Archive for November 2018

Gadgets :: November 28, 2018

by Gregg Ellman

(@greggellman)

Earbuds. You want them but the choices are endless. If you go to Amazon and search. earbuds, there are more than 20,000 results. So if you have the time to read about each. one, go for it. Otherwise here are a few options.

V-Moda just launched the BassFit, their first fitness-focused Bluetooth in-ear headphone, which they properly refer to as “The Ultimate Sport Headphone Companion” in a recent press release.

Just about everyone shops for earbuds with sound being the main feature. In the BassFit, your ears will hear sound tuned with perfection in the bass and pristine clarity.

V-Moda went all out to ensure great sound along with features to keep the earbuds in place during any workout or just listening along at 32,000 feet in the air.

The BassFit also features V-Moda’s patent pending TriFit design to give users comfort and the perfect fit. They can be worn as tradition earbuds, with the choice of eight different sized sets of eartips to get the right fit. In addition you can add on ear fins (3 sets), ear hooks or a combination of both.

Battery life will last over 11 hours of playing until a charge is needed. A 15-minute fast charge will give you about 2.5-hours of playback. With two-layer nanocoating technology, V-Moda calls it competition-crushing sweat and weather resistance from in-house testing. An inline three-button controls music, volume, handsfree calls and accessing voice assistants.

Each earbud has a magnetic closure for securing the earbuds together around yourneck when they aren’t playing your tunes. Or just store them in the included soft pouch.

www.-Moda.com $130, available in black or white

Creative’s Aurvana Trio wired earbuds with Hybrid Triple-Driver System deliver detailed highs, natural vocals and accurate bass, which pump pristine, accurate sound in your ears.

With all this technology, what’s import is how it sounds and it was impressive at any volume level on every song from my eclectic play list.

You get four sets of different sized silicone ear tips and when you get the right fit you will take advantage of the earbuds AuraSeal Design. This gives you up to 98-percent ofnoise isolation out of the stylish looking and well built arbuds with a gun metal finish.

A great feature in the Trio’s, which myself and many other users of wired earbuds would feature is the thin detachable braided MMCX connector 3.9-foot cable, making it easy to replace it in the event of damage or you want to use a specialized aftermarket cable.

If you never used a detachable cable on earbuds, you’ll love this one. It connects easily, stays intact and swivels as needed. The braided design also keeps you pretty much tangle free. On the cable is a 1-button control for music, power, volume and calls. A hard travel case and airplane travel adapter is included.

https://us.creative.com $99.99

I’ll give a shoutout to a Funcl, a new company comprised of experienced sound professionals who have introduced two models of true wireless sound solutions on Indiegogo.

They gave me a sneak peak at both, which I came away from very impressed with the sound, features and affordable prices.

Funcl AI ($54.99) is powered by Bluetooth 5.0 touch control and has Hi-Fi sound quality. The 6.5-hour battery life and at quick glance it has the looks similar to AirPods.

Charging and storage is done in the included hard battery case, which will give up to three extra charges.

The smaller profile Funcl W1 has the looks of a traditional earbud, just without the wire. It’s starting out priced at $19.99 and features Bluetooth 5.0 and touch control. They have a 4.5-hour battery life and up to 18 hours with the charging/storage case.

Both are available in choices of black or white and are IPX5 waterproof rated . To find more and to get in at the start of Funcl, go to indiegogo.com and search for Funcl.

Gadgets :: November 21, 2018

by Gregg Ellman
(@greggellman)

Alexa do this, Alexa do that.  

The popularity of the voice assistant has even caused the decline of people naming their children Alexa. According to a blog post from a sociologist at the University of Maryland, College Park, the name Alexa has seen a 21.3 percent drop in 2016 and another 19.5 percent in 2017. 

Even with the popularity, it remains unknown to many. I get asked often about what’s the deal with Alexa. With the system set to be one of the most popular holiday gifts this year, it’s worth knowing what’s up with Alexa.

Let’s take it from the beginning. Alexa is Amazon’s virtual voice assistant, released in November 2014. You have to pay for the hardware, but her service is free and if you have an Amazon Prime account ($119 yearly), you’ll be able to unlock a lot more of her benefits including a free music service.

The system is controlled by speaking commands to Amazon’s Echo Bluetooth speaker. I’m using an Echo Plus and if I was grading it on the sound alone, it’s outstanding. 

Setting it up is simple, especially since you get written instructions along with Alexa speaking instructions. Obviously since it’s driven by Amazon, you do have to have an account to log into the Amazon Alexa app (iOS App Store, Google Play Store or Amazon Appstore) on your smartphone. After logging in the app, it’s pretty straightforward; set up the app, connect your home WiFi to the Alexa and start talking to your new friend.

