This Week’s Latest Tech Gadgets – Dec. 9, 2013

By Gregg Ellman

BookBook Travel Journal

Odds and ends, a little office cleaning or just call it another in the endless holiday shopping gift guides. Any or all of the above translates into a bunch holiday suggestions for gift lists.

TwelveSouth’s BookBook Travel Journal is more then a great looking vintage world book-style case for an iPad Air, mini or any other table that fits.

It’s has a leather-covered hardback outside and the inside is soft-lined to keep your tablet safe and scratch-free, but it doesn’t end there.

A dozen pockets and adjustable bands are great for keeping your headphones, mouse, cables, chargers, cables and documents in place and within easy reach.

It measures 8 x 10.3 x 1.9-inches and weighs just 16 ounces before you load it up. $99.99


PowerFlaskDigital Treasures PowerFlask is a portable battery with an incredible 13,000mAh of power, which you can use for charging just about any portable electronic gadget.

Up to three USB devices can be charged simultaneously including tablets, smartphones and gaming devices.

The internal lithium battery is surrounded by a flask design with an aluminum finish wrapped in a black leather coat.

The top has a pair of USB charging ports (1A and 2.5A output) and a single mircroUSB charging port. A dual LED illuminator there alerts you of the remaining power. $69.95


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This Week’s Latest Tech Gadgets – Nov. 25, 2013

By Gregg Ellman

Surface 2
I’ve tossed around several ways to approach my review of the Microsoft Surface 2 tablet, but it’s impossible to make an iPad comparison since I’ve owned several over the past few years.

After coming to grips with the conclusion that I really liked the Surface 2, I was upfront on a recent conference call with Microsoft representatives, telling them that I was really enjoyed using the Surface 2 and many features it has vs. the “other.”

Supporting Flash is an obvious and never-ending difference but the most significant feature in my mind, which the Surface 2 has and the other doesn’t, is the little memory slot tucked away under the built-in stand.

Using the microSD memory slot with cards up to 64GB (not included) enables the Surface 2 to have memory expansion for storing movies, music, documents or whatever you want. This is in addition to internal memory of 32 or 64GB.

But the positives don’t end there. I really like the tablet’s construction of built-in dual-position kickstand, keyboard and cover.

On the side is a mini display and USB 3.0 ports and comes with the full Microsoft Office 2013 suite of programs.

It runs Windows 8, which allows you to sync it with eight other Windows 8 machines.

Each Surface 2 comes with a free 2-year account to the Skydrive Cloud network. Skydrive is a cross platform Cloud storage solution, which will work with any version of Windows in a browser.

One thing I did notice was that the Surface didn’t come with much documentation, which isn’t really needed. The first time you turn it on the step-by-step instructions are as easy as can be to get you up and running.

A nice feature lets you have multiple accounts without having to turn the tablet on and off. Each user can have their own setup of apps and appearance; just log in and out for each user.

When you set up a children’s account, restrictions can be put in place to limit what can or can’t be done. A weekly report can be emailed to the administrator informing them what the children’s site has been doing.

I do wish the charging cable was something a little more mainstream but I’m sure there are some internal reasons for that.

Other specific specs have the touchscreen tablet measuring 10.81 x 6.79 x .35-inches with a 16:9 aspect ratio and 1920 x 1080 resolution.

There is also a 3.5 megapixel front facing-camera (great for Skype, etc.) and a rear 5 megapixel camera.

I can’t say I’m now a regular Windows users but the Surface 2 sure does have a place in my tablet world. 32GB $449, 64GB $549


KarmaThe Karma can be in the palm of your hand for instant WiFi most anywhere.

The pocket-sized hotspot device (2.5 x 2.5 x .25-inches) named Karma costs $99 and is a pay as-you-use device without any contract.

Data is $14 per GB and it allows up to eight devices to be connected simultaneously without sharing your data. Once someone connects to your Karma and they sign up for data, you will receive 100MB of data deposited into your account.

Karma coverage is in 80 major U.S. cities and a 2014 nationwide coverage expansion will add more than 230 cities using the Sprint 4G LTE Network. Regular $99 price will be lowered to $59.99 during the week of December 2nd – 7th.


BuckshotThe Outdoor Tech Buckshot wireless (Bluetooth) speaker is designed for cyclists, but can be used in most any environment with its rugged, water-resistant design.

The speaker is built with a rubberized outer shell enabling it to be shock-resistant and withstand small drops.

It comes along with a universal mount for bicycle handlebars for riding along with the music or using it as a hands-free device for phone calls since it has a built-in microphone.

A full USB charge will give you about 10 hours of use and its IPX-5 water-resistance rating enables it to withstand splashes of liquid. $49.95


Armorz Stealth ExtremeThe Armorz Stealth Extreme Lite screen protectors are as strong as any I’ve seen.

It’s pretty amazing how clean your screen stays on top of the great protection, which is advertised to be able to withstand impact from a hammer or drill.

While I won’t put that part to test, I will say fingerprints are at a minimum with the 0.2mm think tempered glass.

