The newest, hottest products in the market.
Smartphones, tablets, laptops, smartwatches –
reviewed simply with four questions in mind.
by Asif Khan, CEO of Caremerge
When you consider that many seniors were around for the invention of the television in 1927, it is no wonder that they may be resistant to new technology and especially social media. For many seniors, computers are intimidating, but it is critical for family members and the healthcare community to encourage seniors to get involved in social media.
Hi-Res Audio Update
The Hi-Res Audio movement took a major step into consumer consciousness with the decision by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) to support a logo and branding for products deemed capable of playing hi-res audio formats, which are a major improvement over the MP3’s the music industry has foisted upon us for a generation. Sony, which has been the major mover behind popularizing Hi-Res is also introducing products that bring these high end products within the reach of average consumers.
by Judith Bitterli Chief Marketing Officer AVG Technologies
The importance of our digital legacy has been brought home to me time and again in the past few years, as I’ve seen family and friends who have lost loved ones and faced the prospect of what to do about their digital footprint. Just this past year, a friend and former colleague of mine passed away. I, like so many, was shocked and saddened to learn of his untimely death. He was healthy and vibrant until the day he died of a heart attack while out cycling.
Technology doesn’t just effect how you navigate from one place to another, it can also have a serious effect on how you drive there–especially in the snow. This was amply demonstrated to me, thanks to a couple of Buick engineers and some professional driving instructors at Lime Rock’s Winter Autocross course. Like many experienced drivers, I grew up driving in the snow with rear-wheel cars that spun and fishtailed predictably. One learned to pump the brakes and turn at the last second to maneuver around wintry roads. There were no ABS brakes, electronic stability controls,or complex all-wheel-drive traction control systems to rely on. All that has changed, and it requires a change in driving habits to realize their safety benefits.
At this year’s Consumer Electronics Show, there were robots all over the place. Robots that could remove bombs. Robots that could play with autistic children. Robots that could monitor the status of a loved one. Robots that allow a severely disabled individual to interact with the rest of the world. And yes, robots to clean your floors. The age of the robot is not quite upon us. But it’s getting closer. It’s actually been a while since we last looked at a household robot, and that was a combo unit from Roomba that washed floors. This time around we decided to look at the competition, the Botvac 80 by Neato, one of their top models, which claims to do the best job of picking up pet hair. Even though our daughter’s golden retriever is banned from the living room, his hair seems to show up, and the Neato did a pretty good job of picking it up. Even more impressive was the job that it did in picking up the hundreds of fallen needles from the Christmas tree.
“Oh my aching back” How often have you heard that phrase, or used it? Lower back pain affects millions. And the older you get,the more it’s likely to be a problem. It can come from sitting too long or from a strain, or who knows what else. But now, there’s an FDA listed device and app combo that may help. Valedo integrates technology and gaming to improve lower back health. The kit includes two sensors, a USB charger to charge both sensors at once and medical grade tape to affix the sensors. You place the sensors on the lower back and chest sternum. According to the website, Valedo’s “game-like exercises can help you improve movement awareness, restore motion to vertebral joints and redevelop muscles in your back.”
No, that’s not just hyperbole, Splash is the name of the urgent response device from GreatCall, the folks who created the senior-friendly Jitterbug phone. With the touch of a button, the user has access to the GreatCall 5 Star Service. That provides instant voice communications with a live trained emergency services agent. Using the GPS functionality of the device the agent can see immediately where the wearer is located and send help if needed. The agent will stay in direct communication with the wearer until the situation is resolved. When you sign up for the service you can provide key health and health provider information so it’s available in an emergency. The Splash is waterproof down to three feet so it can worn in the shower or in a bath. It uses a drop-in cradle charger so the user doesn’t have to deal with connecting cords. Battery life is a couple of days, but the best way to use it is drop it into its cradle each night. The Splash runs on the Verizon network so most places have service, but you should check your local area before your buy. The device itself is just about $50 but requires a monitoring plan for either $15 or $20. The more expensive plan gives you access to GreatCall’s health and safety services, like Urgent Care, which provides u unlimited access to registered nurses and board-certified doctors.
By John R. Quain, Editor-At-Large
What is it? – Roku has managed to do what no other company seems capable of–make a smart TV dumb. But that’s a good thing. It means no more infinitely regressing menus, cascading option screens or inscrutable settings. Roku had boiled it down to the essentials and then baked it into this 40-inch Hisense H4 Series HD TV. Easy? Gracie Allen could operate this TV.
Advances in GPS technology and power management are making it easier than ever to keep track of the people and pets important to you. To give you a brief idea on the state of the market, here are three devices that all rely on GPS (Global Positioning System). GTX makes a set of GPS enabled inner soles, called the GTX SmartSole that can be put in the shoes of someone suffering from Alzheimer’s, dementia, or even autism. The inner soles can be charged wirelessly, and one charge is good for five days. Depending on the service plan you can set up monitoring reports to track the patient every 5, 10, 30, or 60 minutes. The information goes directly to either a smartphone app or a monitoring portal. You can set the system up so that the caregiver is notified if the patient breaches a pre-set geo boundary. The device has no on/off switch, so it cannot be disabled. It will go into sleep mode if there’s no activity in order to save battery power. You can monitor the patient’s comings and goings on a computer, smartphone, or on GTX’s own tracking device. The inner soles themselves are $299. There are two different monitoring plans for just about $30 or $50 per month.
