Gadgets :: January 17, 2017

By Gregg Ellman
(@Greggellman)

The 2017 Consumer Electronics Show is a few weeks behind us but it all take me months to dig through all the information sent my way about new products.

Here are few useful items whose live demonstrations caught my attention and hopefully  now yours.

If you want a smartwatch but just can’t part with your analog watch, take a look at the CT Band, which turns your existing, standard, ordinary watch face into a smartwatch.

The CT Band incorporates a wide range of sensors, which provide a wealth of data on physical fitness, well-being and the environment around you.

The free accompanying app for smartphones and tablets displays the CT Band’s data on a user-friendly interface for each category. The app lets you find others in your area to challenge and share your results with. You can set up notifications to the band to receive a variety of subjects including stock market alerts.

Some of the straps feature recording data from daily activities, sports activities, blood oxygen rate, steps and heart rate.

It’s expected out by the end of April in seven colors in leather and 11 colors in silicone. Prices will vary from $170 to $200. Strap width’s are available in 18, 20 and 22 mm.

www.ct-band.com/en

Benjilock is marketed as the world’s first traditional rechargeable padlock with fingerprint technology, so if you can’t find the lock’s key, a touch of the lock will do the trick.

Once your fingerprint is set, just touch an outside fingerprint sensor, which has an ambient LED light. The lock can store up to four fingerprints.

If non-stored fingerprints attempt to open the lock, the fingerprint system will lock up so only a key can be used.

The stainless steel Benjilock measures 4-by-1-by-2.8-inches and a rechargeable lithium-ion battery, which only has to be charged once a year

www.benjilock.com  $79.99, expected out in September

Sleep Number showed off the upcoming launch the Sleep Number 360 smart bed, which is touted as a first-of-its-kind bed that intuitively senses and automatically adjusts all night, forever transforming the way people sleep.

Basically it’s a bed that works while you sleep. The Sleep Number 360 smart bed redefines what people should expect from their bed.

Features include self-adjusting sleep positions for comfort throughout the night, automatic snore detection and adjustment with sensing sleepIQ biometrics, foot-warming to fall asleep faster and a smart alarm to awaken you at the optimal moment.

Sleep Number 360 smart beds and bases will be priced similar to Sleep Number’s current mattresses and adjustable bases.

https://www.sleepnumber.com

InspEar, by startup Cotral Group, says it will revolutionize both hearing and speaking with augmented and connected earbuds with the InspEar, which the company states is the first custom-fitted hearable device.

InspEars use cutting-edge technology to filter, decrease, and select surrounding noise, as well as provide voice control capabilities for smartphones and connected objects enabling your ears to become a smart technology platform.

The earbuds will access a variety of services by controlling connected objects with your voice,  transform your music by blocking all outside noise so you can completely immerse yourself in your music.

They have active noise reduction technology, which removes select sounds from the outside world to you hear your selected audio crystal clear. Your ears are also protected from loud sounds and noises with the decreased sounds by 30 decibels

www.inspear.com $700 for the pair and includes custom plugs for sleeping that offers noise cancelling capabilities

Gadgets :: January 4, 2017

By Gregg Ellman
(@Greggellman)

All you need to know about the new Jaybird X3 sport headphones is that they are as good as any sport style earbuds I’ve seen.

With a wireless (Bluetooth 4.1) connection to your smartphone you can take the sweat-proof earbuds for bike ride, to the gym or even climb mountains since they have enhanced-comfort ear fins and a selection of tips to ensure the right fit for any type of sport activity. Along with staying in place, they wear with comfort.

The Jaybird website has a great line about the universal secure-fit design: “These buds are sticking with you no matter how crazy active you get.”

To keep the sweat out, they are designed with a double hydrophobic nano coating.

The big sound comes from 6mm drivers but what I found really cool was the MySound App (iOS and Android), which lets  you customize your sound settings and then save them to the X3 earbuds. This lets  your music sound the same, no matter where the music comes from.

After a full charge, the internal battery is good for about eight hours of tunes before a charge is needed. An in-line remote makes music selections and handsfree calls.

With the Bluetooth 4.1 connection, two users can have a pair of the X3 sport earbuds connected to the same music source simultaneously.

www.jaybirdsport.com $129.99

For a lack of a better term, portable Bluetooth speakers are a dime a dozen so they need more than sound to stand out in the crowded tech product line.

