Archive for November 2017

Gadgets :: November 29, 2017

By Gregg Ellman

It looks like a pen, it’s the size of a pen, but it’s way more than a pen. And that’s an understatement after seeing how cool and innovative the InstruMMent 01 is when paired with a smartphone.

After playing with the tool for a little while I kind of got the hang of how to use it as a measuring and dimensioning instrument, with the results processed on my smartphone quicker than I write them down.

The InstruMMent shows a demonstration on how you measure curves for an incredibly accurate measurement of a mouse and have the dimensions relayed to the accompanying app (Android and iOS) instantly. So instantly that’s what I did and say what you want, I thought it was pretty cool.

I could see how designers, architects and other professionals would make this tool a game changer right out of the box.

This all happens because a bunch of sensors built inside take the measurements and relay them wirelessly (Bluetooth) to your smartphone.

It works as a tape measure so builders can use it to calculate length, width or heighth for door space, walls, windows, floors or how much carpet is needed. Or as demonstrated on the website, you can measure a growing child instantly and record the heighth in the app. The uses are really endless for measuring anything flat or 3D.

Setup with the app is simple, just pair it and go. You can view measurements in any unit you want – inches, feet, yards, miles or metric.

The InstruMMent 01 is constructed with an aluminum body and is available in pen, pencil, or stylus versions, all built with internal sensors and Bluetooth. The 6-month battery is include along with an ink cartridge; replacements can be purchased.

Other accessories you can add include leather sleeves, stylus tips and even training wheels, which I certainly could have used. $149 for the dimensioning instrument with a pen, pencil or stylus (choose one)

Statistics supplied to me from Nora, a device designed to combat snoring, highlighted how 40 percent of Americans are affected by snoring, causing many problems in the bedroom and often leading to health problems including strokes and heart attacks.

Full disclosure: I’m a horrible sleeper and my snoring often keeps my wife awake. Over the years I’ve tried mouth guards, medications, nose strips, etc. so I, like other poor sleepers, am willing to try anything.

Something simple like the rechargeable Nora was a pleasant surprise. Without giving any medical advice and keeping this far from official, I thought it worked for me, as did my wife.

The hardware and setup are simple. The Nora device has a built in microphone and looks like a computer mouse. It can sit on your nightstand and works with an expander wirelessly (Bluetooth), which slides into your existing pillow case.

Just tap Nora when you get in bed and Nora detects when you are snoring, then tells the expander to slightly inflate and gently move your head. You don’t even know it’s moving or at least I didn’t. The expander has low/high settings, which expand less or more, depending on what you feel is needed.

The expander is connected to an AC powered pack, which also works on battery power for up to three nights when traveling.

According to the Nora site, “Snoring occurs as a result of the airways in our throats collapsing while our neck muscles relax during sleep.” So the slight movement of your head Nora gives the snorer, will hopefully stimulate the relaxed throat muscles allowing the airway to assume its natural position and decrease or eliminate the snoring.’’

It works for back, side or stomach sleeper;, the only requirement is your head on the pillow. Snoring issues are often (not always) controlled by positioning and the expander did well. You can also set the Nora with a delay, giving you time to fall asleep before it’s activated.

The soon-to-be released iOS Nora app will help over time to record patterns, show you what times during the night snoring was an issue and record results on what’s working and what isn’t. $299 with a 30-day money-back guarantee

The Jabra Elite 25e has the great sound you would from Jabra. I’ve never tried a headset from them that wasn’t impressive.

One thing I’ve found with the influx of neckband wireless earbud systems is that the battery life is really poor. To the rescue comes Jabra with an impressive battery time of up to 18 hours.

Battery life always depends on how much you use it and with the Jabra, I gave it the same everyday use I did with other similar products and the Elite 25e far distanced itself from the competition

I say the bendable neckband is comfortable simple because you don’t know it’s there. The 10mm speakers with Jabra EarGels (thee sets include S/M/L) are connected at each end. From there just make a call or turn up your music.

They have a wind-protected microphone, dust and water resistance and charge with the included USB cable. Controls even allow for one touch access to voice assistants. $79.99

Gadgets :: Holiday Gift Guide 2017

Gadgets :: Holiday Gift Guide 2017

If you’re struggling to find a different, out of the ordinary gift for someone special, here’s a head start.

