Technology is now an integral part of our everyday lives. Whether it’s phones, portable storage, or even smartwatches, many designers are now working with tech companies to produce items that are not only practical, but also stylish.

Here are some great Christmas gift ideas of the always-connected fashionista in your life… or, perhaps, yourself!

1. She Lion Rainmaker Tote and Laptop Bag

shelion-rainmaker

This tote is full of compartments to hold your laptop, your papers, your phones, and just about anything else you can think of (including the She Lion Go-Getter umbrella that comes with it). And it looks absolutely stunning – it certainly wouldn’t look out of place at any event. She Lion has a whole range of bags if you’re after different sizes or functions.

2. Guess Connect

guess-connect

Like the idea of having notifications on your wrist, but finding the standard smartwatches with full touchscreen too bulky? The Guess Connect has a standard watch-face with a small screen at the bottom for notifications. You can see the basics of incoming notifications at a glance – and it takes voice commands, too!

3. Fitbit by Tory Burch

fitbit-tory-burch

We’ve previously done a giveaway of this product – that’s how much we love this fashionable fitness tracker! It works together with the Fitbit Flex to track  your daily activity and monitor your sleep – all while looking fabulous.

4. LaCie Mirror

lacie-mirror

LaCie Mirror is a portable hard drive made of Corning Glass, which turns it into an actual mirror for your table! It also features an elegant yet functional ebony wood stand display for your home office, designed by French tableware designer Pauline Deltour. It’s the ultimate multitasker, a statement piece for your home office and the business storage device you need to save and carry all your most important multimedia files at home, at the office or on the go.

It’s perfect for travel, as it comes with its own soft pouch, creating a very sophisticated way to carry large capacity digital files within a slim sized drive, without the need for power.

5. Monster Harajuku Lovers Space Age In-Ear Headphones

monster-harajuku

If cute is more your style, you can’t go past these adorable headphones that are a collaboration between Harajuku Lovers and Monster. They’re in-ear headphones, and come with interchangeable colours to match your outfit!

6. Swarovski Supreme USB Bracelet

swarovski-usb

USB sticks are one of the staples of modern life. But forget the flimsy plastic or plain metal casings and get stylish with a USB bracelet made by Swarovski. You’ll always have your data on you… literally.

7.  Tech21 Evo Elite cases for iPhone 6/6s and 6/6s Plus

Tech21-Evo-Elite

Tech21 has just launched the ultimate protection for premium handsets, the Evo Elite range of cases for iPhone 6/6s and 6/6s Plus. The Evo Elite range is the result of an 18-month design and engineering journey that delivers beauty and protection in one.

Just like skin care products, they’ve been styled not to hide the beauty of your new iPhone, but to flaunt it with a smooth aluminium and metallic finish that’s durable and scratch resistant and matched to the iPhone 6 gold, silver and space grey colours.

The cases are very lightweight and super slim, while extremely tough thanks to the embedded Flexshock advanced impact protection which can withstand drops up to 6.6 feet.

8. Opening Ceremony and Intel Mica Smart Bracelet

intel mica 2

intel-mica-3

For any readers based in the USA, Opening Ceremony worked together with Intel to create the gorgeous Mica Smart Bracelet. It’s completely independent from your smartphone (comes with two years of wireless data from AT&T), and comes with a phone number you can give your friends so they can message you. We should note that it doesn’t have an on-screen keyboard so you can only use canned responses. You can also view your upcoming Google and Facebook appointments, and access Yelp, among other things.

9. Spy Pen Camera

spy pen

Not only does this pen look right at home in any office environment… it also has a hidden camera that can take photos and record video. Not that we would recommend using this for any corporate espionage, of course!

10. Tag Heuer Connected

tag-heuer-connect

If you’re based in certain countries (search here), the Tag Heuer Connected is a smartwatch built on Android Wear, with all the features you’d expect such as a full touchscreen, apps, etc. Yet it still has the elegance and refinement you’d expect from the standard range of Tag Heuer watches.

Do you have any recommendations for technology with style? We’d love to hear about it in the comments!


