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Gadgets :: April 12, 2017

By Gregg Ellman

Walking the Tessco One trade show last week in Nashville, my eye caught some innovative and creative products for everyday use.

Gear4 smartphone cases are made with D3O military-licensed technology, proving to me that all protective case are not equal.

A company representative shared with me that the D3O protection is so trusted that NYC police vests are getting designed with the technology along other with global brands in sports, motorcycle, defense and industrial workwear.

The slim-profile cases have a scratch-resistant finish. The D3O impact protection is a durable black lining on the perimeter of the case. According to the Gear4 site, D3O has freely flowing molecules that lock together to absorb energy on impact before returning to their natural state. I found it interesting to read that the greater the impact force, the greater the locking and the greater the protection.

He added: the protection is about providing the consumer more (protection) with less (bulk).

I wouldn’t intentionally test the drop protection, but I don’t know anyone who hasn’t had their smartphone accidentally hit the ground. Gear4 testing had D3O cases outperforming six top competitors and are also 53 percent lighter.

The cases are made for most all of today’s smartphones and iPad/iPad Pro tablets. $39.99 to $59.99

Apps are great for exercise and fitness but keeping your smartphone attached to you is cumbersome for following the app’s data. Adidas has a solution with the upcoming launch a line of performance sport iPhone cases.

On the back of the lightweight case is an anti-slip grip hand band that to keep the phone in your hand while on the run. When you’re done working out use the phone’s case to watch your workout results handsfree with the case’s magnetic stand.

The case is built with a polycarbonate back shield and TPU bumpers for extra protection.

A release date and pricing is expected later this year.

Urbanista was my find for the day. The company was formed in Sweden in 2010 with the motto of producing headphones for urban people.

They want to make it easy for people who commute, easy to hear sound and be affordable.

The Rome is a hybrid tech earbud headset with magnetic tipped earbuds attached to a flexible rubber and plastic neck band. The magnets keep the earbuds attached securely around your neck when not in use but ready for your tunes or next call.

The technology allows you to hear noise behind you for safety and hear through the headset while you’re mobile. The unixes headset lasts about 16 hours before a USB charge is needed. due out in late April for $79.99 in black, white, blue and rose gold

Flavr iPhone cases are truly unique; each case is one of a kind.

The translucent cases offers impact protection and are referred to by the company as the ultimate fusion of runway-inspired fashion and device protection.

One series has a printed flower design on the back with each case having a different order, design or placement of the hand laid flowers.

New patterns of floral designs will be out by the summer with pricing of $21.19 to $26.50.

Gadgets :: April 5, 2017

By Gregg Ellman

Jabra’s Sport Pulse special edition Bluetooth 4.0 headphones are do-it-all when it comes to earbud features.

They are touted as the world’s first sports headphones with automatic fitness technology. The health-related features include a built-in heart rate monitor and automatic VO2 max tracking, a scientific way to measure your absolute fitness. This includes tracking the maximum rate of oxygen your body consumes during exercise.

With sport earbuds, it’s critical that they stay in place during your workout and the Sport Pulse is perfectly secure. You get several sizes of ear tips to ensure a tight fit.

The sound is great and includes passive noise cancellation, which helps eliminate surrounding noise.

While it’s not really considered exercise, I used the lightweight earbuds during an intense afternoon of outside lawn mowing and gardening. During the whole afternoon they stayed in place, unlike many other sport earbuds I’ve used for the same chores. They also helped keep out some of my lawnmower noise while supplying my ears with great sound.

The Jabra fitness app works with the sport earbuds to track your performance and even coaches you with in-ear feedback on the workout. Distance, speed, your pace and time are all recorded within the app.

The batteries lasted the whole afternoon before a USB charge was needed. Bluetooth 4.0 lets you connect up to eight devices to the earbuds, with two connected simultaneously. They include in-line controls with a built-in microphone. $159.99

The Altec Lansing Mini Life Jacket 3 Bluetooth wireless speaker didn’t accompany me during my lawn mowing like the headphones above, but they do float in your pool while pumping out great sound

With an IP67 rating, the rugged speaker floats in water and is sand, dust, dirt and shockproof. You can pair two Mini Life speakers for stereo sound and charge another USB device with the built-in charging port, while the speaker plays music.

