10 steps to finding the best smartphone for you
(BPT) - Quality smartphones come in all configurations and price points these days. Here are some of the key things you’ll want to look for to make sure you find one that works best for your needs. Happy shopping!
1) Operating system (OS): There are two different operating systems to choose from. iOS works with iPhones, while Android operates with a wider variety of smartphones, like those from Samsung or Motorola. In general, iOS is considered easier to use, but you need to have an Apple device. Android gives you more options, plus the ability to customize it with third-party software and widgets.
2) Camera: Most people now use their phones as their primary camera, so the right selection here will be an especially important one. More and more smartphones boast cameras with at least 12 megapixels, so don't go by only that stat. Instead, focus on individual camera specs and special features like dual lenses or the ability to edit and enhance photos.
3) Screen size: Get the right size screen for the things you’ll want to do. Buy a phone with a screen smaller than 5.5 inches if one-hand use is important to you or if you have smaller hands. Get a bigger-screen phone if you like to watch a lot of videos or play games, or simply want to have an easier time navigating on your touchscreen.
4) Display: You’re going to spend many hours gazing at the screen, so make sure it offers the viewing experience you’re after. If you plan to watch a lot of videos, look for a minimum of full HD (high definition), which is 1920 x 1080 pixels. You’ll also want to familiarize yourself with some of the underlying technologies: LCD, OLED, and AMOLED are all terms you’ll see used, and each offers a different range of advantages.
5) Design: Determining good smartphone design is purely subjective. Many people prefer a metal or glass design; others, plastic. If you’re concerned about durability, look for a phone that is water-resistant. A handful of phones also now feature a shatterproof glass display, and many include a Gorilla Glass display to protect it against short drops (a protective case will help with that, too).
6) Processor: Even midrange phones now offer satisfactory performance for nearly any user level or basic task. A good processor inside a phone will translate to faster open times for apps, smoother navigation and quicker photo editing.
7) Battery: Many factors, including the screen size, processor and operating system, determine how long a smartphone lasts on a charge. A decent benchmark is to look for a smartphone with a battery capacity of at least 3,000 mAh. Any phone that lasts longer than 9 hours of straight 4G LTE use is considered very good.
8) Storage: Go for as much internal storage as possible. Some apps and games can easily take up more than 1GB of storage, and most smartphone owners capture and store large numbers of high-res photos and videos. While some models offer just 8GB or 16GB, the minimum on premium handsets these days is usually anywhere from 32GB to 64GB. Adding a microSD card will also help expand your storage. It's available on many Android phones, some of which can accommodate 1TB or more.
9) Price: Don’t pay for more than you need. The latest iPhone and premium Android phones start around $800, and can easily run $1,000 or more. But there are great options below $500, and even some solid choices for well under $200.
10) Carrier: A smartphone requires a wireless plan. Choose a service provider that offers what you’ll really use, and at a price that suits your budget. Consumer Cellular, for example, offers a wide variety of smartphone choices from entry level to top of the line, along with talk, text and data plans, with no contract.
Let today’s top technology work for you. It’s a very competitive marketplace, so by shopping wisely, you’re sure to find a smartphone that keeps you connected at a great price.
Here's the latest tech trends from Lisa Cini, Founder/CEO at Mosaic Design Studio and BestLivingTech.
(BPT) - Technological advancements are helping aging adults stay safe, comfortable and connected as they age in place. And, families can feel more confident about mom, dad and the grands living independently, especially around the holidays.
“The year 2020 brings new innovative technologies to enable us to address the unique challenges we face as we age,” says Lisa Cini, president/CEO, Mosaic Design Studio and BestLivingTech.com. “Even the simplest tasks, like going to the bathroom, turning on the faucet, or cleaning up afterward can be difficult or dangerous for aging adults, but by integrating the latest gadgets into our home designs, seniors can remain safe, connected and independent.”
Lisa’s 2020 tech trends include:
BestLivingTech.com offers many of the available products above to help seniors embrace aging and independent living. As a boomer living designer, Lisa searches the world for the best technology to help people age in place and brings them all together in one online store — think Sharper Image meets AARP.
By keeping the home retrofitted with the latest technology, we can help our parents and grandparents stay safe and comfortable at home and eliminate some of the worry when we’re not around.