Have you ever heard of the Internet of Things (otherwise known as IoT)? It’s the idea of all objects having electronics, software, sensors and internet connectivity, so they can talk to each other and we can control them remotely. I had a chance to hear David Rose, author of ‘Enchanted Objects’, at a recent conference in Melbourne. He spoke of things like umbrellas turning blue when it was going to rain–and this was just the start of ‘Connected Things’. This idea of Connected Things all ties into the world of home automation.

Previously home automation used to be so complicated, expensive and time consuming that it was only for those who had a lot of cash to spare. The IoT has changed that with thanks to big shifts in technology lately. This means that everyday people like you and I can reap the efficiency benefits of increased automation in our lives. Below, I’ll share 3 different ways you can automate your home and make a difference to your daily life.

HomeKit (To use with Apple Devices) for Home Automation

In Apple’s words, “HomeKit is a framework in iOS 8 for communicating with and controlling connected accessories in a user’s home”. Or in layman’s terms, HomeKit is Apple’s way of making it easy for product manufacturers and developers to bring physical creations into the IoT, which will allow you to control a lot more of your home from your iOS device no matter where you are.

On Monday, at WWDC (World Wide Developer Conference) an announcement is going to be made regarding HomeKit. Apple has released a support guide in preparation for helping customers implement these new ideas. At the moment, these are the products that will integrate with HomeKit, as well as instructions on how to set them up. To get started using HomeKit, you will need an iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch with iOS 8.1 or later. As time goes on, more products will join the Home Kit system. Stay tuned for more details!

Stand-alone Home Automation products and IFTTT

There are home automation products that can still be controlled via your mobile device, but don’t require you to buy into a whole ecosystem. These include the WeMo products that are available both in stores and online. They have light bulbs, switches (to control products), light switches, cameras with night vision (to track what your pets get up to or even kids) and much more. WeMo integrates with a free app called If This Then That, or IFTTT. IFTTT is an app and web-based program that controls two programs or objects, and can also automate many other processes beyond WeMo. For example, here is the #WeMo channel. There are many great ‘recipes’ which consist of a trigger and an action–the basic principle of IFTTT. One I would recommend is ‘Turn a Device off after it’s been on for __ minutes today’. Great for when you are going away on holidays–you could have one of the WeMo switches plugged in and a light plugged into that. No more timers set for when you’re away! There are also triggers for things like ‘when the sun sets, turn the light on’. Go on and explore IFTTT’s wide range of recipes, we’ll wait!

Professional Home Automation Systems (installed by an electrician)

If you have cash to spare, there are also home automation systems that can be deeply integrated with your house. These will be more efficient and ready-to-go once installed.

Push by Schneider Electric is a home automation system that can be controlled by Android or iOS devices. It will have to be installed by an electrician (see here for stockists and installers in Australia). It was featured last year on ‘The Block- Sky High’ to control AV, Lighting and Security. Imagine not needing separate remotes to control your TV, DVD Player or sound system (take back control from your kids)! There is also HoneyWell Total Connect ™  System that lets you operate security cameras, lighting in the house, heating and locks.

Featured image: KOTY2010_12 via photopin

This is the first in a series about how  you can increase your efficiency through automation. What do you think about home automation? Is it creepy or cool? How would you use it to increase your efficiency? Share with us in the comments!

Download Get Your Life Back ebook by Kasia Gospos, founder of Leaders in Heels, on how you can streamline and automate your business and life so that you have more time for what you really love.


With more and more of the media we consume being digital, you may have heard a lot of terms about video quality being tossed about. SD, HD, QHD, 4K, and so on. You may also have heard them if you’re in the market for a new TV or computer monitor, or even a new smartphone.

In this article, I’ll explain the various terms, and what they mean to you when it comes to streaming media, as well as when purchasing gadgets with screens.

The Basics

Everything displayed on an electronic screen is made up of a series of tiny dots, called pixels. Images are formed by giving each pixel a different colour, so they make up what you see on the screen. The smaller a screen manufacturer can make a pixel, the more of them you can cram onto a single screen. The idea is to have them so tiny that you can’t see the individual pixels unless you look very closely–what Apple has called their “Retina Display”, for example, although this technique is used by all manufacturers for their high-end products.

