Gadgets :: November 15, 2017

By Gregg Ellman
(@Greggellman)

Most everyone has Wi-Fi somewhere in your house, but the word “somewhere” is the key in that phrase. The most common origin of the signal is a home office, which is great but won’t give you the same signal strength throughout your home.

The Amped wireless Helios-EX tri-band range extender fills the gap between the existing signal and where it’s needed in extended areas. It’s built for multi-device households.

When I first read about the Helios-EX, the company touted its ability to maintain Internet speed, which many other similar devices I’ve tried claimed to do, but didn’t. They did extend the signal, but not a strong signal.

Amped Wireless was true to its word. From one corner of my house to the other, which really wasn’t getting any signal, I could not only surf the web but stream was also possible. It said range could be extended up to 12,000 square feet.

You don’t have to be a tech head to set it up. It’s not plug-n’play but also not that difficult. Power it up, connect a computer, tablet or smartphone to access the setup menu. It’s really straightforward and walks you through each step including selecting your existing Wi-Fi network (with password). Honestly, it’s simple, easy and takes just minutes.

For most people, there’s no need to know whats inside the Wi-Fi extender, but if you need to know, according to the Amped website it’s “built with a powerful Quad-Core ARM Processor, 12 high power amplifiers, and 4 total high gain antennas, the HELIOS-EX delivers up to 12,000 square feet of additional Wi-Fi coverage.”

www.ampedwireless.com $179.99

The Bluetooth speaker market is crowded and I often wonder how it keepss growing and growing. There’s a simple formula for a speaker to be successful and that’s great sound.

When you add stylish craftsmanship like Wren has done with its new V3US ($399), it’s a winner. A genuine wood cabinet makes it really attractive; not reason enough to buy it but it sure adds value after playing your music.

The sound is nothing short of excellent, crystal clear at an volume level. Over the last few days I’ve used it as background sound as well as turning the volume up to head banging levels.

Either way, this AC powered speaker stands out for many reasons. It connects with up to 16 speakers simultaneously on the same network, which is a lot but if it’s needed, the Wren V3US will do it. You can set the speakers up to hear the same music or different groups in multiple rooms with multiple zones.

In addition to Bluetooth, it streams AirPlay and Play-Fi with Apple, Android handheld devices and Mac or PC computer operating systems. An aux-in 3.5mm stereo jack offers a direct connection.

It measures 12-by-4.5-by-4.5-inches and can be positioned vertically or horizontally, even with its rounded edges.

Wren makes a portable version, the V3USP for $449.00, which has a built-in rechargeable lithium ion battery.

www.wrensound.com available in almond crème anigre with a midnight black grille or espresso wenge with an arctic white grille

Robotosaur caught my attention, so since we are in the holiday gift time,, it’s worth telling others about the interactive remote control dinosaur.

It features a mood sensor with built-in sound effect and will even yawn when’ he’s tired and snores while in sleep mode. When awake, the LED eye’s change colors to reflect its mood.

The remote lets you control forward and backward movements including spinning, shaking, and even wagging of its tail.

Robotosaur is available for $99.99 and can be found nationwide at major retailers.

Gadgets :: November 8 2017

By Gregg Ellman
(@Greggellman)

You might not think of an external hard drive as fun, sexy or cool, but the OWC Mercury Elite Pro Dual mini can be any or all of them. I can say first hand you’ll find it useful at home, work, play and even consider taking it on vacation.

And if you wonder why I feel this way, I’ll be happy to tell you. I’ll start by mentioning probably the most common topic I get asked about; backups. And my answer is always the same: backup, backup, backup. No exceptions. If you don’t, it’s not a matter will you lose your digital files, its just when.

Working as a photographer (my primary professional) brought one of the most grueling schedules I’ve ever had over the past two months. This included travel to all ends of the country covering a wide variety of subjects and topics resulting in over 160GB of digital image files.

Anyone who deals with digital files knows this is a large amount. It’s not a question of storage space on my laptop, which can handle it fine. Add the fantastic Mercury Elite Pro Dual mini to the equation and I had the peace of mind with 4TB of backup RAID storage in a device that easily fits into my backpack (5.7-by-6.1-by-1.1-inches, 1.25 pounds).

The included RAID (redundant array of independent disks) technology provides an additional backup. Inside are multiple drives, allowing your files to back up in separate locations within the same enclosure for an additional backup.

