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New Year resolutions and Business news: Ohio business, tablets and laptops

The second most common New Year goal for Americans is improving their finances. The app Budget Boss can help with that. You'll be able to create a budget quickly and easily-then watch your projected savings grow with easy-to-read graphs. The app retails for 99 cents; iOS.

Goal planning for 2014

The fourth most popular resolution is finding a new job. Job Search can find available positions near you and send out applications from your phone. This app is free; iOS and Android.

According to a recent Fidelity Investments study, almost half of those who set financial resolutions were able to achieve most of them (including spending less, paying off debts and saving more for retirement, among others). “Break each goal into manageable portions”, says Mari Adams, a financial planner. Focus first on short-term goals, then work on the longer-term ones to stay on track in the future (remember, baby steps!).

Business News: Ohio Business Optimism

Ohio businesses are feeling good about 2014, according to a survey of 149 businesses within the state; 92% are convinced that the economy will be as good or even better than in 2013 (the attitudes of the Ohio companies were far more positive than 260 Michigan businesses, 1,000 in the Midwest and 1, 740 nationwide who participated in a 2014 National Business Trends survey (conducted by the Employer Associations of America).
Last year, it was just the reverse, when Ohio businesses were in a pessimistic state.

Tablets and Laptops

Smartphones and tablets are currently two “hot” computer trends, but there's always a market for laptops (in my humble opinion). Here's a quick look at some of the latest:

Google Chromebooks are low-priced and small in size (easier to carry). But you'll be living in a Google world (virtually all the software is this; best for online use). Chromebooks can be ordered directly from the Google site, but there's a handful that are available from Samsung, Hewlett-Packard and Acer. Prices start at $200 and up.

The Dell Inspiron 14 7000 starts at $850. They're sturdy and very durable (for that price, they better be!). There's a 14-inch screen and while it's thinner than previous models, it's a little hefty: 4.4 pounds! (because of the traditional hard drive that's used here).

Lenovo Group has the Flex 14, starting at $569. This also has a 14-inch screen, but there's a bulky feel at times. But the Flex's outstanding feature is literally, its flex; the screen can be bent almost all the way back, turning the keyboard into a base.

And a Tablet/PC Hybrid

Sold exclusively through Best Buy or the company website for $630, the Toshiba Satellite Click is one of the new laptop/tablet combos. There's a snap-in, snap-out keyboard and a 13.3-inch screen. The entire item weighs 4.8 pounds (the tablet, 2.8, the keyboard, 2-After a while, it'll feel heavy). There's a battery in both the tablet and keyboard.

Kids, Tablets and Other Devices

Are tablets (and smartphones) the new babysitters for children? Three-year-olds (and perhaps younger) are not only capable of operating them, but mastering them. Many busy parents have already used the devices to occupy their kids at home, during car rides and while attending events and functions.

They (particularly the tablet) were among the top holiday gifts for children in 2013. There are even now tablets especially designed for kids from several leading electronic toy makers and regular electronic manufacturers.

Some pediatricians and other health experts are concerned, because they say that there's no evidence that kids are getting any educational or developmental benefits. They maintain that tablet and smartphone activity actually takes away from brain development, and that excessive screen time has been linked to behavior problems and delayed social development in older children.

But with that being said, tablet and kid-related research is also still in its “infancy.” As Dr. Dimitri Christakis, a pediatrician at Seattle Children's Hospital pointed out," iPads have only been on the market for just a little over three years. And if all children do is just watch videos on the tablets, it's akin to just watching TV for hours on end". Christakis further stated that educational games and apps do have value if they engage a child's senses and prompt them to interact with the device.

Sources: “Parade Picks”-Parade magazine, Dec. 29, 2013, “From Consumer Reports-Financial resolutions worth keeping”-The (Sunday) Vindicator, Dec. 29, 2013, “Plenty of laptops, even on budgets”-Bree Fowler, AP Technology Writer-The (Sunday) Vindicator, Dec. 8, 2013, “Survey: Businesses in Ohio optimistic about 2014”-Associated Press and “Are tablet computers good for kids?”-Associated Press-The Vindicator, Dec. 25, 2013

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