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Author Archive for Kathleen Chapman

Knock ‘em dead with iPunch

iPunch

“We can rebuild him. We have the technology. We can make him better than he was. Better… stronger… faster” (cue the 6 Million Dollar Man theme). Responsive Sports has developed this exciting new sports training tool to help you improve your punching skills with the 4 ounce MMA style iPunch smart combat gloves. They have sensors incorporated into the gloves that transmit data via Bluetooth Smart to an Android/iOS app. The app features the following tools: iPunch Trainer, 3 Minute Round, and Test of Strength. The iPunch Trainer gives you audible directions to punch along with and increases in difficulty as your skills improve. The 3 Minute Round allows you to practice skills for three minutes, after which you can review your punches. It saves each three minute round in your profile and syncs it to their website where you can track your progress. Test of Strength allows you to compare your best punch with your friend’s (you get three tries). Note that the iPunch gloves are not meant for sparring but rather for training using a punching bag or pads. The gloves are charged using a USB cable (included) connected to your computer and will last for up to 15 hours of continuous use or for 300 3 Minute Rounds.

This is a crowdfunded project and you can pre-order your iPunch gloves through Indiegogo for $139 for the first 150 supporters, $149 after.

Zetta Z16 HD Wide Angle Intelligent Security Camcorder review

Zetta Z16 1

We live in a gated community and just a few years ago, things were stolen out of our car while it was parked in our driveway in broad daylight (we had forgotten to lock it that day). We never found out who had perpetrated the crime, but I remember wishing I had some kind of security camera to catch the person(s). There are many security camcorders out there and the Zetta Z16 HD Wide Angle Intelligent Security Camcorder is one of them. I wanted to know if it would work well enough to protect our car and home.

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Expert Shield Screen Protector review

Expert Shield 1

I have a Fujifilm X-M1 camera that I purchased not too long ago. I thoroughly enjoy using this camera and intend to take good care of it. I had been thinking about purchasing a screen protector for the LCD screen to protect it from scratches, especially when I wear the camera around my neck and it rubs against me as I move about. Before I had the time to seriously go hunting for one, lo and behold, one was offered to the Gadgeteer to review. I have not had the best experience with previous screen protectors, but from the sound of the Expert Shield Screen Protectors’ descriptions, I was definitely interested in trying it out.

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Smarter toasters are hitting the streets – no, not the Cylons (at least not yet)

Dualit 4 Slot Lite Toaster 1

It’s early in the morning. You have mouths to feed. The first round of toast comes out perfectly, but the second round? Burned! Grrr! Dualit has solved this problem. The Dualit 2 Slot and 4 Slot Lite Toasters are made with Dualit’s patented Climate Sensing Toasting Cycle technology. This technology detects the temperature of the toaster and surroundings to calculate the correct toasting time. Thus, after the first round of toast, the toaster and environment will be warmer such that the subsequent rounds will take less time to toast at that particular toasting level.  These toasters also have a Peek and Pop function that allows you to manually lift the lever to check on the browning of your toast without having to stop the timer. In addition, the toasters have a defrost function, a bagel and buns function where one side is toasted while the other is warmed, a high lift mechanism that allows for easy removal of small items, a removable crumb tray, and slots that are 36mm wide. Also, if you purchase the optional Lite sandwich cage, you can even toast your sandwiches quickly! You may not want to pay the $139.99 for the Dualit 4 Slot Lite Toaster from Amazon for yourself, but it might make a family member or friend a nice gift!

Revolve+ Surge Protector with 4 Rotating Outlets + 2 USB review

Revolve+ 1

Houses, even new ones, just don’t come with enough outlets. Our house was built only five years ago and we constantly need power strips to provide enough outlets to power all our various gadgets and appliances. I recently bought a surge protector that I thought had rotating outlets to accommodate the various sizes of AC adapters that we have, but since I didn’t look very carefully at it, I was disappointed (the covers of the outlets rotated, not the outlets). When the opportunity came to try the Revolve+ Surge Protector with 4 Rotating Outlets and 2 USB, I was eager to do so.

