Archive for May 2020

GADGETS :: May 27, 2020


by Gregg Ellman
(@greggellman)

Even with the lockdown starting to lift, our hours at home are more than ever, so what better time to turn some of those great, priceless photos you have stored on your iPhone into a coffee table photo book. Think of vacations, graduations, birthdays, anniversaries or just a selected period of time. Any group of images will work.

Storing photos digitally is the way go compared to the closet full of prints my mom had in shoe boxes.  If you’re like me, you have photos taken over the course of time in your iPhone, which when combined would make a great photo book to give the images a permanent, personalized home that’s easily accessible.

I recently did just that with a Motif, using the photo roll on my iPad, which is synced with my iPhone to produce a hardcover 24-page 11-by-8.5-inch book.

To start the project, the first thing I did was find all the photos for the subject of my book (I chose my first boat as my theme) and put them in their own folder the iOS photo app. 

Next, I got the Motif iOS for iPhones or iPad or the Motif for macOS app for laptop or desktop. Once downloaded, choose the type of book you want among sizes; hardcover choices are 13-by-10, 11-by-8.5, 10-by-10 and 8-by-8 inches. Softcover sizes are 11-by-8.5, 8-by-6 and 8-by-8 inches.

After creating my account, using the app was easy once I selected my photos for the book.  The app connects to your photo folders, where you choose what you want in the book. Overall it’s an easy app to navigate with a user-friendly dashboard and screen shot examples of what all the choices will look like

I let the Motif app organize the images, which took just no time at all. According to Motif, the app uses Its smart technology to select your very best images with optimal focus, clarity, lighting, people, image orientation, panoramas, and more.

In a few steps, the app evaluated image content of my selections and then gave me a screen with all the images and checkmarks for the choices the software thought were best.

I thought the automation gave me a great starting point, but it also allowed for customization so I did change a bunch of things like the order of a few pictures and swapping out a few pictures entirely. The app made it easy to make these changes.


Next was the choice of the book theme; you’ll see samples of each image, how many on a page with different layouts and designs. There’s no right or wrong here, it’s whatever you like and want.

After you choose the book style, it gives you a full layout of the book with the chosen  images.

You can re-crop the images or change them entirely for full customization. Either is simple to do. Other options include adding type or text, background colors, professionally designed themes and patterns to the entire project, all left pages, all right pages or alternating.

The high quality covers can be personalized with a photo and a title on the front and side spine. Overall, I thought the quality of the produce was of high standards including the premium paper and the entire craftsmanship of the album.

A few days later, the book of memories arrived at my doorstep, encased in a protective sleeve.

Motif states on their home page: ‘’Your Best Memories Just Got Better’’. I can absolutely agree after I had my completed book. The only problem is now I have a few more books I need to do, but I have the time.

www.motifphotos.com prices vary based on book sizes

GADGETS :: May 20, 2020

by Gregg Ellman
(@greggellman)

Despite everything else, the summer kicks off this Memorial Day weekend and there’s some great gadgets to ensure your fun in the sun has perfect sound,  is well-charged and even keeps your beverages chilled.

Ultimate Ears Hyperboom is party ready with the most powerful sound I’ve seen from a portable wireless speaker. Yea, it’s big with a 14.33-by-7.5-by-7.5-inches size, but a carrying handling makes the 13-pound speaker portable.

With booming bass, the party-happy speaker has a wide dynamic range to bring music to all ends of your party. During my testing, trust me that my neighbors heard Jimmy Buffet playing loud and clear several houses away.

The USB rechargeable 24-hour battery charges in 2.6 hours and the Hyperboom has  adaptive EQ so it reads the environment and automatically adjusts the sound to fill any space.

With the latest Bluetooth, it can store and remember up to 8 paired devices so playlists can come from many sources. A splash-proof IPX4 lets it sit poolside and the BOOM app lets you customize the sound and more.

A top sided one-touch control button changes the music controls the volume and accesses music services. Covered ports include a USB charge out, optical input, aux input and power.

www.ultimateears.com $399.99

Size wise, the Jabra Elite active 75t true wireless earbuds are small enough to fit in each ear but deliver powerful and simply fantastic sound with innovative features. 

Jabra’s new HearThrough technology lets you use a slider to adjust how much of the outside world you want to hear. It’s pretty amazing how easy and well it worked in different environments. 

The durable earbuds with 6 mm speakers and passive noise cancellation in each side are summer-ready IP57-rated, which actually makes them fully waterproof up to 1-meter so workout sweat and splashes are not a problem. With the included storage USB-C charging case, they will last for up to 28 hours of playback, which is also aided by a low-power Bluetooth 5.0 chipset and an intelligent power management system.

