Tag Archives: travel

iClever Outdoor Wireless Speaker Review



iClever LogoOn review here is the iClever Outdoor Wireless Speaker IC-BTS03. It’s an IP65 water resistant Bluetooth speaker with a 10 hour playtime. Perfect for outdoor tunes! Let’s take a look.

The iClever Speaker is a orange and black cuboid with speaker grilles on two sides, controls on the top, inputs on one side and a camera mount on the bottom with a rubber carrying strap on one corner. Roughly, 10 x 9 x 5 cm, there’s a bit of a ruggedness to the speaker too with a rubberised exterior and informal drop tests show that it’ll stand up to the odd accident. IP65 specifies that the speaker is totally protected against dust (6) and it’s sealed against low pressure water (5). Basically, it means that it’s ok to get splashed or dropped in shallow water.

iClever Wireless Outdoor Speaker

In the cardboard box, there’s the speaker, a USB-to-microUSB cable, a 3.5mm-to-3.5mm jack cable and instructions. The USB cable is used for charging only and can’t be used to play music from a PC or laptop. Both the microUSB charging port and the aux in socket are under a rubber flap that needs to be peeled away to get access. iClever Wireless Outdoor SpeakerWhen charging, the sole LED on the front will light up red and it’s green when the aux socket is in use.

Across the top, the controls are straightforward – power, volume down, play/pause/answer, volume up. When turned on, the BTS03 is straight into pairing mode with the LED flashing blue. A voice helpfully intones, “Power on. Pairing”. You can then connect to the speaker in the normal way, receiving “Connected” when done and the LED goes a solid blue. As a bonus, the iClever can work as a speakerphone too – it’s kind of fun (or bonkers) if you are with a group of friends.

On the bottom, there’s a standard camera screw fitting which makes it compatible with a wide range of mounting accessories.

iClever Wireless Outdoor SpeakerThat’s the physical out of the way. What does it sound like? Well, if you are expecting this to sound like a $500 Sonos, then you are going to be disappointed. If you expect it to be a $30 5W portable speaker weighing less than 300g that you can throw into a bag for a day at the beach, you’re going to be happy enough. The sound is clear, with vocals coming across well. As you’d expect, the bass is under-represented but crank up the volume and there’s a fair beat. It’s not massively loud but it fills a room well enough.

Overall the iClever Outlook Wireless Speaker ticks all the boxes for an outdoor speaker. Semi-rugged, long battery life, splashproof and reasonably loud. It’s available now from Amazon.com (US$30) and Amazon.co.uk for GB£17.

Thanks to iClever for the review unit. Unboxing below.


iClever Tri-Folding Bluetooth Keyboard Review



iClever LogoI’ve always had a soft spot for folding keyboards, starting with the Palm Portable Keyboard from over fifteen years ago. On review here is the iClever Tri-folding Bluetooth Keyboard (IC-BK05), which brings the folding keyboard up-to-date with wireless connectivity and funky LED backlights. Let’s take a look.

iClever Folding Keyboard Folded

The keyboard comes in a small cardboard box with the iClever keyboard itself, a USB to microUSB cable, a cloth carrying bag and instructions. The keyboard’s dimensions unfolded are 29.1 x 11.7 x 0.8 cm and 16.6 x 12.0 x 1.5 cm when folded. The back or outer shell of the keyboard is metal, so it’s well protected when all closed up, and there are some magnetic catches to keep the keyboard close up. Unfolded, the keyboard feels a little flimsy in the hand, but once it’s on a firm surface with the two outer rests flipped down, the keyboard is solid enough. The iClever Folding Keyboard’s hinge mechanism is on display and looks neat, while also being part of the support for the keyboard.

iClever Folding Keyboard Unfolded

The IC-BK05 has a couple of notable features. First, it works with Android, iOS and Windows. Second, it connects both with Bluetooth and USB. Finally, it has coloured LED key backlights which can be cycled through red, green and blue. The keys are chiclet style with five rows of full size keys and a small sixth set of function keys across the top.

iClever Folding Keyboard HingeThe function keys provide a range of additional functions such as Home, Search, Cut, Copy, Paste, Play/Pause and so on. There’s some variation depending on what OS is in use but I found it handy to have a Home key with Android tablets.

The keyboard can be connected to two devices at the same time, though one has to wired via USB and the other wirelessly via Bluetooth. I’m typing this via a wired connection to a Windows 10 laptop but can switch back to my Nexus 9 with a quick function key.

