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Tech,

This Bracelet Keeps You Warm In The Winter. I Can’t Believe No One Thought Of This Before

Smart bracelets have come a long way from the days when they could only notify you when you had a message on your cell phone. These days they do everything from tracking your steps to letting you order lunch at the touch of a button. Well, the newest entry takes it a step even further by being a personal thermostat for your body.

Developed by MIT scientists, the new Embr Wave Bracelet can cool or warm the by five degrees. It works by altering the temperature of the sensitive skin on your wrist, triggering a chain reaction that causes your overall body temperature to increase or decrease within minutes as well. When it cools it is similar to holding an ice cube to your wrist and when it warms it’s like holding a hot drink in your hands.

The Embr is controlled via an app on your smartphone which lets you “bio-hack” your body temperature whenever you want. After a widely successful Kickstarter campaign – the company raised $600,000 – the Embr Wave Bracelet can be purchased for immediately for $299. 

It also comes packaged with a charger, an adjustable bracelet frame, and a microfiber pouch.

I can’t believe that no one thought of this before now. At least it will be totally easy to spot me this winter. I’ll be the person looking warm as the summer sun with my smart bracelet while everyone around me tries to brave the cold – by layering their clothes – the old fashion way.

Tech,

Nissan Rogue Review – 5 Cool Things About The 2017 Nissan Rogue Sport

I went on a road trip last weekend. Well actually, it was a #RogueTrip to Woodbury Connecticut to test drive the all new 2017 Nissan Rogue Sport.  After three days of hitting the road, exploring the sights and chatting with Robin Moreo, the brand’s senior manager of product planning, I’ve gotten a good feel for the ins and outs of this CUV. So, here are 5 cool things to know about the new 2017 Nissan Rogue Sport.
 
Nissan Rogue Review - The New 2017 Nissan Sport

Nissan Rogue Review – The New 2017 Nissan Rogue Sport

It Takes Being Sporty Seriously
Nissan Rogue Review - The New 2017 Nissan Sport

Nissan Rogue Review – The New 2017 Nissan Rogue Sport

This car is fun to drive, seriously. You may feel a smile creep across your face as you zip from zero to 60 (in about 9.4 seconds) and glide over bumpy roads with ease. It’s got a roomy interior despite being 12-inches shorter than the standard Nissan Rogue. Plus, the exterior is anything but boring. Chiseled with sharp lines, its outside is designed with an upscale and smart appearance. The car is available in many standard colors like Magnetic Black and palatial Ruby. However, statement makers may prefer its bolder color options like Nitro Lime and Monarch Orange.  

Parking Is A Cinch

Nissan Rogue Review – The New 2017 Nissan Rogue Sport

If you’re worried about parking in the city – like I always am – the Rogue Sport can probably help ease your worries. It has a rear camera to assist with pulling into a spot from behind. Plus, it has side cameras so you can monitor the parallel lines on the ground as you pull into spots at the supermarket or mall. Not to mention, it also has a front camera so you can make sure you don’t tap anything as you inch forward. At the press of a dashboard button, the camera stitches all the footage together giving you a real-time 360-degree view. So you can evaluate your parking job without stepping foot outside of the car. Not that you’d ever need to do that, right?    

Safety Isn’t An Afterthought

Nissan Rogue Review – The New 2017 Nissan Rogue Sport Safety

The Rogue Sport comes with all the standard safety features you’d expect – dual airbags, anti-lock brakes, and brake assist. It also has a couple of newer safety features that might make you wonder how you ever lived without them. One is the high-tech, blind-spot monitoring. I’ve written about the brand’s version of blind-spot monitoring as a “well-designed” system before and that statement holds true in the  Rogue Sport as well. It keeps you aware of actual hazards around you without being set off by every car that passes you.

The other safety feature I really dug was the Latch system for kids. The system lets you secure LATCH-compatible child restraints in the second row without having to use seat belts or a locking clip. I’m not a mom yet, so this wouldn’t have been a safety feature that was top of mind. But I’m a god-mom and auntie to some of my friend’s kids, so it’s a feature that I’d be happy to have when I scooped up the little ones.  

