Have you ever wondered what we end up doing with the devices and products that we review? Do we continue to use them long after the review has been posted? Do we shove them in a drawer to collect dust? Do the products malfunction or break a week after we posted a glowing review? These reoccurring review update posts are here to answers those questions and more. Click through to read the latest updates. [click to continue…]
The Automatic adapter plugs into the standard diagnostics (OBD-II) port hidden under the dash in most cars since 1996 and helps users diagnose their own check engine lights and gathers data on driving habits.
The second generation adapter costs the same as the original ($99), but it is faster and more reliable. It contains its own GPS, so that it can capture data from every trip. Because it also include dual Bluetooth capabilities, third-party apps can stream data from the car’s onboard computer in real time.
The Automatic App Gallery offers more than twenty apps that help you do everything from manage mileage reimbursements to monitor your car’s engine. App makers include Concur, Jawbone UP, IFTTT, and Nest.
Most of the apps work with both the first and second versions of the adapter. The streaming apps, however, require the new version.
For more information, visit the Automatic website.
The GoPro is a popular action camera, but I’ve found it’s got so many accessories, it sometimes needs a little help keeping things organized. I think I have parts scattered in at least three boxes, which is pretty inconvenient. GOcase has a solution for that. [click to continue…]
For the first time in quite a while, Apple is offering a phone dock. The white plastic iPhone Lightning Dock works with iPhone 5 and newer and with iPod touch 5th generation. It’s even compatible with all Apple cases for these devices. You’ll need to use the Lightning cable that came with your iPhone or iPod with the dock, and you can connect it to your computer to sync and charge your device, or connect it to a power adapter to just charge. The Dock has a 3.5mm audio jack, so you can connect the docked iPhone or iPod to powered speakers. You can even make speakerphone calls from your iPhone while it’s in the Lightning Dock.
The iPhone Lightning Dock is $39 from Apple.
WaterField kept the best features of its previous gear pouches and added a lining and an updated look to create the new Gear Pouch. The Pouch is available in three sizes: Small (8″ x 5.5″ x 0.5-1″), Medium (11″ x 6.5″ x 0.5-1″), and Large (12.5″ x 7.5″ x 0.5-1″). The Small makes a great travel organizer with room for a passport; it would also make a nice go-to-lunch wallet with room for a phablet inside. The Medium is shown with a tablet, charger, and cables. And the large is shown with an Apple Wireless Keyboard, Magic Trackpad, and other gear. Each pouch has exterior zipper pockets; the Small has two interior pockets, while the Medium and Large sizes have four interior pockets.
The Gear Pouches are available in black ballistic, or in burgundy, navy, or brown waxed canvas. The Small is $39, Medium is $45, and the Large is $49. All sizes are available now from WaterField.
Misfit has just announced the EKOCYCLE Field Band, the result of a partnership with the Coca-Cola Company and will.i.am, for a new accessory for their popular Misfit Shine activity tracker. These wrist straps are made from 100% recycled PET plastic bottles and features a snap in mount for the Misfit tracker and an adjustable strap. The EKOCYCLE Field Bands will be available in several colors and will be priced at $49.99 each or $99.99 for a pack of three straps. I think the price is way too high for just a wrist strap that is made from recycled materials, considering that the tracker itself is only $99.99. For more info on these new straps, visit Misfit.com
I spend a great deal of time on my feet walking around. And a great deal of that time is spent outdoors, rain or shine, hot or cold. About a year ago while I was walking around in the freezing cold and unable to feel my toes, I had a dream. I dreamed that one day I would invent heaters for my shoes, so that my toes would never be cold again. Then my eyes beheld the $134.99 ThermaCELL heated insoles, and my heart skipped a beat. Could it possibly be true? Could these be the heaters for my shoes that I longed for? Would my dream come true? Let’s find out!
Using the Decapitator, you can open beer bottle caps without scratching up your hands and with minimal effort. You just slide the Decapitator over the bottle cap, push down, and the bottle is opened. A magnet inside the Decapitator holds onto the cap until you’re ready to trash it. Watch the video at Corkcicle, and you’ll see someone remove six caps from longneck beer bottles as quickly as you can count the bottles.
