Posts by Becky Worley

  • Don't Buy These New TVs (yet)

    Becky Worley at Yahoo News 10 mths ago

    Do you know what technology we spent the most money on in the lead-up to the holidays every year? TVs. After your car, it’s one of the biggest purchases you can make. So it’s worth paying attention to what’s new in TVs at the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.

    4K High Resolution TVS are Everywhere & 3DTV is Dead

    The transition to HDTV poured massive amounts of money into TV companies’ coffers, and now they want us to upgrade all the time. All the big brands tried to get us to buy into 3DTV, but sales were dismal, and at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show, it is hardly visible at all. Vizio, the leading seller of TVs in the US, killed 3D completely from all its TVs.

    So the new big upgrade coming down the pike is 4K TV. It’s got 4 times the resolution of our current HDTVs, meaning 4 times the amount of visual data can be pumped into every square inch of the set. That bump in resolution is what made your jaw drop when you saw HDTV for the first time. But jumping up to 4K is not as big of an upgrade as that move from standard definition to high definition. It’s good-looking, but not revolutionary.

    What Does Higher Resolution Look Like?

    Don’t Buy Yet

  • Rumored iPad Hybrid Fuels Laptop / Tablet Fight at CES

    Becky Worley at Yahoo News 10 mths ago

    Is the laptop on its way out? With reports of tablet sales surging and laptop sales declining, you might think so. But between rumors from Apple and new product announcements at the International Consumer Electronics show (CES), laptop makers are beefing up their offerings with new hardware, software, and accessories to try and keep the laptop relevant.

    Apple’s Hybrid Rumor

    A slew of blogs are reporting that Apple may revolutionize the laptop by turning it into an iPad…. well kind of. The loosely dubbed iPad Pro could be a touchscreen iPad running the current mobile IOS operating system, but when docked into a keyboard it could run a full version of the OSX computer operating system that’s currently on Apple’s Macbooks. The idea is that instead of buying two devices, a laptop and an iPad, you could buy jut one.

    This hybrid idea makes some sense. Apple wants you to belong to their ecosystem. Once you buy an iPhone, iPad, or AppleTV, Apple wants you to buy all your media and pay to store all your files within their family of services: iTunes and iCloud.

    Windows Android Hybrids

    Bonus Laptop/Tablet Finds

  • CES Rumors: Curved TVs, Phones that Flex, and a Surprise from Sony

    Becky Worley at Yahoo News 10 mths ago

    What new and innovative products will debut to change our lives this year? And what new products won’t live up to the hype? Every January brings the International Consumer Electronic Show (CES) and an onslaught of new product announcements. The rumors are flying for CES 2014, so let’s dig in. And remember, many of these are unverified speculations rolling out before the show, so take them with a grain of salt.

    Big, Beautiful, Curved TVs

    While TV technology seems to have plateaued, the displays at CES never cease to amaze. Last year, we saw new Ultra HDTVs – also called 4K TVs – with 4 times the resolution of current HDTVs. The winner in my eyes was the combination 4K/OLED TV from Sony. The vivid colors and crisp images nearly made my eyes pop out. The price tags on these 4K sets definitely made my eyes pop out: around $25,000.

    So this year the big question is: who has the manufacturing process dialed in to bring the price of these sets down?

    Phones Phones Phones

    Phablets

    Wearable Tech

    Hybrid Tablet

    Virtual Reality Gaming

    No matter what happens at CES, we’ll be covering all the big developments. Follow me on Twitter as I tweet from the show floor.

  • Best Ways to Return Gifts Bought Online

    Becky Worley at Upgrade Your Life 11 mths ago

    According to a new survey (from Fedex, of all places), one third of Americans will return at least one gift this year. But if there’s one thing worse than receiving a bad gift, it’s waiting in line at the post office to return it. Good news: in most cases, you don’t have to. Here’s how to avoid the hassle.

    Prepaid Return Labels

    If you need to return a purchase or gift from an online merchant, start by going straight to their website. Many offer prepaid, printable labels. Then you schedule a pick up with UPS or Fedex. Easy deal.

    For Vendors that Don’t Offer Free Return Shipping…

    The post office is usually cheaper than UPS or Fedex. But that still doesn’t mean you have to wait in line at the post office. You can leave a box outside your door, and arrange online to have the mailman pick it up. For that, just go here.

    How Much Postage Do You Need?

    If You Don’t have a Scale

    Best Times for the Post Office

    If for some reason, you still have to go to the post office, the lines are usually shortest on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings, about a half an hour after they open.

  • Great Gifts for Under $25

    Becky Worley at Upgrade Your Life 11 mths ago

    Time to get your holiday shopping all wrapped up! To help, here are my top picks for techy and somewhat geeky gifts for less than 25 bucks. (Keep in mind prices fluctuate, as does availability.)

    Cocoagraph - $14-$18

    What do you get when you cross your pictures with chocolate? Edible photos! Printed on Guittard chocolate, the flavor is so good, your friends and family will eat these up! It takes a 7-10 days to make Cocoagraphs so order ASAP if you need them for the holidays.

    Monoprice Battery Backup and Flashlight - $20

    Almost everyone can use a back-up phone battery. They’ve come way down in price, and this one even comes with a built in LED flashlight.

    Monoprice Noise Isolating Earphones - $11

    Like the backup battery, earphones are something almost everyone can use. And this pair offers excellent fit and sound quality – especially given the price.

    Happy holidays. For more gift ideas, follow me on Twitter. I’m @bworley.