It’s Pretty…and Smart 

The 2017 Rogue Sport is filled with many more high-tech features. In addition to the blind spot and rear view monitoring previously mentioned,  the car also comes standard with a Bluetooth phone and audio system inside. I had my cellphone synced and playing music in under a minute, so it is very easy to set up. It also has high-intensity daytime lights on the exterior and an Advanced Drive-Assist Display. The 5-inch colored monitor located in the gauge cluster shows the external temperature, upcoming turns, and tire pressure. It also displays song titles and other key information you may want to access to as you drive. 

It’s Designed For Real, Real Life
Nissan Rogue Review - 2017 Nissan Rogue Sport

Nissan Rogue Review – 2017 Nissan Rogue Sport

The 2017 Nissan Rogue Sport makes it hard to pigeonhole it as the ideal car for one consumer market. And, that’s an impressive feat. Urbanites, suburbanites, parents, and singles will be impressed with its compact size, smart design, and smooth handling. They’ll all be equally impressed with its safety features, roomy interior, and built-in technology.

 
If I had to pick the “perfect” driver market for the car then I would say, the outgoing and social yet responsible crowd would probably fall hardest for it. Those who don’t want to have to trade up cars if they have kids would also really appreciate this ride.
 
The 2017 Nissan Rogue Sport seats five and gets 32 miles to the gallon on the highway and 25 miles to the gallon in the city. It comes in three models, the S, SV and SL and starts at $21,420. I test drove the SL model which starts at $26,070. 
 
 -XOXO Charell Star | Not Just A Girl In A Dress 
Tech,

Lifestyle Unboxed: Reviewing the 2017 Mazda6

It’s hard to believe that a just a few weeks ago, Mother Nature was trying to cut my review time with the 2017 Mazda6 short. I mean, I did have to break out the shovel, ice pick, and snow boots, but I made sure to get in some quality drive – and shopping – time.    

2017 Mazda6

Let me get the obvious out of the way first:  one never appreciates a car more than when the weather is brutal. This was especially true of the Mazda6. Everything about the car felt luxurious – the warm interior, heated seats, and rear-window defogger. Seriously,  I was so happy not to have to walk in the cold that every included feature felt like a rare gift.    

2017 Mazda6 GPS

Once I’d thawed out a bit, I was able to evaluate the car more fairly.

The 2017 Mazda6 is slightly larger than the 2017 Mazda3, offering more leg and headroom. It also has more horsepower. Besides that, the 4-door sedans are nearly identical and come with Bluetooth connectivity for navigation and hands-free dialing, a  digital center console, an infotainment system, and Sirius XM Satellite radio. 

2017 Mazda6 Rear Camera

The built-in touch screen display provides GPS directions and switches to rear view when you’re reversing to backup or park. It also shows incoming calls on screen, if you have your cell phone synced to the car – which only took a few seconds to do. 

2017 Mazda6 Trunk

The Mazda6 also has a tad more space in the trunk (14.8 cubic feet) than the Mazda3 (12.4 cubic feet), which depending on your shopping habits can be a deal closer ;). I fit around $200 worth of groceries in the trunk and had plenty of space to spare. (And, before you comment on my food spending – know I hadn’t been grocery shopping in a while).    

2017 Mazda6 Rear

The car handled the snow covered roads smoothly, and I felt safe driving it on the still wet streets.  

The 2017 Mazda6 seats five, and includes front airbags, front side-impact airbags, and side-impact air curtains. It also has advanced safety features like blindside monitoring and city break support – to help you avoid collisions. 

The 2017 Mazda6  gets up to 26 miles to the gallon in the city and 35 miles to the gallon on the highway. It starts at $25,245 – around $3,000 more than the 2017 Mazda3. If you need the extra space, I’d say spring for the Madza6. 

You can also check out more info on the Mazda6 here

Tech,

7 Things To Know About the New LG G6

The new LG G6 launches around the world today and it is clearly LG’s best smartphone yet. I’ve been testing the phone out for a little over a week and been impressed by the phone so far. 

Check out my latest Lifestyle Unboxed video to see how it works and measures up.  

Also, check out the 7 things you should know about the new LG G6 below. 

