Gadgets :: March 14, 2016

by Gregg Ellman

Like many other music fans, my conversion 25 years ago to CDs and then digital music  files put an end to my vinyl listening. But I could never get my self to part with my collection, so it has moved around the country with me, always finding a spot for the milk crate of records in a closet.

My collection came to life recently after Crosley sent me their new C200 turntable.

There’s a quick setup, attaching a few parts and pieces, connecting the needle (Audio-Technica magnetic cartridge) and balancing it to rest on the vinyl properly. A damped die-cast aluminum platter and felt slip mat for the records to sit on drop into place.

This takes just minutes, along with connecting the included RCA cables to your existing receiver.

Once connected and playing, I loved the sound of the needle dropping down to play  along with the clean static noise you get from this type of music hardware.

I actually found myself flipping through my records thinking about what would be the best choice for a first listen and the winner was Boston’s debut album, which to this day is still on my iTunes playlist.

Functionally, it’s a direct drive, high-torque motor with a built-in preamp, has a start stop button, an adjustable counter-weight balanced, hydraulic lift control arm and plays 33 1/3 and 45 RPM records (with the included adapter). 

One thing I did remember during my testing was that decades ago I shed my 45 collection, so much to my disappointment, the 45RPM adapter sat unused.

As for the appearance, I’m not up on how other companies are making the look of turntables but I really like how Crosley kept a vintage look, while also appearing modern with a matte black finish.

While meeting with Crosley company representatives at a trade show earlier this year, they fed me some facts about the vinyl industry making a robust return the last few years. This includes manufacturing, sales and the return of people like me. $279

A lot of people stay away from battery smartphone cases to avoid the excess bulk and weight. Moshi’s iGlaze Ion battery case two-piece battery case for the iPhone 6/6s solves that problem since it’s just that; two pieces, which you use as needed.

Your phone sits in a nice looking and thin profile case but when you need the battery boost just attach it to the outer charging case.

Inside is a 2,700 mAh battery, which connects to the lightning port on the iPhone and charges while your phone is still on your desk or held up to your ear on a call.


You can keep the battery attached at all times or remove it to eliminate some bulk and weight when it’s not needed.

The battery charges up from any USB power source. $99.95

Another great new iPhone accessory case is Pelican’s IP68 Marine waterproof case.

I don’t usually like to put my iPhone in water but since I’m a big fan of Pelican, what the heck. It’s promoted to withstand being submerged at a depth of two meters for up to 30 minutes.

I didn’t go that far but it did get a few minutes in my kitchen sink and it worked to perfection.

Along with the waterproof features, it keeps your phone dust and dirt free. It’s constructed with durable impact absorbing materials and military standards of advanced shock protection for drops and impact.

The scratch resistant coated protector for the LCD is crystal clear for viewing and keeps the touchscreen fully functional. $79.95 for the iPhone6/6S and Galaxy S6, $89.95 for the iPhone 6 Plus and 6S Plus

Gadgets :: March 7, 2019

by Gregg Ellman

Activity wearables are a booming business that helps you track your daily activities, contributing to an active and healthy lifestyle.

Now your dog’s activities can be tracked by attaching a PitPat to the collar of your best four-legged friend.

After it’s attached you download the free PitPat app to your Android or Apple iOS device to follow your dog’s stats.

The app records the activities and sets guidelines for your pet based on its breed  (over 200 choices), age and existing measured activity.

The PitPat measures 1.5-by-1.2-by-.6 inches and weighs 0.42 ounces. It attaches with Velcro to your dog’s existing collar (fit collars up to 40 mm wide and 5 mm thick) and is waterproof (IP67) for quick dips in ponds and splashes.

I attached it to my 12-pound dog, she didn’t really show any reaction. As expected, she didn’t do much while I was working (just as a remote camera showed me years ago) and pretty much spent the day shut eyed.

The goal of the PitPat is to keep your dog healthy for a longer and happy life, just as an activity tracker does for you and me.

