Archive for March 2020

Gadgets :: March 25, 2020

by Gregg Ellman

One thing for sure: during most of our non-voluntary vacations for the foreseeable future our screen times will increase, requiring a lot more charging. It’s hard to conclude what the perfect portable battery is, but if I had to choose, I’d say it’s the myCharge HubTurbo.

The myCharge Hub Turbo batteries have unique portable power features in choices of 6,700 ($89.99) and 10,050mAh ($109.99), which are both built with Power Delivery and Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0 turbo technologies, allowing devices to be charged up to 75-percent faster.

Additionally, there’s an integrated Apple Lightning and integrated USB-C cables built into the side of the battery along with a built-in USB port for plugging in your own charging cable. Pull out the integrated cables when needed and tuck them back in to prevent damage when they are not needed.

And it doesn’t end there. When the battery itself needs charging just fold out the built-in wall prongs to plug into any standard electrical outlet. After the charge, the battery will maintain its power for up to one year. Pass through charging allows the battery to be charged while it’s connected to your device needing the power. 

To keep your device charging safely, the myCharge batteries will also ensure complete device compatibility with its smart-sense technology.

Another option from myCharge is the 8,000 mAh rugged outdoor Powerfold portable battery ($59.99) with detachable solar panels, ideal if you’re putting together a disaster kit.

When it’s closed up, the pocket-sized battery is 6.18-by-3.-by-0.98-inches but you want it folded out when the three weather-resistant solar panels with a rubberized finish are needed. About four hours will give it a full charge, which can slightly vary. 

The battery can be separated from the solar panels and has a pair of built-in USB ports and a built-in flashlight with SOS and strobe mode for emergency situations. 

Logitech’s Powered for iPhone wireless charging stand delivers up to 7.5 W charging for iPhones and 5 W for other Qi certified smartphones. With the iPhone name, that certainly covers those newer models, but it works perfect with other smartphones that share similar dimensions.

A big question that always gets asked regards wireless charging with cases on the phone. Logitech states the charging stand works with non-metal cases up to 3 mm thick that don’t contain magnetic parts. Apple silicon and leather cases are compatible.

To me, what makes this standup charger stand out from others is the U-shaped cradle, which keeps your phone in place at all times at a 65-degree angle, perfect for FaceTime, messaging or surfing. It can be used in charging and viewing in portrait mode in the cradle or landscape mode resting on the top of the cradle.

Using the 4.13-by-3.94-by-2.95-inch desktop charger is as simple as dropping the smartphone in the cradle. There’s also a rubberized surface to prevent phones from falling during alert vibrations. 

Everything charges safely with the internal heat sensors, which intelligently manage temperature and prevent overheating. If temperatures start to rise too high, a cool-down process kicks in automatically, eliminating the need for noisy fans, according to Logitech. $69.99

GADGETS :: March 18, 2020

by Gregg Ellman

For weeks, working from a home office is going to become the norm. So what better time to talk about some essential gadgets for your new home office to help maximize productivity.

Technology makes it easy to instantly join audio conferencing but when your audio quality isn’t great, efficiency and collaboration will go down the tube.

With the Samson Satellite USB/iOS broadcast quality microphone you get a lot of features, but the main two are the quality and its plug-and-play operation. It plugs directly into a Mac, PC, iPhone or iPad for conference calls, podcasting, gaming, VoIP, voiceover work and recording music.

The Satellite microphone (8.6-by-4.3-by-1.7-inches) sits on a desktop and is portable with folding back legs. Inside are two premium 16 mm condenser capsules for capturing audio and an internal shock-mount isolates the capsules from the body of the microphone to minimize outside noise such as sounds caused by vibrations and table rumble.

Features include 24-bit/96kHz resolution and a flat frequency response of 20Hz–20kHz, zero-latency and a heavy-gauge steel mesh grille and an aluminum body. A monitor switch lets direct monitoring to be turned off, while you can still hear the audio back from your computer. $99.99

Satechi’s full extended compact backlit Bluetooth keyboard not only connects to your computer but will also connect two addition Bluetooth devices (computers, tablets, smartphones, etc.) simultaneously.

The keyboard features a full numeric keypad, MacOS shortcuts and the illuminated backlit keys have 10 levels of brightness to easily adjust to changing light environments. 

