Happy 4th of July! I know a lot of you are enjoying hotdogs, hamburgers, beer and fireworks right now, but if you want a break from all the festivities, we have you covered. Click through to see a list of everything we’ve posted here on the Gadgeteer this week.
Wasn’t there a law passed several years ago banning the practice of adding an “i” in front of a product name just to sound techy and hip? Probably not, but there should be, call your congressman now. Anyway, the iFork (just saying the name makes me roll my eyes because it has nothing to do with the internet or tech) is actually a really good idea for the eating implements that we’ve been using for centuries. The iFork, iSpoon and iKnife (I’m rolling my eyes again) all have a small post or ball attached to the bottom edge that allow each piece of cutlery to stay elevated above the surface that it’s resting on. Why is this a good idea? Think about it for a sec, restaurant tables, kitchen countertops, picnic tables, may or may not be clean. Instead of resting your fork on a dirty germy table and then sticking it directly in your mouth when you eat, you can keep it away from the germs. The iLine (there they go again) of flatware are available in stainless steel versions with a ball or a stackable post design. They also offer plastic disposable versions of their flatware. Prices range from $19.99 for one set of the stainless version up to $99.00 for a set of 30. The plastic versions can be purchased for 4 cents each. For more info visit iFork.com
Last year, I reviewed the Phiaton Bridge MS 500 headphones and found them to be stylish (if you like red), well-made, comfortable, and sound quite good for the price. At a slightly higher price, Phiaton offers a wireless Bluetooth headphone with active noise canceling. The Chord MS 530 is more comfortable, lighter and yet still impressive sounding.
The Chord MS 530 headphone is an on-ear design which admittedly, is not for everyone. I usually prefer on-ear (supra-aural) to over-ear (circumaural), so this was a plus for me. The protein (fancy word for fake) leather pads are quite comfortable, but can get a bit too warm in a humid environment, such as Florida, where I live. These are not outdoor headphones. The black with red (Phiaton has a thing for red) accents give the Chord MS 530 an upscale look, though not as stylishly bold as the non-Bluetooth Bridge MS 500 headphones.
Whenever my family and I go on vacation we run into the same problem; there is never enough room in the hotel dresser to store all of our clothes. There are four of us and we usually end up “fighting” over who gets enough drawers. Inevitably, clothes end up scattered in drawers, in suitcases, and hanging in closets. The makers of Shelfpack have developed a suitcase that may be perfect for my family.
At first glance, the Shelfpack appears to be a standard suitcase. It has a retractable trolley handle and two wheels on the bottom; however, the Shelfpack conceals four collapsible shelves that enable it to act as a dresser. Once you arrive at your hotel, you open the Shelfpack, raise the shelves, and attach them to the built-in supports. You don’t even have to remove your clothes, they fit on the shelves while collapsed and traveling.
The Shelfpack measure 28″ x 18.5″ x 14″ and is 42″ tall when the shelves are raised. Unfortunately, the Shelfpack’s website is still under construction and doesn’t have price information; however, if you are interested the website does list multiple ways to contact them. I tried contacting them, but it appears they are closed for the holiday.
If you camp or work outdoors, you may find yourself without a cup of coffee when you really want one. With this compact kit, you’ll be able to have coffee whenever you have a fire or a camp stove to heat some water. The Stanley Mountain Vacuum Coffee System packs up to look like a typical thermos. When you disassemble it, you’ll have a small pot to heat water, a dry storage compartment to hold fresh coffee grounds, and a press basket. Even the lid separates into two cups. After you’ve brewed the coffee, you can store it in the insulated vacuum bottle. The Stanley Mountain Vacuum Coffee System is available in a 17 ounce size ($47) or a 1.1 quart size ($57) at Amazon.
Have you ever read one of our older reviews from weeks, months or even years ago and wondered if we are still using the products? Would you like to know more about how our favorite and not so favorite products have stood the test of time? If you answered yes to those questions, these review update posts are for you. We try to post them on a regular basis and today’s updates take a look at a few products that I’ve continued to use past my initial review period. Click through to see the list and read the updates. [click to continue…]
We Gadgeteers carry our phones everywhere. Even using wearable tech, we still want a phone with us, especially when we’re driving. The GPS/Mapping apps and constant connectivity your phone gives you can be the difference between sitting at a confusing intersection, trying to unfold that stupid gas station map and breezing through, confident of your direction. I have tried all sorts of stick-on, clip-on, and jerry-rigged contraptions to affix phone holders within sight lines in my vehicles over the years. Some have been less useful than others, but none have done more than wind up in my box of unloved gadgets. Julie sent out a plea to the team a little while ago, needing someone to help with reviews of two different holders from Satechi. I volunteered, and found these two items in my mailbox, and some really great photos in my account at the Gadgeteer CyberSpace Lair of Awesomeness. Let’s explore, shall we? (Her photos are later in the article. Those are mine at the top.)
