Thursday, July 21: Mobile TV



When:  TODAY, Thursday, July 21, 2016
9:00 – 10:00 pm ET
6:00 – 9:00 pm PT
Join host @mistygirlph and the #FiOSNY team on Twitter at 9 pm ET on Thursday, July 21 as we chat about Mobile TV!
With more and more streaming options becoming available every day, having the right TV provider is more important than ever. Join us as we explore the advantages of FiOS TV and discover why the FiOS Mobile app is at the head of the Mobile TV revolution!
RSVP and attend the chat for a chance to win a Motorola Power Pack charger or a Kindle Fire HD 8 tablet!

(Click here to learn more about our Twitter chats. You must RSVP and attend the party to be eligible for a prize.)

  1. Email (subject line: FiOSNY) indicating your Twitter ID.
  2. Spread the word and RT this link on your Twitter feed:
  3. Join us on TweetDeck or HootSuite (#FiOSNY) on Thursday, July 21 between 9:00 – 10:00 pm ET.
  4. Tell your Twitter followers!
PRIZE WINNERS will be announced during the Party!

(The Online Mom LLC receives a fee for participating in certain promotional programs for Verizon.)

Apps to Download Before a Family Flight

By Tracey Dowdy

There’s a great debate at my house. As far as I’m concerned, vacation starts the minute I turn on my auto-reply and walk out of my office. For my husband, vacation starts once we’re at our destination and bags are unpacked. That’s probably because he does most of the driving if it’s a road trip, or arranges the tickets if we’re flying. That naturally makes me chief baby wrangler and child entertainer, no small task depending on the length of the trip.

Flying can be especially challenging with little ones, as the anticipation of the trip coupled with long wait times at ticketing, security, the gate, and then the flight itself – all while surrounded by strangers – can be overwhelming.

These apps can keep your kids entertained or distract them when they’re getting restless, so no matter when you think vacation starts, it gets off on the right foot.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

caterpillarThe Very Hungry Caterpillar app bundle (ages 2+) gives kids the opportunity to interact with Eric Carle’s classic – and very hungry – caterpillar. The bundle includes four apps that allow kids to create their very own hungry caterpillar, feed him, learn about colors, shapes and counting, and learn to recognize simple words, plus many other fun adventures all through non-competitive, imaginative play.

Platform: iOS, Android, Windows
Price: $6.99

Tiny Airport

airportTiny Airport (ages 3-6) takes kids through three different scenes starting with their arrival by taxi and check-in through boarding and getting to fly the plane themselves. With over 100 separate animations, kids will sort bags, go through a check list and start the plane and discover what a dog is doing on the runway. Tiny Airport includes some timed activities and challenges for older kids.

Platform: iOS, Android, Kindle Fire
Price: $2.99

Toca Vacation

vacationToca Vacation is part of the Toca Life series of apps designed with free and imaginative play in mind. Kids can interact with a host of characters as they decide where to vacation, where to stay and what to do when they arrive. Options are exactly what kids would enjoy in real life – jumping on the hotel bed, digging for shells and buried treasure at the beach, or enjoying an ice cream with their friends.

Platform: iOS, Android, Kindle Fire
Price: $2.99

Eli Explorer

eliEli Explorer (ages 5 and under) teaches kids age appropriate words and short phrases in 10 different languages, spoken by native speakers. Kids join Eli as he travels the world, exploring caves, jungles, forests and mountaintops. Order a glass of milk at a monkey tree bar, or dive into an undersea cave and listen to a monster band. The animation is simple yet engaging and very user friendly as kids need only tap and drag to interact with the game.

Platform: iOS
Price: $1.99

Plum’s Creaturizer

creaturizerPlum’s Creaturizer (ages 4+) is based on the PBS KIDS web-original PLUM LANDING, a show dedicated to helping kids develop a love for and an appreciation of nature. The app allows kids to create their own wild creature by choosing from over 100 body parts and then take their creature outdoors and “photobomb” them into a scene. Kids can complete missions for their creature, answer questions about its life, diet and habitat, or watch a slideshow capturing “a day in the life” of their creation. All their creatures are saved in your device’s camera roll and to the in-app gallery.

Platform: iOS, Android, Windows, Nook
Price: Free

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.

Test Drive: 2016 Mazda3 s GT

Over the past few years, Mazda has quietly built a reputation for style and reliability at a price that won’t break the bank, and the 2016 Mazda3 will do nothing to dampen the enthusiasm of Mazda’s growing legions of fans.

I recently got to drive the 5-door Mazda3 s GT and was impressed to see how the manufacturer’s sharp eye for emerging trends has culminated in a sleek and sporty design that wouldn’t look out of place in a showroom of vehicles costing three times as much as the Mazda3’s $18,545 starting price.

Although the Mazda3 s GT is the top of the line (starting price: $25,445), all Mazda vehicles now feature the much-acclaimed SkyActive® Technology, which incorporates a range of design enhancements to maximize performance and efficiency. This emphasis on technological innovation was particularly striking on the 3 s GT, which is literally loaded with additional features, including the increasingly important brake assist and blind spot monitoring safety systems.

