Best Tech Gifts for Grandma

Don’t know what to get grandma this year? Contrary to what you might think, a tech gift might be just the right thing for her. To help you out, we’ve put together this list of awesome and useful electronics and gadgets that we’re sure she’ll love.

10 1Voice Sleep Eye Mask Headphones – $ 19.99

This comfortable eye mask and headphone combo is the perfect companion for a nap. Made of ultrasoft memory foam, this eye mask helps to block out exterior noise and ambient light for a restful ambiance, whether on-the-go or on the couch. The built-in over-ear headphones can connect to a smartphone or MP3 player, and have a layer of memory foam so that the wearer can lay on them comfortably. Get it here.

9 3 Credit Card-Sized Tablet Stands  – $ 19.99

There are times where holding a phone or tablet isn’t the most convenient or comfortable option. That’s where these incredibly small and portable stands come in. The adjustable support bar allows for several viewing angles, and they fold up to about the size of a credit card, so they fit easily into a bag or wallet, but they can support most smartphones, tablets or e-readers. Get them here.

8 ExoMount Ultra Smartphone Car Mount – $ 22.95

This clever smartphone stand allows drivers to safely use navigation apps on-the-road without futzing with their smartphones. It easily installs onto virtually any type of dashboard with its ultra strong suction cup. And its one-handed operation allows it to rotate 360 degrees to allow for basically any smartphone viewing angle. Compatible with all iPhone and many Android models. Get it here.

7 Nut Find 3 Smart Tracker Set of Four – $ 52.99

Let’s face it: we all misplace something sometimes. With the Nut Find 3 Smart Tracker, losing an important item doesn’t have to be as much of an inconvenience. Attach it to keys, smartphones or a plethora of other items, and the Nut will helpfully beep when called via an app. It can also be configured to beep if it gets out of range of a smartphone, so she’ll never leave her car keys behind again. This set comes with four individual trackers, so they can be used on a range of important items. Get them here.

6 EverFrames HD Digital Picture Frame – $ 79.99

It’s a well-known fact that most grandparents love pictures of their grandkids and family. That’s why a digital picture frame is a great choice. This model features a 10-inch high-resolution display, 16 gigabytes of internal memory for storing tons of photos and videos, and support for both audio and video playback. It also comes with a remote control, allowing for convenient and user-friendly operation. Get it here.

5 Fitbit Charge 2 – $ 99.99

Keeping active and staying healthy is important at any age. To help with those goals, the Fitbit Charge 2 is an excellent choice. It’s simple and tracks a variety of data from activity and heart rate to sleep quality and duration. Its OLED screen also displays call, text and calendar notifications, letting grandma keep up-to-date even without having her smartphone in-hand. Get it here.

4 Amazon Echo Spot – $ 129.99

Upgrade grandma’s clock with the Amazon Echo Spot. Like other Echo devices, the stylish and compact Spot features the smart home assistant Alexa — which can help with a variety of tasks via voice command and is always getting smarter. The Spot also features a camera for hands-free voice or video, and its onboard display allows for visual news briefs, music lyrics, weather forecasts, calendar updates and to-do lists. It’s not out quite yet, but Amazon says all orders will arrive by Christmas. Get it here.

3 Victrola Nostalgic Turntable Entertainment Center – $ 119.88

Don’t let grandma’s record collection sit in a box and collect dust. Let her know that vinyl is back with this elegant, all-in-one Victrola record player. It combines a nostalgic and luxury real-wood design with modern-day technology. It’s a three-speed turntable that can play basically any LP, but it also features built-in Bluetooth, CD and cassette players, an AM/FM radio, and a full-function remote for easy controls. Get it here.

2 GoSafe 760 Front & Rear Dash Cam Set – $ 194.95

Give grandma the gift of safety on the road. This dash cam can record a huge amount of footage with support for micro SD cards up to 128GB. Best of all, this dash cam has your back — literally. Unlike many other models, this two-pack records HD video from both the front and rear of your vehicle, giving users 360 degrees of protection. It’s also packed with safety features like stop sign recognition, driver fatigue alarm and headlight reminder. Get it here.

1 Amazon Kindle Oasis – $ 249.99

Give your book-loving grandma the latest in e-reader technology. The Kindle Oasis features Amazon’s highest resolution display yet — it’s a 7-inch screen that reads like paper in bright sunlight, but also features a lighted display for darker environments. It’s made with a thin, ergonomic and waterproof design for easy holding and page-turning. Best of all, it only needs to be charged every few weeks. Get it here.

