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Author Archive for Bryan Sherman

Snugg Executive Case for the Nexus 7 review


As the proud owner of a first-generation Nexus 7, I was looking for a good case for my tablet. Pretty much the only thing I am jealous of regarding i-gadgets is the selection of accessories. Add to this the fact that the Nexus 7 is positioned as an affordable tablet, and your options further decrease.

When Snugg offered their Nexus 7 case for review I jumped at it. It looked like a nice leather case. I was in for some surprises, some good, some not-so-much, but in the end did this earn a place on my tablet or not?

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Behringer U-Phono UF0202 USB/Audio interface review


If you have a collection of old vinyl, or still buy new, and want to have the convenience of having digital copies for your phone/tablet/PC, you need a device to convert. For a number of years you have been able to purchase a USB turntable that allows you to perform this task, but what if you already have a nice turntable, and want to use it? Behringer has a solution for you.

The Behringer U-Phono UF0202 USB/Audio Interface (let’s just call it the U-Phono) is an adapter that allows you to record from any RCA audio source to USB. It can take input from any device that had stereo RCA output, and can be set to take the lower input from a record player. You not only get an adapter for your existing turntable, but a tool you can use for any device the outputs in stereo RCA.

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New Potato TuneLink Home review


There are a number of ways to get your music streaming from your home to your sound system. New Potato Technologies has TuneLink Home that provides a Bluetooth connection for your audio as well as the ability to use your phone as a universal remote.

The device comes with a number of connections, including:

  • Infrared sensor and transmitter
  • 3.5 mm IR Extender
  • Line Audio Out
  • TOSLINK Output for digital-to-digital audio

The box promises applications for iPod, iPhone, iPad, and Android. I was a little concerned to review the item, since the Android App was only pending, but the site advertised that it was only a month away, and I had my wife’s old iPod touch as backup. Let’s see how this worked with my setup consisting of a Samsung Galaxy S3, iPod touch, and my old reliable Onkyo receiver.

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Diamond Multimedia AMP Android Media Player review

The Google Nexus Q may have died before hitting the shelves, but there are a number of devices that look to add Android to your TV viewing pleasure. We received the Diamond AMP device for review. It makes a lot of promises, including:

  • Enjoy your favorite Android Apps on your Big Screen TV
  • App Installer for application installation from USB/SD card
  • Built in 802.11b/g/n WiFi module, wireless Internet access
  • RJ45 10/100M Ethernet interface
  • Simple and easy installation
  • Supports 1080P video playback
  • HDMI video output
  • Supports SD card
  • Supports Google Chrome browser
  • 3-in-1 Motion Remote
  • Android Ice Cream Sandwich 4.03
  • Supports Any USB Mouse & Keyboard

But the question is, what does it deliver? Let’s find out.

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Everyday Carry Gear – Bryan Sherman



As you have become aware, Julie challenged us to open our everyday carry bags to share what has become our standard gear. It was an interesting exercise, I used the opportunity to get rid of some gear that has remained in my bag, but when I was done, I still had a lot. You can click on the picture for a closer view. Let’s take a look at my gear.

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V-Tech InnoTab Tablet for children review

As any self-respecting gadgeteer parent, I put a lot of thought towards the appropriate gadgets for my son. As Christmas approached last year I had decided to get him a tablet, and had my list down to the V-Tech and LeapPad Tablets when V-Tech offered one for a review. Unfortunately (for me) last Christmas was a hot season for this gadget, and they were unable to get a review unit to us until well after the first of the year, so I actually had to brave the stores and buy one myself. I still ended up with the InnoTab, and this has been a main stay in our house since Christmas. With all the tablets out there, is there really a need for a kid’s tablet? Let’s explore.

