Do’s and Don’ts for Back to School Gadgets

Back to school has gotten a lot more complicated over the last decade. Gone are the days of buying a few notebooks and some pencils. Now we’re in the era of big-ticket gadgets in the classroom, and parents have to foot the bill. If you’re going after high-tech gadgets for your kids in the classroom, make sure to follow these simple Do’s and Don’ts. They’ll save you money, help you to buy better gear and they’ll even allow you to save a bit of your precious sanity – not bad for some simple and easy to follow tips, right?

DO Check With Your Child’s School

Apple Macbook Pro 15" Retina

Apple Macbook Pro 15″ Retina with “Splatter” MightySkin and matching wallpaper.

If your child’s school has a technology policy, it’s probably there for a good reason. Certain programs don’t work with certain gadgets, so check to see exactly what the school plans on using. You should also see if your school has policies banning certain products – it’s less likely, but still something of which you should be aware. Checking to see if your school has a technology policy should always be your first stop when gadget shopping. You wouldn’t want to find out that your son or daughter’s brand new Apple Macbook Pro isn’t allowed on campus!

DON’T Avoid Name Brands

In most areas of life, avoiding name brands is a good way to save money. When it comes to gadgets, though, there is usually a reason why certain brands dominate the field. Do not get an off-brand gadget because you never really know how it’s going to hold up. For every hidden gem there are a dozen duds, and you don’t want your child to be the only kid in class without a working gadget. In this case, it’s probably better to stick to what everyone else is buying – you’ll end up paying more in the long run if you buy something that doesn’t work.

Samung Galaxy S6 Active Smartphone with Teal Marble skin and wallpaper.

Samsung Galaxy S6 Active Smartphone with “Teal Marble” MightySkin and matching wallpaper.

DO Buy Rugged Gear

If you’re buying gadgets for children (or for college students) look at products designed for rugged usage. Military-grade cases and shock-proof accessories are golden, because you don’t want to know what goes on in most backpacks. Don’t be afraid of paying a little bit more if that means your gadgets will stay safe, because you don’t want to deal with repair bills. Think of any extra money you spend on rugged gear – such as the Samsung Galaxy S6 Active Smartphone – as insurance against the usual antics of your child. At the very least, it should help you to avoid at least a few tears.

DON’T Buy “Flavor of the Month” Items

Certain items are incredibly cool for students. They’ve got all the bells and whistles, they have the best commercials, and they’ve probably been featured in a few movies. Avoid these products like the plague if they’ve been in use for years, though, because they’re not likely to last longer than a month or two. Fad tech items are always a bad idea because the technology behind them doesn’t tend to be overly sound. Buy something that’s tested and true even if your kids complain – they’ll be happier when it still works at the end of the semester.

DO Look for Back to School Sales

If you’re going to buy gadgets, make sure to shop around. Even big box stores will discount some items eventually, and online retailers tend to have great sales during the beginning of the school year. Some of these products are meant to last several years, so saving a little money now can help you to save even more over the long run. It’s always better to pay more when buying a name-brand item on sale than it is to pay less for a knock-off at full retail, so treasure any savings you can find when shopping.

And once you’ve done your research, gotten a great deal on your gadgets, be sure to personalize them with MightySkins so they can stand out in a crowd — Just like your kids!

Capturing the Fourth of July

The 4th of July is a cherished tradition in America. Every summer, people gather all over the country to mark the anniversary of the day the Declaration of Independence was signed and America was born. It’s a birthday party that everyone attends for the country, which will turn 240 years old this year.

It’s never been easier to capture photos of big events like the 4th of July. Everyone’s got a phone in their pocket now or at the very least a small camera they can take everywhere. What does this mean? It means that you’re just a click away from remembering your favorite moments of the day!

I’ve put together a list of cameras that will help you capture great photos of Independence Day, all that will fit into your pocket or a bag. Each product has its own benefits, so if you’re looking for a new device that is known for great photography, read on.

