GADGETS :: November 18, 2020

by Gregg Ellman (@greggellman) As they say, a day late and a dollar short. But with the window-mounted Scosche NEXS1 Smart, full high definition dash camera, powered by Nexar, I’ll be ready for next time.

I’m referring to a minor car accident (no injuries) I was in two weeks ago while this dash cam sat boxed up on my desk, waiting to be tested. Not 24 hours later I had it unpacked and ready for testing;  sure enough it would have helped me greatly and hopefully there’s not the next time.

It wasn’t that long ago that dashcams were a complicated setup, often ending in frustration. With NEXS1, which is part of Scosche’s SafeTech line of products designed to make driving safer, you can have it set up and filming in no time.

A quick-release StickGrip suction cup mounts on the windshield (front or back) and an included dual-port adapter plugs with an 11.5-foot cable for power. Setting up the Wi-Fi to connect the camera and a cell phone is done with the Wi-Fi pairing button.

The image quality from the NEXS1 front-facing dashcam is outstanding. A 140-degree lens captures a wide-angle view in 1080p full HD. Inside, a SONY Starvis image sensor works well at night and in other low-light environments. A high-precision G-Sensor automatically detects the impact and crucial moments for recording. This includes parking mode for recording incidents when the driver isn’t in the car.

When you start driving, the camera turns on and when you stop, it shuts off. Auto-loop recording is done directly to the included SanDisk 32GB micro-SD memory card, which can be expanded up to 256GB. With the included free cloud storage, along with the Nexar app (iOS and Android) recordings are uploaded so they can be deleted from the camera. 

A great feature that caught my attention is the 1-Click reporting. It works with the app for submitting an incident report directly to participating insurance companies, which includes the location with the automatic GPS. Nexar’s Groups feature can immediately alert anyone you choose along with the location if an accident occurs. $159 for the suction cup mount version, $149 for the automotive-grade adhesive dash mount

Another handy automotive accessory from Scosche is the Magic Mount Fresche Magnetic FreeFlow vent mount. The dual-purpose universal phone mount and air freshener attach to a vehicle’s air vent, which makes it a breeze to take it and out. An adjustable arm rotates 360-degrees and is adjustable to move away from the air vent. 

A replaceable air fresher cartridge (one included) releases fragrance for up to 30 days. To get the magnetic mount on your phone or case, a device safe MagicPlate is included. 

There’s also a Fresche Grip FreeFlow with an adjustable holder for smartphones up to 3.5-inches wide. $24.99

If it’s possible to get excited about a portable battery, Satechi’s Quatro wireless charging power bank is it. Consider it a charging and organization power solution, since it can eliminate a bunch of other chargers and a mess of tangled cables.

Four charging sources are built into the pocket-sized (6.4-by-2.9-by-0.7-inches) 10,000 mAh rechargeable battery. Inside is a Qi charging pad with a 5W charging speed, and an Apple certificated Apple Watch charging puck up to 2.5W. The Qi charging area can be used for wireless charging devices including iPhones, and AirPods in addition to non-Apple Qi-enabled devices.

On the side are two additional charging ports, a 12W USB-A port for connecting charging cables (not included) and a fast-charging 18W USB-C output port, which doubles as a charging port for the battery itself.

Even though four devices can be connected at once, understandably Satechi recommends only charging up to three devices simultaneously.

All this adds up to one charger for multiple devices at home or on-the-go. Apple users will also admire the Quatro’s appearance with its slick modern style. At a quick glance, it gives an iPhone appearance with its black finish and chrome sides. LED battery level indicators are built into the end for displaying how much power is remaining in the battery itself. $99.99 

GADGETS :: November 11, 2020

by Gregg Ellman :: It’s refreshing to use a new piece of technology and not stare at a screen. When I read about a new handheld game, which asked what’s small, round, and packed with 1,000 hours of fun for all ages and does not have a screen, it got my attention. Well, the answer is Jogoball, which was easy to figure out since the email was from Jogoball and parent company Yogibo.

Yogibo is a company known for lifestyle furniture and accessories with comfort and relaxation, filled with sensory and health benefits. The new line of fun technology starts with the Jogoball.

Jogoball is subscription-free and recommended for ages 8 to 98. The baseball-sized handheld smiling character gadget has a Bluetooth speaker and a gaming console built-in with 15 games with over 1,000 hours of content so no two games are the same.

