- Holidays and Celebrations
Top 10 Must-Have Products for the Modern Man (and Woman)
Don't be left behind...
In this new, high-tech world of crazy gizmos and innovative inventions, it may be hard to know just what are the must-have's if you want to fit in with this modern age. Well, fear not, you poor lost souls! For here I've compiled a collection of the top 10 (with a few added bonuses) basic, must-have toys and technologies for the person striving to fit in with this new and glorious age of inventions.
Don't worry, this isn't going to be a list of anything too crazy, outlandish or frivolous. We're going to keep things simple here, with only actual what-you-need-to-have stuff (or at least what-you-would-like-to-have-stuff) that are currently the norm (or are soon to become the norm) of what every family should have in their homes and on the go.
So have fun, shop smart, and please... try not to go over budget. ;)
Why get wireless speakers?
If you like listening to music or watching movies on your tablet computer, your mobile phone, your laptop, your smartphone, or any other of your portable devices, but you don't like being stuck with your devices puny speakers or don't like hooking up your device directly to some other type of outside speakers, wireless Bluetooth speakers (sheesh! how many times am I going to say "speakers"?!) are a great investment. Granted, they'll only work with Bluetooth enabled devices, but, really, these days what doesn't come with Bluetooth?
If I get GPS on my Smartphone, why do I need a stand-alone device for my car?
While it's true (not to mention nifty and handy) that along with all the other cool features of your smartphone, you also get a very useful GPS device, there are a few downsides about using your phone as your primary navigation device when you're using your vehicle.
For starters, unless you rely solely on voice control for your GPS, you'll need a way to mount your phone to eye level while you drive if you want to see your maps. Also, your phones Maps application can suck up quite a bit of your phones power, so it would have to remain constantly charging if you don't want the phone to die. But the most important, and most obvious, downside to using your phone for GPS when you travel is, well, what if you want to use the actual phone itself for, you know, phone things? Think about it.
A CABLE is a must-have product?!
Yes! Sure, you can always use those old (yet colorful) three part cables (component and composite cables), or S-video cables, to hook up your new gaming consoles, DVD players, and other audiovisual devices, but if you want the best possible HD picture and sound, it's HDMI cables that you want (they really do make a huge difference).
You can get very good HDMI cables for a super low price, so I'd advise anyone buying one to think about purchasing several if they can. Maybe one for your Blu-ray player, one for your X-box, one for your Playstation, and perhaps even one that just hangs from your HDTV for whenever you get that urge to hook up your laptop to your TV. :)
Why get a laptop when I already have a tablet?
Believe it or not, these old portable favorites haven't yet become obsolete. They may be heavier, bulkier, and less easy to haul around than the newer tablet computers that have become all the craze, but if you want a portable computing device with more power, that's capable of handling your more heavy programs (Photoshop, advanced video games, etc.), and that contains enough space to hold larger loads of your favorite music and videos, then laptops are the way to go.
Perhaps, eventually, tablet computers will push these great machines out of the picture, but, for now, laptops still hold their own in the wonderful world of computing.
What is a DVD Recorder?
Recording everything that strikes my fancy has been a pastime I've been a part of for years. While it first began when my mother taught me the art of recording my favorite movies and TV shows directly onto VHS tapes from our VCR, today is a new age and those old VHS tapes are outdated, primitive, problematic, and bulky. DVD's are the new device of choice. So, suffice it to say, it was time to step it up a notch. And with the advent of the DVD Recorder/VCR combo, the proverbial notch has been stepped.
Why buy a DVD Recorder?
With a DVD Recorder you can easily record whatever is on your television (movies, TV shows, news stories, etc) as they air, and put them directly onto a blank DVD, just as you could with your old VCR and VHS tapes. And if you purchase a VCR/DVDR combo you can also easily transfer your old VHS tapes directly to the blank DVD's as well!
Why get a gaming console?