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Vaja Samsung Galaxy S3 Cases Review

To case, or not to case, that is the question. I have fallen on both sides of this question, but before I even had my Samsung Galaxy S3, I was looking for a case. Specifically  I was looking at Vaja. At the time, they only showed the Grip, but I was still excited. The first Vaja case I ever owned was for the Palm V. I read the review here, and went and ordered it. It was far and away my favorite case. And for the record, I got it with the embossed graffiti chart. I bought another Vaja when I moved to the Sony Clie (can’t remember if it was 7xx or 6xx) and liked it as well. When I moved to the Sony TH55, I didn’t care for some of the design decisions, so I went with another case. I always regretted that decision. Since then, almost as punishment, Vaja has not made a case for my phone of choice. Before I even ordered my SGS3, I checked the Vaja site and was excited to see that they had a case for the SGS3.

I asked Julie if we ever got Vaja cases to review anymore, and when she checked with them, they agreed to send one for review. Well, actually, they wanted to send all 3 models available at the time. How I suffer for your reading pleasure. So, would these be as good as I remember, or would I be brought down to earth? Let’s find out. Read More →

DRACOdesign DRACO S3 for Samsung Galaxy S3 Bumper Review

Julie recently reviewed the DRACO IV EVO for iPhone from DRACOdesign, and they offered their new DRACO S3 for review. The S3 is a bumper case designed to protect the edges of your phone without appreciably increasing the overall thickness of your device. Since the Galaxy S3 does not have the antenna issues of the iPhone 4, this model is all aluminum.

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Pennant Fever, Android Style: Two MLB Magic Number Apps Mini Review

It’s that time of year for baseball fans, the race for the playoffs. This is the time when baseball fans start talking magic number. The magic number is the number of wins by the leading team, and loses by the second-place team that will secure the division for the leading team. It is an easy number to calculate, just take 163 (number of games in a season + 1) subtract wins by the leader, and losses by the second-place time, and you have it. But that involves looking up the records, and doing math. Fortunately a smartphone is adept at both those things, so with my Reds leading the Central, I went off to the Android Market to find an App.

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Westone Talk Series TS1 Headphones Review

Earphone Solutions recently provided a pair Westone Westone TS-1 earphones for review here on the Gadgeteer. Bill Henderson did an excellent review on the Westone 4 headphones, and I looked forward to giving these a spin. The TS-1 has a single driver, rather than the quad-drive of the Westone 4, but it adds a microphone so that you can use these with your phone to take calls. The headphones are in-the-ear style and sport a standard 3.5 mm plug. One wrinkle is that there are currently issues with an echo effect when using these with the iPhone 4/4s. This issue does not present itself on other phones, and since I don’t have an iPhone, this was not an issue for me.

This would be my first exposure to a balanced armature earphone, and my first time using an earphone that either was not included with a device I bought, or one of the cheaper ones available. Would I notice a difference?

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Samsung Galaxy SIII from Verizon Review

Julie: The Samsung Galaxy SIII from Verizon Wireless is one of the most anticipated Android smart phones of the past year. I’ve been anxious to get my hands on this phone and was very happy when Verizon was kind enough to send me a loaner for a week. Lucky for you guys, you won’t just get my take on this phone, you’re going to also get a 2nd opinion from Bryan Sherman. My comments will be in Blue italics and Bryan’s will be in regular Black text.

Bryan: As I alluded to in the Verizon Share Anything Plan post, I was eligible for a discounted phone, and planned on getting one before the plans changed. I was able to pre-order the Samsung Galaxy SIII and retain my unlimited data plan, but had to wait for it to arrive. This experience was exacerbated by the fact that my wife entered the smartphone world with her purchase of the Galaxy Nexus. Finally the wait is over.

Julie: I’ve been eligible for an upgrade since April and have been biding my time trying to wait for worthy successor to my iPhone 4S which I have been growing a little bored of. I plan to switch over to the Share Everything plan with my next phone. 
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Verizon Unveils New Share Everything Plan

Chances are you knew this was coming. Verizon officially announced yesterday their new Share Everything plan.  It is a simplified plan that gives you unlimited minutes, and messages for up to 10 devices, as well as mobile hotspot with no extra fee. However, it also ends unlimited data as an option on new contracts and subsidized upgrades. So, is this a good thing, or a bad thing for the customer? Like all good questions, the answer is it depends.

