Archive for Gadgets

Gadgets :: August 16, 2017


By Gregg Ellman

True story: I got tired of seeing my wife use her tablet with wired headphones, especially while using them on a treadmill.

So I handed her a box of iFrogz Impulse Duo wireless earbuds and said “use these.” In about 30 seconds she had the box opened, changed the ear tips to a better fitting smaller size, paired them with her tablet (Bluetooth) and was off to the gym.

Upon returning I asked what she thought and she said they were great and made her workout so much easier. In addition to the great sound, wireless and comfort, she really liked the magnetic clasp, which she attached to the back of her shirt during the workout.

Really, the only part I have in reviewing these was showing her how the clip doubles as cable management system when not using the earbuds.

I didn’t bother to mention that the lightweight earbuds are sweat-resistant (IPX-2 rated), have duel 6 mm drivers in each ear and up to 10 hours of use before a charge is needed. There’s also a built-in mic for handsfree calls with just the tap of a button on the clasp.

You get multiple ear tips in different sizes, along with the earbud tips for life limited warranty. So if your ear tips get worn or damaged, Zagg will replace them for free. $44.99, currently on sale for $31.49

All at the same time, the Pyle (PLTT21BT) classic turntable is vintage, modern, hip and different.

The different aspect, which caught my eye and guarantees to be a talking point among house guests, is that the belt-drive turntable plays vinyl records vertically. Yes, that’s correct, records are played up and down, not flat. And if you weren’t looking at the turntable while it’s playing you would never know the difference. You’ll look, though, because it’s very cool.

Sound comes through a pair of front-facing built-in stereo speakers that produces decent sound. If you want improved sound or just want to spread it out, it’s simple to do. Just plug your speakers into the RCA output connector jacks.

Pyle calls the turntable accurately an Elegant Vintage Replica Crafted Sound System, and you can see that with its eye-catching wood finish and rotary knobs and button controls.

It’s easy to it into a modern sound system – just pair your portable music player with the turntable via Bluetooth to stream your digital music library from a smartphone, table or computer. There’s also a USB memory stick reader for direct streaming of music.

The turntable (14.2-by-8.3-by-14.6-inches), plays 33-1/3, 45, and 78 RPM’s, is AC powered and has a front facing tonearm, with a replaceable needle. $112.95

The Phoozy thermal capsule is designed to keep smartphones safe in the hottest or coldest conditions.

Made from some of the same materials that help protect astronaut spacesuits in space, the protective capsule is a pretty sure bet to help your device stay safe on earth in hot, wet and freezing conditions.

It’s also built with float protection, a chromium shell to reflect more than 90 percent of the sun’s solar radiation and an impact core layer for military-grade drop protection.

Your LCD is not accessible when using the pouch and a soft touch protective inside liner keeps your smartphone safe and scratch-free when inside.

According to the Phoozy site, it’s designed to work with the iPhone Series, Galaxy Series, Google Pixel Series and most other major smartphones with a naked, caseless mobile device for maximum thermal protection. $29.99

Gadgets :: August 9, 2017

By Gregg Ellman
Back to school shopping lists in my day included pens, pencils and notebook paper. These days your list is a lot more modern and tech related. Here are a few items that would make great additions to any back-to-school shopping list.

The USB Logitech K840 mechanical keyboard is pretty much the last keyboard you’ll need since it was tested to last for more than 70 million keystrokes. Logitech’s exclusive and silent Romer-G mechanical switches are durable, allowing you type away in comfort.

The full sized keyboard features a Windows lock key, media shortcuts, programable keys, a 70-inch strain relief USB cable and an anodized aluminum top case with a modern, sand-blasted textured finish. $79.99

The iClever BoostStrip IC-BS03 power strip will charge or power just about everything you have including smartphones, tablets, computers and even a hair dryer. It’s built with SmartID technology to recognize devices for a safe charge while maximizing charging efficiency.

Simultaneously, you can use all six standard AC outlets and six USB ports. Each AC port is surge protected from damage caused by power surges and an on/off switch lets you turn the power strip off completely. The USB ports are all high-speed charging and also have SmartID to recognize the maximum charging speed for each specific plugged-in device.

