Last August Kathleen reviewed the TaoTronics Elune Dimmable LED Desk Lamp, a small task lamp that used LEDs instead of traditional light bulbs. LEDs are very energy efficient, last longer than regular light bulbs and don’t generate a lot of heat. Fast forward to now and we have the aerelight which features OLEDs instead of regular LEDs. What are OLEDs?
Organic light emitting diode (OLED) is the next-generation of energy-efficient lighting, generating natural light by passing electricity through a thin layer of carbon-based organic dyes. OTI Lumionics started Aerelight Design with an exclusive focus on OLED light to demonstrate that the technology is finally ready for the consumer market. While the technology has been successfully implemented into high-end smartphone displays in the last few years, the launch of the aerelight desk lamp marks the first consumer-ready OLED lamp at an affordable price.
The aerelight OLED lamp provides a warm, natural light and works well as a source of task lighting. The anodized aluminum frame responds to taps to toggle power and dim the lamp. This lamp also features a base that has a built in Qi wireless charging pad, allowing any Qi-compatible device to charge by placing it on the base. The aerelight desk lamp is available to pre-order for $239 at aerelight.com.
The Cargo Works 13″ MacBook EDC Kit might be marketed towards MacBook owners, but this zippered bag is perfect for any 13 inch laptop. It offers a separate zippered section for the computer and multiple pockets and Molle strips inside and outside the bag so you can attach your favorite EDC items. Let’s check it out. [click to continue…]
Apparently, jewelry for your fitness tracker is the new thing. I found a seller on Etsy that offers metal bracelets, necklaces, and even a little purse for Fitbit trackers; they also have some accessories for the Jawbone Up and the Garmin Vivofit. The Jeanene is an example of a bracelet for the Fitbit Flex. The tracker fits inside this 1″ wide bracelet (6.75″ inner circumference), so no one will know you’re wearing a fitness tracker. You’ll be able to wear your tracker with office attire, casual clothes, or even more formal attire. The Jeanene is $39.99. FUNKtionalWearables has hundreds of other options, with prices starting around $20.00.
I love iced coffee drinks from Starbucks, but they do get expensive, especially when you have three coffee drinkers in the family. You can make your own iced coffee drinks from coffee you brew at home with the Zoku Iced Coffee Maker and save tons of money. You just pour fresh-brewed coffee into the pre-chilled travel container, put on the special insulating sleeve, and you’ll have a perfectly chilled coffee – or tea – drink in just a few minutes. The mug is BPA- and phthalate-free, and it comes with a tight-fitting, spill-resistant lid and a durable acrylic sipping straw.
The Zoku Iced Coffee Maker mug is $29.95 exclusively at Williams-Sonoma.
I have trouble keeping my earphones in my ears while working out and constantly have to reposition them which is indeed an exercise in futility! Decibullz Custom Molded Earphone Adapters are an elegant, inexpensive solution to this tedious problem. You can replace your standard silicone tips from earphones that have a straight nozzle with these that are perfectly molded to your ears. These adapters are molded by placing them in three inches of boiling water for five minutes one at a time (two will stick together). You then remove it with a metal spoon (the softened material will stick to other material) and place it on a towel for 30 seconds (not a paper towel because again it will stick) until it is cool enough to handle. Once it has cooled, snap it onto the correct side earphone, then using a mirror, mold it to the area of your ear that surrounds the ear canal (the concha), and let it rest in your ear for five minutes. If you don’t get it right the first time, you can remold it again and again until you do. If the mold covers or alters the sound of your headphones, it can be removed by using a hair dryer. There are two sizes from which to choose. The BZ100 set will fit earphones like Jaybird Bluebuds X, Plantronics Backbeat GO 2 , Skullcandy Smokin’ Buds, LG Tone Pro HBS-750 , and Samsung Galaxy S5 Earphones. The BZ200 set will fit earphones like Soul Republic JAX, Beats by Dre Ur Beats, Earpollution Plugz, and JVC: Marshmallow. For more information or to purchase a pair for $14.99, please visit www.decibullz.com.
Last spring I helped back SnapRays, a Kickstarter project for a wall outlet cover plate with built in auto-illuminating LEDs. The project was a big success and they actually delivered the products to their backers on time, which has not been the norm for most of the projects I have backed in the past. Now they are back one year later with another Kickstarter project. This time it’s the SnapPower Charger, a wall outlet cover plate that adds a USB charging port. You might say “Hey Julie, this isn’t new, we’ve seen USB ports built into wall outlets for a few years now”. You would be right in saying that, but the SnapPower Charger is different because it uses the same easy to install design as the SnapRays. No wiring needed. Just remove the existing cover plate, slide the SnapPower Charger plate in its place and screw it down. That’s it. Now you have a 1A USB charger that can be used to charge your phone, tablet, etc without needing a bulky AC adapter aka wall wart. The cover plate is compatible with standard duplex and decor outlets that have exposed screw terminals, but is not compatible with Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) outlets that you find in bathrooms.
