Archive for March 2019

Gadgets :: March 27, 2019

by Gregg Ellman
(@greggellman)

It might sound crazy, but I’m living proof that sound machines are ideal for a quiet, restful sleep.

Adaptive Sound Technologies Inc. LectroFan Micro2 is not only that, but the multi-functional unit is built for travel with its compact (2-by-2-inches) design.

You get a choice of 11 built-in digital sleep sounds, including two ocean surfs, five digital fans and four variations of white, pink and brown noise sound options.  

While the sounds are playing your mind gets relaxed and in tune with the sleep noise, eliminating sudden and constant sounds and noises, which might keep you awake or prevent you from ever falling asleep.

Using the tiny bedside speaker is as easy as any gadget you can find. Inside is a USB rechargeable battery, which can last for up to 40 hours in sleep-sound mode. 

The LectroFan or – any other sound machine – takes trial and error for the sound selection and volume. The pop-up swivel design allows you to direct the speaker’s sound right at your or whatever you find works best.

The sounds can and are ideal for use during the day, helping concentrate on work tasks or just a pleasant background while around the home or office.

Bluetooth is also built into the speaker, enabling it to pair with a smartphone and stream music off your device. The battery runs for about six hours in Bluetooth mode.

I’d love to live beachside but as long as I don’t, I guess the ocean night sounds keep those thoughts and sounds in my dreams.

www.soundofsleep.com $34.95, available in color choices of chalk white, charcoal and metallic red

Imagine a pocket-sized device with a camera, which includes a selfie mirror and a built-in printer.  You don’t have to imagine anymore because the Polaroid Mint is exactly that.

Measuring 4.5-3-by-0.7-inches (6.1-ounces) it’s easy to see the portability with a body mirroring a deck of cards. Inside is the camera and printer and a rechargeable lithium-ion battery to power it.

The zero ink technology prints are 2-by-3-inches, water-resistant, smudge-proof and tear resistant. They have a peel off sticky-back for displaying the prints anywhere you want. 

And before you ask, there’s no ink or toner needed. With the zinc technology, everything you need is in the paper, which is available in packs of 20, 30 or 50 sheets. Loading the paper is instant and easy, just open up the paper and slide it in.

Using the printer is simply fun. It’s not going to replace a regular camera or your desktop printer. Bet then again, you not going to take those in your backpack on the go.

The 16-megapixel camera can store photos on a built-in microSD memory card (supports cards up to 256 GB) and takes about 40 pictures on each battery charge. A low battery indicator lets you know when a USB charge is needed and a small LED flash will go off automatically when the camera detects it’s needed.

Images can be taken with three different modes; color, black and white or sepia along with adding the classic Polaroid frame, which as I and many others know existed long before the social media world.

A selfie mirror is on the front and the timer helps you jump around to get in a group photo and a small viewfinder helps you frame your image in a vertical or landscape view.

There’s also Bluetooth built into the Mint so you can print pictures from a smartphone.

The quality of the images is really good. I’ve used zinc technology in other small printers and for instant prints and for what it is, it’s impressive. The Polaroid Mint is the first time I’ve combined the portability of the prints with a pocket sized camera and it didn’t disappoint. I even found it hard to stop creating what seems like an endless amount of stickers for my refrigerator. 

www.polaroid.com $92.09, available in black, white, blue, red or yellow

Gadgets :: March 20 2019

by Gregg Ellman
(@greggellman)

If you read my review last year on the Nixplay Iris frame, it was obvious I was a big fan of the digital picture frame. In a nutshell, the Nixplay has WiFi connectivity, which displays cell phone images you or anyone remotely send to the frame.

Along with the accompanying Nixplay app you can have the frame at your parents house on one end of the country and send images, which are instantly appear on the  high resolution display from the other end.

Now Nixplay has launched the Seed Wave Wi-Fi cloud frame, which incorporates many of the same features as last year’s model but adds the ability to add audio and/or  music to the digital images or videos.

To make this all come together, the free-standing 13-inch widescreen Seed Wave adds a bigger screen (up from 8-inches) and Bluetooth speakers. The Seed Wave has a display resolution of 1920 x 1080 with an aspect ratio of 16:9. The pair of premium 5-watt Bluetooth speakers are built into the back of the frame for a complete multimedia experience to watch the remote loaded content and give you a room filling sound.

You can also use the speakers as just speakers for listening to a paired smartphone or tablet. Inside is a dedicated bass and audio amplifier to make the sound experience optimum.

