Parents Need to Be Concerned About the Xbox One, coming in November for $499

For any parents watching Microsoft’s Xbox One press event at E3 today, there was a lot to be concerned about. Not just about the console itself, which promises to usher in a new era of socially connected home and entertainment, or even the price, which is an increase across the board, but in the continued focus by Microsoft on the ultra-violent games that will be the flagship titles for the new console.

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Mario’s Top 3: Cutting the Cord on Your Internet, Waterproof Tablets, And A New Photo App

(On a mobile device and can’t see the video embedded above? Click this link to watch directly on the TODAY show website)

First, cutting the cord meant cutting off your expensive cable bill and relying on streaming sites like YouTube, Netflix and Hulu to replace traditional TV viewing with the latest online tech. Now, folks are cutting the cord on their Internet connections. Some people are turning to the abundance of free WiFi hotspots at coffee shops, restaurants, hotels, libraries, and the millions of other places that offer WiFi to get their fix. Others are finding that the Internet connections on their smartphones or tablets are more than enough for them to cut the cord at home.

I also discuss the absolute latest in tablet technology and spill a cup of coffee all over a brand new Sony Xperia Tablet Z with no problems. Finally, I take a look at an app called kicksend that makes it dead simple to get prints of your photos by sending them to a local photo lab straight from your smartphone. How cool is that?

3 Apps To Help You Get More Out of AirPlay

Last week we talked a little about how to set up AirPlay so you can use it to play music or mirror your Mac. It’s great wireless tech that can work in a home or an office, but still has some limitations, especially if you’re not a full-on Mac and iOS user. Here are three apps that will extend AirPlay for Windows, Android, and even Mac users.

airbubble for airplayAirBubble

This one is for Android users. AirBubble is a free Android app that lives on your phone, but talks to AirPlay source devices so it can act as a receiver and stream music to your phone. Great if you use iTunes but are an Android user. Find AirBubble in the Google Play store.

DoubleTwist with AirSync

DoubleTwist is an Android media player, and AirSync is a $5 extension available for purchase in the Google Play store. The extension lets you you stream music or video to an Apple TV (or an XBox 360, PC or Mac). It can also double as a way to wirelessly sync your iTunes to your Android phone, so that’s a bonus. Find AirSync in the Google Play store.

airfoil app to extend Apple AirPlayAirFoil

AirFoil may be the most versatile 3rd party streaming app out there. It costs $30, but it can send audio from any music player (not just iTunes) and can even use apps running on your computer or phone, like Spotify. Multiple users can access the same network, so it’s a great way to set up a collaborative music system in an office that lets everyone take a turn playing DJ. Available for Windows and PC, AirFoil lets you stream from a computer directly to other computers, AirPort Express units, Apple TVs, iPhones and iPods Touch. Most devices will need to have software enabled to act as receivers: check out the the full list of compatible devices and software needed here. Available from Rogue Amoeba.

What is Apple AirPlay and How Does It Work

what is apple airplay and how does it workWe hear a lot about Apple AirPlay, but it’s a fairly new technology, and still fairly confusing. So what, exactly, is AirPlay? Basically, it is a way to use a home network to be able link up Apple devices to each other, so you can access media across devices, even if it’s not stored on that device locally. That means you don’t have to keep copies of everything on every device – you can stream from one device to another.

AirPlay works over your wireless, so all of your devices must be connected via the same wireless network or over Bluetooth (though this a battery drain, and wireless is probably a better choice for most uses). You can use an Apple Airport (Apple’s wireless router), but it’s not necessary. Any wireless router will work, as long as all your devices can connect to it.

AirPlay-enabled devices should be able to recognize each other, which takes the guesswork out of which devices can stream to where. AirPlay is available on devices running iOS 4.3 or later, though not all features are available on all devices. Here’s a handy chart from Apple about the minimum requirements for each device. Generally though, you can use at least some features of AirPlay with the iPhone 4, 4S and 5, the iPad 2, 3 and 4, Airport Express, and Apple TV 2nd Generation and 3rd Generation, and any computer running iTunes 10.3 or higher.

The capabilities of each device also depend on whether you’re streaming “to” or “from” that device. One key point: you can’t use AirPlay between mobile devices (your iPad to iPhone, for example). iPhones, iPads and computers are senders only. Receivers are AirPort Express and Apple TV.