If you have a MacBook, you know the chargers have built-in cord winders. The problem with that winder is that it can put a lot of stress on the thin cable where it attaches to the charger if you wind it incorrectly. Last year, we told you about the Juiceboxx, a crowdfunding project that aimed to one-up the MacBook’s charger. It was successfully funded and it’s on the market for anyone to purchase now. The Juiceboxx is designed to slip over the cord end of the charger and guide the cable up through a silo that prevents it from being bent and stressed while still allowing the cable to be wrapped for neat storage. The charger can be used without removing the Juiceboxx. The Juiceboxx is available in three sizes: 15 & 17″ MacBook Pro, 13″ MacBook and MacBook Pro, and the MacBook Air. Each size is available in blue, black, ice, red, magenta, or teal. Learn more and order at Juiceboxx.
Of course Batman has a lot of cool gear and gadgets – he’s rich and has them custom made. You may not have Batman’s resources, but you can have a knife that looks like Batman’s Batarang, which could add some serious coolness to your Halloween costume this year. The Batman 11.5″ Black Dual Blade Knife has two black-coated stainless steel blades. The knife has a steel frame, and the handle covers are black aluminum. The knife is 6″ closed and 11.5″ with both blades opened. There’s a (utility) belt clip on the back, too. The Batman 11.5″ Black Dual Blade Knife is $18.99 at Amazon.
I’m a big fan of rucks (AKA backpacks), bags, pouches and other gear that utilizes webbing for customized, modular attachment. And since I’m also a big fan of Velcro-backed morale patches, PatchPALS by RuckWorks caught my eye. Elegant in its simplicity but clever in its function, it’s basically a strip of Velcro with four wing-like tabs that wrap around M.O.L.L.E. or P.A.L.S. style webbing and attach behind to allow patches to be mounted in places where they normally couldn’t, like the webbing on a backpack or the strap of a hat. They can even be combined to mount larger patches. PatchPALS is patent-pending and made in U.S.A. Available in black for $4.99 and coyote and olive drab for $5.99. Head over RuckWorks for more info.
iFixit is a wiki-based site that teaches people how to fix things. Anyone can create a repair manual for a device. They also sell tools to help people get into and fix the devices.
The bottom of an iPhone includes two tiny, five-point screws. The pentalobe screw is a proprietary screw developed by Apple. The iPhone Liberation Kit gives you the tools needed to swap the pentalobe screws with standard Phillips screws.
The free kits are first-come, first-serve. For your free kit, visit iFixit.com/LiberationWeek.
I’ve been on a personal quest to find the “perfect” Bluetooth speaker. This time, I get to check out one unit that struck me with handsome good looks from The House of Marley called the Get Together. Do sound and function match outward appearances?
If you love the look of rich marble, but you don’t like the faux marble look, you’re usually limited to using marble in your house. Now you can also use real marble in these MIKOL cases for your MacBook, iPad, or iPhone 6/6 Plus. The iPhone cases incorporate a piece of natural marble in the back of the TPU case. There are three marble choices; prices start at $99 for these cases. The MacBook cover is available for 13″ or 15″ laptops; the marble adheres to the top of the laptop using 3M adhesives. The MacBook are $89.00 and are also available in three marble choices. The iPad cases also incorporate a piece of marble in the back of a TPU case. They are available in three marble choices to fit the iPad mini 3 or the iPad Air 2 for $69.00; these cases don’t appear to accommodate the Smart Cover. Learn more about these marble cases at MIKOL.
A while ago, I told you about the Dopp kit full of wet shaving gear I put together for my husband so he didn’t have to resort to horrible disposable razors and canned shaving cream when he traveled. If that kit inspired you to want to give wet shaving a try but you don’t even know where to begin with selecting products, check out the Wet Shaving Club. They have two subscription plans – one for men (products on top row) and one for women (products on bottom row). In the first box, you’ll get a brand new safety razor that uses double-edged blades, 10 blades, some shaving soaps, a shaving brush to lather up the soap, an after-shave product, and some instructional cards to help you get started with your new gear. You can choose just a single kit for $29.00 (US shipping included), or you can purchase 3-, 6-, or 12-month subscriptions. After the first box, you’ll get samples of soaps, blades, balms and creams, and other grooming items in your monthly shipments. You’ll pay for the entire subscription when you sign up, with the 3-months at $26/month, 6-months at $24/month, and 12-months at $22/month. It’s an economical way to try out a lot of products, most of which you would probably never find locally. Check out the products and the plans at Wet Shave Club.