While the exterior of the 2016 Mazda3 has received most of the attention, the interior has also kept pace with modern styling, evolving into a comfortable and eye-pleasing layout that could easily accommodate a family of five and all the usual luggage. The version I had featured almond leather trim seats, which contrasted well with the black console layout and the ‘soul red metallic’ exterior with black trim.


The feature-packed console and dashboard layout also includes Active Driving Display, a pop-up display system that allows the driver to see important information like vehicle speed and turn-by-turn directions without having to shift your eyes away from the road.

Although it can initially appear a little daunting, the Mazda Connect™ infotainment system is easy to use and a lot of fun for both the driver and/or front seat passenger. My 16 year-old daughter loved the Pandora and Stitcher internet radio integration and neither one of us had to reach for the manual to figure out how everything worked.

The Mazda3 s GT handled beautifully around town and on the highway and the 2.5L SkyActive-G 4-cylinder engine and 6-speed transmission delivers plenty of horsepower when needed. The EPA-estimate of 31 city/highway miles per gallon looks about right, although it felt like I was getting well over 40 on the highway.

Which brings me back to price. With a starting price under $19,000, the 2016 Mazda3 gives you more bang for your buck than almost any comparable vehicle of its class on the road today. Even the starting price for the Mazda3 s GT is a steal when you compare it to similar fully-loaded, state-of-the-art alternatives. If you haven’t previously considered a Mazda, now is the perfect time to take a look.

The Online Mom LLC received free use of a 2016 Mazda 3s GT for the purpose of test driving and reviewing the vehicle. The above article reflects the independent opinions of contributing editors.  

Best Bluetooth Speakers for Outdoor Use

By Tracey Dowdy

Those long summer evenings mean it’s time to sit on the patio and relax. Whether that means time with friends and family or just you and a good book, having the perfect playlist can set the mood and make your evening complete. But a great summer playlist isn’t much fun if you can’t hear it over the sound of the neighbor’s lawn mower.

These speakers are among the best for your backyard or patio, providing great sound quality for the price.

Bose SoundLink Color

sl-bt-red200Bose SoundLink Color speakers are the lightest and least expensive of the Bose range. Compact and lightweight at 5.3’x 5’ x 2.1 inches and 1.25lbs, these speakers are available in five colors and promise 8 hours of battery life. SoundLink Color will remember the last 8 devices it’s been paired with, can be paired with two devices at a time, and pairs easily with iOS and Android devices. Because of its size and design as a single unit, you won’t get the same quality and stereo sound as other Bose speakers, but at the end of the day it’s still from Bose so it’s superior to most other models in this price range. ($139.99 – Bose)

Ultimate Ears Boom

ue-boom200The UE Boom is water and stain resistant making it the perfect speaker for poolside. With a full 15 hours of battery life, it offers a richer, fuller sound than many speakers this size. It’s available in six colors, can be placed vertically or horizontally, has speakerphone capability, and features a hook for a carabineer clip or one that can be unscrewed for a threaded tripod mount.  Perhaps best of all, the speaker pairs with its own app – the UE Boom (iOS and Android). With the app, you can adjust treble and bass settings and if you use it with a second speaker, split sound into right and left channels for true stereo experience. ($200 –  retailers such as Brookstone, Apple Store, Wal Mart)

TDK Life on Record Trek Max A34

tdk-trek300Despite its ridiculously long name, the TDK Life on Record Trek Max A34 Wireless Weatherproof Speaker isn’t as pretentious as it sounds. It offers solid construction, 8 hours of battery life, speakerphone capability, water and stain resistance, and can charge your phone or tablet while the speaker is in use. It also offers NFC tap-to-pair capability and little rubber pads on the bottom to keep it from scooting across the table when you turn up the volume. It’s larger and heavier than some other speakers in this category at 3.7’ x 2’ x 9.5’ and 2.7 lbs., but unless you’re carrying it in a backpack or purse the difference is inconsequential and in this case means better sound. ($80 – Amazon)

Outdoor Tech Buckshot Pro

buckshot-pro200Finally, if you want a speaker that’s outdoorsy and designed with portability in mind, the Outdoor Tech Buckshot Pro may be the way to go. Marketed as pocket-sized, the Buckshot Pro is water-resistant, available in several colors and boasts 10 hours of battery life. Not only is the Buckshot Pro great for backyard use, it’s great for camping or hiking as it can be used as a USB charger for your phone and comes with an LED light you can use as a flashlight or, when detach from the speakers, it can even be used as a bike light. It also offers a strobe option, so it’s ideal as a safety light. It’s the lightest speaker on the list, weighing just 6.7 oz., and the sound quality is also somewhat “lightweight” though it does offer a passive bass port for a richer sound. ($79.95 – Outdoor Tech)

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.