Archive for August 2017

Gadgets :: August 30, 2017

By Gregg Ellman

As if listening to TV audio with first-rate headphones isn’t good enough, the new Sennheiser Flex 5000 digital wireless audio system takes the sound to new, amazing levels of quality.

Honestly, I was a little confused after reading about the system, but after listening to a sporting event (New York Yankees of course), an HBO concert and standard TV, I am sold.

Sennheiser loaned me a pair of their HD 569 headphones, which they stated is a recommended match with the Flex 5000 for a perfect audio experience. They were dead on with this match.

There are two pieces of hardware with the Flex 5000; a transmitter/docking station that connects to a TV in seconds with the included cables and a wireless (98 feet/30 meters) rechargeable clip-on receiver. Sennheiser also included the MX 475 wired earphones.

Once docked to the TV just lug your wired headphones into the receiver. From there you can choose one of three custom sound profiles designed for TV, movies or music.

I found the profiles added or reduced the amount of bass and to me it didn’t matter what the sound is designed for; just toggle between more or less bass and listen to what sounds good.

Volume can be adjusted between the left and right channels if desired and there’s a feature called Speech Intelligibility. With the press of a button on the side of the receiver users will better understand speech by reducing background noise in the TV audio.

Along with the improved sound, the controller turns your audio into wireless audio. Just clip it on your belt, shirt or chair with any wired headphones plugged in. The controller works for about 12 hours before it has to be docked int the docking station for a charge. You can also adjust the volume up or down with the controller.

The HD 569 wired headphones, also new from Sennheiser, have an ergonomic design with an adjustable headband and padded around-ear speakers. With this design you can wear them for any length of time without comfort being an issue. They are built with Sennheiser’s proprietary transducer technology, which directs the clear crisp audio directly into your ears. Flex 5000 $199.95, HD 569 headphones $179.95

Silca’s new Tattico portable mini-pump is ideal for bicyclists and those pesky flat or low tires.

But what makes the pump great – besides its portability – is Bluetooth technology. This lets you get a reliable and accurate pressure reading from the pump to a smartphone, preventing over or under inflating.

A built-in Bluetooth sensor allows it to make a direct wireless connection without the need of the internet.

A long-lasting and replaceable CR2030 battery powers the sensor. To wake up the sensor just begin to air the tire; once the pump is stored and the app is off the Bluetooth transmitter will hibernate.

You’ll need the free iGauge app, available for iOS and Android users, to display the tire pressure. Readings are available up to 120psi with an accuracy of plus/minus 2 percent.

The pump has an Alloy barrel, measures 9.5-inches in length and features a hidden hose and valving, resulting in 10 percent more air per stroke, according to Silica.

A direct-mount backed with retaining strap is included. $120, shipping is expected to begin on August 31

The Smarter Coffee (Gen 2) is available for purchase in the US, obviously with a US compatible AC plug.

When the coffee maker is connected to the Internet, you can start your coffee beans grinding and then brew a perfect cup of java with an app on your smartphone, from most anywhere in the world.

And if that’s not easy enough, the Smart Coffee system can also connect to other smart home devices with IFTTT or just talk to your Amazon Alexa voice assistant.

The updated Smarter Coffee also has made improvements to control coffee strength and the temperature, offering the option to pre-heat the water before brewing for an even fresher enriched brew. $232.28

Gadgets :: August 23, 2017


By Gregg Ellman

The Nightingale smart home sleep system is designed to give you a better night of sleep by creating an optimal sleep environment. These are designed to mask common noises, which can be sleep disrupting by creating sound blankets to mask the awakening sounds.

In a nutshell, it looks exactly like a standard AC wall outlet and plugs right into the wall. It’s only about 1-inch deep and allows you to use the power ports as a pass-through outlet for lamps, chargers, whatever.

To set it up, download the free Nightingale sound app (iOS and Android) and follow the onscreen instructions, which includes setting up a quick account. You get the choice of using Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, both worked well but you’ll get a little more range with Wi-Fi.

The app sets the system up for your room, including a time schedule and a few specific conditions for creating the right sound blanket. Among the setup preferences are choices to neutralize snoring or the right sounds for a youth’s bedroom. Sounds include crickets, loons, whale songs, rainstorm or my choice of lakeshore.

The perimeter of the Nightingale has a multi-color LED light, which gives off a very subtle amount of light to illuminate the room.