With Bluetooth 5.0, the keyboard connects to your device seamlessly and allows you to connect two more. This way you can have your computer, iPad and iPhone all connected at the same time. Obviously you won’t want to type on all three devices at the same time, the keyboard lets you toggle between devices.

It charges via USB-C for about 600 hours of use, which can vary depending on the backlit level used and measures 14.5-by-4.7-by-0.4-inches with  a space gray finish with black keys. $79.99

Twelve South’s Curve aluminum one-piece laptop stand elevates your laptop to a healthier, more comfortable ergonomic height for viewing the screen.

The stand is a perfect place to park your laptop while using it with a Bluetooth keyboard, Wacom tablet, connecting it to an external monitor or just place it right next to your desktop monitor for an instant dual-screen setup. Non-slip silicone grips are on the bottom and arms so everything stays in place.

When using the Curve (5.8-by-10.3-by-8-7-inches, 1.43-pounds, $49.99), it elevates your laptop an ergonomic standard 6.5-inches off your desk, allowing you to sit up straight and look directly at the screen. Now you’re positioned with less tension in your neck and shoulders.

The elevated position also allows laptops to breath better with maximum airflow instead of sitting flat on a desk and getting hot, which causes the computer processor to work harder.

Twelve South also has the HiRise Wireless 3-way wireless charger to keep your cell phone in a comfortable desktop view.

The charger ($59.99) has a gunmetal chrome finish built with a back for Qi-enable mobile phone charging, keeping your smartphone upright and having the screen facing you for viewing. Smartphones with the wireless charging feature will charge with the fast charging up to 10-watts, even through most phone cases

It’s also built with a wireless charging pad for AirPods; just pop out the Qi-certified power disc and put the case on top for charging. 

When the 3.43-by-2.24-by-.47-inch disc is removed it works perfectly as a USB-C portable wireless charger for when your mobile. A USB-C to USB-A removable power cable is included.

Gadgets :: March 11, 2020

by Gregg Ellman

Anker’s brand new over-the-ear headphones, the Soundcore Life Q20, are packed with features at a reasonable price.

With over-the-head 9.3-ounces headphones, they can have the best sound in the world, but if they aren’t comfortable, people will not wear them. The Q20’s instantly passed my comfort test with memory foam ear cups and the headband, which has rotating joints to automatically adjust up to 90-degrees for a customized fit based on the shape of your head.

The headphones are packed with features including hybrid active noise cancellation and a user-friendly battery life of 60 hours of audio with the ANC off and 40 hours with it on. With the ANC on, the headphones can detect and essentially cancel a wide range of background noises with low and mid-frequencies including street noise, airplane engines, etc.

Anker technology in the headphones features Life Q20’s certified Hi-Res Audio, delivering the music crystal clear with a natural sound from custom 40 mm dynamic drivers in each ear cup.

Giving it a boost of bass is easy with the BassUp Technology, defined as “a customized algorithm to perform real-time analysis on your music and intensify the low frequencies for hard-hitting beats” To activate, just double press the play button on the side of the ear.

The power button is on the ear cup and doubles for activating Bluetooth 5 to easily pair the headphones with your device and they also have built-in microphones for handsfree calls. Charging takes about three hours (microUSB) but you can use them wired with the included 3.5 mm AUX cable. A travel pouch is included. $59.99

Ultimate Ears has launched the brand’s biggest, loudest and bassiest speaker yet with the Hyperboom.

With the booming bass, the party-happy speaker has a wide dynamic range that brings your music to life, rendering every note in rich detail, and a USB rechargeable 24-hour battery. Inside the speaker is adaptive EQ so it reads the environment and automatically adjusts the sound to fill any space.

The Hyperboom (14.33-by-7.5-by-7.5-inches) supports two Bluetooth, one 3.5 mm auxiliary and one optical audio connection to play music from your phones, laptop or gaming console, and switch between them with the press of a button.

It’s built with a splash-proof PX4 rating and a built-in USB charge-out port will charge your smartphone. On-speaker controls allow you to play, pause and skip tracks and access playlists from Apple Music, Spotify for Android, Amazon Music and Deezer Premium. $399.99

Kingston Digital Inc., has refreshed its Canvas series flash cards to Canvas Plus. The new SD and microSD lineup include Kingston’s first UHS-II cards.