The Jam Voice is a Bluetooth and Wi-Fi speaker that does just fine at playing your music and also works as a handsfree call speaker system. But what the Jam does to make it stand out is accept commands to turn your lights on or off, give you the weather forecast, news, traffic alerts and a lot more.

It’s built with Alexa integration, Amazon’s voice service, giving you a personal assistant, essentially making it command central for your smart home. So now instead of getting up to turn on an alarm or to control an air system, just talk to the Jam Voice. 

Devices you want to control must have Alexa integration; otherwise you’ll be talking to yourself.

Everything is controlled with a few buttons; the basics being controlling your music and volume. To get to Alexa, just press the Amazon button.

You get a 4-hour battery life from the 3-by-3-by-3-inch speaker or if it’s staying in the same place just have it connected to AC power at all times.

With the built-in Wi-Fi, Jam speakers let you connect multiple Jams into the same system for a multiple room sound controlled by the Jam app.

www.jamaudio.com $79, available in white or black

The slick-looking GEAR4 Carnaby iPhone 7/7 Plus case is built with cutting-edge D3O technology along with Apple color matching, which hard core Apple fans demand from accessory.

And if your like me and have no idea what D30 technology is, I’ll tell you: “it’s a material used by Olympic ski teams and the military, to deliver superior impact protection through advanced shock absorption,” according to a recent press release from the company.

It’s designed with a slim look to match the new slim phones so they remain bulk free. The back has a perforated design to let you show off the color of your new iPhone.

An exterior bumper protects your phone from bumps and small drops.

www.gear4.com $39.99

Gadgets :: December 28, 2016

By Gregg Ellman
(@Greggellman)

Every month for the past year I’ve covered smart home products in this column, including everything from frying pans to toilets to alarm systems.

Smart home products let you control and automate items around your house.

They are have come a long way as far setup, usage and cost, so keep that in mind when you’re deciding what products you want. Additionally, keep in mind these smart home features while shopping around.

· Do they integrate with Amazon Alexa or Apple HomeKit

· Is a hub needed or will it work with your existing hub

· Will the product work on Wifi for connecting anywhere or Bluetooth, requiring you to stay within 33 feet of the device.

· Setup: Can you do it yourself or will professional installation be needed

· Power: is it battery or AC powered, or even solar in some cases

· Is a subscription or any pay service required

I’ve come across many great Smart Home products and there’s going to be a lot of new products announced at next month’s Consumer Electronic Show in Las Vegas. Here are a few of my favorites from this past year.

With a simple setup, including connecting the Rachio to your existing Wi-Fi network, you’ll have your lawn watering for however long you want in as many zones as you choose.

The installation was surprisingly simple, assuming you have a sprinkler system already in place so you just have to swap out the controller box.

Once the hardware is connected, you control the system with the Rachio app, which lets you schedule watering days and how long for each zone. The app shows you how much water you have used along with how much has been saved due to shutting the system down for rain and automatically changing the water times as the seasons change.

http://rachio.com $199.99 for a 8 zone controller

eveElgato’s Eve Smart Home products work with Apple HomeKit and include wireless motion, window and air quality controls through plugs for controlling just about everything in your home. Everything is hub-free and has easy setups.

The newest product to the Eve line is the connected wall switch ($49.95). This can be an addition or to replace an existing light switch. Once installed the app control lights with a tap on the switch or with a Siri voice command on an Apple device.

You can create a single or multi light setup and even group multiple Eve wall switches within the app to an intelligent lighting system.

The wall switch is connected with Bluetooth or as I tested it, over the Internet with an Apple TV.

Check the Eve website for electrical requirements and setup.

www.elgato.com

All you need is Wi-Fi and the free Arlo app to get the Arlo security cameras working. The HD cameras are 100 percent wire-free, have integrated infared lights for night vision and are weatherproof.

You even get free cloud storage to save your recordings for a week for up to five cameras. If you want them saved longer, paid upgrade options are available.

The Arlo app sets everything up including schedules and alerts when motion is detected.

http://arlo.com $144 for a single camera, kits are available

The August Smart Lock replaces the inside deadbolt latch for controlling a lock with a smartphone.

After the installation you’ll need the free/password protected August app and a financial-level digital security protected account.

The app lets you set the lock to open hands-free as you approach it and control who has access to the lock.

