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Author Archive for Morgan Bornstein

IDAPT i4+ universal charger review

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Chances are pretty good that you have at least one universal charger already.  One was probably even given to you as a gift over the holidays from a relative who thought it sounded “techie.” I may be just a little bitter because I find one in my stocking every year from my mother, and they all find themselves at the bottom of my same catch-all drawer never to be heard from again.

So why would I want to review one of these chargers?  Because I still believe the holy grail is out there–a multi-device charger that is convenient to use, is slim and unnoticeable on a counter or table top, doesn’t have a bunch of wires feeding into it, and most importantly is fast.  I have yet to find absolute perfection–but the IDAPT i4+ universal charger does come very, very close. Read More →

Empty your Gringotts account for this game

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I’m actually happy Harry Potter hasn’t officially been made into a Monopoly game, as it deserves quite a few more bells and whistles than the standard ‘opoly treatment.  Lack of an official product has given fans an opportunity to fill that void with extremely creative iterations.  I’ve seen impressive printable files on Pinterest over the years, but never an actual physical incarnation.  Leave it to an Etsy craftsman to not only create the physical game, but create the version of the game you’ve always imagined.

The game set, called Wizard’s Monopoly, takes a month for the artisan to construct by hand.  It includes custom board, tokens, paper money and coins, cards, wizard props, and a trunk to house the set in.  The price for such beautiful custom work is a hefty $1000, but for a Potter fan, it looks to be well worth all those Galleons.  For those of us with just a few Sickles to our name, printable files of the money, cards, and board can be purchased for $30 as a DIY project.  Wizard’s Monopoly (and the printables) can be purchased through the CustomLumos Etsy shop.

A Playstation in every room

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E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo) kicked off this week and with it will come the “big” announcements from each of the three (Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo) major video game players.  From the Sony press conference was the announcement of the Sony Playstation TV, which had been released in Japan last year, coming to North America this fall.  Did the world really need another TV/streaming device though?

If you’re a gamer, the answer is an emphatic YES!!  In addition to running the same  apps as every other streaming device, the PS TV will also stream games through the Playstation Now service.  This gives the user access to a huge back catalog of compatible Playstation 1-3 and Vita games.  That alone is pretty cool, but this is called a Playstation TV, and it earns that name by also being able to stream a Playstation 4 game from your console to whichever TV the PS TV is connected to in your house.  So for example, if the PS4 is in your living room, you can play your games on the bedroom television if it’s hooked up to the Playstation TV.  The Sony Playstation TV is going to retail for $99 and is currently available for preorder through Amazon.

 

 

Squeaky clean pores with Luna Mini

LUNA Mini Foreo

Perhaps one of the most important beauty/maintenance regimens you can do is taking care of the skin on your face.  Everyone is prone to the occasional breakout due to clogged pores or bacteria buildup.  The Luna Mini is a skincare device that utilizes “sonic pulsations” to break up the bacteria, oil, and makeup that cause breakouts, as well as smooth and refine skin texture.  Their claim is that when used for a minute in the morning and a minute at night with your choice of cleanser, noticeable differences in your skin will be visible in just three days.  Hmmm.

While it seems like it’s just another version of a Clarisonic, the head is actually made up of tiny silicone points in a series of zones and do not require replacement brush heads.  It’s also waterproof, charges via USB, and is available in five different colors.  Luna Mini is available for $139.

Eliminate your jellyfish posture

ThinkGeek Jellyfish Bouncy Chair

By now we all know that sitting at a desk all day is disastrous for our health.  It’s no longer uncommon to see a stability ball tucked underneath a co-worker’s desk in place of a traditional chair.  Having attempted ball-as-chair at home, my biggest complaint was that the moment I got up, the ball rolls away or shifts.  In a work environment, the visual of a stability ball–even a stability ball in a chair frame– still gives me more of a gym rather than a professional vibe.  The Jellyfish bouncy chair fixes that with quite simply the most ingenious solution: placing the ball in frame but covering it in a polyester/Spandex fabric.  The result?  A chair that looks cool, stays in place, and still provides the same benefits to your core and posture.

The Jellyfish bouncy chair is available at ThinkGeek for $119.99.

Grovemade iPhone charging dock review

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If your computer looks anything like mine, there are about 3-4 random charging cables dangling out of the back of it, corresponding to phones, tablets, e-readers, etc.  At the end of the day it’s the same annoyance of swatting through each cable to try to find the one I need.  My desk at the moment is my dining room table, so those cords are not only annoying but also an eyesore.