Jabra’s latest technology, Jabra MyControls will allow for full customization in each ear and Jabra MySound creates an innovative customizing experience for the sound for specific users.

Auto power on/off and auto pause music are some of my favorite features and four built-in microphones make them great for handsfree calls. Access to voice assistants are made with a touch of a button on an earbud. There’s also an option (additional $30) to add a wireless charging case.

www.jabra.com $199


Other great gadgets to round out the summer season include the Kanex GoBuddy+. It’s built with a bottle opener surrounded by a USB cable with a standard USB-A port on one end and an Apple certified Lightning ChargeSync cable on the other.

When the cables are not in need it tucks away in the perimeter of the opener. The tangle-free cable extends to 6-inches and a carabiner clip is included for attaching to a belt or backpack.

www.kanex.com $3.99


Pelican Products, yes the same company that manufactures the world’s elite high-performance protective cases, has launched a lineup of rugged-and-ready tumblers specially designed to withstand the rigors of everyday life. 

The new Pelican Dayventure Tumblers are available in three sizes 10-, 16- and 22-ounces ($19.95, $24.95 and $29.95, respectively), with a choice of five colors (black, canyon red, pacific blue, seafoam and silver) with a sweat-proof powder finish. Each will fit 99 percent of all car cup holders and will take care of your beverage’s cold or hot retention.

Each are made with 18/8 pro grade stainless steel, vacuum-sealed and double-walled to withstand the regular bumps and drops of everyday life and to meet the standards Pelican is known for. A built-in loop makes for easy backpack attachment.

www.pelican.com 

Portable power is a must for any season and there’s none more ready for sand, water and adventures than the myCharge Adventure H20 15000 mAh portable charging battery.

With an IP67 waterproof rating, it can withstand dirt and dust as strong as any and water to a depth of 3-feet for up to 30 minutes. The exterior is built with a shockproof  rubber finish and a built-in carabiner keeps it within reach.

The battery has 15000 mAh making it ideal for up to 8 extra charges for the average smartphone battery according to myCharge. It can power wireless speakers, digital cameras, watches or anything else needing some power on-the-go. There’s 2 built-in USB ports and 2.4A of output for power hungry tablet.

Other features include smart-sense technology to ensure device compatibility and safe cell for safe charging.

www.mycharge.com $59.99

GADGETS :: MAY 13, 2020

by Gregg Ellman
(@greggellman)

With so many professionals switching to work at home lifestyles, Jabra’s timing couldn’t be better with the recent release of the Evolve2 65. The office headset has every feature you’ll need, including outstanding audio quality on both ends of the call.

Jabra has always been an industry leader with their audio headsets’ superior battery life and the Bluetooth Evolve2 65 is no different with specs listing up to 37 hours of use per charge. If that’s not enough for your meeting, I’ll say it for you, you’re meeting is too long, way too long.

Getting a full USB charge for 37 hours of use takes 90 minutes and with the fast charge feature 15 minutes of charging will be good for 8 hours.

The Evolve2 65 is equally a headset to receive audio and hardware with three strategically placed powerful professional microphones in the headset (one in the right ear cup and two in the movable boom arm) for your verbal participation.

Another feature Jabra always incorporates is comfort, which is the case here. The soft memory foam cushioned ear cups mold to your head so they can be worn comfortably for hours.  Inside the headset is a 40 mm speaker for each ear, with audio quality playing music in my ears with the highest standards of clarity or listening to meeting voices I can understand the first time.

The way Jabra has angled the ear cups helps with passive noise cancellation to block out your surroundings. I wore the headphones in and around my house and then outside to expose myself to as different noise environments as possible in a short time. The PNC worked great, just as Jabra calls it to “Soundproof your ears.”

With the free Jabra Direct Software companion app, it’s easy to personalize the headsets music and calls and keep your headset registered for any updates.

I didn’t have any straight forward work conference calls, but I did manage a Zoom call with some friends who felt I would get tossed out of the weekly happy hour if I kept upping the technology game with better equipment like the Evolve2 65’s to make me sound better.  

So then I used it to make a standard call and the first thing I was asked was “did you get a new phone?” In this case I haven’t; it was the headset but that was all I needed to know about the superior quality.

A really cool feature Jabra has added to the headset, a Busylight, can be viewed as a built-in security guard. The red light is built into both sides of the headset, automatically activated and visible from any direction. This warns anyone in your area that you’re on a call if they want to nag you about lunch or something else not worth being interrupted over. The Busylight can also be activated manually with a push of a button.

