Category Archives: Accessory

LampChamp Turns A Lamp into a Charging Station



lampchampÖlens Technology was founded by Ron Meritt and Paul McCloskey III. Their mission is to invent products that help people live better lives. They have created LampChamp, a simple tool that will make it much easier for people to charge their devices.

There are a lot of people who use a smartphone and who will eventually need to charge it. Trying to keep everything charged can be difficult for families where everyone in the house is using more than one device. LampChamp can turn any lamp into a USB charging station, providing you with another place to charge smartphones and other devices.

First, remove the bulb from whatever lamp you want to turn into a charger. Next, screw in LampChamp. The base of LampChamp can screw into any lamp. Replace the bulb by screwing it into LampChamp. You can now plug your device into LampChamp’s 2 AMP USB charging port.

There is an on/off switch on LampChamp that controls your lamp. You can use the switch to turn on, or turn off, the lamp. Either way, LampChamp will continue to charge your device. LampChamp works with all cell phones, smartphones, tablets, and e-Readers that require a 2 AMP or less charger.

LampChamp might be useful for people who need to do a lot of traveling. It isn’t always easy to figure out where the hotel room’s outlets are located. They might be behind furniture or in inconvenient locations.  It might be easier to use LampChamp to convert a hotel room lamp into a charging station.

Technical Specifications:

  • Input: 100-240V AC, 50/60 Hz
  • Output: 5V DC, 2A
  • Base Interface: E27
  • LED Bulb Wattage: <60W
  • Price: $29.99 for one LampChamp (when not on sale)


ThinkGeek has a Star Trek TNG Bluetooth ComBadge



Star Trek TNG Bluetooth ComBadge ThinkGeekThinkGeek is selling an exclusive Star Trek: The Next Generation ComBadge that is more than just a prop. This one actually has some functionality!

The Star Trek Bluetooth ComBadge is an officially-licensed communicator badge. It hooks up to your phone or device via Bluetooth, and has a built-in microphone for hands free calling. Connect it to your phone, tap the badge, and you can answer or send calls, play or pause audio, or access Siri, Google Now, or Cortana.

The badge plays a communicator sound effect when pressed. Keep the badge charged via a micro-USB charging cable.

To be clear, the badge does not include the voice of Majel Barret, the woman who was the voice of the Enterprise Computer in the Star Trek: The Next Generation television series. (She also played Lwaxana Troi in the Star Trek TNG).

Product Specifications Include:

  • Officially-licensed Star Trek: The Next Generation merchandise
  • Plays classic communicator chirp sound effect when you press it
  • Connects to your phone or device via Bluetooth
  • High quality micro-speakers by Massive Audio
  • Wireless Range: 33 ft
  • Drivers: Neodymium magnet
  • Frequency Response: 200Hz – 20KHz
  • Signal to Noise Ratio: >80dB
  • Materials: ABS and zinc shell
  • Attaches using magnets so you don’t have to make holes in your clothes
  • Batteries: Rechargeable Lithium-ion (one charge lasts 10 hours)
  • Charges via micro-USB cable (included)
  • Micro-USB Port: DC5V, 350-400mA

The ThinkGeek website notes that the specifications are subject to change pending licensor approval. The Star Trek TNG Bluetooth ComBadge is priced at $79.99 and is coming in November of 2016.


Ergotech’s New Sit-Stand Products Give You Flexibility at Work



Ergotech sit-stand desksIt’s a pervasive fact of modern life. We’re stuck in the seated position for multiple hours a day, starting at one screen or another. This type of long-term sedentary behavior has been proven to contribute to a plethora of health problems. It’s become such a big concern, that a cottage industry has arisen of apps and devices designed to remind us to get up and walk around the room once an hour. And while those solutions can help, they still don’t address the core problem of constantly having to sit. And thus, the sit-stand (and even the treadmill-based) desk was created to make it easier for desk-strapped information workers to go from sitting to standing while still being able to work. Desk and display accessories manufacturer Ergotech recently entered the sit-stand space with its own line of offerings.

First up is Ergotech’s One Touch Free Stand:

Ergotech’s One Touch Free Stand is a free-standing sit-stand workstation compatible with both PC & Apple iMac® monitors which requires no desk mounting or clamping for use! Powered by an electric motor and providing the highest range of vertical travel on the market today at 20”, the Free Stand easily adjusts to your desired height giving you the ability to sit-stand throughout your work day.

