Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Top 10 Most Wanted Christmas Presents of 2011

Deck the halls! Christmas is just around the corner. If you are running a little bit late with your Christmas shopping, these will definitely wow whoever you are shopping for. If you've already made your list and checked it twice, you should cross reference this list of gifts that will surely be on your loved-one's list.

Apple iPad 2 ($500+)

The only thing that would be more popular than the original iPad last year, would be the iPad 2 this year. With a slimmer design, curved edges, and weighing in at a dainty 1.3 pounds. It is the best tablet out there, no comparison.

Amazon Kindle Fire ($199)

The Kindle is still the best e-Reader out there, and is completely compatible with the Android App store which offers huge variety of useful apps. It is extremely functional at a price that is less than half of the iPad 2, and it is extremely user-friendly. Enjoy incredibly fast web browing with Amazon Silk and free cloud storage for Amazon content.

Angry Birds Merchandise ($10-$80)

What's not to love about everyone's favorite app turned into merchandise? From kids to adults, Angry Birds merchandise will surely be a hit. There are pillows, clothing, phone cases, and plush toys. Although the toys seem like a gag gift, their cultural relevance will surely be the talk of your kids' next play date, or your next dinner party.

Cloth Bound Penguin Classic Novels ($7-$14)

Who says paper books have become obsolete? For your cultured friend who loves to collect books on their shelves, buying them the cloth bound Penguin classic novels is a perfect idea. The books are hardcover, but each come with a vintage cloth design encompassing authors from Jane Austen and Emily Bronte, to Charles Dickens and Oscar Wilde. If your loved-one is a reader, these books will undoubtedly make them smile, and it will add a vintage pop to their bookshelf. We recommend buying two or three so that they know it's a set.

SleepTracker Watch ($179)

They say "waking up has never been easier" with a SleepTracker watch. Although the device itself is a bit awkward and bulky, it monitors your sleep and will wake you up at the best time so that you feel the most rested and productive. There is the SleepTracker, the SleepTracker Pro, and the SleepTracker Elite (which comes complete with a snooze button in case you need a few more z's). It's also water resistant and works as a standard watch.

Droid RAZR (starting at $299.99)

For Android lovers, the Motorola Droid RAZR is the sleekest, thinnest on the market. The screen is still large, but it has a 1.2 GHz dual-core processor, 4G LTE speed, Gingerbread software, and an 8MP camera all packed into a 0.28 inch thick smartphone. Motorola also guarantees that it won't snap in half because it is made of Kevlar and Gorilla Glass.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 ($38 for PlayStation 3)

The ultimate video game, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 (COD) is on every video game enthusiast's wishlist (if they don't already own 4 copies themselves). Call of Duty actually beat James Cameron's Avatar in the race to earn $1 billion. Avatar took a whole 17 days to reach $1 billion, whereas Call of Duty did it in 16 days.

LeapPad Explorer ($84)

Parents rejoice! The LeapPad Explorer Tablet has a built-in camera, video recorder, and more than 100 games and activities for kids to learn by playing. If you're looking to buy this for your kids, you better buy it quickly because it is flying off the shelves. Why wouldn't it? There are skill levels that automatically adjust to the learning curve of each child.

Diamond Edition 4-Disc The Lion King Blu-ray 3D and DVD ($33)

Before it goes back into the Disney vault, you should probably consider scooping up the Lion King 3D edition, even if you don't have a 3D television yet. The Lion King is one of the most popular movies in the Disney franchise. This 4-Disc edition includes the digitally restored picture, high definition sound, and bonus features.

Apple TV (around $100)

Apple TV is an easy way for you to stream movies and shows from iTunes, as well as content from your Netflix, YouTube, Flikr, etc. accounts. It runs on very low power in a sleek 4 inch square and connects with your PC or Mac. You can also control it from you iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, or your 7 button Apple remote.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Deck the Halls with Energy Efficient Lighting

With our heaters cranking, hot plates heating, crock pots bubbling, ovens warming, and televisions blasting, it's no wonder that America's electric bills are highest around the holidays. We don't even take into account the multiple lights in multiple rooms that we leave on despite the necessity due to the big groups of family and friends we host for our holiday parties.

How much energy do Christmas lights use?

Christmas presents already cause most people to max out their credit card bills, so why waste money on extra electricity when you don't need to? We have some tips to lower your electric bills with energy conscious lighting strategies that won't take away from the effect of your home.

Replace your Indoor Lightbulbs

With so many lights on indoors, you should replace all of your old lightbulbs with LED or CFL energy efficient lightbulbs. Not only do these lightbulbs last longer, but they take up less energy than your standard lightbulb which means a lower electricity bill. (Plus the lighting is more flattering for those family photos.)

Use Energy-Conscious Practices when Decorating the Home

When hanging the lights outside, there are tactics to make sure that you save energy. Use a timer, minimize the quantity of light strings you use, and use energy efficient light strings. Check out our video on energy conscious holiday lighting for more details on how to save money this holiday season.