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Gadgets:: Portraiture comes to the video side

By GREGG ELLMAN
Twitter.com/greggellman

Portraiture softwarePortraiture for Video is a new video editing software to allow video enthusiasts to soften skin and remove blemishes, wrinkles, etc. during video editing.

If this sounds familiar to still photographers, there is reason. Portraiture has been used in the professional still image industry for years for softening and enhancing skin tones.

Now the company, Imagenomic has brought the same award winning features to the video world.

According to a recent press release, Portraiture for Video is compatible with Adobe After Effects, Adobe Premiere Pro, Apple Final Cut Pro, Sony Vegas Pro, and DaVinci Resolve.

Video clips are simply run through the plug-in software and it automatically removes imperfections in the skin.

The software is ideal for touching up a scar, acne or other skin blemishes and runs on Mac and Windows operating systems.

http://www.imagenomic.com/ptvideo/ A free 15-day trial is available, the annual subscription rate for the software is $99

ZAGG Universal KeyboardSmartphones, tablets and even your choice of operating systems; it doesn’t matter what you pair the ZAGGKeys Universal keyboard with as long as both can be paired together via Bluetooth technology.

It’s designed and built with features for any of those devices, such the reason for the Universal name tag enabling it to work with virtually any operating system.

It measures 5.25-inches wide by 9.25-inches long with the cover attached and the curved keyboard is as slim as one-quarter inch, making it ideal for use while sitting on the sofa, working at your desk or tucking it away in your computer bag for travel.

While many of the mobile operating systems have similarities, they have more differences when it comes to short cuts and hot keys on keyboards. To help users switch between devices there’s a little switch on the back of the keyboard to switch between Apple, Android or Window operating systems.

The keyboard itself is built with an ergonomic curved design for a more natural typing and includes a versatile protective cover, which doubles as a stand for your tablet or smartphone.

Other features includes a rechargeable battery, which can be good for up to three months before another charge is needed

www.Zagg.com $69.99, available in black, berry/aqua, charcoal/hot pink, lime/charcoal and orange/indigo combinations.

iFrogz LuxeA few other cool and cost friendly products from a iFrogz (a ZAGG company) are the LUXE stereo headphones and the Tadpole.

Some headphones can cost more than a car payment and very often you get an amazing product for your money.  The LUXE are headphones, which don’t cost a lot ($39.99), are comfortable to wear and deliver what I call, “consistent sound.”

What I mean by that is you’re not going to get the great sound associated with $400 headphones, instead you get consistent, good sound with enough bass to keep you happy.

They look good and are built with comfortable padded ear cups over 40 mm driver speakers, an adjustable metallic looking headband and have an inline mic for handsfree calls.

The Tadpole ($19.99) is as simple as a Bluetooth speaker that can be, measuring just 2.67 x 0.43 x 1.38-inches. It’s pocket sized and comes with an attached carabiner clip.

iFrogz TadpoleInside is a 1-watt speaker along with a rechargeable lithium-ion battery, good for about two hours of use before a microUSB charge is needed.

www.iFrogz.com Tadpole available in gray, blue, red, white and purple. The LUXE headphones come in black with your choice of blue, black, gray, red and pink highlights.

Review: ELMO QBiC MS-1 Camera

Going W I D E in Pictures and Video with the MS-1.
Who could resist the Elmo (http://www.elmousa.com/ms-1) QBiC MS-1 camera? The MS-1 is a white cube, only 2.14” x 2.4” x 1.57” in size and weighing 3.3 ounces, that fits nicely in the palm of your hand. It is weather resistant, captures stills as well as HD video and even has built-in stereo microphones. But, what really sets it apart is the super-wide angle f/2.0 lens with three wide- angle settings: 185 ̊, 165 ̊ and 135 ̊. You can get as close as 0.78” to a subject.
There is no display on the camera itself. Rather, you download the Elmo QBiC app for your Android or iOS device and use that as the monitor via the QBiC’s built-in WiFi. The app lets you control all the settings from image or video capture to the wide-angle setting itself. Settings are easily selected, and include: image stabilization on/off, wide-dynamic range, white balance, exposure control, interval capture, self-timer, and burst mode.