The dual-drive is USB 3.0 in a bus-powered form factor and is stored in a solid aluminum chassis enclosure. With the RAID, you’ll get the choice of a few settings, which can be changed on the back of the hardware. RAID 0 will give you super fast data transfer speeds up to 861MB/s, while RAID 1 will allow greater data redundancy from mirrored disks for a secure backup.

While it might sound confusing, it’s a simple setup that takes no time at all, making it ideal for professional photographers or families with priceless vacation photos, videos and digital music.

Swappable hard drive configurations range from 1TB ($219.99) up to 4TB ($329.99). Solid state drives start storage starts at 240GB ($268.99) up to 2TB ($879.99).

USB cables for standard USB and USB-C are included for use with a Mac or PC.

https://eshop.macsales.com

The OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock brings your computers, accessories and cables together in any office.

It’s built with an incredible 13 ports for connecting hard drives, monitors, card readers, laptops or just charging or syncing smartphones and tablets to a desktop or laptop.

The front has a single USB 3.1, an SD memory card reader and expanded analog audio in/out port. The back has four USB 3.1 ports, an S/PDIF pro-grade digital audio output, FireWire 800, Ethernet, dual Thunderbolt 3 ports and a mini display port. An AC power adapter is also plugged into a back port..

Large amounts of data can transfer at incredible speeds, especially with the Thunderbolt 3, which can go up to 40Gb/s.

Uses for the dock on any computer station are endless, especially since it takes just one cable to connect to your computer, instantly connecting all the other ports.

I use a MacBook Air, which does’t give you a whole lot of ports. Now, with the Thunderbolt 3 dock (3.5-by-9.1-by-1-inches), even on the road, everything I need connected is done without swapping cables.

Along with the ports and usefulness, what I didn’t even think of before hand was the organization it brings. Instead of wires coming and going all over my desk, everything is centrally located and without the need of pulling cords in and out since I have more ports than needed. Think of the dock as your computers file cabinet.

https://eshop.macsales.com $299, available in space gray or silver

Gadgets :: November 1, 2017

By Gregg Ellman
(@Greggellman)

The annual PhotoPlus Conference, the ultimate display of products for photography enthusiasts, was this past week at the Jacob Javits Center in New York City.

There was no shortage of new products on display and here are a few that caught my attention.

Band.it is a soft, ridged elastomer band that stretches over most interchangeable camera lens and is universal to fit lenses from just about every manufacturer. It features extruded ridges on the exterior to provide a raised surface for better grip on the lens. The inside keeps a tight grip to hold it in place.

https://camerabandit.com $25 for a single or $45 for a band.it outfit for a home and focus grip

Digital Silver Imaging’s new print hanger is an aluminum rail to display your images in is an elegant and affordable way. A pair of aluminum rails gently and securely slide onto the top and bottom of your print for an easy and attractive display.

They come in pairs ranging from 12-inches ($18) up to 72-inches ($92) wide and have a centered hanging hole pre-drilled on the back of the top hanger. You can hang a single print or any amount that fit. If your width is longer, just order another.

https://digitalsilverimaging.com

Frame Destination has an innovative guide, “How to Choose and Order the Perfect Frame for Your Metal Prints,” which does just that.

The company designed the step-by-step guide to ensure customers have an easy experience to choose just the right metal (or wood) frame for their work. They also assure the work is displayed safely without needing glass or acrylic. And, you see the exact prices with the features you add or remove.

Metal frames provide a timeless look to any metal print, which come in several options. The guide explains each option with customized choices including the frame, mat board, finish and backing.

https://www.framedestination.com

Illuminati Instrument Corp.’s Illuminati Smartphone-enabled wireless light and color meter lets photographers can measure and control critical elements for producing images with proper exposure and color balance up to 80-feet away.

The bluetooth meter measures ambient, continuous, and strobe lighting at multiple locations in a scene and sends the results to your Android or Apple smartphone. With the readings, photographers can set light rations with natural or artificial light, match the cold and get the right settings for a perfect exposure.

