A Few Things to Keep in Mind…

Looking for that perfect mobile device, but just can’t decide on which one to get? Feeling a bit overwhelmed with all the options displayed in various Black Friday ads?

Well, here’s a few things to keep in mind while doing your holiday shopping.

1. Cost — When looking to purchase a tablet, keep in mind who it’s going to and how much it would cost to repair. As many brands are marketing the best tablet yet, consider the repair costs if it were to break. So many of these tablets are not cost effective to fix. So yes, you may be getting a ‘steal of a deal’ on Black Friday, but if that ‘steal of a deal’ gets a shattered screen, you could probably buy a brand new tablet (or two) for the price it would be to fix. In our experience an iPad is a better investment because they can be easily repaired and the resale value is better when you decide to upgrade.

2. Phones — If you’re debating between an iPod and an iPhone, consider the phone. Especially if you’re buying for a child. Apple designed iPods to be ‘throw-aways,’ but depending on the repair and the storage space (GB) of the device, it may not be cost effective to repair. Yes, it can be done, but by the time it’s all said and done it could be cheaper to buy a brand new one. Whereas, with a phone, you’d be getting all the benefits of an iPod plus it’s easily repaired. You’d also be able to download the ‘Find my Friends’ app, which allows you to keep tabs on your children at all times. This is especially helpful if your child says one thing but goes somewhere else.

3. Cases — Just because you put a protective case over your device does not mean it’s indestructible. Yes, they protect the device somewhat but if you drop it just so, it’s going to break. It doesn’t matter what case is on it. We’ve seen breaks in all major brands on cases, however we see a lot of breaks when a child takes it out of the case “just for a second.”

4. Insurance — Would you like to purchase the 2-year warranty for $59.99? How many times have you been in the check out line when the cashier asks that question? There are a couple of things to think about before hitting the sales.

  • Insurance through your wireless carrier — Consider how much your monthly coverage is going to cost you. Do you have to pay a deductible when you make a claim? What does the insurance cover? Many companies charge around $9.00/month, which adds up to $108/year. And don’t forget to read the fine print. Most companies also charge an additional $100-200 deductible. So if you break your precious iPhone screen after one year, you just spent $200-300 for that screen replacement when your local repair shop would have charged $100.

Stocking Stuffers

  • Insurance through your mass retail store — These plans are often something to consider when purchasing a computer or tablet. Typical plans for a tablet would run around $50 for a 2-year service plan. On most devices, with the exception of mobile phones, there is not a deductible. A mobile phone might run you $130 plus $49/claim. If you anticipate breaking your phone more than once this might be the plan for you.
  • No insurance — If you have a good track record with your devices you might opt to keep that money in your pocket. If you do run into an issue with your device contact 815 Media and we can hook you up!

When you do decide on that perfect tablet, consider a few stocking stuffers such as our four-foot Belkin Lightning to USB Cables compatible with any lightning adapter iOS device for $18 plus tax, which is considerably cheaper than any of our competitors. Or an 815 Media classic tee for $9. These super soft, super awesome shirts come in orange and navy and can be purchased here.

Set up your Nest in 3 simple steps

I hope this #TechieTuesday finds you nice and warm cuddled up under your favorite blanket. And if it finds you under a palm tree somewhere, we envy you.

Either way, today we are going to discuss everything you need to know about the Nest Thermostat, so that no matter where you are, you could potentially save up to 20% on your heating and cooling bills.

The Nest Thermostat is an automatic thermostat that programs itself to suit the needs of your daily habits that can be easily controlled from your phone. If you leave the house and forget to turn the thermostat down, no worries. You can turn it down via your phone, thus conserving energy and money.

Get started in three easy steps:

1. The Nest Thermostat can be purchased here for $249 and takes most people under 30 minutes to install. It programs itself in about a week creating a personalized schedule based on the temperature changes you’ve made. You may have to adjust it to the temperature you like within the first week, but after that, it’ll automatically adjust iteslf.

Nest Thermostat

2. While you’re away, the Nest Thermostat automatically turns to an energy-efficient away temperature that you manually set up during installation. Auto-Away works in 90% of homes, even if it’s located in a spot you don’t pass on your way out the door. The lower your away temperature is, the more money you can save. You could even set it cooler before bed time to help save energy that way too.

3. Use the Nest Leaf to gauge how much energy and money you save. The Nest Leaf appears when you turn Nest to a temperature that saves energy. It tracks your energy use over time so you can see how much you’ve saved in Energy History.

We use a Nest Thermostat here in the office and it is so convenient. When we leave for the weekend, it automatically cools to our away temperature of 64 degrees Fahrenheit, and when Monday morning rolls around, it starts to warm up so by the time we get in the office, it’s our perfect temperature. It’s also easily controlled through our phones so if we’d have to adjust the temperature we could do so from our homes.

Nest makes more than just thermostats, so keep watching for a future #TechieTuesday article, were we’ll talk about some other awesome things this company is up to.

Even though our calendar says we still have about a month of fall left, I think it’s safe to say winter is here to stay. So why not utilize technology to take that bitter chill out of winter?

Fitbit propelling to a healthier you

Building a better routine one day at a time.

