Archive for January 2013

Gadgets:: Keeping your iPhone alarmed and ready

By GREGG ELLMAN
Twitter.com/greggellman

Kensington ProximoKensington’s Proximo Fob and Tag Kit creates a wireless (Bluetooth) monitoring system between your keys, accessories and an iPhone (4S or 5) that will alert you if they are separated.

I tried the starter kit ($59.99), which includes a Fob, Tag, keyring and has a screen driver to open the hardware and insert the included CR2032 lithium coin batteries, along with a keyring.

The Fob attaches to the included keyring and after you have it linked with the free Kensington Proximo app (with a very easy setup), anytime the devices are separated an alarm sounds. If your phone is within range but you can’t seem to find it, press a button and it will.

It’s easy to think of this as a monitoring device for your expensive smartphone but it also works in reverse once everything is linked up. With your phone in your pocket or purse, it can alert you that you have left your keys behind.

Within the app, you can set the sensitivity and a specific sound to allow you to control how far you are separated from your device before the alarm goes off.

The Tags look like the Fob and can be placed in a computer bag or attached to anything (or anyone) that you want alarmed. But unlike the Fob, it’s only one direction; the app will find it but you can’t use it to find your phone.

The Proximo App Dashboard tracks up to five items with a single Fob and up to four Tags. Additional Tags cost $24.99 each.

A battery meter on the dashboard will alert you of a low battery needing replacement in any of the devices, which should be about every six months.

If somehow you get out of range between the devices, an app lets you tap a button to let you know where your device was last seen and even pulls up a map with a specific address.

Even if your phone is on a silent mode, when the alarm is activated, you’ll hear it.

www.Kensington.com

Auvio expanding speakerRadioShack’s Auvio expanding Bluetooth speaker ($39.99) is as simple as a gadget can be but it’s one of those things you won’t stop using.

Just twist open the speaker, pair it with your device via Bluetooth and you’ll be amazed at how much better the sound is than the built-in speaker on your smartphone or tablet.

It’s not room-filling sound, but great for an office or, especially in my case, having some sound to play satellite radio while stuck in hotel rooms.

A rechargeable battery is built in for up to eight hours of use and can be powered up in two hours with a USB charge using the included cable.

It is 2.5 inches in diameter, just over 3-inches long when expanded and about 2.5-inches when closed.

Another choice, with a bigger size (2.8 x 6.5 x 2.9-inches) but much better sound is the the brick shaped  Auvio Portable Speaker ($79.99).

It’s also Bluetooth and works as a hands-free speakerphone and runs on a built-in rechargeable battery.

Both speakers have aux-in ports to connect to non-Bluetooth devices.

www.radioshack.com

Swiss Army JetsetterThe Victorinox Swiss Army Jetsetter looks like a tradition pocket knife the company is famous for but instead of the knife you get a pocket full of storage.

A foldout and detachable USB 2.0 flash drive is among the features in the mini tool kit, which includes a ball point pen, bottle opener, phillips screwdriver, tweezers and scissors in the 16 GB model I tested out.

The detachable flash drive is Windows and Mac friendly, although it comes pre-loaded with Mac-friendly security software to protect your data stored on the device.

This lets you secure your data with passwords and even web brows without leaving any cookies or history behind.

It’s available in capacities of 8 GB black ($39.95), 16 GB red ($49.99) and 32 GB silver ($99.99). There are a few different features in each, with the 32 GB model having a LED mini light for example.

www.swissarmy.com

Roundup of gadget picks from CES 2013

By GREGG ELLMAN
Twitter.com/greggellman

PocketCell DuoCleaning out a notebook from last week’s Consumer Electronics Show, or CES, is an near impossible and endless task, but here are a few items I either used all week to get me through the show or caught my attention as cool everyday items. Here’s a roundup:

The Innergie PocketCell Duo, did an amazing job at keeping my iPhone and iPad powered up all week while I was away from wall outlet charging.

It’s a pocket sized charger, measuring just 3.75-by-1.75 inches and 1-inch deep – 40 percent smaller than a typical eyeglass case – so it’s easy to carry in any pocket.

The device is a rechargeable battery with 6,800 mAh of power and pair of USB ports in the side, which attaches to most any portable electronic gadget for charging. This includes the power-hungry tablets, which require 2.1 Amp USB ports for charging.

Five LED power level indicators along with a power/charge activation button also are built into the side of the battery.

Included is the Innergie Magic Cable Trio, which has an integrated 3-in-1 Apple 30-pin, Micro and Mini USB connectors in a single cable. The battery also works with the USB cable, which comes with virtually every gadget.

