News and Reviews

Tile Bluetooth Tracker Review: Find my Keys!

Enjoy this Tile Bluetooth Tracker review. AT&T Wireless was kind enough to give me a one to try out and talk about. Thank you!

Can you find my keys?

There was an event in our lives back in 2008 I like to call The Great Key Incident. We went to a Christmas tree farm, happy little family that we are, to pick out and cut our own tree. Typical Pacific Northwest winter adventure. And then…

Capt lost our keys, out in the vast field filled with Noble firs and the sun setting quickly. Thus ensued an episode of, “Things That Only Happen to Us.” The tree farm employees helped us until it was around closing time and then they were all, “Ok! Shift is over! Good luck!” We never found our keys. Good friends who were willing to drive to our house, open our garage, dig through our junk drawer, find our second set of keys, and then drive to the tree farm rescued us.

Did I mention Boy Child was only two at the time? Ya. Good times.

Tile Bluetooth Tracker Review:

Here’s where we all say, “Yay! Technology!” Check out this little Bluetooth gadget. Small, durable, and not just for keys. (Sew it to the inside of your kid’s pants?) The most obvious choice for us, obviously, was to put it on my key ring.

Tile Bluetooth Tracker Review

Setup

Download the Tile app, available on both iPhone and Android platforms, and create an account. The app is free, with nice and simple instructions on setting up and pairing the Tile with your phone. You don’t have to go to your phone’s Bluetooth settings, you can pair it within the app itself. It took less than five minutes for me to have it up and running.

Using it

There is a List view and a Map view. See your item on a map, or simply use the list. Once paired with your phone, it can also find your phone. No FindMyiPhone required. What that means is the Tile is mutli-functional; it’s not simply a one-function, one-item “find it” locator. I love that. Here are the basics:

Finding your item with the Tile attached:

  • Open the app. There you see a list of Tile connections you’ve created after pairing.
  • Tap what you are looking for (your phone, keys – whatever you’ve named your Tiled item)
  • Tap “Find” on the next screen
  • A sound will emit from the Tile and there you are. Follow the sound, find your item.

Tile Bluetooth Tracker Review

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finding your phone:

Simply do the reverse: Press the “e” on your Tile, and it will ring your phone. That easy.

Summary:

Handy little gadget, multiple applications for use, and really simple. There are other features, such as crowd sourcing your Tiled item by allowing it to be “seen” (on a map) by other Tile users, add multiple Tiles to the app for different items, and even press the Tile’s “e” button to make an audible noise while you are out and about. A good safety feature. The Tile Bluetooth Tracker is available at AT&T Wireless for $25 for one, or $70 for a 4-pack. Enjoy knowing where your stuff is.

Tile Bluetooth Tracker Review

Review time! Battery Pack Jump Starter. Yes, Really.

As long as we’re on the subject of cars and tech goodness for them, I was ALSO able to try and review the Cobra JumPack – a battery pack jump starter. I was really interested in this product because if you’re ever stuck on the road with a dead battery, you wouldn’t have to depend on anyone else to help you – your phone is charged and you can jump start your car by yourself.

Cobra JumPack Battery Pack Jump Starter

 

battery pack jump start

Photo: AT&T Wireless

This product appealed to me right away, largely because I’m staring at the age my teenage daughter will start to learn how to drive. Capt and I agree there are certain life skills that are absolutely necessary for our kids to have before they leave home; knowing how to jump start your car is one of them. I always carry jumper cables in my car, but the problem with that is the fact that you have to rely on someone else – frequently a stranger – to help you get your car started again in the event of a dead battery. The thought of my teenage daughter, or my currently-driving teenage nieces relying on random person in a parking lot to help them get their car started appeals to me not even a little. Not a bit. No.

I also see how Girl Child drains the battery on her phone with all her favorite apps and such. That’s one reason why we bought her a battery phone case; so she would have a battery boost in case she needed it. Because this product also charges your USB device, that is another potential problem this product solves.

We made sure we brought it with us on our recent road trip to visit my brother and his family:

battery pack jump starter

Don’t leave home without it.

