This Week’s Latest Tech Gadgets – April 29, 2013

By Gregg Ellman

HITCASE PROA lot of words can be used to describe the HitcasePro case for the iPhone 4/4S and 5 ($129.99), including waterproof, shockproof and innovative, which are all true.

The case is a complete package, with a ABS/Polycarbonate exterior and it even has a built-in wide angle lens expanding the field of view from the phone’s original lens to 170 degrees.

Three outside locks keep everything in place but once they are unlocked it opens like a book.

Before putting your phone in, it’s important to inspect the interior for dirt or dust. Having a can of compressed air would help do the trick.

The phone sits in this patent pending ShockSeal system so you want the seal to be perfect, to prevent water damage. In addition, there a small rubber piece to keep the headphone port sealed, so make sure that’s also in place.

Once you have it cleaned to your liking, put your phone in and lock it shut.

While encased, you’ll have full access to the phone’s touchscreen but it’s now waterproof (up to 33-feet) and ruggedized, as described from Hitcase.

A few handy accessories are included, including the Mount Hitcase mounting system, which locks in place and has a one button quick release.

For real outdoor enthusiasts, the company’s Vidometer app (free from Apple) overlays your altitude, G-Force, speed and shock in your extreme videos.

Hitcase also recently announced the availability of the SuckR mount for $49.99. This is a marine-grade suction mount for in-vehicle use on land or water. The mount attaches to any smooth, flat or non-porous surface to transform the iPhone into a mountable, ruggedized POV camera.


MOMENTUMI tried Sennheiser’s Momentum over the ear headphones at the Consumer Electronics show in January and in just seconds I knew they produced incredible sound.

I’ve always liked Sennheiser products because they deliver incredibly crisp sound with great clarity but without head-banging bass and these are no different.

For the past few weeks I’ve given the Momentum’s a place on my head in a more controlled environment on land and in the air. To sum up my feelings, they definitely fall into my favorite headphone line of “you won’t take them off.”

In addition to the great sound, they look great. A black leather headband makes it comfortable and lightweight on your head, along with the padded leather ear-cups.

An Apple friendly smart remote with mic is on the interchangeable 52-inch cable, letting you control volume, music selections and answer calls handsfree. Non-Apple users can use the 56-inch long standard cable.

A hard carrying case is included.  $349.95


VersaStandHaving a desk, which folds up to 1-inch thick, and weighs less than a pound is what you get with the Ergotech Versa Case and folding desk stand for iPad.

Once your iPad is mounted with the included hard rubberized back case, it mounts to the arm and gives you a 180-degree’s of versatility by having it sit on a flat surface or even mounting it under a cabinet.

A ring is built into the back of the case, which securely attaches to a spring-loaded mount on the end of the arm.

The front LCD is protected by a folding cover, similar to Apple’s folding smart cover.

The stand is built with a silver-colored brushed aluminum finish and has rubber pads on the bottom to prevent it from scratching your desktop.

Two feet separate on the bottom for balance and its arm folds out to attach the case for angling in most any direction. When you’re done, it folds up into a very portable (3 1/4 x 9 x 1 1/4-inches) accessory.  $125

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


This Week’s Latest Tech Gadgets – April 25, 2013

By Gregg Ellman

Therapy PillowThe Sound Oasis Sleep Therapy Pillow speakers slide into any sized pillow for relaxing sound.

While they are marketed for enhanced therapy or privacy use, I thought they were a great accessory for bedtime TV audio.

The wired stereo speakers ($22.99) are ultra-thin and plug into any device with a 3.5mm connection. Just slide them into your pillow and adjust the volume on the in-line control.

Each speaker is about 1.5-inches round by .5-inch deep and 73-inches long cord with a volume control.

The speakers are also available in the Sound Oasis Sleep Therapy Pillow ($49.99), which has them built-into the 20 x 26-inch pillow.

A cord, with the in-line speaker control, connects to your device from the pillow. The speakers can be removed so the pillow can be cleaned.


Spark DigitalBlue Microphones Spark Digital delivers crystal clear audio on Apple iOS and USB (Mac and Windows) devices with basically a plug-and-play setup.

I chose GarageBand as my app, although it’s listed to work with hundreds of apps. With GarageBand running, the microphone was instantly detected and after a few steps it was recording.

The studio-quality microphone weights 1.25 lbs., has LED lights for levels, along with volume controls, microphone muting and gain.

An adjustable desk stand has built-in shockmount and a port to plug in your own headphone for monitoring the audio.

Aside from how well the microphone worked with its simple setup, it’s one of the coolest looking accessories to have.