If you have multiple pets, the app can support up to three individual PitPat devices. It’s powered by a small coin-sized battery (CR1632) and should last for about a year.

One thing I did wonder was answered on the PitPat site: does the device emit harmful radiation that could harm my dog? And the answer is No, the PitPat uses standard Bluetooth technology, which is perfectly safe for humans and pets. $55.48

The Monster Power black platinum 1200 power strip does everything you would expect from a high-end surge protector.

It has 12 AC outlets attached to a 6-foot cord, 2 USB charging ports (3.4amp), provides fireproof protection, noise filtration and cable/satellite TV coax protection.

The main attraction is the power surge protection aspect, which you should use on all your valuable electronics – computers, gaming units, TVs, etc.  A power surge is a spike in your data or power lines, most often caused by weather, but it could also be from heavy usage on the lines or utility company issues.

What really interested me in this device is the power line (PLC) communication, which I was not familiar with.

I spoke with a representative from Monster to explain what PLC is and simply, it’s a communication protocol that uses your house’s existing electrical wiring for electrical outlets to carry and transmits data.

So after you plug you’re existing data into Black Platinum 1200, you send your existing Internet signal to another part of your house for a wired Internet connection.

A great aspect is that you set this up yourself; just plug in the included power line adapter to an AC outlet near your existing modem. Then use an ethernet cable to connect them.

Figure out where you want your computer or whatever needs a wired Internet connection. Then plug the power strip into an AC outlet and an ethernet cable to the ethernet port on the power center.

This replaces the need of a long ethernet cable or it can reach where a cable can’t.

You also get $1 million insurance to guarantee the Black Platinum 1200 will protect the equipment connected to it. Check the Monster warranty for details. $199.95

In no particular order, the Marley Chant Sport portable Bluetooth speaker has great sound and great looks.

The Bluetooth sound comes from a pair of speakers (4.5W, 1.75-inch drivers and a  2X passive radiator) inside a 360-degree sound chamber covered by a black mesh grill.

As for the looks, it shouldn’t be a surprise since Marley really put a great emphasis on their product’s appearance.

The outside is made of recycled blended bio-plastic, silicone and recyclable aluminum.  It has an IPX7 water-resistant rating so it can withstand getting caught in a quick rain shower but just don’t take it for a swim, although it will float.

It measures 7.75-by-3.65-by-3.65-inches and is shaped like a water bottle to  conveniently first into a cup holder.

Inside is a rechargeable lithium-ion battery, good for about 8 hours of play and a built-in microphone for handsfree calls. $79.99

Gadgets :: February 28, 2016

By Gregg Ellman

So how would you like it if someone paid for every speeding ticket you get during the next year?

Well, thats what will happen if you purchase and register a K40 Electronics radar detector.

I’ve used the K40 RLS2 (all-band radar and laser detector with GPS technology) for a while and fortunately for me, I haven’t gotten a ticket, nor have I a pushed temptation with my gas pedal. Never-the-less, this radar detector is packed with amazing features past the Ticket-Free Guarantee program.

It detects law enforcement radar and announces what band and approximately how far is is from you. This includes the newest KA radar band, K band and all the way back to the oldest X Band, which according to a K40 customer service representative is very rare these days.

If you’ve ever used a radar detector you know it goes off for non-police radar sources. To combat that, the Quiet Ride feature is perfect. Through an easy to navigate menu, you can eliminate alerts from anything until you get to the speed you set it to, to make the alerts go off.

False warnings can also be eliminated with the Mark to Mute setting for false alerts, along with alerting you for upcoming school zones, stop signs or traffic lights.

K40 promotes a consultant system, which I called to get some tips and tricks. The rep suggested using the device horizontally (obviously aiming forward) for the best performance.

Another suggestion I really liked is the Wake Up setting to shorten the startup when it’s turned on. This enables quicker departures over time.