Officially it has an 8H hardness rating, which means nothing to me specifically except to say it prevents my iPhone 5s LCD from getting scratched up. available for the iPhone 5/5s/5c – $34.95 and the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 – $39.95

Contact Gregg Ellman at
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2013, Gregg Ellman.


This Week’s Latest Tech Gadgets – Nov. 5, 2013

By Gregg Ellman

Garmin VIRBGarmin has entered the field of rugged action photography cameras with the recent launch of the VIRB HD ($299.99).

The camera is built with an aerodynamic design in a rugged waterproof housing, enabling users to run the camera without purchasing extra housings for extreme weather conditions.

The case has an IPX-7 waterproof rating enabling it to withstand a depth of one meter of water for up to 30 minutes, which Garmin describes as “accidental immersion.”

Using it is simple as any camera I’ve seen. Move an external sliding button forward and the camera is recording. Video’s are captured in formats up to 1080p HD and a 1.4-inch Chroma color display helps in composing your recordings or for playback.

Built-in digital image stabilization helps you get still footage by eliminating some of the camera shake.

If you want still photos, the VIRB can take 16 megapixel images, even while the video is recording. Both formats are stored on your microSD memory card. Still image features include time lapse and burst modes.

The features of the compact camera seem, endless including a 2000mAh Li-ion battery good for up to three hours of HD recording, ports include HDMI output, USB 2.0 and an internal microphone.

The VIRB weights just 1.4 pounds and measures about 1.25 x x 2 x 4.3-inches.

If underwater photography is your desire, a dive case is available for $39.99.

A variety of accessories are available including cables, adapters, mounts and extra batteries.

Garmin has an additional model in the series, the VIRB Elite ($399.99). It has all the features of the VIRB but adds WiFi and GPS features.

And finally Garmin has recently released VIRB Edit, a a free desktop software for Mac or PC systems. It allows you to edit and share video footage recorded with the VIRB cameras.

The download is available at the Garmin site.


RAVPower WirelessI’m a big fan of multi-functional devices so it’s a no brainer I would be a fan of the RAVPower (RP-WD01) FileHub.

The pocket-sized device (4.6 x x 3.11 x .55-inches, 4.2 oz) has a 3000mAh battery for on-the-go power and can be set up as a WiFi or hotspot for setting up a network to share videos, music, photos or documents with multiple devices.

A built-in SD card reader lets you store your digital files on the memory cards and access the contents on an smartphone, tablet or computer via WiFi.

Flash drives or bigger external hard drives can be connected through the built-in USB port.

Setting up each device is different but the step-by-step instructions make it problem-free. I would mostly use a device like this for my iPad, since they (Apple) doesn’t allow directly plugging in expandable media.

This allows those or any devices to have never-ending expandable media, which in my case gives me access to my full movie and TV show library.

Up to five devices can connect simultaneously and LED status lights on the front show (l-r) batter level, read/write, WiFi level and WAN. $44.99


This Week’s Latest Tech Gadgets – Oct. 28, 2013

By Gregg Ellman

DxO Optics Pro v9

The annual Photo District News Photo Plus Expo at the Javits Center in New York City always brings out some innovative products for the photo industry and here are a few that caught my viewfinder’s attention.

DxO Labs has announced the ninth version (v9) of its popular image processing software DxO Optics Pro.

It works with both Mac and Windows systems and is advertised to improve on its already best-in-class noise reduction capability. It has a redesigned de-noising engine, allowing users up to four extra stops of noise reduction compared to standard software.

The included RAW conversion software also offers sophisticated tools for optimizing color and exposure, and the fan-favorite Lens Softness tool, which instantly corrects for sharpness based on thousands of individualized lens and camera combinations.

The new version also features improved highlight recovery capability, more accurate color rendering, 30 one-click image effects, and easy-to-use help tools and tutorials.

The software normally sells for $169 but a special introductory offer is on the company’s website for $99 until Nov. 20.


Rogue Safari Pop UpExpoImaging, Inc., has introduced the patent pending Rogue Safari Pop-Up Flash Booster.

It’s an attachment for DSLR cameras that concentrates light from the pop-up flash for photographing subjects at a distance and is optimized for use with telephoto zoom lenses that are 100mm and longer.

With the Rogue Safari, it can add up to 8x more light (an improvement of up to 3 f/stops) on a subject, compared to a DSLR’s unassisted pop-up flash along with up to 12x more than ambient light.

The Rogue Safari does not require batteries and looks like part of the camera when attached. It’s built to withstand the rigors of travel photography since it is molded from rugged, impact resistant polycarbonate materials $34.95
GoTough WonderPanaGoFotodiox revealed the GoTough WonderPanaGo, a smaller version of its professional WonderPana filter system designed to fit the GoPro HERO3 camera.

It’s part of the company’s GoTough product line that features durable, high-impact aluminum camera accessories for the popular GoPro cameras. The line includes mounts and rigs in a variety of colors to match team branding and existing gear you might have.

The WonderPanaGo is made with premium grade anodized aluminum and optical grade glass. It includes a sturdy all-metal mount for the GoTough custom filter system, which easily attaches onto the original HERO3’s waterproof case.

