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Best Last Minute Deals on Affordable Stocking Stuffers

Do you need some festive and fun stocking stuffers for the kids (or the kids at heart) in your life? Come visit us at our Technology Powered by Smithville stores for affordable bestsellers to delight and entertain the family. Seven of our favorites stocking stuffers standout below. Also, remember that a gift card endures the test of time for those hard-to-buy-for folks on your list. #smithvillestockingstuffers

Product Name | Description

1

Whoosh Screen Shine Wipes

Did you know your phone is 10x dirtier than a toilet seat? Ewww!

Whoosh cleans devices, makes them shine, and resists fingerprints

Safe for all screens, and even works with glasses and sunglasses

Includes 30 individually packaged wipes and 2 polishing cloths

2

Holiday-Themed Popsockets

Expandable phone grip and stand

Secure grip so you can text with one hand, snap better photos, and watch cat videos hands-free

Repositionable and sticks to most devices and cases

Mount attaches to any flat surface with strong adhesive

3

PowerCube

Turns one electrical outlet into five

Includes surge protection

Doesn’t block other outlets

Modular system: so you can add as many cubes as you’d like to make a custom power strip

4

USB Notebook Travel Light

Powerful light source plugs directly into USB port

Flexible neck to adjust for the perfect amount of light

No batteries required

Great for travel, home, or office

5

Portable Power Bank

Available in 4400 mAh larger style or 3000 mAh smaller style with built-in device cradle

Includes USB cable for recharging

Never be caught with a dead cell phone or electronic device

Recharges a phone at least two times before it needs recharging

6

Wallet Ninja

Flat multi-tool that fits in your wallet with credit cards

Made from 4x heat treated steel

Lifetime guarantee to never rust, bend, or dull

Includes can and bottle opener, screwdriver, ruler, box opener, and more

7

USB Holiday Decorations

Available in Christmas Tree and Snowman

Plugs into any USB port

Color changes for festive holiday decor

Your 6 Practical Tech Tips for Thanksgiving

tech tips

Thanksgiving: a favorite holiday for many that serves up delicious secret-family-recipe-driven comfort food, followed by intermittent afternoon naps punctuated with football and family time. But like every holiday time, holiday travel, food prep, and the occasional family drama may add a tad too much stress. Try these six practical tips to improve your Thanksgiving experience.

1 Use voice assistants to help avoid touching your iPhone during turkey preparation. When using an iPhone, say “Hey Siri”. For Android users, “Ok Google” will activate your voice assistant. Once activated, convert recipe measurements like ounces to cups. Source: CNET
2 Let an easy-to-use cooking app simplify your life and reduce stress. Timer+ assists you in managing multiple cook times for different dishes. Set the timer to count down one time for boiling and mashing potatoes, another for roasting turkey and yet a separate time for heating sides. Source: CNET
3 Google Maps help you avoid Thanksgiving traffic delays and congestion points by identifying the fastest route and an alternate route. Source: CNET
4 Upgrade your kids’ (or kids@💗) games with hands-on technology that both educates and entertains. Check out the Tech Will Save Us products that allow you to build a robot, create a fitness tracker or invent touchpads and controllers. These products use everyday items like bananas or moldable clay. Source: Forbes
5 Soothe your soul with the best free streaming music apps. These include Pandora, Shazam, Spotify, iHeartRadio, Slacker Radio, TuneIn, SoundCloud, Google Play Music, Musi, Playlist, and 8tracks. Spotify’s Turkey Timer offers unique customization including entering your bird’s weight, selecting your favorite type of music, and voila – your favorite music plays for the length of the cooking time. For additional details on any of these apps, check out Lifewire. Source: Forbes
6 Modernize a family member who struggles with social media. Help Grandpa figure out Facebook. Take time to help a relative tweet on Twitter. Involve the teens – they’ll have your Instagram account up and running with memorable memes, goofy gifs, and fabulous family photos almost instantaneously. Source: CMIT Solutions

Whatever you end up doing on Thanksgiving, let technology simplify the day so you can celebrate and relax more!

