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DSC_1377Serius thermal gloves are the first gloves for which I’ve had to read a instruction manual. That said, the instructions were pretty simple. Charge the batteries for about three hours, insert the batteries into the wrist cuff and press the button to the desired heat level. Oh yeah, and don’t forget, you can swipe away on your smart phone screen while wearing these gloves.

Within 30 seconds, the gloves were toasty inside, and on cold mountain tops these are a hand saver. After all, cold hands is a major reason that I have to head back to the lodge earlier than I wanted to.

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The gloves are attractive, and of course they will work with or without the batteries to stay warm, but the battery-powered system is what makes these gloves truly unique.

The gloves come with an interior liner, which could work alone and may be an option for less frigid days. When you truly need the extra warmth, the liner gloves slip into the exterior glove, which has a metallic like lining inside.

When put together, it is rather snug fit, and you must be careful when tucking in the cables that are used to charge the batteries and to connect them to the heating mechanism with in the glove, because if the cables are not tucked in correctly on the outer side of the battery, you will feel the hard plastic connectors, about the size of a small AC adapter connector, pressing into your wrist, which could be uncomfortable.

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One other design issue is that once the temperature selection is made on the inner glove, and the outer glove is slipped on over it, it’s possible if you’re not careful to hit the button on the outside and change the setting unintentionally. Also, because once the outer glove is on you cannot see the setting, you would have to remove the outer glove to check it.

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Lastly, the care and laundering of these gloves is a bit different from others, whereas you can toss most gloves into the dryer you cannot do that with these, which should be wiped off if dirty and let dry naturally if wet. If you have any other questions, there’s always the manual, which you can access on your smartphone, wearing your gloves of course.

teens-cellphonesParents of teens and even elementary school age kids are often complaining of them being addicted to their smartphones and social media, and the sad reality is that these habits start early and follow them into adulthood.  In fact, many of them are modeling the behavior of their phone-addicted parents.

March 3 is a day to unplug and look around at all else the world has to offer, off of our phones, tablets, laptops and other devices. For many, it will be a day of reckoning, when they realize just how often they turn to their phones instead of human interaction.

According to a NationalToday.com survey, 77% of women and 68% of men spend 3 hours or more per day on their computer, phone, or tablet. Half of women and 41% of men spend 5 hours or more per day looking at a screen.

To conduct the NationalToday.com Day of Unplugging Survey, conducted Feb. 14, 2017, the pollsters at National Today [www.nationaltoday.com]—an online destination dedicated to quirky and fun holidays—asked 1,000 Americans to dish on their digital dependence.

TOP 3 MOST INTERESTING INSIGHTS ABOUT OUR DEVICES
#1: When I have down time, I spend it on my phone, computer, or tablet (35%)
#2: I spend more time interacting with people online than I do in person (13%)
#3: I feel like I’m addicted to my phone (13%)

MOST AMERICANS SPEND 3+ HOURS A DAY ON THEIR DEVICES
75% of Americans spend 3+ hours per day on their computer, phone, or tablet. 48% spend 5 hours or more per day looking at a screen, while 13% spend 10 hours or more.

TOP 5 PLACES AMERICANS SPEND THE MOST TIME LOOKING AT THEIR PHONES
#1: When I wake up (32%)
#2: When I’m in bed going to sleep (26%)
#3: On work breaks (20%)
#4: In the bathroom (10%)
#5: On my morning commute (4%)

BED ISN’T JUST FOR SLEEPING ANYMORE
For 58% of Americans, bed is the most popular place to check their phone, be it when waking up (32%) or when going to sleep (26%).

RANKING OF THE TOP 3 DEVICES AMERICANS SPEND THE MOST TIME ON
#1: Smartphone (76%)
#2: Computer (17%)
#3: Tablet (7%)

MEN CARE SLIGHTLY MORE THAN WOMEN ABOUT THEIR SOCIAL MEDIA IMAGE
5% of women say they closely monitor how many “likes” they get on social media, compared to 7% of men who say the same.

