Yes, this is a sponsored post for Staples, but — as always — all opinions are 100% mine.
Is it really almost Black Friday again? It seems like just yesterday that I took down all my traditional Black Friday decorations: the waxed foliage, the bronzed matador hat over the mantel, the floating gourds, the flashing neon lights, and the carousel. Now, I’ve got to go digging in the attic and bring it all out again (the wife doesn’t let me put it up until Halloween’s over; house rules are house rules).
But aside from the pageantry of it all, I (like most of you) get really excited about all the tech deals that’ll be paraded before us on this very special holiday — now, more than ever before! Black Friday 2014 looks to be more exciting than, for instance, Black Friday 1914; according to my great great grandfather’s journal, the only tech items they had to look forward to were non-reflective boot polish and wind-up buggy whips.
Here are just a few examples of what we have available to us this Black Friday. It’s really a great time to be alive!
Moto 360 Smartwatch
Have you been considering the benefits of a smartwatch? The Moto 360 is a beautiful, compact smartwatch that doesn’t eschew classic timepiece design for the sake of turning a few heads. It’s content to do its job in quiet, but elegant style while strapped to your wrist by Harneen leather.
But this doesn’t mean that it lacks high tech under its unassuming stainless steel and Corning Gorilla Glass hood. It’s got voice control, Android Wear-powered smart alerts for weather, traffic, and transportation that adapt to your surroundings, and fitness tracking abilities. Plus, you’ve got access to social media and Google search right there without having to dig around in your pocket for that old smartphone.
If you just want a fitness tracker rather than a smartwatch , you have quite a few options:
Jawbone UP24 Fitness Tracker
A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, a guy named Luke Skywalker actually had to lug his personal trainer around in a backpack when he was trying to stay in shape. Thankfully, the technology in this galaxy has allowed us to scale the role of the personal trainer back quite a bit and now you can simply wrap a Jawbone UP24 around your wrist when you need reminders to do or do not.
It tracks the steps you take, the distance you travel, the calories you burn, your active vs. idle time, how long it takes you to get to sleep, how many times you wake up during the night, and it gives you subtle reminders when it detects that you’re not moving enough throughout the waking day — all without attaching snarky life lessons along the way. It’ll even shake to rouse you from slumber.
Plus, you don’t have to feed it stuff you forage from the swamp. It recharges by USB cable to full in 80 minutes and it’s ready to give you fitness and sleeping guidance for the next seven days, all day and all night.
Connect it wirelessly to your computer or smartphone for more data-wrangling magic.
For some time now, Fitbit has been a popular forerunner in providing people with multiple ways to track their fitness and sleep patterns and sync the data across smartphones, computers, Bluetooth-enabled scales, and other select devices. Social tie-ins that allow users to challenge and compete with each other in the ongoing quest to get and stay fit have made a successful go at the “gamification” of health goals.
Depending on personal preference, you have a few choices when it comes to selecting the Fitbit tracker that’s right for you:
The Fitbit Zip is the most bare-bones Fitbit tracker, designed to simply keep tabs on your steps, calories, and distance with one small, easy gadget that clips on to your belt or clothing. It includes a clock, is water-resistant, comes in multiple colors, and retails from Staples for $59.99.
The Fitbit One is a similarly clippable, compact gadget that has the capabilities of the Fitbit Zip as well as the ability to track sleep, wake you up with a silent alarm, and count floors you climb — especially handy if your daily routine involves walking up a lot of stairs. It retails from Staples for $99.99.
The Fitbit Flex is a bit of a compromise for providing the same features as the Fitbit One — minus floor-climbing tracking and a clock — but it wraps around your wrist like a watch. It retails from Staples for $99.99.
Personally, I’d pick the Fitbit One out of the three because I’d want the floor-climbing tracking. I’m not that worried about the lack of clock (I already have plenty of gadgets that will tell me the time), and I think a clip to the pocket is less intrusive than a wrist strap — but that’s just me! Your needs may vary, and one of the wearable devices above should suit them just fine and dandy.
