In this issue:
Back to School Tech Guide
Certified Pre-Owned Cars Cost More, but Come with Perks
Payment Verification: What Does the Future Hold?
|Back to School Tech Guide
With the start of this year’s school season, it’s time to make sure that the tech you’re packing keeps you prepared for whatever life (or your new teachers) might throw at you.
Here are six tech accessories to get you back in the swing of things at school and at home.
1. Amazon Echo Dot ($49)
When you’re done with a long school day, the last thing you want to do is move a muscle. With Amazon’s Echo Dot, you don’t really have to. The voice-activated assistant responds to your voice. Just call out “Alexa” and it’ll do your bidding. Wanna know the weather? You’re covered. Wanna hear some music? Check. Need to call an Uber to get to Friday night’s hangout? Double check. All without getting out of bed. Sweet.
2. Anker PowerCore+ Mini 3350mAh Battery ($14)
Cell phones always die at the worst times and, frankly, it’s exhausting. But you don’t need to stay attached to a wall to get topped up on juice. Here’s a giant battery that’ll refill your phone from 0-100% at least once on a single charge, all while you’re roaming free. It’s roughly the size of a lipstick container, so it’s super portable. These are great for long days at school or late nights with your friends. Who needs a wall outlet in 2017? Not you.
3. Skullcandy Barricade Mini ($40)
It’s just a little bit bigger than your fist, but it sounds way better than the speakers on your phone. On top of that, it’s water resistant, has 6-hour battery life and can take a hit thanks to its industrial design. This tiny speaker from Skullcandy also packs a punch in the sound department. No more sticking your phone in a cup so your friends can hear. Play it loud, play it proud.
4. Misfit Shine 2 ($99)
This fitness tracker is chock-full of features. It tracks your steps, sleep and calories, just like an Apple Watch does, but it’s way cheaper. It’ll also vibrate to notify you about incoming calls, messages and reminders. The kicker: The battery on the Misfit Shine 2 lasts for up to six months. Even when your battery dies, don’t worry. A 4-pack of compatible batteries can be had for less than $3. That’s another two years of worry-free battery life. And to think that your friends have to charge their Apple Watches every night...
5. Roku Express+ ($40)
Smart TVs with their fancy apps and streaming capabilities cost hundreds of dollars, but you can turn the TV you have now into something just as good, no matter how old it is. The Roku Express+ plugs into the HDMI port on newer TVs and uses component cables (red, white, yellow) on older ones. So, it doesn’t matter if your TV is from this century or the last, this streaming stick gives you access to Hulu, Netflix, YouTube, etc. no matter what. On top of that, the remote is so simple that even your parents will understand how it works.
6. Microsoft OneNote
For now, you’ll have to trust me on this, but a good note-taking app will vastly improve your experience when you’re finally back in the classroom. Even if you can’t take notes on your phone or a computer, it’s a good studying practice to rewrite (or type, in this instance) class notes elsewhere. You’ll remember the material better that way, I promise. OneNote will store all of your notes in the cloud, making them available on any device you use. With all your notes with you at all times, it’s never been easier to cram for that History exam on the way to school.
Article courtesy of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune
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|Certified Pre-Owned Cars Cost More, but Come with Perks
DETROIT - A certified pre-owned vehicle costs more than a regular used car, but it can give buyers some peace of mind in an often murky market.
Certified pre-owned vehicles are used cars that are backed by an automaker's guarantee. They're usually newer cars, coming off two- or three-year leases. Certified pre-owned programs limit the miles the cars can have on them - under 60,000, in many cases - and put the cars through a rigorous inspection. They come with extended warranties and, sometimes, extra perks like roadside assistance or a satellite radio subscription.
"If I want a car that hasn't been abused, this is one of the best ways to avoid all that guesswork," says Matt Jones, senior editor of consumer advice for the car shopping site Edmunds.com.
Certified pre-owned programs have been growing in popularity as the supply of used cars balloons in the U.S. New vehicle sales have risen for seven straight years and as many as a third of those vehicles were leased. That has left automakers with a steady stream of two- or three-year-old vehicles with limited mileage that are ideal for certified pre-owned programs.
U.S. certified pre-owned sales grew by 61% to 2.6 million between 2010 and 2016, according to Cox Automotive. Still, they only made up a fraction of the 28.7 million used cars sold by franchised and independent dealers last year.