Cares about Product Selection and Your Technology Needs

Ryan Lentz

Most store managers agree: the task of choosing the right products to sell carries with it a daunting connotation. After all, sifting through a smorgasbord of mind-numbing variables such as marketability, profit margin, consumability, popularity, quality, diversity and more requires some intense mental fortitude.   

Call it what you will: an uncanny skill or a quasi-sixth sense enabling selection of stellar technology products for the stores. Whichever description you prefer, Ryan Lentz has it.

Ryan manages both of the Technology Powered by Smithville stores, located in Bloomington (Clear Creek Crossing) and French Lick. Since May 2012, he and his teams have transformed the stores into technology treasure chests.

“My momentum is fired up when a mom stops in on a whim, hoping to find something that will encourage her daughter’s love for coding and robotics,” says Ryan.

“Selecting quality technology products challenges me. The continuous play involved in finding the exact product fit for the local guy who comes in to pay his bill and shop keeps me energized.  My momentum is fired up when a mom stops in on a whim, hoping to find something that will encourage her daughter’s love for coding and robotics,” says Ryan.

Who Else Wants the Best in Tech Products?

Technology Powered by Smithville stores carry (or carried) four of the five top products named earlier by a tech retail publication as moving the needle for tech retailers. Have a look at the top five winners below.  

Mobile Holders and Stands Any guesses on the leading product in this category? One word. Three syllables. Rhymes with swap rockets. Popsockets win for the correct answer!
Smart Home Doorbells, light bulbs, sensors. Offered in-store and online, Smart products such as the Skybell video doorbell, Smart LED bulbs, and the Champ water sensor alarm protect both our homes and families.
Instant Film/Cameras Not found in our stores. Based on comments from industry advisor Stephen Baker of The NPD Group, the popularity of instant film and cameras continues to trend down.
VR/AR Hardware & Accessories Available in our stores and online for watching 3D movies and playing video games, the Xtreme virtual reality headset provides hours of fun for kids.
Drones Though Smithville previously carried drones, the market shifted and intentional inventory depletion occurred on this formerly trendy product. Now, drones take flight toward specific commercial opportunities and niche hobby markets.

“When stacked up to the competition, our local stores are holding their own. I find that rewarding,” says Ryan. “Listening to customer feedback, regularly attending conferences and shows, and keeping an eye on what store products are moving contributes to that success.”

“At the end of the day, hitting a homerun depends on both play and work,” says Ryan.

The Secret to What Makes Ryan’s High-Tech World Fascinating

Outside of work, you may find Ryan at a baseball game cheering on his Cincinnati Reds. Passionate about fundraising for the Alzheimer’s Association in memory of his grandma, Ryan participates in the annual Bloomington Walk to End Alzheimer’s. Generally, he enjoys the familiar and simple when it comes to food, like a tasty tenderloin or hot dog.

However, he occasionally trades in the familiar for something new like a cereal milk milkshake while making his annual pilgrimage to Las Vegas for the Consumer Electronics Show. “At the end of the day, hitting a homerun depends on both play and work,” says Ryan.

Introduce yourself to Ryan and his team members when you stop by either of the stores to pick up your tech essentials.

Just for Fun Survey: Counting Sleep When You Can’t Sheep

alarm clock

If you are getting your words and phrases turned around more often than not, you may be suffering from a lack of quality sleep. Lack of quality sleep continues to be a primary health concern for many Americans. Park Associates reports that 25% of US broadband households surveyed in 2018 are very concerned about sleep quality. That’s up from 16% in 2016.

Solutions for sleep deprivation may include the inexpensive, effective-for-some practice of counting sheep. On the practical side of the equation, choosing the right mattress to ensure your maximum comfort remains a popular product-based preference. Of course, there are Smart watches and exercise trackers – common tech favorites for monitoring your sleep quality.

What works for you? Select your favorite option from our single question Counting Sleep When You Can’t Sheep survey.