Gaming consoles -- specifically the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 consoles -- are fantastic (almost essential) machines to have around these days, whether you're actually into playing video games or not. While in the past the sole reason for purchasing video game consoles was, as you'd expect, to play video games, today's consoles are more high-tech and capable of doing so much more than that.
I, personally, use my consoles on a daily basis; even when I've not played a game in weeks! The reason for this is that consoles now come with a plethora of capabilities far beyond games alone, including wireless internet access, web browsing, access to applications such as Netflix and Youtube, huge amounts of storage space for music, videos, pictures, and games, wireless connectivity to other computers and devices in your home, the ability to instantly download new and classic video games directly to your device, without need of a disc, and so on and so forth. They are monsters of technology and a must have for the modern person.
Wireless Mouse and Keyboard - Don't forget, if you want to get the most out of your gaming consoles... you'll need the extras!
While with the X-box and Playstation alone, you'll most certainly get all the bang for your buck you need, when it comes to chatting with your device, browsing the web, and all of that other fun stuff, you'll want to make sure to have an old fashion keyboard and a mouse on hand.
They're wireless, they hook up directly to your controller ports, and there's no installation required. They may not be a "must-have" but they certainly do make life much easier. Not to mention, they're pretty darn cheap.
What is a Tablet Computer?
A tablet computer is a one-piece mobile computer, sorta like a giant (well, the size of a very thin book, at least) Smart Phone, which consists of just one large screen that you use to control everything you do. By using its touchscreen and virtual keyboard (both of which can be used with either your finger or a stylus), you navigate webpages, play games, watch movies, chat with friends, read books and comics, and a whole heck of a lot more.
Why buy a Tablet Computer when I've already got a laptop and a smart phone?
A tablet computer is sort of like a mixture between your regular laptop and your Smart Phone. You get all (or at least most of) the portability and battery life of your Smart Phone, with close to the power and size of a small laptop computer. Granted, your tablet won't soon completely take the place of either, but when you're on the go or just laying around your house you'll soon discover the convenience which tablets offer that a normal laptops and smart phones can't; including longer batter life, less overheating, and more portability and accessibility than your laptop, and a larger, more computer-like screen than your smart phone.
What is a Smart TV?
Television sets have always been evolving. We've transitioned from black and white to color, from wired remote controls to wireless, from big bulky boxes to flat and sleek light-weight screens, to standard-definition to HD quality, and now to the newest frontier: the Smart TV.
Why get a Smart TV?
Like with the Smart Phones which have taken the place of our regular old cell phones, Smart TV's have all the qualities of their predecessors, only with a whole heck of a lot of bonuses. The most prevalent bonus (and the most obvious) being the integration of internet-connected technologies and other computer-like features into the sets themselves.
Browse the web, use Facebook and other social networking sites, watch Netflix, Youtube, and other video services (aside from just your regular cable and/or satellite service), play games, and do so much more all just from your television set alone, without any need of anything else!
2.) Netflix (and Other On-Demand Streaming Video)
What is on-demand streaming?
While DVDs, blu-rays, and regular old television all remain as great and efficient ways to watch your favorite movies and TV shows, in an age where internet is king, there's really no beating the convenience and accessibility of on-demand streaming video. On-demand streaming has become so popular, in fact, that many people have even decided to ditch their old cable and satellite services all together in exchange for this cheap and easy alternative!
If you're unfamiliar with on-demand film and television, the process is fairly simple and straightforward. First you subscribe to a service such as Netflix, Huluplus, HBO on demand (which comes free if you already subscribe to HBO), etc., then you're given a user name and password which you can use online (on various devices, from smartphones to laptops), then you download the appropriate apps, sign in, and begin to browse and immediately watch (no downloading or waiting required) whatever movies and TV shows your subscription services provides. Voila! Easy peasy lemon squeezy.
Why use on-demand streaming?
What service to chose to get is up to you (each has its own perks and disadvantages), but since Netflix is the most popular (and arguably has more perks than disadvantages) we're going to focus on that.