The IC-BK05 turns on automatically when the keyboard is unfolded. Battery-life is a claimed 300 hours without backlight, but reduces to only 5 hours when the lights are on. The lights have two levels of brightness but I never typed long enough to find out if the estimate is correct. As expected, the keyboard is charged via the USB port.

iClever Folding KeyboardI used the iClever Folding Keyboard wirelessly with my Nexus 9 over a couple days to write a few articles for Geek News Central and found it very productive. I can touch-type and didn’t have any difficulty getting used to the spacing for the vast majority of the keys and everything was where it should have been on the keyboard. It’s worth noting that this is US (not UK keyboard) layout, so there’s no £ sign and @ is where ” normally is. Obviously the lettering on the keys can be overridden in the layout settings but it’s worth pointing out.

I only had one minor problem with the keyboard and that was with a couple of plastic covers on the hinges which had a tendency to pop off when pulling the keyboard out of the drawstring bag. The covers were easily popped back in and I suspect a drop of glue would keep them in place.

Overall, I liked iClever Tri-folding Bluetooth Keyboard and its definitely worth getting this or a similar keyboard if you are going to be doing lots of typing on a tablet. Priced at around GB£35 or US$55, it’s also worth considering non-backlight version (IC-BK03) which will save £10 / $20. The keyboard is available from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk. Unboxing video below.

Thanks to iClever for the review unit.

 


Néit Collapsible Luggage at Gadget Show Live



Neit LogoAlthough the march of technology has been towards miniaturisation and making gadgets smaller, there are some things that need to be big and there’s no value in making them smaller. For example, luggage and suitcases need to be big enough to get enough clothes and belongings in for the trip. This is perfect while the bags are needed on travel, but once home the bulk is unnecessary and a waste of space for those unfortunate enough not have storage in a garage, loft or attic. Nicky and the team at Néit have the answer with collapsible luggage.

Neit Collapsible Luggage

Winning a “Highly Commended” at the British Inventors’ Project, Néit’s collapsible luggage folds from a rigid suitcase to only 9 cm / 3″ wide. Once folded, the case can be stored anywhere convenient – upright in a cupboard, flat on top of wardrobe or hung from a clothes rail. Made from a polycarbonate shell and aircraft-grade aluminium, the picture shows the Néit case folded (the blue light strip is for effect only). In addition to space-saving, the Néit luggage has a couple of other tricks too. The handle has built-in scales, so there are no surprise excess weight charges at check-in. There’s GPS tracking too, so if the airline mislays the bag, the Néit smartphone app can track its location almost anywhere in the world.

The collapsible luggage comes in two sizes, a 90 litre hold bag and 38 litre carry-on and they’re available for pre-order from Néit’s webstore. Currently priced from GB£229 and £189 respectively, the bags are expected to ship in December 2016.

And in case you were wondering about Néit: he’s the Celtic god of War.


Moochew Baby Seat and Lunch Box at Gadget Show Live



Moochew LogoTravelling with children is akin to planning a military operation at times, with tons of gear and provisions catering for every eventuality. Looking to simplify maneuvers in the field, Moochew is a collapsible baby seat that doubles up as a cooler bag or lunch box. Taking part in the British Inventors’ Project at Gadget Show Live, Arun tells me more about the Moochew.

The Moochew is a backpack which can be filled with food, drink, wipes, nappies and toys ready for travel and adventures. The compartments are insulated to keep everything cool and once it’s time to eat, the Moochew unzips to change into a child seat which will attach to most standard chairs. Cleverly, the contents of Moochew can be extracted from the sides of the bag, so once the child is in the seat, he or she doesn’t need to be moved to get into the storage area. Genius!

Moochew Closed Moochew Open

The Moochew is available now for GB£39.99 from the webstore. My children are now a little too big for the Moochew but had it been around three years ago, I would definitely have bought one.


Ohyo Folds Bag to Size at Gadget Show Live



Ohyo_400x400Several areas of the UK now charge for plastic grocery bags as a green tax and reusable shopping bags have become very popular. Mind you, carrying round a scrunched up bunch of old bags is never a good fashion statement. Fortunately Ohyo has designed a good-looking accessory which morphs from a pouch to a messenger bag before completely opening up as a shopping bag. Participating in the British Inventors’ Project at Gadget Show Live, I chat with Guy from Ohyo about his thing for folding.

Ohyo Folding Bags

Guy and Ohyo has worked with designer Felix Conran, the grandson of Sir Terence Conran, to create a flexible bag that changes shape to meet changing needs. The bag can be arranged into four different configurations, a tablet bag, messenger bag, a back-pack and a grocery bag. Available in four colours, the RRP is GB£79, but Ohyo are currently running a Kickstarter campaign where you can get in at £59. There’s just two days to go, so get in quick.