If you camp, hike, or enjoy other outdoor activities, you’ll need fresh, safe drinking water, but carrying along enough for your outing can be difficult. You don’t want to risk drinking water from streams and ponds, because you don’t know if it’s safe. With the Squeeze Water Filter System, you can have all the drinking water you need when you need it. The kit contains three lightweight, durable, collapsible, reusable pouches in 16, 32, and 64 ounce sizes. It also has a Sawyer 0.10 Absolute Micron Hollow Fiber Membrane Screw On/Off Water Filter that you screw on to a pouch after filling it with water. You just then squeeze the bag to force the water through the filter, making it safe to drink. You can use the filter system three ways: squeeze the filtered water into a water bottle or container of your choice; drink directly from the filter using the built-in push closed/pull open cap; or skip the pouches and attach the filter directly onto most threaded water bottles, including 2-liter bottles. Sawyer guarantees the Squeeze Water Filter System for 1 million gallons – yes, they say million.
Multi-port USB chargers come in an almost unlimited variety of styles and colors, but this is the first time I’ve seen chargers made from actual pipe fittings. Pipe Works offers a unique collection of USB chargers, lamps and furniture that have been built using casted pipe fittings. These chargers have a cool industrial vibe and feature from two to eight USB ports and splash proof rubber plugs that protect the USB ports when they are not in use. Prices for the USB chargers range from ฿1,900.00 up to ฿4,800.00. Converting Thai Bhat currency to US dollars makes the price $57.71 for a two port charger up to $143.26 for the eight port charger. Note that they also charge sales tax and shipping. When I did a test order, the shipping for one to four items ended up being a flat $46.34, while the sales tax was a few dollars more depending on the items. When it’s all said and done, the prices for these unique USB chargers are pretty spendy. But they certainly do look cool. For more info or to order, visit Pipe Works.
If you’ve always wanted to play an instrument but don’t have the money to buy a piano, guitar or other instrument or don’t have any spare time to invest in learning the ins and outs of playing it, Tin Pan Rhythm is a new iOS app that makes playing music fun and easy. If you’re like me, you’ve probably tried all sorts of music playing but found them to be way too cutesy or frustratingly confusing. Tin Pan Rhythm was designed by a game developer who used his talents to turn an iPad into an intuitive and self-teaching instrument that requires zero effort or time to learn. Basically all you do is drag and drop chords and switch from different piano, guitar and percussion styles. Advanced musicians can a music loop and then play real instruments over it. You can also record any music you create and export it as an MP3 file, send it to SoundCloud and more. For more info visit http://www.tin-pan.com/ or iTunes to buy the app for $2.99.
There are many factors that go into why one headphone is chosen over another: sound quality, comfort, looks or fashion—whatever. There are as many reasons as headphones to choose from. Recently, one company has designed a headphone that can be customized to a particular sound preference. Axel Audio has developed a system of taking a headphone and offering three choices to help make it your own—the Axel Soundscape. While this concept is not new, it is unusual.
The Axel headphones are Kickstarter funded, so I was sent pre-production prototypes, not the final headphones. Mine arrived unceremoniously in bubble-wrap. The final version will come in a nice box with an included case. I’m not sure what if any changes to the headphone itself will yet be made. I will do a review update when I receive the final version and note any differences, pro and con.
Gizmodo this week reported something that sent chills to all of us that rely on the Internet for so much of our lives. It seems that we are getting close to reaching the physical capacity of the underlying cable infrastructure that keeps the information superhighway speeding along. According to researchers in London, fiber optic cables, which are so critical to the Internet, are reaching their physical limits. One estimate that has come to light this week, is that we may hit the 100 terabytes per second barrier in FIVE YEARS.
This may not seem like such a crisis, but with 4K video gaining popularity, 8K video coming soon, and the incredible bandwidth demands that our hunger for streaming music, streaming video, enterprise cloud computing, streaming gaming, increasing by the second, coming up with a solution that meets increasing consumer and business demand, is no certainty. Researchers have many solutions that they are working on, but these are akin to squeezing ever more blood from a stone. All we can do is hope that a solution is found before the Information Superhighway crashes and burns.
Even though my iPad Air 2 has louder speakers than any other iPad I’ve owned, it’s still not capable of room-filling sound. The Sound Cover from onandoff promises to increase the sound of an iPad Air or Air 2 by up to 400%. The Sound Cover snaps on over the front of the iPad to protect the screen while you’re traveling with it. When you want sound, you just remove the iPad and open the back of the Sound Cover to automatically connect it to the iPad. (It connects via Bluetooth, so it can actually pair and work with any Bluetooth-enabled device, though it will only fit an iPad Air or Air 2.)
