Archive for May 2014

Review: ELMO QBiC MS-1 Camera

Going W I D E in Pictures and Video with the MS-1.
Who could resist the Elmo (http://www.elmousa.com/ms-1) QBiC MS-1 camera? The MS-1 is a white cube, only 2.14” x 2.4” x 1.57” in size and weighing 3.3 ounces, that fits nicely in the palm of your hand. It is weather resistant, captures stills as well as HD video and even has built-in stereo microphones. But, what really sets it apart is the super-wide angle f/2.0 lens with three wide- angle settings: 185 ̊, 165 ̊ and 135 ̊. You can get as close as 0.78” to a subject.
There is no display on the camera itself. Rather, you download the Elmo QBiC app for your Android or iOS device and use that as the monitor via the QBiC’s built-in WiFi. The app lets you control all the settings from image or video capture to the wide-angle setting itself. Settings are easily selected, and include: image stabilization on/off, wide-dynamic range, white balance, exposure control, interval capture, self-timer, and burst mode.

At the time of our review all accessories were not available but were said to be so by July. They include: Quick Shoe, Sport Mount, Armor Case, Smartphone Holder, Quick Shoe, Frame Mount, Suction Cup Mount, Camera Holder, Curved Surface Mount, and Flat Surface Mount. Do note that a Smart Clip, shipping with the MS-1 does clip the camera onto the back side of your smartphone. You then use your display the same as if you are holding a point-and-shoot. All settings are as noted above quickly accessed from your touchscreen.

This small wonder also does highspeed video. Two modes are available: 240fps and 120fps.

Recently, we spent two weeks testing the MS-1 extensively. The camera was placed in puddles of water during the rain allowing it to capture drops of moisture as well as amazing audio. Photographer Dan Burkholder (danburkholder.com) and Elmo Sapwater used it to action shots in the unknowns of the Catskill Mountains.

The rechargeable battery is said to last up to 2 hours (Charging is via USB). The longest video clip is currently set to 30 minutes and everything is stored on a microSD card. To test this capability, we attached the QBiC MS-1 to our car, using a GorillaPod, as we drove around town. The video was exceptional in quality. The otherwise remarkable stereo microphones, however, picked up too much wind noise for our taste. When it comes to really checking out how good capture is, hook the MS-1 to your HDTV via the HDMI port.It goes without saying that image clarity for still images captured with a 5MP sensor was mind-boggling, perhaps because of the “wide” effect. While we did enjoy the time-lapse capabilities we were unable to find anything outstanding to demonstrate its full potential.

Was there a downside? Yes, but albeit minor ones. The curved lens cap can easily be misplaced. There are a couple of holes for a tether cord but our demo model did not have one. We can’t tell you the number of times we almost lost the cap. The other annoyance was the small square owner’s manual, making it difficult to read, although ELMO USA will provide a downloadable PDF that lets users print it out in bigger type! The still images are saved as JPEG with no Raw capability. Lastly, the camera currently only comes in a white finish. Perhaps a black model is in the future.

What’s the market for the QBiC MS-1 ($259.99)? Definitely this is for the adventurer. GoPro (gopro.com) is certainly the main one. (Do remember that there’s nothing like it from that specific company when it comes to this kind of size and wide-angle capabilities.) Can the MS-1 compete? Well, we don’t really seeing it so much a competitor as opening up new avenues. This QBiC is an absolute joy to use, so much so, that we’re going to buy our own. It truly allows you to accept those photographic challenges that have been calling you for years to do. You may get some strange looks but you’re guaranteed to go wide and get those stills and videos that separate you from the crowd. There is a lot going for this unique little package.

The QBiC MS-1 is available now. Visit ElmoUSA.com for more information.

>Elmo Sapwater is a photographer and writer for ImagingInsider.com, Photo-News.com and SnappingCat.com.

 

Gadgets:: Three digital storage devices, a Bluetooth speaker and a hands-free headset

By GREGG ELLMAN
Twitter.com/greggellman

WD ProI’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Digital storage – probably the two most important words in the world of technology – is critical to everyone.

IT’S BIGGER ON THE INSIDE

Western Digital’s Thunderbolt My Passport Pro is the mother of all storage. It provides up to a whopping 4TB (yes, that is terabits) in a cargo pants pocket-sized (5.6 by 3.5 inches, 1.9 pounds) portable hard drive with RAID storage.

The RAID 1 system divides the hard drive in half to give your data a duplicate copy in the other half. It transfers at rates as high as 233 megabytes per second and if you know anything about the digital world, that’s fast.

The cable, which connects via the Thunderbolt port, powers the hard drive so no AC adapter needed. The cable is attached to the port-less drive and winds up around the cable management system.

It’s all built-into an aluminum case to make a nice looking companion to any Thunderbolt enabled computer.