Your account keeps a 24/7 activity log of when the lock is locked or unlocked. The lock can be controlled via Wi-Fi by adding the August Connect plug, which connects to a wall power outlet within 30 feet of the lock.

Four AA batteries to power the lock are included; you’ll be notified by the August app when they need replacing.

http://august.com $199.99 for the lock, $79 for the Connect plug

Gadgets :: December 14, 2016

By Gregg Ellman

(@Greggellman)

Time is running out for holiday shopping.  Here are 10 items with brief explanations of why you need them on your gift list. Prices here are MSRP; shop around, I’m sure you may find them for less.

Oregon Scientific’s Radio Controlled Projection Alarm Clock is a portable nightstand battery (two AAA’s) or USB powered clock with a 180-degree rotating arm to project the time on a wall or ceiling. The time is set automatically and displayed on an LCD with the indoor temperature, date and dual alarms.

http://global.oregonscientific.com $19.99

 

The SwitchEasy iPhone 7/7 Plus case is touted as the world’s first see-through glass back case, built with 7H hardness glass and 90 percent optical transparency so the phone design is always visible. The structure of the hard core, yet attractive case is composed of aluminum and glass and a patent pending wireless pass-through design gives users a better wireless experience than other metal cases.

www.switcheasy.com iPhone 7 $39.99, 7 Plus $44.99

 

Android users will love iHome’s new iBN350 music system with built-in Qi wireless charging on a top-side wireless charging pad and NFC quick pairing along with Bluetooth for streaming music. It has a front-facing time display with automatic clock setting, dual alarms, an aux in port. mic for handsfree calls and USB out charging.

www.iHomeAudio.com $129.99

 

With the new iPhone eliminating the headphone port, everyone will need the Scosche BT100 wireless earbuds with a built-in mic and music controls. They have a rechargeable battery, good for 3 hours of music listening and choices of red, blue, pink or white colors.

www.scosche.com $29.99

 

PolarPro’s swappable modules, which attaches securely to a small sliding plate on the back of the drop tested Otterbox uniVERSE iPhone case. The modules include a wireless speaker, fisheye lens, bike mount, tripods, a wallet and a 2100-mAh battery pack.

www.otterbox.com, www.polarprofilters.com prices vary from the bike mount $24,99 to $49.99 for the battery or speaker

 

The Ventev USBcharginghub rq600 with six charging USB ports is perfect for every power hungry family. The AC powered ports charge simultaneously;  five provide up to 2.4 amps each and the sixth is a Qualcomm Quick Charge 2.0 port, to charge compatible devices up to 75 percent faster

https://mobileaccessories.ventev.com $49.99

 

Big sound comes from the Libratone ZIPP 360-degree 100 watt wireless desktop WiFi speaker. You can connect up to six to play simultaneously with a Bluetooth, USB, Apple Airplay, Spotify connection or a direct 3.5 mm wired connection.

www.libratone.com $249 in several color choices

 

Cave Tools kabob skewers rack (14.5-by-10-by-2-inches) holds up to five packed skewers and rotates them 360-degrees for even cooking. The rack holds the skewers a few inches off a hot grill and a built-in food slider makes it simple to push the cooked food off the skewer and onto your plate.

https://cavetools.com $15.99

 

Marshall Major II Bluetooth headphones are built with 40mm dynamic drivers, providing crystal-clear audio in both ears with comfortable padded ear cups and a rechargeable battery, good for 30 hours. They work wirelessly or with the included coil cord, which has an inline mic and music control.

http://marshallheadphones.com $150

 

The Crosley C200 turntable brings back the vinyl sound you miss of the needle dropping on your 33 or 45 rpm records, which is an industry making a great comeback. It’s built with a direct drive, high-torque motor and has a start stop button, an adjustable counter-weight balanced, hydraulic lift control arm and sets up in minutes.

www.crosleyradio.com $279

Gadgets :: December 7, 2016

By Gregg Ellman
(@Greggellman)

CanvasPop takes you outside the box to create wall art, even from cell phones, that make great personalized gifts for this holiday season.

I took CanvasPop up on an offer to take a mobile photo of mine and make a top-quality canvas print.The did it to perfection.

I had my doubts about what the quality would be from a cell phone image I used (taken with an iPhone 6) but after opening the package I was a believer.

The company offers choices of every size you could possibly want from 12-by-18-inches to custom sizes of 76-by-76-inches.