 

It’s Got A Big Screen with A Sharp Display

The LG G6 includes a 5.7-inch screen which takes up 80% of the real-estate on the front of the phone. Despite the large size, the phone fits snugly in one hand and I was able to swipe apps easily with my The actual dimensions of the phone is 5.9 by 2.8 by 0.3 inches which is smaller (and lighter) than the Google Pixel XL and iPhone 7 Plus.  Also, it’s 2880×1440 resolution made images and videos look crisp on the screen.   

It’s Got Three Cameras 

One of my favorite features on the LG G6 is it dual rear 13-megapixel cameras. One camera takes standard shots and the other takes wide screen shots. The phone includes some manual controls that allow you to manipulate the light and shutter speeds. The rear camera also takes 4K video with both rear cameras.  

LG G6 Dual Camera – Standard Camera (L) and Wide Angle Canera (R)

The LG G6 also includes a 5-megapixel front-facing camera for selfies. 

LG G6 – Front Facing (Selfie)Camera Shot

It’s Water Resistant 

 

LG G6 Submerged

It’s crazy for a phone not to be water-resistant these days and LG clearly agrees. The new G6 is water tight and can be submerged in up three feet of water for 30 minutes without damage.  

It’s Got A Headphone Jack

Some phone brands may want to move you to purchase wireless headphone by not including a standard headphone jack on the device, but LG hasn’t made that move yet. The phone includes a good-old headphone jack which allows you to use your favorite wired headphones. I’m still struggling to find a brand of wireless headphones that fit in my tiny ears, so this oldie feature is a win for me.   

It’s Got A Solid Battery Life

The battery clocks in at just under 7 hours when I streamed a video over wi-fi which is pretty solid.  It includes a 3,300 mAh battery which lasts for about 22.5 hours of talk time. Unlike previous models of the “G” Series phones, the battery in the G6 is not swappable. This is mainly because the phone is built water-tight, so it can’t be opened and shut. Not being able to carry a second battery is not a big deal for me, but some may not like it.   

It’s Expandable 

The US version of the LG G6 includes 32 GB of built-in storage, which may not be large enough if you like to store lots of photos or videos on your phone – like I do. The phone does include a micro-SD slot and is expandable to 2TB of storage. However, when researching micro-SD cards I learned that 512GB is the largest available size currently on the market. So, realistically 524 GB (32GB built-in storage + 512GB expandable card) is the largest amount of storage the LG will be able to hold at one time for the time being – which is still plenty for most people.       

It’s Designed for Wireless Charging 

The LG G6 includes a USB Type-C charging cable in the box but is built to allow wireless charging. I did not have a wireless charger pad, so I was unable to try this feature out. The phone does support both Qi and PMA wireless charging. For regular wall charging the phone takes about an hour and 28 minutes to charge fully when it is fully drained. 

Additionally, the LG G6 sounds good when making and receiving calls –  which is a standard requirement of any smartphone. It comes in three colors: black, platinum and white. I tested a black model and it shows finger smudges clearly. You’ll probably want to get a case if you go with the black color. 

Also, the LG G6 runs between $600 and $750 depending on carrier.  

Overall, the LG G6 is a great phone with all necessary feature. It’s one to consider if it’s time for an update. 

 

LG G6 Dual Camera: Standard Shot (l) Wide Angle Shot (r) 

Tech,

Lifestyle Unboxed: Reviewing The 2017 Mazda3

Compact, comfy and oh so cute, the 2017 Mazda3 packs a lot to like in a small package. I test drove an automatic 4-door sedan for a week (it also comes in a hatchback) and the ride was pretty awesome.   

Kicking it with my (loaner) Mazda3

First off, the car handles really, really well, like surprising well considering the price. Yes, $21,495 is nothing to sneeze at, but cars around this price point can be hit or miss. I drove this bad boy all around New York City and northern New Jersey to run errands. It was totally smooth sailing on the bumpy streets and long stretches of highway.  

Mazda3 Dashboard

The Mazda3 gets 28 miles to the gallon in the city and 37 miles to the gallon on the highway.  I drove a 2-30 mile radius around my home each day and didn’t have to refill the tank once. Plus, I still had more than a quarter tank at the end of the week. 

