Archive for February 2016

Gadgets :: February 15, 2016

By Gregg Ellman
(@Greggellman)

After getting a review unit of the PolarPro PowerGrip H20 GoPro accessory, my only challenge was getting it into the water this time of year. I enlisted my nephew in South Florida to take it for a test kayaking on an Everglades tour and snorkeling at Lauderdale by the Sea.

The PolarPro PowerGrip H20 is a selfie stick with a depth rating of 99 feet, with a pair of 11-inch extension arms and is compatible with the GoPro Hero3, Hero 3+ and Hero4 cameras.

A live-charge kit/LED light combo can be added to give you a 6700 mAh built-in-battery and 500 lumen LED light. This provides GoPro users with an incredible accessory to help capture images or video in dark areas and with an extended power boost.

The battery will give you use of your GoPro for up to 12 hours, charge your GoPro six times, or your iPhone 6 up to three times.

The PolarPro PowerGrip H20 comes with a pair of 11-inch extension arms and is compatible with the GoPro Hero3, Hero 3+ and Hero4 cameras.

There are dual USB charging ports as well as a 30-inch charging cable with a waterproof backdoor that connects the GoPro underwater housing.

The PowerGrip also comes with 5-inch and 28-inch miniUSB cables, a leash, phone mount, StrapMount adaptor and a PowerGrip skeleton door for live charging your GoPro above water.

The PolarPro PowerGrip H20 got its start with a $1 million investment on ABC’s popular Shark Tank program and then had a successful funding campaign on Kickstarter.

The PolarPro development team set out to create a single accessory to keep the GoPro camera powered all day, while capturing multiple perspectives of video on land and under water.

After putting it through these tests, it’s obvious it this is a must-have accessory for every GoPro user.

www.polarprofilters.com $99.99 for the base model, and $149.99 with the underwater live-charge kit/LED light combo

To the Dewalt 20 V MAX Brushless Blower: where have you been my whole life?

The handheld lawn and garden blower system is battery powered. Once you have a charged battery connected, a variable speed trigger turns it on and off instantly. There’s no need for gas, oil or killing your arm and shoulder with a starter pull cord.

It’s perfect for home use to clear sidewalks of grass cuttings, piles of leaves or whatever you see fit.

The 20V 5.0Ah Lithium Ion battery attaches or removes easily and produces an air speed of 90 mph. It weighs 7.1-pounds and has a 61 dBA noise rating,

I always recommend having an extra battery around, this way you always have one charged and ready to use.

www.Dewalt.com $199 for the blower, $109.99 for the extra battery.

If four USB charging ports are great, Ventev feels that six are even better and I have to agree.

With the new Ventev usbcharginghub rq600 up to six devices can be charged simultaneously. Five ports provide up to 2.4amps each with auto-detect technology. This allows the proper charging for each device.

The sixth port is a Qualcomm Quick Charge 2.0 port, which will charge compatible devices up to 75-percent faster.

The hub is powered by plugging in the detachable 5-foot power cord and you can position the hub in vertical or horizontal positions.

https://mobileaccessories.ventev.com $49.99

Gadgets :: 2016 February 8

by Gregg Ellman
(@greggellman)

Thanks to a tip from a reader (Ray) in Palmetto, Fla., who asked me about the Telme2 TosBlue-X device.

With the TosBlue-X connected to a non-Bluetooth TV, you can convert it to Bluetooth device and use a Bluetooth speaker or headphones.

Ray originally told me via email that he was looking for a device like this to add to his TV because, “My hearing is not as good as my wife. Therefore I am looking for a Bluetooth transmitter from my TV to my speakers.”

After testing the TosBlue-X along with the company’s BHX Bluetooth headset, I was happy to inform Ray that they work great.

The installation took less than 2 minutes, including opening the boxes. After opening it, don’t trash the box just yet because the instructions are on the back.

All the cables you need are included; you must choose to have your audio connected using either the standard 3.5 mm or the optical cable, but just one.

The instructions are kind of vague on the either/or part of the audio cables, along with what to do with the USB cable, which was obvious to me but might not be to others; it’s for power so I connected it to an AC/USB power adapter (not included).

If your TV has the optical connection, use that one. If it only has the 3.5 mm port, you have no choice and I used since my TV was mounted to a wall and I didn’t want to remove it.

