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Tech-Savvy Gifts For Dads And Grads

(NAPSI)—All dads and grads want to have the coolest gadgets, but shopping for tech can be intimidating, with new innovations released every day. Here’s a quick guide to some of the latest and most essential tech on the market.

Powerful Beats

With the digital music revolution, computers are becoming stereos, and everyone needs a killer sound system. HP and Interscope collaborated to re-engineer and enhance the PC audio experience, resulting in Beats Audio. This unique, high-performance audio solution, developed by HP and Beats™ by Dr. Dre™, offers users the optimal sound experience—the way the artist intended it. Beats Audio technology is available on HP computers, including the ENVY 14 laptop and all-in-one TouchSmart 610 desktop.

Beats Audio isn’t just for music. Dads and grads can take advantage of the premium audio while watching movies and gaming. The ENVY 14 is the perfect size for viewing an action flick when traveling, and the TouchSmart 610 hooks up to an Xbox or PlayStation for dynamic sound while gaming. Throw in a DVD of “True Grit” or the new “Green Lantern” video game for the ultimate gift package.

Computer Cooling

One of the most common complaints about laptops is that they get too warm, and no one wants a hot lap. HP solves the issue with its exclusive CoolSense Technology, which automatically adjusts a computer’s temperature according to the surface it’s on. With a built-in sensor, CoolSense detects when a laptop is on a user’s lap and starts to automatically cool down the machine. CoolSense technology is featured on HP laptops such as the Pavilion dm1 and ENVY 14.

Wi-Fi Mice

Wireless computer mice alleviated the need for pesky, tangled cords, but technology has gone one step further, eliminating the need for even a USB dongle. An industry first, the HP Wi-Fi Mobile Mouse connects directly to a computer’s Wi-Fi receiver in an easy, one-time installation. Busy students and hardworking dads no longer have to worry about leaving their dongle connection at home or using up their USB ports quickly. This mouse also offers distance and longevity, usable from up to 30 feet away and with a battery life of nine months.

For More Information

To learn more about cool tech gadgets, go to www.hp.com.

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Humans Are Visual Beings—Technology Can Help

(NAPSI)—Most people experience life visually. From primitive cave paintings, through Egyptian hieroglyphics and Chinese ideograms, to the charts and photos and design elements we use to communicate with each other today, humans tend to create, record, share and experience life through visuals.

That may be why, according to a recent global study by Harris Interactive, most American, German, Chinese, South Korean and Indian adults create, document, share, view and live their lives through pictures, videos, stories, online posts, online communities, blogs, art, entertainment, e-mails and letters—and computers can be a big part of that visual world.

The survey also discovered:

• In the U.S., 75 percent of adults who watch movies view most of them on TV (including via video/DVDs, rentals or subscription services or cable/satellite providers), while 10 percent watch the majority of the movies they see at the cinema, and 7 percent view movies mostly on their computers.

• Sixty-eight percent of American adults who have visual experiences say photos of family and friends (posted online and physical photos) are the most integral element, more likely than adults in the other countries.

• Most American adults said capturing a memory is the most important reason to share visual experiences.

To enable, power and enrich the way you can see, share and live with your computer, Intel has created its second-generation Core processor that offers better overall power management and greater efficiency and battery life in the areas where most people are computing today: high-definition (HD) video, photos, mainstream gaming, multitasking and online socializing and multimedia. With Intel Wireless Display technology, by simply connecting your laptop to your TV wirelessly, you can now enjoy all your personal and online content on your big screen with great image clarity and sound.

You can even immerse yourself with full HD stereo 3-D viewing right on your PC and get awesome performance for mainstream gaming with no extra hardware needed.

You can learn more at www.intel.com/visuallife.

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A Smartphone Can Be A Smart Way To Get Organized

(NAPSI)—Any time of year can be the right time to take a self-inventory and identify changes we would like to make.

For some, it’s embracing a healthier diet; for others, it’s a new workout routine or balancing their checkbook. The good news is that with the latest smartphone technology, chances are there really is an app for that—and possibly even on a 4G system.

Since 4G can be up to 10 times faster than 3G, the apps that really take advantage of 4G capability include those that are data intensive, such as video chat, live streaming video, and music and gaming.

Here are some useful applications that are easy to download and are designed to help you meet five common goals. Remember, some apps are designed to be used on certain phones and not others.