You can buy one SnapPower Charger for $12 or a 2-pk for $20. These are early bird pledge deals, so the price will go up a bit once those deals are gone. For more info visit the SnapPower Charger Kickstarter page.
When reviewing headphones, earphones and speakers, there is always one constant throughout: A music source. Whether it’s vinyl, CD, iTunes, music burned in Apple Lossless, FLAC, Spotify/Pandora or even FM radio, the music has to come from somewhere. Then there’s the music player: iPhone/Android smartphone, various iPods, digital audio players, computer, home stereo. As you can see, there are countless variations that can—and do—affect the audio quality of your music. My personal source is Apple Lossless burned from my own CD collection played on a Fiio X3 digital audio player or iPod Classic (slowly morphing into my iPhone as progress marches on). The huge drawback to this is that if I want to try a certain artist without committing, I have to sample it in iTunes, stream it or just buy it. Streaming is a great way to sample and listen to music, but the free services stream music at a ridiculously low bit rate—plus there’s ads. No one should ever determine the sound quality of a headphone while listening to streaming. Until now. Welcome to TIDAL.
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Several companies sell modules that you can plug in between the wall outlet and your device to monitor how much power it uses. That’s great, but you can monitor energy usage by plugging your device directly into the Outlink wall outlet. Outlink replaces your current wall outlet. The bottom socket is standard, and the top socket is smart. You’ll need to pair the Outlink with either a Wink Relay ($300) or a Wink Hub ($50), but then you’ll be able to access information about the power usage of the smart socket with your smart phone. You can set a budget for energy use and get a notification when that limit is reached, you can program the smart outlet to power on and off on a schedule, or you can remotely turn the outlet on or off – no more worrying if you unplugged the iron before heading off to work.
The Outlink outlet is $50 at Quirky. You can also purchase the associated Wink Relay or Hub from Quirky.
It’s not Qi, but the juice pack dock from mophie does charge your iPhone and its juice pack battery case without plugging in a cable. Just drop the iPhone (wearing its juice pack) into the dock, and the pins in the bottom of the dock mate up with charging points on the bottom of the case to make the charging connection. The iPhone is held at a slightly slanted position in the dock, which is perfect for using Face Time or interacting with the touchscreen. The dock is weighted for stability, and it comes in sizes to fit the iPhone 5/5s/5c, iPhone 6, and the iPhone 6 Plus. It’s available in silver, gold, or black; not all colors are available for all phones. The juice pack dock starts at $49.95 from mophie.
LEGO fans young and old will love BrickStix reusable stickers. These removable and restickable decals can be used over and over again to customize your LEGO creations without leaving a yucky sticky residue. BrickStix are available in a wide variety of sticker packs that range from Zombies to Space, Signs, Comics and more. Each sticker pack includes various sized decals that use low tack adhesive or static cling to stick to the LEGO bricks. Prices start at $4.99 for smaller packs and go up to $36 for mega sized packs. For more info visit BrickStix.com am Amazon to order.
I enjoy and definitely prefer nice writing instruments. Occasionally one is introduced on Kickstarter or the like that is noteworthy. In this case, the designers at Dimond Point have recently began a crowd-funded project so that they can bring The Patriot, their precision-machined, military-inspired pen to market. The Patriot Pen is sleek, lightweight and made from high-quality military grade 6063 aluminum, achieving a rugged Type III hardness. The pen is anodized black and will be available in two shaft designs, smooth and knurled finishes. The pen uses Pilot ink cartridges which are not only easy to come by, but available in a multitude of colors and tip sizes. The (stealth) smooth version is available for $39 each and the knurled (madness) version is $44 each. The Patriot Pen campaign ends April 23, 2015…check out their Kickstarter page for additional details.
Two years ago Fibit introduced the Fitbit Force wrist worn activity tracker. It was really popular until people started complaining about irritations and rashes while wearing the device on their wrist. The Force ended up being taken off the market when Fitbit conducted a voluntary recall in February 2014. Now one year later, the most popular activity tracker making company is back with an updated version of the Force renamed as the Fitbit Charge HR. So lace up your sneakers and let’s go count some steps. [click to continue…]
We told you about some expensive Tory Burch jewelry holders for your Fitbit Flex. They cost more than the Fitbit did, and not everyone is going to want to pay that much to pretty up their Flex tracker. If you like girly accessories, you might like the Fitness Band Bling Accessory jewelry I found at Amazon. They come in different styles and sizes to fit Fitbit Flex, Charge, and Charge HR bands. Some designs are simpler, others are more elaborate and decorated with crystals.