Video quality, then, is based on the number of pixels sent to your screen. If the number of pixels in the video is considerably less than the number of pixels on your screen, then the video displays in a very small portion of your screen. If you force it to enlarge to the whole screen, the video will look blocky as many pixels on your screen are used to represent one pixel in the video.

If the number of pixels for the video is bigger than the screen, then only part of the video will be displayed on the screen (if it’s able to display the video at all). If you’re lucky, you can drag it around to see the full picture, otherwise you’ll be stuck with that little corner. As you can see, matching screen size with video quality is quite important!

Of course, there are also other issues to consider such as refresh rate, and whether every line or every second line is refreshed each time. But for this article, we will simply be looking at pixel sizing.

Standard Definition (SD)

Standard definition videos are 720 pixels wide, by either 480 or 576 pixels tall. Although strictly, SD videos are meant to have a 4:3 ratio, the 576 pixels is used by Australian broadcasters for standard definition shows.

Unless specifically stated, almost all free-to-air TV is transmitted in SD. Same with cable TV–in Australia, for example, you need to pay $10/month extra on Foxtel to have access to their high-definition (HD) channels, and only selected ones are available.

Most videos online are available to stream or download in SD. Why would you choose standard definition over high? For the amount of data you would use. Netflix, for example, estimates that you would use about 700MB an hour streaming a SD video. Youtube, which uses different methods of processing and streaming videos, uses around 240MB an hour. If you have strict data limits from your internet service provider or are using mobile data, the data usage is something to keep in mind!

High Definition (HD) – 720p

To confuse the matter, there are a few different definitions of HD. One of those is 720p, though strictly speaking this is noticeably lower definition than the other HD standards. The “p” on the end refers to how the picture is refreshed–it stands for “progressive”, meaning all lines are refreshed on each picture refreshed (as opposed to “i” for “interpolated”, where only every second line is refreshed).

720p HD videos are 1280 pixels wide by 720 pixels tall. It’s mainly used for online streaming–you’ll notice it’s one of the options on Youtube. This will use about 450MB an hour. Netflix doesn’t explicitly specify how much data 720p HD uses, as they include it in their “High” video quality settings together with the higher resolution HD videos. All the official site says is “up to 3GB an hour for HD”.

It’s important to note that some manufacturers market TVs and screens as HD displays when they are 720p, and you should be aware that this is lower definition than what those same manufacturers term as “True-HD” displays.

High Definition (HD) – 1080p/i

This is marketed as “True-HD” or “Full-HD”, to distinguish it from the 720p HD videos and displays. These videos are 1920 pixels wide by 1080 pixels tall. 1080i is the general standard for HD TV broadcasts, while 1080p video is used on Blu-Rays.

1080p would use the most amount of data for HD video quality on Netflix, which is about 3GB an hour. Youtube will use about 750MB an hour. Note that many videos on Youtube are not available in HD, though that number is quickly growing.

When purchasing a flat-screen TV, this should be the standard you go for.

4k Ultra HD

This is the latest next-gen standard. A 4k resolution is 3,840 pixels wide by 2,160 pixels tall–in total, four times the pixel density of 1080p. There are only a few TVs out at the moment with a 4k resolution, and you’ll pay through the nose for them. No TV stations currently broadcast in 4k, so it will be a long while before you get any decent use out of your expensive TV anyway!

That said, Netflix does offer some content in 4k. But it will use up 7GB an hour, so tread carefully! Also, there are now video recorders and smartphones that can record 4k video, so you can shoot and show off your home videos in 4k as well.

Don’t get this confused with other similar terms you may have seen thrown around, mainly in the smartphone space–qHD and Quad HD (also, confusingly, called QHD). qHD stands for quarter-definition HD, meaning it’s a quarter of the pixels of 1080p HD. Quad HD is four times the pixels of a 720p display, so while it’s higher than a 1080p display, it’s still not 4k.

