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Television DVR:

Tivo OTA

Are you trying to cut cable TV but are having a hard time finding the best way to replace your DVR.Having been looking for a way to cut the cord I found that the hardest part was not finding the cable content, but figuring out the best way to keep the convince of watching local television when I wanted to versus having to stick with the schedule it airs at. Enter the TiVo OTA which stands for Over the Air. Its a DVR for your digital antenna that can schedule and record your favorite local programs. But thats not even the best part, TiVo has a feature that is so awesome I can’t believe it hasn’t made more waves in the industry. OnePass is TiVo’s way of bringing together the content that can be found online on Netflix or Amazon prime and combine it with local recordings from the digital antenna. So now instead of having to switch between different devices like a cable box and a Roku, you can have all of your content in a single easy to use list. Best of all TiVo’s search looks through everything you have enabled whether its Netflix or Over the Air for whatever your looking for. So if you have a program that isn’t coming from your digital antenna but is available on Netflix or Amazon prime it will show you and allow you to setup a OnePass. All of this awesomeness however is not free, but for a scant $15 a month it makes cutting the cord real possibility. Unfortunately it does not complete the full circle if you like to watch major cable TV hits such as Mad Men or The Walking Dead. So you will still need another method to get those programs such as the AppleTV that I use. Together however they complete the picture for a price that is much easier on the wallet.


Home Phone:

OOMA

You may be like a lot of people who have completely replaced a home phone with a cellular phone, but there is still some usefulness to have with a home phone. The problem is most phone services are a complete rip off for what you pay. That's where OOMA shines and why I use it. OOMA is a VOIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) Telephone server that uses your internet connection to connect you phone to the rest of the world. With the basic server all you pay each month are taxes and fee's for stuff like 911 and FCC (mine are about $3.70 a month). The catch (if you want to call it that) is that you have to buy the device outright. They retail for $150, but if you shop around on Amazon, Newegg or other sites your bound to find an even better deal.

But wait, it gets better! They also have a premier service that adds some incredible functionality for just $10 a month. That still brings your total monthly bill to less than $15, way better than any of the other traditional offerings. It's packed with features, but my two favorites are the personal block list and voicemail forwarding to email. With the personal block list you can block any phone number from calling you; something that has come in handy to block the "Fraternal Order of Police". Voicemail forward to email does just what it sounds like. Any voicemail that is left is sent to you email as an mp3 file that you can then listen to on your smartphone, computer, home, work, while traveling....wherever you can get to you email. 


LED Lighting:

CREE LED

Phillips LED

Lighting technology is one area of advancement that has really taken off recently. The need for lower power consumption is the largest factor overall, but it was also aided by a law that went into effect at the beginning of this year (2014). For a while now the next best option was the Compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) which has always had some level of mercury in them (A few have 0 Mercury), and the quality ranged from terribly cheap to greatly lasting past the advertised lifespan. The great news is that LED lighting tech has made it to a price point that is financially viable and with lifespans rated 20+ years they are set to be that light that once you put it in, you forget about it. But theres a catch, if your going to buy a lightbulb that you will have for 20+ years then it had better be a good one. Depending on your taste, you can either buy a "Soft White" bulb which closely resembles the traditional light from an good ole Edison (incandescent) bulb at a color of around 2700k. You can also opt for the "Daylight" bulbs which generally offer light at a color of 5000k (closer to the light of the sun around mid-day), but for some this color is too pure of a white, but will help prevent that yellow tinted feel that some do not like at night. One thing to keep in mind is that your eyes have more trouble focusing on blue tinted lighting versus a yellow tinted light, so in that regard if you do decide to use "daylight" bulbs in general around the house, your likely to find it more comfortable to do you reading with a "soft white" bulb to reduce eye strain.

Both CREE and Phillips have extremely quality bulbs, both brands of which I use personally use. Out of both brands I do use the A-Style "Soft White" bulbs, none of which have had any premature failures and both put out excellent light. Just be aware that the bulbs themselves can have a small amount of a buzz sound, but generally you have to be extremely close (less than 1 foot) to the bulb to hear it. The LED bulb is now down to a price point of $10 or less (Home Depot, Amazon), which will seem like a lot compared to the old school bulbs, but over 20 years of use and the lower energy consumption they will easily pay themselves off many times over before they die. 

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Rechargeable Batteries:

Sanyo Eneloop

Tired of paying for new batteries all of the time? Hate it when batteries die and you have no replacements? Ever think of all the rare earth and toxic materials that go in the trash every time you toss another pair of AAs? Man do I have a solution for you! These are not your grandma's rechargeable batteries. Sanyo Eneloops are pure awesomeness with the ability to hold 75% of their charge after 3 WHOLE YEARS! The cost pennies to recharge, will save you a bundle compared to alkilines in the long run. I use them and highly recommend them to anyone I meet.

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