Since it doesn’t have a screen, you need the companion app (iOS/Android) to choose a game. The app keeps the firmware updated, player accounts and scores

Game choices include music (use Jogoball like an instrument to make music), active (endurance workouts), mind (trivia), and social games. They are styled in games of True or False, Guess Who?, Escape Academy, Ice Breaker, and Beat Beat. Once a game is chosen an announcer introduces the game and instructions.

To play, just toss it between players, roll or tap it, just make it move to activate any of six built-in axis of motion detection sensors inside of the durable device. A protective blue Hugibo silicone skin covering keeps it safe.

LED lights on the Jogoball blink at different times based on the game being played. Inside is a rechargeable battery, and a micro USB cable is included for charging and loading free updates and new content.

Replacement silicone character sleeve covers are available for purchase ($29) to change the look of the Jogoball. $119

Twelve South’s Curve Riser is a desktop accessory you won’t think you’ll need until you use it and then you wonder how you ever lived without it.

Well, that might be a little exaggeration, but the Curve Riser premium metal stand is an outstanding addition to any work station and helps declutter every desk. It’s marketed for Apple iMacs but will work just fine with any display Mac or PC, TV, or anything needing a little lift.  Once it’s in place and your display is on top, the valuable desktop real estate it was taking up, is now back and with a little extra.

Keeping a display on top also provides a much better viewing height with a 4.25-inch rise, resulting in a more healthy neck, back, and eye-friendly, ergonomic viewing height. But you also get a storage shelf for hard drives, hubs, cables, or anything you can fit.

Small monitor-free computers, such as a Mac Mini can fit in the center shelf with an easy, open-air flowing ventilated area. Connecting cables is simple since the monitor is right there and can be run out of the back end of the open shelf where all the ports need a short connection.

Under the shelf, the base of the Curve Riser curves in to sit on a flat surface and offers more storage space.

The overall dimensions of the sharp-looking Curve Riser with a matte black finish are 4.2-inches high, 12.52-inches wide, and 9.65-inches deep. The shelf height is 1.75-inches. Displays with round or square bases up to 10-inches wide are supported.

Knowing these dimensions in advance is helpful to measure your area before purchasing. Before purchasing this or any other similar accessory, which will changed a viewing angle, consider this homework to see if it’s right for you since we all have a different workspace.

Changing the height of a monitor can be very beneficial but can also work in reverse if the angle isn’t comfortable. If it fits, the Curve Riser is a great choice. $79.99

GADGETS :: November 4, 2020

(by Gregg Ellman) I never heard of Puro Sound Labs when they emailed me offering a tryout of the PuroPro wireless, volume limiting, active noise-cancelling headphones,  so I figured, why not?

Right out of the box, without reading anything, I was impressed. With Bluetooth 5.0, they paired easily with my iPhone and in an hour’s time, they passed my comfort test since they were still on my head. The comfort comes from what Puro calls protein leather ear cushions, which rotate and are attached to a folding headband (great for storage and traveling).

Each ear has a 40 mm dynamic driver, with Puro Balanced Response Curve providing  a genuine studio-grade listening experience. Engineered to deliver audio with clear, crisp vocals and full, dynamic bass all within the 85dB & 95dB volume limits.

After a few hours of listening, I finally read up on the PuroPro and what caught my attention was Pure Sound Labs’ commitment to safe listening with a feature called volume limiting. I wasn’t familiar with the feature, but now I’m a fan. It lets you choose between the default 85dB and 95dB, to limit the maximum volume levels for protecting yourself from permanent hearing loss.

While you might not be familiar with these settings, Puro states it’s recommended by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and World Health Organization to keep volume limits for safe listening at 85dB for up to eight hours or 50 minutes at the higher 95dB setting. There is a difference and I’m sure at times everyone, just like I did, would to try the higher levels. Both settings produced a well balanced, clear, crisp sound along with full dynamic bass.

There are two levels of active noise cancellation to remove background noise and sounds. If you buy headphones with this feature, why not keep it on, which I would recommend. Pure Sound Labs says Level 1 provides a deep noise reduction of 32dB, while Level 2 will produce a general noise reduction of 15dB.

Controlling the power, volume, music selections, answering calls, pairing, and ANC are done with controls on the bottom of the right ear.

Looking back, actually, the first impression I had with the PuroPro headphones was the packaging, They arrive in an attractive lightweight wood box, and included a hard traveling case along with a 3.5 mm audio cable and another for USB charging.