Details: 4TB $429.99, 2TB $299.99; www.wdc.com

SUPER PORTABLE AND POWERFUL, TOO

Toshiba 128GB USB3.0If you want even smaller portable storage, the Toshiba USB 3.0 flash drive is available up to an incredible 128GB.

The TransMemory Pro USB 3.0 Flash Drive has secure ultra-high-speed data transferring with read speeds of up to 222 MB/s and write speeds up to 205 MB/s.

It includes built-in security software with encrypted password protection in private partitions for use on Mac and Window operating systems. There’s nothing to set up; just plug-and-play for business, personal or student use.

Details: 4TB for $129.99 and the 64GB is $79.99; www.toshiba.com/us

DIGITAL STORAGE GOES MICRO

SanDisk 128GBThe SanDisk 128GB microSDXC memory card is not much bigger than the average pinky finger nail, pretty much taking portable digital storage as small as you can get.

It’s ideal for cameras along with GPS units, computers, tablets and smartphones with memory card slots. Even if your device has a standard SD card slot, SanDisk includes an adapter to make it work.

An interesting note on the back states the memory card is waterproof, temperature proof, shock proof and X-Ray proof. Check your device to make sure it’s SDXC compatible. If it was introduced after January 2009 it probably is.

According to SanDisk, 128GB is good for 16 hours of Full HD video, 7,500 songs, 3,200 photos and more than 125 apps.

Details: $199, www.sandisk.com

PANCAKE-THIN SPEAKER FEATURES ‘TWOOFERS’

Soundmatter DASHaThe Soundsmatters foxL DASH A portable Bluetooth speaker works with any Bluetooth-enabled device, which is just about every smartphone, tablet, computer and portable media player on the planet.

This very well might be the first time you heard the word “Twoofers” which are the company’s tweeters that also woof.

The wireless sound is amazing, but if you’re in the dark ages, with a Bluetooth-less device, you can use the included 3.5mm mini stereo cable.

The pancake-thin speaker is only 0.62-inches thick with a 2.1-inch width and 7.5-inches long. You’ll get about 10 hours before a charge is needed and it also has a microphone to take a hands-free call.

Details: $149, www.soundmatters.com

HEADSET OFFERS PREMIUM SOUND, AFFORDABLE PRICE

Sennheiser PresenceI got a recent email from Sennheiser who pushed me to try out the new Presence hands-free headset, describing it as “a category killer, (with) three microphones, noise canceling, and clear voice quality.”

I couldn’t describe it any better, but one thing it didn’t mention was it’s probably one of slickest looking devices I’ve seen. And it has an intuitive user interface, unlike many other manufacturers’ versions.

Keep in mind that Sennheiser is a premier sound company – and they hit a home run with this one.

Features include Bluetooth 4.0 technology, plus Sennheiser’s unique SpeakFocus, WindSafe and ActiveGard technology. All this means to you is it sounds amazing.

Details: $142.79, http://sennheiser.us

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

Gadgets:: Wi-Fi extender deals with dead zones at home

By GREGG ELLMAN
Twitter.com/greggellman

Netgear EX6100Just about every household has Wi-Fi with the main connection often coming into the home at a home office, which extends the coverage well into a few surrounding rooms.

But with more and more iGadgets entering homes daily, the need to extend your existing Wi-Fi to dead zones on other floors or far across the house becomes greater.

One solution could be to relocate your router to a central point, but a much easier solution is Netgear’s AC750 WiFi Range Extender (model EX6100).

For tech-heads who want specifics, the device supports dual band Wi-Fi up to 750 Mbps and supports Wi-Fi devices with 801.11ac, b/g/n.

Netgear’s installation guide isn’t called the desired “Quick Start Guide” but it might as well be.

It’s simple to set up, with a pair of choices I did within a browser in just a few minutes. All you do is connect to your existing Wi-Fi (during the setup they have to be close to each other) wait for lights to blink, answer a few questions, click a few boxes and you’re done.

Then unplug the extender and put in your dead zones, give it a few minutes to warm up and make a connection. A pair of external antennas are built on to help direct the Wi-Fi.

After you’re all set up, go to your network settings on the portable device you want to use in dead zones, choose the new network you setup and put in your password.

It measures 4.8-by-2.9-by-1.5 inches before you extend the pair of 3.25-inch antennas, which allows it to be plugged in most anywhere, included behind furniture.

I have my Wi-Fi set up in my office, in the far corner of my house. After setting up the Range Extender I went from having a single bar on my iPad’s Wi-Fi meter to a four full bars.

Problem solved.

Details: $89.99, www.netgear.com

PHOTO STRAPS GET USEFUL TWEAKS

JOBY Pro Sling StrapJOBY, a maker of creative accessories for digital photographers, has released a few very well made straps of high-quality material and hardware for use with most any digital SLR or mirrorless camera, along with binoculars

The Convertible Neck Strap ($21.66) has quick release built into both sides to instantly convert it from a neck strap to a smaller wrist strap.