I went with a basic canvas wrap, sized 12-by-18 inches ($42) with a 1.5-inch deep frame ($51).

Two days after placing my order they emailed me a proof, which allowed me to see exactly what the canvas wrap would look like before it’s printed and framed. In my case they were just want I wanted.

CanvasPop provides a free service allowing designers to adjust and optimize contrast, sharpness and remove red eye.

Other choices during the editing process include the depth of the frame, from.75-inches up to 2.5-inches or just a black, white or espresso wood frame. You can also have filters, effects and other digital services added.

Once you upload your image, the user-friendly website walks your through each step along with pricing.

www.canvaspop.com

Cave Tools beer can chicken roasting rack and vegetable spikes grill accessory make any grill enthusiast a chef.

Just attach the chicken to the wide and tip-proof stainless steel base, which is also extra deep to keep grease from overflowing. Once you’re done the set is dishwasher safe.

Whole vegetables, potatoes or anything you want cooked can be attach to the four vegetable spikes.

The built-in stainless steel canister can be used for beer but if you have a different preference of spices, wine, etc., go for it.

Cave Tools includes 25 cooking recipes with step-by-step instructions that were easy for a non-chef like me.

Once your grilling is complete, the Cave Tool grill brush is the best I’ve ever used. Effortlessly the stainless steel bristles clean the grates and you can even leave it outside with i s 100-perfect rust-proof design.

The cleaning power comes from three stainless steel brushes, which are built tight together for maximum cleaning power to effortlessly scrub the grill’s grates while holding the 18-inch handle.

www.CaveTools.com beer can chicken rack $19.99, brush $11.99

You might think a flashlight is just a flashlight but you’ll think differently after you see BulbHead’s Atomic Beam ultra-bright tactical flashlight.

It has multiple modes including high, medium and low for different environments along with a self-defense strobe and SOS settings.

The body is a tough-grade aluminum storing the ultra bright LED’s, which emit up to 5,000 LUX of light. According to the company that is 40 times brighter than ordinary flashlights.

An on/off button on the bottom also changes the modes. The beam focus is controlled by pulling both ends of the flashlight away from each other.

Three AAA batteries or 1 Lithium Ion battery power the 5-inch long flashlight, which is shock, water and extreme temperature resistant.

www.bulbhead.com $19.99

The BodyGuardz Pure 2 glass screen protector and the Ace Pro case are as good a combination as any for protecting a cell phone while keeping it stylish.

The case is built with impact-absorbing technology, the same Unequal technology professional athletes use on the field for impact protection, according to Bodyguardz.

On an iPhone 7, the case ($34.95) keeps the slim profile of the device while protecting it from small drops, bangs and scratches.

The rounded perimeter of the case has a soft bumper with a rigid transparent back, while a raised bezel protects the front.

The case-friendly BodyGuardz Pure 2 glass screen protector ($39.95) works perfectly with the case to protect the full touchscreen LCD, while keeping it fully functional.

This makes your screen scratch-resistance and reduces breakage during drops. It easily installed and just as the instructions pointed out any minor bubbles visible were gone after a day.

www.bodyguardz.com

Gadgets :: November 2, 2016

by Gregg Ellman
(@greggellman)

earn1The Earin M-1 true wireless earbuds are one of those products I test that attract attention.

These are truly wireless with no cables, wires or anything to connect the left to the right to the music. Bluetooth technology is built into the earbuds, which receive the sound from your music source.

Each black earbud charges in a lipstick-like capsule, which connects to a power source with a microUSB cable. It’s worth noting for Apple fans that the capsule design is very Applye-esque.

The earbuds have a secure compartment in the capsule for charging; just line them up and they fit snug for charging and storage. I got about 3 hours of use before I had to give them a charge.earin2

The capsule is a 600 mAh Rechargeable Li-Ion battery that should charge the earbuds in 75 minutes.

They weigh .12 ounces each and are by far the smallest earbuds I’ve tried. You get several sets of earbuds with the kit and normally I won’t spend much time finding the right fit, I just go with the ones installed. With these you want to have a secure, tight fight, ensuring the best sound quality along with keeping them safe in your ears.

When you place the earbuds in your ear, you’ll notice each is built with an angled tip to help them feel comfortable as well as getting the sound angled into your ear.

As for the sound, I was really impressed. The Earin app helps you set up the sound balance and offers a bass boost.

