Archive for Gadgets

Gadgets :: July 25, 2018

by Gregg Ellman

The Omni 20 is 20,400 mAh of portable power. And while it’s not pocket-sized, it easily stores in a computer bag or backpack. 

On the box, it’s promoted as perfect to power anything anywhere, including laptops, cameras, tablets, phones, speakers and more. I have all those devices and I knew it would work perfect for all of them.

But a real test would be during this summer’s Dallas heatwave, with weekly highs approaching 110 degrees. I chose to do my testing away from my office and kitchen, but not too far away. Just a few dozen steps into my yard and I was powered poolside.

Along came my blender and some frozen beverages, which are perfect poolside or on location in a pack.  The Omni 20 powered my Kitchen Aid blender perfectly for several rounds of frozen margaritas.

Remember, the power pack is not waterproof and I’ll assume neither is my blender. So please use with caution along with being responsible when consuming adult beverages.

Built into the Omni 20 is a pair of standard USB ports, a standard wall socket AC and a DC out port. You also have pass-through charging, so when you’re charging the Omni 20 itself, you can recharge your devices at the same time.

With over 20,400 mAh of power inside, cell phones can be charged up to nine times and smaller digital cameras up to eight. Charging times and frequency will depend on the devices needing the power.

The Li-ion battery measures 5-by-4.8-by-1.1-inches and weighs 1.4-pounds and has a lifecycle of 500 charges.

Turning it on is as easy as hitting a power button and an Oled screen has displays and setting controls, including auto shutoff, battery remaining capacity, battery temperature, charge time remaining and other options. $249.99

It just so happens I was listening to satellite radio with new Beem United fitness BeActiv E300 wireless earbuds while I was using my above mentioned review using my blender outside. And I know, yes my job is horrible some days.

The neckband headset is built with Bluetooth 4.1 and has a nice 6-hour battery life, which only takes 1.5-hours to charge. 

Magnetic tips are built into the earbuds to connect them so they stay in place when not in use (I love that feature). I’ve turned into a fan of neckband headphones for daily use, travel and active lifestyle for bike rides as well as yard work.

As for the sound, inside is 10.66 mm dynamic speaker drivers, which produce clear and a nice amount of bass. The BeActiv E300 sound can be enhanced with it’s internal 5-band fully configurable EQ presets, which increased the bass greatly for those who want that experience.

The ergonomic ear tips attach to the lightweight flex-form neckband and wear with comfort so you won’t even know they are on, if not for the sound. Inline controls and a built in microphone are there for controlling iOS and Android devices.

They price friendly headset is available bright color choices of metallic blue, camo and cool white. Four sets of sized ear tips are includes along with a carrying case. $99

Gadgets :: July 18, 2018

by Gregg Ellman

Power, charging and charging on-the-go has been summed up nicely with Mophie’s new charge stream travel kit.

In many ways a charger is a charger, but the new kit keeps everything in one place to pick up and go or just reach into your backpack and have it all in one place in the 7.87-by-6.69-inches pouch.

The compact, pocket sized pouch has everything you need to connect your power hungry devices to a power source. It includes a 2.4A wall charger, a 2.4A car charger, and a 4.9-foot USB-A to microUSB cable and the all new charge stream pad mini.

The charge stream pad mini delivers 5w of wireless charging and is compatible with Apple, Samsung, and other Qi-enabled smartphones. Once you have the pad connected to a power source, just place your device on the pad for instant charging.

It has a rubberized non-slip grip from slips and scratches. You can even charge through some cases, typically up to 3 mm thick, according to Mophie.

After a recent trip with the kit, I found you can add a few extra cables inside the pouch, including a small portable USB battery, which came in handy several times.

Mophie sells the kit as a whole for $49.95, but if you just want the new charge stream pad mini, it can be purchased for $24.95.

It doesn’t require a plug, power, USB, firmware and it’s not even sold in electronic stores. But I still think the new Cave Tools stainless steel grill pan is a gadget worth having and telling you about.