Setting up the frame takes just minutes with your own Wi-Fi and a secure account login. You get 10GB of free cloud storage for the digital files, along with 8GB internal memory storage. Once the account and frame is set up, it’s up to you if you want to share the login information and invite others to stock up the frame.

A sensor inside the frame allows it to turn on and off when it senses someone is nearby or everyone has left the room.  A rubber stand keeps the frame in place.

Social media albums can be connected for display from Facebook, Dropbox, Google Photos, Instagram and Verizon Cloud. As easily as you can upload to the frame, when you tire of seeing the same videos or images they can be deleted from the frame or remotely through the app.

The frame has an attractive design with a matte black finish and AC power connection. The Seed Wave also works with Amazon Alexa. A remote is great for manually controlling the frame.

The Nixplay mobile app is available for iOS and Android. Currently video is only supported with iOS and limited to 15 second videos.

www.nixplay.com

For the past few months I’ve been giving the new Kindle Paperwhite (10th generation) a test drive and since I can’t seem to put it down, I’d certainly say I’m a big fan of the dedicated e-reader.

The tablet is touted as the thinnest, lightest Kindle Paperwhite. It has a flush-front design and 300 ppi glare-free display that reads like real paper even in bright sunlight. The reading display is 6 iinches and the overall size of the tablet is just a bit more. It’s much smaller and lighter than any other tablet I’ve used and when paired with the case it opens and reads just like a traditional book.

I totally loved that this tablet does not have apps to play games, watch videos or read social media. It’s just for distraction-free reading. And is certainly ideal if you are looking for an e-reader for a student to increase they’re reading time without being able to switch to distracting apps. The tablet does have an “experimental” browser for the web, which I really stayed away from, because I enjoy the reading exclusivity.

The screen is super easy to read with little glare and I could change the size of the font easily.

The Kindle Paperwhite is waterproof making it summer ready to read and relax at the beach, by the pool, or in the bath. It’s built with Audible integration so you can pair it with Bluetooth headphones or speakers to listen to your story if you like audiobooks.

You can choose from 8-32 GB of internal storage to hold your books, magazines, comics, and audiobooks. I’m an avid reader and like that I can store more books for reading for when I don’t have Wi-Fi access. 

Typically, I read books from my local library and from Amazon Prime since those are  options for me. The Kindle works seamlessly with Kindle unlimited (subscription required), and you can often check out e-books from your local library to read on the Kindle.

I read two books on it to test it. One from my library and one from Amazon Prime and both were easy to download, open and read. A single battery charge lasted weeks and the built-in adjustable light lets me read indoors and outdoors, day and night. I also like how the case wakes up the tablet when opened and puts it to sleep when its closed to help save battery power.

www.Amazon.com $129.99 (8GB)

Gadgets :: March 13, 2019

by Gregg Ellman
(@greggellman)

The Mercku M2 Wi-Fi router system, which is accurately called “The Wi-Fi system that has your whole house covered” on the Mercku homepage, is a productI I loved instantly because it’s simple, easy to install, and worked perfect on the first try.

This system doesn’t replace your existing Wi-Fi, you’ll still need that from your local provider. Instead, the Mercku hardware takes the signal and sends it to the dead zones in your home, which just about everyone, including myself, has.

Most homes have Wi-Fi brought in where it was convenient for the cable company or whoever is your provider. For the most part, it was the right choice at the time because that’s where your computer and the router were needed. But now in the era of smartphones, tablets, smart TV’s and Alexa, we need Wi-Fi everywhere.

First for the setup; Along with the router, a 3-foot Ethernet cable and an AC adapter is included. A quick start guide instructs you plug in the power connection and connect the Ethernet cable to the back of the Mercku M2 router. 

To complete the setup, use either a browser or a smartphone app, I went with the smartphone Mercku companion app (iOS and Android). It has a user-friendly interface and well written instructions to walk you through a few steps to get your router connected.

Consider the first M2 router you connect as your home base; now you can add M2 routers to conquer the dead zones, which can be upstairs, downstairs or around corners.

I placed number two in an extra bedroom where I previously never seemed to get a good signal. The additional M2’s do not have a direct connection to the first one you connected. Instead, it makes a wireless connecting to the first, which is all setup in minutes with the app.

I added a third on the total opposite side of my house the same way. The entire setup with three routers didn’t take 10 minutes. 

