Archive for August 2018

Gadgets :: August 15, 2018

by Gregg Ellman
(@greggellman)

The BoxLock is designed to prevent theft of delivery packages left by the front door. In addition to the anti-theft aspect, packages are protected from bad weather, which has victimized me. Nothing like having a box socked in a thunderstorm, etc.

The BoxLock smart padlock solves both these problems.  According to BoxLock, this is the first of its kind, an internet-connected security padlock that is attached to a delivery storage box or anything of your choice. After a simple setup, you’ll see how well it works to protect your deliveries. 

Like many of you, when I open new gadgets the instructions often never get read, but with the smart lock, you’ll have to follow the included instructions. The setup isn’t complicated but to ensure it works, you’ll have to set up a BoxLock account with a secure password within the accompanying app (iOS and Android).

Once your account is active follow the instructions to get the BoxLock setup, which includes getting it linked with your Wi-Fi.

You’ll must have an online account with whoever deliverers your package, which can include Amazon and major delivery services such as FedEx, UPS and the USPS. The BoxLock instructions tell you exactly what settings you’ll need to set up, which is all straightforward and only has to be done once, during the setup process.

After the setup, as a BoxLock company representative pointed out, you’ll be ready to fight off porch pirates since the receptacle with the BoxLock remains locked until a package is delivered.

My biggest question, which I’m sure anyone has, is how does the system work as far as verification, and opening and closing the lock when a package arrives.

When  drivers get to your house for the delivery, they scan the package for their system (they all use handheld mobile scanners) and then scan the label with the BoxLock. Once the label is approved by the lock, it opens allowing the driver to leave the package securely inside. 

You’ll then get a push notification of the delivery.

As far as the receptacles to use, that’s really up to you, how much space you have and what you want it to look like. My father-in-law would have built me the most fashionable, stylish box imaginable, made of wood.

BoxLock sent me a Step2 ($99.99) deluxe package delivery box (25-by-15-by-11-inches) with my test lock and they were a perfect pair.  It features a water-resistant design, hinged lid, and a lock latch, which can be used with the smart lock or any traditional padlock. This is just one of several choices in a line of certified BoxLock storage containers available.

Whatever receptacle you use, think about mounting it to your porch or patio. If you don’t want it that permanent, how about dropping a 50 pound bag of sand in the bottom? That will certainly add a really inexpensive additional layer to the security.

The BoxLock (8.46-by-4.25-by-3.54-inches) has a weather resistant case, a push to scan button on top which activates a bottom side barcode scanner. Inside is a chargeable battery, good for 30 to 60 days.

I’ve always felt like if someone’s going to try and steal something, I’m going to do my best to not make it easy for them. This system adds a sold layer of protection, which is even better than having a neighbor look out for your upcoming delivery. Common sense alone tells me this is a better system to keep packages secure from those lurking for a free front porch score vs just sitting there waiting to disappear.

Late last week I asked one of my local delivery drivers what they thought of home delivery security systems such as this and instantly I got two thumbs up and a smile.

Certainly an unofficial endorsement but in my mind, enough said.

www.getboxlock.com $129.00 

Gadgets :: August 8, 2018

by Gregg Ellman
(@greggellman)

A water bottle is certainly nothing new, nor is a Bluetooth speaker. But combine the two, just as iHome parent company SDI Technologies did with the new Aquio,  and you have a cool, innovative product.

The device is well made on both ends. A 16 ounce water bottle is double-walled stainless-steel, designed to keep your beverage hot for 14 hours or cold for 24 hours. 

A 5-watt speaker on the bottom is covered by a black grill with premium woven fabric. Inside is a USB rechargeable battery, good for about 6 hours of playtime.

The speaker screws off easily so you can hand wash the bottle. It’s sized cup holder friendly and has a carry loop on the air tight cap for attaching it to a backpack or wherever you want.

And if you feel like talking to your bottle, go right ahead. It has digital echo cancellation to use it as speakerphone for handsfree calls along with audio caller ID. This ensures you’ll know who you’re talking to on the other end of your bottle conversation.

The Aquio is iP67 rated, which makes it water and sand proof.

Aquio said it the first time ever a premium-quality BPA-free water bottle has been designed with a removable high-quality iHome music system in a recent press release and I think they hit a home run with this one.

aquiobottles.com $69.99, available in color choice of seafoam, merlot, midnight and blush

Wireless means wireless when you combine a wireless charging Qi-enabled smartphone with myCharge’s new UnPlugged series of wireless, pocket-sized chargers.

The charger is truly cable-free for charging anywhere, anytime for devices needing a power boost. Just put the charger against your smartphone and the charging begins. You can talk on the phone, use any app or just have the two sitting paired on a countertop while charging.

