Stay Connected with Xfinity X1, xFi and Xfinity Mobile

This post is sponsored by Comcast. As always, thank you for supporting The Next Kid Thing.

When it comes to technology, we’re always on the hunt for new and innovative tools to make life easier.  I recently had the chance to learn all about Xfinity and their latest offerings at a Lunch and Learn at their Union, NJ Xfinity Store. After an hour packed with helpful insight, I learned that Xfinity gets the needs of tech savvy parents and everyone in between.

 

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Xfinity X1 Streamlines Family TV

Xfinity’s digital TV platform touts an intuitive interface with features to appease the whole family. Dubbed X1, it’s clear that Xfinity’s team has thought of it all. The X1 DVR allows you to watch and record up to six shows at the same time. While your husband is watching a Thursday night game, you can record Scandal, as well as Paw Patrol, Shimmer and Shine and any other show simultaneously. What I love is that you can watch your DVR library from anywhere on any device.

On Demand, is definitely helpful for people who love easy access to shows. If your kids are anything like my kids who love watching the same episodes of their favorite shows on repeat, On Demand can be a saving grace when you need to keep them preoccupied.

Everything in life needs to have a voice command like X1’s Voice Remote. This feature is so cool! You can easily search for something on X1 with the Voice Remote. You can use voice commands to change channels, search for shows, get recommendations and then some.

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The Kids Zone on X1 is a great interface where families and kids can safely navigate age-appropriate shows without supervision. Again, if you’re busy in another room, if they’re in the Kids Zone, it’s a relief to know the kids can’t access shows that aren’t geared for them.

Cbs sports app

X1 Sports app is, quite literally, a game changer. With the Sports app, you can track live scores and stats on multiple games while watching a different game. In this app, there’s also a cool functionality where you can access your CBS Sports Fantasy Football stats.

 

Xfinity Internet

There is so much to love about Xfinity’s Internet interface. Xfinity xFi is described as a new personalized WiFi experience that provides a digital dashboard for customers to set up and easily access their home network. XfinityxfiFrom the dashboard, you can access passwords, see which devices are currently on the network, set parental controls and even analyze family usage. The Xfinity xFi interface is a great tool for families who are connected and need a home base for their network.

 

Xfinity Mobile

Aiming to further connect families, Xfinity now offers Xfinity Mobile,which features America’s largest and most reliable 4G LTE network combined with over 18 million Xfinity WiFi hotspots. XfinityMobile

Xfinity Mobile offers five lines of unlimited talk and text included within an existing customers’ Internet at no cost. For us, data is always the hard hitter of our bill. So it’s great to know that with Xfinity Mobile’s plans, data can be paid for in two ways: by the Gig or Unlimited, and you can switch between the two. So, if someone needs less data one month, by the Gig option maybe a better fit. If you’re traveling and need a lot more data, the Unlimited option is the better fit. Knowing that you can toggle between the two options makes it more cost effective. By the Gig is $12 per GB, where you only pay for the GBs of shared data you use each month. On the Unlimited plan, it’s $45 per line. There’s no monthly data usage limits, but there are reduced speeds after 20 GB. 

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In addition to their network that aims to increase their customer’s value and digital experience while lowering bills, Xfinity has the latest devices available. There’s a different phone for everyone with Xfinity Mobile.

 

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With Xfinity’s expansive line of offerings, families are able to stay connected with ease. While X1 streamlines the TV experience, xFi is the hub of the network and Xfinity Mobile keeps everyone connected on the go. Our digital family is officially smitten with Xfinity’s unique offerings and technological advancements.

Many thanks to Xfinity for hosting us for this great lunch and learn!

Smart Toys and Fun Gifts from PBS Kids

My friends at PBS Kids always have fun things happening. Between fantastic programming that consistently wins awards and accolades to aligning really great collaborations, PBS Kids undoubtedly has a wonderful presence in our lives.

And since it’s gift giving season, I thought I’d share a few fun gifts that are part of PBS Kids’ Collaborations.

 

Plan Toys PBS Kids

As a long time fan of Plan Toys, I absolutely LOVE this collaboration with PBS Kids. Like all PlayToys, the line of PBS Kids toys are sustainable, educational and safe. The toys range from play cameras, play boats, a pull alligator, music instruments and toy banks. I’ll share a video of my kids playing with some of the toys. I can’t tell you how much we love this line. Everything in this line is under $30, making them an ideal gift for babies and kids on your list. 

