Archive for January 2019

Gadgets :: January 30, 2019

by Gregg Ellman

Can you really get excited about a battery?  Isn’t a battery just a battery? Well, sort of, but not really.

The Moshi Porto Q 5K with proprietary Q-coil wireless charging module is what I want in a portable charging battery. A standard USB port, Qi wireless charging for my iPhone XS (or any other Qi-certified wireless charging device), lots of portable power and light-weight.

Qi-certified charging is a big draw and the Porto Q doesn’t disappoint with the wireless feature supporting up to 5 W. There’s a little non-intrusive button on the side to turn the battery on; then just place your phone on the pad and it charges away. 

A big question about wireless charging is: can it charge a smartphone while it’s housed in a case? I’m a case user and I’ve never had a problem. Moshi states that the Porto Q can charge through cases up to 5 mm thick.

With 5,000 mAh, an iPhone X will charge up to 2 times. Charging the battery itself requires the included USB-C cable hooked up to your power source. 

Non-wireless charging is there for most any other device by connecting your USB-A cable to the port, which supports up to 12W.  Both wireless charging and USB-A charging can be done together while also charging the battery itself.

A cosmetic feature plays a significant role in the charging. One the top, which is covered in a nice cloth finish inspired by a classic Danish furniture design, is a rubber ring. What makes that ring key is it keeps your phone in place during charging, even when it’s vibrating away with alerts. Trust me, I used other wireless chargers that didn’t have that feature and my phone vibrated itself off the charger overnight long before getting a full charge.

With a good amount of features, batteries can often get heavy. The Porto Q comes in at only 5.5 ounces and measures 5.24-by-3.27-by-0.57-inches. Lights on the side indicate how much power is available. $84.95

Pelican is a company I can say first-hand is the industry leader when it comes to rugged protective cases since I use many of their larger cases for traveling with photography gear. It has introduced two new lines of products in the Pelican Personal Utility Cases.

They are designed for adventure-ready enthusiasts in water, snow, dirt, hanging at the beach or just ready for a drop.

I gave the GoCase G40 a beating at home with drops, bangs and soakings, which all saved my personal iPhone and credit cards from any damage.

Measuring 7-by-3.5-by-1.6-inches, obviously this isn’t a case just to house your smartphone and store in a pocket or small bag. But the larger size allows you to protect a few accessories, a passport or paperwork if needed.

The series of cases are fully waterproof with an IP67 rating, enabling them to withstand complete submersion for 30 minutes in a depth of up to 3 feet.

A built-in carrying handle can attach it to most anything for security and inside a cushioned lining has an organization tray to hold accessories secure and in place. The exterior has a rubber bumper and a secure locking latch.

The G40 is available now ($39.95) and a smaller G10 model ($29.95) will be available in the coming month. Both will be in choices of six colors; anthracite, blue surf, blush, lime, slate and white.

The second in the PUC line is the Pelican Ruck case and is expected out later this year. According to a recent press release, the Ruck line is designed for the active outdoorsman, with ultimate protection and organization for expensive equipment, accessories and valuables. The Ruck Case will be available in three sizes. 

Gadgets :: January 23, 2019

by Gregg Ellman

Just as I’ve experienced very recently, security can almost be too much when you misplace a key to the padlock securing your valuables (my tool shed). 

With the Tapplock One+ smart padlock, there’s no keyhole or combination dial. Instead the smart padlock stores your fingerprint and opens in 0.8 seconds when they meet. 

One of the first things I wondered was what if it had to be opened while my fingerprint wasn’t around? That was answered pretty quickly; the lock stores up to 500 fingerprints, so family, friends or neighbors have access without no key under a rock or texting a combination code.

With the accompanying Tapplock app, you can even track who unlocked the padlock and when. The app allows you to grant mobile access with the remote unlock feature via Bluetooth. A third unlocking method is with morse-code, by pressing long and short combinations on the power button.

The app can be set to limit users opening access with specific dates and times. Access can also be removed at any time.

With an IP67 water-proof rating, the padlock can withstand the elements in most any weather situation. This includes being competently submerged in water, so rain will not be an issue. According to Tapplock testing, it’s fully functional between minus 4 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit along with being dust and rust-proof.

