Archive for February 2019

Gadgets :: February 27, 2019

by Gregg Ellman

Smartphone purists might disagree, but I’ve always thought if you spend upwards of a $1,000 for a smartphone, which I guarantee you will drop at some point, it’s a good idea to put some sort of protection on it.

With the recent release of the Samsung Galaxy S10 series of smartphones, a case and or a screen protector is a very small investment to protect from scratches, drops and even a quick splash of water. There’s a lot to choose from, so here’s my choices to help narrow your list.

Gear4 (a ZAGG Inc. brand) was right out of the gate with many options including the Crystal Palace, which keeps your phone protected with what the company claims is the world’s  clearest, thinnest and most advanced impact protection.

The case is built for the S10 ($39.99) and is crystal clear, like the name says. It’s an ultra-protective transparent phone case with a 13-foot drop protection rating.  An anti-yellowing clear design with dye-transfer resistance is built into the case, which is also available for the Samsung S10+ ($39.20) and the S10e ($45.99).

The Oxford from Gear4 is also available for the Samsung S10+, S10 and the S10e ($45.99) and features a built-in viewing standard credit card slots inside the front cover. It’s built with D30 impact protection to withstand a drop from up to 10 feet and also has a clip closure case design.

With slim and pocket friendly designs, both cases can be used on your wireless chargers.

Gear4 Chelsea design packs change your new smartphone’s design for a daily look. Each of the four packs ($14.99) has interchangeable design panels that can be combined with a clear Gear4 case allowing you to customize your daily look.

The durable film with anti-fade properties feature themes and designs for animal kingdom, hypnotic rebel, spring, summer, ocean splash, ombre geo, tattoo art, tropical vibe or in mixed packs

In my opinion Pelican Products, Inc. makes the most durable storage solution products on the market, so it’s no surprise their new smartphone case for the Samsung S10 series will do the same.

The Protector+ AMS Case ($50) was created for road warriors and anyone who lives in their car since it’s built with an integrated auto mount system. It features a steel plate and an AMS magnetic car vent mount, both perfect for handsfree calls. 

The AMS kit works in landscape and portrait modes and fits most vehicle vent sizes. It’s also perfect for a handsfree media with it’s viewing kickstand.

Wireless charging works perfect with the Protector+ AMS Case, which is available in black and light gray, 

The Pelican Shield Case is built for rougher lifestyles with five protective layers.

A shock absorbing interior shell and reinforced corners create top-of-the-line drop protection, exceeding military testing standards. A holster and integrated kickstand are great for handsfree viewing.

Even with all the layers of protection, the Shield Case ($60 available in black) still gives you easy access to the ports with covers that open when needed. When the covers are closed, they will have the same protection as the rest of the smartphone.

All Pelican products come with an amazing lifetime warranty; you break it and they replace it.

X-Doria’s Defense Lux ($34.99) is built with military grade testing and specs for a 10-foot drop. The one piece Anodized aluminum frame along with a soft rubber bumper and polycarbonate inner backing combine for the ultimate protection.

The integrated sound channel amplifies the bottom speaker and redirects sound to the front for a better sound experience. 

You have choices of black carbon fiber, black leather, or purple ballistic nylon styles for the S10, S10+, or S10E 

The X-Doria Defense Shield ($29.99) has the machined aluminum exterior frame coupled with a soft rubber bumper for ultimate protection. It features a clear polycarbonate phone backing allow users to show off the Galaxy’s sleek design and color.

The frame is available in black, iridescent and red. 

Gadgets :: February 20, 2019

by Gregg Ellman

It doesn’t charge, it’s really portable and doesn’t have a USB port. That all seems kind of crazy for the electronic world but I still put the Gourmia 13-in-1 pressure cooker on my highly recommended electronic gadgets list.

I admit that I’m not front/center when it comes to cooking so I’m luck to have a wife who is an outstanding cook.

We had never used a pressure cooker but heard friends talk about them as well as constantly seeing them used and promoted on TV. So today is our turn and the tabletop Gourmia (12.95-by-13.78-by-12.4-inches) did everything as advertised in lighting fast time to cook us an awesome meal.

I did a little advance reading and found this unit takes pressure-cooker safety, speed, convenience, and control very serious. It’s built with an adjustable timer and a secure lock lid ensuring stress-free and safe opening when the internal pressure reaches appropriate levels. While it’s cooking, an auto-stir function moves the food, all with the lid on tight.

