It is very rare when you find someone that can combine the two greatest loves of my life all into one amazing package- food and a sexy guy. Well that answer has finally been solved in an incredibly talented and handsome guy by the name of Adrian De Berardinis, otherwise known as a Youtube sensation called The Bear-Naked Chef.
PALO ALTO, CA – On January 13th of this year, Google Inc. acquired the infant company NEST Labs for an astounding $3.2 billion dollars. The deal came only three months after NEST released its second product, the NEST Protect©. Google, a goliath of a company worth roughly $200 billion dollars, jumped at the opportunity to purchase the rapidly growing NEST before other giants like Facebook and Yahoo! had the chance.
NEST Labs was founded in 2010 by engineers Tony Fadell and Matt Rogers. Both Fadell and Rogers were employees of Apple Inc. at the time, boasting high-level positions at the company (Fadell has been called the driving force behind the original iPod). They took a large risk leaving Apple to start their own business – one which today has most decidedly been worth the effort. In 2011, NEST introduced their first product, the NEST Learning Thermostat©. The product was a success, offering a new and more modern application to heating and cooling, and utilizing WiFi technology to give users access to their home thermostat with their smart phones or tablets. With the success of the thermostat, Fadell and Rogers engineered their second product, released just this last October – the NEST Protect©. The Protect introduced a new-age look and functionality of the common smoke detector. Sales began to boom with the release of their second product, and Google Inc. saw the potential of the business.
The NEST Learning Thermostat and the NEST Protect both utilize WiFi capabilities, a component in modern technology which is becoming more and more prominent every day. The thermostat is revolutionary in that it essentially “learns” by way of remembering your particular habits and routines in the way you heat and cool your house. The temperature you are comfortable with becomes the norm, and the NEST will adjust it for you, saving you time and energy. At the same time, you can view and adjust the temperature of your home or office from you phone, even when you are not there. This comes in handy when you have a pet or children at home and want to be sure they are comfortable.
The NEST Protect is a brand new way of protecting yourself from fire and carbon monoxide. The product basis is the same, sensing smoke and chemicals and alerting you. However, it is far more advanced – in a sense, it’s smart. The Protect talks to you; If smoke is detected, it will first tell you that it senses smoke. If you’re simply burning toast, you can wave at the NEST Protect and it will hush itself- no more screaming alarm from simple cooking. The device is connected to WiFi and communicates with your smart-device. If there is smoke or carbon monoxide detected in your home when you’re not there, NEST will tell your phone. You can act immediately and contact emergency services. If the NEST Protect battery is low, your phone is alerted. No more chirping. Essentially, The Protect is revolutionary because it talks to you, and doesn’t rely solely on screeching loud obnoxious alarms.
Currently NEST Labs products are available only in the United States, though are expected to become a global product soon. The NEST Thermostat and NEST Protect are available through nest.com and found at sever retailers, including Amazon, Apple, Best Buy, Home Depot, and Lowe’s.
We’re well on our way into 2014, and with each milestone we pass, the future becomes more, well, nerdy. Nerdy, that is, in the sense of existing on a more technology and algorithm-based plane. The planet around us is growing smaller as more and more of our OS and HTML obsessed brains grow just a little bit larger. The tech world grows faster every day, and it shows. The late 2013 is no exception to the rule, having given us many bright new gadgets, as well as many dull ones.
In a nutshell, here are the better, best, and not-so-good #gadgets of 2013, (as well as the rising stars to watch in 2014) including smart phones, tablets, laptops, gaming systems, wearable tech, apps, mobile operating systems, and other miscellaneous gadgets.
Smart Phones 2013
Winner: Apple iPhone 5s
Runner-up: HTC One
Loser: Blackberry Z10
The one to watch in 2014: Motorola Project ARA
Winner: Apple iPad Air
Runner-up: Google Nexus 7
Loser: Microsoft Surface RT
The one to watch in 2014: Amazon Kindle Fire HDX
Winner: Apple MacBook Air 13″
Runner-up: Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus
Loser: Google Chromebook Pixel
The one to watch in 2014: Asus Taichi
Gaming Systems 2013
Winner: Sony Playstation 4
Runner-up: Microsoft XBox One
The one to watch in 2014: Oculus Rift
Wearable Tech 2013
Winner: Pebble Smartwatch
Runner-up: Misfit Shine
Loser: Samsung Galaxy Gear
The one to watch in 2014: Google Glass
Mobile Apps 2013
Runner-up: Blackberry Messenger
Loser: Twitter #Music
The one to watch in 2014: Tinder
Mobile OS 2013
Winner: Android 4.4 KitKat
Runner-up: Apple iOS 7
Loser: Blackberry BB10
The one to watch in 2014: UBUNTU
Other Gadgets of 2013
Winner: Google Chromecast
Runner-up: NEST Project
Loser: Hapilabs Hapifork
The one to watch in 2014: Leap Motion
And here we are: the final weekend of Christmas shopping. The last push to get everything on your never-ending list of perfect gifts for all those people you love, and those you are sort of obligated to love. In these final stressful hours of panic and claustrophobia galore, one thing always seems to elude us as consumers: bargain hunting. It’s always a game of looking for the best deals right after Thanksgiving, with Black Friday being the culmination of it all. Yet as December 25th approaches, we find ourselves more and more concerned with getting anything at all, rather than getting something for the best price. And while yes, the smiles and laughter and joy of everyone’s satisfied faces on Christmas morning are worth it, what sort of looming raincloud awaits your wallet once the festivities are over?
