Need Samsung accessories? These are perfect for the new Galaxy S8+

The Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+ have been out for a while now, and to go with it, there’s plenty of new Galaxy-ready gear.  Whether you need a proper case, charging cables or other accessories, there are some new options from different companies. Continue reading “Need Samsung accessories? These are perfect for the new Galaxy S8+”

The evening bag that charges your phone; MightyPurse review

Being a tech blogger I always need power. I can’t risk running out of juice when I have content to post on deadline! That’s why I was excited to learn about MightyPurse.

MightyPurse is a good sized clutch purse with a wrist strap that has built-in charging. The MightyPurse features a hidden built-in 4000Ah battery that manufacturer H Butler says can recharge your smartphone up to two times per charge. The power bank has an LED charge indicator so you always know how much power is left in your purse. Continue reading “The evening bag that charges your phone; MightyPurse review”

Ventev Mobile accessories & charging gadgets come to Canada

There’s a new provider of mobile and wireless accessories like cables, power banks and charging gadgets. Ventev, a US-based maker of gadgetry and smartphone gear, has arrived in Canada.

I recently had a chance to try out some of the gear, and was very impressed with its durability, sleek styling, simple design and versatility. Continue reading “Ventev Mobile accessories & charging gadgets come to Canada”

New Charging Technology – CTV Tech Talk

erin-nov-2This month on CTV Tech Talk, I showed gadgets for keeping your phone charged and ready.

Get a longer cable belt-cable-native-union

I hate short charging cables. There’s nothing worse than having your nose to the wall, crouched on the floor by an outlet, waiting for your phone to recharge, while still trying to use it.

The Belt Cable from Native Union is a soft, braided cable with a leather tab to help you keep it rolled up and untangled. It comes in 4-foot, 8-foot and 10-foot lengths, giving you a lot of options when you need to be plugged in. I’m able to use my iPad while reading in bed, even though the nearest outlet is across the room.

Rock a nicer dock

dock-charging-native-unionLet’s face it, most charging cables included with our devices are designed to be utilitarian, but isn’t it nice to have lovely things? I think this heavyweight charging Dock from Native Union is sculptural and sexy.  The simple design may look basic, but it holds my phone securely, and still lets me see the screen clearly, and access it easily.  The weighty soft rubberized metal base ensures your phone stays put, and the rose gold brushed metal backing plate give it a touch of style. If you need it to, the whole thing comes apart and folds flat .

charging dock heavy native unionKeep your cable where you put it

night-cable-native-unionThe Native Union Night Cable is a braided cable with a weighted ball on the end that lets you place it on a table, and it keeps the end of the cable where you can always find it. The ball can be moved up and down the length of the cable so you can adjust how much cable is sitting out.

These cables are super durable and stiff, which makes them largely tangle-free.

A cable with a built in alarm

buzz

Ever wonder if your spouse if sneaking your phone while you’re asleep? Have you caught your kids sneaking into your room to recover their seized technology? This new cable might be able to help.  The Skross Buzz cable will vibrate and sound an audible alarm if unplugged. It could also come in handy if you’re charging in an airport or cafe and need to turn your gaze from your phone. Click here to read more about this cable and see a video about how it works.

MiTagg Lamp MiTagg lamp 2

The minimalist c-shaped lamp is purpose-built; the top is an LED light, with dimming abilities, while along the base are different options for charging; there’s an Apple Watch charger, a phone charger, plus a space to keep a power bank ready for when you need to grab it and go. You can use these docks individually, or all at once, with the lamp on or off.

Tech Talk Contest

This lamp would be at home in an office or a house, depending on your aesthetic. If you want to try to win one of these lamps, click here to enter the contest while it’s active.

