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Author Archive for Julie Strietelmeier – Page 2

Pressy programmable Android button review

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I bet I’m not the only person who misses the good old days when phones (even smartphones) had a physical button for every task. There was a button to answer a call, a button to end a call and so on. Once touch screens became popular, smartphone manufacturers seemed to stop using buttons almost overnight. One of the main reasons I’ve continued to use Samsung phones is because they still have an actual button at the bottom of the screen. But that’s just one button. I want more, so when I saw the Pressy programmable Android button Kickstarter project last fall, I plunked down my money and waiting for my reward to be delivered. The wait was a long one, but I now have my Pressy in hand, so let’s check it out and see if it was worth the wait.

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Magnets, flashlights, silicone wedding bands and a blanket in your pocket – Weekly roundup

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Another week has gone by and in those last seven days we’ve brought you some great news and reviews including a review of some cool bullet shaped magnets, a unique flashlight that can be stored in a case that also holds three extra batteries, wedding bands made from silicone and a full sized blanket that you can fold up and carry in your pocket. If you haven’t read these posts yet, what are you waiting for? Click through to see the full list of news, reviews and articles from this past week.

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Quick tips: How to really dim the screen of your Android smartphone

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This quick tip is for those of you who like myself, use your Android smartphone as your alarm clock.

Problem: When you check the time on your phone in the middle of the night or early morning hours while it’s still dark outside, you get blinded by the display. Even if you have the brightness turned all the way down, it can still be much too bright when you’ve been in the dark or asleep for many hours. It can almost be painful.  Read More →

Firefly turns wheelchairs into 3 wheeled “motorcycles”

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Rio Mobility’s Firefly offers a new method of transportation for adults and children who are confined to a wheelchair but still have use of their hands and arms. The Firefly is an electric powered handcycle that straps to an existing wheelchair that doubles the speed and distance of conventional power wheelchairs. It’s fully adjustable for compatibility with a large variety of different sized makes / models of wheelchairs for children and adults. The Firefly features a motorcycle-style throttle with 5 power levels and 12mph speeds. The high-capacity lithium battery provides a 15 mile range that includes hills. The large front tire will even let you go on off road adventures. It weighs about 25 lbs (without the battery) and easily snaps on and off your wheelchair for easy storage when its not in use.

Check out this video of it in action:

The Rio Mobility Firefly is priced at $1950.00. Depending on the circumstance, health insurance, non-profit organizations, or through grants may be able to help with the purchase.

Visit Rio Mobility for more info on the Firefly and their other mobility products.

LazyBunz are water floats that let you sit upright

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Summer activities often include spending time at the beach or lake enjoying the water. If you’re not a fan of inner tubes, swimming noodles, and life jackets as a way to float in the water, check out the LazyBunz water floats for adults. They are bright vinyl covered floats that are made in the USA and can hold up to 300 lbs. What makes them unique is that they are designed to be straddled and turn into a floating “chair” when you sit on them, allowing freedom of movement for your arms and legs. LazyBunz lay flat, so they store easier than some of the other floatation devices. Be aware though that they are not approved as a US Coast Guard lifesaving device. They do look like fun though! LazyBunz are available in 4 colors and are priced at $39.99 each which does seem too high to me for what it is. Also be aware that shipping is $14, but if you buy $100 worth of LazyBunz floats, shipping is free. Visit LazyBunz.com for more info.

Kensington’s new KeyFolio Thin X3 keyboard can charge your smartphone too

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We review a lot of external battery packs here on The Gadgeteer. They come in all manner of shapes, sizes and colors, but they all suffer from one problem – they are just one more thing you have to carry around with you. One solution to this problem is to use gadgets that have a dual purpose like the new Kensington KeyFolio Thin X3 keyboard. The X3 is a Bluetooth keyboard made especially for the iPad Air that features what Kensington calls PowerLift technology which allows the user to draw power from their keyboard case to charge any smartphone. The battery capacity is only 1650 mAh, so it might not fully recharge your phone, but it will provide enough power to continue working for a few hours. The keyboard also offers high-performance scissor keys, a row of dedicated shortcut keys, and a KeySense Power Channel that automatically turns the Bluetooth keyboard on and off when it’s opened and ready for typing.

The Kensington KeyFolio Thin X3 keyboard is priced at $99.99 and is available for pre-order through Kensington and Amazon. The keyboard will be available August 1st.