At the time of our review all accessories were not available but were said to be so by July. They include: Quick Shoe, Sport Mount, Armor Case, Smartphone Holder, Quick Shoe, Frame Mount, Suction Cup Mount, Camera Holder, Curved Surface Mount, and Flat Surface Mount. Do note that a Smart Clip, shipping with the MS-1 does clip the camera onto the back side of your smartphone. You then use your display the same as if you are holding a point-and-shoot. All settings are as noted above quickly accessed from your touchscreen.

This small wonder also does highspeed video. Two modes are available: 240fps and 120fps.

Recently, we spent two weeks testing the MS-1 extensively. The camera was placed in puddles of water during the rain allowing it to capture drops of moisture as well as amazing audio. Photographer Dan Burkholder (danburkholder.com) and Elmo Sapwater used it to action shots in the unknowns of the Catskill Mountains.

The rechargeable battery is said to last up to 2 hours (Charging is via USB). The longest video clip is currently set to 30 minutes and everything is stored on a microSD card. To test this capability, we attached the QBiC MS-1 to our car, using a GorillaPod, as we drove around town. The video was exceptional in quality. The otherwise remarkable stereo microphones, however, picked up too much wind noise for our taste. When it comes to really checking out how good capture is, hook the MS-1 to your HDTV via the HDMI port.It goes without saying that image clarity for still images captured with a 5MP sensor was mind-boggling, perhaps because of the “wide” effect. While we did enjoy the time-lapse capabilities we were unable to find anything outstanding to demonstrate its full potential.

Was there a downside? Yes, but albeit minor ones. The curved lens cap can easily be misplaced. There are a couple of holes for a tether cord but our demo model did not have one. We can’t tell you the number of times we almost lost the cap. The other annoyance was the small square owner’s manual, making it difficult to read, although ELMO USA will provide a downloadable PDF that lets users print it out in bigger type! The still images are saved as JPEG with no Raw capability. Lastly, the camera currently only comes in a white finish. Perhaps a black model is in the future.

What’s the market for the QBiC MS-1 ($259.99)? Definitely this is for the adventurer. GoPro (gopro.com) is certainly the main one. (Do remember that there’s nothing like it from that specific company when it comes to this kind of size and wide-angle capabilities.) Can the MS-1 compete? Well, we don’t really seeing it so much a competitor as opening up new avenues. This QBiC is an absolute joy to use, so much so, that we’re going to buy our own. It truly allows you to accept those photographic challenges that have been calling you for years to do. You may get some strange looks but you’re guaranteed to go wide and get those stills and videos that separate you from the crowd. There is a lot going for this unique little package.

The QBiC MS-1 is available now. Visit ElmoUSA.com for more information.

>Elmo Sapwater is a photographer and writer for ImagingInsider.com, Photo-News.com and SnappingCat.com.

 

Gadgets:: Three digital storage devices, a Bluetooth speaker and a hands-free headset

By GREGG ELLMAN
Twitter.com/greggellman

WD ProI’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Digital storage – probably the two most important words in the world of technology – is critical to everyone.

IT’S BIGGER ON THE INSIDE

Western Digital’s Thunderbolt My Passport Pro is the mother of all storage. It provides up to a whopping 4TB (yes, that is terabits) in a cargo pants pocket-sized (5.6 by 3.5 inches, 1.9 pounds) portable hard drive with RAID storage.

The RAID 1 system divides the hard drive in half to give your data a duplicate copy in the other half. It transfers at rates as high as 233 megabytes per second and if you know anything about the digital world, that’s fast.

The cable, which connects via the Thunderbolt port, powers the hard drive so no AC adapter needed. The cable is attached to the port-less drive and winds up around the cable management system.