A 5-foot power cord is attached and a wall mounting bracket is included along with an 18-month warranty. Available in black or white. $24.99

Athena is a wearable safety device that can be attached to a belt, purse or worn as jewelry. It’s about the size of a quarter (1.5-inch diameter by 0.5 inch thick) and is designed to be inconspicuous but easily trackable to alert anyone to your whereabouts.

Roar designed the Athena with women’s safety in mind, for any situation where a violent crime can occur and alert help instantly.

When trouble happens, just press Athena and it sounds an alarm while alerting others you connected with the Roar app. Once the button is pressed, your location is instantly sent to your network with a text alert.

Athena connects to your smartphone with Bluetooth and tells the Roar app to send the text message with the danger alert. The emergency contacts you choose to receive the text message are not required to have the Roar app.

A rechargeable battery will last for about two weeks. $99 in rose gold, black or silver. Available for pre-order, with a late August delivery

The Adventure Ultra from myCharge has a 13400 mAh battery enabling you to charge anything on-the-go, including a 32-inch television for up to three hours. Most people won’t be carrying around a TV, but you probably have a laptop, smartphone or a tablet. Almost anything can run or charge with the Adventure Ultra as long as it doesn’t need more than 45 W of power.

Two standard USB ports and a single USB-C port available for charging. The battery alone can charge a smartphone up to eight times or power a lamp with an LED bulb for 8 hours.

The portable battery is built with an insulated and rugged exterior case and inside is hyper-charge technology for ultra-fast charging along with safe-cell technology to ensure each device is powered to the highest level of battery safety.

The Ultra is 1.2-by-5.8-by-4.1 inches and weighs 1.05 pounds $129.99

Depending on how you look at it, the Yunmai Color scale will help you keep in good shape or tell you how bad of shape you are in. Either way, it’s a real handy item to have around for the college years, which typically leads to an extra few pounds around the waist.

Just stand on it and your physical condition and other body statistics will be available instantly through the scale’s smartphone app. The scale has four high precision pressure sensors and four human body sensors to measure critical health features, including bioelectrical impedance analysis of body mass index, weight, fat, muscle, visceral fat, bone mass, water, basal metabolic rate, body age and protein.

On the scale is a 4-inch LCD, which displays your weight and body fat percentage. Up to 16 profiles can be stored in the app so family and friends can join in to an easy way to keep track of critical heath features.

Four AAA batteries power the scale and it has Bluetooth 4.0 to connect to Android and iOS smartphones and tablets. $66.95

The Monster Firecracker portable high definition Bluetooth/NFC speaker has two high-performance full-range drivers with a passive bass radiator to produce room-filling sound with a deep bass and powerful dynamics, which is referred to as Pure Monster Sound by Monster.

A unique feature on the firecracker is a 500 lumens photo light, which will shine for about 7 hours. The light is measured at 5000-degrees Kelvin, which translates to natural light enabling it to be a perfect light source for helping out cell phone cameras in dark situations.

It’s also splash proof (IPX-5) and has a built-in high intelligibility mic for handsfree calls. A carabiner clip lets you carry or attach it to most anything. There’s also a built in USB port to use for charging other devices and the internal battery will last for 25 hours of play life. $149.99, available in black, camo, gold and red

Gadgets :: August 2, 2017

By Gregg Ellman

The Amazon Fire HD 8 Tablet with Alexa is a great little tablet, especially combined with an Amazon Prime membership.

Since I’m a longtime iPad owner, I’m familiar with the Apple app store and I was happy to see The Amazon app store works much the same and just as easy. I download a few apps I use on my iPad to see if they worked the same and they do.

The Fire comes pre-loaded a great selection Amazon apps to play, shop, read, listen and watch. You can purchase music, videos, books, games, all through the pre-loaded apps on Amazon and with a Prime Membership you’ll have lots of free options.

The tablet has a built in web browser (Silk), parental controls (FreeTime) and apps for photos, calendar, camera, documents, contacts, maps, clock, weather, and email. There’s also a Shop amazon and Amazon offers app as well as Alexa which lets you ask the tablet questions and get answers without having to type or search yourself.

Reading is my thing so I started with the Kindle Books app. If you already have some ebooks they can be loaded them but since I am new to the Fire I just went to the Prime Reading and found hundreds of free books to choose from in the Prime Bookstore and even more available to purchase.

