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Author Archive for Julie Strietelmeier

Wrap your new iPhone 6 in luxurious Italian leather

Each time Apple releases a new iPhone the case makers go into a feeding frenzy to get their new iPhone cases recognized and ordered by millions of new phone owners. The same thing has been happening the last two weeks for the new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. My inbox has been filling with news and review offers for new cases. I have to be honest that most of these cases are… well… boring. There are only so many bumper and snap on covers with kooky graphics that I can look at before my eyes glaze over and my finger goes immediately to the delete button. But when I received an email this morning from Orbino who is offering their new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus leather cases for pre-order, my finger did not go to the delete button. Orbino makes some of the finest luxury iPhone cases on the market. These Italian leather cases are hand cut, assembled and stitched by some of the best leather craftsman in Italy. The cases feature a magnetic cover and an optional premium metal belt clip that doubles as a desk stand. Available in 15 styles, the price for these cases start at $189 and go up to a jaw dropping $399. They are definitely way out of my price range, but they sure are gorgeous. For more info visit

Loops, skates, mooses, bumpies and more – Weekly roundup


We hope you’re all having a great weekend. To make it even better, click through to see the full list of news, reviews and articles from this past week.
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iSketchnote digitizes your drawings and notes in real time


Digitizing notes and drawings can be done a few different ways. You can snap a picture with your phone and upload the picture to Evernote, you can scan pages with a flatbed scanner, and you can also use special pen/paper combos like those from Livescribe. All of these methods work, but each have their own drawbacks. You have to remember to snap or scan, and with Livescribe you are tied to using their special notebooks. Now there’s another solution that will be available soon. It’s the iSketchnote from iskin and from what I can see so far, it looks pretty interesting. Instead of using special paper, you can use any paper you like with this digitizing slate. Use single sheets of paper, Field Note notebooks, Moleskine notebooks and others just by placing the notebook on the special slate. The Slate pairs with an iPad via Bluetooth, then using their special non-electronic pen, start writing and drawing. Whatever you write or draw on your paper will show up on the iPad in the iSketchnote app where you can enhance and share with your friends.

I much prefer writing on real paper with a pen or pencil than using a stylus to draw and write on the glass display of my tablet. Writing on glass with a stylus (even the new pressure sensitive ones) doesn’t feel natural to me, so this looks like a great alternative for capturing drawings and notes.

The iSketchnote will be available in four colors and can be pre-ordered now for $179 with shipping estimated for October 2014. Visit for more info.

Gadget deals – Save money on desktops, laptops, tablets and more


It’s Friday which means you probably just got paid. If you have some money burning a hole in your pocket and would like to do your civic duty to boost the economy, we have a list of gadget deals for you that run the gamut of computers and tablets to portable hard drives and batteries. Like always, be aware that these deals and coupon codes are only valid for a limited time. If you see something you’re interested and don’t act quickly it’s not our fault if the deal has expired or stock has been depleted.

Top Deal

Dell XPS 12 Core i5 1080p 2-in-1 Touch Laptop w/ 256GB SSD for $674.99 with free shipping (normally $1,199 – use coupon code: VPFLKN84PHS5DP).

Laptops & Desktops

14″ Lenovo U430p 4th-gen Core i3 “Haswell” Laptop w/ Backlit Keyboard, 500GB Hybrid Hard Drive for $439 with free shipping (normally $599 – use coupon code: U430LIQUIDATE | make sure you leave no space at the start/end of the coupon code when applying).

17.3″ HP ENVY 17t-j100 Leap Motion 4th-gen Core i7 Quad Edition 1080p Laptop w/ 4GB GeForce GT 750M, Blu-ray, 2TB storage & Backlit Keyboard for $1,074.99 with $9.99 shipping (normally $1,299.99 – use coupon code: PC599Q4).

Dell XPS 8700 Core i7 “Haswell Refresh” Desktop w/ GeForce GT 720 for $656.99 with free shipping (normally $799 – use coupon code: VPFLKN84PHS5DP).

Dell XPS 18 Core i3 1080p Touchscreen All-in-one Mobile Desktop w/ Stand for $764.99 with free shipping (normally $999.99 – use coupon code: VPFLKN84PHS5DP).

Mobiles & Tablets

Microsoft Surface Pro 3 12″ Core i5 + 128GB Model with Keyboard Cover for $999.99 with free shipping (normally $1,199).

Free $50 Gift Card with Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4″ & 10.5″ Tablets.