GoPro Hero4 Silver Edition

GoPro Hero4 silver edition

You’ve probably heard of GoPro cameras — they’re the small cameras that adventurers and professional photographers use to get amazing shots outdoors. These are some of the best cameras to get underwater shots and come in handy for shooting spectacles like fireworks.

The GoPro Hero4 Silver Edition is a newer generation camera that has a few interesting features. First, it can record 4K video, which is high-resolution, meaning that you will be able to record every moment of the 4th of July and see all the little details clearly.

Another feature is that for the first time, GoPro has introduced a touchscreen. This screen, which is only one and a half inches in size, allows you to interact with your settings, save and delete photos, fix focus and exposure, and more with just a few touches.

The camera comes in a kit, complete with mounts, waterproof housing and more. The camera is small enough to fit into your pocket and is great for people who love to get interesting angles or want to capture all the action, in real time, from their point of view.

iPhone 6s Plus

iphone 6s plus

This phone has great features, but the most important feature is that this camera has optical image stabilization. This means that it’s now easier to get crisp and clear photos, even if the camera moves a little. That’s great if you’re trying to take photos of fireworks or your friends running around and because it’s a passive feature on the phone, you don’t even have to worry about setting this up.

Other great features include the ability to record 4K video on the camera and the fact that the camera and its gallery now utilize 3D Touch — a feature that allows you to change settings and view the gallery within the camera without ever leaving the app.

It’s a great phone for beginning photographers and people who like the ability to take high-resolution photos and share them instantly to social media.

Samsung Galaxy S7

samsung galaxy s7

The Samsung Galaxy S7 is a marvel of a phone that happens to have one of the best cameras embedded into it. With 12-megapixel photos available in an instant, autofocus for photos taken on the go and bright captures even in the dimmest of places, the Galaxy S7 is in a class of its own.

What sets this camera apart from others that you see in smartphones is the ability to enable preview mode, which allows you to instantly delete or share your captures right from the app. Now your friends can see what you’re up to on the 4th of July in the moment, with no need to switch in between apps.

This is a camera that lends itself to the moment, ensuring that every photo you take with it is clear, in focus, and lit with just the right amount of exposure.

Photography Tips and Tricks

Now that we’ve covered some of the most mobile and easy-to-use cameras, let’s move on to some tips and tricks for capturing the best moments of your 4th of July. Don’t worry, these are tips you can use to make any photo better, no matter what type of camera you’re using, so be sure to keep them in mind during the holiday.

Don’t Use Flash

We all know that flash is a good way to get enough light in your shot, but the truth is that many flashes on cameras are simply too bright and too harsh of a light to do your photos any justice.

So what do we suggest? Try foregoing the flash and use available light. It’s a scary proposition, we know, especially if you’re shooting outdoors, but try it. With the lights from the fireworks and all the other lighting that’s around you, you’ll get a better picture without the flash.

If you’re still worried about exposure, many cameras have an auto-exposure feature that allows you to choose your level without using flash. Check your camera’s instruction manual to see how to enable auto-exposure.

Composition and Focus are Key

So we all know a good picture when we see it, but did you know there’s a secret on how to do it? The secret is — wait for it — composition and focus. Pretty simple, right?

The trick is to make sure your subject — whatever it is, whether it be a person or an object, like fireworks — is always in focus and in a place within the frame so that a viewer can clearly see it. That’s called composition, and there are hundreds of videos on Youtube on how to get the right composition.

Focus is also important. You don’t want to create a photo where your friends aren’t in focus, even though they’re your subject, right? Right. So enable focus on your camera — many have a setting just for this — and keep them clear in the frame. Trust us, your friends will thank you for this.

Shoot for Long Exposure

A pretty cool trick to use for the 4th of July is to shoot long exposure photos. The term “long exposure” means that the camera stays open longer to let more light in, resulting in an artistic photograph. This is great for taking pictures of fireworks or nighttime barbecues.

