It is not that the Logitech Alert video surveillance system we use has become all that long in the tooth. It still works well enough. The fact is I want/need to expand my coverage and their outdoor cameras are difficult to get ahold of and surprisingly costly when you do. Julie and I have been discussing surveillance cameras for a while now and the Dropcam Pro comes up regularly. With the conversation usually ending in the sad note that it is a shame Dropcam does not have a solution for mounting their cameras outdoors. So, I started looking for an aftermarket outdoor enclosure for the Dropcam Pro and discovered how few there are. However, I did come to find out that folks were creating DIY (do-it-yourself) enclosures and decided to give it a try for myself… [click to continue…]
Post sponsored by Lunchbox but all opinions are my own. It’s autumn, and that means cooler weather, kids are in school, and college football is in season. Do you know what the above collegiate teams all have in common? The University of Georgia, Ohio State University, University of Texas, Arizona State University, University of Michigan, University of Southern California, University of California (Berkeley), Nebraska, and Tennessee have all teamed up with LG, the official corporate partner of NCAA® Football. LG and these teams want to make sure you have the best GameDay experience possible. [click to continue…]
Due next month, affordable ARCHOS VR Glasses paired with an Android, Windows Phone or iOS smartphone up to 6 inches will provide users with a lightweight virtual reality experience that will transform games and movies into fun and educational adventures that will allow such things as:
-Transform gaming and more with the upcoming ARCHOS Bluetooth game controller
-Turn videos into 360° 3D videos and allow users to be a real part of them
-Make it possible to achieve Icarus’ dream and feel like flying thanks to drones
-Send people to time travel to ancient Egypt, actually giving the feeling of being there
With the upcoming ARCHOS Video Player update, users will also enjoy 3D videos in a stereoscopic mode on their mobile, creating the illusion of seating in a 3D movie theater. Due in November, these glasses will be priced at $29.99. Visit ARCHOS for more info.
Activity trackers are very popular right now. Every tech company under the sun seems to be announcing a new tracker every week or so. These trackers are almost exclusively designed for adults, but younger kids can definitely benefit from motivation to get more active too. The latest kid centric activity tracker to come on the market is the KidFit Wireless Activity & Sleep tracker from X-doria. The KitFit has been designed for children ages 5-13 and features a one size fits all slap style bracelet strap and splash proof casing. The tracker doesn’t focus on tracking the number of steps walked or calories burned in a day, but emphasizes a 100 point daily activity goal. It’s not clear if the LCD display on the band provides daily fitness info or just a status indicator, or if parents have to sync their kids daily progress through the free iOS or Android app using Bluetooth 4.0 technology. The app helps kids earn badges as they get close to their goals and helps parents associate those goals with actual rewards. The KitFit tracker is available in four colors and is priced at $49.99. For more info visit X-doria.
Since I travel frequently, I am always searching for the perfect backpack. Finding the balance between size, comfort, and usability is the biggest challenge. The TYLT Energi+ backpack looks to be not only comfortable, but convenient, so when I was offered to review it, I was happy to accept. I had two weekend trips to test the backpack with, so let’s see how it fared.
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Synthesizers have been around for a long, long time and many efforts have been made to turn them into expressive, virtuoso performing machines. Ribbons, X/Y pads and pitch/mod wheels have long been a staple for keyboardists but they all have one glitch…the expressiveness of the note is separated by two hands and two motions that have nothing to do with each other. You can play a note and change its pitch and modulation and, if you have a really good keyboard, you’ll have “aftertouch” to add even more expressiveness to your playing. In the recent years, new instruments have cropped up that, like when playing a note on the guitar, allow you to have complete expressive control using the finger you are playing the note with. The Haken Continuum (familiar to anyone who fancies the work of Dream Theater’s Jordan Rudess) uses a mousepad-like surface laid out in a continuous keyboard pattern. Pitch changes on the X axis, pressure changes on the Z axis control the volume of the note and the Y axis can be used for modulation or effects. The Madrona Soundplane uses a capacitive pressure surface to do the same, but in a grid laid out like a guitar fretboard. [click to continue…]
Here’s a full listing of all the news, reviews and articles that we posted this week in case you you might have missed something. Grab a snack and a beverage and get reading!
With less than two weeks until Halloween, you’re quickly running out of time to figure out what you’re going to dress up as for the holiday parties you’ll be attending. Dracula and Ironman are so 2013, so here’s an idea that is not only funny, but also timely. It’s a bent iPhone 6 costume that you can make yourself. A supply list and instructions are provided along with links for accessories that will complete your costume. The only thing missing is a life size gTool: Panel Press like we showed you yesterday. For more info visit Halloweencostumes.com
If you are a video gamer you know we are all looking for that competitive edge. You don’t have to be a hardcore gamer to want to perform well while playing your favorite games. Kontrol Freek knows this and have developed a whole line devices that attached to the joy sticks of your gaming controller allowing you to improve your game. The folks at Kontrol Frek were nice enough to send me a set of FPS Freek Justice (based on the Gears of War game series) to test out on my XBOX 360.
