Archive for September 2017

Gadgets :: September 27, 2017

By Gregg Ellman
(@Greggellman)

I bet you never took the time to figure out what are the five key factors to air quality and healthier breathing. You can bet I never did the same until I recently tested the Awair, Air Quality Monitor, which tracks the five key factors of air quality.

They are: chemicals such as volatile organic compounds, carbon dioxide, dust, humidity and temperature. A lot of the chemicals are in standard products we use for cleaning, bathroom and beauty products.

A real interesting fact Awair supplied me; indoor air can be 5X more polluted than outdoor air. This can effect allergies, asthma, concentration, sleep and more.

For the most part, the Awair looks like an attractive desktop bluetooth speaker with a walnut finish and air quality measuring sensors inside. It won’t produce any music; instead it measures the air quality and has a front display to show you the findings. There are different modes; use the one based on the area of the house you’re testing to find out about allergies, sleeping and even baby rooms.

The Awair must be connected to your personal Wi-Fi in order to work with the Awair app (iOS and Android). The app displays colored dots and information on what problems exist and where. You can view the current statistics along with the changes as it happens after you use the personalized recommendations.

One example is measuring how much dust is in a room and I wasn’t surprised to find several rooms in my house were dusty, especially those which we don’t use as often. And as you know, dust is an allergy sufferer’s worst enemy. The app offers recommendations on how to reduce the amount of dust.

A great Awair feature is the IFTTT, which allows it to talk with other smart home devices. I have a humidifier that Awair can trigger since it’s plugged into a smart plug, thus the changes to my room can be done seamlessly. That’s just one example, but with smart home and voice assistants the help is always there and always improving.

https://getawair.com $199.99

The bigger and better Apple makes the iOS devices, the more storage space you need. Getting the device with the most storage space isn’t always the most cost efficient but Kingston Digital has a great cost efficient option, with more flexibility to combat the limited memory (and no removable memory) on the Apple device.

The recently released DataTraveler Bolt Duo has an Apple Lightning port on one end and a standard USB connector on the other. This enables connecting directly to Apple iPhones and iPads with the Lighting end and to a computer for transferring data on or off with the USB port.

Depending on which of the available sizes you choose, (32, 64 or 128GB) you can store up to 32,000 digital photos without taking up any memory on your iPhone or iPad
The devices has an intuitive Bolt app, which is simple to use for transferring from your device or a computer. When you want to view the contents on your portable player, the app is perfect for photos and videos. Images and videos can also be taken and directly stored on the Bolt.

Images you store on an iPhone can also use the Bolt as a backup, which is something (backing up) a majority of people do not do – until they find out the hard way that they should of.

The pocket-sized Bolt Duo has a protective rubber case and a keyring makes it conveniently portable. One Bolt Duo isn’t limited to a single iPhone or iPad. Use and share as you want, but you’ll end up buying more.

It’s not to early to put this on your holiday shopping list or even get one before the rush puts em’ on back order. I’ll guarantee you this will be a popular item.

https://www.kingstongo.com/bolt 32GB $59.99, 64GB $89.99, 128GB $119.99

SnowLizard’s SLXtreme rugged and waterproof case for iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus are as durable and efficient as an these days.

They are built with a solar panel to power its battery case, which in turn powers your phone for185% extended power.

The solar panel is built into the case and a harnesses absorbs the sun’s power or indoor (incandescent) lighting for charging the battery to give the case and phone the shot of energy they need to keep running.

The cases battery is a 4000mAh, which you should expect powers s smartphone battery by 185% for extended power. If AC power is available go ahead and use it with the a standard power cord, which came with your device.

Along with solar power, if it’s available you can charge the phone with a Lighting to USB AC power cord. Four LED lights will indicate the charging of the case, which should take a few hours. You won’t have access to the headphone port (if your phone has one) while it’s in the care but Bluetooth will work fine.

As for durability; waterproof (IP68) rating and drop-proof (MIL-STD-810G) up to 6.6-ft.

I’d expect cases for the new iPhones to be announced soon but no definite date yet.

Available in Mossy Oak Break-Up Country Camo, Night Black, Safety Yellow and Signal Orange

https://www.snowlizardproducts.com $149.99

Gadgets :: September 20, 2017

By Gregg Ellman
(@Greggellman)

It’s a camera bag but it’s not just a camera bag since it also holds a laptop, tablet and a whole lot more.

I’m referring to the newly released Think Tank Photo’s Spectral 15 shoulder bag, on in the new Spectral series that includes two other sizes.

Before I even started to load the bag for a flight (they are all easily carry-on friendly) I loved the magnetic Fidlock clasp.

As described, it enables one-handed opening and automatic closing with ease. The opening is cleverly designed with a small tab you pull on to release the clasp.

I was determined to load the shoulder bag with more than I could carry, simply to see what I could get in it. I got everything I needed inside and there was even room to spare.

My contents included an iPad, 13.3-inch MacBook Air with a few accessories (power adapter, card readers, adapters, etc.), two DSLR camera bodies, four lenses, flash and some camera accessories.