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Farfetch’d Is Now Available for a Limited Time in Pokémon GO

On November 19, Niantic, Inc. and The Pokémon Company announced Pokémon GO Travel and The Global Catch Challenge. The latter was a challenge for Pokémon trainers around the world to capture 3 billion Pokémon collectively in just one week. Niantic announced the following reward tiers for the challenge:

  • Bronze: 500 million catches would unlock double XP, increase duration of lures placed on Poké Stops to six hours (up from 30 minutes), and unlock more Pokémon globally.
  • Silver: 1.5 billion catches would unlock double XP and double stardust, increase duration of lures placed on Poké Stops to six hours (up from 30 minutes), and unlock even more Pokémon globally.
  • Gold: 3 billion catches would also double XP and double stardust, increase the duration of lures placed on Poké Stops to six hours (up from 30 minutes), and unlock even more Pokémon globally. Additionally, the East Asian region-exclusive Farfetch’d would be available worldwide for 48 hours and the Australian region-exclusive Pokémon Kangaskhan would be available for 48 hours in East Asia.

Over the Thanksgiving holiday trainers around the world worked together to achieve this goal. Saturday evening Pokémon GO said in a tweet: “Congratulations, Trainers! You did it! You’ve caught over 3 billion Pokémon and unlocked a new reward during the Global Catch Challenge.“ The tweet included a GIF congratulating players and announcing that Farfetch’d and Kangaskhan were now available to catch (Kangaskhan exclusive to East Asia) for 48 hours.

While still a popular game worldwide, Pokémon GO has struggled to maintain player enthusiasm due to server issues and various glitches, cold weather, and lack of enticing new updates. The Global Catch Challenge was clearly an attempt by Niantic to boost popularity.

Back in October, some Pokémon previously appearing in the third generation handheld games were introduced as part of a Halloween event with Niantic promising more to come. Many players are looking forward to the full generation three release, which will include over a hundred new pocket monsters.

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iPhone X’s Popularity Urges Samsung and LG to Launch S9, G7 Early

It’s been a little over three-weeks since Apple released its high-end iPhone X, which has already emerged a massive success for the company. Even despite its equally high-end price tag, Cupertino’s first edge-to-edge iPhone sold out within just minutes of being made available for pre-order — and while shipping estimates have since improved, as Apple’s assembly partners in the Far East continue ramping up production to meet demand, there’s little doubt the company is on track for another record-breaking quarter of iPhone sales.

Of course, while that’s great news for Apple and the future of iPhone, it’s obviously not so great for companies like Samsung, LG, and Google — whose latest Galaxy Note 8, V30, and Pixel 2/2 XL devices have struggled to compete on many levels.

And now with the new year looming just over the horizon, a new report published by Business Korea is claiming that both Samsung and LG will unveil their next-generation flagship devices at the upcoming consumer electronics show (CES) in January of next year — in a move that would see their Galaxy S9 and G7 handsets hit the market (historically speaking) several months ahead of schedule.

In part, Business Korea cites a previous report published by Venture Beat, which originally said that Samsung would release its next-generation Galaxy S9 smartphone at the CES 2018 in Las Vegas next January.

“It is said in the smartphone industry that Samsung is expected to launch the Galaxy S9 in order to hold the iPhone X in check, which was recently launched and is gaining in immense popularity,” Business Korea noted, while adding that “It is also said that LG Electronics is considering a plan to release its next product, the G7, in January of next year.”

While it’s certainly not uncommon practice to hear of an Android OEM trying to beat Apple’s iPhone to market, if the inherent report is true, it would appear that some of Android’s biggest players are gearing up for a much fiercer-than-expected competition next year, particularly as they scramble to procure integral components powerful enough to rival the iPhone X’s.

Samsung has for the past few years released its high-end Galaxy S devices several months ahead of Apple’s iPhone — with its latest and greatest Galaxy S8/S8+ having been unveiled at a private event in early March, 2017, prior to going on sale later that month. Interestingly, while the S8 and S8+ were among the first of 2017’s most advanced handsets, they were in fact beaten to market by LG’s comparably-equipped (but much worse-looking) G6 flagship, which went live one month prior at Mobile World Congress 2017 in Barcelona.

Meanwhile, both the Galaxy S9 and G7 will reportedly be the first Android flagships to boast Qualcomm’s next-generation Snapdragon 845 SoC, the report cites, while adding that the G7 in particular will feature an OLED display of unknown dimensions in addition to Qualcomm’s new glass-embededded fingerprint-scanning technology.