There’s also a pair of standard USB ports on the bottom for connecting cables to charge non-wireless charging devices. The USB ports and with the wireless charging will all work simultaneously for charging up to three devices. 

The new power banks are available in four sizes  of mAh power: 10,000 ($69.99), 8,000 ($59.99) , 5,000 ($49.99) and 3,000 ($29.99).

Among the features built into the UnPlugged batteries is smart-sense technology to ensure complete device compatibility, hyper-charge for ultra-fast charging, rapid-recharge and pass-through charging so you can charge up the UnPlugged battery while devices are connected for charging.

With the varying amount of power, each charger is good for a different amount of charges, with the 10k model at the top for up to 5 times your existing battery. Obviously charging times and the amount of portable power can vary depending on the size of the device(s) battery being charged.

The battery’s exterior has a white soft touch finish, which is kind of unusual and helps it stay fingerprint- and scratch-free. A small power button turns it on and off and charges itself through the microUSB port.

The 10k model measures 2.8-by-0.8-by-5.8-inches with a weight of just 0.4 pounds.

https://mycharge.com 

TwelveSouth has released AirSnap, a full-grain leather case tailor made for Apple AirPods.

The stylish case (2.9-by-2.1-by-.98-inches) is made to protect the true wireless earbuds and has a swiveling carabiner style metal clip to attach it your belt or backpack for keeping them secure and easy accessible.  A metal snap closes the case and there’s a cutout in the bottom so they can be charged while in the AirSnap.

www.twelvesouth.com $29.99 available in choices of black, deep teal and chocolate 

Gadgets :: August 1, 2018

by Gregg Ellman
(@greggellman)

Wireless earbuds are totally awesome except when, all too often, you turn them on and the battery is dead and they’re temporarily useless.

To the rescue comes the IFrogz Cocoon earbud charging case.

It’s shaped and sized similar to a hockey puck and built with a 580 mAh rechargeable battery, good for about five earbud charges.

The hard-shelled case is perfect to store earbuds while charging or just while not being used. This keeps your earbuds dust-, dirt- and damage-free. A quick-latch silicone band easily opens and closes the compartment. 

Along with the earbuds, there is room for a few more cables, keys, spare charge or other small items. Inside is a charging port for the included microUSB case.

A battery indicator is built into the case so you’ll know when the case needs a charge itself.

www.Zagg.com $29.99, available in color combinations of gray/navy and gray/red

Zagg has a few new keyboard solutions for increased tablet productivity with the launch of the Normad Book and Messenger Folio keyboards.

The Nomad Book ($99.99) is a universal solution that can be customized to fit a variety of today’s tablets. It’s built with two detachable bumpers, allowing the keyboard to fit most tablets sized 10.5-inches or smaller. This includes the Apple 10.5-inch iPad Pro, Apple 9.7-inch iPad Pro, Apple 9.7-inch iPad (2017-18 models), Apple iPad Air 2, Apple iPad Air, Samsung Galaxy Tab S3, and the Samsung Galaxy Tab S2, according to Zagg.

It also has multi-device pairing for connecting and using the keyboard simultaneously with a tablet and another device.

The Normad Book can be changed to different modes, adjusting the screen angle for optimal viewing. A reverse kickstand is included and a rechargeable battery can last up to two years between charges.

The Zagg Messenger Folio ($59.99) is a lightweight keyboard case for the Apple 10.5-inch iPad Pro. It transforms the iPad Pro into a practical workstation. It also features a built-in holder for an Apple Pencil, for easy access and safe storage.

A magnetic closure keeps your iPad security closed when not in use and Inside is a rechargeable battery for Bluetooth connections, which will last up to three months.

www.Zagg.com 

The new Mission Workshop Transit Arkiv weatherproof laptop briefcase is ideal for both daily and long-term travel use.

What caught my attention was the weatherproofing and its wax-coated exterior canvas (500HT nylon), an interior made with 140/70d nylon with TPU coating and YKK water resistant coated nylon zippers. 

Always keep in mind that weatherproof does not mean waterproof, meaning you’ll be fine if you get caught in a rainstorm but I wouldn’t consider taking a swim with the Arkiv in tow.

Inside is a fully padded laptop compartment (fits a 15-inch Macbook Pro), internal file organizer, mesh zip pocket, end cap water bottle pocket, and quick-access external zippered pocket for a smartphone, other small electronic accessories, wallet or keys.

Other features include a luggage pass through, removable shoulder strap with quick adjust hardware, waist-stabilization straps, bike rack attachment straps, inside pockets and zipper mesh pockets

The new case can be combined with Mission Workshop’s Radian, R2, R6, And R8 packs to create complete travel storage systems.

https://missionworkshop.com $255, available in black, gray, black camo, brown waxed canvas, olive waxed canvas