- Cheap, Cheap, Cheap! - For the streaming only service of Netflix the cost is less than 10 bucks a month. That means you can watch all the movies and TV shows you like, on as many devices as you like, as often as you like, for less than it would cost to purchase one DVD a month.
- Easily Catch Up on TV Shows - If you've been hearing a lot of buzz about a TV show but already missed the first few seasons, chances are you can easily find and catch up with them on Netflix.
- Commercial and Ad Free - Unlike with watching regular television (or Hulu), Netflix is completely free of ads or commercial interruptions of any kind.
- High Definition Programming - Watch you favorite movies and TV shows in crystal clear HD quality.
- Compatible with Multiple Devices - There are free apps available for tablet devices, smartphones, gaming consoles, internet TV's, and more so that you can watch your Netflix account anytime, anywhere, anyway you'd like.
- Original Programming - Netflix has begun producing it's own original TV shows now, starting with the drama series staring Kevin Spacey, House of Cards, that you can't find on regular television. There are more original programs by Netflix to come, including the eagerly awaited fourth season of Arrested Development.
What is a Smartphone?
Just as house phones, color televisions, desktop computers, and laptops once were, Smartphone are now, without a doubt, the number one must-have item for any self-respecting Homo sapien living in this modern, technological world of ours.
The first thing you should realize about Smartphones are that they are much more than just a phone. In fact, they are essentially tiny, fully functional computers that you can conveniently keep in your pockets and carry around with you at all times. That is, tiny computers which just so happen to also serve as fully functional cell phones as well. Among their many capabilities, some of the most exciting of which usually include:
- GPS tracking that can be used to share where you are at any given moment (only if you want!) and help you navigate directions with the assistance of something such as the Maps app (which includes real satellite views from all over the word, labels for streets, restaurants, and attractions).
- Wi-Fi access which allows you to fast and efficiently use your own pre-existing internet (or internet from other Wi-Fi hotspots) to browse the web, stream music and movies, and do all the other things you usually do online at high speeds with no additional charge.
- 3g access, which allows for very fast internet usage, or 4g access, which allows for super fast internet usage.
- Access to apps that can help you quickly and easily carry out your everyday internet routines, such as checking and updating your Facebook page, sending or receiving email, chatting on your favorite web messenger, watching (or making) Youtube videos, etc..
- Access to apps which can do things as seemingly complex as automatically reading bar codes on products at stores and immediately giving you information on said products (the RedLaser app), or apps which can allow your phone to hear any random piece of music on the radio, TV, or whatever, and automatically tell you what the song title and artist who sings it is (the Shazam app), apps which can remember all of your favorite music playlists and stream them anytime without needing to waste precious phone space downloading them (the Spotify app), and so much more!
- Enough space to hold hours upon hours of your favorite music, movies, and photos, to watch, listen to, and look at at anytime (even the smartphones with a hand full of gigabytes of space can hold a lot; one gigabyte of space can usually hold somewhere around 200 to 300 songs).
- All the basic features you got with your old "dumbphones" (texting, calculator, camera, video camera, calendars, notepads, etc.) only updated and enhanced.
Which Smartphone should I get?
The major downside of all Smartphones is obvious: the price! Some of the most pricey, such as the iPhone 5, are well over 500 dollars, for instance; suffice it to say, that sounds like one hefty investment. That being said, though, the benefits that come with having a Smartphone are pretty worth shelling out a couple of hundred bucks for, because, as mentioned before, what you're essentially buying is a phone that is also a fully functional, little computer for your pocket.
You don't have to own the latest models of phones in order to reap their benefits either. Really, the coolest features of Smartphones are actually available for all of them, regardless of which you choose (other than a larger screen size, a slightly faster speed, and a few other updates, for instance, the iPhone 5 isn't all that different than its predecessor iPhones that came before it). The safe bet that I would personally recommend for Smartphones is to stick with the iPhone (you can't really go wrong there). As for which generation to get, I'd recommend either the 3GS or any of the models which followed it (the iPhone 4, the iPhone 4S, or the iPhone 5).