With a full charge, the battery life is listed as playing for 28 hours with the ANC on and 32 hours with it off. On standby, they will stay charged for 300 hours. Five microphones are built-in, one for hands-free calls and four for ANC. $149.99

I’ve had the Anker Sprit X2 total wireless sport earphones sitting on my desk for a few months and I’m glad I finally tried them. Aside for the great audio, they instantly solved a fear I have with my current true wireless earbuds.

The sport style true wireless earbuds are built with extreme durability, which ensures they won’t fall out, at least not easily. With the Sprit X2s flexible ear-hooks, they give you the peace of mind to know they won’t fall off and roll down a street drain or anywhere else they can’t be retrieved.

But there’s a whole lot more to like about the Sprit X2s. If you’re a bass lover, these are for you. Each earbud has a 12 mm oversized driver and Anker BassTurbo. This is done with construction and technology where an acoustic chamber is built behind the driver, resulting in a powerful bass resonance. Anker’s BassUp technology uses a custom algorithm to add more bass.

With SweatGuard technology and an iP68 sweat and dustproof rating, along with the secure fit they are ideal with any active lifestyle. With the ear-hooks and their submarine structure and hydrophobic nano-coating, Anker feels they will last 100 times longer compared to other ordinary true wireless earbuds.

Handsfree calls are crystal clear with noise reduction technology to remove background sound. And with Qualcomm aptX audio technology, the Spirit X2 delivers exceptional, lossless sound quality with the Bluetooth connection.

Along with the earbuds, the box is filled with everything you need to have the right fit for almost any use. This includes Soundcore five sizes of ear-tips and three sets of ear-wings. A charging case and a USB-C charging cable are also included.

A single charge will last for nine hours of play, with another 36 hours from the charging case. $79.99

GADGETS :: October 28, 2020

(by Gregg Ellman) – Innovative, timely and overall a great product is how to describe the new iHome iUVBT1 Pro UV-C sanitizer Bluetooth speaker. It is part of iHomes, the flagship brand of SDI Technologies, new iHome Health line of UV-C sanitizing products.

Obviously, this is a timely product during the pandemic, but keeping smartphones, earbuds, glasses, keys, credit cards and remote controls clean and safe are a long-term necessity. The UV-C protection, iHome states, is lab tested to kill 99.9-percent of viruses and bacteria without  liquids or chemicals.

To sanitize, open a top-sided lid to expose the compartment for items to be sanitized. When the lid is open the UV-C LEDs turn off to avoid UV light exposure and turn back on when it’s closed to clean in just three minutes.

A total of 12 UV-C LEDs are on the top and bottom ensuring a full 360-degree sanitization. A countdown timer for the cleaning process displays the 180-second sanitization cycle.

While sanitizing is the new feature for the iHome nightstand system, there are dual alarms and the built-in Bluetooth speaker can be connected to a portable device for wireless audio streaming. A pair of 5W USB-A charging ports keep portable devices charged.  The intelligent clock dimmer has a built-in sensor that automatically adjusts the brightness based on how much ambient light is in the room.

The independent lab report conducted by EMTEK for iHome and parent company SDI Technologies Inc., is posted on the iHome site. $129.99

The Zenfox T3 triple channel dashcam shows how far, efficient, and easy to use dashcams have become . And honestly, I never thought a dashcam would have so many features and be so much fun.

With the T3 system, you not only record the road ahead but also records the inside of the car and rearview making it ideal for everyday family safety, ride shares, Uber, Lyft, and taxis.

There’s no shortage of features in this camera system including capturing video of theft, accidents, and security while parked but what first caught my attention was the video quality, which is done with Sony STARVIS image sensors.

The front camera has a 160-degree view recording 2560-by-1440P at 30 frames per second. Both the rear and interior record 140-degree views at 1920-by-1080P full HD, also at 30fps. Four infrared LEDs are built into the interior camera for nighttime conditions, which worked great, even in almost total darkness.

Mounting and camera setup is pretty simple with included cables and accessories. It does take a little time to ensure they are mounted with the view you want along with having the cables tucked away for a safe mount. All three camera lenses can be rotated small amounts, even after they are mounted.

The front and inside view camera are on one piece and attach with the included 3M adhesive. A power cord is included and is plugged into any 12-volt cigarette lighter. Typically the ideal place for this, and how I tested it, is the top center of the windshield, just to the left of the rearview mirror.