I didn’t want a full charging station, but a dock for my phone I considered a must.  The charging dock from Grovemade promised a heavy stand in an elegant combination of  wood and steel.  Read More →

Rack up some XPs by brushing

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What better way to encourage brushing in kids (and some adults) than by gamifying the twice a day chore?  A team of inventors is seeking crowd funding to make the Grush (Gaming-toothbRUSH) into a reality.  The toothbrush itself doubles as a motion sensing controller which pairs with a smartphone running one of the brushing games.  Games are geared towards age range and gender (hmmm…).  Parents are able to use a dashboard app to monitor each kid’s brushing time and performance, and then is also able to send that information back to the dentist for review.

Grush is seeking funding through May 18th via Indiegogo.  A pledge of $49 will reserve you a toothbrush, two replacement heads, two games, and an unlimited subscription to the Grush Cloud if funding is successful.

Keyway Designs Safari hybrid iPhone 5/5S case review

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I became an iPhone owner just a few weeks ago, after years of disgruntled Android usage.  I’m almost embarrassed to admit that one of the key deciding factors in the switch over was the bevy of peripheral “toys” that can be added to an iPhone, including impressive case options.  I have always had my heart set on a wood case; there is just something to be said about natural wood juxtaposed against glass and metal.  Read More →

Time for pew pew pew

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ThinkGeek is currently taking preorders for their Asteroids-inspired Classic Arcade Wristwatch.  Despite looking just like an old school arcade cabinet, complete with mini joystick, a majority of the watch is purely decorative.  Sad trombone.  The face features space rocks of different sizes for the hour and minutes hands and a space ship seconds hand.  The fire button does function though and will play a “pew” sound effect while lighting the dial and marquee in a red glow.  The watch itself features a stainless steel case, Japanese movement, and adjustable black leather band.

The Classic Arcade Wristwatch won’t be available until March, and is priced at $59.99.

 

Coffee with notes of wood

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If you’re a fan of the pour-over method of brewing your morning Joe, no doubt you have a trusty plastic cone and a supply of paper filters.  Each morning it’s the same experience, the same tasting coffee.  What if there was a way to keep the ease of a drip coffee and at the same time develop an even richer taste to your preferred bean?  The Canadiano is a wood-based method of brewing coffee and is essentially a wooden container housing a metal filter.  However, the premise is that the oils and flavors of the coffee will over time be imparted into the wood, and then make its way back into your coffee, giving more depth to your morning cup.

The Canadiano is available in walnut (intended for darker, earthy coffee roasts), maple, and cherry (the latter two for light, citrus roasts) and ranges in price from $45-60, depending on the wood and finish.

Drop and give me 20 (presents)!

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As any kid knows, the Christmas stocking is integral to the gift-receiving process, and the larger the stocking means the more presents that could be stuffed inside.  But as an adult, you’re probably in need of something a little bigger, maybe more expandable, and definitely more impressive.  And how about… tactical?

The MOLLE Elite Tactical Stocking is what you’re in need of then, with MOLLE straps on the outside for adding gear (or candy canes), side zipper, quick release clips, handle, additional exterior pouch, and Velcro patch for adding personalization.  The stocking is offered in 3 colors (black, coyote, green) from LA Police Gear for $12.99 each.

MiniSuit BluBoard Bluetooth keyboard for iOS, Kindle, Android, Blackberry review

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Several months ago, a friend of mine gave me a challenge.  It was to write a page a day, any format I wanted, as long as I was writing roughly 700 words daily.  While by no means did I ever consistently meet that goal, it did kickstart the writing bug in me again.

I primarily use a desktop computer, but lately I’ve been wanting to turn my Kindle Fire into my mobile work station, but using the touchscreen keyboard was completely out of the question.

The BluBoard keyboard looked to suit my needs perfectly.  This wireless keyboard from MiniSuit can pair with nearly any mobile device running Bluetooth 3.0.

Read More →

A very roar-y Christmas

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As far as holiday decorations go, I have always been firmly in the anti giant tacky blow-up lawn ornaments camp.  Then I saw this guy and my bah humbug, Grinch-like heart grew three sizes.  This isn’t just 5-foot long pre-lit stegosaurus covered in tinsel. No, it’s an animated stegosaurus, and he’s wearing a santa hat, scarf, and adorable grin.  Sure Santa and Steggie probably never met in real life, but when the stegosaurus is on, he will move his head back and forth in anticipation of Santa’s arrival.

The animated holiday Stegosaurus can be ordered through the Improvements catalog online for $139.99.

