Technology is helpful, fun, exciting, life-saving and expensive! If you have unlimited dollars and could buy all the gadgets and gizmos you wanted, there’d be no problem. (Well, maybe not.) Alas, we’re all limited, and we have to choose which tech toy is coming home from the store with us. Or which one will arrive at our door after shopping from our dining room. You sit in front of the computer, awed by the potential that’s out there waiting to sit in your palm. But funds limit your fun. Which leads to choices, choices, choices. Maybe this presentation can help.
Amazon’s best-selling electronic devices and accessories offer clues as to what is really hot and what is a good deal. Here we take a look at the 18 recent best sellers from Amazon. You’re sure to see some surprises. You’ll also see ways to get more speed at home, get more entertainment on vacation, and get too see how Alexa can change your life…
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This could be the most unbeatable tech bargain on the market now. It’s the perfect entry-level tablet that lets you surf the web with speed, take photos and selfies (front- and rear-facing cameras) and read your favorite e-books easily. For $50! Of course, there’s more. Much more. The 7” IPS display is just the right size for getting the most out of your movies and games without overburdening your fingers, and the fast processor lets you slide from screen to screen with a swipe, just like its more expensive counterparts. Remember, $50!! Amazon lets you set it up with restricted access for kids. That makes the Fire the ideal low-cost piece of tech that’s perfect for your little people. Perfect for you if you want a lot of tech without the pricetag.
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This could be the best streaming device for the dollar. Plug it into your HDTV for an easy and inexpensive way to connect your TV to over 3,000 channels, apps, games and tunes. Not bad for under $40! You don’t need to be techie to get this plugged in and working in minutes. It connects any HDTV (read: hotels while traveling!) to your cable and internet subscription. For 10 extra bucks, you get a voice-activated remote control. You’ll get more with Amazon Prime and you will need subscriptions to a cable network and movie websites to enjoy their content. . . just like when you buy a TV you need a cable account to access their channels. The Stick uses new technology to eliminate buffering which means more movies, more episodes, and more games but no waiting.
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Amazon Echo is a hands-free speaker you control with your voice. The cool canister is connected to the amazing Alexa Voice Service, and Alexa connects you to pretty much everything in your house. . .with just your voice. “Alexa, turn on the light.” “Alexa, what’s on my calendar today?” “Alexa, hand me the salt.” Okay, so we’re not quite there yet, but she can hand you local traffic, directions, world news, exotic recipes, tonight’s TV lineup, and all your music. . .in immersive, 360º omni-directional sound. Impressive. You say what you want and Alexa tells you. Even if you are sitting way over there and she is way over here and she’s reading you your favorite book. She will recognize your voice and obey your command. Which room (or rooms) are you going to place yours?
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Let’s sum this up in one sentence: You’re getting a 1080p full HD 15.6” laptop with an i3 processor and Windows 10 for $369. Do you need to read more? Okay, the RAM is more than sufficient for everyday tasks (surfing, word processing, streaming) but if you want to make this into a powerhouse, add an extra 8GB RAM for about $40. You can multi-task and the computer won’t even hiccup. The cons? The keyboard isn’t the best and if you’re not at the right angle you won’t see the screen so well. (Please refer back to the first sentence, especially the end of the first sentence.) One other con-sideration is that it is plastic. The DVD drive might not instill in you the greatest confidence in its workmanship, but it works. And for the price, this laptop works, too.
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Willpower. (We’ll come back to that word in a minute.) Fire TV is connected to Alexa. That means you say what you want, and Fire TV brings to your man cave, living room, or bedroom instant access to Netflix, Amazon Video, HBO NOW, Hulu, etc. It delivers games from Mojang, EA, Disney, etc. It fills your abode with streaming music from Spotify, Pandora, iHeartRadio, etc. It is constant entertainment, any time you want it, and in super hi def. Fire TV is now in 4K Ultra HD. Guess how many pixels that is? Seriously, take a guess. Eight million. The picture is so sharp, it will sever any desire to leave the screen. That’s where “willpower” comes in.