The setup was simple and I slept great with the sounds. Past that, I think it’s up to the user and the specific conditions, whether it works or not. $249

Earbuds can’t get any cooler than the updated Jabra Elite sport.

The true wireless (Bluetooth) and wire free earbuds have amazing sound, which is first and foremost why I purchase them.

Jabra, who is known for active lifestyle technology in sound devices, has a heart rate monitor and analyzer, which work with the free Jabra app.

The app is also great for planning fitness workouts along with recording and monitoring your results and in-ear coaching.

The battery life is rated at 4.5-hours and the on-the-go charging case will give you another 9 hours. A feature called hear through, filters in the sounds surrounding you so you are more aware while running or just walking city streets.

Built inside the earbuds is a four microphone system to use for handsfree calls on IOS and Android devices.

The Elite Sports fit with comfort and a secure fit right out of the box, but if the fit isn’t right for you there are multiple sets of silicon gels, foam tips and secure fit wings included. $249

Electric Jukebox is expecting their new Roxi “to revolutionize family music entertainment in the home,” according to a recent press release.

There are a lot of cool features in the new device, which is immediately available.

Electric Jukebox launched the Roxi hoping it would help families who use it to have more quality family time together instead of being isolated with their own personal devices and headphones.

After a simple 2 minute setup with 2 cables (HMDI and AC power adapter), families will be dancing and singing Karaoke-style.

The Wi-Fi Roxi hub connects directly to your TV (or speakers) and the USB charged gesture based controller (6.75-by-1.25-by-1.25-inches) has a built-in microphone for voice search and is ideal for a sing along.

Included with the Roxi is a free 1-year unlimited music streaming service premium pass. The service is subscription free and can be added at your choice for $66.94 per year, after the initial free year.

The unlimited service includes thousands of radio stations for all over the planet, hundreds of playlists in addition to letting you sing karaoke-style with and an endless music library. You’ll also get access to music games and one of my childhood favorite games shows, Name that Tune.

The control also has Sound Machine, which includes yoga and meditation melodies, therapeutic sounds such as rain and white noise, to help a baby sleep. Parents can also block explicit lyrics and content. $199

Gadgets :: August 16, 2017


By Gregg Ellman

True story: I got tired of seeing my wife use her tablet with wired headphones, especially while using them on a treadmill.

So I handed her a box of iFrogz Impulse Duo wireless earbuds and said “use these.” In about 30 seconds she had the box opened, changed the ear tips to a better fitting smaller size, paired them with her tablet (Bluetooth) and was off to the gym.

Upon returning I asked what she thought and she said they were great and made her workout so much easier. In addition to the great sound, wireless and comfort, she really liked the magnetic clasp, which she attached to the back of her shirt during the workout.

Really, the only part I have in reviewing these was showing her how the clip doubles as cable management system when not using the earbuds.

I didn’t bother to mention that the lightweight earbuds are sweat-resistant (IPX-2 rated), have duel 6 mm drivers in each ear and up to 10 hours of use before a charge is needed. There’s also a built-in mic for handsfree calls with just the tap of a button on the clasp.

You get multiple ear tips in different sizes, along with the earbud tips for life limited warranty. So if your ear tips get worn or damaged, Zagg will replace them for free. $44.99, currently on sale for $31.49

All at the same time, the Pyle (PLTT21BT) classic turntable is vintage, modern, hip and different.

The different aspect, which caught my eye and guarantees to be a talking point among house guests, is that the belt-drive turntable plays vinyl records vertically. Yes, that’s correct, records are played up and down, not flat. And if you weren’t looking at the turntable while it’s playing you would never know the difference. You’ll look, though, because it’s very cool.

Sound comes through a pair of front-facing built-in stereo speakers that produces decent sound. If you want improved sound or just want to spread it out, it’s simple to do. Just plug your speakers into the RCA output connector jacks.

Pyle calls the turntable accurately an Elegant Vintage Replica Crafted Sound System, and you can see that with its eye-catching wood finish and rotary knobs and button controls.

It’s easy to it into a modern sound system – just pair your portable music player with the turntable via Bluetooth to stream your digital music library from a smartphone, table or computer. There’s also a USB memory stick reader for direct streaming of music.

The turntable (14.2-by-8.3-by-14.6-inches), plays 33-1/3, 45, and 78 RPM’s, is AC powered and has a front facing tonearm, with a replaceable needle. $112.95

The Phoozy thermal capsule is designed to keep smartphones safe in the hottest or coldest conditions.