Sound is improved not just by increasing the volume. “Male vocals sound fuller and more natural, whilst low frequency instruments sounds are reproduced. The Sound cover achieves much more balanced mid-range sound reproduction as it is complemented by adequate low frequency and treble. And it shows excellent high frequency performance up to 20 kHz. This results in a more natural wide-ranging sound quality where all sound information in a track is reproduced faithfully.” You can position the dual flat-panel speakers so they fire the sound at you instead of away from you, as the iPad’s own speakers do. The Sound Cover has a built-in microphone, so it can be used for hands-free phone calls. The built-in 3300mAh lithium-polymer battery gives you up to 15 hours of music between charges. And at 14mm thick and weighing 1.25 pounds, it’s sleek enough to carry in your bag.
Back in 2012, the gadgeteer Kid and I did a joint review of the original Sphero programable, robotic ball. We had a good time playing with it; using it to not only entertain ourselves but the dog and cat as well. Recently the Orbotix engineers and designers have introduced a second generation Sphero robot ball that is faster, brighter and more nimble than it’s predecessor. So when asked, the now Gadgeteer Teenager (although I will most likely continue to call him the GK) and I thought it would be fun to checkout the Sphero 2.0 to see how it has improved over the original. [click to continue…]
It’s that time of the year that everyone dreads here in the South – mosquito season. The joke is that the mosquito is the state bird, but it’s no joke when you can’t even enjoy your outdoor spaces because it seems you and everyone with you are the main course at the mosquitoes’ banquet. Set a few of these Mosquito Repelling Flameless Torches around your outdoor space, and they’ll drive the pests away. They use a “synthetic version of a naturally occurring insecticide found in chrysanthemum; a flameless butane-fueled heater vaporizes the virtually odorless repellent to create a 15′ x 15′ zone unbearable for mosquitoes and other biting insects. The repellent helps keep unwanted pests away more effectively and safely than candles and eliminates the need for oily, smelly lotions that must be applied to skin or clothing.” Each torch has four amber-colored LEDs that provide up to 40 hours of light on the highest setting from a set of four D batteries. You can set the torches on a table, or you can mount them on the included black steel poles (total height is 60″).
Each set includes two flameless torches, 12 ThermaCELL Mosquito Repellent pads, and four butane cartridges. Each butane cartridge lasts up to 12 hours; each pad lasts up to four hours. The set of two Mosquito Repelling Flameless Torches is $89.95, exclusively from Hammacher Schlemmer. Refills of the pads and butane cartridge are available for $7.95.
This week we featured some great reviews and news on all sorts of gadget related topics. Please take a few minutes and review this list of all the reviews, articles and news posts that we published this week on The Gadgeteer.
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In addition to the big carriers like Verizon, AT&T, T-mobile, and Sprint, Google is now entering the wireless service arena with their Project Fi network using the Nexus 6, which is currently the only supported device. This project doesn’t create a new network, but rather uses network equipment that is already in place and is acting as a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO). [click to continue…]
I’m a bit of a computer parts junkie. When a thumb drive or hard drive goes on a great sale, I grab it if it’s my ideal price range. This leaves me with extra working parts around that I might not use right away. Recently I swapped out an SATA hard drive for an SSD upgrade in a laptop. I kept the 1 terabyte drive in my drawer since it was still good to use in another computer. I saw the chance to review the Inateck tool free USB 3.0 hard drive enclosure, so I grabbed it to try with my spare hard drive.
Have you ever wanted to use a doughnut as your spacebar? Have you been hankering to use jello as a game controller? Yeah me neither, but now you can thanks to the most unusual Kickstarter project ever, Makey Makey Go.
Makey Makey Go is a device composed of a USB dongle and a wire with two alligator clips. You attach one alligator clip to any electrically conductive object and the other to the USB dongle. You then insert the dongle into your computer. The object attached to the alligator clip then functions as the keyboard or mouse button of your choice.
I’m not entirely certain there are practical uses for this, but I am definitely intrigued. I’m hoping someone will use several of these to make the most delicious Rube Goldberg machine ever.
If you’ve always dreamed of having a pastry based keyboard check out their Kickstarter project site. You can purchase a Makey Makey Go for $19. The projected delivery date is November 2015. If nothing else, the project’s video is worth checking out.