Interestingly, sources cite that Samsung is foregoing the new biometric technology in favor of a generic fingerprint scanner, which will reportedly be “positioned in a better location” on the rear of the device.

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iPhone X Shipping Estimates Improve to Just 1-2 Weeks

If you’re looking to purchase an iPhone X this year, you might be in luck. Since the Nov. 3 launch, iPhone X shipping estimates have been steadily improving.

Case in point: as of this past weekend, shipping estimates for Apple’s new flagship devices are now down to just one to two weeks across the globe, including in the U.S., many parts of Europe and Asia, New Zealand and Australia.

One to two weeks is a big improvement over the two- to three-week estimate recorded on Nov. 15. In the U.S., buyers can expect their iPhone X devices to arrive between Dec. 11 and 18 if purchased in the next few days — and supplies of the handset will probably show up at brick-and-mortar retail stores, too. That largely means that you’ll probably still have time to nab an iPhone X this holiday season.

Why Estimates Are Improving

There’s also the question of why iPhone X shipping estimates are improving a bit earlier than expected — especially considering the plethora of reports suggesting that the device would be in extremely short supply this year.

According to renowned analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities, it’s not because of weak or lackluster demand for the iPhone X. In a research note recently distributed to clients, Kuo said that the bottlenecks and issues plaguing the device’s production have “been well addressed.”

Kuo added that Foxconn’s iPhone X production is now clocked at 450,000 to 550,000 units per day. That’s a big jump from the previous estimate of 50,000 to 150,000 a day when Apple was gearing up to officially launch the flagship.

Apple has been able to ramp up its iPhone X production due to resolving two of its primary bottlenecks, according to Kuo. Specifically, the company and its supply partners seem to have addressed issues with yield rates for the iPhone X’s LTE antennas and certain components for its new, advanced TrueDepth cameras.

As further evidence of those issues being resolved, DigiTimes reported on Monday that another Apple supplier, Genius Electronic Optical, is improving its own production yields for lens modules that are critical for the iPhone X’s front-facing camera and its TrueDepth 3D sensing system.

iPhone X Demand

In short, much of the evidence points toward better production yields, rather than low demand. Apple CEO Tim Cook himself said that the company would work to get iPhone X units out to customers “as soon as possible.”

Because of this improved production, Kuo forecasts that iPhone X shipments in the fourth quarter could be as much as 10 to 20 percent higher than he originally predicted. As a result, Kuo also estimates that iPhone X shipments in the first quarter of next year will be flat or even slightly lower compared to the current quarter.

Apple’s own financial guidance for 2017’s fourth quarters suggests record performance, and the company has stated that demand for the iPhone X is “off the charts.” Indeed, the iPhone X could be the device that pushes Apple toward a $ 250 stock price — and past its $ 1 trillion valuation milestone.

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Networking Terms Explained: Bandwidth, Latency, Jitter, and Flapping

It’s 2017 and Internet in America still isn’t as good as it could be. A large contributor to this may be that consumers don’t really understand networking or what to expect. Even the “tier one” support representatives at major ISPs (Internet service providers) don’t fully know what to look for when you’re having an issue.

If you’ve ever called your ISP because things don’t seem to be working as expected, odds are they’ve had you run a speed test; and if the results are within a few megabits per second of what you’re paying for, they’ve sent you on your merry way, had you reset your modem/router combo unit, or offered to have someone come and “take a look.” Problem is, a speed test isn’t conclusive and there’s a good chance the problem may be something within your control.

This article will attempt to explain some basic networking terms and concepts to help you know what to do the next time your streaming-movie or online multiplayer game doesn’t function the way you expect.

Bandwidth

What is bandwidth? Let’s start with the basics. Many people refer to bandwidth as speed. This isn’t really right or wrong. A better way to describe bandwidth is capacity.

Think of having two large soft drinks in front of you, one has a big wide straw and the other has a smaller skinny straw. Because the larger straw can transport more liquid at a time, the drink will likely be consumed quicker.

A lot of bandwidth means more data can be transported simultaneously. Most devices support up to 1 Gbps (gigabit per second) although some are less (10/100 Mbps). If you have a 10 Mbps connection and try to stream three HD videos on Netflix at about 5 Mbps each you will fail since you don’t have enough bandwidth for the data to be transported simultaneously.