Are you the person who carries hand sanitizer with you everywhere in the fight against germs and grodies? Sure, your hands may be cootie free, but how about the phone that keeps touching your face? This PhoneSoap UV Sanitizer nukes bugs and viruses in just five minutes while charging your iOS or Android smartphone!
Have you ever had trouble falling (or staying) asleep because there’s a neighbor upstairs who’s seemingly just enrolled their pet hippopotamus in raucous midnight ballet lessons? Or, on the other side of it, perhaps you live somewhere that’s a little too quiet and the encompassing silence is too maddening for any hope of relaxation? Either scenario can be countered with the application of a white noise machine like the Marpac Dohm-DS Dual Speed Sound Conditioner, a device designed to help you sleep — or concentrate — better.
White noise, as defined by Merriam-Webster, is “a heterogeneous mixture of sound waves extending over a wide frequency range.” But it’s probably just enough to know that, to the human ear, it sounds like a gentle “whooshing” noise (akin to what Douglas Adams once referred to as the sound that deadlines make as they go by). Think of a steady wind or a light rainfall. Studies suggest that generating a background of white noise masks inconsistencies that can be disruptive to concentration or relaxation.
In other words, it sort of smooths over the jarring elements of your soundscape so that you can focus on other things — like sleep or study — instead of being distracted.
Marpac Dohm-DS Dual Speed Sound Conditioner: White Noise Machine Approved by the National Sleep Foundation
This sound conditioner is compact and portable at only six inches in diameter, four inches in height (and, according to one user, it weighs “about as much as a hardcover Michael Crichton novel”), so you can move it to any part of the house where you’re trying to counter the sounds of the outside world (or lack, thereof). Need to nap on the couch next to the window that faces a busy street? Bring it into the living room and let the traffic noises cease to be a bother. Need to focus on reading in a room with a monotonously ticking grandfather clock that overpowers your ability to focus? Let this white noise machine drown it out!
Made by Marpac, a company that’s been manufacturing white noise machines since 1962, the Dohm-DS Dual Speed is the official sound conditioner of the National Sleep Foundation — so you know I’m not just blowing hot air at you!
Are you planning on an upcoming wedding or a trip to the Bahamas? What about that New Year’s resolution you made only a few months ago to rid yourself of those extra pounds that were packed on over the holidays? Have you been watching what you eat and wondering if giving up that extra mouthful of creamy macaroni and cheese is really paying off? How else are you going to know if you’re making progress or backsliding if you don’t weigh yourself regularly?
If the only time you monitor your weight is when you visit the doctor’s office, you may find yourself more discouraged than encouraged by the experience. I’m always surprised to discover that I have somehow managed to gain weight even though I think I’ve been following a safe, doable diet plan. Of course, by the time I mentally deduct 10 pounds for clothing, time of day, or the fact that the scale at the doctor’s office can be wildly inaccurate, I can usually justify the tiny weight gain that remains.
The EatSmart Digital Bathroom Scale Helps You Get a Realistic Handle on Your Goals
I used to weigh my babies on the produce scale at the grocery store, but I doubt the health department would smile on such a practice in this day and age (especially if I were to try and climb on for a peek at my current pounds). My alternative? The EatSmart Digital Bathroom Scale. This scale is fabulous; it measures accurately within three ounces of your actual weight, and it’s good for anyone who weighs up to 400 pounds! That’s a workhorse in the world of weight management if ever there was one.
The EatSmart Digital Bathroom Scale has an oversized, cool blue Accubright LCD backlight display so that even those of us who find ourselves squinting at a regular bathroom scales can get an accurate idea of our current weight — and even if we’re too shy to fully disrobe and catch a glimpse of ourselves in a brightly lit room with lots of mirrors!
If you have owned an earlier model of this scale, you will be pleased to find EatSmart’s new step-on technology has eliminated the need to tap the scale to get it to turn on. For many of us oldsters, it is also important to note that the large, non-slip platform is safe for us to use and helps to eliminate the fear of falling. Other benefits of purchasing the EatSmart Digital Bathroom Scale: it includes an easy-to-read instruction guide, four AAA batteries, and an EatSmart body tape measure. Most important? It comes with a 100% customer satisfaction guarantee, so what do you have to lose other than those excess pounds?