So how do you do this with a phone? Well, if you have a smartphone camera, there are apps you can download that can enable this feature on your phone. For regular cameras, there’s plenty of information on the internet on how to do that, so make sure to read up on long exposure photography for your brand of camera on the company’s forums.

The 4th of July is a fun event during the summer for Americans. We tend to go all out for it, and more often than not, we want pictures to remind us of the great fun we had that day. Do yourself a favor and take some time to read up on fun ways to photograph the day! If you have any other tips and tricks on how to shoot the 4th of July, leave them below and send us your best photographs of how you spent Independence Day!

How to Choose the Right Vaporizer

When you first step into the vaporizer world, it all might look too overwhelming, but don’t give up! Vaporizers and everything about them is not as complicated as it looks at first sight, and VapeTrack created this infographic to help anyone struggling with picking best vaporizer for their lifestyle and budget.

You probably heard of different types of vaporizers, like very popular pen vapes or slightly bigger portable vapes. There’s one more kind – desktop vaporizers, which are the biggest. Each of these types of vaporizers offer different versions, for vaping dry herb or oils and liquids. There are two ways of heating said herb or oil, conduction and convection, so you can pick according to your budget and level of knowledge about vaporizers. You can also pick different from different power sources –batteries are most popular, and different temperature settings – fixed, digital control or analog control.

When you learn about all these options, and take your budget in consideration, you are ready to pick your vaporizer. In the infographic VapeTrack suggest their best picks for each type of vaporizer – pen, portable and desktop. Take a look and good luck picking your new vaporizer!

Vaporizer Shopping Guide Infographic

25 Creative Ideas for Customized Skins

Last year, we introduced our new “Create Your Own Skin” tool.  It’s something customers had been requesting for some time, and we were happy to oblige.  You probably have seen skins and cases around with photos of people’s kids or dogs or favorite foods – well, this is how they do that.  But family photos are not the only images you can use to wrap your devices.  Here are 25 creative ideas for images you can use to create a truly unique skin for your phone, laptop, tablet, or vaporizer.

For Parents

1. Your kid’s artwork

Happy Family child's drawing

Love the happy family your 5-year-old drew? Turn it into a skin!

You know those nifty drawings you’re always clipping to the fridge and then cherishing forever?  Run one through a high-quality scanner or take a photo with that fancy new HD camera on your phone to create a file we can make into a skin.

2. Your kid’s team or school logo(s)

Soccer mom or dad? Football family?  Get digital files of your kid’s club team or public school logo (make sure it is not trademarked first).  If your kid plays more than on e sport or you have more than one kid, you can put several images into a collage maker like PicMonkey and show your spirit all day long.

3. Photo collage

Speaking of PicMonkey, why just have one photo of your family?  Look through your Facebook page or iCloud photos and find some shots of the family in action.  Then throw them into a collage maker (BeFunky even lets you add effects) and be reminded of the memories of that vacation to Maui and the visit with Grandma, instead of that time you spent 3 hours in a studio while a photographer talked to you like you were children.

For Entrepreneurs

Mighty Skins Products

Proud of your product? Display it on your device with a custom photo skin!

4. Company Logo
A phone or laptop skin with a company logo can be a great little gift to welcome a new employee.  You can also use customized company logo skins to distinguish company devices from personal ones.

5. Product images

If you have a business that sells something beautiful, like jewelry or even custom furniture, use your professional proprietary photos to make the back of your laptop a display case that you can carry with you.

For Everyone

6. Fancy up your photos

Use online photo editors like fotor or pizap to give your photos some original pizzazz, add a a border, or make a meme to create your custom skin.

7. Quotes/ Motivational sayings

Use quote makers like  or pixteller or recite.com to turn your favorite quote into a unique skin-able image.
Online Quote Maker image

8. Old Maps

The U.S. The Library of Congress  has made many of its maps available as digital files.  Though not all of the collections are in the public domain, if you like the look of old maps, you’re likely to find something that we can use to make you a skin.  Generally, works published before 1923 or created by U.S. Government offices are in the public domain and fair game.  Cornell has produced a pretty helpful guide to copyright and public domain.