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One-hundred percent of net proceeds from the purchase of the toys in this holiday partnership will support PBS KIDS’ mission to empower children to succeed in school and in life. Additionally, Whole Foods Market will donate 1 percent of total sales, up to $25,000, to Whole Kids Foundation, an organization dedicated to improving children’s wellness and nutrition. The toys are available at Whole Foods nationwide and vary in price.

 

PBS Kids Party App + Moff Bands

No stranger to technology, PBS Kids has tapped into the wearable technology space by collaborating with Moff Bands. Moff is the maker of the award-winning Moff Band, the world’s first wearable smart toy.

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The Moff Band enables kids to play sounds and games through movement. Powering the Moff Band is a cloud-based motion and position recognition platform that analyzes and learns users’ real-time behaviors and patterns. PBS Kids partnered with Moff Bands to release the new, free PBS KIDS Party App. The app can be played with a mobile or tablet device, and is enhanced with a Moff Band. Be on the lookout for a video on our YouTube Channel!

 

PBS Kids Scratch JR.

We are so into coding, so PBS KIDS ScratchJr is really exciting. With Scratch Jr., kids can create their own interactive stories and games featuring their favorite characters from Wild Kratts, Nature Cat, WordGirl and Peg + Cat! Designed for kids ages 5-8.

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By combining programming blocks, kids can make characters move, jump, dance and sing. In the process, kids will learn to solve problems, design projects and express themselves creatively. PBS KIDS ScratchJr allows kids to not only learn to code, but also code to learn. If you love STEM and coding as much as we do, be sure to check out this app! You can download the app for free on the App Store and Google Play.

 

Full disclosure: As a PBS Kids VIP, I received this information and samples to help promote the brand and the properties. As always, opinions on NKT are my own.

Unique Gifts at Target for the Holidays

Several weeks ago, I had the chance to get a preview of holiday gifts at Target. As usual, Target’s gifts and exclusive collaborations don’t disappoint, so I thought I’d highlight just a few of my favorite finds for this holiday season.

 

1. Tapas Entertaining Set

This very cool Tapas Kit would make a great hostess gift or a delicious alternative for friends who are foodies. 

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2. Wing Sauce Set

In our home, we are geeks about a lot of things, and that includes Buffalo wings. Almost every Friday night, we head to a local restaurant and indulge in this fried bar staple. It’s hard to find a sauce and consistency that appeals to all of us, so I especially loved this wing sauce set. How fun would this be for fellow wing aficionados or friends who love spices and sauces! And for about $12, you can’t go wrong!

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3. Archer Farms Turtle Snack Bites

Okay, so I should totally keep quiet because I may just want these truffles all to myself. Archer Farms always has a great selection of delicious treats, and these Turtle Pecan Snack Bites are no exception. They combine the melt-in-your-mouth deliciousness with the taste of a rich pecan Turtle confection. At under $5, you should definitely buy a few of these for stockings or stash them away for the winter. Whichever works.

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4. Project MC2 Ultimate Lab Kit

When I first learned the premise behind this cool lab kit, I was immediately smitten. The Project MC2 Ultimate Lab Kit is inspired by Project MC2 which is a show on Netflix about 4 smart girls who love science and use their spy skills to go on missions for a secret organization. This kit includes a working microscope, 30 pieces, such as a funnel, beaker, safety goggles and more. At $45, this science kit would be great for any budding scientist spy!

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5. Unicef Kid Powerbands
This was, perhaps, one of my absolute favorite gadgets at the Target Holiday Preview. A fitness tracker for kids, the Powerband is described as one of the first wearables-for-good. The more active kids are, the more power points they earn, which, in turn, becomes a charitable donation of food for less fortunate kids around the world. There’s an app that pairs with the Powerbands where you can track your fitness activities, as well as navigate the different global missions and learn about different countries. For every band sold, Target donates $10 to the United States Fund for Unicef. The bands are available on Target.com for $39.99.

