Archive for April 2019

Gadgets :: April 24, 2019

by Gregg Ellman

The LumiCharge II is coming to a desk near you, 

After a successful crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo, the multifunctional LED desk lamp charging station has launched and is available for purchase with a June delivery.

Even if you’re one of the few who has a clutter-free desk, you’ll still enjoy the lamp’s benefits and features. And if you’re like me with endless clutter, this makes a big dent in getting a few things organized and cleaned up.

LumiCharge gives it an accurate reference as the “Swiss army knife” of smart desk lamps. If you’ve used one of those knifes, you’ll understand the versatility of the lamp, which is far from just a lamp.

It is a lamp and if you use it for just that, it’s perfect with 10 levels of lighting brightness and 3 LED light colors — all from energy-efficient low-heat LED bulbs. A motion sensor night light will detect movement in the dark and give you a soft light to find our way around.

A feature of the modern-looking device that shows off its functionality and caught my eye is the wireless charging area.  The base of the lamp is a Qi wireless fast-charging pad so assuming you have a Qi charging phone, just place it on the base and it charges. Androids, iPhones or any other Qi-enabled phone will work.

A built-in universal charging dock spins around to expose Lightning, USB-C, Micro USB charging ports to dock and charge non-wireless devices. Only one of those connections can be used a time, since the dial exposes the one you’re using while the others will be turned away. But there is an extra USB port to connect your own charging cable for an additional device.

Both the wireless and dock charging features are built to be case friendly.

A smart LED dimmable display on the arm of the lamp essentially turns the lamp into an information center with the date, day of the week, temperature and time. A built-in alarm clock can also be set for alerts and appointments.

This will reset the standard for desktop functionality. And clear some space. After the crowdfunding campaign is over, the LumiCharge II will be $159 and available in black, silver and white.

The tough looking DemerBox is a great sounding Bluetooth sound system built into a Pelcian Case and 100 percent waterproof.

Inside the box is a pair of 3-inch, 8ohm, aluminum cone with rubber surround drivers, resulting in loud, clear sound, which is sure enough to be the life of the party.

Other features include a 50-hour battery life, which is recharged with the included AC adapter. With the internal USB charger, you can keep your phone or other devices charged up as well.

The Pelican outcast case is as durable as a case can be. Pelican is know for making the most durable with military grade standards, resulting in a case that is pretty much destructible. DemerBox incorporates a port plug, which makes the waterproof seal. 

Measuring just 10.62-by-9.68-by-6.87-inches with a 5.44 pound weight, it’s easy to see the portability. And while other speakers are waterproof, having the speakers built into the durable pelican case makes it a perfect combination.

Along with the speakers, there is a small amount of storage room for phones, wallets and keys to keep them safe and dry while your on the water. 

Bluetooth will have a 100-foot range from your media source, so keep in mind while the DemerBox is waterproof, in most cases what you’re using to send the music is not. But you can always store your music inside the case. $349, available in royal blue, matte black, orange and yellow


Gadgets :: April 17, 2019

by Gregg Ellman

When I attend the Consumer Electronics Show every January, I try out an endless number of products scheduled to be released in the coming year. Note, when I say scheduled; sometimes they hit the market and other times they don’t. 

Jabra is a company I’ve know well for years, so when they show me a headset with impressive sound and tell me I’ll get my hands on it within a few months, you can bet the ranch it will happen. You get that from an established company producing great products year after year.

Using the Jabra Move Style Edition wireless (Bluetooth) headphones gave me great sound on the trade show floor and accompanying sound rooms. But nothing compares to taking them on a week-long test drive, which showed me impressive feature after feature.

The lightweight (5.59-0z) and portable on-ear headphones have a padded stainless steel adjustable and flexible headband connecting padded ear cups housing 40mm dynamic speakers. Having them on for hours while flying cross country showed me right there how comfortable they are since i didn’t remove them until I landed. 

Since I listened that long the sound obviously must be as good. Crisp and clean at any volume make these an excellent choice. The rechargeable battery life keeps the music in your years for about 14 hours or 12 days of standby time.