Manage Your Money

• Mint.com Personal Finance: An easy way to manage money on the go, this Android app lets users see all their accounts in one place—all for free.

• Sprint Mobile Wallet: This app gives users an easy, secure way to buy physical and digital products using their Sprint phone. Customers use a universal PIN to make purchases easily using their Visa, MasterCard and Amazon Payments accounts at participating online merchants, right on their phone. Sprint Mobile Wallet is available to download through Sprint Zone on most Sprint phones.

Get Fit

Whether hitting the gym or pounding the pavement, these Android apps are designed to help you get active and get in shape.

• CardioTrainer: Whether they choose to break a sweat indoors or outdoors, users can take advantage of this app to track walking, running, biking and other activities. It features a pedometer, calorie counter, music player, schedule and reminders and more. Users can also set up and follow a two-month fitness routine, and even stake some money to be donated to charity if they don’t meet their goal. It’s available for Android phones.

• Instant Heart Rate: By placing their finger gently over the camera lens and holding it steady for 10 seconds, users can see their heart rate and keep track of how well that workout is working no matter where they are.

Get Organized

Save time and keep organized on the go with Sprint phones such as HTC EVO 4G, Samsung Epic 4G and BlackBerry Style. These phones can regularly sync contacts, calendar and e-mail with the user’s business and personal accounts. Downloadable apps for Sprint phones provide additional organization features:

• Astrid Task/To-do List: This to-do list/task manager is designed to help users get stuff done. It features reminders, tags, sync, a widget and more.

• Springpad: Users can save the things they want to remember with this app, including notes, tasks, lists, wines and recipes. Users can scan barcodes, take photos and search nearby places. The app automatically organizes and enhances what users save with useful links and relevant news and offers and then syncs with springpadit.com for universal access. Available for Android and BlackBerry smartphones and through GetJar for basic phones.

Keep in Touch

These days, there are more ways than ever to keep in touch with loved ones, no matter how much distance separates them. Of course, there’s text messaging, picture mail and social networking on Sprint phones. For anyone who’s already a pro at those, there’s now a whole new option: video chat.

In fact, in a recent survey of well-known movie, TV and sports stars, Sprint found that many celebrities are looking forward to using video chat to keep in touch with friends and family. For example, Vanessa Williams, currently starring in ABC’s “Desperate Housewives,” said clear and reliable video chat “would be an awesome feature for a cell device!” and expressed a desire to mobile chat with her “daughter in college to stay connected at any given time.” Amanda Beard, Olympic champion swimmer, said, “If I could video chat with anyone in my phone, it would be my son. I really get sad when I have to leave him even for a day, so it would be nice for him to see me and I him.”

There are two programs available for the HTC EVO 4G and the Samsung Epic:

• Fring: This app allows free two-way video calling over 3G, 4G and Wi-Fi.

• Qik: Users can see and hear each other with two-way live video chats over 3G, 4G and Wi-Fi, plus record and share videos with friends, family and social networks with this app. All videos are stored to the users’ account at qik.com.

Go Green

• Wireless Recycling: When you purchase or upgrade to a new device, remember to responsibly recycle old/unused wireless devices through a trusted take-back program.

To learn more, go to www.sprint.com/responsibility or follow @SprintGreenNews on Twitter.

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Shopping For A Home On Your Phone

 

(NAPSI)—With more than 90 percent of people born between 1981 and 1999 consistently using the Internet, 75 percent having a presence on social media channels and 83 percent keeping their mobile phones by their sides, it should come as no surprise that all this mobile and social activity is influencing the real estate industry.

Last year, the largest share of homebuyers were between the ages of 25 and 34. Many of these younger, tech-savvy homebuyers have the power to alter the nature of real estate.

In the past, people looking to buy a home would schedule an in-person meeting with a real estate professional who had been recommended by a friend or family member. Today, with the rapidly growing popularity of both social and mobile activities, those recommendations are happening in real time and on the go.

One of the biggest game changers has been the popularity of social networking sites. Social media is helping real estate professionals communicate with younger buyers.

While the majority of homebuyers begin their search online, an increasing number are doing so while on the go. The growing adoption of smartphones is making a huge impact because, according to RISMedia, a leading source for real estate industry news, between 15 and 17 percent of all website traffic now comes from mobile devices. As a result, many real estate companies are developing apps, such as the Century 21 mobile app, where homebuyers and sellers will find more than 3 million property listings at their fingertips.