The powerful sounds comes from a pair of neodymium drivers and a passive radiator behind a black speaker grill. The sound has a nice amount of bass and sounded great at any level, in and out of the water.

You can use the speaker ( 2.5-by-6.5-by-2.125-inches) for handsfree calls and 16 hours of sound before a USB charge is needed. A universal accessory mount is included for mounting the speaker on a bicycle, lounge chair, etc., and there’s a aux port for a 3.5 mm wired device connections.

All the ports have a removable waterproof covering so it’s worth mentioning the obvious; when changing or using any of the ports you have to be water free. $99.99
Smartphone cases bore me unless there’s a cool feature worth mentioning, which is the case with the Wally Ether Wallet from Distil Union.

The iPhone 7/7 Plus case is built with a slim hard shell crystal-clear polycarbonate frame and a hidden card carrying compartment built on the leather backside. It stores a few credit cards or even cash.

To access the contents, there is a Wally Pull-Tab you tug to get everything to slide out. When you push your credit cards in the thin compartment, the tab retracts.

A microfiber cloth lines the inside frame to protect your phone from scratches and there are cutouts to for the phone’s camera, speakers and charging lightning port. $34.99 in color choices of ink, hickory, slat and rust

Gadgets :: March 29, 2017

By Gregg Ellman

Pivot PhoneOlloclip, a company that has mastered iPhoneography with a series of attachable lenses, recently launched another great accessory for the smartphone photographer.

The Pivot is a pocket-sized articulating grip that easily attaches to your device to improve video and still photography. Photographers would understand the comparison to a smartphone gimbal, without a stabilization motor.

I tried the Pivot using a cased iPhone 7 along with an Olloclip 4-in-1 lens kit and found the grip was a great help keeping my smartphone steady for all types of photography. It’s built with an ergonomic grip and lets you rotate 225 degrees, with locking positions to ensure the right angle.

After filming a video without the Pivot and then doing the same with it, I was sold.

You can easily store the Pivot in a camera or computer bag; it’s pretty light and mostly made of plastic.

Phones with screens up to 5.5-inches will attach to the mount. The top features a standard attachment for a video light, mic or other accessories including GoPro mounts.

It’s also water resistant and can be taken for a swim when using a waterproof camera or GoPro. $49.99 in a black/red color combination

Skybuds Charcoal and NimbusSkybuds, from Alpha Audiotronics are wireless-wireless earbuds, which puts great sound in both ears.

The tiny Bluetooth earbuds pair with your device like any other wireless accessory and send your audio to each ear, without a wired connection.

As for the fit, I’ve tried several of these independent earbuds and some just didn’t fit right. I like how the Skybuds really go into my ear and fit securely without the fear they will fall out and get lost.

You’ll have to work the volume on your device but the Skybuds do have a microphone for handsfree calls and they directly access Siri or other assistants.

The Skybuds app monitors battery levels of your buds and the Skydock along with a range finder to help you find misplaced Skybuds

I used the Skybuds on a recent flight and they worked for all three hours; the specs have them lasting up to 4 hours before a charge is needed. The included Skydock case stores the earbuds and has a built-in battery for charging several times before the battery needs a boost of power. @19.99

HUB Plus QC 6700 HeroThe myCharge is as versatile a portable USB power source as any and even allows you to charge cable free — sort of.

It’s built with 6700 mAh of portable power inside a slick looking aluminum body. When it needs a charge, just fold out the wall prongs and plug it right into any standard AC wall outlet.

On the side is a pair of attached cables for charging anything with a USB-C or microUSB connections. If you have a different charging port, just plug your own cable into the standard USB-A port.

The battery is built with Qualcomm Quick Charge technology, which along with the myCharge SmartSense technology ensures that any compatible Quick Charge 3.0 device will charge 75 percent faster vs devices that use standard charging methods. $79.99

Gadgets :: March 22, 2017

By Gregg Ellman

greg2You’ll really appreciate a good night’s sleep after using the Sound+Sleep Suite from Adaptive Sound Technologies.

The audio sleep device provides the right amount of ambient noise with natural sounds for the perfect shut eye environment. Technology called Adaptive Sound, which uses a built-in microphone that allows the volume to adjust to ambient noise is a key feature.

For the most part it looks like a standard nightstand clock radio without the clock features. It uses AC power to broadcast sound from a smooth-sounding 3-inch high fidelity speaker on the top. You can have the sound play all night or a timer shuts it off in half hour increments up to 2 hours.