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Toy Fair 2015 Faves: Knit’s Cool, Snap Pets, Lego Minecraft, Plan Toys

There was so much to see and do at Toy Fair this year. Before I share about the trends I saw, I wanted to share a few of my favorites from this year’s show. Most of these toys won’t hit shelves until this summer or fall, so here’s your sneak peek at a few of my favorite next kid things:
 

Knit’s Cool
 

Spinmaster’s Sew Cool did so well last year that they’re riding the maker trend with a number of cool activity sets for Tweens. Knit Cool is an interesting set that allows kids to knit with ease, similar to that of finger/arm knitting. I can’t wait to see this generation of kids continue to make cool things with their own imagination and ingenuity.
 

Snap Pets

Selfies and tech toys were displayed loud and proud at Toy Fair. Snap Pets from Wowee is a fun selfie tool that can be used to take selfie images or as a remote. Tweens will love the small size of this cool selfie tool. 
 

Lego Minecraft

Speaking of creations, Lego, as expected, has a slew of cool new sets. Because Lego Minecraft was one of hottest gifts last holiday season, I thought I’d share a few photos of the upcoming sets in this series.

I saw a lot of new and upcoming Lego sets that encourage kids to forego the instruction manual and enjoy open-ended play. The crafting box is just one of many sets that give suggestions on what to build, but just like the digital version of Minecraft, this set capitalizes on pure imagination.

The Mine is another cool set that I loved seeing coming to life. The skeleton, creeper and spider are my favorite part of this set!

The Ender Dragon is another cool set that is sure to be huge among Minecraft aficionados.

Plan Toys
 

Plan Toys remains one of my absolute favorite toy companies, not just because they produce aesthetically pleasing goodies, but also because they’re eco-friendly and socially conscious.
Here are just a few of my favorite finds from my Plan Toys booth visit.
 
This chalkboard table set would look super cool in a playroom or classroom!

This rocket nesting toy is so eye-catching. The toys nesting inside were never-ending!

I can’t resist boat toys. This sailboat was so classic and cute!

If only NYC taxis could be this innocent and cute. Nevertheless, I love this sweet wooden taxi.

You can’t go wrong with wooden pull toys. Plan Toys owns the cute card in this category.

 More details and fun finds to come!

CES 2014: Smart Bulbs, Smart Monitors and New Tech for Babies and Beyond

I’ve been following the reports from Vegas and the Consumer Electronics Show which is the international trade show that unveils the latest and greatest in technology.  From curved tvs to smart light bulbs, it seems everything is connected or has a smart element in it these days.

CES Logo

Since I’m not at the show this year, here are just a few interesting products I’ve found and read about:

 Lumen Smart Bulb

The Lumen TL800 is an app-enabled Bluetooth smart bulb that is said to last 30 times longer than a typical incandescent bulb, but uses five times less power.  There are 16 million color options and the dimmable LED bulb create their own lighting atmosphere. It’s like the ultimate black light and beyond.



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With its proprietary app, this smart bulb features include:

 

  • Call Alert Mode: Notifies users of incoming calls by flashing when the phone rings.
  • Music Sync Mode: Visualize your music by synchronizing your music and lighting effects. 
  • Party Mode 1 and 2: Transform any space into a dance floor with pre-programmed flashing beats that match the music.
  • Wake Mode: Mimics the sunrise in the morning, gradually brightening until it reaches maximum intensity at the stipulated wake up time.  Users can customize how long the brightening process should take, from 5 minutes to 15 minutes. 
  • Romance Mode: Creates the perfect condition for a romantic date or quiet evening at home with a warm atmosphere.
  • Relaxation Mode: Simulates calming moonlight, creating a relaxing ambiance.

 

I actually think this bulb would come in handy for parents of young children, especially those who rely on night lights.  Think of those late nights when you’re up feeding late and need minimal, yet functional lights to change a diaper or get to the restroom.  My phone is always accessible, especially during late night feedings, so this would be something I can see parents using to update nurseries and kids’ rooms.  

The TL800 is available at Amazon.com for $69.99. Check out a video of the TL800 here.

Mimo 

Baby monitors are getting even smarter.  Taking a cue from other smart devices, Mimo uses a small monitor that clicks onto a compatible baby kimono and, literally, tracks baby’s every move.  Baby’s movement is reported on its proprietary app, and parents can track from their smart phones.  The small turtle-shaped Bluetooth-enabled device is too big to be a choking hazard and it comes on and off of the kimonos.  The organic cotton kimonos are machine washable, as is the device itself.  