The powerful 6,800 mAh are good for charging a smartphone four times or giving a tablet a full single charge.

The PocketCell Duo is charged up itself via USB and is certified for use with Apple devices including those with the new Lightning connection along with Android tablets and smartphones.

Details: www.myinnergie.com $99.99 available in March, the Innergie Lightning Tip will be available in early April.

SOLAR GENERATOR AS EMERGENCY BACKUP POWER, CAMPING

Goal Zero Yeti 150Goal Zero, the world’s largest manufacturer of portable solar products, launched the Goal Zero Yeti 150 Solar Generator.

It weighs 12 pounds, measures 7.75-by-5.75-by-6.75 inches and has a 150-watt battery for powering lights and laptops via the built-in AC, 12V and USB ports.

The 15W Bolder 15 Solar Panel can fully charge it up in 15 hours of sunlight.

Details: www.goalzero.com $359.99 and available in the spring

FOLLOW YOUR LUGGAGE WITH TRAKDOT

Trakdot Luggage trackerAir travelers will love the pocket sized Trakdot Luggage tracker.

All you do is put it in your checked bag and then you can follow its whereabouts in real time on your mobile devices.

Once the tracker is registered on the Trakdot website and placed inside a checked bag, it sends out a text or email alerting the owner of its location. The location also can be followed on Trakdot.com with the free Trakdot Luggage app.

Details: www.trakdot.com available in March for $49.95, with an activation fee of $8.99 and an annual service fee of $12.99.

IHOME BAG KEEPS EVERYTHING IN ITS PLACE

iHome Smart BriefThe iHome Smart Brief shoulder bag is as gadget and as organization-friendly as I’ve seen.

Like everything else the company makes, it’s Apple compatible and designed with what seems like an endless number of pockets for chargers, cables and accessories along with a laptop and iPad.

Your laptop is kept in a separate compartment, which zippers open, enabling it to be airport security friendly.

A shoulder strap is included, or use the handles for carrying the stylish two-tone nylon, slim profile bag.

Details: www.ihomecases.com $99.99

CORDCRUNCHER JOINS FORCES WITH IHOME

iHome CordCruncherThe CordCruncher ($24.99) came out last year but since it caught my attention then, it’s worth nothing they have added a new color to catch your attention; neon green along with a new partner in iHome.

The tangle free earbuds are attached to a cord, which is encased in an elastic sleeve. But the cool thing is that stretches from 16 inches to 3.5 feet and stays tangle-free the whole time.

After you put the speakers in your ears and the 3.5mm headphone port into your device just stretch them out to extend the earbuds out of the sleeve. To retract them you just hold both ends of the sleeve extended and the headphone wire shoots into the sleeve.

Then you can roll it up in a ball and you’re all set for the next time you want to use them.

CordCruncher also announced they have partnered with iHome to combine their new iB10 headphones ($19.99) with CordCruncher technology.

Details: www.cordcruncher.com

SCOSCHE GOES WIRELESS WITH BLUETOOTH

Scosche RH1060Scosche’s new RH1060 Reference Grade Bluetooth Headphones will feature the company’s proprietary design, which utilizes 40mm drivers made from rare-earth neodymium magnets and precision wound copper voice coiling to create an incredibly accurate musical reproduction.

The Bluetooth technology will get you a wireless range of up to 33 feet and the headphones have controls to change tracks, adjust volume and play/pause from the controls on the right speaker,

There’s also a built-in mic for voice control or hands-free calling. A built-in rechargeable lithium ion battery provides up to 9 hours of continuous audio streaming.

Details: http://www.scosche.com $199.99 available in the spring

COBY GOES BLUETOOTH FOR HOME SPEAKER SYSTEMS

Coby CSBT85In response to the demand for wireless Bluetooth devices, Coby Electronics has announced a few contemporary looking speaker systems.

The Coby CSMP92 is a 39-inch slim, wall-mountable sound bar with Bluetooth technology as well as ports for a wired connection.

It’s designed as space-saving unit or as a tabletop speaker with preset sound modes including standard, music, cinema, news and vocal.

LES indicators, aux line-in, along with optical audio input and RCA input are built into the speaker.

Also hitting the shelves later this year is the Coby CSBT85 ezPair full-sized speaker system with Bluetooth.

It has a built-in sub-woofer and is designed to dock and charge most smartphones and tablets. The sound is great and it even looks great.

It’s built with what Coby calls a universal docking slot for any device and a 3.5mm port lets you connect other devices for playing.

Details: www.cobyusa.com $99.99 for the sound bar, $79.99 for the ezPair

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

Gadgets: Amplifier is a simple add-on to iPhone 4/4s speaker

By GREGG ELLMAN — Twitter.com/greggellman

TempoWhen I attached the Tempo Acoustic Amplifier to my wife’s iPhone4 I got the roll of the eyes.