Sound is broadcast in 10 unique, non-looping programs, each with richness levels for 30 layers of sound.

On the back is a line-in (3.5 mm) port to connect an audio device to play through the system and a line out port for headphone or external speakers.

The Sound+Sleep measures 7.5-by-5.5-by-4.5-inches, weighs 2.6 pounds and is available with a black finish. $99.95

gregg1I never thought I’d be talking about my teeth brushing habits in this space, so here are my details. I brush regularly, several times a day with an electric toothbrush. The habit was drilled in my head growing up with a mother who worked as a dental hygienist.

These days I maintain the child habit but I have to admit changing the worn out brush head doesn’t happen as often as it should. That’s just one reason why the Goby electric toothbrush caught my attention.

The toothbrush was launched late last year and claims to be first ever direct-to-consumer rechargeable electric toothbrush.

In addition to working perfectly as my regular toothbrush, an inexpensive subscription service keeps my brush head fresh and clean.

For a one-time charge of $65, you’ll get the electric toothbrush, base/charger and one brush. You then choose a brush head subscription to receive a new brush head every 1,2, or 3 months for $6 each.

As for the brush, it works great and has a cool timer feature where for 2 minutes the brush does its thing, ensuring I don’t cut any corners in my mouth.

The brush is charged in a small freestanding base and has a USB attachment, enabling it to be cord free when you’re not charging. Goby recommends charging it twice a month.

There’s a replacement brush head indicator on the brush for alerting you when it’s time to change, a button to toggle between sensitive and standard modes. It should last 28 uses, 2 minutes each use before a charge is needed.

The system comes with a 60-day trial and a two-year warranty. available in goby blue, midnight blue, magenta and orange

greg3Don’t drop your phone and especially in water. Well, the fact is we all drop our phone and sometimes it survives and other times it doesn’t, especially when it takes the wet plunge.

Pelican Products, a company that develops what I call indestructible products for military and emergency personal, has the Marine case to protect your smartphone on land or sea.

Just put your iPhone in the case, which is built with five-layer protection constructed of impact-absorbing materials and a rigid polycarbonate shell. This includes a waterproof IP68 rating, which allows it to be submerged underwater for 30 minutes up to a depth of 4.92 feet. The case also blocks dust, dirt or anything else from the outside.

Cases like this in the past have been big and bulky and I was happy to see the marine doesn’t really give your phone a bigger profile with it’s 5.98-by-3.09-by-0.48-inch size.

I tested it with an Apple iPhone 7 and loved it. I’m a front pocket carrying person and I had no problem adjusting with the protective case on.

I’ve been a big fan of no headphone port so that wasn’t an issue for me since the iPhone 7 doesn’t have one and works Bluetooth only. You can connect a headphone port to the Lighting charing port, but obviously when that is in use the case is not giving you full protection. $69.99, available in clear, teal and black

Gadgets :: March 15, 2017

By Gregg Ellman

When a new product from V-MODA arrives, I instantly anticipate opening it, just as I would a holiday or birthday gift. I know there is a cutting-edge audio product tucked inside, even though I never had my hands on it or heard it in use.

I’ll take you right to the end; there was absolutely no disappointment after opening, seeing and testing the hot-off-the-press Remix wireless Hi-Fi speaker.

The Remix is the company’s first venture into bluetooth speakers. The sound that flows out is nothing short of superb. This holds true whether you like to enjoy music at a comfortable volume or if you like to punch it up to concert level.

The Remix’s solid construction coupled with its size makes it a perfect travel companion. It measures 8.07-by-2.55-by-2.67-inches. Sound projects smoothly through its front facing grill mixing perfectly with a rear mounted bass reflex port. According the V-MODA, the sound is “powered by a newly designed glass-fiber diaphragm and long coil drivers.”

Typical for V-MODA, they emphasized the design, look and features. My test unit was designed with CNC aluminum. An optional vegan leather finish is also available.

When it comes to customization the Remix is unique. V-MODA touts the world’s first 3D-printed custom speaker so all six sides of Remix can be personalized. You can change the sides, front grill and the C-shell with into a variety of materials. They include “lightweight matte fiber to raw, gold-plated or precious metals including 14-karat rose gold and even platinum,” according to Val Kolton, V-MODA Founder and CEO. The 3D printing is done with V-MODA’s renowned jewelry-grade 3D-printing, which I’ve seen in the company’s headphones.

The VMAP port takes the Remix to a new level for wireless speakers, transforming it into a headphone amplifier. For the most part it’s just plug-and-play with the V-MODA VAMP technology to give your headphones a boost of power and sound.
Connect an audio device to the aux-in port with the included 4.5-foot V-MODA 24k gold plated plug cable, turn the speaker on, connect your headphones to the VAMP port and hit the multifunction button on top once to get everything going. You’ll be amazed at the sound.

You can connect two Bluetooth sources and also use an unlimited number of Remix speakers simultaneously. Just daisy chain them with 3.5 mm audio cables.

Controls for power, volume and pairing are well placed on the top; the back has a USB-C charging port (5.6-foot charging cable included), an auxiliary port and a VMAP/auxiliary out port.

It has a 3400mAh internal rechargeable battery, good for more than 10 hours of tunes and a built-in microphone for hands-free calls.

The speaker also works with Amazon’s Alexa via the Echo Dot (wirelessly or wired) and is also compatible with Google Chromecast Audio. $300, 3D printing customization ranges from $40 to $370,000
If there’s a keyboard that’s more compact, portable and useful than the Kanex MultiSync Foldable Travel Keyboard, I haven’t seen it.
With the Kanex keyboard you can sync up to four devices to the keyboard at once with Bluetooth 3.0 and toggle between the four to use what you want at the time, with the push of a key.
It’s built with a durable construction and folds shut to cut the size in half when it’s not in use. A magnetic closure keeps it shut tight. When closed it measures 6.42-by-4-inches and weighs just 6 ounces. 
As for typing, once you get it set up it’s a perfect ergonomic keyboard in a V-shaped layout. An LED alerts you when it’s time to charge the internal battery and also shows you when you’re connected to a device.
You can sync the keyboard with devices using these operating systems or newer; Apple iOS 7, Mac OS 10, Android 4.0 Windows XP/7/8/10. $49.95

Gadgets :: March 8, 2017

By Gregg Ellman

I’ve always thought that you don’t have to be an expert to know good sound from bad. You just know it when you hear it.

So after I put on the Beem BeMe D200 earbuds a few weeks ago I knew they weren’t just good because they were great.

A press release sent to me before they were available to the public touted them as a new dance line for Beem United company, known for innovative products with quality design and looks.

But this got my attention before a sound was played; they are the first Apple Lightning-connected earbuds I’ve tried.

The D200’s come loaded with features, including ergonomic ear-tips (four sizes included) for a secure and comfortable fit, a great sound with lots of bass, and an LED light to bring your sound to life.

An aluminum housing covers the 10.66 mm drivers, which also have a dual mic with active noise cancellation in each ear to ensure your sound is from the earbuds and not unwanted outside noise. There’s also an in-line remote control for selecting music and calls.

You can make the sound experience even better with the free Beem app, which lets you to customize your tunes with a 10-band equalizer. Presets are loaded in the app or you customize to you’re liking.

A carrying case is included. $169.99. available in black, flash green, rebel purple and rose gold

Urbanears Plattan 2 is another new great sounding, stylish and colorful choice.

They are a new version of the Plattan, updated and redesigned with a new sound for the over-the-head headphones at a friendly price.

The sound sits on your ears with extra isolating ear cushions, and a customized 3D hinge adjusts how it fits over your head.

Urbanears says the 3d hinge gives your headphones impressive flexibility so they can adapt to the shape of your head for a perfect fit and sort of like double-jointed kneecaps, which I thought was a unique description. When they are not in use, the flexibility allows them to fold up and fully collapse for storage.

Once you get past the looks and feel, you’ll be equally impressed with the sound, which is obviously the most critical aspect of the message headphones deliver.

The Plattan 2s are equipped with a ZoundPlug, which is a term I never heard of until I used Urbanears. It’s a socket on the cord that allows you to daisy chain your music to share with others.

An inline mic and remote works perfect for calls and music controls. $49 available in black, blue, comet green, dark grey, Indigo, powder pink, purple, snow blue, tomato and white

The SpiderLight Backpacker kit is a strapless, innovative way of securely fastening a camera to a backpack or messenger bag strap.

While it’s attached, the spider system gives you instant on/off access with its easy quick snap in-out connection. It’s ergonomic design lets you wear the hardware and even attach a bulkier digital SLR camera with ease.

Setting it up takes just seconds. I tried it with a medium-sized SLR camera with the SpiderLight camera plate security attached to the bottom of the camera’s tripod connection, which is then attached to the backpack holster on the front strap of my backpack.

I tried it with a few different brands of backpacks popular with photographers and it worked perfect on every one.

I will add, before I even attached anything to my camera, I was impressed with the durable construction of the hardware, especially since you are trusting it to carry expensive camera gear.

Accessories for the system are available. One, which I’ve seen, is used to capture front facing point-of-view videos with a GoPro.

The backpacker kit can also be used for belt access. $125

Gadgets :: March 1, 2017

By Gregg Ellman

Just a few years ago portable chargers were a novelty, but these days they are essential when you need immediate power on-the-go.

The Renogy Phoenix takes portable power to whole new levels with a unit capable of charging just about everything needing it, even a TV, lamp or coffee maker.

The key to this compact unit is the solar panels making the 16.24-by-11.95-by-3.94-inch waterproof brief case (12.8-pounds) design a go-to device anytime power is needed. Usages can be vacations, work, relaxing in your own backyard or in an emergency.

A pair of 10-watt solar panels power the 16,000 mAh Li-ion internal battery, which powers a 110-volt AC, 12-volt (cigarette lighter style), a pair of 12-volt DC and 4 USB ports. The internal battery is good for up to 1500 cycles and is replaceable.

Besides getting power from the panels, the Phoenix can be charged with AC or car charging power.

Additional panels can be purchased bring the total to 120-watts for more power and faster charging. Charging can be done from zero up to 113-degrees Fahrenheit (0~45 Celsius). $688.99

My first impression of Henge Dock’s Gravitas iPhone/iPad docking station was the weight. So much so, my curiosity had me weigh it before the package was opened; 3.25 pounds.

Out of the box it weighs just 2.5-pounds (3.5-inch diameter) and has really a nice looking design and matching Apple aesthetics with a zinc alloy finish. Using it is pretty simple; put in your iOS device with the right swappable insert.

You get an insert for iPhones (6/6s, 6 Plus/6s Plus, 7/7 Plus) and one for iPads (iPad Air, iPad Air 2, iPad Mini, iPad Mini with Retina Display and iPad 4th gen).

The “Life After Device” program ensures future Apple lightning devices will be compatible with new inserts made for the Gravitas.

There is a USB port for charging and syncing along with a 3.5mm aux audio port for connecting speakers. The front of the dock has a cleaver groove to access the devices home button while docked.

I had thin cases on both my iPhone 7 and iPad 4th gen, and they fit in the dock. I’m sure there are some that won’t fit but it’s nice so see that many will.

With a sold feel, I know one thing: when my device is docked it will take a lot to knock it over. $69

So you just got a new laptop and it has a different connection, which you have no idea what it is or what it’s for.

Hopefully you figured out it’s USB-C, which has a ton of potential when connected to the right accessory.

One of those right accessories is the Scosche USB-C Digital AV Multiport Adapter. The front end has a USB-C connection, while the other (connected with a flexible cord) has three ports. One for HDMI, a standard USB type A port and the third port is a USB-C pass through charging.

The third port is critical since your computer probably charges with the USB-C, so if you hook up other adapters they will work while your computer’s battery runs down. Now you can still keep your computer powered up, charge your smartphone and mirror your computer to an HDMI-enabled TV.

The standard USB type A port can be used for charging, syncing or connecting storage devices such has hard drivers or flash drives.

Data transfer speeds with the adapter have 8GB in 3 minutes 25 seconds. $59.99

Gadgets :: February 22, 2017

By Gregg Ellman

While there’s no doubt some of the biggest tech companies dominate the smartwatch category, there’s one company, Martian, that has been a favorite of mine even before the AppleWatch.

For those who want a smartwatch and the elegant retro look of a great wristwatch, the Martian PTL 02 Smartwatch is worth the look.

After pairing the smartwatch with an iOS or Android smartphone, you’ll get full access to the smartphone’s voice command functions through the noise-canceling microphone. There’s also a directional speaker to hear through the watch.

