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Entries in Gadgets (4)

Saturday
Jan122013

CES 2013 Wrap-Up: The Must-See Gadgets, Innovations and Crazy from the Giant Tech Show

Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images(LAS VEGAS) -- We came, we saw, we survived. ABC News spent the past week scouring CES 2013, one of the largest consumer electronics shows in the world. With more than 1.9 million net square feet of show floor space and 33,000 exhibitors, it's impossible to see everything at the event, but we did see some pretty incredible, innovative and downright crazy products.

Here are some of the best things we saw this week.

1. Audi's Car Parks Itself

If there's one thing that blew our collective mind this week it was Audi's piloted parking demo. We've seen the autonomous driving demos before, but Audi showed off how to tap a button on your iPhone, have the car start, drive itself out of the garage and pick you up. Then you can get out of the car and tell it to park itself right back where it came from. Pretty futuristic stuff, but while Audi can legally test the autonomous cars in Nevada, the future is about a decade away for everyone else, Audi told us.

2. Ultra HD or 4K TVs

They aren't self-driving cars but Samsung, Sony, Toshiba, Vizio and more dazzled with their new 4K or Ultra HD TVs. The TVs all have four times the resolution of current 1080p TVs, which means the picture looks incredibly crisp and vivid. In particular, Samsung's S9 TV, which sits in a frame that looks like an easel, impressed us. The company displayed 85- and 110-inch models, and the content on the screen was jaw-dropping. Samsung's version will be out in the spring, but no word on the pricing.

3. Eye Tracking

Sometimes a mouse or a touchscreen just isn't enough. A company named Tobii showed off how it could use your eye as a mouse. Look at an area on a map and use the scroll wheel, and it will zoom right in on where you want -- not some place far off east or west. Look down, and you can scroll when you are done reading. It's not the first time eye tracking has been shown, but it is one of the first times the demonstrations have worked so well. Tobii will start selling its Rex computer accessory to software developers soon and hopes to bring out a consumer version before the end of the year.

4. Fitness and Health Gadgets

From a fork that vibrates when you are eating too fast to a number of brand-new devices that track your activity, fitness and health-oriented gadgets were one of the biggest things we saw at the show. FitBit's Flex is a stylish wristband that tracks your steps taken, calories burned and hours slept, and then syncs them with your phone, while the $99 HapiFork pairs with your phone to tell you about your eating speed and meals. And yes, it vibrates when you eat too fast.

5. The Oddities

Mind-controlled cat ears. Snooki's Couture headphones with built-in earrings and her bling-bling shoe landline phone. And a potty with a built-in iPad holder. Do we need to say more?

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Dec252012

Christmas Gift Tips: How to Protect the Tech Gadgets You Got

Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Now that you’ve gotten that really cool tech toy on the top of your list, it’s time to figure out how to get your new gadgets to work and to make sure they’re properly protected.

Phone or iPhone Protection

You want to protect your new phone. A case is great, but in my experience, the ones that really work are the thick edged cases that are a little bulky. If you’re thinking of a flimsy, rubbery case or no case at all, my one piece of advice is to put a screen protector on it. I’ve done a fair amount of drop tests and a screen protector can really help protect against screen cracking or shattering. Also, with gadget thefts on the rise, you want to install a tracking program like Find my iPhone for IOS Devices or Lookout for Android. Not only will those programs help you track a lost or stolen device, but they will let you remotely wipe all the data off of the gadget to protect you from identity theft if your gear gets stolen.

Should You Get Insurance?

You can opt for insurance, which is sold from the carriers, Apple or a third-party company like Squaretrade. Replacing an iPhone would cost more than $500, so if it’s for a teenager, I’d get the insurance. For an adult with no big risk factors (no outdoor job, history of dropping phones in toilets, or propensity to leave phone in taxi cabs), I’d probably skip the added expense.

Trade in Your Old Stuff: Value Is Now!

With more than 33 million new Smartphones expected to ship out this holiday season, there are bound to be lots of older phones going into a cabinet or drawer. Don’t do it! Those gadgets are a source of some easy money. Lookout, a mobile software company, did a survey and found 62 percent of respondents said they have at least one unused mobile phone in their household. Instead, use a service like Gazelle, CExchange or NextWorth, which will pay for your shipping and give you cash for that old laptop, phone or iPod. Act soon because the value of that gear will only diminish the longer you wait.