Keeping our skin moisturized is one of the best defenses we have against the aging process. There are more than a few products on the market that profess to do this, each one promising to do it better than the others. Since we still haven’t stumbled upon the fabled Fountain of Youth, and most of us don’t have the funds of Cher to “turn back time,” so to speak, we’re left to try and sort out which of these age-defying moisturizers will best do the trick for us.
Not sure what an emu is? It’s Australia’s answer to the African ostrich: a large, flightless bird that can probably beat you up in a fair fight. Like the ostrich, the emu is able to be farmed and cultivated like other livestock for its meat and other by-products — like, say, Emu Oil Cream.
Maybe it sounds weird to those of us in this hemisphere, but it’s determined to be better for you than the moderately comparable chicken oil from KFC that gets licked off of your fingers, anyway.
This Emu Oil Cream:
is derived from farm-bred emus that are free of chemicals and pesticides.
offers unique healing properties.
includes vitamin E for enhanced healing properties.
is a deep skin moisturizer.
repairs damaged skin.
Emu Oil Cream by Australian Creams Is a Hot Seller
I must admit that I normally look at reviews with a skeptical eye. We are all aware that some unscrupulous vendors hire writers or professional reviewers to write glorious reports about their products or services to distract from the more honest (and potentially more critical) reviews derived by actual users of said products and services. Most of us can separate the garbage reviews from the reviews that are actually written by people like us, but even if we can’t, there’s another factor at play that can’t be overlooked: sales figures. While it’s easy to fake reviews, the sales figures that Amazon provides to determine which of its products are hot sellers are a little harder to fudge.
This Emu Oil Cream is not only highly rated by its reviewers; it’s confirmed by Amazon to be a top-selling product.
In the cartoons, it seems like the wisest of people commonly partake of some very silly activities. Gurus sit on mountaintops to dispense cryptic knowledge to those who make the death-defying effort to seek it. Shamans traverse hot coals in bare feet to demonstrate mastery over the elements. And then you have fakirs who lie on beds of sharp nails to prove that mind can always conquer matter if enough focus is exercised.
Actually, in the latter example, the guy who’s relaxing on the bed of nails is probably quite comfortable. As long as his weight’s distributed evenly, the nails will harmlessly press against him and may even help relieve stress by stimulating pressure points — if some ancient medicine practitioners are to be believed.
If you’ve ever watched Dr. Oz on television, you may already be familiar with the Himalaya Acupressure Mat. Dr. Oz and his colleagues highly recommend this specific product for its therapeutic benefits. This mat is designed to promote the following benefits:
Back and neck pain alleviation
Himalaya Acupressure Mat Unleashes the Secrets of Chinese Medicine
The Chinese have been treating medical maladies for years using what is commonly refereed to as acupuncture. By inserting needles into various points of the body, it is believed that almost every medical problem can be addressed and cured. But if you’re squeamish about having needles puncturing your skin, the uses of a Himalaya Acupressure Mat could be an easier alternative for relieving everyday pains and illnesses.
Set the mat down and lie on your back, roll it up and put it behind your neck, or put it under your desk for your feet to rest upon — these are just a few ways of using the Himalaya Acupressure Mat. Plus, it comes in a variety of colors!
This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Fellowes for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.
For several months now, my wife has been hoping we’d be able to find an air purifier to suit our needs: to protect us more than we’re able to protect ourselves. We can wash our hands religiously during flu season, but we can’t stop breathing in airborne viruses. Oh, and if addressing my hay fever during allergy season was as easy as keeping my hands clean, I’d never have to deal with the discomfort of seemingly-endless sneezes.
I do choose to use higher grade furnace filters to cut down on what blows through our home, but that’s not enough for either one of us. We’ve been looking for something smart, stylish, and super simple.
