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. 

Gadgets :: February 26, 2020

by Gregg Ellman

Charging is just a way of life and we all love it when we have a fully charged device. If  you use Nimble charging devices, you get a great performing product for portable power and great looks.

Nimble is an eco-friendly personal tech brand, making products from natural renewable sources, like plant-based plastics along with a sharp looking soft non-slip grip exterior made from recycled water bottles and organic hemp

I tried the wireless chargers, which are made in several versions. The Nimble wireless stand is simple; a portable battery with a kickstand to charge it vertically or keep the kickstand folded for flat charging. I loved the standing charger while traveling since I used my phone in clock mode on my hotels nightstand. 

The portable (5-by-3.03-by-0.65-inches) battery delivers 10W of power for Samsung and Androids and up to 7.5W of power to the Apple iPhone 8 or newer. There’s also an extra USB-A port to plug in another device needing a boost of power. A charging cable for the battery and a USB AC plug is included.

A nice Nimble feature: when you purchase a product from them, they send you a pre-paid return envelope so you can send them any electronics and they will recycle responsibly. 

The company makes a variety of other charging devices, smartphone cases and cables, all with the environment in mind. This includes 100 percent recycled scrap paper in their shipping boxes. $59.99

The Eufy Security, Wi-Fi Video Doorbell has a simple installation to your existing doorbell’s wiring and is packed with great home security features.

At 4.8-by-1.7-by-0.9-inches, the Eufy security camera doorbell ($159.99) is similar in size to other video doorbells but includes 4GB eMMC built-in storage. This allows up to 30 days of video with a standard of 30 videos a day of 30 seconds each, to be stored and accessed from the companion app. 

There’s no monthly fees or cloud subscription, and your data is stored with encryption. According to Eufy, the military-grade AES-256 chip ensures data is encrypted on transmission and storage.

The video doorbell comes with a pair of mounting plates and connects to your existing Wi-Fi with a 2.4GHz wireless router. It functions as a standard doorbell with a push ring and sends the ringing alert to the included wireless electronic chime in addition to sending a smartphone notifications letting you instantly know and see who is at the door. Each doorbell can be connect to up to four chimes.

When someone is at the door, you’ll see them through the Eufy Security app on your smartphone and respond live with two-way audio or send a pre-recorded response you previously set up back to your subject at the door. Up to three instant responses can be stored and sent upon your command.

Videos stored actually give you an additional three seconds of footage before the initial alert set off the recording. Often this can give insight into who’s approaching or other aspects of the situation. 

The 160-degree angle of view camera has HDR imaging, which allows it to adjust for low light or backlit situation. The image is captured in a 4:3 aspect ratio for a much bigger imaged compared to others offering a 16:9 ratio and a resolution of 2560 x 1920.

During the setup customization is in your control of the activity zone, which tells the camera where to detect motion.  The camera has technology to detect human faces and body shapes so you don’t get an alert when neighborhood pets go running by.

The Eufy Security, Wi-Fi Video Doorbell also connects to Alexa and Google Voice Assistant so you can check live views with a voice command.

As mentioned, installation is easy but you are dealing with live wires for power from your existing doorbell. So use caution; I turned off the power breaker during installation and recommend you do the same.

A battery powered model with many of the same features is also available ($199.99). 

Gadgets :: February 19, 2020

by Gregg Ellman

I have stress and wear earbuds often so I’m thinking Xen by Neuvana with stress reducing earbuds seems like a perfect combination. They are specifically designed to gently stimulate a branch of the vagus nerve after properly paired with the Neuvana App on your smartphone, 

They are a new wellness product designed to help improve sleep, reduce stress, boost your mood, and enhance your focus. One of the many great features is that the system can be used any time of the day. Just stay away from chores like as driving and any other machinery operating responsibilities within a half hour after use.

According to Xen, they were Invented by a top cardiac surgeon and backed by science. Xen uses a revolutionary platform that sends a gentle, calming electrical signal via patented earbuds, targeting a branch of the vagus nerve in the ear. This product syncs vagus nerve stimulation with your music and can easily be integrated into your daily routine, promoting balance and relaxation while commuting, working at your desk, watching TV, or just hanging out with friends.

So the plan and point here is what are they and what do they do

Once you are connected and working with your playlists, Xen has several wellness benefits, according to Neuvana. They are better sleep, which I’ll always get in the front of the line for. Using Xen before bedtime may improve the quality of your sleep.

For less stress, Xen may make stress more manageable and help your body recover from stressful events. With more tranquility, Xen may make you feel less anxious and help your body cope with the effects of stress.