Cave Tools has developed the pan the last few years and got it right, even though it’s pretty simple. They researched other grill matts and found many are made with teflon, which when heated to high grill temperatures, can release a toxic gas. Obviously that’s not a good thing to breathe or cook your food on.

On the press release announcing the product, they said directly “If you own a grill mat, then please take my advice and throw it out immediately!”

True or not, the new Cave Tool stainless steel grill pan is simply awesome. It measures 5.3-by-13-by-1-inches and will work for breakfast, lunch or dinner; from eggs, pancakes to gilled onions and peppers or any piece of meat.

One side of the flat surface is slotted to allow flavors to come up through and give excess grease a place to fall to the grill.

Cave tools includes 25 professional barbecue recipes, a free app and a lifetime guarantee on the pan or any product they sell. $17.99

A few months ago I reviewed the Rachio’s 3 smart sprinkler system, which I thought was great.

Rachio let me know that the wireless flow meter, an accessory for the smart home sprinkler system, is now available.

The flow meter helps prevent leaks and provides additional insights to your outdoor water use. This includes broken sprinkler heads, pipes and leaks. Since it’s a smart system, you’ll get a smartphone notification of the problem, hopefully allowing you to catch it before it gets worse.

With the new flow meter, when a problem is detected it will shut down your sprinkler system.

The Rachio 3 sprinkler controller system connects to your existing WiFi network to fully manage your lawn watering, An easy setup lets you determine watering days, how long each zone waters, scheduling (odd, even, every three days, etc.) or manually with a user-friendly app.

During the app setup, it automatically finds a local weather station, which determines the amount of rain in the area and whether watering is needed.

There’s a whole lot more to the Rachio system, which is even better with the flow meter.

The Gen 3 system is available in 8 zone ($329.99) or 16 zone ($379.99) models with the flow meter.

Gadgets :: June 27, 2018

by Gregg Ellman

You can say the recent release of the TwelveSouth AirFly is timed perfectly with the summer travel season upon us, or you can say anytime is perfect for that matter.

The wave of Bluetooth headsets work great with your smartphone or tablet, but connecting them to wired headphone ports is impossible. That’s why almost every airline has installed for in-flight entertainment. 

Now you connect the tiny AirFly to the 3.5 mm wired headphone jack with the included audio cable and pair is wirelessly to your handheld devices Bluetooth.

It works great with wireless earbuds, headphones and true wireless earbuds. I tried all three successfully. 

While it works great at 36,000 feet, there are still ways you can use it on the ground. Using a wireless headset with a TV was a challenge until I tried the AirFly, which solved that problem. Also connecting to audio systems at a gym is now a breeze to keep yourself from being tethered to a workout machine with an audio cable.

A built-in USB rechargeable battery will last for about 8 hours and works indefinitely if you have a power source plugged into it while in use. Besides the microUSB charging port and the 3.5 mm audio connection, the only other button is for pairing.

To pair, press the button on the AirFly for a few seconds and the pairing button on your headphones. There’s no display, app or anything to show that the connection is made, it just works. After the first time they are paired with your device, a connection is made whenever the AirFly is turned on and in range of each other.

It’s another gadget to carry around, but the AirFly measures only 1.8-by-.13-by-.39-inches and weighs just .55 ounces.  A travel pouch is included. Apple AirPod fans will like the comparison, which has it just a slightly smaller than the wireless earbud case.

One obvious reminder, remember to unplug it before getting off plane or leaving the gym. Otherwise, I’m pretty certain someone will be enjoying the wireless freedom. $39.99

Speaking of true wireless earbuds, another great set I tried is the Altec Lansing’s new True EVO Wireless Earbuds.

Aside from great sound and the wireless aspects (not even a wire connecting the two earbuds),  they are packed with features.

Most true wireless earbuds come with a hard storage case, which doubles as a charging case. This lets you charge them while they connected to a USB power source or just sitting in your pocket.  

Altec has added Qi wireless charging to the case, so just put the case on any Qi charger (not included) and it will charge the earbuds and the case cable free. You’ll get about four full charges, which takes three hours per charge out of the case, before it needs a charge itself.