To help you out, here are seven simple substitutes to some of the hottest tech gifts of the season. Instead of buying that five-hundred dollar game console, why not opt for something half the price, and worth equal amounts of fun? Check out the alternatives, and don’t go broke during these last few shopping-frenzied days.
Bose Soundlink Bluetooth Mobile Speaker II — $314.95
It’s no secret that BOSE is the leader in sound technology and quality. The Bluetooth speaker is quickly emerging as the new big thing in speaker production. Not only do you not need to plug in your music device, but now the common dock for sound devices isn’t even necessary. The music is wirelessly transmitted via bluetooth from your device to the speaker, and we don’t have to tell you that the sound quality is pristine.
While BOSE is the leader in sound, it can be a little pricey. This speaker comes in at $314.95.
Sonos Play 1 — $199.00
The Sonos Play 1 is a newer item to the market, offering the same technology of wireless music connectivity for a lower price. While the device may not have the namesake, the quality is there. The Sonos Play delivers music without wires or docking, and can offer multiple speakers (with purchase) playing from the same music device all at once.
The Sonos Play 1 is available starting at $199.00.
Apple TV — $99.00
So, you have iTunes, and tons of movies, but can only watch then on your iPhone or iPad. Same with your streaming Netflix account, Hulu Plus, HBO Go, etc. So what do you do? You get Apple TV. It’s a device that takes these entertainment streams and puts them onto your television screen. Sound useful? It is. The device can be used to project photos, games, apps, YouTube, and so on. Only possible setback – if you don’t have an apple device, it probably won’t prove very useful.
Apple TV is available for $99.00.
Google Chromecast — $35.00
Google has recently come out with the answer to streaming devices such as Apple TV – the Google Chromecast. It’s a small USB-looking device which does, well, the same thing. The Chromecast receives your streaming entertainment wirelessly and connects to your TV’s HDMI hookup, displaying your media on the big screen. Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, Google Chrome, HBO Go, and many other mediums are included, and at a much lower price.
The Google Chromecast is available for $35.00.
Apple iPad Air (32 GB with WiFi and LTE) — $729.00
Not much need be said about this one; Apple usually is in the forefront of the hottest tech items for the Christmas season. This year is no exception. The new iPad air is the lightest full-range tablet, with retina-display graphics and a pristine processor. The sleek look of the iPad is one of its biggest selling points, coupled with its reputation overall. The price, however, holds true to Apple standards, cutting a large dent into any purchaser’s finances.
The iPad Air is available with multiple options from $499.00 to $929.00.
Google Nexus 7 (32 GB with WiFi and LTE) — $349.00
The Nexus 7 has been rated one of the best tablets for 2013 by techradar.com. While it might not be the holy grail of tablets, it’s a very smart and sleek alternative. The device features countless apps and the display is sharper than most tablets on the market. For business or pleasure, if the iPad is too large an investment, the Nexus 7 would be the smart way to go.
The Google Nexus 7 is available with multiple options from $229.00 to $349.00.
Samsung Galaxy Gear Smartwatch — $299.99
Smartwatches are emerging, and fast. It’s not just a watch – it’s connected to your phone. The most popular smartwatch on the market right now – The Samsung Galaxy Gear. This watch, with a digital touch display: displays your emails, displays your texts, locks/unlocks your phone, makes hands-free calls, uses voice commands, and more. The one big obvious negative – the watch only syncs with Samsung phones.
The Samsung Galaxy Gear Smartwatch is available for $299.99.
Pebble Smartwatch — $150.00
The Pebble Smartwatch is a fully functional wireless smartwatch that syncs with Android and Apple smartphones. With a less colorful display, it’s certainly an alternative to other smartwatches, but features a wide range of useful tasks, including text display, email display, music selection, alarms, and fitness apps. The Pebble does what you need for half the price.
The Pebble Smartwatch is available for $150.00.