Having a full fridge is actually a good problem to have, right? It probably means we aren’t going hungry. But not having enough space in your fridge can be a bit frustrating at times. Brian Conti, creator of the successfully funded Strong Like Bull Magnets Kickstarter projects, is back with a new crowdfunded—and of course, magnetically-powered—product. The bottleLoft is “the world’s first magnetic bottle hanger for your refrigerator.” The patent-pending design consists of a set of three strong nyodymium magnets encased in matching steel cups to direct the magnetic force. Each cup is enclosed in a custom plastic rail which is attached to the ceiling of your fridge via a strip of 3M VHB (Very High Bond) tape. Each bottleLoft is designed to securely suspend three typical steel-capped beverage bottles above while other items can be placed beneath them, giving you a bit of extra storage space for those leftover containers. Or install several bottleLofts and save even more space. Available in any color you want, as long as it’s white. Rewards start at $20 for a single, three-magnet bottleLoft. Head over to the bottleLoft Kickstarter page for details. The campaign ends November 9, 2014.
will.i.am (I find it really annoying to type his name that way) is a well known musician who makes top selling music with his band the Black Eyed Peas, but is he the new leader of what he calls fashionology with his new i.amPULS cuff? Notice I didn’t call it a smartwatch. He doesn’t want this untethered smartband wearable device to be called a watch even though you wear it on your wrist and it has a clock. If it looks like duck and quacks like a duck then it must be a… The device features a special version of the Android OS, integrated touch screen, 1 GB of memory, 16 GB of storage, 780 mA of power, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, a pedometer and accelerometer and will run untethered on a 3G cellular network provided exclusively through AT&T. Sounds like a smartwatch to me, but where it differs is that unlike most smartwatches it does not need to be paired with a smartphone. The i.amPULS is a stand alone device that you can use to make/receive calls, send/receive texts, find locations on maps, listen to music and more. It even has its own Siri style assistant named “AneedA” who acts on your voice commands. There are a lot of questions left unanswered about this device including pricing and when it will be available. One thing is for sure though, I’ll need two of them so I can do a worthy Wonder Woman impression with indestructible bracelets. Seriously, the i.amPULS has some interesting features, most notably the ability to make and receive calls without being tethered to a phone. But here’s what I’m wondering, will it have a separate phone number that people will need to know in order to call and text your wrist? And how comfortable will this thing be to wear? It sure doesn’t look like anything I’d want on my wrist for very long. What do you think? For more information about i.amPULS, visit www.iampuls.com
I know that it might look like a medieval torture device, but what you see here is the gTool: Panel Press. It’s a specially designed tool created for the sole purpose of straightening out bent iPhones. No I’m not kidding. Shortly after the new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus became available, we started hearing about them bending from being sat on while carried in back pants pockets. iPhones have aluminum back casings that are not designed to withstand 100’s of pounds of pressure which can happen when you sit down on the phone. The Panel Press can straighten out the frame by applying force in the opposite direction. If you need to unbend your iPhone, this tool will help, but it’s going to set you back a whopping $299.99! My advice is to NOT carry your phone in your back pocket and if you do, don’t sit down on it. There you go, $299.99 saved, crisis averted, you’re welcome. For more info visit gTool.
The duffel bag has been done and re-done since it became a staple of military luggage—and later gym bags—forever ago. Crowdfunded Bomber Barrel was designed to improve on the classic. While it retains the recognizable cylindrical shape of the duffel bag, it also includes a combination of several useful and durable features: lightweight (390 grams) and water-resistant ripstop nylon exterior; adjustable shoulder strap with military-grade hooks and sliding pad; wraparound rivet-reinforced carry handles with padded Velcro grip; emergency paracord zipper pulls and inner and outer zipper pockets for small items. Also available are the Bomber Mini Travelers Kit, essentially a Dopp kit or toiletries bag, and the Bomber Cord Survival Bracelet, a standard 550 paracord bracelet but with built-in flint/steel firestarter. All are available in any color you want, as long as it’s black. Rewards start at $15 for the Bomber Cord, $19 for the Bomber Mini and $59 for the Bomber Barrel, or a combo of all three for $69 (while they last). Roll over to the Bomber Barrel Kickstarter page for more info. The campaign ends on December 13, 2014.
I have reviewed a few speakers from Braven and am consistently impressed with a build quality that matches their audio quality. While the 600 speaker was impressive for its size (there’s that caveat again), the 850 speaker was stunning in both its power and beauty. The BRV-X fits somewhere in the middle of Braven’s range, between the 625s and 855s outdoor speakers.
