This Week’s Tech Gadgets

By Gregg Ellman
The iHome iD55 is another of those cool-looking portable stereo docking systems the company produces and like the others, it sounds great.

It features a sliding cover with a black faux leather top that unveils all the controls and a dock for Apple iPad, iPhones and iPods.

The great desktop sound comes from a pair of high-quality speakers packed into both ends of the system.

It measures 15.35″ W x 6.69″ H x 3.54-inches, weighs 2.64 lbs and runs on AC power or four AA batteries (not included).

The flexible dock connector lets you dock just about every Apple device.

As far as working with the new iPhone 5 connection, a company representative emailed me that “iHome has a line of new products that will be out in the coming months (by early 2013) for iPhone 5 and the new iPods.  However, virtually every product they’ve released with the old 30 pin dock will still work with the Lightening adaptor Apple is releasing.”

The iD55, like most every other iHome docking system, has an AUX (3.5mm) in port to connect with most any media player as well. $79.99


I never thought specs for a keyboard would include hand washable with dishwasher soap but the Logitech K310 keyboard lists just that.

The new USB keyboard is built with Rubberdome key technology and is advertised to withstand a washing in the kitchen sink submergible up to 12-inches, so I did just that.

After drying it off (a critical aspect) I plugged it back in and it worked perfect. It’s also built with drying holes on the backside for easy drainage.

The keyboards numbers, letters and other characters are laser-printed and UV coated so they won’t come off after the washing but I’d be careful and not use an abrasive surface to scrub them clean.

It’s not magic but it’s really impressive and well worth the investment for many desktop coffee drinkers.

As for how it functions, it’s a full sized keyboard with F-keys, a number pad and low profile keys advertised to last up to 5 million keystrokes.

A small cleaning brush comes attached to the bottom of the keyboard for quick cleaning of dust and dirt. $39.99


The LifeProof NÜÜD case for iPad is another way to take an electronic device in the water or to just protect is from any damaging environment.

The case is designed to meet or exceed IP-68 and Military Standards, which allows it to withstand inclement weather or to be submerged in water up to 6.6-feet deep for up to 30 minutes.

Just picking up the case, you can feel how durable it is but follow the instructions, which encourage you to test out the case in water before installation.

It’s also shock proof to withstand small drops but that’s something I’m hesitant to test out so I’ll just take their word for it.

While your new iPad or iPad 2 is encased, you get full access to the tablets’ home button, volume control and the headphone and charging ports.

The critical aspect of the tablet is the touch screen and while the heavy-duty case is on you still get full access to the screen, which is built with what’s called naked screen technology $149.99

Contact Gregg Ellman at
Follow him on Twitter: @greggellman.
2012, Gregg Ellman.


MarCom Winner, McLellan Group

Winner: McLellan Multimedia Group Corp.
Title of Entry: One in a Thousand
Location: Toronto, ON, Canada
Client: 1000 Islands Photo Art
Category: iPad eBook App

Every once in a while an entry comes across the judging table that totally enthralls us.  We quickly forget where we are and what we are doing. We become spectators, not judges. Such was the case with an eBook app called One in a Thousand. With the first image you drift away to that place in your brain where you see and feel pure beauty and nirvana. Instantly, the images and words infiltrate your imagination. Fifteen minutes later we regained our composure, awoke from our dream and set it aside to enjoy again later.

One in a Thousand is an interactive eBook by Ian Coristine, a Canadian photographer, author and dreamer who explores the thousand islands along the St. Lawrence River in his ultralight floatplane.

Check out some of the marketing materials, here, here, here, and here.




Which Category Do I choose?

With the deadline now only a few days away, entries have all of a sudden started flooding in. If ever there was an industry that needs a deadline, it is marketing and communications. Perhaps, it is because we are creative types and we need a swift kick, or maybe it’s because everyone is overworked and understaffed.

Telephone calls and questions have also picked up. Many people are concerned about picking the right category. Judges recognize that every entry does not fit exactly into a well-defined category. Your work is designed specifically for your client and is unique to them and their needs. Don’t worry about choosing between similar categories… for instance, whether it is better to enter a brochure in Capabilities versus Company Overview. In most cases, it doesn’t stand a better chance in one category versus another. An exception would be a general category versus a specific one such as Brochure/Informational versus Brochure/Design. Judges are told to evaluate each piece based on their perceptions of what it is and how it can be used. We recognize that many pieces have multiple purposes. Judges are not looking to knock out entries on a technicality related to category, that is why we don’t publish a definition and list of prerequisites for each category.  Occasionally, they move the entry from a category that is obviously wrong. If you don’t like our categories, choose an Other category and write in a new one.

We are also asked about accompanying paperwork. We have all filled out competition forms that call for a masters thesis. We are trying to make it easy on you and the judges. A creative explanation is not necessary for most MarCom categories. We stipulate that every project was completed under budget, with a limited staff, in a short timeframe and was well-received by the client. Since you are not under oath when filling out award documentation, our judges use their own experience and perceptions in evaluating what you had to work with in the way of budgets, challenges, creativity, etc. Ultimately, a brochure, magazine, website, video etc. has to stand on its own. For categories where there is a plan or strategy, we are looking for whatever you gave your client (internal or external). Was there a recap? synopsis etc.?  What materials were generated? If there isn’t something that will suffice, then write something based on Objectives, Challenges, Solutions and send us any materials.