The voice assistant system can do a lot of things; control your smart home devices to unlock doors, change a thermostat and turn an appliance on or off. You can also make phone calls, send messages, get the news of the day, weather reports and even go shopping to name just a sampling of the features. Your choices are endless.

After opening my Echo plus and going through the setup I asked Alexa to play WFAN sports radio (my favorite New York station) and within a few seconds it was playing. My next command was to play SirusXM radio. Alexa told me I had to link my account, which I did and had my music playing right away.

Next on my list was the indoor Amazon cloud cam security camera ($119.99), which records in 1080p HD. The setup included the cloud cam app, connecting to your WiFi and a few other quick steps. Before I knew it, there I was facing the camera and watching myself on my smartphone. The camera has a 120-degree view, a built-in mic and speaker for two-way communication and inferred night vision.

You get free storage for the most recent 24 hours of clips or you can upgrade up to 30 days of storage and have up to 10 cameras connected.

The choices of devices that are Alexa-comparable is growing every day, including Bluetooth speakers and lightbulbs.  Setting up a light with a timer takes just a little longer then screwing in the bulb. 

With a Philips Hue lightbulb screwed into a basic lamp, per the instructions I turned the lamp on and off real quick. This allows it to go in pairing mode and have the Alexa app discover it. From there, just tell Alexa when you want it on or off or just set a schedule as I did by telling Alexa to turn the lamp on at 5p.m. and off at 7a.m. daily.

I already have Alexa compatible (second and third generation models) Nest thermostats installed in my house, so I added them with the app. So now when my wife is cold, all she has to say is “Alexa raise the temperature by 5 degrees.” 

 

iHome’s WiFi outdoor smart-plug is perfect for this time of year for controlling holiday lights. The plug is weather resistant and with an Alexa command it will turn the lights on and off or just can set a daily schedule. Obviously it’s not limited to holiday lights, it will control whatever plugged into it.

One feature I find amazing is voice-controlled shopping, which is only available to Amazon  Prime members. So if you’re out of detergent, coffee or other Prime products, just tell Alexa what you need. Since she is already connected to your account,  your credit card will be charged and whatever you asked for is on the way.

I finished up by asking Alexa if I can now have a margarita since my holiday/vacation week has begun. She replied that she doesn’t have an opinion on that, so I made the decision on my own.

Gadgets :: November 14, 2018

by Gregg Ellman
(@greggellman)

The Nixplay Iris frame with WiFi connectivity easily displays cell phone images. Along with the Nixplay app and 10GB of free cloud storage, you can send images from anywhere to be displayed in the 8-inch frame.  Once everything is set up, images display instantly. The frame has a high resolution (1024 x 768) and automatically adjusts brightness based on ambient light levels in the surrounding room. Easy settings allow for choices of shuffling, playlists and image transitions. Both JPEG and PNG files formats are supported and an AC power adapter is included 

www.nixplay.com $199.99 in silver, copper or bronze

The Rabbit Charger Duohas is a charging system for all your power-hungry accessories. It attaches to a standard AC duplex outlet (not compatible with GFCI or décor outlets) in seconds and includes a 28-inch retractable cable. The bottom of the charger has a standard AC pass-though plug, which you can use for another charger, lamp or whatever. Where the top plug would be is now a touch-activated ambient light. The top sided cable has swappable charging tips for USB-C, Apple and Androids. With a total of 3.0 amps output, you can charge a tablet and a phone simultaneously.

https://www.rabbitcharger.com $49.95

Ventev’s Cablekeeper Stay is so handy you’ll end up getting yourself a pack. Everyone has cables so why not keep ‘em neatly organized with this ultra compact cable management solution? Each four pack (one large multi-cable keeper and three single cable keepers) has non-marking adhesive to stay in place and allows your cables to snap in and out instantly. While you’re at it, the Ventev Cablekeeper Tie (2 pack) is a magnetic closure that secures computer or headphone cables, keeping them tangle free.

https://mobileaccessories.ventev.com $14.99

What coffee lover doesn’t want an endless supply of java? You get that with the WePlenish Java Smart Container. It’s equipped with Amazon dash replenishment, so when your supply gets low a WiFi connected smart sensor detects the coffee order needed and along with the WePlenish App automatically re-orders your coffee. The container (10-by-5-by-9.75-inches) holds and reorders most all the popular coffee pods, including K-Cup and Nespresso. 