New add-on professional-grade filters include a ND8 filter for shooting in bright conditions, a Circular Polarizer, a UV protective filter, and a custom lens cap. The GoTough Dive Filter Kit includes new pink and purple glass filters to correct color balance during underwater action shots. Prices range from $9.95 to $149.95, and each GoTough product comes with a 24-month manufacturer’s warranty.


CintiqWacom, a leading manufacturer of pen tablets, interactive pen displays and other digital interface solutions showed off the Cintiq Companion line of creative tablets, which are are available in two models.

The Cintiq Companion runs Windows 8 and full versions of creative software, while the Cintiq Companion Hybrid is a traditional Cintiq when plugged into a Mac or PC.

When the Hybrid is used as a mobile device, it works as a stand-alone Android tablet with enough power for illustrators and designers to start creative processes with suitable apps to do light sketching, drawing and painting.

The new tablets have full HD display with touch control and the Wacom Pro Pen along with 2048 levels of pressure sensitivity and tilt recognition. 

The Cintiq Companion models are $1,999 for the Windows 8 with 256GB SSD and $2,499 for the Windows 8 Pro with 512GB SSD. Two versions of the Cintiq Companion Hybrid are available, a 16GB ($1,499) version and a 32GB ($1,599) version.

Contact Gregg Ellman at
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2013, Gregg Ellman.


This Week’s Latest Tech Gadgets – Oct. 21, 2013

By Gregg Ellman

My 2nd Brain

Think Tank Photo, the premier camera, computer and accessory storage maker has launched a few new product lines aimed at Apple users.

I’ll be upfront and come clean that I’ve been a Think Tank fan and user since the company launched about nine years ago.

Right out of the gate it was clear that all Think Tank products were well-made with durable and water-resistant fabric, pristine stitching, strong hardware and zippers able to withstand a lifetime of opening and closing.

The top-notch craftsmanship continues with the My 2nd Brain line of four computer and tablet bags, all created specifically for Apple laptops and their necessary accessories.

I tried the 15-inch model designed for the MacBook Pro (10.2 x 14.8 x 2.6-inches, $99.75) and it worked perfectly. My computer fit in the main padded compartment and all my accessories packed inside the pouches and pockets.

This included my power adapter, media cards, earbuds, MiFi and a few other USB cords. A separate zippered storage area on the front is called a “Plush Pouch” and it made a perfect home for my iPhone since I was testing this bag on a recent flight.

An additional outside compartment was home to my iPad and its charging cable, pens, pencils, business cards and other accessories.

Another new one is the My 2nd Brain Tablet bag ($75.75), which accommodates any iPad along with an iPhone along with the accompanying accessories and more in the mesh pouches and pockets.

These new products all include a padded and adjustable shoulder strap.
Powerhouse AirAny Think Tank Product can be used with the new Powerhouse organizer cases, which come in three models; Powerhouse Tablet, Air and Pro.

Using the middle-sized Air pouch (7.5” W x 3.9” H x 1.8-inches), I kept all my travel cords in one place, making them instantly accessible

The small cases are water resistant, have a main zippered compartment, with a clear front and a divider. There’s also two other zippered compartments, one with a pair of pouches inside. bags available black, harbor blue, and mist green, while the pouch comes in silver.


Wireless PlusThe Jabra Sport Wireless+ is a durable wireless (Bluetooth V3.0) earbud headset designed for athletes.

Three sizes of eargels are included to help you the perfect fit for the active lifestyle. Also included are a newly designed fit clip, carrying pouch and a USB charging cable.

The headphones can really be considered an all-in-one with wireless functions, built-in FM radio and an Omni Directional microphone for handsfree calling.

They are built to withstand US military grade rain (1/2 gallon per minute), shock and dust protection.

Since they are Bluetooth, they have a tiny rechargeable battery inside, which has a longer life than older models. This one is rated by Jabra to have up to 4 hours of talk time along with 120 hours of standby time.

As for how they perform, the middle-sized eargel kept them locked in place and they pumped out great sound after being paired with my iPhone.

I never had the chance to get rained on to test out the durability but knowing Jabra products well, I have no doubt they would be a good as advertised. $99.95


Kanex meDriveThe meDrive file manager is another one of those accessories iPhone and iPad users have been waiting for, especially since those devices do not have a card slot for expandable media.

Just download the free meDrive app from the Apple App store and connect the meDrive to your existing router through the built-in Ethernet port.

Then make sure you install your external hard drive (not included), which has your digital content stored on the same network. If you have a USB external hard drive that does not require AC power, it can be plugged directly into the meDrive. Either way will work fine and simple to setup.

From there the app allows you to access the USB storage and view photos, movies and documents created with any of the apps within the iWork family.

All the content can be shared in this centralized location and viewed by multiple devices simultaneously. A password can be setup to protect the contents from the outside world.

The hockey-puck sized meDrive is powered via USB from any source. $49.99

Contact Gregg Ellman at
Follow him on Twitter: @greggellman.
2013, Gregg Ellman.