Wallace Detroit Guitars are one-of-a-kind handmade instruments made of reclaimed wood from several Detroit historical landmarks. Each guitar has an original story since each has a unique grain pattern. The wood comes from places such as floorboards of the former Detroit Fire Department Headquarters, benches of The Brewster Wheeler Recreation Center and many other sites. When ordering, you can use the “Build Your Own Guitar’’ feature to choose body style, wood choice and hardware options. This option also uses custom finishes, including hand-rubbed oil, sunburst nitrocellulose lacquer or high gloss nitrocellulose lacquer. You’ll also get a certificate of authenticity and a one-of-a-kind handmade guitar strap fashioned from reclaimed car upholstery and a hard-shell leather case. prices range from $2,800 to $3,800

The DJI Spark mini drone is built with intelligent flight control options, along with a mechanical gimbal to support a camera with a 1/2.3-inch CMOS sensor producing 12 megapixel images. With simple control, you can take aerial photos with hand gestures, without needing any other device. The 5.62-by-5.62-by-2.16-inch drone has a maximum speed of 31 mph in sport mode without wind and a maximum service ceiling above sea level of 13,123 feet. Quick Launch technology with FaceAware allows the drone to lift off from your hand just by recognizing your face. It’s built with a rechargeable battery for 16 minutes of wind-free flight at an average of 12.4 mph. You’ll have a worry-free flight using the flight autonomy to ensure the drone returns safely.

https// $499 (hands or your mobile device as controller) / $699 Fly More Combo (with Spark Remote Controller)

Focal’s new high-end Clear open-back circumaural high-fidelity headphone are equipped with a revolutionary copper voice coil. This gives your tunes a remarkable dynamic sound across the audio spectrum with bass that is always controlled, even at high volumes, and exemplary sound in the high-end. Focal, a leading French speaker and headphone manufacturer, says on their website that the use of copper gives the voice coil an extremely strong magnetic field, resulting in sound that fully recreates the dynamics of the original recording. Each ear has a new generation of totally open backed full-range speakers, with a 20 mm memory foam ear cushion, covered with a perforated microfibre fabric. An adjustable headband is constructed with solid aluminum and covered with leather outside and perforated microfibre fabric inside for comfort. A hard case and durable braided cables are included. $1,499

Renogy’s Phoenix Briefcase Generator really takes power on-the-go and all you need is the sun for a full recharge. The compact and portable all-in-one 20w solar powered briefcase (16.14-by-13.77-by-3.89-inches) is built with two highly efficient Renogy 10w Monocrystalline Solar Panels. Additional panels can be added for up to 120w for faster charging. It’s equipped with two DC outputs , four USB ports, a cigarette socket and a standard household 110v plug. The stored power can charge a laptop up to five full charges, 32 iPhone charges or a GoPro up to 47 charges from the rechargeable 16Ah Li-ion battery pack. It can even power some TVs and small appliances, making it ideal for camping or emergency situations. The locking briefcase is built with a carrying handle, an AC or DC power switch and a battery level indicator. $529.99

How great would it be for coffee-lovers to wake up without an alarm close and just speak a command to get the java brewing? Well, the Smarter Coffee machine can do just that with the help of Alexa Google Assistant. It’s possible to start brewing a fresh pot with the built-in burr bean grinder from anywhere with the Smarter App. Use IFTTT integration to control the brewing with Amazon Alexa or Nest. The updated Smarter Coffee also improved controls for coffee strength and temperature, offering the option to pre-heat the water before brewing for an even fresher enriched brew. The Smarter app also lets you set the start time through alarms with Wake Up mode. A sensor reads how much water is in the reservoir and can be seen in the app so you know how much coffee can be brewed. A Home Mode setting lets the Smarter Coffee know when you’re home to start up the brewing. Or, if you choose, just use it the old fashioned way on the LCD control panel. $249.99

Blue’s Yeti Blackout USB microphone and Assassin’s Creed Origins Bundle is first and foremost a microphone. The special-edition package also includes a free copy ($60 value) of one of the season’s hottest games, Assassin’s Creed Origins (for PC). The packaging has a definition of Yeti, stating it is an incredibly versatile USB microphone found worldwide. I have been using Blue’s products for some time and they are nothing short of amazing, producing the highest quality mic I’ve tried. It’s as easy as plug-n-play without the need of downloading or installing any software. It has a driverless installation and produces the highest quality recordings. More advanced users will love the Yeti controls for microphone gain, mute, headphone volume and pattern selection, all adding up to full control of your recordings. Three Blue-proprietary 14 mm condenser capsules capture the audio. And as Blue’s website says, its a perfect gift for anyone needing a mic for vocals, musical instruments, podcasting, voiceovers, interviews, gaming, field recordings or conference calls. The Yeti is Mac and PC compatible. $139 for the Yeti mic and Assassin’s Creed Origins Bundle, $129 for just the Yeti microphone

Gadgets :: November 15, 2017

By Gregg Ellman

Most everyone has Wi-Fi somewhere in your house, but the word “somewhere” is the key in that phrase. The most common origin of the signal is a home office, which is great but won’t give you the same signal strength throughout your home.

