Archive for April 2018

Gadgets :: April 18, 2018

by Gregg Ellman

I’ve been brushing my teeth this week with the Swedish made Foreo ISSA 2, which the company touts as the world’s first silicone sonic toothbrush.

It takes only an hour to charge, which is said to last for up to 365 uses before another USB charge is needed. Obviously I haven’t used it that long, but after a few weeks it’s running just fine.

I never knew specifications on electric toothbrushes, until now. The ISSA 2 supplies your teeth with 11,000 high-intensity pulsations per minute, incorporating T-Sonic technology to create micro-sweeps to effectively clean teeth and gums. That helps resist the buildup of bacteria for up to 10,000x less bacteria than nylon-bristled toothbrushes, according to Foreo.

The soft and flexible, quick-drying bristles are made with medical-grade silicone, which separates from the ergonomic handle easily for cleaning.

Other features include a timer, 16 variable speeds and the head, which should last for 6 months,

My interpretation, at first the feeling, was a little different compared with the electric toothbrush I’ve been using for years. After a few days it starts to feel normal and works great.

The incredible battery life not necessary for home use but makes it perfect for traveling. Power is controlled by a recessed button, which really can’t be activated accidentally. $169, replacement brushes $24.90. Available in blue, mint, pink and black

Cable and satellite boxes often keep us from rearranging a room and in particular the location of a TV since it has to be connected to the box.

The Blackweb Wireless HD Video kit is a different type of cable cutter to help in situations like this or just to control cable clutter by sending uncompressed HD signals to your HDTV or projector.

Setting it up is pretty straightforward and virtually plug-and-play with the quick start guide. The initial setup has you connecting your media sources (cable, satellite, DVD, gaming, etc.) to the wireless sender. Up to three different HDMI sources can be connected.

When everything is connected the signal goes from the sender to the wireless receiver (6.5-by-5.5-by-1.3-inches each), which is connected to the TV.

An HD signal up to 1080P is supported up to 125 feet away, through walls, TV cabinets, etc. I had it set up in different rooms, and walls were not an issue.

I didn’t try this with a projector, but using it with one would be a great benefit, enabling the projector to broadcast wirelessly at home or in a conference room.

Along with the sender and receivers, AC power adapters, 3-device HD switch, cables and a remote are included. $89

A new free app, HDTV Tower Finder by Winegard Company, is designed to assist cord cutters in finding the best antenna placement to receive the most free channels in your area.

With the app, along with your smartphone’s camera, GPS, and compass, it will find the most suitable spot for an over-the-air antenna and what stations you’ll receive with that location.

According to a company spokesperson, the “new app simplifies the HDTV antenna setup for users and also makes it easier to find the best positioning to receive the most channels and avoid any obstructions.”

The first thing the app does is prompt the user to choose the Antenna Pointer feature and opens into a top-down map that highlights the locations of all HDTV TV towers closest to an address or a GPS signal. Your smartphone’s camera can be used to assist in finding the desired tower location and best angle to point the antenna.

The app will display a number above each tower it locates, indication how many channels are available. You’ll also see any potential signal obstructions between you and the tower.

Gadgets :: April 11, 2018

by Gregg Ellman

One of the more common questions I’m asked is about choosing earbuds and speakers. My response is that I’m far from a sound expert but one of the main features you should look for is simply what sounds good. When it’s right to your ears, you’ll know.

When I listened to the Etymotic Research ER4XR extended response earbuds, I knew they were right. The sound is awesome and there are additional features making them even more attractive.

The ER4XR earbuds sound great out of the box. The crystal-clear sound with a nice bass boost was perfect for listening to my preferred favorites of a 70’s mix and then a Jimmy Buffet concert.

They are a noise-excluding in-ear earphone, delivering sound with precise accuracy, just as sound should be.

When I received my pair of ER4XR’s for review, the first thing I noticed was the earbud tips. Not only are they different from mainstream-looking earbuds but the choices they came with made me read a little about them. One set was foam tips, which to me sounded and fit perfect.

With 25 years of making earbuds, the company proudly touts that they have the first earphones to completely seal the ear with 98 percent (35 dB – 42 dB) noise isolation, the highest of any earphones or headsets on the market, according to the Etymotic website.

They come with an assortment of eartips so take time to get the right fit for the right sound in your ears. Each style has a different fit, so give each a chance. Don’t just put them in and listen for a few seconds – take a few songs at least.

For sound techies, according to Etymotic, the ER4XR’s have ‘’unsurpassed frequency response accuracy and sound quality — 92 percent+ response accuracy from 20 Hz – 16 kHz and the only earphones with balanced-armature, precision-matched, custom-tuned drivers. With an industry-leading 1-dB match between left and right channels across frequency with individual channel-matching performance charts provided with each pair of earphones.’’

This was also the first time I tested earbuds with user-replaceable filters, which lets you protect the earbuds from ear wax. A filter removal tool and replacement filters are included.

