Archive for April 2016

Gadgets :: April 20, 2016

by Gregg Ellman
(@greggellman)

I knew about the Other World Computing used laptop program but never tried it until mine died on a recent road trip.

First off, I’m a Mac person and I’ve used OWC for many personal computer needs so I had full confidence in my quest . After my new/used laptop was complete they upped my belief in the company to the highest standards.

On the OWC website you have innumerable choices of used Apple computers and I knew I wanted a MacBook Air to reduce the weight.

Each choice has the internal specs including year made, processor, memory, storage and more.  Also, the condition of each is listed along with photos of what a standard refurbished laptop looks like and the power supply.

If you need extra power supplies (I keep one at home and one in my travel laptop bag) they sell used ones at a very reasonable price.

Every used Mac is inspected and tested by OWC technicians. The OSX operating system is installed and ready to boot, and free shipping is offered within the contiguous 48 states.

Everything comes with a warranty along with a 14-day 100 percent money-back guarantee. This can be if the computer is not right for you or you just change your mind. Past the two weeks, you get a 90-day OWC fulfilled limited warranty

After I found the right model, I wanted to upgrade the hard drive and this is another area where OWC is second to none. They have upgrades available for just about every hard drive along with instruction videos showing you how to do it yourself and then how to set up the hard drive you pulled out to use as an external drive.

With the MacBook Air I was purchasing, OWC recently announced the availability of the Aura SSD upgrades for mid-2013 and later Macs, which included mine.

The whole Aura SSD installation took me exactly 6 minutes. This included removing 8 screws on the bottom plate, disconnecting the battery, removing a screw to release the SSD, putting the new one in and replacing the screws and attaching the battery.

Apple, like many other computer companies, use specialized screws and tools, which  are included in the upgrade kit.

From there you have several choices on how to install your operating system on the new SSD, which I did from scratch to get a fresh copy of everything.

Since my new laptop has more storage space, I purchased a new OWC On-The-Go (Mac and PC compatible) portable hard drive to use as a Time Machine backup. They come in endless configurations of speeds, storage and connection.

The whole process is incredibly easy; it’s nice to purchase products from a tech company that really puts the customer first with great pricing, service and support.

www.macsales.com

Zagg has recently launched the mobile charging station, which isn’t just another portable USB charging battery pack.

The 5,000 mAh battery is advertised as One dock; twice the efficiency, which I totally agree with.

Along with a port for attaching a USB cable to charge smartphones, tablets, etc., it has a fold-up multi-position mounting system for charging an Apple Watch.

The top cover pulls over to expose a cable management system, which you can keep an Apple Watch charging cable (not included). You connect the USB end to the USB port and the magnetic charging end fits right into the charging mount, so the cable never has to be moved.

Both an Apple Watch and iPhone can charge simultaneously, even while the battery is being charged.

The USB ports inside the case indicates which port is for the watch and the other for Lightning connections. The cable management holds as many cords as you want and a small opening lets you expose the Lightning cable outside of the case.

A 6-inch microUSB cable for charging the battery and a 10-inch Lightning cable are included, with the charging station, which is about the size of my iPhone 6.

A power button, battery meter and microUSB charging port are on the end.

www.Zagg.com $79.99

Gadgets :: April 13, 2016

by Gregg Ellman
(@greggellman)

The Flip-Pal mobile scanner (model 100C) does an amazing job of just that, scanning photos, documents and even books on-the-go. The devices stores easily in a computer bag or laptop for ultimate portability.

It’s powered by four AA batteries and works on its own, scanning directly to the included removable SD memory card, without needing a computer.

The scanner also supports wireless Eye-Fi SD memory cards (not included).

The device as a whole measures 1.3 by 10.3 by 6.5 inches and a pass-through scan viewing area is 4-by-6-inches

The SD memory card comes with stitching software to combine multiple scans, which comes in handy since often you’ll be scanning things larger than 4-by-6-inches. It worked well stitching tests of a document and an 8-by-10 photo.

You can choose resolutions of 300 or 600 pixels per inch and both were complete in less than 30 seconds, including time for the scanner to reset itself.

What I loved was being able to turn the scan over to copy photos mounted in glass as well as images from books (copyrights do apply, so always check). The scanner allows you to see through to the scanning area to make sure everything is positioned correctly.

After scanning you can view the results on the built-in 1.7-inch color LCD.

A press release for the scanner had some cleaver uses listed including a baby’s feet and Genealogy hobbyists.

http://flip-pal.com $149.99

For years it seemed we couldn’t get enough TV channels for movies, news or sports. Then recently we’ve encountered the “cut the cable” era, eliminating many of those channels. During that era the ways to get your local TV broadcasts changed dramatically.

The Winegard FlatWave Micro compact antenna is a great solution and costs only $21.99.  As a company representative pointed out, this is a one-time payment with no monthly fees.

