Archive for January 2014

Gadgets:: A Watch for More then Telling Time


passport-side-wsbAt the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas earlier this year, there seemed to be an explosion of technology enabled watches.

I’m guess it will be like a game of musical chairs with only a few lasting after the music stops, much like the explosion of tables at the show a few years ago.

One, which I’m sure will last is the Martian Passport series watch, which they promote as “The World’s First Voice Command Smartwatch.”

This is one gadget where I did have to read the instructions, which is rare for me but these were well explained and easy to follow; press this button, then that button, etc.

They do have interesting item in the instruction book about how the average person checks their phone 150 times a day. I think that number is grossly under exaggerated, but I’m sure many of those 150 are for checking the time for those with a watch-less wrist.

Once your setup and make a Bluetooth connection with your smartphone, you get notifications of callers, email, social media, texts, calendar alerts and event activated Siri on my iPhone.

You can respond with the watch and talk into it like you’re a secret agent or just use it as an alert to either take out your smartphone or just ignore it for now.

As long as there is contact information in your phone for who is calling, you’ll get that name on the display of the watch. In the event you don’t have the name entered you’ll just get the phone number.

All the other information you are being alerted for gets displayed on the display running across the bottom of the front of the watch (96 x 16 pixel graphic OLED display).

The Martian watch can also be set to trigger your phone’s camera so you can get in the photo.

Once your watched is paired with a phone it will also vibrate when you they get out of range of each other (Bluetooth range is about 30 feet), letting you know you left the phone behind.

An internal battery needs to be charged for 2 hours every few days via USB, depending on the amount of use.

I have to admit, It does take a little getting used to having your wrist vibrating for a phone call or message alert. While eating lunch with friends last week, my wrist starting vibrating and I said just that, which caused some odd looks from my comrades.

In addition to the smartphone capabilities, this is one good looking watch for keeping up with that old fashion thing of just checking the time. $299 in color combinations of black, white and silver

mobi-card_w-RealCamerasI’ve been familiar with the Eye-Fi SD media cards for years and always had great success with them going from a camera to a computer, but a direct connection to my iPad has always been cumbersome and involved third party apps, which never seems to work flawlessly.

All that came to an end past week when I tried the Eye-Fi Mobi WiFi Camera to Phone 8GB, SDHC Class 10 memory card along with the Eye-Fi app (free for iOS, Android and Kindle Fire).

The setup is simple and it worked perfect from the start, just download the app and enter the provided activation code.

Inside the memory card is WiFi, letting you make a direct connection from the memory card to your device, enabling this system to work without the need of an Internet connection.

Assuming you put the memory card in an Eye-Fi compatible camera you’re all set to start taking photos.

Images are captured on the memory card along with automatically downloading into my iOS (iPhone 5s) image library, where they can be instantly sent to social media when you switch over to an Internet connection.

Since the images are also stored on the card you will be able to download them for archiving on your computer.

This system enables you to use a real camera for optimum image quality vs using a cell phone, which provides instant access for social media but will not be the best quality for long term use for large prints, etc.

I tested it with large JPGs on a high-end digital SLR and a point-n-shoot camera with both working great for photos and video.

There’s not a lot to it, which makes for the perfect accessory.

The Eye-Fi Pro X2 16GB ($99.99) memory card has faster speeds designed for capturing HD video.  $49.99 8GB, $79.99 16GB $9.99 32GB

Paick Noble with pop-upPaick’s new portable battery called the Noble, is only a half-inch thick and but has a big time 6000mAh Li-ion battery of power inside.

The company has designed the pocket-sized battery with fashion in mind with it’s aluminum alloy high performance case.

A dust-proof pop-up slot opens us to display two USB and 1 microUSB ports for charging.

The iPhone 5 series can get up to three charges before the battery itself needs a charge, other smartphones can get two charges and an iPad once. $64.99, but a promotion has it at $49.99 through March 20, 2014

Gadgets:: iPhone 5/5s accessories fill specific needs


iZZi Orbit ProThe IZZI Orbit Pro iPhone 5/5s case has been out for a little while but I got my first glance at it recently. It shows how serious iPhonegraphers can take their photos with the hand-held device.