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Logitech x300 Mobile Wireless Stereo Speaker review

Logitech x300 1

Pink, pink, PINK!! This is a very pink speaker, indeed. Was that your first impression as it was mine? Anyway, to the point. I’ve been in the market for an ultra-portable speaker for a while now, but have not been impressed with some of the options out there for the price (it’s not a pressing need and so I’ve made do without one). When the Gadgeteer was offered this speaker to try, I wanted to try it out to see if this would suit my needs.

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Exercise enthusiasts really need smarter socks…

Sensoria Fitness Socks 1

Do your feet hurt after exercising? It could be the way you land on your feet. How would you know how to correct that? Well, obviously you need smarter socks. The Sensoria Fitness Socks may be what your aching feet need. The material of the socks incorporates sensors that connect via Bluetooth to an anklet and track the number of steps, speed, distance and altitude, calories, and foot landing technique. This has the potential to help you to improve your form and decrease the amount of exercise related injuries. The app will even give you real-time audio cues as you exercise! The socks come with an anklet (which attaches to one of the socks magnetically), an anklet charger, and work with an app made for iPhones (at least iOS 6) and Android smartphones (at least OS 4.3).

The Sensoria Fitness Socks, which come in white, black, pink, and blue, are due to be released August 30, 2014 and are available for pre-sale from Sensoria Fitness for $149. These are some really expensive socks, but they may spare you from even more expensive trips to the doctor due to injuries!

RCA Ultra-thin Multi-directional Indoor Amplified HDTV Antenna review

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It’s been about 12 years now since we’ve dropped cable TV. At the time, we were living paycheck to paycheck and decided that cable (among other things) was one of those expenses that was not necessary. We bought an antenna (rabbit ears style – they were cheap) to receive over-the-air (OTA) channels and dealt with the frustration of having to continually adjust the antenna to receive all of our channels while living in rural Wisconsin. Even though things have been better for us financially since we moved to Texas five years ago, we made the conscious decision not to go back to cable or satellite TV. Instead, like many people out there, we decided to continue using our antenna for OTA free channels and pay for streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime. The only thing we’ve neglected to do was update our antenna. Now that we live in Fort Worth, Texas, we get most of our channels clearly with our rabbit ears antenna and only have to adjust it for certain stations. This is still a frustration, so when given the chance to review the new RCA Ultra-thin Multi-directional Indoor Amplified HDTV Antenna, I was eager to give it a try.

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“The Vessyl with the pestle has the brew that is true…”

Vessyl-2

Most of our appliances communicate with us now, so it was only a matter of time before our dinnerware did too. The Vessyl, created by a company called Mark One, is a 13 ounce cup that contains sensors which can determine the type of drink (including sodas, alcohol, smoothies, tea, coffee, etc.) as well as the contents of your drink at the molecular level. The cup has a display that will show basic information, like what you are drinking and the number of calories. To activate the display, you just lift the cup, tilt it and observe the display located where the facets on the cup are. The cup connects to your iOS or Android phone via Bluetooth 4.0 and works with an app (iOS and Android) to track what you are drinking, how many calories are consumed, and your hydration level. It also tracks the amounts of sugar, protein, fat, caffeine, etc. that are consumed. It syncs with popular activity trackers, has a spill proof magnetic lid, and comes with a wireless charging base that charges the cup in about one hour. After the cup is charged, it will function for about five to seven days. Even though you will have to take it with you everywhere, pour everything you drink into it, and clean it by hand (it is not recommended for the dishwasher, freezer or microwave), isn’t your health worth it?

The Vessyl is available for pre-order for $99, but will cost $199 when released in 2015. Let us raise our Vessyls to our good health.  Cheers!

Get more GOOOOALS with the miCoach Smart Ball

MiCoach Smart Ball 2

Adidas has created the miCoach Smart Ball for young and adult soccer players who are serious about improving various dead ball shot skills (i.e. penalty kicks, goal kicks, corner kicks, etc.). The sensors inside the ball monitor statistics like speed, power, spin, impact points, and trajectory, which are then sent via Bluetooth 4.0 to the iOS app on your iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch devices running iOS 7 or higher (no support for Android). This ball will help with drills, but not necessarily help with scrimmages or kicks along the ground (the ball must be airborne). The app also helps train the player for ball mastery by providing you with video libraries of drills, and with tips and guidance. The miCoach Smart Ball comes with a charging base and AC charging adapter to allow for wireless charging.