There’s double-sided tape on the TosBlue-X to attach to your TV; be sure the front part is exposed to where you audio source will be.

I charged the headphones, turned on my TV and hit the pairing button on the headphones and it worked perfect, it’s that simple.

Every time I turn the TV and headphones on and off the connection returns without needing to pair it again. The headphones have padded ear-pads, an adjustable headband and volume controls on the side with the power button.

A charging cable for a specific connection is included.

Thanks for the tip Ray, definitely a great device, which will solve your issue.

www.telme2.com $69.99 for the TosBlue-X, $99 for the Bluetooth headset

ToughTest portable mobile accessories really impressed me when I had my first look at them recently and persuaded me that they are really as tough as advertised.

They inspect the products three to five times the level of typical manufactured smartphone accessories and before even using them you’ll see how durable they are just by the feel.

You might not think there’s a big difference between USB charging cables but after buying cheaply made versions, you can see the difference when you get the company’s ToughTested 6-foot USB cable with lightning connection ($29.99 and also available with a microUSB connection).

The high-speed USB 2.0 cable is made with 4 mm heavy-gauge cables inside a tangle-free jacket. This keeps it from shorting out and becoming useless when a corner bends, gets pressed or caught in a drawer.

A cord manager is included for when the cable is not being used.

The Marine stereo earbuds ($79.99) are IP67 waterproof, which translates dust and sand resistant and tested underwater for 30 minutes under up to 1-meter of water.

They have noise reduction technology, in-line control for answering calls and controlling volume, a stress release cable, sports fit in-ear hooks to keep the earbuds in place and come with three sizes of Flexfoam ear tips.

Use them while fishing in the rain, exercising or anytime in dry or wet environments.

The ToughTest Power Share Pro ($34.99) charges up to three USB devices (sharing 4.2 amps)  simultaneously at a fast rate along with InstaSense technology.

This allows the charger to recognize the device being charged and give it the proper charging for the amperage requirements.

The AC connection prongs rotate 180-degree to ensure it will plug into any wall or power strip outlet.

http://toughtested.com

Thumbtack Study Predicts 2016’s Biggest Wedding Trends

The largest survey of U.S. couples to be married in 2016 finds that couples will spend 20% more on wedding services this year, or $12,189 on average nationwide. Weddings will feature formal and intimate dinners, subtler personalizations, and interactive mementos like social-media friendly cinematic highlight videos.   

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. — February 3, 2016 —Thumbtack, an online service that connects consumers with skilled professionals, today released the results of its first annual Thumbtack 2016 Wedding Trends Report. Thumbtack reviewed data from hundreds of thousands of wedding requests to uncover the trends and spending habits of real couples in America.

The study includes statistics on upcoming wedding trends and unveils average pricing for wedding services both nationally and regionally. Full results are available at https://www.thumbtack.com/weddings/#weddingsreport.

“This year we’re seeing couples investing up to 20% more to create a memorable, classic affair,” said Ashley Brasier, Wedding Director for Thumbtack. “The reception is the focus of this extra spending, with couples turning away from themed weddings and instead focusing on finer touches like formal plated dinners, lasercut place settings, and bold floral choices.”

Every year, hundreds of thousands of couples come to Thumbtack looking for wedding professionals across nearly 50 categories of service— from wedding planners and photographers to catererslive bandsfloristshairstylists, and makeup artists. Couples submit requests sharing details like the size of their guest list, their style preferences, and their geographic location, so Thumbtack can match them with the best service providers for their needs.

As a result, Thumbtack’s study reveals a unique look ahead on what will trend at weddings to come this year — not just what happened at weddings last year.

2016’s Top Wedding Trends

The new theme is no theme: Couples are increasingly focusing on small details — not big themes — to set their weddings apart.

  • Highlight videos are hot — Videographers are seeing an 8% uptick in requests for highlight videos, which incorporate personalized messages from guests and are created for social sharing.
  • Laser-cut details are everywhere — Featured on invitations, place-cards, and even place mats, laser-cutting will be especially popular.
  • Cupcakes aren’t going anywhere — 10% more couples will feature cupcakes for dessert in 2016, compared to 2015, showing that this personalized touch has staying power.

2016 couples are upping the ante: This year’s couples are spending noticeably more on wedding essentials compared to 2015.