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Droid RAZR MAXX by Mototrola Review

I recently spent two weeks with the Droid RAZR MAXX by Motorola. This phone runs on Verizon’s 4G LTE and its claim to fame is battery life. It is very similar to the recently released RAZR, just thicker to accommodate the larger battery. I can’t tell you how excited I am that someone finally designed a phone with battery life in mind.

I always approach every phone review with trepidation. Will this be the phone that makes me disappointed with my current everyday phone, the Droid X? Let’s see.

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Motorola MOTOACTV GPS Tracker Review

Verizon recently gave me the opportunity to try out the new MOTOACTV.  Well, what exactly is it? A music player? A GPS Tracker? A watch? Actually, it’s all of those. They also lent me the Sports armband. I am definitely a casual runner, and I don’t run much at all when it is cold, but this got me out on the road to give it a spin. Read More →

SportSync AM/FM Radio with Audio Delay: Sync Radio Broadcast to TV

It was October 14th, 1975. Bottom of the 10th, the Reds and Reds Sox were tied in game 3 of the World Series. Ed Armbrister attempted to advance Caesar Geronimo with a bunt. In the ensuing action, Carlton Fisk thought he was interfered with, and Reds’ fans were subjected to announcer Curt Gowdy’s complaints about the play over and over again. That is when a tradition was born in our house. Turn down the TV and crank up the radio for baseball games.

Over the years, that approach became more difficult. As the TV broadcast is sent to the station, then to the cable company and finally to your DVR, more than likely the TV action will be noticeably delayed from the radio play-by-play. Enter technology.

The SportsSync AM/FM Radio provides a configurable delay of up to 16 seconds. The delay is set by a slider on the front of the radio. They do warn that there is a chance you would experience a problem if the TV is ahead of the radio (I would think that is rare), or if the difference was more than 16 seconds. All in all, this looks like a pretty cool solution to the baseball fan that wants to watch their team on a national feed, but listen to their local radio broadcast.

Hat tip to announcer (not surprisingly RADIO announcer) Dan Hoard for the heads up on this device on his Twitter feed.

Sony SmartWatch: Now Shipping

We posted news about the upsoming Sony SmartWatch back in January, but now it is actually shipping and we have more details. This $149.99 device connects to your Android smartphone and displays various pieces of information. You can order the SmartWatch at the Sony site.  The specs include:

  • 1.3″ OLED display
  • 128 x 128 pixels
  • 65k colors (16 bit)
  • Standard USB connector for charging
  • Battery life: 3-4 days typical usage, up to 14 days on standby
  • Bluetooth 3.0
  • 36mm by 36mm by 8mm (12.8mm including Clip)
  • 15.5 g (Watchband is 26g)

It’s kind of hard to tell from the limited information and pictures online, but it appears there is an adaptor to support USB charging, so the USB port may not be standard. It also appears there is only one button. Read More →

Droid RAZR MAXX Announced

Verizon announced a new DROID RAZR that is available on January 26th. I have often commented that I wished manufacturers would stop with the thin obsession, and focus on battery life, and they finally listened to me. OK, so probably not to me, but still, I like this change.

The RAZR MAXX is only 8.99 mm thick vs. its thin cousin the RAZR at 7.1mm. But for that modest 1.89 mm you go from a 1780 mAh battery to a 3300 mAh battery. They claim you will get more than 21 hours straight on a single charge, and this is a 4G LTE phone. See more specs after the jump.

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Blue Introduces Three New USB Microphones

Blue Microphones announced three new microphones at CES. All three are USB mics, and two focus on the iOS.

  • Mikey digital updates the Mikey to support 4th generation iPod Touch, Iphone 4 and iPad. We reviewed the previous one a while back.
  • Spark Digital is a studio-grade condensor microphone that can be attached to an iPad, Mac or PC.
  • Tiki is a new USB microphone designed for portability. They also mention that it “mimics the intelligence of human hearing”.
You can find more detail on their blog post.

Plantronics Marque M155 Bluetooth Headset Review

Plantronics recently added a number of Bluetooth headsets to their lineup. I am familiar with Plantronics from my call center days. They make very nice headsets. I also owned a Calisto Pro at home that I only very recently retired in favor of my VTech cordless phone system.