Certified pre-owned status generally adds 6% to 8% to the price of the car, or between $1,000 and $1,500, Jones said. A Ford dealer in Michigan is currently advertising a certified pre-owned 2014 Ford Edge SEL with 22,748 miles on it for $21,943. A CarMax dealer in Maryland is offering a non-certified pre-owned 2014 Edge SEL, with 33,000 miles, for $1,044 less. By comparison, a new 2017 Edge SEL starts at $31,790.
For the extra cost, factory-trained mechanics will perform 150-, 160- or even 180-point inspections of the vehicle, which is usually less than five or six years old. Among other things, they'll check for any outstanding recalls and make those repairs.
After that, what you get depends on the brand. Automakers may include whatever is left over from the original powertrain warranty, which covers the engine and transmission, along with a shorter bumper-to-bumper warranty, which covers the engine as well as interior parts like the infotainment system or air conditioning. Roadside assistance is often included for at least some period of time. Some manufacturers charge a $50 to $100 deductible for repairs while the car is under warranty; others don't. Buick offers three months' worth of OnStar and lets buyers return the car within three days if they're not happy.
Dealers pay automakers a fee to certify a used vehicle. Kia, for example, gets $450 for every certified pre-owned vehicle sold, says Maria Williams, a senior certified pre-owned retail support manager with Kia. What's more, she says, Kia is getting a relationship with buyers who will keep coming back to the dealership for service. In 2016, 47 percent of buyers who returned to the car market after owning a certified pre-owned Kia bought a new Kia, she says, based on data from the consulting firm R.L. Polk. That rate dropped to 33 percent among owners of a non-certified pre-owned used Kia.
Here are some things to think about if you're shopping for a certified pre-owned vehicle:
DECIDE IF IT'S WORTH IT: Experts are split on this one. Jones, who owns a certified pre-owned vehicle, says a certified pre-owned vehicle is worth the extra cost because you're getting a higher quality car and the promise of less hassle. Dealers are also more willing to deal on a certified pre-owned car, he says, because they've already paid the automaker to get it certified. But Consumer Reports advises against getting a certified pre-owned vehicle. The magazine says certified pre-owned cars may not be in any better shape than any other low-mileage used car and buyers are better off pocketing the $1,500 or so and saving it for repairs or putting it toward a new car. Consumer Reports says shoppers considering a used car should have it inspected by a trusted independent mechanic before they buy.
MAKE SURE IT'S REALLY CERTIFIED: Certified pre-owned vehicles can only be sold by a brand's franchised dealers. Independent dealers may sometimes call a vehicle "certified" or "Carfax certified," but that doesn't mean it's a manufacturer-backed program with the same quality guarantees as an officially certified vehicle. Check the details of certified pre-owned programs on automakers' web sites or in dealership brochures so you know what you should be getting, and look for the certified pre-owned sticker or logo on the car.
READ THE FINE PRINT: Some certified pre-owned programs are more generous than others. Kia certified pre- owned buyers, for example, get whatever is left of the car's 10-year, 100,000-mile powertrain warranty, plus an additional year or 12,000 miles of bumper-to-bumper coverage. Honda certified pre-owned buyers get a similar deal, but the original warranty is for seven years and 100,000 miles. Lexus offers a two-year full warranty with unlimited mileage, a great perk for drivers who drive a lot of miles. Porsche will certify vehicles that are up to 8 years old, as long as they have low enough mileage. Familiarize yourself with the terms for the brands you're interested in and see what might work best for you.
Article courtesy of USA Today
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|Payment Verification: What Does the Future Hold?
The next frontier of biometric payment verifications won’t be a hard sell for most American consumers. A July 2017 survey by Viewpost found that 80 percent of respondents support futuristic payment technologies such as fingerprint sensing, facial recognition and retinal scanning.
Take fingerprint scanning, for example: Almost half of Americans expect that to be part of their payment processes by 2027.
Although facial recognition and retinal scanning were predicted as slightly less likely than fingerprint scanning, both methods were cited by about of third of consumers – 35 percent for facial recognition, 31 percent for retinal scanning. And about 1 in 5 respondents expect to be using bitcoin (21 percent) or voice control (18 percent) within the decade.
As for what they see falling by the wayside, about a third of Americans predict paper checks will be gone within five years, and 80 percent say they’ll be eliminated within 20 years. In addition, only about 1 in 10 consumers (11 percent) think companies will use paper methods for billing their customers in the future. Instead, 52 percent expect customer payments to be handled via mobile app.
Viewpost provides invoicing, payments and cash management services to businesses. It conducted its survey among a nationally representative sample of 1,000 U.S. adults in June, releasing the findings July 11.
Article courtesy of Creditcards.com
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