  • 20% increase in spending — The average couple will spend about $2,000 more on average, with much of that going to a more upscale dinner experience.
  • Formal receptions on the rise — For 2016 weddings, there’s been a 26% increase in couples requesting servers for formal dinner receptions, and a 32% increase in couples requesting plated meals.
  • Traditional tiers — Cakes are also getting taller than ever, with a 55% increase in couples requesting a 3-layer cake this year compared to last year.

Big, bold visuals have arrived: From wedding theme colors to bridal beauty looks, expect 2016 weddings to feature big visuals.

  • Glam beauty — More and more brides are eschewing the “safe” natural and romantic beauty look: there’s been a 75% increase in brides requesting glam hair and makeup, with touches like highlights and contouring and bold lip colors.
  • Beyond natural — Brides plan to go beyond “born with it” in 2016. The data shows a 70% increase in requests for false eyelashes and airbrushing. There’s been a 15% increase in brides planning to wear a classic veil.
  • Bright palettes — Popular colors this year include bursts of reds and bright blues, along with pops of yellow as an accent, and gray neutrals to hold it all together. Metallic accents stay popular this year, emphasizing the glam factor.

The Real Cost of Getting Married

Based on average price quoted for wedding essentials for Thumbtack weddings in 2016

National Averages – Costs and Customer Profile

  • $12,189: The amount the average American couple will spend on essential wedding services in 2016, excluding the venue, dress, and rings, for a wedding with 98 guests on average.
  • 33: Average marrying age of Thumbtack couple
  • 75%: Thumbtack couples who are employed full-time
  • 5%: Thumbtack couples who are students
  • 45%: Thumbtack couples who are homeowners

Top 5 Most and Least Expensive States to Get Married

Most and least states to get married
Top 5 Most Expensive States to Get Married

  1. Connecticut – $17,211
  2. New York – $16,305
  3. District of Columbia – $15,835
  4. Rhode Island – $15,233
  5. Pennsylvania – $14,722

Top 5 Least Expensive States to Get Married

  1. Missouri – $9,031
  2. Nevada – $9,095
  3. Arizona – $9,593
  4. Kentucky – $9,712
  5. Utah – $9,804

Top 25 Most Expensive Metro Areas to Get Married (Wedding Essentials) 

  1. New York, NY — $16,077
  2. Philadelphia, PA — $15,434
  3. Pittsburgh, PA — $14,287
  4. Baltimore, MD — $14,261
  5. Providence, RI — $13,990
  6. San Francisco, CA — $13,734
  7. San Jose, CA — $13,418
  8. Cleveland, OH — $13,416
  9. Washington, D.C.-Northern VA — $13,303
  10. Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN — $13,173
  11. New Orleans, LA — $13,089
  12. Boston, MA — $13,028
  13. Miami, FL — $12,923
  14. Los Angeles, CA — $12,709
  15. Chicago, IL — $12,449
  16. Milwaukee, WI — $12,197
  17. Seattle, WA — $12,149
  18. Detroit, MI — $11,819
  19. Memphis, TN — $11,805
  20. Portland, OR — $11,714
  21. Columbus, OH — $11,692
  22. Austin, TX — $11,519
  23. Rochester, NY — $11,472
  24. Charleston, SC — $11,448
  25. Sacramento, CA — $11,349

Regional Differences

  • Northeast and Mid-Atlantic affairs tend to be more expensive: This higher cost is most often driven by formal dinners and a large number of guests. In New York, 33% of couples request plated dinners. In Washington, D.C., 48% of couples request hors d’oeuvres.
  • Midwestern states throw the biggest weddings: Weddings are the biggest in Midwestern states like Minnesota and Wisconsin, where over 60% of couples welcome 100+ guests. The smallest weddings are in destination wedding locations like Hawaii, where 43% of couples welcome fewer than 20 guests.
  • BBQ and Mexican catering vs. Italian and American cuisine: Italian and American food are crowd pleasers at weddings across the country. In fact, there are only two states that would prefer another type of cuisine at weddings – both Kentucky and South Carolina prefer BBQ. Unsurprisingly, Mexican is popular throughout the Southwest, with 43% of couples in New Mexico requesting Mexican food.
  • Pop music reigns at the reception, but country’s close behind: Wedding guests across the majority of the United States (46 states) prefer pop music, but country is a close second choice in several states, including Texas.
  • Vermont braids and Southern locks: Brides across the country love a timeless romantic look. Brides in Vermont prefer to accent their look with braids, while brides in most other locales prefer a half-up / half-down look. Long curly hair is especially popular in Southern states like Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi.

