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Author Archive for Smythe Richbourg

Sanrao SiPolar 10-port USB charger review

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I’ve reviewed many portable power options, as well as a dock or two, but this is a first, and something that we may see more of: it’s a USB charger for up to ten devices! Talk about Nerd Nirvana! It’s from a company called Sanrao, who makes industrial-grade USB chargine stations for testing labs and commercial applications. Brando sent us a unit for review. This is not a USB hub, so there’s no syncing or other connectivity offered, so let’s take that off the table right away. This is not a computer peripheral. Once I had this revelation and moved it off my desk, my appreciation of this device changed completely. While not for everyone, if you’re a little gadget-crazy and have infected – um – passed that happiness on to other members of your household, you may need one of these, if not now, then soon. It’s a huge boon to a gadget-happy lifestyle! Read More →

Lynktec GripStand tablet stand review

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There’s a new-ish technology being used in many items, and I’m kinda digging it. It’s the microsuction tech being used by case and stand makers for securing items to smooth surfaces. The folks at Lynktec use it to hold their new GripStand to the back of an iPad or tablet – or even a flat, smooth clipboard, if you’re of the paper-using type. Once it’s attached (which just requires firm pressure for a few seconds), it’s on until you peel it off. I was sent a test unit, and put it through its paces for a few weeks. Let’s take a closer look at this little gizmo. Read More →

RAVPower Dynamo On-the-Go Power Bank review

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Flashlights are a long-time geek obsession. Recently, we’ve had to add USB chargers, just because so many of our devices charge this way. Imagine combining the two into a single, portable device. Mmmmmm… Geek heaven! Well, that’s what the fine folks at RAVPower have done. The Dynamo On-the-Go Power Bank is a flashlight, a reading light, and a 7800 mAmp charger for your smartphones and such. I was sent one to try out in the only color available – camo! Read More →

MakerBot available in some Home Depot stores

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If you visit certain Home Depot stores in California, Illinois, or New York in the next few months, you may notice something new on sale that could prevent you from having to go back there for little widgets and such: they will be stocking three models of MakerBot 3D printers in those states soon! For Gadgeteers, this means there will be an easy place to see the units in action, purchase filament replacement spools and such.

According to The Verge, this is a pilot program, which will include in-store demos and give-away trinkets printed on the spot. They even theorize having a customer print out a replacement part for things that are not in stock or difficult to come by. And, hopefully, if things go well, this trend will grow to Home Depot stores across the country!

So, have any of you Gadgeteers used or purchased a 3D printer yet? Are you interested in picking one up next time you shop for a box of nails and some paint? Let us know in the comments!

Fold & Go tablet stand and Smartphone Lounger stand review

 

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There are many types of stands for tablets. Some are a single angle, built for either reading and movies, or for typing and heads-down work.  Others (such as those from Apple and the kickstands on Microsoft’s Surface) mandate that you cannot change the orientation – it’s horizontal (usually), and that cannot be changed. But if you’re reading news or a book, portrait gets more info on the screen at a time with a shorter line-length and is more like reading a traditional “dead tree” source. New entrants in the portable stand market from Gibson Holders are the Fold & Go tablet stand and the Smartphone Lounger for phones. They sent one of each of these stands, so that I could test both.

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BUKcase Cote for iPad and iPhone 5/5s review

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The warmth of real leather pairs so well with the clean, metallic sheen of today’s electronics. I never tire of feeling and smelling this old-world material while using cutting edge technology. The folks at BUKcase have added a very simple series to their product line for iPhones and iPads, which they call Cote. I was sent a review sample for both the iPad 2/3/4 and the iPhone 5/5s/5c to test, both in Wenge (which looks fairly black on their website, but is in actuality a reddish brown). Read More →

Creative Sound BlasterAxx AXX 200 review

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Portable sound and power. That’s what it’s all about today, it seems. Everyone has enough storage, or knows how to access it in the cloud. Everyone knows you need several cases and bags for all your stuff in varying situations. Now, it’s how to hear music (or whatever) in your chosen working area, and how to stay in places devoid of power outlets. SoundBlaster, the venerable audio hardware company, set out to do both – and much more – with their Sound BlasterAxx AXX 200. I was sent a test unit for review, as well as the separate charging base, and have put them through their paces. Pretty spiffy bit of kit, I’ll have to say. Read More →