In this case it has nothing to do with speed and everything to do with capacity.

Latency

So what terminology do we use to refer to speed? In networking we use the term latency to refer to how long it takes data to travel from on location to the next. These locations are physical routers that make up the Internet referred to as “hops.” The standard set by ISPs is less than 100 ms. The closer to zero the better, especially when it comes to realtime traffic such as VoIP (voice over Internet protocol) calls, video calls (like Skype or FaceTime), or online gaming.

Bandwidth vs. Latency

When thinking in terms of bandwidth and latency it helps to imagine driving down a highway. There are many factors that will determine how fast you drive and how many cars can be on the highway at once. The amount of lanes can be seen as how much bandwidth is available. The amount of cars will affect congestion. The distance you go will affect latency. And all of these things, including speed limits (some servers are slower than others) will affect your overall speed.

In other words, latency and bandwidth both contribute to your connection speed.

Jitter and Flapping

When a network isn’t working as expected it’s easy to blame your bandwidth and in some cases this may be the cause. But what do you do when you have plenty of bandwidth for what you are trying to do but still experiencing issues? Well it depends, if sites simply aren’t loading you may want to check your browser settings, your computer’s connection, or your router’s configuration. But if you’re experiencing choppy call quality on your video call or your VoIP phone, or your character is jumping around in your online game, you may be experiencing an unstable connection.

Network stability often utilizes the terms jitter and flapping. These refer to issues with your network latency. It may be happening on your local network or it may be happening along one of the hops along the route your connection takes.

Jitter refers to variations in latency. When sending and receiving data to and from a specific location the amount of time should be pretty consistent. If it’s not it can cause data packets to arrive late or out of order.

Flapping refers to large spikes in latency that can cause packet loss (when data times out and doesn’t make it) or issues with data arriving heavily delayed.

If you notice choppy quality with your realtime data it may indicate poor network stability likely caused by jitter or flapping.

Troubleshoot Your Network

Troubleshooting network issues can be difficult, but here are some helpful steps that can help you avoid a call to the ISP or help you better isolate the cause of the issue:

  • Check what devices on your network are consuming data and make sure they’re not using more than what your network is capable of. Again, if you pay for 20 Mbps and a device on your network is trying to stream a 4K Netflix movie, it’s probably not going to work. Netflix recommends a minimum of 25 Mbps for UHD (ultra high definition) streaming. Even if you have 25 Mbps, remember it needs to be shared with all the devices on your network.
  • Try unplugging your modem and router for about two minutes or more. Some SOHO (small home/home office) and ISP provided equipment build up static electricity overtime, leaving them unplugged for a few minutes can help with this and also serves as a reboot.
  • If you’re not using more data than you have capacity or available bandwidth for, now is the time to run a speed test. net is a great choice for this. If you’re showing significantly less than what you pay for, it might be a good time to call your ISP.
  • If you’re experiencing choppy real time data (such as a video call or gaming), run some ping tests to Google’s primary DNS server (8.8.8.8) to test latency. This can be done by typing “ping 8.8.8.8” in a Terminal window on your Mac or Linux machine and pressing enter. Alternatively you can run a ping test in Windows’ Command Prompt by typing “ping 8.8.8.8 -t”. This will send a series of pings, they should for the most part be less than 100 ms and shouldn’t vary by more than 10 or 15 ms for optimal stability. The closer to zero the better. Ideally, you shouldn’t see any packet loss.
  • If your ping tests are high or show a lot of jitter (variations in latency) you may want to run a ping test to your router’s IP address to see if the issue is internal or not. Internal pings are usually less than 1 or 2 ms. Ideally you shouldn’t see any packet loss. If you see packet loss or high pings this could indicate faulty cabling or equipment (router, modem, wireless access point (WAP), port, or switch). Before replacing things you may want to try rebooting your device(s) and networking equipment. It’s also a good idea to make sure you’re running the latest firmware on all your devices and equipment.
  • Also, wireless networks are not as stable as wired networks. For gaming and other realtime streaming a wired connection is advised as wired connections tend to provide the most stable connection. In areas with a lot of magnetic interference you may want to try STP (shielded twisted pair) Ethernet cabling.

While this article may prove useful for better understanding basic network issues and terms it isn’t meant to be a replacement for trained network professionals and may not apply to every instance. It’s intended to help you get the most out of your network and better communicate issues to your ISP. No network is perfect, but the more you understand about networking the better your home network will function as a result.

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