And reduced cravings is just another request (there are more) you’ll get with using the Xen Box Set Tune in to Wellness. Xen may help you replace your cravings with positive thoughts, making it easier to avoid the negative things you crave.

The Xen’s come complete with a Xen, headphones with a USB-C connection, multiple sized ear-tips, stands, guides and charging hardware (USB-C). They are compatible with many iPhones iPod touches and Android devices with minimum of OS 5.

The setup is pretty straight forward, charging, connection, downloading and installing a companion app, pairing and using. The app walks you through the steps seamlessly, but you need to follow along as you’ll have a lot of options and service choices.

Neuvana recommends starting with 15-minute sessions twice a day and then increase the amount over time as your comfort level increases along with the time of the sessions.

As you become more accustomed to the product, you may gradually increase the time per session. To be on the safe side, Xen should not be used more than 30 minutes at a time.

The big question in my mind past setup and using is how I feel after a session. According to Xen, the electrical signal is described as tingling or tickling in the ear. The intensity can be adjusted up or down during your session, to your comfort level. Some Xen users describe a calm feeling within minutes of starting a session, and the calmness can last a half hour or more after the session ends. Many users find that daily use over a period of several weeks promotes a stronger sense of wellbeing.

But it is clearly pointed out by Xen, “If you have a medical condition and/or take prescription medications, you should talk to your doctor before purchasing or using Xen, and it’s designed and intended to use by individuals 18 years or older.”

Since this is a health product, I’ll try and stay away from a direct endorsement, I don’t have the medical education, but I’m always searching for an area to help me in categories like many mentioned above.

I have positive vibes from the Xen by Neuvana and look forward to a long term relationship of testing, followed by success. $399.99

Gadgets :: February 12, 2020

by Gregg Ellman

I remember years ago when I worked in cooperate America and conference rooms were the home away from home (let me politely say I don’t miss those days). With each meeting we struggled to get the conference call connected, the volume loud enough for us to hear those on the other end or keeping the built-in microphone close enough to pick up our voices. Whatever we did, it was a constant struggle.

With the Anker PowerConf Ultra Clear Bluetooth Speakerphone, those problems and frustrations are a thing of the past.

It’s perfect for businesses or school but I tested it for a family call and the clarity people hear us in with the 6 built-in microphone system was outstanding from anywhere in the room I spoke, regardless of the distance.. 

With the microphones, the voice pick up lets you walk and talk, sit close or further away. The Omni-Directional Voice Pickup has 360-degree voice coverage up to a 5 meter range for up to 8 people. Technology inside automatically balances voices for consistency in the volume, no matter the distance you are talking from the speakerphone.

After the call I questioned those on the other end about the clarity they heard me and unanimously it got rave reviews. During the call I even threw in some background music and crumpling paper noise to see if it upset the reception, which it didn’t. What makes the clarity is that Anker’s custom DSP algorithm offers real-time echo cancellation, de-reverberation, and background noise suppression to ensure your voice is picked up without distracting noises.

Setting it up is effortless, connecting via Bluetooth (v 5.0) to your smartphone or a computer (Windows 7, 8, 10, and macOS) via the USB-C connection. There’s no need for software or drivers and Anker says the PowerConf is compatible with all popular online conferencing services. This includes Skype, Google Hangout, Facetime, Zoom, WebEx, GotoMeeting, and Chromebox.

Controls of the 4.9-by-4.8-by-1.2-inch conference speaker are in the center of the sop sided speaker, including a multi-function button, volume, LED status and phone controls. On the sides are power, Bluetooth, USB and and audio output port. The speaker itself has a black finish on the grill cover.

With the PowerConf’s USB-C port, you can connect your smartphone for optimized speed charging from the internal 6,700mAh battery. The battery is rated to produce a week’s worth of calls, or 24 hours of call time on a single charge. 

A USB-C cable and a travel case are included. $129.99 

The versatile and cleaver Ohsnap phone grip attaches to the back of your smartphone case or the device itself to give you a perfect grip of your phone at any angle, rotating 360 degrees. 

When you want a finger grip, just snap out the long centered finger loop by pressing in the center and both ends pop up with the center portion keeping intact with the frame. When the ends are popped out, the center strip forms into a circular shape and hooks together making it perfect for holding it with a single finger.

When not needed, the silicone-coated grip snaps back in to a 2.7 mm thin profile along with pocket friendly smooth edges. That versatility is what sold me, on top of being about to try out the griping feature while it was still in its packaging.