From the AeraSmart Sensor (which automatically adjusts the fan and illuminates to indicate the current purity of air being measured) to Aera+ Mode (which really helps during allergy season to increase air turnover rate by 50% to remove more allergens while it works), the Fellowes AeraMax(TM) DX-55 air purifier has been outstanding.
Oh, yeah — and it looks sleek and matches our white trim around the home, too!
Need to move the unit? It’s lightweight and has a built-in handle for convenience. Fellowes designed an air purifier system that’s light on the floor but heavy on features.
I honestly have nothing against pollen or ragweed… so long as they don’t come near me. Viruses and germs aren’t too fun to deal with either, so I’m happy to know that there’s less of a chance of me accidentally ingesting either one of ’em. Mold spores, dust particles, and panda bears can all be captured by this air purifier.
Okay, maybe not panda bears — yet.
But pet dander? Yes, so it makes being a mother and father to two wonderful dogs even more of a joy. Hey, we all shed dead cells. It’s what we do as organic creatures. However, we simply do not need to breathe in each other’s dead cells — so why do we continue to put up with it?
HEPA? Yeppa. Don’t guessa when you needa changea, either. When the icon (and its descriptor) turn red on the AeraMax DX55, it’s time to swap filters. You don’t need to call a handyman to get that job done, either; the side drawer with a built-in grip handle is intuitive enough for the average breather. There’s a separate carbon filter for more comprehensive cleaning, too.
Well, I can tell you that my wife and I don’t worry about it as much anymore with this thing running. Since complete elimination of any contaminants is not possible, we were just looking to reduce the amount altogether. Mission accomplished with the AeraMax DX55 — designed for “medium” rooms (up to 195 square feet). Close the door, let ‘er run for a while, and breathe easier.
Did you hear that? Maybe not, since this air purifier is ultra quiet. Hey, if you like loud machines that are difficult to use, then the AeraMax DX55 is not for you. It’s powerful, portable, and perfect for people who hate panda bears (like my wife, although I’ve had to explain to her a few times that nothing can filter out panda bears — yet).
The next time you see a piece of dust floating through the air in front of you, just think: there’s a lot more where that came from. Unless you’re one of those weird people who love dust and germs on things, I’m guessing your home and body appreciate fewer contaminants. This device looks great and works well… near-impossible to pass up (unless you are a germ).
They say that smoking is bad for you (of that, I have no doubt), so this thing can help you eliminate the smoke gunk, too. Non-smokers don’t hate the smoker, but they hate having to deal with the aftermath. That stuff has to go somewhere — inside of you or through the filter. Which would you prefer? Rather, which would your lungs likely prefer?
How many sneezes and sicky-poo family members must you suffer through (especially if one of them has a man-cold) before you opt to pick up a Fellowes AeraMax DX55 air purifier for yourself? They’re available right now — starting at $189 at BestBuy.com. If that seems like more than you’re willing to spend, how much would you pay to get out of that next flu or infection that could have been avoided?
Not inhaling things you don’t want to inhale? Priceless.
With the new year approaching, this means a chance to wipe the slate of past transgressions clean and resolve to do better — to be better. We all make New Year’s resolutions (even if they’re in secret and remain undeclared to the world), but how long does it take for many of them to fall by the wayside? Sometimes it’s because we’re trying to radically change our habits and forget to course correct by accordingly changing our accompanying lifestyles.
We try to say we’ll be thinner by this time next year, but we keep making exceptions by saying, “I’ll have the triple chocolate mousse for dessert just this once,” “I’ll have one more beer,” or “I’ll go to the gym tomorrow.” We say we’ll get out of debt, but we keep buying video games, expensive dinners, and every new gadget that comes out on credit. We vow to get organized, but that just means stuffing everything we don’t want to look at into that spare room (and, when that starts to overflow, there’s always the garage).
Putting it shortly and not so sweetly: We sabotage ourselves. At first glance, big problems seem like they need big solutions, so we forget that the little solutions add up and everything counts. So whether you want to lose a few pounds, stop smoking, get organized, or whatever New Year’s resolution you feel will ensure a better life in the approaching tomorrow, you shouldn’t feel like you’re going it alone. If you don’t have a human resolution buddy to keep you in line, technology can help!