Lisa Cini, ASID, IIDA, is an award-winning, internationally recognized designer with decades of experience developing interiors that improve quality of life for seniors. She is the author of The Future is Here: Senior Living Reimagined, Hive: The Simple Guide to Multigenerational Living, and BOOM: The Baby Boomers Guide to Leveraging Technology, so that you can Preserve Your Independent Lifestyle & Thrive.
(BPT) - Resourceful thieves and cybercriminals continue to find new ways to hack U.S. consumers’ sensitive personal information. Dumpster diving, stolen or lost wallets and mail fraud should still be concerns, but the digital age of tablets, smartphones, PCs and Wi-Fi networks leaves people more vulnerable than ever.
Have you ever stored credit card information on your phone for added convenience to make payments in a checkout lane? Do you ever store passwords in apps to transfer funds between accounts? And what’s to keep hackers from accessing a wireless network you check your email on while you’re grabbing a quick cup of coffee?
”More than 15.4 million people a year will experience identity theft, with an average loss of more than $1,000,” said Jane Li, Mercury Insurance’s director of product management. “When one access point closes due to added levels of security, cyberattackers find another. Insurance companies like Mercury provide services that allow homeowners and renters to enjoy the convenience of accessing their connected devices at home and on the go, while also helping to protect customers from the potentially devastating effects of criminal infiltration, cyberextortion and identity theft.”
The following five do’s and don’ts can help stop criminals in their tracks and protect your connected devices, as well as your electronic identity.
Li recommends homeowners and renters speak with their local insurance agent to learn more about the endorsements they may be able to add to existing policies to help safeguard their finances if their identities are compromised or connected devices are attacked.
“It can be daunting to try to regain your financial footing if a criminal takes advantage of you,” said Li. “Insurance exists to help protect consumers from unexpected events and, in this case, it’s better to be safe than sorry.”
(BPT) - As the pace of technology advances, cybersecurity threats do, too. Data breaches, identity theft, phishing and malware make headlines seemingly every day. Internet-connected devices, social media, digital assistants and mobile apps have become indispensable in our everyday lives, but their connectedness makes us increasingly vulnerable to cyberattacks. Recent reports estimate that damages relating to cybercrime are expected to hit $6 trillion annually by 2021.
“It’s impossible to predict when you will be affected by cybercrime,” says Bashar Abouseido, chief information security officer for Charles Schwab Corp. “The best defense is to stay informed.”
It can be helpful to envision your computer and digital devices as a house where you store your personal data. October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, so it’s a good time to make sure your digital house is secure. The first step is to understand the ways cybercriminals may attempt to access your data.
Types of cybercrimes
Data breaches occur when there is unauthorized access to sensitive personal information. These incidents often make headline news and can affect large numbers of consumers.
Malicious software, also known as malware, spyware, ransomware and viruses, refers to software programs designed with the purpose of gaining unauthorized access to a mobile app, digital device or computer.
Phishing is one of the most common forms of online fraud and cybercrime. Cybercriminals try to lure you with a fake email sent from what they have designed to appear to be a trusted source or contact that encourages you to click a link or open an attachment in order to extract personal account information.
5 tips to protect your digital house
1. Remodel your digital house: Installing updates is an essential first step.
Think of system updates as basic maintenance to your digital house that is keeping your personal data safe. It can be annoying to see those system update prompts on your computer or mobile device, but software developers are constantly improving their software to repel the latest malware. By keeping your operating system and apps updated, you are making sure that your digital house is as secure as possible.
2. Don’t have a leaky house: Be wary of public Wi-Fi networks.
Using public — and often free — Wi-Fi networks is convenient, but it is a common entry point for criminals to use malware to infect your devices and apps. Use only networks you trust or use your own personal Wi-Fi hotspot if you have one. Never update your devices when you are connected to a public Wi-Fi network.
3. Keep your keys secure: Choose unique access credentials.
Access credentials — usernames and passwords — are the keys that keep your digital house safe and secure. Select credentials that are unique and don’t include personal identifying information such as a name, address or birthday. For added protection, choose two-step verification to access critical online accounts for your banking, retirement or investment accounts. Two-step verification is typically a key or another code provided by the service provider in addition to your primary access credentials to verify your identity.
4. Secure doors and windows: Use only secure websites and app stores.
Web browsers and app stores are like the doors and windows in your digital house. Make sure they are secure by using web addresses that start with “https” and downloading apps only from the Apple App Store, Microsoft Store and Google Play store.