Prefer to begin your search through social media or mobile phones? Here are some helpful tools:

• Learn more about the process of buying or selling a home—From determining your credit score to your ideal monthly mortgage payment, visit century21.com for a crash course on all aspects of the buying or selling experience.

• Connect with a real estate expert in your market—Following agents on their Facebook and Twitter pages gives you regular access to their tips and expertise to help you make an educated decision.

• Take a virtual tour—Many Realtors provide virtual tours of homes. Checking out a home online can help make the most efficient use of your time when you enlist the help of a real estate professional.

• Take your search wherever you go—Free mobile apps keep you updated on listings and allow you to find real estate agents.

For more information, visit www.facebook.com/century21, or to find an agent or begin your property search, go to century21.com.

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Choosing A Startup Or Small-Business Phone System

(NAPSI)—If the thought of saving time, trouble and money on your company’s phone service rings the bell for you, technology may bring you good news.

You can act, sound and function more like a future Fortune 500 business using the equipment you have—better.

How To Do It

For one thing, you can wed your phone system to software that helps you care for customers and empower your sales team. It can also provide sophisticated auto attendant on-hold music or messaging, record a call on demand and send you your voice mails transcribed in an e-mail.

How It Works

That’s because cloud computing can eliminate hardware and its headaches. The cloud is simply computers connected through the Internet or an intranet with the ability to reach out and retrieve data processed elsewhere by supercomputers. It’s now possible to add business voice service to the cloud—especially when it’s fine-tuned for quality and ease of use. It’s even possible to create different greetings according to the time of day and the day of week.

It works through “VoIP,” which stands for “Voice over Internet Protocol.” In other words, your phone system works over the Internet rather than over traditional phone lines.

What You Get

Other features include:

• Reports for all incoming and outgoing calls in the system

• The ability to literally link dozens of phones in dozens of places

• A dashboard that shows real-time status of co-workers

• Integration with Outlook or other calendaring

• A dial-by-name directory

• Command and control functionality from your smartphone

• You pick your phones, then plug and play with confidence.

What Others Say

In a recent Microsoft survey, 50 percent of small businesses using the cloud say it improved their bottom line.

It’s all available, without a contract, from Vocalocity.

What Else To Do

Other technologies to consider, say the experts at the U.S. Small Business Administration, include:

• Accounting software. It lets you see profits and losses at a glance and can help you design and maintain a budget.

• A calendar system

• Time-tracking software. It can help you determine which tasks result in profit and which don’t.

• E-mail management. Streamlining all your e-mails to one account can help you stay organized.

Free Information And Advice

You can learn more and get a free quote at www.vocalocity.com or call 877-VOCALOCITY.

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Be Well “Liked” On Social Media

(NAPSI)—Face it, the more your business is visited on Facebook and other social media, the better off your bottom line is likely to be.

For small businesses and organizations that wonder how to grow both their number of Facebook fans and their e-mail list, a pet food manufacturer that’s passionate about making dog food and treats that are healthy and fun can be a great example.

The company, Dingo, offered customers a coupon if they both liked the Dingo Facebook page and joined the company’s mailing list. To make it easy for fans to sign up without having to leave Facebook, Dingo added Constant Contact’s Join My Mailing List application to its Facebook page.

The company took it a step further by making the deal contingent on its Facebook page getting 5,000 “likes.” By adding the goal, the dog food company encouraged coupon seekers to tell their friends and share the deal with their own social connections. Once the 5,000 number was reached, the coupon would be e-mailed to customers.

The program worked fantastically. The Facebook Page went from a mere 330 “Likes” to well over 5,000 in just three days, with roughly half of that number attributed to new customers.

People are visiting the Facebook Page for more than the one coupon. The company offers other coupons and deals on both Facebook and in e-mails, a tactic that keeps fans checking in and making purchases regularly.

Other steps Constant Contact recommends for social media include:

• In all your e-mails, add links to each of your social media profiles.

• On Twitter, promote your list by teasing your pending campaign and adding a link to your e-mail sign-up form.

• Link to an archived copy of your newsletter.

For more information on how you may be able to better leverage social media and e-mail marketing in your business, visit www.constantcontact.com/socialmedia or call (866) 876-8464.

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Postal Services Are Closer Than You Think

(NAPSI)—Everyone recognizes a Post Office. There is often a flagpole and a blue collection box out front. But many people still don’t know that you don’t have to go to a Post Office to get postal services.