Aside from being packed with these great features, we generally purchase audio equipment for the sound and these do not disappoint. The clarity and bass along with an affordable price make them ideal for any user.

Lawn work or exercising during the summer heat generates sweat, which isn’t a problem with the Altech EVO earbuds and it’s IPX6 water resistant rating.  One button Bluetooth pairing is simple and handsfree calls worked perfect.

Several sets of earths are included to ensure a proper and snug fit. $99.99

Gadgets :: June 20, 2018

by Gregg Ellman

The Royole Moon 3D Mobile Theater brings big screen movies right to your head. 

The headset has two full-HD 1080p Amoled displays with a resolution over 3000 ppi, which create an amazing theater effect right in front of your eyes. All this built into a front-facing display with a minus 7.0 diopter for nearsightedness and plus 2.0 for farsightedness.

The display emulates a giant curved screen with stereoscopic 3D. Moon wears like headphones in great comfort with padded ear cups broadcasting hi-fidelity sound with active noise-cancelling. 

A VR experience is what you want out of this device, and while I’m no expert in audio/video headsets, the experience I got was amazing and in great comfort.

On the Moon site, they state the goal of the headset is to “deliver a truly immersive, 3D movie watching or gaming experience that could be enjoyed anytime and anywhere,” which they absolutely did. What they didn’t say is how addicting they can become!

I’m sure gamers will love these, I tried them with a gangster movie and the effects were stunningly delivered in a cinematic experience on the adjustable virtual 800-inch screen for 3D or 2D viewing. All without lagging or ghosting. 

Content is accessed via WiFi, HDMI or you can store digital files in the 32GB of internal storage. A 6000mAh battery charges is 2 hours and is good for about 5 hours of video playback. They also have a foldable design, which are great when tucking them away to keep your mobile theater in a backpack.

While the price can be a little alarming, you must realize all you’re getting in one complete package. And obviously when you spend $799 on a headset, you want to know a lot more about it. The Moon site is really thorough on formats, sound and specs for everything you would need to know.

With every new purchase of a Royole Moon, consumers will be offered three SD, HD or 3D movies from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. available in choices of matte, gold with matte, and white with high-gloss finishes

Amped Wireless WiFi Smart Plug is as simple to use as any smart plug I’ve tried.

The plug has a single 120v grounded outlet and one USB charging port (5V/1.5A) built with an overload protection circuit breaker and surge protection. 

As for the smart home aspect, it connects to your existing WiFi (802.11 b/g/n) and after you download the free Amped app (iOS and Android) you can control up to 150 devices (according to the Amped site).

I tried it with some basic home lights and small kitchen appliances and it worked perfect. With the app, you can turn the plug on and off manually as you wish, or set up a schedule with specific times and days.

In my case, I had my coffee maker up and running during my wakeup time (which can spoil you very quickly) and I had a lamp turning on and off at specific times.  No matter what I tried, it worked perfect.

If you have multiple lights in different rooms you want going on or off at the same time, you can add multiple Amped WiFi Smart Plugs and just run the identical schedule with the app. The smart plug can also be paired to commands with Amazon Alexa.

The USB port is handy to charge smartphones and many other USB devices needed a boost of power.

The smart plug controls just one device at a time, but Amped also has a WiFi Smart Power Strip for controlling multiple devices. $69.99, priced at $19.99 at Amazon

V-Moda has announced the new Crossfade 2 Wireless Codex Edition, for those who seek professional-grade audio quality. The Bluetooth headphones feature three audio codecs for improved wireless audio quality and universal compatibility. 

The Crossfade 2 Wireless Codex Edition can be operated in wired mode, with the included V-Moda audio cable inserted into headphone jack, which switches off all electronics and achieves zero latency. 

A built-in hidden microphone is there for handsfree calls and a 1-button speakeasy cable for wired use is included. A rechargeable lithium-ion battery provides over 14 hours of continuous use.