And with all of these features, it’s nice to see a solid, great sounding headset from a major player in the consumer headset industry, Priced at just $99.99, they are a bargain compared to many similar brands.

Bluetooth pairing (up to 8 devices), battery charging, a 3.5 mm aux input for a wired connection, 4 mm omni-directional microphone, pause, play and volume are all done on the outside of the earbuds. available in gold beige, navy blue and titanium black 

It’s only batteries,  but they are so simple, so basic, so easy to use and no setup. And the most important aspect is the usefulness 24/7/365.

The mophie juice pack for Palm phone ($59.95) provides a 900mAh integrated battery for up to 13 hours of total use time. It’s made with a slim and lightweight design for everyday use. 

The rugged, tough polycarbonate shell provides impact protection from drops and falls and edge-to-edge protection and raised corners to help protect the Palm phone screen from scratches.

The juice pack is also available for many other iPhone and Android models, just check the Mophie site for a complete list.

Portable USB charging batteries are commonplace these days so they must have have a specific feature to stand out and that’s just what the Mophie powerstation keychain ($39.95) has. It’s one thing to have a battery charged and ready for use, but finding it along with a corresponding charging cable always seems to be a chore.

The lightweight, pocket-size portable battery (3.15-by-1.5-by-0.6-inches, 2.1-oz) features a carabiner to attach to belts, bags, keys or anything you want knowing it will be there when you coming looking for power.

The keychain features a 1,200mAh battery and cable release button to use the built-in USB-C cable for extending the life of USB-C devices up to an additional 8 hours of talk time.

Both new batteries feature mophie Priority+ charging, which allows pass-through charging while the battery is connected to a power source. With the Priority+, your connected device recharges first, and then the powerstation keychain recharges itself.

Gadgets :: April 10, 2019

by Gregg Ellman

True wireless earbuds get better and better with each I try. But it’s gonna be tough for others to top Sennheiser’s Momentum true wireless earbuds.

In my opinion, Sennheiser is on top of the game for overall sound quality and with the true wireless debut, the Momentum carries on that tradition and does not disappoint.

Like any other true wireless earbuds, you get a pair of cordless headphones, which work together to pick up auto from your device via Bluetooth. One of my fears when true wireless earbuds starting rolling out was losing one or both but that fear is long gone.

Momentums are Bluetooth 5.0 compliant and fit securely with comfort. They include four different sized silicone ear adapters (XS/S/M/L) to ensure the right fit for the ergonomically designed and well-built earbuds.

For the most part, you purchase headphones for the sound quality and these deliver as good as any, probably the best I’ve heard in this category.

Clarity, highs, lows — everything is crystal clear. Even head banging boom boom music my neighbors grandson got me listening to sounded great, although if it’s not on my preferred playlist. Each ear has an Audiophile 7mm dynamic driver.

Controlling true wireless earbuds takes a little getting used to but like anything else in the technology world, do it a few times and it becomes natural. Controls for the Momentums are built into the earbuds and of course an app.

Sennheiser’s companion app (iOS and Android) helps you through the setup, customization  and sound control. The right side headphone controls music choices and the left is used for handsfree calls. Mic holes are in each ear and voice assistants can easily be accessed.

Along with top of the line audio, Sennheiser always gives a lot of attention to looks and fashion. These have a premium black housing, gold-plated charging pins and polished metallic spin ring, which access the touch controls.

 The smart pause feature is really handy; just remove one earbud and they both stop the sound. Put it back in and the music resumes.

An attractive cloth-covered USB-C storage/charging case is included for two additional charges, which can give you up to 12 hours total. An LED light is on the side of the case so you know how much power is left.

Each earbud has a fitted slot in the case, so once it’s dropped in, the charging starts. The earbuds are IPX4, splash resistant. $299.95 

Slow charging, big and bulky is how I would describe many of today’s laptop chargers.

Fast charging and pocket sized is how I would describe Navitas Semiconductor’s Mu GaNFast chargers.