Technical Specifications:

  • Size 5 regulation weight
  • 32 heat-welded die-cut TPU outer panels with integrated sensor package; TPU bladder; requires inflation
  • Battery life: ~2,000 kicks / one week
  • Charging time: ~one hour
  • Package includes charging base and AC power plug

The miCoach Smart Ball is available from Adidas for only $299.

Bem Wireless Boom Box review

Bem Boom Box 1

It’s raining Bluetooth speakers! They’re everywhere, aren’t they? Ultra-portable Bluetooth speakers are handy to take anywhere, but they often sacrifice audio quality for size. If you don’t mind porting around a larger Bluetooth speaker, you can then become a little more discerning when it comes to the sound quality. The Bem Wireless Boom Box is one of those larger speakers. How does it perform in its class? I’m not an audiophile, but I really enjoy full, rich sound when listening to music, so when offered the chance to review the Bem Boom Box, I was curious to see if I would enjoy my music using this speaker.

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PlantLink review

PlantLink 1A

I wonder if there is a Plant Killers Anonymous organization out there. If so, I would definitely be a member. “Hello, My name is Kathleen, I’m a biologist and I kill plants.” As a college student I studied mostly animal biology and didn’t focus on plant studies. At the time I thought, “Seriously, what does a plant really DO? It just sits there!” But since then I have filled my house with beautiful leafy green plants because I have learned to appreciate their beauty and health benefits as well as the peace and calm they bring to our domestic atmosphere. Only a couple of years ago I bought two beautiful majesty palm plants. Since then one has died and the other is currently struggling. Ugh! When the opportunity came up to review the PlantLink, a wireless soil moisture monitoring tool that will send you notifications when your plants need water, my plants begged me to try it! Will it help me (and others like me) water my plants correctly? I know my plants are “dying” to know!

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Nymi: use your unique cardiac rhythm to replace all of your passwords

Nymi

Most of us have so many logins and accounts with passwords that it has become necessary to use password managers just to keep them all straight. The obvious intention for all of these passwords is to make sure you are who you say you are before you are granted access. Nymi, a new biometric authentication device, aims to replace all other ways to authenticate our identities and make them more secure. Each person has a unique cardiac rhythm. The basic pattern is the same but there are small unique and identifiable differences which are always present whether you’ve just exercised, have a heart arrhythmia, or just drank a cup of coffee. The developers at Bionym have put a lot of thought into the security of the device. It requires three things working together to authenticate you: the Nymi wristband, your unique heart rhythm, and the secure application on a registered device. Once you have been authenticated, you will remain so until you remove the wristband.

How it works: The Authorized Authentic Device or AAD is the device (a smart phone, tablet, or computer) that has the official Nymi companion app installed which will perform the authentication process. The Nymi wristband has two electrodes, one that comes into contact with the wrist and another on top of the wristband on which to place the opposite finger to capture the user’s electrocardiogram (ECG). The Nymi enrolls the user by capturing and sending wirelessly (via Bluetooth 4.0) over a secure channel the user’s ECG to the AAD which is then encrypted and stored to use as a template to compare future ECG’s to authenticate the user. Once the user is authenticated, the Nymi becomes activated and the AAD is no longer needed unless the Nymi is removed. Then the Nymi can be used to send the digital credentials of the user (not the ECG) to any of the user’s Nymi Enabled Devices (e.g. payment systems, smart phones, tablets, and any Bluetooth device). It will only authenticate with those devices it has been paired with using a secure protocol.

“The possibilities for future applications are endless. This level of personalization makes the Nymi ideal for hotels, clubs, airports, retail stores, corporate and government offices, in addition to our homes and personal accounts. The Nymi will be the key to the future of smart technology and seamless user experiences.” -Bionym

You can preorder your Nymi for $79 and for more information about Nymi’s technical details visit Bionym’s website.

