So you’ve got two computers on your desk. Windows, Mac, or one of each? OK, now what if you wanted to move files between the two? Instead of flash drives, setting up a home network and storage, or even emailing yourself a file (we’ve all done that before!), how about just one USB device that lets you drag and drop files, serve as a USB hub, AND share keyboard and mouse? Read on!
Happy Sunday morning or as I like to call it: Ughday. Why Ughday? Because there’s only a few more hours of the weekend left before it’s back to work. So make the most of it by doing something really fun like catching up on your favorite site – The Gadgeteer! Check out this list of all the news, reviews and articles that we posted last week. I’m sure there’s something you missed or would like to read again.
This isn’t a product you can purchase; it’s a wonderful, Portable LEGO Creation Station that an Instructables author named Tez_Gelmir designed and built for his very lucky LEGO-obsessed son. The station is seen closed on the left. I had to crop the original pictures to get them to fit on this page, but the station is sitting on a child’s room play rug, and that’s one of those huge floor-standing red toolboxes you can glimpse in the background for size comparison. It looks like a simple LEGO storage box, until you unlatch the front cover and lift it up into place. The cover becomes a LEGO work station, complete with colorful storage boxes stored inside the body of the box. He added a little folding step stool as a chair, and his son had the perfect place to build his creations. With everything stored neatly in the Creation Station, clean up will be a breeze, too. If you are handy, or you know someone who is (a grandparent, perhaps?), you can find step-by-step instructions for building your own Portable LEGO Creation Station at Instructables.
As earphones become ubiquitous in our daily lives for music on the go, it becomes more important than ever to consider sound quality. Are we getting the best sound for our money? Probably not. Is there better audio available than what we get from our stock ear buds that came free with our smartphones? You bet there is. In fact, there is an obscene number of earphone and headphone choices today in all price ranges. Many sound good, some sound great and others sound … well, not so good. Phiaton is an personal audio company you may not be familiar with, but you should be. This South Korean company makes components for other headphone brands as well as their own, so they know what they’re doing. I’ve reviewed and liked both their Moderna MS 200 earphones and their very stylish and comfortable Bridge MS 500 headphones. Their new MS 100 BA Balanced Armature earphones are a departure for Phiaton—a welcome departure.
As I’ve stated before, I love smart home products. I’m not entirely sure if it’s laziness or the cool factor, but I love having the ability to control things from my smartphone. Nest recently announced a redesign of its Nest Protect fire alarm. I have the original Nest Protect at home and was excited to hear about its redesign (as excited as one can get over a fire alarm).
The second generation Nest Protect claims to be 11 percent smaller, longer lasting, and easier to install. Nest also states the Nest Protect uses a new sensor that will be able to differentiate between different types of fires. Finally, the LED ring now shines brighter and alarms can be cleared from your smartphone.
Well, it doesn’t actually distinguish red from green, but it does indicate the amount of redness in red, orange, and purple objects by a series of stripes superimposed over the object. The Red Stripe app uses the device’s camera to view the objects in question and overlays stripes on those objects with a red component. The more red in the object, the more intense the stripes will appear to the app user. The stripes will not appear on blue or green objects. Since a person with red/green deficiencies can still see blue and yellow, the stripes will help distinguish which of two grayish objects is red. The Red Stripe app is available for iOS devices and for Mac computers. The iOS version of Red Stripe ($4.99) would seem to be more useful because it is portable than would the Mac version ($4.99), in my opinion.
Growing veggies on your counter is neat. I love the idea and will probably try it very soon, but growing full-sized plants indoors, hydroponically, organically, and controlled by your smartphone? I’m in! Niwa has pioneered the first interactive system that controls the growing conditions 24/7 and lets you interact via a smartphone app to grow whatever you want, beautifully and tastefully. It comes in three different sizes, mini ($279.00), standard ($319.00), and premium ($359.00), and for the DIY type, there is a Niwa Makers Kit that you can buy at a fraction of the cost which allows you to design your own system for $183.00. It is currently available for preorder at Niwa and is being manufactured now. Shipping begins summer 2015. Forget the fish tank, I’d rather look at this beauty!
Amazon this week announced an update to its popular Kindle Paperwhite. The updated ebook reader now boasts a resolution of 300 pixels per inch, the same resolution as Amazon’s more expensive Kindle Voyage.
The new Kindle also comes with Amazon’s new font, Bookerly, which claims to give readers a better reading experience — faster reading with less eyestrain.
The new Paperwhite is available for preorder and releases on June 30, 2015. The base model, with Special Offers and Wi-Fi only, is $119.