Earin describes the sound as “An incredibly detailed sound with excellent mid and high-tones, and a tight bass response all reproduced with minimal distortion.”

I agree.

https://earin.com $199

snakable1The importance of USB charging cables with today’s portable USB gadgets is critical and the one time you have a broken cable, you’ll see what I mean.

A Snakable is a cable I can see as innovative and disruptive as any; in fact I’ve never seen any other like this. Each end of the cable has Snakable’s patented strain relief technology featuring rotating ball joints with 90 degrees of movement.

This gives each end of the cable flexibility from the area that typically has a lot of strain and bending, which cause the cable to not work.SNAKABLE 2

Each end twists, turns and rotates to keep everything working, connected and charging.

I had no problem connecting the cable on my Otterbox case on my phone and each cable is 4-feet long.

They are available with Apple Lightning (Apple certified), microUSB and USB type C tips in a choice of five colors (black eclipse, green leaf, orange flame, red meter and white cloud).

www.snakable.com $29.99

inateck1The Inateck BP2101B MercuryBox speaker has a ton of features, nice sound and won’t cost you much.

Along with the clear sound at any volume, it’s packed with lots of features.

You can connect via Bluetooth or with an Aux-in cable. The body is IPX waterproof to protect is from a quick shower or splash from any direction and it has an attractive black anodized aluminum body.inateck2

Inside is a pair of 5-watt precision-tuned drivers and a built-in 1800mAh rechargeable Lithium Ion battery for up to 15 hours of portable use.

A built-in microphone lets you use the portable (6.4-by-2.4-by-1.1-inches) speaker for hand-free calls.

www.inateck.com $38.99

Gadgets :: October 26, 2016

By Gregg Ellman
(@Greggellman)

smartplug1The smart home product world is truly innovative, but for many it can appear complex to set up themselves.

A company appropriately named Simplehome has an automated control smart home line of products, which is accurately promoted to set up in three simple steps.

For the wifi security camera with motion detection, I had it up and running in less than 5 minutes. Even if it takes you a few minutes longer, it’s still incredibly simple and easy.

Obviously you must have your own WiFi and after unpacking the camera, just download the free app (iOS and Android), plug in the camera and add the device to view the camera. There’s no hub or anything else.

The camera can be set to turn on when it detects motion and then record video at 720HD resolution. Or you can set the camera to always be on.

It also has a microphone and speaker to communicate with anyone in the room and there’s a built-in microSD memory card slot record directly onto the card (not included). A mounting kit is included.

Another smart home product from Simplehome is the smart plug, which has a pair of 2.1 amp USB ports built-in for charging portable devices.

The plug works with the same app as the cameras and can be set to turn on or off on a schedule or manually with the app or a button on the plug. smartplug2

A standard pass-through AC port is on the front for plugging in lights, small air conditioners or anything you want to control and save energy by having it only when needed.

The USB ports are always on, so charging is controlled when you connect or disconnect your device.

Other devices you can add to the system piece-by-piece are outdoor cameras, LED light bulbs, siren alarms and motion detectors.

http://gosimplehome.com camera with motion detection – $46.49, smart plug with USB ports – $23.49

samanos1The Smanos WiFi W020i bundle alarm kit includes everything you need to set up a basic security system in your home. Included in the package is an HD WiFi camera, control panel, door/window sensor and a remote control.

The Smanos app (iOS and Android) is easy to use. The control panel (1.6 by 4.6 by 4.7 inches) is the brain of the system while connected to your existing WiFi. A round light on the top alerts you when the system is in home mode, armed or disarmed.

samanos2You can connect up to 30 accessories in the system including more sensors, water/lead detection and motion detectors.

If broken glass is detected, an alarm is sounded and a real time notification is instantly sent to your smartphone. From there you can evaluate the situation instantly.

The 5-megapixel HD camera has a 2.4mm F2.0 lens that gives you a 110-degree angle of view. Even in low light, the camera performs well with what Smanos calls Super Low-Lux Performance without IR LEDs.

smartcamera1The camera has a built-in microSD card slot to support memory cards up to 32GB.

The plug-and-play system includes a pair of wireless door/window sensor to alert you if a door or window is open or broken. Exit and entry delays can be programed into the system.smartcamera2

You can have the remote control attached to your keychain to disarm or arm the system. A panic button can put the system into the alarm state immediately.

