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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.

www.ihomeaudio.com $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.

www.zenfox.com $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.

https://smartish.com


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.

www.scosche.com 

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.

www.zagg.com 


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.

www.pelican.com


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.

https://kokoon.io/ 

GADGETS :: October 14, 2020

by Gregg Ellman
(@greggellman)

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.

www.kingston.com 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.

us.creative.com $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.

https://en-us.sennheiser.com $299.95

GADGETS :: October 7, 2020

by Gregg Ellman
(@greggellman)

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.

www.zagg.com

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.

www.focal.com $124.27 Black, Blue, Olive and Purple

GADGETS :: September 30, 2020


by Gregg Ellman
(@greggellman)

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.”

www.smartmi.com $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.

www.phonesoap.com $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.

https://us.creative.com $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.

www.thehouseofmarley.com $29.99, available in color configurations of black, rasta, cooper, denim, and smile Jamaica green

GADGETS :: September 16, 2020

by Gregg Ellman
(@greggellman)

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.

www.Nixplay.com  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.

www.myearfun.com $59.99 or $49.99 at Amazon, available in black or white

GADGETS :: September 9, 2020

by Gregg Ellman
(@greggellman)

As crazy as it sounds, Scosche found a way to make a smartphone car mount innovative, fun and really cool. The MagicGrip window/dash wireless charging auto-grip mount is a winner.

I tried the MagicGrip with Qi-enabled wireless charging ($69.95). To secure to a dashboard or window, it has Scosche’s StickGrip automotive-grade adhesive, which is strong. Just as important, it’s removable and reusable if you change the location or vehicle. I know the suction mount is a weakness for many of these types of mounts I’ve tried; I used it in multiple locations, twice a day for a week. Honestly, the last placement was as strong as the first.

What brings out the coolness of the mount is the auto-grip feature where the side arms, which hold your smartphone in place, automatically close after you put your wireless charging smartphone over the powered up charging pad. As soon as contact is made the motorized side arms close with a secure grip. After it’s secured, with full flexibility it can be rotated 360-degrees for viewing at any angle, in portrait or landscape modes or anything in between.

A thermal management channel is built into the charging head for safe charging. The wireless Qi-certified fast charge is compatible with Apple, Samsung and Google devices. A USB-C with a 90-degree angled connector is included along with a USB car adapter and cable management clips.

For even more flexibility and viewing angles, Scosche has the new Extendo range mounts, with a telescoping arm that adjusts from just over 5-inches to just over 8.5-inches with 220-degrees of angle adjustment.

Having the extension arm offers great versatility for vehicles with deeper dashboards, cars, trucks or even a boat’s dash. It’s even handy on an office desktop, kitchen counter or backsplash with full view at any angle.

There are three versions of the new Extendo mounts; MagicMount Pro Extendo Window/Dash Mount ($29.99) magnetic mounting system with powerful 100-percent device-safe neodymium magnets for a secure hold. With the QuickGrip Extendo Universal Window/Dash Mount ($24.99) it has adjustable arms to hold smartphones up to 3.5-inches wide. And the MagicGrip Auto-Grip Wireless Charging Extendo Window/Dash Mount ($69.99), which has the features of the MagicGrip described above with the motorized closing arms along with the telescoping extension arm.

www.scosche.com

Before I opened Jabra’s new Evolve2 active noise cancellation Bluetooth headphones, I noticed the statement printed on the box referring to them as the best headset for concentration and collaboration.

The over-the-head headphones have 40 mm speakers inside soft memory foam cushions for all day comfort. A discrete retractable boom microphone arm can be tucked away inside the right side.

These days, with more and more workers spending work days on conference and video calls, the need for superior output sound is in high demand. All you need is one member of an online call to have bad sound and you’ll understand, you just don’t want it to be you.

So on a recent Friday night happy hour call with friends on all ends of the country I took my group up a notch, using the Evolve2 instead of my iPad’s build-in mic. The looks and questions I got were why was I wearing a headset but instantly shifted to the superior clarity they heard from me. One friend specifically asked me to message him with the model number, so I guess my demo was impressive.

To hear for myself I had someone use the headset and call me so I could gauge the clarity and for sure it was outstanding. Jabra built the Evolve2 with 10 microphones and what they call an advanced digital chipset. There’s also less background noise on calls with 54-percent more noise cancellation.