Positioning is critical, even with the wide-angle view since both cameras are on the same hardware. A 2-inch display is on the inside with control buttons under it. The power is on the side along with ports for the power and rear cameras able connections.

Speaking of the rear camera, you have a little more flexibility where to position it, with a lot depending on the style of the vehicle and specifically the rear winder. I had it on the bottom of a flat SUV window so it wouldn’t be a distraction and it can even go on the rear bumper or the license plate area.

Once installation is complete, getting the system going includes built-in 2.4GHz and 5GHz Wi-Fi, which connect with the Zenfox app for controlling the settings, viewing, and downloading captured videos. The ZenFox T3 also has built-in GPS, which are embedded into the videos. Recording is in an endless loop with the latest recording over the oldest. Along with viewing videos on the app, a microSD card slot is on the right side, which supports up to 256GB of storage (card not included).

The ZenFox also has a built-in G-sensor to detect sudden impact, which is described as supporting variable sensitivity, the dash cam can auto-detect any sudden knock or collision and lock the crucial footage to prevent it from being overwritten. $246

GADGETS :: October 21, 2020

by Gregg Ellman

With any iPhone launch comes the fun of getting accessories to dress them up and keep them protected. And with the recent launch of the iPhone 12, there’s plenty to choose from. 

Smartish, an iPhone accessory company known for clever innovative products that are useful in so many environments.

Smartfish is never short on great names and the Dancing Queen ($29.99) is the leader of the pack. It’s described as a multi-tasker, which it certainly is with storage for a night out on the town. This includes the iPhone, ID, cash, and credit cards. It’s made with an adjustable neck/shoulder strap and removable wristlet for customizing it different environments. 

The Gripzilla ($19.99) is Smartfish’s king of phone cases since it’s built to withstand daily abuse. Along with grooved sides and a textured surface, Gripzilla allows wireless charging and has cushioned corners to absorb some of the blow when the accidental drops happen, which they will. 

Sticking the new Sidecar ($14.99) wallet to the outside of most smartphone cases adds storage for credits cards, cash, and even a key. It’s reusable with its 3M adhesive and leaves no residue behind when removed.

Scosche announced a new line of iPhone 12 MagSafe-compatible mounts with four models to work with Apple’s new MagSafe wireless charger mounts for in-car and at-home use. The patent-pending MagicMount MSC create a safe hands-free setup.

Mounting to windows, dashboards, cup holders and air vents is a simple and secure connection with all the MagicMount MSC, the Dash, Double-Pivot, Cup-Holder, and FreeFlow Vent mounts. Availability and pricing will be available beginning January 2021. 

Among the endless iPhone accessories from ZAGG Brands is the InvisibleShield and Gear4 case-friendly screen protectors ready to cover the front of the new iPhone 12, while preserving full-touch screen access.

The Glass Elite VisionGuard ($49.99) is the strongest protector made, according to ZAGG. Along with the protection, there is Kastus Anti-microbial technology and Blue Light Filter built-in to kill up to 95 percent of human coronavirus after 30 minutes, and up to 99.9 percent of Staph and E. coli surface bacteria.

Gear4 cases feature RepelFlex Antimicrobial to protect the case coatings against the growth of odor-causing bacteria and degradation from microorganisms.

The Wembley folio flip case ($39.99) is made with recycled plastic from water bottles and provides D3O protected for the new phones for up to10-foot drops

According to Gear4, D3O with 5G Signal PlusTM technology, is the companies its latest material development engineered for optimal 5G connection. D3O with 5G Signal Plus Technology utilizes micro voids to allow 5G signal to pass through successfully, with no compromise on drop protection. 

If the Pelican Protector case with Micropel ($39.99) is good enough for first responders with its military-spec protection, it’s more than good enough for the daily iPhone drops and bangs most of us put them through.

The case has a rigid, impact-resistant outer shell with a shock-absorbing rubber lining. It will easily take on stairs, sidewalks, and everywhere else a phone may accidentally tumble. While the protection is second to none at keeping your phone safe, full functionality remains intact. Micropel protection is built into the case to keep it looking new.

A Kokoon press release caught my attention with a Kickstarter campaign for NightBuds, what they call and claim to have confirmed, as the world’s thinnest smart Bluetooth earbuds at 5.4 mm.

Developed with Europe’s largest sleep laboratory, the goal of the earbuds is to make getting to sleep an enjoyable experience. The tiny, sleep sensing earbuds work with an app to intelligently look after sleep and transform the sleeping experience.