If your smartphone wireless charges, all you do is slide out the center frame, when charging is completed, slide it back in.

When the Ohsnap is snapped out, it also works as a kickstand for handsfree viewing. The center is built with neodymium magnets, allowing it to stick to magnetic mounts, workout equipment or anything magnetic. 

According to the Ohsnap site, Ohsnap works with most cases, if your case is flat and is made of a hard material. The adhesive backing can be removed and a new one reinstalled. $29.99 available in 9 color choices. Additional sticky mounts (2-pack $5) and car mounts ($15) are also available

Gadgets :: February 5, 2020

by Gregg Ellman

Welock’s AI.X1 Smart Hidden Cabinet Lock, is a simple do-it-yourself kit to give a drawer added security.

The kit consists of a lock, which installs in an easy three-minute process inside the drawer with 3M tape, and without drills, holes or anything to damage the lock or cabinet. 

Bluetooth is built into the Smart Hidden Cabinet Lock to make a connection with your smartphone so the cabinet can be locked or unlocked in seconds with the We.Lock app (Android and iOS). 

I only used it for a short time so I didn’t run out the 3 AA batteries  but there’s a low battery reminder when they need to be replaced. If the batteries do go totally dead, the drawer will automatically open trouble-free.

Timers can also be set for convenience and access can be shared with others to unlock. The lock is made of anti-UV material (corrosion and wear resistant), which is aging resistant to ensure newness for long term. $26

The TMA-2 Modular Headphone System from AIAIAI is an interesting concept but first and foremost  produces great sound.

I’m not into head banging sound at high volume; instead I prefer a medium sound  level as long as it’s crystal clear and comfortable (which is as important as the sound). And right off the bat my sample of TMA-2 HD Bluetooth  headphones gave me exactly that so they were a winner in my book.

My sharp looking and lightweight TMS-2 HD wireless sample ($350 Bluetooth, $295 wireless) have a modular design of S05 40mm drivers, E08 earpads and a H05 Bluetooth headband. I indulged the model numbers, that will make sense as you read on.

While my TMA-2 HD headphone were perfect for me, the AIAIAI  allows you to choose the pieces you want in your customized headphones based on your listening and how they are going to be used and of course, your budget.

The TMA-2 modular headphones are available in more than 1,000 combinations and wireless versions will give you about 16 hours of battery life. Each part of the headphones is modular enabling you to swap out the speakers, headband and ear cups to get your preferred sound, fit and feel.

When ordering the headphones on the AIAIAI site, you’ll see choices and recommendations for users on the move, DJs, In the studio and at the office.

Speaker choices with 40 mm drivers ($65 to $130), include neutral, punchy, warm, vibrant and detailed, with each having a sound description. The top of the line S05 speakers are 40mm drivers engineered with a speaker diaphragm made from stiff Bio-Cellulose for more defined high-frequency details, more pronounced mid-range, better dynamics, and more natural tonality, according to AIAIAI

Six choices of headbands ($30 to $125) range from Slim with PU foam padding light weight Polycarbonate headband with soft durable PU foam head padding up to high-end H06 Bluetooth headband with built-in microphone. High quality audio transmission and 20h playback time for wireless sound.

Ear cups have four choices ($25 – $55) ranging from on-ear cushion covered in microfiber for direct and open sound representation, good for all-round purposes. The E08 Alcantara, over ear ultra soft memory foam cushion is covered with Alcantara for better comfort and isolation.

If you go wireless, obviously you don’t need a cord. But if you go corded, you have choices ($25 – $50)  in colors, coiled, length or straight, microphones and controllers.

While making your selections of each feature, an animated version of your choices is put together right in front of your eyes, with a description of your choices and details on what the sound will be listed in treble, mids and bass.

Or you can’t go wrong with the TMA-2 HD Wireless right out of the box. 

Gadgets : January 29, 2020

by Gregg Ellman

A friend of mine in the tech world always uses the expression “bigger, better and faster” when he describes a new product he likes.

Well, I’m going to use that exact same line to describe the CamRanger 2 for digital SLR cameras because this new wireless tethering and remote camera control for working with large images is indeed bigger, better and faster for delivering pictures quickly from your camera.

In recent years, one of the biggest obstacles professional photographers faced was getting images out of high end digital SLR cameras wirelessly as they are captured. And while most of the new cameras do have Wi-Fi capabilities, it’s often not a smooth process when you consider the size of these image files and the distance they need to be moved from camera to say, a work computer or printer.

Full disclosure, I work as a professional photographer; it’s all I’ve done for over 30 years and I’m in that group who have encountered this challenging issue.