Overall there are 13 customized settings, including the brightness of the display, customized audio and visual alerts and mark alerts, which might be highly patrolled by law enforcement.

As for  the Ticket-Free Guarantee program, K40 claims to be the first radar detector manufacturer in the world to offer this program. The full policy on what’s covered or not covered (speeding in school zones etc.) along with the complete policy is on the K40 site.

A windshield mounting bracket with suction cups, a 12V coiled power cord and straight power cord for a custom hardwired installation are included. $399.99

The PhotoFast iOS card reader is built with a lightning connector that plugs  directly into any iPad or iPhone supporting the lightning connection.

What makes this more than just another device is that it stores a microUSB memory card (up to 128GB) for extended the internal storage capabilities of your device.

Once the memory card is in the reader, it’s essentially plug-and-play to transfer, stream and backup digital images, audio, video, calendars and document files. All this is done through the free i-FlashDrive ONE app, which also stores and backs-up from cloud storage and social media.

This essentially gives the iOS devices the memory and ease of use to get content on and off and even transfer from a non-Apple device.

The app has security features, supports Touch ID and has a lock to keep the tiny memory card secure. available with up to 128GB capacity, prices start at $39.99

Sticky Sounds is a mountable speaker for extreme sport enthusiasts.

It’s built with an IPx6 waterproof rating, enabling it to withstand splashes of rain, dirt and dust along with small drops.

You can use it with most GoPro adapters and mounts along with a bunch of third party accessories for mounting on bikes, water accessories, backpacks or most anything you can secure it to.

An internal battery keeps it playing for about 8 hours and is charged via USB, so you can mount a portable battery (not included) for extended use.

You can insert your microUSB memory card full of music to listen to or just pair it to your device with Bluetooth.

After a day on the muddy trails, wipe the speaker with a damp cloth and you’ll be ready for the next adventure. $48.95

Gadgets :: February 15, 2016

By Gregg Ellman

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. $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. $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. $49.99

Gadgets :: 2016 February 8

by Gregg Ellman

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. $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.

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

“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.


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

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. $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. $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. $99.99

Gadgets :: 2016 January 18

By Gregg Ellman (#greggellman)

I always think the portable Bluetooth speaker market is so good and so crowded that there isn’t room for another. Well, the Mass Fidelity Core system proves me wrong.

Right out of the box the setup took seconds to get a head-turning sound from the internal 120 watts of digital power.

After pairing and cranking the speaker up, I agree with the Mass Fidelity’s statement, “The Core produces a huge multi-dimensional sound image that’s like listening to a pair of separated high-end speakers.” This allows the sound to be consistent from any angle of the speaker, which you don’t see very often.

They have packed inside of the handheld or desktop speaker (6 x 6 x 4-inches) five custom-designed speaker drivers with a downward-firing woofer.

They have combined the hardware with Acoustic Holography technology, which is new technology to me. That translate to big sound from the small speaker.

Bass is my favorite, but not a head banging amount. The Core delivers the right amount to enhance the sound, not distract you from it.

If you want a complete multi-room system, you can connect up to eight Cores without needing Wifi or any other network. It creates its own network whether you use the speakers together or independently.

The internal battery will give you about 12 hours before a charge is needed. There’s also a USB port for charging your device, aux input for a wired connection and an optical input for a cable/satellite box, Roku or Apple TV. $599

Among other things, I guess my house can now be considered a home brewery after using the Fizzics draft beer system.

It’s not really a home brew system but the concept is to take any beer and create a beer tap system.

I set it up and put a low-end beer in the Fizzics, I had a friend over who is much more of a beer drinker than myself.

The system works with any carbonated beer (can or bottle), which you place inside a canister of the system and insert a plastic tube. Your beer is now ready to dispense through the tap system.

There’s no need for any COS or nitro cartridges. All you need is the Fizzics, a beer and a glass.

