Samsung Gear S3 smart watch review

samsung gear s3 smart watch how toWhen it comes to true smartwatches, there’s not a whole lot of choice; there’s Apple Watch and the Samsung Gear line, plus a small group of others. Yes, you can find watches that dabble in certain smart functions, but for the whole package of functionality, your choices are limited. Continue reading “Samsung Gear S3 smart watch review”

Samsung Gear IconX wireless earbuds review

Until now truly wireless earbuds have been a bit of a myth. ‘Wireless’ has meant that the phones will connect with Bluetooth, so they don’t need a connector between the phone and your device, but they often come with a wire connecting the left to right earbud. While that’s been an ok option, some people find it distracting and annoying to have a cable flapping around your neck while doing certain activities. Enter Samsung’s new Gear IconX earbuds. With not a wire in sight, these earbuds are among the first to be totally and truly wireless. The small thumb-sized earbuds wedge right into your ears for a good slip-free fit, and connect seamlessly and wirelessly to your Samsung device whenever you pop them in. Continue reading “Samsung Gear IconX wireless earbuds review”

Gorgeous fitness, activity & smart gadgets

For many years, fitness and activity trackers were utilitarian, rubbery and, let’s face it, sometimes ugly.

Now, a whole new generation of fitness and activity trackers, plus other smart devices have the look of fine jewelry, with all the smart functionality you need!

Fitbit’s new trackers

Meet Fitbit Altaimg_1691

The Alta is the fashionista version of an activity tracker. Slim and bracelet-like, the Alta actually looks a lot like the original Fitbit Flex (and comes with all the basic activity tracker features you’d expect), but with some improvements:

  • more sleek bracelet/band options including more watch/jewelry style options
  • vertical display on the front of the band with built-in watch
  • smart alerts come directly to the bracelet

The Alta is meant for a person who wants to be fashionable and not be seen to wear an ‘ugly’ rubber athletic band all the time. The band does the physical tracking and it pairs with a free smartphone app where you can store and access stats from day to day and long-term. There are also several pretty options for bands, from leather, to metal to the original rubber if you’re going to be working out hard.

Read my FULL REVIEW of Fitbit Alta .

Check out Fitbit Blaze

To use the Blaze you’ll need the Fitbit App if you want to keep long-term stats. With the app downloaded, you pair the device to your phone.

The Blaze has an interesting configuration; it’s essentially two parts; the band (which is interchangeable, more on that below), and the tracker unit, a flat, square device just over an inch square and slightly thicker than an average watch.  The tracker pops out of the band to allow for changeover, and must be removed and placed inside a tiny box for  charging.

At first I thought this band would be heavy and bulky, but after less than an hour, I had already forgotten it was on my wrist. Really, it doesn’t feel any heavier or bigger than my original Fitbit Flex, despite the obvious size differences.img_1456

I also like that the tracker unit itself can be popped out of the band, and tucked into a sports bra, sock, or pocket. This was one of my favorite features of the Fitbit Flex; it allowed me to hide the tracker if I didn’t want to be wearing something obviously athletic and rubbery on my wrist for a nice night out or a formal event. While the accuracy of the device may not be as exact if it’s worn elsewhere since it’s been made to be worn on the wrist, in my experience it wasn’t off enough to throw my day out of whack. And besides, the better looking these devices get, the less likely we are to want to hide them anyway, right?

Read my FULL REVIEW of the Fitbit Blaze.

Samsung Galaxy Gear S2 smart watch &

Samsung Galaxy S7 smartphone

Samsung Gear S2

I’ve been playing with this device for a week now and I love it’s clean lines and intuitive interface. While it functions as a chic watch, with a host of cool faces to match any style, it also has fitess tracking abilities.

  • Taking charge of your fitness goals is easy. It helps you track your daily activity levels,  and water vs. caffeine intake.
  • The Gear S2 helps you stay fit (even when you don’t want to!) with motivational messages, giving you the extra push, or much needed reminders.
  • The Gear S2’s battery life enables you to stay connected approximately 2-3 days on a single wireless charge.
  • No matter the weather, you can stay on your fitness track because the Gear S2 is water resistant and dustproof, so you never have to miss that much needed outdoor jog, even in the rain!
  • The Gear S2 will also track your heart rate.

The Gear S2 pairs with the  Samsung Galaxy S7

Features:

  • The Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 edge are the first Dual Pixel smartphones, letting you get the shot in 0.15 seconds. With a 12MP camera and a larger (f1.7) aperture, the camera owns the night and captures the moments that matter like never before, even in low light.
  •  With a stunning 5.1″ Quad HD Super AMOLED Display (5.5″ for Galaxy S7 edge) these smartphones are designed to not just look beautiful, but feel great in your hands. Plus, with an always-on display, stay up to date on the time, calendar and notifications without having to wake up your screen.
  •  Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 edge deliver fast wired and wireless charging technology. Additionally, the hybrid SIM card tray allows users to insert a microSD card for up to 200GB of additional storage

For Apple users, Samsung is working on an app that will allow the watch to function with iPhones too so more users may then be able to  jump on board.