Smart charging cables & accessories for your phone

belt-cable-long-native-union- chargingPhone batteries never last long enough, so making sure you’ve got a backup plan is important. I’ve been checking out some new charging devices and accessories that can help you stay powered up, while looking chic, and solving some annoying problems. Continue reading “Smart charging cables & accessories for your phone”

MiTagg lamp – multipurpose tech & charging center

MiTagg lamp 1I get some of my most interesting ideas for tech gear and blogs from coworkers; Neena stumbled across this unusual gadget, and had to know if it was all it’s cracked up to be. The MiTagg desk lamp is much more than a light; it’s a multi-talented tech and charging center.

What the MiTagg lamp does

The minimalist c-shaped lamp is purpose-built; the top is an LED light, with dimming abilities, while along the base are different options for charging; there’s an Apple Watch charger, a phone charger, plus a space to keep a power bank ready for when you need to grab it and go. You can use these docks individually, or all at once, with the lamp on or off.

The lamp is made from an aluminum skin and has been given a brushed finish.

Testing the MiTagg Power StationMiTagg lamp 2

This lamp would be at home in an office or a house, depending on your aesthetic.  I kept my sample on my desk at the office and had many a coworker come over to take a look at the unique contraption. Most people thought it was handy, and I have to agree.  All the plugs in our office are located under our desks, so charging anything while at work requires crawling around on the floor, and hoping for a spare outlet. Of course, there’s never one down there.

With the lamp handily on the desk (I unplugged another dumber desk lamp to make room for the MiTagg) and now fully powered, it was easy to dock my phone nearby while working, and have it stay powered up. Of course having this device take up just one plug, while allowing me to charge multiple devices, and still providing desk light was a smart solution, as far as I was concerned.

There’s no set up or complications with this power center; unpack, plug and it’s ready.

mitagg nukiOptional accessory – NuKi power bank

The lamp I tested came with a small battery pack or power bank called NuKi. The NuKi comes with a separate charging cradle, which seems redundant when most power banks today can recharge with any USB plug or outlet. MiTagg’s website calls this ‘frictionless’ charging, and indeed the NuKi can simply be dropped into its cradle for a recharge, but of course that cradle has to be plugged in via USB somewhere (probably your lamp).

Valued separately at a whopping $69 USD the extra power supply is “a compact, portable keychain backup battery solution with an integrated Apple® MFI Lightning Cable and convenient detachable keyring means you’re always ready for instant power on-the-go,” according to MiTagg’s website. Considering powerful and long lasting power banks can be had for a fraction of that cost, I’m a little surprised this one can only deliver 75% charge (1800 mAh) to an iPhone for that price and size.

Mysteriously, the NuKi also comes with a detachable key ring, so if you did want to weigh your keys down with a large and awkward key chain, you could.

NuKi has location trackingNuKi_Silver_4_large

NuKi also comes with built in location tracking, as some power banks are nowadays, probably because they’re so easy to set down, or plug in and walk away then forget.  You’ll need a separate app for that feature.

A thought for next time – MiTagg Power Station Lamp

If I had one complaint about this product, it’s that the light itself could be more powerful and cast a wider glow. As it is, the light is very down-focused, meaning it lights up the devices it’s charging on its base, more so than my work area.  It can’t be adjusted either; if the LED could be swiveled to provide more directional task light, I think it would be far more useful. I found myself not using the dimming feature, and instead wishing the lamp could be brighter, perhaps to spill off the base and get where I needed some light the most.

The MiTagg Power Lamp Station sells for $299USD and is available at the MiTagg website.

If you have a gadget I should check out, please reach out on Twitter or Instagram @ErinLYYC

This cable keeps snoopy spouses & grabby kids at bay

Ever wonder if your spouse if sneaking your phone while you’re asleep? Have you caught your kids sneaking into your room to recover their grounded technology? This new cable might be able to help.  The Skross Buzz cable will vibrate and sound an audible alarm if unplugged. It could also come in handy if you’re charging in an airport or cafe and need to turn your gaze from your phone.

Check out the video to see how it works.

My Top 10 Tech Gadgets of the Year

I’ve had the great fortune to test some of the best and most-coveted tech gadgets this year. I’ve reviewed a lot of devices, but only these make my top 10 list for 2015.  My criteria? They have to be easy to use, perform as promised – or better – than the companies advertise, they have to be useful, practical, and well made. It has to be something I’d actually buy for myself, and there’s also bonus points for coolness.