Apple iPhone 5S 64GB Factory-unlocked Smartphone (Gold) for $599.99 with free shipping (normally $599 for 32GB Unlocked model | this model has been discontinued by Apple).

Computer Accessories

Lenovo K5923 Wireless Windows 8 TouchPad for $9.99 with free shipping (normally $29.99 – use coupon code: USP1SP444530).

1TB Silicon Power Rugged Armor A60 Shockproof Water-resistant USB 3.0 Portable Hard Drive (Black) for $64.79 with free shipping (normally $79).

Nearly 90% 5-star reviews at Amazon! BenQ GW2760HS 27″ 1080p 4ms LED-backlit Monitor for $199.99 with free shipping (normally $249.99).


MIPOW PLAYBULB Bluetooth Smart LED Speaker Light Bulb for $49.99 with free shipping (normally $79.99).

ChargeCard 680mAh Portable Battery (compatible with most Androids & older iPhones) for $14.99 with free shipping (normally 24.99).

Note: This is a sponsored post.

Are those chopsticks in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?


The Collapsible Compact Chopsticks from Integral Design will make sure you always have a set of eating utensils when you need them. No need to use those paper wrapped wooden chopsticks at your favorite noodle shop when you have this set. They measure 4″ when collapsed and 8″ when assembled and are available in six colors. They are made of stainless steel and food grade plastic, and are dishwasher safe. They even have a hole at the end of each of the tubes so that they dry quickly after washing. The plastic clip that keeps them together doubles as a rest while they are being used. The Collapsible Compact Chopsticks are available from Amazon for $16.

USB connectors are now reversible like Apple’s Lightning connectors


Say what you will about Apple’s choice to use proprietary cables with their devices instead of generic micro USB cables, but their Lightning connectors are one of their best innovations. Lightning connectors can be inserted in either orientation making them simple and quick to plug in. Now the other end of the cable has the same capability. REMAX KingKong Lightning and micro USB cables have been designed to allow the USB end of the cable to be inserted in USB ports in either orientation. Finally, no more trying to insert the cable only to realize that you have it turned the wrong way. Bout darned time! These REMAX KingKong cables are 39 inches long and are available in black or white and either micro USB or Lightning versions. They are priced at $14 each and are available from Brando.

Check out this animation of the cable:


Gadget deals – Save $470 on a Dell XPS 11″ convertible ultrabook


I can’t believe I’m going to admit this to the gadget world, but my next computer for home might not be a Mac. I am seriously considering going back to a Windows laptop. Shocking? A little… But we recently received brand new computers at my day job (Cummins Inc.) and I am really liking the Dell Ultrabook that I received. It’s running Windows 8.1 and is very zippy. This new computer has made me come to the conclusion that I don’t need to spend a bazillion dollars on an Apple laptop when I do 99% of my work in a web browser and Photoshop. A Dell Ultrabook might do nicely and I can save the extra $$’s for another gadget. If you’re considering a new laptop, today’s deal might have you covered. It’s for the Dell XPS 11 2-in-1 Ultrabook. This touchscreen machine features a Core i5 processor with a 128GB SSD, a 11.6″ 2560×1440 resolution display with a cool hinge design that allows you to convert it into a pseudo tablet. This thin Ultrabook only weighs 2.5 lbs, so you won’t feel like a pack mule carrying it in your backpack. The XPS 11 is regularly priced at $1279.99, but you can save $470 to bring the price down to $809.99. This deal ends on Wednesday September 24, 2014, so don’t wait too long.

Check out: Dell XPS 11 Core i5 2560×1440 11.6″ Convertible Touch Laptop with 128GB SSD

Moose Brand wallets review


I’ve never done drugs or gotten high unless you count snorting the addictive smell of these gorgeous leather wallets from Moose Brand. Hand me anything made of leather and I automatically bring it up to my nose for a sniff. Ahhhhh… There’s something comforting about the smell of leather – good leather though, not weirdly processed leather products from some Chinese companies that will actually cause your nose hairs to fall out and your eyes to water. When the folks at Moose Brand contacted me to ask if I would like to review their products, I took a quick look at their site, saw their unique designs and immediately said “heck yeah”. They sent me their Palm and Rivet wallets to try, so let’s take a look.

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Gadget deals – Save $$’s on iTunes gift cards, Sony PS4, Dell & HP desktops and more


As always, these deals and coupon codes are only valid for a limited time. If you see something you’re interested in act quickly to avoid being disappointed.