Ringly Smart Ring

This little gem (pun intended) is a chic cocktail ring with smart functionality. Ringly rings come in a variety of metal finishes and stones. They work by sending you alerts when texts, phone calls or emails come in. You can also set it up to work with other apps and devices, like Fitbit, MyFitnessPal, Instagram, Twitter and many more.

The Ringly will vibrate on your finger, and you can set it for one buzz, up to four vibrations. The ring also sends a coloured light alert, via a tiny LED light in the side of the ring (the stone itself doesn’t glow). You can change the colout from orange to red, blue, green or purple, depending on they type of alert you want to get. It’s a fun accessory, but I recommend getting a size smaller than you might ordinarily, as the stone is quite heavy and falls to the size if not fitted properly. You’ll find that frustrating, and pull the ring off, so size appropriately.

8 Great Gadgets & Toys for Camping – With VIDEO

erin tech talk julySummer is camping season, and there’s nothing better than getting out to the mountains, or the badlands. This month on Tech Talk on CTV, we’re showing you both high-tech and low-tech gadgets to make roughing it more enjoyable.

Watch the Video by clicking here!
I’ve blogged previously on each of these gadgets, but I’ll put links to each here just to make finding them easy for CTV viewers.

First up, this awesome Stanley French Press Coffee Kit I got at Campers Village. IMG_3278This versatile set up allows you to boil water in the compact narrow kettle pot, add your coffee (grounds are conveniently stored in the lid!)  then use the French press plunger grid to press fresh quality coffee, and transfer it to the thermos where it’ll stay hot for 24 hours. It also keeps drinks cold or iced if that’s your thing. I also thought it was really clever that the lid unscrews into two coffee mugs.

I also got a lot of use out of this kit by pairing it with a Biolite CampStove. More on that below!!

black diamond ember power light
Black Diamond Ember Flashlight

Next, I tested out a handy flashlight charger. The Black Diamond Ember Power light gives you light when you need it, which you always do when you’re camping, plus its USB port will also charge any gadget you have with a USB plug.  Dead camera?  No problem.  Phone out of juice? Easy to fix. I kept this gadget in my purse and also found it really versatile when we were short-cutting home through a park after visiting a neighbour after dark. My husband’s also been stealing it for everything from finding some papers in his truck after sunset, to recharging his phone on the golf course.

Speaking of light, I also love these new 10″ LED Light Tent Pegs from Coghlans.  They secure your tent, tarp or lines, and have a simple twist on/off bright LED light which will keep you from tripping in the dark. I found myself using these to mark hazards around the campsite too, like big rocks and roots.

I also picked up a couple other low tech options that I find I’m using constantly while camping and on the road.Nemo Helio Shower

The Nemo Helio Pressure Shower is super handy if you like to camp away from crowds and off the beaten path.  It comes in a tiny zip pack about the size of a mixing bowl.  The 11L capacity means plenty of water, and because it rests on the ground, you don’t need to worry about hefting it overhead, or trying to fill it while it’s dangling from a tree. So how does it work then?  You pressurize the “tank” with a foot pump then use the sprayer to enjoy 5-7 minutes of shower time.

Lastly, I snagged one of these versatile hooks, thinking it would come in handy and it did. The Nite Ize Gear Line is a handy line with rigid twist-tie-like tabs on each end.  It’s got several different carabiner-type S-clips along its length, meaning you can string up whatever you want and keep it there with ease.  You can use it on a tree like I did to keep a garbage bag within easy reach, or use it in a tent to keep gear, towels, water bottles, or keys off the floor and within grabbing distance.

nite ize gear line
Nite Ize gear Line

That’s just some of the new gear I’m loving this season.  You can find everything I mentioned at Campers Village in Calgary and Edmonton, or online at Campers-Village.com

Also on CTV Morning Live, we looked at the BioLite Camp Stove. I reviewed this product for bestbuy.ca, so check out the full review HERE. 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.

You can also watch my video review below.

We can’t forget about the BioLite NanoGrid, a great gadget which I also reviewed in full for BestBuy.ca. biolite nanogrid 22It’s a compact but powerful lighting kit that gives you amazing options and versatility for bright, powerful LED light while camping, hiking, and barbecuing, even out in your yard, or anywhere you may need portable light. The BioLite NanoGrid consists of two main parts: the USB Power Bank, and the String Lights. The Power Bank is the hub of this kit. It provides power to recharge smartphones, it acts as a lantern, and it’s also a flashlight plus it connects and powers the peripheral string lights. The powerful Li-Ion battery can be recharged from any USB source (including BioLite products, like the aforementioned CampStove) and then you can share its power to any USB chargeable gear.