Initial Survey Results
Initial Survey Results

11 Must Have Doorbell Features

Skybell Video Doorbell

It’s back to school time. Checking to see whether or not your kids got off the bus doesn’t have to be a hassle. In fact, you don’t even have to be there in person to do so. Skybell Video doorbells have 11 easy-to-use features to protect your home and family.

Skybell Video Doorbell Features and Description

Features Description
1 HD Video

 

See your visitor up close with high density, 1080 pixel resolution and 5x zoom
2 Motion Sensor

 

Receive alerts even if your visitor doesn’t press the button (that’s additional security)
3 Live Monitoring

 

Monitor your front door at any time by starting the video from the app
4 Free Video Recording

 

Record each video to download or watch any time
5 Multiple User Capability

 

Allow multiple people to receive alerts to answer the door and/or enable multiple devices on each account.
6 Hear and Speak 2 Way Audio

 

Enjoy a full conversation with your visitor
7 Activity History

 

Review the day’s events while you were away (this includes missed visitors, answered video calls and motion alerts)
8 Color Night Vision

 

Feel safe knowing you can see a visitor at night in full color
9 Quiet Mode

 

Turn off your home’s doorbell chime from the app so it won’t wake up a sleeping baby or pet
10 Snap Photo Functionality

 

Capture a photo of your visitor with the touch of a button
11 Rugged Construction for Extreme Temperatures

 

Rest easy knowing the doorbell works between: -40 and 140 degrees F

The Skybell Video Doorbell is available in-store for $199.99 or online.

Gifts for Guys – Favorites That Are Sure to Win Dad Over

Do you need a great gift for Dad to help him celebrate Father’s Day? Come visit us at our Technology Powered by Smithville stores. We are currently featuring Gifts for Guys. Here are five of our favorites that are sure to win Dad over. If you are not certain which of these cool products he will like best, consider a gift card and let him choose.

Product Name Sale Price What’s It Look Like?
1 Aluratek 4-in-1 Emergency
Vehicle Safety Tool
$19.99 emergency safety tool
2 Wallet Ninja 18-in-1 Pocket Tool $5.99 wallet ninja
3 Powercube
customer favorite and best seller
$7.49 power cube
4 MagBuddy Dash Phone Mount $12.49 mag buddy
5 808 Audio Canz Bluetooth Speaker
available in black, blue and silver
$19.99 bluetooth speaker

Pricing valid through 6/30/18

 

Alternative to Keeping Rising Cable Costs Down

Cable costs are rising.  An article in the January 5th issue of USA Today explains why, as well as what you can do about it.  Besides the recommendations made in the USA Today article, another option for keeping costs down is Streaming TV.

Smithville offers four different platforms for Streaming TV: ROKU, Android (Google), iOS (Apple) and Amazon Firestick.  Need some help navigating through these options? Forbes provides a helpful comparison, which is summarized in the table below based on supported content, mobile device compatibility, TV compatibility, pros and cons.

ROKU Android (Google) iOS (Apple) Amazon Firestick
Supported Content Netflix, CinemaNow, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, Google Play, HBO NOW, and more Netflix, YouTube, Pandora, HBO NOW, and more Netflix, Hulu, ESPN, iTunes, and more Netflix, Hulu, HBO NOW, YouTube, Amazon Video, and more
Mobile Device Compatibility Android or Apple iOS Stream from any iOS or Android device iOS Fire app can turn a Fire, Android, or iOS device into an Alexa remote
TV Compatibility Most high-definition TVs with an HDMI interface Most TVs with HDMI interface HD and UHD TVs with HDMI Any TV with an HDMI interface
Pros Use a mobile app to send content from your phone to your TV, including music, videos, and photos. Customers with compatible TVs can access 4K, HDR, and HD content for vivid picture quality Inexpensive and easy to set up and use For iOS device users, easy access to all content stored in iTunes. Supports video up to 2160p (4K) Alexa voice control, access to a wide range of content
Cons There have been a few isolated reports of customers needing to exchange sticks that were defective out of the box Content must be sent from a compatible device Android device owners won’t be able to take advantage of the ease of streaming content to their TVs, as they could with other streaming devices This device will only display up to 1080p resolution at 60 frames per second.