Auggiedog Automatic Pooper Scooper review

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If you have a dog, chances are you also have a few good dog doo war stories about the time the bag you were using to scoop the poop had a hole in it or the time you stepped in something right before work because the kids didn’t want to pick up Spot’s droppings from the night before.  Classic gems!  Let’s face it, no one wants to bend over and pick up dog poop.

The Auggiedog Automatic Pooper Scooper eliminates the need to bend over or even touch your dog’s waste.  Seems like a dream come true, but does it solve a messy problem or introduce additional problems of its own?

Read More →

Ostrich pillows now for the whole family!

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What started off as a “concept piece” apparently found a niche somewhere, as the oddly shaped and worn Ostrich pillow has now produced an offspring: Ostrich Pillow Junior.  This pillow is exactly the same as its big daddy, just sized smaller and in two “kid friendly” interior lining colors – red with white polka dots and blue with white stripes.

I still don’t get the appeal of this thing, but maybe I’m in the minority?

Ostrich Pillow Junior is intended for ages 6 and up and is available in both colors for $75.

iProp Universal Tablet Stand review

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Don’t be fooled by the “i” in the name, the iProp Universal Tablet Stand  (not to be confused with the other iProp iPad floor stand reviewed by Julie) is a universal tablet/smartphone stand, which my Kindle Fire has been nestled in for a few weeks now.  It is advertised to be a self-adjusting stand that reduces neck strain, frees up your hands for drinking coffee (always a problem for me), and provides infinitely adjustable positioning for a wide range of viewable angles.  All of that sounds good, but these wonder-stands are a dime a dozen–how did this stand actually measure up? Read More →

AquaFarm for the lazy green-thumb pet owner

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What if the “chores” of maintaining a fishtank and herb garden suddenly took care of themselves, allowing you more time to, well, do just about anything else?  The AquaFarm from Back to the Roots is a closed loop eco-system that does just that!  Your fish does his little fish thing on the bottom and the filter recycles the fish waste, water, and tank scum up to fertilize the fresh herbs and plants growing above.  It’s aquaponics in action!  That just leaves you to admire and feed your fish, while eating your new supply of organic herbs.

The AquaFarm includes the full system, seeds, and a coupon for a Betta fish and is available for $59.99 .

View and shoot 3D on your iPhone

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This new project, recently launched on Kickstarter, should look a little familiar to any kid of the 80s.  Taking inspriration from the design of a ViewMaster and the technology behind sterographic images, Poppy is a lightweight, low cost peripheral for the iPhone that will let you produce and view 3D stills and video.

Poppy works with a series of mirrors that split the iPhone’s camera into left and right and project it back to the eye for the user to “fuse” into a 3D image.  A much better explanation of my poor synopsis can be read on the Poppy website.

Included with the Poppy is the iPhone app which facilitates the capturing of stills and video as well as integrates with YouTube to both post and view video.  Poppy can also be used in classic ViewMaster style to view any 3D movie on YouTube already or any 3D movie the user has on the iPhone.  The iPhone slides into place in the front of Poppy as the screen, and Poppy is compatible with iPhone 4 through the current iteration, with plans to engineer the device to be close to future-proof with upcoming iPhones.

The project has already been fully funded (and then some) and is well into stretch goal territory.  Right now, backers can expect shipments to begin by the end of the year.  Poppy is available to back now through the close of the campaign on July 26th for $49.

WAKA WAKA POWER Charger review


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This little device might look familiar to those of you who are active members of the Kickstarter community– WakaWaka Power originated in that forum, scoring over 800% of the project’s original funding request.  So what is this little Droid-y looking thing exactly?  This is WakaWaka Power, a portable, personal solar charging station and lamp light.

I can’t say the name without thinking of Fozzie from The Muppets, but WakaWaka is Swahili and is translated roughly to “Shine Bright”.  It’s an apt meaning, referencing not only the literal “shine” aspect of the gadget but also the humanitarian efforts of Off-Grid Solutions, the company behind WakaWaka Power.  OGS’s mission is to assist those living in both poverty and energy poverty.  With the latter, they’ve created devices that provide powerful solar-based light and end reliance upon dangerous kerosene.  As for the former, $10 of the sale of each WakaWaka Power is donated to provide micro-loans and other assistance to those in need as a hand-up model for communities to build their own economic futures.  Additionally OGS hosts “buy one, give one promotions” for the WakaWaka Power and has pledged to the Clinton Global Initiative to distribute 1 million WakaWaka’s in the next few years. There is a wealth of further information about these programs on WakaWaka’s website, but without further ado, how about the product itself? Read More →

One dog leash to rule them all

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If you own a dog, this scenario is probably quite familiar to you: coming home to a dog just itching to get outside, unable to wait for you to get together all of the doggie essentials; in your haste to get him outside, you forget the all-important treat or, worse, the waste bag.  And the neighbor is watching.

