For many, the smart home is becoming a reality. You are able to turn on their lights from miles away or raise the temperature in their house before leaving from work. Furthermore, you can see who is at your door without even getting up from the coach. Overall, smart home technology is advancing at an amazing rate. While there are many people adopting this technology into their everyday lives, others are hesitant to dive in on these devices. For those of you skeptics, I would like to introduce you to the Google Home Mini smart speaker. While still packing in many of the features of more expensive smart speakers, it is half the size and half the price.
The main value of having a Google Home Mini is that like its older brothers the Google Home and Google Home Max, it utilizes Google Assistant. This allows you to utilize your voice to not only control the smart speaker itself, but also other connected home devices. Imagine working in the kitchen doing dishes when you come to the realization you forgot to set a timer for your pizza. Instead of having to stop what you are doing or letting your pizza burn you can simply talk to your Google Home Mini and have it set a timer for you. Besides simplistic features like setting a timer or doing a Google search, you can also place calls and stream music through services such as Spotify, Pandora, or iHeartRadio. Also, if paired with a Chromecast it can be used to pull up videos on your TV. Furthermore, it can serve as the smart hub for a whole host of connected devices such as a Nest Learning Thermostat or Nest Hello video doorbell.
The Google Home Mini resembles the size and shape of a standard round donut. It comes in four different colors: Charcoal Grey, Chalk Grey, Coral, and Aqua. The bottom is rubber so it won’t slip on smooth surfaces. The top is covered in a conductive fabric mesh that allows you to pause and play music by tapping the center or adjust the volume levels up and down by tapping the sides. Under the mesh are four LEDs that indicate if a command has been registered or not. The lower half is plastic with a switch to turn on active listening as well as the micro USB port for power. Provided you pick the right color, this palm-sized device will fit nicely into your home decor.
Even without the addition of other connected devices, the Google Home Mini is still a powerful tool with a whole host of features at an affordable price. The value it will bring to your life is well worth the cost. While it may not be the biggest and the best smart speaker on the market, it serves as a good entry point for anyone looking to begin their smart home journey.
Don’t buy this expecting to have a concert quality speaker for all your sick jams. Do buy this product expecting many of the features of the bigger speakers on the market at half the price. Overall, the Google Home Mini is a great way for you to enter the world of smart homes with minimal risk. Stop on by your local mkCellular to demo this product as well as many other smart home devices.
Opening day should be considered a holiday in Wisconsin. I remember my first experience of waking up early, bundling up with all kinds of layers, and heading out to the tree stand. The experience of watching the sunrise from the tree stand is really something magical. While these things are all nice memories, one downside to my first opening weekend was that I failed to harvest a deer. In fact, I only actually saw two deer the whole weekend. I was thinking the whole time what could I have done differently to prevent this experience in future years? What I concluded is that my uncles and I could have done a better job of tracking and monitoring trails and ruts to better place our tree stands. So we did the logical thing of investing in a trail camera to get a better look at the population, in the hopes that I wouldn’t come up empty the next year.
While the trail camera was a beneficial tool, it was a hassle to have to travel out and pull the SD card to view photos. Also, sometimes we would go out to find that the batteries had died and we had a blackout period with no photos being taken. The trail camera was simply not as convenient as we wanted it to be.
With the advancement of connected devices, US Cellular is now able to offer a trail camera without all the fuss, the Spartan GoCam. Rather than having to go out and check SD cards, the Spartan GoCam utilizes a cellular connection to send pictures directly to your phone, email, or an online viewing portal. Instead of driving up to your land every two weeks to check the cameras, you can save the gas and view what your camera picks up from your smartphone or computer. Furthermore, you can change the settings for taking pictures as you please without having to be near the Spartan GoCam.
The Spartan GoCam comes ready to use right outside of the box. It is powered by 12 AA batteries, that if set to take 15-night pictures and 15-day pictures every 24 hours will last about 3.9 months on lithium batteries (TrailCamPro.com). Photo resolution can be set to 8, 5, or 3mp depending on your preference. Not only does it take quality pictures during the day, but also at night, thanks to a red glow infrared flash. The camera does have the ability to take videos but will not send them over cellular.
While the main purpose of the Spartan GoCam is tracking wildlife, it does have a variety of other valuable applications. For those with second properties, this can be used to monitor it without needing an internet connection. For those in construction, this can be used to monitor equipment on job sites. If the job site moves, the camera can move with you.
Lastly, for 2 homeowners, this can be used to ensure your home is monitored even in the event of a power outage or internet outage. All these things the Spartan GoCam does well at an affordable price.
