Win An Intel-Powered Laptop!

Dave Zatz —  December 9, 2016 — 5 Comments

TL;DR Watch the following sponsored video for the opportunity to win a brand-spanking-new Intel-powered laptop for you and a friend.

‘Tis the season… to cash in on some amazing technological values. And I’ve been on the lookout for an economical “gaming” laptop, like this $699 HP Pavillion at Walmart, to upgrade my wife’s aging rig. She’s pretty much the furthest thing from a gamer. Yet, I’ve learned these designations represent tricked out hardware with additional memory, higher-end video cards and processors (6th gen Core i7, in this case). I briefly contemplated a flippy hybrid laptop/tablet, like this Dell Inspiron 2-in-1, which seems to be all the rage, but we’re old and set in our ways.

Of course, “free” is even better than “economical” and Intel will once again gift three laptops upon worthy individuals, as one of last year’s winners describes in the video. While I’m not entering the contest and don’t have the most inspiring story to share, my wife has run our household and her business exclusively from several generations of Windows laptops. And she’s due for an upgrade — modern specs and a touchscreen will absolutely increase her productivity and, just as importantly, her day-to-day comfort.

I suspect most of you know someone in your lives with even more compelling stories. By nominating them to win a PC powered by Intel at the conclusion of the video, you, too, will also pick up a computer should your 300 word narrative be selected.

Intel Influencer Program sponsored post in partnership with Mirum. You best believe all opinions are my own.

ooma-door-sensor

Ooma, the long-time independent and quite stellar VoIP service provider, is finally poised to expand beyond its core telephonic capabilities… as foreshadowed by the legendary Rich Buchanan way back in 2009:

Ooma won’t say exactly what complementary products it will introduce, but Buchanan will speak in general terms. “We will have applications that fall into three basic categories: network management, home automation, and data management,” he says.

Given that Ooma is simply a Linux-based hub, why not? And now, as revealed by the FCC, we learn the company intends to introduce window/door and water detection sensors managed via an incoming Ooma Home Monitoring app. Due to power and range considerations (and the FCC filing itself), Ooma wouldn’t leverage WiFi or even low-energy Bluetooth for these applications. However, as opposed to their Zigbee and Z-wave contemporaries like Smartthings, Ooma is going with generally phone-centric DECT for communication.

I wonder what other goodies and integrations they have on the docket… and expect all will be revealed next month at CES.

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tivo-bolt-cloud-dvr

Due to a number of fortuitous leaks, we know TiVo is pursuing cloud recording capabilities for retail devices. However, whereas the functionality seemed specific to upcoming Tablo-fighting Mavrik hardware, a Bolt owner inadvertently received the notification above — suggesting testing is underway. It remains to be seen how much such a service might run and if offloading cable television programming will be permissible, versus over-the-air content. However, with Bolt presumably now on the docket, it’s safe to assume Roamio would be entitled to similar capabilities… whenever TiVo gets around to deployment.

chromecast

Google Chromecast ($25, three months of HBO NOW)
Chromecast isn’t my thing. But I’m old and require a physical remote. However, this is a good deal on a generally practical solution to get app content onto a television, controlled by smartphone. Considering HBO NOW runs $15 a month and you get three free, this is a pretty stellar deal.

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Sonos Play:1 ($150, includes 3-months of Apple Music)
Sonos is my preferred whole-home music system and the Play:1 both looks great and sounds great. At $150, it’s priced similar to many well regarded Bluetooth speakers but its WiFi connectivity is infinitely more practical (assuming you run a supported service, which you probably do). Apple’s sweetening the deal with three months of Apple Music.

 

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Best Black Friday Deals

Dave Zatz —  November 24, 2016 — 23 Comments

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tivo-roamio-ota-black-friday

TiVo’s out with their annual Thanksgiving / Black Friday deals… and they’re way more compelling than what we’ve seen in recent years, despite TiVo’s usual poor presentation. For example, their refurbished $200 TiVo Roamio OTA represents a stellar value. Although you might not realize it because they don’t clearly communicate it includes Lifetime All-In service. We’re Tablo homers here for antenna television, but if you don’t require streaming to smart phones, tablets, or 3rd party boxes like Roku or Apple TV, two hundred bucks for a 4-tuner, 500GB OTA DVR is pretty much an unbeatable value. Heck, it’ll even beam your programming to TiVo Mini set-tops and you can swap out that hard drive for something more spacious any time you like.

Google Deals Of The Day

Dave Zatz —  November 23, 2016 — 1 Comment

google-home-nest

Google Home ($99)
Google’s Amazon Alexa competitor is $30 off. And, like the Echo, it’s an always-listening speaker that can tap into a number of services such as Spotify, Nest, or Philips Hue, in addition to being a general Internet-based assistant. Reviews have largely been positive — largely comparable sound and voice recognition to Amazon with better looks and more favorable pricing but without as many integrated 3rd party services. Bonus: 6 months of Google Play Music/YouTube Red for new subscribers – a $60 value. Rather than ordering directly from Google, I’d suggest going thru Target, Walmart, or Best Buy and using ebates for additional cash back and potentially easier returns, if it comes to it.

youtube-red

YouTube Red / Google Play Music ($0)
One of the very best deals in digital media is that much sweeter when it’s free. Google’s offering up four months of service to new subscribers vs their standard $9.99/mo fee. Not only does it consist of Play Music, which is equivalent to services like Spotify or Apple Music, but it also includes YouTube Red — something I highly recommend (as a parent). Among its best features, YouTube Red kills the commercial interruption and provides mobile video downloads for offline playback.

roku-streaming-stick

Roku Streaming Stick ($50)
While both Amazon and Roku updated their streaming sticks this year, I give a slight edge to Roku’s offering. And, during the holiday deals season, we’ve seen it as low as $35.

echo-dot

Amazon Echo Dot ($50)
The refreshed Echo Dot brings Amazon’s always-on Alexa voice assistant into homes at a compelling price point with two enclosure color options. The integrated speaker is merely sufficient, but perfectly suitable for broadcasting news (Alexa, play CNN on TuneIn) or music (Pandora, Spotify, etc) in smaller rooms. We expect the Dot to drop to $40 on Black Friday. However, should your budget be larger, both Google Home and the full-on Echo will be $30-40 off later this week.

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