Archive for June 2019

Gadgets :: June 26, 2019

bu Gregg Ellman

You can say the Pocketalk translator keeps the conversation going where a language barrier would easily bring it to an end.

My first words about it were “I can see how beneficial a device like this can be while vacationing in a foreign country or daily use on-the-go” to bridge the gab between spoken languages.

The oval-shaped pocket and palm sized device (4.3-by-2.4-by-0.6-inches) has its own custom OS (based on Android OS 8.1) operating system and needs internet access from your choice of a built-in mobile data plan, personal hotspot or Wi-Fi. 

Before using it I wondered why it would connect to the Internet and according to the Pocketalk site, it “connects to the internet for access to robust language engines and cutting-edge cloud technologies for highly accurate translations.” The language engines are accessed to get the translation.

The Pocketalk is available in two versions. One ($249) you use with your own connection to the Internet (Wi-Fi etc) and the other has built-in mobile data with a SIM card ($299). With the SIM card version, just turn it on and it connects to the Internet, which currently should work in 126 countries. The SIM activation lasts two years.

An 2200mAh internal battery keeps it running for seven hours of use or up to 10 days in sleep mode before a USB charge is needed. 

A touch panel display (320×240 pixels) on the front shows the conversation and translation. There are two built-in 1.5 watt speakers to hear the translation and dual microphones with noise cancellation hear your words with clarity. 

Other controls are for adjusting the text size, volume, sleep settings, clearing past conversations and the brightness of the display.

After you choose the two languages you want translated, there’s really not a lot to it beside pressing a button while you talk to get the translation. It can handle a up to 30 seconds of speaking for each translation. 

I tested it with a friend who speaks a few languages since I only speak English and he was overly impressed with the accuracy of the spoken results. We used it with Spanish, but there are 74 languages to choose from, with more expected.

Bluetooth 4.0 is built-in to allow the Pocketalk to connect to your own external speakers. 

It’s really hard for a smartphone case to catch my attention but the Grip2u did just that.

The protective case features a flexible band to do something pretty simple, keep it in your hand. But what makes it even better: when the interchangeable band isn’t in use, it rests flush on the back of the case without adding bulk, which is great in those rare cases when your smartphone isn’t in use and stored in a pocket.

And full disclosure, I’m not a PopSocket fan mainly because it interferes with wireless Qi charging. With the Boost sample I’ve used for an iPhone XS, wireless charging was not a problem.

The case is protective and not bulky with drop protection. Edges protect the sides and extend over the edges of the front screen But what makes the case work for me is the grip to add an extra layer to help prevent the expensive smartphone from dropping from your grip.

With a websites named, its easy to see the confidence they have in the Grip2u products.

Grip2u choices for iPhones and Samsung Galaxy smartphones are available in a nice choice of colorful options to mix and match the cases and bands. 

Three styles are available, the Boost ($29.99) is s standard case with the back grip, the Boss ($29.99) has slots for up to 3 credit cards and the folio ($39.99) is just that, a folio to open and close to expose the phone, which also has a few credit card slots. 

Gadgets :: June 19, 2019

by Gregg Ellman

Winter, summer, spring or fall, morning, noon or night. That’s just a sampling of when the new Honeywell Home T9 thermostats with room sensors are useful.

Honeywell gave me a demonstration of the system at the Consumer Electronics Show earlier this year. Instantly I knew for me these were a fit; the sensor was perfect for my house. And Honeywell representatives stressed how easy the installation is.

Like most homes, one of my thermostats is in a convenient centralized hallway and works great there. But what doesn’t work great is getting a consistent temperature in other parts of the house where that thermostat is in control but no where close to the room.

Sensors are placed in rooms that need more temperature control. During setup, interactions will walk you through a simple process for all your sensors and how they are controlled. 

First for the installation, I did it myself. I’m not a licensed AC repairman, plumber, electrician or anything else close. Nor do I do that type of work often. But I can read instructions, take a picture of the existing thermostats wiring and then follow colors, numbers and instructions to hook up a new one.  

For those who are a little more advanced, the instructions explain what to do if your system does not have a C-wire. My system already had one connected, but others without will need a C-wire adapter, which is also simple to install.

From start to finish this took less than 15 minutes, including marking and drilling holes for the included hardware to hang the wiring plate, filling the older holes to cover up the previous rounded thermostat and then snapping the new wiring plate and the display together.

And importantly, as instructed, I had the circuit for the power to this area of my house shut off before the installation began.

When I felt the installation was complete I called Honeywell tech support line, mainly to confirm my insecurity with the installation before I started the power back up. He confirmed everything was right and my house started to cool off right away.

Instantly after the T9 was powered up, on screen instructions walked me through a few steps to connect the T9 to my existing Wi-Fi system and smartphone. With the connection, the rectangular-shaped thermostat display and settings are controlled from the display or on your smartphone or tablet with the free accompanying Honeywell app. 

While it’s easy to set up schedules for when the air is on or off along with automatic settings, your schedule does change. For example, if your AC is supposed to go on to cool the house at 5 p.m. as the family begins to arrive home and plans change where no one will now be home til 11 p.m., it takes just a second to turn on the app and override the schedule. Now you’re saving money by not cooling an empty house.

Weekly or daily schedules can be made with specific hours, rooms, times and temperatures. Email notifications can be set up to alert you when it the system or even a specific room (think baby’s room) reaches a specific high or low temperature.