For a limited time, V-MODA has a trade-in program available for customers who purchased the previous Crossfade versions. Those who purchased the first version can upgrade to the Codex Edition for just $100 when trading in a Crossfade 2 Wireless, or $150 when trading in the original Crossfade Wireless. $350 available matte black, matte white and rose gold.

Gadgets :: June 13, 2018

by Gregg Ellman

Many of us have boxes of negatives waiting for the day when we either buy a scanner to digitize them or take them to a retail location for them to scan. Either way, that day doesn’t seem to be coming, yet.

I can tell you that as a photojournalist for 30 plus years, I have an endless number of negatives ready and waiting. Getting to the project has been on my list since the digital era began 20 years ago. 

Most people are just looking for a way to get the images into a digital world, not to make billboards out of them. This week I found my solution with the Kodak Scanza digital film scanner.

The easy-to-use scanner comes with all the adapters and inserts to convert 126, 110, super 8 and 8 mm, 35 mm film negatives and slides to jpeg files.

A little about the scanner: it measures just 4.7-by-4.7-by-5-inches and has a fold out 3.5-inch LCD color display to clearly see the image you’re working on. 

Each image is scanned into optimized 14-megapixel or interpolated 22-megapixel digital files, which go directly onto an SD card.  When you’re done scanning, take the SD card and put it into your Mac or PC and work with your own photo editing software.

The scanner’s size  and the direct scan to memory cards enable great portability so you can do your scanning without being connected to your computer.

The scanner front has buttons for power and a one-touch one-step scan and save button, which makes it so easy.

You can make some image adjustments in the scanner for RGB levels and brightness levels. I personally liked how fast the image scanned and then did my adjustments on my desktop iMac with Photoshop.

A film cleaning brush, HDMI cables for viewing images on a TV, AC power adapter and a USB power cable are included. They all connect to the scanner on the back, which is where your SD memory card is inserted.

Before you begin your scanning, hopefully you’ll be able to locate a small light table and a film loupe just like I did to help the project. Note; my intention was to only scan in a few images; about 11 hours later I was still at it. It’s that easy, fun and productive.

The Kodak Scanza is available from its North American brand licensee, C+A Global for $169.99.

It’s a good time to mention an item I’ve written about in the past, Pine Mountain ExtremeStart Firestarters, which are ideal for a safe and simple way to get camp fires or fire pits started fast and safe.

The breakfast bar-sized packs are placed in the middle of where you want the fire started; light the outside pack and add some wood or charcoal. 

Next thing you know your fire will be going great, without any dangerous fire starting fluids. But obviously, with fire proper cautions should always be taken $5.99 for a box with 12 starters

Cave Tools has had a tremendous response to the launch of their BBQ Smoking & Cooking Journal App. In the first week more than 550 iPhone and 400 Android users download the app, which is free right now.

The app has features to keep details on you’re cooking recipes and allow you to share the step by step directions you followed to prepare your perfect meat.

There’s also wood smoking and internal meat temperature guides, which provide all the reference information you need to prevent overcooking or oversmoking your food.

One feature that caught my attention right away on the clean and simple designed app was its ad-free and no annoying push notifications.

Gadgets :: June 6, 2018

by Gregg Ellman


You’re on the clock for Fathers Day shopping, check the calendar, it’s only a few weeks away. To avoid panic shopping and buying dad a gift he won’t want but is afraid to insult you and return it, here’s my list of cool and useful choices.

DeWALT’s Flexvolt 60V Max 2.5 Gallon Cordless Air Compressor is part of the DeWALT  Flexvolt line, designed to give you the power of a corded tool but untethered from a wall outlet. What this means is the compressor (21.5-pounds without a battery) is powered by a rechargeable 6.0Ah battery, good for up to 1,220 nails for a floor, baseboard or anything of his choice on a single charge. The compressor has an oil-free pump and a single regulator for pressure adjustments, compared to two in many others. Just turn a knob to get your desired PSI. It’s built in a roll cage for durability with rubber feet.  The maximum tank pressure is 135 PSI.  $299, the Flexvolt Cordless Air Compressor comes with one 6.0Ah battery and a fast charger for $299