Even if you have a power outage, a battery backup will keep you running for up to 65 hours.

www.smanos.com $269.99

Gadgets :: October 19, 2016

by Gregg Ellman
(@greggellman)

minipro Ventev Mobile has launched three dashmounts for keeping your smartphone handsfree in vehicles.

The minipro window has a suction cup mount to attach to any car window (or even some dashboards) and gives you 360-degree rotation of your attached phone. A universal adjustable smartphone mount will hold most smartphones, even while they are in a case.

While your phone is in the mount, you’ll get full functionality to the touchscreen along with all the other controls, headphone and charging ports.

The mini pro vent has all the same features, but instead of the suction cup mount, it clips onto your vehicles air vent.

A ball mount bracket with an adhesive backing is included with both.

A third option is the magdock 360 dashmount, which magnetically attach your device mount and then attaches to the cars air vent.

A magnet about the size of a quarter is included to put on the back of your case or phone to make the magnetic connection to the mount.  You’ll also get 360-degree movement and full access to all the phones features with or without a case.

Any of the three setup in seconds.

https://mobileaccessories.ventev.com $24.99

unspecifiedX-Doria replacement mesh bands for the 42mm Apple Watch install in seconds to give your watch a new look.

The bands are light weight, comfortable and have an adjustable style, which secures the watch in place with a magnetic strap.

They fit 130-180 mm wrists and are available with dark charcoal or bright silver finishes.

https://xdorialife.com $49.99

logitech3Logitech’s newly announced K780 multi-device wireless keyboards is designed to be a standard full-sized keyboard, but if far from ends there.

While typing, if you want to switch from your computer to a smartphone, all you do is press the easy-switch button. If you want to switch to typing on a table, that is also down with the press of a button.

A pair of AA batteries power the wireless keyboard for up to 24 months. It works on a Mac or Windows computer along with Apple or Android smartphones and tablets. You have your choice of wireless connections with Bluetooth or the 2.4GHz Logitech Unifying USB receiver

Typing is smooth and comfortable and an integrated rubber slot along the top securely holds many mobile devices in a easy to see reading angle.

The full-sized keyboard includes 10 keys for numbers on the right side and a row of programable shortcuts along the top.

There’s also a battery indicator light and an on/off switch.

www.logitech.com $79.99

ollo1The olloclip mobile photography lens set will be available for the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus in early November.

The interchangeable lens system attaches in seconds to give the smartphone camera fisheye, wide angle and macro lenses for improved photography.

Each lens fits flush with the phones lens and adds premium optics for crystal clear digital images. They are built with multi-element coated glass optics with edge-

to-edge clarity.

New for the iPhone 7 phones are the olloclip connect interchangeable lens system. The new system maintains all the features of previous versions and is now equipped to quickly configure with other individual iPhone 7 connect lenses so they can instantly adapted to your environment for any situation.

When not in use, the lenses can be tucked away in a pocket or backpack.

www.olloclip.com Core Lens Set: $99.99, Active Lens Set: $119.99, Macro Pro Lens Set:  $79.99, Combo (Core Lens Set and ollo Case):  $119.99

Gadgets :: October 12, 2016

by Gregg Ellman
(@greggellman)

If your gardening skills are anything like mine, you have gone through an endless number of electrical extension cords the got cut and destroyed by hedge trimmers.

The Dewalt 20V Max Hedge Trimmer eliminates the cord cutting problem (and associated costs) since it operates off of a 5.0Ah Lithium Ion battery, letting you work cord free.

Using the 7.5 pound tool is as easy as attaching the charged battery, removing the protective cover from the blades and turning it on.

It’s designed to trim branches up to 3/4-inches thick with the 22-inch laser cut, hooked-tooth steel blades. The long-reaching blades enable high-reaching trimming, otherwise not reachable for many.

The trimmer is designed with a comfortable wrap-around auxiliary handle with an easy to reach lock, on/off switch.

A charger is included with the trimmer and battery; additional batteries can be purchased.

www.dewalt.com/ $199 for the trimmer/battery combo, $135.49 for just the trimmer and $99 for extra batteries

Think Tank Photo’s Shape Shifter backpack has been an industry leader for photographers lugging around big, bulky and expensive equipment in a low profile form.

Based on input from pro photographers, Think Tank upgraded the backpack with the recent release of the Shape Shifter version 2.0, which gives it a narrower profile when empty, allowing photographers to configure it and have it expanded only when filled.