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ConvertAHangers add a hook to annoying hookless hotel hangers


Do the anti-theft style hangers that you find in hotel closets annoy you because they can’t be removed to hang your clothing on a door knob or shower rod due to the fact that they don’t have an actual hook on top? Here’s a solution for you, it’s the ConvertAHanger adapter. The CovertAHanger is an ABS plastic adapter that turns those hookless hangers into a traditional style hanger that is easier to manage. Just slide the adapter over the hanger peg and you’re done. The CovertAHanger also works with the miniature hanger hooks that you find on cruise ships hangers. These made in the USA CovertAHangers are a little spendy though. They come in a package of two for $9.95. USPS priority shipping is not included in the price but they are offering 10% off if you use the discount code: the-gadgeteer at checkout. Visit ConvertAHanger for more info or to order.

Aukey Luna wireless charging dock review


Ever since I bought a Qi wireless charger for my Samsung Galaxy S3, I’ve become a Qi snob. I even hacked my Samsung Galaxy Note 2 to add that capability to it. Now if a smartphone doesn’t have the ability to charge wirelessly, I’m not interested in using it as my primary device. Qi charging is so convenient and easy to use that when I don’t have it, plugging in a USB cable feels like a colossal hassle. Am I being a little melodramatic? Yes, but I still love Qi and hope I never have to give it up. The latest Qi charger that I’ve had the opportunity to review is the stylish Aukey Luna wireless charging dock. Let’s check it out.

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Gadget deals – Save $370 on a Lenovo Y40 gaming laptop


The old saying “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” isn’t a lie. Playing video games can be a great way to relieve tension and relax after a hard day working in the old office cube farm and other jobs. To help you get the most fun possible you might want to considering updating your PC. Today’s gadget deal is going to save you $370 on Lenovo’s recently released Y40 gaming laptop to bring the price down to $729. This laptop features a 14 inch 1920×1080 full HD anti-glare display, 8GB RAM, 500GB Hybrid Hard Drive (includes 8GB solid state cache), 2GB AMD Radeon R9 M275 dedicated graphics all powered by a 4th Generation Intel Core i7-4510U Processor (2.00GHz 1600 MHz 4MB) running the Windows 8.1 operating system. This is a limited time deal so head on over to Faveable for the special coupon code that brings Lenovo’s web price down to $729. And by the way, shipping is free.

Misfit announces new more affordable Misfit Flash activity tracker


Coming days after announcing compatibility with Windows Phone devices, Misfit has now released a new activity tracker called the Flash. The Flash sticks with the unique circular design of their popular Misfit Shine tracker, but this one comes in with a price that  is under $50. The Flash is constructed of a special soft-touch plastic that is durable, and waterproof up to 30 meters. It is available in seven eye catching colors including a lemon-lime Zest, funky Fuschia, and minimalist Frost.

Just like the Shine, the Flash tracker never needs charging and can be worn almost anywhere on the user’s body including their wrist, pants, shirt, shoes, lapel, or even on a keychain. The activity tracker automatically counts your steps, calories, distance, sleep quality and duration, and can even track cycling and swimming activities. The entire front of Flash is a button; to check your progress toward your daily activity goal and the time of day, simply press it. Flash syncs your data wirelessly with the Misfit App on your smartphone. The Misfit Flash will be available for $49.99 at Best Buy, Target, Amazon, Walmart and other retailers worldwide in October, but you can be pre-ordered now at

Gadget deals – Save on an iPad Air, ASUS Chromebook, HTC One M8 and more


Today we’re going to help you save money on smartphones like the HTC One M8, tablets like the Apple iPad Air, laptop computers like the ASUS C200MA Chromebook, desktop computers like the Lenovo Z40 mini tower, IPS monitors like the 24″ Dell UP2414Q Ultrasharp and more. As always, these deals and coupon codes are only valid for a limited time. If you see something you’re interested in, act quickly to avoid being disappointed.

Top Deal:

Apple iPad Air 32GB Wi-Fi Tablet (Refurbished) w/ 1-year Apple warranty for $439.99 with free shipping (normally $499).

Laptops & Desktops:

ASUS C200MA 11.6″ 2.16GHz Intel Dual-core Chromebook w/ HDMI, USB 3.0, Wireless-AC, Webcam, 16GB SSD & over 10-hour battery life for $199.99 with free shipping (normally $249.99).