If you live in a place where you need snow chains during the winter, you know what a huge pain they are to get on and take off. Well, now there’s an alternative, the AutoSock, a fabric wheel cover that’s accepted in most states as a legal alternative to chains. The forecast Blizzard of 2015 missed us in Western Connecticut But it deposited enough snow to make driving a challenge – well at least for a few minutes. Even though I wanted to try these out, given my past experiences with chains, I was not looking forward to the experience. But I was wrong,
As Ann Karpf, the British journalist and sociologist reported in her January 4, 2015 New York Times Op-Ed piece on “The Liberation of Growing Old”: “Ageism has been described as prejudice against one’s future self. It tells us that age is our defining characteristic and that, as midnight strikes on a milestone birthday, we will become nothing but old — emptied of our passions, abilities and experience, infused instead with frailty and decline.”
To be blunt, this was the biggest Consumer Electronics Show ever, but not the best. It was filled with incremental improvements, but few breakthrough technologies. There were literally hundreds of wearable devices all looking for space on your wrist, and more and more 4K UHD televisions from more manufacturers, still in search of 4K native content. That having been said, there were certainly products that caught our attention. We’ll skp the 3D printing because even though it is an exciting technology, I don’t think many in this audience will be buying it. As far as wearables, I will admit that I only saw a fraction of those on the show floor, but one stood out, the Healbee
Even though the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) doesn’t officially begin until Tuesday, the media events are already underway. On Sunday night, at an event called CES Unveiled, about 100 exhibitors gave a preview of the madness that is to come later this week. I will confess that I couldn’t get to all of them. Many were just newer versions of the same old stuff, but several were truly innovative. Here are a handful that caught my eye:
By Andy Marken, Founder Marken Communications (http://www.markencom.com/)
Editor’s Note – Andy Marken runs his own public relations agency, but he’s also a keen long time observer of the computer and consumer electronics scene. We thought you might enjoy this piece:
At the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show getting underway in early January, one of the big things will again be wearables, dominated by more fitness trackers than you can count. But sadly, most evidence suggests that if you got a fitness tracker for the Holidays, there’s a good chance that by the time the CES show wraps up in Vegas, your new tracker will find its way into a drawer, never to emerge. Here’s what’s going on.
What is It? The Nokia Lumia 830 is the company’s modestly priced flagship Windows Phone. It has some great features, but is ultimately limited by the fact that the Windows Phone ecosystem has only a small fraction of the apps available for either iOS or Android. The phone comes with Cortana, Microsoft’s answer to Apple’s Siri and Google Now. It features the PureView 10MP camera with Zeiss optics, an LED flash, and very sharp auto-focus. It has a 5″ screen but does not sport a full HD display (720 x 1280). It comes with 16GB of storage, but you can add micro SD cards up to 128GB. The Lumia 830 uses a not quite top of the line Qualcomm Snapdragon processor so it’s pretty fast. Sound quality is decent, though not overwhelming. We tried to run our usual Netflix streaming test, but the pre-installed Netflix app crashed repeatedly with a “Windows Configuration Error” . Streaming YouTube went off without a hitch. The phone is well designed, solid and easy to hold. The wraparound metal edge gives the device a real feeling of substance. Voice quality is quite good (remember this is a phone). Battery life is fair. The 2200mAh removable battery is a bit bigger than the 1810mAh in the iPhone 6, but smaller than the 2800mAh battery in the Galaxy S5. It comes in a variety of bright colored cases, as well as basic black.
Imagine shopping for a precious bauble for your wife or lover. You walk into your favorite jewelry store and instead of just looking in the cases, you can thumb through a catalog or computer files to find exactly what you’re looking for. Or you have an idea for your own design in mind. The salesperson walks into the back room and minutes later walks out with the piece of jewelry you just ordered up. Well, we’re not there yet, but thanks to the advent of 3D printing, we’re pretty close.
Pay attention. This is a lot more important than your next smartphone. There’s a pretty good chance that the implications of the subject here will have an impact on you whether or not you suffer from a chronic disease such as congestive heart failure, diabetes or COPD. Perhaps you are now or will in the foreseeable future be responsible for caring for a parent or loved one who suffers from one of them. Even if you just pay health insurance premiums this is a topic of interest. For years we’ve talked about coverage for catastrophic medical events such as cancer, or a kidney transplant. But perhaps what we really need to focus on is the catastrophe that’s likely to occur as increasing longevity combines with the flood of 76 million aging Baby Boomers to become a tsunami of human need that will wipe out our ability to deliver affordable medical care.
Fitness Tracker – Fitbit Flex – This wristband tracks steps, distance, calories burned and active minutes. It can monitor how long and well you sleep. It has a silent alarm that will wake you and not your partner. Its LED lights show how your day is stacking up against your goal. It’s slim and comfortable to wear (sold with both large and small wristbands included). Price $80.