We all love our gadgets, but keeping them charged isn’t a fun chore. Especially when you’re mobile and not near a power outlet. The guys from Power Practical who brought us the PowerPot are back with a new crowdfunding project for a product called the Pronto. The Pronto is a portable backup battery that recharges extremely fast. Fast enough that only 5 minutes will allow it to store enough juice to recharge an iPhone. Power Practical is being backed by Mark Cuban of the popular (and one of my favorites) TV show Shark Tank where entrepreneurs pitch new product ideas in hopes of getting them backed by one of the sharks.
“Within seconds of meeting them on ‘Shark Tank,’ I recognized immediately how special the Power Practical team is,” said Mark Cuban. “The new Pronto is their latest innovation. There’s no battery pack like it on the market in terms of speed and power. Not one.”
The Pronto power pack will be available in two hard-anodized aluminum versions. The smaller lightweight Pronto 5 has a 4,500 mAh capacity which provides enough power for three full iPhone 5 charges. The heavy-duty Pronto 12 has a 13,500 mAh capacity which is capable of nine iPhone 5 charges. Both battery packs charge to full capacity in only 1 hour.
A $79 pledge lands a backer the Pronto 5 and a $119 pledge lands a backer the Pronto 12 with shipping estimated for May of 2015. The project has 20 days left and they’ve already almost quadrupled their initial goal of $50,000. For more info head over to their Kickstarter page.
Apple introduced the new iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 tablets today. Are you planning to order one? If so, you’ll probably want a case to protect it. Consider the new iPad Outback Slip Case from WaterField Designs. This case is available for both iPads and also comes in two sizes that can fit the tablet by itself or the tablet with a smart cover. Made of waxed canvas with leather accents, these slip cases feature padding with a plastic insert to protect against impact. The tablet slides into the case and is held securely with a leather tab that uses a hidden magnet to hold it closed. WaterField’s new iPad Outback Slip Cases are available for order now and are priced at $59 for the iPad mini 3 case and $69 for the iPad Air 2 case. For more info visit WaterField Designs.
I have a fascination with activity trackers. I’m definitely not an athlete, but I still enjoy tracking my steps and other fitness information as a way to monitor how active I am or usually how active I’m not. I’ve reviewed so many trackers that I’ve lost count and it seems that there’s an announcement for a new tracker at least once week. At this point most trackers on the market share the same set of features. They track your steps, calories burned and sometimes sleep and heart rate. The Spire activity tracker is different in a couple of ways. Yes, it tracks your steps, but it also tracks your breathing patterns. That’s right, it knows when you take a breath even if the tracker is clipped to your belt. The Spire tracker uses this information to sense your stress levels. It then suggests breathing exercises using a mobile app which will help you calm down and focus. The tracker also knows if you’re sitting, standing or lying down, so it can motivate you to get up and move. One other cool feature is that it can be charged wirelessly on any Qi charging pad. The Spire activity tracker is up for pre-order for $119 with anticipated shipping this month. Visit Spire for more info.
I love my GPS. It goes everywhere I go and I depend on it more than I’d really like to admit. With the advent of the GPS-equipped smartphone, we have the option to use apps like Google Maps and Navigation to stand in for a GPS. Convergence, right? Why have two devices when one will do? Well, your mileage may vary on how well you like your phone as a GPS but if you find that appealing, then the iBolt X-Pro Dock series will come in very handy. [click to continue…]
Small RC cars are fun to play with as long as the battery doesn’t drain. Having to recharge them every time you want a few minutes of play time can be a hassle. This tiny solar car never runs out of juice as long as the sun is shining. It’s a 4-wheeled car that is powered by a solar cell. Small enough to fit on the tip of your finger, this toy won’t take up much space in your geek toy collection. Its small price tag equally matches its small size. Priced at only $9.90, the tiny solar car is available from Brando.
If you own a smartphone or a tablet it’s almost a sure thing that you have smudges and fingerprints on the touchscreen. Most of us rub the device on our pant leg or grab a tissue to polish off the nasty smears. If that way of dealing with this issue is just too mediocre for you, check out the iRoller. Why do companies STILL think the “i” designation makes their product sound hip? It’s a mystery to me, but I digress. The iRoller features a sticky roller (probably the same kind that they sell for less than $5 at the checkout lane at Walmart that removes lint from your clothes) that you swipe across the display. As you do so it will magically clean off fingerprints and smudges without using chemicals and liquids. After many cleanings you can run the iRoller under the faucet to make it good as new. Fifty seven people on Amazon gave it 5 stars. Really? If you want your own smudge cleaning iRoller you can get one for less than $20 from Amazon.