While smartphones don’t really produce the image quality of a standalone camera, even of the point-n-shoot category, your phone is always handy with its camera functions and instant access.

Structurally, the case is an incredibly strong outer shell of aircraft-grade aluminum. Built into the case is a stabilizing grip on the bottom with three tripod mounts to attach your tripod on both sides and the bottom. Your phone goes into a rubber shell, which then goes into the stronger outer shell.

What makes this device unique for photography is the four lens Pro-Grade system mounted directly on the camera with the company’s peripheral motion lock technology.

The rotating lens includes a telephoto, fisheye and macro. A wide-angle lens gives you a fourth option by screwing a small attachment onto the macro, if that view is needed.

Specifically, you get a 180-degree fisheye view, a 67X wide-wide angle lens, a 2X optical telephoto lens and the macro for closeups.

The case is bulky and you probably can’t store it in your pocket so I wouldn’t use it as my everyday case. But if you’re on a vacation or a day of sightseeing, a switch to the Orbit Pro would be easy,

The little brother IZZI Slim is on the way and available for pre-order for $99.99. The slim has the lens attachments but without the metal case construction and the tripod attachments.

Instead it has a polycarbonate case (black or white choices) with the rotating lens attachments. $229.99 available in black, red and silver. A lanyard and lens cleaning cloth are included.

TYPO keyboardThe TYPO keyboard case for the iPhone 5/5s is claimed to be the first physical keyboard for an iPhone, according to the company.

At a first glance, they keyboard is a spitting image of a standard Blackberry keyboard, which is a great device for hardcore Blackberry users to get into the iPhone world.

It’s a common problem to get used to the touch-screen keyboard and even do it with speed – assuming you’re not a teenager. The TYPO is the perfect solution and works real well.

The keyboard looks like the iconic Blackberry (I admit, I was a user for a long time) and had keys, which your fingers can easily adjust to – much easier then the virtual keyboard.

It brought back memories of how I used to type and it took a little while to adjust back, but after a few typos I was there.

The backlit keyboard is built into a hard shell case, which has two pieces that slide together. When it’s attached it extends your phone about a half-inch longer. But all-in-all that’s a good thing since it give you a 40 percent larger screen since you don’t have the virtual screen on your LCD. $99 They are currently on backorder and are taking orders, which are expected to be available in mid-March.

EVUTECI might as well make this an all iPhone 5/5s accessory column since I have a few other cool things in hand.

The Evutec Karbon SP series is a sharp looking and shockproof case built with a slim 2mm layered body in a black and gray weave, scratch-resistant pattern.

It’s built with DuPont Kevlar fibers, which is promoted to be 5X strong than steel at the same weight. If anyone wants to challenge that statement, go for it. $39.95 available in multiple patterns and colors.

ZAGG Arsenal 2ZAGGs new Arsenal case for the iPhone 5/5s sounds like a rugged case just from the name and it is just that.

It’s made to be durable for impact, small drops and splash resistant with its military grade construction outer shell. A soft cushioned interior holds your phone in place.

An invisibleSHIELD EXTREME screen protector is included to keep your valuable LCD shock resistant, break protected, and touchscreen sensitive. $49.99

NUEVUEThe NUEVUE pouch case is a pretty cool design and it even kills germs. You keep your phone pretty much naked and it slides in and out of the pouch.

But the cool thing is the interior of the pouch is Antimicrobial protected and lined with a microfiber-like cloth to clean your phone from fingerprints, dust and dirt as it slides in and out.

The exterior case is made with cotton twill, canvas and leather. $45 for the iPhone 5/5s model

Gadgets:: CES has come and gone



Over the years while covering the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas I’ve had massages, shaves and just about every other industry gimmick you can think of – all right on the show floor.

This year I sat in a Lamborghini to list to an incredible sound system designed by Monster and couldn’t pass up the opportunity to destroy a brand new smartphone.

The company ProtectCELL sells annual insurance for your phone, covering just about everything. This includes getting lost, stolen, dropped in a toilet (very common insurance claim) and even if you get your phone gets caught in a blender.

A week before the show they sent me a brand new smartphone and invited me to come by the booth and destroy it.