CableBox by Bluelounge is an simple way to organize your cable mess

CableBox 2

Who doesn’t have an absolute mess of cables around their entertainment center and desk? But the CableBox from Bluelounge has a “Why didn’t I think of that?” design for organizing (or hiding) your tangled mess of cables. The box and easily removable lid are made of fire retardant plastic and is 15.6″ long x 6″ wide x 5.3″ high which should fit most wide and long power strips and surge protectors while at the same time leaving enough room to store excess cord lengths and AC adapters. It contains slots on both ends to allow the cables to exit the box in either direction. Rubber pads on the bottom of the box keep it from sliding on and/or scratching hardwood floors. The CableBox is available in black or white from Bluelounge and sells for $29.95. The CableBox Mini (9.3″L x 4.6″W x 5.2″H) can be found in black, white, green, blue, pink, yellow, and orange from Bluelounge for $29.95 and online sellers like Rakuten for about the same price.

Soniclean VTplus Upright Vacuum and Handheld Vacuum review

Soniclean 2

A sonic vacuum cleaner?! No way! Yes way! When the opportunity came to test a sonic vacuum cleaner, the Soniclean VTplus Upright, I was intrigued and so I jumped at the chance to review it. And let’s just face it – most people don’t like to clean, but since it is a necessary task, we want the best tools for the job. Will the Soniclean upright vacuum stand out among the rest? I also received the Soniclean Handheld Vacuum (which does not use the sonic technology). How did it fare in the tests? Read on!

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Reclaim your valuable desk space using the IDAPT Wireless Charger i4w Qi

IDAPT Universal Charger

At one time or another throughout a day, desk space can easily become cluttered with gadgets galore sitting and charging (has anyone seen the mouse?). Rediscover the surface of your desk with the IDAPT Wireless Charger i4w Qi. When using this charger, you will use only a small amount of space to charge up to four devices simultaneously, eliminate cable clutter, and actually be able to do some work at your desk! This charger uses an interchangeable tip system for up to two devices, Qi wireless charging for one device, and Turbo Smart USB (10W/2A) for one device. Included with this charger are four of IDAPT’s tips (extended tips are available for phones with cases) that can be swapped to charge the appropriate device and charge at 0.5W/1A each: iPhone – Lightning, iPod-iPhone, micro USB, mini USB. Charging does not slow down when used with multiple devices and the charger is compatible with over 5000 devices including current and older smartphones, tablets, gaming consoles, cameras and Bluetooth devices. It recognizes iOS devices and Android devices and fast charges both at a rate comparable to their respective OEM chargers. Now your only dilemma is what to do with all those other superfluous chargers…

The price is listed for $109.99. Check out the IDAPT web site to be notified when this charger becomes available.

RAVPower 30W/6A 4-Port USB Wall Charger review

RAVPower 1

I am always on the hunt for an open outlet to charge my devices. And where are they located? Generally behind some piece of furniture! It’s a wonder I haven’t become a contortionist by now after all the practice I’ve had squeezing into narrow spaces to plug in our phones and tablets. Older houses or hotels make finding an outlet especially challenging with a distinct lack of this precious real estate. Hence, there is an increased demand for multiport wall chargers. The RAVPower 30W/6A 4-port USB Wall Charger is one of many that are currently available. How well does this charger work and is there anything that makes it stand out from the plethora of wall chargers out there? Let’s take a look.

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Magically turn on your lights with a wave of your hand using the iON capacitive switch

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You’ve just come home to a dark house and your arms are full of groceries. With the wave of an arm or hand over the iON capacitive switch, you can turn on (or off) your lights without having to set your groceries down! And for the germaphobes out there, you no longer have to touch the switch! This switch works like your smartphone screen but with increased sensitivity so no contact is necessary. It can be covered up by pictures and still work. You can also wirelessly connect these switches to your home network which then allows you to control them from your cell phone if you wish.

iON Switching is currently raising funds on Kickstarter for the next 12 days where you can reserve a switch with a pledge of $40.

Yellow Jacket backup battery case/stun gun for iPhone 4/4S and soon iPhone 5/5S

Yellow Jacket3

Now there’s protection for your phone AND you with the Yellow Jacket rechargeable backup battery case /stun gun. This case comes with a removable stun gun pack and provides protection for your iPhone 5/5S using TPE soft plastic (PC/ABS hard plastic on the iPhone 4/4S case) and doubles the life of your phone’s battery (1800mAh).  The iPhone 5/5S stun gun case has dual push triggers which allow you to activate the stun gun with either hand and deliver 950,000 volts at 1.3mA to an attacker (650,000 volts with the 4/4S case). The Yellow Jacket case has a swiveling electrode cap and a safety switch to prevent accidental discharge and measures 5.6″ x 2.6″ x 1″.