I can see how the myFlipShade comes in handy for every dad who has a smartphone. The pop-up shade is portable and attaches on in seconds to help shield the sun (or rain) in broad daylight, making it simple to read the LCD without hiding the the sun or finding a shady location. And if it’s not sunny or raining, you can use the shade for some privacy from those never ending prying eyes at home, banks or those close airline seats. The thin profile myFlipShade slides on top of a smartphone and attaches with an  adhesive strip. When not in use, just tuck it behind the phone or use it as a stand for handsfree watching. $9.99 at Amazon and Target

Grill. Melt. Eat. Repeat. Thats the theme of the Party Grill, which should get repeated over and over and over. It’s designed for simple and continuous use so the party continues while the grilling goes on. How often do people want to eat at different times? Put the grill right in the middle of the table and guests can grill at will. The electric and smokeless tabletop grill is ideal for cooking and entertaining inside or out. On the top you can cook your meat, potatoes, veggies and sauces; cheese and other sides can be headed up on the bottom side in non-stick trays. $99, includes reversible grill top, 8 non-stick pans and 8 scrapers

When I was younger and my dad got a bug zapper he made sure we all knew when a one got zapped. If your dad’s the same, he must have the Stinger On-the-Go Insect Zapper, which has 400 square feet of zapping coverage. It can be powered by AC or four AA batteries (neither included) or go really portable with the internal battery, which has a USB charge good for three hours. With a weight under 2 pounds and a 10-inch height, the lantern looking zapper is great to use anywhere at home, lakeside or any buggy summer activity. Inside the zapper is a black UV light to attract flying insects, which are greeted by Stinger’s slow release NOsquito Mosquito Octenol replacement lure, which includes 735 mg of octenol. The lure should be replaced every 30 days. The zapper is made with weather-proof plastic, clog-free design and two operating modes; zapping or ambient light., $19.99 for the zapper, replacement bulbs $9.99, 

replacement lure $6.99

The myCharge’s home and go portable battery is small (5.6-by-2.78-by-0.62-inches, 0.68-pounds) and simple but useful 24/7/365 for dad to charge his cell phone, gaming unit, tablet or any other portable USB gadget on-the-go. With 8000 mAh of power, it will extend the life on most devices several times. A pair of USB ports lets you plug in your cables to charge two devices at once. It’s built with fold-out wall prongs to charge in any standard AC wall outlet, while also working as a charger while recharging itself. Four-light LED battery indicator are on the battery so you see how much power is left. $49.99

Sennheiser’s new CX SPORT in-ear Bluetooth headphones will help dad turn the world off while he sits poolside, mows the laws or a while working out since they are splash- and sweat-resistance. Along with the great sound, the features packed into the portable are endless. For comfort, you got four sizes of ear adapters along with three fin sizes. This will ensure you get a comfortable and secure fit to keep the sound in your ears but block out unwanted outside noise. An inline mic and controls handle calls and music selections. The internal battery charges in 10 minutes for an hour of sounds and fully changes in 1.5 hours for six hours of sound. You can also connect the CX SPORT to two devices simultaneously to hear the wireless (Bluetooth 4.2) Hi-Fi sound. $129.95

Gadgets :: May 30, 2018

by Gregg Ellman

When I was told about the product Norshire, a multi-functional portable gadget that can even wash your car, I didn’t believe it. But I believe it now.

The 4-in-1 kit also has a power bank, jump starts your car and has a warning sign system.

The Norshire system main piece of hardware, which is essentially the control center, measures 9.5-inches round by 2.75-inches deep and weighs around 3 pounds so it’s portable and compact to keep tucked away in your trunk or under a seat. 

A power button is on the side with USB ports and a USB connection for charging the Norshire itself with the included cable and AC connection. It’s made of ABS material and resistant to shock and high temperature, according to a recent company press release. 

The warning system is something you think you’ll never need, until you need it. On the back there’s a reflective triangle, which you can stand up sideways to alert oncoming motorists during a roadside emergency.

