Monday, February 17, 2014

Ssmart Dynamo is Oregon Scientific's new activity tracker

I have received another activity tracker and this one comes from Oregon Scientific and is aptly named the Ssmart Dynamo. Like a number of the newer trackers on the market, the Dynamo is also able to track sleep history on top of the activity monitoring features. The soft rubber wrist band houses the tracker which connects to both Android and Apple smart phones via Bluetooth 4.0 wireless connection along with being built to withstand water up to a meter deep on top of being comfortable enough to wear overnight. Now that I have had this wrist device telling me to keep going for the last week, it is time to see how it held up and if the Dynamo is the next tracker for you.
Since the Misfit Shine was my preferred activity tracker, there will be a number of comparisons between the two device and my favorite would be the use of a rechargeable battery and the wider, better built wrist band. I had to read the instructions on this tracker as there is a multicolor LED on the band which tells you your status on meeting the daily goal, sleep mode, sync, and indicating battery status. The setup is fast, as I had to sync via bluetooth, input my body profile and goals, then I was good to go. Setting up the sleep tracking is also a breeze, I just hold the button until the light turned purple and the Dynamo tracks how long it takes to fall asleep and the duration of sleep. The app is also really well set up as it tracks your activity level, steps, calories burned, and distance for the day all in an easy to read, swipe friendly interface. 
I really enjoyed the Ssmart Dynamo as it was light and comfortable, making it easier to wear everywhere and the wide band and double button clasp hold the tracker firmly in place. Don't worry about losing your charge on the go because the USB charger is tiny and only takes an hour to charge. I would have liked it more if it had the tracking like the Shine had as the Dynamo only stores 14 days of 24/7 data. Being that it is ninety degrees out and I will be swimming in no time, it is waterproof and can track swimming, so it immediately earned points with that feature alone. Oregon Scientific’s Ssmart Dynamo Activity Tracker is available now for the price of $79.99.

STM provides more trunk for your junk with the Velo 2 laptop bag

We have a laptop bag from a new company met at CES last month,  STM Bags has provided me with the new Velo 2 medium laptop shoulder bag. Lapptop bags have become increasingly popular to transport the incredible shrinking gadgets we have to tote for work and school and each bag brings their own unique designs and features. The Velo 2 brings to the table a variety of colors, side entry laptop compartment, and a waist strap to stabilize your load in transport. The medium sized bag is built to hold most 15" laptops, two pockets for water bottles and/or an umbrellas, a large compartment for text books, camera equipment, or notebooks so let's see how the Velo 2 is on the daily commute. 
This laptop has more space than I was expecting and had no shortage of storage, but I was particularly a fan of the side access pocket for my laptop and the waist strap to hold your cargo against you while on the go. With the big amount of space, it does increase the size of the bag making it a bit bulkier than that of other bags reviewed. The best part of having such a large main compartment is the ability to carry more than the bare necessities, in my situation I used it to pack clothes for overnight traveling or my DSLR and lenses for photo shoots. In terms of comfort, the Velo 2 has both a padded shoulder strap and a padded back for comfort during extended wear. 
STM Bags has produced a solid bag for those trying to carry more than just their laptop, tablet, accessories, and cables. Granted it is a larger bag, so if you are not looking for the added bulk, their other product offerings may be a better fit. I had received my Velo 2 in grey and in the medium size which holds most laptops up to 15 inches, but the bag is available also available in a small size that holds up to 13 inch laptops, and is also available in black or blue colors. What was great were the side pockets for water bottles and/or an umbrella, when most of the laptop shoulder bags do not include space for hydration. The Velo 2 medium is available now from a handful of online retailers for $100.00.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Libratone's Zipp brings hi fi audio on the go wirelessly

Next up is an Airplay speaker in which I did not know what to expect with little knowledge of the brand. I have received the Libratone Zipp, the unique Italian wool wrapped speaker that provides 360 degree wireless hi-fi audio quality through ribbon based tweeters, Digital Amplification and Signal Processing, topped with an active 4" bass driver. This big drink of water packs an internal battery for four to eight hours of wireless playback, USB port to charge wireless devices, leather handle for easy transport, and two additional wool wraps to change the color to match the environment. It is time to crank it to ten and see if it lives up to high end price range.
Wow. Like I said not hearing much about Libratone's other products made me curious, but minutes after tearing away from the box's clutching grasp, I was connected and was impressed. Libratone offers a sound app for the speaker to make sure the best sound is provided and to fine tune the powerhouse,and then I was able to set up sound profiles based on the room it was in and the distance from surrounding walls. The sound quality is top notch, crank it up and you can fill a house with music or a large backyard with no problem, but if you are in a smaller area or just need to tone it down a bit, a quiet mode is available, and because the connection is wireless there is no quality loss like that with a Bluetooth connection. The connections supported are Airplay, Play Direct to create a wireless network, and DLNA is supported so connection isn't limited to Apple devices. 
I was incredibly apprehensive of this speaker as they have gotten bigger but still lack deep bass or require a power source. The huge amount of sound and large spaces that this little wooly speaker provides made this beast flawless in my opinion.The wool covers were nice and easy to swap, but the additional colors I received were yellow and maroon, so I just stuck with black. With big sound you can expect a large price tag, but with that being said, even the big Bluetooth speakers I have recently reviewed can not hold a torch to the Zipp as the active woofer, tuning app, and 360 degree sound makes it well worth the $399.95 price tag.