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Believe it or not, film cameras are still around—and still popular. Want proof? Fuji’s twin-pack of Instax Mini Instant Film was the best seller in Amazon’s camera category during the 2015 holiday season. The film fits Fujifilm instax mini series cameras and comes in packs of 10 photographs. (The five-pack was the best seller.) With smartphone photography on street corners, in class rooms and on top of sky scrapers, the nostalgic instant camera and film are a phenomenon. One reason is the photo’s uniqueness. Unlike “Sharing” which can result in millions of reproductions of one digital image, an Instax photo is the only one in existence. And, unlike a digital shot, you get to hold it.
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For $30, it’s a cool gizmo or a neat gift. (Or both.) You can swivel the projector arm 180 degrees to display the time (or temperature) on the wall or the ceiling so you can see the time in the wee hours without having to lift your head. Unlike most alarm clocks where you’re forced to actually pick up your head or at least roll over to see the display. (The nerve.) If you’re worried about brightness, you can control that. Some bonus features include automatically adjusting for Daylight Savings Time and a battery back-up in case of power failure. The alarm will still wake you while the rest of the neighborhood oversleeps. It also lets you program two daily alarms if you’re sharing it. . . or if you’re just one of those folks who needs two alarms in the morning. You can even use the AM/FM radio to wake you.
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It’s all about speed. Right? If you can count to five while your page downloads, chances are you’re going to be frustrated in minutes. Or seconds. Enter the SURFboard. Ahem. Enter the blazing-fast SURFboard. With its 343 Mbps download speeds, your computer system will let you purchase a Fire TV Stick, win a hand of online speed poker and stream the opening scene of The Fast and the Furious before other weaker modems download one page. Ok, that’s exaggerated. (Maybe.) But the SURFboard is 8X faster than its predecessor and it’s easy to install. Ideal if you want your home system to be super fast.
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So you think your gaming is ready for YouTube? The Elgato HD60 will get you there. For starters, it lets you record without needing any separate equipment. You can record and stream your PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Xbox 360 or Wii U gameplay in full HD 1080p. That’s quality. And it’s easy to grab clips from your PC or Mac. Uploading your PvP highlights (or whatever) is simple, and you can even add your own voiceover with the Live Commentary feature for all your fans. . .ahem, friends. Elgato must employ lots of gamers, or they really know how to do their homework, because Elgato gives what gamers want. Get it? Good.
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There is one feature of the Fire Kids Edition that makes it an irresistible hot seller on Amazon. It’s not the beautiful 7” display. It’s not the front and rear cameras so the little guys can hone their point and shoot skills. It’s not even the 1 year of free, unlimited access to 10,000 types of kid-friendly content: books, movies, TV shows, educational apps as well as games, games, games to keep the kids busy and engaged. It’s also not the Best-In-Class parent controls to help the grown-ups protect the little ones from some movies and games. The shiniest feature of the Fire Kids Edition is the 2-year, worry-free, no-questions-asked guarantee. And that guaranteed its position on the best-seller list.
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It’s a rainy (or clear) night. You’ve had a tough (or great) day. You feel like Harrison Ford tonight. (Or Samuel Jackson. Or Halle Berry. Or Jet Li.) With the Roku Streaming Stick, you can search through the widest selection of channels by title, director—or actor. You get access to hundreds of free channels as well as streaming services (with subscription) including cable. You just plug in the little stick behind your hi-def TV, follow the simple set-up instructions, and stream away. Even if you’re in a hotel. The Roku Streaming Stick just needs an HDMI port, common on most televisions these days. Get the free Roku app and you can use your Android device to control your entertainment. Want one? Slap a $45 charge on your card (plus shipping) and get it tomorrow. Click the link below.
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Don’t strap on a Vivofit to run carefree onto new paths or into unfamiliar neighborhoods and expect the fitness band to get you home. It does not have GPS capabilities. Yes, it’s a Garmin, and GPS is their trademark. But a GPS would cause two unattractive features on this otherwise attractive, color-interchangeable band: it would bump up the price and it would wear down the battery which should run for a year before needing to be changed. Vivofit learns your activity routine and gives you a personalized goal each morning. It also lets you know how many calories you burned throughout the day with your base metabolic rate. It is water resistant. That does not give you the go ahead to swim with it, but it does allow you to jump in the shower after your workout. And when the day is done, it will monitor your sleep to track the quality of your rest.