The battery-free accessory attaches to the bottom of the phone to amplify sound coming from the device’s internal speaker.

After she heard it in use, her skepticism quickly changed to “that’s pretty amazing for a piece of plastic.”

Actually, it’s a durable light weight silicone, built to look like a phonograph and redirect your sound.

It has some stretch to it, allowing it to be used with many cases still attached in horizontal or vertical positions.

It’s hard to say exactly how much of an increase of volume you get but the sound now is directed downward from your device can be sent in any direction with much clearer results.

An opening for a dock connection is built in the bottom.

While it’s made for the iPhone 4/4s, it will fit on other smartphone as it did with my iPhone 5 but the company currently no plans for iPhone 5 or other smartphones versions.

www.subjekt.com $9.99 available in black, purple, red or white.

iLuv refThe new iLuv ReF headphones are promoted with the Fashionology, precise treble and Dynamic Bass,  which are accurate promotions any user will hear after using the headphones.

An all-fabric canvas covers the padded ear cups and headband, which collapses for ultra-portability.

Since headphones are a fashion statement for many these days, those getting ReF’s can brag that the ear cups are made with Korean protein leather (for what that’s worth).

As for the sound, the baboom you get from the bass is great, making them a great choice considering the under-$100 price point.

They are available in two options. I tested the  Apple-approved model, with the in-line remote controlling volume, changing your music choices or just giving a handsfree cell option with the SpeakEZ remote on a tangle preventing 4-foot braided fabric cord.

The other model is smartphone-compatible for all the others.  Both are available for $99.99 in choices of black, navy, red or white.

www.iLuv.com

NYNE NB-230A bigger option for sound is the NYNE NB-230 Bluetooth desktop speaker.

Since it’s built with Bluetooth, you can place it anywhere within range of the music source or as the company’s press releases states, just taking to the pool or beach.

A built-in carrying handle hides in the side unless you want to carry it (13.38 x 6.23 x 5.12-inches) in a shoulder carrying boom-box style.

The volume and other controls, including the option for using it as a speaker phone with advanced noise-cancellation, are built on the front and a 3.5mm line-in port is on the back.

After you pair a device with it, there’s not much else to do besides hearing the great sound coming from a pair of full-range speaker.

It’s AC powered with the included adapter or you can purchase 6 C Batteries separately to take it on the go for up to five hours of sound.

http://www.nyne.com $149.95

Griffin LightningHaving an extra charging cable for an iPhone 5 or any of the newer iPads just got a little easier.

Griffin Technology is one of the first tech companies out with a full line of lightning connection (Apple’s new 8-pin dock connection) USB cables.

They range in sizes from 2-feet to about 10-feet and come in coiled and straight versions.

The stronger coiled version ($29.99) is s space saver since it’s only a foot long but stretches to almost 10-feet, while the others are 2- and 3-foot straight cables ($16.99, $18.99).

Last month the company launched a standard 12-volt outlet to use in your car;s charging port.

www.griffintechnology.com $22.99

2012 Gadget of the Year is a handheld projector for your iOS device

By GREGG ELLMAN — Twitter.com/greggellman
ipico

Back in August I felt like the General Imaging ipico hand-held projector for the Apple  iPhone or iPod touch was a strong candidate for my gadget of the year and after the judging last week, the results are in: it is indeed my 2012 gadget of the year.

The setup is simple; open the box, fold out the Apple 30-pin connecter (it’s Apple certified) and slide on your device.

I hooked it up to my iPhone without even glancing at the directions, which is one of my main criteria for any electronic gadget _ that it’s simple to work.

It’s cable-free, handheld, pocket-sized (4.25 x 1.75 x .5-inches), lightweight (just over 3 ounces) and has a rechargeable Li-polymer battery (3.7V 1500mAh), good for about 90 minutes of use before a USB charge is needed.

It broadcasts with a resolution of 960 x 540 pixels and, depending on the amount of light in the room where it’s being used, can project up to 50 feet. The bulb can be changed but has a lifespan of more then 3,000 hours.

The free ipico app is available at iTunes to add functionality with playing movies, slide shows, Facebook or YouTube videos with just the touch of an icon within the app

It’s simple, cool and you need one, but it’s also worth noting that while the hand-held projector is advertised to work with the iPhone or iPod touch, I gave it a try with my iPad and it worked just fine.

http://beabigshowoff.com $119.95

iHome iW3The new iHome iW3 wireless stereo speaker with AirPlay broadcasts audio wirelessly from an Apple iOS devices including iPhones, iPad or iPod touch.