The antenna receives local broadcasts from up to 30 miles away. It’s a thick piece of paper measuring 5.25-by-7-by-0.5-inches, which is a long way from the big and bulky rabbit ears my family had on TVs when I was a kid.

The size lets you hide it most anywhere as long as the attached 5-foot coaxial cable is within reach to connect to your TV.

Setup ting takes just minutes. Connect the cable and run a channel scan to see what it picks up; it’s that easy.

It worked at home in the DFW area and since it was small and compact I took it along on a recent road trip and most of the local channels came as if I had the hotel cable TV plugged in.

A few channels did have some static and moving around the antenna seemed to help, working best when I had it against a window.

www.Winegard.com $21.99

A case and a Bluetooth speaker are essential for iPad owners. The slim (14 mm) designed SoundCover folio speaker for the iPad Air brings them together.

The speakers won’t produce the great head banging sound you get from many portable Bluetooth speakers but it’s better than the tablet’s internal speaker.

You must remove the iPad since the touchscreen faces the SoundCover for storage and protection. But once it’s removed and you open the kickstand, the two are synced for use (after the initial paring).

You’ll get up to 15 hours of playback before a USB charge of the 3300 mAh lithium polymer battery is needed. Once the iPad is back in the case it automatically shuts off to save power.

The speaker can be paired with other Bluetooth-enabled devices and has an internal microphone for phone calls, a 3.5 mm direct audio connection and includes a travel bag.

www.Onanoff.com $129.99 in black, gold and gray for the Apple iPad Air 1 & 2 generation

Gadgets :: April 6, 2016

by Gregg Ellman
(@greggellman)

Portable GPS units such as the Garmin Drive 50 amaze me by how far the technology has come, how well they work and how good they look.

According to Garmin, the four new models of the Drive line are easy-to-use portable navigation devices specifically designed to help increase driver situational awareness.

I took a Garmin Drive 50 along for a ride where I knew there was one of the sharpest curves I’ve driven on along with speed zone changes, commonly know in my language as a speed trap.

Sure enough the warnings came up with banner alerts on the top of the 5-inch resistive touchscreen display and a warning for a red light camera.

The new alerts include warnings for one-way streets, railroad crossings, school zones, sharp curves, speed limit changes and animal crossings. A fatigue warning even comes up on longer trips.

All of this is on top of the features Garmin is known for to  easily get you to your location. These include maps, traffic and the Foursquare POI data base, which  includes millions of places to eat and shop.

Directions from Garmin Real Directions tell you about the streets and landmarks on the way.

Accessories including Garmin baby cam, dash cam and wireless backup camera can be purchased separately and paired with the Garmin Drive series.

www.Garmin.com prices from $129.99 to $349.99 depending on various map regions, navigation features, Bluetooth calling and display size and model, $129.99 for The Garmin Drive 50 as tested.

The Samson Go Mic Connect, a USB microphone, is incredible in many areas.

First and foremost is the recording quality; crystal clear is an understatement.

Once connected to your audio software, all you really do is select the Go Mic Connect as the audio input and aim it at the source of the recording.

It’s made with what Samson calls Focused Pattern Technology. According to the website, this aligns its dual microphone capsules to create a pickup beam that can zero-in on a designated vocal source. This lets you narrow its width for more defined results., which can be really helpful in loud environments.

Active noise cancellation also contributes to the high quality recordings.

Depending on your software, adjustments can be made for features such as  levels and the noise canceling.

I used it right out of the box for a FaceTime call, which I was told made me sound as clear as ever.

A built-in clip lets it easily fit on laptops and monitors or just use the included free-standing base. There’s a mute button on top and  headphone output port and a USB connection on the back for connecting to computers (Windows and Mac) and some tablets.

The small size 4.3-by-0.6-by-3.2-inches, 0.3 lb. makes it portable friendly.

www.indiegogo.com $79 available later this month

The Griffin Survivor Tactical case puts a safe protection on your Apple Watch touchscreen and sides with a stylish covering.

The two-material (Co-molded TPE and polycarbonate) shell forms a covering to protect it from scratches and bumps, while keeping the watch fully functional.

It clips on in seconds, with or without a watchband on the watch. While it’s on, both the retina display and the force touch functions work just like they would if the case was not being used.

If you want to give your stylish smartwatch a change of appearance,  the Griffin ultra thin cases snap on in seconds.

They come in a three-pack (polished metallic, matte metallic and clear in my sample pack) and are swappable for a new look to match any appearance you want or just to change things up.

The poly carbonate cases measure just 0.5 mm thick so except for the shell covering the outside of the watch, you won’t even know it’s there.

https://griffintechnology.com The Survivor Tactical case ($29.99) and ultra thin case three-packs ($14.99) are made for the 38 mm and 42 mm Apple Watch