9. Public domain vintage photos

Google “public domain photos”, or just go to a site like public domain archive, and find a photo that speaks to you.

10. Vintage drawings

There are several great sites for finding old photos and prints that are now in the public domain.  Vintage Printable and the British Library’s flickr page are some great places to score cool and unique images that are free to use.

Guide to London cover image_British Museum_public domain

Vintage images in the public domain proivde millions of potential subjects for a totally unique skin.

11. NASA photos

Into space?  Check out the NASA  image gallery. As a government agency, NASA generally does not copyright the images it produces, so as long as there are no astronauts or NASA logos in the photos, they can be used to personalize your gear.

12. Photograph interesting textures

Newer smartphones have awesome image resolution.  Take advantage of the detail to photograph interesting textures (cobblestones, an interesting knit, the highlights in your girlfriend’s hair) up close.

13. Nostalgic patterns

Love that old wallpaper in your grandma’s kitchen or the weird tile pattern in the bathroom at your family home?  Take a picture and bring it with you everywhere.  It’s like carrying a batch of fresh-baked cookies in your pocket, only without the calories!

14. Monogram

You’ve heard of monogrammed towels and luggage.  Why not monogram your devices?  You can use sites like flamingtext.com to easily generate a unique monogram in a downloadable file that you can send on over to us.

15.  Band logo

Trying to make a name for your band?  Why not get skins for your equipment that display your band’s logo.  You can even get a bunch of them for band members and fans.

16. Public transit map

Anyone who lives in the big city knows how helpful it is to have an easily accessible map of the public transportation system on hand.  Instead of trying to access it online in the subway tunnel (good luck), why not send us the image and stick it on your phone or e-reader.  That way it’s always available when you need it.

CTA map

Get around on public transit? Why not put the rail map on the back of your tablet for easy access?

17. Caricatures

Have a caricature artist (or someone you know) draw you or your loved one (or both together!) and get their permission to use the image for your device skin.  Then scan it and send it to us to really personalize your devices (and make it easier for people to return them when you leave them lying around.

18. DIY showcase

Into arts and crafts?  Get double the fun from your latest project by photographing it and turning into a skin.

19. Photograph nature

Everyone should have a favorite outdoor space.  Why not carry your happy place with you?  Just take some photoes next time you’re there, choose the best one or  make a collage from several, and send it on over.

20. Original Art

Are you a visual artist yourself?  Send a digital image of one of your pieces and make your device a showcase.  Or, better, yet, contact us to talk about large quantity orders – open up a whole new revenue stream and get your art out there!

Just for Fun

21. Screen shot trick

Make the back of your phone look like the front of your phone – take screen shot and send us the image and we’ll make a custom skin out of it.

22. Face photo trick

Have a friend take a photo of the side of your face (with your ear) and adjust the image to scale.  Then, the back of your phone will blend in to the side of your face.  Like an invisibility cloak!

23. Escape artist

Instead of the photo of your kids sitting in a photo studio, get one of them trying to climb out of a device-shaped window or doorway, then crop it so your skin will make it look like tiny people are climbing out of your phone.

24. Paired skins

Use your favorite photo app or software to split a photo in half.  Use one half for one skin and the other half for the other.  This makes a cute couples gift for anniversaries, but can also be a cool effect for things that naturally come in pairs like game controllers.

25. Special events

Custom skins make great party favors.  Get your bridesmaids personalized “Bridesmaid” and “Maid of Honor” skins – it will help your bridal party keep track of their phones while they’re running around taking care of you and show you thought of them specially.  Our skins remove easily and with no mess, so when the event is over, their phones can go back to normal.

However you choose to customize your device, make sure that the images you send fit the following qualifications:

  • Maximum File Size: 10MB
  • File Types Accepted: JPG, PDF, TIFF, PNG, AI, EPS
  • Resolution of 300 dpi
  • Minimum image size of 1200 x 1200

NO COPYRIGHTED IMAGES: We can’t reproduce copyrighted material like logos, TV and film stills, or artwork that is not in the public domain (unless, of curse, you are the artist and give us permission).  We understand the appeal, but it’s just not legal.