ZAGGkeys Folio brings keyboard to tablets in hinged clamshell design

One of the gems I saw during my CES experience was not from a big 4k display or the onslaught of e-cigs, but that of a keyboard case. I have not been a fan of most keyboard cases I have seen or used, but using a clamshell design is unique enough to not have the keyboard on a flap or where you have to separate and mount upright, that it quickly changed my opinion on strapping a keyboard to my tablet. This mobile accessory is Zagg's folio and features a hinged design that is able to provide over 135 degrees of viewing angles, a backlit keyboard with island style keys, only 7.6mm thick, and packs a big enough battery to go up to three months between charges.  Now that my iPad Mini is snapped in place and I have already writteen three reviews from this keyboard, it's only fitting I write it's own review from it. 
The ZAGG Folio is a great little case, the hinge design is exactly what the tablet needed as it feels more sturdy, has great feedback while typing, and the backlit keyboard is great for both aesthetics and trying to type in dark surroundings. What I did not realize was that this clamshell's keys backlighting colors were customizable with seven different colors. The case also has a leatherette skin on the front and back to look sleek and provide grip during typing on both laps and desks. Hinges, if not built strong enough could be disastrous, causing slack while opened or closed but this folio's hinge is tight like a tiger with no slack after heavy use for the last two weeks. There were a couple nuisances that I encountered during usage but nothing too bad, I just cleaned it frequently and always, always, always proof read. The white skin picks up any and all dirty whether you see it or not, so that is the reason for the constant cleaning and the Bluetooth connection sometimes causes duplicate letters when typing, hence the proofreading commandment. 
Despite the two slight issues, this folio is the closest I have seen to successfully turning the iPad into a miniature MacBook, which I loved with the exception constantly moving my thumbs beneath the Space Bar looking for the touch pad. The Zagg Folio is available now for the iPad Mini and Air for the price of $99.99. Despite having to having to remove the tablet to play games in portrait mode comfortable, the ZAGG Folio is one of my favorite cases as it was great for working on the go when the laptop is not convenient to get to and always gets comments from tablet owners when I pull out the iPad Mini and quickly start typing away while they are fumbling with the touchscreen.

Turn your iPhone into an action camera with Optrix's PhotoProX

I have gotten another rugged case but this time the case is for the photographer. Optrix has recently released the PhotoProX, which is a waterproof and drop proof case that includes four interchangeable lenses. To provide a wide range of shots for any location or occasion, Optrix has included macro, telephoto, fisheye and flat lenses for whatever the shot may call for. Literally, with a bevy of mounts available, you can use the PhotoProX case if the time calls to turn the iPhone into an action camera. To make sure that your phone is safe, additional included contents consists of additional O-rings, leash, and a clamshell case for the lenses to prevent scratches. 
Unlike the Outdoor Tech and the Ballistic waterproof cases I have previously reviewed, the Optrix case is by far the easiest to get my phone into and safe from the elements. There is a sled, or low profile case to surround my phone when not in the PhotoProX case and all you have to do is drop the phone into the case, burp it, and lock shut. If you don't burp it the screen does not lie flat against the phone which can be quite a nuisance. When locked in the waterproof case, I still had access to the ports at the bottom, the lenses were fast and easy to swap, it took a handful of shots to see which were capable of what, and now the case and lenses are with me at all times. 
The Optrix PhotoProX does a great job at turning a smartphone into an action camera and comes at a fraction of the price. While in the case, it takes up more pocket space, or you can keep your phone in the sled and the PhotoProX case in nearby laptop bag, but the beautiful shots and videos are worth it. If I could change anything it would be to include lens caps, as I was a bit worried about scratching while in my pocket and I did not want to go lensless as it opened the phone up to dust. Also be aware that this case does not come with any of the mounts, so each of those would need to be purchased separately. The Optrix PhotoProX is available now for owners of the iPhone 5,5S,5C, and fifth gen iPod Touch for the price of $149.95.