A hard neoprene case is included to store everything, along with a detachable, 5-foot cord and a 3.5 mm gold plated stereo plug.

The body of the drivers are made with machined metal and an anodized finish. Each speaker is attached to a durable wound-wire tangle-free cable. $349

Another great sound machine, the black box Solis SO-7000 Bluetooth/Wi-Fi wireless stereo smart speaker with Chromecast built-in also rocked my playlists.

Obviously with that, you stream music wirelessly with Bluetooth or Google Home app. And with the Google Chromecast streaming media player, you can play audio from a variety of services (Spotify, Google Play Music, and Pandora) connected to your existing WiFi.

I mainly used the Bluetooth, which worked and sounded perfect. The AC powered speaker is 7.9-by-7.9-by-7.9-inches so it can be positioned on most any flat surface. It’s built into a black wooden cabinet with mesh grill wrap covering the mid-section and high gloss black accent pane finish on the rest.

Inside is a 5.25-inch subwoofer and four 2-inch full range drivers. This adds up to room filling 360-degree crystal clear sound at any volume.

With the subwoofer supplying the bass, I was concerned about it rattling a tabletop if I played it from there so I tested it just that way and it worked just right.

However, I found the sound filled the room better when I kept it playing on the floor, which also kept the power adapter out of the way.

If you don’t want to stream wirelessly, there’s a 3.5 mm aux port (cable included) and top-mounted control buttons are easy to access if you don’t control it through your device or app. $299

Gadgets :: April 4, 2018

by Gregg Ellman

The limited edition olloclip Filmer’s Kit for iPhone (iPhone 8/7 or 8 Plus/7 Plus) lets iPhoneographers reach new potential when capturing images and videos.

The ultra-portable kit has all the basics and essentials you’ll need. A core lens set has a fisheye, super-wide and a macro 15X lens, an active lens set with an ultra-wide and telephoto lenses. You also get a pivot articulating mobile video grip with 225-degree articulation .

All this comes in a really nice Olloclip hard case, made with a compression molded shell with die-cut EVA foam padding on the inside. This ensures everything stays in place inside the case and is perfect for storage and travel.

Now that you know what comes with this awesome, easy-to-use kit, using it is simple for everyone from beginners to the most advanced iPhoneographers and videographers.

Olloclip calls itself a company committed to finding new and exciting ways to make inspiring videos and photos fun and easy to capture on your mobile device. I’ve previously used many olloclip devices and after using the Filmer’s Kit, olloclip remains true to the word.

Each lens is unique and as a group allows you to photograph the tiniest details with a macro; the telephoto lens brings your subject to you and landscapes are eye popping.

A bracket is included to attach each lens right onto your smartphone scratch-free. When using the grip, any smartphone 4 to 5.5-inches in size will work in the universal clamp, and will not scratch or damage your phone.

Some details on the lenses; the fisheye has a near 180-degree view, super wide is an advanced 4-element lens with just over 120-degree field-of-view, the macro has a 15X magnification, the ultra wide has a 155-degree view and the telephoto is a 2X optical zoom.

While they all worked to perfections, I’m a person who likes a shallow depth-of-field and the telephoto was great to achieve that, so that became my instant favorite if I had to pick one. But they all are special and a great addition to the iPhone’s built-in camera lens.

The Filmer’s kit is a limited edition, with only 2,000 made and only available at Apple retail location for $199.95

The Thinium Technologies ReCHARGE Plus 2.0 cordless phone charger is the perfect companion to iPhone photographers or anyone who powers through the smartphone’s built-in battery.

The ultra thin (5.3-by-2.5-by-0.5-inches) ReCHARGE Plus 2.0 stands out with a truly 100-percent cord free design. It even has built-in retractable folding prongs for connecting it to any standard electrical wall plug for charging the battery.

Inside is a 3,000 mAh battery but what makes the battery stand out is its patented design with interchangeable adapters (micro and type-C), making the power source compatible for Apple iOS and Android users.

Charging can be done while you’re docked just to the battery (which can also be used while talking on the smartphone) or while docked to the battery and connected to wall power for charging both simultaneously. $69.99, available in black or camo

The Soul X-SHOCK earbuds are a solid addition to the new and growing category of true wireless earbuds. This means there’s not even a wire connecting each ear, just put each of the earbuds in your ears, pair it with your mobile device and hit play.

You may fear they might will fall out, which has always been my question with true wireless, their ergonomic design helps them stay in place. I tried them while flying, mowing my lawn and a short bike ride, all with success.

The Bluetooth wireless noise isolation sound, with a good amount of bass sent to each earbud, is excellent and the battery life seemed like it never ended.

There’s a 3,000 mAh battery in the case, good for 18 charges before the pocket sized case needs a charge. The case also has a USB port for charging other devices and the case stores the weatherproof earbuds when not in use. $149.99

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