Other than that, go crazy!  We can’t wait to see what you come up with!

Don’t Get Pinched, Get Engaged this St. Patrick’s Day!

samsung galaxy s6 edge irish flag skinshamrock

Why Do We Wear Green?

We all know the rule of March 17: wear green or risk getting pinched.  (Maybe you’re into that, we’re not judging.)  But do you know why we wear green on St Patrick’s Day?  The habit started back in Ye Olde Ireland, when shamrocks and kelly green ribbons marked the celebration of the patron saint of Ireland, Saint Patrick.  Immigrants carried the tradition of Saint Patrick to the United States, along with the tale that wearing green makes you invisible to little leprechauns.  If you are wearing green, the spry woodland creatures cannot see you and therefore cannot pinch you.  But skip the green, and they will sneak up and pinch you!  (This makes more sense after a few pints of Guinness, we assume.)

How to Wear Green: With Mighty Skins!

Who says wearing green has to be limited to clothes?  At only $9 to $12 each, you can choose any of these cool green skins for your never-leave-home-without-it phone, e-cig, or vape, and then switch to a new color scheme the next day, after your hangover wears off.

iphone 6s plus green skinCloupor Cana DNA 30 green flame skiniphone 6s plus green camo skinGoPro Hero 3 Green Eye skiniphone 6s plus green floral skinHana ModzV3 DNA 40 green floral skin

If none of these strike your fancy, check out the full selection of skins for phonese-cigs and vapes, and other stuff.

Saint Patrick, Love, and Leap Year

So wait, what is this about Saint Patrick and getting married?  Turns out old Saint Patrick was an equal opportunity romantic.  An Irish nun named Saint Bridget had lamented to Saint Patrick that the lovely Irish lasses were having to wait far too long for their loves to propose.  So Saint Patrick decreed that the tables would turn every Leap Year, and women could propose to their suitors.  This year is a Leap Year, so now is your chance to celebrate this little-known tradition.  And ladies, while MightySkins does not carry a line of wedding rings, may we suggest that any of our custom skins and wraps would make for a fine engagement gift?

Fit Bit Charge kisses skin

 

 

Wrap Up Your Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is less than a month away, and die hard sweetie pies are starting to think about what to do for their dearest loves. In anticipation of the Love Day spending frenzy, Blue Fountain Media made a little infographic about what folks are planning to buy and spend. We were surprised to note that smartphones beat out the traditional flowers and chocolates on the V-Day wish list.
Blue Fountain Media Valentine's Day infographic

 

If you’re looking for a way to romantic-up your sweetie’s new phone (or tablet or smartwatch, if you’re feeling adventurous), we’ve got you covered.

Smartphone Valentine's Day Skins

Hoverboards (and their riders) Hit the Ground

One of the most popular Christmas gift this year was the long-anticipated and much-coveted hoverboard. Retailers like Target, Wal-Mart, and ToysRUs had trouble keeping them in stock in the weeks leading up to Christmas (Wal-Mart didn’t manage it) and social media has been rich in the days following the holidays with video of proud new hoverboard owners showing off their new toys. And then promptly falling off of them.

From celebrity athletes

Mike Tyson falls off a hoverboard

Darth Vader hoverboard

to the agile young

Young hoverboarder

 

Hoverboard handstand

proud new hoverboarders are having trouble staying on board.

Of course, there are those out there who seem to have mastered the gadget.

Hoverboard boogie

News station hoverboard serenade

hoverboard 3 pointer

Boombox hoverboard skinIt seems that hoverboards, like skateboards before them, take some getting used to. In the meantime, a helmet and wrist guards are probably a good idea. And a cool-looking hoverboard skin to mitigate less-than-cool, but probably inevitable, tumble. Plus, with an attractive skin, your hoverboard will at least make a nice decoration while you’re waiting for your cast to come off. And not to worry, our skins are custom cut to fit the board, so those all-important foot grips will remain grippy.

