Archive for December 2019

Gadgets :: December 25, 2019

by Gregg Ellman

I get to see a lot of cool gadgets during the year; some I like, some I don’t. But with winter upon us I’m really seeing the usefulness of my favorite gadget from this year, the Resideo’s Honeywell Home T9 thermostat with room sensors.

Thermostats are generally installed in a convenient centralized hallway and work 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 you.

The key for me and the greatness about this thermostat is the sensors. With the T9 system, sensors (up to 20) are placed in rooms that need more temperature control.

In the settings you have your choice of having the set 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 to how often the settings and controls can be changed.

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

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

Once everything is installed and working, the T9 connects to your home Wi-Fi and can be controlled on the thermostat and with the accompanying app.

The bottom line is now simple  it is to have your room temperature where you’ve set the thermostat, not the air temperature in the hallway where the thermostat is mounted. 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 

You’re far from alone if any of your holiday gifts need a power source or a charge to keep it going on the run. But you have to understand power and how it’s not always safe power. 

For example, having your computer plugged into an outlet without power surge protection is not a good idea – you’re living on the edge. One lightning strike or a power surge for a variety of reasons can destroy your computer and its contents.

With the Austere VII Series power supply you get power with industry-leading safety features and crazy enough a device that looks great and is backed by a lifetime guarantee.

The Austere VII Series  is available in models with 6 or 8 grounded outlets and the layout of the inputs are convenient so you don’t have to juggle bulky box plugs to get everything to fit, like in a standard power strip. 

On the side are 5 USB ports; 2 USB-A, and 2 USB-C ports and a single USB-C with a 45 W power delivery for laptops. 

There’s a lot of technical aspects with power but I doubt many people care for anything besides getting the power and having everything work. 

The Austere VII series prides itself on industry-leading surge protection safety, dedicated 4K joules surge, and over current protection with 15A circuit breaker.

It’s packed with advanced technology to ensure your devices are powered or charged safely and this includes Isolated PureFiltration. According to the Austere site, the EMI/RFI filtration will insulate the power signal from external disturbances to deliver video and audio clarity to your HDTV and sound system. 

Everything is inside a brushed housing, which can be wall-mounted and connected to a rugged five-foot WovenArmor power cord. The AC connector at the end, plugs flush into your wall outlet and there are LED indicators on top to indicate everything is powered, ground and protected. 6–outlet models $179.99, 8-outlet model $199.99

GADGETS :: December 18, 2019

by Gregg Ellman


I loved a reference Twelve South made in a press release about some existing USB-C hubs and how they create a rat’s nest of cables spilling out the side of your MacBook. I laughed at that because that’s my situation.

So I finally took the new StayGo USB-C Hub from Twelve South to task to clean up my cable mess and as expected, it was perfect.

The metal hub (.59-by-5-by-2.44-inches) has connections for (3) USB-A 3.0 ports, mircroSD and SD memory cards, 4K HDMI and gigabit Ethernet.

Once you have everything connected, the hub connects to your computer with one removable cable, which is the key. Other hubs, many of which I’ve tried, have a permanent cable requiring you to keep the hub connected to your laptop or within inches.

The stay feature of the StayGo hub lets you attach the included 3-foot USB-C connecting cable so you can keep the hub and all the connecting cables away from your laptop to avoid the immediate mass of cables.

For the Go feature, the hub includes a short travel sized 6-inch USB-C cable for connecting the hub when you do want it close by. The cable is always with you since it stores inside of the hub.

Both cables are high quality and durable. The longer cable has a 90-degree connector, which is great for keeping it in tighter areas.

Everything connected, powered and worked perfect. And clutter-free just like I was promised. $99.99

In addition to the great sound Edifier TWS5 true wireless earbuds produce, the 32 hours of battery life was impressive but far from the only great feature.

While true wireless earbuds are becoming a commonly used sound source and as with most others models you get a charging/storage case, extra ear tips and a cable to charge the case.

For you, the main decision when buying earbuds should be he sound, and I can say the Edifier TWS5 at high and low levels brought everything crystal clear right into my years. I had the SirusXM Holly 24-hour holiday music station on while using these for a few days, which brings music from several generations and all types of sound. The Edifier TWS5 didn’t disappointed on any genre.

The built-in battery will give you about 8 hours of playback before a charge is needed, which you can get another 24-hours from the included magnetic charging case. It has an LED indicator on the case to show you the battery level.

The Bluetooth 5.0 earbuds are 1PX5 water rated, so you’ll be OK to use them in a slight rain or sweaty workouts. Ergonomically designed, so once you get the right foam ear tip that fits (several sizes included) comfortably, you’ll almost never know they are playing in your ears.

They are loaded with other features like automatic connection and listening with one or both earbuds. Each earphone has multi-function controls for music choices, volume and answering call.

They also have cVc Mic Technology for builtin mic clarity and the elimination of background noise. One of my callers during my testing even mentioned how clear I was on the call, without them knowing I was using a new product. $79.99

A new Kodak branded Smartphone Photography Kit gives you a nice choice of accessories to help make your smartphone photography more efficient and fun with better results. The multi-purpose kit comes travel-ready in a hard case and includes a 2-in-1 lens with an ultra wide and macro, a tripod, remote shutter and portrait light.

The lens clips right over the existing lens on your smartphone and it’s easy to take on or off and switch between the two. The wide angle lens is 18 mm wide with a 100-degree angle of view, which really helps when you’re taking a group photo or you want to include more of an area in a selfie. With the macro, getting closer to what you’re photographing makes your images a lot more interesting.