Made from some of the same materials that help protect astronaut spacesuits in space, the protective capsule is a pretty sure bet to help your device stay safe on earth in hot, wet and freezing conditions.

It’s also built with float protection, a chromium shell to reflect more than 90 percent of the sun’s solar radiation and an impact core layer for military-grade drop protection.

Your LCD is not accessible when using the pouch and a soft touch protective inside liner keeps your smartphone safe and scratch-free when inside.

According to the Phoozy site, it’s designed to work with the iPhone Series, Galaxy Series, Google Pixel Series and most other major smartphones with a naked, caseless mobile device for maximum thermal protection. $29.99

Gadgets :: August 9, 2017

By Gregg Ellman
Back to school shopping lists in my day included pens, pencils and notebook paper. These days your list is a lot more modern and tech related. Here are a few items that would make great additions to any back-to-school shopping list.

The USB Logitech K840 mechanical keyboard is pretty much the last keyboard you’ll need since it was tested to last for more than 70 million keystrokes. Logitech’s exclusive and silent Romer-G mechanical switches are durable, allowing you type away in comfort.

The full sized keyboard features a Windows lock key, media shortcuts, programable keys, a 70-inch strain relief USB cable and an anodized aluminum top case with a modern, sand-blasted textured finish. $79.99

The iClever BoostStrip IC-BS03 power strip will charge or power just about everything you have including smartphones, tablets, computers and even a hair dryer. It’s built with SmartID technology to recognize devices for a safe charge while maximizing charging efficiency.

Simultaneously, you can use all six standard AC outlets and six USB ports. Each AC port is surge protected from damage caused by power surges and an on/off switch lets you turn the power strip off completely. The USB ports are all high-speed charging and also have SmartID to recognize the maximum charging speed for each specific plugged-in device.

A 5-foot power cord is attached and a wall mounting bracket is included along with an 18-month warranty. Available in black or white. $24.99

Athena is a wearable safety device that can be attached to a belt, purse or worn as jewelry. It’s about the size of a quarter (1.5-inch diameter by 0.5 inch thick) and is designed to be inconspicuous but easily trackable to alert anyone to your whereabouts.

Roar designed the Athena with women’s safety in mind, for any situation where a violent crime can occur and alert help instantly.

When trouble happens, just press Athena and it sounds an alarm while alerting others you connected with the Roar app. Once the button is pressed, your location is instantly sent to your network with a text alert.

Athena connects to your smartphone with Bluetooth and tells the Roar app to send the text message with the danger alert. The emergency contacts you choose to receive the text message are not required to have the Roar app.

A rechargeable battery will last for about two weeks. $99 in rose gold, black or silver. Available for pre-order, with a late August delivery

The Adventure Ultra from myCharge has a 13400 mAh battery enabling you to charge anything on-the-go, including a 32-inch television for up to three hours. Most people won’t be carrying around a TV, but you probably have a laptop, smartphone or a tablet. Almost anything can run or charge with the Adventure Ultra as long as it doesn’t need more than 45 W of power.

Two standard USB ports and a single USB-C port available for charging. The battery alone can charge a smartphone up to eight times or power a lamp with an LED bulb for 8 hours.

The portable battery is built with an insulated and rugged exterior case and inside is hyper-charge technology for ultra-fast charging along with safe-cell technology to ensure each device is powered to the highest level of battery safety.

The Ultra is 1.2-by-5.8-by-4.1 inches and weighs 1.05 pounds $129.99

Depending on how you look at it, the Yunmai Color scale will help you keep in good shape or tell you how bad of shape you are in. Either way, it’s a real handy item to have around for the college years, which typically leads to an extra few pounds around the waist.

Just stand on it and your physical condition and other body statistics will be available instantly through the scale’s smartphone app. The scale has four high precision pressure sensors and four human body sensors to measure critical health features, including bioelectrical impedance analysis of body mass index, weight, fat, muscle, visceral fat, bone mass, water, basal metabolic rate, body age and protein.

On the scale is a 4-inch LCD, which displays your weight and body fat percentage. Up to 16 profiles can be stored in the app so family and friends can join in to an easy way to keep track of critical heath features.