While testing the CamRanger 2, I put it through two totally different assignments. The first was a corporate holiday event, where I had my assistant shoot images and the CamRanger 2 sent them to me wirelessly (about 50 feet separated us). Once I got the images, I had to make 4×6-inch prints for employees before they left the event.

In the past I’ve used other wireless devices along with just swapping out memory cards. These systems worked but there was typically a hiccup somewhere to slow the system causing me to wait unnecessarily for images to print. 

After just a few minutes with the CamRanger 2 I knew this was a game changer. Images were quickly flowing into my computer waiting to be printed, which was exactly what I needed.

The second test was the real one in my mind. I mounted the CamRanger 2 on my camera that was mounted in the rafters of an arena over a basketball hoop during a college game. I’ve done this many times over the years and unless I had a direct plugged in Ethernet connection, I often ran into issues going the wireless route to move the volume of the high res images the distance I needed and in a timely manner.

From the first test while setting it up to the post game images, everything worked as planned sending the large file JPG images to my computer, which was court side.

One great feature is the 4.2-by-2.7-by-1.2-inch, 5.6-ounce CamRanger 2 has a removable 3300 mAh rechargeable Lithium ion battery, which is good for about 5 hours of use. But since I was working in the rafters of an arena I had to set it up long before anyone else was there, which results in needing it powered up for about 7 hours. It’s normal battery wouldn’t last long enough. I needed another solution.

Image :: Gregg Ellman

After speaking with the owner of the company, he told me all I had to do is connect a portable external USB battery (not included). Once connected that solved my issue, since I couldn’t actually change the CamRangers battery during the game. The battery level is displayed in the app.

Another feature that makes this a great tool for wireless photography is setting it up. I didn’t time the setup exactly but it didn’t take long. Once you have it powered up, it works up to 5 times faster vs previous models on dual-band Wi-Fi (2.4 and 5 GHz) with a 500-foot range . Choose CamRanger in your wireless settings on a laptop, tablet or smartphone and then enter your password.

You’ll need the free CamRanger 2 companion app, which works on iOS, Android, MacOS and Windows. The app downloads RAW and JPG images, has live view, RAW or quick RAW mode, social media upload, edit/crop images and view and options change camera settings, to name a few of the features. 

The power button is on the side with the USB and Ethernet ports. Fold out antennas are on top and there’s also a low of indicator lights for power and connections.

If your camera is supported by the CamRanger 2 that means you have a USB connection, which are different depending on the camera. That connection is how your images are sent from the camera to the CamRanger 2 and then to your laptop, tablet or smartphone.

You have several options for actually mounting the CamRanger 2 to your camera. I used the new CamRanger hot shoe mount (where you would put a flash) but there are other options available with a mounting clamp, thread it to the cameras standard tripod mount or even keep it in the included hard protective case and carabina it to your camera strap. There’s no right or wrong, whatever works for your situation as long as the USB cable is connecting the two.

The CamRanger 2 has a built in SD/SDHC/SDXC memory card slot, which can store your images and can also be viewed in the app or just use the card as a backup.

Bigger, better, faster. $349.99, a full list of supported cameras is on the CamRanger site

Gadgets :: January 22, 2020

by Gregg Ellman

The Capstone Connected brings efficiency to a whole new level with the launch of the magical Capstone Connected Smart Mirror, designed to bridge the gap between technology and everyday life

While brushing your teeth, you can simultaneously have the mirror give you your local news, get your coffee brewing, check the traffic before your day begins and then turn the lights off as you head out.

The smart mirror looks like a mirror, with a modern design making it perfect for a bathroom, bedroom, entryway or hallway. It hangs like a traditional mirror or use it on the included stand on any flat surface.

But what makes the mirror so smart is that it performs and functions just like a tablet with both touchscreen and voice interfaces for internet access. Android operating system is built in to download apps and use Google Voice Assistant for hands-free tasks and browse social media.

And if you have multiple people using  the mirror, each user can modify and customize the Smart Mirror to fit their personal experience with browsers, apps and short cuts accessed with a simple, “Hey Google, Good Morning.” 

According to Capstone, the mirrors’ functionality is driven by the Capstone Connected Control Hub, which is integrated into the mirror through its proprietary docking feature to access anything you would access through your smartphone or tablet. The Hub can be used to set up music playlists, messaging apps, social media profiles and much more when connected to your home Wi-Fi.

The smart mirror was on display earlier this month at the Consumer Electronic Show in Las Vegas and is available in a 19-by-22-inch  inch size for $599. More sized options will be available at later dates.