Cut costs and energy with Philips new PowerSensor displays

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Philip’s has just announced two new PowerSensor LED displays that cut energy costs up to 80% by detecting a user’s presence and automatically reducing the brightness when the person steps away from their computer. This not only reduces energy consumption and your electric bill, but it also helps prolong the life of the monitor. The PowerSensor displays feature a SmartErgoBase that allows for adjustments to height, swivel, tilt and rotation angle. They both offer a 5ms response time, 1000:1 typical contrast ratio and 16.7M colors.

The Philips PowerSensor displays come in a 24-inch (model 241B4LPYCB) and a 27-inch (model 271S4LPYEB) and are available now through distributors for $249.99 and $349.99 respectively. Visit Philips for more info.

Past meets future with the Qwerkywriter mechanical keyboard

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When I was a kid, I used my mom’s old Underwood typewriter to write my own stories and newsletters that only myself and my sister read. I loved that typewriter, fitting in a piece of paper, twisting the knob on the platen to position the paper, pressing down the keys and seeing the individual type bars raise, strike the inked ribbon over the paper as the carriage moved to the left and then when it reached the right side of the paper, a whack of the return bar moved the carriage back to the starting position and advanced the paper one line. The sound, feel and even smell of that old typewriter had me dreaming of being a writer when I grew up. These days I type on plastic keyboards that get the job done, but aren’t nearly as romantic as that old Underwood typewriter. If you also appreciate retro style, you might find the Qwerkywriter Kickstarter project very interesting. It’s not exactly a manual typewriter, but it sure looks like one, right down to the platen and carriage return bar (they are there just for show and don’t have a function – yet). The Qwerkywriter features 84 keys, custom typewriter inspired keycaps, an integrated tablet stand, and USB connectivity. It certainly looks very cool and is definitely more compact than the USB Typewriter conversion kit that we told you about almost 4 years ago. If this looks like something you’d love to have, head on over to the Qwerkywriter Kickstarter page and sign up to pledge $289. Hurry up though, the project ends on 7/3/14. The only problem I can see with this project other than the price is that you won’t receive your typewriter until August of 2015. I have patience, but not sure I have that much patience.

Thanks to Betty W. for the tip!

Cartegram is a global scavenger hunt game

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Cartegram is a Kickstarter campaign for a scavenger hunt game that gets you off the couch and outside exploring your own town. Don’t worry, it’s not like geocaching where you have to use a GPS and sometimes cryptic clues to find the cache. Cartegram looks to be a significantly easier than that because everyone who plays will have a different take on each step along the way. Cartegram consists of a pocket notebook and stickers. The notebook has stages that prompt you to find something in your own surroundings. For example, the first one tells you to find a library. The next step is to stick the included icon (sticker) for that stage on an object and take a picture with your smartphone. You’re then prompted to share it on Instagram with the #cartegram tag and stage number so other players can compare their own findings for that stage. The 2 inch stickers are biodegradable and are meant to disappear with moisture (or you could just take the pic and then remove the sticker…). If this sounds like fun, head on over to the Kickstarter campaign page and make a pledge. Pledges start at $15 for one notebook and go up to $50 for a pack of five. Funding ends on 7/22/14.

WaterField Designs celebrates America’s birthday with their new Franklin Tote

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In honor of our country’s 238th birthday, WaterField Designs has just announced their new Franklin Tote, a leather shoulder bag made here in the good old USA. The tote is made of full-grain leather that has been naturally-tanned in one of the few remaining US tanneries. The bag is 14.5″ x 13″ x 4.75″ and has a nice selection of organizational pockets on the inside that include 2 open-topped tablet-sized pockets, a zippered pocket with additional pockets inside it and an exterior magazine pocket with a zippered pocket hidden inside. You have a choice of six nylon accent colors: black, copper, flame, green, pearl or pine. The Franklin Tote is priced at $289 and is currently available for pre-order from SFBags.com. Shipping begins July 7, 2014.

Tokyoflash watch giveaway!

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Tokyoflash Japan is offering one lucky Gadgeteer reader their choice of one free watch from their huge collection high tech wrist watches. We feature their watches here on a regular basis, so you know that Tokyoflash watches are unique, fun and oh yeah, they tell time. Continue reading for full contest details.  Read More →

TiMaG Titanium magnets review

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My fascination and love of magnets goes way back. As a kid I used to dismantle the motors of small appliances and toys with the sole purpose of extracting the magnets. I don’t destroy things anymore to get magnets, but I still like them – a lot. I was very happy to accept the offer to do a quick review of TiMaG Titanium magnets from Tactical Keychains based in Iowa. TiMaG is an active Kickstarter project currently seeking funding. Let’s take a look.