Inside the Norshire is a built-in 11000mAh lithium battery power bank, which in this day and age, has an endless amount of uses. With its pair of built-in USB ports you can power smartphones, tablets, computers, cameras or most any portable USB charging device. If you have portable emergency lights (not included) with you during a breakdown, they can be plugged in to assist your safety during a roadside emergency.

The 11000mAh should be enough to charge a smart phone several times and a digital camera at the same with, with more than enough power left to do it again. Using it during a camping trip will let you power up some portable cooking devices, fans and sound systems.

A set of jump starter clamps, with a 9-inch cable is also included. The clamps have a connection on the other end of the cable to plug right into the 12V connection on the Norshire battery.  

When you connect the cable to the battery, you’ll notice one of the connections is round and the other has a flat side, which ensures you can’t connect them wrong. Once the cables are connected, place the battery close by and you’re set up to jump start your car from home or any location where your car battery fails you. 

Fortunately, I didn’t have a dead car battery (I know I’m jinxing myself) to test this, but I’ve tried other portable battery systems, so I have no reason to believe this one won’t work just as well.

The car wash system is what I loved about it and really makes this gadget unique. Accessories included to make this happen is a washer gun, hose attachments and a foaming bottle. It’s obvious how you connect everything but to be safe, follow the directions to ensure it’s correct. The whole setup takes about a minute.

Assuming you have the battery fully charged, you can wash away for up to an hour.

Some features of the car wash system: the washer gun has three presets – spray brush, spray gun and high-pressure mode, which make it helpful depending on what part needs the cleaning. Obviously you need some water and a bucket (not included) to work with the Norshire setup.

The cleaning system isn’t limited to your car. Windows or outside furniture are among endless dirty suspects you can clean up. Lets just say my patio furniture hasn’t look as clean since the day it was purchased.

Remember, just like any other portable electronics device, the key to the system is keeping the Norshire charged, which can take a few hours with a battery this powerful. $99

I’ve been a big fan of Honeywell Lyric home security cameras because they are simple to set up and work well.  Now they got even better and easier to use with a newly updated app.

If you have your smartphone set to auto update the app is probably already updated, otherwise go to the app store and you’ll see it there. The new and free Honeywell Home app replaces the Lyric app with a new looks and easy control of your security system.

The app controls Honeywells smart home devices including cameras, thermostats and water leak detectors.

New to the app is the Honeywell Membership, which lets customers choose from two video storage plans for their Lyric C1, C2 cameras, which can be added to the free 24 hour storage already provided for up to 50 clips.

The new plans include the standard plan for $4.99 per month for 1 camera and up to 1500 clips, the premium plan is $14.99 for 60 days for multiple cameras and up to 3000 clips. 

Overall, the app has a user friendly interface, with button and controls very easy to understand. 

Gadgets :: May 1, 2018

Logitech’s MX Ergo is a perfect choice for a wireless trackball mouse. And if you’ve never used a trackball mouse, you need to; don’t be intimidated by its appearance. 

The ergonomic mouse comfortably sits in your hand, which Logitech states delivers 20 percent less muscular strain than a regular mouse.

To help achieve the comfort, the MX Ergo is build with an adjustable hinge for personalization. This includes getting the right angle between zero and 20 degrees. You might not think a mouse with adjustments is necessary, but after you use it for a few minutes, you’ll see the advantages. Or more accurately, you’ll feel the advantages.

A trackball mouse has all the features you expect from a mouse, including left and right clicks, smooth scrolling and rolling trackball mounted into the frame. With Logitech options settings, you can customize buttons for an even greater personalization. 

Inside is a rechargeable battery rated for four mounts of use before a USB charge is needed.

Logitech’s Flow technology even allows for multi-computer workflow, so you can have the mouse connected to a pair of devices simultaneously. You can even copy and paste between connected devices.

For wireless connectivity you have a choice between Bluetooth or through the included Logitech Unifying receiver. $99.99

I’ve seen many gadget companies over the years who love to inaccurately include the words All-in-1 in the title of products. But when it’s used and it works, they have a winner. Such is the case with DE World’s Grip All-In-1 phone mount.