Movies, TV shows, music, and games work the same way, with many available for free with Prime and others available for purchase.

I used the tablet to read books and watch videos on a 4 hour flight and barely made a dent in the battery power. It is rated for 12 hours of battery life, has a vibrant 8-inch HD display, a 1.3 GHz quad-core processor, 1.5 GB of RAM, and Dolby Audio.

The Fire is available in with 16 or 32 GB of internal storage and has a microSD slot for adding up to 256 GB of expandable storage. It is available in Black, yellow, red and blue. 16GB – $79.99, 32GB – $109.99

Creative’s Sound BlasterX Katana multi-channel gaming sound bar sound system is marketed for gamers but instantly after hearing the sound quality I’d use it for gaming, music, TV, movies or anything you want to hear in great quality and room filling sound.

If you’re not familiar with sound bars, they are a speaker built with a long slim profile.The five-driver Katena is 23.6-inches long, 2.40-inches high and just 3.1 inches deep, making it perfect to keep under a computer monitor or even attach to some TV wall mounting brackets. Regardless of where you chose to keep it, the sound will be nothing short of outstanding.

A black front facing grill covers two up-firing midbass drivers and two high-excursion tweeters. On the back is your connections, including USB, MicroUSB, 3.5 mm, optical or use it wirelessly with Bluetooth 4.2.

What makes it a complete system is the subwoofer, which houses the fifth driver, referred to as one long-throw. The subwoofer (5.1-by-11.8-by-13.1 inches) can sit in full view or hidden behind furniture, either way you’ll get the boom-boom sound effect.

As for the sound, this system goes to head-banging loud levels and while I’m not one to blast my sound, during testing I had this cranked up. Beware, If you’re in an apartment your neighbors won’t be happy if crank it up to the high volume levels.

I’m not a gamer so I tested the sound out with different presets on my receiver ranging from theater to gaming to surround sound, with each one had a different tone. There’s no right or wrong, it’s whatever is comfortable to your ears. I like a deep bass so it took some tweaking, which is how great sounding audio should be achieved.

The included wireless remote comes in handy for volume control, song selections

A really cool feature is the 49 programable LED lights from end to end on the bottom/front of the speaker. With a combination of 16.8 million color combinations you can customize the light show to you’re liking or use some of the presents. While the lights have no bearing on the sound, there’s something about them, which caught my attention and my eyes for some time.

I’ve been a sound bar fan for sometime and the Katena has shot up to the top of my list with great sound, looks, versatility and easy to use. $299.99

Gadgets :: July 26, 2017

By Gregg Ellman

The pocket-sized (4.0-by-2.0-by-0.6-inches) Alcomate Revo is a tremendous device for accurately reading an individual’s blood alcohol level so hopefully they don’t rely on judgment alone.

Since I really have no experience with using portable breathalyzers, I did some research and found that often pocket breathalyzers must be sent back to manufacturers for calibration to keep them accurate.

That’s not the case with the Revo because it features a pre-calibrated sensor, which is easily replaceable on your own.

To use it, breathe into a replaceable mouth piece until a beeper stops sounding. The device translates that information to your blood alcohol level. Five mouth pieces are included.

It’s recommended to change the sensor every 1,000 tests or at least once yearly. Additional mouth pieces can be purchased in a 10-pack ($4) or a 100-pack ($40). A pouch and hard carrying case are available for purchase.

The Revo is powered by two AAA batteries, has an easy-to-read LCD and constructed with ABS Molding.

According to the Alcomate site, the Revo is the single source supplier for the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps and is DOT approved for law enforcement accuracy. $219.95

I’ve tried an endless number of smart home products over the past few years and the number one complaint I hear from people (which I agree with) is when they aren’t easy to use.

Honeywell get’s an A-Plus from me for their new indoor C1 Wi-Fi Security Camera; it’s exactly as advertised: you can watch what’s happening at home — anytime, anywhere. Versatile and easy to install.

Setup takes just a few minutes. Download the free Lyric app (iOS and Android), connect the camera’s included power cord and following the easy startup guide in the app, which includes connecting the camera to youre existing home WiFi.

