April 6, 2014 at 7:58 AM ET
There are many tech options to help you get the best from your entertainment, keep track of your finances and document all the fun along the way.
This week, Mario Armstrong focused his need-to-know tech buys on the latest in streaming TV, help with budgeting and offered a great way to display all those digital photos.
Amazon’s Fire TV
Amazon made a big move into the living room this week with the launch of their Fire TV. A set-top box that allows you to stream TV and movies, as well as play video games, Fire TV is priced at $99, right in line with the Apple TV and Roku 3. This price is quite a bit higher than Google’s $35 Chromecast, although Google requires you to have a smartphone, tablet or laptop to stream content to their Chromecast device.
With heavy competition in the space, and many TV manufacturers already including their own ways to access streaming services like Netflix and Hulu, why did Amazon jump in? Probably not to make a profit off of the the actual devices. Instead, Amazon hopes to make it easier for people to rent movies and buy games from them. It's all about owning the ecosystem!
Gaming may also prove to be a big deal for the Fire TV. You may not know this, but Amazon has been building their own game development studio, hiring developers and programmers away from some big names in the industry. Although gaming has traditionally been dominated by bigger, more expensive boxes from Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo, Amazon is hoping there’s room for a more budget-friendly option. On top of the $99 cost of the Fire TV, you can buy controllers for $39.99 each, making it one of the cheapest ways yet to start playing games on the big screen.
Better Budgeting For Your Taxes
If you’re about to pay the government a big chunk of change on tax day but haven’t budgeted for it yet, you’re probably feeling a lot of stress right now. But even if you’re getting a fat refund this year, you want to put that money towards something smart, instead of blowing it on the latest and greatest toy this year.
No matter what your financial situation you should check out Mint.com, an awesome FREE app that will help you with budgeting and managing your finances.
On Mint you can keep your money under control by easily seeing a dashboard of all of your finances, spending and payments and investments in one convenient place. You start out by plugging in all of your finances: checking and savings accounts, credit cards, mortgages, auto loans, and investments. With all that information locked in with bank-level security, Mint will be ready to transform how you understand your financial situation.
The best part is that with Mint it’s painless to set your financial goals! You can decide, “I only want to spend $400 a month on groceries” or “$300 on entertainment”. Now, all of your expenses will be automatically categorized so you can see exactly where you are spending each month. Mint even sends out spending alerts to help keep your balances in check.
Photos Beyond The Frame
With smartphones and cheap digital cameras, it’s easier than ever to capture any moment. But wouldn’t it be great to display those images in your home in a meaningful and impactful way?
WeMontage is a website that makes it easy to take your favorite digital photos and create a beautiful wallpaper collage to put on your wall. Once you’ve loaded all your photos and arranged them, WeMontage sends you a print on removable wallpaper that sticks to both textured and non-textured surfaces. They come in a variety of sizes and won’t damage the paint during installation or removal.
This is an especially great way to display your photos if you have little ones. No one will knock these photos off tables or bang them off the walls while bouncing on their beds. It is also a wonderful gift for senior citizens so they can relive these cherished memories of loved ones.
Perfect for the office, dorm rooms, and even your parents’ assisted living facility, WeMontage is a terrific way to liven up a blank wall with warm memories.