CNBC Studio

Top Kids Toys and Tech Gifts for the Holidays


Recently I did a few segments on tech gifts for the holidays.
Of course, since the holidays are so very busy, I forgot to post them here.

So, if you’re still looking for any cool tech products before we see everything new coming out of CES, here they are.

WABC-TV segment on Top holiday gifts here:

CNBC segment on Top Kids Tech toys here:

What fun tech toys did you get for the holidays?

IMG_2856

CES 2014: 5 Ways Not to Pitch Me


I’m sure every reporter has his or her own way of dealing with the onslaught of CES press pitches. Some people like to set up appointments for the show, and act on that as the invites start coming in. Others, like me, prefer to file them all in a separate email folder and wait until I get time to go through them. Usually, this time doesn’t ever present itself, and I finally carve out a few hours mid-December.

I’m not complaining; I appreciate PR people getting in touch and helping me discover what I want to see at CES. It’s just that the level of outreach this year seems more overwhelming than usual. Companies and agencies are blast emailing everyone on the press list, whether their product is relevant to you and your audience or not. I’m sure it’s easier on their end, but on this end, oh, the avalanche!

Nothing says good PR like someone knowing what I do, what I cover, and who my audience is. Take a look at my website, see who I write for and what types of stories I’m working on. I’ve seen numerous tweets from my fellow tech reporters on the number of blast emails they’ve received from people pitching CES products and interviews. One buddy tweeted his response: “Can you help me understand why this would be of value to me or of interest to my readers?” Snarky, maybe but completely true. What value is there to me in meeting with your company?

Avoid words like “breakthrough technology,” “game-changing”, and “revolutionary.” I’m sure your product is great, really, but a game changer? If it is as revolutionary as you claim, at least try to tell me why.

Follow Up: I get that you need to follow up, really I do. But sending a daily email for an entire week just gets me to the point where I want to reply “no” without even looking. Sorry I’m not on your timeframe, but there are deadlines to meet, after all. If I miss all the good time slots, that’s my problem for being late, right?

Numerous Queries: Save yourself some time and energy. Have one person from each agency or each account send pitches. Receiving more than one query about meeting with someone or seeing products from the same team just seems counterproductive. It’s a waste or your time, and mine.

Exclusive: I’ve been offered more than my fair share of “exclusive” interviews or demos. Flattered, really, but I highly doubt I’m the only person you are going to show your product to. If you’re doing an interview with someone other than me, it’s no longer exclusive.

All that said I do welcome your pitches. I’ll be producing and hosting MommyTech TV on Tuesday and Wednesday until 2pm and have time in the afternoons as well as the other days to walk around the show floor and see all the latest gadgets. Please just make sure they’re relevant to me and my audience.

See you all in Las Vegas.

Cyber Monday Tips and Tricks


Did you shop on Cyber Monday? Did you find any fabulous deals on electronics? I found a few, like $50 off the Kindle Fire HDX 7-inch tablet, and a Samsung 46-inch LED HDTV.
Also a few tips for successful shopping, which I shared with CBS’s Live From the Couch.
You can see the segments here

screengrab.couch.edit


and also here:

IMG_4635

Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom: A Great Camera on an Average Smartphone


I’m often asked by new parents; “what’s the best camera I can buy for taking pictures of the baby?” My advice always is “the camera that’s with you all the time – the one on your phone.”

That’s why I was so excited to test the Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom which is a scaled down Galaxy S4 smartphone with a kick-ass camera. It’s an ideal device for people who like to take and share lots of pictures of their kids, or their surroundings, without sacrificing picture quality.

Read my full review on Chip Chick here:

Sony PS4

Sony’s PS4; Perspective From my Favorite Game Tester


In all the years I’ve been covering video games, I’ve had one constant tester in my life; my son Matt. I could always count on him to pop in the latest game and take it for a spin. He told me the good, the bad, the truly sucky, and more often than not declared he needed further testing and had to take it to a friend’s house.

I’ve noticed in the last few years he’s settled into a routine. Certain games – like multiplayer – need to be played on the Xbox 360, while others are better on the PS3. Of course some games are available for only one console so that pretty much dictates where they’re played. Since he still enjoys gaming in his downtime, I thought it only fitting to ask for his thoughts on the new PlayStation 4, Sony’s new gaming console.

 

Let me set the scene. I was at work Tuesday evening — working until 11pm — when my mother called me with great news! She wanted to let me know she had brought home the new PS4 with eight games; however I couldn’t’t play any because I was at work. It was as if she was torturing me on purpose. She said she’d wait for me.

 

When I got home that night I immediately took everything she had brought home and with a big smile on my face, hooked everything up for her.

 

At that moment I decided I needed to play every game given to her that night so I could see how the PS4 compared to PS3 and Xbox 360. After all, it’s been seven years since PS3 came out.

 

I hooked it up and got everything connected very easily but then ran into a problem. Where was the power button? I ran my entire hand over the console before bing – a noise associated with the startup of the system filled the air and it came to life. To this day I still don’t know what I touched. Not thrilled with the new positioning.