I told him about the system and I wanted an honest answer on what he thought after I pulled the lever forward and poured him a beer into a chilled mug. After the glass was past halfway full, you pull the lever backwards to create a great foam head, which is critical to any tap beer lover.

After a few sips and some pondering I asked what he thought and his honest answer was “I don’t think this is a top shelf beer but it’s definitely not a low end either.” He was quite surprised when I showed him what he was drinking.

I personally loved the concept of an inexpensive system to pour draft beer. I’m not a big beer drinker but I would surely enjoy it more, when I drink on occasion.

It works off of 4 AA batteries (not included), which should last for over 100 pours of a 12 ounce beer. $169.99

The Reachcase (r79x) is designed to extend the signal for an iPhone 6/6s and iPhone 6/6s plus.

It’s well-built and rugged case protects your phone and is certified with drop-test protection, which exceeds military drop standards.

What makes it more than another case is that it automatically extends your smartphone’s internal antenna.

Specifically, the case has an internal multi-patented, micro-thin antenna, which automatically couples with your phone to expand and extend your antenna, resulting in clearer conversations and fewer dropped calls.

Just put the case on your phone and the back-sided antenna slides out.

It’s not certified by Apple but the company states an independent third party lab has validated that the case does improve the phone’s internal antenna. $59.99

Gadgets :: 2016 January 16

By Gregg Ellman (#greggellman)

At last week’s Consumer Electronics Show, they really upped the security guidelines with shoulder bag and backpack restrictions. With these changes, it was a perfect time to put Quest Vest from ScotteVest to use.

When I say it’s loaded with pockets (42) thats an understatement. There are pockets inside pockets so you won’t run out of storage for any of your digital accessories.

I liked that it looks just like a vest with a pair of outside pockets, with no indication of the accessories you might be storing.

This way you can load it up and it doesn’t broadcast any of the pricy electronics you have inside, unless it is being X-rayed during a security check.

The first day I actually packed too much including my iPhone, iPad with keyboard case, charging cables, a pair of portable USB batteries, keys, notebook, paperwork, snacks, a water bottle, earbuds and a lot more.

A funny problem was I couldn’t remember where I put my stuff so I had to give myself a pat down to find things. But after that it was great and I didn’t have to remember whether I had picked up my shoulder bag when leaving a location because I didn’t have one.

I did switch things around, trying to find the perfect balance, which I did. All the zippers feel like they are well constructed and should last a long time.

The 65-percent cotton and 35-percent nylon fabric exterior is Teflon treated for water and stain resistance, which came in handy since I was caught in the rain a few times. $145

The new Bluesmart suitcase is a good first effort in the smart luggage category.

It’s built with a digital lock, location tracking, trip data tracking and a built-in battery for charing your USB device with ports inside and outside the suitcase.

Before you start packing, the suitcase weighs nine pounds and a built-in scale in the handle tells you what it weighs, inside the app, after you’re packed.

You can’t check the bag in due to TSA airline restrictions because of the built-in battery. It would be nice if the battery could be removed so you have the option to check in the bag, but right now it doesn’t.

Bluesmart (22.4 x 14.4 x 9.8-inches, slightly larger than TSA guidelines of 22 x 14 x 9 inches) is built with a solid construction of a hard polycarbonate shell, a retractable handle, and four smooth rolling wheels.

On my flight it had no problem fitting in the overhead storage on an American Airlines 737. They never asked me if my bag would it in the bag sizer and I didn’t offer to test it. Make sure you check your airline’s carry-on guidelines to ensure it conforms.

It fits whatever you can pack in; clothes, computers, camera gear, etc. Once your packed, you can lock or unlock it with the free Bluesmart app after you make a wireless (Bluetooth) connection, which takes just seconds.

The internal battery (10,000mAh) is charged with the included microUSB cable and can charge an iPhone up to six times. With the internal port you can charge your stuff while flying so its ready when you land.

The outside port makes it easy to charge while waiting for a flight or if it fits in under the seat for close access.

