Archive for March 2017

Gadgets :: March 29, 2017

By Gregg Ellman

Pivot PhoneOlloclip, a company that has mastered iPhoneography with a series of attachable lenses, recently launched another great accessory for the smartphone photographer.

The Pivot is a pocket-sized articulating grip that easily attaches to your device to improve video and still photography. Photographers would understand the comparison to a smartphone gimbal, without a stabilization motor.

I tried the Pivot using a cased iPhone 7 along with an Olloclip 4-in-1 lens kit and found the grip was a great help keeping my smartphone steady for all types of photography. It’s built with an ergonomic grip and lets you rotate 225 degrees, with locking positions to ensure the right angle.

After filming a video without the Pivot and then doing the same with it, I was sold.

You can easily store the Pivot in a camera or computer bag; it’s pretty light and mostly made of plastic.

Phones with screens up to 5.5-inches will attach to the mount. The top features a standard attachment for a video light, mic or other accessories including GoPro mounts.

It’s also water resistant and can be taken for a swim when using a waterproof camera or GoPro. $49.99 in a black/red color combination

Skybuds Charcoal and NimbusSkybuds, from Alpha Audiotronics are wireless-wireless earbuds, which puts great sound in both ears.

The tiny Bluetooth earbuds pair with your device like any other wireless accessory and send your audio to each ear, without a wired connection.

As for the fit, I’ve tried several of these independent earbuds and some just didn’t fit right. I like how the Skybuds really go into my ear and fit securely without the fear they will fall out and get lost.

You’ll have to work the volume on your device but the Skybuds do have a microphone for handsfree calls and they directly access Siri or other assistants.

The Skybuds app monitors battery levels of your buds and the Skydock along with a range finder to help you find misplaced Skybuds

I used the Skybuds on a recent flight and they worked for all three hours; the specs have them lasting up to 4 hours before a charge is needed. The included Skydock case stores the earbuds and has a built-in battery for charging several times before the battery needs a boost of power. @19.99

HUB Plus QC 6700 HeroThe myCharge is as versatile a portable USB power source as any and even allows you to charge cable free — sort of.

It’s built with 6700 mAh of portable power inside a slick looking aluminum body. When it needs a charge, just fold out the wall prongs and plug it right into any standard AC wall outlet.

On the side is a pair of attached cables for charging anything with a USB-C or microUSB connections. If you have a different charging port, just plug your own cable into the standard USB-A port.

The battery is built with Qualcomm Quick Charge technology, which along with the myCharge SmartSense technology ensures that any compatible Quick Charge 3.0 device will charge 75 percent faster vs devices that use standard charging methods. $79.99

Gadgets :: March 22, 2017

By Gregg Ellman

greg2You’ll really appreciate a good night’s sleep after using the Sound+Sleep Suite from Adaptive Sound Technologies.

The audio sleep device provides the right amount of ambient noise with natural sounds for the perfect shut eye environment. Technology called Adaptive Sound, which uses a built-in microphone that allows the volume to adjust to ambient noise is a key feature.

For the most part it looks like a standard nightstand clock radio without the clock features. It uses AC power to broadcast sound from a smooth-sounding 3-inch high fidelity speaker on the top. You can have the sound play all night or a timer shuts it off in half hour increments up to 2 hours.

Sound is broadcast in 10 unique, non-looping programs, each with richness levels for 30 layers of sound.

On the back is a line-in (3.5 mm) port to connect an audio device to play through the system and a line out port for headphone or external speakers.

The Sound+Sleep measures 7.5-by-5.5-by-4.5-inches, weighs 2.6 pounds and is available with a black finish. $99.95

gregg1I never thought I’d be talking about my teeth brushing habits in this space, so here are my details. I brush regularly, several times a day with an electric toothbrush. The habit was drilled in my head growing up with a mother who worked as a dental hygienist.