 

I started with Battlefield 4, a fictional war game set in present day. I was blown away by this game. Get it? The graphics were so crisp and clear. The noises made me feel as if I really was the character gearing up to go to war. Everything this game offers is fantastic. Battlefield is known for its game content in which the entire world is destroyable. No matter what you shoot it will blow up. This along with the sound of the game made for one incredible experience.  

 

At this point I took a break and focused my attention on the console itself. The new controller is by far the best controller they have made so far. All of the buttons work cleanly and everything feels like it’s in the right place. The previous controller felt cheap – as if it would break any second. The new one is wider and it has a little more weight to it. This may be because they introduced a touch pad for extra entertainment during gaming.

 

I am not a fan of the startup menu. It seems very cluttered and there’s no way for you to control what you want and where you want it. The most previous game you have played shows up in front while everything gets pushed back. Finding the settings proved difficult for my mother who wanted to change her email address.

 

I really am a fan of gaming consoles. I’ve been a huge Xbox fan for most of my life. I have that in my bedroom and the PS3 is in the family room since we use the Blu-ray player for DVD’s. PS4 is a vast improvement for Sony over the PS3 and quite frankly over the 360 as well. I look forward to trying that out too!

 

Matt PS4

So there you have it – one gamer’s first impressions. Overall I have to say I like the new controller, it makes it easier for me to use. Sony said a million consoles were purchased in the first 24 hours it was on the market and it’s on track to become one of the company’s most successful product launches. There are reports of a few defective units that Sony is looking into but overall, we’re quite impressed with the new console and looking forward to the gaming companies learning how to create content for the new hardware.

 

 

Alpha_House_Launch

Alpha House is Funny Satire Available Only on Amazon


Is it too soon for a show that pokes fun at the dysfunction taking place in Washington, DC? Amazon thinks not.

Starting today (Friday) the first three episodes of its first-ever original series Alpha House will be available online for free.

I had the opportunity to view the first three episodes on the big screen at an event at the Metropolitan Museum of Art here in New York earlier in the week and I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed them.

Alpha House is a political satire that revolves around four senators who share a house together in Washington. How wrong could that go?

John Goodman stars as a conservative Republican from North Carolina, with cameos from Cynthia Nixon, Wanda Sykes and one so fabulous in the beginning I don’t want to spoil it for you.

What makes this so wonderful is the fact it was created by Garry Trudeau, the guy who gave us Doonesbury, the Pulitzer-prize winning comic strip. It’s funny, witty satire and it made me laugh. At the event Trudeau said the “nation’s misfortunes are our future scripts” and much of this is taken right from the sometimes ridiculous happenings going in the capital.

In one scene Goodman’s character, Senator Gil-John Biggs finds out he is about to be opposed in an upcoming election and declares in his southern drawl that he is about to evolve. Mark Consuelos plays a Marco Rubio who brings his girlfriend along on a trip to Afghanistan. Yes, it’s a satire, and it takes jabs at today’s politics, but I found it entertaining.

Of course they go nowhere without their trusty Blackberrys, though I think Goodman’s character does have an iPhone he hurls against a wall. He also refers to “The YouTube” which is not too far removed from his knowledge of how Amazon video even works. He recently told Jon Stewart, when asked how to watch the videos, “I don’t know…I’m selling their product…I’m just a cog in their machine of world domination.”

The first three episodes are available for free to all Amazon customers via Amazon Instant Video on Kindle Fire, iPad, iPhone, Roku, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and just about any other connected device. After the first three, which Amazon hopes will get you hooked, the next 8 will be available on Prime Instant Video.

Can the series (and upcoming series Betas launching later this month) do as well as Netflix’s House of Cards? That remains to be seen, especially since Amazon is launching the new episodes weekly, not all at once for binge-watching like Netflix has done.

Between free shipping, the possibility of Sunday shipping and now these new original series, Amazon Prime for $79 a year is shaping up to be a deal worth doing.

Today is a Good Day to Buy a Kindle, and say ‘Thanks FAA’


 

Image

If you were thinking about getting a Kindle for your offline reading pleasure or perhaps buying someone an  e-reader as a holiday gift, today is the day to do it.

Amazon has put their popular Kindle devices on sale as a way of saying thank-you to the FAA for allowing the use of portable electronics during take-off and landing. Customers will get 15% off the Kindle Fire HD, Kindle Fire HDX 7”, and be able to buy the $69 Kindle for $59 for today only. Buy online at Amazon.com and enter the promo code “ThnksFAA”.

 

I’ve been using the new Kindle Fire HDX 7″ for over a week now and think it’s one of their best releases yet. I listed it as one of my Top Tech Picks of the Month in ChipChick.com. It’s normally $229 and on sale today for $195. I’m so impressed with the Mayday tech support feature. 

One item missing from this sale is the popular Paperwhite with the high-res screen and built-in light. That remains at $119 and is not on sale. 

Still, if one of these was on your holiday shopping list, today is a good day to get that started. And say thanks, FAA, and all the other people who helped make your take-offs and landings a little less boring.