When purchasing, the headphones come with USB-A or USB-C charging ports; a charging stand is available ($50). Also choose them optimized for Microsoft teams or Unified Communication.

Oh, and the battery life since it wouldn’t be a great thing for them to need power right in the middle of a call. You’ll get 37 hours battery life with a 2.5 hour charge and with a fast 15 minutes of charging will produce 8 hours battery life.

My real world doesn’t have many online calls but instead a lot of music and with the powerful speakers along with the latest AAC codec my music sounded clear and clean.

On-ear controls worked great and Bluetooth 5.0 allows pairing with up to eight devices with two simultaneous connections. Charging cables, 3.5 mm audio connections, flight adapter and a hard carrying case are included.

So back to the begging with the Evolve2 being the best for concentration and collaboration, I get it. You have all day comfort, top of the line sound coming in as well as going out.

www.Jabra.com $449 in choices of matte black and beige, with a charging stand $499

GADGETS :: September 2, 2020

by Gregg Ellman
(@greggellman)

Anytime I get a new product from Sennheiser, I know before it’s even opened that there’s a near 100 percent chance it’s going to be great. So it was no surprise when I unboxed the brand new, hot off the press Sennheiser MKE 200 directional microphone, placed it on my digital camera, and it worked battery-free in a plug and play manner. The MKE 200 is the latest in Sennheiser’s MKE microphone series, all of which provide quality upgrades to a camera’s built-in microphone.

The compact microphone has built-in shock absorption and attaches to a camera with a cold shoe mount. With the mount, it slides on or off digital cameras’ flash shoes easily, enabling it to work handsfree so the videographer can concentrate on the camera controls. A 3.5 mm cable attaches the microphone to the camera’s audio in-port. 

With the compact size and mounting ability, Sennheiser designed the MKE 200 to work with most any standard digital SLR, mirrorless and mobile phones. With mobile devices, you’ll either have to hold the microphone with the audio cable plugged into the audio-in port or attach it to a bracket (not included) since mobile devices do no have the shoe bracket (typically used for flashes). Along with the cold shoe, there’s a photo industry standard 1/4-20 thread for attaching it to brackets and endless mounting accessories made for mobile devices and cameras.

I tested the mic on some basic street scenes, – kids playing, people taking morning walks, etc. In every situation with the microphone mounted on top of my DSLR, the directional design captured my wanted audio but not unwanted background noise. 

My environment wasn’t windy but it’s good to know, according to a press release, that Sennheiser designed the MKE 200 with an integrated layer of protective mesh inside the housing. This protection is further enhanced by using the included furry windshield when filming outdoors.

With a friendly price point on the easy-to-use microphone, it’s easy to say it’s for an entry level use, which is not restricted to beginners.

https://en-us.sennheiser.com $99.95, available as of September 1 

I’m sure I could dig up statistics on what percentage of homes have a smartphone video doorbell such as the latest I tried, the EZVIZ DB1. But just looking around my neighborhood tells me this type of home security is a rapidly growing category.

A few reasons for the popularity are the cost, performance and especially the ease of use. With personal experience I can say the simple installation is what typically makes a product like this a make or break in my world and the EZVIZ DB1 is exactly that.

Several things must be in place before installation: Wi-Fi has to be present with a good signal and an existing wired doorbell.

The EZVIZ DB1 includes three hours of free cloud storage for the most recent motion-detected video clips, with more expanded pay plans available. 

Built the built-in microSD memory card slot is a great feature for local storage, which many competitors do not have. Using your own memory cards in sizes up to 128GB is a great supplement to the free storage and any encrypted cloud storage plans you subscribe to.

The 3 megapixel (resolution of 2048-by-1536 pixels) EZVIZ DB1 is built with a 2.2 mm f2.4 lens with a 180-degree vertical field of view and 105-degree horizontal view. It measures 5.11-by-1.8-by-0.8-inches and is built with IP65 weather protection for use in conditions minus 22 up to 140 degrees Fahrenheit and night vision up to 16-feet.

With the EZVIZ companion app and the built-in microphone and speaker, viewing and talking with subjects outside the front door can now be accessed 24/7 from a tablet or smartphone. Now, when your doorbell rings or the motion detector picks something up, the app alerts your device  simultaneously. It’s that simple.

The app also allows for customization of the detection area you want covered so it doesn’t alert to to every passing car, for example.