These days I maintain the child habit but I have to admit changing the worn out brush head doesn’t happen as often as it should. That’s just one reason why the Goby electric toothbrush caught my attention.

The toothbrush was launched late last year and claims to be first ever direct-to-consumer rechargeable electric toothbrush.

In addition to working perfectly as my regular toothbrush, an inexpensive subscription service keeps my brush head fresh and clean.

For a one-time charge of $65, you’ll get the electric toothbrush, base/charger and one brush. You then choose a brush head subscription to receive a new brush head every 1,2, or 3 months for $6 each.

As for the brush, it works great and has a cool timer feature where for 2 minutes the brush does its thing, ensuring I don’t cut any corners in my mouth.

The brush is charged in a small freestanding base and has a USB attachment, enabling it to be cord free when you’re not charging. Goby recommends charging it twice a month.

There’s a replacement brush head indicator on the brush for alerting you when it’s time to change, a button to toggle between sensitive and standard modes. It should last 28 uses, 2 minutes each use before a charge is needed.

The system comes with a 60-day trial and a two-year warranty. available in goby blue, midnight blue, magenta and orange

greg3Don’t drop your phone and especially in water. Well, the fact is we all drop our phone and sometimes it survives and other times it doesn’t, especially when it takes the wet plunge.

Pelican Products, a company that develops what I call indestructible products for military and emergency personal, has the Marine case to protect your smartphone on land or sea.

Just put your iPhone in the case, which is built with five-layer protection constructed of impact-absorbing materials and a rigid polycarbonate shell. This includes a waterproof IP68 rating, which allows it to be submerged underwater for 30 minutes up to a depth of 4.92 feet. The case also blocks dust, dirt or anything else from the outside.

Cases like this in the past have been big and bulky and I was happy to see the marine doesn’t really give your phone a bigger profile with it’s 5.98-by-3.09-by-0.48-inch size.

I tested it with an Apple iPhone 7 and loved it. I’m a front pocket carrying person and I had no problem adjusting with the protective case on.

I’ve been a big fan of no headphone port so that wasn’t an issue for me since the iPhone 7 doesn’t have one and works Bluetooth only. You can connect a headphone port to the Lighting charing port, but obviously when that is in use the case is not giving you full protection. $69.99, available in clear, teal and black

Gadgets :: March 15, 2017

By Gregg Ellman

When a new product from V-MODA arrives, I instantly anticipate opening it, just as I would a holiday or birthday gift. I know there is a cutting-edge audio product tucked inside, even though I never had my hands on it or heard it in use.

I’ll take you right to the end; there was absolutely no disappointment after opening, seeing and testing the hot-off-the-press Remix wireless Hi-Fi speaker.

The Remix is the company’s first venture into bluetooth speakers. The sound that flows out is nothing short of superb. This holds true whether you like to enjoy music at a comfortable volume or if you like to punch it up to concert level.

The Remix’s solid construction coupled with its size makes it a perfect travel companion. It measures 8.07-by-2.55-by-2.67-inches. Sound projects smoothly through its front facing grill mixing perfectly with a rear mounted bass reflex port. According the V-MODA, the sound is “powered by a newly designed glass-fiber diaphragm and long coil drivers.”

Typical for V-MODA, they emphasized the design, look and features. My test unit was designed with CNC aluminum. An optional vegan leather finish is also available.

When it comes to customization the Remix is unique. V-MODA touts the world’s first 3D-printed custom speaker so all six sides of Remix can be personalized. You can change the sides, front grill and the C-shell with into a variety of materials. They include “lightweight matte fiber to raw, gold-plated or precious metals including 14-karat rose gold and even platinum,” according to Val Kolton, V-MODA Founder and CEO. The 3D printing is done with V-MODA’s renowned jewelry-grade 3D-printing, which I’ve seen in the company’s headphones.