Whether you’re using it to capture audio for podcasts, instrumental, video or note taking, you’ll be thrilled with the results.

For connections, it includes a long Apple 30-pin connection cable so you’ll need the lightning adapter (not included) for the newer devices. A standard USB cable is included for computer connections, along with a soft storage case, which can hold the mic, stand and accessories.

For sound techies, the Spark Digital has a 20Hz – 20kHz frequency response, an adjustable gain range of 32dB and a 16bit bit rate.

Spark Digital includes a $125 value of both a six-month account to Gobbler, which includes 25 GB of storage for music backup and organization along with a six-month Pro Account from SoundCloud, which lets anyone create, record, promote and share their sounds on the web.  $199.99


SnoozeAlarm clocks for smartphones are a dime a dozen, so at this point there must be something that really catches my attention to give it a second glance.

The Snooze iPhone alarm dock from Distil Union does just that with its functionality and its attractive wood (solid, Maple or Oak) finish.

Using it is simple; just slide your iPhone 5 or 4/4S into the dock, which has tracks cut into it to keep it in place.

Then download the free Snooze alarm clock app and you’re all set.

Your device acts as alarm clock with an easy access snooze button built into the dock, which measures about 2 x 3 x 4.5-inches and has rubber feet on the bottom to keep it in place.

A pass-through slot lets you hook it up to charge overnight with your own USB charging cable and AC wall adapter.

The app lets you set alarms and adjust its brightness with the swipe of your finger.

The slot to slide your phone in is about 1/2-inch wide, so keep that in mind when trying to use the dock with a case on the phone.  $39.99

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


This Week’s Latest Tech Gadgets – April 16, 2013

By Gregg Ellman

Hoodman Custom FinderHoodman, a company known for innovative camera accessories, has launched a Custom Finder Kit for Canon and Nikon DSLR cameras.

This accessory is a must-have for anyone owning one of these cameras and knows how difficult it can be to view the LCD in bright conditions or to see magnified details of an image or video.

The main feature of the kit is the rubberized H32 HoodLoupe eyecup along with the HoodMAG eyecup, which you put your eye right up to for viewing anything on your LCD (up to 3.2-inches) even in the brightest conditions.

Diopter adjustment (+/-3) is built into the loupe, which is made with German glass optics. All this adds up to an incredibly handy and glare-free way of viewing your camera’s LCD in actual or magnified ratios.

A new innovative lightweight base plate, made of milled black anodized aluminum is included with the kit and mounts in seconds to the bottom of your camera’s tripod hole.

The baseplate needs minor adjustments before attaching it to your camera and Hoodman has posted an easy “how to” video on there site, which I recommend watching before attaching it to your camera.

Once you have the plate mounted and the hood in place, the loupe can be adjusted or even removed with the turn of a knob.

A hex tool, which is needed for making some of the mounting adjustments is included and has a nice hiding place for storage on the plate so it won’t get lost and is easily found when needed.

The bottom of the plate is equipped with additional tripod and ball-head holes, slots for shoulder or sling camera straps and other camera accessories.

Anyone who already owns a HoodLoupe 3.0 or 3.2 can purchase the custom finder base plate separately for mounting them together.   $199.99


LensPen SensorKlearDigital camera sensor cleaning is challenging for many and LensPen, a leading sensor cleaning accessory maker, accurately describes the chore as “a tedious, time-consuming and nerve rattling experience,”

The company’s SensorKlear Loupe kit is a perfect way for any digital camera owner to keep the digital sensors clean for crystal clear digital images.

Looking at your cameras sensor without a magnified loupe is virtually useless, but with the kits SensorKlear Loupe (6x magnification) you’ll be able to see the unwanted dust.

Just remove the lens, place the loupe in the aperture ring, turn on its built-in light, which consists of eight LEDs, and examine your camera’s sensor.

The loupe is powered by two AAA batteries (included) and is adjustable to fit any camera mount.

When you see the spots you want removed, first try the Hurricane Blower, which will most often remove dry dust..

If you encounter spots referred to as sticky dust, which the blower doesn’t remove, that’s where the SensorKlear II pen comes in.

The liquid-free pen touches the sensor directly through an access window on the side of the loupe so you can see and clean the dust at the same time.

Before using this or any other sensor cleaning kit, make sure you read your camera’s warranty. Often damage done to a sensor during a warranty period will result in the warranty not being honored for sensor repair.  $99.95


Logitech Bluetooth Easy SwitchIf you’re a member of the Apple team with a Mac, iPhone and iPad then the Logitech Bluetooth easy-switch keyboard is a must have.

