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Digital voice assistants in high demand

Botzees Coding and AR Robotics Kit allows kids to build a robot and design code. - Best Buy Canada
Botzees Coding and AR Robotics Kit allows kids to build a robot and design code. - Best Buy Canada

Valerie Morgan

It’s the time of year when many of us are making our list and checking it twice. When it comes to toys for the 2019 holiday season, a big trend you’ll notice are smart toys that combine fun with learning opportunities as well. 

We have a sample of some of the most popular tech toys and gadgets to wow the people on your Christmas list. 

“Smart toys that promote science, technology, engineering and math skills are great because they help kids learn in a fun and engaging way,” says Zayn Jaffer, vice-president of emerging business with Best Buy Canada. 

From hand-eye coordination to problem solving, little ones can have fun, get creative and learn all at the same time. One great way to do all that is with the Botzees Coding and AR Robotic Kit. Children not only build their robot, but also design code to allow the robot to carry out tasks. 

For an impressive twist on a classic, check out the Intelino Smart Train Starter Set. Little conductors can customize commands, swap pieces that change how the train navigates, and more. 

The Fitbit Versa 2 Smartwatch not only allows users to track fitness goals, it’s also compatible with smartphones. - Best Buy Canada
The Fitbit Versa 2 Smartwatch not only allows users to track fitness goals, it’s also compatible with smartphones. - Best Buy Canada

There’s lots of smart technology out there for adults as well. And while some items can be costly, more Canadians are choosing smart technology for their home and on-the-go which combine fun, practicality and convenience. When it comes to wearable tech, for instance, there are smart watch options that are sleeker, and less expensive than earlier versions. 

Jaffer suggests the Fitbit Versa 2 Smartwatch, which is the go-to product for tracking fitness goals. But this version is also compatible with smartphones, enabling wearers to answer calls and get notifications as well. 

The Best Buy Canada team notes that wireless headphones are on many wish lists this year as well. The Jabra Elite75t wireless and noise cancelling ear buds have great features, such as an exceptional fit, the ability to take calls, high quality sound, water resistant, dust proof and are at a lower price point than the Apple equivalent ($239 versus $329). 

Digital voice assistants like Google Home and Amazon Echo are extremely popular as they evolve and add new features. Both smart speakers and their assistants allow users to get answers to questions, set timers and alarms, control smart home devices, play music, make calls and more - all with voice commands. 

So, which is better? Many tech experts say it’s too close to call. 

If you are a regular Google user, Google Home is going to be a good fit for you. Amazon Echo is an extension of the Amazon online shopping experience, so if you are looking for an easier way to shop and get the full advance of an Amazon Prime membership, the Echo will be quite useful. 

“Last year, voice assistants were limited to speakers, and this year, they have the added feature of a screen,” Jaffer adds. “Products that are compatible with voice assistants like smart lights, switches and plugs continue to be popular as well.”

Both Google Home and the Amazon Echo (third generation) speakers start around $129, with plenty of options to expand. 

Whatever smart home device you choose, it’s good to keep safe practices in mind. To start, ensure your WIFI connection is secure and be aware of what sensitive information you share with the voice assistant. It’s also recommended that you turn your speaker’s microphone off when not in use as an extra precaution. 

SAFE ONLINE SHOPPING TIPS 
The Government of Canada has some Get Cyber Safe tips for those who online shop.


UNTRUSTWORTHY WEBSITES
A few clues that a shopping site isn't trustworthy:

  • The site looks poorly designed, unprofessional and contains broken links.
  • You can't find an address or phone number for the business.
  • Sales, return and privacy policies are hard to find or unclear.
  • The back button is disabled. In other words, you get stuck on a page and can't go back.
  • You're asked for credit card information anytime other than when you are making a purchase.

PROTECT YOURSELF

  • Pay by credit card if you can. Do not send cash.
  • Be wary of prices that are too good to be true. They're likely counterfeits.
  • Don't use public Wi-Fi to shop online.
  • Read the privacy policy and find out how your information will be used.
  • Don't respond to an email or pop-up message that asks for financial information. Legitimate companies don't ask for this information this way.
  • Read your credit card statements and check for unauthorized charges.
  • Make sure your firewall is on. 
  • Don't allow auto fill for your passwords or personal information, like your address, and never allow a site to store your credit card information

Source: Getcybersafe.gc.ca
 

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