Two of their new headsets are designed to work with a new Android and iOS application called My Handset. I was given the opportunity to review their Marquee M155. They even sent me one of the limited edition white ones. So does the addition of apps improve the experience, or just complicate it? Let’s find out. Read More →

The Radius for Yeti Review

Blue Microphone recently released the Radius shockmount for their Yeti and Yeti Pro microphones (both microphones have the same mount and form-factor). A shockmount is used to isolate your microphone from vibration while recording. The mount is specifically designed to work with the Yeti and Yeti Pro, but could be used with almost any microphone with a standard mount.

Blue sent me a Radius to use with the Yeti Pro I recently reviewed. I was happy to give it a spin.

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Motorola Mobility Announces MOTOACTV

Motorola announced a new device today named the MOTOACTV. This is an Android-Based device that looks very similar to the iPod Nano, but includes GPS, heartrate capabilities and the ability to sync to your Android phone. The heart-rate sensor is built into the available headsets. The wired SF500, and the wireless SF700.

The features include:

  • Tracks pace, distance, calories burned, and map of route covered
  • Wireless syncing of workout data to
  • 8GB or 16GB of storage
  • 1.6” full-color touch-screen display that is sweat-proof, rain-resistant and scratch-resistant Corning® Gorilla® Glass that auto-adjusts for indoor or outdoor lighting
  • Can sync with the latest Android-powered smartphone to receive incoming calls and texts
  • FM radio
  • Up to five hours of battery life for outdoor workouts, 10 hours indoors, and nearly two weeks on standby
  • Supports both Bluetooth® 4.0 and ANT+ wireless connectivity for your existing fitness sensors and your future ones
  • Size: 46mm x 46mm x 9.6 mm
  • Weight: 35 g

Price for the 8GB is $249, the 16GB $299. The headset/heart-rate monitors are $99 for the wired, and $149 for the wireless.

Complete press release after the jump.

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In Memoriam: Michael S. Hart

I heard the sad news on Wednesday that Michael S. Hart had passed away at 64. Who is Michael S. Hart you may ask? He is the founder of Project Gutenburg (PG), which is one of the earliest and longest-lasting online literary projects. The picture for this article is a screen grab of “ebook #1″ the Declaration of Independence added in 1971. That’s right, 1971. If you have ever enjoyed an e-book, you have Michael S. Hart to thank.

You can read a complete obituary over at Project Gutenberg written by Greg Newby, The web sites seems to be up and down, so I’ll share the highlights after the jump.

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Samsung Galaxy Note: How big is too big?

I love my Droid X, with its 4.3 inch screen. I initially worried it would be too big, but quickly acclimated myself to the size. When I had the opportunity to use an iPhone 4 for two weeks, I could not get over how tiny the screen was, I had made the transition to large screen phone. Well Samsung is upping the ante with the new Samsung Galaxy Note. It has a 5.3 inch screen. I have not seen one in person, but it got me thinking, how big is too big? Read More →

Asus Announces Android Tablet with Integrated Keyboard

I know there is a lot of debate regarding Android vs iPad tablets (cue comment along the lines of “What debate, x is clearly superior) but one exciting thing about Android tablets is the variety of creative products possible. Asus has already seen some success with their Transformer series of Android Tablets (and you have to like the “Robots in Disguise” implication). With the Transformer, you can put the tablet in a keyboard dock complete with touchpad. With the SL101, they are taking it one step farther, by integrating a keyboard in the design of the tablet. They are not listing price and availability yet, but it looks promising.

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Google Buys Motorola

Wow. Google just announced they are buying Motorola. It looks like the main issue is patents:

Our acquisition of Motorola will increase competition by strengthening Google’s patent portfolio, which will enable us to better protect Android from anti-competitive threats from Microsoft, Apple and other companies.

They make a point of stressing that Android will remain open, they plan on running Motorola as a separate company. Seems like a good fit since Motorola was all Android already, and has a lot of patents. What do you think? Will they get rid of the locked bootloader?