There are lots of Post Offices—about 32,000. But there are even more other places to get U.S. Postal Service stamps, products and shipping services-more than twice as many. Altogether, there are over 100,000 locations—banks, ATMs, grocery stores, drugstores and other retailers. Service may be closer than you think. There is no need for a special trip to the Post Office. Many are open in the evening and on the weekend.

“We’re teaming up with hundreds of new stores so customers can do postal business at places where they already shop,” explains Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe. “Americans have more to do and less time to do it. We know simpler is better—online, on your mobile device, on your way, with an expertise that you can count on.”

You can use your mobile device. The U.S. Postal Service has one of the top 10 free business applications, on Apple’s iPhone and iPod touch mobile devices, that lets customers track packages, locate Post Offices and calculate postage prices anywhere. A new Android app has also just come out.

You can also shop online at www.usps.com, print postage from your computer, and your letter carrier will pick up packages at your home or office without extra charge.

Adds Donahoe, “We’re everywhere so you can be anywhere.”

To find the nearest U.S. Postal Service retail location go to www.uspseverywhere.com and type in the ZIP Code or city and state.

Look for the USPS logo at local retailers and save yourself an extra trip to the Post Office.

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Nothing Says Spring-Cleaning Like An Inbox Intervention

(NAPSI)—Each spring, millions of Americans turn their attention to tackling the big job of annual spring-cleaning at home, but most people overlook another important aspect that could use a deep clean: their online lives. From your PC to your email inbox, Americans admit cleaning out their inbox ranks among their top three most dreaded chores, alongside scrubbing the toilet and cleaning out the litter box. With frequent emails of social networking updates, newsletters, shipping updates, coupons and more, many Americans could benefit from an inbox intervention to regain control and restore order to their digital lives.

According to research from Windows Live Hotmail that examined inboxes across all email providers, the average American juggles three email accounts, with an average of 200 unread emails. Nearly 60 percent of people say that the volume of spam and junk mail they receive is a problem, and 70 percent of people actually feel they are missing emails because of the clutter.

The survey also found that despite feeling overwhelmed, Americans also seem to think they might actually read all that mail someday, as 56 percent of people admitted to holding on to emails for three weeks or longer, and of that, 31 percent admit to a year or more. Three million Americans suffer from hoarding but 20 times as many people are email hoarders. Dr. Robin Zasio, hoarding expert and star of the television series “Hoarders,” says that whether physical or digital in nature, clutter can be stressful and actually decrease productivity and happiness.

“Most people don’t hang on to an advertising flyer that arrived in the mail three months ago, let alone a few years ago,” says Dr. Zasio. “Surprisingly, one in five Americans admit to email hoarding and letting their emails pile up.”

Whether survey respondents have the habit of hoarding or the urge to purge, an overwhelming 80 percent of people want to have a more efficient email experience. Dr. Zasio recommends the following tips and advice, with the help of a few Hotmail tools, to give your inbox a thorough sweep this spring-cleaning season.

• Consolidate and Create Folders: Juggling several email accounts and don’t know how to keep them all organized? Hotmail lets you consolidate all your email accounts to one email hub so you can quickly search and organize conversations. Group similar messages in folders, file messages that you need to keep or reference at a later date and quickly get to the email you care about most.

• Sweep! Hotmail offers a feature called the Sweep button to help you sweep away mail to help you manage your email clutter. One click of the button and it will not only sweep out all chosen mail in your inbox, it will sweep all future mails, too. Sweep newsletters into an assigned folder, sweep junk mail into the deleted folder. And because we all know it’s easy for unwanted email to creep back into your inbox after you’ve deleted it, the Sweep feature lets you forever say good-bye to emails from unwanted senders with one click.

• Manage inbox clutter with conversation view: Create a system of organization and say bye-bye to missing email conversations. With Hotmail you can condense several email conversations into one view for easy-to-follow dialogue with friends and family. You can also arrange email by date or individual.

• Schedule uninterrupted organization time and don’t procrastinate: Procrastination can hinder your inbox’s organization. Take time to respond, file or delete email as it arrives. The longer you wait, the more it piles up and becomes a bigger problem. With so many distractions, it’s important to establish a time each day to process mail and ensure a clean and organized inbox. Turn off all distractions, such as Facebook or Twitter, and before you know it, the discipline becomes habit.

For more information, visit www.facebook.com/hotmail.

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