At mkCellular, our bundle includes batteries and an SD card to get you set-up right away. You can then place the Spartan GoCam anywhere you have cell service. In order to connect it to our network, you do have to pay a small fee of $5.00 a month to pay for the data. When not in use, the data plan can be suspended for no charge. If you do want to utilize the premium app service, GoWireless, you will have to account for paying $4.00 more a month. In comparison to what it would cost in gas and time to drive up North to check the camera, using the Spartan GoCamera will save you money.
Stop on by your local mkCellular to talk with an associate about this innovative product and how it can help you become the king of the woods.
How has tech changed since your childhood? Did you spend most of your time outside or cooped up playing games on a tablet? When going to sleep did you read a book or watch a movie on an iPad? In the car, did you gaze out the window or stare at a phone playing Angry Birds? Whether you want to acknowledge it or not, technology has drastically changed the life of children. This change requires changes in parenting.
Perhaps, you may feel that you are not in proper control of your child or teen’s device usage. It’s an unsettling feeling knowing the atrocities that lurk on the internet. While you may be in your child's presence to monitor them most of the time, there are times out of your control. However, that does not have to be the case. Circle Go by Netgear allows you to manage your families mobile devices anywhere.
Unlike most management software, Circle Go allows you to monitor and restrict usage of any connected device regardless if it is on your home network, even when on 4G LTE and other WiFi networks. It allows you to take back control of their devices.
The “Time Limits” feature allows you to set usage times for popular platforms and categories. If you only want them to be playing games for one hour a day, you can set the time limit in the games category to one hour. This will not only limit them on a singular device, but across all devices that are registered to their profile. Once the time threshold is reached, the user and parents are notified to keep everyone informed. Even kids can view their time limits for the day so they can budget their time wisely.
The “Filter” feature limits what can be accessed on the web based on preset age categories or custom set filters. Circle does that hard work by grouping a massive database of websites and apps into their pre-set age categories. If you find something is missing in these categories, you can restrict websites on your own. Utilizing this feature allows you to let your kids use the web with confidence. As an added bonus, it even blocks annoying ads.
The “OffTime,” “Bedtime,” and “Pause” features allow you to restrict the users connection to the internet. Whether you want to block off a regular time for playtime, homework, or commutes, Circle Go can ensure the devices are not being used. Bedtime is hard enough as it is, why not take out the device variable by disabling them at bedtime? For those times when you want devices to be put aside, the Pause feature can temporarily “pause” them from using the internet.
Don’t want your teen to get distracted from family game night or a long drive home? Put their device on pause.
Circle Go does more than restrict internet usage. The “Rewards” feature allows you to give your kids a treat! Possibilities include: increasing the amount of screen time, setting a later bedtime, and disabling offtime. Wouldn’t it be fun to assign reward amounts to various chores? Can you imagine how motivated they would be to vacuum knowing they would get to play their favorite game for 15 minutes longer?
Lastly, the “MyCircle” feature allows users to monitor their own usage time and stay informed of time limits, bedtimes, and more. As the main user, you will have access to “History” and “Usage” of every registered device to give you a full picture of what your kids are doing with their time.
Even with all these awesome features, this service is reasonably priced. Circle Go gives you a free 30 day trial, after which it is only $4.99 a month for the management of 10 devices, Android or IOS. In 5 easy steps, laid out simply on their website, you can gain back control of your family's devices.
With the unveil of the latest and greatest from Apple, Inc., it’s an opportune to time to introduce you to two devices that will greatly enhance your Apple experience. The smart accessories I will be highlighting in this post are the Apple AirPods and Apple Watch Series 3 with Cellular, both available at your local mkCellular. Compared to your average fitness tracker or wireless headphones, they sport more features that increase usability, convenience, and the productivity of your iPhone.
Smartphones have become vital tools in our personal and professional lives. With that being said, buying a new one can be a big decision and even a bit overwhelming. Out of all of the options available with advancements in technology, here are some things to consider when looking for a new device.
Google Maps has helped millions of users get where they need to go. Along with providing great directions, Google Maps has added new features that provide personal recommendations that can assist you in deciding where to eat, drink, visit, and explore in your local communities. The next time you're hosting friends from out of town, planning a night out, or just trying to kill some free time, this improved app has the info you need to find the best place in town.
Waiting for a deal on some of the greatest smartphones ever? Wait no longer! US Cellular and mkCellular have a fantastic promotion going on right now!
mkCellular is proud to announce that we will be the EXCLUSIVE agent of US Cellular at the Wisconsin State Fair. Check out these great deals that can only be caught at the fairgrounds!
Attention existing customers:
We have a some great upgrade offers available for you through April 26th. Read on to see what devices are included in this can't-miss promotion!
Logan Olson is a recent addition to the mkC crew. Let’s welcome Logan to the family by getting to know him better!
Inspiring stories and how-to advice to help you do amazing things on the go, every day.