Three AAA batteries keep it powered and it works with any type of lighting, including daylight, fluorescent, strobes and tungsten. Multiple meters can be used for reading multiple light sources simultaneously.

http://illuminatiinstrumentcorp.com available for pre order on Indiegogo for $249

LitraTorch is a pocket-sized versatile adventure photo and video light. Measuring just (1.5-by-1.5-by-1.65-inches), aluminum-cased light is waterproof up to 30-feet, drop proof with a military grade construction (810G MIL SPEC rating) and mountable.

A one-touch operation has four levels for a light output of 100, 450 and 800 lumens of high quality LED light. A strobe setting produces 2200 lumens of light. The 5700K daylight color temperature is flicker free and and has an ultra-wide beam angle.

A white diffuser, silicone sleeve, belt clip, GoPro ¼ 20 finger mount and a USB charging cable are included for the built-in rechargeable Lithium Ion battery.

https://litra.com $79,95

IF

The Sirui A-1005 aluminum travel tripod kit features a fully retractable dual stage center column, half turn twist-lock leg locks for quick and easy deployment with three leg angle positions giving photographers flexibility in all shooting environments,

It has a load capacity of 22 pounds and the legs fold 180 degrees for a folded length of only 14 inches. If needed, it converts to monopod and the center column can be attached for increased height.

https://www.sirui.com $139.99

Gadgets :: October 25, 2017

By Gregg Ellman
(@greggellman)

You might never think the words toast, wood and portable electronic gadgets have something in common, but sure enough I’m here to tell you they do.

A company named Toast designs and manufactures wood-themed protective covers for almost any portable tech gadget. After installing them on devices including smartphones, gaming consoles, tablets and laptops, you can have a device with an old school or modern look, which I guess depends on how you look at things.

No matter what cell phone or smartphone I’ve used over the years, I have strived to find the thinnest so my device wouldn’t bulk up. The wood toast cover, constructed with real wood veneer, adds only 1/32nd of an inch of thickness. A leather version, made with top-grain American leather, is not too bulky either with a thickness of 0.059-inches.

Toast sticks to your device with a 3M adhesive backing that is removable and does not leave any permanent damage or residue behind.

After testing Toast on my iPhone and MacBook Air, I was really impressed with everything from the look, feel, ease of installation to durability. Each piece of toast is custom-made in the USA with lasers and hands. Custom text can be added ($5) for a nice personalization.

Along with the fashion statement Toast makes, they also provide protection from bumps, scratches and dirt. Toast is not going to save you from drops to the floor, pool or most heavy liquid drops for that matter.

Each cover is different for different devices. For example, a wood cover for an iPhone 7 ($34) has several pieces. The two main pieces are for the back and side, another for the front cover with openings for the display and home button. The last is for small covers for the exterior buttons. As mentioned, the insulation was simple and the results were impressive.

www.toastmade.com prices vary depending on device

I tested and reviewed the Sol Republic Amps earbuds a few years back and thought they were excellent. The Amps Air adds a dimension to the great sound with total wireless freedom.

All too often I have products like these sitting around and when I see how much I like them, I kick myself for not getting to them sooner.

Cutting the cord is common in the tech world and with iPhones setting the standard with no true headphone port, wireless is the only way to go. But in this case you don’t even have a wire connecting each earbud.

Bluetooth makes the sound happen in a set of earbuds, which fit with comfort and produce awesome sound, considering the effort the technology goes through to get the sound in your ears. Four different ear tip sizes are included to ensure a comfortable and secure fit.

My first choice for testing sound devices is with my personal favorite, classic rock, which typically is bass heavy. The Amps Airs handled it really well at any volume level. This was the case even when switching over to blues and big band music channels.

Like any Bluetooth headset, charging is required. You’ll get 3 hours of audio before a recharge is needed. The Amps Air come with a hard cover power case, which doubles as a charging station for the earbuds with it’s internal 2200mAh battery.

There’s also a USB port built into the case for charging your phone. You’ll get about 15 charges for the earbuds before the case needs a charge.

They are water-resistant and even have a multi-function button for controlling music and a built-in microphone for handsfree calls.

www.solrepublic.com $149.99, available in jet black, rose gold, rich teal and deep blue

I saw an item on the Olloclip website that is worth mentioning. The makers of a great lens system to improve smartphone cameras has announced compatibility with the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus. The lenses include wide angle, telephoto and macro lenses.

They expect to have an announcement soon about a lens system for the iPhone X.