Here are 10 snazzy gadgets that can help you keep your New Year’s resolutions.
Fitbit Ultra Wireless Activity Plus Sleep Tracker
If your New Year’s resolutions consist of being more active, getting better sleep, or cultivating healthy habits that will benefit your lifestyle in the short term as well as long, the Fitbit looks like a modern convenience that just might… well, fit the bill.
This is a tiny, non-intrusive device that clips onto your wrist, pocket, belt, or any spare piece of clothing (or the included wristband) and will track everything from steps you’ve taken, total distance traveled, and calories burned to how well you’re sleeping. Fitbit then uploads its daily collection of data to fitbit.com (there’s no additional monthly fee), and integrates with its own iPhone app as well as other programs like RunKeeper, LoseIt!, and Microsoft HealthVault.
LifeSign QuitKey Smoking Cessation Computer
Another New Year’s resolution that comes up on the list of just about anyone who’s ever succumbed to the stinky charms of cigarette smoking is quitting. While the benefits of smoking cessation are many (and unnecessary to recount here, as you can find discussion about the dangers of tobacco addiction anywhere on the Internet between the American Cancer Society‘s website to the Mad Men forums), this is the bad habit that former smokers will tell you is the most difficult to kick.
The LifeSign QuitKey Smoking Cessation Computer is a keychain-sized gadget that formulates a schedule for smokers attempting to shake the demon monkey off their backs. The idea is to gradually reduce nicotine dependence over time in two stages. The first stage consists of the smoker using the device to record their regular smoking patters over seven days. The second stage takes place over 14 to 34 days (depending on how much of a fiend the smoker is based on what the first stage’s data was able to determine), and at its conclusion, it is hoped, the New Year’s resolution has been successful: the smoker has become an ex-smoker.
Withings Wi-Fi Body Scale
Do you have an old bathroom scale that gives you inaccurate (and impossible) readings that fluctuate erratically no matter how many times you calibrate it? Does it even have a way of being calibrated? Maintaining an ideal weight is hard enough when you can’t even get a realistic idea of how much you weigh! Enter the Withings Wi-Fi Body Scale, which will not only give you a very accurate and detailed account of how many pounds you’re packing on any given day, but also a rundown of your BMI and body fat percentage.
Like the Fitbit above, the Withings Wi-Fi Body Scale will upload this collected data to the Internet so that you can get a visual idea — either on the Web or on its iPhone app — of how you’re improving (or not improving) as you strive to attain your ideal weight goals.
SleepMate Electro-Mechanical White Noise Machine
While the Fitbit above will help you track your sleeping patterns and let you know how many times you’re interrupted each night, sometimes the biggest problem with getting better sleep is knowing how to let yourself cast away the worries of the day and drift off into dreamland. Well, that, or overcoming noise made by annoying upstairs neighbors who like to have drum ‘n’ bass parties every other night. Either way, many people have found having a source of steady white noise (which can sound like static, a waterfall, or a steady rain) as being very efficacious not only for helping them get to sleep, but also at times when concentration is essential — such as writing a term paper, studying, blogging, reading, or doing taxes (to paraphrase Marvin the Paranoid Android: “Taxes! Don’t talk to me about taxes.”).
The SleepMat Electro-Mechanical White Noise Machine generates a consistent stream of white noise from an uncomplicated little device that’s small enough to sit on your nightstand without dominating the entire space. Use its power to sleep or to focus on a task at hand — it’s uncanny how much a little white noise can soothe the human brain.
Toshiba Canvio 1.0 TB USB 3.0 Basics Portable Hard Drive
Really, any portable, external hard drive could go here, but I chose one that’s able to fit in your hand, is affordable, and has enough storage capacity to back up the data of the average household computer user in this day and age. The New Year’s resolution I’m addressing is the one we all remember immediately after our primary hard drive fails and we’ve lost an unrecoverable amount of personal documents, pictures, and media: back up that data! Regularly!
