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Gadgets :: December 6, 2017

By Gregg Ellman
(@greggellman)

You’ll ride the streets a lot safer with SmartHalo Technologies’ brand new SmartHalo smart device for peddle bikers.

It attaches to bikes with standard handlebars and pairs via Bluetooth with your smartphones, but there’s no need to have your phone in sight. Just keep it in a pouch under your seat or a pocket.

A HaloKey is included, which is s specialized antitheft mechanism designed just for this device and used for locking it in place.

Inside is a rechargeable 2,000 mAh Li-Polymer, which should be good for about 3 weeks of 1 hour rides per day before a USB charge is needed. To charge it, use the HaloKey to remove the battery if a charge isn’t close by.

The SmartHalo is weather proof and has LED’s circling the top, which are so smart they glow green when you should turn and red when you miss a turn. If your wondering how it know’s where to turn, that’s where your smartphone comes into play. Before your ride, program in your route.

For night riders, a front facing light will certainly help your safety on the road. It’s controlled automatically or with a touch of the of the top side of the display. Keeping it on automatic allows it to go on or off depending on your amount of light in your conditions. When you stop riding the light goes off.

The app (iOS and Android) has many features to work with the device, including a “find my bike” feature in the event of theft or you just forgot where you left it. There’s also a compass, visual speedometer and an alarm, which deactivates when it senses your phone is close by.

The top of the SmartHalo has a tactile circular interface for a display you can easily read while riding and has a visual flashing light to alert you of calls and message notifications. Obviously use caution when responding to these alerts.

https://www.smarthalo.bike $149

A first for me was not drinking a smoothie but making one myself (if you ever saw me in a kitchen you would understand) with the Perfect Blend 2.0.

The smart scale combines with your own blender and the Perfect Blend recipe app (iOS and Android) to ensure you add each ingredient exactly right, measured by weight and displayed on your smartphone or tablet. The box says it works with any blender; I tried it with both of mine and it worked perfect.

Each recipe takes you step by step, making makes it so easy, even for me. I even found out that the ingredients should be added in a specific order to ensure optimal blending.

Set up is as easy as downloading the app and pairing the Perfect Blend wirelessly (Bluetooth). How advanced you want your drinks is up to you. It’s not limited to healthy nutrition, as I found out. The scale works perfectly for baking and cocktail beverages.

For nutrition conscious recipes, the app displays the amount of calories and servings you’re about to blend based on the ingredients and how much you add. Past that, there’s not a lot to it besides that it’s simple to use and the results were excellent.

A pair of AAA batteries is needed for power.

https://makeitperfectly.com $33.91

The PIQ Robot sensor is designed for athletes to give them the tools they need to improve their performance levels.

The sensor combines with an accessory dedicated to specific sports including golf, tennis, ski, boxing or kiteboarding.

It’s worn on a strap, which links up to your smart phone. On the PIQ app, it records and analyze the analytics performance details of a workout session. This includes speed, G-force at impact, and retraction time, then displays the analytics in real time on the app.

The app shows results on a community leaderboard, comparing where you stand to others hoping to inspire athletes to work harder to move up in the standings.

https://piq.com $149 for the sensor, accessories prices; boxing $99, golf $269, tennis $178, kiteboarding $208, ski $198

A Star Wars collection of cases and wallets for iPhone has been launched by HEX.

The cases are genuine leather in designs incorporating art and characters from the legendary films.  Features include genuine leather exteriors, credit card slots, cash pockets, zip closures and custom German polycarbonate phone beds.

They are available in three styles: the Snap Case, the Wallet, and the Zipper Wallet and are available for the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, and the iPhone X.

www.hexbrand.com/prices vary; Star Wars Darth Vader for iPhone X $49.95, Boba Fett Wallet Case for iPhone X $59.95

Gadgets :: November 29, 2017

By Gregg Ellman
(@greggellman)

It looks like a pen, it’s the size of a pen, but it’s way more than a pen. And that’s an understatement after seeing how cool and innovative the InstruMMent 01 is when paired with a smartphone.

After playing with the tool for a little while I kind of got the hang of how to use it as a measuring and dimensioning instrument, with the results processed on my smartphone quicker than I write them down.

The InstruMMent shows a demonstration on how you measure curves for an incredibly accurate measurement of a mouse and have the dimensions relayed to the accompanying app (Android and iOS) instantly. So instantly that’s what I did and say what you want, I thought it was pretty cool.