It’s all built-into an aluminum case to make a nice looking companion to any Thunderbolt enabled computer.

Details: 4TB $429.99, 2TB $299.99; www.wdc.com

SUPER PORTABLE AND POWERFUL, TOO

Toshiba 128GB USB3.0If you want even smaller portable storage, the Toshiba USB 3.0 flash drive is available up to an incredible 128GB.

The TransMemory Pro USB 3.0 Flash Drive has secure ultra-high-speed data transferring with read speeds of up to 222 MB/s and write speeds up to 205 MB/s.

It includes built-in security software with encrypted password protection in private partitions for use on Mac and Window operating systems. There’s nothing to set up; just plug-and-play for business, personal or student use.

Details: 4TB for $129.99 and the 64GB is $79.99; www.toshiba.com/us

DIGITAL STORAGE GOES MICRO

SanDisk 128GBThe SanDisk 128GB microSDXC memory card is not much bigger than the average pinky finger nail, pretty much taking portable digital storage as small as you can get.

It’s ideal for cameras along with GPS units, computers, tablets and smartphones with memory card slots. Even if your device has a standard SD card slot, SanDisk includes an adapter to make it work.

An interesting note on the back states the memory card is waterproof, temperature proof, shock proof and X-Ray proof. Check your device to make sure it’s SDXC compatible. If it was introduced after January 2009 it probably is.

According to SanDisk, 128GB is good for 16 hours of Full HD video, 7,500 songs, 3,200 photos and more than 125 apps.

Details: $199, www.sandisk.com

PANCAKE-THIN SPEAKER FEATURES ‘TWOOFERS’

Soundmatter DASHaThe Soundsmatters foxL DASH A portable Bluetooth speaker works with any Bluetooth-enabled device, which is just about every smartphone, tablet, computer and portable media player on the planet.

This very well might be the first time you heard the word “Twoofers” which are the company’s tweeters that also woof.

The wireless sound is amazing, but if you’re in the dark ages, with a Bluetooth-less device, you can use the included 3.5mm mini stereo cable.

The pancake-thin speaker is only 0.62-inches thick with a 2.1-inch width and 7.5-inches long. You’ll get about 10 hours before a charge is needed and it also has a microphone to take a hands-free call.

Details: $149, www.soundmatters.com

HEADSET OFFERS PREMIUM SOUND, AFFORDABLE PRICE

Sennheiser PresenceI got a recent email from Sennheiser who pushed me to try out the new Presence hands-free headset, describing it as “a category killer, (with) three microphones, noise canceling, and clear voice quality.”

I couldn’t describe it any better, but one thing it didn’t mention was it’s probably one of slickest looking devices I’ve seen. And it has an intuitive user interface, unlike many other manufacturers’ versions.

Keep in mind that Sennheiser is a premier sound company – and they hit a home run with this one.

Features include Bluetooth 4.0 technology, plus Sennheiser’s unique SpeakFocus, WindSafe and ActiveGard technology. All this means to you is it sounds amazing.

Details: $142.79, http://sennheiser.us

Contact Gregg Ellman at greggellman@mac.com. Follow him on Twitter: @greggellman

Gadgets:: Wi-Fi extender deals with dead zones at home

By GREGG ELLMAN
Twitter.com/greggellman

Netgear EX6100Just about every household has Wi-Fi with the main connection often coming into the home at a home office, which extends the coverage well into a few surrounding rooms.

But with more and more iGadgets entering homes daily, the need to extend your existing Wi-Fi to dead zones on other floors or far across the house becomes greater.

One solution could be to relocate your router to a central point, but a much easier solution is Netgear’s AC750 WiFi Range Extender (model EX6100).

For tech-heads who want specifics, the device supports dual band Wi-Fi up to 750 Mbps and supports Wi-Fi devices with 801.11ac, b/g/n.