14″ Lenovo Z40 Core i7 1080p Laptop w/ 2GB GeForce GT 820M, 1TB Hybrid Hard Drive & 8GB RAM for $639 with free shipping (normally $999.99 – use coupon code: USPZ4084911).

15.6″ HP Pavilion 15t-n200 4th-gen Core i5 Laptop w/ 8GB RAM, Windows 7 for $504.99 with $9.99 shipping (normally $749.99 – use coupon code: PC599Q4).

Lenovo H500 2.41GHz Dual-core Intel Celeron Mini Tower Desktop w/4GB RAM, 1TB Hard Drive & Windows 8.1 with Bing for $199.99 with free shipping (normally $319 – use coupon code: H500CLEARANCE).

Phones & Tablets:

HTC One M8 32GB Windows Phone [w/ new 2-year Verizon Wireless contract] for $49.99 with free shipping (normally $199).

Lenovo Yoga 10 HD+ 32GB 10.1″ 1080p Quad-core Android Tablet w/ Dual Cameras for $299.99 with free shipping (normally $399).


1TB Lenovo F800 WiFi or USB 3.0 Storage, 4000mAh Battery for $110 with free shipping (normally $249.99 – use coupon code: USP1SP346171).

24-inch Dell UP2414Q UltraSharp 3840×2160 IPS Monitor for $799.99 with free shipping (normally $799.99 – use 20% coupon code: WQWGLVD2MG7NM9).

27-inch Dell UZ2715H UltraSharp 1080p Anti-glare IPS Monitor w/ 2MP Webcam, USB 3.0 Hub for $359.99 with free shipping (normally $449.99 – use 20% coupon code: WQWGLVD2MG7NM9).

Turtle Beach Call of Duty: Ghosts Ear Force Shadow Limited Edition Gaming Headset for $49.99 with free shipping (normally $99).

MAXMADE 11,000mAh Dual-USB Power Bank & Car Jump Starter, Flashlight for $54.99 with free shipping (normally $119.99).

Polar Loop activity tracker review


Polar, who is well known for their heart rate sensors and sports watches, have a new wrist worn activity tracker called the Loop. The gadget category of activity trackers is so crowded that competition is fierce. Let’s see how the Polar Loop measures up.

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skydrop sprinkler controller checks the weather before watering your lawn


Skydrop is a smart controller that connects directly to your lawn sprinkler system using WiFi. It can measure the soil conditions of your yard like humidity, temperature, wind, solar radiation and slope along with hyper-local weather data to help create a watering schedule that will conserve both water and money by preventing over watering. Skydrop works with most existing sprinkler systems so that all you need to replace is the controller, which can be done easily in about 10 minutes. Once installed you can manage your skydrop controller using the controller itself which can be mounted on a wall, or your computer, tablet or smartphone. The skydrop Sprinkler Controller is priced at $299.00 and is available from

Reactions to Apple, nickels that point north, Martian watches and more – Weekly roundup


To help make sure that you didn’t miss any of our gadget related news, reviews or articles from this past week we’ve compiled a list for you. Click through to see the full list of news, reviews and articles from this past week. You can thank us later.

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Let Iron Man power your gadgets


If you have a thing for Tony Stark aka Iron Man and also have a thing for gadgets, I have the perfect accessory to cover both. It’s the MARVEL Iron Man 3 Mark XLII (42) Armor Power Bank 5000mAh (Limited Edition) from Brando. Brando sent us an Iron Man inspired power bank that we reviewed last year which featured a 4,000mAh charging capacity. This new power bank has been improved to include a 5000mAh lithium-ion battery and a case that looks like Iron Man’s gold and red clad torso. An LED on the top glows white while charging devices and blue while charging the power pack’s battery. If it doesn’t creep you out that his head and limbs are missing, you can purchase one for $59 from Brando.

Misfit Shine activity tracker app is now available for Windows Phone


Of all the activity trackers that I’ve reviewed (there have been a lot!), the one that gets the award for the sleekest, most fashionable and most unique design is the Misfit Shine from Misfit Wearables. The Shine started out only working with iOS devices and then later became compatible with Android devices. Windows Phone users have felt left out until now. Just this week Misfit Wearables announced that they have released a new app for Windows Phone users.