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And while traditional media seems to be reporting Mimo to be an “extreme” monitor, I can see this concept as being borderline excessive.  Do we really need to know baby’s every move?  

But on the flipside, consider parents with sick babies or babies with special needs who do require extra care.  With an infant who was diagnosed with epilepsy at four months old, I could have used this device when we returned from the hospital after his diagnosis.  We went from 24-hour care from the most knowledgeable nurses to me, on my own, caring for a small child with a neurological condition that I knew nothing about.  Though he sleeps right next to my bed, there are times when we are away from each other and his breathing patterns can indicate an oncoming episode. 

I think the smart baby monitor is going to change parenting and how connected we are to our children, but it certainly won’t escape its critics.  Talk to any parent who has had to rush their small child to the ER because of a sickness; knowing those exact vitals could be life-changing.

I’m hoping that I’ll be able to learn even more about this device.  Stay tuned, and hopefully, I will get more info as it this shelves after CES.  I dislike the whole mom brain angle (we’re all exhausted, but this is a tired excuse) check out a video of Mimo here.

 

Owlet

The Owlet is another smart baby monitor that provides an overview of baby’s well-being with a Blue-Tooth enabled sock. 

According to the manufacturers, the Smart Sock uses Bluetooth technology to wirelessly transmit information to your phone.  The Owlet tracks baby’s heart rate, oxygen, temperature and roll over alerts via pulse-oximetry.

 

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This monitor reminds me of the devices that are used in the hospitals to track sick babies’ vitals.  The Owlet monitor is bringing the comprehensive smart technology that’s been used in hospitals for years to the homes of consumers. To reiterate my feelings on smart monitors, this information is great to have, especially for sick or babies with special needs.  But if there isn’t medical necessity to know all of these vitals, do we truly need all of this information about our babies day-to-day? Are we harboring anxiety for new parents with this sort of technology?

 

I’ll be interested to see how consumers embrace this new technology.  Whether we really “need” it or not, I think this new technology is simply amazing.  Check out the Owlet video here.

 

 

Can You Guess LeapFrog’s New Mobile Learning Device?

LeapFrog, always at the forefront of kid-friendly technology, is about to launch a new mobile learning device.  Like many of you, we’re huge fans of LeapFrog.  In addition to offering great products that I love as much as my kid, LeapFrog was one of the first big brands to reach out to me right after I launched this site.  In fact, I did my first (and only, so far) Vlog about Scout and the Text and Learn right after they launched last year.

Just as their microsite for this new mystery product went live, LeapFrog has once again enlisted us to get the buzz going about their new product. And they want NKT readers’ help, too.

Can you guess the device? What do you want it to be? LeapFrog wants NKT readers to guess what it is, or suggest what you think it does!  And we’re looking for creative guesses, so think about it and comment below.  And as an FYI, I have NO IDEA what this thing is either.

Giveaway

Each creative guess is entered into the giveaway for this mystery device.  Said NKT winner will be guaranteed front-door delivery of this new device the morning of July 15, which will be the very first day it’s available on shelf.  If that’s not the Next Kid Thing, then I don’t know what is.

So, check out their teaser and guess away and guess as many times as you like!

Comments below count as one guess, but if you decide to head over to the NKT fan page and add a comment to the entry associated w/ this post, I’ll count it as extra credit–3 entries!

 

Want even more entries?

Tweet about this giveaway for an extra entry.  Be sure to include @jenrab in your tweet.

Share about this entry on any social networking site for another entry.

“Share this” on facebook for another entry.

Get a friend to join the NKT fan page and get 5 extra entries.

Be creative and good luck!

Giveaway ends 6/6.  Winners will be notified via email and on the NKT FB fan page!

Sweet Treat: Hershey’s Yum Drives

In the olden days, our school supply list included No. 2 pencils, loose leaf paper, folders and maybe a few pens.  Nowadays, with computers playing such a integral role in our lives—especially our students’ lives—flash drives have become so imperative.  From saving papers, images and important homework assignments, transporting documents from one computer to another is at their fingertips—and USB drives.  And because flash drives have become so popular, they now come in colors, designs and flavors as unique as the personalities that own them.