The user friendly app is used for viewing the camera but it does a whole lot more, including taking instant screen shots during livestream, which can be easily saved to your mobile device.

Two-way audio allows you to press the microphone tab on the app to speak out of the camera along with hearing sounds in the camera’s area. Alerts can be set for sound and motion detection. Video recording has quality settings for HD 720p (default) auto or low.

Even though the C1 is easy to set up, I recommend reading about all the features and settings so it’s customized for what you want. This way you won’t get alerts every time a pet runs through a room, unless you really want them.

The C1 can send an alert you if a smoke or carbon monoxide alarm goes off. Other features include intelligent sound detection to recognize specific sounds, 135-degree wide-angle view and night vision.

The app works with just one C1 or multiple cameras. Images are stored on a cloud or on a removable microSD memory card. $119.99

Imagenomic’s last version of Portraiture (version 3) is a Photoshop, Lightroom and Aperture plugin, which makes skin retouching a snap.

I tested the Photoshop version and found it super easy to achieve professional results with just a few clicks.

The program is built with a powerful masking tool that enables you to selectively smooth only the skin tones of an image without affecting the rest of your image. It works like magic.

Portraiture’s masking tool is unique with its built-in Auto-Mask feature to help you quickly discover most of the skin tone range of the image automatically as well as allowing you to manually fine-tune the results.

When I opened Portraiture, the filter starts with several preset option; Smoothing Normal, Smoothing Strong, Enhancing Glamour, etc. After choosing a preset, you can tweak the results using the sliders for changing the amount of smoothing, add or delete from the mask and even change the hue of the skin color being masked.

Once you are happy with the results, click OK and the filter goes to work, In just a few seconds the skin is smoother, wrinkles and blemishes are erased and my photo looks professionally retouched. $199.95

Gadgets :: July 19, 2017

By Gregg Ellman

Often readers ask me if they really need an item I’ve mentioned previously. For the most part, I won’t decide that for people. But in the case of the Orbit Bluetooth key finder, don’t bother emailing me because yes, you need it. My wife will tell you I need it.

Using the Orbit is simple; just attach it (1.3-inches in diameter, 0.35-inches thick) to your keyring and link it with the free Orbit app (Google Play and App Store).

Once you realize your keys aren’t in your pocket or within site, launch the app and make it ring or look at the last location spotted on a map. The Orbit has a 100-foot radius.

A nice feature in the app settings is the separation alarm. This lets you set the Orbit and smartphone to ring when they reach the 100-foot separation radius. With the safe zone setting turned on you can exceed the 100-foot zone, enabling you to walk keyless at home, work, etc.

The app shows you the location on a map or its last location within range, signal strength, distance and the battery level.

You can also work it in reverse. If you have the keyring with the Orbit in hand but can’t find your phone, just press it to make your phone ring.

And one more thing, you can use the Orbit to fire your smartphones camera.

The Orbit ($29.99) is available in 12 colors with a splash-proof anodised aluminum body and has a six-month coin battery (CR 2025), which is easily replaced. There are15 ringtone alarms to choose from,

You don’t have to limit the Orbit to your keys – attach it to whatever you misplace. Order me a dozen!

The Orbit Wallet has multiple compartments for cash, a driver’s license, receipts and credit card slots with RFID blocking technology.

Built into the wallet is the Orbit Bluetooth finder (same as in the key finder) and it works exactly as mentioned above with the Orbit app.

In addition, it has a built-in 2500mAh rechargeable battery for smartphone charging. Both mirco USB and iPhone lighting adapters are built into the battery for an easy connection and cable-free travel.

A USB connection is included for charging the battery, which has a display to remind you a charge is needed.

The smartphone wallet (4.13-by-3.94-by-0.67-inches) is available in black, dark blue and dark brown for $109.99

BodyGuardz has recently launched the Trainr Pro high-performance case for the iPhone 6/6S Plus and 7/7 Plus.

The innovative high-impact case is made with sport-grip materials and features a clear polycarbonate back.

Unlike other systems that require you to remove your phone from a case and slide it into a pocket, this case snaps in (and out) with ease from a lightweight, removable armband. The armband is soft on your arm and is adjustable with Velcro.