The Amped wireless Helios-EX tri-band range extender fills the gap between the existing signal and where it’s needed in extended areas. It’s built for multi-device households.

When I first read about the Helios-EX, the company touted its ability to maintain Internet speed, which many other similar devices I’ve tried claimed to do, but didn’t. They did extend the signal, but not a strong signal.

Amped Wireless was true to its word. From one corner of my house to the other, which really wasn’t getting any signal, I could not only surf the web but stream was also possible. It said range could be extended up to 12,000 square feet.

You don’t have to be a tech head to set it up. It’s not plug-n’play but also not that difficult. Power it up, connect a computer, tablet or smartphone to access the setup menu. It’s really straightforward and walks you through each step including selecting your existing Wi-Fi network (with password). Honestly, it’s simple, easy and takes just minutes.

For most people, there’s no need to know whats inside the Wi-Fi extender, but if you need to know, according to the Amped website it’s “built with a powerful Quad-Core ARM Processor, 12 high power amplifiers, and 4 total high gain antennas, the HELIOS-EX delivers up to 12,000 square feet of additional Wi-Fi coverage.” $179.99

The Bluetooth speaker market is crowded and I often wonder how it keepss growing and growing. There’s a simple formula for a speaker to be successful and that’s great sound.

When you add stylish craftsmanship like Wren has done with its new V3US ($399), it’s a winner. A genuine wood cabinet makes it really attractive; not reason enough to buy it but it sure adds value after playing your music.

The sound is nothing short of excellent, crystal clear at an volume level. Over the last few days I’ve used it as background sound as well as turning the volume up to head banging levels.

Either way, this AC powered speaker stands out for many reasons. It connects with up to 16 speakers simultaneously on the same network, which is a lot but if it’s needed, the Wren V3US will do it. You can set the speakers up to hear the same music or different groups in multiple rooms with multiple zones.

In addition to Bluetooth, it streams AirPlay and Play-Fi with Apple, Android handheld devices and Mac or PC computer operating systems. An aux-in 3.5mm stereo jack offers a direct connection.

It measures 12-by-4.5-by-4.5-inches and can be positioned vertically or horizontally, even with its rounded edges.

Wren makes a portable version, the V3USP for $449.00, which has a built-in rechargeable lithium ion battery. available in almond crème anigre with a midnight black grille or espresso wenge with an arctic white grille

Robotosaur caught my attention, so since we are in the holiday gift time,, it’s worth telling others about the interactive remote control dinosaur.

It features a mood sensor with built-in sound effect and will even yawn when’ he’s tired and snores while in sleep mode. When awake, the LED eye’s change colors to reflect its mood.

The remote lets you control forward and backward movements including spinning, shaking, and even wagging of its tail.

Robotosaur is available for $99.99 and can be found nationwide at major retailers.

Gadgets :: November 8 2017

By Gregg Ellman

You might not think of an external hard drive as fun, sexy or cool, but the OWC Mercury Elite Pro Dual mini can be any or all of them. I can say first hand you’ll find it useful at home, work, play and even consider taking it on vacation.

And if you wonder why I feel this way, I’ll be happy to tell you. I’ll start by mentioning probably the most common topic I get asked about; backups. And my answer is always the same: backup, backup, backup. No exceptions. If you don’t, it’s not a matter will you lose your digital files, its just when.

Working as a photographer (my primary professional) brought one of the most grueling schedules I’ve ever had over the past two months. This included travel to all ends of the country covering a wide variety of subjects and topics resulting in over 160GB of digital image files.

Anyone who deals with digital files knows this is a large amount. It’s not a question of storage space on my laptop, which can handle it fine. Add the fantastic Mercury Elite Pro Dual mini to the equation and I had the peace of mind with 4TB of backup RAID storage in a device that easily fits into my backpack (5.7-by-6.1-by-1.1-inches, 1.25 pounds).

The included RAID (redundant array of independent disks) technology provides an additional backup. Inside are multiple drives, allowing your files to back up in separate locations within the same enclosure for an additional backup.

The dual-drive is USB 3.0 in a bus-powered form factor and is stored in a solid aluminum chassis enclosure. With the RAID, you’ll get the choice of a few settings, which can be changed on the back of the hardware. RAID 0 will give you super fast data transfer speeds up to 861MB/s, while RAID 1 will allow greater data redundancy from mirrored disks for a secure backup.

While it might sound confusing, it’s a simple setup that takes no time at all, making it ideal for professional photographers or families with priceless vacation photos, videos and digital music.