5. Don’t open that door: Delete suspicious emails.
That knock on your cyber front door is the sound of a cybercriminal sending you a phishing email. Be suspicious of emails that come from unknown senders. Use your cursor to hover over questionable links and email addresses to reveal the true identity of the link or sender. When in doubt, don’t click on any links or open any attachments and delete the email immediately.
For more information on more ways to educate and protect yourself from cybercrimes, visit SchwabSafe.
Crime used to mean things like break-ins and thieves swiping packages from your doorstep. But now there’s an increasing number of cybersecurity threats that are also crimes of opportunity. With more and more people using unfamiliar networks and doing lots of online shopping, bad actors have plenty of targets to choose from. By following these simple steps for data protection, you can keep your digital information secure.
(BPT) - Crime used to mean things like break-ins and thieves swiping packages from your doorstep. But now there’s an increasing number of cybersecurity threats that are also crimes of opportunity. With more and more people using unfamiliar networks and doing lots of online shopping, bad actors have plenty of targets to choose from. By following these simple steps for data protection, you can keep your digital information secure.
1. Be careful when using insecure Wi-Fi networks
If you’re traveling or out shopping, you may find yourself on an unfamiliar Wi-Fi network. Many stores, airports and rest stops offer free Wi-Fi as a convenience, but often those networks aren’t secured. That makes it especially risky to make online purchases because the traffic from your device can be easily monitored and stolen. If you are using public Wi-Fi networks, then browsing to any website, make sure your connection is encrypted and secure by looking for the lock icon in the top left of the address bar. Also, always double check that the address you are navigating to is what you expected. Many modern devices, like the ASUS NovaGo, now feature built-in LTE, which offers a more secure experience for your online shopping.
2. Don’t rely on passwords alone
Passwords and user IDs are a staple of cybersecurity, but they can only get you so far. To further ensure your data stays protected, consider using password management and verification apps. They let you use your face, fingerprint, eyes or other methods to access your data across devices. For example, the Microsoft Authenticator app adds an extra level of security with two-step verification that allows you to access your Microsoft account and apps quickly and securely without having to remember a password.
3. Avoid phishing scams
With so many companies emailing promotions, it can feel like your inbox is under assault. In fact, it very well could be. Some of those emails may be phishing scams designed to steal your private information. To protect your data, don’t click on any unfamiliar links and carefully review all notifications from your bank to catch any potentially fraudulent activity.
Remember, scammers can be sophisticated. They may use personalized emails to gain your confidence or replicate the style of a well-known financial services company. If an email or link looks the slightest bit suspicious, don’t click it. Go directly to your bank or other online account to confirm the information independently.
4. Back up your data
If all your data is stored in one place, it’s vulnerable. Bad actors can lock up your device and demand payment to release your files. That’s why backing your data up to the cloud is critical for protecting your files against ransomware attacks. The cloud allows you to safeguard your data and access it from multiple devices. Cloud storage services are secure and can also let you easily transfer your data if you’re upgrading to a new device.
5. Utilize privacy screens
Preventing people from looking over your shoulder and stealing your information is the simplest and easiest way to protect your personal data. When online shopping in public, use privacy screens to hide your information. Some devices, like the HP EliteBook x360 and HP Spectre x360, have integrated privacy screens that instantly shield your screen with the push of a button. If your device doesn’t come with one built in, you can purchase a privacy screen.
6. Keep software current
Using a modern operating system with the latest security updates and built-in anti-virus protection is the best way to ward off unwanted intrusions. Major tech companies continually upgrade software to account for the latest cybersecurity threats so you can be confident your data is protected. By keeping your software current, you can avoid many cyberattacks before they cause problems.
(BPT) - Smart home products made major strides in 2018. More people than ever now use connected devices in their homes, and smart home hubs are constantly adding new integrations and capabilities. Research from Statista predicts that by the end of 2018, more than 45 million smart home devices will be installed in U.S. homes, fueling an exciting new phase for the smart home industry, offering consumers new and improved smart technologies and giving rise to a totally interconnected, easy-to-control environment termed the “smart home.”
This innovation looks to continue in the new year with increasingly intuitive products that make life more enjoyable and interconnected. Here are the new smart home products ready to change the way we live in the new year, coming out of the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show (CES).
Laundry made easy
The calendar might have changed, but your laundry needs haven’t gone anywhere. Thankfully, smart home technology is making the chore a little easier with LG’s Ultimate Laundry Room.