What’s in the Box:

The battery unit, a car power adapter cord, jumps, and a standard USB cord for charging the battery. Sorry, iPhone users – this one is BYOC (Bring Your Own Cord) for charging your phone.

battery pack jump starter

Product specs:

  • Jump-start your car multiple times on one charge
  • 360A Peak Current
  • 2.4A USB output for rapid charging of mobile devices
  • Convenient built-in LED flashlight
  • Jumper cables included

We opened the box, charged up the main unit (required) and had no trouble powering up our devices. When we took our trip to visit my brother, I pitched this product to him, as his daughters are drivers and have their own cars. He loved the idea. See? Tech meets safety meets life skills. The Cobra JumPack battery pack jump starter is available at AT&T Wireless for $99.00.

Speaking of Life Skills:

It’s never too early to learn.

battery pack jump starter

Remember kids: negative to negative, positive to ground.

 

Thank you Andy Colley at AT&T Wireless for this fantastic product.

Teaching My Old Car New Tech Tricks

At the end of January, I attended a event hosted by AT&T Wireless all about Connected Cars. It was awesome. Afterward, I got in my old 2003 SUV and thought, “blah.” I think it’s time for my old SUV, that we call “Beastie,” to learn a few new tech tricks. Here’s what I got to learn about in the world of connected cars.

Connected Cars

Auto makers are increasingly partnering with technology and wireless companies like AT&T to make their cars connected, safer, and better. Imagine all the accidents prevented when your car corrects itself?

Car Autocorrect GIF Car EntertainmenT GIF Car Nav GIF Connected Car Growth GIF

My fellow attendees and I were also given a tour of a sweet, brand new connected Volvo. It parks itself, you guys. I must own a car that parks itself because I’m not known for my parking prowess. It comes with a hot spot, GPS, sensors all over the car so you don’t hit anything or ANYONE, cameras on the back and sides, just everything cool about new car technology. Cars are rapidly becoming rolling homes.

Sigh. I mean, LOOK:

old car new tech

Some of the awesome features of this car include being able to switch from electric, gas, and hybrid on the fly, the ability to start the car from your phone, and “off-road mode which raises the car 1.5 inches, a 360 degree camera, sensors all the way around the car that will warn you if you are in a potential collision situation, and even cross traffic alerts. It’s like your driving brain. And as I mentioned above, it can park for you, too, which, let’s face it, I NEED DESPERATELY. Volvo worked with AT&T and integrated a hot spot in this car, and it allows you to connect up to eight devices, unlimited data, for $230 a year. So much awesome. I love this car so much.

I would love to buy one, but the fact is, that gorgeous car isn’t in our budget at the moment.

So here I am in my 2003 SUV with a just-ok aftermarket stereo dreaming of a new car. Enter:

Old car new Tech: Teaching the ol’ Beastie Some new car Stuff.

Andy Colley at AT&T Wireless was kind enough to offer me a few products to try so I can tech out my old auto. One is the ZTE Mobley mobile hot spot device. You guys. I love this. The kids love this. Here’s how easy it was to install:

old car new tech

Turn your car on, let it run for about 30 seconds, and then add it through your phone’s wifi connection.

mobley8

Set up and go. It connects up to five devices. No more complaining from Boy Child that he can’t connect his wifi-only tablet while we’re out and about, and no more draining my phone by using it as a hot spot. The real test came, though, when Girl Child and I went on a road trip to visit my brother. Streaming city, baby. No dropped internet. My 80’s Spotify playlist got a workout. This is worth it. When I review products I do my best to be honest and disclose if there’s anything I’ve found not-so-awesome about it, but I had this up and going in less than five minutes and it hasn’t stopped working since. It’s a solid little piece of equipment that is perfect for road trips, long commutes, and car offices. If you want to take advantage of this cool device, AT&T is offering it for free with a 2-year commitment.

I’m so grateful for the opportunity to test these products out. It’s been fantastic. Thank you, AT&T!

Last Minute Gifts for the Chronically Behind: Part One

Is it me, or did this Christmas sneak up on you, too? I swear, yesterday was Halloween. Capt and I have been furiously texting back and forth on what to get the family, and it occurred to me that a few of these might be really handy for YOU, too. So, here’s a two post run down of some of the items I was able to review this year that I think would make awesome last minute gifts. Best part? Still available to reach you before Christmas.