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Testing the Iris Home Automation System from Lowes

“Home automation” may sound like a future concept from the Jetson’s, but it’s here and Lowes is helping to make it affordable right now! This week I’m testing out the Lowes Iris smarthome kit which starts at $179. Three versions of the starter kit are available, and they contain everything you need to start controlling your home (and your energy bill) straight from any computer, smartphone or tablet!

Worried about leaving the coffeemaker or iron on when you’re out of the house? Want to see how much electricity an light fixture or appliance is using? Need to let your kids in the house remotely? The Iris system will help you do all of that, and more!

Plus, there are no long-term contracts or monthly fees for all of the basic functionality to control your home. However, if you want to get even more out of it, a premium package costs $9.99/month and allows multiple people receive alerts from the system, plus it offers offers advanced control of your devices as well as additional video capabilities and more storage space.

Smarthome kits

Allow me to break it down for you. Inside the kit you get the main hub which plugs into your router and is easy to set up, although you should allot about 45 minutes to make sure you can get everything running smoothly. The kits also include some accessories to smarten your home. Lowes offers three different types of kits:

– Comfort and Control ($179): comes with a smart thermostat and plug so you can control your the temperature inside your home from anywhere!

– Safe and Secure ($179): this kit is packed with door, window and motion sensors as well as a programmable keypad to control entry into your home!

Smart Kit ($299): includes everything in both of the above kits, plus a range extender to help you spread the system into more rooms in a larger house. This is the kit I tested.

Accessories for the Iris system

Once you’ve got the basic system running, you can add as much to it as you want. Lowes offers a ton of different products that talk to the hub, including:

– A smart button that can be set up as a doorbell or even a panic button

– Smart key that turns the system on and off. Give one to each of your children, and you’ll know when they’re home!

– A wireless video camera to watch your kids or the babysitter while out on the town

– Dimmer switches to help you set the mood remotely

– Outdoor modules to control your home inside and out!

– A smart lock for your front door that can be opened remotely when your kids lock themselves out

Once you’ve got the kit, you’re good to go in terms of automating your whole house. There’s a ton of accessories offered at Lowes to connect to the system, and once you’ve got it all talking to the hub you’re just a tap away from controlling your home and monitoring your energy usage from your smartphone no matter where you are.

How-To: Organize Online Shopping Receipts

Keeping track of business-related expenses is a must. And if you’re doing most of your office supply and equipment ordering online, it makes sense to use Slice to keep track of all your receipts digitally.  No more sifting through paper receipts and invoices come tax time!
slice app for tracking receipts

Slice is simple: give the application permission to see your email, and Slice will archive all your purchase records from major online retailers like Apple, Amazon, and eBay. You can add up to five email accounts to your single Slice account, so it’s perfect for small business and remote collaborators.

The app (available for both iPhone and Android) makes your purchase history easily accessible anytime, but can also deliver push notifications about deliveries en route regardless of the shipping carrier. And the UI is far superior to the mobile offerings of certain other shippers who shall remain nameless, since we’d really like to keep getting our Amazon purchases in a timely manner.

Slice is currently in beta. More info and signup at

Video: Dual Monitors On The Go With AirDisplay


Speaking from personal experience, it is true that you’re more productive with multiple monitors. Now my setup at home is pretty dope, but there are times when I’m out an about and sure could use multiple screens to get things done, sans all the window switching.

An app that lets you use multiple mobile gadgets at the same time to be more productive is AirDisplay. Simply put, you can use your mobile device (iOS or Android) as a second screen for your desktop/laptop. (Mac or PC). Read More

Need to Print from your iPhone/iPad? Canon PIXMA WiFi Printers Get AirPrint Support

Even though mobile device computing has come a long way in a very short time, devices like iPhones are limited by their inability to download and  install the necessary printer drivers needed to print from your mobile device to a printer. Apple introduced AirPlay/AirPrint support with its latest iOS version that can enable an iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad to handle a number of tasks such as streaming music and movies wirelessly to compatible products. Frees up your device from being tethered to your primary machine.

With the exception of HP and Epson, companies have only licensed the AirPlay technology thus far to do the fun stuff. Now Canon has announced that its new line of PIXMA Series wireless printers will have the AirPrint technology built in for direct printing from an iOS device connected to the same local network. The MG8220, MG6220, and MG5320 will all allow users to wirelessly print photos, emails, web pages and other documents without the need to install device drivers, saving time and making for a seamless user experience. Read More