Netgear’s installation guide isn’t called the desired “Quick Start Guide” but it might as well be.

It’s simple to set up, with a pair of choices I did within a browser in just a few minutes. All you do is connect to your existing Wi-Fi (during the setup they have to be close to each other) wait for lights to blink, answer a few questions, click a few boxes and you’re done.

Then unplug the extender and put in your dead zones, give it a few minutes to warm up and make a connection. A pair of external antennas are built on to help direct the Wi-Fi.

After you’re all set up, go to your network settings on the portable device you want to use in dead zones, choose the new network you setup and put in your password.

It measures 4.8-by-2.9-by-1.5 inches before you extend the pair of 3.25-inch antennas, which allows it to be plugged in most anywhere, included behind furniture.

I have my Wi-Fi set up in my office, in the far corner of my house. After setting up the Range Extender I went from having a single bar on my iPad’s Wi-Fi meter to a four full bars.

Problem solved.

Details: $89.99, www.netgear.com

PHOTO STRAPS GET USEFUL TWEAKS

JOBY Pro Sling StrapJOBY, a maker of creative accessories for digital photographers, has released a few very well made straps of high-quality material and hardware for use with most any digital SLR or mirrorless camera, along with binoculars

The Convertible Neck Strap ($21.66) has quick release built into both sides to instantly convert it from a neck strap to a smaller wrist strap.

New to the Pro Series is the Pro Sling Strap ($55.99), which is designed with a SpeedCinch pulley system for instant access to the camera.

This allows photographers to wear their camera over either shoulder or just around the neck at most any level.

A fastening allows the camera to be instantly adjusted with a simple pull for the pulley system.

The strap attaches to the standard thread (\-inch-20) on the bottom of every camera with a greased bearing piece of hardware (included) and tightens with the help of a coin. This allows a secure and tight connection along with allowing the camera to rotate a full 360-degrees.

There’s also a camera tether included with the Pro Sling for an additional peace of mind.

Details: www.joby.com

PORTABLE BATTERY OFFERS BOOST OF JUICE

myCharge RAZORPLUSThe RAZORPLUS from myCharge is true to its name since it’s razor thin at 1/3 of an inch.

What’s more important is it’s a portable battery for charging most any portable USB gadget needing an extra boost of power on the go.

It comes pre-charged with 3000mAh of battery power for over 13 hours of talk time, with a single USB port in an attractive anodized aluminum case.

A four-light LED system is activating by shaking the battery to test the battery level.

Details: $49.99, www.mycharge.com

Contact Gregg Ellman at greggellman@mac.com. Follow him on Twitter: @greggellman.

 

Gadgets:: Pelican cases built for pros in need of hard-core protection of gear, gadgets

By GREGG ELLMAN
Twitter.com/greggellman

Pelican 1560LOCPelican touts its reputation for making high-performance case solutions that are watertight, crushproof, dust proof and used by professionals in the most demanding situation including firefighters, police and military.

I’ve owned several of the company’s cases over the years and when I think of Pelican, the words “useful” and “indestructible” come to mind.

After recently testing the Pelican 1560LOC overnight case (full of camera equipment) the useful part went to a whole new level.

First, a little bit about Pelican cases: They are probably the most durable hard cases available. Composed of Polypropylene copolymer, a hard surface that can be stood on and dropped, they keep your valuables intact.

Pelican cases can tolerate temperatures ranging from minus 10 degrees to 210 degrees Fahrenheit and are water resistant.

Many can be ordered with customization to specific needs, and for the 1560 I tested (exterior dimensions 22.06-by-17.93-by-10.43 inches, 18.8 pounds) I had Velcro dividers along with my first look at the built-in compartments for a laptop and its accompanying accessories. It also has an incredible 2,000 square feet of storage space.

As for the useful aspect, the dividers can be set up however you wish for any type of gear, but what got me hooked on this case was the laptop storage enabling everything to be in one case.