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eBook watch: Mytro by John Biggs

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My goal is to make more time in my day to read. I love reading but that seems to be one activity that gets pushed aside when my days get busy. That stops today. And the first book that I plan to read is Mytro by John Biggs. John is a Brooklyn NY based tech writer who has written for some of our favorite geek sites like Gizmodo. John is currently an editor at Techcrunch.com and has written a couple of non-fiction internet related books. His current work is a young adult sci-fi fantasy book about a secret underground subway system that can take you anywhere you want to go in a matter of seconds. John went the DIY publishing route for this book and sought crowd funding through an Indiegogo project that ended successfully this past January. I did not help fund the project, but I did get to read the first chapter, which I liked well enough to buy the eBook from Amazon. I’ll add a review to this post once I finish the book.

For more info about this book and 10 free chapters, visit http://johnbiggsbooks.com/book/mytro/

Withings Activité hides an activity tracker in a classy watch

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I’m a big fan of Withings health and fitness gadgets. I have reviewed their wireless body scale, their wireless blood pressure monitor and their Pulse activity trackers. Their newest fitness gadget is the Activité activity tracking watch which pairs a Swiss-made movement with a fashionable design. It features a stainless steel case and a fine leather strap. A secondary analog dial on the face of the watch tracks your daily step goal and the watch can also track calorie burn and your sleep patterns. The watch will sync with the Withings app on your mobile device. Available in black or silver, the Activité will be available this fall. The price is set at $390 which is pretty spendy for an activity tracker… even if it does look as nice as this one.

Visit Withings.com for more info.

Gadgets for your eyes, ears and stomach – Weekly roundup

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This week we brought you a selection of news and gadget reviews for your eyes, like the LG 29EA73 29 inch LED monitor and the SnapRays Guidelight. We also had something for your ears with Bill’s review of the Spirit headphones from Focal. We didn’t forget your stomach either. We had a review of the iDevices Bluetooth Connected Kitchen Thermometer and Janet told us about a better juice box for your kids. Click through for a full list of this week’s articles and news.
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Ukulele’s made of plant fiber the next big thing?

I posted this earlier today on my Ukulele Review site:

Some people may march to the beat of a different drummer, but as a fan of 4 stringed instruments you might strum to the rhythm of a different ukulele. We’ve reviewed ukuleles made of plastic like the Flea and the BugsGear, and we’ve even shown you a ukulele made of LEGO. But how about a ukulele made of flax fiber? The Blackbird Clara ukulele is made of eco-friendly Ekoa composites. It’s the first flax-fiber string instrument on the market. Prices for the Clara concert ukulele start at $1150. Visit the Clara page to learn more.

Using alternative materials to make popular products has always interested me. Blackbird claims that this musical instrument made from plant fiber has a vintage ukulele sound. I agree that it does sound good in their video and I would very much like to try one sometime. However I do wish they offered one with a more traditional shape.

OnSlot is a screen cleaner that stores on your camera’s hot shoe

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When I first saw the OnSlot On-Hot Shoe Cleaner I was confused because I didn’t know there was such a huge problem with dirty hot shoes on our cameras. But then I read the product description and learned that the hot shoe is just a place to store the OnSlot when you’re not using it.

The OnSlot is a screen cleaner that sits on the hot shoe of your camera so it’s always close by when you need it. It’s been designed for cleaning glass LCD screens like the ones found on digital cameras. It uses a replaceable fine microfiber cleaning pad which removes smudges, dust, oil and grease. In addition to camera screens, OnSlot can also be used to clean screens on laptops, tablets, smartphones and many other devices. It features an attractive wood block that is available in black, white and rosewood finishes. You can even get OnSlots with engraved images on top. The plain versions are priced at $9.95-$19.95 and the engraved versions are $21.95. For more info visit Ztylus.

Just Mobile announces new AluPen Digital active stylus

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Just Mobile is the latest mobile accessory maker to begin offering an active stylus. Active styluses are battery powered fine tipped styluses that do not require Bluetooth pairing or proprietary apps. The AluPen Digital features a 1.8mm tip, an aluminum body, a pocket clip and a twist action barrel that extends and retracts the clip to keep it protected when it’s not being used, a feature absent in other active styluses I’ve reviewed. This stylus is powered by one AAA battery and is compatible with the full range of iOS devices from iPhone to iPod touch and iPad. I’m surprised that Android compatibility isn’t mentioned as other active styluses that I’ve tried do work with Android.

The Just Mobile AluPen Digital active stylus will sell for $49.95 and will available mid July.