All the Smartwatches 2015

Everyone knows this has been the year of the wearables.  From IFA to the fashion world, everyone is getting on board this train.  Whether you’re looking for a wrist-wearable replacement for your phone or a classic timepiece with a little something extra, today’s wearables market can provide.  But now, how to choose?

There are literally hundreds of smartwatches, smart jewelry, and fitness trackers out there, all with different features and capabilities.  To help you out, we gathered up all the information we could find on all the smartwatches we could find and put it into this handy chart.  Starting at the top with the $2,300 Kairos SSW with a connected T-band, the watches listed get more affordable as you move toward the bottom, where you’ll find several options for less than $100.  We’ve only included wearables that fit into the category of “smartwatch”  meaning they can provide at least basic smartphone-related communications (text and call alerts, calendar alerts) and can tell you the time.  For other functions, check out the key at the bottom to find your favorite features or just find your price range and choose the one with the most.  Of course, some of this information can be hard to find and different sources sometimes say different things, but we think this will give you a great place to start in your quest for the perfect smartwatch.

Smartwatches 2015 Infographic

Vape Pen Holiday Season Buyer’s Guide for 2015 [Guest Post]

This post was written by our friends at www.paintthemoon.org.

With the end of the year and the holiday season approaching, we wanted to do a round up of the best vaporizer pens out this year. Whether you’re looking for a vape pen as a gift, or just want to buy a new pen for yourself, this list will help you decide on the right one for your scenario.

Who are we to say which vape pens are best, anyway?

We’re vapers.  We’ve been running Paint the Moon since 2012 and have tested just about every pen vaporizer out there (and most portable and desktop units too!). This has given us the opportunity to compare and contrast all of the different units against each other to see which ones really deliver, and which aren’t worth the cash. Also, being actively involved in the vape community, we get a feel for what everyone else out there thinks of the various pens, and we take that into consideration with our reviews as well. So, all of the pens on this list are not only our personal favorites, but most of the vape community would agree that they are some of the best on the market as well. With that being said, yes this is still an opinion piece, and we realize there might be a pen you feel should have made the list that didn’t. If you disagree with something we did or didn’t put in here, that’s perfectly fine. Visit us at www.paintthemoon.org and let us know what you think.

Alright, so let’s get into it.

Source Orb v3 vape pen1. The SOURCE Orb V3

I’ll admit, until late last year we weren’t even familiar with SOURCE. They contacted us one day to review their pen at the time, the Orb V2, and it blew us away. The Orb V2 was the first pen to offer 7 completely different atomizers. Most pens come with 1, and maybe 2, but SOURCE realized that not every vaper is the same, and we all have our own unique preferences, so they took this into consideration and gave us 7 different atomizers to choose from. Not only did the Orb V2 come with a plethora of atomizers, but it performed wonderfully as well. It immediately became our #1 ranked pen in our pen buyer’s guide. Well, a few months ago, SOURCE outdid themselves and released the Orb V3. The main difference with the V3 is it now comes with their brand new Quartz atomizers, which give a flavor unlike any other pen on the market. It’s extremely clean tasting. With the V3, you have 2 kits you can choose from:

  • The Premium Kit – Comes with 7 atomizers including 2 Quartz atomizers. Retails for $79.95 from SOURCE’s website.
  • The Signature Kit – Comes with 8 total atomizers, including 3 different Quartz style atomizers. You also get a nice globe attachment, and the Orb Slim (a smaller, more portable version of the Orb V3). The Signature Kit sells for $129.95.

The Premium Kit should be fine for most people, but if you like glass globe attachments and also like the idea of having a second pen that’s even smaller and more portable, the Signature Kit is a great value. Both can be bought directly from SOURCE’s website. Use the promo code ‘MOON’ and  get 10% off.