While the user is falling asleep the app provides insights and coaching specific to them to improve their sleep. The system automatically fades out as the user falls asleep and bookmarlswhere they left off enabling them to pick back up in the right place the next day.

The current Kickstarter pricing starts at $149. 

GADGETS :: October 14, 2020

by Gregg Ellman

Kingston Technology’s DataTraveler 2000 cvUSB 3.0 encrypted keypad flash drive is not your average flash drive. It might be the best and most important flash drive you can own.

It’s available in storage sizes up to 128GB ($234), which is great but what makes it so valuable is multiple layers of security keeping data safe and secure starting with a PIN when it’s first plugged in. The only thing to put the flash drive out of reach is losing it, but even then the stored data stays hidden since it’s password protected.

An easy to use alphanumeric keypad is built on the outside of the flash drive, which comes preloaded with a password and instructions for changing it to anything 7-15 digits in length. With step-by-step instructions, it takes about 30 seconds to complete the change.

From there the only requirement is to remember the password and in the unlikely event it’s forgotten, the DT2000 can be reset to the default settings. Kingston Brute Force Hacking Detection technology will permanently delete the flash drives content after the incorrect password is attempted 10 consecutive times.

Besides the alphanumeric keypad, there are several other security layers. For one, when working with the flash drive and it’s removed from the computer’s USB port, it automatically locks. When it’s put back in the password is required on the flash drive keypad to unlock it.

According to Kingston, the DT2000 is FIPS 140-2 Level 3 certified, to meet a frequently requested corporate IT requirement. USB 3 speeds are 135MB/s read, 40MB/s write, and with USB 2.0, speeds are 30MB/s read, 20MB/s write.

The owner can set themselves up as an administrator with a PIN and grant access to other users, create read-only or write access, and has a timeout lock mode.

With the included storage sleeve, the DT2000 measures 3.14-by-0.78-by-0.41-inches, offers military-grade 256-bit AES hardware-based encryption, is waterproof and dust-proof (IP57), and has a builtin keyring attachment. Kingston lists compatibility with Windows, macOS, Linux kernel, and Chrome OS Android. also available in capacities of 4GB, 8GB, 16GB, 32GB, 64GB

No matter how good the sound is from computers’ built-in speakers, external speakers bring it to life.  Creative has a budget-friendly solution with the Pebble V3 desktop speakers, which delivers exactly as advertised; louder, bolder, and more powerful than ever.

The Pebble V3 (4.8-by-4.7-by-4.6-inches) is built with a rounded shape but has a flat spot on the bottom to keep it in place. Even with the rounded design, the audio comes directly to your ears with 2.25-inch speakers angled at 45-degrees.

There are several connection options; Bluetooth 5.0, UBC-C, or a 3.5 mm AUX-in. The USB cable to connect the speakers is 53.1-inches long and then a single 4-foot cable connects to a computer. A USB-C to USB-A converter is included.

Whichever connection you choose, they add a great dimension to a computer system; desktop, laptop, or tablet. Even during these work from home days, the sound is a tremendous addition for zoom meetings, student online classes, and even as the day winds down to just stream music.

Creative has engineered with Clear Dialog audio processing to help achieve the precise clarity out of the speakers. I’m not a heavy volume user, but often have to turn the volume up in computer meetings. In this case, I had my medium volume set and it remained that way.

The sound is adjustable with a built-in automated high gain switch for compatible USB-C devices and a manual switch for USB-A. The switch is on the bottom of the V3’s right speaker. $39.99

Sennheiser is celebrating its 75th anniversary with the MOMENTUM True Wireless 2 Anniversary Edition paying tribute to the company’s heritage, and reflects the audio specialist’s longstanding commitment to creating unique listening experiences.

The true wireless earbuds are built with active noise cancellation, have 7mm dynamic drivers with deep bass, natural mids and clear, detailed treble. Audio can be customized to an individual sound with the built-in equalizer and the Sennheiser smart control app.

The ergonomic design lets them fit comfortably with 7-hour battery life. With the included on-the-go charging case, the playtime is extended to up to 28 hours. $299.95

GADGETS :: October 7, 2020

by Gregg Ellman

It’s amazing how much portable power is needed today and Mophie is an industry leader when it comes to putting more than enough into the Powerstation line of pocket-sized devices.