The Trainr Pro armband is perfect for biking, running or walking and allows access to the screen itself, not an extra later of plastic, which has always given me problems.

On its own, the case has a low-profile design but has full protection, for which BodyGuardz is an industry leader. Outside of the shock-absorbing (drop rated to 10 feet) case is durable sport-grip elastomer, perfect for a secure hold and a stylish look. $49.95 available in black/gray and gray/mint combinations

Gadgets :: June 12, 2017

by Gregg Ellman

A recent press release couldn’t have said it better about a new security camera from Momentum. “The new Momentum WiFi camera is the under $50, effective and reliable solution to personal home property and loved one monitoring.”

I stress to readers over and over, one of the most important features in smart home devices is how easy it is to set up (along with price and quality). The Momentum is really as easy as advertised: plug-in-and-go.

After downloading the free Momentum app (iOS and Android), create a quick account, pair your device and connect to an existing WiFi network. After the camera is named (I would name it for the location, so if you add others you’ll know which camera is where) you can set it up anywhere inside needing monitoring.

The camera has a 110-degree viewing angle with a 720p HD resolution. You can stream the video to a mobile device through the app and set alerts for motion and sound. Recording can be set to begin once it detects sound or motion, saving it to a cloud account or the built-in microSD memory card slot up to 128GB.

Cloud storage plans include 7-day storage for $4.99/monthly or 30-day storage for $9.99/monthly.

The Momentum WiFi camera has night vision, which worked well and there’s a two-way talk feature between with the mobile app and the camera.

The camera measures 4.68-by-2.20-by-1.41-inches and an AC adapter is included. $49.99


The new iHome iBT91 dual purpose speaker is perfect for summer, but don’t let that fool ya’, it’s great for every day of the year.

Aside from Bluetooth speaker features, many others make it stand out for the outdoor season, including a color changing lantern.

The lantern has multiple color modes to choose from (glow/slow fade, fast, favorite color, pulse to music, preset pulsing mode and emergency blinker) and more effects can be added with the free iHome app.

In addition there’s a built-in 1 amp USB port to directly connect mobile devices needing a charge. The speaker’s internal battery powers the charging port and the speaker, which is good for up to 6 hours of audio with the lantern on or 13 hours of audio. A USB charging cable is included.

Others features include a speakerphone for handsfree calls. The speaker is built with talk/end controls and digital voice echo cancellation. Your music source can be directly  connected with the 3.5 mm aux-in jack.

The iBT91 speaker (4.85-by-9.26-by-4.61-inches, 2.97 pounds) can absorb poolside splashes and a quick rain shower with its built-in 1P65 waterproof rating.

A second lantern speaker can be purchased to wirelessly connect with the first. $99.99

Focal has launched new Spark wireless earbuds.

Focal touts them as the best entry-level model available. I thought the sound was solid, bass filling and for an entry-level they did a great job.

The lightweight Bluetooth earbuds (s/m/l) are built with an aluminum body attached to an anti-tangle flat cable. Multiple ear tips are included to get a comfortable fit along with a storage case and a charging cable.

An in-line three-button remote works perfect for pairing, power, volume control, microphone and music selections.

The wireless version is $99 and is available in black, rose gold and silver. A wired version is also available for $69 in black, blue cobalt and silver.

Gadgets :: July 5, 2017

By Gregg Ellman

I get asked all the time by tech companies, how do they get their product in my column? It’s a pretty simple formula: it has to be new, cool, different and useful.

survival_straps_1Which brings me to the new Apple watch Survival Straps’ Watch Strap. Obviously, bands are a dime a dozen for the smartwatch, but for some reason this one caught my attention instantly.

The versatile band connected perfectly to my 42 mm Apple watch. All you do is connect it to the watch like any other band by pressing the links on the bottom to release the existing band.

According to the Survival Straps, the handmade, durable band is made with authentic military spec 550# paracord with an attractive and unique stainless-steel anchor shackle closure system They have over 45 paracord colors to mix, match and design your band to match your taste, resulting in thousands of color combinations.

