Sunday, July 16, 2017

7 Great Ways to Save on your Cell Phone Bill


These days the big 4 cell phone companies seem to charge a fortune for service. While they give you much more than a few years ago a lot of their features are unnecessary. These 7 tips will help to find a lower price, and you may even notice that you're paying for things you don't even use.

1.  Go Prepaid
Many times they offer significant discounts on prepaid plans. First, you need to look at what you actually need. For many years I had a prepaid plan. It gave me the flexibility to change plans when ever I needed to, and I could easily reload credit with prepaid cards available at almost every store.

2. Don't Go Unlimited ~ Unless you need to
Many times people buy plans that are much bigger than they need because they don't want to have to worry about going over the limit. If you look at your plan's usage and could save money by dropping to a lower rate tier, it's usually worth while since chances are you won't suddenly change how much you're using. You can always consider the money you saved if you ever do have to pay an overage fee on a certain month.

3. Add a Line to your Families Plan
This is what I currently do. Since many plans have very cheap add a line offers I took advantage of that. This allows my plan to be essentially only $10 a month with T-Mobile, but you can allow both parties to benefit by contributing more to the overall plan than the add a line cost.

4. Check if a carrier is offering you a deal to switch
Many times reward sites offer significant cash back for joining a new carrier. Currently, Swagbucks is offering cash back on most of the major carriers. Including more than $28.50 cash back for starting new service with Verizon Wireless.

5. Go to a Smaller Carrier 
Many times you can save money by going with a smaller carrier that doesn't own or maintain their own towers. This can save you a lot of money. Right now Boost offers 4 unlimited lines for $25 each. They use Sprint's network, so if you currently have excellent service from them, it might be worth giving Boost a look. 

6. See if you qualify for a Student or Employee Discount
Many companies and schools have agreements that allow their member to get discounts. I've even seen discounts as high as 15% for members of certain organizations. Just make sure you read the fine print since there are often a lot of exclusions and terms to get that price.

7. Ask if your Carrier can Give you a Lower Price
You can always ask if they can make you a better offer. There is a lot of competition between the wireless carries and a lot of times rather than lose you they would rather give you a better price.


Saturday, July 15, 2017

Five Great Inexpensive Laptop Accessories


1. AmazonBasics Laptop Sleeve
This is a great basic laptop sleeve that offers protection from things like scratches and dings when you're carrying your laptop. It's nice and compact so your laptop should still fit into any normal laptop slot while still being protective since its made out of neoprene.




2. Logitech Wireless Keyboard and Mouse Combo
There many times when it's easier to have a full keyboard and a wireless mouse. There are plenty of programs that are not compatible or have limited compatibility for trackpads and offer a big productivity boost when using a mouse. This option is inexpensive so its worth having even if you won't use it every day.



3. AmazonBasics HDMI Cable
Its nice to have an HDMI cable for presentions and possibly any other adapters you may need. AmazonBasics offers a lot of essential cables that work well but are at a fraction of the price of name brand cables. With HDMI cables there are only a few rare cases that it's actually worth spending more since you will see no difference in picture quality by spending more money.





4. Lexar JumpDrive
Even though I use these much less than I used to since I save most files in the cloud there are still many cases where it is much more convenient to save your files to a flash drive. Personally, I like the compact size and the cheap price of these Lexar ones, but there are many other options available that work just as well. Its worth even having one to back up your most important files and storing it our of your home in case of a fire.




5. Mixcder Bluetooth Headphones
I have written a review about these previously. You won't find a better pair of Bluetooth headphones at this price anywhere. They even have a ShareMe feature allowing you to connect a second pair. If you would like to read a full review check out this post.





These days you don't have to spend a fortune to get great everyday tech products. Many times you won't even be able to tell the difference if you spend 4 times as much. Its certainly worthwhile checking these out. If you would like to see what laptop I am using check out my previous post Review of Dell Inpsiron 13 7000 Series.


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Friday, July 14, 2017

Review of Dell Inspiron 13 7000 Series




I have been using this laptop for a little more than 6 months now. Its the laptop that I throw in my bag everyday. Its light enough that I can carry it while riding a bike yet its durable enough that I don't need to worry about it falling apart like my last one did.

