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8 Smart Home Devices and Gadgets in 2020

Smart homes are becoming more popular and common with the growth of technology in every field. The smart home devices today are able to perform the functions which previously required considerable human efforts. Today most of the work at smart homes can be done with mere voice commands. It is necessary for a smart home to manage their power supply, network security, and usability of devices under check to make the most out of their smart home devices. Let us take a look at the best smart home devices that you can purchase in 2020.

Amazon Echo

Amazon makes the most affordable all-in-one smart home hub which can listen to your voice commands to perform functions such as playing music, checking the weather, reading news, and even control the lighting, locks, and appliances of your home.

Nesting Learning Thermostat

This device is capable of reducing the temperature of your room when you are away from your room. It can also control the room’s temperature with its Nest Temperature Sensor using its mobile app. You can also use Bluetooth to control it to save energy and data while at home.

Ring Video Doorbell 2

This doorbell is capable of recording 1080p quality videos to check who is at your door at day or night. You can charge the easily removable battery from time to time. The device is water and climate-proof and can function from -5 to 120 degrees.

Kasa Smart Plug

This small gadget can save your money by controlling your outlet’s power according to the need. These plugs can be assigned different names for better control either through the mobile app or through Google Assistant or Alexa.

Philip Hua Smart Light Bulbs

These light bulbs can be controlled using your smartphones which provides a complete handsfree experience. You can even control the intensity of the light to set the mood right for  different occasions. It also features voice commands for light settings and timers.

Pure Enrichment Air Purifier

This purifier can clean 99.9% of the dust and dirt particles from the air, as claimed by the company. It has a smart air quality checker which automatically detected bad air and started cleaning immediately. It can also keep the rooms cooler with the built-in fans giving out fresh air.

August Smart Lock

You can automatically unlock your doors with your smartphones using this device. It is easy to install and operated on a rechargeable battery. You can also use smart assistants to unlock the door with voice commands. In case you lose your smartphone, you can still unlock it with a key which comes with it.

Sonos One

This speaker uses Alexa for voice commands and provides better sound quality for playing music for your guests. It supports over 30 streaming services, including Spotify, AppleMusic, and iTunes. It can also connect with multiple Sonos speakers to provide a better and louder experience.

Day Unplugged

I have every necessity of life in the form of a laptop, tablet, iPod, iPad, cell phone—you name it. I have been called the Tech Queen, even at work where everyone else is glued to some type of electronic device. There is no productivity, commercial or personal, these days without our gear. Bring it on! Just imagine a day with no cell phone or laptop, not even a plug-in radio for company. (We keep one in the storage room in case of emergency—the Internet goes down.) I don’t mind that my survival depends on my equipment. I am talking about my mental survival, that is. I even need the digital calculator to do any math. I use the computer to tell the day and time. I get oriented early in the morning after being roused by a digital LED alarm. Then life goes on.

I had the opportunity to test my mettle, being self-sufficient all on my own, when the office bonding day rolled around. We have one every year and know what to expect. We are told not to bring a single thing, especially our phones. “Leave them in the van.” We had strict orders. We were intended to connect with one another instead of with people miles away by means of texts and emails. And so we did. I had a great time. The food was fabulous and there was plenty of it. We had a huge keg and a cooler full of every beverage known to man. We ate and drank our way through the day. I learned that you can make your own fun with other people as foils. When you talk to them, you want to give your undivided attention and make eye contact. No lingering thoughts about that last email.

The company made sure we had distractions. There were assorted games, the kind you play in the park, and live music for ambience. Most of us loved jumping up and down like fools in the kids bounce house the most, provided for entertainment. I hadn’t been in one since I was five! Remember those kids’ birthday parties and the huge inflated castle in the front yard? I had forgotten how much fun it is to be buoyant and then land in a silly pile of rubber balls. We laughed our heads off. No one missed their devices. But guess what, the minute the event was over and we piled into the van, out came the cell phones one by one and we emitted a sigh of relief in unison. Then when I got home, I jumped on the Internet to launch a post and now I could relax. I was in electronics heaven once again. In my element, I had things to do for the next two or three house. For me, this is the best reality. But I loved the company outing and look forward to the next one.