The Survival Strap I’ve been testing and wearing for a few days was pretty stiff at first but after it formed to my wrist it fits to perfection. The closure takes a little getting used to and after a few opens and closes, I really like it along with it being by far the most secure closure I’ve seen.survival_straps_2

Straps are custom made for your wrist size and are available for watches, bracelets, emblems and a variety of smartwatches. The Apple watch band I tried out sells for $49.99, Samsung Gear S3 and Fitbit Paracord straps are also $49.99. Prices vary for others.

Survival Straps is a mom and pop company based in Ponte Vedra Beach, FL and produces 100 percent USA made products. They also support the nations first responders, wounded veterans and active military with over $1 million of donations.

thermacell__backpacker_1Thermacell’s new Backpacker mosquito repeller is a lightweight, portable (3.8-by-1.9-by-2.6-inches ) solution for keeping your immediate area free of the annoying bugs.
The 4 ounce gas powered canister device is odorless and flameless and is good for up to 90 hours of bug protection before a refill is needed. The contents of the gas is a pressurized self-sealing butane and propane fuel mix, which slowly heats up the mat, and releases the repellent chemical in the air.
Each mat contains Allethrin, a synthetic version of a naturally occurring repellent found in chrysanthemum flowers.thermacell_backpacker_2
A water-resistant nylon carry pouch is included with the Backpacker along with 3 mosquito mats. The Backpacker sells for $35.91. 8-ounce gas fuel $17.99 and 6 Repellent Mats for up to 24 hours of use is $19.99.

Thermacell has also launched the new MR450 handheld repeller ($34.99).
The odorless and silent bug killer is designed with a rubber armored finish and an ergonomic design. The rubber grip layer also helps keep the unit quiet.
A butane cartridge with no open flame will last for about 12 hours before a replacement is needed. It also has a long lasting and replaceable CR2032 battery inside.
mr450_1The MR450 has a built-in protective indicator light so you know its up to temperature and ready to keep your area mosquito free.mr450_2
The MR450 includes a singe butane cartridge, 3 mosquito mats, a CR2032 battery and a belt clip. A replacement kit of 4 butane cartridges and 12 repellant mats for 48 hours of repellency is $20.99.

griffin_reserve-power_bankGriffin’s new reserve power bank lineup includes a very portable 9,000 mAh of power ($29.99), which can easily fit in your pocket.
Most smartphones will get over three full charges from the rechargeable battery.
The full reserve power bank lineup also includes a 2,600 ($19.99), 5,200 ($24.99) and the powerful 18,200 mAh ($44.99) battery. The 18,200 mAh will charge a smartphone up to nine times and a tablet up to two and a half times.
According to Griffin, each battery is “designed with safety-certified Lithium-Ion batteries and are secured inside of a drop-tested polycarbonate shell.” The batteries also have an LED power indicator so you know if a charge is needed.

Gadgets :: June 27, 2017

By Gregg Ellman

snap!pro_feature_lensThe bitplay SNAP! 7 iPhone case system is a solid and affordable way to use the iPhone’s digital photography features to create a true photography experience.

I’ve always maintained a smartphone does great as a camera but still can’t replace the features and quality of a DSLR system. The bitplay system starts with a nice case, which would be great even without the lens system. But if you get the case, you have to get the lenses to make this system rock.

20161112_scenario_features_thumb_restThe case ($49.99) features a great add-on grip for a better ergonomic camera fell. It allows you to hold with one hand in a way so your fingers won’t block the lens. The cases gives you an actual shutter button that works through the volume button, giving the feel of a natural position like you have in point-and-shoot cameras.

It’s built with a dual-layer construction combining soft TPU shock-absorbing inside the case and a hard polycarbonate outer shell.

There’s also a thread to attach a tripod and a wrist strap, which can be upgraded or you can attach your own. You can still use it as a phone with the case and grip attached.

all_in_1_lensesThe lens are interchangeable and screw into the case for a secure hold and are built with pro-level optics for enhanced clarity. The lens system includes a full frame fisheye/macro ($34.99), circular fisheye/macro ($34.99), standard wide angle/macro ($24.99), 3X telephoto ($39.99) and a variety of accessories. There’s also an HD wide angle EF 18 mm lens with cinema optics for $99.99.

lens_fisheyeIf you’re not familiar with the different fisheye lenses, the circular fisheye is exactly that. It gives you a round image, with black filling the edges of the image. The full frame fisheye produces a standard rectangle image, with a curved fisheye effect.