2017 Mazda3 Center Console

Not having to stop to grab gas was great and so was all the handy tech features built into the car. The Mazda3 includes a digital center console, an infotainment system, Sirius XM Satellite radio, hands-free dialing and Bluetooth connectivity for navigation. Of course, the first thing I did was sync my cell phone with the car. My Spotify playlist sounded great playing through the 6-speaker system and I might have got wrapped up in some carpool karaoke whiles sitting at a stoplight or two;).   

2017 Mazda3 Infotainment System and Dual Temperature Controls

I totally dug the built-in touch screen display which is the control panel for all the car’s tech features. It shows incoming calls, GPS directions, and the rear view when you’re reversing to backup or park. Below are dual temperature controls and buttons to activate the amazing heated seats.  

2017 Mazda3 Exterior

Overall, the inside of the Mazda3 was very roomy, despite its compact size. It seats five, includes a good-size trunk, advanced safety features like blindside monitoring and city break support in addition to front air bags, front side-impact air bags, and side-impact air curtains. 

2017 Mazda3 Rear

The Mazda3 is a strong car that feels firm as you drive. The added tech features make it a great value for the price and one to add to the consideration list.

You can also check out more info on the Mazda3 here

Tech,

5 Things I’m Loving About Google Home & Wifi

Disclosure: This post is sponsored; however, all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.

My life has been crazy busy these days – in a good way. I’ve been on my grind non-stop covering Fashion Week and new product launches, writing stories, speaking at events and lending my discerning eye (and bubbly personality) to TV trend segments. Staying on task while juggling a full plate isn’t always easy, but I try to work efficiently and have as much fun as possible along the way.

Two products that have been a big help on that front lately are my Google Home smart assistant and Google Wifi system. They’re the digital solutions I’ve been using to keep me and my home connected – to the Internet and to my life. I’ve had them for around two months now and find they’ve totally changed how I navigate my day-to-day.   

Here are five things I’m loving about Google Home and Google Wifi so far. 

Google Home and Google Wifi – Photo Credit: Not Just A Girl In A Dress

It’s My Personal DJ

Being able to tell Google Home to play my Spotify music is one of my favorite features. I find myself listening to music more, which has been a great mood elevator for me. Saying, “Ok, Google, play my song list” has become one of the first things I do whenever I walk through my door. 

It’s A Forecast Friend

Google Home – Photo Credit: Not Just A Girl In A Dress

I’m also totally digging that I can ask Google Home the weather forecast while I pick out my outfits for the day. I live in a walkup apartment, so it’s a little inconvenient to step out just to check the temperature. Sure I could open a weather app on my phone, but it is just easier to ask Google.

It Makes Me A Multi-Tasking Maven 

I get my best ideas at the most random moments – like when I’m waiting for a conference call to start or making dinner.  Instead of stopping what I’m doing, I just tell Google to add my bright ideas to my “shopping list” and I circle back to it later. This is a digital hack that I’ve been using since it is the only “make a list” feature Google Home currently offers.    

It Simplifies My Commute

Google Home & Google Wifi – Photo Credit: Not Just A Girl In A Dress

Obviously, knowing how long my commute will take door-to-door helps me arrives where I need to be on time. But it also helps me estimate how many more tasks I can sneak in before heading out or while walking to the train. The phrase, “Ok Google, how’s my commute” has been a true game-changer in helping me check more tasks off in the morning. 

Keeps Me Connected

Google Wifi – Photo Credit: Not Just A Girl In A Dress

Google Wifi has been the little power engine in the background keeping my data uploading and downloading effortlessly. I honestly haven’t had any challenges with my Wi-Fi network since I setup my Google Wifi – which I love. Its lack of technical interruptions keeps me working smoothly, which is the best anyone can ask for from a Wi-Fi network.

Do you have a Google Home or Google Wifi? Let me know how it’s working out for you.

Tech,

Lifestyle Unboxed: Reviewing The 2017 Nissan Rogue

The 2017 Nissan Rogue is one of those cars you instantly love when you hop in it. Not to be all hyperbolic about it, but it is just a really smooth riding car wrapped in a solid sleek body. 