The padded laptop sleeve is attached to the inside front cover and can store a laptop up to 17 inches. Similar padded and removable sleeves surround the laptop for storing cables, chargers or whatever accessories are needed.

Once everything is stored to your liking, clip shut the easy-open and -close latches, pull out the retractable extension handle and start rolling.

Cases can be ordered with the Velcro dividers or foam to customize to your exact items. A personalized nameplate can also be purchased.

Details: $249, www.pelican.com

NIGHTSTAND SYSTEM DESIGNED AS IT SHOULD BE

Sound RiseSoundfreaq’s Sound Rise (SFQ-08) wireless speaker and alarm clock is a nightstand system designed the way a gadget like this should be; to use with any brand of wireless devices, it doesn’t take up a lot of space and most importantly looks good and sounds great.

Charging and docking are done with the USB cable that came along with your device.

Plug it into the USB port – and you’re not hostage to using the phone on a dock specific to any brand – enabling bedtime reading, texting or whatever you need.

As for the clock, it’s a front-facing display that has controls to adjust the brightness with six display settings.

Audio is streamed with Bluetooth (4.0) into a great-sounding speaker system. If wireless streaming isn’t your thing, there’s an aux-in port for a wired connection.

There’s also a backup battery compartment to keep the clock running in the event of a power failure.

Time in 12 or 24 hour settings, snoozing, sleeping, two alarms and even a FM radio is built-in if you want to go old school with the presets.

Controls on the Sound Rise (5.5-by-3-by-3.25 inches) are on the top for most settings.

Details: $58.93, available in black or wood/taupe finishes; www.soundfreaq.com

ADD-ON TO HEADPHONES TURNS THEM INTO A HEADSET

MoovMicWhen I first read about the Moov Mic, I thought it was an interesting name and more importantly an interesting device with the concept of mic plus headphones equals headsets.

It’s a pretty cleaver accessory that turns your favorite headphones into a full headset for wireless calls, Skype or even gaming.

The setup takes seconds. You’ll need headphones with a half-inch diameter port to connect the Moov Mic’s magnet and once attached you’re done.

Just plug them together and you’re all set. No software, setup guide or anything. Truly plug-n-play.

The mic is a flexible and positionable boom microphone, which has a windscreen to help the clarity and sounded great to my callers.

Details: $19.95, http://headsetbuddy.com

Contact Gregg Ellman at greggellman@mac.com. Follow him on Twitter: @greggellman.

Snapping Cat Podcast April 2014

Your hosts are photographers Dan Burkholder and Elmo Sapwater. This podcast was recorded in the Catskills located in New York State.

DCIM100_ELMO
Snapping Cat Podcast April 2014

 

Companies and Individuals Mentioned in this Podcast include: OlloClip/Schneider/Nikon/Canon/Olympus/Epson/Trojan/Ztylus/iZZi Gadgets/Adobe/Bell & Howell/Fujifilm//Elmo Company/PhotoWizard/Photojojo/ReadyCase/Sony/Peterson’s/Apple/Vivid HDR/Jack Davis/Robin Saganoff

Contact: snappingcat@gmail.com

Sponsored by ImagingInsider.com and Photo-News.com and DanBurkholder.com

Gadgets:: Jawbone ERA headset lightweight, fits great

By GREGG ELLMAN
Twitter.com/greggellman

ERA HD AudioJawbone’s new ERA Bluetooth headset has to be one of the lightest available and works flawlessly right out of the box. The internal Lithium-ion battery will give you about 4 hours of use for calls, music, podcasts or hands-free smartphone commands. It charges with a microUSB connection or can be purchased with a charging case to double the amount of talk time.Overall, the performance was great on both ends of the phone calls I made to test it. Using Siri on my iPhone was no problem using the ERA’s multi-function button. Callers heard me loud and clear and that’s a credit to the Military-grade NoiseAssassin technology in the headset designed to eliminate background noise. Included with the headset (1.83 by 0.83 by 0.51 inches and 0.21 ounces) are four different sized earbuds (1 left, 3 right) to ensure you get the right fit.