The inside pockets, removable closed-cell foam dividers with Velcro ends can be customized to fit what you want. There’s also a phone pocket that will hold today’s larger phones and attachments for a tripod or monopod.

Think Tank Photo uses only high quality hardware, including metal hardware, YKK RC Fuse zippers, 420D velocity nylon and a padded non-slip shoulder strap.

The exterior is water resistant and has a luggage handle pass-through to slide the bag over the handles of a rolling suitcase along with a water bottle pocket. A removable rain cover is included.

The Spectral 15 ($135.75) I tested has internal dimensions of 15.3-by-9.8-by-5.1-inches; there’s also the Spectral 10 ($119.75) with a 13-by-9.1-by-4.9-inches and Spectral 8 ($99.75) 10.2-by-7.5-by-4.9-inches.

The 8 and 10 models have many of the same features described minus the laptop compartment.

www.thinktankphoto.com

CanvasPop has a new custom photo pillow line, which I can tell you first hand makes a pillow the talk of your family room.

The 18-by-18-inch pillows are soft and snuggly, guaranteeing your comfort. What makes the pillow unique is the image you select to have printed on the front and back of the pillow.

The quality is outstanding and to ensure that, CanvasPop runs your image through quality control testing to make sure you’ll be happy with the results.

Designing your pillow is simple. Just choose your photo (which is honestly the hardest part) and upload it to the CanvasPop site. You’ll be able to zoom and rotate your image to get it exactly how you want positioned with a live preview.

You can customize your image on a color palette with any custom color. I used white to get the full impact of my sunset image.

You’ll have your choice to put the same image on the front and back or you can just have it on one side with the other a black or white finish.

It’s really simple and with a cost friendly $39.

www.canvaspop.com

Charging cables are a must-have in today’s life but it’s easy to have a love/hate relationship with them. You love ‘em when you need a charge but hate them when they are tangled together.

TwelveSouth has a cleaver solution for the tangle problem with the new CableSnaps.

The genuine leather straps snap closed to keep charging cables (or any cable, earbuds for that matter) neatly coiled and tangle free. They come in packs of three, two small and one large cable manager.

www.twelvesouth.com $19.99 available black, cognac or marsala

Gadgets :: September 13, 2017

by Gregg Ellman
(@greggellman)

Once you prepare your house for vacuuming, there’s nothing to do to clean your floors and carpet clean except pressing a button.

From there, the Deebot R95 robotic vacuum cleaner takes over and does the work.

I own one of the other robotic vacuums, and while it does a good job, it often gets hung up in areas such as high carpet, tangled with cords or stuck between my kitchen table chairs.

The Deebot came with very specific instructions on how to operate with a specific first run. This includes setting up a WiFi connection to its app, which works with the vacuum to set up a floor plan map using Smart Navi technology for an unobstructed course around your house.

Since the mapping had to be set up, the instructions accurately suggested I was around following the vacuum for the initial voyage to make sure it didn’t get stuck anywhere. You can start with the full course of your entire home or just a few rooms and add more as you go.

In the past I thought it was cool to have a robot vacuum, but now (as Deebot said I would) I find myself opening the app to watch the map and see where the vacuum is. Why? Because I can.

The app even lets you start and stop the vacuum from anywhere. If you have the Alexa voice assistant close by, you can ask her to start the cleaning.

The Deebot (13.9-by-13.9-by-4 inches, 10.6 pounds) has left and right handed rotor brushes to help get most everything in its way. A dust bin collects what you don’t want so you’ll have to empty it like you would any other vacuum.

A base is its home and charging station. If your vacuum road course isn’t completed before the battery runs out, it’s smart enough to return to get a charge and then complete its chore. The run time is about 90 minutes before a charge is needed.

When I engaged a conversation with friends who were against have a robotic vacuum I asked how well their existing vacuum gets under beds for dog hair. The answer was zero, but with the Deebot, it’s 100 percent.

www.ecovacs.com $549.99

Blue Microphone’s new Satellite wireless noise-cancelling headphones are promoted as the first with a built-in amp along with two separate pairs of drivers.

What does that mean to you or any non-techie, who want a great sounding headphone? This makes it one stop shopping, no need to look any further than the Satellite’s if you’re headphone shopping.

I knew they were as great as advertised after a few seconds of listening. And, they have a great modern look. So I went digging around to find out what makes the sound come to life.

According to Blue, the Satellite over-the-head headphones uses two separate drivers in each ear-cup. One is dedicated to high-fidelity audio, and the other for noise cancelling.

The sound system is listed on the Blue website as a “Patent pending 4-driver system featuring 2 custom 44mm ultra-responsive Blue dynamic drivers for audio and 2 dedicated 30mm drivers for active noise cancelling.”

The dual drivers allow the audio’s sound to stay at high quality levels, while the noise cancelling technology removes unwanted noise.

Blue has built the headphones with an analog audiophile amplifier to give you an incredible hi-fi sound.