There’s an internal battery that should last up to a year on a single charge and up to 3,500 unlocks per charge (USB). The lock has a blinking red light when it goes below 10-percent of remaining power and the Tapplok app shows the power level. 

Inside the lock is 128-bit encryption with a myriad of security protocols for enhanced protection.

As for setting it up, once you have the app, a free account setup and your fingerprint ready, it’s almost instant.

The Tapplock is available in sterling silver, gun metal and midnight black for $99 each. Bundle packages are $179 for a pair and $359 for a 4-pack.

ZVOX Audio, a company that has produced some outstanding sound bars for the hearing impaired, has added the VoiceBud VB20 personal hearing device to their catalog.

During a demonstration at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas earlier this month, ZVOX touted it as the world’s first personal hearing device with dual-microphones and smartphone app for under $300.

It has technology to assist people who have trouble understanding voices in some circumstances and is FDA registered.

Among the features are NoiseBlocker technology to help users hear people in crowded rooms and restaurants, wide audio frequency range amplifying sounds from 200 Hz to 5.7 kHz, no squealing anti-feedback system, ambient and loud noise control and includes six 312-sized zinc-air batteries, which last 3-4 days each. $299.99

The new powerful 15.6-inch ViP+ Backpack might look like every other backpack at quick glance, but when you take a longer look inside and out you’ll see many excellent features.

A weather-resistant exterior with a leatherette finish helps when you’re caught in the rain. For easy access to the contents when you have it sitting on the floor, a cleaver structural piping design keeps the bag upright.

What caught my attention at this year’s Consumer Electronic Show was the power it supplies. A side pocket is built with drop in Qi charging. If your smartphone is Qi-compatible, just unzip the charging pocket, drop your device in and zip it shut for charging. 

The pocket houses a holster built with soft polyurethane material that automatically secures the smartphone in place. A charging indicator LED lets you know when you are charging.

Inside the backpack is a rechargeable and removable 5,000 mAh battery with USB ports to connect your own cables for direct wired charging.

If you have a Bluetooth headset, you’ll still never miss a call or your music while charging. There’s also a  pass-through hole for wired headphones.

A secure RFID-blocking pocket protects credit cards and other valuable information from scammers.

Other features include a tuck-away water bottle holder, a discreet pocket for a Bluetooth tracker, an air mesh back panel with air flow channels, contoured shoulder straps with hideable sternum straps and laptop drop protection with a built inSafePort Sling.  $99.99

Gadgets :: January 9, 2018

by Gregg Ellman

There are times when I spend just minutes with a new product and other times it captivates my attention for hours. The latter was the case with Monster Illuminessence color-changing LED mood lighting system.

The mood lighting kits are ready to use out of the box and will instantly get any room ready for a  party, holiday dinner or anytime you want to feature a lighting atmosphere with different moods.

When I say I spent hours, this was not a case of the setup being difficult. In fact it’s incredibly easy to get set up in minutes. Everything is controlled by a handheld radio frequency remote control. This means there’s no software, app or any download needed.

What took me so long is deciding which setup I liked and worked best. 

The system is sold in parts, with light strips, bulbs and longer power extension cables, enabling it to work in rooms of any size. The bigger the room, the more you get.

The two-led light mood kit ($19.88) has a pair of multicolor/white LED dimmable bulbs. These screw into any standard light fixture and the setup is done. With the RF remote control (powered by two AAA batteries, not included) you can instantly turn the lights on or off, change the color of the light, control dimming, set up programs or use one of the preset programs. The programs include beach, Christmas and Halloween themes. Whatever you choose, the response is instant and kind of fun. Or just set it to “White” for everyday white light.

The USB-powered LED strip mood light kit ($28.88) has an extra bright multicolor/white dimmable 150-LED 16.4-foot strip and the RF remote. This is great for lining a wall behind a sofa or even the rim under furniture.

If you really want to go all out, according to Monster, you can pair up to four Illuminessence remotes with up to 30 different LED bulbs or strips in each group for the right light throughout your home.

Small space ($14.88) LED mood light kits have a RF remote, a single bulb and a 6.5-foot 60-LED strop. A large space ($28.88) kit has the remote with 2 bulbs and 2 strips. 