I can say that because I’ve used it on land, water and air, taking it for a test drive on a recent flight attached to my seat tray and my rental car’s dashboard and window. A few days later I even had it on my boat’s dashboard, which I didn’t use for phone calls, but did give me great access for controlling my music.

The mount is universal, so it securely holds most smartphones with a fully padded holster and allows for full access to the front facing LCD and button controls. A suction cup holds the phone in place and is easily released without damaging the surface. You can have a smartphone angled vertical or horizontal.

With the Grip All-in-1, you can angle it in most any direction with ease, using the locking ball head. The arm extends from 4.9 inches to 8.3-inches and gives you a 225-degree pivot.

In addition to the suction mount,  the versatile system includes a dashboard grip-pad, vent mount, 3M adhesive mount and even a CD slot mount. The latter of which gives you 360-degree rotation. $29.99

Adaptive Sound Technologies Inc.’s LectroFan Kinder Bedtime Buddy is a smartphone- controlled sleeping device designed to produce sounds for a smooth sleeping environment for children.

The palm-sized device is designed to help create perfect sleeping habits at an early age with the help of today’s technology.

Setting it up and controlling it is simple. Just put it into an AC wall outlet and download the free app (iOS and Android), which lets you control of 75 white noise sounds, soft night lights, volume and fan settings. Everything can be left on or use the timer to turn it off. 

With the app you can choose the night light shade from a rainbow of colors you’ll see glow on a top side LCD. Adaptive was creative in naming some of the sounds, including ball game, coffee shop and ocean cruise.

There’s no need for WiFi;  pairing is done when you open up the app and then you’ll have a 50-foot range. $59.93

Gadgets :: April 18, 2018

by Gregg Ellman

I’ve been brushing my teeth this week with the Swedish made Foreo ISSA 2, which the company touts as the world’s first silicone sonic toothbrush.

It takes only an hour to charge, which is said to last for up to 365 uses before another USB charge is needed. Obviously I haven’t used it that long, but after a few weeks it’s running just fine.

I never knew specifications on electric toothbrushes, until now. The ISSA 2 supplies your teeth with 11,000 high-intensity pulsations per minute, incorporating T-Sonic technology to create micro-sweeps to effectively clean teeth and gums. That helps resist the buildup of bacteria for up to 10,000x less bacteria than nylon-bristled toothbrushes, according to Foreo.

The soft and flexible, quick-drying bristles are made with medical-grade silicone, which separates from the ergonomic handle easily for cleaning.

Other features include a timer, 16 variable speeds and the head, which should last for 6 months,

My interpretation, at first the feeling, was a little different compared with the electric toothbrush I’ve been using for years. After a few days it starts to feel normal and works great.

The incredible battery life not necessary for home use but makes it perfect for traveling. Power is controlled by a recessed button, which really can’t be activated accidentally. $169, replacement brushes $24.90. Available in blue, mint, pink and black

Cable and satellite boxes often keep us from rearranging a room and in particular the location of a TV since it has to be connected to the box.

The Blackweb Wireless HD Video kit is a different type of cable cutter to help in situations like this or just to control cable clutter by sending uncompressed HD signals to your HDTV or projector.

Setting it up is pretty straightforward and virtually plug-and-play with the quick start guide. The initial setup has you connecting your media sources (cable, satellite, DVD, gaming, etc.) to the wireless sender. Up to three different HDMI sources can be connected.

When everything is connected the signal goes from the sender to the wireless receiver (6.5-by-5.5-by-1.3-inches each), which is connected to the TV.

An HD signal up to 1080P is supported up to 125 feet away, through walls, TV cabinets, etc. I had it set up in different rooms, and walls were not an issue.

I didn’t try this with a projector, but using it with one would be a great benefit, enabling the projector to broadcast wirelessly at home or in a conference room.

Along with the sender and receivers, AC power adapters, 3-device HD switch, cables and a remote are included. $89

A new free app, HDTV Tower Finder by Winegard Company, is designed to assist cord cutters in finding the best antenna placement to receive the most free channels in your area.

