Archive for August 2013

Gadgets:: Bluetooth in every size, shape and sound

By GREGG ELLMAN— Twitter.com/greggellman

AUVIO 1.5 Watt
Using a smartphone or tablet to store and play music and video is common these days but the speaker built into these devices just isn’t good.

Bluetooth speakers are the best choice for wireless listening and generally have a range of about 30 feet from the media source.

Some have built-in rechargeable batteries while others need an AC outlet for power. The setup for each is generally pretty simple: just pair it with your device and you should be ready to go.

When shopping for the speakers, obviously consider price and sound but be aware of size, too. They range from pocket-sized speakers up to some that take up the same amount of space as a small piece of furniture.

Here’s a bunch of choices in a variety of sizes, sounds, colors and prices from $14.99 up to $599.

RadioShack’s Auvio Bluetooth speaker line comes in a variety of sizes, shapes and colors.

The Auvio 1.5-Watt 3-inch cubed speaker ($39.99) is good for about six hours of playback and can also be used as a handsfree devices for answering cell phone calls with its built in mic.

It pumps out great sounding music but doesn’t take up much space, making it very portable.

The speaker is available in blue, black, white and TCU purple.

AUVIO HBT6000The Auvio HBT6000 Bluetooth speaker ($149) has a 60W output from six internal 10W speakers to make it the life of a party.

RadioShack calls it Sonic Emotion Absolute 3D technology, which produces the powerful sound.

A remote control is included to give you wireless access for controlling music choices, pause/play along with volume. You can also control everything with similar buttons on the top of the speaker.

It measures 4.7 x 14 x 5.2-inches and comes with an AC power adapter for the needed power and has a black mate finish.

www.RadiShack.com

Satechi Portable MiniThe Satechi Portable Mini Bluetooth speaker is travel-friendly since it can get tucked away in a computer bag or suitcase.

The pocket-sized 1.5W speaker weighs just 2.2 oz and puts out an amazing amount of sound from its twistable pop-up resonator.

It’s not room-filling sound for a party but it does produce deep, full bass for high-quality music.

www.Satechi.net $14.99

Jam PlusThe rounded and sharp-looking 3-inch-tall HMDX JAM Plus wireless speaker gives you a unique option to pair a second JAM for true stereo sound.

Once you get the second (sold separately) paired it’s a pretty amazing system for its size.

Each speaker has a rechargeable lithium-ion battery for up to 6 hours of sound.

www.hmdxaudio.com $59.99 available in gray, blue yellow, purple and pink

Divoom: Onbeat-200You can’t help but to compare the Divoom’s Onbeat-200 speaker’s appearance  to the Jambox Jawbone with its rectangle design (6.5 x 2 x 1.5-inches).

The speaker performs well and makes a great computer companion with good sound and a built-in mic to work as a handsfree speaker phone.

Inside the rugged looking case is a pair of 4W speakers and a rechargeable battery for up to 8 hours of use.

www.divoom.com $79.90 available in black, blue, gray and red

NudeAudio: Move LOnce you get past the impressive packaging, NudeAudio has a versatile lineup of Bluetooth speakers.

Among them are the Move S ($49.99), a pocket-sized speaker to take on the go. It features an 8-hour battery life to power a speaker packed inside a thick protective silicon sleeve.

The NudeAudio website refers the Move L ($99.99) speaker as the “Big Daddy” of the company’s line of Bluetooth portable speakers. And after cranking it up, it sure performs to the name.

Inside is a pair of full-range speakers and a sub-woofer in a protective silicone sleeve.

Both come in charcoal/coral and gray/mint color combinations and include a carrying cord for portability.

www.NudeAudio.com

bēm wireless boom boxThe Bēm Wireless Boom Box has incredibly clear sound at any volume and features a carrying handle to bring back the boom box days of past.

Controls for play and volume are on top of the handle of the speaker, which measures 12 x 9.5 x 5-inches and features a metal casing on the front and back.