And if you choose, you can have the Moshi SnapTo magnetic wireless charger hang right next to the smart mirror. First and foremost the SnapTo is a Qi-certified wireless charger but also one of most versatile charging systems you can own.

It’s designed to exclusively work with Moshi SnapTo smartphone cases, which connect to the charger for the boost of power. The case includes a 3M wall mount kit to hang wherever you charging is done, while also being able to give you full access to the smartphones screen.

Once the wall mount kit is in place, just drop in the SnapTo cased phone for viewing and charging. The charger can also be used on a flat surface as a horizontal viewing stand to watching videos and playing games.

I had it mounted on the side of my nightstand, which instantly showed me my alarm clock is even more obsolete than I knew already, since my alarm app and clock display on my smartphone was now facing me, while charging up overnight for the next day.

Moshi also has the SnapTo car mount with wireless charging, so having the SnapTo case gives compatibility to both (sold separately).

The Qi wireless charge is fast charging up to 10w. Moshi SnapTo smartphone cases are available individually or in bundled packages. $49.95

The Catalyst premium slim case for AirPods Pro will give your wireless earbuds a little colorful style but also a layer of protection. 

They protective case covers your AirPods case like a glove, are built with military grade impact protection to withstand drops and rolling around in bags or backpacks.  The case is also fully compatible with wireless charging.

A pass-through port on the bottom allows you to connect your charging cable to keep them charged up and the style comes from the choice of seven bright colors. $19.99, available for Pre-Order with an early February delivery expected

Gadgets :: January 15, 2020

by Gregg Ellman

Practical or impractical, here are some items from last week’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas that caught my attention.

Finding what you want to watch on TV can be a challenge with the number of programming, streaming services and channels to choose from but the Dabby from DabKick is set to simplify it for you. No more trying to figure out which TV box, app or station your favorite show is on, Dabby does it for you. The freestanding device at quick glance looks like a table with a built-in kickstand. Just tell Dabby what you want to watch and it will find it from your services. The futuristic home entertainment device eliminates the need for existing remotes and upon command it’s patented Content AI engine, which uses a combination of user-friendly touch and voice capabilities, instantly searches, finds and plays your TV selection or social media content. $399

Motion Pillow’s 2nd generation pillow to assist snorers will be available this April after a successful Indiegogo campaign. I’m a snorer (so I’m told) and I got to rest my head on the pillow but falling asleep on the CES trade show floor was impossible. Setting it up is plug-and-play with a charging box connected to the pillow. It will detect the unique rhythmic snoring sounds of the snorers once the head and pillow make a bedtime connection. The pillow detects the head’s position and will gently inflate internal airbags to reposition the sleeper’s head, slightly moving the neck to improve airflow though the nose and temporarily silencing the snoring. An accompanying app analyzes your snoring data so when you awake, you’ll know what others had to hear. $420

Smardii is developing a smart diaper to be the future of elder care along with newborns with a reusable, rechargeable, and waterproof device that can be monitored and will send alerts through SmardiiStation, a single web-based application. There are two parts to the Smardii: disposable sensors embedded into a brief layer, and a reusable, rechargeable, waterproof disk called the Puck. It detects urine, stool, temperature, body positioning, and runs a real-time urinalysis, sending the information collected wirelessly. It collects and analyses critical health metrics for medical staff to look at and hopefully lead to a better quality of life and prevent other problems.

I’m a big fan of the comeback vinyl records has made, which is still evident on the CES show floor with many companies displays turntables. But one company, Tangible Formats, has taken it a step further by offering a service to cut custom vinyl records for anyone needing quantities with no minimum order. There’s a bunch of options to choose from; one choice is a custom 12-inch vinyl record for $60 (7 and 10-inch also available). It includes up to 22 minutes of audio per side, full color labels and cover fold over, an inner white paper sleeve and an outer clear poly sleeve. I watched Tangible Formats making records in minutes and the final product looked perfect, just like advertised, with the durability, look, and sound of pressed vinyl. 

Stopskate calls EBS 480 electronic brake system for inline skates the brake you’ve always dreamed of. It’s a system built by the new company with a mission to effectively, reliably and safely brake in-line skates. They want to put a stop to falls, abrasions, fractures and other unpleasant injuries caused from inline skate falls. The brake system consists of a remote control and two brake calipers, one for the right skate and the other on the left skate. A remote control simultaneously controls both brake calipers to brake the wheels of both skates simultaneously and smoothly. Both calipers run off of rechargeable Li-Ion batteries for two to four hours of use. $249

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