A cookbook is supplied with a few choices and searching for recipes online produced endless choices. We chose Caribbean chicken with rice from the Food Network.

It didn’t take long to chop the vegetables; we used the sauté setting for the garlic and peppers for 3 minutes. Then inside the 6-quart pot, we added rice and water. The supplied rack went over the rice to hold the chicken above that. The lid then locks in place and we set it to high pressure for one minute and the pot heats up, cooks and depressurizes. 

The whole process was about 15 minutes of cooking with just 1 of those minutes for high pressure cooking.

Final results: super easy and really good. The chicken was moist and the rice was cooked to perfection.

Later that night I was talking with a friend of mine in Chicago who is an outstanding cook and when I told him about the pressure cooker along with a picture of my meal and the 1 minute cooking time, his response was “Looks good!  One minute?” 

Yep, just 1 minute. I told him, yea, after it was heated up and ready, the chicken was cooked for 1 just minute. I bet he has a pressure cooker before long.

As for the standard AC powered pressure cooker, it’s described by Gourmia as “The first and only pressure cooker that comes with ‘Automatic Pressure Release Technology,’ which safely releases steam upon cooking completion or with the touch of a button.

It features an easy-to-clean, dishwasher safe, nonstick 6-quart stainless steel liner and adjustments for the PSI to be adjusted from 1.5-12 psi.

As for the 13-in-1 aspect, this pressure cooker boasts a huge variety of 13 easy cooking modes, including rice, which we added to our initial meal, soup, stew, yogurt, and keep meals warm are some of the features.

It can also slow cook, sauté/brown and steam to perform the tasks of many other kitchen gadgets.

With 1000 watts of speedsense technology, cooking time is slashed by as much as 70-percent, while it retains all the flavor your recipe promises. $199.99

Many people including myself hope for one charging system with a single cable connection to charge any portable powered gadgets. At this point it’s wishful thinking with USB-A, micro, Apple Lighting and now USB-C powering into our life.

There’s no avoiding the need for power so we have to pretty much adapt and carry cables for all of them. That’s where the new Coal Catalyst portable charger comes in with a three-headed adapter cable.

A strong braided and fast charging 22/28 gauge cable has a standard USB-A connection on one end and a triple on the other. It includes a Lightning for Apple users, USB-C for Androids and newer Apple products and a mircroUSB for most everything else.

The USB-C 12000mAh charging Coal makes the battery system complete with three charging ports;, USB Output1: 5V 1A, USB Output2: 5V 2.1A and Type C Output: 5V 3A. For input charging, Type C Input: 5V 2A.

The charger features Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0 and INOV technology for optimal voltage. $55 for 12000mAh, $45 for 8000mAh

Gadgets :: February 13, 2019

by Gregg Ellman


Checking, monitoring and knowing your home’s the air quality is simple, easy and fast with the wireless Eve Room air quality monitor with Apple HomeKit Technology.

Air quality being such a critical aspect that Eve is correct when referring to its product  as your home’s health at a glance.

Inside is precision sensor technology for reading indoor air quality, temperature and humidity sensors, which can be checked via the Eve app and Siri. There is a 1.54-inch touch control display on the front that shows the readings as well as a choice of menus depending on your preferences.

I learned from reading about the Eve Room that almost everything produces volatile organic compounds. When left indoors, VOC emissions can quickly rise to unhealthy or even harmful levels. Once the Eve Room alerts you to these harmful levels, the solution can be as easy as opening a door or window.

Humidity levels can be unknown and are often the cause of headaches or even house plants not doing well. The app shows when the levels are off and you even get a breakdown by hours, days, months and years to see if there’s a pattern to help you find the cause.

The compact, 2.1-by-2.1-by-0.5-inch device, doesn’t stand out in a room and has an anodized aluminum body. You’ll have to recharge (micro-USB) its battery every six weeks. Or it can be set up with the included USB cable to an AC power source for a permanent power supply. 

Information the Eve Room collects is transmitted with Bluetooth so there’s no hardware bridge needed. With HomeKit, an iPhone or iPad with iOS 11.4 or later is required. For using it with automation and remote access, you’ll need an Apple HomePod voice assistant speaker or AppleTV with tvOS 11 or later, which can both severe as a home hub. An Apple Watch can also be used to access Siri for setting scenes.