Are You Addicted to Your Smartphone?

This is a hard one to admit, although I bet if most of us are being truthful – the answer is yes. Whether we are fans of taking selfies or photographing our food, social media junkies, news hounds, or binge watchers, chances are we do a lot of that stuff on our phones.

I can’t watch sports without my phone in my hand, there’s just too many pauses in the action between plays and I have to be doing something: looking up stats, checking the weather, finding out why a player is sitting on the bench. Although I have to say, sporting events are one of the few times the tv is even on at my place – especially since I canceled my cable.

I am a binge watcher. This is something that I don’t even pretend to deny. I stream tv shows and have watched several all the way through more than once. I’ll often pick a series that I know has already ended just so I can watch every episode from beginning to end. Even if I am not sure how I feel about the show, I will watch the whole thing. With my phone, I feel like I rarely have to stop watching.

There’s also the apeal of having any question answered in just a few seconds. Whether I’m trying to convert a measurement while I’m cooking or attempting to prove someone wrong during an argument, I am always asking the internet something. I am also one of those people who is good with faces but bad with names. So I’ll watch something and know I’ve seen the actor or actress in something else, and it will drive me crazy until I look up their name and find out where it is I recognize them from. I have been tempted to look people up even while I’m at the movies!

I have friends that are social media addicts. They have all those notifications turned on and every time one makes a sound, they’re jumping to see what it is. I’ve seen it happen even while they’re driving! Does it really matter so much that your ex liked a photo of your lunch that you need to know while you’re still on your way home from the restaurant? If this is you, then you’re probably addicted to your phone.

Then there are the app junkies. No matter where they are, they’re trying to beat their latest score or pass the next level of whatever game they are obsessed with at the moment. Waiting in the doctor’s office? Play a couple of levels of Angry Birds. Boring train commute? Try some brain-teasing puzzle games. There’s an app out there for everyone, and each one feels more addicting than the last. And when you aren’t playing, you’re being sent push notifications with incentives to get you to pick your phone back up and play some more!

I’ve learned that I need to turn all notifications except for a select few completely off. It is way less tempting to look at the screen that way. I am also trying, after a certain point at night, to just put my phone on the charger and walk away. I don’t think I could ever just quit cold turkey, but setting aside some phone-free time each day has helped a lot!

A Better Cycling Workout

The world of personal electronics is not limited to laptops, tablets, cell phones and the like. Don’t forget how much we depend upon digital technology to operate air purifiers, alarm clocks, vacuum cleaners, washer and dryers, and a whole lot more. I don’t know about you, but my world is populated with the most amazing stuff. We have been through a prolonged revolution over the last century until now, giving us with better things with which to improve our lives. I look forward to every new issue and any kind of surprises. I am what you might call a technology buff. I don’t care how things get made or the nature of the components. I don’t even want to make my own creations. I like to sing the praises of a modern world within which it is so much fun to move about. I am not a retro freak like some who enjoys collecting old-fashioned appliances for the kick of it. No, I want to be up to date through and through.

Sometimes, new technology stares us in the face and we don’t even recognize it. Take the bike trainer at the gym – if you haven’t seen one before, they look like this – https://www.onroadandmountain.com/find-best-bike-trainer/. I use it daily for a great aerobic workout. Let me tell you how it works. It is an electronic marvel. It mimics a stationary bike and that hasn’t changed since the 19th century: two wheels and handlebars. Ha! Now for the good part. The bike is digital all the way and provides an exciting virtual experience. The screen in front is not for watching ball games or the news. You can select the kind of terrain you want to appear to make your cycling engrossing and fun. I like the mountain selection, although there is one at the beach and in the park.

Of course, like basic bike trainers, you watch the mileage on your LED screen as well as your calories and heartbeat. If you want, you can don the headset and listen to a “real person” give you a pep talk for motivation. Or you can opt for fast-paced music to keep those feet pedaling at maximum speed. I no longer take my iPod with the earbuds that constantly fall out. I even leave the cell phone in my backpack as I have been known to forget it in the little side compartment of the bike.