The rechargeable battery is good for about 10 hours and you can pair two devices silmultaneously to the speaker but it can only stream the audio one at a time.

www.bemwireless.com $249.99

Soundcast Systems MelodySoundcast Systems Melody wireless speaker system has a 360-degree rugged  enclosure for sound in any direction. This includes inside or outside with its weather-resistant enclosure.

This is described by the company as “designed to operate indoors and outdoors, in cold and heat, in moderate snow and rain.”

The 9-pound speaker has a carrying handle and a body with four full-range speakers.  A high capacity lithium-ion battery should give you about 20 hours of sound before a charge is needed.

Simply put, the sound out of this speaker is outstanding and by far gets the “WOW” factor.

www.followmelody.com $449

Minx Air 200Saving the best for last, which you can say gets the “WOW WOW” factor is the Minx Air 200 wireless speaker.

Devices connect to the speaker with Bluetooth or Apple iOS devices via AirPlay. Either way the sound from the 200W amplifier is just amazing.

Other features include ports on the back for a direct connection to TVs and Blu-Ray players.

Also, head to your App store for the free Minx Air app for Apple and Android devices, which let you have presets for sound control and volume.

It measures just over 8.5 x 17 x 6-inches and weighs 11 pounds and comes with a wireless remote control.

www.cambridgeaudio.com $599

Gadgets:: Not officially back-to-school

By GREGG ELLMAN— Twitter.com/greggellman

Without officially calling this is a “Back to School” column, it is that time of year and there’s lots of gadgets for every student.

Chewbacca flash driveFlash drives are pretty mainstream these days but a company called Mimobot is true to their slogan of making the coolest designer USB flash drives.

The drives come in a variety of themes including Star Wars Chewbacca, which is available in a limited edition run of 1,000, with each one individually hand numbered.

Chewbacca is designed  and based on the scene in the Empire Strikes Back where Chewbacca carries a dismantled C3PO.

The Star Wars series has 25 choices including Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader.

Another cool-looking series is from Comedy Central featuring Workaholics’ “Blake” & South Park’s “Mysterion”.

All the flash drives are USB 3.0 compatible and available in capacities of 8GB up to 128GB.

www.Mimoco.com 8GB $19.95, 16GB $26.95, 32GB $39.95, 64GB $59.95, 128GB $109.95

ZAGG Universal KeyboardZAGG is one of a few tech companies that never seems to make a bad product, including the new ZAGGKeys Universal Keyboard ($69.99).

For starters it connects via Bluetooth and is build universally compatible with Apple iOS, Android and Windows mobile devices along with laptop and desktop computers. A stand is included to handsfree support most any tablet.

Along with how well this works, the portability and size (3.75 x 10.25 x 5.5-inches) make this backpack friendly and a perfect companion for any tablet.

In today’s gadget world of smaller is better, Zagg makes a great companion to the iPad mini with keyboard-friendly covers and cases.

The ZAGGkeys Folio ($99.99)  has a quarter of an inch hard shell case to protect the small tablet, but when you open it you get a built-in Bluetooth keyboard, which can swing open to 130-degrees of viewing angles.

A built-in battery is charged via USB and is good for up to three months’ of use between charges.

I guess you can call the ZAGGkeys Cover ($99.99) half of the Folio. It features the Bluetooth keyboard with a pivoting hinge, which holds your iPad in a variety of angles.

The cover can then attach to the tablet when your done and fold up as a protective cover over the screen.

www.ZAGG.com

Macally MCDockLWith a lot of schools switching to tablets, many force the students to disable Bluetooth and that eliminates many gadgets.

Macally has a wired full-size keyboard solution with the iKeyLT ($59.99) with a Lighting connection.

It features many of the Apple iOS specific shortcuts and media keys along with a caps lock and the critical shift keys on both the left and right side.

The iKeyLT works with iPads, iPhones and the iPod touch and a viewing stand is attached for supporting the devices in portrait and landscape positions.