The One Touch Free Stand comes standard with the base unit and an electric motor, as well as an upper & lower work surface.

The middle offering of this new product line is the One Touch Free Stand Bundle:

Ergotech’s One Touch Free Stand Bundle is a free-standing sit-stand workstation compatible with both PC & Apple iMac® monitors which requires no desk mounting or clamping for use! This bundle conveniently includes Dual Monitor Mounting equipment, making this bundle a one stop solution for most users. The One Touch Free Stand base lies flat on the desktop and installs in less than 10 minutes. Powered by an electric motor and providing the highest range of vertical travel on the market today (20”), the Free Stand easily adjusts to your desired height giving you the ability to sit-stand throughout your work day. The One Touch Free Stand Bundle comes standard with the base unit, an electric motor, an upper and lower work surface and Dual Monitor Mounting equipment. The Free Stand has just a 27″ desk footprint and is able to hold any size single monitor and up to two 30” monitors on the included Dual Monitor Mounting Equipment.

The third sit-stand product is called the One Touch Ultra:

Ergotech’s One Touch Ultra Sit-Stand Workstation is electric powered and mounts directly to your existing desk or wall!

Compatible with both PC & Apple iMac® monitors, the One Touch Ultra comes standard with both a lower and upper work-surface and your choice of desk mounting hardware.

Able to hold up to four monitors, the One Touch Ultra blows the competition away with its unique features and outstanding performance.

With the highest range of vertical travel (20″) and the biggest work-surface on the market today, the One Touch Ultra is sure to surpass all of your sit-stand workstation needs.

Ergotech’s One Touch line of sit-stand products begins at $749.00 with additional options for adding extra displays, depending on the model.


ZUS Kevlar Cable has a Lifetime Guarantee



ZUS Kevlar CableNonda, a startup that is based in Palo Alto, California, has created the ZUS super duty cable. It has been fully funded on Indiedgogo and will start shipping to backers on July 6, 2016. ZUS is made with Kevlar and has a lifetime guarantee.

ZUS was designed to solve the problem of splintering cables that only last for a few months. Nonda created the ZUS Cable with DuPont Kevlar fabric (which is 5X stronger than steel and is used in ballistic body armor). The Kevlar provides the ZUS Cable with added protection against cord splintering and daily wear.

Every ZUS Cable is covered by a lifetime warranty. If your ZUS Cable breaks from normal wear and tear, Nonda will replace it.

The tough nylon braiding on the ZUS Cable keeps it inherently tangle free. Each ZUS Cable comes with a complementary velcro tie to keep things further organized.

The ZUS Cable is 4 feet / 1.2 meters. It comes in Micro USB to USB, Lightning to USB, or USB-C to USB. The Micro USB to USB is for Android devices, Samsung, Kindle, HTC, Motorola, Nexus, Nokia, LG and other Micro USB devices.

The Lightning to USB is for iPhone SE, iPhone 6s / 6s Plus, iPhone 6 / 6 Plus, iPhone 5 / 5s / 5c, iPad Air / Air 2, iPad Pro, iPad mini, iPod touch and iPod nano. The USB-C to USB is for Macbook 12-inch, Chromebook Pixel, Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P, LG G5, HTC 10, OnePlus 2, Nokia N1 Tablet, and other USB-C devices.

Their USB-C cable is a full USB-C spec cable. It meets the following requirements: 56K Ohm Resistor, Vbus IR drop of less than 500mV, and GND IR drop of less than 250mV at 3A. Their Lightning cable is Mfi Certified.


HYPER Releases USB Type-C Hub with Mini DisplayPort Support



HYPER USB Type-C Hub with Mini DisplayPort supportSanho Corporation, creator of the HYPER line of Apple and mobile accessories, has announced the availability of the HyperDrive USB Type-C Hub with the Mini DisplayPort support which allows the USB Type-C enabled 12” MacBook to connect to the Apple Thunderbolt Display and other Mini DisplayPort compatible displays (like the Apple LED Cinema Display).