The multi-lens system with precision-coated ground glass optics is portable, goes on and off with ease and incredibly versatile for still images or video.

www.olloclip.com

Gadgets :: October 18, 2017

By Gregg Ellman
(@greggellman)

Listening to a Tom Petty music marathon is great by itself, making it better in my world was hearing the legendary music on the Soul X-TRA over-the-ear wireless (Bluetooth) headphones.

The headphones’ versatility made it better, including obviously the smooth sound, comfort and the sport design.

The sound is promoted as “Advanced HD drivers and circuitry design for a balanced bass and clear mids and highs,” which I found perfectly clear and low on bass. There isn’t a right or wrong since sound is a personal preference. I like a lot of bass, especially when listening to classic rock and roll so I just added it on my own with an app and the Soul X-TRAs sounded perfect.

I really like the removable ear-pads, which can easily be washed, dried and put back on. I put them to test with a few bike rides and lawn work. After washing the ear pads they looked as good as new.

If you use the headphones during darker times of the day, the dual mode LED lights on the outside of each ear will come in handy as an added safety feature. They can be kept in flashing or still modes.

The life of the rechargeable 320mAH Li-ion Polymer battery is another plus with 24-hours of playtime off a single charge, if you use the LED lights you’ll get about 8 hours. If you need a charge for immediate use, a 15 minute fast charge will give you about 150 minutes of use.

They are constructed with plastic, which gives them a lighter feel and you can fold the X-TRA wireless headphones flat for easy storage in the included carrying case.

https://www.soulelectronics.com $149.99 with an all black finish with a choice of blue or black ear-pads and inside headband accents

Moshi’s new Helios Lite designer laptop backpack is a perfect example of how you can carry your world with fashion and style.

The bag is designed with a slip profile and didn’t even bulk out when I had it stocked up. There’s a bunch of compartments and pockets to help keep everything organized with easy access.

I couldn’t transfer everything from my cinderblock backpack into the Helios Lite and honestly that’s a good thing. But I did get my 13-inch MacBook Air in a padded compartment, iPad, charging cables, papers, travel documents and a whole lot of other accessories (just not everything).

The Helios Lite ($119.95 ) 11.22-by-3.94-15.16-inches before you fill it and even after it’s stocked it really kept an attractive slim design. A magnetic strap keeps it closed and an exterior water-repellent finish is handy.

The bag, part of Moshi’s 2017 A/W bag collection, was designed with colors and fabric details chosen to add texture and character to each bag. Once you see the Helios Lite, you’ll see they were successful in this goal.

Along with the Helio’s Lite, the A/W line includes the Urbana briefcase and the Costa travel satchel in two new colors – Sandstone Beige and Slate Black earth – along with sky blue, and titanium gray.

https://www.moshi.com

August Home, one of the premier makers and designers of smart home automation products and a personal favorite has announced three new products, which feature DoorSense.

The company touts this as the first intelligent, integrated sensor to tell users if their door is open or properly closed. The new feature in the new August Smart Lock Pro ($279), August Smart Lock ($149), and August Doorbell Cam Pro ($199).

All of these smart home products are designed to allow you to monitor and control your doors and locks from anywhere with a smartphone or tablet.

I haven’t tried these products, but in the past I found August products to be nothing short of perfect and I’m confident these will be thee same.

https://august.com

Gadgets :: October 11, 2017

By Gregg Ellman
(@Greggellman)

The amazing versatility of some of today’s newer gadgets is evident after using ONvocal’s OV wearable headphone assistant earbuds.

When you look at a picture of the headset you might think they are just another neckband headset and they are a great headset when you hear about some of its features.

I was asked by an ONvocal representative how I liked the review unit they sent me and I summed it up with “smooth, easy and impressive.”

The OV is an Alexa, Google and Siri voice assistant enabled Bluetooth headset. I’m not an Alexa user but I did easily get the headset talking to Siri for a morning weather report and a few other simple tasks.

With the help of the OV app (iOS and Android) the voice commands are at your control and response is instantaneous. If you’re living in a cave and haven’t joined the technology world of voice assistants, the OV is a great way to start.

The Onvocal site used Born to Run as a voice command music example and sure enough I had it playing on my speaker system in seconds from my playlist. You can also instantly access subscription music services.