Through the years, we have fielded a number of requests to view winning submissions. We understand the difficulty in getting permission from your company or client to post work, even if it is already in the public domain. We respect that and won’t post anything without permission. In fact, we have occasionally been asked to not include the client’s name on our winner’s list.

As judges go through the entries (they started several weeks ago), they will occasionally get excited about something and one of them will make a comment on our blog along with a post of the entry. This is only done if we have been granted permission with an online entry. More than half of the entries do not come with permission. We even have some companies that make us sign nondisclosure forms.  So, we take privacy issues very seriously.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to call or email.  A couple of the people in our office (Terry and Tricia) will even be nice to you.


MarCom Winner, Truman Medical Center

Winner: Truman Medical Center
Location: Kansas City, MO
Category: Publicity Campaign
Web Address:
Truman Medical Center services a primarily poor urban area in Kansas City plagued by chronic illnesses.  The hospital knows that one of the paths to wellness is good nutrition, but often urban areas do not have adequate grocery stores that stock healthy foods.  These areas are known as “food deserts”.  This past year the hospital decided to expand upon an idea;  bring nutrition to the people utlitizng a mobile grocery store in a bus.
Truman Medical Center’s challenge was to not only get the word out, but to prod people to visit the “Healthy Harvest Mobile Market”.  The advertising campaign utilized all mediums and even partnered with the Kansas City Chiefs to promote the effort during football games.  The results were media placements in almost all local media outlets.  The story even went national.  At every weekly stop, more than a 100 urban residents turned out to buy the produce so sorely missing from their neighborhood stores.

MarCom Winner, Institute of Food Technologists

Winner: Institute of Food Technologists
Title: “World Without Food Science”
Category: Informational, web video
Web Address:
Campaign Address:

Riveting is not a word you would ordinarily associate with Food Science. But the makers of this informational web video created a story hard not to watch. Using black and white cinematography, sparse script, and stark sets, the Institute of Food Technologists delivers an important message that few of us think about: where would consumers be without Food Science?

The video is not exactly a horror film, but is scary nonetheless.




Winner: Shazaaam! Public Relations
Location: Detroit , MI
Business Type: Public Relations + Marketing
Category: Pro Bono

What is always noticeable in the MarCom Awards is the considerable pro bono work done by advertising agencies, public relations and marketing firms.

Recently, Shazaaam! Public Relations in Detroit, Michigan volunteered to handle publicity surrounding a very charitable act to a needy family with an out-of-work father.  The family’s 4-year-old daughter has brain cancer and requires treatment five days a week.  To add to the family’s trauma, the facility is an hour away from their Flint, Michigan home.  Angels of Hope, a charity that helps young cancer victims, arranged housing near the clinic.  The publicity generated by Shazaaam! brought the family’s story to local newspapers, websites, radio and television stations.  Besides shining a light on Angels of Hope and the bank that supplied the house, Shazaaam’s efforts also helped the father.  After six months out of work, the welder was given a job by someone who heard the story.

In a Michigan economy, that’s saying a lot.


This Week’s Tech Gadgets – Sept. 10, 2012

By Gregg Ellman

Your morning shower will never be the same once you start sharing the water with the new iShower created by iDevices.

The water-resistant bluetooth speaker is powered by three rear-mounted AA batteries (included) for about 15 hours of shower time.

Once you pair it to your iPhone, iPad, Android or any bluetooth-enabled device, you can keep it water free, up to 200 feet away from the speaker.

You can pair up to five devices to the iShower so multiple users can listen to their own music.

It comes with a Grab-n-Go adhesive mounting system for easy installation or just hang it over the shower head.

Inside is a single speaker that does a great job of filling your shower with sound, but don’t except high-end stereo sound. $99.99


The Goal Zero Guide 10 Plus Adventure Kit allows you to charge just about any portable electronic gadget from just about anywhere without running out of power.

What makes it a kit is a Nomad 7 solar panel, a Guide 10 battery pack, an ultra charge solar cord, a 12V auto DC adapter and a battery charger with a 4-pack of AA NiMH rechargeable batteries.

It’s compact enough to be folded and zippered shut to the size of an iPad and weighs just a pound. The most important aspect is that the solar panel enables you to charge electronic devices from anywhere.

The 7 watt solar panel charges the battery pack in about 4 hours in good sunlight and takes a little longer in less sunny conditions. Once it’s charged the choices are endless to what can be charged.

Goal Zero lists phones, MP3 players, tablets, GPS units and lights as gadgets the kit will charge, basically if you can charge it USB there is a good chance it will work.

Among the several options for charging is a USB port on the battery and on the AA charger for connecting devices.

The AA batteries can be used to power the USB port or they can be removed for use in any device needing AA’s.

My iPhone charged from 5 percent to 100 percent in an hour and a half, after the solar panel charged the battery on a sunny day.

A LED indicator lets you know when the battery is charging or full. $159.99


The TabletTail from Octa keeps an iPad in a hands-free position or just works as a carrying handing if you choose to use it that way.

One piece attaches to your iPad (or most other e-readers with non-porous surfaces) with 5 pumps for vacuum suction technology to the back of your iPad directly over the Apple logo and the other, which is the fin then attaches to balance your tablet.

What makes the Octa stand out from most other tablet stands is that once it’s attached, the tail can be bent and positioned for most any viewing angle or surface.

It only weighs .365 lbs and it won’t leave any markings behind once it’s removed. $49.99

Contact Gregg Ellman at
Follow him on Twitter: @greggellman.
2012, Gregg Ellman.