HyperDrive is an adaptor that expands the single USB Type-C port on the new Apple 12” MacBook to 5 different ports including Mini DisplayPort, microSDXC, 2 x USB 2.0 and a USB Type-C port that supports pass through charging so that you can use the HyperDrive USB Type-C Hub and charge the MacBook at the same time.

Despite the number of ports, the HyperDrive USB Type-C Hub is very compact and as thin as the MacBook itself. It has been designed to stay flush with the MacBook. It comes in Gold, Space Gray, and Silver aluminum (so you can match it to your MacBook). The HyperDrive USB Type-C Hub acts like an extension of the MacBook, so you never have to take it off.

The HyperDrive USB Type-C Hub with Mini DisplayPort retails for a MSRP of $49.95 and is currently available.


Breathe Underwater With “Artificial Gills” from Triton



triton swimmer in poolHumans have been able to swim underwater safely for decades using equipment like SCUBA gear. But that type of underwater apparatus can be expensive and difficult to use. What if a swimmer could just put on a simple mask-like device that would allow him to breathe underwater without the need for oxygen tanks or other bulky gear? The developers of the Triton Artificial Gill Re-Breather are hoping to answer that question.

The Triton team has created a prototype “artificial gill” system. This so-called “re-breather” uses a special respirator that a swimmer holds in their mouth to be used with an attendant mask that covers the eyes and nose. Triton claims that this system will allow a swimmer to safely breathe underwater for up to 45 minutes without the need for external oxygen tanks or other breathing equipment. The artificial gills are made from microporous hollow fiber that keeps water out but allows oxygen to pass. A powerful lithium-ion battery then runs a compressor that feeds a small onboard oxygen tank, making it possible to breathe underwater.

Triton is launching its re-breather thru an Indiegogo campaign that’s been wildly successful. The team was hoping to raise $50,000 and the campaign has already taken in more than $800,000 in pledges. A contribution of $299 will net you a production-model re-breather and save you $100 on the expected retail price.


NexPaq Modules Bring Versatility to IoT



NexPaq logoThe recent boom in smart, connected technology has given consumers more opportunities than ever before to command and control different devices. But if you want to bring the so-called “Internet of Things” into your home, you’re faced with potentially having to buy a small army’s worth of new devices to replace your old ones. What if there was a platform that allowed you to create your own IoT system using modules that could be configured to do almost anything? That’s what NexPaq is doing with its modular products.

Aylee met with Steve Safarowic, Chief Marking Officer of NexPaq. Steve showed off his company’s innovative system that uses modules to do specific things. First, he demonstrated a special smartphone case that interacts with the phone. Users can add modules to extend battery life or create programmable hotkeys to do certain tasks like turning on lights or making a phone call. NexPaq also has a standalone device that uses its modular system without a smartphone. NexPaq also has a developer kit that can be used to create new modules. Developers can even submit their modules to the NexPaq store where they could become available to sell to other NexPaq users. NexPaq smartphone cases and modules are available for purchase thru the NexPaq shop.

Aylee Nielsen is a video host who specializes in covering live events for Plughitz Live.

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BenQ at 2016 CES



Todd CochraneBenQ Zowie interviews Ronald Kim from BenQ. They discuss BenQ’s new line of Zowie line of competitive gaming accessories. BenQ brings in professional gamers to help them validate their gaming accessory designs.

Ron shows three models (they offer a total of seven models) of gaming mice that are specifically designed to give the end user the best possible gaming performance. They include the ZA Series, the EC-A Series, and the FK Series mice. Top-level professional gamers still prefer wired mice over wireless mice for the best possible lag-free performance. BenQ Zowie mice offer the ultimate in adjustable precision.

The mice are all priced at $59.99 each and are available now. The BenQ Zowie mouse pads are priced from $25 to $45 dollars on Amazon.

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Product Review: 1byone Outdoor/Shower Bluetooth Speaker



1byone logoIt’s a basic rule of safety when using personal electronics: water and electricity don’t mix. It’s super important to take caution when using electronic devices in bathrooms or outdoor environments. Fortunately, there are products that are designed specifically to be used in these situations. With this in mind, I was given a new 1byone Outdoor Sports & Shower 4.0 Bluetooth Speaker to test out and review.