First off it’s a portable Bluetooth keyboard, which is small enough to tuck into any laptop bag. But what makes it unique is you can instantly and easily switch between the devices.

Just pair it up as you do normally with each device and you can switch from one to the other with the push of a key on the top row. It’s that simple, no need to turn a device off or disconnected the Bluetooth, just press the button.

In addition to how well it works, it’s a great looking device to fit in the Apple family. It’s built with a brushed aluminum body, backlit black keys and recharges with the included USB cable.

There’s also a battery status light on the top to alert you if a charge is needed.  $99.99


MirrorCaseThe MirrorCase for iPhone’s 4/4S ($49.95) is designed to let you use the phone in a more natural horizontal mode when taking photos.

In addition to acting as a case, it has mirror on the front end just below the power button, which you aim towards your subject.

With the case you can put it down on a flat surface to aim it with more accuracy if you want to jump in the photo.

The case even helps using the phone to take photos when you don’t want it to be so obvious.

A newer version is available for pre-orders for iPads ($79.95) and the iPhone 5 ($59.95) where the mirror rotates out in both landscape and portrait modes. When your not taking photos, the mirror folds back into the case.  $49.95

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


2013 Hermes Awards Deadline this Friday!

hermes link graphicAttention all Marketing and Communication Professionals. Time is running out to submit your best work in the 2013 Hermes Creative Awards.

You don’t have to wait months to find out how you did. We anticipate being ready to post winners and mail results on May 1.

Deadline April 12


This Week’s Latest Tech Gadgets – April 8, 2013

By Gregg Ellman

Jabra VoxEvery time Jabra makes a hands-free Bluetooth headset, it seems to work better than the previous version, even if the previous was outstanding.

With that reputation in mind, I looked forward to the next generation of Jabra Vox earbud styled headphones, which were rolled out earlier this month.

Even before I plugged the Vox into my iPhone, one look showed that they were obviously designed and built with durability in mind _ but let’s not forget the great sound.

Each earbud is attached to square, tangle-free cable that has inline cord control and mic for hands-free calls, volume and music selections on many smartphones.

Jabra even tested the cord to withstand 15 kg of pull force, which translates to being well-made and able to withstand wear and tear.

If you have never had tangle-free headphone cables, you don’t know what you’re missing.

Each earbud is designed to stay in your ear and you also get three different sized ear gels for the perfect fit.

They also include SnagIt Magnets, which keep the speakers attached to each other when not in use. They can be stored in the included hand carrying pouch.

After you get past the appearance and craftsmanship, all you need to know is that you won’t take them out of your ear after listening to the crisp sound without a a hint of distortion but lots of bass.

You can also add to your listening experience by downloading the free Jabra sound app (iOS and Android), which is described to add depth and dimension to your music with the addition of Dolby Digital sound.

The app includes an equalizer for manual adjustments or presets for classic, dance, pop and rock.  $99.99


Satechi Smart LED Desk LampI never thought a desk lamp would be something that could be classified as “cool” but the Satechi Smart LED desk lamp is just that.

In addition to doing just as it’s named to give your desk some nice, soft illuminating light, it has different modes for specific atmosphere or mood lighting.

Light is measured in temperature, which is stated in kelvin (k), with temperatures over 5000k considered cool lighting and lower temperatures are called warm.

With that in mind, the Satechi light has different modes to achieve a lot of these settings with just the touch of a button on the lights base.

Among the four custom settings are the reading mode, which give you mid-range settings for less eye-strain at 4300k – 5300k; the bedtime mode softens the lighting with a 2500k – 3300k setting.

The low powered light is rated to last over 40,000 hours, which I have no inclination to test or doubt. It’s also built with a multi-pivot and flexible arm to position the light’s in numerous angles.

A USB port on the back of the base enables charging smartphones or anything needing up to a 700mAh charge, which excludes many power hungry tablets.  available in black or white models


iStabilizer FlexThe iStabilizer Flex ($20.88) has a flexible tripod system and a mounting kit to hold most any smartphone or other smaller digital cameras, the latter of which will give you much better quality.

Since the legs are flexible, in addition to standing on any flat surface, it will attach to a fence post, doorknob, rear view mirror or anything it can wrap itself around.

The tripod has the standard tripod socket on top, which can attach directly to some cameras or just use the mount kit to place the camera in multiple angles.

The iStabilizer Mount (included) holds devices up to 2.75-inches wide; past that you’ll need to buy the iStabilizer Mount XL ($19.95) wide tripod adapter.


Garmin StreetPilotLast week after running normal app updates on my iPhone 5, my Garmin app gave me a surprise by broadcasting driving directions through my car stereo speakers.