The system allows up to 20 sensors to be connected per thermostat. In the settings you have your choice of having the temperature entirely controlled by a sensor, have it averaged out or even have a sensor turned on with motion. It’s your choice to prioritize what you want and what’s most important. There’s no limit how often the settings and controls can be changed.

A pair of AA batteries and 3M tape is included for installing and powering the sensors.

Geofencing is another great feature. When you have it activated the system will know when you’re home or away. When returning to your home with geofencing the thermostat will sense your smartphone is within a certain radius and turn the heat or AC on. In reverse, it knows when you leave the area to turn the down to a specific energy target.

The Honeywell Home T9 works with Alexa and Google Assistant voice assistants  along with IFTTT and Samsung SmartThings. Honeywell Home T9 Wi-Fi Smart Thermostat with 1 Smart Room Sensor $199, Single T9 Smart Sensor $39.99 each or a two pack for $74.99

Gadgets :: Father’s Day Gift Guide – June 5, 2019

by Gregg Ellman

It’s another year and the same old story. You love your dad and want to get hime something for fathers day but he has everything, which leaves you with no ideas. Problem solved, I bet he doesn’t have all of these so read on and you’ll find what to buy that special dad in your life.

Pelican, yes that same pelican who makes military grade storage units, which last forever without breaking also have coolers to keep your good and beverages cold (but maybe not forever). Pelican Americana collection fills the need for fathers day and every other day of the year a cooler is needed. It’s available in Patriotic Colors in 20 and 50 quart sizes, has an ergonomic designed, durable and comfortable handle and everything is cold and ready with Extreme Ice Retention technology. A press and pull latch is simple for opening or closing, non-skid & non-marking raised feet and integrated cup holders on top. The 20-quart Elite ($149.95) weighs 12.52-pounds and measures 18.8-by-12.6-by-17.7-inches and the 50-quart Elite ($299.99) is 26.39 pounds and 30.0-by-20.3-by-20.4-inches. both available in many color combinations

Spring, summer winter or fall, dads (or anyone) need the proper head protection for a bike ride.  A groundbreaking new helmet with technology called WaveCel from Trek Bicycle and Bontrager has been tested to be up to 48x more effective in preventing concussions during cycling. The WeveCel technology is a collapsible material, which lines the inside of the helmet and was developed by an orthopedic surgeon and biomechanical engineer. The WaveCel will help keep dad or anyone else who uses it by absorbing energy in multiple ways including dispersing the energy from an impact. On impact, the layers of the WaveCel material move independently and flex until the cell walls crumple and then glide, actively absorbing direct and rotational energy and redirecting it away from your head according to the company.

Bontrager WaveCel helmets are initially being offered in four models ranging in from $149.99 tp $299.99 

What dad doesn’t want an extra phone or computer charger? With the Scosche has new Strikeline MFI-certified USB-C to Lightning power delivery cable for charging and sync Apple Lightning smartphones and tables. When you combine the cable with a Scosche USB-C AC power wall delivery charger, devices will safely charge up to three times faster than with many other chargers. The reversible USB-C connector cable and charger are portable and durable with a limited lifetime warranty. $19.99

Jabra’s Elite 85h wireless noise-cancelling adjustable headphones pretty much have it all with awesome sound, voice assistant support, well built and great looks. The over-the-head Bluetooth 5.0 headphones deliver crystal clear audio from 40 mm speakers in each ear, with soft foam ear cups, which are comfortable as any I’ve tried. With smart active noise cancellation and the free Jabra companion Sound+ app, the headphones will turn ANC on when it detects unwanted background noise and adjust the sound to how you set it up within the app. The on-ear detection turns the sound off when you remove the headphones from you head and start again when they are back on. People will also hear you crystal clear on handsfree calls with the 8 microphones, which also use the ANC filter technology. On ear controls, charging and auxiliary ports are easily accessed. The internal battery life will last up to 36 hours (with ANC on) on a full charge, fast charging for 15 minutes will give you 5 hours of use. A hard travel case is included along with charing and auxiliary cables. $299 available in gold beige, navy and titanium black

The Black Eye Pro Kit G4 three lens system turns works with most any smartphone to turn its camera into a complete photographers system. The kit includes three Pro level lenses, the Pro Cinema Wide G4, Pro Fisheye G4 and the Pro Portrait Tele G4. With the included Black Eye universal clipper attachment, the lenses work with most any smartphone. It clips on and off in seconds, all you do is line up the lens you want to use with the front or rear lens on the smartphone. The Pro Fisheye G4 has a 175-degree angle, which is wider than most any built-in smartphone lens making it ideal for selfie groups. The Pro Portrait Tele G4, takes you 2.5x closer to subjects and has a 40-degree angle of view. I loved the quality of all of them but my favorite over the last few weeks was the 120-degree angle of view Pro Cinema Wide G4, which produces distortion free images with straight leading lines. Each lens has industry leading optics with double-coated, hand-polished glass with anti-reflection. Lens caps, cleaning cloths, microfiber bag and a zipper travel case is included. $250

If there was every a coffee make that has it all, it’s the Gourmia GCMW4750 Barista Butler coffee maker. The counter top appliance has a simple setup to connect it to the Internet for voice assistant control using Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa so you can wake up and give the beckon call to start brewing. A built-in grinder takes care of grinding your coffee beans or you can start with grinds. It holds up to 40-ounces of water brewed into a 10 cup glass carafe. A front LCD display has a programable timer for a set schedule and everything is simple to clean. Or just do it the old fashion way and it a button on the front to start it up. $XXX.XX

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