Here’s the list, in order.

10. Belkin Mixit Charging Cables

IMG_7398With the battery life of many phones in a sad state, it’s imperative to carry extra cables or a portable battery pack. But they can be heavy, or clunky, or get tangled up inside your bag.

Belkin has come up with a WAY better option that I think is going to be a huge hit.  There are three smart additions to their MIXIT line of cables.

Made from natural leather, the MIXIT Lightning to USB Tassel is a chic handbag charm that hides a premium metallic charging cable in its tassels. Belkin says, “its fringe design takes a purse from bleak to chic, keeps the cable tidy and prevents it from getting tangled.” I also love the chic lobster clip that makes it easy to attach and swap it from bag to bag. Read the full review HERE.

9. Vitamix Blender

IMG_6963I like using frozen fruit and fresh kale in my smoothies, however my blender will only chop the hearty greens so well.  Inevitably I’m choking down tiny kale fibers, or having them get jammed in the straw. Oh, and there’s usually some giant pieces of frozen fruit left in the bottom too.

Not with the Vitamix.  This blender is able to absolutely liquefy its contents, usually on just one blending cycle. That means no bits of kale, and no frozen chunks. I was sceptical at first, but I can attest the Vitamix is on another level when it comes to blending. Full Review HERE.

8. Biolite Campstove

rsz_biolite_recropThe BioLite CampStove was the company’s first production piece. The concept is simple and genius at the same time: the CampStove creates a smokeless campfire that can cook meals and boil water in minutes. Setup is easy, fuel is free, and the company says, “flames are hyperefficient with performance on par with white gas stoves.” Then at the same time, the stove’s heat generates usable electricity for charging LED lights, mobile phones, and other personal devices. The stove’s USB connector will charge up most devices, and every twenty minutes of charging with a strong fire gives you about an hour of talk time on most smartphones. Probably more than you need out in the bush! The stove can also boil a litre of water in about 5 minutes in the small, Thermos-sized kit. I tested this gadget on a summer camping trip and it was compact, easy to use, produced a lot of heat, and gave me juice on the go. It’s a must-have for the serious camper. I love Biolite’s NanoGrid light kit a lot too. Read about both HERE.

7. Phonesuit charging case

phonesuitAre you the type who always runs out of juice on your device? The Phonesuit Elite battery case will keep you going all day long.  On its own, it protects, then when you need the extra hit of power, you just turn it on, and it gives you an additional 120% charge. The beauty of these cases are they recharge in 2 hours, and are quite slim, considering all the power it packs.  I liked these cases because they’re really durable, they recharge quickly, and the deliver that extra power punch quickly. Read how to get one, and about some other great case options HERE.

6. MyFox Security Camera

myfoxA small oddly-shaped camera, but it works like a dream.  A beautiful HD video picture, and set up is super easy. With the free app downloaded, I was able to set up the account in no time, and the camera was fully operational in about five minutes.The MyFox camera is without a doubt the easiest camera with the best video quality for your home secutity dollar. Read the full review HERE.

5. Fujifilm Instax Share Photo Printer

IMG_2828Wondering what to do with all the digital photos that sit on your device for years and years?  Start printing the best ones!
The new Fujifilm Instax Share printer is truly pocket sized, but it operates basically as you might remember a Polaroid camera operating; it spits out a small photo instantly that takes a couple minutes to fully develop. The result is retro-cool prints in an instant. The printer is easy to operate, and makes great quality prints.
Read more about the Instax printer HERE.

4. Felony Case

IMG_0380I only picked two cases as tops this year, and this is one of them. These plastic shell cases from Felony Case are definite winners for most eye-catching.  The 3-D raised texture on the  Kaleidoscope case is stunning, but the softness of the design means it’s comfortable to hold, despite looking menacingly like a torture device. In gold, rose gold, black and white, these cases are stunning accessories. Not to mention the case is barely a millimeter thick, so it adds absolutely zero bulk to your device.  While the business-types have been coveting the Moshi cases and the hipster are after Fuz, the fashionistas all want my Felony Case!  Check out the full write-up on Felony Case, as well as som other great options HERE.

