Believe it or not, but summer is nearly over and students are just a few weeks away from back to school! Back to school is always a busy time for parents and students alike, especially parents shopping for back to school clothing, supplies and new technology appliances and gadgets. Technology is always evolving, especially tablets, laptops and smartphones. Tech expert and Today show contributor, Mario Armstrong joined me recently to dish on his favorite two-in-one notebook for students of all ages, new wearable tech for young children, fun iPhone cases and headphones for kids who love Disney (and their parents too!), a must have affordable smartphone that runs Windows 8.1, the GrooveBook app (as seen on “Shark Tank”) and much more!
Candace Rose: What’s your favorite new notebook?
Mario Armstrong: “I get a lot of questions from parents that are like ‘What do I buy? Do I get a tablet? Do I get a notebook?’ I say get the best of both worlds if you can. I have an Acer Aspire Switch 10, it’s a two-in-one device. You see the full keyboard here (please see video above for details) but it’s also a tablet. You can pop the screen right off and use it as a tablet, which is great. Not only that, it has four different modes that you can switch it into. It’s very easy to do that, you can turn it into tent mode or display mode. You can use it as a notebook or a tablet. It’s very easy, portable and flexible. It’s $379 for this at Best Buy, that’s really inexpensive compared to a lot of other products on the market. It has Windows 8.1 inside it as well. It’s really great and lightweight, so it’s going to be easy to carry across campus or from classroom to classroom.”
Candace Rose: Can you tell us about new wearable tech products for little kids?
Mario Armstrong: “Yes, because adults have wearable tech, but the kids are like ‘I want a cool smartwatch.’ VTech has come out with the Kidizoom smartwatch. You’ve got to remember, VTech is a company that does educational products and fun products for kids, so they created a smartwatch that enables kids to be able to do all kinds of fun things like take pictures and video, but you can also record audio and all kinds of fun stuff. You can also download apps and games and educational things on the device. It has a big and easy to use color touchscreen. It’s super durable too. I’ve been wearing this all morning, they look great and I’ve been having a lot of fun playing around with it as well. There’s parental controls on it as well that parents will also like.”
Candace Rose: What’s the latest in headsets and phone cases for the younger set?
Mario Armstrong: “For the younger set – a lot of the older adults and older kids have a lot of stuff to choose from, but the younger kids don’t have so much, so I have some iPhone cases that are inspired by Disney, Pixar, ‘Star Wars’, and Marvel, and all of these can be found at DisneyStores.com or at the physical Disney Store. I love my favorite little R2-D2 iPhone case. These are under 20 bucks. And then for the headphones, Disney also has great headphones that are coming from different characters, and the big thing I love about these headphones is not only are they inexpensive at under 20 bucks, but they are also designed to protect young ears. It’s sound limiting or volume limiting, so you don’t have to worry about kids blasting their ears. Check out DisneyStore.com for lot lots of great fun, they’ll look cool and they’ll feel like they’re having a ball.”
Candace Rose: Are there any other must haves that parents and students need to know about?
Mario Armstrong: “Yes, absolutely. I have three quick things that I want to share with you.
One is if you’re in the market to buy yourself a phone or a student a phone, look for inexpensive smartphones that can really get the job done, that can keep them connected, but also give them a great operating system with a lot of apps. The Lumia 635 is a great choice. This thing is as inexpensive as ninety nine bucks with a pay as you go program. There are different plans for different services. Check out your favorite service to see what the price is for you, but the Lumia 635 – beautiful colors, Windows phone 8.1 is inside this with the operating system – tons of apps, so they can get a lot of work as well as fun done on that phone.
And then I get a lot of questions about which computer or tablet to buy. Often I’ll make a recommendation like the Acer, but I often will say ‘Look, it’s not just the manufacturing model, you need to make sure it has Intel processor inside of it. The Intel processing is really the strong engine that boots it up quickly, saves the battery life on it, helps it perform better when you’re switching between apps or if you’re doing something heavy with video. All of that stuff helps it process a lot faster, so you don’t want a device that wants to lag. Make sure you buy one that has Intel inside is critical.
Last but not least, we take a lot of photos when we head back to school for that first day, or whether we’re just hanging out throughout the semester or graduations. We take a lot of photos on our phones, but we never end up seeming to get those photos printed out from our phone. I have a great app that’s called GrooveBook, I love this app. The GrooveBook app is a $2.99 monthly subscription fee, so every month you pay 2.99, but they will send you up to 100 photos that you select from your phone’s camera and they will ship you your very own GrooveBook. It’s a photo album that’s shipped to you, it’s paid shipping and handling so there’s nothing extra there and when you get it, you can keep it in the book form or if you want you can actually remove prints out of the book and you can frame them or share them with family and friends. The key is every month you get to select from your camera roll up to 100 photos that they will ship to you in a book every single month for you to pass around. I think it’s a great way to capture all those back to school fun memories.”
Candace Rose: Absolutely. I saw them (GrooveBook) on “Shark Tank” and I fell in love…so that’s awesome!
Mario Armstrong: “It’s done really, really well. It works phenomenally well. I’ve done it and sent books as gifts to other family members, so there’s a lot of flexibility with the app, too.”
Candace Rose: Do you have any additional tips or information you’d like to share with us?
Mario Armstrong: “I think the big thing is don’t spend technology just for the sake of spending technology. Really understand who you’re buying something for – if they’re struggling in math or if they’re struggling in English, find out what their courses are going to be that year. Make sure that you’re buying technology that’s really going to help them be productive or help compliment their learning.
For more they can always go to ThunkNews.com/BacktoSchool to learn everything I talked about today.”