To keep up with the transfer speeds, updates MobileLite Plus UHS-II readers will support the Canvas line of memory cards. The Canvas Plus SD and microSD memory cards are designed with increased performance for DSLRs, 4K/8K video production.

Canvas Plus offers three choices, Select Plus, Go! Plus, and React Plus for the latest high speed and large files, but they are also backwards compatible with UHS-I and conventional SD bus standards.

Kingston’s Canvas Select Plus SD and microSD cards store up to 512GB with class 10 speeds up to 100MB/s read.

The Canvas Go! Plus SD and microSD cards are Class 10 speeds up to 170MB/s read, 90MB/s write in capacities up to 512GB.

With the top of the line Canvas React Plus SD and microSD memory cards up to 256GB, you’ll have a Class 10 card with speeds up to 300MB/s read, 260MB/s write with the SD card and 285MB/s read, 165MB/s write with the mircoSD.

The pocket-size plug-and-play MobileLite Plus readers have UHS-II speeds for faster file transfers and processing time. MobileLite Plus readers will be available on their own or part of a bundle.

Prices vary by card and capacity, the Canvas React Plus 256GB SD is $266.50, while the Canvas Select Plus 32GB card is $7.99. The MobileLite Plus USB reader is $10.01

Gadgets :: March 4, 2020

by Gregg Ellman

It’s not as competitive as the shelves at your local big box electronic stores, but getting storage space in my travel backpack is competitive and definitely difficult to achieve. 

Sol Republic just released their first ANC true wireless earbuds with the Amps Air Plus, which are officially welcome to get some coveted backpack space.

The Bluetooth 5.0 earbuds are as impressive as any right out of the box with every feature you would want; sound, looks, comfort, portable, storage, battery life and easy setup.

True wireless is an interesting category since there’s so many features and each person I talk to says a different aspect is what’s most important when making a purchase.

Obviously the sound is critical and the Amps Air Plus shines. I’m not a sound professional but I know when I don’t like something. These I do like, playing perfect paired with my iPhone and  my Jimmy Buffet playlists. And even when I switched to more current playlists on Apple Music,  every selection had clear sound with a good amount of bass without banging my head.

With active noise control you can choose to have it on or off. When the ANC is on, outside ambient noise and sounds are greatly reduced, making them ideal for airplanes.

While it works well, there is an effect on the battery life with ANC. According to Sol Republic, out of the box Amps Air Plus have a 6-hour battery life with ANC on or 8 hours with it off.

When you combine the wireless earbuds with the included travel, charging battery case you can get the battery life up to 18 hours with ANC on and 24 without. The case also has USB-C connection quick charging, 15 minutes of charging will give you up to 2 hours of use. LED lights on the case are handy to see how much battery power is left.

The tap controls on the outside of the earbuds take a few tries to get used to but once familiar  it was simple to answer calls handsfree and control music choices. They have the pause play feature when you take them in and out of the ear, without having to actually hit play or pause. Just try it, you’ll find this feature amazing and useful.

An IPX4 rating makes them sweat and water-resistant, meaning splash-proof and heavy rain. But no taking for a swim or shower. Four sizes of ear tips are included to ensure a perfect fit and comfort. The earbud/case combinations are available in black, champagne and silver. $199.99 

As smart phones get bigger and bigger, so do their prices. To keep those phones sparkling shiny, clean and most important safe, Defense Brand has launched the Defense Shield series for the Samsung Galaxy S20, S20 Plus and S20Edge. 

They are built to withstand most any impact or drop, designed and tested to meet and exceed military standards (exceeds MIL-STD-810G standards). This should give you a safe drop from up to 10-feet on concrete.

The Defense Shield is available for al three new models ($29.99) and with a clear polycarbonate backing, you’ll still be able to show off the smartphone’s branding and logos of the Galaxy’s sleek design and color.

After you choose your case color with the one-piece anodized aluminum frame choices in black, iridescent or red, the case is user friendly with a simple on/off.

A soft rubber bumper along with a machined aluminum exterior frame combine with a 1 mm raised front lip gives the screen extra protection from scratch damage. The cases are also wireless charging compatible. 

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