3. Osram Lightify Flex

IMG_6431I’m sure under counter lighting is going to be a hugely popular use for this product, but you could see getting really creative with it too: lighting around a mirror, a headboard, under a glass table top, or stone bar. There are endless possibilities because this lighting is ultra thin and completely bendable. The Flex kit is super easy to install, and gives you the option of turning the lights different colours. I absolutely love changing the look and mood of the room with coloured light, and Flex makes it easy and chic. Learn about the Flex kit HERE.

2. Qwerkywriter Bluetooth Keyboard

QWERKY111Qwerkywriter is a solid aluminum metal (but not heavy!) keyboard that connects wirelessly via Bluetooth to iPhones, iPads, iMacs, MacPros, Macbooks, Android Tablets Devices, Windows Tablets, and more. It also has a functional carriage return bar that works as an ENTER key.
I absolutely love the feel of the industrial strength mechanical switches that give the device a unique clacky feel and sound. Punching typewriter keys requires just a touch more force than a younger generation will be familiar with, but those old enough to appreciate Mr Dressup reruns will love the stress relief properties.
Read all about Qwerkywriter on my blog HERE.

1. Ring Video Doorbell

IMG_4769It’s a simple gadget that’s infinitely useful. Ring is a video doorbell that lets you respond to visitors remotely via your smartphone from anywhere.  Got a package being delivered and you’re not home? Use Ring to answer the delivery driver’s call and instruct him to leave the package with a neighbour.  Annoying salesperson? Know before you open the door and get stuck in conversation. Ring is ultra-easy to use and get set up and has a sharp HD camera and high quality 2-way voice interaction. Added motion-detection alerts can also keep you safe from people lurking around or casing your place. I have Ring at my house and love it.
Read the full review HERE.

Have you got a gadget you think deserves top billing? Is there a gadget I should look at for next year’s list? Let me know in comments, below.

 

 

 

Read more tech news! Surf cool tech topics HERE.

BioLite’s cooking and camping gear charges devices and may blow your mind

rsz_biolite_recropI’m forever sourcing out new camping gear. Every time I pack up, I realize how much duplication we have, how heavy or unwieldy some of our items are, or that we often bring things we just don’t need. So when I read about BioLite, I was intrigued. The company develops and manufactures what it dubs, “advanced energy products that make cooking with wood as clean safe and easy as modern fuels”, but recently it’s also been working on ways to create electricity to charge your electronics too.

BioLite for Cooking and Charging

biolite nanogrid 22
BioLite NanoGrid lighting system.

The BioLite CampStove was the company’s first production piece. The concept is simple and genius at the same time: the CampStove creates a smokeless campfire that can cook meals and boil water in minutes. Setup is easy, fuel is free, and the company says, “flames are hyperefficient with performance on par with white gas stoves”. Then at the same time, the stove’s heat generates usable electricity for charging LED lights, mobile phones, and other personal devices. The stove’s USB connector will charge up most devices, and every twenty minutes of charging with a strong fire gives you about an hour of talk time on most smartphones.

BioLite also has several options for lighting up your campsite, but the one I most want to get my hands on is the NanoGrid. BioLite calls it, “a revolutionary lighting and energy storage system” that consists of a main PowerLight, and peripheral SiteLights. The PowerLight is the central hub, and can be used as a flashlight or a lantern, plus it will power your gadgets and devices. Interestingly, Biolite says the PowerLight doesn’t have any burning-bright hotspots, because it uses what the company calls ‘Edge-lighting’, where the lantern’s panels “bend light around the internal battery, resulting in a compact design and soft light”. The SiteLights connect to it, and then allow you to string more lighting around your campsite. These extension lamps throw off about a 10-foot circle of light and they can be individually controlled, and even dimmed.