Getting Media on Your New Gadget

If you received a Kindle this Christmas, you have to sign in to Amazon to use the device. Anytime you buy a book, it charges your account.  But here’s a little secret: If you and your close family members want to share books, you can all use the same login. Then, you can buy a digital book once and it can be read on all Kindles tied to that account.  Also, take a look at your local library. Many have kindle and epub lending libraries so you can borrow digital books over the internet for free for the Kindle and even more so for e-Readers like the Kobo or Nook.

Get It to Work

Getting your new gadget to work or learning how to use it can be the major challenge. There are lots of services out there these days to help teach you about your new gear.

For an Apple gadget, they have their One to One service. It’s a one-year subscription that must be purchased within 14 days of buying a new Apple gadget. It’s $99 for the year and lessons are scheduled online and happen in the Apple stores.

Microsoft offers personal training for $49 an hour in their stores, and the Geek Squad offers memberships of $199 for the year or $169 for AARP members, which gives you tech support on a wide range of products on the phone, in store or online. You can also schedule 90-minute, in-home visits for $49 if you are already a member.

Another option is to find a local guru who will work with you one on one. Often, they have lots of flexibility, lower rates and can be real assets as you try to integrate tech into your life. You can also conscript grandchildren or a neighbor’s kids who are digital natives; they may not be the best teachers, but the price is right.

Keeping It Organized

I give this tip every year, but it’s a beauty. A Ziploc bag and a sharpie are your best friends when you get a new gadget. Put all the peripheral items you don’t think you’ll use, the warranty card and the manual in the bag, label it and then throw it in that drawer or cabinet where all that stuff goes. Trust me, you’ll need something from the bag sometime down the line and you’ll be glad it’s labeled.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
May092012

TVs and Cameras' Life Spans Greater Than Other Electronic Gadgets

DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images(YONKERS, N.Y.) -- How long will your favorite electronic gadget continue to function before the digital reaper calls it to the junk heap?

According to a recent survey by Consumer Reports, the answer differs widely, depending on what kind of gizmo you have.  The repair rate -- meaning failure rate -- for laptop computers three to four years old, for example, is 36 percent.  That’s higher than the rate for desktops (32 percent), LCD televisions (15 percent) or plasma TVs (10 percent) of comparable age.

Laptops, says the magazine, are “among the most repair-prone products you can buy” -- on par with the most troublesome appliances, including riding lawn mowers and side-by-side refrigerators (The survey looked at other kinds of goods besides consumer electronics).

“TVs and cameras are pretty reliable,” says Mark Kotkin, Consumer Reports’ director of survey research.  “Computers less so.”

Digital cameras, he says, typically live eight years before they break, making them among the longest-lived of any gadgets surveyed.

Respondents labeled Gateway’s desktops repair-prone, but Apple’s as reliable.  Reliable, too, were Toshiba and Acer laptops.  LCD TVs made by Panasonic, Sanyo and Sylvania were less likely to die than those made by Westinghouse, Polaroid and Mitsubishi.

Anthony Scarsella, chief gadget officer of Gazelle.com, a website where consumers can resell their broken, outmoded or otherwise cast-off electonics, says Apple’s products are among the best made and least likely to break.  The reason people sell old iPhones through Gazelle isn’t so much because the phones break as because owners want to upgrade to a newer model, Scarsella says.

Even the life cycle of an iPhone, though, is limited: Its built-in battery, according to website eHow, can take only so many rechargings and begins to die after several hundred chargings, or two or three years.  At that point, the owner faces the choice of paying Apple to put in a new battery or buying a new phone.

It’s easier to buy a new model, says Scarcella, and the cost, especially if you resell your dead phone, is not significantly higher.

“The iPhone, the iPad, the MacBook Air, the Macbook Pro -- all hold their value very well,” he says.  “When you sell them, you can get a pretty good return.”

He says he does see dead and broken gadgets, but fewer all the time, since consumers, having wised up to their gadgets’ resale values, are taking better care of them.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Apr062011

Get Cash, Gift Cards by Trading in Your Old Gadgets

Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Many consumers who have old cell phones, e-readers, laptops and video games lying around could be banking on them if they turned them in.

Several websites, like Gazelle.com, pay consumers in cash or gift cards for trading in their old gadgets.  You simply need to answer a few questions on the site and then "they will literally send you a box, they'll send you a prepaid shipping label and they'll just take your item back," says ABC News' Technology Contributor Andrea Smith.

Nextworth.com is another such site, which has a partnership with retail giant Target.  Consumers looking to turn in their old devices with Nextworth can go to a Target store and "they will right there on the spot give you a Target gift card," says Smith. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio