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Gadgets :: 2016 January 16

By Gregg Ellman (#greggellman)

At last week’s Consumer Electronics Show, they really upped the security guidelines with shoulder bag and backpack restrictions. With these changes, it was a perfect time to put Quest Vest from ScotteVest to use.

When I say it’s loaded with pockets (42) thats an understatement. There are pockets inside pockets so you won’t run out of storage for any of your digital accessories.

I liked that it looks just like a vest with a pair of outside pockets, with no indication of the accessories you might be storing.

This way you can load it up and it doesn’t broadcast any of the pricy electronics you have inside, unless it is being X-rayed during a security check.

The first day I actually packed too much including my iPhone, iPad with keyboard case, charging cables, a pair of portable USB batteries, keys, notebook, paperwork, snacks, a water bottle, earbuds and a lot more.

A funny problem was I couldn’t remember where I put my stuff so I had to give myself a pat down to find things. But after that it was great and I didn’t have to remember whether I had picked up my shoulder bag when leaving a location because I didn’t have one.

I did switch things around, trying to find the perfect balance, which I did. All the zippers feel like they are well constructed and should last a long time.

The 65-percent cotton and 35-percent nylon fabric exterior is Teflon treated for water and stain resistance, which came in handy since I was caught in the rain a few times.

http://www.scottevest.com $145

The new Bluesmart suitcase is a good first effort in the smart luggage category.

It’s built with a digital lock, location tracking, trip data tracking and a built-in battery for charing your USB device with ports inside and outside the suitcase.

Before you start packing, the suitcase weighs nine pounds and a built-in scale in the handle tells you what it weighs, inside the app, after you’re packed.

You can’t check the bag in due to TSA airline restrictions because of the built-in battery. It would be nice if the battery could be removed so you have the option to check in the bag, but right now it doesn’t.

Bluesmart (22.4 x 14.4 x 9.8-inches, slightly larger than TSA guidelines of 22 x 14 x 9 inches) is built with a solid construction of a hard polycarbonate shell, a retractable handle, and four smooth rolling wheels.

On my flight it had no problem fitting in the overhead storage on an American Airlines 737. They never asked me if my bag would it in the bag sizer and I didn’t offer to test it. Make sure you check your airline’s carry-on guidelines to ensure it conforms.

It fits whatever you can pack in; clothes, computers, camera gear, etc. Once your packed, you can lock or unlock it with the free Bluesmart app after you make a wireless (Bluetooth) connection, which takes just seconds.

The internal battery (10,000mAh) is charged with the included microUSB cable and can charge an iPhone up to six times. With the internal port you can charge your stuff while flying so its ready when you land.

The outside port makes it easy to charge while waiting for a flight or if it fits in under the seat for close access.

Even though the bag is carry-on only, it has tracking, which I guess can be used if someone grabs your bag and runs. You’ll only have about a 100-feet range to see where it is if you look inside the app. After that the internal SIM card can get you the GPS coordinates sent to your phone.

This was the first suitcase I ever had to read the included instructions (the company website frustrated me to no end with registrations) to work the features.

http://bluesmart.com $399

It’s not electronic but I took along the Travelrest memory foam travel pillow on my trip. For now on, I won’t leave home without it.

It’s made from NASA-developed thermo-sensitive memory foam, molds to your head and neck and has non-slip backing to hold the pillow in place.

There’s also a non-slip back and it can be compressed to 1/4 of its size when you’re on-the-go.

www.Travelrest.net $39.95

Five Ways Online Forms Can Help Professional Photographers

5ways

We’re experiencing the golden age of photography web forms. I bet you haven’t read that sentence before. But it’s true!

Turn back the clock ten years. While photographers might have had nice websites, showing their work and their passion projects, the forms were lacking. Photography companies either needed to know how to code and embed their own forms — that most couldn’t do since they were busy running their own businesses — or they used outdated information collection methods.

Today is a different story. Savvy photography practices are starting to utilize online form building platforms to streamline their operations and save boatloads of time and hassle, and there’s no reason you can’t do it too. Below are five of the top ideas to get ahead using online forms.

Booking

Let clients reserve dates, the number of photographers needed, and the exact times required for service straight from an online form. It’s easier for them to have a presentable form to fill out, and you get the information you need in a scannable, easy-to-understand format.

jotform1

The beauty of using a contact form in addition to an email address is two fold. For starters, forms can be more enticing for prospective clients to use than sending an email, as they don’t have to log in to their email provider or aimlessly craft a message. Secondly, today’s form platforms neatly store your information in the cloud and integrate with CRM systems so that the information you collect is connected with powerful business tools. It’s just one more way to stay on top of your game.

Collect Payment

The days of depositing physical checks or chasing down clients for their money are officially over. The leading DIY form building platforms integrate with payment solutions. So not only can you whip together a professional form in a few minutes, you can quickly and securely collect payments as well. That way, if someone is serious about your services, then can give you a deposit right from the booking stage without ever even meeting you in person.