Inside the Mophie powerstation PD ($59.95) is 6,700mAh of rechargeable power, for up to 23 hours of the extended life of a smartphone, tablet or any USB-A or USB-C device. The fast-charging Powerstation PD is built with an 18 watt USB-C PD fast charge. This produces a charge and recharges up to 2.5 times faster.

Priority and charging are a great feature, permitting the powerstation PD portable battery to charge while a device is also connected for charging. Power is sent first to the device and then the battery is recharged.

With dual USB ports, two devices can be charged simultaneously; the USB-C port provides up to 18 watts of power, while the USB-A outputs 12 watts.

Mophie’s Powerstation Plus XL wireless ($59.99) is built for more than a full day of charging. Inside is the 8,000mAh rechargeable battery, which according to Mophie produces up to 42 extra hours for iPhone Xs, up to 11 extra hours for iPad mini 5, up to 7 extra hours for iPad Pro.

There are several ways to get the power out of the battery and the Powerstation Plus XL has three options for charging multiple devices at once.  All this is built into a 2.83-by-5.89-by-0.75-inch, 0.506900-pound battery with a high-gloss top surface and metallic perimeter.

More and more smartphones and earbuds are Qi-enabled, allowing wireless charging. With this battery, all that’s needed for charging is to place the device on the battery’s charging surface and push the start button.

An integrated fast charging Apple Lightning cable means you’ll always have the cable with you, assuming you have the battery. The side of the battery has a thin magnetic compartment door, which snaps open to reveal the cable. When charging is complete, put the cable back in for safekeeping.

And the third changing option is a built-in standard USB-A port. With your cable, virtually any portable gadget can be charged.

Both the Powerstation PD and Plus XL have four LEDs on the side to show the charging status and how much power is left in the battery before it needs an AC charge.

Just last month, Mophie announced a global partnership with TUMI for a co-branded product lineup, featuring five premium technology products designed to keep travelers’ devices powered throughout their journeys.

Focal Sphear Wireless earbuds are exactly as advertised with strong sound quality and comfort.

They are designed with a pair of equalizer modes; neutral, staying true to the original artistic work, and loudness for adapting to noisy environments or listening to low volumes.

As for the sound, that comes from an Electrodynamic sandwich diaphragm on the outside of the earbud. The earbuds themselves are small and along with the included ear-tips choices of three pairs each of silicone and memory foam ensures a perfect fit.

Comfort comes from the spherical lightweight design, which encourages long listening times with no discomfort.  A lightweight in-line three-button remote controls volume, modes, and music selections along with an 8-hour rechargeable battery. An Omnidirectional microphone works great for hands-free calls. $124.27 Black, Blue, Olive and Purple

GADGETS :: September 30, 2020

by Gregg Ellman

Smartmi’s elegant 2S Fan is cool, modern, and hip. It’s built with easy-to-use controls to work as a standard pedestal fan but with endless features it takes fans to a new level with a natural breeze feel. The quiet and portable smart home fan has Wi-Fi connectivity, a companion app, and works with smart home platforms, including Amazon’s Alexa.

It arrived in pieces, but don’t be intimidated. It only takes a few minutes to assemble with the included step-by step instructions. 

The seven-blade design goes inside a two-piece white plastic cage, which opens and closes easily. Blades typically build up a lot of dust and dirt so easy access to the blades for cleaning is a plus.

As a fan, it works great. It’s light and portable with a weighted base for stability, and has a quiet brushless motor that runs at as low 29 dB. An AC adapter is included; without the cord, it also runs great with the built-in lithium-ion battery, making it easy to move from room to room. With a fully charged battery pack, the 2S Fan goes mobile for up to 20 hours with the fan speed set to 1.

Manual controls on top of the fan include an on/off switch and LEDs glow green to show the fans’ WiFi status and the four-speed levels. With little effort, the angle of the cage can be manually adjusted.

The smart home features are what makes this fan stand out. With the built-in Wi-Fi connectivity and the Mi Home app (iOS and Android) controlling the fan with a smartphone is a breeze.

Along with turning it on and off, the app has two modes to control the air flow, adjustments for the oscillating and direction angle of 30, 60, 90 and 120-degrees or just adjust the direction to the left of right. 

When choosing the standard (normal) settings, it has 4-speed preset levels or manually adjust the speed in choices of 100 speed adjustments with some running virtually silent. 

According to Smartmi, the fan was designed to simulate natural wind, especially the feeling of a soft, natural, delicately changing air. To achieve this, using the app’s the natural setting creates the effect of natural breezes.