The vintage analog features of the watch work off a replaceable battery that should last up to 2 years. The digital features work off of an internal rechargeable lithium polymer battery that will last up to 5 days before needing a microUSB charge.

Among the endless features the watch will bring to your wrist: receiving and placing calls, email, text messages, music setting, web searches and calendar alerts. You can also set the Martian to use a button on the watch to fire the smartphone camera’s shutter.

Within minutes of unpacking the watch I had it set to do many of these including having my iPhone GPS talk to me through my wrist.

A scrolling display along the bottom (96 x 16 pixel graphic OLED display) shows the info, alert or caller ID, which is easy to read.

The smartwatch also has a wireless leash feature allowing you to tap on the Martian menu to tell you where the phone is or have it alert you when you walk away from the phone.

The watch base is black, with tangerine color highlights. An interchangeable 22 mm wide light brown leather strap with a stainless steel buckle is included. $195.00

I have never been a fan of selfie sticks, nor do I think I ever will be, but I have found a piece of hardware to assist in selfie taking that I am a fan of.

The Jody GripTight POV Kit with universal smartphone compatibility creates a mounting system you can use just about anywhere for something simple like giving your phone a more stable grip for selfies.

You can use the grip in any position with the front or rear facing camera in landscape or portrait views with the 180-degree pivoting ergonomic handgrip. The top of the bracket has a cold shoe for attaching camera accessories including a microphone or video light.

A Bluetooth adapter is also included so you can just angle the camera with one hand while firing the shutter with the other.

The kit weighs 2.1 ounces and opens up for devices 2.2 to 3.6-inches wide. – expandable with a built-in wrench to keep the bracket locked in place or to open it for removing the smartphone. Rubberized teeth on the inside of the bracket keep everything in place and scratch free.

The versatile kit can also be used has a tabletop handsfree mount for viewing. You can remove part of the handle to expose a standard GoPro mount for using with an endless line of available mounting accessories (sold separately). $39.95

The Cuff is a low-profile attachment for point-and-shoot cameras.

It’s designed with a quick release for one end to attach to the built-in connections on almost every cameras strap loops. The other end is a strap that can wrap around your wrist, attached to a backpack or secured inside a bag.

They click into place for a secure connection to keep a camera locked into place; just unlock it to separate the two with Cuff’s patent-pending Anchor Link connection system.

When not in use, Cuff stores as a bracelet for quick accessibility.

The company claims the newly upgraded anchor system can hold well over 200 pounds. I used it with a pocket camera and a standard size DSLR and it worked great.

One Cuff, two anchors and a microfiber pouch are included. $19.95

Gadgets :: February 15, 2017

By Gregg Ellman

The Fugoo GO is a great sounding and versatile Bluetooth speaker with rugged, dust-proof, mud-proof and waterproof construction.

But after using a single 12 watt Fugoo GO, I was convinced it wasn’t enough and I had to have a pair, which was a great idea. The speakers pair together and setting them to stereo mode gives you even better room sound from each 360-degree speaker.

The speakers pair with Bluetooth 4.2 up to 100 feet apart. Once they are playing you’ll hear these aren’t just another pair of Bluetooth speakers. The amazing deep bass is crystal clear and produced from two full-range drivers and two bass radiators.

The GO only weighs a pound, measures 1 7/8-by-8 7/8-by-3 5/16-inches and has an elastic mounting cord wrap on the end making it ideal for biking, boating, a shower or hanging from most anywhere.

While the main body of the speaker has a black cloth grill, controls and the cord are color coordinated with choices of red, black or blue.

Its IP67 rating mean it can withstand 5 foot drops or hanging out in water submerged up to 3 feet for 30 minutes.

You can even hose the speakers off, if your activates get it covered in dirt, dust or mud.

As is the case with Fugoo’s other speakers, the GO is compatible with the company’s line of accessories (sold separately) including bike, tripod and strap mounts.

A built-in, USB charged Lithium-Ion battery will go for about 10 hours with the volume at 50 percent. $99.99

Speaking of tough and rugged, the ToughTested Pro+ safe charge cable with lightning connector is pretty impressive.

It stands out from the competition because of the built-in circuit breaker, enabling it to detect damaging power surges, voltage or current within a tenth of a second. Once a safe current is detected it switches back to a safe charging mode.