After talking with some company representatives, who explained how the insurance policy works, they invited me to toss my new phone in a blender and whip it up.

Without hesitating I accepted and if you want to see a series of the photos just email me.

The blender destroyed the phone, creating millions of pieces from my brand new hardware.

If that was your phone, you would then call ProtectCELL, explain what happened and they would send you a new one immediately, no questions asked.

The company started in 2006 with 91 participants and now has more than 700,000 with a 25 percent renewal rate.

Your phone can be a personal one or company-issued with plans ranging from $199 for two years of coverage for an iPhone 5s to $59 for simpler phones.

ProtectCELL will even back up your contacts and other data to help restore them in the event a new phone in needed.

The Cellfy SticOver the past year or so we have all become familiar with the smartphone photography term of “selfie.”

A company called Cellfy has designed a hardware kit to help users take quality self-photos and videos using smartphones or tablets.

For the smartphone model, the patent-pending Cellfy Stic is a universal mount with suction cups on both sides to work in portrait or landscape modes.

First download a timer for your device _ they suggest. TimerCam for iOS or CameraZoomFX for Android.

Then attach your phone to the front side and attach the backside to any clean, smooth surface such as mirrors, windows, clean car panels or glass.

Set the timer, choose your pose and photos will now be better composed with the hands-free hardware.

They also have a tablet model ($24.99), which doubles as a accessory to mount on the back of a headrest for back seat viewing. It also has a built-in kick-stand for use on a flat surface in addition to the front and rear suction cups. Cellfy Stic $9.99, available in orange, pink, gray and white

House of Marley LEGENDI’m a sound junky, which is very different from a sound expert. I love trying on headphones for comfort as well as great sound in both over-the-ear headphones and earbuds.

Every year at CES sound is a big and never-ending trend. I tried on countless headphones and found a lot of them to be great but the one that caught my attention was the flagship Marley Legend active noise canceling in-ear earbuds ($199).

Each of the earbuds comes with five sizes of tips to get the right fit, Each also comes on a tangle-free cord.

In-ear Legends are built with FSC certified sapele and maple wood and recyclable aluminum, which adds up to a great looking product to compliment the great sound.

In addition to the display of headphones named after the legend Bob Marley, the company had one of the coolest booths with a a contemporary earthy feel and look.

A live DJ kept the tunes flowing without music from some 20-something-year-old former Disney character turned spoiled brat, like so many others.

Just an observation on my part.

The comfortable furniture in the Marley booth also didn’t hurt since I had walked more than  50,000 steps (thanks iBitz) at the show.

Many of Marley’s over-the-ear headphones are designed with exclusive Marley fabric, which is made with organic cotton, reclaimed hemp and recycled plastic bottles, along with other earth-friendly materials.

Other products on display included incredible desktop Bluetooth speakers, some currently out and other sneak-peaks at future 2014 Marley products.

AwoX StriimLightAnother product to grab my attention was the AwoX Striimlight B-10 lightbulb and Bluetooth speaker.

The multi-functional eco-friendly LED light bulb has a integrated Bluetooth speaker to stream wireless music right from the light fixture.

An included IR remote controls the light on and off along with the speaker volume. The setup consists of screwing in the lightbulb and then pairing the speaker with any Bluetooth enabled device.

As for the long lasting LED Lighting, it’s is 40W incandescent equivalent. $99

Gadgets:: Building on your holiday tech gifts


So you got an iPhone, iPod, iPad, Kindle, Surface or some other handheld device with a fancy touchscreen. Now you think you’re Joe Cool or a  Hip Hop person now. The gifting doesn’t end there, not so many hip, innovative accessories for your gadget.

Some offer protection – others are just fun. By necessity, I had a limit of seven choices, but the list could be endless if given the chance. Here are mine.