I tested the system at a simple family outing, which I thought would a common setting for people to use the system. I spent the day using the full frame fisheye, telephoto and the 18 mm.

hd_18mm_lensAfter using the lenses for a while and then switching back to just the phone’s bare lenses, I felt like I was missing something. So I went back to using the lenses, mostly the fisheye, since it’s about 3X wider than the existing lens. The 18 mm was impressive with its higher quality optics, enabling you to see very little distortion on the edges.

The 18 mm has a much higher construction quality than the other bitplay lenses. They describe the durable lenses construction: “the lens hood, body and cap are made from reinforced metal with a high-strength dust-proof seal, and our rigorous production process ensures that each lens is optical perfection.”

The system definitely gives you more of a photography feel and enhances the images with the wide and telephoto optics.

The standard fisheye/macro and the wide angle/macro are two-piece lenses. You snap the top optic off to remove the fisheye and the lens becomes a macro.

All of these lenses are constructed with high quality aluminum and include a storage pouch.

The Snap!7 case is available for $49.99, available in white or black for the iPhone 7, 7 Plus, 6, 6S, 6 Plus and 6S

Gadgets :: June 21, 2017

By Gregg Ellman

fabriq_stars_frontLast year Amazon allowed third parties access to the Alexa code, enabling production of more voice assistant gadgets.

The latest Alexa voice-assistant gadget to make my morning coffee is the Fabriq portable Wifi Bluetooth speaker. Before the speaker was turned on I was impressed with the size, 3.15-by-3.15-by-3.15-inches, 10.6 ounces and style, portable enough to toss in a backpack and even fit in some cargo pants pockets.

If you’re not familiar with Alexa, she is a personal assistant who can do a growing number of smart home control commands. Just press a button on the Fabriq and the assistant performs your command. It’s really that easy.fabriq_aloha_back

It also works as a standalone device without an Amazon Dot or Echo.

Voice assistant features pop up daily, so if ordering a pizza, adjusting the thermostat or turning on your surround system with a voice command aren’t enough, wait until tomorrow.

Oh, I do have to add that this is a nice sounding speaker (5w) with the great clarity and sound you want. And if you are shopping for a simple, small portable speaker, this would make a great choice.

A few other features of the Fabriq include a 5-hour build-in rechargeable battery, cool exterior fabric finishes, and the ability to connect multiple speakers for a multi-room system with each having Alexa controls. $49.99

starbrick-march-133What got my attention when reading about the new Starbrick Be4 earbuds was that they are made with Beryllium, which the company states is the fourth lightest metal element and four times stronger than steel.

There was also something I hadn’t heard of: they are the newest type of Beryllium earphones and as far as my memory can stretch, I don’t recall hearing about a Beryllium product, known as Be4 on periodic table.

Beryllium in the earbuds lowers the distortion at the highest volume without sacrificing the lows, mids, and highs.

So after these tidbits got logged into my brain, I just had to give them a try. Of course, facts like these can impress me all they want but it’s the sound that counts and that impressed as much as the technology.starbrick-march-55

I used the earbuds in three totally different environments; while biking, watching a movie on my iPad at 36,000 feet and poolside. I came away from all three equally impressed with the sound quality. Obviously I had background noise on the plane, so I just cranked up the volume to compensate. The clarity was consist and sound equally smooth at any level. This was the same while on the streets or poolside.

Starbrick stated, “The earphones’ dynamic driver with Beryllium diaphragm have a wide frequency response and provide a unique soundstage atmosphere.” I’m sure I can attribute my listening success at the variety of locations, volumes and music types to this.

Other features include an in-line mic control for handsfree calls, volume and music selections, a 3.5 mm gold stereo mini jack and choices of black, rose gold and silver. Each Be4 headset is individually handcrafted and subjected to stringent testing to ensure the optimum product every time. $179, available in August

When you have a simple product like the TwelveSouth BookArc, which is designed with an Applye-esque space gray finish to match their high fashion products and it works like a champ — you have a big winner.

The hardware is a vertical stand that turns a MacBook laptop into a desktop computer, assuming you have a monitor, mouse and keyboard.