Quivvers Big Rig review

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When we’re out and about, most Gadgeteers carry a few things: smartphone, wallet, keys, tablet. Maybe a tin of mints. Oh, sure, if we’re gone for the day, we’ll have a bag of other stuff including power adapters, charging cables and batteries, energy bars, and enough EDC stuff to survive a moon landing. But when you’re just gonna bike to the library or the bank, or run out for lunch, do you still grab all that stuff? The folks at Quivvers think not. They have designed a variant of Robin Hood’s tool carrier in two sizes for more modern tools. I was sent a black & brown “Big Rig” model to test. Read More →

Just Mobile AluCup Grande review

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“They sent you an ashtray?” – Every single person in my family, when they saw the AluCup Grande
The fine folks at Just Mobile make a lot of cool gadget-centric stuff: styli, iPad and Phone stands, batteries for your USB gadgets, USB chargers for your vehicle’s 12 volt system – the works. A while back, they produced the AluCup, a round aluminum cup with a rubber insert and a slanted top edge, perfectly suited to hold your iPhone at an angle on your desk that allows viewing or tapping without glare from overhead lights. They have followed this phone and phablet-centric desk stand with one a bit larger, well-suited for an iPad mini or larger. Think of the round acrylic stands at Apple stores for the iPad mini, but made from aluminum, hollowed out and lined with flexible rubber. It is called the AluCup Grande, and comes in blue, red, black and yellow. Read More →

Armytek Barracuda flashlight review

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Flashlights come in all shapes and sizes nowadays, and LED technology has enabled blindingly bright units to be smaller than some coins. But, for longer distances, there always needs for a good reflector and lens system involved, in order to amplify the LED’s glow. Enter the ArmyTek Barracuda, a powerful, rugged, handheld light with a 520 meter throw. (Yeah, that’s over 1700 feet!) I thought this was impossibly powerful at the price of $160. They sent us a review unit, and I’ve been disturbing neighbors and wildlife in my area of the state for several weeks now. It’s probably good that I’m not in a major airport’s flightpath!

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Sherwood Excape EXM-30 Bluetooth speaker review

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Portable speaker systems range in price from $20-30 for the little pocket-sized ones to huge $600-800 units that can become your entire stereo. Where’s the sweet spot? We’ve reviewed many here at The Gadgeteer, and the ones I actually consider for purchase or gifting usually fall somewhere in the $100-$250 range. I was sent Sherwood’s Excape EXM-30, and have been listening to it for a few weeks now, using it around the house and out on the deck (when it’s not snowing or raining!), so thought it was about time to share my thoughts on it. Read More →

Prong PocketPlug charger-case for iPhone review

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With the always-online connectivity of smartphones these days, the folks making chargers are trying to keep up as much as those developing better battery chemistry. If you’re one who can’t quite make it through the day on a full charge, or if you travel and need to take along a charger, you’ve probably been irritated at the bulk or lack of flexibility of most chargers. I’m quite the fan of chargers like Apple’s iPad charger, where (at least on the US plug) the prongs fold into the bulk of the charger. Usually, however, you still have to deal with cords as well. You can bid those days a fond farewell, if you’re an iPhone 5 or 5s owner now, because a company called Prong has come up with the PocketPlug charging cases for iPhone 5/5s or iPhone 4/4s that incorporate a collapsible plug. Sounds pretty cool, no? Read More →

ChargerLeash review

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It’s happened to me several times: I charge my device in a hotel room, disconnect in the morning to move to a different seat or go down for breakfast, come back, pack and leave, and abandon my cable under the nightstand. Now that we have multiple devices to charge, the likelihood that we’re going to walk out without a needed cable increases. Fortunately, an innovative cable called ChargerLeash offers a simple solution. A few seconds after you disconnect your device from a power source, an alarm built into the cable beeps until you plug the device back in, or you unplug the cable. I was sent a 30-pin sample for testing, but there are lightning, microUSB, and multi-tip models available. Read More →