Read all about it here.

Lastly I just loved these handy little cube lights from Enevu. They have three light settings, low, medium and really bright.  The low light is really subtle and a nice glow, while the highest setting is perfect for using as work or task light. You can also remove the plastic diffuser cap and use the base as a directional flashlight. The lights come in different colours as well, so you can have bright clean white light, or fun colours.

enevu cubeHave you got some gear ideas I should check out?  Let me know in comments below! -erin

Cool New Camping Gear!

IMG_3278
Stanley French Press Coffee Kit

You can usually find me testing out the latest gadgets and high tech gear.  But this time, some of the new gear I got that I’m most excited about isn’t as high-tech as I’m used to.  I love it nonetheless and want to share.

First up, this awesome Stanley French Press Coffee Kit I got at Campers Village. This versatile set up allows you to boil water in the compact narrow kettle pot, add your coffee (grounds are conveniently stored in the lid!)  then use the French press plunger grid to press fresh quality coffee, and transfer it to the thermos where it’ll stay hot for 24 hours. It also keeps drinks cold or iced if that’s your thing. I also thought it was really clever that the lid unscrews into two coffee mugs.

I also got a lot of use out of this kit by pairing it with a Biolite CampStove. Check out my video of how it all worked together!

black diamond ember power lightNext, I tested out a handy flashlight charger. The Black Diamond Ember Power light gives you light when you need it, which you always do when you’re camping, plus its USB port will also charge any gadget you have with a USB plug.  Dead camera?  No problem.  Phone out of juice? Easy to fix. I kept this gadget in my purse and also found it really versatile when we were short-cutting home through a park after visiting a neighbour after dark. My husband’s also been stealing it for everything from finding some papers in his truck after sunset, to recharging his phone on the golf course.

IMG_4025
LED Tent Peg

Speaking of light, I also love these new 10″ LED Light Tent Pegs from Coghlans.  They secure your tent, tarp or lines, and have a simple twist on/off bright LED light which will keep you from tripping in the dark. I found myself using these to mark hazards around the campsite too, like big rocks and roots. Now, if only we could build LED lighting fibers into the tent strings….

I also picked up a couple other low tech options that I find I’m using constantly while camping and on the road.

The Nemo Helio Pressure Shower is super handy if you like to camp away from crowds and off the beaten path.  It comes in a tiny zip pack about the size of a mixing bowl.  The 11L capacity means plenty of water, and because it rests on the ground, you don’t need to worry about hefting it overhead, or trying to fill it while it’s dangling from a tree. So how does it work then?  You pressurize the “tank” with a foot pump then use the sprayer to enjoy 5-7 minutes of shower time.

Curious how it works?  Watch the short video!

Lastly, I snagged one of these versatile hooks, thinking it would come in handy and it did. The Nite Ize Gear Line is a handy line with rigid twist-tie-like tabs on each end.  It’s got several different carabiner-type S-clips along its length, meaning you can string up whatever you want and keep it there with ease.  You can use it on a tree like I did to keep a garbage bag within easy reach, or use it in a tent to keep gear, towels, water bottles, or keys off the floor and within grabbing distance.

nite ize gear line

That’s just some of the new gear I’m loving this season.  You can find everything I mentioned at Campers Village in Calgary and Edmonton, or online at Campers-Village.com

I’ll also be showing off these gadgets and some other cool camping gear later in July on CTV’s Tech Talk!

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.

Amazing and Chic Wood Accessories for your High Tech Gadgets

There’s a new trend I’ve noticed in accessories for your high tech devices; they are going much more rugged and raw.  Wood is all the rage right now when it comes to cases, covers and gadgets.  Read all about it below, or watch the segment on CTV News by clicking here. (You’ll be redirected to the CTV site)

Screen Shot 2014-11-22 at 2.18.40 PM

Lumberjack plug
Ilovehandles.com

Screen Shot 2014-11-22 at 2.37.05 PM
The lumberjack plug is a great example of where adding small touches of wood can really make a difference. Yes, it’s your standard USB plug, but instead of plastic or metal, it uses a nice soft wood; just enough to warm it up. It’s not only a nice touch if you prefer more natural materials, but it looks less sterile, and it’s something that’s just a bit different from a regular charger. iLovehandles also makes my new favourite organization accessory (as seen in the video) Paperback notes that stick to the back of your phone for reminders, grocery lists, etc. Yes, it’s not technically wood, but it is paper, and we all know where that comes from, right?

