Just one year ago we didn’t have watches that run your favourite apps or a palm-sized HDTV streaming device. The technology advances in 2013 brought us even more ways to enjoy TV, watch our homes and talk to our smartphones. Check out these favourite tech toys and tools of the year and add some of them to your must have list of technology for 2014.
The Watch That Wants to Be a Phone
Photo by Pebble Technology via Wikimedia Commons
You have a smart phone in your pocket. Now you can have a smart watch on your wrist. The Pebble is a watch to make Dick Tracy jealous. Pebble relies on a Bluetooth connection to communicate with your Apple or Android smartphone. It displays notifications and alerts from your phone. You can control music playing on your phone from Pebble. Various watch faces can be downloaded to customize the look of your Pebble. A USB charger provides five to seven days of service. It even runs its own growing library of apps. For about $150, you can even use Pebble to tell time.
Big TV Watching in a Small Package
Photo by EricaJoy via Wikimedia Commons
Larger TVs and cable systems come out and all of a sudden, Google releases a thumb drive sized streaming video device. Chromecast fits in your hand and plugs into your HDTV. Link it up with any iOS or Android device and stream content from providers such as Netflix, Hulu, HBO and YouTube. No remote control is needed. Control the Chromecast from the browser on your mobile device. While it uses your home network to stream content, it bypasses your mobile device once set up. At $35, it might be the least expensive TV you’ll watch this year.
Get All of the TV You Want, When You Want It
There are more ways to watch TV now than ever before. As TV technology advances, so do the devices that support your big, and small, screen. The Roamio Pro gives you access to just about all of the TV you can handle. It comes with a six-tuner DVR and 450 hours of HD storage to record your shows to watch on your schedule. It streams from Netflix and Hulu. Use your iPhone or iPad to control and playback recorded programs. It has built in WiFi and supports digital cable input. It’s a $600 TV watching, streaming, recording powerhouse.
Put a Cloud on Your Desk
Photo by vernieman via Flickr
All the hype of working in the cloud this year gave a lot of press to cloud computing. With the My Cloud from Western Digital you can now have cloud access on your desk. For around $180, you get a standalone, 3 TB drive that will store anything you can pack onto it. Connect it to your home network, download apps to your Apple, Windows and Android devices and you can access your My Cloud from anywhere. Work in a cloud while sitting at your desk.
Keep an Eye on Things Wherever You Are
Photo by HighTechDad via Flickr
The age of the smart home and remote home security is upon us and the Dropcam Pro makes it easy to do from anywhere. This palm-sized digital video camera connects to your home network giving you visibility to your home from your mobile device. They say the picture is clear day or night and has a 130-degree view of your home. It includes an 8x zoom feature and two-way audio. A cloud-based DVR service records the video and lets you review past footage. For $199, you can watch the cat bring down your Christmas tree while you’re out of town. Or see who took the last piece of fudge from the fridge.
Don’t Touch When You Can Write
The Livescribe 3 Smartpen gives you a high-tech writing device to use with your high-tech touch screen device. Write on paper and have it show up on your iPhone or iPad. An app syncs up your Livescribe pen with your mobile device. It’s USB rechargeable which gives up to 14 hours of service. For around $150, you can store those workshop or brainstorming notes digitally without fumbling with an onscreen keyboard.