If you are looking for ways to unplug in life and stop and smell the real versus virtual roses, check out a great book that really made a difference in my life, Hands Free Mama: A Guide to Putting Down the Phone, Burning the To-Do List, and Letting Go of Perfection to Grasp What Really Matters!

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And have a happy National Day of Unplugging!

 

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If you or your kids’ phones run out of juice at the end of the day, this little fella will come to the rescue in style.  The Cheero FLOWERS Power Plus portable battery almost makes a low battery fun.

The brightly colored 10050 mAh mobile battery has a unique design of a cartoon face, with two round circles for eyes, and a triangle nose. Available in seven flower inspired colors, Cheero is ready to charge Apple and Android phones and tablets. The battery features two ports so it can charge more than one device at a time, and it is equipped with an AUTO-IC function, allowing the external battery to automatically recognize if a device is connected. The external battery optimizes the supplied power best suited for each device.

The most obvious appeal of this battery is its cute design is attractive to children and those who like cutesy things. It may encourage children to take a long their battery packs, so there’s no excuse for their phone dying when mom and dad are trying to call them coordinate a pick up at school.

Another advantage of its different look is that you won’t get it confused with everyone else’s black square of a battery pack, unless of course they also have Cheero.

The battery comes with a cute canvas carry bag, so you can keep the little fellow from getting scratched. It also comes with a short micro-USB to USB cable. Cheero is available at select Nordstrom and at Amazon Prime for $39.99 at Amazon.com.

 

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If you are out and about, running errands, picking up the kids, taking them to activities, getting the family shopping done, commuting to work, and trying to keep up with your social life, chances are your phone is not lasting as long as you are in a day.  Nothing is worse than seeing that sliver of red is all that’s left of your battery life, and you are only half way through your day, and you don’t have time to plug in and wait to recharge.

With the dismal battery life of iPhones these days, and fear sparked into the hearts of smartphone owners everywhere by the Samsung 7 battery explosions debacle, portable battery chargers have been the answer, at least temporarily, to stave off dead phone woes.

But not all phone chargers are alike, and before you buy one you should check out some important features that might make a difference in your charger being a lifesaver or a dud.

The myCharge HubPlus portable charger ($79.99) is one of the better chargers I have used, for many reasons. One feature that is rare in portable chargers is that it features a USB port, in addition to a built-in lightning and micro USB cables. The built-in USB and lightning cables can be sleekly tucked away on the side of the hub, so that they don’t tangle up with other items in your bag.

Of course, with the size and power needed to accommodate a USB port, the myChare HubPlus is a bit larger and heavier than many chargers; it would have to be, until the technology improves, to provide the juice needed to power up larger devices.

This means it’s a little less portable, and a little more weight and bulk in your pocket or bag. The flipside is that this device will keep your smaller devices running longer, lasting up to four times your device’s battery.

This extra power can come in handy on the subway, on a camping trip, or other places where you can’t plug-in for hours. Also an added feature of the HubPlus is it has a built-in wall prong for plugging directly into an electrical outlet. This is convenient because you don’t have to carry along a charger cord and charging block to re-charge your portable charger.

The bummer is that in this day and age, most household electrical outlets are spoken for, so often you will have to unplug something in order to accommodate it.

The charger features four lights on the side which show when the battery is charged up and ready to go. It also features a safe cell technology to limit the charge to give you the highest level of charge without overdoing it. It also has smart sense technology which ensures device compatibility.

Overall this is an excellent power bank for emergencies and peace of mind, if you don’t mind toying around a little extra heft.

Kids of all ages get excited about the latest electronics, and tech-savvy parents know that sharing in their kid’s enthusiasm and wonder for technology is an excellent way to bond. When kids have reached their screen time limit, it’s time to get real with physical games and toys that engage them the old-fashioned way. For every child on your list, here are 10 great gifts that help kids grow in their understanding of technology, develop their creative skills and encourage connection with others.