The main chore of the headset is sound and the OV does not disappoint. While I’m far from an expert, what you want out of earbuds is crystal clear sound and the OV sound is just as they promote it “tuned to deliver rich, powerful bass, smooth vocals and crystal clear detail.”

For handsfree calls, the directional microphone is built into a small arm boom, which extends from the right earbuds. Answering calls, along with controlling Siri and Google are done with a button on the outside of right earbud.

Ambient sound control is accessed on the neckband and allows you to hear your caller and not background noise. Volume, play, pause and power are also controlled on the neckband.

The Onvocal support page has great step-by-step instructions for setting up the OV, which makes the process smooth, easy and impressive.

The earbuds are attached to a flexible wire, which is attached to a neckband. Everything can be adjusted in specific flex zones for the right fit, but out of the box I was happy how it felt.

https://onvocal.com/ $299

I don’t have children but if I did, you can bet I’d be using the Circle with Disney’s Circle custom Internet monitoring system.

After a simple setup with your home Wi-Fi, the cube-shaped wireless device works with the Circle with Disney app (iOS and Android) to give you full control of your children’s browsing history without the need of putting any app or software on any other device.

Parents see how much time children spend online with smartphones, tablets, laptops and other hardware used for Internet access.

The app has a lot of great customization features, ] including disconnecting devices from Wi-Fi at specific times and reconnecting them at a specific time. Time limits can also be set for apps and programs.

Other customizations can be made for specific individuals with breakdowns in age groups and interests and even turning the Wi-Fi connection off manually. This makes me think how often my mom would have used this feature (if there was Internet at the time) when I didn’t come downstairs for dinner on time.

After using the app for a few weeks, parents can compare the usage over time and maybe even make a connection why grades are going up or down.

One thing I wondered after reading about the Circle with Disney was its own security and I was pleased to see it’s built with end-to-end encryption and ARP (Address Resolution Protocol) spoofing to keep data secure.

The 3.25-inch cube has a rechargeable lithium-ion battery, which charges via USB. You also may connect it to the Internet with an Ethernet cable.

The settings you set up within the app can also be applied to guests’ (think child sleepovers) devices, which I think is incredibly handy.

A subscription based ($9.95/month) Circle Go feature can be added to extend the parental controls to 4G LTE and another Wi-Fi connection joined away from home.

www.meetcircle.com $99

Gadgets :: October 4, 2017

By Gregg Ellman
(@Greggellman)

The Keyport Pivot is a really cool, modern and customizable tool that is so easy to assemble and use for a variety of everyday tasks . And it fits in your pocket.

The Pivot’s main compartment is solidly constructed of 6061 aircraft aluminum with stainless steel components. Locking screws easily open and then tighten with a screwdriver or coin to keep it securely in place but allow your to add up to nine standard keys, which fold in and out easily. More keys can be added with an expansion kit.

What makes this an innovative and useful device is the add-on modules and inserts. The inserts are added inside the Pivot, while the modules are attached to the outside.

With these options you can add a USB 3.0 drive in sizes of 32GB or 64GB (there is also an 8GB option in USB 2.0). Other choices include pliers, screwdriver, scissors, a pen and the Griffin multi-tool insert, which includes a bottle opener.

You can even add existing tools such as the Griffin Pocket Mini and Klecker Knives’ new line of Stowaway Tools.

The modules, also easily added or removed include a 12 lumen flashlight (powered by a pair of CR1220 watch batteries), a Bluetooth tracking module to pair with the TrackR app to help if the Pivot is missing. If you’re within the bluetooth range the app will ring the module to alert you to its whereabout.

A 2.2-inch pocketknife module can easily be removable for TSA travel,

Another nice security features is the KeyportID. So if you get a Pivot, make sure it’s registered at mykeyport.com since a free 2-year subscription is included. A lanyard and carabiners can be attached.

A d-ring on the end can be used to attach a car remote or carabiners.

Since I had everything attached and of course didn’t want to lose anything, I did watch a very helpful guide video on the Keyport site.

The pivot is $19.99 and available in red, white or silver. You get an extension pack, three spacers and an extra spring washer.

Check the keyport store for a great choice of bundles of modules and inserts or just go a-la-cart. A quick sampling shows a 64GB USB 3.0 flash drive insert is $54.99, a black pen insert is $8.99. The pocket knife module is $19.99 and the mini-flashlight module is $9.99.