Wood headphones
Mezeheadphones.com

Screen Shot 2014-11-22 at 2.37.37 PM
Wood headphones sounds like a contradiction in terms, but these headphones from Meze are a great example of adding natural materials to technology. The company says the wood in these headphones makes for a richer sound when listening to music or other audio. While I don’t think I’m enough of an audiophile to fully appreciate the resonance wood headphones would provide, I love their soft feel, and warm richness, just as a fashion statement alone.
Wood iPad sleeves:
Grovemade.com

grovemade
When I first got my iPad, I searched high and low for a really great case. I wish I had known about these sooner. Grovemade makes these very flexible wood skins, with a soft fabric lining that will hold your iPad securely in place, and keep it protected.
Coffee Maker
Canadiano.co

Canadiano coffee maker in Walnut
Canadiano coffee maker in Walnut

Just one more example of the way many of us are looking to nature, instead of to technology to enrich our lives. This coffeemaker from Canadian company Canadiano, is very similar to the old-fashioned pour over filter set ups that many of our parents grew up with, but instead of ceramic or plastic, this one is a natural wood. The company says that over time, the wood will delicately infuse your coffee, and as such they offer this coffeemaker in a variety of woods, like walnut, cherry and birch.  It brews a cup of coffee that reminds me of the French press style. You need to let it settle because there will be a wee bit of grit in the coffee, but it gives you that bold richness that you expect from coffee that’s been made by soaking in the grounds.
Wood iPhone dock:
Valliswood.com

Screen Shot 2014-11-22 at 2.34.23 PM
I first found Valliswood on Etsy. Mario, who makes these beautiful solid wood iPhone docks in a variety of configurations is a one-man operation. The docks he handcrafts are great because they can be configured to any phone or tablet style, the cords run through the middle and out and nicely carved niche in the bottom, so the wood dock sits flat.  Docks like this are a really great way to bring more wood into your office workspace; a little bit of the outdoors indoors.

Bamboo Lap desk
iskelter.com

Slate-go-lapdesk-main1-510x652
One of my pet peeves working with a laptop has been it gets really hot. Whether it’s on a table surface, or on your lap, it heats up constantly. The bamboo lap desk from iskelter is loaded with lots of giant holes, which allows airflow to keep both your lap and your laptop cool.
Wood Cell phone covers

keywaydesigns.com

keyway 6_-_Jatoba_Black_1024x1024
Keyway Cell phone case

 

Many people go looking for a shiny slick case for their new phone.  Others wish for a simpler time, and for them, there’s wood cases by Canadian company Keyway. They make wood and wood hybrid cases for all varieties of cell phone, which lets you keep a rustic and raw look for your tech.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is there a wood tech accessory you love?  tell me about it in comments below.

Pure Camping Genius; Camp Caddy kitchen on wheels

campcaddy 6 As a camper who’s also a cook, I refuse to make hotdogs when we’re out in the woods.  We have 2 large bins of kitchen gear, plus a stove, and we use it all.  It’s definitely a pain in the neck to carry all that stuff back and forth.  But now, a pair of Albertans have come up with what I think is a genius way to run your camp kitchen; the Camp Caddy.

The couple has invented a kitchen on wheels; it comes with cupboard space, tabletop, racks for hanging towels, a slot for your campstove, and even pop up legs so you’re not scratching around at dirt level.

campcaddy 4

The genius of this isn’t just in what it holds, it’s that it’s pop up and pop down, and it fits in your trunk.  I’d love to try it to see how much gear it will truly store, but even if I still had to lug one other bin along, being able to pull up the telescoping handle and pulling this one into place makes so much sense.  It’s one of those ideas that makes you wonder “why didn’t I think of that?”

camp kitchen1

Check out the Camp Caddy Kickstarter Campaign, and check out their video below. They’re about $200, and there’s a price break if you pledge to buy 2!  Camp Caddy says it will ship in May 2015 if their campaign is funded.

 


 

 

 

 

 

Your Camper is a Wimpy Baby, Compared to the Powerful Swiss-Army-Style UEV-440

uevIt’s official.  I may just give up my tent.  But not for any ordinary camper.  The UEV-440 is the ultimate Urban Escape Vehicle.

“The UEV-440 is a true Jack of all trades, it offers the maneuverability and capability of a camper trailer as well as caravan benefits such as a hard roof, sides and floor,” says the company that builds it, “The 440 has a number of sleeping arrangements to suit both couples and families.
With luxuries such as diesel hot water system, interior heating, air-conditioning, microwave, shower, fridge/freezer, full kitchen complete with cutlery and crockery and even a flat screen DVD player you will fall in love with this truly ultimate off-road camper.”

Not to mention the bar area, and luxury sleeping quarters, all packed into a trailer you could easily pull down a mountain.  No kidding.

 

 

Check out this amazing video I can’t get enough of.

 

 

440-1

 

The compartmentalization of this trailer is insane.  Almost every side and panel folds out.  There’s awnings, stone/mud guards, and plenty of space for luggage, if that’s how you roll.

This unit is the ultimate in cool, functional durability. Check out their brochure on their website.