Methodology

The Thumbtack 2016 Wedding Trends report captures data gathered from hundreds of thousands of requests for wedding services placed on Thumbtack. Quantitative trends were gathered from answers to questions Thumbtack asks couples to match them with the best service provider. Qualitative trends were gathered from customer and vendor interviews. Pricing data is based on thousands of price quotes provided by vendors to our customers.

About Thumbtack

Thumbtack is the destination for getting things done — from house remodeling to event planning and more. Each year, more than 200,000 skilled professionals across the country service a growing 5 million Thumbtack projects in almost 1,100 unique categories. Thumbtack wedding professionals offer services in 47 categories. Visit Thumbtack to find wedding photographerswedding plannerswedding officiantswedding DJs and more.

Follow Thumbtack on Twitter and Instagram @thumbtack.

Gadgets :: February 1, 2016

By Gregg Ellman
(@greggellman)

The new Magellan eXplorist TRX7 GPS navigator system takes mapping to a whole new level for off-road navigation.

When you first open the package it’s hard to not admire the 7-inch color touchscreen (6.7-by-8.7-by-5.2 inches 1.3 pounds). The extra-large display is enclosed in a waterproof, drop resistant and dust-proof casing.

Right out of the box, the TRX7 is preloaded with more than 44,000 (and growing) off highway vehicle routes.

Once you find a trail to explore, just click ‘follow’ and you’re set to go. If you decide to veer off the trail, the system can record where you’re going so you can capture the route or just find your way back to where you started.

Maps can be filtered by difficulty, distance, name or rating.

If you find trails that are unique and not yet published, Magellan has a great feature to let you share your findings with the world.

The TRX7 can create and personalize routes and then connect to Wi-Fi and go to a site within Magellan to publish it. This lets you name the trail, tell about any unique attributes and any other points of interest you find.

The maps are displayed with 3D terrain and 2D topographic maps, showing features you encounter on the routes along with the elevation.

A heavy-duty high-strength genuine RAM suction cup mount is included for use on any smooth non-porous surface.

www.magellangps.com $649.99

Lola high fidelity headphones from Blue Microphones have the total package; great looks, amazing sound and a fair price.

When you first see the headphones, they almost have a retro look, which I loved. So many of today’s headphones look the same, so it’s nice to see a company thinking outside the box.

According to Blue, the Lola headphone was inspired by Blue’s radical holistic design for optimized performance, a personalized fit, and a new lighter, slim-fit headband. They stated in a press release that the headphones were designed without any preconceived notions about what headphones are ‘supposed’ to look like

The slim headband has pivoting arms and what they call a four-point multi-jointed linkage system. This system makes it really easy to get a comfortable fit.

Another neat feature is the ear-cups. Ear-cups are almost always rounded on headphones but how often do you see round ears? With the ear-cups on the Lola headphones, they are shaped with a more vertical design in big cabinets to mimic the shape of the common ear. This is a great help to get a natural fit and ensure you don’t have any sound bleeding away from your ear.

The sound comes from 50 mm drivers (frequency response: 15Hz-20kHz), which delivered incredible detail to any music I tried. This included my personal iTunes playlist, satellite radio and other online sources during my week of testing. I even had it connected to a turntable I started testing and the vinyl sound was awesome.

You also get a soft-sided travel case, a three-meter audio cable and a 1.5-meter cable with built-in microphone and Apple controls.

http://blue-headphones.com $249.99 available in charcoal black or pearl white

Music junkies who want to create and combine tracks will love the Braven Fuse Bluetooth hand-held mixer.

This enables you to combine multiple sources of music, sounds or any audio to create single tracks

Everything is really easy to access on the top. These include control knobs (low, mid and high range), volume controls, Bluetooth connections (two devices and two Bluetooth speakers), and cross-fade controls. All this lets you splice tracks together, while letting them fade in and out with perfection.

Headphones and aux-in and out ports are on the side.

If you’ve never mixed before (like me) it takes some getting used to and making some bad tracks in order to learn from your mistakes.

After a while I did some simple things like taking 10 songs from my playlist and combining them into one. An easy answer for why would I do that, because I can with the Fuse.

An internal rechargeable battery should last for about 12 hours of use.

http://braven.com $99.99