I was provided with this super-cool iPhotoFlash from The Hoffman Agency to try out and review. Thank you! 

Last Minute Gifts #1: PhotoFast MAX 32gb

(affiliate link)

last minute giftsSeriously awesome. Easy stocking stuffer. If you have limited storage on your iPhone, this is fantastic. It has a lightning connector on one side, USB on the other. I recently changed to a new computer, and using this drive, I was able to quickly and painlessly transfer the files I needed from one computer to the new one. In this scenario, the drive worked exactly like a USB key.

i-Flash Drive App

Screen capture of the app

For using with your iPhone or iPad, there is an app needed, available for free from the App Store. The great thing about this little device is simply how many formats it can support, including music, photos, video, zip, Drive, Dropbox, and iCloud, It can also back up your photos, Dropbox, Facebook albums, Tumblr, and Drive. We have 16 gig iPhones. Girl Child loves to take videos and burst selfies. (Typical Gen-Z, I guess) and she is able to take photos off her phone to the PhotoMax to keep from filling up her iPhone’s storage. Recently, at one of Girl Child’s vocal performances, we were able to take a video, transfer it to the PhotoFast, delete it off the phone to make room for more. Another very cool feature I like is the ability to load music onto your iPhotoFlash, connect it to your iPhone or iPad, and then play it without hogging up space.

 

Specs:

  • Connections: Lightning and USB 3.0
  • App: Free App ‘i-FlashDrive ONE’
  • Compatibility: iOS 7/8, Mac OS X, Windows 7/8/XP, iTunes synch not available
  • Supported models: iPhone 5/5S/5C, iPhone 6/6 Plus, iPad Air/Air 2/mini
  • Color: White
  • Weight: 7.5g
  • Size: 51.2×22.5×7.8mm
  • Performance:
    • USB 3.0: 80MB/s
    • Lightning: 10MB/s write, 15MB/s read
  • Warranty: 1-year

You can still order the 64gb version of the PhotoFlash Max through Amazon Prime and it will arrive by Christmas! 

LG Wireless Tone Headphones REVIEW: Back To School with Bluetooth

AT&T Wireless was kind enough to give me a pair of LG Wireless Tone headphones for review. Thank you, Andy Colley (@AndythePRguy) 

Bluetooth and Back To School

I’ve always looked at Bluetooth headphones and wondered how they would work, if I could run with them, and if they might be helpful for Girl Child in her school work. I can wonder no more!

The Product:

LG Wireless Tone Headphones:

LG Tone Wireless Headphones

I was provided a pair of LG Wireless TonePros for review. They’re really nice looking, first of all. Pretty discreet, too. It may be a status thing to wear gigantor, over-the-ear headphones, but where on earth do you store them when you’re on the go? These have a low profile, in-ear, cushioned ear buds, and they’re portable. They came with a few different sizes of ear bud cushions for comfort and sizing. I have a hard time with those sometimes, and so does Girl Child. They come in several colors, including the standard black and white. The pair I got are dark pink. Snazzy. I’ve seen them in green, blue, red, etc.

The controls are on the part of the headset that sits around your neck. You can click on the silver strip and answer your phone, summon Siri if you have an iPhone (Siri and I are not currently on speaking terms, but if you are in a steady, mutually beneficial relationship with her – more power to you.)

My favorite feature is the magnetic docks for the ear buds. They don’t have to trail behind you when you aren’t plugged in. Check it out:

Connecting and Pairing and Running OH MY!

I was hooked up and ready to roll within two minutes after they were charged. The first thing I wanted to do was find out if I could run comfortably in them. I was unsure because they sit on your neck near your collarbone, which, if you’re running can be really annoying. I was pleasantly surprised. They didn’t bounce on my neck, making me insane. Plus, it was really nice not to be tethered to my phone with the chord. So, for running, I like them – comfortable, non-bouncy, great sound, chord free.