The size and weight can vary depending on what you use it for but it starts out 2.975-by-0.580-by-0,596.

www.mykeyport.com

For millennials or anyone desiring to record every step, motion and life moment, the FrontRow wearable camera is a great way to record and even share everything in real time.

The fashionable circular pendant Android-based camera (2.3-by-2.7-by-0.4-inches) can be worn around your neck or attached to whatever you want with a clip. Video records at 1080p (1920 x 1080) up to a frame rate of 30fps.

There are actually two camera. One is an 8 megapixel main camera, which can film up to 2.7K and has optical image stabilization.

The other is a reversible 5 megapixel camera, which is perfect for selfies with a 2-inch circular touchscreen display and can film up to 2K.

Both work for still images, videos and even live streaming to social media since Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are built-in.

Audio is captured in stereo and there’s a built-in 1W mono speaker for playback; there’s 2GB of internal ram and 32GB of internal storage.

A first-person time lapse feature called Story Mode is really cool. This allows the FrontRow to take a photo every few seconds and then combine into a time-lapse video.

The USB 3.0/2.0 Type-C port is used for charging the battery, which will give you about 2 hours of recording and 50 hours of standby.

www.frontrow.com, $399, available in Black or Rose Gold

Gadgets :: September 27, 2017

By Gregg Ellman
(@Greggellman)

I bet you never took the time to figure out what are the five key factors to air quality and healthier breathing. You can bet I never did the same until I recently tested the Awair, Air Quality Monitor, which tracks the five key factors of air quality.

They are: chemicals such as volatile organic compounds, carbon dioxide, dust, humidity and temperature. A lot of the chemicals are in standard products we use for cleaning, bathroom and beauty products.

A real interesting fact Awair supplied me; indoor air can be 5X more polluted than outdoor air. This can effect allergies, asthma, concentration, sleep and more.

For the most part, the Awair looks like an attractive desktop bluetooth speaker with a walnut finish and air quality measuring sensors inside. It won’t produce any music; instead it measures the air quality and has a front display to show you the findings. There are different modes; use the one based on the area of the house you’re testing to find out about allergies, sleeping and even baby rooms.

The Awair must be connected to your personal Wi-Fi in order to work with the Awair app (iOS and Android). The app displays colored dots and information on what problems exist and where. You can view the current statistics along with the changes as it happens after you use the personalized recommendations.

One example is measuring how much dust is in a room and I wasn’t surprised to find several rooms in my house were dusty, especially those which we don’t use as often. And as you know, dust is an allergy sufferer’s worst enemy. The app offers recommendations on how to reduce the amount of dust.

A great Awair feature is the IFTTT, which allows it to talk with other smart home devices. I have a humidifier that Awair can trigger since it’s plugged into a smart plug, thus the changes to my room can be done seamlessly. That’s just one example, but with smart home and voice assistants the help is always there and always improving.

https://getawair.com $199.99

The bigger and better Apple makes the iOS devices, the more storage space you need. Getting the device with the most storage space isn’t always the most cost efficient but Kingston Digital has a great cost efficient option, with more flexibility to combat the limited memory (and no removable memory) on the Apple device.

The recently released DataTraveler Bolt Duo has an Apple Lightning port on one end and a standard USB connector on the other. This enables connecting directly to Apple iPhones and iPads with the Lighting end and to a computer for transferring data on or off with the USB port.

Depending on which of the available sizes you choose, (32, 64 or 128GB) you can store up to 32,000 digital photos without taking up any memory on your iPhone or iPad
The devices has an intuitive Bolt app, which is simple to use for transferring from your device or a computer. When you want to view the contents on your portable player, the app is perfect for photos and videos. Images and videos can also be taken and directly stored on the Bolt.

Images you store on an iPhone can also use the Bolt as a backup, which is something (backing up) a majority of people do not do – until they find out the hard way that they should of.

The pocket-sized Bolt Duo has a protective rubber case and a keyring makes it conveniently portable. One Bolt Duo isn’t limited to a single iPhone or iPad. Use and share as you want, but you’ll end up buying more.

It’s not to early to put this on your holiday shopping list or even get one before the rush puts em’ on back order. I’ll guarantee you this will be a popular item.

https://www.kingstongo.com/bolt 32GB $59.99, 64GB $89.99, 128GB $119.99

SnowLizard’s SLXtreme rugged and waterproof case for iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus are as durable and efficient as an these days.