Source: Forbes

Cutting the Cord v2.0

Until just a few years ago, “cutting the cord” was the phrase used to refer to what parents did in order to emancipate children who were reluctant to leave the safety of the nest. It was, and still is, a phrase that indicated a move from dependency to freedom.

While this definition of “cutting the cord” still applies, that’s not the meaning that is being bandied about in every major news outlet today.

Cord cutters are the increasing numbers of households who have decided to emancipate themselves from traditional cable television subscriptions. Laden with hundreds of channels, these subscriptions are accompanied by a heavy monthly price tag — a fee that includes channels that go unwatched, month after month.

When alternatives to those traditional TV subscriptions began popping up a few years back, consumers started sitting up on their couches and taking notice. Netflix, Hulu and HBO Go were among the first, but since those early streaming days, streaming services have been popping up like prairie dogs. YouTube TV, Sling TV, Amazon Prime, DirecTV Now, PlayStation Vu are just a few of the services available. To move the metaphor from prairie dogs, these services are as fertile as rabbits.

How sweeping is cord cutting? According to a December 28, 2017 article in USA Today:

“Two trends power the ongoing TV transformation: the growing number of U.S. homes with high-speed broadband Internet service, and the slow decline in homes with traditional pay-TV service.

“About 82% of all U.S. homes get broadband now, up from 76% in 2012, according to the Leichtman Research Group. And broadband homes (94.5 million) now eclipse the number of homes with traditional pay TV (about 92.2 million), the research firm says.

“Meanwhile, pay-TV providers overall continue to lose subscribers. About 405,000 signed off in the third quarter alone. However, the growth in broadband-delivered live TV services such as Sling TV and DirecTV Now is helping offset those losses. More than 2.5 million now subscribe to them, Leichtman Research says.”

Recognizing that streaming TV is a trend that is swiftly becoming the new norm, Smithville has introduced Smithville Streaming TV. Available to its residential internet customers, this streaming option is a perfect complement to other streaming services, offering what they most often lack: access to local and network programming.

One of the strongest advantages of streaming TV is the ability to select a service that offers more of what the viewer actually wants to watch, cutting out the fat of unwanted channels and serving up a leaner, more desirable menu. One of the drawbacks, however, is the lack of network channels and local programming. For those individuals who have lived and died by the Big Three and their programming, this creates a major drawback. Think of those young adults who are loathe to cut the cord with their parents. To some older viewers, the thought of losing contact with major network programming is akin to how some young adults feel about doing their own laundry, making their own meals and remembering to wake up on their own. Daunting.

Smithville Streaming TV’s package includes major networks as well as local programming. Paired with another streaming service of the viewer’s choice, there is nary a hiccup in viewership. The biggest change? Monthly fees. Streaming services are significantly less expensive than traditional cable TV subscriptions. Even when choosing two or three streaming options, subscribers will save more and have access to (1) channels they want to watch, as well as (2) original programming that is not otherwise available.

Ready to get started? Before you do, make sure you know exactly what you’re getting into. While streaming has its strengths, for those who have been long-time TV subscribers, there may be a paradigm-shift pain point or two. To help with that, we’ve created a Cord Cutters Guide. It will provide insight into the changes to expect, the technology you’ll need, and the benefits you’ll reap.

Once you’re ready to cut the cord, give us a call at (800) 742-4084. Our customer service representatives can answer your questions and talk you through the process. A lot of us are cord cutters, too, at all levels. While we can’t do your laundry or make you Mom’s mac ’n cheese, we can help you emancipate to the freedom streaming TV allows.

CES 2017 (Consumer Electronics Show) Recap

For many the start of a new year means new beginnings. For me it means it’s time for the Consumer Electronics Show (CES 2017).

Consumer Electronics show CES 2017

CES 2017 is the 50th Anniversary

This was the 50th year for CES, and it was the biggest show yet. While the standard awe-inspiring tech was in full force, there was an overarching theme of technology making life better.