AirPlay is a technology that’s built into Apple iOS devices, which allows users to send audio to any speaker built with AirPlay over a wireless network.

The iW3 works on Wi-Fi (802.11b and 802.11g) to connect to any Mac or PC iTunes library or any Apple iOS device to stream the audio.

Setup is simple: on your device just select your network, plug in your device with your own USB cable and you’ll instantly get a message with simple setup instructions.

To take it a step further, download and install the free iHome connection apps from iTunes to rename the speakers, making it simple to choose the right speaker if you have multiple choices.

Inside are four active speakers (2 active and 2 passive) in Reson8 speaker chambers. SRS TrusBass technology, which delivers an amazingly clear sound with deep and powerful bass.

A Rechargeable Lithium-ion battery powers the speaker, which looks like a mini-tower and measures just 4.61 x 9.38 x 4.61-inches so its easy to place it on any flat surface

If you don’t want a wireless connection, wired choices of USB and a 3.5mm Aux-in port are on the back.

www.ihomeaudio.com $199

SnapBoxSnapBox transforms your Instagram photos into framed artwork in a simple process, all for less than $10.

The process was simple to follow; I just opened my Instagram account, selected the photos I wanted framed (three in this case) and emailed them to SnapBox.

Just minutes later I go an email with a mockup of my order. I clicked on it and chose the size I wanted from choices of 5×7, 8×10, 10×13-inches or square sizes of  9×9  or 5×5.

Filters with choices of black & white, sepia, storm, sunkissed, classic, lomo and vintage can be added with the click of a mouse.

Prices range from $9.79 for the 5×5 or 5×7 prints, up to $24.49 for the 10×13-inch print.

They arrived in the mail in less than a week but you can avoid shipping charges by having them delivered free to locations such as CVS/pharmacy.

Each framed print is a gallery-wrapped stretched canvas print mounted on a 1 3/4-inch wood baked black enamel frame, which can sit on any flat surface but is hanging-ready.

https://snapboxez.com

ECOXPOWERThe ECOXPOWER from ECOXGEAR is a bike pedal-powered headlight that simultaneously charges your smartphone while on a ride.

It attaches to the bike frame or handlebars with the included mount and shines a bright LED headlight along with a red rear taillight.

While you pedal, a clutch engages between the tire’s spokes to produce power for it’s generator, which has a lithium ion rechargeable inside. The generator powers the lights and charges your smartphone.

A USB cable is included to run up the frame from the generator to the water-resistant smart phone case, which you mount on the handlebar.

The case is touchscreen sensitive and holds iPhones, Androids and handheld GPS units.

www.ECOXGEAR.com $88.99

Gadgets:: Time on water

GREGG ELLMAN — Twitter.com/greggellman

Bedol Water Alarm ClockIn the portable electronic world, stocking stuffers are easy to find. Here are some  for those last-minute holiday gifts on everyone’s list.

Aside from telling time, the eco-friendly Bedol Water Clock is a portable alarm that is also waterproof in the event you feel like standing in a rain storm or showering with it.

It’s battery free so all you do to keep the clock running indefinitely is just fill it with water.

A natural chemical reaction between two of its internal metallic plates generate enough power to keep it running indefinitely.

www.bedolwhatsnext.com $17

Logitech BroadcasterLogitech’s Apple-friendly Broadcaster Wi-Fi webcam is great for online chatting and its wireless functionality makes it a great companion as a second angled video camera beyond what your computer, iPhone or iPad’s camera will do.

The camera has an internal battery, which is charged via USB for 2 hours of life and has a built-in mono microphone along with a port to add an external mic.

Video is captured in HD 720p and can be moved to any angle since it’s wireless.

Logitech has designed the camera to let users press a button to switch to the camera, giving your chatting partner a different angle.

The Broadcaster ($199.99) works with Mac video applications including QuickTime, Photo Booth, iMovie, Final Cut Pro or chatting with FaceTime, iChat or Skype.

Logitech also has a few cool high tech-looking Windows 8 friendly mice with the t400 and t620.

The Logitech Zone Touch Mouse t400 ($39) has the functionality of a traditional mouse along with a touch strip to support horizontal and vertical scrolling.

Just click on the top of the touch zone for instant access the Windows 8 Start Screen and clicking on the bottom of the touch zone will scroll you through all your open applications.

The Touch Mouse t620 ($49) features a full touch surface letting you scroll horizontally and vertically from anywhere on the mouse, and to access the Windows 8 start screen you just swipe the edges of the mouse.

www.Logitech.com

iFrogz EarPollutioniFrogz EarPollution Plugz with Mic noise isolating earbuds are as simple as they get and work just fine.