The LG Styler is a first-of-its-kind steam clothing care system certified as asthma and allergy friendly(R) by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA). The Wi-Fi enabled smart LG Styler reduces wrinkles and odor and refreshes garments with the fastest cycle on the market today — as little as 20 minutes — thanks to the gentle power of pure steam technology. Furthermore, LG TWINWash(TM) with SideKick(TM) pedestal washer, an industry-first innovation for laundry, allows users to tackle small loads that are a big deal and can’t wait or wash two loads at the same time.
With LG Styler for daily refreshes, the innovative LG SideKick(TM) mini washer for small loads that can't wait, and LG's award-winning top and front load washers and dryers, the LG Ultimate Laundry Room suite of products can be started, stopped or monitored from anywhere using LG’s SmartThinQ(R) app. Users will receive notifications when a cycle has finished, or they can download new cycles, check energy usage and quickly troubleshoot minor issues using Smart Diagnosis. For added convenience, these home solutions can also be controlled with simple voice commands using the Google Assistant.
Smarter home with smart displays
Laundry is just one example of how smart home technology is making life easier. By adding other connected appliances and devices, you can develop a true smart home ecosystem in which seamless integrations produce valuable efficiency. One of the best ways to anchor your ecosystem is with a smart display like the new LG XBOOM AI ThinQ WK9 Smart Display. The advanced smart display builds on the capabilities of a Google Assistant speaker with the added convenience of a touchscreen display and, in partnership with Meridian Audio, delivers high-fidelity sound, precise vocal definition and accurate bass, despite its compact size.
In addition to its audio and video capabilities, the WK9 enables control of other LG ThinQ products such as LG TVs and home appliances, plus more than 10,000 smart devices from over 1,000 brands that work with Google Assistant. By establishing a go-to hub for all your smart home devices, you can increase connectivity and create a fully integrated smart home environment.
Stay connected on-the-go
As innovation continues, smart home technology is branching outside of the home itself. With new products, you can receive notifications regarding your home from anywhere, making sure you never lose touch with the most important things in your life. The first full-screen smartwatch with mechanical hands, the LG Watch W7 allows you to connect and control your smart devices. With two mechanical hands and a micro gearbox, users can enjoy the full WearOS smartwatch experience with the essence and mechanism of a true timepiece. With mobile connectivity, your life becomes easier no matter where you are.
Smart home technology is all about making our lives easier and more comfortable. Whether you’re just doing laundry, looking to power your whole home, or even taking that control on the road, new smart home products provide a level of convenience that’s changing the way we live.
(BPT) - Do you think you could live without your mobile phone? What about the navigation and backup camera in your car? Could you drive as well without them? Could you get by without your smartwatch reminding you how often to get up from your desk to keep healthy or weather conditions for the day so you know how to dress?
Our obsession with technology and the information it delivers daily has progressed beyond the point of external mobile phones and smartwatches to implanted heart monitors and Fitbits. At one time, consumers were too paranoid to enter their Social Security or credit card number online, but now, they are willing to implant sensors and other wearable technologies into their bodies. In turn, companies are leveraging these devices to collect as much data about their potential customers as possible.
The latest fashion: Wearing data
Think about it: You’re carrying (and generating) large amounts of data everywhere you go with wearable and implanted technologies. This means 24/7 data collection for the companies that manufacture those devices, which in turn helps them create a 360-degree view of the patients, athletes or customers they serve with the appropriate products, services and marketing campaigns.
According to research by Talend, a cloud and big data integration software company, 33 percent of consumers already own wearables like the Apple Watch or smart clothing, and another 30 percent are expected to make a purchase within the next three years. That’s a lot of new sources of data for companies to utilize — and a plethora of information companies can use to more accurately define the preferences and needs of its customers.
How we’re using wearables
Topping the list of today’s most common consumer-use cases for embedded wearables is healthcare (57 percent), privacy (28 percent) and convenience (20 percent), all contributing to the rapid dissemination and uptake of these devices.
Healthcare is the leading use for implanted technologies, with the introduction of advanced-tracking devices such as Medtronic’s FDA-approved Reveal LINQ Insertable Cardiac Monitor with TruRhythm Detection, introduced in March of this year, which is designed to accurately identify abnormal heartbeats. This life-saving device is implanted just beneath the skin and communicates wirelessly with the patient’s bedside monitor, which uploads device data to the Medtronic CareLink network. Once the data is loaded, algorithms can be run to determine if the patient is experiencing slower than average heart rate, which can deprive the brain and other organs from getting enough oxygen. This advanced use of embedded wearables and machine learning helps physicians find answers for patients at risk of cardiac arrhythmias to better manage a range of patient populations.