www.weplenish.com $39.99

Imagine giving someone 150 Bluetooth speakers and being able to pair and play together. Thats just one of the features of the Megaboom 3 from Ultimate Ears, which has everything you would want from a Bluetooth speaker. This includes incredible 360-degree sound with an amazing amount of bass at all volumes, waterproof and it even floats. A magic button on top of the speaker offers one touch access to playlists from Apple Music and Deezer Premium. The battery will last for about 20 hours of play before a USB charge is needed or you can purchase the Ultimate Ears Power Up charge dock ($39.99) for wire-free charging. And if thats not enough, it looks great with a high-performance fabric exterior available in seven color choices.

www.ultimateears.com $199.99

The RCA Beverage Center holds 24 wine bottles or 110 cans or a combination of both stored in perfect view with a double tempered glass front door. Chrome racks inside are removable for easy cleaning and customized configurations. Interior blue LED lighting gives it a modern look and the electronic temperature control and can be accessed from the outside.

www.RCA.com $119.00

The Kodak Scanza digital film scanner is an easy-to-use way to re-live memories that haven’t been seen in years. The scanner comes with all the adapters and inserts to convert 126, 110, super 8 and 8 mm, 35 mm film negatives and slides to jpeg files. A fold-out 3.5-inch LCD color displays the image you’re working on, which is scanned into optimized 14-megapixel or interpolated 22-megapixel digital files. Scanned images go directly onto an SD card so you can do your one-touch one-step scan scanning without being connected to your computer.

www.KodakPhotoPlus.com $169.99

 

 

Gadgets :: November 7, 2018

By Gregg Ellman
(@greggellman)

Scosche’s Boombottle MM, waterproof wireless speaker with built-in MagicMount is amazing when you look at the features packed inside. And it’s even  better when you hear the sound.

With many Bluetooth speakers, when you push the button the volume keeps getting louder but most often something inside you ears tells you when the speaker hits its optimum volume level based on the sound quality and distortion.

With the Boombottle, you almost want to it keep getting louder past the maximum volume levels, it sounds that good.

The speaker is 7.2-inches high with a rounded cup holder-friendly body 2.9-inches deep and weighs 1.25 pounds. Inside is Bluetooth 4.2, a pair of 12 W (6 W x 2) 45 mm speakers and a 4000 mAh battery to keep the music playing for up to 12 hours. A 4 level LED battery indicator shows you how much power is left before a USB charge is needed.

With an IP67 waterproof rating, the speaker can withstanding being submerged in up to three feet of water and the body has a dust-proof construction. A built-in microphone is for handsfree calling.

Those features alone would be enough for a great speaker, but there’s a unique feature on the outside; the BoomBottle Opener. The built-in opener is right there on the back of the speaker, so as long as the speaker is packed for vacation, you’ll have an opener with you for your favorite beverage.

Scosche’s MagicMount technology lets the speaker magnetically attach to most metal surfaces. This lets the sound play from any direction and when you pair two of the BoomBottle speakers and mount them further apart, the true stereo sound is even more impressive.

The mounting system also lets your smartphone magnetically secure itself to the top of the speaker with the included magic plate and 3M adhesive film.

A carabiner loop is built into the top and of course a carabiner is included.

While the looks have no bearing of the sound, the black speaker grill makes it an attractive speaker. All the controls are easily accessed on a rear vertical rubber panel. A 3.5 mm aux input port is there for connecting your music source directly, but is not waterproof at that point.

www.scosche.com $129.99 available in choice of black or black camouflage

Even with some of the most functional and best computers made, the sound produced from the built-in speakers is just OK, if they even have speakers. Internal speakers are not directional; the speakers are stationary and the sound can’t be sent one way or another.

What caught my attention from the Stage Air from Creative is the functionality with a friendly cost. The soundbar, instantly solves any computer’s sound problem.

It’s designed for under-monitor use with a compact 16-by-3-by-2.75-inch size and all the controls are on the right side.

My wife uses her iMac and doesn’t like clutter and accessories all over her desk. Since she  often plays music while working, I quietly set up the speaker and placed it exactly where it’s promoted to be, under the monitor.

As I sat there watching her turn on some music, she instantly turned around and said “that’s pretty cool” when the sound played from the Stage Air.

With Bluetooth pairing, the speaker isn’t limited to computer use, its ideal for using with a TV or any sound source. And if there’s no Bluetooth inside your TV, you can’t make a direct 3.5 mm connection.

There’s a standard USB port on the back, which lets the Stage Air work as a standalone music player. If you have music loaded on a USB storage device, just plug it in and the playing starts. 

You get about 6 hours of playback from the 2,200mAh internal battery before a charge is needed or just plug the USB cable into your computer or an AC power source for endless power and sound.

The modern looking speaker has metal front facing grills covering a pair of 5 W speakers. 

https://en.creative.com $45.54

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