It should be pointed out that this stun gun is not a taser. A taser will launch probes that attach to an attacker then deliver electric current at a higher amperage than a stun gun and will incapacitate the attacker via loss of muscle control. The Yellow Jacket stun gun case is a direct contact weapon. It does not eject its electrodes and it delivers electric current at a much reduced amperage (1.3 mA or less) which creates a short burst of pain when the electrodes come into contact with an attacker.

The Yellow Jacket iPhone 4/4S case is available through Amazon for $99 in black, pink, white, and yellow and the iPhone 5/5S case is available for preorder from Yellow Jacket online for $149.99.

FINIS Neptune – an updated waterproof MP3 player with Bone Conduction audio transmission

Neptune2

Like most of you out there, I don’t jump out of bed in the morning saying to myself “YES! I’m going to go and do a grueling workout RIGHT NOW!!” I need music to motivate me. So do swimmers. The Gadgeteer has reported on various waterproof music gadgets in the past like the FINIS swiMP3v2 and the FINIS swiMP3.1G waterproof MP3 players. The FINIS Neptune is an updated version of those devices and appears to have made a few improvements on them. The Neptune is made up of three pieces (instead of two) all of which attach to your goggles: two speakers that rest against your cheek bones and the player that rests against that back of your head. The player has an OLED screen from which you can view and scroll through your the audio files and it supports the most popular file formats like AAC, MP3, and WMA. There is also a greater amount of storage space (4GB) for your music, audio books and podcasts. The Neptune, like the swiMP3 models, is waterproof up to three meters, works using Bone Conduction audio which transmits sound waves through your cheek bones directly to your inner ear, and you still upload and charge your unit via a USB cable. The FINIS Neptune sells on Amazon for $107.53. Okay folks, no more excuses! Let your music motivate you and encourage you to work out longer, harder and faster!

Gadgeteer: Show us your desk series – Kathleen

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I know that this is a series about each of the Gadgeteer members’ desks and what things we use to do our work, but since I have just started as a Gadgeteer, I will also show you where I do my homeschool teaching. To begin with, science and technology are in my blood, but so is frugality. I’m at constant war with myself because there are many gadgets I would love to buy, but it has to be within our budget. As it is, here is our very basic office. My husband and I share this desk which is made of solid natural cherry and was our biggest office expense, but I love it! We have just upgraded our computer to an Dell Inspiron 3847 PC where I will most likely do all of my Gadgeteer work. We will also be transitioning to a wireless mouse and keyboard (wires drive me crazy!!), but for now my USB Dell mouse and keyboard do the job. I haven’t yet established just where my photo studio will be or what tools I will use to do my photography work for the Gadgeteer, so there is nothing to show you on that front. Right now, I am using a Canon point and shoot but will be upgrading to a mirrorless digital camera soon.  Read More →

Deal: Amazon Appstore celebrates 3rd birthday by offering 14 free apps until 3-22 and other deals until 3-29

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To celebrate its third birthday, the Amazon Appstore is offering 14 free apps through Saturday, March 22. In addition, they are offering discounts off selected apps and an in-app promotion for others in which in-app purchases will receive 50% back in Amazon coins. These other deals last through March 29.

Here are the apps that are currently free:

  • Monopoly (4.99)
  • POLARIS Office (12.99)
  • mSecure – Password Manager and Secure Digital Wallet (9.99)
  • Runtastic PRO GPS Running, Walking & Fitness Tracker (4.99)
  • SketchBook Pro (4.99)
  • Swype Keyboard (3.99)
  • Worms 2: Armageddon (0.99)
  • Worms 2: Armageddon (Kindle Tablet Edition, 0.99)
  • Fruit Ninja: Puss in Boots (0.99)
  • Dr. Panda’s Airport (1.99)
  • King of Math Junior (1.99)
  • Battle Maiden Yuko Runner (10.00)
  • SpinArt (1.99)
  • Ski Safari: Adventure Time (0.99)

Visit the Amazon Appstore for more details.

