Now that you've gotten that really cool tech toy on the top of your list, it's time to figure out how to get your new gadgets to work and to make sure they're properly protected.
Phone or iPhone Protection
You want to protect your new baby. A case is great, but in my experience, the ones that really work are the thick-edged cases that are a little bulky. If you're thinking of a flimsy, rubbery case or no case at all, my one piece of advice is to put a screen protector on it. I've done a fair amount of drop tests, and a screen protector can really help protect against screen cracking or shattering. Also, with gadget thefts on the rise, you want to install a tracking program like Find my iPhone for IOS Devices or Lookout for Android. Not only will those programs help you track a lost or stolen device, but they will let you remotely wipe all the data off the gadget to protect you from identity theft if your gear gets stolen.
Should You Get Insurance?
You can opt for insurance, which is sold from the carriers, Apple or a third-party company like Squaretrade. Replacing an iPhone would cost more than $500, so if it's for a teenager, I'd get the insurance. Especially if it's an iPhone – a report last spring said that one-quarter of all iPhones have cracked screens. It's much cheaper to get those replaced if you have AppleCare and, an added bonus, this insurance program from Apple also covers water damage. For an adult with no big risk factors (no outdoor job, no history of dropping phones in toilets, no propensity to leaving phone in taxis), I'd probably skip the added expense.
Trade in Your Old Stuff: Value Is Now!
With more than 33 million new smartphones expected to ship out this holiday season, there are bound to be lots of older phones going into a cabinet or drawer. Don't do it! Those gadgets are a source of some easy money. Lookout, a mobile software company, did a survey and found 62 percent of respondents said they have at least one unused mobile phone in their household. Instead, use a service like Gazelle, CExchange or NextWorth, which will pay for your shipping and give you cash for that old laptop, phone or iPod. Act soon because the value of that gear will only diminish the longer you wait.
Related: How to Find a Stolen iPhone
Getting Media on Your New Gadget
If you received a Kindle this Christmas, you have to sign in to Amazon to use the device. Anytime you buy a book, it charges your account. But here's a little secret: If you and your close family members want to share books, you can all use the same login. Then, you can buy a digital book once and it can be read on all Kindles tied to that account. Also, take a look at your local library. Many have kindle and epub lending libraries so you can borrow digital books over the internet for free for the Kindle and even more so for e-readers like the Kobo or Nook. But if you are planning to share an Apple ID, there's a trick to making it work without comingling info or oversharing your text messages.
Get It to Work
Getting your new gadget to work or learning how to use it can be the major challenge. There are lots of services out there these days to help teach you about your new gear.
For an Apple gadget, they have One to One service. It's a one-year subscription that must be purchased within 14 days of buying a new Apple gadget. It's $99 for the year and lessons are scheduled online and happen in the Apple stores.
Microsoft offers personal training for $49 an hour in their stores, and the Geek Squad offers memberships of $199 for the year or $169 for AARP members, which gives you tech support on a wide range of products on the phone, in store or online. You can also schedule 90-minute, in-home visits for $49 if you are already a member.Another option is to find a local guru who will work with you one on one. Often, they have lots of flexibility, lower rates and can be real assets as you try to integrate tech into your life. You can also conscript grandchildren or a neighbor's kids who are digital natives; they may not be the best teachers, but the price is right.
Keeping It Organized
I give this tip every year, but it's a beauty. A Ziploc bag and a sharpie are your best friends when you get a new gadget. Put all the peripheral items you don't think you'll use, the warranty card and the manual in the bag, label it and then throw it in that drawer or cabinet where all that stuff goes. Trust me, you'll need something from the bag sometime down the line and you'll be glad it's labeled.
- Technology & Electronics
- Handheld & Connected Devices