Even when full, expensive camera gear is well hidden from the public eye until it’s removed and it’s really amazing how much you can store in the backpack.

Like all Think Tank Photo products, the backpack has a comfortable design, top notch hardware, and numerous pockets and compartments with smooth rolling zippers.

Pockets are inside of pockets to carry photo gear, laptops up to 17-inches, smartphones, tablets, chargers, cables and it also has detachable water bottle pouch.

If you want to carry a tripod, an attachment keeps it easily accessible and weight centered.

A padded shoulder hardness is adjustable to make it simple for carrying the backpack in comfort and a removable rain cover and waist belt.

www.thinktankphoto.com available in three sizes, for 15 and 17-inch laptops; the Naked Shape Shifter can be totally customized

The innovative Yantouch EyE Bluetooth speaker works great as a standalone speaker, but it has additional great features.

The colorful bass enhanced speaker has a 10 hour battery life inside a flat, rounded design, which features a top side app controlled smart light. With the app you get the choice of 16 million glowing, changing colors, according to a press release. I only tried a few due to time limits.

I really liked the Natural Sleep/Wake-up feature, which lets the light and music gradually dim during bedtime and then wake me up with the sound of canaries singing.

If you have more than one Yantouch, they can easily be paired to form a left/right stereo system while sharing the same Bluetooth connection. The linking was as simple as described, automatically linking together with a beep.

The speaker is 6-by-2.3-by-3.7-inches and is available with black or white bottoms.  A remote control is included along with a stand for use on a flat surface or wall hanging.

www.yantouch.com $99

Gadgets :: September 28, 2016

By Gregg Ellman
(@Greggellman)

What if, with the press of a button, you could turn off the TV, lock the front door and turn on the lights?

Logitech’s new Pop switches make controlling multiple smart home devices that easy.

The home switch starter pack gets you going with a single switch and a bridge that plugs into any standard AC outlet. The bridge must be placed where it can pick up your WiFi signal and within Bluetooth range of the Pop switch. 

Once you have everything setup, you won’t need your smartphone or tablet within reach; just press the button for the controls you programed.

If you already have compatible smart home devices setup, the Pop app will scan for those devices and run you through the setup assigning specific controls for the Pop.

Each Pop can be assigned up to three actions, choosing from a single, double or long press. An internal battery should last for about five years.

The Logitech Harmony Hub makes a great partner with the Pop switches since the Harmony can control TV, games, movie boxes and more.

Other compatible smart home devices include LIFX, Phillips Hue, Lutron, and Insteon products.

www.Logitech.com $99.99 for the starter pack, $39.99 for additional Pops

There’s nothing to not like about the iDevices thermostat, including how easy and fast it is to set up and get running.

Assuming you have wiring for a thermostat in place, just shut off the circuit breaker and follow the existing wire setup. If it sounds easy, that’s because it took me about 10 minutes from start to finish.

The setup includes connecting to your existing WiFi and using the thermostat with the iDevices connect app, Apple HomeKit or Amazon Alexa. I tried it out with all three and each worked flawlessly.

My preferred method is with the Apple HomeKit system and the new Apple Home app, which  also lets me use voice commands with Siri.

The quick-start guide gave an example of a customized scene mode, which I thought was such a good idea that I copied it for my nighttime mode.

I just tell Siri when it’s time for bed and the thermostat adjusts to my sleeping temperature and a light connected to an iDevices switch turns off. Eight hours later the thermostat adjusts automatically to my set temperature.

Both the thermostat and the Everything can be adjusted manually or with set schedules based on your routine.

It’s really that simple and just a little bit of a stretch to say it’s a plug and play system.

The pass-through iDevices switch is also fully programable; since it works off WiFi, you can control it from anywhere and program it with specific time schedules.

https://idevicesinc.com $149.

Elgato’s Eve room wireless indoor sensor monitors air quality, temperature, and humidity with an internal sensor that analyzes volatile organic compounds.

The information is recorded to the Eve app via Bluetooth without needing a hub. You can view the recorded air quality by day, month or year.

Since the Eve system is Apple HomeKit enabled, you can use a Siri command for requesting humanity or temperature readings.

The sensor measures 3.1-by-3.1-by-1.3-inches and is powered by 3 AA batteries.

www.elgato.com $79.95