Archive for December 2013

Gadgets:: Some great gadgets before CES

It’s a new year and lots of the tech world will be focused on next week’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, but there’s still a bunch of 2013 gadgets worth mentioning.

Energizer lightEnergizer’s new hard case inspection light is 88 percent brighter than previous models and is built with a rugged body.

It’s equipped with a shatterproof lens, water and impact resistant up to about a 20 foot drop and works on just two AAA batteries (included).

The light beam distance is an amazing 181.5 feet (55 meters) and can shine for up to 8 hours. Of course, that’s with Energizer Max alkaline batteries.

In a somewhat related note: Energizer Ultimate Lithium batteries (AA and AAA) will now hold power for up to 20 years when not in use.

Sounds great. I’ll get back to you on my findings in 19 years. $24.99

BassJump 2The Twelve South company is known for making cool gadgets to pair with Apple products.

I make the Apple reference simply because Twelve South puts in a great effort to make their devices look so similar to Apple products that you would think they are produced by the tech giant and by-the-way, they work great.

This times it’s the remastered software for the BassJump 2 portable subwoofer for MacBook.

After turning up the sound on your computer’s built-in speakers, you’ll never say to yourself that they really rock the house. But when you combine the speakers with the subwoofer you might be able to state that claim.

The device expands what the internal speakers produce to add both low and mid frequencies to form a complete sound system.

The software is refined to work with the new OSX Maverick (10.9) operating system and includes automatic headphone detection and a refreshed Retina-ready interface.

Cosmetically, the Bass Jump is designed with silver gun metal finish to replicate the finish on most Apple computers. $69.99

Monkey KitOcta’s Tablet Tail Monkey kit has a flexible arm to hold an iPad or any other tablet or e-reader in place.

The arm is a flexible stand to position at most any angle and won’t drop your device because it attaches with a vacuum-pump system with great suction power.

There’s a suction cup, which you pump the air out of to create the seal. To release it just pull on the tabs on the side, disconnecting the device.

Position the flexible arm to whatever position is needed or as the company says, “wrapped, curled or tucked” in any angle shape or situation for handsfree use. $69.99

powerdash r900Ventev, a leader in portable charging accessories, has launched multi-function powerdash r900 charger.

It functions as a portable battery with its internal rapid charging 900mAh battery and charges your device with our own cable plugged into the built-in USB port.

The r900 is designed to plug into your vehicle’s DC (cigarette lighter) port for charging while also powering your device if needed.

Tablets and other power hungry devices up to 2.1A can charge while in the vehicle’s port and up to 1.0A on the portable battery. $24.95

RAVPower QiRAVPower’s new Qi Wireless Charging pad will give you a wireless charge as long as your tablet or phone is Qi compatible

For those who have no idea what Qi charging is, it is a standard developed for specific devices to charge wirelessly. To get the charge you just place your Qi device on top of the Qi charger and the charging starts.

This new charger has an internal 4800mAh battery and works devices such as the Google Nexus 4, HTC Droid DNA and many others.

An AC adapter and USB charging cable is included.

If your device isn’t equipped with Qi technology, there are many Qi-compatible covers  available for different phones and tablets.

A quick Internet search found a Qi charging case for an iPhone 5 for $16.99. $39.99

And the envelope please……..The 2013 Gadget of the years is……….

3My 2013 gadget of the year can easily be classified as simply what I like best _ since the judging committee consists of me.

It would be all too easy to name the latest iPhone or iPad the winner, but let me also say as I did in my recent review of the Microsoft Surface that I think it is a great tablet and came in a close second in the voting.

Without a drum roll I’ve chosen the SanDisk Wireless Flash Drive as my 2013 McClatchy Newspapers gadget of the year.

The main reason I have selected it is it’s a really useful device when you combine it with all the other gadgets we use in our life, from sm

artphones to tablets to computers.

It’s available in capacities of 16GB ($49.99) and 32GB ($59.99) and works just like any other USB flash drive.

But it’s far from ending there.


Hidden on the end of the storage device is a little slot that opens to reveal a microsSD memory card. The slot enables your storage media to be limited to however many extra memory cards you choose to have.

The Sandisk wireless flash drive works with the  iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Kindle Fire and Android devices, as well as PC and Mac computers. Since many of these devices do not have a USB port (the Surface does), you’ll need to get the free SanDisk Connect app from your device’s store.

Once it’s downloaded it takes only a few seconds to make a wireless connection to the drive. You now have access to whatever you stored on it: movies, music, photos or documents.

It’s that easy. (Other steps you must take include turning it on with the front-facing button and loading your content, etc.)