The Misfit Shine app for Windows features include:

  • Graphs for activity and sleep: See detailed daily graphs for activity and sleep data
  • Weight entry: Easily track your weight goal
  • Goal setting : Set and track your activity goal with this motivating feature
  • Shine with friends: connect with other Shine users to share and compete

The app is free from the Windows Store but of course you’ll also need a Misfit Shine activity tracker to use it. Get your Shine at

Shomer-Tec Covert Escape Compass review


Which of these objects does not belong? Would you be surprised if I told you they are all compasses, even the nickel? It’s true. The nickel that you see in the image above is actually the Covert Escape Compass from Shomer-Tec. I was intrigued to learn how an ordinary nickel could be used as a compass, so they sent me one to try. Let’s take it for a spin… literally.
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KontrolFreek wants you to play video games like a boss


KontrolFreek is a company that makes video game accessories that snap directly onto the control sticks for Xbox and PlayStation handheld gaming controllers. These add-ons are compatible with both the new PS4 and Xbox One controllers as well as older console controllers like the Xbox 360 and PS3. They are designed to improve gaming performance, accuracy and comfort. KontrolFreek offer a large variety of different styles and colors like the FPS Freek Vortex which is designed for FPS (first person shooter) games like the new Destiny game where accuracy is of upmost importance. Each package comes with two extenders, one convex stick and one concave stick. The taller FPS Freek is about a half inch tall with a convex top and is intended for your right thumbstick. It gives you more leverage and precision while aiming. The lower profile Freek has a concave top, is only 0.30 inches tall and is designed to add grip to your left thumbstick without adding too much height. Both Freeks are soft with a comfortable rubber thumb pad that has ridges that help keep your thumb right where it needs to be. The FPS Freek Vortex is available from KontrolFreek for $13.99.

Join the dark side with your own posable Darth Vader metal figure

Star Wars geeks will love this one. It’s a 5 inch tall Darth Vader figure from Herocross made of a hybrid metal material (not sure what that means exactly) with over 15 movable joints. The figure comes with four interchangeable hands to give Darth different gestures, a lightsaber (of course) and a display stand. The helmet is even removable if you want to see what Darth is hiding underneath. Speaking of the helmet, is it just me, or does his head looks a little too large for his body? It reminds me a lot of Dark Helmet from the classic Mel Brooks Space Balls movie. This posable figure is priced at $99.90 and is available from Dinosaur Lifestyle. Not a fan of Darth Vader? There is a stormtrooper and a shadow stormtrooper figure available for the same price.

Julie’s gadget diary – I have a new appreciation for screen protectors


Unlike some people, I don’t coddle my smartphones. I almost never use a case and the same can be said for screen protection. I’ve been carrying my phone in the cargo pocket of my pants or my bag for years and have been lucky that I have not to have any mishaps involving drops. With Gorilla Glass displays I figured I didn’t need to worry about scratches anymore. But I changed my mind when I bought my LG G3 a few months ago.

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Reactions to Apple’s iPhone 6 and Watch announcements


You really have to give Apple a lot of credit when it comes to putting on a new product announcement event. They are definitely the masters of hype and showmanship. Even though I say I don’t care about the iPhone anymore, I still get excited just like the rest of the planet to hear about their latest and greatest devices. Today’s announcement in Cupertino, CA found me once again glued to my web browser “watching” live blogs of the event on various web sites. Did Tim Cook and company convince me to ditch my LG G3 Android smartphone for the new iPhone 6 or to consider the new Apple Watch? Keep reading to find out what I and some of the rest of The Gadgeteer team think about these new products from Apple.

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Phorce Pro is a 3 way convertible bag that holds and charges your gear


The Phorce Pro is a briefcase that converts into a backpack or messenger bag. That in itself is not unique; we’ve seen numerous bags that have this ability to convert from one form to another. What sets the Phorce Pro apart from those bags is that it has a built in rechargeable 26,000 mAH lithium-ion battery that will keep your laptop (Mac or PC versions available) and up to two other gear charged on the go. It comes with a universal charging cable with 11 connectors (PC) MacBook charging cable (Mac) and a worldwide travel charger with 4 plugs (USA, EU, UK, Asia). Still not impressed? The bag also pairs with your iOS or Android smartphone via Bluetooth and a special app to allow you to see exactly how much power is left and how many times you can still charge your devices. It will even send a notification to your phone if you accidentally walk away and leave the bag. The Phorce Pro can expand to accommodate more gear as needed, slides over the telescopic handles of your trolley bag for easy transport and it’s water resistant too.

The Phorce Pro is available in red or black and is priced at $699 for the Mac version or $649 for the PC version. They can be ordered directly from and will ship at the end of September.