Macally’s Charge and Sync dock ($49.99) is one of the coolest I’ve seen and features a flexible Lightning connection enabling it to work with iPads, iPhones and the latest iPods.

The look is hard to describe but after asking my wife how she would describe it, she said: “It’s a contemporary looking, letter C shaped, futuristic looking dock,” and I can’t argue with that.

Macally also seems to have every solution for the Apple Lighting connection to ensure power on the go 10W car ($29.99) connections, standard wall outlet ($29.99) and extra long charge and sync cables.

A portable 2600mAh battery ($49.99) has the Lightning connection built into the top of the battery, making it easier to use the device when the extra power is needed. It’s good for 8 hours of talk time, 180 hours of standby and has a built in battery level indicator.

www.macally.com

Logitech TK820If you use a touchpad along with a keyboard, then the new Logitech TK820 wireless (USB receiver) all-in-one keyboard has your name written all of it.

The full size and ultra-slim designed keyboard works perfect as a keyboard but what makes it stand out is the built-in touchpad on the right side.

It’s as responsive as any and in most cases replaces the need for a mouse. Although it does take some getting used to, after a few days you’ll be hooked – just as I was.

It’s built to support up to 13 Windows 8 multi-touch gestures with the download of (free) Logitech SetPoint Software.

Your wireless connection is made by plugging the included Logitech USB Unifying receiver (2.4GHz), which essentially makes it plug and play.

www.Logitech.com $99.99

Gadgets:: New products from V-Moda

By GREGG ELLMAN— Twitter.com/greggellman

V-MODA BoomProV-MODA, the premier headphone maker in the land has launched two new products; the BoomPro and the CoilPro.

The BoomPro is a universal, hi-fi boom mic that instantly enhances voice clarity and background noise reduction, making it ideal for gamers, business use, Skype, or just taking calls on the go.

It’s built with a bendable SteelFlex arm, kevlar reinforced cable and a 24k Gold plated 3.5mm connection to plug right into most any headphone. Adapters for use with most any connection needed are included.

The Control Clip can attach to your shirt for easy access to the volume controls and a mute button.

Inside the mic is V-PORT technology to provide a natural 3D soundstage for exceptional dimensionality without over-processed surround sound conversions that diminish quality.

CoilPro is a 47-inch professional-grade coiled cable that can extend up to 12-feet making it ideal for DJ’s, electronic music instruments, production studios, or when some extra room is needed.

The CoilPro has 24k gold 3.5mm plugs on both ends, built and tested to withstand more than 1.2 million bends, so it’s durable for a lifetime of use. A quarter-inch metal threaded adaptor is included.

“With the launch of these new accessories, V-MODA is raising the bar for headphone versatility”, said Val Kolton, Chief Visionary officer at V-MODA in a recent media release.

He added, “that until now, there wasn’t a professional quality boom mic for high-end headphone enthusiasts and gamers.”

www.V-MODA.com $30 each

Apple recently launched a USB power adapter takeback program, to exchange third-party products that might have safety issues (www.apple.com/support/usbadapter-takeback).

Ventev Powercell 5000I can tell you first hand that Ventev, (a division of TESSCO Technologies) which makes chargers for any solution, is one company whose products work to perfection and will not need to be changed.

Power is everything when it comes to today’s portable gadget and Ventev seems to have a solution making it real easy for today’s on-the-go power hungry people and devices. They even take things a step further with double the ports and some flashy packaging.

The Wallport r2200 ($30) charges any two USB devices simultaneously, including a pair of tablets that require a 2.1 amp charge vs lower power devices like many smartphone that only 1 amp of power.

New is the Powercase 2000 ($89.99) for the iPhone 5, which has a 2000mAh battery built into the case to provide six to eight hours of extra power. The case has a rugged non-slip matte finish (gray or black) and Ventev’s signature orange accents.

Ventev tangle free cablesAlso new is the pocket-sized Powercell 5000 ($54.99), weighing  just 5.3 ounces with a pair of USB ports to charge two devices at the same time.