Once the laptop is in the stand’s silicone slot, everything easily plugs in and you have a fully function desktop system. Plus, it takes up a lot less space vs a desktop computer. The bottom has a cable-catch design, so everything stays clean and organized.12s_bookarc2_macbook_spacegrey_cables_hires

Assuming you have this setup at work, when the day is done, just unplug everything, take the laptop home and you’re off with everything you might need.

According to Twelve South, “BookArc will work with most MacBook models – from the ultra light 12-inch to the new MacBook Pro Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C).” 449.99

Gadgets :: June 14, 2017

By Gregg Ellman

Typically when I unbox a gadget to test, I use it until it does what it’s supposed to or doesn’t do it – either way it doesn’t take that long. But after unboxing the Rova flying selfie, I couldn’t wait for the batteries to recharge and use it again.

The Rova might look like a drone and act like a drone but it’s not really a drone. It’s called a flying selfie, includes a camera and is shaped like a quadcopter. It has a 98-foot communication range, via the Rova WiFi network. Maximum height is 33 feet from launch.

A red button on the Rova gets it flying. Before I used it, I watched a video on the Rova site, where they have it taking off and landing in the palm of your hand. That was the first landing I tried and sure enough, there it was in my hand.

I rarely read manuals or instructions on gadgets (like everyone else) but I did this time and I recommend that to anyone using a flying object since there are safety issues.

It’s not as small and portable as a selfie stick but it’s certainly a lot more fun and provides a far great variety of images.

The camera has a wide angle lens and has image stabilization. Four propellers are enclosed in a polycarbonate frame, which you can use with or without bumpers.

The Rova app (App store and Google Play) controls the device, with settings for 12 megapixel JPEG photos or HD video in 360-degrees (MP4, 1080p@60fps, 1080p@30fps or 720p@120fps). Still images can be taken automatically or with a specific timed interval and there’s a flash built into the camera.

Out of the box it measures 8-by-8-by-1.4-inches and weighs 10 ounces. Included are a hard carrying case, a 16GB microSD card, two lithium ion batteries, charging cradle, USB cable and four disposable bumpers. Each battery is good for about 8 minutes of flight time and recharges in 90 minutes. $299

While the term USB is common in most everyones vocabulary, USB-C might draw some curiosity.

The oval-shaped 24-pin connector cable allows devices to be connected for transferring data and power and is slowly becoming an industry standard for Apple and PC systems. What I really like is there’s no up or down for the connection, like micro USB cables. Instead it’s similar in to the Apple Lightning connection, just plug it in.

This brings me to a new set of USB-C cable accessories from Ventev, which include durable AC wall outlets, car charger and durable, flat, tangle-free cables.

The wallport pd1300 charger ($44.99) has a single C connector, with folding AC prongs for an easy connection and storage. It supports power delivery up to 45 watts.

You get six feet of cable with the chargesync UBC-C cable ($29.99), with the C connections on both ends making it reversible to plug either end into your device or power source. The cables can be used with the dashport pd 1300 charger ($34.99), which plugs into any standard auto 6V (cigarette lighter) port.

And don’t let the new technology or the higher cable prices scare you; once you try them, you’ll see the speed, versatility and the durability Ventev is known for.

Invisible Shield, an industry leader when it comes to protecting the display on many of today’s portable electronic gadgets, has announced a new model for the slick looking Galaxy S8 and S8+ smartphones with its edge-to-edge HDR display.

The Invisible Shield Sapphire Defense Curve and Glass Curve install in seconds and fit perfectly with or without a case.

According to the company, the Sapphire Defense Curve ($59.99) is infused with sapphire crystals that provide a smooth, glassy feel so you get unbeatable scratch protection. It’s out of the box with EZ apply tabs and provides high-definition clarity along with seven-times shatter protection of an unprotected screen.

The Glass Curve ($49.99) goes edge-to-edge on the existing unprotected curved screen thanks to its meticulously designed composition. Once it’s installed the clarity makes you wonder if it’s there.

Both protectors come with a limited lifetime warranty, so if it gets worn or damaged during the lifetime of your device, you get a new one.

According to a recent press release, “In 2016, adult smartphone users in the U.S. spent about $16 billion repairing or replacing a damaged phone with the average cost being $162.” Knowing that, this is a great investment.