Amazon Echo Defines Words in Devastating Detail

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Our Tech Void staff is quite pleased due to snagging an Amazon Echo to review this holiday. The device is a voice-automated personal assistant named Alexa, much like Siri or Cortana. Of course, this $99 (for Prime members) tabletop voice box is loaded with Amazon’s own database of product information and services (Amazon Prime Music/Video/Books etc.) Currently invites from Amazon are required to purchase the Echo.

But in the midst of an otherwise run-of-the-mill gadget review, we have found a few Easter eggs that left us in stitches. Case in point: Alexa defining or answering almost any question you could ask of her. Our reviewer found one particularly excruciatingly detailed definition of the word “coitus.”  For full context, check out the video below for a quick laugh. Clearly parents may have their hands full with this informative gadget.

Have any other questions we should ask Alexa? Let us know in the comments below. Stay tuned for our full review.

Last Minute Gifts: Verizon Wireless Lets Users Text Starbucks Gift Cards this Christmas

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Great news for last-minute gifting this holiday. For those who also forgot Aunt Nancy, thankfully she can still get her Christmas java-fix with a Starbucks gift card. But we’re not telling you to run to the store. Verizon Wireless has announced that eGift gift cards are now available through Verizon’s Messages app. Members using Verizon’s proprietary application can send text messages with Starbucks gift cards of $5, $10, or $25 to anyone (on any carrier) with a message of your choice. A wallpaper and gift card icon can also be chosen.

These cards come with a barcode users can scan directly at Starbucks or even load into their current Starbucks app. While the offer is definitely a ploy to get more users jumping onto Verizon’s messaging app, it’s certainly still an interesting way to send a gift card this Christmas.

For more, check the full press release below:

VERIZON WIRELESS NEWS

December 18, 2014

Giving a gift is now as easy as sending a Text

Starbucks Card eGifts now available through Verizon Messages

It’s been 22 years since “Merry Christmas” was the first text message ever transmitted.  Today, Verizon is making last minute gift giving for all your holidays a little easier by offering Starbucks Card eGifts through the popular Verizon Messages app.

Whether you want to say “Happy Holidays”, “Happy Birthday”, or just say “Thanks,” Verizon Messages users can text an eGift card of $5, $10 or $25 to virtually anyone on any U.S. carrier. Just click on the eGift icon, choose your background, choose your amount, add your message, and send. The gift card will be billed directly to the sender’s Verizon Wireless account.  The recipient simply scans the barcode of the eGift Card right from the message at any Starbucks location when paying. They can also load the card into their Starbucks® Mobile App if they choose.

Launched in 2012, Verizon Messages allows users to seamlessly send and receive a text message over the Verizon Wireless network or Wi-Fi from their smartphone, tablet, PC Mac and web browser.  It also offers 90 days of messaging storage, customized backgrounds, image editing tools, location sharing with Glympse®, and a driving mode to limit distractions.

Verizon Messages has been recognized by industry leaders and consumers for the unique benefits it provides. It was chosen “Best In Show for Emerging Technology” at CTIA in 2013, and picked By ZDNet.com in 2014 as one of their 10 cool apps to start the year.  Earlier this month, a study named Verizon Messages as the #1 most-used consumer app by sports fans in stadiums across the country.

The Best Smartphones to Gift for Christmas 2014

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Smartphones are almost like fashion these days–Everyone wants the newest thing, and they want it to fit their personality. Luckily, you’ve come to the right place, because Tech Void put together a list of the best smartphone gifts for Christmas 2014 to dazzle your friends and family.

For the Hipster Who Refuses to Take a Selfie

The Moto G 2nd Generation 2014

This phone is a supreme improvement on the first Moto G, and despite its somewhat lower-end specs (Snapdragon 400 and 1GB of RAM), it still out-performs many other budget phones on the market. Meanwhile, Motorola has kept the sensible and clean Android experience intact, with an addition of Motorola’s clever and useful software gimmicks (shake to open camera, one-touch notifications, and Moto Assist/Google Now-integration).

Car2Go Reaches 1,000,000 Members, Tells the World

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One of DC’s most well-known car-sharing services just reached 1,000,000 members this week, and its none other than Daimler company’s Car2G0. The tiny, urban Smart car-renting service has been popular in Washington, D.C. among other metropolises including Atlanta, Seattle, Portland, and the Twin Cities (MSP) for the past several years.

Tech Void’s 2014 Holiday Gift Guide

Tech Void's Holiday Guide

Not sure what to get your friends and famliy for the holidays? You’re in luck! We’ve compiled Tech Void’s  2014 Holiday Guide for you to outshine everyone this season when it comes to the perfect gift of technology.

Syma X5 4 Channel 2.4GHz RC Explorers Quad Copter

The Syma X5 is on the lower-end of the price spectrum for a toy drone, making it the perfect gift for the budding RC/GoPro-aficionado. The X5 is affordable and reliable, not to mention a grand community of knowledgeable owners, just in case there are any problems. Did we mention it comes with a camera? Just be sure to watch out for houses, cars, people, and the FAA.

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Amazon: $49.95

Skybell

Skybell doorbell

Skybell is a brilliant newage doorbell/intercom that lets homeowners answer the door from anywhere in the world. Skybell uses wifi and 4G to deliver alerts and live video feeds, perfect for that special someone who is always on the go. Maybe it’s time to finally try Airbnb.

Skybell and Best Buy: $199.99

Canon Powershot S110

Canon Powershot S110 camera

This little guy is a favorite of beloved Snapchatter and filmmaker Casey Neistat. What makes this one special is the included wifi chip, high-speed auto focus, and 1080p recording at an affordable price. 12 megapixels and 5x optical zoom don’t hurt either. You’ll love the compact size and ability to shoot high-quality photos on the go without draining your smartphone battery.

Amazon: $209.99

Amazon Fire TV

Amazon Fire TV

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Don’t let that Gary Busey commercial stop you. The Amazon Fire TV easily connects to all of your media needs, ranging from music to Hulu Plus (or the preferable Netflix), and has three times the processing power of Apple TV or Roku. It’s of course also loaded with access to all of Amazon’s streaming applications. Scoff if you like, but instantly renting new releases in HD for $4 is definitely no worse than driving to Blockbuster was in the 90s. Did we mention you can play Android-based video games? Fun for all.

Amazon: $99

iPad Air 2

iPad Air 2

by Maurizio Pesce, via Flickr

The iPad Air 2 is all the rage, especially with its Touch ID, better camera, and more powerful performance. At less than a pound, it’s the perfect travel companion for that special someone on your list. Plus, if it ends up under your coffee table (like most tablets), at least your guests will have something to look at.

Apple and Best Buy: $449 (16 GB)

Nintendo 3DS

by Hanbyul, via Flickr

Since the Nintendo 3DS release, the number and range of titles have expanded, catering to beginning and experienced gamers alike. This handheld system is great for your lovely (or annoying) children/husbands on holiday trips, just in case you lost love for playing “I Spy.” It’s the license place, we get it.

GameStop and Target: $199.99 (XL)