2017 Nissan Rogue – Not Just A Girl In A Dress Review

I got my first experience with the 2017 Rogue when I rode in the backseat of one to a film premiere a few weeks ago. I was impressed by how the car handled the New York City roads and how spacious the car felt, so I sent a request to the brand to borrow one to test drive and review. 

2017 Nissan Rogue – Photo Credit: Not Just A Girl In A Dress

The compact SUV is available in three trim levels or models: the basic “S,” mid-range “SV” and the top-of-the-line “SL.” I test drove an “SV” model with all-wheel-drive for seven days.  

2017 Nissan Rogue – Photo Credit: Not Just A Girl In A Dress

The SV model gets 32 miles-per-gallon on the highway and 25 in the city. It also comes loaded with automatic headlights, keyless entry and ignition and heated mirrors that keep visibility clear during inclement weather. The steering wheel is wrapped in leather.    

2017 Nissan Rogue Interior – Photo Credit: Not Just A Girl In A Dress

The Rogue also features a six-way power driver seat – which is awesome for short people like me who need the seat to be at maximum height at all times but want to get in and out of the car without bumping our heads on the roof.  It also seats five.  

2017 Nissan Rogue Interior – Photo Credit: Not Just A Girl In A Dress

I have come to dread blind-spot monitoring in most cars that I test drive, but the 2017 Rogue’s turned out to be pretty well designed. It comes standard along with rear- cross-traffic alert and notifies drivers of hazards in their blind-spot or when objects or other cars are too close. Normally, I feel the systems can be too sensitive, beeping way too often (like whenever another car is around).

The Rogue’s safety system felt balanced and would only beep or flash when there were true hazards to alert me about. The result was I didn’t find myself tuning out its warning system the way I have others.  

2017 Nissan Rogue Interior – Photo Credit: Not Just A Girl In A Dress

I totally dug having dual-zone automatic climate control and seat warmers. The touch-screen monitor was also a big bonus. Besides it functioning as a rear-view monitor when I parked, it included in-car navigation, Bluetooth connectivity, and voice activation dialing. It took less than a minute to sync my iPhone with the system. Phone calls were crystal clear through the six-speaker audio system and my music played seamlessly every time I turned the car on.      

2017 Nissan Rogue Interior – Photo Credit: Not Just A Girl In A Dress

The cargo hold was pretty roomy and included hidden floor compartments for when you needed to transport tall items. 

2017 Nissan Rogue Interior – Photo Credit: Not Just A Girl In A Dress

The back row of seats also folds flat to increase the storage capacity.  

2017 Nissan Rogue – Photo Credit: Not Just A Girl In A Dress

How it Drives

Actually driving the 2017 Nissan Rogue was really fun. The car handles really well on the road, around curves and on the construction-laden/pot-hole filled streets of my neighborhood. I felt safe and in control of the car at all times, even on windy stretches of road. The car was comfortable and it was easy to feel like I was driving a more expensive model at times. 

Also, it was great not having to worry about fitting the car in tight parking spaces due to its compact design – which is great for city-dwellers.

With a mid-range starting price of $25,240, the 2017 Nissan Rogue SV is a compact SUV to consider if you value comfort, power, and price.   

Mind, Tech,

7 Apps for Making Friends When You’re Grown AF

Making friends is hard at any age.

It’s even more difficult when you’re grown AF and set in your independent, boss babe ways. As self-satisfying as it is to do things on your own it is also nice to have a squad who wants to roll with you – and maybe talk you out of bad decision or two;).   

The question is, how do you find these friends?

Sure, you can make some great BFFs at work, but what if you don’t gel with your co-workers in the – let’s grab a bottle of wine and watch Scandal – kind of way.

Well, like most things these days – there’s an app for that. Actually, there are more than two dozen apps on the market designed to help people with similar interest connect and make friends.

I sorted through the most popular ones and compiled the ones that were the most user-friendly (pun intended;)).

Here are my 7 favorite apps for making new (platonic) friends when you’re grown AF.  