Featured image: Ifa zeigt flaches Fernsehen


The Apple Watch went on sale to the public on Friday (24 April 2015), ushering in a new era of wearable technology and yet another area of our lives that is being digitised – and we know it’s only a matter of time until they pervade the business world. While there are definite pros to connecting our bodies to industry-leading technologies (check out the ResearchKit) in order to monitor ailments, you could already be exhibiting signs that you’re overconnected – a new kind of addiction that’s crippling businesspeople the world over. Here are some of the most common symptoms:

1. You’re using every. single. feature of your device

Sure, there are some ways to genuinely use these devices to increase your productivity and leverage workloads, such as voice recording your meetings and using transcribing software afterwards. That being said, we’ve come to a societal pivoting-point where the productivity boost from tech we experienced in the 90s has disappeared during the past decade. If you feel like reading weather alerts on your smart device while making notes on your laptop, checking your heart rate on your wrist and watching your shares plummet from a dashboard is the best use of your time, you may need to revisit your priorities. The worst-case scenario is that our digital dedication leads to secular stagnation: a permanent slump in our economy and everyday lives in general. Yikes! The thing to remember here is to realise that your devices should serve single purposes extremely well, rather than doing a million things ‘sort of’ well.

The worst-case scenario is that our digital dedication leads to secular stagnation: a permanent slump in our economy and everyday lives in general.

2. From a holistic view, your tech use isn’t encouraging growth

This idea lends itself to the above point, however in this instance we’re referring to a wider work-life balance. A recent article in Psychology Today points out a key highlight in modern distractions that is perhaps most pertinent in the digital space: your distractions aren’t personal. In the same way that there’s a strong correlation between younger children with cognitive issues and tech use, using technology to fuel your ‘me time’ could be nurturing habits and self-sentiments that won’t grow you as a person. Of course, this has both personal and business ramifications. You can nip this ailment in the bud by taking some analogue time off, working with something tactile and being unreachable for a while. Connect with yourself!

3. You’ve acquired health problems you didn’t have before tech

If there’s one term that should scare you, it’s digital dementia. Coined by a German neuroscientist, this term literally refers to the cognitive damage that tech overuse causes – which is almost identical to that experienced by people who’ve suffered head injuries or psychiatric illnesses. The Apple Watch has some pretty awesome health features (it reminds you to get up and walk during the day, while also hosting a ResearchKit that tracks your long-term health), but in a paradoxical sense this constant tracking of your health may also be the downfall of your wellbeing. For your health – and your sick leave – you need to know how tech may be ruining your wellbeing. Take a tech-holiday and re-energise your batteries by not using your phones; if you can’t do this for an extended period, set aside a couple of tech-free hours each day.

 Look at the list of expenses your team (and the company in general) is putting forward as brand investments, and – here’s the key – look at actual value returned.

4. Tech is considered an investment (when it may just be a toy)

Lastly, you might want to reconsider your ‘expenses’ if the majority of them are going to the App Store. While it might be nice to have a gold plated laptop, it’s not going to help your day-to-day business processes. Look at the list of expenses your team (and the company in general) is putting forward as brand investments, and – here’s the key – look at actual value returned. If you’re an online business, this might be traffic or conversions, or if you’re an author it would be book sales or publicity. While the findings might be harsh, this is how to cure the ‘impulsive investment’ myths you’re experiencing (and wasting money on).

michelle hutchinson bioMichelle Hutchison is the Money Expert for credit card comparison site creditcardfinder.com.au.

As a media commentator in financial services and online comparison for over five years, Michelle is one of the most prominent Money Experts in Australia. With a background in journalism, Michelle is a regulator contributor to many publications and websites. She loves to crunch data, and uncover interesting trends and insights into Australia’s banking industry and consumer behaviour.

Michelle on Linkedin | Michelle on G+ | @michhutchison


I’m travelling at the moment, and it’s made me realise just how many gadgets we use on a daily basis. After all, when you’re always on the move in a foreign country, gadgets suddenly become a liability as well, because it’s a lot harder to simply plug them in and use them!

With that in mind, here are three simple tips to ensure that travelling with gadgets doesn’t become more trouble than they’re worth.

1. Check the voltage

A basic tip, but so easy to forget. Different countries use different voltages. America’s outlets put out 120V while Australia and Europe use 220V. Always check your chargers to see what they’re rated for. Some are only rated for 220V and therefore won’t even charge your device if in a 120v socket. And if you plug a 120V charger in a 220V socket, you’ll probably destroy your device.