The portrait light gives you a small amount of light to brighten up faces when there’s just not enough available light. It works with the rear and front facing camera and is nice to have with you for changing light conditions.

The compact 8-inch tripod can be used for both horizontal and vertical images and includes a detachable Bluetooth remote shutter. Your smartphone is held in a spring loaded bracket on the tripod. Setting up the remote shutter is like pairing any other Bluetooth device and the top of the tripod has a 90-degree tilting ball head to let you get any angle needed for an image.

A lens pouch and a USB charging cable for the light are also included.

The Kodak accessories are produced by Eye Caramba Ltd., an authorized brand licensee of Eastman Kodak Company. $69.99

Gadgets :: December 11, 2019

by Gregg Ellman


With close to two weeks to go, there’s still plenty time, but you’re starting to get close to the end of the holiday shopping season.

Need an idea? Here are a few suggestions. If you get them all, you can peel a potato listen to music via Bluetooth or use your own Bluetooth headset with an airline sound system, all while your home is being monitored with a top of the line security camera.Let me explain……

The AirFly Pro takes your own Bluetooth headphones and allows them to seamlessly work with an airline entertainment system with up to two sets of headphones. I used it recently on an American Airlines flight and within seconds of sitting down I had it up and running. The pocket-sized adapter charges with USB-C for about 16 hours of use. Setting it up takes seconds, put both the AirFly Pro and your headphones in pairing mode and they’ll find each other. That’s it, you’re done; just plug the connected 3.5 mm audio cable coming out of the AirFly Pro in the headphone port. If that’s not enough, the AirFly Pro can go the other directions to allow you to send yourplaylists for listening in an older car or make an older non-bluetooth speaker. Even in arental car or a friend’s, you don’t have to pair your phone to just listen to tunes, just plug and play.

The AirFly Pro is the first Bluetooth Adapter, sold exclusively to Apple Stores but will work with non-Apple devices. My testing was done with House of Marley, V-Moda and Sennheiser sound NBC devices. The uses of the AirFly Pro is far from limited to airplanes, many TV’s, treadmills and other devices only have audio out ports to the connection will be just like an Airplane. $54.99

Once you try any Ring home security product, you’ll see how easy it is to install, which you’ll do yourself. Since it’s so easy, and Ring keeps adding innovative products, it’s great to be with the Ring system. It’s so easy to keep adding indoor, outdoor and doorbell security, you’ll be hooked in minutes.

The most recent I tried is the small and inexpensive Ring Indoor Cam, a plug-in security camera with a 140-degree view, night vision and two-way talk with noise cancelation. With plug-in power, the compact camera takes minutes to install and supplies a great image of 1080p HD vide, two-way talk and alert settings.

I already had the Ring app on my iPhone XS (also available in Google Play) so after unpacking and plugging it in, I went to the app to add a device. After less than 2minutes I had the camera connected and running.

Within the app, like all Ring devices, you can set up what the camera captures in audio with two-way talk, video, motion setting and motion-activated notifications. And it’s all as easy as can be.

Even after the setup, the camera and app are user-friendly to make changes as you learn the system, your likes and needs. The camera works with the included AC power adapter and can be kept on any flat surface. It also has a swivel mount and mounting screws for hanging.

Ring protection plans are available starting at $3 per month. The Ring Protect plans are described as a comprehensive subscription service that lets you review, share and save every video and photo captured by your Ring device and opt-in to 24/7 professional monitoring. $59.99

Cave Tools new Vegetable Peeler’s just launched and you might not view them as sexy as the hottest electronic gadgets, but trust me. They are a gadget, which makes you kitchen life easier. The Vegetable Y Peeler with swivel blades has an ergonomic design so it sits comfortable in both hands with a non-slip grip on the inside of the handle. I’m not a kitchen specialist but I’m peeling away to help during the holidays and my results are looking perfect. The peeler is designed to cut off just a thin layer of skin to preserve important nutrients, which are hidden just under the skin on fruits and vegetables, according to Cave Tools.

They also have the new stainless steel Vegetable Peeler with a straight shape, built-in potato eye remover and a non-slip grip for perfect peeling. I found the Y Peeler perfect for bigger potatoes, and along with the vegetable peeler it was perfect for cucumbers and carrots. But then again, this is all new to me, so either will be great for whatever needs to be peeled. The Y Peeler also worked well to slice a block of cheese, which used to be an adventure for me.

Both are simple to clean by hand or dishwasher safe. You also get a free copy of Grill Master’s Essential Barbecue recipe book and access to s recipes exchange community with over 3,400 members showing off exciting new ideas. Cave tools offers a lifetime satisfaction guarantee for a full money back refund. $9.99 for each

If your “want list” is home-, headphone-, security- and potato peeler-free, the Edifier R1850DB Bluetooth 4.1 speakers are what you need. Don’t bother taking a few days to listen to speakers in store sound booths, just take my advice.

I, like many, still have a receiver in my house and I need speakers. Edifier says it perfect on their website, “Bringing back old school design with the latest technology.” Built with a four-inch bass unit and 19 mm silk dome tweeters inside produces deep bass and crisp high for an awesome audio listening experience.

Each speaker (6-by-10-by-8.8-inches) is built with a classic jet black finish, nice fiberboard construction and has a bottom side 10-degree angle for a better listening, a built-in amplifier with a subwoofer line out. The front grills look great but come on and off for whichever cosmetic look you prefer.

There’s plenty of ports for other connections (RCA, 3.5 mm Aux, etc.) on the back, along with a power button. A wireless remote works perfect in your hand for music and volume choices. $199.99 available in black or a wood grain finish

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