Two hit wonder

For those of us of a certain age who remember the rock-em-sock-em toy robots, whose heads popped off with a firm jab to the jaw, there’s a new heavyweight in the ring. Big Robot Data Rate and Tenderizer Remote Control Fighting Robots are eight-inch fighting machines with Innovative Motion Control Technology so that each user can steer, maneuver and punch using a handheld nun-chuck controller. The trash talking robots also feature quote damage tracking LEDs and other effects to keep the match fun and exciting. Ages 4 and up.  $59.99 each or $99 for two-pack. Available at Toys R Us.

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The sky (and imagination) is the limit

Portal masters can take their creativity to the outer limits with Skylanders Imaginators, the latest iteration of the popular Skylanders video console game franchise with new capabilities that empower players to unleash their imaginations and bring their creations to life in an all-new adventure with puzzles, battles, a compelling storyline and new lineup of heroes and villains.  Take the fun to another dimension with the Skylanders free Creator mobile app which allows kids to design and print out their own unique playable 3D printed figure.  Ages 8 and up. Skylanders Imaginators Starter pack includes two Sensei characters, one Creation Crystal, Portal of Power and game disc available on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox 1, Xbox 360 and WiiU. The Starter Pack is available for $39.99 at Toys R US, Target, Wal-Mart and all major retailers. Custom 3D printed figure available for $49.99.

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Crack the code

Dick Tracy decoder rings of yesteryear were child’s play. Today’s coding toys teach real world computer coding skills, such as Monster, an intelligent iPad game by Osmo that helps budding  computer developers master AI technology and harness their creativity to animate physical drawings, with the help of Mo the Monster, who comes to life to interact with children’s drawings.  The Osmo Monster Starter Kit includes an iPad stand, iPad camera reflector, and two sets of game pieces with alphabet letter tile sets and wood tangram shapes.

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Once kids get the hang of coding, they can expand their talents with additional Osmo learning tools, like the Coding game that uses hands-on physical blocks to control Awbie, a playful character that kids use coding skills to direct on strawberry-munching adventure. Starter kit $74.99, Coding game $49. Ages 6 to 10. Available at www.playosmo.com.

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Little listeners

Sometimes kids don’t listen, and then sometimes they listen to much, by way of earphones with the volume turned up too loud, which can be especially harmful to hearing when using low-end earphones that come with electronic devices. Etymotic’s ETY•Kids Safe-Listening Earphones are engineered to protect young ears by sealing off ambient noise so kids are not tempted to crank up the volume to unsafe levels.  The earphones’ s high quality, clear playback is safe for listening for up to eight hours (or four hours at the highest volume levels), so parents can rest easy, and kids can experience their music, games and movies as they were meant to be heard. $39.99, etymotic.com. Ages 5 and up.

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Smart and cool phone

When it’s time for that first phone, kids want the coolest bone, but parents don’t want to outlay a chunk of cash for a device that might get lost or broken. VeryKool smart phones fill the bill for kids who want a feature-filled phone of their very own – with a front- and rear-facing camera and lots of multitasking abilities, and parents will love its affordable price. The VeryKool Fusion SL4500 and the Jet SL5009 are available for $109.00, and the line includes several models under $75.  No contracts are required, and the phones will work with every GSM carrier across the US including AT&T, T-Mobile, Tracfone, etc., (Note, VeryKool phones are not compatible CDMA networks like Verizon or Sprint)  Ages 10 and up. Available on Amazon.

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Glow phone

Once kids have their very own phone, they want to protect and individualize it with a cool case. Ballistic Case Company has launched a line of protective, sleek cases in limited edition colors that protect phones from dust, bumps and dings and will help kids distinguish their phone from their friends’ phones. The lightweight and durable Jewel Series, Spark and Neon editions offer reinforced silicone corners and is engineered with six-sided drop protection technology. The Neon collection boasts bright hues that even glow in the dark, so they are easy to find in a backpack. Ages 10 and up. .$20 to $30, available at  www.goballisticcase.com.