Measuring about 3.5-by-2.25-by-.5-inches tells you its portable and also has AC prongs, which fold ouy when you need to plug it into a standard wall outlet or just fold them in when it’s not in use.

As for power and speed, the GaNFast has a single USB-C connection (maximum 45 watt)  to deliver charging and power up to 2.5x faster than other chargers. The USB-C connection is perfect for any laptop, tablet, notebook or smartphone using that for power.

The charger’s interchangeable plug head system allows it to easily slide into two pieces, to convert it for international charging with the included three charging heads.

Websites refer to the charger as the world’s first, thinnest, fastest charger of its type. I haven’t seen every charger in the world, so I can’t back up that statement. What I can  say is it’s fast, reliable and portable, which is all you need.

Other variations of the fast charger are available with multiple ports and different wattage. $78.00

Gadgets :: April 3, 2019

by Gregg Ellman

Not long ago home security cameras were considered a luxury, costly and complicated to set up.

The Soliom Bird S60 wireless outdoor camera throws all that out the window with an easy set up, nice quality and no wired power connection.

Inside is a 4000mAh rechargeable battery, which is recharged with solar panels built into the camera body. Other similar cameras (which also worked very well) had a separate solar panel piece you had to mount close by and connect to the camera  power. With the Soliom Bird it’s all in one piece. 

The solar panels look like wings mounted on the side of the centered camera, which seems obvious in my mind why it has ‘bird’ in its name. For indoor use, you can remove the panels and make a direct power connection.

The camera records 24/7 with a front-facing 160-degree lens with 1080p resolution video quality in daytime use. In the night vision mode it reaches 30 to 49-feet and automatically switches from day to night mode for continuous use. A built-in motion  sensor is positioned next to the lens.

Mounting it is really easy with everything you need included – even a screwdriver. On the camera bottom is a threaded port to attach the mounting bracket. A rubber weatherproof flap covers a micro SD memory card slot (card not included) and a micro USB port, which is for a direct power connection.

Recordings are saved to the memory card or a free cloud service for up to 20 video files for each camera. With an IP66 weatherproof rating, the entire camera and solar panels are protected from water splashing, rain and dust.

Mounting, setting up the free companion Soliom app and using the camera is as easy as any I’ve tried.  While setting it up, make sure the camera is charged (use the USB connection for this) and keep the camera and your WiFi router in close range.

The app (iOS and Android) is used for live view, watching record clips, battery power status and the Wi-Fi signal, which helps you set it up within Wi-Fi range. The app lets you configure notification alerts and has two-way audio to speak with someone on camera. $149.99

Headphones are high on my list to review and like consumers, there are three things I look at right away. The price, appearance and sound quality. 

Editier’s W860NB wireless over the head headphones have it all, except for the high price tag.

The sound quality is excellent from the 40mm neodymium drivers. They are built with Active Noise Cancelling to help control and reduce outside environmental noise, letting the high quality music hit your ears. 

With ANC, microphones are built into in each side to sample ambient sounds and mix it into the music so it’s reduced and almost eliminated. Airplane noise is the most common use for headphones with ANC and after just few minutes into a recent flight I knew these were a winner.

Bluetooth 4.1 technology sends the sound to your headset from a music source and played through soft leatherette earcups, which sit with great comfort and are connected with a padded and adjustable headband. A 3.5 AUX input for a direct wired connection is built into the left earcup.

One the right side are smart touch controls, which are incredibly responsive for volume, music choices, pause and answering calls.  They work perfect with a swipe up and down for volume, sideways for tracks. Answering calls and pausing is done with a double tap. The power can be double tapped to access voice assistants.

You can bend and swivel the headset way more than you would need to, so obviously durability is not an issue.  

The headphones come with a hard clamshelll travel/storage case along with a USB and 3.5 auxiliary cable. You’ll get about 25 hours of music with ANC use or 45 hours without the ANC before recharging the internal battery.

NFC pairing and Qualcomm aptXTM audio decoding are supported. $169.99

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