The VMAP port takes the Remix to a new level for wireless speakers, transforming it into a headphone amplifier. For the most part it’s just plug-and-play with the V-MODA VAMP technology to give your headphones a boost of power and sound.
Connect an audio device to the aux-in port with the included 4.5-foot V-MODA 24k gold plated plug cable, turn the speaker on, connect your headphones to the VAMP port and hit the multifunction button on top once to get everything going. You’ll be amazed at the sound.

You can connect two Bluetooth sources and also use an unlimited number of Remix speakers simultaneously. Just daisy chain them with 3.5 mm audio cables.

Controls for power, volume and pairing are well placed on the top; the back has a USB-C charging port (5.6-foot charging cable included), an auxiliary port and a VMAP/auxiliary out port.

It has a 3400mAh internal rechargeable battery, good for more than 10 hours of tunes and a built-in microphone for hands-free calls.

The speaker also works with Amazon’s Alexa via the Echo Dot (wirelessly or wired) and is also compatible with Google Chromecast Audio. $300, 3D printing customization ranges from $40 to $370,000
If there’s a keyboard that’s more compact, portable and useful than the Kanex MultiSync Foldable Travel Keyboard, I haven’t seen it.
With the Kanex keyboard you can sync up to four devices to the keyboard at once with Bluetooth 3.0 and toggle between the four to use what you want at the time, with the push of a key.
It’s built with a durable construction and folds shut to cut the size in half when it’s not in use. A magnetic closure keeps it shut tight. When closed it measures 6.42-by-4-inches and weighs just 6 ounces. 
As for typing, once you get it set up it’s a perfect ergonomic keyboard in a V-shaped layout. An LED alerts you when it’s time to charge the internal battery and also shows you when you’re connected to a device.
You can sync the keyboard with devices using these operating systems or newer; Apple iOS 7, Mac OS 10, Android 4.0 Windows XP/7/8/10. $49.95

Gadgets :: March 8, 2017

By Gregg Ellman

I’ve always thought that you don’t have to be an expert to know good sound from bad. You just know it when you hear it.

So after I put on the Beem BeMe D200 earbuds a few weeks ago I knew they weren’t just good because they were great.

A press release sent to me before they were available to the public touted them as a new dance line for Beem United company, known for innovative products with quality design and looks.

But this got my attention before a sound was played; they are the first Apple Lightning-connected earbuds I’ve tried.

The D200’s come loaded with features, including ergonomic ear-tips (four sizes included) for a secure and comfortable fit, a great sound with lots of bass, and an LED light to bring your sound to life.

An aluminum housing covers the 10.66 mm drivers, which also have a dual mic with active noise cancellation in each ear to ensure your sound is from the earbuds and not unwanted outside noise. There’s also an in-line remote control for selecting music and calls.

You can make the sound experience even better with the free Beem app, which lets you to customize your tunes with a 10-band equalizer. Presets are loaded in the app or you customize to you’re liking.

A carrying case is included. $169.99. available in black, flash green, rebel purple and rose gold

Urbanears Plattan 2 is another new great sounding, stylish and colorful choice.

They are a new version of the Plattan, updated and redesigned with a new sound for the over-the-head headphones at a friendly price.

The sound sits on your ears with extra isolating ear cushions, and a customized 3D hinge adjusts how it fits over your head.

Urbanears says the 3d hinge gives your headphones impressive flexibility so they can adapt to the shape of your head for a perfect fit and sort of like double-jointed kneecaps, which I thought was a unique description. When they are not in use, the flexibility allows them to fold up and fully collapse for storage.

Once you get past the looks and feel, you’ll be equally impressed with the sound, which is obviously the most critical aspect of the message headphones deliver.

The Plattan 2s are equipped with a ZoundPlug, which is a term I never heard of until I used Urbanears. It’s a socket on the cord that allows you to daisy chain your music to share with others.

An inline mic and remote works perfect for calls and music controls. $49 available in black, blue, comet green, dark grey, Indigo, powder pink, purple, snow blue, tomato and white

The SpiderLight Backpacker kit is a strapless, innovative way of securely fastening a camera to a backpack or messenger bag strap.