Blue Flame “The Pack” review

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As our devices have shrunk in recent years, so, too, have carrying cases. Sling bags, messenger bags, and even the trusty backpack are slimmer, more focused on those slimmer devices, and more attuned to organization and ease of access, rather than capacity. Blue Flame, a fairly new entrant into the market place, has developed an entry into this growing space, and dubbed it “The Pack.” It comes in one size, one color combination, and one fabric. Let’s take a closer look. Read More →

Flote m2 Tablet Floor Stand review

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The tablet stand is a totally new market, yet another that has sprung into being since the advent of the iPad and similar tablets in 2010. Two years ago, when you searched for iPad stand, or tablet stand, you got a few custom-built device holders, crafted in wood or acrylic, and most were more concerned with adding the tablet into a specific environment – music, point-of-sale, stand-alone store display, reading, typing, etc. Some of my favorite video podcasts spent months seeking out stands for their sets, and they always felt there was a compromise. Now, however, there are many, many stands in metal, wood, Fiberglas, and about any other imaginable substance, and many have been designed for general use, rather than being niche products. The m2 Floor Stand from Flote is one that recently crossed the threshold of the Gadgeteer Southeastern Outpost. Let’s take a detailed look, shall we? Read More →

Keizus Quadropod review

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Holding onto our devices during use can be a hassle. Be it a smartphone, tablet, phablet, iPod touch, or anything else, if you want to prop it up to use it to take a photo, watch a video, or have a video chat, an adjustable stand is something that’s going to come in  handy. Several designs have come into the market, but something versatile, light, and easy to travel with (the sweet spot for my needs) has been tough to find. Enter the Keizus Quadropod – a white, four-limbed creature with rubber feet and an adjustable screw clamp for a head. Read More →

GripBase Podium review

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Anyone who has used an iPad or other tablet while standing, walking around, or speaking to a group, without the ability to rest it on something solid, has known the pain that juggling these tools can bring. Since it is a two-handed device, holding with one and manipulating with the other means you’ve got to somehow steady the device, usually in a pincer grip of the non-dominant hand, which leads to a pain in the thumb joint. Even with the iPad mini and Android tablets of smaller size and weight, holding on to them for hours can be rough. One solution, from the peripheral maker Newer Tech, is the GripBase Podium, a part of the full GripBase system. One of their major distributors, Other World Computing, offered the Gadgeteer team a demo unit, and I was chosen to give it a go. Read More →

Booq Viper Courier 13 review

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Ah, gadget lovers and their gear. Hauling around our stuff used to be such a hassle.  Today, it’s all about carrying multiple screens rather than a single screen and power adapter. Most of us carry a smartphone, as well as a tablet or phablet, and maybe a laptop. To accommodate the changes wrought by the iPad and similar devices, gadget bag makers have started to scale back some of the giant messenger bags of yesteryear and offer bags and slings of more modest size, but designed for a few screens, rather than one gigantic one. One such company is Booq, who have produced several lines in the few years the iPad has been on the market. Now they have added the Viper Courier 13, a horizontal-orientation laptop bag sized either for a 13-inch MacBook Pro or Air and iPad and iPhone, plus other accessories. (There’s also a model for 15 inch MacBooks Pro, but I was sent the 13″ model for testing.) Read More →

Belkin Dual Car Charger with Lightning to USB Cable review

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Getting power on the go used to mean carrying a bag-phone the size of a large loaf of bread and a power port plug to keep it juiced. Nowadays, we have much better battery chemistry, but for us power-users, the battery in a gadget may not last through a full day of use. If you’re spending any time in a vehicle with a 12-volt power system, plugging in an adapter to get a midday top-up can mean the difference between missing messages and easily making it through the day. WirelessGround offered the Gadgeteer team the Dual Car Charger with Lightning to USB Cable from Belkin, and I was selected to get it. Read More →