I have the Crayon but not the 6th generation 9.7-inch iPad. So I borrowed my friend’s to test Logitech’s digital pencil.

While the name is Crayon, the looks of it at quick glance resemble a metal pen without an ink tip.

It really takes the tablet to a new level with how well and precise you can write notes and work in apps supported by Apple Pencil. This includes drawing, note taking and working with simple PDF’s and Adobe Lightroom and CC.

An internal battery is charged with a lighting cable and will last for up to 75 hours. When it’s inactive for 30 minutes it automatically shuts off.

A feature I loved had nothing to do with its performance, rather its appearance. The 6.5-inch long crayon is not rounded, which is really important to prevent it from rolling off your desk when not in use. Instead, the flat sided feature keep it in place.

Replacement tips and tip covers are available for purchase.

Whatever your choice, the Crayon is sure to work perfectly without any delay or lag time. To adjust how thin or thick you want the Crayon to draw is simple to control, just tilt it while in use and the tip will adjust to thick or thin.

There’s no software or setup for the Crayon, just turn it on and a connection is made. $69.99 

Gadgets :: January 2, 2019

by Gregg Ellman

Let’s get the new year off on the right start in your personal technology world. The single most important thing that 99 percent of people do not do is consistently back up their digital files.

This includes videos, documents, music libraries with thousands of songs (if not more) and priceless digital photos.

After reading this, if you’re saying you don’t need to do this because your computer is fine, or your images are on your phone, etc, you are wrong. Everyone will have a computer crash with a hard drive dying at some point. It’s a guarantee. Backing up your files is critical.

So often I hear about people who are in a panic and can’t access cherished digital files. While there are ways to retrieve files off of crashed drives, it’s a cumbersome and often expensive way to get something done, and is easily prevented.

In a perfect world, valuable digital files should be backed up in two places, a cloud service and a hard drive. That brings me to Western Digital and the My Passport line of portable hard drives, which are ideal for home, work or any kind of use.

The My Passport Ultra portable storage is pocket-sized and built with a modern looking metal exterior. While the portability is great, what makes this easy for any level of use is how easy it is to work with the optional quick setup in auto mode.

The My Passport Ultra is a perfect companion for automatic backup systems such as Apple’s Time Machine. The hard drive comes with the WD Discovery app installers for both Mac and Windows systems, which you can set up to automatically import files from cloud storage and social media sites (Facebook, Dropbox and Google Drive) for backup.

The app has a layer of password security, with WD Security tools to enable the 256-bit AES Hardware Encryption chip on the My Passport Ultra drive.

If you don’t want files backed up automatically, no problem. When the hard drive is plugged into your computer with a single cable for connection and power, it appears like any other hard drive and works with a simple and fast drag and drop.

From the start, try and keep things organized because when files add up, obviously it’s in the thousands and a specific images, work documents or songs can take a while to find. So make some folders, start with the year and add folders for photos, music, documents, videos or whatever works for your personal system.

Within those folders you can add folders for months, themes or whatever will make it easier to find.

The My Passport Ultra is available in 1TB ($69.99), 2TB ($89.99) and 4TB ($129.99). The 1- and 2TB models are 3.21-by-4.33-inches with a 0.50-inch width and the 4TB drive is 0,83-inches wide. A USB-C cable with standard USB-A adapter is included.

Remember, this is something to do now, not later. You have been warned.

Silk’s Cable Wrangler makes it easy to organize tangled charging cables enabling the whole family to charge their allotment of portable electronic gadgets.

The wrangler has a magnetic base that holds all your cable tips in one place so they are accessible and easy to find on a desk or nightstand. Cables with magnetic tips will hold in place and those that aren’t can attach with a magnetic collar.

When you need a charge, take the cable off’ when you’re done just let the magnet do its thing so it’s there waiting for your next charge. No longer will you have to dig under your desk or behind a nightstand (like I do) to see where the cable fell.

The Cable Wrangler ($19.99) is available in No2 pencil gray and lightly toasted beige; a package option ($39.99) includes a magnetic tipped 6-foot Apple Lightning cable and USB 2-Port AC wall charger.

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