I could see how designers, architects and other professionals would make this tool a game changer right out of the box.

This all happens because a bunch of sensors built inside take the measurements and relay them wirelessly (Bluetooth) to your smartphone.

It works as a tape measure so builders can use it to calculate length, width or heighth for door space, walls, windows, floors or how much carpet is needed. Or as demonstrated on the website, you can measure a growing child instantly and record the heighth in the app. The uses are really endless for measuring anything flat or 3D.

Setup with the app is simple, just pair it and go. You can view measurements in any unit you want – inches, feet, yards, miles or metric.

The InstruMMent 01 is constructed with an aluminum body and is available in pen, pencil, or stylus versions, all built with internal sensors and Bluetooth. The 6-month battery is include along with an ink cartridge; replacements can be purchased.

Other accessories you can add include leather sleeves, stylus tips and even training wheels, which I certainly could have used.

www.instrumments.com $149 for the dimensioning instrument with a pen, pencil or stylus (choose one)

Statistics supplied to me from Nora, a device designed to combat snoring, highlighted how 40 percent of Americans are affected by snoring, causing many problems in the bedroom and often leading to health problems including strokes and heart attacks.

Full disclosure: I’m a horrible sleeper and my snoring often keeps my wife awake. Over the years I’ve tried mouth guards, medications, nose strips, etc. so I, like other poor sleepers, am willing to try anything.

Something simple like the rechargeable Nora was a pleasant surprise. Without giving any medical advice and keeping this far from official, I thought it worked for me, as did my wife.

The hardware and setup are simple. The Nora device has a built in microphone and looks like a computer mouse. It can sit on your nightstand and works with an expander wirelessly (Bluetooth), which slides into your existing pillow case.

Just tap Nora when you get in bed and Nora detects when you are snoring, then tells the expander to slightly inflate and gently move your head. You don’t even know it’s moving or at least I didn’t. The expander has low/high settings, which expand less or more, depending on what you feel is needed.

The expander is connected to an AC powered pack, which also works on battery power for up to three nights when traveling.

According to the Nora site, “Snoring occurs as a result of the airways in our throats collapsing while our neck muscles relax during sleep.” So the slight movement of your head Nora gives the snorer, will hopefully stimulate the relaxed throat muscles allowing the airway to assume its natural position and decrease or eliminate the snoring.’’

It works for back, side or stomach sleeper;, the only requirement is your head on the pillow. Snoring issues are often (not always) controlled by positioning and the expander did well. You can also set the Nora with a delay, giving you time to fall asleep before it’s activated.

The soon-to-be released iOS Nora app will help over time to record patterns, show you what times during the night snoring was an issue and record results on what’s working and what isn’t.

www.smartnora.com $299 with a 30-day money-back guarantee

The Jabra Elite 25e has the great sound you would from Jabra. I’ve never tried a headset from them that wasn’t impressive.

One thing I’ve found with the influx of neckband wireless earbud systems is that the battery life is really poor. To the rescue comes Jabra with an impressive battery time of up to 18 hours.

Battery life always depends on how much you use it and with the Jabra, I gave it the same everyday use I did with other similar products and the Elite 25e far distanced itself from the competition

I say the bendable neckband is comfortable simple because you don’t know it’s there. The 10mm speakers with Jabra EarGels (thee sets include S/M/L) are connected at each end. From there just make a call or turn up your music.

They have a wind-protected microphone, dust and water resistance and charge with the included USB cable. Controls even allow for one touch access to voice assistants.

www.Jabra.com $79.99

Gadgets :: Holiday Gift Guide 2017

Gadgets :: Holiday Gift Guide 2017
(@Greggellman)

If you’re struggling to find a different, out of the ordinary gift for someone special, here’s a head start.