You get three different-sized ear pieces to get the right fit along with an in-line microphone for cell phone use and most any portable electronic device.

The sound is decent and it makes a great handsfree choice.

www.iFrogz.com $9.99 – in a big selection of colors.

Bracketron, Universal USB Travel Power Kit ($26) includes an Apple 30-pin and Micro USB connections 3-foot cable for charging just about any device on the go.

The cable can be connected to a computer or the included USB AC adapter for 2.1 Amp charging, which includes power hungry tablets.

A 12V car charging USB adapter is also included.

Bracketron MetalDockBracketrons, MetalDock ($18.91) is a contemporary-looking charging dock for the iPhone 4/4S, built with heavy-duty metal construction resulting in a lightweight and portable design.

It connects to any USB port for charging/syncing with its embedded 3-foot cable and works in landscape or portrait modes.

A company representative has emailed me that everything on the Bracketron site December 12-17 will be 40 percent off!

www.Bracketron.com

Gadgets:: Cool new stuff

By GREGG ELLMAN — Twitter.com/greggellman

Coby CSMP95The best part about the Colby CSMP95 Soundbar speaker system should be the great room-filling sound it puts out.

But after connecting and hearing it, you’ll be equally impressed with the easy the setup and the great low price.

The amplified soundbar comes with a wireless subwoofer to extend the sound from your TV.

You have a few different connection options (cables included) for the plug-and-play speaker but the 40W Subwoofer is wireless (2.4GHz) so it can be placed anywhere in the room.

Front-facing 20W speakers broadcast the sound from the slim constructed Soundbar, which has four presets for different sound modes.

It has a high-gloss piano lacquer finish and front-facing LED indicators.

Volume controls and your sound source are also front facing with the connections on the back.

The CSMP95 is only 2.17-inches thick, so it’s thin enough to be wall-mounted  with the included brackets to complement any wall-mounted TV.

A remote control is included.

www.cobyusa.com $112.85

G-RAID ThunderboltG-Technology’s G-RAID hard drive is now available with a Thunderbolt connection to give you one of some of fastest data transfer speeds available.

After using the drive on my new Mac MIni it’s obvious it’s fast. G-Raid rates it double the speed of USB 3.0 and over 12 times faster than my preferred choice of Firewire 800.

A pair of Thunderbolt ports allows multiple connections or even daisy-chaining up to six Thunderbolt-compatible devices.

Inside the 4TB unit I tested is a pair of Hitachi 7200 RPM drives, running RAID 0 to back up the digital files across both drives.

For those not familiar with the RAID system, it’s designed to give you a storage across multiple disks for added security for the digital files.

Right out of the box the desktop sized (9.25 x 5.125 x 3.374-inches) G-Raid is Time Machine-ready and the chassis is constructed to mirror the Apple look.

It runs on the included AC power adapter but you’ll have to get your own Thunderbolt cable.

A Kensington security slot is also built in the back (cable not included) for attaching a security lock to keep the hard drive from walking away.

www.g-technology.com 4TB $599.95, 8TB $799.95

myChargeIt’s common to see someone sitting on the floor in airports or shopping malls charging a portable electronic gadget but if you had one of the myCharge devices you can avoid the filth of the floor.

They come in a choice of pocket-sized and lightweight rechargeable batteries with built-in connectors for most devices.

The built-in cords are designed for Apple iDevices, Android and Blackberry’s among others with the 30-pin, microUSB and USB port connections.

Depending on the battery and the gadget needing a charge, you can get up to 4 times the running time for the device.

The Peak 6000 is the biggest, with a 6000mAh Lithium Polymer battery inside good for up to 27 hours of talking on a 3G network.

www.myCharge.com prices range from $24.99 for the Sojourn 1000 up to $79.99 for the Peak 6000.

SYNC by 50SMS Audio Sync by 50 over-the-ear headphones give you the big sound from a big set of headphones but without a cord.

All you do is connect the 3.5 mm 2.4GHz wireless transmitter (included) into your device’s headphone port, pair it with the headphones and the setup is done.

The headband is made of a custom polymer plastic so it’s flexible and the ear cups are made with a soft leather memory foam, which combine to make it simple to to get a comfortable fit.

Controls for volume and song selections are built into the left earcup along with a microUSB port for charging and 3.5mm input for the audio cable if you don’t want to go wireless.

The audio cable has an in-line mic for cellular use and a zippered travel case is included.

As for the sound, I’m not one for big sets of headphones but in this case bigger is better.  Crank up the sound and you really get into your own world.

http://smsby50.com $122