Apple iPhone 5s (32 GB) — $299.99
It’s the hottest phone on the market, and the only smart-phone featuring fingerprint technology. The sleek iPhone 5s sells itself, boasting retina display, fingerprint recognition, a super-fast processor, and two HD cameras.
The iPhone 5s is available with multiple options from $199.00 to $399.00.
Apple iPhone 5c (32 GB) — $199.00
Same Phone. Same company. Four very different elements: The shell is plastic, as opposed to its aluminum counterpart on the 5s – A slightly slower processor – Only the rear camera is HD – No fingerprint technology. With all of these in mind, the difference of about 100 dollars certainly makes up for what is missing considering the phone is still a highly functioning iPhone.
The iPhone 5c is available with multiple options from $99.00 to $199.00.
Xbox One — $500.00+
This one will probably take the cake this year as the hottest selling item. The Xbox One sells itself. It supports the most popular games with the most pristine graphics, features streaming of movies and television shows, and features skype built in, to chat with fellow gamers or family & friends whenever you want. And, you can do all those things simultaneously. Given its popularity, the price of the One is rising as the Christmas deadline approaches, growing from a base price of $500. Retailers are selling it currently from as low as $500 to as high as $700 plus.
The Xbox One is available for at or around $500.00.
Wii U — $299.00
Trust us, they’ll love this one just as much. Yes it’s been on shelves for over a year, but the Wii U is still going strong, offering users an immersive gaming experience which puts the elements of the game both on the big screen and in their hands. The Wii U by all means stands up to the competition, and is nicely priced at 200 dollars less.
The Wii U is available for $299.00.
Amazon Kindle Fire HDX (32 GB with WiFi and 4G) — $369.00
Tablets and readers: can’t go wrong with those this Christmas. And the Kindle Fire HDX surely measures up. It features sharp color display, several apps and display options, WiFi, and 4G capability (addition monthly plan). This reader is more than a book reader, offering email, games, social media apps, and documents. If it’s the reading you’re serious about however, you might want to check out the alternative.
The Kindle Fire HDX is available with multiple options from $229.00 to $424.00.
Amazon Kindle Paperwhite (WiFi and 3G) — $189.00
Plain and simple, it’s a reader. There are no other functions like apps or video, just books. What makes the Paperwhite different is the display. The screen is lit to give readers full and clear resolution in any light – even in the dark. It’s all you’ll need, holding up to 1,100 books.
The Kindle Paperwhite is available with multiple options from $119.00 to $209.00
If there is one function that I want most of all in mobile devices in the ability to inter-operate between platforms. Since I like to get the best of all worlds, in this case iOS and Android, I don’t like the idea of being locked down to a particular device just to be able to do work. I don’t want to assume that the device I have my work on will be with me at all times, as I have had times where I needed something and the device I had at the time didn’t have that item I wanted as it was on something else. This is why I have come to enjoy “Quickoffice”.
Quickoffice is not anything new as for coming onto the app platforms, it has been out for a few years. Google bought them back in June 2012. If you don’t remember this app from last year, here is the original logo.
I’ll be honest that I had forgotten about Google buying this app last year, so I thought this was a completely new app. Oh how time flies.
The biggest thing they do promote in the app, regardless of platform, is signing into your Google Drive account, so you can make documents, spreadsheets, and presentations on your phone and have it uploaded to Google Drive to be accessible from a web browser or another device. You do have the ability to save directly on the device, but as suggestion, it would be best to save to both for backup purposes. Saving directly to your phone will allow for offline access in case you are in an area that does not have cell phone service, like a subway.
During my testing of both iOS and Android versions of the app, I found it to be very simple to use. The document creator was as simple as tapping on the screen to pull up the keyboard and type away. The spreadsheet was the same way, only if I wanted to do something like calculations, I would have to search through the list of functions like SUM. The presentation creator was as simple as double tapping on the cells to create titles and descriptions, just like on a desktop computer.
I wish there were some really awesome functions that isn’t found on any other office productivity app, but I couldn’t find them, though they are probably there and it wouldn’t be a surprise if I told you on this review.
The iOS version is compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. One app to rule them all!
If you use Apple’s productivity apps like Pages, Numbers, and Keynote, I say give Quickoffice a try. Look at it as more of a backup of your documents to the cloud where you are not locked down to a single location. iCloud is a good place to store your documents, but it’s only viewable on an Apple product. There might come a time where you need a document, but don’t have access to an Apple device. Whereas iCloud gives only 5GB of free storage, Google Drive begins with 15GB of free storage. Any documents that you make on Google Drive does not count to your storage, although I want to say that I am not sure if documents you make on your phone or tablet will count. I will research that and update soon.
So go out there and have fun with making documents on the go, if there is a fun side to that.
Have Fun and Geek Out!