Model Release and Agreement Forms

Oh, the marvels of modern technology. Need to get a model to sign and return a release document? You can make a form for that. E-signature capabilities on many form building platforms allow clients and models to electronically sign the online form and send it your way with a single click. No printing, scanning, or mailing required.

jotform2

Staffing Up

Imagine things are humming along just fine with your one-man practice, but, all of a sudden, a huge event requests your service — an event that requires multiple photographers with expert skill sets and equipment. You could turn it down. Or, you could use a cleverly crafted online form to collect applicants from freelance photographers. Don’t think in terms of standard job applications; create form fields for what equipment they have, years of experience, and even have them submit sample photos straight through the online form.

The real benefit of leaning on online forms is that it frees up your time so you can spend it taking and editing pictures. The best part? Online form builders are cheap. Most of the major ones even offer freemium models where you get the full suite of features for free up until a certain level of usage. And it’s generally pretty inexpensive beyond that. As the photography industry gets more and more competitive, you need advantages. Online forms are just that.

Chad Reid is the Director of Communications for JotForm, a leading online form creator used by photographers all over the world. He currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his girlfriend and cats. 

Gadgets: Earmuff headphones are stylish with high-fidelity sound

BY GREGG ELLMAN Twitter.com/greggellman @greggellman

PowerMuffs, the warmest sound in the world. In anything but pleasant, sunny weather, standard headphones, even high-quality headphones that command premium prices, aren’t up to the task of keeping you wired for sound. PowerMuffs can deliver high-quality sound in even unpleasant weather. Whether it’s just a little chilly or it’s freezing outside, whether it’s raining lightly or snowing like mad, PowerMuffs protect your ears and keep them (and you) warm and comfortable... while also giving you the high-quality sound reproduction that lets you enjoy your music in premium fidelity. PowerMuffs are attractive, stylish, and wonderfully warm earmuffs with Bluetooth compatible speakers and a built-in microphone.

What a perfect time to write about Power Muffs, the stylish earmuff headphones that have wireless internal Bluetooth speakers. They also have an internal noise canceling microphone that you can access with the touch of a button while your ears stay warm during handsfree calls. I agree with a recent company press release, they are “the warmest sound in the world.”

Power Muffs weigh just 5 ounces and are adjustable to fit any head. Everything is controlled on the side of one muff, with power, volume and pairing buttons. A microUSB port is hidden on the bottom for charging the internal Lithium Ion battery, which should last for to six hours of use before a two-hour charge is needed.

If you keep them in standby mode, you’ll get about seven days of battery time.

I really didn’t expect much from the sound but I was pleasantly surprised after cranking up the volume and hearing the high-fidelity sound.

They are on a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo, which I have no doubt will hit its goal.

According to the website, “Power Muffs premium Bluetooth earmuff headphones start at only $29 on Indiegogo. Those who pre-order will receive their headphones in time for the holidays.”

The sale price is 70 percent off the $99 retail for a limited time only.

http://powermuffs.com available in black, brown or ivory

ImpeccaTM www.impecca.com, a leader of impeccably designed audio, video, digital photo, computer peripherals, window and portable air conditioners, kitchen and home appliances, announced today the new Impecca line of Power it multi-function portable car jump starter/device charger kits. 36,000mAh for light trucks and RVs: 800A peak current, includes laptop adapter and 8 tips; jump starts light trucks and RVs with 24V battery supply and 12V car batteries; over current, charge, and discharge protection.  Price: $349.95.

Another timely gadget for winter is a mouthful to say, Impecca Power it 36,000mAh Power Supply and Car Jump Starter Kit, but worth it to remember for both its convenience and the peace of mind of extra safety.

The portable power pack has enough juice to boost anything from a smartphone to an RV or light truck.

It’s crazy that a battery that’s small enough to fit in a glove compartment, measuring just 7.12-by-3.34-by-9.56-inches is powerful enough to jump start your car, but it can.

There’s also an LED flashlight with SOS safety signal, dual USB charging ports and an LED area lamp for lighting the side of a road or a campsite. An LCD displays the battery levels.

Included are alligator battery clamps, an AC power adapter, car charging cable, a universal laptop adapter cable, USB cable and carrying case.

It’s can be charged up to 3,000 times. I only did a few so if you hit that number be sure to let me know.

The Impecca website states the battery’s auto jump start is 24v or 12v output and the jump start peak current is 800A with a starting current of 400A.

There are other models available down to a 8,000mAh model, which has the USB ports and can just start a car or SUV with 12V batteries.

www.impecca.com $329.95 for the 36,000mAh down to $79.95 for the 8,000mAH power supply.

FUGOO’s portable Bluetooth speakers have quickly become one of the top-rated for their high-quality 360-degree audio, 35 to 40 hour battery life, changeable jackets, and IP67 rating, making them 100% waterproof, shockproof, dust-proof and snow-proof. A range of optional accessories and straps that let you take them anywhere makes them the ideal speaker for anyone that wants their favorite tunes wherever they are – the beach, paddle-boarding, kayaking, camping, or on the court. The larger and louder FUGOO XL offers many of the same benefits as the smaller, award-winning speaker line as well, and are easily twice as loud.8 Drivers / 360o AudioWith a total of eight acoustic drivers, the FUGOO XL throws out 38 watts of audio power by way of four neodymium tweeters, two neodymium aluminum domed mid-woofers and two passive radiators. To get true 360-degree audio, the drivers are strategically placed on all four sides of the speaker at an eight-degree upper angle to deliver a 360-degree sweet spot. The FUGOO XL easily fills an indoor or outdoor space in all directions with rich full bass, solid midrange, and crisp distinct highs. An “Outdoor” mode provides a rich, fuller sound (press and hold the play/pause button to toggle between Outdoor and Normal modes).Unique Core + Jacket DesignAll FUGOO speakers use a unique “core + jacket” design that pairs advanced audio technology in a robust “core” with an interchangeable outer “jacket.” The speakers are IP67 rated, making them 100 percent waterproof, shockproof, dust- proof and snow-proof. The Style XL and Sport XL jackets come in new colors and fabrics and will also float, making them the ideal speakers for a pool party or while fishing dock side.35 Hour Battery LifeUsing the same advanced battery technology and power management design found on the smaller, original FUGOO speaker, the FUGOO XL offers a whopping 35 hours of battery life(2), easily outlasting any other speaker of its size -- and even smaller

I’ve waited almost a year to get my hands and ears on the Fugoo XL portable speaker and it was worth the wait.

I think it would be hard for another portable Bluetooth speaker to equal the sound and features of this one but I’m sure someone will come knocking as soon as they read this.

Meanwhile, I would say the Fugoo XL is outstanding and worth every penny.

First the features; it’s built as a rugged speaker with 360-degree sound and an IP67 rating. This makes it 100 percent waterproof (beach, shower, pool or rain), is dust-proof and shockproof.

I gave it a spray of water and a small drop off my kitchen counter and the music didn’t stop.

As for the sound, it’s designed with drivers on all four sides of the speaker and each side has an eight-degree angle for even better positioning.

When I first saw the speaker at the 2015 Consumer Electronic Show, my notes described it as “incredible sound, gotta try one out ASAP.”

The sound just doesn’t seem to end and it’s accurately described as ” rich full bass, solid midrange, and crisp distinct highs.”

With the rugged design it’s made for outdoors, so when you’re there, use the Outdoor mode for a fuller and deeper sound. All this is done with the press of a button.

FUGOO’s portable Bluetooth speakers have quickly become one of the top-rated for their high-quality 360-degree audio, 35 to 40 hour battery life, changeable jackets, and IP67 rating, making them 100% waterproof, shockproof, dust-proof and snow-proof. A range of optional accessories and straps that let you take them anywhere makes them the ideal speaker for anyone that wants their favorite tunes wherever they are – the beach, paddle-boarding, kayaking, camping, or on the court. The larger and louder FUGOO XL offers many of the same benefits as the smaller, award-winning speaker line as well, and are easily twice as loud.8 Drivers / 360o AudioWith a total of eight acoustic drivers, the FUGOO XL throws out 38 watts of audio power by way of four neodymium tweeters, two neodymium aluminum domed mid-woofers and two passive radiators. To get true 360-degree audio, the drivers are strategically placed on all four sides of the speaker at an eight-degree upper angle to deliver a 360-degree sweet spot. The FUGOO XL easily fills an indoor or outdoor space in all directions with rich full bass, solid midrange, and crisp distinct highs. An “Outdoor” mode provides a rich, fuller sound (press and hold the play/pause button to toggle between Outdoor and Normal modes).Unique Core + Jacket DesignAll FUGOO speakers use a unique “core + jacket” design that pairs advanced audio technology in a robust “core” with an interchangeable outer “jacket.” The speakers are IP67 rated, making them 100 percent waterproof, shockproof, dust- proof and snow-proof. The Style XL and Sport XL jackets come in new colors and fabrics and will also float, making them the ideal speakers for a pool party or while fishing dock side.35 Hour Battery LifeUsing the same advanced battery technology and power management design found on the smaller, original FUGOO speaker, the FUGOO XL offers a whopping 35 hours of battery life(2), easily outlasting any other speaker of its size -- and even smaller

I can go on and on: there’s a 35-hour rechargeable battery, an interchangeable outer jacket, an internal mic for handsfree calls, comes in a variety of colors and fabrics, and the sport XL even floats.

Inside are eight acoustic drivers, 2 tweeters and 38 watts of power.
www.fugoo.com Tough XL $249.99, Sport XL $129 and the Style XL is $199

 

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

Gadgets:: MindShift’s complete storage system for action cameras

By Gregg

rotation180¡ Trail 16LView More Photosrotation180¡ Trail 16LBackpack access reinventedÑMindShiftÕs patented award-winning rotation technology is available in this smaller, lighter backpack, the rotation180¡ Trail. Accessing gear has never been easier for outdoor photographers and action enthusiasts. You can hike, mountain bike, ski and birdwatch without breaking stride. No more removing a cumbersome backpack to access camera gear or trail essentials. In one swift motion, rotate the beltpack component and grab your gear without taking your eyes off of wildlife or disrupting your creative momentum. Just have fun out there.The intuitive functionality of the small yet spacious rotation180¡ Trail keeps the dayÕs necessities organized. It fits a 2 liter Camelbak or any 1.5 liter water reservoir, a light jacket and an extra layer, binoculars, compass, trail books, maps and more. This 2-in-1 bagÕs beltpack can be worn on its own for traveling light. So end the tiresome on-and-off again of other backpacks and enjoy the outdoors more with the rotation180¡ Trail.

MindShift Rotation 180-degree Trail 16L backpack

Action camera systems are designed to work in extreme conditions and the MindShift action series is produced with the same mindset.

The series includes 13 products ranging from filter pouches up to backpacks for storing your camera systems in a safe manner with easy access.

According to MindShift, they were designed with organization and ease of access in mind, and after seeing samples from the line it’s a slam dunk that they have achieved that and more.

According to the company website, “All fabric exteriors are treated with a DWR coating while fabric undersides are coated with PU for superior water resistance.” They also feature YKK zippers, 100D shadow rip–stop nylon, 200D polyester, nylon webbing, nylon cord and 3–ply bonded nylon thread.

What that means to the user is that the storage system is top-notch and able to withstand any environment.

When you see the MindShift rotation180-degree Trail 16L backpack you might think it’s big and bulky for such a small camera system, but it’s far from that.

Starting with a weight of just 2.5 pounds, the backpack features the company’s patented award-winning rotation technology. This allows you to rotate the built-in belt-pack 180-degrees from the back to the front while running, walking or even biking to grab the gear you need.

When you have what you need, rotate it back into its compartment in the bottom area of backpack.

There are also endless storage compartments, including room for a 2-liter hydration system, adjustable and padded airflow harness, adjustable side compress straps and outside tripod panel holder.

The exterior is water resistant with a durable water-repellant coating and the underside of the fabric has a polyurethane coating. Rain covers, which fit perfectly for each backpack are available separately ($19.99).

GP Bundle - MediumImagine new shooting and outdoor adventures like never before with the MindShift GP Series. This complete case system is designed to manage all your GoPro® cameras, attachments and accessories.The MindShift GP Series includes carrying cases for single or multiple cameras and provides easy organization for all the mounts, screws and accessories needed to outfit a working GoPro system. Built with flexibility and accessibility in mind, the different size cases are available individually or as bundles offering options for single camera or multi camera users. Craft the GoPro kit that matches your own vision with a variety of convenient carrying options.

MindShift GP Mounts

Adding the GP Mounts storage case (7.1 x 7.1 x 1.2-inches, 3.5 ounces) to the backpack, makes it a complete system. The pouch stores anything from the camera to cables or even your smartphone and accessories.

It’s made with a center divider and clear front panel to see what is where.

Trust me, when ordering the GP Mounts storage case you’ll want more than one of them; they are that cool.

The rest of the line has storage solutions for batteries, cables, filters, an LCD, memory cards, mounts or any accessory you want.

www.mindshiftgear.com $179.99 for the rotation180-degree Trail 16L, $24.50 for the GP Mounts – Medium

House of Marley: Liberate™ XL and XLBT®Over-ear comfort Bluetooth® or standard premium headphones with powerful bass and stunning stainless steel detail  50mm dynamic moving coil driver with neodymium magnetStereo 3.5mm gold-plated connectors provide secure and static-free connectionsAAC and APTX Bluetooth® version available for even more premium listening experience Bluetooth® version includes detachable one-button cord with in-line mic; XL version includes in-line mic with three-button controller for hands-free calls and easy music controlSoft ear cushions with durable fabric-braided cables for tangle-free cordsFeatures FSC-certified walnut and birch wood frame with House of Marley logo for a stylish touchEnclosure, dock and trim rings made from recycled plasticFeatures exclusive REWIND™ cover made from 30% hemp, 30% organic cotton and 40% recycled plastic bottlesHeadband collapses for easy storage with included REWIND™ carry bagAvailable in Midnight and Saddle

House of Marley: Liberate XL

Part of the House of Marley mission is to built on the principles of superior quality and earth-friendliness, all in the memory of Bob Marley.

The Marley Liberate over-the-ear wired headphones (also available in Bluetooth wireless) come equipped with 50 mm dynamic moving coil driver with neodymium magnet.

If that makes your head spin, just know they sound great and look amazing.

An important feature of eye-catching over-the-head headphones is how they physically feel on your head and ears. In this case the Liberates pass the test. After a few minutes you don’t even know they are on your head.

The soft ear cushions feel great and the headband is adjustable to get the right fit. They also have a fabric-braided tangle-fee cable with an in-line mic made from recycled plastic for hands-free calling and music controls.

House of Marley: Liberate™ XL and XLBT®Over-ear comfort Bluetooth® or standard premium headphones with powerful bass and stunning stainless steel detail  50mm dynamic moving coil driver with neodymium magnetStereo 3.5mm gold-plated connectors provide secure and static-free connectionsAAC and APTX Bluetooth® version available for even more premium listening experience Bluetooth® version includes detachable one-button cord with in-line mic; XL version includes in-line mic with three-button controller for hands-free calls and easy music controlSoft ear cushions with durable fabric-braided cables for tangle-free cordsFeatures FSC-certified walnut and birch wood frame with House of Marley logo for a stylish touchEnclosure, dock and trim rings made from recycled plasticFeatures exclusive REWIND™ cover made from 30% hemp, 30% organic cotton and 40% recycled plastic bottlesHeadband collapses for easy storage with included REWIND™ carry bagAvailable in Midnight and Saddle

House of Marley: Liberate XL 

The exterior of the headband is made with recycled aluminum and folds up in a compact design when not in use.

An included fabric carrying bag and the inside of the headband are composed of reclaimed hemp, organic cotton and recycled plastic bottles according to information on the packaging.

www.thehouseofmarley.com $99 for the wired, $149 for the Bluetooth wireless

Gadgets:: Control electric devices with the Satechi IQ Plug

By Gregg Ellman :: #greggellman @greggellman

IQ Plug 1The Satechi IQ Plug is so smart, it can control any device plugged into it. It also shows you how much power is being consumed and even has a weekly programmable schedule for turning a device such as a light, on and off.

Download the free app (Google Play and the Apple App store) and then connect your smartphone with the plug via Bluetooth 4.0; pairing the device takes just a few seconds.

Once the app is running, plug the IQ Plug into a standard AC power outlet (100-120V) and then plug your device into the IQ Plug. Now you can turn your device on and off from anywhere in your home using your smartphone.

What I liked was it replaced an old timer on my wall. It took seconds to program a weekly schedule for the IQ Plug and now it’s smarter than me, or at least a fifth grader.

IQ Plug 2You can use it for lights and other electronics like a coffee maker – program it to make the first cup of the day and also to set a shutoff time so you know it’s turned off when you leave for work.

Another feature lets it measure how much of a power-consumption hog your device is by reading simple charts within the app. Power can be compared in charts for daily, weekly, or monthly energy consumption.

Remember, this is Bluetooth enabled, not Wi-Fi. With the Bluetooth it will be good for using almost anywhere in your home.

www.satechi.net $29.99

PetCube 2If you have a pet, then you have to get the Petcube.

The 4-inch cube shaped device is a video camera so you can check up on your little fluffy friend any time of the day, from just about anywhere.

Features of the interactive Wi-Fi pet monitor allow you to watch your dog or cat live on most smartphones or tablets. A free app is available in the Apple App store and Google play store.

If the video isn’t enough, you can talk to your pet and even play laser games.

The camera is housed in an aluminum housing, records 720p HD video for streaming (no internal memory to record) and has a 138-degree field of view.

PetCube 1There’s also a microphone and speaker built-in for having a 2-way audio connection.

For the setup, you download the app, connect the Petcube to your home Wi-Fi network and register in the app.

I tried it out with my dog and it was nothing short of breath-taking watching my dog sleep for a few hours.

A new feature to PetCube lets you also connect to your pet with the Apple Watch.

www.petecube.com $169

PhiatonThe Phiaton MS 100 BA sound-isolating earbuds were described to me as versatile earphones, which use balanced-armature technology to provide warmth and detail in sound without cutting back on bass.

They sound great especially for the crowd of earbuds in the $100 price point.

They are built with a stylish aluminum body and double-injection ear tips. Extra ear tips are included to get the right fit (XS, S, M, and L).

Internally each ear tip contains a high-quality balanced armature driver with a frequency range of 10 Hz to 27 kHz.

The sound isolating technology is from a Phiaton feature, which prevents sound leakage to make sure the sound you get in your ears does not include sounds from ambient background noise

There’s also an in-line remote for controlling music or cell phone calls.

www.Phiaton.com $99

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

Gadgets:: Organize and transfer content with SanDisk 3.0 Ultra Dual USB Drive 3.0

By Gregg Ellman – #greggellman @greggellman

SanDisk Dual USB Drive 3.0San Disk’s new plug-n-play Ultra Dual USB Drive 3.0 has the typical USB connection on one end, as expected from a flash drive. But this one stands out because the other end has a microUSB connector which makes it ideal for moving content on devices including OTG enabled Android smartphones.

To organize and transfer content, you must download the free SanDisk Memory Zone app in Google Play. Consider that app your file cabinet to access files and move content on or off a device.

This includes photos, music, movies and contacts. You can also access and use anything on the drive without first moving to your device.

For example, if the memory of your smartphone is full and you want to watch an HD movie, plug in the Ultra Dual drive and watch it without having to transfer it.

SanDisk Dual USB Drive 3.0 2The standard USB works with any Windows or MAC computer (no driver needed). It measures just 0.43-by-0.78- by1.44-inches, has a slider to expose the connection you want and is available in 16GB ($13.24), 32GB ($18.49) and 64GB ($34.24) capacities.

Check the SanDisk for a complete list of compatible devices. The USB 3.0 port is back-wards compatible with USB 2.0.

www.SanDisk.com
The Oregon Scientific Ssmart Dynamo 2 plus activity tracker does everything you would want from a wearable

fitness device.

Ssmart Dynamo 2 plusIt’s super easy to set up and get going along with the free Smart Fit for Android (version 4.3 and above) and iOS (version 7.0 and above) devices.

It works 24/7 or as long as you wear it to track sleep patterns, fitness activities and even stay connected with friends and family.

The latter happens after the tracker is paired with your cellphone to receive or reject (Android only) calls, caller ID and displays text messages and email. It also allows you to share fitness results on social media.

As for the fitness aspect, which is the main reason to have an activity tracker, it tracks heart rate data, the distance you go and how many steps it took to go that far. It also estimates how many calories burned.

It also features Find My Phone, which if you ever have to use it, you’ll understand the value.

Within the Smart App, everything is displayed in simple pie-charts, not complicated graphs. Many features and displays can be customized to your liking, including the wristband button and the display.

Up to seven days of information can be stored on the tracker. http://ssmart.oregonscientific.com/ $99.99

TrackR bravoThe new TrackR bravo is a coin-sized device you easily attach to a valuable item and it helps you locate it if lost or the most popular, misplaced.

When you get separated from whatever you attached it to, you’ll get notified through the TrackR app in seconds. Through the app, the device connects to your smartphone via Bluetooth 4.0 and has a 100-foot range.

It uses the Crowd GPS network to find the TrackR and displays the distance between you and the item on the App. If you ever played the game hot or cold, that’s how this works to let you know if you’re on the right track to find it.

It’s ideal for keys, mobile devices and even suggested for pets.

The rounded item measures 1.2-inches in diameter and is just .13-inches. It easily attaches to a key chain, camera strap, bicycle or a pet’s collar.

Register up to 10 TrackR Bravo devices on the TrackR app for simultaneous tracking. Also, within the app, many of the alert sounds and notifications can be customized.

https://www.thetrackr.com $29.99
Contact Gregg Ellman at greggellman@mac.com. Follow him on Twitter: @greggellman.

Gadgets:: SkylinkNet alarm system simple and secure

By Gregg Ellman – #greggellman @greggellman

Skylink 2The SkylinkNet alarm system kit is nothing fancy but it’s easy to setup and works well for a simple home security system.

Like any other smart-home system, it has to be connected to a home Internet system and works with an iPhone or Android smartphone (not included).

What is included in the kit is an Internet Hub, motion sensor, key chain remote and a pair of window/door sensors.

Where you connect the sensors is your choice, there’s no right or wrong. The kit is designed to start off with the basics and then add on from there.

Window, door or garage sensors, cameras for indoor or outdoor security, water sensors for detecting leaks and even a telephone dialer can be purchased and added on.

As for the starter kit, it really couldn’t be any simpler to get up and running in just a few minutes. You need AAA and AA batteries (not included) to run the sensors and to put in the hub as a backup in the event of a power failure.

Skylink 1I’m always a fan of gadgets, which are so easy to use that you don’t have to read instructions.

In this case, since security is involved I would I highly recommend using the quick guide. Set up is well explained starting with downloading the free SkyLink app, creating an account and adding on the sensors.

The sensors have different alarm settings for when you are home or away and a panic setting. Push notifications can be set to alert you when a sensor or alarm is activated. Each step within the app is straightforward and easy to understand to get the system to do what you want.

The hub is your mission control device and has to be connected to your router at all times. It connects easy and also has a siren inside.

www.skylinkhome.com $149.99 for the starter kit

BoogieThe Boogie Board Sync 9.7 eWriter looks like a tablet, feels like a tablet but is essentially a digital 3-ring binder without the paper.

You take notes on the screen with the included stylus and save them as PDFs. From there you can transfer them to computers, smartphones or tablets wirelessly (Bluetooth).

Your notes are saved with the push of a button as high-resolution vector PDF files.

It measures 11.1 x 7.5 x 0.2-inches, which includes the body around the writing screen and has a slot to store the stylus. The writing area is about 9.7-inches diagonally.

The included stylus worked very well, I tried a few other stylus brands I have on my desk but they didn’t work nearly as well as the original. Extras can be purchased separately for $19.99 each.

As noted on their website, the VDC software is compatible with Mac OSX 10.8 and above, Windows Vista, 7, and 8. Also, the saved files can be edited with most illustration programs such as Adobe Illustrator and CorelDRAW, as well as image editing programs such as Adobe® Photoshop

The internal battery is good for about a week, but that can vary depending on usage. A microUSB cable is included for charging.

According to the company, over 5,000 PDF files can be saved in the internal memory.

There are endless ways this can be used including home, office or classrooms. For me, I wish the Boogie Board existed when I was in college.

www.myboogieboard.com $90.82

BlackBelt2ndKensington’s BlackBelt 2nd degree rugged case is well named.

It’s made with military drop protection (MIL-STD-810G testing protocols) and is about as durable as a case can be.

A polycarbonate X-frame has a comfortable feel with cushioned rubber layer around it for protecting your iPad from drops, bumps or just about any potential damaging contact.

All of the tablets ports and controls are accessible for charging, volume or using the cameras.

A screen protector is included and the case has a built-in kick stand and hand strap.

www.Kensington.com $49.99 for the iPad Air 2 case, $44.99 for the iPad mini model

Gadgets:: Ring Video Doorbell, OWC Thunderbolt Dock 2

By Gregg Ellman – #greggellman @greggellman

Video Ring 2Once the Ring Video Doorbell button is pressed, a one-way video is activated along with two-way audio so you can see and talk to who’s at your entry way.

Access the audio and video on a smartphone or tablet from anywhere you have Wi-Fi Internet access.

The most appealing feature, but far from the only one is the built-in camera lens, is the lens. It provides 180-degrees of wide-angle view of the doorbell area.

Everything you need for the simple installation is included. It takes only a few minutes from start to finish, assuming your Wi-fi signal is within reach.

Like most any smart-home accessory there is a free app (Apple App Store or Google Play Store) with simple account setup. The next time the doorbell rings, the app will send you a push notification telling you someone is at the door.

You will then see a live video recording of who is ringing the bell. You can have a conversation, too. What I really like is that you can hit the decline option if you want to ignore it all. They will have no idea you were even there.

As a bonus multiple users can be setup on the app letting them also know who’s at the door.

A great feature about the doorbell is it also acts as a security camera, even without the bell being rung. There is built-in motion detection with a choice of activation settings that can be customized to record the 180-degree angle within a 30-foot range of the doorbell.

The audio/video recordings can also be saved into a cloud storage for just $3 per month or $30 per year.

Video Ring 1Other features coming down the pipeline for the product includes on-demand viewing as well as a personal weather station built-into the doorbell bracket.

Video is recorded with a 1280×720p resolution. The unit contains an internal rechargeable 5,200 mAh battery, good for up to a year, depending on usage. A microUSB cable is included for charging.

The product is certified for outdoor use and even includes the proper drill bit and screwdriver for installation on wood, stucco and cement.

Ring has also announced the Ring Chime, which is a Wi-Fi speaker that sounds within the home when the Ring Doorbell is pressed. It will be available June 1 for $19.95.

www.Ring.com $199 available in finish choices of satin nickel, venetian bronze and antique or polished brass

OWC Thunderbolt 2 DockThe OWC Thunderbolt 2 Dock is far from just another dock. It’s really an incredible  accessory, which will amaze any Apple computer power-user.

All you have to do is connect a single Thunderbolt cable from your computer to the dock and then you’ll have an additional Thunderbolt port to use from the dock.

With that Thunderbolt port (20 Gb/s), up to five addition Thunderbolt devices plus a display can be connected through the single port with addition Thunderbolt docks or via a daisy chain.

But it far from ends there. You also have five USB 3.0 ports (5 Gb/s), one FireWire 800, one Gigabit Ethernet, one HDMI 1.5b with 4K display support, one 3.5 mm audio input/mic and a 3.5 mm audio output/headphone port.

Three of the USB ports are on the back and two are on the side. They can be used for powering up USB accessories or charging/syncing an iPhone or iPad.

The FireWIre 800 port can support a daisy-chain connection of up to 63 devices.

The dock (9.05 x 3.54 x .98-inches) is listed on the MacSales.com site to work with any Thunderbolt equipped Mac running OS X 10.9.5 or later. Windows is not supported.

PR_TB2DOCK_LIFESTYLE

On the bottom/front of the dock there is a pair of LED lights. The blue one indicates the dock is powered while the green LED lights up when there is an active data connection from the computer through a Thunderbolt cable.

While it doesn’t effect the performance, Apple fans will love the Thunderbolt 2 Dock’s appearance since it’s built to cosmetically match Apple products with it’s aluminum finish.

A DC power supply is included and the OWC Thunderbolt 2 Dock driver is on the product website and installs in seconds.

www.MacSales.com $249

Gadgets :: April 20, 2015

Pegasus Wheeled Backpack 1

Iris Irrigation Timer

By Gregg Ellman – #greggellman @greggellman

 

If you forgot to turn on your sprinklers while you are out of town, or it rained overnight but you left for work without turning them off, neither is a problem to control with the Orbit 12-Station Indoor/Outdoor Irrigation Timer.

The system is the second accessory I’ve tried from Lowe’s to work with the IRIS wireless smartphone system (the first was the smart garage door controller).

First, a little about the Iris/smartphone system; it has add-on’s to control alarms, security cameras, thermostats and even electric pet doors. Each must be connected to the wireless IRIS Smart Hub (sold separately $99).

The hub connects to you’re home router with the included ethernet cable.

That might sound complicated, but it takes just minutes with the quick start guide and the web-based instructions.

You must have an in-ground sprinkler system and this system replaces your existing one, with the addition of being able to control it anywhere.

It works on the Z-Wave system, which is a protocol for smartphone remote control systems. Control is done through the IRIS app on smartphones and tablets.

Now on to the sprinkler system; I had the hub installed so that step was completed.

The quick-start guide makes it simple; I would advise reading the short instruction before the actual installation. If they seem complicated just call a friend who is the handy type to install it.

Each of the first six steps is for connecting the timer box to the wires which went into my existing box. The only electrical step was plugging in the AC power cord.

Step #7 is connecting the sprinkler controller to the IRIS hub, which is easily done by following the steps while logged into your Iris account at lowes.com.

If it all sounds simple, that’s because it is, just like the garage controller was.

As for the sprinkler box, it has everything you would expect; 12 stations, can be mounted indoor or outdoor, programable by day/times, lithium battery backup and has a connection for a rain sensor (not included).

I fully expect that the system can pay itself off with water savings along with keeping your lawn nice and green.

www.Lowes.com $129

Cyntur JumperPack miniSmartphones, like most any other portable electronic gadget, can be charged on the fly and now with theCyntur JumperPack mini, you can jumpstart your car on the fly.

It has an internal 12,000mAh lithium-ion battery for jumpstarting vehicles with up to eight cylinder engines. This includes cars, trucks, SUV’s and boats.

What’s even great about large amount of power is it’s small enough to fit in a glove compartment (6 x 2.2 x 1.3-inches and 0.9 lb.)

Back to the beginning, if your smartphone’s battery is dead, the JumperPack has a 2.1amp USB port. It’s good for most phones, tablets, GPS units or most any other portable electronic gadget.

The JumperPack has a 200 lumen LED flashlight and comes with a zipper storage bag.

The battery holds its charge for up to a year and is advertised to be used for up to 25 times before it needs a charge itself.

It also has an IPX3 weatherproof rating and comes with an AC wall charger.

https://www.cyntur.com $99

Pegasus Wheeled Backpack 1The Pegasus wheeled backpack from ECBC is listed as a 2-in-1 bag on the ECBC website, but I really think thats wrong.

I think it’s at least a 3-in-1.

My three are a rolling suitcase, which can be converted to a backpack and it has a front padded TSA friendly computer bag.

Additionally there are compartments inside of compartments and extra padding enabling it to hold just about every accessory you would want.

Soundmatter DASHaAs for the backpack, just unzip the back panel to get the backpack straps out.

If you carry a laptop (up to 15-inches) in the bag, keep it in the front part and just unzip it and lay it flat on the security X-ray conveyer without taking the computer out.

Included is a portable battery pack (4500mAh) for charging gadgets on-the-go.

After loading your electronics, there’s the main compartment for a few day’s worth of clothes.

The bag measures 22 x 14 x 10-inches and weighs 9 lb.

www.ec-bc.com $399.99, available in five colors

 

Gadgets :: April 6, 2015

By Gregg Ellman #greggellman @greggellman

Panoramic Pod

The Panoramic Pod has the line “picture perfect panoramas every time!” on the front of its box and after just one try I can confirm that statement is accurate.

Cell phones produce great images – but only if you hold the phone steady and horizontal for wide shots. The Panoramic Pod takes care of the later.

It takes 25 seconds to take the image with excellent image quality and just a little longer than that to set it up.

All you do is place the included tripod on a flat surface, attach the pod, attach your phone, and wind the spring-loaded (no batteries required) device.

The pod then rotates taking a perfectly level panoramic image.

With the summer travel season approaching, I consider this a must-have for iPhone-ographers, especially with its compact size of just 8.6 inches long by just under 2 inches in diameter.

The clamp to hold your smartphone works with most iPhone and Android smartphones that are panoramic compatible.

www.shopmixology.com $28

Monster DNA PRO 2Monster headphones always sound great so it was no surprise when I tried the company’s latest flagship headphones, the DNA Pro 2.0, which include Pure Monster Sound Technology.

They are built with a great-looking futuristic design that includes comfortable  triangular padded earbuds and dual headphone ports.

As I often do, I tried them on a recent flight and let’s just say I was happy to be on the ground but I could have kept the headphone playing in my ears for another few hours.

I can only speak for my classic rock, but according to Monster, the “DNA PRO 2.0 brings out the very best performance for all types of musical genres, from rock to country, pop to classical, hip hop to alternative and everything in between.”

To assist the listening experience, Head Monster Noel Lee personally created an app (free at iTunes, Android is in development) with the help of Monster engineers to customize your sound listening to exactly how you want for any music genre.

The app has profiles you select that have been “tuned to iconic reference recordings which define the sound signature of a particular era, genre or artist,” according to Monster’s website.

While the app development might have been complicated, using it is simple. Just use the sliders to choose a profile.

The headphones feature dual-port inputs, which allow up to five headphones to be connected simultaneously for music sharing.

Hinges allow the headphones to fold up and stored in the included travel pouch along with the coiled (tangle free) audio and Apple ControlTalk cables

www.monsterproducts.com $299.95, available in tuxedo white and black

RAVPower 15W FoldablePower on-the-go can’t be any more efficient than the 15 W Ravpower foldable dual-port solar charger.

It stores like a book (14.2 x 7.5 x 1.2-inches, 1.5 pounds) and folds out to expose three solar panels.

For charging, plug your device’s USB cable into either of the two USB ports, which have a combined 3 amp output. This enables charging of most any portable electronic gadget, including tablets and smartphones.

Two devices can be charged simultaneously as long as they don’t exceed the 3 amp total.

It’s built with iSmart technology, which allows it to be compatible with almost every device and charge at the fastest possible speeds.

The construction features water- and weather-resistant nylon and a Velcro sealed pouch for storing smaller devices while charging.

Another nice feature has eyeholes in the design for hanging it to most anything for charing.

www.Ravpower.com $49.99