I am a huge advocate for the use of screen protectors. I have been a fan since the beginning; starting with those overpriced, thin sheets of plastics to the messy liquid applied protectors to tempered glass and now engineered systems to keep your smart device’s round-edged screen safe and protected. The engineers at Bodyguardz have created The Crown, a two piece solution designed to protect the latest and greatest smartphones from the perils of everyday life. So, let’s see if the Crown lives up to my hopes and dreams… [click to continue…]
Of course, only a fool would put a caffeinated drink in a toddler’s cup, but it would be fun to give the grandparent’s a start when they see the grandkid coming to visit with their own cup of high-octane energy, wouldn’t it? This 8oz cup is made of BPA-free plastic and has a hard, snap-on sippy lid. It’s 3.5″ in diameter x 4.5″ tall; it’s for ages 6 months and up. The faux cup sleeve has a “Baby Ducks Coffee” logo, and it’s all microwave and dishwasher safe. The Rise and Shine Sippy Cup is $5.99 at ThinkGeek.
The camera on my iPhone 6 Plus is okay, but it’s no where as good as my Nikon D5100 DSLR. The camera on my iPad is no where near as good as the camera on my iPhone. Sometimes you have to use the camera you have with you, and often that’s not the Nikon because it’s just too big to carry everywhere. With the DxO ONE, I could have a DSLR-quality camera that’s small enough to fit in my pocket. You just pop out its Lightning adapter and plug it into the iPhone or iPad, and the ONE uses the iOS device and its app as the viewfinder and user interface for the 20.2MP DxO ONE camera.
There are far more details and tech specs for the DxO ONE than I can list here, so you’ll need to go read more for yourself. The “TL;dr” synopsis is that this tiny 2.7″ X 1.9″ X 1″ camera has a high quality, 6-element aspherical lens (maximum aperture of f/1.8 down to f/11), an adjustable 6-blade iris, 1″ CMOS-BSI sensor, ISO 100 – 51,200, a 32mm equivalent focal length, 1/8000 – 15 second shutter speed, autofocus, and much more. It takes still shots in .JPG, .DNG, and their own proprietary .DxO SuperRAW and video in .MOV files in 1080p (30 fps) or 720p (120fps) mode. The ONE can rotate +/- 60o, and it can even tell when you are in selfie mode. It’s powered with a lithium-ion battery that’s good for about 200 shots between charges.
With purchase of the ONE, you’ll receive DxO’s DxO FilmPack and (for a limited time) the Elite Edition of DxO OpticsPro photo editing software. You can pre-order the DxO ONE now for $599 with shipping in September 2015. If you’d prefer, you can leave your email address at DxO Lab‘s website to be notified when the ONE is available.
I’m a big fan of the Dropcam and have reviewed and used every model since it first came on the market five years ago. In that same time period, I’ve reviewed many other home security cameras like the FLIR FX which is the latest camera I’ve had the opportunity to try. I tend to compare every camera I review to the Dropcam because its picture quality, ease of use and features have always been superior to other cameras. Ever since it was announced that the company was being acquired by Nest (aka Google) last summer, I’ve been looking forward to trying the new camera to see what exciting new features it would have. Unfortunately, the new Nest Cam is leaving me a little disappointed because it seems like all they’ve done is updated the camera’s base which is now magnetic and can be attached to a tripod. The Nest Cam still has the same 130 degree wide angle lens which I thought was excellent until I reviewed the FLIR FX which has a 160 degree view with a sharper image. Maybe I’m missing something… I hope to find out when/if I get a chance to review one.
The Nest Cam is available now for $199 with a free 30 day trial subscription to their cloud service. Once the 30 days are over, you will need to buy either the 10-day video history subscription for $100/yr or the 30-day subscription for $300/year if you want to view more than just a live video feed. Without a subscription you will be unable to view any past events. For more info visit the Nest Store.
If you don’t know it, the E3 conference is happening this week. Along with the announcement of new games and system updates, I am always interested in the new gear coming out. This year Microsoft has announced the Xbox Elite Wireless Controller. While on the surface, a new Xbox controller does not seem groundbreaking (especially at $149.99), but a little digging shows that it is much more than a simple controller. Designed to not only work with the Xbox One, the new controller will work with a PC running the new Windows 10. Those are nice features, but for hardcore gamers, the additional customizable joysticks and configurable paddles that can be added or removed from the bottom of the controller make it a notch above most controllers. Along with the paddles, the controller comes with the following:
- Xbox Elite Wireless Controller
- Carrying case
- Set of 4 paddles
- Set of 6 thumbsticks: standard (2), tall (2), and domed (2)
- Set of 2 D-pads: faceted and standard
- USB cable
- AA batteries
- Quick Setup Guide and Product Manual
The App to configure the controller is available for Windows 10 and the Xbox One. At $149.99 and available in October 2015, the Xbox One Elite Controller can be pre-ordered at the Microsoft website.