Technology has changed my life for the better, and whether you admit it or not, it has changed yours. It is just a matter of coming to terms with how much we depend on it. Sure, we could go back to analog clocks and TVs, but what about all the improvements in medical equipment and automobile design. I wouldn’t be able to get anywhere in my car without the navigation and route planner software. I wouldn’t even wake up on time in the morning without my digital alarm clock. Then my digital coffee maker does its job to give me a wonderful hot coffee. And then the day goes on…

Upgrade Your Air Purifier

Smart technology is not limited to TVs, laptops, watches and other electronic devices that are used by most everyone on a daily basis. There is all kinds of stuff out there that has advanced over time as a result of the technological revolution. For example, washers and dryers, dish washers, refrigerators, alarm systems, and vacuum cleaners are not totally digital and work better than ever, performing amazing feats. Right now, I am looking at my new air purifier which I place in this category of smart mundane machines. Most everything the average person uses to better their life is sophisticated to the max. Maybe toothbrushes are next. After all, my electronic blanket and my boyfriend’s shaver are way beyond the last century’s models.

I am particularly appreciative of my air purifier because I detest air pollution. Who doesn’t? If you remember some cities in the mid-twentieth century (like Los Angeles and Tokyo most notably), they were plagued with a blanket of smog. Now air pollution has gone indoors because, believe it or not, people still smoke in public places. They sneak it if they are not allowed. Some try to do it in other people’s homes. Fortunately, smart air purifiers are strategically placed to prevent debilitating second-hand smoke.

So now I have a small portable one at home in case something foul enters through the crevasses. You have to take precautions and no one will do it for you, especially your landlord. Second-hand smoke happens all the time in condos and apartment building. You’ve no doubt seen that ad on TV where the smoke snakes around from the floor vent to the baby’s room. The message is clear. It is pretty terrifying, especially for parents. Kids are the most vulnerable. Every nursery needs an air purifier day one.

I count on my air purifier to rescue me from any type of smoke that invades my premises and protect my Clean Breathing preference. It could be from a neighbor burning leaves or a distant fire carried by the wind. If you are a techie like me, you will love the easy operation and the way some of these units connect to Wi-Fi. It is amazing. You can get readings on your computer if you want. You can control the duration of the motor with your phone. If yours doesn’t do this, by all means upgrade now and enjoy a brand new world of electrical operation. Make your life that much better—and cleaner.

I have a big list of smart devices I want to buy in the near future. The air purifier was at the top so now I can work my way down. Meanwhile there isn’t any mold, allergens, dust or pollutions in the vicinity. I can breathe easily, knowing I am inhaling only clean air. You may not even realize that you are the victim of indoor pollution. Why succumb to fate when there is something immediate that you can do!

Cool Add-ons for Smartphones

The smartphone has become everyone’s faithful companion. It goes everywhere with us and we are constantly upgrading them so that we have more memory, better screens, and higher quality cameras. But sometimes, upgrading your phone isn’t possible. What can you do to improve your phone then?

Add peripherals, of course!

I’m going to talk about a few cool ones in this post. They can either help your phone do things better, replace something else you own, or even do something that is just plain cool.

You probably already know of or have heard of some pretty straightforward peripherals – styluses, portable keyboards, smartwatches, and Bluetooth headphones or speakers. Depending on what you have, these things can turn your phone into a fantastic sounding stereo, a workspace-from-anywhere tiny powerhouse, or monitor stuff like your steps and sleep patterns. There are even FM transmitters so that you can listen to the music on your phone from any radio, even if it doesn’t have Bluetooth capabilities.

Next, let’s talk about cameras. What if the camera on your phone isn’t great? Well, you’re in luck. Sometimes it is not so much the resolution on the camera but its ability to take pictures in low-light situations. The newer phones are way better in this regard, but for those of us without that ability, there is a workaround. They sell extra lighting that you can attach to your phone to help light whatever you want – whether it is an awesome selfie or a beautiful flower you caught sight of in a shady spot. And if your camera isn’t up to par, there are also plenty of clip-on lenses to help ensure you get the best photo possible. Clip it on to turn your phone into a quality camera, take it off when you’re done and your phone is back to being a phone.

