IT’S A NEW YEAR, and thus a fitting time to look
ahead. And when it comes to technology, you can
expect your devices to get a whole lot, well,
smarter. So let’s have a sneak peak at some of the
smart tech you may want to invest in over the
coming months. There are some interesting
If your smartphone is so old it has a rotary
dial on it, then it’s likely time for an upgrade.
Many smartphones offer similar features worth
considering: much larger screens with almost no
border between the edges of the display and the
side of the phone; exceptional cameras that can
also shoot ;K video (to wirelessly play back on
the latest TVs); secure ways to log into your
device using your fingerprint, face or iris; much
longer battery life (finally!); and water- and
dust-proof designs, allowing you to take your
You have plenty of choices in brands and
prices. And don’t forget the accessories: a protective (and perhaps fashionable) case, premium earbuds, a wireless keyboard for typing
and so on.
Conveniently buckled on your wrist, smartwatches perform many functions. While features vary depending on the model you go with,
most let you customize the watch face to suit your
taste (and clothing) with various analog and digital options.
You can glance at incoming text messages,
emails, Facebook messages and tweets. You can
see who’s calling and perhaps answer the call,
hands-free. Smartwatches can capture your
fitness information and, in most cases, your
heart rate too. Look down to see directions on a
map. Change songs by tapping the screen.
Many smartwatches are waterproof, and a
number of them support smart personal assistants you can talk to without needing to touch
the screen at all. The latest trend? Smartwatches
that let you take a call or read texts, even when
there’s no phone nearby.
Smart home devices are growing in popular-
ity, including Wi-Fi thermostats, app-controlled
lights and cameras, video doorbells and smart
locks—and you can expect this trend to con-
tinue. Not only are smart home devices very con-
venient, but many can save you money on
electricity or heating and cooling costs. You’ll
see a lot more choices this year, a drop in prices
and the option to use your voice to manage it all.
Speaking of your voice, hands-free personal
assistants in the home—including small speak-ers like Google Home—will also become popular
in ;;;;; these devices let you ask a question
or give a command after you wake it up with a
“wake” word. Whether you want to hear a song,
make a phone call, get homework help for the
kids, control your smart home gadgets or ask
how long it’ll take to get to work (with traffic
in mind), these handy assistants are both fun
Finally, your next TV will likely be better-looking (thanks to ;K resolution), bigger, thinner, more energy-efficient and smarter.
As you likely know, smart TVs let you
access apps without requiring a special box connected to the television. Many of these new TVs
come with popular video streaming services
(such as Netflix, You Tube and Crackle), music
services (Spotify, Google Play Music, etc.), social
media platforms (including Facebook and
T witter), numerous interactive games and sometimes a full web browser.
Just as with your smartphone, you can add or
remove apps on your television to personalize
the experience. Use your voice to indicate what
to watch, listen to or play.
Many smart TVs let you wirelessly connect a
smartphone or tablet, so that photos and videos
on your handheld device can be played on your
big-screen TV with the tap of a button. Newer
smart TVs also support Bluetooth, which means
you may be able to pair your favorite wireless
headphones for private listening. C
“Smart” tech trends
Innovation in the new year
Costco carries a wide variety
of smart devices in your local
warehouse, with an expanded
selection at Costco.com.
Marc Saltzman, a leading
high-tech reporter, contributes to more than three dozen
appears on radio and TV,
and is the author of more
than ;; books. He’s on
Twitter at @marc_saltzman
Saltzman will answer
selected questions in this
column. He regrets that
unpublished questions cannot
be answered individually.
Please include “Marc Saltzman
Q&A” in the subject line.
Q&A with Marc Saltzman
The Costco Connection
P.O. Box 34088
Seattle, WA 98124-1088
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Smart TVs allow access to a
variety of apps without the
need for special boxes.