This gives you extra storage on the go without having to make a wireless internet connection or hooking up a USB drive with a cable.

The Sandisk wireless drive charges via USB and is good for about 4 hours of streaming.

ibitz 1

The iBitz Unity from GeoPalz is a wireless device to monitor your family’s health.

It’s a small device you clip onto your waist, or wherever you want, to track your step count, the distance you have gone and even how many calories you burned.

Just download the free iBitz Unity app and connect it to your compatible iOS device running iOS 6 or higher. The app will read the your results for up to 30 days. $34.99

Doxie 1

Winter is a good time to have the new Doxie Flip flatbed scanner.

It’s battery powered and makes scanning easier than ever from anywhere. For the most part, once you put in the four AA batteries (included) and turn it on, you’re ready to go.

Scans up to 4 x 6-inches and 600 dpi are stored directly onto a SD memory card (included), which fits into the card slot on the side.

A scanner like this is ideal for easily digitizing the boxes of photos many of us have tucked away in a closet. It’s also ideal for notes, coins or whatever you wanted entered into the digital world.

It takes about 7 seconds per scan in full color at 300dpi. The scanner measures 10.3 x 6.5 x 1.3-inches and weights a little more then a pound. $149

iB85 2

iHome’s new iB85 wireless (Bluetooth) headphones are a solid over-the-head speaker set with comfortable padded ear cups.

They are made with an adjustable and folding headband along with the padded ear cups in a black, red and silver design.

You’ll get about 12 hours of listening before they need a USB charge with the included charging cable.

Each speaker has a 30mm driver with noise-isolating cushions.

Just pair up your device and start listening. They come along with a travel pouch. $149.99









An App that keeps on giving


MXL AC 404You’ll never be asking someone on the other end “can you hear me now” after trying the MXL AC 404 professional series microphone.

It’s a plug-and-play USB device (no drivers needed) with incredible clarity and ideal for Skype, podcasts or any other sound recording.

The microphone gives you 180-degree coverage, which is great for just putting it in the middle of table for a conference call where multiple people are talking from the same device. It measures just 4.3 x 2.95 x 2-inches.

The mic uses boundary microphone technology and built-in custom circuitry to produce smooth, quiet, professional-sounding conferences according to their website.

I used it on a Mac and also plugged in a USB extension cable, which caused no problem.

When I asked my friend on the other end of my Skype chat how I sounded without the MXL mic and then with it, his answer was “no comparison,” obviously with the external mic.

It’s also compatible with the PC world and comes with a nice storage case. $66.98

Jabra Solemate MiniI’m not sure how Jabra does it but they continue to rock the house.

This time with the Solemate Mini pocket sized Bluetooth speaker. Measuring 4.9 x 2 x 2.3-inches with a 10 ounce weight, so you can see why Jabra promotes it as a perfect travel companion.

Once cranked up there is a good chance the people in the next room might not be friendly neighbors, but you get the idea of how great this works.

There’s nothing to the set up, just pair (Bluetooth or NFC) it by tapping a button and raise the volume. You can also use a direct wired connection.

The battery is good for about 8 hours before a charge is needed.

A rubber coating surrounds the outside of the speaker for protection, enabling it to withstand dust, splashing liquid (it’s not waterproof) and light bumps. $99 available in black, blue, red and yellow

DigiPalsDigiPals are designed as a fun animal-themed pouch to store smartphones, MP3 players or anything that will fit in the zippered compartment.

They are made with a soft microfiber cloth making them great for cleaning fingerprints on your LCD screens.

DigiPals are available in designs of a monkey, owl, penguin and a turtle. It  has a side-zippered pocket to store an ID or anything that will fit $14.99

My personal favorite iPad app, PressReader, is offering a free 24 hour trial through Dec. 31, 2013.

The free app is home to thousands of digital formats for newspapers and magazines right. In addition to the iPad, it’s available for other tablets, along with Mac and PC systems.

To navigate the publication of your choice, just swipe your fingertip on the touchscreen.

After the free trial, you can purchases daily or get a subscription for a daily download. When a subscription is ordered, your download starts as soon you launch the app. prices start at 99 cents

Holiday Gadgets


When it comes to technology and holiday shopping, my best advice is to make it useful, not useless. Just because you think something is cool, new or great doesn’t mean it will be an appropriate gift.

As usual, this holiday season there are an endless number to choose from. Here are a bunch of electronics-related gadgets that I think will fit most any user or any budget.

Ear DriveTPKparis has a new USB 2.0 key ring flash drive built into a carabineer so it can be clipped or unclipped to most anything, including-tunnel equipped earlobes.