SharpScan Pro iOS app review

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Paper. The curse of our record management as 21st century humans. The promise of computers has always been “the paperless office,” but most computer users have produced more paper, rather than less. The need for a piece of paper for giving information to someone else, “sign and return” situations like leases and contracts, and the wealth of information available only on paper has contributed (via photocopiers) to this avalanche of paper in which we find ourselves. What if I told you that virtually everyone reading these words has, in their possession, a device that will prevent you from ever having to seek out a photocopier. Think I’m crazy? Nope, that device is your smartphone or tablet. These devices have enough horsepower to scan any document, store it, send it, and convert it to text. All that’s missing in most cases is a handy, easy-to-use software package. That’s what SharpScan Pro for iOS offers, and in many ways, it lives up to the hype. Let’s take a closer look. Read More →

Grip & Shoot System iPhone holder review

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Camera phones have taken over as the go-to image maker for most folks. Now that the quality of the pictures created is good enough to replace your old point-and-shoot, there’s still one thing that hampers good photographic technique: holding the camera in landscape mode. Most cameras – I mean smartphones – tend to be set up to use in portrait mode – with the long axis vertically. But most photos – and especially videos – are better viewed in landscape, with the long axis horizontally. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was some type of holder that would let you easily hold your iPhone and trip the shutter with your phone in landscape? Well, oddly enough, there is just such an animal, and it solves both issues. It’s the Grip & Shoot System from gripandshoot.com. Let’s take a closer look at this aptly named device. Read More →

Carbon Audio’s Zooka portable Bluetooth speaker review

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With the change in mobile listening habits from stored music to streaming and Apple’s move from their 30-pin connector, we’ve seen a huge increase in wireless portable speakers. Used to be, everyone wanted an iPod or iPhone dock, but as Bluetooth has become more robust, so, too, have the speakers being offered. Today, you visit any electronics store in person or online, and you’ll see an almost endless variety of sound-producing gadgets. Carbon Audio entered this crowded-yet-growing field a while before last year’s holiday season with their Zooka, a stereo Bluetooth unit designed to clip onto the edge of a laptop or tablet.  It’s designed to provide good stereo separation by having the speakers point out each end of the bazooka-like structure that gives the unit its name. I was sent one in a deep purple/wine color to test. Read More →

Cellet iPhone 4/4s belt clip review

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During the 90′s, when cell phones were becoming all the rage, the belt clip for phones became a status symbol of sorts. Since phones started out so large that they wouldn’t fit in a pocket, clipping them to a belt (or hiding them in a fanny pack) was an acceptable way to transport them. Even today though, when a smart phone is thinner than a pack of cards and not much larger (in many cases), some people prefer to have their phone clipped to their belt. On cooler days when I wear jeans to work, I usually use a belt clip for my phone, since my work shirt has no pocket. That’s why I was excited to test out the Cellet Leather iPhone belt clip case from the folks at the Wireless Emporium. Read More →

Smart Cargo for iPad review

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I have completely replaced a laptop in my life with my iPad. I discovered this about a year into having my first iPad, when I realized the only time I had moved my MacBook Pro from the desk was when I presented, using both it and my iPad at a few meetings. But, when I’m out for the day, I still want to carry along a few things: a charger and cable – just in case; a portable battery pack; a screen cleaning cloth; a portable speaker; and my Square dongle. So, I usually wind up taking a bag along, just as I did with my MacBook Pro, but it’s just a much smaller bag. When I saw Dotan Saguy’s Smart Cargo for iPad on Kickstarter (project ends 8/9/13), I knew I’d have to have one. When Julie asked us to review it, I knew I’d be able to give it a whirl the very day it arrived, which I did. I just checked the project page, and it’s well over 400% funded. (Good on ya, Dotan!) I’ve spent some time using it and can echo what those early supporters felt – it looks great, and it does what it promises. We’ll look closer below, and I’ll share my thoughts as we take a deeper look. Read More →

LederMann Bridle Leather Camera Bag review

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Ah, leather! One of the oldest and most durable materials humans have found to use, yet it still causes us to react warmly when we feel the texture or smell the scent. Whether it reminds us of new school shoes as a kid or that folio we were given at graduation, we all have a special reaction to it. So when Julie asked the team about reviewing some of a collection of bags from LederMann, a new vendor, they didn’t stay available for long. I was sent a traditionally-shaped Bridle Leather Camera Bag. Let’s dig deeper, shall we? Read More →