How many of you find yourselves on a roller coaster ride when it comes to fitness and YOUR health? You know those weeks when you’re really on top of things followed by those weeks when you can barely sustain enough energy to get off the couch? How about those weeks you crave salads followed by those weeks you can’t consume enough chocolate?

We’ve all been there. And now Fitbit has announced two new products to get us over the lows that track your activity, sleep, and calorie intake — Charge HR and Surge.

Fitbit Charge HR

Since it’s beginnings in 2007, Fitbit has helped millions of people achieve their fitness goals by tracking every single part of their day including activity, exercise, food, weight, and sleep. A Fitbit can be synced wirelessly to a mobile device in order to keep track of progress. To date, Fitbit can be purchased in over 20,000 retail stores in North America as well as more than 17 countries across Asia and Europe and is available on over 120 mobile devices.

So, without further adeui, a look into the Charge HR and Surge.

This heart rate and activity wristband monitors heart rate continuously right from your wrist, while accurately tracking calorie burn, maintain workout intensity, maximize training, and optimize health. It automatically records workouts and tracks all-day activity and sleep patterns. It also comes with a caller id allowing you to stay connected in style. The Charge HR will be available for $149.95 beginning early next year.
Fitbit Surge

This ultimate fitness super watch contains all the features of the Charge HR plus GPS tracking and a longer battery life of up to 7 days. The GPS displays run time, distance, pace, and elevation stats. Bands are water-resistant and can be cleaned with a soap-free cleanser. The Surge will be available for $249.95 beginning early next year.

As those at Fitbit would say, “Seek it, crave it, live it.”

What kind of Fitbit do you live?

We’re expanding our product line

That’s right — Right in time for the holiday season! We are so excited to announce that as of today we now stock Belkin Lightning to USB Cable.

Lightning to USB Cable

This four foot cable can be used for iPhone 5/5s, iPad Air, and iPad mini. They can be purchased for $18 plus tax, which is considerably cheaper than any of our competitors.

And they make great stocking stuffers!

Taking music education by storm

SmartMusic for smart kids. That’s what the SmartMusic App is all about.

Designed a few years ago by MakeMusic Inc., SmartMusic was developed to transform how music is composed, taught, learned, and performed. It is an award winning software that can be downloaded to your iPad, PC, and/or Mac.

Enabling students of all ages and skill levels in band, orchestra, or choir, SmartMusic has been gaining popularity with music teachers around the world.

In fact, SmartMusic has found its way into many local classrooms including those of Mrs. Emily Stover of the Princeton Elementary School District. She teaches kindergarten and 5th grade music as well as beginning band and choir. She uses the program as a teaching aide to encourage students to practice their instruments. SmartMusic provides students instant assessment of his/her performance by highlighting the correctly played notes in green and the incorrect notes in red. It also provides a recorded accompaniment to play along with making practice fun.

Mrs. Emily Stover has so graciously agreed to sit down with 815 Media to answer some of our questions:

815: Out of all the music technology out there, why SmartMusic?
SmartMusic is a cloud based program that provides recorded accompaniment and instant assessment for students, amateur, and professional musicians alike. Once the program is downloaded, the user has access to thousands of songs, from simple beginning band and recorder music, to well-known arias and concertos often performed by collegiate and professional musicians. Of all the music programs provided right now, it is the most comprehensive and user-friendly program available.

815: How do you use SmartMusic in the classroom?
I have been using SmartMusic in my music classes for 4 years now. I project the program for the class using a SmartBoard and play the songs, while the class follows along. I have used the program for 4th grade recorders, beginning band, intermediate bands, and Jr. High choirs. The students play or sing along with the music, as a green bar clicks along the screen to help the students follow the beat. I use it in choir to help teach sight-reading skills, but I mainly use it with the beginning band students to aid them in learning their new instruments.

Photo Credit: smartmusic.com

Photo Credit: smartmusic.com

815: What is one major benefit from the teacher’s perspective?
As mentioned previously, I have been using the program in my classrooms for about four years now, but last year I required all the beginning band students to purchase the program for at-home use. This is a benefit to me, as the students now have a teaching aid to work with at home, but it also allows me to send the students playing assignments. The program records the students playing their songs, and then they are submitted to me. I am then able to listen to each student’s recording and send him/her feedback on how he/she can improve. This provides me with recorded documentation on how the students play throughout the year, which is used to progress their improvement/decline, and can be played for parents to discuss the child’s progress in band.

815: What is one major benefit from the student’s perspective?
The students love it! They get to practice their instruments with a computer, it is almost like a game for them. They play the songs over and over again, until they see that coveted 100% assessment score. It makes practicing more fun, and they are held accountable for their practicing…Am I playing the correct notes? Am I playing them at the right time? Am I in tune? Those questions are answered by the program, so students learn how to read music faster, and have more fun doing it.

815: Have you seen improvement since you started using the program?
Yes, a lot. My first group of beginning band students who all had SmartMusic at home improved faster and sounded better at their first concert than any other group I have taught. I also have parents telling me that their child actually likes practicing! Students that consistently use the program at home progress faster and are able to fluently read music quicker than other students.

What about you? Do you use SmartMusic?