The Satellites have a built-in rechargeable batteries, which are rated to last for 24 hours of straight wireless sound or 8 hours of hi-fi sound using the active noise cancelling.

A USB charging cable connects directly to the ear cup. There’s a buttons for power, pairing, the amplifiers and noise-calling on or off.

Often headphones I try feel great on my head for the first few minutes but often turn into an uncomfortable feel. The Satellites were placed on my head before I boarded a recent flight and weren’t removed until I got to baggage claim, about 3 hours later.

To me an airplane is the best location for testing noise-cancelling and these pasted the test with the highest grades possible.

With the holidays not far off, I’d put this as a solid contender for any gift list.

www.bluedesigns.com $399.99

With all the hurricanes hitting land these days, combined with the portable electronic world we live in, it’s a good idea to have an extra set (or 2) of USB charging cables and portable batteries packed, charged and ready to grab in a moment’s notice.

All portable batteries are not the same. Some have more charging ports than others and the amperage on the ports can be different, even if they look identical. Many of today’s tablets (iPad for example) need a 2.1A USB port for regular charging. They will charge on the other 1A USB port, but at a considerably slower rate.

The battery is measured by mAh (milliampere hours). For the most part, the higher the mAh number, the more charges you’ll get, bigger is better.

Keep in mind, even though the packaging on the battery say’s you’ll get a certain number of charges per battery cycle, that’s not totally correct. You have to take into account how powerful your device is since not all portable gadgets require the same amount of charging power.

My advice is to get at least 10,000 mAh along with 2 USB ports, 1 of which is 2.1A and a few extra cables. Even a pair of cheap $5 earbuds can be a great investment for an emergency kit or include the earbuds, which came with your device and most people never use.

Gadgets :: September 6, 2017

By Gregg Ellman
(@Greggellman)

Every now and then my wife reluctantly helps me by reviewing a product when I think it’s better geared to her lifestyle. The latest gadget I had her put to test is an illuminated, fully adjustable vanity mirror, which includes a wireless audio system.

The iHome iCVBT2 vanity mirror, described by the company as perfect for any beauty or grooming routine, was an instant hit on her side of the bathroom for her morning makeup session.

First, the 7-by-9-inch flat panel mirror worked great with LED lighting around the mirror, which can be used in high or low settings depending on the amount of light needed. She relayed to me that the mirror is distortion-free, bright and clear; just as a vanity mirror should be.

But it’s the extra features that bring the mirror to the technology world. With Bluetooth built in, along with a speaker you can connect your mobile device for music, weather, calls or any audio.

IHome_iCVBT2W_angle

The mirror’s base has a 1 Amp USB charging port to ensure your device is charged up for the day,

A row of buttons on the base control volume, answering calls, volume and even give you access to your voice assistants Siri or Google Now. The built-in microphone is perfect for handsfree calls, ensuring your routine is completed on schedule.

An AC adapter is included along with a cleaning cloth.

www.ihomeaudio.com $79.99.

The WASPcam 9907 4K durable sports camera is built to be ready for battle in dirt, water or just about any weather environment with a durable body around the camera, which shoots up to 4K video (mp4) and 20 megapixel still (jpeg) images.

I don’t often need a reason to get out of the pool and testing this camera kept me in there for a few extra hours. After a quick reading of the manual to learn the camera’s settings, it was as easy as any sports camera.

Features packed into the camera include six white balance settings, WiFi connects to the WASPcam app and time lapse controls.

The camera has a 12 Megapixel CMOS sensor and among the resolutions for video are 4K at 24 fps and 1080p at 60 fps. It has a waterproof exterior, which can be taken down to 98-feet. Files are recorded on microUSB memory card.

A 170-degree wide angle lens with a 4x digital zoom gives you a great view. And everything can be reviewed on a 1.5-inch LCD screen.

The camera is powered by a 1050 mAh Lithium-ion rechargeable battery. There’s also a port for microUSB to TV out for an easy connection to view on your big screen.

Several mounts and brackets are included with the camera.

www.waspcam.com $329.99

The reusable Absorbits wet phone rescue pouch gives you a bit of hope to save a water damaged smartphone or other small electronic device.

Using it is simple; just dunk your device in water (accidentally of course) and then towel dry as much as possible. If you can, remove the battery and place it and the rest of the electronic gadget in the pouch. It’s recommend to keep everything in the pouch anywhere from six to 24 hours.

According to a company spokesperson, “Our technology combines the moisture wicking ability of our fabric with the ability for the impregnated desiccates silica to encapsulate the moisture and provide a moisture scavenged environment.”

Keep in mind the pouch will remove the water, but will not repair any damage from the liquid. As long as your device fits in the 7.5-by-4.5 inches pouch, it’s worth a try.

The pouches can also be used for storing and protecting a phone when water isn’t an issue.

I haven’t tried the pouch since I don’t currently have a water damaged device, but look at this way, after your device drops in the pool or toilet, what do you have to lose?

www.absorbits.com $9.99, available in blue, silver, purple and black