1. Bvddy – For The Sports Inclined
 

A post shared by Bvddy (@bvddyapp) on

Available on IOS and Andriod, Bvddy literally finds someone for you play with. The app matches people looking for sports partners, pickup games or someone to workout with. You select the sporting activities you enjoy, your proficiency level and location and the app matches you with others in your area that like those activities too.  

2. Meet my Dog – For Dog Moms and Dads 

Meet my Dog helps you set up playdates for your pet and make some puppy loving friends in the process. The free social app – available on IOS – lets you upload of picture of you and your furry companion, chat with other dog owners, and see what other dogs are nearby for playtime at the park.  

3. Patook – For BFFs and Nothing More

Patook is no-nonsense when it comes to helping people make friends. The free app – available on IOS and Android – automatically weeds out users who try to flirt or hook up via its app and permanently bans them. The system matches people based on similar interests and location and makes it easy for women, men and couples to make platonic friends.   

4. Meetup – For the Squad Seeker 
 

A post shared by Meetup (@meetup) on

Geared towards connecting groups of people in IRL who share similar interest, Meetup is great for finding your tribe. Available on IOS and Android, the app lets users set up events for people who are passionate about anything from cooking to wine tasting to politics, to ice hockey.  

5. Peanut – For the New Mom
 

A post shared by Peanut (@peanut) on

Peanut helps mamas find friends with little ones of their own.  The free IOS app matches women users via location and child orientation. Matched moms can set up adult playdates or group chat via the app. The app is only open to female users and Facebook as its log-in interface, so make sure you’ve identified your sexual orientation on Facebook before signing up.   

6. Hey! Vina – For Women, By Women 
 

A post shared by VINA (@ilikevina) on

Hey! Vina is a female-only app focused on helping women build a supportive community through their friends. The app lets users connect based on interest, age, and location and encourages them to meet for coffee as soon as they’re matched. The app is available on IOS.   

7. Real – For Those Who Don’t Want To Be Swayed By Looks 

Subconscious gender and racial bias are true hurdles when people are trying to move out of their comfort zone to make friends. Real tries to help by hiding profile photos until users have been matched by common interests and location. The fee IOS app wants people to swipe left on right based on appeal, not appearance.  

Let me know what you think of these friend-making apps!

Tech,

Making File Transfer Easy with Google WIFI

Disclosure: This post is sponsored; however, all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.

Can I just say that I love that get to spend my days being creative and telling fun stories and making cool videos? Much of my day is filled with great moments – shooting videos, responding to readers, writing new posts -but there are a few efficiency challenges that have to be dealt with.

One reoccurring issue that tends to pop up often is being slowed downed by my Wi-Fi network whenever I’m trying to upload or download a video clip or large file. I know, this is totally a first world problem, but it has a real impact on how productive I can be with my time. It can take up to an hour for video files to download for editing, which is an hour I could have spent working on another story or video (or actually eating lunch;)).

Part of the challenge is my own making. I’m a techie and my husband and I have about 10 devices hooked up to our Wi-Fi network at any given time (multiple laptops, cell phones, TV, speakers, and tablets). Throw in new Wi-Fi enabled gadget that I test periodically and it’s a wonder we can download anything.

Google Wifi Unboxed

Setting up my Google Wifi

So, color me intrigued when Google asked me to test out their new Wi-Fi system aptly named – Goggle Wifi. The home system is packaged one box solution for your bandwidth woes.

How it Works:

My Google Wifi came with three Wifi points. My apartment is pretty tiny – way below the 1,500 sq. ft. range of the Wifi points – so I actually only needed to use one. After downloading the Google Wifi app and plugging in the point to the modem, I was off and running.

Google Wifi Connection Points

Getting Everything Connected

The app allows you to set up each wifi point and password protect the system, so you don’t have unauthorized users clogging your network. You can also check your network speed, set up a priority device and set up a guest login and password for when you have friends over who need to use your Wi-Fi.

I like that can I can see all the devices on my network in the app and the amount of bandwidth they are using. It is also great that I can prioritize my laptop when I am downloading large video files for editing.