They slide over the tracker’s band and are held in place by two clear elastic bands. You can position them anywhere you want on the band, and you can remove them anytime. These are inexpensive enough at $10 – $25 that you can have a collection to choose from to suit your mood or style for the day. The Fitness Band Bling Accessory pieces are available from Amazon.
Have you wanted to try your hand at writing a program for the iPhone or iPad, but you don’t know how to get started? One simple, inexpensive way to get your toes wet with Apple’s new Swift programming language is with the Swifty app. You’ll learn to program for the iOS platform with Swift right on your iOS device. The app actually has more than 200 lessons that teach you about everything from variables to arrays to libraries and everything in between, and the free app download gives you the first 13 lessons for free. You can purchase the rest of the lessons for $2.99 if you decide you want to continue learning Swift.
The Swifty app is good for beginners who don’t really have a foundation for programming; it will be too simple for experienced programmers. It might be a good way to introduce your child to programming. Maybe she can write a program that could end up paying for part of her (very expensive) college education!
Swifty is available as a free download in the Apple App Store; in-app purchases for single chapters are $0.99 each, or get the entire set of lessons for $2.99.
From the “You know you have too much money if you can buy this” files comes the Themis from Solloshi Design. The Themis is a table top humidor for cigars. But it’s not just any old ordinary humidor. The Themis is a replica of a Colt cylinder with real bearings and ratchet mechanism and houses six CNC-milled titanium “bullets”. Each “bullet” is an individual pod that can hold a single cigar and has a mini-humidor inside so it preserves the prime quality of its content. The Themis is made of 7075 aluminum, the same material which is used to manufacture M16 rifles for the U.S. military. Here comes the part where you need to sit down… the price of the Themis is… wait for it… $9500. A little too pricey for you? No worries, Solloshi also offers a single travel cigar humidor called the Hyperion for only $1890. Wow, what a deal! If you’re not in shock and want to learn more, visit Solloshi Design for more info.
As I have said before, I prefer earbuds, having tried literally dozens of them from stock earbuds to wireless sport headphones to extravagant, handmade monitors and everything in between. I like their small, compact, transportable form-factor for travel, working out, puttering around the house, etc. Be that as it may, it surprises me how many people are wearing larger on- and over-ear headphones (vs earbuds) in the gym lately. I have historically seen those larger form-factors as too big and bulky for working out. The folks at SMS Audio sent me their SYNC by 50 on-ear sport wireless headphones to tryout and see just how they work while sweating to the oldies . [click to continue…]
Nomad based the design for the NomadKey USB charging cable for the Pebble Original smart watch on a key. Since you always have your keys with you when you’re out, why not have a key-sized charger on the keyring? It won’t feel like you are carrying anything extra, but you’ll have a tough, flexible charging cable made of high-grade polycarbonate from Bayer and a rubber elastomer from Dupont with you. The NomadKey has scratch-resistant metal contacts so you don’t have to worry about a protective cap, and it has the same magnetic grip as the Pebble’s charger, too. The NomadKey for Pebble Original is $19.95 from Nomad.
It’s time for you to pull up a chair, settle in and catch up with everything we posted this week. Click through to see the full list of news, reviews and articles that were posted this past week. [click to continue…]
USB ports, there are never enough on my laptop or desk top computer to keep all my connected items connected. I am always changing a cable here, unplugging a device there and can never seem to find the right cable for the job. The InfiniteUSB, a Kickstarter project, hopes to provide you with a solution to this problem. InfiniteUSB is a stackable USB system that has a pig tail coming out of each InfiniteUSB cable with either a micro USB, Lightning or female USB connector on the end of the pig tail. By allowing you to stack/connect the USB connector to each other you can have multiple devices plugged into and connected to your laptop or PC using a single USB port. The InfiniteUSB comes in two styles, slim and a Kickstarter special edition and in several color choices. Although I am not sure how well you could charge multiple devices at one time, for syncing it would be great. This project has many pledge points with a $10 pledge pre-ordering one Infinite USB slim with either a micro USB, Lighting or female USB pig tail. The InfiniteUSB project is seeking funding until April 22, 2015 and if successfully funded is slated to ship in the June 2015 time frame.
The Magic-Pro ProMini Power Station 6T from Brando is a USB charger that can charge up to six devices at once while only using one outlet. The Magic-Pro ProMini Power Station 6T comes with five interchangeable plugs that will allow you to use this charger in the US, UK, AU, EU, KR and JP. The charger has current protection, over voltage protection, short circuit protection, over temperature protection and features two pairs of USB ports that share 2.4A and two ports that have 1A each, for a total of six USB ports. Although the adapter is a little expensive at $62, the fact that it comes with interchangeable plugs and can charge multiple devices at once, makes it a handy accessory for travelers and even non-travelers. The Magic-Pro ProMini Power Station 6T is priced at $62 and is available from Brando.