Even though the bag is carry-on only, it has tracking, which I guess can be used if someone grabs your bag and runs. You’ll only have about a 100-feet range to see where it is if you look inside the app. After that the internal SIM card can get you the GPS coordinates sent to your phone.

This was the first suitcase I ever had to read the included instructions (the company website frustrated me to no end with registrations) to work the features. $399

It’s not electronic but I took along the Travelrest memory foam travel pillow on my trip. For now on, I won’t leave home without it.

It’s made from NASA-developed thermo-sensitive memory foam, molds to your head and neck and has non-slip backing to hold the pillow in place.

There’s also a non-slip back and it can be compressed to 1/4 of its size when you’re on-the-go. $39.95

Gadgets :: 2015 December 28

By Gregg Ellman (#greggellman) & Elmo Sapwater (#imaginginsider)

Flicks 1The words on the outside of the Flicks mobile cordless boombox projector box ìA Move Theatre. Impossibly Portable,î perfectly describes the system.

I’ll add that it’s incredibly simple to work, sounds great, projects a great image and doesn’t take up a lot of space.

The all-in-one (5.31 x 11.77 x 6.52-inches) projector and Bluetooth speaker projects a crystal-clear widescreen video in 720p HD with TexasInstruments DLP technology.Flicks 2

I used it with an Apple laptop and connected it with the included-HDMI cable to display a movie, which is projected from the lens on the backside.

The lens is constructed from combination of plastic aspheric and glass spheric to deliver the image in perfect saturation and color quality.

On the product’s website they talk about showing a 100-inch image with the Flicks at just over eight feet from the wall, so I did just that a nd I was as crystal clear as advertised.

Projectors typically give off a lot of heat and this one is designed with a cooling system to pull in air and keep it cool on all sides.

On the front is the speaker for the movie audio or to just stream music wirelessly from any Bluetooth device.

A pair of custom-designed neodymium speakers and a subwoofer are inside to deliver the sound, which makes this a complete system at high or low volumes.

All the control buttons for power, volume, pairing, etc., are on the top. On the back is the lens, power, HDMI, headphone and AUX connections.  A master on/off switch is on the bottom.

There’s also a USB port, which can be used for charging (smartphones, tablets, etc.) or direct connection for a streaming music device.

Flicks are available with a 140-watt lithium-ion battery ($599), which is good for 4 hours of movies or 28 hours of music. If you want to double that, just get the 280-watt model ($699).

Both include an AC power adapter to keep it running endlessly along with a wireless remote.


Forrte 1The Twelve South Forté for Apple Watch did the impossible; it makes the luxury wristwatch look even better.

Your Apple Watch sits on the high-quality stand (3.35-inches high by 3.26-inches wide, 3.77-inches deep) and has a cable management system to use your own charging cable.

It’s cleverly designed to allow your cable to be installed or removed in seconds from the top-grain genuine black napa leather base up toForrte 2 the polycarbonate chromed ring. The removable ring secures the charging disk in place.

The base is weighted so your watch sits on the arm for charging and can be used hands-free in portrait or landscape modes at a 40-degree angle. This is the perfect angle when using the watch in nightstand mode.

The Forté is compatible with all styles of the Apple Watch. $59.99

 The AirCharge case for iPhones introduced me to something new — wireless charging for my iPhone 6.

When you combine this made-for-iPhone certified case with the smartphone, you just place it on any Qi wireless charger (sold separately) for charging.

While the Qi charging isn’t imbedded into the iPhone system, the AirCharge case brings  the two together.

When you put your iPhone inside the case, there’s a lightning connector that goes into your phone to transfer the charge from the Qi charging base.

The wireless charging is a magnetic field in the charging base, which transfers power to a receiver (in this system’s charging case) when placed on top of the charger. All cable free.

The case is black and white and protects your device while giving you full access to the functions and touchscreen. $43.99