To achieve the natural breeze. Smartmi states on their website, “Their engineers have gathered and analyzed actual climatological field readings to better understand the characteristics of natural wind speeds, turbulence levels, and airflow. By employing state-of-the-art algorithms, they have been able to reconstruct the feeling of a soft, natural, delicately changing breeze down to its finest minutiae.” $129.99

PhoneSoap, maker of the popular smartphone UV sanitizer, has announced AirSoap, a new category for the UV-C sanitizing brand.

AirSoap is an air purifier and does not use liquid, heat or chemicals. Instead, it uses technology to efficiently kill germs and the smallest viruses in a high-energy plasma field. It does this by polarizing airborne particles, trapping them in a filterless graphene system. AirSoap uses washable and reusable collection plates instead of HEPA filters.

According to PhoneSoap, the new system is a revolutionary new air purifier technology, which kills and captures even the smallest viruses down to 14 nanometers. While it’s proven to kill 99.99-percent  of airborne viruses, it hasn’t been tested on COVID-19  since is not yet available for testing. But it has been tested to kill smaller virus’s such as Influenza A-H3N2

Measuring 21-by-10.25-by-10.6-inches, AirSoap is a whisper-quiet, making it suitable for any environment at home or work. $399.99

GADGETS :: September 23, 2020

by Gregg Ellman (@greggellman)

Last week someone asked if I only like true wireless earbuds since I write about them often. I am a fan of true wireless and when you look around, obviously I’m not alone. But there are other great choices, even a style that is a personal favorite.

My preferred style is neckbands, which were popular a few years ago but have kind of disappeared. The earbuds are attached to a short wire on each side of a lightweight bendable band, which sits with an ergonomic comfort on the back of your neck. I always found this style to be convenient; when the earbuds are taken out they safely hang on the wires around on the neckband.

Knowing that, Creative’s Aurvana Trio wireless neckband triple driver earphones with noise isolation had some time around my neck for the past week with great success.

The neckband is great for any listening environment. But what makes these rock is the sound. Inside the triple driver speakers are 11 mm dynamic Bio-cellulose driver and dual balanced armature drivers. This produced great sound for every type of music with deep bass, lows, and highs all sounding right on. Creative echoed my thoughts by calling it audio nirvana for all music genres on their website.

The Bluetooth 5.0, headphones pump out great sound, which features high-quality aptX HD, Qualcomm aptX low latency (reduces audio-visual delay), and AAC audio codecs.

Handsfree calls were loud and clear on both ends, thanks to the built-in microphone with Qualcomm cVc 8.0 noise cancellation technology. Controlling the calls, volume, play selections, activating voice assistants and charging are all on the end of the neckband with physical rubber buttons.

With Bluetooth 5.0, Aurvana has Multipoint Connectivity, allowing seamless connections to multiple devices. Without having to re-establish connections, the headphones will connect to an iPad and a laptop and switch seamlessly between the two, depending on which is needed.

The outside of each earbud is magnetic allowing them to clasp together when you have them out of your ears. This is a great help when you still have the neckband on but the earbuds out. Six sets of silicone and foam ear-tips and a pouch are included. The battery will last up to 20 hours of playtime before a USB charge is needed.

For a personalized audio experience, Creative’s Super X-Fi will set the audio for your ears. Using algorithms with a head and ear-mapping process incorporated after you send images of your ears and head. $99.99

House of Marley’s Smile Jamaica wireless 2 earbuds, part of the Smile Jamaica collection, are a typical typical Marley product, with nice sound and an eye-catching Eco-conscious design, which starts with the packaging.

It is great to see a budget-friendly choice ($29.99) with crisp sound, an appealing design, and waterproof features.

Each Bluetooth 5.0 earbud has a wood finish and recyclable aluminum with a 9.2 mm driver inside and is attached to a braided tangle-free cable. A three-button control is on the cable with a USB-C port for charging.

Other features include an IPX4 rating for weather and water resistance, quick charge technology, and with a two-hour charge you can expect about nine hours of playtime.

House of Marley has always been an environmentally friendly company and announced that the Smile Jamaica headphones have 100-percent recyclable packaging. This means the entire package contents can be put into the single mixed-paper recycle bin.