And once you’ve made your regular backup, remember that this kind of hard drive is portable for a reason: you can store it somewhere safely far away from your main computer (in another building, preferably — perhaps your office or a post office box) in case calamity should strike. There’s no point in having a backup that sits on top of the very computer it’s backing up if fire or flood should be its ruin.
Breville JE900 Juice Fountain Professional Juice Extractor
I recently saw the movie Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead, a documentary in which Joe Cross, a successful businessman in his forties, goes on a two-month road trip across the United States while juice fasting in an attempt to conquer his obesity and reliance on drugs to treat a rare auto-immune disease he suffers. The results are, frankly, inspiring — especially when he’s able to use his experiences to help someone else he meets in his travels who’s in even worse shape.
While I don’t know if juice fasting is a practical way to solve everyone’s health woes, there’s certainly no harm in at least supplementing one’s diet with fresh fruits and vegetables. Something like a Breville JE900 Juice Fountain Professional Juice Extractor (I singled this out because it’s the one we own and we love it) can make some pretty delicious combinations out of highly nutritious botany — like kale — that you might not otherwise find use for in a traditional meal.
EatSmart Precision Pro Multifunction Digital Kitchen Scale
If drinking every meal isn’t your cup of… juice, but you want to reduce your caloric intake scientifically instead of just eyeballing the amount that goes onto your plate and into your stomach, the addition of something like the EatSmart Precision Pro Multifunction Digital Kitchen Scale to your food preparation area could help.
Portion control is not only a big part of any temporary diet undertaken, but in maintaining such a diet as a permanent, positive change toward a healthier lifestyle.
American Red Cross ARCFR160R Microlink Self-Powered AM/FM/NOAA Weather Radio with Flashlight, Solar Power, and Cell Phone Charger
No matter where you live — in any part of the world — there’s likely the possibility of a natural disaster that could strike. It may rely on seasonal conditions, like a hurricane, tornado, or flood, or it may be something that could happen at any time, like an earthquake, tsunami, or zombie apocalypse. In any case, being prepared for your area’s favorite flavor of crisis (or crises) is a good idea. Unfortunately, like backing up computer data regularly (see above), a lot of people don’t think of being ready in case of an emergency until the emergency is already in progress. One of my New Year’s resolutions is to be more on the ball with emergency preparedness.
In a very self-explanatory way, the American Red Cross ARCFR160R Microlink Self-Powered AM/FM/NOAA Weather Radio with Flashlight, Solar Power, and Cell Phone Charger might just be a lifesaver when contact with the outside world is suddenly cut off. (It also cranks by hand when there’s no sunshine for your power.)
Stamina 55-1610 InMotion E1000 Elliptical Trainer
A full-sized elliptical trainer is a great way to get a low-impact workout with quickly visible results. It’s also a great way to take up half of your apartment, and will happily double as an impromptu clothing rack when you want to pretend like it’s not there and don’t want to look at it silently judging you for skipping your workout for the last week.
The Stamina 55-1610 InMotion E1000 Elliptical Trainer solves the space problem by being tiny enough to stow away under the bed when it’s not in use, and it can even be used while you’re sitting at your desk if you don’t want to stand up for your workout.
Tablet Computer and/or Smartphone
I swear I’m not copping out; clearly, this is a cover-all option — but a valid one. Today’s tablet computers and smartphones use apps to cover a lot of the things otherwise delegated to an assortment of dedicated devices. Some of the above devices integrate splendidly with the iPhone, for instance, to make goal tracking as convenient as possible.
And even if you don’t use them for their apps — which can accommodate every New Year’s resolution from organizational clarity to health monitoring — you can use them to listen to music while you’re jogging or even read the latest bestseller while pedaling away on the stationary bike at the gym.
Do you have any handy devices that you have in mind to help you keep any of your New Year’s resolutions? Drop us a line and share your thoughts with the community. A little support goes a long way — especially when we’re all trying to change our lives for the better!