They don’t look like your standard tips; instead they are designed with the natural contour of your ear for the comfort and stability. Once you get the right fit, it stays in place until your remove it and there’s no need for an ear loop, which is a good thing since there isn’t one in the box.

The Jawbone app (App store and Google Play) lets you customize your headset to what works best for you and lets you see the remaining battery level. The ERA can be paired with two devices simultaneously.

Details: $99.99 for the headset or $129.99 with the charging case; www.Jawbone.com

GRIFFIN CASE HELPS KEEP TRACK OF SQUARE READER

Griffin Square Reader CaseUsing credit cards with the Square Reader on a smartphone is pretty common but misplacing or losing the tiny 1-inch square device is also common. Square has combined the device and built-in storage from Griffin Technology to co-develop the Griffin Merchant Case plus Square Reader. The silicone protective case is now available for the iPhone 5/5s with a non-slip finish and extra protective corners in the event of accidental drops or bumps.

What makes the case unique is a slot in the back of the case to store the reader when it’s not in use. All your phone’s controls and touchscreen are fully accessible when the case is on.

Details: $19.99, www.griffintechnology.com

PHONE CASE FOR THE ‘ALWAYS BE PREPARED’ SET

IN1 multi tool utilityAnother innovative smartphone case is the IN1 multi-tool utility case.

The case gives you a built-in mini-tool kit. Included are screwdrivers (Philips and regular), tweezers, scissors, a nail file, toothpick and even a pair of pens (red and blue). They won’t work on heavy construction but are described by the company as being “helpful with everyday tasks,” such at tightening eyeglass screws or removing lettuce from your teeth.

As for the case, it protects the phone and gives you full access to all the controls and has a built-in stand for hands-free use.

Details: The case is available in black, clear and white. As for the tools, you choose those colors from a choice of white, black, blue, green, orange and pick. $44.95, www.in1case.com

IT’S A WRAP WITH LOOP EARBUD CORD WINDER

The LOOPThe Loop is an anti-tangling device designed to keep earbuds from getting in a tangled ball that most people have experienced when storing them in a pocket.

There’s not a lot to it, just wind your headphones on and wind them off.

It’s done by inserting the 3.5mm headphone jack into the hole in the center of the Loop and winding the cord. The only real requirement is to wind it in the direction the slots are to ensure the earbuds lock on and you can get it off easily.

Details: $5.95 each or 3-pack for $16.99, available in 10 colors; http://ipocketloop.com

Contact Gregg Ellman at greggellman@mac.com. Follow him on Twitter: @greggellman

Lack of Customer service: add JBL Harman to the growing list

Gearing up for what is my yearly “lack of customer service” column. I have several solid entries with the list growing.

I’ve added JBL / Harman to the list; Email one (JBL) who says to email the other (www.levinbridge.com PR) who says to email the first (JBL). That technology endless “don’t bother me” circle, which frustrates me and many others.

Any others, suggestions or problem companies I should look at?

email me directly

greggellman@mac.com

Gadgets:: Get the perfect panoramic with Motrr Galileo

By GREGG ELLMAN— Twitter.com/greggellman

Motrr Galileo
The Motrr Galileo is an iPhone dock designed for taking perfect 360-degree panoramic images.

It’s available for Apple iOS devices in a Bluetooth ($149.95) model and 30-pin dock connection ($99.95).

The Bluetooth is listed to work with the iPhone 5/5S/5C, iPhone 4/4S and iPod Touch (5th generation). The 30- pin Galileo is for the iPhone 4/4S, iPhone 3GS and iPod Touch (4th generation).

Both work with many photography apps, all listed on the Motrr site ( http://motrr.com/apps.html ). It’s updated as new apps become available but there are already many to choose from including Sphere, TimeLapse, DMD Panorama and many more.