If you like to pass time by playing games on your phone, this next paragraph is for you. We all get frustrated by the controls sometimes, it can be hard to make them work correctly on the smaller screen. But never fear: there are controllers out there that you can use to fix the problem. They look and feel more like the controllers from your typical console system and most connect via Bluetooth. Plenty either attach to your phone or you can mount your phone on it so you don’t have to worry about trying to hold or prop up your phone while simultaneously attempting to play.  Now you can bring your A-game wherever you go!

I want to go over one more thing: projectors. You already stream movies and other things to your device. Why not use one of those cool smartphone projectors to make the image even bigger? Why bother upgrading your television when you can just cast a larger-than-life image on your wall? Your next movie night will be absolutely amazing!

Do you use any of these peripherals? If so, let me know which one(s)!

Are 2 in 1 Computers Worth it?

I’ve had my eye on two-in-one computers for a while. I’ve been hesitant to try one, first because I already have both a tablet and a laptop, but also because I had some concerns. Having one thing do both sounds cool in theory but do they both work equally as well for what I want them to do? And what happens if it breaks? Then I’m out both a laptop and a tablet.

For a long time, too, the price point didn’t seem worth it. I could get a decent laptop that did most of the same stuff for much less, and there are some cheap tablets out there. Then there’s the fact that you can add all kinds of peripherals to your tablet (keyboard, stylus, monitor, speakers) to allow you to use it in much the same way you would a computer. And phone screens are getting bigger all the time. So, other than the cool factor, I wasn’t really sure what a 2 in 1 brought to the table.

And then my laptop died. Died is putting it nicely. It fell over when someone (not me) tripped over the cord. Nothing happened to the screen, which initially made me pretty happy. But there was a lot of damage to the hinge and apparently something happened internally, because when I tried to use it afterward smoke came out. Also it wouldn’t connect to the internet anymore.

Suddenly I was in the market for a new computer.

I wanted something light and portable. When I started pricing laptops, it turned out that the price of 2 in 1 computers had gone down significantly. I started looking at my four-year-old tablet that is bordering on crappy battery life a little differently. Here’s a few things I learned:

  1. There are two main types of two in ones. Some detach (like the Surface Book) and others flip/rotate (like the Lenovo Yoga models). Obviously, on the whole, the ones that detach are going to be lighter when used as a tablet.
  2. Most use Windows. That might be a deal breaker for you, especially because the Windows Store doesn’t have nearly as many apps as either Google Play or the App Store. It will still let you download and install programs that are compatible with Windows, however, so it is not as terrible as you might think. Others are based on Chromebooks, so you’ll be fine if that’s something you are a fan of.
  3. On the other hand, they tend to be pretty good as laptops – obviously depending on the brand and the specs you’re willing to pay for.
  4. There is a compromise. Depending on the model you choose, the keyboard might be smaller than you’re used to. It might be super light as a laptop but the screen might be awkwardly large or too heavy when used as a tablet. Or it might have great battery for a tablet but not as a laptop. You really need to think about what your needs are, and then find one that will give you the most for your money.
  5. Speaking of money, what are you willing to spend? This is the really big question. You need to think about how much it costs to buy a 2 in 1 and then price out a laptop with similar specs as well as a tablet. You might be surprised at the price difference!

I ended up just getting a new laptop for now, although I am a little sad that I can’t flip the screen around to watch movies sometimes after my tablet dies for the second or third time in a day.

Work from Anywhere

Do you like to travel? Do you wish that you could work just enough to pay for you to see the world? Believe it or not, it is totally possible thanks to the power of technology. If you’ve got a laptop and an internet connection, you can work from just about anywhere.

Here are a couple of job opportunities, along with suggested skills to help you get hired as a digital nomad:

–A writer is probably the most obvious. A travel writer would be perfect, since you get paid to visit places and then write about them. I had a friend get a job this way simply by blogging about travels at her own expense until her blog generated enough interest that a known company hired her. But any kind of writing can be done outside of a traditional office as long as you’ve got a computer. Skills you need to have: a good vocabulary and an adventurous spirit. Knowing other languages can’t hurt if you’re going to be abroad.

–Photographer. This goes hand in hand with the travel writer gig. If you are going to be somewhere beautiful, why not sell the pictures you take? There are sites that will buy your images as stock photos and others where you can sell your piece as a digital print or artwork. You need a decent camera, photo editing software, and a reliable broadband connection in order to upload the images.