Later that day I found out why in an email from the company announcing the update to their Navigon iOS app for Apple devices (version 2.4) with Bluetooth audio support and Wikipedia integration.

When the directions start speaking, the music stops and vice versa.

The Garmin app for iOS and Android devices cost a little more than the average 99-cent or even free apps, but after you use it, take my word – you’ll wonder how you every lived without it.  iOS or Android for USA $49.99, all of North America is $59.99

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


This Week’s Latest Tech Gadgets – April 1, 2013

By Gregg Ellman

CamRangerThe CamRanger is the wireless device photographers have been waiting a long time for and after one use I can say it was worth the wait.

It plugs into the USB-out port on most of the newer digital SLR cameras from Canon and Nikon to create a WiFi network with Apple iOS (4.0 and up) devices or Mac computers with OSX 10.7 and up. An Android version is in development and is expected out later this spring.

The setup is simple: Just download the free CamRanger app from iTunes and complete a simple registration process (serial number validation). From there it’s pretty amazing how well it works.

Once you’re hooked up and everything is on, the app displays all the camera settings and enables you to change most of them on your handheld devices LCD.

This includes autofocus, live view, shutter speed, image quality, aperture, ISO, firing the camera itself and reviewing images. The app lets you double tap an image to increase its magnification.

What instantly impressed me was how easy it is to set up compared to a complicated process for similar devices.

On my first day of testing, I connected the CamRanger to my Canon 1DX, which was mounted on a backboard at a college basketball game. Images were shot and edited with my iPad, enabling them to be seen just as the action happened.

The unit can be used while you’re taking photos or you can attach it to a camera to read what’s on the memory card after a day of shooting.

For example, vacation photographers can be out a whole day photographing family fun and then at night, connect the CamRanger to the camera to view, download and email off selected photos; it’s that easy.

The battery looks like a standard cell phone battery and is good for 3 to 6 hours before a USB charge is needed. If you have a portable USB battery, it also works and recharges the CamRanger when connected.

You get a 150-foot range from the device (4 x 2.5 x .5-inches) and it comes with charging and connection USB cables along with a storage pouch, which can be attached to a camera or strap.  $299 check the site for supported cameras and features


KlinggThe Klingg cord hold will work with any wired headphone to keep your cable out of the way and tangle free.

There isn’t a lot to it, just a two-pice magnetic system, which you can attach to clothing or just about any surface.

If you attach it to your shirt, the rear part goes inside and the cable-holding end of the magnetic system stays on the outside, which has a slot to run the headphone (not included) cable in. $19.95 available in many color combinations


Hercules Laptop BackpackYou don’t need to know anything about Greek mythology to figure out that the new Hercules (K7102) backpack from ECBC is all you need for a laptop, tablet and more accessories than you would ever use.

Before you even unzip a pocket, you’ll see the backpack is well made with what they list the material as 1000d Kodra.

Most people, including me, would more commonly call this a canvas-type material but either way it looks good.

The material has a water repellent coating and combines with the water-resistant zippers to keep your items weatherproof, which shouldn’t be confused with waterproof.

After your laptop (up to 17-inches) is positioned with the form spacer and a tablet is stored you’ll have to really explore to find all of the compartments since they seem to be hidden and positioned everywhere.

The main compartment can accommodate the big and bulky headphones of today along with power supplies, cords, cables, sunglasses or whatever you want.

Before you fill it up, the backpack measures 18.4 x 12.13 x 7.1-inches and weighs 2.7 lbs. Even after it was filled to capacity, I was still able to fit it under the seat at my feet on a recent flight.

It features an adjustable ergonomically designed shoulder strap system and side pockets for water bottles.  $139.99 available in berry, black, blue, green and linen

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


2013 Hermes Winner, Great-West Financial

hermes link graphicWinner: Great-West Financial
Location: Greenwood Village, Colorado
Client: County of Los Angeles
Title: County of Los Angeles Horizons and 401 (k) Savings Plans – Emercial
Category: #158. Educational

gwlogoVirtually every company and government employer struggles to bring it’s workers into 401 (k) Savings Plans. Employees are bombarded with brochures, flyers, posters, mailings, and emails to stress the importance of planning for their futures. Great-West Financial is a company that offers a range of retirement savings products. One of it’s clients is the County of Los Angeles. To entice worker participation in the county’s 401 (k), Great-West created a video that is as original as it is informative. Using animation where a worker ant is the protagonist, the video conveys a strong message without being heaving handed. The graphics, animation, and voice over seamlessly work together to make important points in a clever way.