I repeat. Always check the voltage.

2. Keep your chargers in your carry-on

I tend to throw my chargers into my check-in baggage whenever I travel, in order to keep my carry-on luggage under the weight limit. But it’s not a great idea when your flight(s) is/are delayed, you’re stuck in an airport for hours, possibly overnight, and just about every gadget you own is totally out of juice. Especially if that includes your mobile.

Most airports have powerpoints around that you can use, whether they’re explicitly marked or a little plug in the corner by the gate. Don’t check in your chargers and adaptors. You won’t regret it.

3. Bring a powerboard

This is a tip I give everyone who says they’re planning to travel. We have so many gadgets these days that need charging. A camera, video camera, laptop, mobile, tablet, ebook reader… it’s likely you’ll have 2-3 devices to charge at the end of the day. Add in a few travelling companions, and you’ll be fighting for the sockets in no time.

A powerboard is the simple solution. All you need is one socket and one plug adaptor, and you’re all set. A device hog? Bring along an 8-plug powerboard if you must! This will save you a lot of time and device-swapping, I promise.

Featured image: L’aéroport à Noël

What tips do you have for anyone travelling with gadgets? Let us know in the comments!


It is always exciting to see what new gadgets and technology come out of CES, the Consumer Electronics Show, each year. CES is held in America and introduces new gadgets, updates to sound, television and anything that will be sold to the consumer in terms of electronic gadgets.

Some of these gadgets are extremely practical while others push the boundaries. Whether you are an early adopter or just wait until all the bugs are ironed out, there are new gadgets that can benefit everyone.

 The year of the wearables

Paxie Kids Wearable

paxie-band

Both my husband and I wear a FitBit (I wear a FitBit Flex and he wears the FitBit Charge). There are now products being produced and marketed to the younger age bracket. This particular product, Paxie Kids Wearable, is designed purely for the kids market. Often with adult wrist wearables, not all of them are fashion friendly. These designs (and there are a few different options) are quite funky and can be interchangeable.

The main difference between this product and the adult wearable devices is using the tracking data (GPS).   Parents can track their children via the smartphone app.  This device has been designed so that it can’t be taken off unless you use two hands  and if the device is removed an alert is sent via the smartphone app.

Here are some of the features it offers: accurate GPS location, ambient temperature, location, tagging, boundary settings, daily activity, heart rate and removal alert.

 

Your luggage, safe and sound

Trakdot Luggage Tracker

trakdot

How many times have you gone travelling either interstate or overseas and your luggage has been misplaced or not arrived on the same flight? This small device snaps onto your luggage and employs newly patented micro-electronics and ground-based cellular telephone technologies to track and report your luggage. When you land you will receive a text message to say your luggage has landed with you, or the location of that luggage. If it is somewhere else, you will be able to assist the airline to get it back as soon as possible.

 

Wake up when you should

Sense

sense

Unless you have an amazing body clock that wakes you up at the same time every morning (I used to have one of these before I had kids), then sometimes an alarm in whatever form that takes is an inconvenience. More often than not, it gets turned to ‘snooze’ mode.

The Sense is a simple system that tracks your sleep, monitors the surroundings in your bedroom and reinvents the alarm, so you can sleep better.

This device sits on your bedside table and collects the data of the environment in your bedroom, including noise, light, temperature, humidity and particles in the air.

The Sense’s Smart Alarm will wake you at the right time in your sleep cycle to avoid that shock of being woken up by a noisy alarm.

 

Indoor plant tech monitor

Parrot Flower Power

flower-power-garden

If you like having indoor plants, but really would love to know whether you are overwatering or not, or giving enough fertiliser, well there is a product to help you have the best looking indoor plants in the neighbourhood. This product is placed into the soil and will measure sunlight, temperature, moisture and fertiliser. This then connects to a smartphone app (iOS and Android) and you will be sent alerts when any of these four are not at their optimum level.

 

08Featured image: SamsungTomorrow

It will be interesting to see the progress of these products; will they be still around this time next year? How many gadgets can a girl have? What gadget are you looking forward to in 2015? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!