–Digital freelancer. This is a pretty broad field. Basically, there’s lots of companies looking for virtual assistants or creative types that they either don’t need full time or don’t want to pay a lot of money to hire. If you’ve got IT, writing, translating, data entry, graphic design, or even just executive assistant skills (that’s just a few of what’s out there) you can find work online. Then it doesn’t matter where you are as long as you’ve got the necessary equipment and a reliable internet connection.

–ESL teacher. There’s two types that I have experience with. One, you are physically in a classroom somewhere teaching speakers with another native language how to speak English. Another way, which some of my friends have done, is teach via video conference. Many of these jobs require you to have a background in teaching, but if you, you can work from anywhere.

–Tutor. There are online tutoring services for just about every subject, so if you’re good at math, science, or are really good at writing term papers, you could give this job a try. You log into the service, and they connect you with a student who needs help. You often need teaching experience or practical experience in your chosen topic in order to qualify.

–Online Personality. These are a little bit tougher, but believe it or not, people do get paid for things like unboxing videos, product testing, or advertising/marketing. They are given free products or trips in return for exposure. You need to have excellent social media skills as well as a decent following in order to get the attention of companies who might want to work with you.

–Online seller. Whether you’re a creative type that sells things you’ve crafted or buy items on your travels to sell through ebay, you’ll need a good internet connection to stay current on orders and a reliable post office nearby to get your orders out.

–house sitter/au pair/pet watcher/dog walker. Advertise your services in advance of where you want to visit to score yourself a job and spending cash when you get there. You may even secure yourself free room and board, too!

These are just a few of the many fields you can try. If you’re interested, take a look around online. There’s no reason to be tied to a commute and an office anymore!

Evolution of the Computer

I’m sure you’ve seen old pictures of the first computers: working from punch cards, taking up entire rooms. Now you have an even more powerful computer that can fit in your pocket! Desktop computers have gotten more powerful, laptops have gotten smaller and lighter, tablets and phones have gotten bigger and are able to do more, and just about everything has a “smart” version, from TVs and thermostats to outlets and door locks.

Take monitors, for example. They started out big, boxy, and without many colors. My dad says his first one had a black screen and the text was green. They gradually got better resolution, and eventually went flat. Apple even made a monitor with the computer inside it ages ago. Now your computer monitor might even have better resolution than your TV screen. And, the screen itself is likely a touchscreen, doing even more than before.

Then there’s the way we accessed data. First there were those punch cards. Some machines even used cassette tapes or those big reel-to-reels. Then we moved to disks. The disks got smaller and smaller—actual floppy disks and then the smaller, hard ones. The cool computers had two disk drives, one you could read and one you could record from. Then there were zip disks, which had even more memory. From there we moved to recordable CDs. Now most computers don’t even have a disk drive! If you can’t download a file or get it from the cloud, you just put it on a memory card or a flash drive. I have a 16 GB flash drive attached to my computer that is so small, I can loop it on my keychain. It is smaller than those store reward cards I also keep on there!

Even keyboards have changed. The old ones were big and clunky. Then we designed ergonomic keyboards with the keys on two sides. Now the keys themselves can be smaller, keyboards lighter, and some are even backlight to make typing in low light easier. There is at least one company that makes a ‘laser’ keyboard that is essentially a projection of a keyboard that you can take anywhere and attach to any smart device using Bluetooth technology. And those of you who remember the first cellphones will remember how hard it was to text someone – you had to press each key a certain amount of times to get the right letter!

As far as peripherals go, we’ve come a long way there too. The first computers didn’t really have anything added on, and what they did have was complicated to hook up. Then we got the mouse and other optional controllers. You had to install them with all kinds of drivers. You needed all sorts of ports or docking stations to get everything to work. Then came track and touchpads, USB ports, memory card readers, and wireless options. Plug and play became a reality. Now you hardly notice when you stick something new into your computer and it has to install drivers, because it does it automatically – you don’t have to do a thing. Or you just pair it through Bluetooth, enter a code, and you’re done.

I can’t wait to see what comes next, can you?

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