Read about the rest of the gear in the BioLite line on the Best Buy Plug In blog I wrote.

This Epic Luggage Will Change the Way you Travel Forever (No, it really will!)

trunkster rolltopIt’s not too often I get blown away by something that lands in my inbox, but the Trunkster Zipperless Luggage has done that.  Just about wrapped up on Kickstarter, the company has definitely made it’s goal and then some, and that’s probably because they’ve taken a basic product we all take for granted, and completely redesigned it to make it handy, clever, and a travel necessity.

Trunkster has taken all the things you HATE about a carry-on (or they are making a full size version), and done away with them; the finicky zipper is gone, replaced by a rolling front door that gives you access to the bag without having to splay the whole thing open on the floor like you’re gutting an animal pre-flight. “The last major update to the core design of luggage was wheels. And while many cool new features have been introduced since then, most have failed to improve the actual experience of using luggage,” says trinkets on its Kickstarter page.

Trunkster keeps the wheels and handle part of luggage design, but the company says it’s made them better.  “Trunkster features a robust, side-to-side handle that gives you absolute control and enhanced balance through many grip positions. Plus, the handle’s special design allows for an uninterrupted cargo space for optimum packing capacity.”  I’m not exactly sure what a “robust side-to-side handle” means.  But if it means it doesn’t break or get stuck after a dozen uses, I’m in! I also appreciate the fact it appears the telescoping slides don’t infringe on packing space. I’d love to get hands-on with one of these bags to truly see how this all works.

The Lost Bag that Finds Itself!

Losing a bags sucks, to put it bluntly.  Especially when your airline gives you the line “We don’t know where your bag is, Ms Erin, but I’m sure it’ll turn up somewhere.” So reassuring.  So what if your bag could track itself and tell YOU, and the airline, where it’s snuck off to?  Amazing.  Why hasn’t this been thought of before? Especially when you think tracking devices like Tile and others are now so small, and that it would be so easy.  This is quite simply a brilliant, brilliant innovation for luggage.

trunkster design plans

Power on the Go

Trunkster has made it easy to keep all those devices you need to keep connected or entertained on the go fully charged.  The Trunkster carry-on bag has a built in USB charger and battery that will charge a phone up to nine times.  Longer than the world’s worst layover! So while all the other airport zombies are crowded around the 11 available charging stations or licking musty airport carpet to access a hidden wall plug, you’ll be sitting in comfort with a glass of your favourite beverage in the airport bar, still fully charged!

The Bag that Weighs Itself

With all the new baggage fees out there, many people are choosing to carry on to save money.  Which means airlines are soon going to start cracking down on size, number and weight of carry-ons.  You won’t get caught, because the Trunkster has a built in scale that will display in pounds or kilograms.

trunkster specs

Other features:

  • World-Class Construction – made from brushed airplane grade aluminum and 100% virgin polycarbonate (durable, lightweight, and scratch resistant) with a matte finish.
  • Compression Panels – specially designed panels with a single hand closure mechanism to compress contents.
  • All-Terrain Spinner Wheels – robust, ribbed, omni-directional wheels that glide smoothly and silently over any surface.
  • Hidden Compartment – minimalist compartment for travel essentials like passport, notebook, pens, etc. Also holds removable battery.
  • TSA Lock – custom Travel Sentry TSA-approved combination lock to keep your bag safe from intruders.

trunkster animated

This Kickstarter campaign is overfunded, so congrats to Trunkster.  I’m really impressed with the thought and intelligence that’s gone into the design, but I’m curious about how well that rolling door design will work, especially after being banged around a lot.  The company  has apparently thought of that, because they’re offering Kickstarter backers a 5 year warranty on the bags, which I think is a smart idea. I hope to be able to review this product soon to let you know what it’s really like hands-on.  The company estimates the retail price of the carry-on with GPS to be around $500.  The Kickstarter price is $335, plus shipping (cheap to Asia Pacific and the USA, not cheap to Canada – its $100) The checked version would retail around $600.