The Motrr app is free but there is a charge for some of the others; for example the Panorama app is $1.99 in the Apple App Store.

The 30-pin dock doubles as a charging station since it has a built-in rechargeable lithium polymer battery. A standard tripod mount is on the bottom of both versions.

Right out of the box you would think the Galileo is an Apple product with its solid construction and white finish (also available in black).

It takes a little getting used to but after some experiments it worked really well. You’ll probably have to take your case off, as I did, for it to fit in the dock. It works in both landscape and portrait positions.

If it was late December instead of late February, the Galileo would be my gadget of the year. But since it isn’t, I’ll just say it has an early lead.

Details: www.motrr.com

MUSIC GOES ‘PURE’ WITH SPEAKERS AND APP

Pure SpeakersWhen picking a portable speaker system to use with a portable media player the choices are endless and growing everyday with some great options.

Jongo from Pure is really a complete system. There many options for the system’s speakers: paired as a stereo system, a single speaker in different rooms or whatever your choice may be, inside or out; multiple users; multiple colors; and in multiple streaming choices.

For one streaming option, to connect to your personal Wi-Fi network, as I did, you’ll probably have to read the directions for the setup. But connecting into Wi-Fi to stream audio gives you greater range compared to Bluetooth, which gives you only about 30 feet.

As for the specific pieces used to build a system, I tried out the Jongo T2 and the Jongo S3.

The Jongo S3 ($229) is a desktop/bookshelf sized portable, rechargeable wireless speaker (5.16 by 5.47 by 5.31 inches) and comes in black, white or a mixture called Piano (white body with a black grill) but can be accessorized to coordinate with most any room’s taste.

A grille pack ($29.99) of easy-to-fit replacements is available in choices of white, lime green, burnt orange or mango.

The speaker produces 360-degree sound from five internal speakers (four tweeters for 360-degree sound and an upward-firing subwoofer for powerful bass) and can be paired with additional S3′s to form stereo sound. More is better but even just a single S3 fills the room with sound.

As for the Jongo T2 ($179), it won’t fill the room like the S3 but it makes a great choice for background sound where you don’t want the volume cranked up.

A pair of 10W 3-inch, mid-range drivers are inside and optional grill covers are available in mango, burnt orange and lime green.

Both speakers can be used with Apple or Android devices using Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, along with the Free Pure Connect app.

The company’s Pure Connect app lets users turn their smartphone into a remote control for your music and your choice of Jongo speaker output. This includes your personal playlists or access to a never-ending list of radio stations and music.

The app is free, but there are different levels of service within the app that may incur monthly fees. For example the Green level is free, up to the Violet level for $9.99 per month.

Earlier this year, Pure announced third-party app support via Bluetooth, allowing the Jongo system to support all music apps including Pandora, Spotify and many more. This service is expected out in the spring.

Details: www.pure.com

HEAVY DUTY PORTABLE BATTERY FOR RUGGED TRAVELS

Soldier Power BankYou may want to go anywhere, and take your digital device everywhere. But if you roam too far, you will be without power and watch your device fade to black.

The Soldier portable battery is a welcome remedy, especially for the adventurous traveler. This handy 7800mAh battery backup is built for the roughest environments with a waterproof, rugged shook-proof body.

It’s built with a standard USB and a microUSB port for charging portable electronics on the go and a flashlight with SOS functionality. LED indicators display the remaining battery life.

A friend recently spent two weeks hiking in Central America, so what better way to test it than to take the backpack-friendly battery (4.52 by 3.46 by 1.14 inches) along with him.

The Soldier lived up to its name, handling all the rough-and-tumble of two weeks on and off the trail. An accidental dip in a stream verified the company’s statement that it’s waterproof up to 3 feet deep for up to 30 minutes.