With the app, along with your smartphone’s camera, GPS, and compass, it will find the most suitable spot for an over-the-air antenna and what stations you’ll receive with that location.

According to a company spokesperson, the “new app simplifies the HDTV antenna setup for users and also makes it easier to find the best positioning to receive the most channels and avoid any obstructions.”

The first thing the app does is prompt the user to choose the Antenna Pointer feature and opens into a top-down map that highlights the locations of all HDTV TV towers closest to an address or a GPS signal. Your smartphone’s camera can be used to assist in finding the desired tower location and best angle to point the antenna.

The app will display a number above each tower it locates, indication how many channels are available. You’ll also see any potential signal obstructions between you and the tower.

Gadgets :: April 11, 2018

by Gregg Ellman

One of the more common questions I’m asked is about choosing earbuds and speakers. My response is that I’m far from a sound expert but one of the main features you should look for is simply what sounds good. When it’s right to your ears, you’ll know.

When I listened to the Etymotic Research ER4XR extended response earbuds, I knew they were right. The sound is awesome and there are additional features making them even more attractive.

The ER4XR earbuds sound great out of the box. The crystal-clear sound with a nice bass boost was perfect for listening to my preferred favorites of a 70’s mix and then a Jimmy Buffet concert.

They are a noise-excluding in-ear earphone, delivering sound with precise accuracy, just as sound should be.

When I received my pair of ER4XR’s for review, the first thing I noticed was the earbud tips. Not only are they different from mainstream-looking earbuds but the choices they came with made me read a little about them. One set was foam tips, which to me sounded and fit perfect.

With 25 years of making earbuds, the company proudly touts that they have the first earphones to completely seal the ear with 98 percent (35 dB – 42 dB) noise isolation, the highest of any earphones or headsets on the market, according to the Etymotic website.

They come with an assortment of eartips so take time to get the right fit for the right sound in your ears. Each style has a different fit, so give each a chance. Don’t just put them in and listen for a few seconds – take a few songs at least.

For sound techies, according to Etymotic, the ER4XR’s have ‘’unsurpassed frequency response accuracy and sound quality — 92 percent+ response accuracy from 20 Hz – 16 kHz and the only earphones with balanced-armature, precision-matched, custom-tuned drivers. With an industry-leading 1-dB match between left and right channels across frequency with individual channel-matching performance charts provided with each pair of earphones.’’

This was also the first time I tested earbuds with user-replaceable filters, which lets you protect the earbuds from ear wax. A filter removal tool and replacement filters are included.

A hard neoprene case is included to store everything, along with a detachable, 5-foot cord and a 3.5 mm gold plated stereo plug.

The body of the drivers are made with machined metal and an anodized finish. Each speaker is attached to a durable wound-wire tangle-free cable. $349

Another great sound machine, the black box Solis SO-7000 Bluetooth/Wi-Fi wireless stereo smart speaker with Chromecast built-in also rocked my playlists.

Obviously with that, you stream music wirelessly with Bluetooth or Google Home app. And with the Google Chromecast streaming media player, you can play audio from a variety of services (Spotify, Google Play Music, and Pandora) connected to your existing WiFi.

I mainly used the Bluetooth, which worked and sounded perfect. The AC powered speaker is 7.9-by-7.9-by-7.9-inches so it can be positioned on most any flat surface. It’s built into a black wooden cabinet with mesh grill wrap covering the mid-section and high gloss black accent pane finish on the rest.

Inside is a 5.25-inch subwoofer and four 2-inch full range drivers. This adds up to room filling 360-degree crystal clear sound at any volume.

With the subwoofer supplying the bass, I was concerned about it rattling a tabletop if I played it from there so I tested it just that way and it worked just right.

However, I found the sound filled the room better when I kept it playing on the floor, which also kept the power adapter out of the way.

If you don’t want to stream wirelessly, there’s a 3.5 mm aux port (cable included) and top-mounted control buttons are easy to access if you don’t control it through your device or app. $299