PowerAll: recharges your devices and jump starts your car – the panacea for our modern day lives

PowerAll-3

The PowerAll is a handy 12,000 mAh portable lithium ion battery charger used to charge your portable devices AND jump start your car. It has two 5V / 2.1A USB ports and is capable of charging two devices at the same time, after which it will go into sleep mode to preserve power. In addition, it will jump start your car up to 20 times on one full charge of the unit. It also has an added flashlight which features continuous illumination, strobe, and SOS mode. Measuring 6.5”x2.9”x1.2”, it is small enough to store in your glove compartment when you go on a camping trip or just to have around for an emergency. Safety features include over-voltage, over-current, short circuit, overload, and over-charge protection. The PowerAll is charged using a 100-240V AC adapter or DC adapter (cigarette lighter charger); the chargers and the jumper cables are included with the device when purchased. Also Included is a USB adapter cable with eight connector tips for Apple (30-pin), Sony Ericsson, Nokia, Samsung, PSP, LG, micro-USB, and mini-USB devices.

SPECIFICATIONS

  • ​Battery Type: Lithium-Ion
  • Battery Capacity: 12,000 mAh
  • ​Battery Life Cycles: >500
  • Outputs: 2 x 5V / 2.1A, 1 x 12V / 10A
  • Input: 12V / 1A
  • Jump Start Current: 200 – 400A
  • Dimensions: 165 x 75 x 30mm​​ (6.5 x 2.9 x 1.2in)
  • LED Lifespan: 100,000 hours
  • LED Energy: 1w
  • LED Lumens: 86 Lm
  • Operating Temperatures: -20 to 140 Degrees
  • Smart Jumper Cable

The PowerAll is available for $99.90 through Amazon and the deluxe PowerAll, which includes a heavy duty carrying case with organized slots for all the accessories, for $119.95 through Richard|Solo. All they need to do now is cram a generator into it to make it your complete power source, house and all!

The toothbrush has entered the 21st century

Oral-B SmartSeries 1

Oral-B has created the SmartSeries toothbrush with Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity and associated iOS and Android apps. Now brushing your teeth will no longer be such a mundane task! In addition to making brushing more interesting and potentially more enjoyable, this toothbrush was developed to help improve oral health by collecting and reporting data on your brushing habits. Each brushing session will activate a timer in the app and will provide a quadrant guide to instruct you when to move to another area. This allows you to focus on the problem areas identified by your dentist. It will even notify you when you are brushing too hard. Your brushing performance and achievements are tracked and reported to you to encourage your progress. Not only does it collect data, but it also allows you or your dentist to program the toothbrush for brushing time and select brushing modes. This toothbrush is projected to cost around $200-$300 according to different sources and will be available in June 2014. The iOS and Android apps will be available in May and August 2014, respectively. Ah yes, “everything is better with Bluetooth.”

REAL piano sound for your mini Mozart

tinypiano

Do you remember that toy piano you used to play when you were five years old?  It might have looked like the real thing (except for the color), but the sound completely missed the mark. Korg has updated this toy favorite with REAL piano sound in its new product, the tinyPIANO. This 25-note (2 octave) miniature upright digital toy piano reproduces the tone quality of a sampled grand piano. It is made of wood which makes it sturdy and has minimal moving parts to ensure safety. Additionally, for all you parents out there concerned about a never-ending cacophonous blast of “music”, the volume has been adjusted to a modest level appropriate for you and your child, and the piano allows the use of headphones (although the output is monaural). It has 50 recorded demo songs and 25 built-in sounds like electric piano, organ, marimba and steel drum as well as the toy piano sound, just in case you’re the nostalgic type. It measures approximately 15 x 10 x 11 inches and weighs about 10 pounds. The piano runs on six AA batteries which allows you to set it up anywhere, but an AC adapter is also available as an optional feature. It comes in four colors (black, white, red and pink) and is available for $250 as a pre-order through Kraft Music online or Amazon for $239.28 plus about $100 shipping to receive it from Japan.