Bluetooth Pairing is easy, and can be done with multiple devices but only one at a time. The Jabra Evolve2 65 headset is certified for Microsoft teams.

A stereo model is $249, mono is $239. A charging stand can be added for either for $50 more. You’ll also have to specify USB-A or USB-C for connectivity.

www.jabra.com 

Another great device for current quarantine and isolation lifestyles (and even perfect for when we are all set free) is the clckr grip and stand case.

The patented phone stand and hand grip works on flat surfaces in portrait and landscape angles or in your hand with a firm, secure hold.

Overall it’s pretty simple. There’s not a lot to it, yet it works perfect and doesn’t cost much _ a perfect gadget in my mind. Think of a PopSocket, which I never was a fan of, only better. 

You have a choice of several colors and pattern cases and grips available as a package or individually choose from for matching any personality.  The grips can be applied directly to a case or right to the phone with the included clear sticker. 

The cases are drop tested 6.6-feet and are listed as wireless charging compatible. 

www.clckr.com bands start at $14.99, case/band combos $29.95

GADGETS :: May 6, 2020

by Gregg Ellman
(@greggellman)

True, those incredibly popular true wireless white earbuds are great, but are they the best? If I was going to give another pair, which gives them a run for the money, the nod goes to Sennheiser and the new Momentum True Wireless 2 earbuds.

And before I get into details, the Momentum True Wireless 2 earbuds are available in black and now in white.

I’ve said in this space many times, Sennheiser doesn’t miss on headphones, earbuds or anything with sound quality. And add the Momentum True Wireless 2 earbuds to the list; they delivered and exceeded any expectations I had for the compact, portable sound machines.

The second generation of Sennheiser’s Momentum true wireless series produces crystal clear audio from 7 mm dynamic drivers. For days I left the sound as is right out of the box since it seemed perfect. 

Then with the built-in equalizer and Sennheiser’s smart control App (iOS and Android), I tuned the sound for a more personalization to my ears for the variety of my playlists. The personalized sound gives each user an option to make it what works best for them and goes so far as choosing which ear you tap to answer a call (microphones on both ears).

With Active Noise Cancellation technology on, much of the outside noise is blocked so you hear what you want. Specifically, Sennheiser describes it as when greater situational awareness is needed, the Transparent Hearing feature lets you blend in outside ambient sound at a touch, so you can have natural conversations in comfort without needing to remove the earbuds.

The new true wireless earbuds are designed with comfort for all-day use and have improved ergonomics, 2 mm smaller size than the previous model. Wearing them all day was no problem for me; I finally took them out after 7 hours of playback time to give the built in Lithium-Ion rechargeable batteries a charge in the portable USB-C charging case. 

With the case, you’ll get a total of about 28 (7 from the earbuds, 21 more from the case) hours of on the go power to keep them playing. One and a half hours of charging will give you a full charge or if your need something faster, 10 minutes of charging will get you and hour and a half of playback. 

Touch controls on both earbuds are customizable to control handsfree calls, music selections, pausing and volume. Voice assistants have a one touch access. On the outside of the slick looking earbuds, with a high-quality metallic finish, is the iconic Sennheiser spin design. On the bottom side are gold-plated charging pins, which make contact with the charging case.

With auto-pause, just take the earbuds out of your ears and the music stops, put them back in and it starts again. 

Four sets of silicone ear adapter sets (XS/S/M/L) are included to ensure the right fit. With an IPX4 rating they are splash resistant.

https://en-us.sennheiser.com $299.95

Charging is just a way of life, home, work, play and even hospital bedsides. Different chargers for Apple Watches are one area that has blossomed into a great variety of accessories,  

When I got my hands on Satechi’s new USB-C Magnetic Charging Dock for Apple Watch ($44.99), I knew it was a winner.

Not only does it fit the bill for charing, but it fits my favorite category of ready for travel with its small compact size. The 1.73-by-2-by-0.45-inches, 0.31-pounds sized charger features an Apple Watch certified charging plate in squared device with a space gray aluminum finish. 

One side has a USB-C connector, which connects to any USB source providing power. Thats it, there nothing to wind up or tie together.

First and foremost, the charing works perfect.  With its USB-C connection built in, it plugs directly into your computer, USB-C tablets, AC wall plug or with an extension cable like the Satechi USB-C to USB-C extension 9-inch cable ($12.99) to give it a little extra reach.

$44.99

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