Dr. Dabber Ghost vape pen 2. The Dr. Dabber Ghost

The Ghost by Dr. Dabber is another great pen. It comes with titanium coils for a really clean flavor, and one of the stand out features is the slower heat-up time and lower temperature, which gives a nice, even vaporization and smooth flavor. This is different from other pens, which may heat up too fast, leading to that burnt flavor you may have experienced.

Another cool feature is the Ghost has the capability of using different add-ons, such as a glass globe or water attachment. These are sold separately, but will give you a unique experience compared to other pens out there. So if you like vaping through water, this pen is a great choice.

Regarding the battery, expect to get around 200-300 draws per charge. The total recharge time from a completely dead battery is right around 2 hours.

For only $84.95, the Dr. Dabber Ghost is a very solid and affordable pen.

3. The Gentleman’s Ambassador Kit V4.

gentleman's ambassador vape pen kit-v4Gentleman’s Brand has been in the game for a while now, and they consistently produce great units. The Ambassador Kit V4 is no different. This one comes with a variable voltage battery that ranges from 3.2-4.8 volts, so you can dial in the perfect vape experience for you. Do you prefer slower, more even vaporization? Set it to a lower voltage. In a hurry and just need a quick pick-me-up? Set it to the highest voltage and be on your way.

One of the biggest benefits of this unit is the “Mega” atomizer that it comes standard with. The Mega holds over a full gram of concentrate, allowing you to basically load it in the morning before you head out for the day and not have to worry about refilling it while you’re on the go. It also comes with a standard-sized atomizer, so you have the option of using either one. The standard holds around 0.5 grams of material.

As far as battery life goes, you will get around 500 draws according to Gentleman’s website. We haven’t actually counted, but the battery does last a decently long time.

The Ambassador Kit V4 retails for only $79.95, making it a great choice in our opinion. Awesome flavor, long battery life, and the ability to load up to a full gram of material at once; doesn’t get much better than that.

We hope you found our holiday season guide to the top vape pens of 2015 useful. If you want to read our complete pen vaporizer buyer’s guide complete with full reviews and video demonstrations, you can check it out on our site here.

Techstravaganza! IFA and Apple Event 2015

IFA 2015, Europe’s largest tech show, has officially drawn to a close.  Close on its heels, as is the tradition, was the now annual September Apple Event.  We watched the Apple Event live and have been scouring the IFA reports to see what went down, what everyone loved and what flopped.  The verdict?  If last September (or should we call it Techtember?) was all about upping the ante on flagship smartphones (which it was) this year was all about…TVs, apparently.  4K, OLED, Creepily Intuitive, you name it, everyone had a new TV they wanted you to see.  Even Apple wanted you to get with TV.

Here are a couple of the best overviews, for a general rundown of what went on at IFA.

IFA 2015 logoEngadget coverage of IFA 2015

21 IFA 2015 Product reviews from The Verge

TechRadar’s weirdest things from IFA 2015 and IFA favorites

PCMag’s IFA 2015 photoblog 

You can also watch most of the press conferences and keynotes online:

stylized microphone imageApple Event

Sony IFA Press Conference

Philips IFA Presentation

Huawei IFA Press Conference

Samsung Pre-IFA Press Confrence

Microsoft IFA Keynote

Acer IFA PResentation

Lenovo IFA Presentation

Asus at IFA

Intel IFA Keynote

Internet of Things

The TV trend seems to be part of a wider focus on the Internet of Things, which ruled the day at IFA and which even last year seemed to be becoming Samsung’s consuming obsession.  Having gotten its releases of the requisite fancy new phones out of the way last year and earlier this summer, the Korean electronics company focused almost all of its considerable energy at its IFA press conference on its development of eye-widening, if at times uncomfortably omniscient, appliances and other household goods that observe, calculate, and react in accordance with your every move.

Samsungs’ SleepSense bed sensor  follows in the tradition of Fitbit and other on-body devices that track your sleep cycles, only this one covers your whole bed for super accurate…sleep monitoring.