What’s it like to be at CES 2017? In a word: overwhelming. With over 165,000 attendees, 3,800 exhibitors, and four main show locations around Las Vegas, preparation is key.

Weeks before the show I contacted vendors we’ve worked with in the past to arrange meetings. I used the CES app to schedule my time and work around keynotes, classes, and other events. I had to mentally prepare myself that I’m not going to be able to see everything and prioritized certain areas over others.

While the driverless cars seem cool (and they work!), I knew the TV and gadget areas were more relevant to me and deserving of my time and attention. I also scheduled in a little fun, including a trip to Milk Bar for a cereal milk milkshake. If you’re in Vegas I highly recommend it.

While the show floor offers the latest and greatest much of the value from CES comes from data on consumer electronics trends. I learned what worked in 2016 and what’s to come in 2017. The big takeaways were that virtual reality and connected homes will be the big focus areas for 2017.

Non-Tech Tech

This year was groundbreaking for companies not normally thought of as tech companies at CES, and I see this trend continuing in the future as everything embraces and includes new technology.

The show had many exciting keynotes, where tech companies reveal their latest innovations. Carnival Cruise Line launched a new “Ocean Medallion” wearable on Princess Cruises which helps manage the customer experience from start to finish. Before the trip passengers can log on and see all the events and activities available to them and plan their itinerary.

Carnival Cruise Line launched a new “Ocean Medallion” at CES 2017

While on the ship there will be several areas that customize to the passenger. When entering an elevator or stopping on a new floor, touchscreens will welcome the guest by name using self-selected personalized colors. More than just an event planner, it has an algorithm which analyzes your interests and free time to provide suggestions for activities.

Under Armour also introduced a new line of sleepwear that uses ceramic to stimulate blood flow and muscle recovery while sleeping. Sorry Colts fans, Tom Brady is the face of the $200 sleepwear sets.

Emerging Trends in Home Automation

Home automation and security is one of the fastest growing areas of CES 2017. There were many different types of security systems but the most advanced of all is Honeywell’s Lyric system. Lyric works as your home’s hub and integrates Skybell video doorbells, water and heat sensors, cameras, and thermostats. Best of all, you can get Lyric in your home today with Smithville Security.

Honeywell’s Lyric system from Smithville Security

Ever want a light bulb you can control with your phone? TP-Link’s new bulbs connect to Wi-Fi and work with Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant so you can tell Alexa to turn on or off, dim, and even change the color of your light bulb.

I must admit I thought this was a crazy idea but I’ve already put one in my house, and we now sell them at our store. Alexa was everywhere, and that provided a path to the future using voice commands. You’ll soon be able to talk to your fridge, TV, oven, thermostat, and more.

Kid’s Play at CES 2017

An emerging area for CES 2017 is tech for kids. Even the rubber ducky has been advanced with technology. Edwin the Duck is an app-connected rubber ducky that works as a Bluetooth speaker, thermometer, nightlight, and learning device.

Edwin the Duck at CES 2017

Technology Will Save Us has do-it-yourself tech kits to engage kids in technology and learning. Kids can make their own fitness tracker, speaker, and game console. Look for these exciting products in stores soon.

Televisions Continue to Evolve

In 2016, the average TV size sold was 44” and the average home has 2.8 televisions.

My favorite product of CES was LG’s 77” wallpaper-thin TV. This changes what you think of when you think of a TV. At only 2.57 mm thick it’s thinner than an iPhone. The innovative sound bar also holds all the inputs, allowing for the TV to be super thin. At a price of nearly $12,000 you won’t find many people rushing to buy this yet.

In Conclusion

While CES 2017 was another ground breaking event for new tech I was amazed at how technology impacts every part of our life and makes our life better. From sensor technology that allows cars to drive themselves and eliminate road injuries and deaths to virtual reality that allows those who can’t move to travel the world, the possibilities are endless.

 

Ryan Lentz is the Store Manager for both Technology Powered by Smithville stores, located in Bloomington and French Lick. You can contact him at (812) 935-2272 or via email.