Four AAA batteries power the scale and it has Bluetooth 4.0 to connect to Android and iOS smartphones and tablets. $66.95

The Monster Firecracker portable high definition Bluetooth/NFC speaker has two high-performance full-range drivers with a passive bass radiator to produce room-filling sound with a deep bass and powerful dynamics, which is referred to as Pure Monster Sound by Monster.

A unique feature on the firecracker is a 500 lumens photo light, which will shine for about 7 hours. The light is measured at 5000-degrees Kelvin, which translates to natural light enabling it to be a perfect light source for helping out cell phone cameras in dark situations.

It’s also splash proof (IPX-5) and has a built-in high intelligibility mic for handsfree calls. A carabiner clip lets you carry or attach it to most anything. There’s also a built in USB port to use for charging other devices and the internal battery will last for 25 hours of play life. $149.99, available in black, camo, gold and red

Gadgets :: August 2, 2017

By Gregg Ellman

The Amazon Fire HD 8 Tablet with Alexa is a great little tablet, especially combined with an Amazon Prime membership.

Since I’m a longtime iPad owner, I’m familiar with the Apple app store and I was happy to see The Amazon app store works much the same and just as easy. I download a few apps I use on my iPad to see if they worked the same and they do.

The Fire comes pre-loaded a great selection Amazon apps to play, shop, read, listen and watch. You can purchase music, videos, books, games, all through the pre-loaded apps on Amazon and with a Prime Membership you’ll have lots of free options.

The tablet has a built in web browser (Silk), parental controls (FreeTime) and apps for photos, calendar, camera, documents, contacts, maps, clock, weather, and email. There’s also a Shop amazon and Amazon offers app as well as Alexa which lets you ask the tablet questions and get answers without having to type or search yourself.

Reading is my thing so I started with the Kindle Books app. If you already have some ebooks they can be loaded them but since I am new to the Fire I just went to the Prime Reading and found hundreds of free books to choose from in the Prime Bookstore and even more available to purchase.

Movies, TV shows, music, and games work the same way, with many available for free with Prime and others available for purchase.

I used the tablet to read books and watch videos on a 4 hour flight and barely made a dent in the battery power. It is rated for 12 hours of battery life, has a vibrant 8-inch HD display, a 1.3 GHz quad-core processor, 1.5 GB of RAM, and Dolby Audio.

The Fire is available in with 16 or 32 GB of internal storage and has a microSD slot for adding up to 256 GB of expandable storage. It is available in Black, yellow, red and blue. 16GB – $79.99, 32GB – $109.99

Creative’s Sound BlasterX Katana multi-channel gaming sound bar sound system is marketed for gamers but instantly after hearing the sound quality I’d use it for gaming, music, TV, movies or anything you want to hear in great quality and room filling sound.

If you’re not familiar with sound bars, they are a speaker built with a long slim profile.The five-driver Katena is 23.6-inches long, 2.40-inches high and just 3.1 inches deep, making it perfect to keep under a computer monitor or even attach to some TV wall mounting brackets. Regardless of where you chose to keep it, the sound will be nothing short of outstanding.

A black front facing grill covers two up-firing midbass drivers and two high-excursion tweeters. On the back is your connections, including USB, MicroUSB, 3.5 mm, optical or use it wirelessly with Bluetooth 4.2.

What makes it a complete system is the subwoofer, which houses the fifth driver, referred to as one long-throw. The subwoofer (5.1-by-11.8-by-13.1 inches) can sit in full view or hidden behind furniture, either way you’ll get the boom-boom sound effect.

As for the sound, this system goes to head-banging loud levels and while I’m not one to blast my sound, during testing I had this cranked up. Beware, If you’re in an apartment your neighbors won’t be happy if crank it up to the high volume levels.

I’m not a gamer so I tested the sound out with different presets on my receiver ranging from theater to gaming to surround sound, with each one had a different tone. There’s no right or wrong, it’s whatever is comfortable to your ears. I like a deep bass so it took some tweaking, which is how great sounding audio should be achieved.

The included wireless remote comes in handy for volume control, song selections

A really cool feature is the 49 programable LED lights from end to end on the bottom/front of the speaker. With a combination of 16.8 million color combinations you can customize the light show to you’re liking or use some of the presents. While the lights have no bearing on the sound, there’s something about them, which caught my attention and my eyes for some time.

I’ve been a sound bar fan for sometime and the Katena has shot up to the top of my list with great sound, looks, versatility and easy to use. $299.99

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