1byone Bluetooth speaker box
1byone Bluetooth speaker box
1byone Bluetooth speaker unboxing
1byone Bluetooth speaker unboxing
1byone Bluetooth speaker unboxing
1byone Bluetooth speaker unboxing
1byone Bluetooth speaker unboxing
1byone Bluetooth speaker unboxing

The speaker comes with a user manual, a hook for hanging the speaker and a USB cable for charging and connecting to a computer. Using the speaker is pretty straightforward. Hold down the power button and when the speaker powers on, a voice prompt lets you know if the device is connected to an external sound source, either via Bluetooth or USB. Pairing the speaker to my iPad worked flawlessly, triggering another voice prompt from the speaker indicating that it was connected via Bluetooth.

I tested the Bluetooth speaker by sending spoken-word audio from a couple of different podcast apps. The connection worked but it had some issues. By nature, spoken-word audio has some gaps of silence. And when the podcasts I was playing would have a moment or two of silence, the audio stream would cut out and “skip” to the next portion with audible speaking. This made it difficult to listen to spoken-word audio via the Bluetooth speaker. (For the sake of troubleshooting, I tried a couple of different podcast apps and two different Bluetooth devices but the problem never went away.)

I also tested the Bluetooth speaker by playing some music (most likely what the speaker is designed for) and in that case, it operated as expected without any of the issues I experienced while listening to podcasts. I suspect the speaker itself is designed to go into some kind of “low power” mode when the incoming audio drops below a certain threshold. Thus, causing the speaker to try and “turn off” when the podcast audio reaches a silent part.

The speaker is charged over USB and it can also be connected to a computer to use as a USB speaker. When I connected the speaker to my Mac, a voice prompt announced that the device was in USB mode. But the speaker never appeared as an available sound source in my Mac’s Sound System Preferences. The speaker can also play back media from a TF/Micro SD card but I don’t have a card in this format so I can’t test that out.

The 1byone Bluetooth speaker has no display. It provides its status thru voice prompts. The device is controlled by a series of buttons on its side. This includes power on/off, play/pause, volume up/down which also doubles as track forward/backward, a “phone” button for answering/ending phone calls and a “mode reset” button. The controls are molded into the chassis of the device and they are difficult to see in low-light conditions. Having the volume and track controls be shared by the same buttons can be a bit awkward as it’s necessary to hold the buttons down to adjust volume, while pressing the buttons once will skip ahead/rewind depending on the type of app you’re using to send audio to the speaker.

1byone Bluetooth speaker controls
1byone Bluetooth speaker controls

I tested the speaker by letting it play in the shower, The speaker has more than enough volume capacity to be heard over the running water. And while I didn’t position the speaker in a place where it’d get too wet, it did get some water on it and it came thru just fine. It probably wouldn’t be a good idea to fully submerge the speaker (why you’d want to do that is beyond me, anyway) but you shouldn’t have to worry about operating it in damp environments. Also, the speaker is very sturdy. It’s covered by a rubber shell that should protect it from most of the accidents that can occur in a typical day.

The 1byone Bluetooth speaker is available direct from the manufacturer for $45.99 (link above) or at a nice discount from Amazon for $19.99.


Never Get Caught In a Downpour Again with Oombrella



Oombrella LogoI live on California’s Central Coast. We’re in the midst of the rainy season here and weather patterns are often unpredictable, with overcast days that could produce a downpour at any moment. It’s tough to know when it’d be a good idea to bring an umbrella or leave it behind. Fortunately, the makers of Oombrella are working to change that.

Scott met up with Clement Guilot of Oombrella. Clement showed off the Oombrella chip, a small device that monitors the weather around you and also pulls in weather data from other sources to give you the most accurate meteorological predictions possible. Oombrella sends notifications to your smartphone to let you know if you should bring your umbrella or leave it at home. Oombrella also uses Bluetooth to notify if you accidentally leave it behind. So, you’ll never lose another umbrella! The product is still in the planning phase but Clement is optimistic it’ll be in users’ hands by Fall of this year. Oombrella should retail for around $85 but backers to an upcoming Kickstarter campaign will be able to get the device at a discount for $65.

Scott Ertz is a software developer and video producer at F5 Live: Refreshing Technology.

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