Christmas Countdown: Tech Gift Guide

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For the technology fiend in your life, it’s not always necessary to spend hundreds of dollars. From smart phones to tablets to gaming systems, this year the choices are endless.

Fitbit Flex, $99.99
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Support your New Years resolution of getting healthy and in shape with this cool device that tracks how many steps you take in a day, total distance travelled and calories burned, as well as how much sleep you get at night. Using bluetooth technology it syncs to iOS and Android devices and even PCs and Macs. A simple and sleek design and lightweight and comfortable fit, the Fitbit Flex offers data that’s both informative and motivating.

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite, $119
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When it comes to e-readers you either love them or you don’t. Some people appreciate the ability to carry hundreds of books around while others prefer the feeling of turning physical page after page. However, there’s no denying that e-readers come with plenty of cons and the new 2013 kindle offers up a faster processor, more responsive touch screen, and a better integrated light that’s brighter and whiter and displays more evenly across the screen.

iPad Mini with Retina Display, $419
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With the iPad Air being released this same year, Apple fans are given a choice. But with a great high-resolution display, faster processor and better and improved battery life, the iPad Mini with Retina Display might just be your best, and cheapest bet. According to CNET: “This is not only the best version of the iPad so far but, thanks to its incredible apps options and robust media ecosystem, it’s the best small tablet, period.” Well that sure says a lot.

Vintage Polaroid 600, $180
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With smart phones offering up high quality photos, there’s hardly a need to carry around a separate camera, unless it’s a vintage Polaroid. Take a trip back in time and ride the wave of nostalgia that’ll come with every white bordered photo that pops out of it.

Casio Slim Series Projector, $999
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Hey big spender! This might be something cool to get for the person who has it all. Why limit yourself to watching movies and TV shows on a 90 inch LED television when you could fill your entire living room wall with video. Offering up Wi-Fi, with light bulbds that last longer than the traditional lamps you’ll find in most projectors, it also is more ecologically friendly by being mercury free.

HTC Desire 601, $0 on a 2-year plan from Rogers or $300 outright

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I’ve coined the saying “once you go android, you never go back” ever since I switched over with my Moto X, and testing out this new device from HTC (which runs Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean) reinforced it. The sleek and ridiculously good looking (simple and clean is best) phone is targeted to “first time smartphone users” with a just-the-right-size 4.5 inch screen, 1.4GHz dual-core processor and a 5MP camera that captures 1080p HD amongst its long list of impressive features. Meaning it’d be a great transition phone for those cavemen in your life who are still using an old BlackBerry curve or heaven forbid a flip phone. Grandparents, dads and moms will love it.

But don’t be quick to categorize this phone as an “old people” device, because it’s far from it. Social media addicts will especially love the HTC BlinkFeed™ which combines all social media updates and news sources into one convenient stream. No need to open up a dozen apps and check different newsfeeds and dashboards; talk about convenience! And for those music lovers who appreciate good bass, they’ll love the BoomSound audio set-up. The phone has dual front-facing bass-friendly speakers. With Beats by Dr. Dre audio enhancement, you’ll hear nothing but the best and most crisp quality in sound. It’s perfect to blast those Christmas tunes during your holiday parties or for those karaoke sessions in the shower.  (Note: it’s NOT waterproof, keep it out of the shower and on the counter.)

Last but not least, one of the most attractive features that has your wallet breathing a huge sigh of relief is the incredible price tag. At just $300 with no contract, this mid-range phone is a steal compared to what most premium smart phones are selling at ($450 to $700; I’m looking at you iPhone 5s and Samsung Galaxy Note 3). There may be a difference in the specs like less RAM, but it’s still a phone that gives you quality for a great price.