This can happen during bad weather or even when your device is plugged into a car adapter while turning the car on.

The 4-foot cable ($29.99) comes with a 5 year warranty and is certified by Apple to meet the company’s performance standards. The exterior has a durable and protective fiber Armor-Weave design and is chemical/heat/abrasion resistant. A microUSB version is available for $24.99.

With a 2.4 amp rating, you’ll get 75 percent charging vs many other cables.

STM’s haven laptop backpack has it all – endless storage compartments, great craftsmanship and a great looking design.

A padded compartment stores up to a 15-inch laptop, tablet or whatever needs to secured with padding. The storage area includes a unique feature that suspends the contents off the floor with what STM calls sling tech protection. Your laptop is surrounded by padding to keep all sides protected.

Inside pockets store everything you need including sunglasses in a fleece lined pocket. A Stretch water bottle pocket, external pockets with cable pass-through for charging, a front side quick storage pouch and adjustable straps are just a few of the other features that stood out to me.

The exterior is made with a lightweight fabric with a water resistant coating. A cushioned panel rests on your back with 3D foam cores with soft mesh, and a central air channel for comfort and great ventilation.

Compartments for storage are never ending everything well-positioned for storing everything I could think of. I also like the weight of the empty backpack, which is just 1.87-pounds. $99.95, in choices of black, forest grey, moroccan blue and steel

Gadgets :: February 8, 2017

By Gregg Ellman

The SmartCraft Sunflower outdoor shade umbrellas aren’t expected to be available until later this year or early 2018, but I still think it’s a really cool, innovative product worth mentioning.

What they refer to as “The worlds first Autonomous robotic shading system” can be used as a standard umbrella, which it does just fine; you’ll get a lot more out of it with what seems like endless smart home features.

The shade has a pair of security cameras, Wifi, Bluetooth, tells you how long you have been in the sun and is app (iOS/Android) and voice controlled. There’s also an embedded microphone and speaker system.

And best of all there no power connection needed since everything you need to keep it running is supplied by solar power. In addition to keep you in the shade non-stop, it has a USB connection for charging mobile devices and other USB powered accessories.

If for some reason the sun isn’t available, it will store enough power to last  more than 72 hours.

On its own, the Sunflower tracks the movement and position of the sun, collecting solar energy and best of all it stays in a position to shade you.

The WiFi is an optional add-on cellular data connection, which allows it to become a WiFi source.

A table attachment and a beach/grass attachment are included. A drink holder, which will cool or heat your beverage can also be added. pricing is expected to be around $2,000

If you’re an Apple fan the iHome (iPLWBT5) docking clock radio and triple charging is for you.

The nightstand-sized device (9.46-by-4.10-by-4.65-inches) is AC powered and will handle the hat trick of devices many Apple users have; iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch.

Cable free charging is done with a top sided flexible lightning port, which allows you to charge an iPhone, even with most cases on. An Apple Watch charing dock is on the right side, all you do it lay the watch on it for charging.

On the back is a USB port to connect your cable for charing an iPad or even non-Apple devices. All the charging features have certification from Apple for safe charging.

In addition to the power charging, It has all the basics you want: dual alarms, speakerphone, Bluetooth and a nice sounding Reson8 speaker chamber system facing the front. An aux-in port is also built into the back for connecting a non-Bluetooth device.

An auto dimming display on the front shows you the time, which is auto synced clock with the time from your connected iPhone. There are six FM presets and a battery backup.

Most of the control buttons, including power and the ever popular snooze, are on the top. Time sync, Bluetooth, aux-in and power are on the back. $129.99

There’s nothing positive about drinking and driving and a product called Drivesafe express will only cost a few dollars to help keep people from going behind the wheel when they have had too much alcohol.

For $12.50 you get a pack of 5 single-use breathalyzers. Inside the tube, which you blow into, are crystals that change color depending on if the user has been drinking or not.

Depending on how much alcohol has been consumed, the higher the alcohol concentration, the darker the pigmentation. You get the results in 2 to 4 minutes from the device that can be carried in a pocket, purse or computer bag. They measure 3.95-inches long by 0.45-inches in diameter and weighs 2-ounces.

According to the company, the devices are accurate with a plus/minus 5-percent margin and the results are displayed on a quad-colored BrAC strip.