Both the 5000 and 2000 will hold their charge for six months before a USB charge is needed.

All the chargers can be purchased with or without any charging cable tip you need and each cable has one of my favorite features; a flat tangle-free design.

www.Ventev.com

Moshi Cardette 3The Moshi Cardette 3 USB 3.0 memory card reader is an ultra handy gadget to have for any level of photography.

It’s equipped with slots to download  all the latest, greatest and fastest memory cards including compact flash, SD, SDHC, SDXC and microSD.

Transfer rates are at USB 3.0 speeds and are backwards compatible with USB 2.0 ports and devices on a PC or Mac system.

An integrated USB cable is built-into the side of the reader, which measures just 4.45 x 2.5 x 0.71-inches and has a pair of USB ports that can be used to connect other devices.

www.moshimonde.com $48.95

Gadgets:: It’s a tablet prop! No, it’s a pillow! Actually? It’s both

By GREGG ELLMAN— Twitter.com/greggellman

iPropNew to the iWorld of “i” products is the iProp from Dockem.

It’s designed for travelers as a handsfree tablet stand but doubles as a pillow when a snooze is needed.

It weighs 7.4-ounces and has a high-grade silicone shelf 17mm thick allowing it to hold an iPad, Galaxy, Kindle or just about any other tablet or smartphone.

The pillow part reminds me of a mini bean-bag chair and it even has a zippered compartment to keep a small set of headphones, earbuds or a charging cable.

I rarely sleep on planes but I can see it being useful since airlines no longer give out pillows. I did find it was nice and steady on my lap and on my fold-out tray during a recent flight to watch movies on my iPad.

It measures 5.9 x 5.9 x 7.1-inches and is made with what the company describes as a microbead base of washable breathable polyester sports mesh fabric, which allows it to mold itself to the shape any surface it rests on.

www.dockem.com $25 at Amazon in silver or black

STREET by 50Headphone maker SMS Audio’s Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson brand has launched the STREET by 50 Over-Ear wired headphones.

They are built with Active Noise Canceling (ANC) technology to eliminate unwanted ambient noise anywhere, including on an airplane or other loud environments.

Each side is equipped with 40mm drivers inside soft leather memory foam ear cushions in between an adjustable headband, to deliver superior studio-grade audio while blocking outside noise, allowing users to enjoy music.

Inside is a rechargeable (microUSB) lithium ion battery, good for 70 hours of ANC use. The headphones give you the option of turning off the noise canceling and will work (minus the ANC) if the battery loses its charge.

The foldable headphones come with a removable cable with three-click microphone, soft touch cleaning cloth, micro USB charging cable, airplane adaptor and hard shell case for easy transport.

www.smsby50.com $279.95 available in shadow black or cool silver

Avivo StyleA nice addition to the iPhone 5 case world is the AVIVO Rail Carbonate case, with some interesting features to let you customize the case on the go.

It can be used as a complete package with a hard shell jacket or add on the rail and/or the frame.

The rail is available in of bendable polycarbonate with a soft touch coating or a military-styled aluminum finish, which fit over the outside edges of the jacket enabling it to withstand corner impacts of 12-14 feet, according to company testing.

If you want the rail on the phone but without the jacket, just put on the frame around your phone and add the Rail.

Obviously, when you combine the jacket with the rail you’ll get the most protection along with a great-looking and stylish case.

Regardless of the combination, all the ports, controls and the camera are fully accessible.

www.AVIVO.com $49.99 for the polycarbonate or $79.99 for the Aluminum model. Both are available in various colors.

250 lumen LighthouseGoal Zero has announced the Lighthouse 250 Lantern and USB Power Hub in a joint venture with Eddie Bauer.

The 250-lumen Lighthouse will shine up to 48 hours of bright LED light on a single USB charge.  If the power goes out in the field, an integrated top mounted hand crank can power it back up.

The Lighthouse also provides portable power to charge mobile devices like smartphones, GPS units and tablets.

www.goalzero.com $79.99 Available in the 4th quarter