A while back, I reviewed the X1, X2 and X3 UV filters from Breakthrough Photography. Their slimline cells with ridged edges that make them easier to mount and stack on your lenses have had a permanent place on my Canon 24-105 f/4L and Canon 16-35 f/4L lenses ever since. They remain wonderful companions, not getting in the way of getting great shots. They also protect my lenses while being easy to clean thanks to the nano coating. When I was asked to review their new X3 neutral density filters, I jumped at the chance. They sent me two different densities, a three-stop and a six-stop filter. [click to continue…]
The xylum charging dock for Apple Watch is machined from a solid piece of aircraft-grade aluminum for extra strength. The brushed surface and chamfered edges of the xylum complement the design of the Watch. The circular stand fits the charging cable inside, and two rubber inserts hold the cable and magnetic charger in place while you mount or remove the Watch from the stand. It measures 2.8″ X 1.6″ X 3.1″ and is compatible with both 38mm and 42mm Watches. It will work only with watchbands that open completely.
Outdoor lighting makes using your deck much more enjoyable, but it can be expensive when you have to have an electrician come out and wire them. These Solar LED Stained-Glass Postcap for 4X4 Posts lights don’t need wiring because they have solar panels built in to charge the included 1 AA NiMh rechargeable battery that powers the 18-lumen warm-white LED light. The fixture has a brushed copper finish and plastic panels with a stained-glass look. The fixtures fit the top of a standard 4X4 post, or they can be mounted with the included side post bracket. The lights have a 120o beam spread; they come on automatically at dusk and stay on for up to 6 hours when fully charged. The Solar LED Stained-Glass Postcap for 4X4 Posts light is $15.90 from Pegasus Lighting.
In today’s high-end earphone market everyone tries to have a hook or a gimmick to compete against the perceived king of the hill in headphones and earphones. Pump Audio, a UK company and a fairly new comer to the high-end earphone market, decided to take the market’s front-runner head on by comparing their earphones to earphones made by Beats (now owned by Apple). Surprisingly, in Pump Audio’s limited blind testing, 74% of the testers liked the Pump Audio earphones more than the Beats. That alone is enough for me to want to try them out, and they were kind enough to send me a pair to do so.
If you’ve ever wondered how a certain product continues to perform weeks, months or even a decade after we originally posted a review, these regular review update posts will give you that info. Click through to see a list of our recently updated reviews and then scroll to the bottom of each of the listed reviews to read the latest update. [click to continue…]
Here’s a product that is supposed to be comforting, but it seems creepy and icky to me. Heavenly Pals is a new Indiegogo project for stuffed animals of the 10 most popular dog breeds (according to the AKC) that include: Boxer, English Bulldog, German Shepherd, Poodle and more. What’s the big deal you ask? Well, these are no ordinary stuffed animals, they have been designed to hold the cremated remains of your deceased pet. Here’s how they work: You or your vet place your dog’s remains into the neoprene lined belly of your Heavenly Pal which can be locked with a key, everything stays safe and secure. It also comes with an engravable name tag that you can personalize.
When my dog Kasey died, we had her cremated, and still have the box with her ashes somewhere in the house. That whole experience of having to put her down happened about 10 years ago and I’m still not over it. I don’t think I’d want a stuffed animal (they don’t make a Pembroke Welsh Corgi anyway) with her ashes in it sitting on my bed. It just seems weird and creepy. Or is that just me? If this is something you’re interested in, you can reserve your own Heavenly Pal for $60. The Indiegogo project is seeking $95,000 and ends at the end of July. Maybe the next project will be for cats and ferrets…
Anyone who uses a smartphone, tablet, or even a laptop knows at some point you’re going to wish you had a speaker that sounds better than the wimpy little speakers that are built in to these portable devices. There’s a plethora of portable speaker options on the market, ranging from really cheap to very expensive. There are hardwired, Bluetooth, and NFC speakers, and there are tiny speakers that are hardly bigger and louder than the device’s built-in speakers, to some that are really too large to throw in your bag. The CUATRO Wireless Bluetooth Speaker from URGE Basics is small enough to be portable, moderately priced, and offers the option of Bluetooth or wired connectivity. Best of all, it sounds good! Let’s give it a look. [click to continue…]