can’t commit to something large, the BioCube is perfect. Built in filters, pump, and an easy to clean tank.
  • The Present (an annual clock). Way cool view on time… by seasons. Keeps you in “the present” focused on life, not the hour.
  • Pebble (smart watch). This works so well with the iPhone. Get your texts, see who is calling, and have a vibrating alarm on your wrist. Watch faces are numerous, and some sites let you make your own! Sweet.
  • Loewe handbags. The Flamenco is my favorite, in the Nappa leather. It’s like butter. The bag is quite flexible: it can be a clutch, cross body, or shoulder bag. They are lightweight, and well organized inside.

I could go on for hours sharing my favorite new things of 2013. If you have specific needs around technology shoot me an email… I might be able to offer some options. Aside from cool devices and high end products, the best gift you can give this season is love. Nothing feels better than knowing someone loves you dearly. Happy Pre-Holidays!

These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things: Gadgets!

  • iPad Mini. I bought both the new Ipad (4th Gen) and the iPad Mini the day they came out. I have to admit that I’ve used the Mini way more. Its small size is perfect for travel, reading and quick web browsing needs. Pair it with a slim back cover and the Smart Cover and you preserve the uber weightlessness of this gorgeous device. Buy the largest storage size you can afford, and only include the 4G if your phone doesn’t support tethering/hotspot capabilities. 
  • iPad. They just get better and better. The newest one, the 4th generation, is both fast and breathtaking. The display is beyond anything else you will see. Text/fonts, pictures, web pages… all stunning. All current iPads boast front and rear cameras for Facetime, pictures and videos. iMessage is also a standard app on all current iPads (iOS6 required.)
  • iPhone 5. And you thought the Retina display couldn’t get better? Now you have more of it. Wow. It’s so thin too, and lighter than its predecessor. Amazing. Buy a cover immediately to preserve your device from little scratches. 4G/LTE also makes this one amazing phone.
  • iPhone 4S. If you don’t have an iPhone 5 I sure hope you have the next best phone… its older sibling.
  • Samsung Galaxy S III. If you have to own an Android, or prefer no-contract phone companies (like MetroPCS), this is the phone for you. It’s huge though, so unless you have big pockets, or carry a purse, this will be cumbersome. Bright and detailed display, fast processing, fantastic camera pictures, tethering/Hotspot, and 4G make this the front runner without question. MetroPCS has an unlimited 4G plan for $55/month (as of this post), thus the best deal for an uber phone and unlimited 4G data.
  • Arctic p311 (bluetooth headphones). These are great for personal media listening. Easy to pair, light and comfy, not expensive, and USB rechargeable make them a great pair for around the house. They don’t have noise cancellation so I don’t recommend them for traveling.
  • Sony MDRNC22/PIN (noise canceling earbuds.) Like most, they use batteries and can use them quickly if not shut off. But their noise cancellation is excellent, and the earbud design is so comfortable. I use these when I travel international so I can sleep. The larger headphones make sleeping uncomfortable. They are for medium size ears. Also, I use them to watch movies and listen to music only while traveling. Some complain about their tone quality… my two pairs have been fine, perfect even. I don’t play anything too loud though.
  • MacBook Pro. I’ve had several, including two MB Airs, and couldn’t recommend them more to anyone looking for a laptop. Their speed, ease of use, reliability, graphics, lightness and over-all fun make them the perfect choice. Yes, they are expensive, but used ones come on the market (via Craigslist) all the time. Most who own Apple Laptops keep them in immaculate condition (sans teenagers), so look for a year old model and save yourself a bit. Don’t be surprised though to see the price drop by a mere $100-$200… they hold their value very well. The new Retina display models are gorgeous, but only come with solid state drives… which means smaller amount of storage for your buck. If it will be your only machine I’d recommend either an external hard drive coupled with it, or a regular MacBook Pro.
  • iMac 27″. OMG. I don’t even know where to start. You can configure this puppy to have 3.4GHz quad-core i7, 32G RAM, 3TB drive that includes a solid state drive, Nvidia Gforce 2G, with a wireless trackpad and keyboard. All that goodness hidden inside this svelte reduced-glare 27″ screen. Not an impulse purchase though… wait times average four weeks. Fine.. stop reading here, order one, and come back… I’ll wait.
  • Back? Good… congrats on your new iMac. Mine’s due at the end of the year… OMG. 😉
  • Apple TV. This black box has brought TV into a new realm for me. We got rid of cable almost two years ago and have never looked back. Using Netflix, iTunes and other digital content, we can share this library with the entire house. Also, with your Mac computer, you can leverage your TV as an “air” monitor. Very cool.
  • PlayStation 3. I like this console more for its Blue-ray and network server capabilities. It also has Netflix and web browsing available. As for gaming… it’s a personal choice. My hubby and I like both PS3 and Xbox. My son prefers the Xbox (console-wise.) Since we defer to his games we play a lot more Xbox.
  • Blendtec Blender. I love this thing. It makes the very best smoothies and frozen drinks. Ice is mere snow when it’s done. Fruit is puree, soft and sweet. You will end up eating/drinking far more healthy simply because everything is so palatable. I had the Vitamix too and prefer the Blendtec due to its many pre-set options and five-sided pitcher. Easy to clean as well.
  • Breville BOX650XL 1800 watt Toaster Oven. This thing is the bomb! We got it as a wedding gift and use it every single day. My husband no longer uses a toaster since this toasts even large pieces of bread evenly every time. Pizza, cookies, pies, small chickens, finger foods, etc. It bakes, toasts, broils, etc. Easy to clean and very modern. Use your oven a whole lot less with this addition!
  • Cuisinart CPK17 (electric kettle.) Perfect temperature every time, for every type of beverage. Also has a “keep warm” feature for refills. Another morning staple.
  • Keurig B70 Platinum. Drink coffee? This machine makes the perfect cup, every time. You have a huge selection of coffees, or can get a reusable filter and make your own. Love it!
  • Conair Extreme Hand-Held Steamer. Worked wonderfully on my wedding dress. Need I say more? 😉
  • Oregon Scientific RM313PNA Self-Setting Atomic Clock. It also projects the time on the ceiling with soft red numerals. Easy to read above you yet no bothersome glow. Always the right time too. Sweet!


I could go on for hours. If you have a specific product need feel free to ask; it’s likely I’ll have a tried and true recommendation! Merry Christmas 🙂


Coming up next… Technology Management and Career favorites!