Samsung’s Smart Things Hub, through which Samsung wants you to control your whole house via WiFi, ZigBee, Zwave, and now Bluetooth.

Wearables

IFA 2015 smartwatchesWrapped up in this IoT trend is a wealth of wearables, particularly watches, and this week saw new ones from pretty much everyone you would expect.  They were as follows:

Samsung’s Gear S2

Huawei Watch (Apparently, they like Apple’s Naming conventions.  It’s best feature? It can pair with Android or iOS phones.

ASUS ZenWatch 2

Motorola’s 2015 Moto 360

The New Moto 360 Sport

LG’s Watch Urbane Luxe Luxe = a watch face plated in 23-karat gold and an alligator leather strap.  And a $1200 price tag.

TomTom’s Spark  Available in October, this one is designed to let you leave your phone behind – it has its own GPS and music storage

Sony’s Wena Wrist This watch was actually crowdfunded through Sony’s First Flight platform for employee pitches and it’s not actually a smartwatch – it’s mechanical, but the band houses an NFC chip for mobile payments an whatnot, a pedometer for basic activity tracking, and a clasp that is triggered to vibrate and light up by smartphone notifications. “Wena”, incidentally, stands for “Wear electronics naturally”. Hmm.

Hermes-DoubleTour-HeroApple Watch: Watch OS2 (coming Sept. 16) will add all sorts of new functionality to Apple Watch, including public transit on Apple Maps, Facebook Messenger, iTranslate,and Go Pro viewfinder and control; but out favorite Apple Watch innovation is a HOT new series of Hermes leather watch bands and faces available in October.

As you can see, some of them are pretty dang slick.  Here is Tech Times’ handy comparison of the first four watches on our list.

Computers and Tablets

It seems that PC and laptop, and even tablet and phone, development is focusing a lot on the high-requirement gaming market – and to interesting effect. Digital trends was kind enough to provide this very handy overview of all the new laptops revealed at IFA, including one that’s liquid-cooled.  Some standouts?  Lenovo introduced a Yoga tablet with a built-in projector.  Acer displayed its new modular PC.  And then, at the Apple Event, we met the new iPad Pro, which boasts a 12.9″ screen and has a detachable keyboard case ($169) and the Apple Pencil ($99) as available accessories.  Looks like the Surface was giving them a run for their money.  We have to admit, the iPad Pro seems pretty slick.  We’ll be excited to beautify and protect it for you when it come out in October.

Phones

Apple announced the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, and it looks like they might be getting back on top of their game.  The most notale new feature is, by far the 3D touch capability, which allows the phone to sense pressure, creating a whole wealth of new funcitonality, including a sneak peek feature that allows you to peek at maps, links, emails, messages, etc., without actually having to open them.  We also love the Harry Potter-esque moving photo capability.  We’ll let them explain.

Marshall headphones released theLondon, a phone especially for music fanatics, with two front-facing speakers and two 3.5mm headphone jacks.

Acer revelaved a whopping 10 new smartphones, 8 in the Liquid series (6 “Z” series running on Android and 2 “M” series running Windows), plus a gaming-focused Predator and the Jade Primo, which runs Windows 10.

Sony launched a new “Z” series of Xperia phones, the Z5, Z5 Compact, and Z5 Premium, the last of which boasts a 4K UHD screen, the first of its kind.

Huawei Announced its G8, a mid-range phone with an all-metal build and fingerprint sensor.  It also announced the Mate S, it’s higher-end iPhone competitor.

Lenovo introduced two phones so gigantic they almost don’t qualify as phones – the Phab and Phab Plus (yeah, that’s short for “phablet”, they just embraced it).  Their screens are just a nudge away from 7″.  The iPad mini’s screen is 8″.

Asus revealed five new camera-centered “Zen” phones, including the ZenFone Zoom with a 3x optical zoom lens and the ZenFone 2 Deluxe.

Samsung, of course, had already released its new Galaxy S6, S6 Edge, and Note 5.

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