Along with the advantage of spreading around your Wi-Fi signal, according to Mercku, the M2 performs nearly twice as fast as the industry average and can support up to 60 devices, which should be good for any family. The app even tells you which devices are connected to the system.

Wi-Fi hardware generally is hidden in back rooms or under tables. Since you have to spread the M2  routers (3.93-by-3.93-by-4.94mm) around your home, it was a smart move by the company to design the hardware so it’s not an eyesore. You’ll get a few people asking about it and becoming very intrigued and curious.

The dual-band M2 router have backside ports for the LAN and WAN ethernet lines, USB2.0, and AC power (12V / 1.5A). It supports Wi-Fi 2.4G 300 Mbps and 5G 867 Mbps.

During my testing I had a video playing on my iPad as I walked room to room. Like any Wi-Fi, the speed can vary based on how far you are from the source, what you’re using it for and how many are on the system. But I was watching in rooms, buffer free, where in the past the buffer made me shut down.

While I used the M2 routers, Mercku also has small AC powered Bee Nodes, which plug into any socket and spread Wi-Fi to the largest of homes.

Within the app you can see what devices are connected to the Wi-Fi, whether the router’s on, set up security with passwords and even hide the network so it can’t be see without knowing both the network name and it’s accompanying password. Speed tests can also be run right in the app along with control to block devices, websites and how much speed specific devices get.

The M2 router is $119 and the M2 Bee Node is $59 each. You can buy complete home packages, for example a M2 router and four Bee Nodes are $299.

www.mercku.tech 

Gadgets :: March 6, 2019

by Gregg Ellman
(@greggellman)

Just as I was when I was first read about Pixel Eyewear, I guarantee you are  doing the same: reading it off a digital screen – computer, tablet or smartphone – without protective computer eyewear.

A big difference for me is that as I write this column, I’m wearing and testing Pixel eyewear, which is also fashionable.

With everyone’s life entrenched in the tech world and reading off screens, the glasses offer a great solution for eyestrain.

According to the Pixel site, the glasses have breakthrough lens technology that filters 50 percent of blue light and up to 95 percent at the strongest wavelengths, without the yellow tint. Lenses also contain nanotechnology that reduce smudges and repels water and dust. For comfort, each lens has an anti-reflective coating, eliminating computer glare and reducing stress on your eyes.

I used the glasses for a full day of computer work and smartphone reading and came away headache-free, which is often an issue for me. I can’t give you an official doctor recommendation, but I can say I felt little eye strain, rubbed my eyes way less and didn’t have to take as many breaks.

According to Pixel, Blue light can impair your sleep cycle as well as disrupt the circadian rhythm that prevents us from falling and staying asleep. The glasses will help you say goodbye to eyestrain, headaches, dry eyes and blurred vision. 

Even before hearing about these glasses, I’d read about the effect of blue light, which can trick your brain at 1 a.m. into thinking it’s daytime and extended your sleepless night. Even if you aren’t looking to get the computer glasses, go read about blue Light eyestrain.

Bloggers and gamers, who sit in front of screens for extended periods of time, will certainly find these to be an advantage short and long term. 

To be totally honest, I’m not in full eyewear fashion since I haven’t put my contacts in for the day, so the Pixel glasses are sitting on top of my prescription glasses. And they did  work perfect stacked over my prescription. I tried them later in the day with my contacts in and both systems worked to perfection.  One way I’ll use in public, the other not so much.

The glasses are available in non-prescription ($75) and prescription ($125) for men and women in daily and reading styles.

www.pixeleyewear.com

Technology often puts the unexpected in your hands. Like when you get new headphones and there’s no headphone port to plug them in.

Bluetooth headphones are always an option, which I use often. But I know many who like wired headphones so they don’t have to deal with connections and especially keeping them charged.

The new Mythro C earbuds from Moshi solve both problems with a direct wired connection and a USB-C tip for new smartphones only having that connection, eliminating the standard 3.5mm headphone port.

With sold sound the Mythro C are made with an attractive lightweight aluminum housing and has high-resolution audio (24-bit/96 kHz) with a Class G amplifier. The sound technology includes a built-in digital-to-analog converter to produce high-resolution sound. 8mm neodymium drivers produce send the sound to your ears, which come with three sets of hybrid injection eartips, to ensure perfect comfort.

A four-button control works for music selections, handsfree calls and voice assistants. 

www.moshi.com 

silver and gray $49.95

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