LG Wireless Tone Headphones

School Use

One of the biggest reasons I wanted to test these out is because Girl Child has a provision in her 504 plan that allows her to bring her own headphones for activities that involve the use of the school’s technology. Girl Child’s middle school is a 1:1 iPad school – meaning each student is provided with an iPad for use during the school year. She has had a few incidences of using the school’s over-the-ear headphones that proved to be really uncomfortable and potentially harmful to her prosthetic ear. I thought this would be a great solution – the headphones pair easily, they are compact and easy to transport, and my daughter, who is hard of hearing on one side, can use them for the side that she can hear out of.

We paired the LG Wireless Tone headphones with her iPhone and they worked great:

LG Wireless Tone Headphones

The Summary:

Really easy to use, setup, and they are portable. I personally hate being tethered with headphone chords, so this is a nice alternative. I couldn’t really find any specific critique about these headphones. I thought they were comfortable, easy to use, they stayed in my ears while I was running, they sound great, and my daughter likes them. They fit well with her headphone requirements for school. Win.

The Offer:

AT&T Wireless is offering a 10% discount on any LG Wireless Tone headphones – plus free shipping (YAY FREE SHIPPING) when you purchase them now through September 24th. Great for early Christmas shopping, too. Act now!

Thank you again to AT&T Wireless for generously allowing me to try these out. They’re really cool. 

MOVIE NITE! ZTE Spro 2 Smart Projector Review

This just sounded too cool to pass up. AT&T Wireless gave me a review unit of a product called the ZTE Spro 2 Smart Projector. Guys. It’s cool.

The ZTE Spro 2: What is it?

The ZTE Spro 2 is an Android-powered portable projector. It has a small footprint, so it’s easy to transport. The unit also includes a hotspot, Wifi, a 5″ touch screen and it’s own carrying case. It gives you media at your fingertips for presentations, and decently easy on the wallet for $359.99 with a 2-year contract. I mentioned it to a friend of mine who runs a non-profit called Music Workshop  and she thought it sounded really useful to her. If she can present her video-based program to a potential donor with the help of this handy tool, all the better.

Our interest in the item was strictly entertainment. It’s summer, the weather has been hot, and we thought it would be a great opportunity to have some of the kid’s friends over for an outdoor movie night. My husband, whom you all know as “The Capt.” and I spent the evening before our event getting it set up and ready, testing it out, using the side of our house as a movie screen.

It. Was. Awesome.

ZTE Spro 2 choosenetwork

Plugged in, powered on, ready to connect.

Simple setup. It took us probably seven minutes, tops, to get it up and running. We connected it to our home WiFi. Yes, our network name is Man and WiFi. Capt is clever like that.

setup

Next up, time and date, etc.

If you look at the time stamps on the screen in the upper right hand corner, you can see how quickly this got set up. From 10:27 to 10:35, and we were ready to rock.

media

Main media screen

We then added the Netflix app from the Google Play store and downloaded it to the unit. If you look closely at the picture, you have a mess of options – streaming from YouTube, access to Drive for presentations, and even games. Imagine Minecraft projected on a large wall. The kids would go nuts.

netflix

ta da! Streaming.

I logged in, done. Movies at our fingertips. Being able to add apps and stream from WiFi is what makes this stand out. This isn’t your old 80’s movie projector. (Tell me I’m not the only one who remembers them? Please?)

That night, we went to the backyard and watched Turbo.

ZTE Spro 2

Sure, you can see our siding, but it’s still great, huh?

The night of our event, the kids all gathered around outside and watched Earth To Echo, one of Boy Child’s favorites.

Summary:

When I review a product, I make every effort to be honest. I add pros and cons, and make certain I’m not just blowing sunshine.

I really don’t have any cons with this one. It worked perfectly and was easy to setup.

One note: I didn’t attempt to use the hotspot feature, so I don’t have good info on how that would work in a setting where it is necessary.

It’s not too late, and it’s still really hot, so get out and enjoy! The ZTE Spro 2 has applications for home and work, and is a really good price with the two-year activation and the $50 off online order promotion. Check it out.

A big thank you so Andy Colley of AT&T Wireless for loaning me the unit. It was a lot of fun and our family loved having it.