Whether you are interested in wireless charging, remote control cars or Formula E race cars, you’ll have to admit that this video promoting Qualcomm’s Halo wireless charging technology is very cool. The video shows driver Lucas di Grassi in a Formula E race car racing against a tiny remote controlled replica that uses Qualcomm’s wireless charging. It’s a bummer that you can’t actually buy the RC car! For more info about Qualcomm’s Halo wireless charging technology and other connected car features, visit Qualcomm.
The Keyboardio Model 01 features an adjustable two-piece maple body, an advanced ergonomic design, sculpted keycaps, and applications-specific macros. Built on Arduino technology, the Model 01 is hacker-friendly open hardware that ships with source code and a screwdriver. It is compatible with MacOS, Linux, Windows, Android, and iOS.
Keyboardio creators Jesse Vincent and Kaia Dekker were in Austin, TX, last weekend at the ATX Hackerspace, as a part of a whirlwind tour of 23 cities to get the keyboard in as many hands as possible. When people actually get to type on the keyboard, they discover how comfortable it is, Vincent said.
If you’re using your computer for any sort of sound input, you’ve probably already decided the built-in microphone is useless after more than the occasional snippet. If you’re doing voiceover for video or Skyping/FaceTiming for any kind of podcast or hangout, you need a better mic. Samson Electronics makes a full range of audio products, but they offered the Gadgeteer crew a test unit of the GoMic Direct for review. It’s marketed as a highly portable, yet high quality mic that runs off the USB port on your computer.
The JamSpot Tablet Stand holds your tablet or phone while you use it or while you watch videos. Lots of stands do that, but not many add Bluetooth speakers so that you can actually hear the video you’re watching. The JamSpot folds up to fit in your gear bag for travel, and its multi-angle and adjustable design works with tablets and phones. The internal stereo speakers pair with most every Bluetooth-enabled mobile device, and the JamSpot’s battery gives you up to 10 hours of audio. The JamSpot Tablet Stand is $79.99 from Bracketron.
Tokyoflash Japan usually has only one new watch at a time for us, but today we have four new ones to tell you about. Each of the watches is part of Tokyoflash Japan’s Kisai Link Bluetooth-enabled line; their first Kisai Link offering was a bracelet that paired with your phone to give you notifications via Bluetooth. With these watches, the Link system is seamlessly integrated into the watchband so the user can receive call, mail, message, and social alerts directly on their wrist. Each of these watches has a wood face and band. They are (clockwise from top left):
Kisai Blade Wood Link, which features a rotating LED time display concealed behind a dark sandalwood surface and two time modes, date, alarm, and animation.
Kisai Xtal Wood Link, with its dark sandalwood case and genuine fabric mesh to conceal the time, is reminiscent of a classic TV set. It includes two time modes, date, alarm, and six user-selectable animations.
Kisai Sequence Wood Link uses fabric mesh and dark sandalwood to create the appearance of a retro speaker. Its features include two time modes, date, alarm, and six user-selectable animations.
Kisai Spider Wood Link uses a transparent LCD to create the illusion that time is floating on your wrist. Four numbers, arranged from large to small, display the digital time in an original and intuitive way. Housed in dark sandalwood, this design comes with a black, blue, green, or red LCD.
Each of these watches is being introduced at the special release price of $109 until Thursday, July 2nd at 11am Japan time. Learn more at Tokyoflash Japan.
Drinking plenty of water everyday is a pretty basic way to stay healthy and feel good. I have known this for years, and I still can’t manage to drink the recommended amount on a daily basis. There is hope for me. HidrateMe begins shipping in December of this year. It’s a 24 oz. smart water bottle that, when connected to the app, will calculate the amount of water you need (after it asks some personal questions), then emits a soft glow periodically to remind you when it’s time to sip up! It will even recalculate the amount you need (when you sync it with your wearable fitness tracker) if you become more active throughout the day or squeeze in an extra workout. With the ability to calculate what you should drink using temperature, humidity, and the elevation of your surroundings, this future extension of my arm is sure to keep me on track and feeling healthy…if I can just hold on until December! A HidrateMe bottle can be pre-ordered for $45. For more info check out the HidrateMe Kickstarter project.