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A ton of bricks

Kids love LEGOS, and now they can combine their favorite brick building activity with their affinity for video games with LEGO Dimensions. To begin the adventure, kids build the minifigure heroes and then assemble bricks into the LEGO Gateway, which they place onto the LEGO Toy Pad. The game expands as kids collect more mini figures, vehicles and gadgets and go to new levels with Expansion Packs, that call up the likes of Fantastic Beasts, Gremlins, Ghostbusters, Harry Potter and E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, making the game completely customizable and infinitely expandable. Ages 7-14. The Starter Pack is available for $79.99 at Target, Toys R Us, GameStop, Walmart, Best Buy, and Amazon. Additional expansion packs range from $11.99 – $49.99.

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Gem dandy

Light up the little ladies on your gift list with Gemmies the next evolution of 3D beading craft. With a click and connect process using elastic rings, kids can design crystal creations, from sparkling jewelry to flowers and tiny toy animals. The intuitive design templates use a repetitive pattern that lets kids develop their cognitive abilities and progress to designing their own creations. The kits come with a storage Design Studio with a light up pedestal to display creations. Ages 6 and up. $24.99.  Available at Target or www.makegemmies.com.

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Puzzle me this

For families on the road, take a break from mobile video games for some real, tactile interaction with a travel puzzle that engages kids in creative play while helping them to build an inner sense of the relationships between forms and colors. Bella Luna’s Magnetic Tiles Indian Squares puzzle comes packaged in a handy 8×8 metal storage box that doubles as a play surface with 36 magnetitic birch wood pieces enclosed.  All ages, from children to adults, will enjoy coming up with beautiful designs and geometric forms. $39.95, ages 3 and up. Available at www.Bellalunatoys.com.

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If you are shopping for a tech geek this holiday season, here are 12 great electronic gifts that will light them up.

Take charge

The myCharge RazorPlatinum portable charger ($99.99) is the perfect companion for the MacBook on the go. It charges a MacBook in 100 minutes via a USB – C port, and it also can charge any compliant USB – C or USB-A device, such as tablet, phones and other devices. It has an anodized aluminum body, and a rapid – recharge power bank and includes a USB – C cable.  This heavy-duty battery will add a bit of weight to your load, but the power it packs is worth its weight. To check if the myCharge is topped up, you simply shake it, and it will light up with one to four flashing dots, depending on remaining battery life.

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Just in case

For the iPhone aficionado who takes their phone everywhere – who doesn’t – OtterBox makes a hard-core hard case that will protect their prized possession from dings and scratches with the stylish and durable Defender Series. The case can be customized with a variety of colors for the slipcover ($29.95) and shell ($29.95), which is always helpful since so many cases look alike. For added protection, the charger and headphone jack inputs feature rubber covers to keep out dirt and dust, and another huge plus to the Defender Series is the touch surface is incorporated into the shell, so you do not need to apply a separate protection film.

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Not your dad’s (or mom’s) smart watch

For parents who would love to get their kids a smart phone to keep track of their whereabouts and call them when needed, but they are afraid the child will lose such an expensive device, Tinitell is the perfect wearable solution.  This wristwatch phone has voice calling and smart location features so kids can run and play without having to carry a phone. With the touch of a button, kids can connect with the phone’s directory of contacts, and using the Tinitel app, parents can geo-locate their kids. Tinitell looks cool and comes in a variety of colors, and at the cost of $149 it’s far less expensive than a smart phone.

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No jack, no worries

Audiophiles who might have been disappointed in the headphone-jack free iPhone 7 will no longer have to suffer thanks to Wicked Audio Reach Bluetooth Audio Receiver ($19.99). This little device, about the size of a money clip, can connect wirelessly to any Bluetooth-enabled mobile device to stream music to headphones in a 30 foot range. It also has a built-in microphone for calls. The little magic matchbox device can slip into a pocket or clip on to clothes for people on the go, and it recharges in an hour and a half for five hours of play.

I stream, you stream…

The neat freak geek who loves streaming video but hates the clutter of cords connecting HDMI devices to the TV will go nerd crazy over the Nyrius Aries Pro ($249) wireless HDMI transmitter and receiver. This receiver will send video wirelessly to your TV without any latency or lag time — where audio and video don’t match up. It transmits up to 160 feet, allowing you to show video from your laptop or other device on the TV screen in another room. Because there are no wires, you can free up space around your TV and even place your game controller or other device across the room. The small receiver can also attach to drones or cameras, and up to eight devices total, so you can view video from those sources remotely.