A quick start guide is included to get you setup in just minutes. It’s so easy and the rewards can be priceless. $99.95

When I say the Energizer Smart WiFi Surge Protector is amazing, you have to believe me. I know it’s not easy to get excited about a power strip, but this is something every home needs and perhaps a few of them.

Before you open the box, read about it and you’ll see the features from automation to powering AC devices and direct USB connections is just the beginning. 

In a nutshell, the surge protector, which is hub free, has voice control, remote access, WiFi, scheduling and scenes.

With the accompanying Energizer Connect App (App Store and Google Play), four AC devices can be controlled remotely. The setup is easy; download the app, turn on the protector and use the app to control everything. The WiFi works with your existing home WiFi, and connections and setup are made through the app.

Obviously, with four AC plugs and a pair of USB ports (2.4 amp total) you can just plug stuff in and use it without controls, or just control some of them. Either way, the uses are endless to setup lights for nighttime, TV time or a vacation mode scene. Once a scene is created, you can use it manually or execute it through the app with schedules.

If you’re equipped with Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant, it works with them.

As for the surge protection, it’s built with 1,200 Joule rating to provide protection from most power surges and spikes. A 6-foot braided décor plug with low profile angled plug to fit in to AC wall outlets flush and low profile. There’s also a built-in manual power button and operation LED indicators.

Each port accessed from the front along with a main power on, off switch. $49.99, available later this year

Gadgets :: February 6, 2019

by Gregg Ellman

I’m not a gamer so I always defer to some gaming friends when I review  something in that category.

After giving the SteelSeries Arctis Pro Wireless gaming audio system to a friend, I checked in the next day and got an instant two-word reply: oh wow. Obviously I had to follow up because that response can be taken in either direction.

Upon further review, he thought they were awesome and had a few of his gaming friends try them. All were in glowing agreement on what SteelSeries calls the World’s First High Fidelity Gaming Audio System.

My gamers had fun using their PS4 and a PC connected to the Arctis Pro headset and raved about some of the many aspect including wireless connectivity options, the comfort, sound, battery life and looks.

Along with the gaming features, the wireless headphones are premium 40,000 Hz speaker drivers, which to me sounded awesome just for music. Each airweave fabric ear cushion sits on your ear with breathable comfort with an adjustable elastic headband while delivering crystal-clear sound.

The dual wireless headphones give you Bluetooth and 2.4G wireless, enabling users to listen to gaming audio with the 2.4G and chatting use a Bluetooth connection to a mobile device. The connections can be used independently or together. The retractable boom microphone is bidirectional noice canceling.

A transmitter base station allows you to adjust the audio, which can also be done from the headset. The base station also lets you answer calls and has an onboard equalizer for getting the perfect sound to your ears.

The battery life is great, with up to a combined 20 hours using the swappable dual battery system. This lets one battery be used while a second is charges in about an hour  inside a transmitter. $329.99

Jaybird’s Tarah wireless sport headphones won’t do much for your gaming life, but will be a great companion for a run, workout or just listening to a playlist.

The category of sport wireless earbuds has grown substantially over the past few years and while many are great, they are also costing a bundle.

With the Tarah earbuds, it’s nice to see a set of sport wireless earbuds with all the features you need but with a reasonable price.

Inside each silicone ear gels (multiple sizes are included) is a 6mm driver to deliver solid sound with built-in passive noise isolation. Each ear also has an ear fin, which tucks in your ear and is a big help in keeping the sound in your ears.

The Jaybird app helps you customize the sound and also gives you access athletes’ playlists.

The Bluetooth earbuds have inline controls with an omni directional microphone for handsfree calls. With an iPX7 rating, they are sweat and waterproof and give your six hours of play time before a USB charge is needed. $99.99

The Niteize Orbiter Dash Mount Kit s one of the better handsfree hardware options for easy on/off smartphone dashboard mounting.

A low profile metal plate attached to the back of your phone or phone case, which attaches to the Orbiter Magnetic Socket. These give you an easy connection with the neodymium magnet power connecting to the dash mount.

The kit includes strong 3M VHB adhesive to hold the mount to your dashboard, which can also be cleanly removed if needed. 3M 300LSE adhesive is also included for attaching the metal plate to your phone.

Adjusting and rotating your smartphone with the mount is smooth and easy and holds in position well while driving. A thin high-friction ring is designed to prevent movement. $30.63

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