  • Best New Tool to Track Packages

    Becky Worley at Upgrade Your Life 11 mths ago

    Roughly one-third of all holiday shopping is now done online – and that raises a whole new set of questions: What’s the best way to check that all your gifts will arrive on time? What if the price drops – can you get a refund? And if it needs to be returned, where – in your month’s worth of junk email – is the receipt?! Good news: There’s one great tool that tracks all your purchases for you – automatically.

    The Runners-Up

    I’ve tried a number of web services that aggregate purchases and track shipments, regardless of vendor or shipper. Sites like Fara, Boxoh, and PackageTrackr all track your packages, but most don’t do a whole lot more than you could do for yourself. With Fara, for example, you need to start by forwarding them your purchase confirmation emails. But if you need to take that extra step, you might as well just put your confirmations in their own little folder yourself. What I want is for everything to be automatic.

    Best Tool: Slice

    Price Tracking

    After you make your purchase, Slice keeps an eye on the price. If it drops considerably, Slice notifies you. That means you can ask the retailer for a refund. This works on over a thousand retail websites. Ka-ching!

  • Beat Black Friday

    Becky Worley at Upgrade Your Life 11 mths ago

    Black Friday has really changed. I’ve been covering it IN DEPTH for the last eight years, and each year, this cat-and-mouse game between retailers and consumers has a different winner. This year, retailers have the upper hand because of something called “deal-staggering.” I’ll get to that in a second. But if you know the tricks, you can still land great deals – even on rarely-discounted Apple products. 

    The Best Apple Deals Are Not Always At The Apple Store

    Apple has its one sale of the year on Black Friday, but you won’t find the best deals at the Apple Store. They’re in the big-box retailers:

    · iPad Mini $299 at Walmart – How is this a deal? Because they give you a $100 gift card when you buy the device. · iPad Air $479 at Target – same story: the savings come when they hand you a $100 gift card with the purchase. · iPhone 5C $45 at Walmart – plus, they give you a $75 gift card. You actually make money on the deal! · iTunes Gift Cards – Get a card valued at $100 for just $85 at Best Buy. · Macbook Air – $150 off at Best Buy

    Shopping on Thanksgiving? Really?

    Deal Staggering

    What Where When:

    50-inch HDTVs

    Element - $229 - Target - 8p Thursday

    Laptops

  • How to Beat Black Friday

    Becky Worley at Upgrade Your Life 11 mths ago

    Black Friday has really changed. I’ve been covering it IN DEPTH for the last eight years, and each year, this cat-and-mouse game between retailers and consumers has a different winner. This year, retailers have the upper hand because of something called “deal-staggering.” I’ll get to that in a second. But if you know the tricks, you can still land great deals – even on rarely-discounted Apple products. 

    The Best Apple Deals Are Not Always At The Apple Store

    Apple has its one sale of the year on Black Friday, but you won’t find the best deals at the Apple Store. They’re in the big-box retailers:

    · iPad Mini $299 at Walmart – How is this a deal? Because they give you a $100 gift card when you buy the device. · iPad Air $479 at Target – same story: the savings come when they hand you a $100 gift card with the purchase. · iPhone 5C $45 at Walmart – plus, they give you a $75 gift card. You actually make money on the deal! · iTunes Gift Cards – Get a card valued at $100 for just $85 at Best Buy. · Macbook Air – $150 off at Best Buy

    Shopping on Thanksgiving? Really?

    Deal Staggering

    What Where When:

    50-inch HDTVs

    Element - $229 - Target - 8p Thursday

    Laptops

  • Stop Annoying Phone “Notifications”

    Becky Worley at Upgrade Your Life 1 yr ago

    Notifications on your phone – a buzz, a beep, a pop-up alert – are fine if you actually want them, like when you get a new text. But what about all those annoying notifications? Do you really want to be interrupted every time an old high school friend posts something inane on Facebook? Good news: Turning off or limiting notifications on your smartphone is easy. Watch the video above to see how.

    On iPhones

    Go first to “Settings” then “Notifications.” Then scroll down through each IOS feature and app and turn off the ones that are annoyances rather than useful alerts. You can also tweak how they appear – as banners on top as pop-ups in the center of the screen. You can even decide if you want them to appear when the phone is locked. Again, the video above shows where in the menus to find these options.

    On Android phones

    On newer models go into settings, notifications and then turn off the annoying ones. On older versions of Android, you may need to first launch the offending app, then hit the Settings button and opt out of notifications.

    [Related: How to Take a Screenshot on Your Phone ]

  • Smartphone Device Tracks and SHARES Your Blood Alcohol Level

    Becky Worley at Upgrade Your Life 1 yr ago

    We’ve fallen in love with activity monitors like the FitBit and Nike Fuel Band that track your steps and graph how many calories you burn. The quantified life provides insight that can lead to healthier behavior. But would a gadget that tracks how much you drink work the same way?

    The BACtrack Mobile Breathalyzer – How it Works

    The $150 BACtrack connects to your smartphone via Bluetooth. Then you just download the app, enter your gender and weight – and blow into the hand-held device. It gives you a blood alcohol reading that is then saved in your phone. Less expensive (and less accurate) personal breathalyzers utilize a semiconductor sensor, but the BACtrack Mobile Breathalyzer uses a professional-grade, fuel cell sensor, the same technology used by law enforcement. That said, no breathalyzer is 100% accurate – defense attorneys routinely challenge their validity in court (blood tests are the gold standard). But while I wouldn’t bet my license – or someone’s life – on this device, it still offers a number of potential benefits.

    [Related: How Accurate Are Fitness Trackers? ]