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A cord of a different color

Techies can never have enough charging cables for their iOS devices, but cables don’t have to be white and boring. NewerTech makes premium USB 2.0 lightning-fast charge/sync cables ($7.99-$24.99) for Apple iPhone iPod and iPad devices in exciting colors and a variety of lengths ranging from 20 inches to 118 inches, to make plugging in anywhere easy. The multicolored cables feature a woven sheath over them so they are more durable than most cables, and because of their bright colors it’s less likely they will get left behind or mixed up and taken by your friends and family by accident.

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Search and protect

The ALLY Plus Whole Home Smart Wi-Fi System by Amped Wireless will connect your entire household to Wi-Fi, up to 15,000 feet, even out to your patio. This two-component rounter and extender system offers high power, buffer-free coverage for streaming HD and 4K games and videos on multiple devices at once, and all your internet needs. Using the app, parents can pause the internet for homework or dinner time and monitor what sites their children visit.  For extra protection the system uses AVG software to guard against malware and phishing attacks. $379, www.ampedwireless.com

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Switch hit

for the tech geek on your list who is a freak for holiday decorations, give them the ultimate turn on, and I devices outdoor switch. This switch can power up and control all their outdoor electronics such as lights, fans, speakers, fountains and more with the ease of Siri voice control and the I devices connected app. The switch theaters old outlets to control to products simultaneously and comes equipped with mounting hardware and easy instructions to connect the switch to your home Wi-Fi network and control devices with any home to compatible iOS device. $79, Available at Lowe’s Stores, Apple Stores and www.idevicesinc.com

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Store it up

Any smartphone-carrying tech aficionado knows it’s hard to choose what videos, photos and music to delete when your hard drive gets too full. The same is true for laptops.  With the Seagate 2TB Wireless Mobile Storage Device you can keep it all, safety stored and easily accessible on the wallet-sized external hard drive, which creates its own personal Wi-Fi network and features a 10-hour battery life.  Using the Wireless Plus free Seagate Media app for iOS, Android, Kindle Fire and Windows 8/RT, you can carry, manage and stream hundreds of movies or thousands of photos, songs and documents. $179, Amazon or retailers found at www.Seagate.com.

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Warm regards

Everyone hates to get up off the sofa to adjust the thermostat when the room gets too hot or cold. With Honeywell Lyric WiFi Thermostat you can regulate the temperature from anywhere – at home or outside the home, using an app or even voice commands with Siri or Alexa in a smart home.  Cool off or warm up the house before you get home or set a program to change the indoor climate when you sleep, wake, or are away at work. $199, Home Depot and hardware retailers nationwide.

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Suck up

Cordless vacuums are usually great for fast-and-dirty pick-ups, but with the Dyson V-6 Absolute, the once-over will be the end-all. Its portable size makes it perfect for those quick jobs to clean up the floor, carpet or sofa when guests are coming over and you don’t have time to get out the heavy-duty vacuum, but unlike other mini-vacs, this powerful bagless vacuum has super strong suction that doesn’t quit, with a full charge lasting up to 26 minutes. It also features a variety of attachments and a handy holster to mount on the wall.  $599, available at Dyson dealers nationwide found at www.dyson.com

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Snap a pic

The old meets the new, with the latest shoot-to-print camera from the first name in instant photography.  The Polaroid Snap Instant Digital Camera has an all-new style in a compact pocket-sized camera that can capture photos and print them out in minutes.  The camera features six different capture modes, including a vintage-Sepia tone, and a timer mode to snap a quick selfie.  Prints use ZINK zero ink print technology, and each print can double as a sticker.  $84.99, Amazon

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Power up

For those who love electronics but hate the tangle of charger cables on their bedstand, Easy-Dok has a solution.  The Dök CR33 5-Port Smartphone Charger features a organizer cabinet with a built-in Bluetooth speaker and ports to simultaneously charge up a smartphone, iPad, iPod, tablet, MP3 player and most any device that can be charged with a USB cable, up to five devices simultaneously.  The multipurpose dock can display and play one device while charging another all while streaming music streaming and allowing hands-free calls via Bluetooth. To protect devices and persevere batteries, the dock features SCD (Smart Current Detection) Technology to protect your device’s battery from being over charged. $65.67, Amazon or www.easy-doks.com

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Editor’s note:  Companies featured in this article provided sample products for review, but the opinions expressed belong to the author.