New to the Pro Series is the Pro Sling Strap ($55.99), which is designed with a SpeedCinch pulley system for instant access to the camera.

This allows photographers to wear their camera over either shoulder or just around the neck at most any level.

A fastening allows the camera to be instantly adjusted with a simple pull for the pulley system.

The strap attaches to the standard thread (\-inch-20) on the bottom of every camera with a greased bearing piece of hardware (included) and tightens with the help of a coin. This allows a secure and tight connection along with allowing the camera to rotate a full 360-degrees.

There’s also a camera tether included with the Pro Sling for an additional peace of mind.

Details: www.joby.com

PORTABLE BATTERY OFFERS BOOST OF JUICE

myCharge RAZORPLUSThe RAZORPLUS from myCharge is true to its name since it’s razor thin at 1/3 of an inch.

What’s more important is it’s a portable battery for charging most any portable USB gadget needing an extra boost of power on the go.

It comes pre-charged with 3000mAh of battery power for over 13 hours of talk time, with a single USB port in an attractive anodized aluminum case.

A four-light LED system is activating by shaking the battery to test the battery level.

Details: $49.99, www.mycharge.com

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

 

Gadgets:: Pelican cases built for pros in need of hard-core protection of gear, gadgets

By GREGG ELLMAN
Twitter.com/greggellman

Pelican 1560LOCPelican touts its reputation for making high-performance case solutions that are watertight, crushproof, dust proof and used by professionals in the most demanding situation including firefighters, police and military.

I’ve owned several of the company’s cases over the years and when I think of Pelican, the words “useful” and “indestructible” come to mind.

After recently testing the Pelican 1560LOC overnight case (full of camera equipment) the useful part went to a whole new level.

First, a little bit about Pelican cases: They are probably the most durable hard cases available. Composed of Polypropylene copolymer, a hard surface that can be stood on and dropped, they keep your valuables intact.

Pelican cases can tolerate temperatures ranging from minus 10 degrees to 210 degrees Fahrenheit and are water resistant.

Many can be ordered with customization to specific needs, and for the 1560 I tested (exterior dimensions 22.06-by-17.93-by-10.43 inches, 18.8 pounds) I had Velcro dividers along with my first look at the built-in compartments for a laptop and its accompanying accessories. It also has an incredible 2,000 square feet of storage space.

As for the useful aspect, the dividers can be set up however you wish for any type of gear, but what got me hooked on this case was the laptop storage enabling everything to be in one case.

The padded laptop sleeve is attached to the inside front cover and can store a laptop up to 17 inches. Similar padded and removable sleeves surround the laptop for storing cables, chargers or whatever accessories are needed.

Once everything is stored to your liking, clip shut the easy-open and -close latches, pull out the retractable extension handle and start rolling.

Cases can be ordered with the Velcro dividers or foam to customize to your exact items. A personalized nameplate can also be purchased.

Details: $249, www.pelican.com

NIGHTSTAND SYSTEM DESIGNED AS IT SHOULD BE

Sound RiseSoundfreaq’s Sound Rise (SFQ-08) wireless speaker and alarm clock is a nightstand system designed the way a gadget like this should be; to use with any brand of wireless devices, it doesn’t take up a lot of space and most importantly looks good and sounds great.

Charging and docking are done with the USB cable that came along with your device.

Plug it into the USB port – and you’re not hostage to using the phone on a dock specific to any brand – enabling bedtime reading, texting or whatever you need.

As for the clock, it’s a front-facing display that has controls to adjust the brightness with six display settings.

Audio is streamed with Bluetooth (4.0) into a great-sounding speaker system. If wireless streaming isn’t your thing, there’s an aux-in port for a wired connection.

There’s also a backup battery compartment to keep the clock running in the event of a power failure.

Time in 12 or 24 hour settings, snoozing, sleeping, two alarms and even a FM radio is built-in if you want to go old school with the presets.

Controls on the Sound Rise (5.5-by-3-by-3.25 inches) are on the top for most settings.

Details: $58.93, available in black or wood/taupe finishes; www.soundfreaq.com

ADD-ON TO HEADPHONES TURNS THEM INTO A HEADSET

MoovMicWhen I first read about the Moov Mic, I thought it was an interesting name and more importantly an interesting device with the concept of mic plus headphones equals headsets.

It’s a pretty cleaver accessory that turns your favorite headphones into a full headset for wireless calls, Skype or even gaming.

The setup takes seconds. You’ll need headphones with a half-inch diameter port to connect the Moov Mic’s magnet and once attached you’re done.

Just plug them together and you’re all set. No software, setup guide or anything. Truly plug-n-play.

The mic is a flexible and positionable boom microphone, which has a windscreen to help the clarity and sounded great to my callers.

Details: $19.95, http://headsetbuddy.com

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