No electronic device can be a perfect solution for all situations and this had its own limitations. At an even one pound, it may be a little more weight than some adventurers want to carry. And to recharge the three internal Li- ion 3.7V 2500 mAh batteries, you’ll need to include your own USB to outlet plug to connect with the supplied cord for an 8 hour charge.

Details: $59.95 at Amazon.com; www.digitaltreasures.com

Contact Gregg Ellman at greggellman@mac.com. Follow him on Twitter: @greggellman.

Gadgets:: When it comes to USB why have 2 when you can have 4?

By GREGG ELLMAN— Twitter.com/greggellman

4 Port USB ChargerIf two is good, four has to be better for most families when it comes to accessible USB charging ports.

Leviton’s four-port device fits exactly to replace an existing AC wall plug/box, substituting the pair of standard plugs with the four USB ports.

Its design allows you to plug in your own charging cables for 4.2 amps of power, which is controlled by a microprocessor to accommodate up to four high-powered devices simultaneously.

This can include smartphones, tablets, gaming units and digital cameras regardless of the manufacturer. The only requirement that is they charge via USB.

The four USB ports are aligned in the outlet vertically to lessen stress on the charging cables, according to the company’s website.

Also mentioned on the site is that all Leviton charging devices are UL listed and meet all National Electrical Code requirements for Tamper-Resistant outlets.

When it comes to electrical work, please take all precautions and make sure you know what you’re doing or make use of a certified electrician.

www.leviton.com $39.99 available in gray, ivory, light almond and black

SYNC by 50 Ear WirelessI’ve reviewed SMS Audio Sync by 50 headphones before so it was no surprise when I tried on the latest over-the-ear wireless set. It has the amazing sound as the previous.

What makes the headphones named and endorsed by rapper Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson a lot more convenient is the wireless feature (Bluetooth).

Past the great crystal-clear sound, wireless feature and impressive packaging, the most important feature to me and many others with on-ear headphones is the comfort. These are as good as any, if not better.

While the headphones are designed by the famous rapper, the sound is not just geared towards that genre, which I proved to myself with my 70’s channel on SirusXM.

Other features include 40mm drivers built into the soft leather memory foam cushioned ear pads and folding hinges to store in the hard shell carry case. There’s also full on-board controls along with a mic for handsfree calls.

To my fault, the headphones got buried in one of my endless piles, so they aren’t really new but if you haven’t heard of them, then they are as new to you, as me.

You have your choice of silver or an eye-catching black (my review sample). You’ll get about 10 hours of battery life and then a 4 hour charge to power them back up. A microUSB cable is included for charging.

www.smsby50.com $229.95

CamRangerThe Camranger, in my mind the best third-party digital SLR camera accessory, just got better with a recent free firmware update.

If you’re not familiar with the Camranger ($299.99), it’s a device that connects to select Canon or Nikon DLSR cameras via USB to create a Wifi network from the camera to a smartphone, tablet or computer (Mac and PC) without needing an Internet connection.

This includes capturing and storing the images on your device away from the camera as well as changing settings including shutter speeds, ISO and f-stops.

Among the new features in the update, photographers now can share images with multiple devices and network bridging.

The photographer can share images or live view from camera with others on their personal smart phone, tablet, or computer using the free CamRanger Share app, regardless of there location.

Photographers now have the option to bridge into a network to extend the WiFi range or post images to the Internet immediately.

http://camranger.com/firmware-upgrade

FLIR ONEIf you ever thought about turning your iPhone 5/5s into a thermal imaging device, you are in luck with the newly announced FLIR ONE, the first and only device of it’s kind.

The FLIR ONE puts thermal imaging technology in your hands to extend the limits of human vision, allowing you to see in complete darkness just as the military would with night vision.

The uses are endless. Two examples:  homeowners can use it for security or to optimize energy efficiency in doors and windows.

The FLIR ONE comes as a protective iPhone case that fits like a glove and has a lens on the back to detect and broadcast a live thermal image on the phone’s LCD. It’s not available yet but expected later this year for $349.

www.FLIR.com