WrenThe Wren V5 Wireless Speaker System flat out rocks the house. Once you wirelessly connect to your music source, the sound fills any room – even a big room at that. I used the Airplay feature built into iOS devices. Android users have a model (Play-Fi ) built for them and a Bluetooth version is also available. The wireless version will stream up to 150 feet, depending on your music source and the Wi-Fi router. That’s great range compared to the 30 feet that you get with Bluetooth. Wren made sure the sound was first class but put the same effort into the design. The rectangular speaker curves on the ends, with your choice of bamboo or real rosemary wood finish. It measures about 16 x 6 x 4-inches and with the finish, makes a nice addition to any family room. There’s an  auxiliary port on the back along along with a USB connector for direction connection of other devices.  $399 for the Apple Airplay or the Android Play-Fi or Bluetooth models

MS 530 Headphones 2The Phiaton Chord MS 530 headphones cut the cord with Bluetooth technology connecting the fancy headphone to your music source. Once paired,  the padded ear cups with 40mm titanium driver technology brings you amazing sound. An internal battery (needed for both the sound and noise canceling features) gives you up to 30 hours of use before needing a USB charge. There’s also a dual-microphone built-in so they can be used for handsfree phone calls. You can try them on your next flight but the attendants might catch on to the Bluetooth, which you still can’t use inflight. $349 available at, Brookstone and Amazon

Milano BlackMapiCases Milano portfolio leather mini iPad case is made with 100 percent premium leather and has a zipper closure on three sides and a soft lined fabric inside to keep your device well-protected and looking great. Inside the cover you’ll find dividers for paperwork, passports, business cards  or whatever you want to store. You can get the leather case in black, brown, red and tan. $200

The Olloclip 3-IN-1 clip-on photo lens works on the new iPhone 5s/5c as well as the 5/4/4s, converting your iPhone lens to a fisheye, wide-angle and macro lens all in one.  It clips on and off your phone in seconds The wide-angle lens nearly doubles the widths of your phone’s view; the fisheye gives you close to a 180-degree view and the macro is a 10X magnification.

iPhone 5c Olloclip 1

The lens weighs just 0.6 ounces, measures 1.5 x .98 x .98 – inches and a cloth pouch is included for storage – and it’s handy for  cleaning fingerprints off the lens. The brand new olloclip for the 5c, which was announced at Consumer Electronics show earlier this month, comes in phone matching colors of blue, green, pink, yellow and white. iPhone 5/5s $69.99, 5c $59.99 and the 4/4s $69.99, available at Apple Store, Best Buy, AT&T and Target

Fat fingers are always a problem while typing on a touchscreen’s virtual keyboard for anything more then a quick message  but the brand new Rapoo E6300 keyboard solves that problem. It’s an ultra slim (.22-inches) Bluetooth 3.0 keyboard made with eye-catching brushed stainless steel and plastic keys.

Rapoo E6300

It measures 8 inches by just over 3 inches. An internal rechargeable lithium battery lasts for about a month on a 2-hour USB charge with the included microUSB cable. You can use it on an iPad, Android devices or any device that is Bluetooth equipped. As for the keyboard, it’s full-sized with 80 standard keys and 15 iPad hotkeys including homepage, play/pause and copy/paste. $49.99 available at WalMart

If a USB cable can be called amazing, Innergie’s MagiCable Duo is the one. It’s a unique 2-in-1 cable with a charging connections for both the Apple Lightning iPhones, iPads and iPods and Android mobile devices, all in one.

MagiCable Duo 1

One end has a standard USB connection to plug into your power source. The other has the Lightning tip on the outside, which slides out (and stays attached) to expose the microUSB tip. If your confused, just buy it. Once you see it, you’ll know how cool this is. $29.99 available at Office Depot and Office Max


f your within 99.99 percent of the population you never back up any music, photos or videos until there is a crash crisis. The WD My Cloud storage system – it has nothing to do with the weather – is one of the easiest to set up and store your data. It looks like a hard drive (2, 3 and 4 TB capacities) and acts like a hard drive.

WD My CloudBut  you can access the content from anywhere in the world. After you’re done with the simple setup using the WD web-based interface on a Mac or PC, the software automatically detects the drive so you connect to it via the web. My Cloud has a Gigabit Ethernet connection, along with a Dual-Core processor, which results in blazing fast speeds to transfer files. Accessing files stored on the My Cloud is simple on mobile devices using the company’s WD My Cloud mobile app for iOS and Android devices. bigger is better, go for the 4TB -$249.99, available at Office Depot and Fry’s Electronics

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