The “smart” dog leash is an all-in-one, grab and go solution that has built most common needs directly into the leash itself.  It features an ergonomic handle with plastic bag dispenser, LED flashlight, treat compartment, pop up water bowl, and a clock.  Aside from the snazzy add-ons, it’s a basic 16′ length retractable leash and recommended for small and medium dogs only.

The Smart Dog Leash is available online through Fred Flare for $26.

A canoe from Wonder Woman’s repertoire

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Imagine gliding across the water, peering down into the crystal-clear depths directly below you without anything in your way.  Instead of having to crowd on a glass-bottomed boat, pushing and shoving other people for a better view, what if you were able to recreate that magic in your very own canoe?

Oceans aside, I watched two giant 50lb snapping turtles from the safety of the shoreline at my lake this weekend, and that’s about as close as I’d ever want to be to them.  But to each their own!  For the adventure seekers there is now a transparent canoe–or rather a Transparent Canoe Kayak.  The craft is made from a transparent polymer and is the same material that is used in the cockpit canopies of supersonic fighter jets.  The occupants are able to sit lower in the boat for better stability and balance, and the maximum combined weight for passengers and their gear is 425lbs.  Hammacher Schlemmer carries the two-person Translucent Canoe Kayak for $1,900; this price also includes adjustable front and back seats, two fixed estuary paddles, a water bailer, two paddle leashes, and two flotation devices.

An alarm to “Flip” over

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Chances are you have more alarm clocks than uses for them.  They’re on just about every mobile electronic device you own on top of what’s currently sitting at your bedside.  If you’re the type of person who doesn’t want to navigate a bunch of menus or slide the correct buttons just to wake up at a specified hour, the Lexon Flip alarm clock might be just the thing for you. Want to set your alarm?  Flip the clock over to “On”.  Want to turn it off for the weekend?  Flip the clock to “Off”.  Life doesn’t get simpler than that.

The “On” side features a touch-sensitive snooze button on top, as well as an indication on the lower right of the display of your alarm time.  Both sides have the same electroluminous display with accelerometer so the time is always in the correct orientation regardless of alarm side.

Flip is available in nine different colors through Lexon for about $50.

Arömo “Bounce” espresso bean review

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So you have the espresso machine, portable hand pump, stovetop brewer, demitasse cups, thermometer, all forms of sweetener, and a refrigerator full of milk.  But something still appears to be missing: a worthy bean for all those new toys and accessories.  (By the way, check out the Related Links at the bottom of this post for links to Gadgeteer reviews of some of these aforementioned coffee makers.)

Aromo Coffee is based in the United Kingdom with a mission to bring fresh, great tasting espresso to your doorstep without any gimmicks – well, except for maybe that dancing monkey.

Read More →

Chobi Cam Pro 3 – A micro night-vision camera for a micro spy

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Barbie probably has a larger camera than this.  The Chobi Cam Pro 3 measures in at just under 2″ wide and under 1″ tall.  The is the third iteration in a line of Japanese mini cameras, and it adds “night vision” capability to an already impressive 11MP camera with 1080p video-capture capabilities.  The night vision is limited to about a range of three feet and is achieved by a ring of five infrared LEDs on the front.  Even with that limitation, the results are pretty good - if you want to spy on your pets.

The USB-chargeable camera can shoot 50 minutes of AVI footage on a single charge.  A microSD card is required; the camera accepts up to a 32GB capacity.

The Chobi Cam Pro 3 is available for $54 through Japan Trust Technology - but you’ll need to bust out your Japanese translation software.

5.1 channels of aural vibration

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As a gamer, I can appreciate what vibrations can add to the gaming experience. In hand, a vibration to the game controller can alert me I’ve been shot (or am the one shooting), simulate a crash, or imply a massive object moving towards me.  This feature is commonplace in gaming vests and chairs, but how about in headphones?  Rosewill not only offers such a headset, but adds to it 5.1 surround sound (with a driver update to 7.1) from its eight speakers.  The Rosewill RHTS-8206 headset also features a detachable boom mic, 6.6-foot cable with USB connector, and controller for adjusting mic and audio volume as well as vibration intensity.

I’m still a little leery about vibrations on my head, but if you’re a PC-gamer (official support on manufacturer’s site is for Windows, though users claim Linux and Macs will also support the headset) and want to have your noggin shaken senseless, the very affordable Rosewill 5.1 headset is available through Amazon for under $45.