While it’s attached, the spider system gives you instant on/off access with its easy quick snap in-out connection. It’s ergonomic design lets you wear the hardware and even attach a bulkier digital SLR camera with ease.

Setting it up takes just seconds. I tried it with a medium-sized SLR camera with the SpiderLight camera plate security attached to the bottom of the camera’s tripod connection, which is then attached to the backpack holster on the front strap of my backpack.

I tried it with a few different brands of backpacks popular with photographers and it worked perfect on every one.

I will add, before I even attached anything to my camera, I was impressed with the durable construction of the hardware, especially since you are trusting it to carry expensive camera gear.

Accessories for the system are available. One, which I’ve seen, is used to capture front facing point-of-view videos with a GoPro.

The backpacker kit can also be used for belt access. $125

Gadgets :: March 1, 2017

By Gregg Ellman

Just a few years ago portable chargers were a novelty, but these days they are essential when you need immediate power on-the-go.

The Renogy Phoenix takes portable power to whole new levels with a unit capable of charging just about everything needing it, even a TV, lamp or coffee maker.

The key to this compact unit is the solar panels making the 16.24-by-11.95-by-3.94-inch waterproof brief case (12.8-pounds) design a go-to device anytime power is needed. Usages can be vacations, work, relaxing in your own backyard or in an emergency.

A pair of 10-watt solar panels power the 16,000 mAh Li-ion internal battery, which powers a 110-volt AC, 12-volt (cigarette lighter style), a pair of 12-volt DC and 4 USB ports. The internal battery is good for up to 1500 cycles and is replaceable.

Besides getting power from the panels, the Phoenix can be charged with AC or car charging power.

Additional panels can be purchased bring the total to 120-watts for more power and faster charging. Charging can be done from zero up to 113-degrees Fahrenheit (0~45 Celsius). $688.99

My first impression of Henge Dock’s Gravitas iPhone/iPad docking station was the weight. So much so, my curiosity had me weigh it before the package was opened; 3.25 pounds.

Out of the box it weighs just 2.5-pounds (3.5-inch diameter) and has really a nice looking design and matching Apple aesthetics with a zinc alloy finish. Using it is pretty simple; put in your iOS device with the right swappable insert.

You get an insert for iPhones (6/6s, 6 Plus/6s Plus, 7/7 Plus) and one for iPads (iPad Air, iPad Air 2, iPad Mini, iPad Mini with Retina Display and iPad 4th gen).

The “Life After Device” program ensures future Apple lightning devices will be compatible with new inserts made for the Gravitas.

There is a USB port for charging and syncing along with a 3.5mm aux audio port for connecting speakers. The front of the dock has a cleaver groove to access the devices home button while docked.

I had thin cases on both my iPhone 7 and iPad 4th gen, and they fit in the dock. I’m sure there are some that won’t fit but it’s nice so see that many will.

With a sold feel, I know one thing: when my device is docked it will take a lot to knock it over. $69

So you just got a new laptop and it has a different connection, which you have no idea what it is or what it’s for.

Hopefully you figured out it’s USB-C, which has a ton of potential when connected to the right accessory.

One of those right accessories is the Scosche USB-C Digital AV Multiport Adapter. The front end has a USB-C connection, while the other (connected with a flexible cord) has three ports. One for HDMI, a standard USB type A port and the third port is a USB-C pass through charging.

The third port is critical since your computer probably charges with the USB-C, so if you hook up other adapters they will work while your computer’s battery runs down. Now you can still keep your computer powered up, charge your smartphone and mirror your computer to an HDMI-enabled TV.

The standard USB type A port can be used for charging, syncing or connecting storage devices such has hard drivers or flash drives.

Data transfer speeds with the adapter have 8GB in 3 minutes 25 seconds. $59.99

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