Outside of healthcare, the second biggest use for embedded wearables is physical security. Several companies have started utilizing biochip implants to replace card keys and manual entry codes for employees. For example, Three Square Market offered employees implanted chips in July to make purchases in their cafeteria and break rooms, open doors, log in to computers and use the copy machine. Approximately 50 employees underwent the minimally invasive procedure, many of whom believe the chip is worth any potential discomfort, as it helps to streamline their daily processes. Though this may seem like a massive invasion of privacy for many, for others, biochip implants present a way to make life easier.
Establishing trust: Should you be worried about privacy of information?
While the results of Talend’s survey seem to point to the fact that consumers are getting more digitally comfortable, with greater trust from consumers comes greater responsibility for companies to understand the many ways they need to protect customer data.
According to Talend’s survey, the most likely scenario that would drive consumers to break up with a brand and take their business elsewhere is a breach of personal data. In fact, 78 percent of consumers want to be assured they have full visibility into what companies are doing with their data. But as implanted and wearable technology becomes increasingly common and technology improves, the trade-off between data privacy and convenience will only increase.
Consider a future of augmented reality where implanted contacts could allow you to visualize and interact with the world around you in practical ways, or a future with implanted audio wearables that translate languages in real time. Would that convenience and experience move you to adopt wearable technology even if it means relinquishing more of your personal information and privacy?
At what point of technology adoption do we all essentially become cyborgs, guided each day by the obvious and subliminal information being fed to us via embedded and external devices? The day of total automation may be here sooner than you think.
(BPT) - Bluetooth technology is steadily expanding the role of modern hearing aids from tiny marvels that make use of artificial intelligence to process sound into true, state-of-the-art multimedia hubs now capable of two-way communication.
The primary goal of hearing aids has always been to improve speech understanding. While this hasn’t changed, manufacturers are now building Bluetooth technology directly into the most advanced hearing aid microchips. This lets consumers directly connect to virtually any wireless electronic device, eliminating the need to wear a body-worn accessory.
Let’s take a brief look at how the latest Bluetooth hearing aids are transforming the way we live.
They can now directly connect to any Bluetooth-enabled phone
According to Dr. Elizabeth Thompson, director of business development and veterans affairs at Phonak, previous generations of hearing aids could only directly connect to an iPhone, which greatly limited people’s options.
“Pew Research Center found only 33 percent of American smartphone owners used an iPhone while a whopping 66 percent used the Android operating system,” said Thompson. “Furthermore, another study showed 38 percent of all Americans over age 65 still use a classic flip phone. Until now, there has never been a Bluetooth hearing aid that was truly made for all devices and allowed universal connectivity — including the ability to directly connect to an iPhone, an Android device (e.g., Samsung, LG), or even a classic flip phone that is Bluetooth-ready.”
Bluetooth hearing aids enable truly hands-free calls
The latest Bluetooth hearing aids allow you to answer a phone call with a simple press of a button on the hearing aid. Built-in microphones on the hearing aids themselves feature automatic voice pickup, allowing people to have two-way conversations through their hearing aids. Thompson stated this is the first time this has ever been done with hearing aids.
“This is indeed the first time a hearing aid wearer can have a true hands-free conversation without having to touch the phone at all,” she said. “This is especially convenient in the car, where your phone may be in a pocket or purse, or if you need to have a conversation while leaving your phone on the table or countertop, for example if you’re cooking.”
They stream wireless stereo sound directly from your TV
According to research firm Statista, Americans spend an average of 4.5 hours per day watching TV. And if you are or live with someone who has hearing loss, you probably know that sometimes the volume of the TV can become an issue.
“With a card-sized TV Connector, hearing aid wearers simply plug the device into the back of the TV,” added Thompson. “The ‘plug and play’ TV Connector instantly pairs with Bluetooth hearing aids, allowing viewers to stream high-fidelity TV sound in-stereo at their preferred volume level, independent of other viewers. Wearers have reported a markedly better experience in understanding dialogue, especially when the person on TV is talking fast.”
Bluetooth hearing aids are available right now
While all of these new advances may sound like the future, hearing aids with built-in Bluetooth technology are available today. For more information, visit tryphonak.com or find a licensed hearing care professional who has been specially trained in fitting the latest hearing aid technology.
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