For those with a sweet tooth, Jazwares introduced a fun new line of Hershey’s Miniatures and sweet assortment-inspired USB drives.  These USB drives are truly sweet and come in 1, 2 and 4 GB in the regular Hershey’s, Krackel, Mr. Goodbar, Twizzlers and Bubble Yum varieties.

Jazwares Hershey's USB

This isn’t just for students, I found that this flash drive was fun and compact, yet its chunky size was easy to find in my computer bag that’s already littered with a collection of the stick-style flashdrives.  The USB attachment easily slides in and out of the candy bar, adding to its ease of use and making it a perfect addition to any student’s school supplies arsenal.  These USB drives retail in between $14.99 and $29.99, depending on memory size.  The Hershey’s Yum Drives can be found at retailers like Best Buy.

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I’ve got a 2 GB Hershey’s USB Yum Drive up for grabs.  Comment to let me know any (or all) of the other flavors that are offered.  Share about this giveaway for extra entries.  This giveaway ends on 10/6.  Enjoy!

Connect the dots, la la la

We recently booked our flights to attend my cousin’s destination wedding in Hawaii next month.  We’re extremely excited, but right now, the thought of flying 10+ hours with a very active toddler gives me the shakes.  Someone hold me.  Though used to road trips where you can pull over if needed, uh, there’s no pulling over on a direct flight that long.  I’m already plotting the activities, books and games that we’ll use to entertain him.  So, while perusing the latest iPhone Apps with our trip in mind, I came across Join the Dots Lite.

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Join the Dots Lite is an app that allows the user to connect the dots and then color the image, just like the olden days.  (Except instead of crayons and coloring books, it’s fingertips and iPods!)  It features 3 different lines to connect, as well as 8 kinds of colors to paint. Best of all, it’s a free!  Who doesn’t love to connect the dots?  The app is suggested for kids 4 and up, but I’m excited to download it so I can connect the dots and have the kid color it!  Teamwork!

EMTEC Kooky USB flash drive

Kooky Klickers, the crazy collectible pens, now have a USB flash drive counterpart.  The Kooky USB flash drives by EMTEC come in a range of fun and bold designs, emulating the popular pens that have sold millions since they hit the market.  The unique pens, known for their springy hair and often worn with a lanyard, have been a big hit with school-aged kids, especially tweens and teens.

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At 2 gb, the Kooky USB flash drive can hold homework, projects, photos and other media.  Just like the pens, the USB drive features its own take of the crazy hair and funky faces.  An interesting change from colorless USB drives, the Kooky USB flash drive is just as portable as the Kooky Klickers, and even has a place where it can be added to a key chain or lanyard.

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Monsters vs. Aliens takes top spot

200px-monsters-vs-aliens-posterDreamWorks Animation’s 3-D animated movie, Monsters vs. Aliens opened in first place taking in $58.2m reports are saying. With a marketing campaign this huge, in an economy this bad, it’s great to hear people went out to see a fun family flick. In case you missed it, Monsters vs. Aliens debuted its 3-D trailer before this year’s Superbowl. Thanks to the beauty of DVR (and not having enough 3-D glasses) we watched that trailer multiple times and enjoyed it!

The consensus so far seems to be that it’s an ok movie that was somewhat funny, and entertaining for both kids and parents. Some reviews are saying the movie was great because of the 3-D technology, others simply said that it was lukewarm at best.

Interesting detail about Monsters vs. Aliens:  this is the first computer animated movie produced in 3-D using InTru3D technology, instead of converting the film into 3-D after it is finished. Some of my favorite actors’ voices are featured in the film: Reese Witherspoon, Seth Rogen, Hugh Laurie, Will Arnett, Rainn Wilson, Kiefer Sutherland, and Stephen Colbert.

There are various reviews floating around, but the best one I read so far was over at Geekdad:

Monster vs Aliens includes a ton of references to geek culture, 50s monster movies, science fiction and current events. Most of these references were left hanging, either with silence, or a dark and/or awkward situation. I don’t know if the writers failed to develop this well enough, or if parts got cut in production, but the result was an average fun movie that could have been awesome.

Overall Monsters vs Aliens was a funny movie, but it had some strange and often awkward moments. Imprisonment, accidental death and wanton destruction aren’t usually funny. This movie didn’t quite manage to make them so.

Did any of you see the movie? Did anyone see it in 3-D? If you did see it, I’d love to hear your thoughts.