They are built with a solar panel to power its battery case, which in turn powers your phone for185% extended power.

The solar panel is built into the case and a harnesses absorbs the sun’s power or indoor (incandescent) lighting for charging the battery to give the case and phone the shot of energy they need to keep running.

The cases battery is a 4000mAh, which you should expect powers s smartphone battery by 185% for extended power. If AC power is available go ahead and use it with the a standard power cord, which came with your device.

Along with solar power, if it’s available you can charge the phone with a Lighting to USB AC power cord. Four LED lights will indicate the charging of the case, which should take a few hours. You won’t have access to the headphone port (if your phone has one) while it’s in the care but Bluetooth will work fine.

As for durability; waterproof (IP68) rating and drop-proof (MIL-STD-810G) up to 6.6-ft.

I’d expect cases for the new iPhones to be announced soon but no definite date yet.

Available in Mossy Oak Break-Up Country Camo, Night Black, Safety Yellow and Signal Orange

https://www.snowlizardproducts.com $149.99

Gadgets :: September 20, 2017

By Gregg Ellman
(@Greggellman)

It’s a camera bag but it’s not just a camera bag since it also holds a laptop, tablet and a whole lot more.

I’m referring to the newly released Think Tank Photo’s Spectral 15 shoulder bag, on in the new Spectral series that includes two other sizes.

Before I even started to load the bag for a flight (they are all easily carry-on friendly) I loved the magnetic Fidlock clasp.

As described, it enables one-handed opening and automatic closing with ease. The opening is cleverly designed with a small tab you pull on to release the clasp.

I was determined to load the shoulder bag with more than I could carry, simply to see what I could get in it. I got everything I needed inside and there was even room to spare.

My contents included an iPad, 13.3-inch MacBook Air with a few accessories (power adapter, card readers, adapters, etc.), two DSLR camera bodies, four lenses, flash and some camera accessories.

The inside pockets, removable closed-cell foam dividers with Velcro ends can be customized to fit what you want. There’s also a phone pocket that will hold today’s larger phones and attachments for a tripod or monopod.

Think Tank Photo uses only high quality hardware, including metal hardware, YKK RC Fuse zippers, 420D velocity nylon and a padded non-slip shoulder strap.

The exterior is water resistant and has a luggage handle pass-through to slide the bag over the handles of a rolling suitcase along with a water bottle pocket. A removable rain cover is included.

The Spectral 15 ($135.75) I tested has internal dimensions of 15.3-by-9.8-by-5.1-inches; there’s also the Spectral 10 ($119.75) with a 13-by-9.1-by-4.9-inches and Spectral 8 ($99.75) 10.2-by-7.5-by-4.9-inches.

The 8 and 10 models have many of the same features described minus the laptop compartment.

www.thinktankphoto.com

CanvasPop has a new custom photo pillow line, which I can tell you first hand makes a pillow the talk of your family room.

The 18-by-18-inch pillows are soft and snuggly, guaranteeing your comfort. What makes the pillow unique is the image you select to have printed on the front and back of the pillow.

The quality is outstanding and to ensure that, CanvasPop runs your image through quality control testing to make sure you’ll be happy with the results.

Designing your pillow is simple. Just choose your photo (which is honestly the hardest part) and upload it to the CanvasPop site. You’ll be able to zoom and rotate your image to get it exactly how you want positioned with a live preview.

You can customize your image on a color palette with any custom color. I used white to get the full impact of my sunset image.

You’ll have your choice to put the same image on the front and back or you can just have it on one side with the other a black or white finish.

It’s really simple and with a cost friendly $39.

www.canvaspop.com

Charging cables are a must-have in today’s life but it’s easy to have a love/hate relationship with them. You love ‘em when you need a charge but hate them when they are tangled together.

TwelveSouth has a cleaver solution for the tangle problem with the new CableSnaps.

The genuine leather straps snap closed to keep charging cables (or any cable, earbuds for that matter) neatly coiled and tangle free. They come in packs of three, two small and one large cable manager.

www.twelvesouth.com $19.99 available black, cognac or marsala

Gadgets :: September 13, 2017

by Gregg Ellman
(@greggellman)

Once you prepare your house for vacuuming, there’s nothing to do to clean your floors and carpet clean except pressing a button.