Snap Power SnapRays Guidelight review

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How many of these do you have scattered around your house? Would you like to free up your outlets but still have the functionality of a night light that only turns on when it’s dark? Me too, that’s why I helped fund the wildly successful SnapRays Kickstarter project earlier this year. I was very excited when my package arrived yesterday with 3 SnapRays Guidelights and I wasted no time installing my first one. Let me show you.

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iDevices Bluetooth Connected Kitchen Thermometer review

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In my household, I’m usually the one who makes dinner every night because I get off work first. I like to cook, but it cuts into my Gadgeteer work time if I am constantly running up and down the stairs to check the temperature of something that I’m baking in the oven. I’ve always wanted to get an electronic thermometer, but have never gotten around to buying one. Lucky for me that the folks at iDevices asked me to review their Kitchen Thermometer. This is a similar device to their iGrillmini which Dave reviewed a few months ago. Time to get cooking!

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LG 21:9 UltraWide IPS LED monitor (29EA73) review

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When I sold my 27 inch iMac a few years ago and switched to a 13 inch Macbook Air, it took me a little time to get used to having less screen real estate. For the most part I haven’t had too much trouble doing my work on the small screen. But for the last few weeks I’ve been testing a 29 inch widescreen LG 29EA73-P monitor sent to me from Misco.co in the UK and wow, now I feel like I can stretch out and I like it. Maybe I miss my 27″ iMac more than I thought I did…

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Qi wireless charger + Car = I want

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Last week I posted an article about two of my Cummins Inc. co-workers who had integrated a Nexus 7 tablet into the dash of their vehicles. Since posting that article, I’ve become a little obsessed with figuring out a solution for my MINI Cooper that doesn’t involve replacing the stock radio or any other extreme mods to the car itself. I’m looking for relatively inexpensive ways to use my current phone – the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 as the brain of the system. One thing I know I’ll need is a way to keep my phone powered during my drives. I know that I can use a regular micro USB cable plugged into a cigarette lighter adapter, but since I already charge wirelessly indoors, I want to do the same thing in my car. So I’ve been shopping for a Qi wireless car charger. There aren’t very many on the market, but I did see two potential chargers on Brando’s site. He’s selling the Universal Wireless Car Charger and Holder for Smartphones ($36) which uses rows of suction cups to hold your device as well as a suction cup to hold the charger to your dash or window. If suction cups to hold your device sounds a little sketchy, Brando sells another Wireless Charging Car Holder ($48) that features 3 charging coils to make it easier to position your device. This one uses a clamp to hold the phone, which seems safer than the suction cups. Both of them look nice enough, but my preference would be a magnetic holder, so my search continues. Stay tuned for updates to my car modding adventures.

Liftware gives those with hand tremors a better experience at meal time

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Most of us take a lot for granted. We give almost zero thought to holding a spoon or fork, scooping up a bite of food, lifting it to our mouth and eating. It’s something we all do multiple times every single day. It’s a no-brainer. But for people who suffer from Essential Tremor and Parkinson’s Disease, the normally simple task of moving food from plate to mouth is a struggle that can turn what should be an enjoyable meal time activities into a task that is both frustrating and often embarrassing. The scientists and engineers at Lift Labs have create a solution for this problem. The Liftware is a battery powered stabilizing handle with an interchangeable spoon and fork attachment. When activated, the sensor will detect the tremor in the hand that is holding it and will cancel 70% of the movement, allowing the person to focus on enjoying the meal and the people who they are with more than the act of eating. Liftware sells for $295 and comes with a spoon attachment, but fork and soup spoon attachments are available separately for $19.95 each.

Visit http://www.liftlabsdesign.com/ for more info.

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Speakers and cameras and car mods oh my – Weekly roundup

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Happy first day of Summer! If you’ve been outside all week, you might have missed some of our posts which is obviously not a good thing for you or us. To help you out, here’s a list of everything we’ve posted in the last week. There’s a lot of good stuff here including a review of Audioengine’s A2 speakers from Bill H, an article about integrating the Nexus 7 tablet into the dash of your car and a lot of interesting news like the build your own computer kit that Janet told us about. Go grab yourself a nice cold drink, pull up a chair and catch up. Click through to see the full list of news, reviews and articles from this past week.

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Quick tips: How to hide notification icons in the Android status bar

quicktips

You love Android and I love Android, but there always seems to be some “feature” that will drive me crazy until I can find a way to make it work the way that I want it to work instead of the way that Android wants it to work.

Problem: Notification icons on the left side of the status bar at the top of the screen that have no redeeming value other than to be distracting and take up space.

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