Sunday, April 13, 2014

Element Case outfits us with the Officially Licensed Ducatl linueup

My next review comes from one of my favorite case makers, Element Case, and this time around we have another collaboration, this time with a well-known exotic motorcycle manufacturer, Ducati. As a teenager, I was obsessed with Ducati's 996 and over the years the bikes have continually looked better. These sleek, subtle, and bold designs have been incorporated into accessories to protect recent apple devices. The items from the Ducati lineup that I received were the Solace case for the iPhone 5/5s, the red Vapor Dock for my phone, and the Soft-Tec case for the iPad Mini.

First up is the Solace case for my iPhone and for starters, the issue in which I had with the Hogue case is gone as there is no back plate to stick to the phone. The case wrapped my phone snugly in a strong polycarbonate shell and to give it that Ducati feel, the top and bottom are made up of anodized red aircraft aluminum crowns. This case is sexy as it is durable and if there were any one thing in which I did not like about this case, it would have to be the amount of time wiping smudges from the soft touch Ducati branded case. One of my favorite parts of getting sample units from Element Case are the cases that come with it, with Hogue there was the tactical holster and with the Solace, the contents included a Soft-Tec wallet case to ditch my wallet. The Solace Ducati Edition case is available now for $99.95.

Next in the Ducati lineup is the Soft-Tec folio case for my iPad Mini, which Element Case has also tailored to the Apple's other tablets. I had previously received the Soft-Tec Pro for the pint-sized tablet and it was a bit bulky, but this case uses a low profile shell to cut down on the girth. The inner lining is synthetic suede in a bright red to go with the Ducati logos pressed into the front and back of the case. The synthetic texture that wraps the outside makes the case easy to grip on the go and also prevents slippage when propped up on my desk or lap. Speaking of when the case is propped up, the hard-shell has a soft rubber feel that grips to the bright red suede at most any angles. The Soft-Tec Ducati Edition case for the iPad mini is available now for iPad Mini and Air for $79.95 and $89.95 for the iPad 2/3/4.

The last of the trifecta is the Vapor dock, an anodized red aluminum charging dock for the iPhone 5/5s. This sturdy dock is designed for the 8 pin Lightning charging cable with a cable management system on the bottom to give it a sleek cordless look depending in how you may have it set up on your desk. If you are someone that does not use a Bluetooth speaker but use your phone's internal speakers for sound, holes and air chambers have been machined into the dock to help amplify the sound from the phone. The thing that is great about this dock is it matches the Solace case perfectly and has a great snug fit so my phone doesn't wiggle at all while docked. The bad is the charge cable is screwed into the bottom of the case making it hard to remove to say, charge an iPad, and the black spacer easily falls out when moving the dock around making it easy to lose. The Vapor Dock is available now for the price of $99.95.

Rocki is the only reason needed to dust off those old boom boxes

Next up is a device that I didn't know I needed until spending time with it at CES and this a small device that turns most any stereo system into wireless supported music streaming device and goes by the name of Rocki. This petite audiophile's companion is exactly what is missing from those dated hifi systems that we can't bring ourselves to get rid of.  Included in the package is the colorful rubber wrapped Rocki, micro USB cable, and inputs (both 3.5mm and RCA) for devices that have and audio in. Now that it is linked with my Wi-Fi network, let's see how that old stereo sounds when transmitting my phone's playlist to it and not having to do through my archive of Compact Disks.

It took a while for me to figure out how to sync it up as I use an iOS devices to stream from but after reading the instructions I had the little guy figured out. Once the initial frustration of syncing was completed, it was easy and fast to connect and that boom box that is a decade old or your home theater that was top of the line before the days of when Bluetooth was just starting to take off is now playing your media and controlling volume and tracks. On top of modernizing that "antique", multiple people can connect and play the house DJ at get togethers. As a big car stereo person that hates how long it is taking to get USB inputs in vehicles with stock stereos but the Rocki makes use of the 3.5mm input and allows for an interesting road trip as long as the passengers share the same taste in music.

Rocki is a great device for anyone that is not yet ready to pick up a new portable speaker or update their home stereo to have wireless connectivity as there wasn't a noticeable loss in sound quality and is a great reason to dust of the old receivers, stereos, and boom boxes. The small dongle also holds a charge for around eight hour so it does not require constant charge, but you may have to restock C or D cell batteries. Rocki is available now at for the price of $49.99 in a variety of seven colors.

MashButtons gets the new D-Link gaming router with StreamBoost: AC1300

What is the device that is in just about every home with high speed Internet and something that has yet to be reviewed on MashButtons? That would be a router and for this review, I have received D-Link's Gaming Router, the AC 1300. This router is built specifically for the gamer, streamer, competitor, watcher, and/or consumer with the inclusion real time control of bandwidth, based of the devices primary use to eliminate the dreaded lag. StreamBoost is an exclusive Traffic Shaping engine to this Gaming Router that evolves to ensure you have the speed where you need it most.

The StreamBoost is a very smart feature in which I think has a lot of potential with the ability to analyze, adapt, and evolve the amount of highly coveted bandwidth distributed to devices and applications. Most routers use a more simple and dated QoS, but StreamBoost reserves bandwidth when specified applications are detected. Lastly, D-Link's new router utilizes a cloud based updating and crowd-sourced profile creations so that the router is evolving with applications and devices.

This router was the easiest router for me to set up and being someone that goes through routers every 12 to 18 months, I had yet to have a painless experience with setup. The speed test resulted in faster download and upload speeds and the interface was great for managing the settings and bandwidth allocation. My biggest issue with my experience was the lag in which I encountered when more than one person was streaming video or playing games online.

The D-Link Gaming Router is a great network routing device for users in which do not have to share their bandwidth with roommates, family members, or neighbors. The reason for this is due to the interruptions in which I encountered during the week of usage. Granted, I would like to hope there are updates in the works to resolve this issue, it was just hard to continuously use when my year old router that was half the price was still running circles around this new router when multiple users were streaming and/or playing games online. D-Link's Gaming Router is available now for the price of $169.99.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Happy HERB Garden: a new, more mellow automatic plant growing device

News from Denver comes straight from the digital greenthumb, Click & Grow, and they have just announced the device for the Willie Nelson at heart.

"Over the last several years we have carefully studied our target customer groups and decided to bring our company to a higher status with the introduction of the Happy HERB Garden,” said Click & Grow’s Head of Research. “The Happy HERB Garden is the next succession in our lineup of smart herb gardens. As we continue to move forward, we are in the process of developing smart pots that can grow Oreos and Doritos so our customers can live in completely self-sustainable cloud of happiness.” 

The Happy HERB Garden takes guesswork out of cultivating your favorite herb with nanotech growing material that is engineered to supply the plants the right amount of oxygen, water and nutrients. Simply add water, plug in and let the smart device do the rest. The Happy HERB Garden’s unique LED technology provides the plants with enough light to grow the dankest herbs but is eco-friendly by consuming minimal electricity, costing around 6 dollars for an entire year.

Click & Grow just got a bit happier with the availability of their new Happy Herb Garden. For more information

*The Happy HERB Garden is a fictitious product.