From there, the Deebot R95 robotic vacuum cleaner takes over and does the work.

I own one of the other robotic vacuums, and while it does a good job, it often gets hung up in areas such as high carpet, tangled with cords or stuck between my kitchen table chairs.

The Deebot came with very specific instructions on how to operate with a specific first run. This includes setting up a WiFi connection to its app, which works with the vacuum to set up a floor plan map using Smart Navi technology for an unobstructed course around your house.

Since the mapping had to be set up, the instructions accurately suggested I was around following the vacuum for the initial voyage to make sure it didn’t get stuck anywhere. You can start with the full course of your entire home or just a few rooms and add more as you go.

In the past I thought it was cool to have a robot vacuum, but now (as Deebot said I would) I find myself opening the app to watch the map and see where the vacuum is. Why? Because I can.

The app even lets you start and stop the vacuum from anywhere. If you have the Alexa voice assistant close by, you can ask her to start the cleaning.

The Deebot (13.9-by-13.9-by-4 inches, 10.6 pounds) has left and right handed rotor brushes to help get most everything in its way. A dust bin collects what you don’t want so you’ll have to empty it like you would any other vacuum.

A base is its home and charging station. If your vacuum road course isn’t completed before the battery runs out, it’s smart enough to return to get a charge and then complete its chore. The run time is about 90 minutes before a charge is needed.

When I engaged a conversation with friends who were against have a robotic vacuum I asked how well their existing vacuum gets under beds for dog hair. The answer was zero, but with the Deebot, it’s 100 percent.

www.ecovacs.com $549.99

Blue Microphone’s new Satellite wireless noise-cancelling headphones are promoted as the first with a built-in amp along with two separate pairs of drivers.

What does that mean to you or any non-techie, who want a great sounding headphone? This makes it one stop shopping, no need to look any further than the Satellite’s if you’re headphone shopping.

I knew they were as great as advertised after a few seconds of listening. And, they have a great modern look. So I went digging around to find out what makes the sound come to life.

According to Blue, the Satellite over-the-head headphones uses two separate drivers in each ear-cup. One is dedicated to high-fidelity audio, and the other for noise cancelling.

The sound system is listed on the Blue website as a “Patent pending 4-driver system featuring 2 custom 44mm ultra-responsive Blue dynamic drivers for audio and 2 dedicated 30mm drivers for active noise cancelling.”

The dual drivers allow the audio’s sound to stay at high quality levels, while the noise cancelling technology removes unwanted noise.

Blue has built the headphones with an analog audiophile amplifier to give you an incredible hi-fi sound.

The Satellites have a built-in rechargeable batteries, which are rated to last for 24 hours of straight wireless sound or 8 hours of hi-fi sound using the active noise cancelling.

A USB charging cable connects directly to the ear cup. There’s a buttons for power, pairing, the amplifiers and noise-calling on or off.

Often headphones I try feel great on my head for the first few minutes but often turn into an uncomfortable feel. The Satellites were placed on my head before I boarded a recent flight and weren’t removed until I got to baggage claim, about 3 hours later.

To me an airplane is the best location for testing noise-cancelling and these pasted the test with the highest grades possible.

With the holidays not far off, I’d put this as a solid contender for any gift list.

www.bluedesigns.com $399.99

With all the hurricanes hitting land these days, combined with the portable electronic world we live in, it’s a good idea to have an extra set (or 2) of USB charging cables and portable batteries packed, charged and ready to grab in a moment’s notice.

All portable batteries are not the same. Some have more charging ports than others and the amperage on the ports can be different, even if they look identical. Many of today’s tablets (iPad for example) need a 2.1A USB port for regular charging. They will charge on the other 1A USB port, but at a considerably slower rate.

The battery is measured by mAh (milliampere hours). For the most part, the higher the mAh number, the more charges you’ll get, bigger is better.

Keep in mind, even though the packaging on the battery say’s you’ll get a certain number of charges per battery cycle, that’s not totally correct. You have to take into account how powerful your device is since not all portable gadgets require the same amount of charging power.

My advice is to get at least 10,000 mAh along with 2 USB ports, 1 of which is 2.1A and a few extra cables. Even a pair of cheap $5 earbuds can be a great investment for an emergency kit or include the earbuds, which came with your device and most people never use.