04_kidstabletIf you hate those “reloading” reloading messages when you are streaming your favorite shows, and you worry about what content your kids are accessing online, Amped Wireless has a new solution for your family.

Amped Wireless, the leading manufacturer of high power, long range wireless solutions, is bridging Wi-Fi performance, security and simplicity with the launch of ALLY, a whole-home smart AC1900 Wi-Fi system with MU-MIMO. Available for pre-order August 23, ALLY is designed to deliver an unparalleled Wi-Fi experience for homes of all sizes.

The ALLY Wi-Fi system is the first seamless roaming solution with blazing-fast Wi-Fi speeds, MU-MIMO technology and whole-home coverage with award winning, high power technology. Offering easy setup and a mobile app for on-the-go control, the ALLY and ALLY Plus systems reach up to 15,000 square feet of secure coverage for seamless roaming and uninterrupted streaming.

Built with the digitally-connected family in mind, ALLY features intelligent parental controls that make online parenting feel easy and safe. Through ALLY’s customized user profiles, parents can manage and limit access to selected content, websites or apps. Additionally, parents can monitor and segment a child’s screen time, review an activity log, pause Internet service and even set a curfew schedule for their Internet use.

Parents can also feel at ease knowing that devices on their network are protected by AVG Technologies, the leading provider of software and services to secure devices, data and people. Customers can download the ALLY app and help safeguard devices from malware by activating AVG’s free, built-in web protection and real-time monitoring of network traffic. ALLY’s security features, parental control options and iOS and Android apps are built on Chime, AVG’s smart router platform developed by AVG’s Innovations Labs, an exploratory branch of AVG Technologies.

“Innovation is part of our DNA here at Amped Wireless,” said Jason Owen, Executive Vice President of Networking, Amped Wireless. “We are elated to announce ALLY and our partnership with AVG. By combining Amped Wireless’ award winning high power technology with AVG’s software and security expertise, we’ve created the industry’s best whole-home Wi-Fi solution. The result is a one-of-a-kind system that performs at the highest levels while providing a user experience that is second to none, bringing peace of mind to users as their network and families are protected.”

The partnership establishes ALLY as the only home wireless system that offers web protection that safeguards devices, including tablets, phones, computers and other devices. Additionally, the system alerts users when a new device requests network access, further protecting the network from unwanted parties.

“Gartner predicts the average family house will contain more than 500 smart devices by 2022. As the complexity of the connected home increases, so does the potential risk involved,” says Todd Simpson, Chief Strategy Officer of AVG Technologies. “AVG’s Innovation Labs created Chime to simplify security and router technology for connected families. In time this will be like an antivirus for the home that can stop threats before they reach devices.”

In addition to the advanced software and security, the ALLY hardware is also ahead of the innovation curve. All units are built with next generation 802.11ac, Multi-User MIMO technology. Traditional Wi-Fi systems stream data to just one device at a time, leaving the rest of the devices to wait their turn which results in slower downloads and video buffering. With MU-MIMO, ALLY is able to stream HD content at faster speeds to multiple devices at once, delivering increased speeds for homes with multiple devices. Pair that with Amped Wireless’ award winning High Power Technology and you have unparalleled reliability, coverage and performance. Every smartphone, tablet, computer, TV and more can connect from virtually anywhere in the home or office. It is the solution for a flawless, whole-home, reliable Wi-Fi system.

There are ALLY solutions for both small-medium sized homes, as well as medium-large sized homes, and everything in between. Both ALLY and ALLY Plus products have an estimated delivery of early October. ALLY is priced at $199.99 and ALLY Plus at $379.99. For purchase information and additional details visit ampedwireless.com.


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