Swappable hard drive configurations range from 1TB ($219.99) up to 4TB ($329.99). Solid state drives start storage starts at 240GB ($268.99) up to 2TB ($879.99).

USB cables for standard USB and USB-C are included for use with a Mac or PC.

The OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock brings your computers, accessories and cables together in any office.

It’s built with an incredible 13 ports for connecting hard drives, monitors, card readers, laptops or just charging or syncing smartphones and tablets to a desktop or laptop.

The front has a single USB 3.1, an SD memory card reader and expanded analog audio in/out port. The back has four USB 3.1 ports, an S/PDIF pro-grade digital audio output, FireWire 800, Ethernet, dual Thunderbolt 3 ports and a mini display port. An AC power adapter is also plugged into a back port..

Large amounts of data can transfer at incredible speeds, especially with the Thunderbolt 3, which can go up to 40Gb/s.

Uses for the dock on any computer station are endless, especially since it takes just one cable to connect to your computer, instantly connecting all the other ports.

I use a MacBook Air, which does’t give you a whole lot of ports. Now, with the Thunderbolt 3 dock (3.5-by-9.1-by-1-inches), even on the road, everything I need connected is done without swapping cables.

Along with the ports and usefulness, what I didn’t even think of before hand was the organization it brings. Instead of wires coming and going all over my desk, everything is centrally located and without the need of pulling cords in and out since I have more ports than needed. Think of the dock as your computers file cabinet. $299, available in space gray or silver

Gadgets :: November 1, 2017

By Gregg Ellman

The annual PhotoPlus Conference, the ultimate display of products for photography enthusiasts, was this past week at the Jacob Javits Center in New York City.

There was no shortage of new products on display and here are a few that caught my attention. is a soft, ridged elastomer band that stretches over most interchangeable camera lens and is universal to fit lenses from just about every manufacturer. It features extruded ridges on the exterior to provide a raised surface for better grip on the lens. The inside keeps a tight grip to hold it in place. $25 for a single or $45 for a outfit for a home and focus grip

Digital Silver Imaging’s new print hanger is an aluminum rail to display your images in is an elegant and affordable way. A pair of aluminum rails gently and securely slide onto the top and bottom of your print for an easy and attractive display.

They come in pairs ranging from 12-inches ($18) up to 72-inches ($92) wide and have a centered hanging hole pre-drilled on the back of the top hanger. You can hang a single print or any amount that fit. If your width is longer, just order another.

Frame Destination has an innovative guide, “How to Choose and Order the Perfect Frame for Your Metal Prints,” which does just that.

The company designed the step-by-step guide to ensure customers have an easy experience to choose just the right metal (or wood) frame for their work. They also assure the work is displayed safely without needing glass or acrylic. And, you see the exact prices with the features you add or remove.

Metal frames provide a timeless look to any metal print, which come in several options. The guide explains each option with customized choices including the frame, mat board, finish and backing.

Illuminati Instrument Corp.’s Illuminati Smartphone-enabled wireless light and color meter lets photographers can measure and control critical elements for producing images with proper exposure and color balance up to 80-feet away.

The bluetooth meter measures ambient, continuous, and strobe lighting at multiple locations in a scene and sends the results to your Android or Apple smartphone. With the readings, photographers can set light rations with natural or artificial light, match the cold and get the right settings for a perfect exposure.

Three AAA batteries keep it powered and it works with any type of lighting, including daylight, fluorescent, strobes and tungsten. Multiple meters can be used for reading multiple light sources simultaneously. available for pre order on Indiegogo for $249

LitraTorch is a pocket-sized versatile adventure photo and video light. Measuring just (1.5-by-1.5-by-1.65-inches), aluminum-cased light is waterproof up to 30-feet, drop proof with a military grade construction (810G MIL SPEC rating) and mountable.

A one-touch operation has four levels for a light output of 100, 450 and 800 lumens of high quality LED light. A strobe setting produces 2200 lumens of light. The 5700K daylight color temperature is flicker free and and has an ultra-wide beam angle.

A white diffuser, silicone sleeve, belt clip, GoPro ¼ 20 finger mount and a USB charging cable are included for the built-in rechargeable Lithium Ion battery. $79,95


The Sirui A-1005 aluminum travel tripod kit features a fully retractable dual stage center column, half turn twist-lock leg locks for quick and easy deployment with three leg angle positions giving photographers flexibility in all shooting environments,

It has a load capacity of 22 pounds and the legs fold 180 degrees for a folded length of only 14 inches. If needed, it converts to monopod and the center column can be attached for increased height. $139.99

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