Ohyo have a track record in folding things – Guy’s previous invention was a collapsible bottle, which sold over 700,000 units and might be familiar to parents in Britain as it’s been previously sold in Marks and Spencer’s and Boots.


SleepSpace Travel Cot from BabyHub at Gadget Show Live



BabyHub logoLike me, many parents will remember the frequent struggles with travel cots: there was always that one rail that wouldn’t lock in place or the release handle that wouldn’t turn to disengage the mechanism. At times travel cots can be more frustrating than the tot!

Fortunately, the BabyHub team have worked hard to produce the SleepSpace, a travel cot  that can be put up and taken down easily with one hand. It’s lightweight (6 kg) and the clever folding mechanism is so simple it can even be setup while holding the baby. Here’s Catherine from BabyHub to explain more about the SleepSpace.

BabyHub SleepSpace

Uniquely, the SleepSpace travel cot is pyramid shaped rather than the more usual box and this gives additional stability plus the convenience of being able to drape mosquito nets or sun shades over the cot without worrying about the cloth falling into the cot. On travel, the cot can be re-purposed as a play space or tent during the day. It’s available in four different colours.

BabyHub SleepSpace

The BabyHub SleepSpace is expected to go on sale with national retailers in the autumn for around GB£139. Looks like another success for the British Inventors’ Project.


Keep In Touch with GoTenna at CES



goTenna LogoThere are still parts of the country where there is no mobile (cell) phone coverage. There are those who would say this is a good thing, especially when it comes to wildness areas and places of outstanding beauty. However, there are times when it’s good to be able to get in touch with others when out hiking or skiing, especially if people get separated. Aylee talks about the great outdoors with Jorge Perdoma, co-founder of goTenna, about their solution to this problem.

goTenna is a small radio transceiver that pairs with smartphones to provide point-to-point communication when there’s no cell tower in range. It’s a bit like converting your phone into a walkie-talkie but with modern features like text and GPS. The goTenna app on the smartphone works with the goTenna itself to handle all the communication and the transceiver doesn’t need to be in the hand at all – it can be stashed in the outer pocket of a backpack. Range is anywhere from a mile to a couple of miles depending on the environment.

The goTenna has been shipping for a few months and it’s US$200 for a pair of units from goTenna.

Aylee Nielsen is a video producer at F5 Live: Refreshing Technology.

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JAQ Fuel Cell Battery from MyFC



JAQ fuel cellIt wouldn’t be CES without a fuel cell-based smartphone charger making an appearance, and as expected Swedish company myFC turns up with the JAQ, the world´s smallest pocket-sized fuel cell charger. CEO Bjorn Westerholm shows Daniel and Todd the colourful charger.

The winner of a 2016 German Design Award, the charger consists of two parts; an inner replaceable PowerCard (orange) and the outer JAQ fuel cell (blue). The PowerCard is made from water and salt and when mixed, hydrogen is produced which is then combined in the fuel cell with oxygen from the atmosphere to generate electricity along with waste water. The card is thrown away once discharged.

A single PowerCard provides 1800 mAh though with additional PowerCards, more power is available. The best use case for the JAQ and the PowerCards is when the owner is far away from an electrical power source, say, camping.

The PowerCards are expected to retail for under US$2 and the fuel cell itself will be rented for around $5 per month as part of a phone contract. JAQ is expected to be available soon.

Todd Cochrane is the host of the twice-weekly Geek News Central Podcast at GeekNewsCentral.com.
Daniel J. Lewis is the host of the award-winning podcast about podcasting, The Audacity to Podcast. Daniel helps others launch and improve their own podcasts for sharing their passions and finding success.

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Magellan Leads With Four New MiVue DashCams for CES



Magellan LogoFor those who want to record their travels for pleasure or have to keep their insurance premiums down out of necessity, GPS pioneers Magellan have announced four new affordable MiVue DashCams for the upcoming CES 2016. To be clear, these aren’t navigation devices, but instead record video of journeys, accidents and other unexpected events. The new MiVue 320, MiVue 420, MiVue 430 and MiVue 450D are all designed to be unobtrusively located on the dash, while having a comprehensive base set of features, including