Google Wifi App Home Page

Google Wifi App – Device Priority Page

Google Wifi App – Family WIFI Pause Page

Also, parents will probably appreciate the “Family Wi-Fi Pause” function that allows for temporary blocking of Wi-Fi to a specific device or devices for a set period – like dinnertime, study time or bedtime.

 

The Outcome:

Being able to take control of my network and prioritize my devices when I need to is a real game-changer. I had been toying around with the idea of upgrading my Wi-Fi network through my cable company to get more speed but Google Wifi has proven to be a better solution for my needs than that.

Google WIFI

I can prioritize my laptop on the network when I’m downloading large video files at the touch of a button and get to editing faster. I like having a system that helps me be more productive with my time.

Overall, Google Wifi is totally a home or home-office upgrade check out if you want to make your network not just more efficient, but smarter. The 3-pack Goggle Wifi is $299 and it will have a combined range of 4,500 sq. ft. That might seem a little pricey, but an internet speed upgrade from your cable company might run you an additional $20 – $50 per month, so it is worth the investment in the long run.

Tech,

Making My Living Room Smart, With My New Google Home

Disclosure: This post is sponsored; however, all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.

Working from home has proven to be both one of my greatest joys and one of my greatest challenges as a writer and digital host. There is absolutely nothing better than putting the finishing touches on a story snuggled up on the couch, drinking a cup of green tea from my favorite mug while checking out what shenanigans Tamera and ladies of The Real are up to from time to time.

Of course, the comfy setup I’ve created can easily cause me to be distracted and fall behind schedule. As a result, I’m always on the lookout for easy upgrades that will keep me on track without cramping my style.

Enter Google Home  

2016-11-28-09-11-35

I was really excited to try Google Home – the latest smart speaker to hit the market. The all-white micro pod (it kind of resembles a cute tabletop air freshener) has had people talking since it was announced this fall. I wanted to find out if it could help me be more productive over time.

Unboxing

2016-11-28-09-09-27

Setting up Google Home was a pretty simple affair. I chose my living room as its home base. After unpacking the pod and plugging it in, all I had to do was download the Google Home app on my smartphone and sync it with my Wi-Fi network. Within a few taps I was off and running.

Keeping Me on Task

Over the next few days I found my Google Home became more and more of a resource in helping me complete my work-task efficiently. I’ve used it to set alarms for myself to remember important calls or fact-check items, check my calendar and make a shopping list to order props for my upcoming TV segments. Sure I could open a new tab on my browser while I’m working to do this, but that opens up the chance of me getting off track. There’s something nice about tabling a task until you’re done with the one at hand.

2016-11-28-09-22-12

My favorite features for my Google Home so far have been the timer and dictionary feature. I can literally say, “OK Google, set timer for 45 minutes” and put myself on a schedule to complete a project.

And, Google Home’s voice activated dictionary actually solves a long-standing, but obvious pet peeve of mine. I can’t properly look up the spelling of a word if I don’t remember/know how to spell it in the first place. I love being able to say, “Hey Google, how do you spell…” and it tells me. It’s a real time saver.

I am also digging that it connects to my premium Spotify account. I can easily tell it to play music or my playlists while I’m editing photos or on a break and say, “OK Google, stop playing,” when I need to concentrate.

2016-11-28-09-20-57

Exciting Features Still To Come!

Every once in a while, I’d ask Google Home to do a task, like add an appointment to my calendar and she’d respond, “Sorry, I can’t do that yet.” I called Google Home’s customer service and they said that their team is working on updating the feature to allow users to make voice-automated calendar appointments. The rep didn’t give a timeline on when it would be rolled out, but it sounded like it was a priority from the pitch of his voice.

Oh, and shout out to the customer service crew. A real life person answered the phone within 30 seconds of me dialing.

2016-11-28-09-20-31

Living Smart(er)

Overall, Google Home was a fun and added some efficiencies to my work style. The smart speaker was really easy to use and (for obvious reasons) worked seamlessly with my Google calendar and Google apps. It should only get better and smarter as the google team rolls out updates over time.

If you’re considering getting a voice assistant for yourself or as a gift this holiday season, I’d totally recommend checking out the $129 Google Home. As an added bonus, if you purchase now you’ll also get 6 months free of YouTube Red.