The Specs:
                                                 

RAM Size 8 GB 8 GB
Processor Series Intel Core i5 7th Gen Intel Core i7 7th Gen
Processor Speed 2.5 GHz 2.7 GHz
Processor Count 2 2
Display Resolution Maximum 1920 x 1080 1920 x 1080
Diagonal Screen Size 13.3 in 13.3 in
Graphics Intel Integrated Graphics Intel Integrated Graphics
Hard Disk Description SSD SSD
Hard-Drive Size 256 GB 256 GB
Human-Interface Input Keyboard, Touch Screen Keyboard, Touch Screen
Item Dimensions 8.8 x 12.7 x 0.7 in 8.8 x 12.7 x 0.7 in
Item Weight 3.53 lbs 3.53 lbs
Operating System Windows 10 Windows 10
Wireless Compatibility 802.11 A/C, 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac 802.11 A/C, 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac

First, its compact and light. It allows me to carry my full laptop in lots of situations where I otherwise would have just brought my Ipad Mini. It is also a 2-in-1 which means the screen can rotate completely around a give some table functionality although I am not the biggest fan of using many windows apps with the touchscreen. The hinges do feel very strong and have a nice smooth but stiff feel. The tent mode is also nice for watching movies with it on a table, although not much better than just having it open.

The screen quality is great. It can get plenty bright and is quite high resolution. In fact I personally don't think it would be worth the higher battery drain of a 4K display. If you want to dock it to a larger high resolution display at home the 7th Gen Core i5 or i7 Processors works great for displaying 4K. I find I no lag or slow downs when I attach it to my 4K TV . If you would like to learn more about my TV set up check out this post.

Using the computer feels great. The touch-pad is fairly large and has a texture that allows for smooth movements without being too rough. The keyboard keys have a nice feel and have just the right amount of give. The back-light is also great since it allows you work in any lighting. I do still often need a mouse and keyboard especially when docked to a monitor or TV. For this I just use a cheap Logitech mouse and Keyboard. I also need it because most 13 inch laptops not have the numeric keyboard and  I often have to enter data quickly.

This is a great laptop certainly the best I have ever had. It has a wonderful premium look and the metal body makes it beautiful. It's perfect for travel and the daily commute yet powerful enough to use for everything most people do.

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Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Tesla is about to release the Model 3


Tesla is planning to roll the first Model 3 off its production line this Friday. The Model 3 is an electric car with a 215-mile range and a price of $35,000. While this is two weeks earlier than initially planned, don't expect to be driving a Model 3 anytime soon. If you haven't pre-ordered a car yet, Tesla is estimating mid-2018 or later. My guess is much later since they are expecting to be making about 20,000 cars a month by December. Even if you have already put in an order for the car, they received 276,000 orders in the first two days after pre-orders opened last year.

So whats all the hype about this car?

Well, a huge factor is that it includes all the hardware for full self-driving capabilities, but who knows when they will finish the software for that. I think the biggest selling point is that they offer a lot of the features you expect from Tesla in their most affordable car yet. You get supercharging capabilities, lots of storage and a premium car feel. It will be interesting to see what the final specs of the car are upon release, but I have no doubt that they will give everything that people expect as usual.

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Monday, July 3, 2017

Choosing a Home Security Camera

There are many of options these days when choosing home security cameras and many different reasons to have them. I recently needed to purchase a set to monitor my home while I am away and it also offers you the ability to spy on your pets. For me, there were a few necessary requirements. First, they need to be able to be viewed remotely. Second, they need to be able to record at least some footage in a way that's easy to review. Third I would prefer that multiple cameras can be synced together. Obviously, I am also concerned about price, video quality and whether they require an ongoing subscription. Here are some of the options I looked at and their key features.




The Nest Cam IQ Security Camera

The Good
  1. Ability to view high-quality remote video
  2. Three-hour snapshot history
  3. Ability to detect unknown people and send alerts
The Bad
  1. Requires a monthly subscription to record video history
  2.  No mounting hardware included
This is a great camera. It's one of the best options available. This does come with some drawbacks particularly in requiring you to purchase a plan. 
The Netgear Arlo Pro

The Good

  1. Wireless design, easy to install
  2. Weatherproof
  3. Includes cloud recording and live 
The Bad
  1. Require 123 batteries and poor battery life
  2. No audio
  3. Unreliable
While this looked like the perfect solution to me. I could place them anywhere and easily monitor my home and pets. The problem is that it's not nearly reliable enough and the battery life is too poor. It's ideal for someone that doesn't need continuous footage.


Canary Home Security Device

The Good

  1. Last 24 hour of video recordings included in free plan
  2. Also, monitors air quality and temperature
  3. High-quality night vision
The Bad
  1. No two-way audio
  2. No continuous recording
  3. Glitchy app
While this camera seems to be the most glamorous of all, it still has a lot of issues. Once they work through some of the reliability issues and improve their app it could be great. It was one of my top choices, but it doesn't offer continuous recording or and its remote app is glitchy. 


Overall, it seems like the top pick is the Nest camera. While it has the least negatives it does require an expensive plan to unlock its full capabilities. It is the most reliable and offers the ability to continuously record if you purchase a plan. This is a great camera whether you want to watch your pets, your kids or keeps your home secure. Personally, I like the freedom that Canary gives and enjoy the extra features they give.

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Apple CarPlay still has a few problems I wish they would fix

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