If you’re thinking about getting a new wireless router (and let’s face it, isn’t it time?), the TP-LINK Archer C7 AC1750 Dual Band Wireless AC Gigabit Router is a good bet…even if you can’t say its name. With two USB ports for easy file sharing and a guest network feature that provides secure Wi-Fi access for your guests, this router is a hot seller. It’s designed to sit in open view, and it’s built for the future because it supports 802.11ac which is the next generation of Wi-Fi. Even so, the TP-LINK Archer can be connected to most devices today. It also manages the bandwidth of individual devices connected to the router. For the $93.00 price tag, it’s not really a bet. It’s a bargain.
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GoPro has earned its way into our video culture with some of the most breathtaking and death-defying moving images sans special effects. . .as well as sheer, stunning imagery as everyday citizens go on tour. The Hero4 Silver keeps the bar high and could be the baddest camera in the world. It’s the first-ever GoPro to feature a built-in touch display. View, tap and swipe to capture and view the adventures of your life. You can also use the time lapse effect, dive up to 131-feet (40-meters), and tag moments you’ll want to quickly find on playback. There’s even a feature that snaps photos while the camera is recording video. That’s. Wicked. Cool. The world can watch you fly, dive, climb, jump, ride, sail, or ski. . .in lifelike clarity.
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32” is Goldilocks. Not too big, not too small; just the right size. If you spend hours and hours in front of a monitor, this beauty will alleviate eye strain. The high resolution is wonderful, and the colors are rich and vivid with 100% sRGB color compliance for accurate image reproduction. But one of the nicest features of this piece of technology is its flexibility. It swivels and rotates with ease, and that’s helpful if you’re not sitting stationary. You can also raise and lower the monitor’s height, closer or farther from the tabletop surface, saving your neck if you sit low in your chair. This monitor is ideal for professionals in video and photo editing, graphic design, mapping, flight simulation, architecture, engineering. . .you get the idea. It’s also pretty sweet if you just really like your games and movies.
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It’s an Amazon best-seller and 66% of the purchasers give it a 5 star rating. With a top speed of 300Mbps, this Wi-Fi router is ideal for a small family or home office network. You can also rely on it for video streaming, online gaming VoIP, web browsing and multi-tasking. The two 5dBi antennas greatly increase the wireless reach and signal stability. In a small home, the TL-WR841N will flood your rooms with Wi-Fi. The signal may even extend outdoors. Not bad for under $20, especially considering the prices of other routers. It does come with IP based bandwidth control to determine how much bandwidth is allotted to each system and device on the network. It also features a parent control function to let parents manage their kids’(or their employees’) internet access. (Nothing like an employee spending too much time at the slots.) It’s also reverse compatible with 802.11b/g products. For the price, it’s a jackpot.
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You can look, but you won’t find a better Bluetooth speaker for the price. It’s better than the original MagicBox and gives you crisp, clear audio and rich, rich bass. (The bass can be so powerful, the engineers put a bass pad underneath to keep it from bouncing off the table.) You’ll also be impressed by the lows and highs. . .and even the mid tones! This box features two highly powerful 40mm total 10W acoustic drivers, and boy do they deliver excellent sound that will fill a room. You can also carry it a good distance from its source and still get good output. Its compact size (6 x 2 x 1.6″) and light weight (11.5 ounces) make it easy to transport the MagicBox II to a party, a BBQ, or on vacation. Of course, with this amazing speaker, you can just kick back and relax to the tunes in your own home.
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One device. Lots of streaming. Over 300 apps and entertainment services including movies and games in this compact system. PlayStation Now and Blu-Ray flicks—at your fingertips. The Wi-Fi is fast and stable, even while streaming X-Men or The Avengers in HD. The picture is terrific, and you can condense the screen with The TV Side View feature to learn about the video you are watching, while you watch. It lets you share your mobile content on your TV. But even though this Streaming Blu-Ray Disc Player sold a lot on Amazon, it did not earn a lot of high ratings among consumers. Just over 40% of users gave it the coveted 5-star rating.