  • Magellan 420 DashCamMiVue Manager – Intuitive interface to browse recorded videos. Video recorded from the Impact Sensor can be reviewed for post-accident analysis. Video may be shared on social media sites like YouTube and Facebook
  • Parking Mode – In situations where there’s an impact while the car is parked, the DashCam wakes up to record the event. You can even choose to have the device always recording with vehicles that have constant power supplies.
  • Impact Sensor – Records impact forces, which show the direction and magnitude of a collision.
  • Night View Enhancement – Automatic day or night light adjustment assuring the best picture quality regardless of lighting conditions.
  • Impact Event Recording – When the 3-axis sensor detects sudden changes in motion, the device instantly saves protected files to prevent them from being overwritten.
  • Camera Mode – Switch to Camera Mode to collect photo evidence or create lasting memories. With the built-in battery, the device can be taken out of the car to get close-up photos.
  • Rotating Mount Design – Mount easily pivots to any desired angle assuring you never miss an important moment.
  • GPS Tracking – The built-in, high-sensitivity GPS receiver automatically records your driving information on the video, so you have both a location and time stamp during playback.
  • Wide Angle Lens – The 140° wide-angle lens provides an enhanced peripheral view to record the entire street.

The top-end 450D comes with dual cameras to record a wide 240° view or both inside and outside of the vehicle, and has WiFi connectivity. The 420 and 430 DashCams provide additional safety with Lane Departure warnings and Front Collision Avoidance alerts.

Magellan is excited to expand its award-winning line of MiVue DashCam models. Our four new models are designed with superior image quality, large storage capacity and extended battery life,” commented Stig Pedersen, Magellan Associate Vice President of Product Management.

The new Magellan MiVue DashCams will be available from Q2 2016 at retailers throughout the U.S. and Canada as well as online at www.magellangps.com in with prices expected to start at $109.99.

If you want to know more, the DashCams will be on show at CES 2016 in the Magellan Booth, LVCC South Hall MP25441.


Booq Cobra Laptop Briefcase Review



booq LogoOn review here is the Booq Cobra Laptop Briefcase, a lightweight and high-spec laptop bag. Unlike some of the other Booq bags that I’ve reviewed here for GNC, it’s in the more traditional style for those circumstances where a rucksack looks a little bit too casual. Designed for laptops with screens up to 16″, it’s made with ballistic nylon complimented by lower leather trim, meaning it looks good but is durable too. As you’ll see from the pictures, the YKK zips are mostly on show in bright steel, though the main laptop compartment has a covered waterproof zip.

Booq Cobra Side

Booq Cobra with Laptop

Opening it up, the Cobra has plenty of room inside, with five main compartments for gear. Starting from one side…

  1. Booq Cobra InnerZipped pocket with Booq’s corporate copper-coloured inner, suitable for an A5 size notepad or tablet.
  2. Open pocket with soft jersey inner. Additional easy access pockets within suitable for purse, wallet, mobile phone, MP3 player or tablet. Useful when on the go but gear may fall out.
  3. Big zipped pocket with copper inner. Further internal pockets for A4 notepad and bigger devices, perhaps external hard drive, PSU or even lunchboxes. Couple of pen pockets and a keyring too. Handily, the zip on this goes at least three quarters of the way down the side of the Cobra, so it opens wide. Not sure you’d quite get a change of clothes in here but it’s close.
  4. Big hidden waterproof zipped pocket, with soft padded lining. The is obviously intended for the main device and it comfortably took a big Toshiba Satellite Pro.
  5. Simple open pocket with copper inner, big enough for a magazine or A4 notepad.

There’s padding and protection between the compartments, so gear is going to be looked after wherever it is.

Booq’s copper-coloured inner may not be to everyone’s taste, but it’s much easier to find stuff in the depths of the pockets. To some extent the pictures don’t do the colour justice – it’s better in real life, as they say.

Booq Cobra CarryFor carriage, the Cobra’s well covered. To start with, there’s the two handles which are comfortable without being overly broad, and attach to the bag with seatbelt-style webbing. The handles fold back into the bag when not needed, keeping the bag neat. Then there’s an over-the-shoulder strap, made from similar webbing with a large shoulder pad and metal clasps at each end. And finally there’s a webbing loop that can be passed over the handle of a trolley suitcase to sit the Cobra on top.

Even better, the Cobra has a flat bottom, so the bag stays upright when put down (mostly!).

As with all Booq bags, the Cobra is tagged with a Terralinq serial number, which is Booq’s “lost and found” service, giving a much greater chance of being reunited with lost gear. Let’s hope you never need to use it.

At US$295, GB£210 or 295€, the Booq Cobra isn’t an impulse purchase so I imagine the briefcase will be protecting some high-end gear. The Cobra seems a quality product – well finished, no lose threads, metal fixtures – and it’s perfect for cossetting a MacBook Pro or gaming laptop while travelling. Available on-line (US, UK, Europe) and other good retailers.

Thanks to Booq for the review Cobra.