GIVEAWAY: Your very own HTC Desire 601 (Just like good ol’ Saint Nick you can use nothing but the best and latest tech)
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Wish you could run to your closest Rogers Wireless store and grab an HTC Desire 601 immediately, but have a bank account telling you now’s not the right time? Well luckily for you, Rogers, HTC Canada and I have a brand spankin’ new one ready for a home. Thanks to Rogers and HTC Canada, one lucky reader receive their very own HTC Desire 601. To keep it or gift it, that will be up to you. Contest open to Canadian residents only, no purchase necessary, enter below: (Extra bonus entry if you retweet this tweet on Twitter).
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@Naomi_ML

Reunited with Motorola: Rogers Moto X

They say you never forget your first cellphone and it’s true. I still remember the day my dad brought it home.  I was an anxious 13-year-old, desperate to get my hands on one of those cool portable devices that would allow me to send instant text messages to my friends and talk to them without my mom going “hello, who’s on the phone? I neeeeeed it.” during the middle of a conversation. This cellphone was long overdue; by now everyone already had one and I had been begging for my own for months on end. My dad finally came home with one of the most popular phones (at least amongst my eighth grade class), the Motorola V360, and it was perfect.

Fast forward three years, and I upgraded to what was the sleek, incredibly thin and even better looking Motorola Krzr. It was THE phone to have. And while I had a blast with my flip phones, sharing many conversations, winky faces and “wut r u doing 2day?” texts, soon the era of smartphones came, and well frankly, my relationship with Motorola was put on the back burner.

I had a great relationship with Blackberry, before I took a bite of Apple and switched to the iPhone 5 which I’m currently using. But today I’ve been fortunate enough, thanks to Rogers, to reunite with my first cellphone love: Motorola.

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The Moto X is available only at Rogers, and offers touchless control, an active display and a quick capture camera among its list of impressing features. What does that mean?
“Talk to it, and it learns your voice. With a twist of your wrist, it becomes your camera and gets the shots you’d otherwise miss and it tells you what you need to know—even when you’re not touching it.”

See for yourself:

Now I’m very much attached to my iPhone and I’ve always been an Apple person, but I’m ready to switch over and take on the 60-day Moto X Challenge (aka a challenge I’ve presented myself with where I’ll be completely dedicated to this Moto X). Change is not something I usually enjoy, but with this device, it’s one I’m welcoming with open arms and ready thumbs! I’ve only just begun to play with this new toy, but one thing’s for sure, the camera quality is stunning and I can’t wait to capture memories. I’ll definitely update you at the end of my 60-day challenge to let you know if I’ll be sticking with the Moto X or switching back to the iPhone 5.

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@Naomi_ML

Book Review: Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult

We’ve read about them in the newspaper, heard about them on the radio and seen the aftermath on television. There’s no denying that school shootings are tragic events that are prominent in our society.

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It’s hard to imaging the effect such a tragedy may have on a town and the families of victims, among others. But best-selling author Jodi Picoult is there to provide a fictitious behind the scenes view to a very real issue.

In her novel Nineteen Minutes, a small town in New Hampshire is shaken by a school shooting and Picoult explores the events leading up to and following the incident from various characters’ points of view.

The author bravely delves into a sensitive issue and reminds us that there is always more than one side to a story. She makes you realize that when traumatic events like this happen, it’s not only the victims and their families that are affected, but the community as a whole. And that the shooter isn’t the only one viewed as the bad guy, but there’s also the lawyer who agrees to defend him and the innocent unknowing parents woh share the health and blame. Picoult presents the story so that you’re able to see it from all angles; angles you didn’t even think would exist.

Knowing that this fictitious story is very much similar to the reality of school shootings is  chilling and a real eye-opener. When we read stories about events like this in the news, we only get a view from the outside looking in. In Nineteen Minutes Picoult breaks that fourth wall, taking the reader and their emotions for a roller coaster ride with the characters making it feel as though we’re experience the issue ourselves.

It’s a page turner that makes you as the reader continually ask questions such as “why did this happen?” “how could someone do such a thing?” and “why didn’t they see this coming?”. Picoult makes her signature imprint by including a plot twist at the end. Though the novel jumps back and forth on a time machine, traveling from the past to the present nonchalantly, the story flows well and all of the characters are delicately strung into a web that in the end makes sense.

Picoult is well versed and it’s evident that deep research was done in order to make the novel as accurate as possible. From the legal terms to the history of mental illness, she nailed it all.

As published in humberlife newspaper.