Wallace Detroit Guitars are one-of-a-kind handmade instruments made of reclaimed wood from several Detroit historical landmarks. Each guitar has an original story since each has a unique grain pattern. The wood comes from places such as floorboards of the former Detroit Fire Department Headquarters, benches of The Brewster Wheeler Recreation Center and many other sites. When ordering, you can use the “Build Your Own Guitar’’ feature to choose body style, wood choice and hardware options. This option also uses custom finishes, including hand-rubbed oil, sunburst nitrocellulose lacquer or high gloss nitrocellulose lacquer. You’ll also get a certificate of authenticity and a one-of-a-kind handmade guitar strap fashioned from reclaimed car upholstery and a hard-shell leather case.

https://wallacedetroitguitars.com prices range from $2,800 to $3,800

The DJI Spark mini drone is built with intelligent flight control options, along with a mechanical gimbal to support a camera with a 1/2.3-inch CMOS sensor producing 12 megapixel images. With simple control, you can take aerial photos with hand gestures, without needing any other device. The 5.62-by-5.62-by-2.16-inch drone has a maximum speed of 31 mph in sport mode without wind and a maximum service ceiling above sea level of 13,123 feet. Quick Launch technology with FaceAware allows the drone to lift off from your hand just by recognizing your face. It’s built with a rechargeable battery for 16 minutes of wind-free flight at an average of 12.4 mph. You’ll have a worry-free flight using the flight autonomy to ensure the drone returns safely.

https//www.dji.com/spark $499 (hands or your mobile device as controller) / $699 Fly More Combo (with Spark Remote Controller)

Focal’s new high-end Clear open-back circumaural high-fidelity headphone are equipped with a revolutionary copper voice coil. This gives your tunes a remarkable dynamic sound across the audio spectrum with bass that is always controlled, even at high volumes, and exemplary sound in the high-end. Focal, a leading French speaker and headphone manufacturer, says on their website that the use of copper gives the voice coil an extremely strong magnetic field, resulting in sound that fully recreates the dynamics of the original recording. Each ear has a new generation of totally open backed full-range speakers, with a 20 mm memory foam ear cushion, covered with a perforated microfibre fabric. An adjustable headband is constructed with solid aluminum and covered with leather outside and perforated microfibre fabric inside for comfort. A hard case and durable braided cables are included.

https://www.focal.com $1,499

Renogy’s Phoenix Briefcase Generator really takes power on-the-go and all you need is the sun for a full recharge. The compact and portable all-in-one 20w solar powered briefcase (16.14-by-13.77-by-3.89-inches) is built with two highly efficient Renogy 10w Monocrystalline Solar Panels. Additional panels can be added for up to 120w for faster charging. It’s equipped with two DC outputs , four USB ports, a cigarette socket and a standard household 110v plug. The stored power can charge a laptop up to five full charges, 32 iPhone charges or a GoPro up to 47 charges from the rechargeable 16Ah Li-ion battery pack. It can even power some TVs and small appliances, making it ideal for camping or emergency situations. The locking briefcase is built with a carrying handle, an AC or DC power switch and a battery level indicator.

https://www.renogy.com $529.99

How great would it be for coffee-lovers to wake up without an alarm close and just speak a command to get the java brewing? Well, the Smarter Coffee machine can do just that with the help of Alexa Google Assistant. It’s possible to start brewing a fresh pot with the built-in burr bean grinder from anywhere with the Smarter App. Use IFTTT integration to control the brewing with Amazon Alexa or Nest. The updated Smarter Coffee also improved controls for coffee strength and temperature, offering the option to pre-heat the water before brewing for an even fresher enriched brew. The Smarter app also lets you set the start time through alarms with Wake Up mode. A sensor reads how much water is in the reservoir and can be seen in the app so you know how much coffee can be brewed. A Home Mode setting lets the Smarter Coffee know when you’re home to start up the brewing. Or, if you choose, just use it the old fashioned way on the LCD control panel.

https://smarter.am $249.99

Blue’s Yeti Blackout USB microphone and Assassin’s Creed Origins Bundle is first and foremost a microphone. The special-edition package also includes a free copy ($60 value) of one of the season’s hottest games, Assassin’s Creed Origins (for PC). The packaging has a definition of Yeti, stating it is an incredibly versatile USB microphone found worldwide. I have been using Blue’s products for some time and they are nothing short of amazing, producing the highest quality mic I’ve tried. It’s as easy as plug-n-play without the need of downloading or installing any software. It has a driverless installation and produces the highest quality recordings. More advanced users will love the Yeti controls for microphone gain, mute, headphone volume and pattern selection, all adding up to full control of your recordings. Three Blue-proprietary 14 mm condenser capsules capture the audio. And as Blue’s website says, its a perfect gift for anyone needing a mic for vocals, musical instruments, podcasting, voiceovers, interviews, gaming, field recordings or conference calls. The Yeti is Mac and PC compatible.

https://www.bluemic.com $139 for the Yeti mic and Assassin’s Creed Origins Bundle, $129 for just the Yeti microphone

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