Three mounting brackets are included, each with a slighting different angle when mounted to the wall. Hold up each to the wall before drilling holes to see what angle works best. Depending on your area, you may want the camera facing down to avoid a bright sky or raised up to include a bigger area, or whatever else you requires, one of the brackets should work.

Installation doesn’t requre an electrician, but please first turn off the electrical circuit to the doorbell system and disconnect the existing doorbell. Keep the wires in place because the instructions make it so easy, assuming the wires are there.

Also included with the EZVIZ DB1 is wire, screwdriver and a drill bit (sorry, drill not included) and a simple, well-explained installation guide. Different colored face plates help you match were its mounted.

www.ezvizlife.com $199.99

 

 

 

 

GADGETS :: August 26, 2020


by Gregg Ellman
(@greggellman)

Rocketbook has partnered with Panda Planner to launch the Rocketbook Panda, a modern-day pen and paper planner with erasable technology to keep track of scheduling, plans and notes.

It’s easy to say a digital planner is great for students or working professionals, which is true. I think it’s great for anyone, even retires with an active social life. Rocketbook refers to the Panda Planner as the world’s first reusable, digitally connected planner, resulting in the last one you’ll ever need.

In my case, as technology savvy as I like to be, my life is filled with post-it notes, both on my desk and even on my car’s dashboard. And I know it’s not the norm, nor am I alone because I see other friends and family members using the same disorganized analog note taking system, resulting in notes getting lost all the time.

Technology makes it stand out from a traditional planners because it’s built with innovative synthetic paper. This allows you to write smoothly with the included Pilot FriXion pen and when you’re done wipe the page with a damp cloth or the included microfiber cloth.


They have identical timeless versions available in letter size, $37 (8.5-by-11-inches, 32 pages) and executive size, $35 (6-by-8.8-inches, 36 pages). Both are thin, with each page undated and a daily template that helps you customize and to organize your content. It’s divided into annual planning, goals, daily, weekly, monthly, notes and more. Depending on the sections there is dot-grid, lined and blank pages.

Rocketbook’s mission is to help those who still want to hand write but need to get the content into the digital world. With the help of the Rocketbook app (iOS and Android) the Panda Planner connects to any of the major cloud services like Dropbox, Google Drive and iCloud for uploading scanned content.

To do this easily, symbols on the bottom of each page act as buttons for uploading. Once a button is assigned to your chosen cloud service and the page is marked with that icon, the app uploads it to the path you chose. Pages uploaded are also digitally enhanced and cropped for easy reading. Handwriting intelligence makes the panda Planners searchable across platforms.

Once the content is either transferred, expired or just not needed, just wipe the page clean. 

https://getrocketbook.com available in black, dark blue, scarlet and teal

Moshi, a California-based electronics supplier I’ve written about many times reviewing their great consumer electronics has entered the pandemic world with the launch of Moshi OmniGuard.

The washable and re-useable mask comes with three replaceable Nanohedron filters. Each mask features a long-lasting NanoShield anti-bacterial coating, which inhibits the growth of microbes for superior cleanliness and hygiene. Moshi recommends replacing each filter every six weeks but in more polluted regions replace the filter every two weeks.

According to Moshi, the proprietary Nanohedron filters protect against bacteria, pollen, dust, smoke, viruses, pollution and filter out particles even as minuscule as 75 nanometers. The masks provide  99-percent protection against the most commonly found airborne contaminants and have been certified by a third-party laboratory.

The mask features adjustable and cushioned ear loops is available in ocean black and space gray, both in small, medium and large sizes.

www.moshi.com $39.95

Twelve South has launched one new product and an update to a great one.

The BookBook for Kindle Paperwhite ($49.99) a vintage-inspired one-of-a-kind case made with hand-distressed, genuine leather gives it the feel like a real book. A folding kickstand for hands-free reading is built-in. It is compatible with Kindle Paperwhite 4 (10th Gen, 2019).

One of my favorite Twelve South products, the AirFly Pro ($54.99) is now available in matte black. The pocket sized adapter lets you use wireless headphones with any headphone jack. This includes airplane armrests ports, game consoles, treadmills and TV’s with headphone out ports. I’ve even used it my my first generation iPod.

Setting it up is as simple as plugging the AirFly Pro into a 3.5 mm audio port and pairing it with up to two sets of wireless headphones.

www.twelvesouth.com 

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