It weighs just .529 ounces and is stainless steel, making it durable for any weather. The pin and spring have been company-tested to be opened up to 10,000 times. 16GB $26.76 and a 32GB version for $40.22

There’s gonna be an iPad Air in most every house and Kensington has the perfect accessory with the KeyCover ($79.99).

KeyCover PlusIt’s a hard shell cover built with a wireless Bluetooth backlit keyboard inside. The case can hold your iPad Air handsfree in both vertical or horizontal positions.

A big brother model, the KeyCover Plus ($99.99), lets you order and personalize your case in a choice of seven colors.

With both models, if you order before Dec. 31 of this year, you’ll get a promo code for a free SkinIt. They are great sticker coverings, available in an endless number of designs and combinations.

Minx GoThe Minx Go is a portable wireless speaker good for any age in any room of the house.

It’s an amazing sounding desktop speaker, which uses Bluetooth to broadcast your audio from any Bluetooth-enabled device.

The setup take seconds; just press the power button once to turn it on and a second time to activate the Bluetooth setup.

You can connect up to eight devices at once and you’ll get 18 hours of music before the speaker needs a charge or if you leave it in one place just use the included power cord. $149 available in black or white

Melody wirelessSoundcast Systems Melody wireless speaker produces simply amazing sound coming from a rugged 360-degree speaker.

Inside are four full-range speakers for sound in any direction with a weather-resistant enclosure enabling it to operate indoors, outdoors, cold, hot or moderate snow and rain conditions.

The 9-pound speaker has a carrying handle and a high capacity lithium-ion battery should give you about 20 hours of sound before a charge is needed. $449

Urban Xplorer’s HalfPack RT messenger bag is an attractive over the should bag made with nylonUX ballistic fabric, which can also work as a backpack with attachable straps.

It has an endless amount of pockets, compartments, zippers and storage areas for more electronics gadgets and accessories then any tech head would need to carry. It’s described perfectly by the company as, “a classic bag that incorporates modern day functionality with vintage style.” $198 available in bronze, black and burnt orange

JAM Fusion Headphones1Simple, cool, wireless and reasonably priced are how I would describe the HMDX Jam Fusion Bluetooth stereo headphones.

What makes them unique is if you have a pair of them, you can connect them both to listen to the same music, all wireless via Bluetooth.

They have a built-in mic for handsfree calls and a rechargeable battery that lets the music play for six hours before a charge is needed. $89.99 available in black, purple, red and white

The ThinkGeek Radioactive Elements Glowing coaster are a set of four 3.75-inch squares, which glow in a different color (green, red, purple and yellow) when you place your drink on them.

A small replaceable battery comes in each, good for about 4.5 hours of constant use. $19.99

Go with one SmallHands or TwoHands with the felix smartphone and tablet stands.

The SmallHands ($14.99) is a portable stand good for holding smartphones in horizontal or portrait positions.

For the bigger tablets, the TwoHands ($24.99) will also hold them handsfree in both positions. each available in six different colors

MeCam 1The MeCam is a wearable hands-free video camera that comes in 4GB ($49.99), 8GB ($59.99) and 16GB ($69.99).

It measures just short of 2-inches round and has built-in LED infared technology, which enables it to be used in still or video modes in lowlight or daytime condition.

All control buttons are on the side, the rechargeable battery is good for about 80 minutes of use and video is taken at 720p or still images at 5 megapixels. available in five different colors

MagicstickPowerocks Super Magicstick 2800 is a great portable charging solution. With 2800mAh of power, you can charge just about any portable electronic gadget with a USB connection.

The pocket sized device measures just 3.5 x 1-inch round and has an LED indicator to view the status of your charge and remaining capacity of the battery.

They are available in many color choices and include a velvet carrying bag. $39.99

For any photo enthusiast, Lightroom 5 from Adobe is an outstanding choice, especially from me considering it’s one of my favorites for digital image work flow.

Just as Adobe says, “it’s really a great to tool to help aspiring and hobbyist photographers organize and edit their images.”

There’s two great things I can say about Lightroom, it’s easy to use and the results are amazing. $149

LifeLinkThe LifeLink is described as the worlds thinnest smartphone cable, measuring 3.35 x 0.98 0.87-inches and weighing just 0.21ounces.

Its so portable you can just carry it in a wallet and is available in microUSB, Apple Lightning or 30-pin cable connections. preorder for $14

The Moshi Revolt Duo USB car charger has a pair of high-output USB ports and comes with a detachable Apple lightning charge/sync cable for the latest iOS devices.

Moshi Revolt DuoIt plugs into any car’s 9V (cigarette lighter) plug and gives full-speed charging of smartphone, tablets, or any other USB power hungry device, which charges using a standard USB cable. $45

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