With the Smile Jamaica earbuds, Marley is equally proud of their construction with a cable design using fibers made of 99-percent post-consumer plastic waste from recycled water bottles, FSC certified wood, and recyclable aluminum housings. $29.99, available in color configurations of black, rasta, cooper, denim, and smile Jamaica green

GADGETS :: September 16, 2020

by Gregg Ellman

Earlier this year Nixplay came out with an all-new lineup of their industry-leading Wi-Fi  smart photo frames. Now with better resolution, bigger screen sizes, and advanced functionality, they made a great product even better.

If you’re not familiar with Nixplay frames, you need to be, especially with the holiday shopping season upon us (hint!) With a private username and password, the modern-looking Nixplay frames have Wi-Fi connectivity, displaying digital images and videos you or anyone can remotely upload  to the frame.

Set up is simple. All you need is Wi-Fi and a secure account login with the Nixplay companion app (iOS and Android). Once the account and frame are set up, it’s up to you to share the login information and invite others to stock family memories.

With the app, It’s as easy as turning it on, selecting photos, hitting the upload button, choosing the playlist and send. The playlist is just like a music playlist; you can divide it by family, event, or just keep all the images in one. From the app, you have controls to turn the frame on or off, invite friends to share images, view, and delete the playlists.

Frame sizes start at 9.7 and go up to 15.6-inches with 10.1 (my review unit) and 13.3 in-between. All the frames have a pair of 2-watt speakers for audio to accompany videos.

Each new frame has Nixplay’s patented stand, which is built into the power cord and is now detachable to reveal a hidden wall mount. Now it can be wall-mounted (portrait or landscape) or have it stand on a flat surface.

Inside are 8GB of storage, which is a ton of space for sending cell phone images. The frame is built with an integrated Hu-Motion Sensor so the frame turns on and off automatically when motion is near.

If you want a greater resolution, the new Nixplay 9.7-inch Wi-Fi smart photo frame has a 2K (2048X1536) resolution display with a 4:3 aspect ratio. The 10.1-inch Wi-Fi frame has an HD resolution of 1280X800 with a 16:10 aspect ration. Both the 13.3-inch 15.6-inch have full HD Screen Resolution of 1920X1080 with a 16:9 aspect ratio. There’s 8 GB of storage in each except for the 15.6-inch frame with 16 GB.

The Nixplay app also has a tab for the Nixplay print shop to order prints, cards, and even picture smartphone cases. All this can be ordered directly from the images loaded on the frame or from your smartphone’s camera roll. Subscriptions are available to Nixplay Plus for up to 80 percent off the products. Yearly membership is $49.99 or month to month for $4.99.

Just as Nixplay says, the frames have gotten smarter, working with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and Google Photos. A magnetic remote is included. Stored social media albums in Dropbox, Facebook, Google Photos, Instagram, and Verizon Cloud can be uploaded to the frame for viewing.  Smart Photo Frames start at $179.99 to $319.99 (15.6-inch) Wall hardware is included

EarFun Air True Wireless Earbuds are another great, affordable choice with great sound and every added feature you’d want.

Instead of testing the sound with music, I used the EarFun Air Trues for a few NFL games. With the pumped in crowd noise constantly coming up down along with the announcers, I felt like they gave me a great audio experience. After the game I switched to my playlist and just as promised, the crystal-clear sound was delivered along with a nice touch of distortion-free bass. Everyt type of music I switched to had sound with great consistency, without needing adjustments.

The ergonomic fit is a big deal, especially since many earbuds I’ve tried were uncomfortable for long-term use. The EarFun’s kept in place for hours comfortably, the feel was perfect. Having a single earbud mode (one of my favorite features) allows for just a single ear to play at a time. When you take both earbuds out the audio will pause and then resume when they are back in place.

With a budget-friendly price of $59.99, I would say these are far from budget headphones. Especially when you look at the complete list of features, which can double the price of many other brands.

Included is Bluetooth 5.0, a 35-hour battery life with the wireless and USB-C charging case. On a full charge, you should get 7 hours of playtime and an additional 28 hours with the case. Fast charging for 10 minutes will produce about two hours of playtime.

Touch-sensitive controls on the outside of the earbuds were responsive for controlling music selections and calls. For the volume, touch and hold the left earbud to lower the volume, and doing the same on the right side increases it. Inside each earbud is EarFun’s custom-built composite cellulose drivers, with an IPX7 waterproof rating. A 4-microphone system for crystal clear handsfree calls worked great. $59.99 or $49.99 at Amazon, available in black or white

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